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John Zeron

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since Oct 15, 2012
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Recent posts by John Zeron

@ Jonathan

Eating DE will not do anything for bugs. I doubt that it would even do anything for worms in your gut. It may have other beneficial effects when ingested, but it will not do anything for bugs.

DE works on bugs chiefly by cutting their chitinous exoskeletons. Being cut, or abraded, the insect then dehydrates and eventually dies. Insects that groom are the most susceptible to DE.

Bedbugs do not groom. They do not dehydrate easily. They get all their hydration from the blood they ingest. A fully fed adult can live for over a year without feeding again.

The best thing to do for bedbugs seems to be a regular routine of activities that control and eventually eradicate the pests. Given the insects durability, these routines may need to be kept up for a long time. With heat being the best weapon, the best timing for bedbugs eradication would seem to culminate in the summer months.

Wash bedding frequently. Wash in hot water. Dry bedding at the highest heat setting on a clothes dryer. If you hang out your laundry, or even if you use a dryer, bag the bedding in a black trash bag. Leave the bag in the sun or stash it in the car. High heat kills the pest. Freezing will work also, but you must get to 20° F or less.

Use beg bug traps. This is actually my own idea based on observations. Bedbugs like to hide in small spaces. I notice they love to hide in the books I sleep with (I fall asleep reading each night). Make "books" from white paper and leave then about the room, in the bed, etc. Collect them every so often and bake them in the oven before reuse. Incidentally, bedbugs will survive 2 minutes in a microwave oven.

Lastly, keep a roll of scotch tape on the night table. Use a plain white sheet on the bed. The adults are easy to spot. The nymphs are tiny, perhaps 1/10th of a pin head. When you see a bedbug moving on the sheet, stick it up with a spot of tape. Fold it over to seal the pest inside. Bedbugs seems to emerge about an hour or so after you get in bed. Set an alarm to wake you for bedbug patrol. Dispose of them by baking or burning.

If you must get rid of furniture (the solar baking method could save an expensive mattress) then spray paint "bedbugs" on it so someone else won't be tempted to take it and feed the critters elsewhere.

OK, so I've now given a lot of info on bedbugs. I would love to hear from others who have had success getting rid of this pest.
5 years ago
Having just harvested a gallon or so of dock seeds today I was hoping to find an answer to removing the papery hull here. In a way, you guys had that answer for me.

While the papery hull is not inedible, it really has little nutritive value. I've eaten dock seed as a sort of wild trail side granola. If one likes munching on newspaper or cardboard, this might be for you. It has never been for me. I will be testing making a porridge with the hulls on just for completeness sake. However my main goal is to make a flour. In my research I found that at some point during the colonial period, dock was grown as a staple grain. I can't imagine that a staple with hulls on would have been widely accepted. In addition the little nutritive value in the hulls is dietary fiber.

Since I am interested in this grain as a survival food the fiber content is quite pertinent. A body that is not used to a high fiber content will find itself moving its bowels quickly and easily. Dietary fiber sort of uncoils in the bowel, providing bulk and lubrication. While it may provide a sense of fullness, it soon turns to diarrhea. That in turn leads to dehydration. One simply needs an efficient way to get the papery hulls off.

I took a sample of the grain and ran it through a Weston seed mill (cast metal burr type, cheap and maybe not even worth the trip to get it more on that later) set loosely, ie coarse grind. This came from a suggestion from a fellow at The Country Living mill. The result was marginal. The hulls seemed to be separated to some degree but not at all satisfactory. I arrived at the answer by way of the suggestion to burn them off. Couple that with the knowledge that all grain is harvested at a point when it has a certain moisture content. Mix in some thoughts about moisture content in wood pellet combustion. The answer lay in the moisture content.

I tried two methods. Both worked admirably and can be replicated in the field.

Method one: Microwave the seeds on high for about 2 minutes. 1 minute was not quite enough. This leaves the hulls bone dry.

Method two: Oven broiler (electric) - Using a cast iron skillet (I am certain a cake pan or a cookie sheet will work fine also) spread the grain in a single layer and place under the broiler on the highest rack. Every minute or so pull the skillet out and stir the grain. After about 5 minute (sorry I didn't time it) the hulls should be very dry.

Final steps, both methods: take a tablespoon full of grain into the palm of one hand. Use the other to "grind" the grain in your palms. The hulls disintegrate to a powder! From there it is simple winnowing. It took 3 passes in front of a weak fan (about as strong as a computer muffin fan). I pal ground the grain one more time and gave it a final pass in front of the fan.

I next intend to try drying the hulls in the oven on very low heat, perhaps 175°F. [Edit: 2 hours at 170°F proved enough drying tie for excellent results] I don't want to liberate oils, just dry the hulls. Another idea I want to try is making a dehulling mill using rubber sheeting such as gasket material found in the plumbing department. Thus replacing and saving my palms.

I hope this helps everyone.
6 years ago
I wanted to add a source for castable refractory. Your local certified chimney sweep should be able to get Thermix. I am not entirely sure about the ratios in the material but it is fireclay, perlite, and ceramic fibers. Looks very much like Matt's mixture. 2.5 cu ft (dry) goes for about $35 wholesale.
6 years ago

...oh, were it only that I could afford 24' of 4"x1" aluminium channel

Since this is for radiance, you need not go with such heavy stock. Aluminum trim coil (from roofing supplier) is a good material which is easy to work with. It is heavy enough guage to allow for good rigidity, yet easily bent. L shaped bends of 1" x 4" are easily done with a homemade break. The heat is conducted through the fin and radiated to the surrounding air about the same as heavier stock.
6 years ago
Remember that the gases want to travel in a helix. A square tube has a hydraulic cross section that is smaller than the square tube.

That aside, cut your bricks. Diamond blades for miter saws are not as expensive as they used to be. Be sure to get a dry cutting blade though. With a bit of practice you can cut whatever shape you need.

You might consider standing bricks up with the narrow faces cut so you can form a hexagon or even an octagon to better approximate a round tube.
6 years ago
I have linked into the kickstarter page via the survival site I work with and on my facebook page. After I talk with my boss about it I will link it onto the companies facebook page as well. Made my contribution to the kickstarter of course. I'm very interested in this technology. I absolutely love that you start the set with Fire Science. Can't wait to watch these DVDs. I plan to put a video up on my YouTube channel also.
6 years ago

I was thinking I would have to add a third stage to the press.... and a platform for him to stand on

It would take some experimenting for us to get it right.

Len, et al. To increase leverage on this device simply extend the length of the top lever. Increasing the distance between the effort and the fulcrum proportionately increases the force.
6 years ago
The amount of air required to fully combust 1 pound of wood is 35 lbs, or 400 cu ft. If that air is pre-warmed there is less heat of combustion lost to heating it. What is more important is that the combustion air coming from outside will dilute the temperature going into the riser and secondary combustion chamber (drum). Reduction of temperature there would reduce the combustion efficiency, potentially increasing hazards.

While lately we have become more concerned with conserving energy by tightening our homes against drafts one of the most often encountered problems I address as a professional is inadequate make-up air. Without an air supply combustion appliances fail, malfunction, or function poorly. Another concern that has come out with air-tight homes is overall health. Cutting off the ventilation of a house leads to mold and bacteria growth. The point here is that regardless of whether you are using an oil burning furnace, an EPA wood stove, or an RMH, you can have a house that is too tight. Coincidentally, an outside air duct for combustion air would be an appropriate solution to insufficient ventilation.

Another point to consider, from what I have recently learned, an RMH uses far less fuel than traditional wood fired heaters. With far shortened burn times (down to 1/8th?) one is drawing a commensurately less amount of cold air into the house. The concern about inside or outside air may simply be moot.
7 years ago
Speaking as a certified chimney professional, building codes are established to protect homeowners from dangerous installations performed by professionals. When building anything not according to code the real issues are whether or not your insurance company will cover any damages due to malfunction. In new construction the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) may not approve such installation. Without their approval you may not be able to obtain a certificate of occupancy. That aside, building codes are no longer full of arbitrary rules. Most all code requirements are based on solid science.

I am a new fan of rocket mass heaters. The simple technology rivals and exceeds many of the products I already endorse, sell, and service. The 2 publications that most AHJs use to establish local code requirements for chimneys and masonry heaters are the NFPA 211 and the IRC. Neither of these publications cover rocket mass heaters. This doesn't mean that your AHJ will not give you approval, however, it may herald a long process to get that approval. I am not aware of any activity within the National Chimney Sweep Guild or the NFPA with regard to rocket mass heaters. The NFPA 211 does address masonry heaters, as does the IRC. A rocket mass stove is similar in some ways to a masonry heater, so, when approaching your AHJ you might refer to this related appliance.

As a professional the main question I have yet to answer is regarding clearance to combustibles from the secondary combustion chamber (the drum over the riser). The closest standard I can come up with that for an unlisted wood stove, which is 36 inches. What concerns me is the much higher temperature of the secondary combustion chamber. As I understand it, these can reach temperatures over 700° F. Wood stoves are typically operated with a surface temperature of 500° F. To me that extra 200 degrees is pretty significant. I doubt that 36 inches remains a good guideline. I also consider that the high heat that the drum must endure might burn that steel out. If there was a burn out during use nearby combustibles could be exposed to up to twice the heat (surface temperature of 24 ga pipe is roughly 1/2 of the flue gas temperature).

While I have these certain concerns as a professional I am certainly not suggesting that one not go with a rocket mass heater. It is only a matter of time until there are accurate standards and codes for them. As an innovator and scientist I am quite enthusiastic about this technology. I am actually planning to build one in a cabin in the coming months.
7 years ago
The research I've done indicates that cob for walls requires more thickness as you go higher. Some Welsh cob homes has walls 2 feet thick in the second and third stories. CEBs can be dry stacked and depending on their aspect ratio may not need much thickness for stability.
CEBs tend to have good tensile strength and of course have great compressive strength. CEB mixtures range from simply laterite clay to laterite ad portland. Rich clay like that used for pottery may need to have sand mixed in. Cob, as I understand it should be a decent clay, perhaps not potters grade but at least free from large particulates like stones. Similar to monlolithicly poured concrete, cob forms a homogenous structure.
7 years ago