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Recycling HDPE plastic at home  RSS feed

 
Ann Torrence
steward
Posts: 1191
Location: Torrey, UT; 6,840'/2085m; 7.5" precip; 125 frost-free days
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Imagine the possibilities of recycled building materials from old milk jugs and lids and other junk. Not that I'd use that blender again in the kitchen...what could you do with your own free supply of machinable plastic?
 
Alder Burns
pollinator
Posts: 1374
Location: northern California
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Years ago I thought about this, and thought that the thing to do was to melt the plastic. I was living in a hot, humid climate at the time (Georgia) and hypothesized that if I could dip wooden stakes into molten plastic, and have it congeal on them, then they wouldn't rot in contact with the ground.
So one day in 1995 or so I took a metal trough....actually an old water heater tank cut in half lengthwise for a water trough for animals, and set it up over a fire and started heating up plastic The smoke was astounding, the stench was amazing, and the whole mess caught on fire a few times and had to be doused with a hose. But persistence paid off, and after an hour or so I had a grayish, lava-like, bubbling mass of molten plastic in the trough. Everything went in....milk jugs, soda jugs, plastic bags.....It took a seemingly incredible amount of stuff to even half fill the trough with "melt" None of the farm interns would come anywhere around this mad science experiment, wisely desiring to preserve their lungs. As the mass continued to heat, bubbles would pop open on the gooey surface, and the contents would burst into flashes of flame....
So in with the stakes, and stood them out to harden. The plastic hardened on them, and cracked, and fell off. Bummer. Not to be discouraged, I re-heated the entire mess again the next day and tried again. This time I had a tub of cold water handy, and thought to try quenching the stakes immediately after coating them. This seemed to work, and I had that set of stakes for some years afterward. As well as some chunks of weird gray plastic left over from the trough. I never did it again. It gave me a headache, breathing those fumes!
 
teresa quintero
Posts: 31
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Still, that was an idea! Seems like there should be some safe way to be able to do that....
 
Max Kennedy
Posts: 483
Location: Englehart, Ontario, Canada
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The key to doing it safely is controlling the heat, an open fire gets too hot.
 
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