Chris Kott

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since Jan 25, 2012
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Recent posts by Chris Kott

My google-fu disagrees with you, Jim.

My understanding is that 450 C is about optimal. Lower temperatures don't break down some of the stuff that turns into tars and creosote. It results in lots of sooty smoke, and if there's any plastic contamination, it's well within the range to create dioxins.

Low and slow is good for caramelizing onions and garlic, not so much for incinerating harmful volatiles to leave a porous carbon sponge.

But test it out. Maybe try making a batch each way. You can tell if it's been done right because proper fresh char sounds a bit like porcelain chinking together.

Good luck anyways. Keep us posted.

2 days ago
Of course, when I wrote the cheeky bit about ignoring fahrenheit for it's uselessness, I neglected to think about baking. When I am baking, degrees fahrenheit is my default. I guess I forgot to upgrade the UI. Oops.

4 days ago
Mushroom leather, the stuff Paul Stamets' hat is made of, anyway, is actually a single, specific type of fungal fruiting body. It is unrolled from its grown form, but beyond that, I don't know what processing is required, but probably drying and curing of some sort.

4 days ago

Rebecca Norman wrote:It would help if you mention C or F after you mention "degrees." If your reflector is very well focused, it could sometimes burn through or melt spots of the metal, so you might need to use high temperature steel or something.

Interesting fact: "degrees Celcius" is actually redundant.

Celcius is a newer usage of the original term centigrade, which literally translates to a hundred gradations, or degrees.

So while a temperature reading in F should be read as "degrees Fahrenheit," a temperature reading in Celcius should read as "such and such a temperature Celcius (or centigrade, if you want to be fancy).

Of course, colloquial usage is king, but if it's all the same to everyone else, I will ignore fahrenheit as I typically do for it's lack of usefulness, and I will continue to omit the extra "degrees" to my Celcius reading.

4 days ago
And I should add that butter might still work, though the specific butterfat content would need to be known (the higher the content, the higher the melting point; if they had been testing raw Jersey milk, it may have read as high as 38 C or higher), but lower-fat content butters should melt at temperatures as low as 32.5 C.

And ghee apparently melts at 32.4 C. So while we would probably have to test the different possibilities on their phase-change merits, there are numerous examples of edible fats that might be used, both closer to human body temperature, as well as significantly lower, but still within a useful range.

Personally, I would rather eat butter or ghee, if from grass-fed beef, or coconut oil, in a hunkered-down-waiting-for-rescue situation where I was sheltered but starving. Though I suppose perhaps all the fats might burn (externally, for heat, as in fuel for a fire) with the appropriate encouragement.


Creighton Samuels wrote:And, unfortunately, it has to be margarine. Butter won't work, as it's melting temp is higher than the normal body temps.

I wonder if coconut oil would work instead. It melts at 32.5 to 34.5 C, which, on the upper end, is closer to human body temperature than margarine.

That should work, and you don't have to buy margarine. For me, it's a waste. I don't eat the stuff, and short of lubricant, I can't think of a single way I'd use it.

Sounds like the pup's either lonely or work-bored, or maybe both.

You could try fostering an adult pyr with a view to adoption if there were no behavioural issues.

The socialisation bit is a little confusing for me, unless your dog and the neighbour dogs view each other as pack-adjacent enough to share territory. But maybe they are enough alike, with the same concerns, and they share predator wariness. Great Pyrs have been known to use different tactics based on how many were working together, like Newfoundland dogs do in water rescue situations. It might be possible to make your dog feel better just by allowing socialisation with the neighbour dogs. It would seem that's what he was suggesting.

As to goats, I suppose your land won't support sheep? Because if it did, sheep are stupider, so sometimes harder to keep alive, but also stupider, so easier to keep. The worst a sheep will do is make a mess of killing itself trying to get to food that would kill it in the event it survived. The worst a goat will do... Look into their eyes and tell me they couldn't figure out a way to kill you and damn your soul for eternity if they so chose.

Just kidding about the evil and damnation. Really, though, you're right about goats getting out, and you probably know that not only will they eat whatever they like, and chew it to bits to determine if they like it or not, they climb.

I don't think you'd need to get a pair of pyr pups, incidentally. One would do for socialisation purposes.

Just a little food for thought. I hope you find good, reliable ways to keep your puppy happy. Good luck, and keep us posted.

4 days ago
I agree that it's a terrific idea to take some of the energy required from the sun. I also agree that if you don't capture and burn the woodgas in some measure, it's extremely wasteful.

My feeling is that it would entail a sealed retort inside a heavily-insulated burn chamber with a couple pressure release valves directing pressurized wood gas down into a burn area below the retort. As it heats, the pressure builds, and opens the valves once there's enough. No explosions, and that woodgas is used to increase the efficiency and capacity of your system, as opposed to being lost to the atmosphere. And, you know, no explosions.

It would also be necessary to account for the liquids released by pyrolysis, and either collect them for use or add a feature by which they can be combusted to increase system efficiency.

I think that a non-biochar solar kiln would be awesome, too, and if you had a rig that operated as the latter with only the sun, and as the former with a combustion chamber and burn of the woodgas, you would end up with a very versatile system.

Great ideas, though. Keep 'em coming, and good luck.

4 days ago
As a soil additive, it is a home for microbiology. Outside of temperate environments, it is a soil carbon component that doesn't degrade due to microbial activity (look up Terra Preta).

As mentioned, its surface area makes it a fantastic filter, cleaning whatever air or water it's exposed to.

5 days ago
Yeah. I think in terms of shipping containers and the waste heat of small industrial processes. My much better half is a glass artist, so one day, I would love to have a shipping container-sized retort powered by the exhaust of a glass furnace.

But I agree. It's a craft process unless you can produce it by the yard or more. And if you're doing that much, it had better be a carbon-neutral process, at least, if part of the plan is carbon sequestration in superior soil. That's my goal, anyways.

Good luck.

5 days ago