Friday, February 20, 2009

A new way to burn down your house...

Chad has been obsessing for months over survivalism (if there is such a word). I don't know where on earth he gets his obsessive nature. ;) First he went through catalogues, sports stores, and camping websites looking for The Perfect Backpack. Then he started comparing nutritional content of different foods, trying to find The Perfect Foods to pack in his backpack in case of... alien attack or nuclear winter or something. He compared water bottles for volume, weight, and shape. Somewhere in the midst of all that, he was looking into kerosene lanterns. The biggest turnoff there was that you had to buy the kerosene. But he knew that other things burn, and we set about finding household things that would work. Cooking oils (corn, olive, canola) turned out to be the best, because it takes a pretty hot flame to start the oil itself burning, but will burn nicely for a long time when soaked into paper or cloth.
After a couple of quick internet searches, notes written down and gathering of supplies....
....he made this:

Corn oil in a beer bottle. (Yeah, it's a 40. Don't judge me.) Wick made from strands of white cotton Sugar'N Cream yarn, fed through a small hole in the metal lid. You might be able to see in the picture that the bottom of the bottle is filled with water, and oil for only the top 4 inches or so. This is to save on the amount of oil used in such a large bottle, but it also looks pretty cool. You could use any glass bottle with a screw-on lid, and if you used a clear bottle (Vodka maybe?), you could even add food coloring to the water for a pretty neat effect.
Chad spent hours and hours working out the best wick arrangement; first trying different lengths of exposed wick and settling on 1/2 inch, then timing how long it took to burn that 1/2 inch of wick and multiplying by 12 (6 inches total length). He was most satisfied with 3 strands of yarn, braided tightly, which worked out to about 15 hours of burn time.
Then he tossed everything on the counter and went online to look for a new tent. Because the one he just bought won't fit into the super-deluxe backpack he's eyeing. Gah.
*I might mention that all the above was done completely on his own, with me playing the part of Question Answerer occasionally. Who needs textbooks and lesson plans?