Lauren Magnolia

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since May 28, 2013
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Recent posts by Lauren Magnolia

Looking for any input from all y'all out there doing the rocket mass heaters yourselves...

I've attached photos of what we've built so far. My brilliant husband as come up with the design based on internet research and what we have available, as well as whatever pitfalls we found in our years of traditional wood stove use.

We want to make sure the logic in our heads matches the actual logic of science.

The firebox is 24" x 13", an old cast iron wood stove from Granny.
He has fitted 18" of single-wall stovepipe for the exhaust riser into the combustion chamber (your average metal drum, used to contain mango juice) which now has a lid and bottom welded on.
Coming out the bottom is 5' of that same stovepipe, running laterally about 2' above the floor (this gap from concrete floor to horizontal pipe will be infilled with sand) and ends with a 90° to run another 16' of vertical rise out our original egress through the roof.

I have marked the two cleanouts with red lines, and the exaust riser in purple. There is brick-and-mortar around the two sides of the assembly facing into the room. Once the sand is in place, pipes will be reset and cob will bury everything from the back wall (aka our stairs) to the front wall (red bricks and cinder block, mortared) all the way to the ceiling.

Should the pipe have more turns? That is is main concern as much is learned from trial and error, and that is not something we already have.

Thanks for entertaining my hobby of writing description, thanks for any input or well wishing in our home building!
8 months ago
I have a few main questions about saving my own seed, and then what to do with it...

What I have in front of me is a coffee can containing dried flower heads of last year's Prunella Vulgaris, or self-heal plant.
I have stripped the dry buds from their stems, but these darn husks to not want to let go of the poppy-like seed.
I have heard mention of colanders and mesh strainers, but both of these escape me. Can I just plant with them and without? Will it rot the seed?
I have been pondering about using what I have now (a can of husks, innumerably still full, with a puddle of seeds at the bottom) into a seed paper/seed bomb type experiment.
I have made recycled paper once, as a childhood craft so I roughly understand that process. I have experience with neither seed paper nor bomb, however.
This year's garden is very strawbale based, with a perimeter built and covered as a glass door cold frame. These bales, once weathered and cold frame has become obsolete, will be planted with vegetables and a few choice companions.
Anyone have experience bombing bales?? This setup is also new to me, and the direct sow seeds have me intimidated.

Any advice is very greatly appreciated 🖖


Growing self-heal from seed
Firstly, our feelings are certainly not hurt and our egos unbruised. I appreciate honesty far more than coddling and take your input very seriously.
The joint in question (I believe) is made of steel, not cast iron. As a welder is not available to us, we had planned to use the same fire-safe putty that was used on the stovepipe where pieces were joined to achieve height through the roof. Knowing this fix would notd not last forever, but could last this winter while we spend the warm months replacing the stove. Until the firebox is sealed, we are staying nearby with family for the specific reason of safety (thank you very truly for your concern)

Am I correct in hearing that you feel the putty would not be sufficient in filling the gap? Now wishing I'd photographed the glow, it was maybe 2cm at its widest, maybe a couple inches long running on one side of the stovepipe egress through the back of the box. This repair would also have a wall of fire-safe mortared firebricks to replace the missing heat shield (I hope this would help keep the direct flame off the glasslike putty)

Chances are, the advice will still be "Ya'll need to get a different stove". In which case, we have an old cast-iron stove that was made of slightly lower-grade metal (I'm told) and has already been repaired by way of weld. Any thoughts on our options of burying this in a vermiculite/cob "berm"? Or no, because if this firebox failed the cob would still permeate the carbon monoxide?

Trying like hell to not resort to the gift of propane/natural gas from loved ones, as that seems to solve problems quickly for some.
3 years ago
Also, thanks so much y'all
3 years ago
We've actually given alot of thought to a RMH, but have a few concerns. Such as needing the wood cut very small and needing to be there to keep feeding it. These factors have steered us towards a larger stove so we may build one large fire in the morning and one at night, hoping the cob insulation (interior walls as well as surrounding the stovepipe) would warm up and slowly release the heat.

Am I missing something about the rocket stove?
3 years ago
Thank you, Andrew! Any specific resources you can think of to point us in the right direction? Having some difficulty finding a straight answer from the research we've been doing...
3 years ago
We have come across a wood stove (Birmingham Knight Automatic Wood Circulator). Basically, a large metal box with an interior firebox (hubby's better with the terminology:) )
Installation has introduced us to a handful of issues.
1. This sucker GOBBLES logs. Big ones, and fast. Any input on making this more efficient? This detail may be due to those issues to be listed now....
2. The interior firebox has removable metal heat shields, of which we are missing two. This led to yesterday's fire getting that interior wall red hot. Our plan of action is to rebuild this shield with firebrick and fire-safe mortar, although there is concern that this will diminish our space in said firebox and lead to future deterioration of this new brickwall.
3. Where the stovepipe meets the stove itself, the collar that was once welded on has eroded away and is now allowing us to gaze upon inner fire from outside the stove, alongside the pipe. This is scary for carbon monoxide emissions, and possibly repaired by using the same fire-safe putty we used elsewhere on the stovepipe. I wonder if there are any other options, short of welding on a new collar which is not feasible for us.

I know there is alot of information I have not included, much of which would be helpful in giving us any advice. This was supposed to be a low-budget self-built home... Then came the International Building Code :/ We plan to encase the stovepipe in the cobwall behind the stove, using vermiculite and then straw. We are happy to answer other questions or provide pictures that might help get us closer to knowing all the options available, and we truly appreciate any kind thoughts towards our mission!!!

Live! Alive!
The Greener Good Life
3 years ago
I know it will be hard without pictures but I have a question about lacing the SB. I assume we stagger our joints like bricks but how do we affix these bales to each other? I was told by one to " corset" them. Is the just though the existing baling twine used to make them a 'bale'? Input? How would you tie your bales together?
3 years ago
Forgive my npk slip. Thanks for correction. I should have thought about the hydroxide pH affect. I can understand the iron and mag salt but aren't there dangerous levels of the other things for the fish we don't want to poison ourselves..

I'm looking for something to add to the system as an element of the ecosystem. I like A,ponics for the fact it works togethe as a guild... But that's why other plants aren't doing well for others I presume.

I used washed lake gravel, crushed limestone, and lava rock in my system grew outstanding bush beans maters and rooted all sorts of berries and a rose. Chamomile did fine. Basil fantastic. Etc.... So I then wonder did I get .k. From my lava rock ? Is that rock phosphate? Also... My fish ere guppies. I fed them tropical fish food. Maybe we could look at food input for fish more for nutrient output?
3 years ago
Wondering how one might boost the'P' factor on the fishwater. ... Woodash for the Potassium hydroxide? How much?? What about micro nutrients? Are Ever they needed in aquaponics?
3 years ago