Back when I took over the blog I started out with working on rocket stoves and at last report I had accidentally turned my favorite design into a mini charcoal cooker... well, that experience was do at least in part to me being impatient and not loading it well. So this week I'm picking it up again with the goal of learning to load it better (and as part of an ongoing struggle to learn patience...). This time I started with smaller sticks and no bigger stuff (again) and the new lighters I found. It started quickly and then I waited (and waited and waited (several whole minutes at least)) and then...
I have heard rumors of these things getting 'iron banging' hot. I tried testing this with a piece of rebar I wanted to use for a project.
It more or less stayed running over an hour, still taking more attention than I would like, not getting as hot as I would like, but better than before. I finally ended up putting it out with water resulting in lots and lots of steam.
Analysis from this test:
1. feed small material first and build up.
2. never assume it's out unless you've doused it very well.
3. it definitely gets hot enough to generate steam and you can probably cook on it (though that will wait for another test...)
4. I still have tinkering and learning to do (and hope to get it hotter))
But wait there's more!
when you are working with metal sometimes you need to take the oxidation off the surface a standard tool for doing this for jewelry and small sculpture is pickle. Pickle is an acid compound that is usually kept in a slightly warmed bath. It's a really useful and nice thing, sort of. The problem is most pickles used today are pool ph- (sodium bio-sulfate), sulfuric acid or similar products; these are not chemicals that you want loose in your home, around your kids or pets, or in less than highly controlled conditions... not to mention they are not exactly what you would call eco friendly.
So, I spent a little time looking for a less difficult to store, easy to obtain and a bit friendlier solution. One solution that is testing out nicely is a vinegar and salt mixture. My start mixture for testing is two tablespoons of salt to one cup of vinegar (my online research yielded a wide range of mixes and several arguments on the subject.
For this test we are starting with some copper wire that I am annealing (softening) for another project.
Vinegar and salt does work as a pickle.
It's a lot safer around pets, kids, spouses and so on.
Both components are available at the grocery store or a decently stocked convenience store meaning it is more available (making mixing some up 'on the spot' a lot more doable, and saves on shipping).
It's mild enough you can safely get cooled metal out with your fingers (thus saving the dreaded "somebody used steel tongs in the pickle!" emergency. (that's a whole 'nother post)
The one thing it's probably not going to do for you is acid etching (not nearly strong enough).
And as for another kind of 'pickle' entirely...
If you're actually living life every once in a while you find yourself with an, "Ok, how did that work" situation (aka Holy #$@#$#@%$#@! What happened there?)
For me one happened on Friday as I was closing the roll down door to the outside shop when... Whoosh Bang!
While we're on scary things let me put in a plug for safety equipment...
Well, more food, fire, fun, and shiny things (and hopefully less opportunities for unintended decapitation) next week! See you then.