Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Tuna Can Alcohol Stove

He uses Heet in the video, but you can also use rubbing alcohol as long as it is higher than 50%, but it will make the bottom of your pot black. Obviously the higher the percentage of alcohol, the more efficient the stove is and the less black will get on your pots.

Original "Cat Stove" Design:

Terra Cotta Pot Space Heater

These work really well to heat a small room and they don't cost much to put together, just make sure you have a safe container/surface for the candles. I have seen people put the candles in a pie tin to contain them a little better.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Lee Hite Biomass Briquette Press

Neat idea to conserve wood, or if you don't have a lot of wood at your disposal, you can use shredded paper, leaves, etc. to build up your fuel supply. Combined with a high efficiency stove, like the rocket stove mentioned in the previous post, you could cook and heat for a long time and never need wood. On their website there are diagrams for different shaped molds, including sticks which would be ideal for most rocket stoves.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Clay Rocket Stove

I have known about rocket stoves for quite sometime, but this was the first time I saw one made out of native clay:

Here is the rocket stove I built:

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

5 Things- A guide to editing your life

Too Much Stuff

I have been maried for seven years now, and I regret to admit that I brought more boxes of "stuff" into the marriage than anything else. We have moved 3 times during that time and each time we had to move boxes and boxes of my stuff. During the last few years, since we moved into our present home, I have come to the realization that I have used almost nothing from all those boxes of stuff.

So what is the big deal you ask? I have had to store all those boxes the past seven years and haven't used ANY of it. Those boxes have cost me time (each time I did try to find something), money (we had to buy a shed to store them in when we moved into our current home), and energy (each time we moved). This week I have determined that I will get rid of as many of those boxes as I possibly can, so I can use that space for things we do use that are crowding the house and yard (my tools, bicycles, etc...).

As I see it less stuff should equal more time, money, and energy.

My plan to accomplish this:

Keep 5 things or less from each box, then photograph/document the rest and throw it away.

Really all I am storing are memories. Memories don't have to take up that much space! A picture of some project I made in Cub Scouts or 4-H is just as good as the project itself. Pictures can be stored on a computer or in a scrap book which takes up much less space than the dozen boxes my memories currenly occupy.

I didn't learn to live without clutter until I was in college. I served a two year mission for my church after getting my Associate's Degeree and lived in some very messy appartments. When I returned to college I tried to live with as little clutter as possible, but my past was sitting in all these boxes still filling up my life. In order to focus on the present and plan for the future, I need to take care of my past. So that is the plan for this week, to take care of my past so that it can stop haunting me.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Solar Oven Redesign

Here is a redesign of my solar oven. After looking at how my parents set up theirs, these modifications seemed appropriate. It reaches roughly the same temperatures (roughly 175° - 200° F) without any insulation, so I imagine if I were to insulate the outside of the box now it would probably go higher and reach a more appropriate cooking temperature.

My previous design was precarious at best and difficult to use. The idea here is simple, and efficient.
I removed the insulation and cut the box at a 45 degree angle (ideally you would want this to compliment your latitude so the sun has a 90 degree angle of entry.) I lined the inside with aluminum foil, and spray painted the non-glazed side of six tiles. These hold heat extremely well! I put nails into a board at the correct spacing to hold the glass firmly against the opening of the box. This box is big enough to fit our smallest cookie sheet. To cook something I can now tip the glass forward without assistance and set the tray in the oven.

We have successfully done quesedillas, bread pizza, and cheasy garlic bread in this oven.

For future improvements I hope to build a weatherproof outer box and insulate it. I also plan on mounting the glass properly, and perhaps build it so the back of the oven opens more like a traditional oven, that way I don't lose heat everytime I lift the lid.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Bucket Garden- 18 months

I started an indoor bucket garden 18 months ago, and I thought I would share my findings.
Overall I believe the bucket garden idea works, but it does take some patience and knowledge. I successfully grew several tomato plants in containers indoors, and have been harvesting the same green onions for over a year. Tomatoes and green onions can be grown in perpetuity. Here is a brief summary:

Bucket Garden

Indoor gardening is tough, especially in winter. I lost many of my plants on the shady side of the bucket, I think a narrow planter on a window sill would be more effective than trying to add pockets around the back side of the bucket. A taller bucket positioned with better sunlight would also probably have done better. I found overwatering to be a problem with containers six inches deep. My one foot deep container (left)was less prone to over watering and I was able to plant my green onions around the perimeter to help control water usage. So, long story short, taller bucket and don't add pockets to the shady side of the bucket unless you plan on rotating your bucket a quarter turn every few days.


You do have to pollenate your tomatoes if grown indoors. This can be done by gently shaking or flicking the flower buds. I only got 1 tomato from three separate plants by flicking. Shaking or paintbrush might be a better way to pollenate, it could also be the species of tomato that was at fault. After your tomato plant has born fruit, cut a large (12 inches seemed ideal) section off the top of the plant and remove the lower part from the soil. Stick the clipping back in the soil and water it well for several days, and the tomato will grow new roots and keep going resulting in a perpetual tomato!

Green Onions

By far the easiest plant we grew! Green onions will grow perpetually as long as you leave enough of the white bulb intact. In other words if you only harvest the green part of the onion it will continue to grow as long as you water it properly. We started with onions from the store and just stuck the white parts in the container after using the green part in a meal and within the day we saw growth starting on the onions. Over the 18 months we have been harvesting the same onions, we have lost two plants out of seven. The best pattern we developed for harvesting was to harvest one or two plants at a time, so that by the time we go to the last two onions the first were just about ready to harvest again. We could harvest each onion once every three to four weeks.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Electric Lawnmower- Second Hand

Scored this electric lawnmower at the local second hand store last fall for $20. Runs like a champ!

It feels like you are vacuming your lawn as you drag the cord behind you. You also develop a different mowing pattern so you don't run over the cord.

It works much better than my homemade version and doesn't overheat. The bag is also nice so I don't have to rake afterward.

I would definately recommend getting an electric lawn mower if you have a small yard and can get your hands on one.