Saturday, May 21, 2011

Fail Now, Not Later

I made a photo collage of the process of making tuna-can lights, but then I erased them by accident, and this post has just been waiting.... so to just get it done, I took a picture for you of the pile of lint growing on the shelf next to my clothes detergent. There's a partial roll started next to it, too.

These are really easy to make, just take a roll of lint, and lay it on a piece of cardboard cut to the height of your can. Roll up the cardboard, adding more lint, and new pieces of cardboard, until it reaches a diameter matching the can you plan on using. Then scrunch it and smush it to fit in the can and pack more lint into the cracks.

I bought some candles and broke them up to melt in a double-boiler made of a soup can in a pot of water. (Do not walk away.) They poured easily into the can, and I pressed 3 short wicks into the lint rolls. I thought I would use them for light, or cooking.

Thinking OPSEC and the value of cooking inside when others may be struggling, I took the electric coil and the drip tray out of my stove, and put the tuna can in the recessed area there. I put the rack from my oven on top of the stove, and put my teapot on top. I was going to time it and see how long it took 4 cups of water to boil.

Well, pretty quickly, there was too much smoke to continue safely in the kitchen. I easily blew out the tuna can with one long breath.

Good thing I had a large, tall empty can set aside for this purpose! I had already used a wedge-shaped can opener to cut 4 openings in the top of the can so that air could get to the flames.

I put the tuna can light into the soup can. (let me tell you here that a long lighter or a long stick is necessary to light this, whether it was in the stove recess or in the can) I lit it and put the teapot right on top. I checked the flame after a moment, and it was nearly out. So I dumped out the soup can and cut four more wedges into the bottom rim with the can opener. Now there would be some air draw.

So the flame was just bookin' along, and I looked at the clock to see how long it took to boil my four cups of water. And I waited. And waited. When 15 minutes passed, I took the temperature and it was only at 140 degrees. So I made tea and called it quits.

However, with my optimistic survive! mindset, I am cheerful and I don't count this adventure as a total loss. Here's what I learned:

  1. tuna can lint lights are not suitable for indoor use due to smoke.
  2. they evidently don't burn hot enough to boil water.
  3. the water at 140 degrees was hot enough for making hot drinks, hydrating some foods, even warming an MRE, or washing stuff.
  4. the flame burns quite high and caution must be used (of course)
  5. would be great for getting a fire started if you didn't have much kindling/small branches
  6. I read that these can be made in egg cartons for similar purposes.
Better to try these things now than try them later and have an unpleasant surprise! I was planning on having more than a dozen of these for lights and cooking.... yeah, not going to work like I thought. But they are great for for-certain fire starting!

We're so pleased you are reading Farming Salt & Light! Choose how you live!


Anonymous said...

Fire starters from lint you said? We do.

We cut the top off of paper-based egg cartons (don't use foam egg cartons). We dab as much lint as will fit comfortably in each egg cup, and poor melted wax over them. Being generous with the wax means that you will only need one fire starter broken off from the rest of the carton. This overcomes the need for very small stuff for kindling. We also share them with friends.

kdonat said...

You can use a length of dry spaghetti to light your buddy burner or candles in tall containers.