Introduction: Fire Breathing Dragon Cauldron
After playing a bit with gasification, I got a goofy idea to build a small project for the firepit. While I may regret now that I ordered a small 'cauldron' off of amazon (they were making occult supply recommendations for over 6 months) it still made for a neat little project.
Before I began with the entire project, I first wanted a proof of concept. I already had some 1/4" copper pipe laying around from some of my other project's heat exchangers, so I cut of four small pieces and picked up a small, empty paint can from the local hardware store. A few tests in the backyard patio firepit later and I was able to figure out that the concept was not only workable, but found some tricks to make it work very well.
The project itself is not incredibly complex. The first part was to get ahold of some kind of small kettle or cauldron. A few searches later on Amazon and I was able to find a small cauldron that would work perfectly - cast iron with a small metal lid.
When it arrived, I welded a 8" piece of rod iron to each leg so it could stand up higher amid the logs of the firepit then started hunting down my dragons. I wasn't quite sure if I would have to build something myself or find something and re-task it. What I ended up finding turned out be pre-made, very dragon-like and pre-made to fit the purpose: Vaping tips in the shape of a dragon's head!
There were a number of types to choose from, so I found one seller with different colored ones who's heads were at right angles so I could put them out the lid of the cauldron itself rather than out the sides.
The cauldron cost me about $25 and the tips were about $4 each when I bought 5 of them at a time. (I only ended up using four, but got one spare just in case)
The tips themselves come with a small rubber ring on them which I removed and I drilled the hole as tightly as I could to the diameter of the base of the tips and force fit them in the holes. I then threw a small weld bead at the back of each one for a little extra strength holding them in.
The rest of the functionality is really a matter of the gasification. Fill the cauldron with small wood chips or broken up twigs and set it in the middle of a fire. By itself, the gasification will take about 15 minutes to get started well. I found that I could speed the process up by using large chunk saw dust and soaking it before hand in a vegetable based ethanol barbeque lighter I found. (similar results can be done with wood-alcohol such as Heet or lighter fluid - just be careful - I let the sawdust fume for a bit before putting the cauldron in the pit and didn't light my fire until after the kettle was in place)
With the fuel based sawdust mixture, the ethanol will start coming out of the dragon's mouths as soon as the fire is warm enough to fume it off. After 10 minutes or so, the gasification takes over and the entire thing will last for about 25-35 minutes. For added effect, I picked up a pack of the colored fire salts from a local party store so they would breath green fire. (online sources can point you to other salts that burn in other colors)