Briquettes – Burning Down to the End
After a full quarter of working on these cooking briquettes, we have successfully created (and recreated) briquettes that can be used independently as a fuel source. While we did not have time to address part of our goal of making a handheld press (that requires little to no welding so it can be remade in various locations with limited skill sets), we find that our investigation into varying compositions was still highly important in determining the “ideal” briquette to be using for cooking. This will set the foundation of any future endeavors, since known burning materials can be used in any development of a press, or even in carbonizing the materials (see our Where Next? link).
The amount of smoke produced by the briquettes is clearly still unsafe for indoor cooking, which may not be of much use in Nepal at this time. However, by using common waste materials that would otherwise be left as trash or to decompose somewhere, they could still help slow the deforestation of the region if the burn methods were improved in the future. Again, this is where carbonization would be critical to creating a low-smoke briquette.
Rotted food only seemed to work well when added to other fibrous materials such as paper and sawdust, so while the odor of working with the materials was extremely unpleasant for us, it is not something that should be considered undesirable for any briquette making, especially if it could help improve local sanitation by reducing both yard and food waste.
All in all, this project was easy to achieve and is completely feasible for others to pursue further, and we’ll eat to that!