ash/clay research

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ash/clay research

Postby michaelegan » Tue Feb 03, 2015 7:25 pm

Manny and Hpmr's postings on use of ash with clay fascinated me. I tried a couple of samples with my local central illinois clay and the results look promising so i plan on experimenting some more. Today I stumbled across a 2005 paper written by Richard Boyt in which he talks about use of ash in making clay stoves. I read it through once and will read it some more to try and understand it. I thought some of you might find new or helpful information. Here's the link

http://stoves.bioenergylists.org/stoves ... mics7.html
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Re: ash/clay research

Postby mannytheseacow » Wed Feb 04, 2015 4:14 pm

Awesome. Great resource, Michael.

I'm excited to see a batch made from the clay/ash mix. I haven't used it for anything over 8" yet so it's yet to be seen how well it performs structurally. Also long-term as all my clay/ash experiences are relatively young.

My home stove's core is really falling apart (fireclay/water glass/vermiculite/fire cement) I going to do some major repairs soon with clay-ash and see how it holds up.

Also wanted to ask, what part of Illinois are you in?
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Re: ash/clay research

Postby hpmer » Wed Feb 04, 2015 9:19 pm

Thanks for the link, machaelegan. Interesting. I've used the chopped up ornamental grass leaves to help stop the cracking and usually chop to about 3-4" or so. I still get some cracks but I figure that's just part of the process and they are very easy to patch by smearing a wetted down base layer with more of the same mix using a wetted trowel or even your hands. The stuff can get pretty sticky and hard to leave where you want it, but by wetting your tool down it makes it pretty easy.

Looking forward to your experiments. The best way sometimes is just to jump right in and try something. I always learn more from what didn't quite work the way I expected than something that goes perfectly.
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Re: ash/clay research

Postby michaelegan » Mon Feb 09, 2015 3:59 pm

Manny and Hpmr, thanks for your interest and comments. Manny, I live in Rockton, IL but in June my wife is retiring arom teaching and we will be moving to our farm north of Springfield, IL which is where I'll be continuing work on permaculture projects, including Rocket Mass Heaters, probably an outdoor oven and some kind of biochar cooker. The farm is 53 acres, over half is mature oak forest, I have a bandsaw mill and do some tree work occasionally so we end up with lots of slabs and firewood to burn. I'll be putting one RMH in the barn, another in the basement of the house and a third in a 10' x 10' strawbale shack. The ground is mostly dense brown clay which I brought up to our home in Rockton to use when I started building RMHs in 2009. We're selling our place up in Rockton. You're welcome to come over to Rockton but I plan on taking the batch heater apart in April. We'll also have plenty of room at the farm (including the strawbale shack which is isolated in the woods). That invitation extends to all of you on this forum: if you are traveling and could use a place to stop in central Illinois we'd be happy to have you. This is the best forum I have seen: very good information, good attitudes.
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Re: ash/clay research

Postby mannytheseacow » Tue Feb 10, 2015 2:39 am

Shoot, I guess I knew that. You said before you were near Rockton but I think I had you confused with someone else. A friend of mine has a daughter teaching there, too. Honestly, I make it to Springfield more than Rockford area but you're not that far away. I appreciate the offer and agree about the good forum here.

Sounds like a really great spot you have down there with the forest and mill and all.
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Re: ash/clay research

Postby TruGrit » Tue Feb 10, 2015 3:53 pm

.. Michael, 53 acres, dang, your place sounds awesome! .. Can you shed more lite on the bandsaw mill? .. I have the Granberg chainsaw mill, but haven't yet got the big saw to go with it .. for the price of the right chainsaw (2K), I'd be halfway to a bandy mill .. what does your setup look like? .. oh, and we'll be needing to see lots of pix of that farm when ya get up there .. :D
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Re: ash/clay research

Postby matt walker » Tue Feb 10, 2015 3:58 pm

Yep, sounds like heaven Micheal. If I'm out that way again I'll make an effort to visit, thank you for the kind offer.
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Re: ash/clay research

Postby michaelegan » Wed Feb 11, 2015 12:50 am

ok Matt, Truegrit. Truegrit, it's a Turner mill, built by Bill Turner out of New York. I bought it last summer and so far it has done real well. Any way you do it milling logs into lumber is noisy, polluting and requires quite a bit of machine maintenance so I try and mill for just a few hours at a time and also keep my head about milling stuff when I could build with round wood, etc. The big project I bought it for was to mill lumber for a bridge across the creek; if I can get that done the mill will half pay for itself. I'll send you all pictures this summer. I think bandsaw mills have found a pretty good niche with small farmers and permsteaders and I can see why. I think you'd be better off doing something else for extra income but it can sure save money on lumber. Some tree cutters/trimmers have them but you have to be careful milling trees taken from yards that might have nails and screws buried in them. Chainsaw mills work too, especially for big beams and timber frame structures. Best of luck on your work and projects.
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Re: ash/clay research

Postby TruGrit » Wed Feb 11, 2015 3:06 pm

.. thx Michael, good info .. I plan to just mill around the farm to put up sheds and such .. so no enterprise .. :D

.. thx again and good luck with the move .. Tru
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Re: ash/clay research

Postby 4seasons » Wed Feb 11, 2015 7:38 pm

After reading this article I am a little confused. Did it say to wash your ash? Do you use the ash that is left or the water that you drain? I thought if your ash got rained on you lost some of the properties you wanted. From my experiments with clay/sand/ash they never were very durable although they performed well right up to the point they fell apart. The ash I used was from my wood stove, dumped outside in the weather, then screened and put in a mix of 1:1:1 with clay and sand. My durability issues could be the ratio I used or due to crappy clay though. So what is the best way to get your ash down to a workable product?
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