Introduction: Fire Briquette Burn Tests
Welcome back to those of you who came from part one of this series; Alternative Mixed Media Sun Dried Paper Briquettes . If you have not seen that IBLE already, it details the making of these assorted briquettes.
Pro tip #1 - leaving the briquettes out to dry on a day that it rains = counterproductive
Thanks to a parade of rainy days this batch of briquettes took almost 2 weeks to dry completely.
I decided I wanted to test 2 separate aspects:
1) How well the briquettes will stay lit
2) How long they will burn
Step 1: Ignition Test
In order to compare these briquette I also included a plain paper pulp briquette to use as a benchmark to test against.
Lined up left to right in the first picture of this step, the briquettes were arranged in the following order:
Pine Twigs, Pine Needles, Grass Clipping, Peanut Shells, Cardboard Laminate, Plain Pulp
I set each of the briquettes up with a tea light candle underneath and I applied a flame for approx 3 minutes.
As life likes to keep us on our toes, it was at this time that a mild breeze decided it needed to roam around my backyard seeing how many times it could make me relight candles.
Unfortunately for the grass clipping briquette the breeze really liked that particular candle, so at the end of three minutes while the rest of the briquette were steadily smoldering the grass clipping briquette had a mild case of carbon buildup.
None of these combinations were able to maintain a flame once the direct flame was removed.
All of the briquettes were able to maintain a good smolder once sufficiently exposed to flame.
Given how well dried pine needles and twigs burn, I was really hoping they would let the briquettes maintain a flame. Unfortunately while both the needles and the twigs burn hot, they also burn fast so they just don't stick around long enough when they do appear on the surface of the briquette. To maintain a flame, the ratio of pine to pulp would have to be much higher, but they would not last nearly as long.
Step 2: Duration Test
This was a straight forward test to determine if any of the mixtures would burn faster or slower than the plain paper pulp only briquette.
Once exposed to a burning fire, all of the briquettes quickly caught and maintained a steady burn.
At the end of approx 45 minutes most of the briquettes were about half of their initial size and if disturbed would break apart easily.
The only briquette that still had solidity to its center was the cardboard laminate. When I poked apart the briquette the center layer of cardboard was still not burned at the center.
Step 3: Final Thoughts
I don't think I will be using peanut shells as a filler media again for the following reasons:
1) As you can see in the photo, the peanut shells got "fuzzy" while drying out.
2) Shelling peanuts is very time consuming. There are plenty of other types of filler that are much easier to acquire.
The cardboard laminate briquette held together a little bit better in the duration burn test than the others. It also took several days longer to dry initially than any of the other briquettes.
I was surprised that there was very little difference in aroma between the plain and the mixed media briquettes.
Even though they were all made in the same molds, there was a noticeable difference in how thick the final dried product was depending on what it was mixed with.
Thinnest to thickest it was plain pulp, grass clippings, pine needles, cardboard laminate, pine twigs, and then peanut shells.