• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

heat vs. cotton or wool  RSS feed

 
paul wheaton
master steward
Posts: 22493
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I have a weird idea.

When I cook stuff in my skillet, the stuff in the middle gets cooked too much and the stuff near the edge gets cooked not enough.  I blame the edge depth of the skillet for acting as a heat sink.

I wonder if I were to make something out of denim that could be a sort of skillet scarf ....  I could fill it with cotton balls.  My understanding is that cotton doesn't burn well.  I think heat mitts are made out of cotton.  So if I made this thick, it would offer a fair amount of insulation around the edge. 

Would there be much risk of fire?

 
Leah Sattler
Posts: 2603
2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
are you talking about cooking something with an insulative cotton scarf on the skillet! cotton may resist burning but not to that extent!

what are you trying to cook? always use a larger skillet and burn area then your food. the sides of the skillet seem to act as radiators cooling the edges and transfering the heat from the outer regions of the skillet. so you want to keep the edges as far from whatever it is you are trying to brown as you can. that is part of the reason I usually cook in my gigantic cast iron skillet. everyone made fun of me when  I got it. (it was on my wedding registry) they kept teasing that I must be planning on have 15 kids to need a skillet that big. Bu tI knew what I was doing...
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4437
Location: North Central Michigan
10
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
what are you cooking ON...elec stove, wood stove, solar, gas,

cotton will burn..it just won't melt..that is why elec co workers are required to wear cotton, it doesn't conduct electricity...so it is safer than synthetics..however..it will definately burn.

my guess is that you are not using your cooking faciities properly
 
paul wheaton
master steward
Posts: 22493
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I haven't tried any experiments yet - so my house is still standing. 

I do think of this as a beginning for a bunch of other ideas.  For example:  phase 2 would be to put a lid on the pan and then throw something over the top of that.  I suspect that one could then cook foods using 5 times less heat.  Or - you might be able to cook foods faster because the heat doesn't just bleed off the top. 

Just being a mad scientist i guess. 

It sounds like cotton burns easier than I thought it did. 

Hmmmm ....  I guess I would like to find something fabric-ish that doesn't contain stuff that would give me concern near food. 

BTW:  this is a griswold cast iron skillet #10 on a flat top electric stove.

 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4437
Location: North Central Michigan
10
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
they use cotton for candle wicks..

i wouldn't suggest that you try it
 
Leah Sattler
Posts: 2603
2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
give some examples of the things that aren't cooking properly and maybe we can help. is this a casserole type dish? pan bread? something you are trying to brown? I love playing in the kitchen
 
paul wheaton
master steward
Posts: 22493
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
This is while cooking burgers or eggs.  The stuff at the edge just doesn't cook as well.

What about wool?  Maybe I could get some gobs of wool and smash it (felt?) into the shape I want. 

How would wool do next to an electric burner?

 
paul wheaton
master steward
Posts: 22493
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Ignition point for cotton:  500 degrees F.

Ignition point for wool:  1100 degrees F.

Max temp for an electric stove:  500 degrees F (not as certain about this one)

 
paul wheaton
master steward
Posts: 22493
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Consider a situation where my heat source might be .... unreliable ...  sometimes weak ...

Consider attempting to cook on a rocket stove mass heater - it isn't really designed for cooking.  In fact, it can only barely boil water.  But if you were to insulate the pan or the tea kettle, would it work then?  But it must be safe for higher heat.

Back to the electric range ....  Suppose your mission is to cook rice, but it is a hot summer day.  What if you got it boiling, turned off the heat and covered the whole thing with two inches of wool.  I suspect that the rice would keep cooking and you would cut the heat to the house by 90% or so.

Consider the rocket cook stoves - they heat more efficiently by bringing the eat up the side of the pot - as well as heating the bottom.  I wonder how much faster (or more efficiently) a pot could boil water on a glass top electric stove if it had two inches ofwool around the pot.

My mind is reeling with the possibilities.

But .... the first step ....  safety.  Will the wool ignite?  Even if I don't try it, but just do the math.
 
Jocelyn Campbell
master steward
Posts: 4255
Location: Missoula, MT
410
books food preservation forest garden hugelkultur toxin-ectomy
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Oh, people do this, Paul! I even saw a DIY pattern on the web for stitching up this contraption (kind of like a glorified tea cozy) that insulates a pot of rice, or stew, or soup, and allows it to continue cooking off the heat.

This thing has a name, which I can't remember and can't find on the Internet.

It also totally envelops the pot--bottom, sides, top and all--so you definitely take the pot off the heat to use it.

I think where you're going with your ideas would perhaps work best bottomless, so that you can intensify and better retain the heat on the top and sides (like putting a towel on top of a crockpot) while perhaps still getting limited (?) heat at the bottom from a rocket stove.
 
paul wheaton
master steward
Posts: 22493
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I think that if I have a rink to go around the skillet, the skillet will warm up faster and be ready for use faster.  And since my skillet has a glass lid - the same can be said if I put the cover over it - the skillet will warm up faster still.  Then, I can toss my eggs in there, turn the heat off, and the eggs will cook super fast and I'll use less energy.

And that's just talking about the eggs.

I bet I could do corn bread in the same skillet using much less energy than if I used the oven.  I would just need a recipe for it. 

And then work in all of the fun of the rocket mass heater - it doesn't get very hot - but suddenly it is plenty hot enough to fry eggs?



 
Leah Sattler
Posts: 2603
2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I guess the challenge really is trying to do this on a rocket stove right? shoudl be no problem cooking eggs on a reg stove. what about having a nice hollow in the ground with a few coals you had started in the rocket stove. I've always wanted to cook a quail in the ground.....ever since I read the "clan of the cave bear" and "the valley of horses" in 6th grade (no wonder teachers thought I was weird)
 
paul wheaton
master steward
Posts: 22493
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I don't currently have a rocket stove. 

I do currently have a flat top electric range. 

And I currently have a big bucket of curiosity. 

And I'm constantly rolling bizarre ideas around in my head.  Like how if you collect the methane from your own poop, you can provide 70% of your home energy needs.  But with an umbrella style home, you might not need any heat.  And heat is probably more than half of your energy needs.  And the hot water sure takes a long time to get to some sinks.  And hot water can be a third of home energy use.  But watch out for legionnaire's disease.  And I don't like the idea of routing methane all over the house - I would rather convert methane to electricity somewhere, possibly outside the house.  And what about that instant hot water stuff done with electricity.  If you have that, then you only need one cold pipe.  Of course you would need electricity at the sinks and showers ... probably a lot.  Would a methane generator be enough?  And for frying eggs, that's probably even more electricity.    What path do I want to travel in this space?  Maybe the thing to do is to have a setup that can generate 50 amps of electricity on demand for stuff like an electric stove, but just use less of it. 

But first ... will the wool help me to use less?  Does it work?

 
paul wheaton
master steward
Posts: 22493
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
If it works, suddenly the value of having sheep would be a lot greater.  Felting is pretty easy.  A new cottage industry could be born for folks that keep sheep.

 
Leah Sattler
Posts: 2603
2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I have never tried to cook anything on a flat top stove. they must be pretty awful.  i know that you are not supposed to can on them so I would protest violently if told I had to have one! is the pan bigger than the burner area?

I think the super fast cooking on demand energy usage machine you are talking about has already been invented. A microwave! just uplug it when you aren't using it. I know that is probably not what you are after though. but seriously. it cooks fast. doesn't waste energy heating the house (at least not nearly to the extent that a stove or oven does) you can put cotton in it (within reason). it gets a bad rap and I think it is frustrating that modern things are not utilized more when they do make sense and are a safe ingenious solution. just because it isn't super low tech doesnt' mean it is bad. of course I don't get too worked up about the hype trying to label microwave cooked food as dangerous.
 
paul wheaton
master steward
Posts: 22493
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Why are you supposed to not can on them?

The pan in question right now is only slightly bigger than the burner area. 

The important thing here is the bigger mission:  will this work? 



 
gary gregory
Posts: 395
Location: northern california, 50 miles inland from Mendocino, zone 7
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
What about the wok shape.  I have a wok that is flat on the bottom [about a 6" circle] and the traditional rounded sides.  I know you love cast iron but the rounded edges heat more evenly.  Has anyone ever seen a cast iron wok?  Yes, I know, you are now trying to imagine how to fry more than one egg in a wok.
 
Leah Sattler
Posts: 2603
2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
paul wheaton wrote:
Why are you supposed to not can on them?


although I have no personal experience with them on canning forums I have read reports of people trying it anyway. no idea if it turned out. I have been told that canners are too heavy for the top and will crack them. and people have difficulty getting the canners up to temp. as well as that it might void your warranty.

A quick google turned up a supposed need for a completly flat bottomed pan on flat top cookstoves. so I just checked my canners. the wb canner doesn't have a flat bottom period. it has rings. the pressure canner has a flat surface where a burner would go. don't know if that counts or not.
 
Gwen Lynn
Posts: 736
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I cooked on a flat top stove in Georgia earlier this spring. The best thing I can say about it is it's super easy to clean off. Wiping down the stove is not one of our fave chores around here. I can see where bearing weight could be a problem. I can also see where getting a flat top up to temp might be problematic. 
I've always cooked on a gas stove. I like to see the flame. Electric stoves are more of a challenge for me in general.
 
Leah Sattler
Posts: 2603
2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I was definitly quickly converted to cooking on gas here at the new house. it is so fast and efficient in comparison to electric. I haven't canned on it yet but I can only imagine that it will speed the process.
 
paul wheaton
master steward
Posts: 22493
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Gas creeps me out.  The idea that I am competing with it for oxygen bugs me.  I once did the calculations and came up with a gas burner on high will use all of the oxygen in a room in 40 minutes. 

This normally wouldn't be a problem, except modern homes are being built like ziplock bags these days.

 
Leah Sattler
Posts: 2603
2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
hmmm. I regularly boil things for hours. still breathing.....I understand though. I have always been irked in general by gas appliances. they still seem more dangerous to me then electric. I suppose the fire in a woodstove or fire place would compete for oxygen too as well as, minimally, houseplants at night. that doesn't bug me so much. but I have gone a bit overboard with carbon monoxide detectors and recently found actual 'natural gas detectors' and I plan on picking up a few of those too! 
 
                                      
Posts: 3
Location: Coos Bay Oregon
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'm a fiber artist and one of the ways we test an unknown fiber is to burn test it, by the smell and how it reacts to flame we can tell what fiber we are working with. So personally I wouldn't try any cloth around a flame or heating element. From my experience I haven't found any natural fiber that wouldn't burn.   
 
paul wheaton
master steward
Posts: 22493
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Here is an image I was working on in a feeble attempt to express myself.

The idea is that there ends up being three things.  The first layer is a wool collar.  It doesn't touch the heat, but is near it.  The second is of the consistency of a cotton hot pad.  The third is a bulky cotton cap. 

This would be for my use.  On an electric stove. 

Would wool ignite on an electric burner?


pan_wrapper.gif
[Thumbnail for pan_wrapper.gif]
 
                                      
Posts: 3
Location: Coos Bay Oregon
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I was sure that wool would burn on an electric burner but  because I've never actually seen wool burn on an electric stove I decided to try it out and see for myself. I pulled a small amount of wool from my spinning stash and tried to place it on the burner but it fell down under the burner. It landed about two inches from the element so it wasn't directly on the burner and yes it most defiantly dose burn.
 
                                      
Posts: 3
Location: Coos Bay Oregon
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Just had another thought that might work. Copper is a good conductor and thin copper wire can be knitted on a regular pair of knitting needles. It  won't burn and could be a way of conducting more heat up the sides of the pan. Could be, maybe?
 
paul wheaton
master steward
Posts: 22493
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Aaaahhhhh poop!

I found some stuff that is a ceramic wool, but the MSDS worries me. 

Any suggestions on what else might work here?

 
Leah Sattler
Posts: 2603
2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I haven't seen it but don't get too crazy with the msds. compare it to sodium chloride.

http://www.fiberfrax.com/files/Fiberfrax-LDS-AL-Moldable-Refractory-Ceramic-Fiber-MSDS-M0139.pdf

http://www.sciencelab.com/xMSDS-Sodium_chloride-9927593

not much different. in fact the sodium chloride gives off toxic fumes if heated to decomposition!!
 
                                    
Posts: 4
Location: BC, Canada
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'm sure it must already have been tried, or wouldn't be appropriate for whatever reason...but what about a layer or two of aluminum foil wrapped around the outside of the skillet? Or a stiff foil wall to put all around the element/skillet like the ones used to keep the wind out of a camp stove? I don't know what they're called, but I suspect it would help insulate as well and bounce some of your lost heat back...?

I'm a fibre enthusiast myself, but I couldn't think of a solution that would be ideal and involve a natural fibre 
 
paul wheaton
master steward
Posts: 22493
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
The foil wouldn't last long ... plus, wouldn't it be conductive instead of insulative?

I like the idea of something that will last and won't scratch any kind of cook top. 

I wonder if some wools burn easier than other wools. 

 
paul wheaton
master steward
Posts: 22493
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
A slight modification. 

The green represents some ceramic fabric ...

pan_wrapper_2.gif
[Thumbnail for pan_wrapper_2.gif]
 
                                  
Posts: 175
Location: Suwon, South Korea
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Paul, what you need is called a Heat Diffuser.  They're available at any kitchenware shop at the mall or online.  They only cost 5 or 10 bucks and they work fine.  No need to reinvent the wheel here, folks.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001ET5ZPQ
 
Leah Sattler
Posts: 2603
2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
and its only 6 bucks. I've found that very rarely is a problem encountered that someone hasn't already thought of a decent solution to.

I have set many an oven mitt on fire with an electric stove and oven.
 
paul wheaton
master steward
Posts: 22493
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
My impression is that a diffuser would do the opposite of what I'm trying to do. 

Leah,

My life is re-inventing crappy wheels.  And, don't worry, for every wacky thing I create there's usually a hundred people that think it is foolishness to try.  You have a lot of company.





 
                                  
Posts: 175
Location: Suwon, South Korea
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
paul wheaton wrote:
When I cook stuff in my skillet, the stuff in the middle gets cooked too much and the stuff near the edge gets cooked not enough. 


paul wheaton wrote:
My impression is that a diffuser would do the opposite of what I'm trying to do. 


If this is still an accurate account of your problem, than that is exactly what a heat diffuser is designed to correct.  So how is it the opposite??

paul wheaton wrote:
My life is re-inventing crappy wheels. 


Sometimes people can make crappy wheels even crappier.
 
paul wheaton
master steward
Posts: 22493
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I have multiple missions. 

One is get even cooking. 

Another is to cook with less energy/heat.

Another is to cook and not have my kitchen get so hot.

Another is to explore cooking on a rocket mass heater - as opposed to a rocket stove.

Another is to possibly cook faster because the heat is not just on the bottom.

Another is that I think if I can figure this out and get it working well, there will be a whole bunch of other cool things on the other side.

 
Leah Sattler
Posts: 2603
2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
its not foolish to try to find something that works better. its just sometimes the answer is already there. maybe you should think about these as seperate issues. one thing to diffuse heat to cook evenly and some other solution that will keep your kitchen from heating up etc...the answer might contain several solutions used together. additionally the answer may be different for cooking different things. with fast hot cooking such as sauteing vegetables you are kinda stuck wherein a casserole or a roast is a totally different story. 
 
paul wheaton
master steward
Posts: 22493
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I think this would also help with fast, hot cooking.  Faster; less energy use .....  I need to build it and test it first ...
 
Joel Hollingsworth
pollinator
Posts: 2103
Location: Oakland, CA
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
The temperature to cook eggs is the Leidenfrost temperature of water, i.e. the temperature where water dances around.  This is a food-stuck-to-the-pan issue.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leidenfrost_effect

Do worry about ceramic wool ingestion/inhalation. Long-term irritation wherever a fiber lodges can add up to a very bad thing.  Non-flammable fibers, may I add, are also used as wicks, so they won't reduce the risk of a grease fire compared to cotton.

A cozy for slow-cooking is a great idea; consider using cork for the bottom, or pedestals of cork with batting in between.

For a design like yours, I would recommend building something out of reasonably-sturdy metal and maybe filling it with ashes or charred rice husks, perhaps perlite or vermiculite if you're sure it's asbestos-free.  Stainless isn't very conductive for a metal, by the way; they actually add disks of mild steel and/or aluminum to the bottoms of stainless pans to help spread the heat. 

I've seen old two-piece bundt pans at thrift stores, that may be a starting point.  For the inner piece, you can maybe even form the metal directly against you pan.

Best of luck.
 
paul wheaton
master steward
Posts: 22493
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
The Leidenfrost effect:  cool stuff!  Excellent!

And - that is really interesting info about stainless steel.

I found this page:  http://www.engineersedge.com/properties_of_metals.htm

The conductivity of copper is 231 and the conductivity of stainless steel is 8.  Wow!  Excellent!

Suddenly the idea of playing with stainless steel sounds like the way to go.  Excellent!

 
If tomatoes are a fruit, then ketchup must be a jam. Taste this tiny ad:
Thread Boost feature
https://permies.com/wiki/61482/Thread-Boost-feature
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!