Cocoa Butter Press

Adam Yee (
Garrett Morris (
Memphis Wong (
Christopher Watanabe (
~ We are the Cocoa Butter People. Cool Cocoa Beans.
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Problem Statement

65% of the world’s cocoa comes from West Africa. The average West African cocoa farmer gets less than 1% of the retail price of a chocolate bar. We will be working with a San Luis Obispo non-profit, Project Hope and Fairness, to help establish in-village chocolate production. Project Hope and Fairness has been traveling to West Africa for the past 7 ½ years visiting 15 cocoa farming villages and asking what would help bring them out of poverty. They decided that providing the cocoa farming villages with the ability to make chocolate from the beans they grow would give them more control over the cocoa market, create more jobs, and increase access to profits.
Chocolate making requires more cocoa butter than cocoa solids, resulting in cocoa butter becoming the limiting reagent. Our goal is to make a cocoa liquor (a paste from grounding the beans) press that would extract cocoa butter. Ideally, this press will also be able to extract useful oils from peanuts, palm, and palm kernels.

Why It Matters

The agricultural industry in both Ghana and the Ivory Coast is almost entirely driven by small private farms. Agriculture has been trending downward in the face of industrialization, which has been rapidly climbing. (Data From As a result, farm workers and their produce have been undervalued greatly and to even the point of exploitation. ( As a consequence of these trends, poorer farmers and people in poverty have been reduced to find work in industrial sweatshops. Our aim is to provide an intermediate technology to help remedy the target population of cocoa farmers and allow them to take back value in their farms by allowing smaller, independent production of chocolate, and avoid having to be cheated by large industrial companies.

Data taken from

*%GDP data taken from (
Missing Data from Ghana attributed to Civil War and Ethnic Conflict (

*%GDP data taken from (
Missing Data from Ghana attributed to Civil War and Ethnic Conflict (

Agriculture%GDP Over Industry %GDP (Ghana & Cote d’Ivore)


Ghana Ag%OverInd%.png

For more GapMinder information on the Ivory Coast, see the link on the main page.


The most efficient mode of transport would be to send the device with Tom Neuhaus during his summer visits to Africa. Therefore, the weight of the system serves as the primary constraint. We have been informed by Tom that the weight should not exceed 40 lb and must be able to hold at least 1 liter of cocoa liquor. Along the same lines, our press needs to be able to fit within a standard suitcase, or be able to be broken down into smaller parts, in order to fit within the space required by the airlines, roughly “23 OR 32 KG IN WEIGHT, DEPENDING ON THE TRAVEL CLASS AND DESTINATION, AND 158 CM IN SIZE (THE SUM OF HEIGHT + WIDTH + DEPTH)” (

As we are pressing the cocoa butter out of the cocoa liquor, we must require that the butter be heated to its melting point, 95 – 97.7 degrees Fahrenheit [Cocoa Butter WIki]. Therefore, we will have to find a way to incorporate a method of heating while the cocoa liquor is being pressed, be it fire, electricity, solar, etc.

The time it takes to press the cocoa butter out of the cocoa liquor is lengthy, and requires that the pressure remain firm upon the cocoa liquor. Toward this goal, we must find a means of maintaining pressure for an extended period of time.

Literature Review
Cocoa butter is an essential ingredient in chocolate. It is extracted from a portion of cocoa beans and mixed together with another portion of cocoa beans along with sugar to make chocolate. It makes the chocolate creamy and mouth melting.
Figure 1: Grenada Chocolate Process Flow Chart for Chocolate Production

Cocoa Process Flow.jpg

In 1828 Casparus van Houten Sr. patented an inexpensive method for pressing the fat from roasted cocoa beans. The center of the bean, known as the “nib,” contains an average of 54 percent cocoa butter, which is a natural fat. Van Houten’s machine – a hydraulic press – reduced the cocoa butter content by nearly half. This created a “cake” that could be pulverized into cocoa powder, which was to become the basis of all chocolate products.

The introduction of cocoa powder not only made creating chocolate drinks much easier, but also made it possible to combine chocolate with sugar and then remix it with cocoa butter to create a solid, already closely resembling today’s eating chocolate.
The challenge in cocoa butter pressing is achieving huge pressures, the solution of which is using hydraulics.

Grenada Chocolate, a popular organic chocolate company invented a press that uses much lower pressures like the old-style presses and provides about 1500 psi using a standard 20 ton hydraulic car jack. The press cylinder is machined out of standard seamless pipe stock (6 inch diameter) and sits on a 2 inch thick steel press plate which contains small holes and a fine stainless screen. As a steel piston pushes down on the liquefied cocoa inside the cylinder, clear liquid cocoa butter squirts and drips out of the bottom of the press plate and into the collection bowl. The piston needs to be re-pressurized every few minutes by cracking the jack a couple of times. It takes about 45 minutes to complete each batch in the press. The press is continually heated using attached gas burners. After the butter stops dripping out, the cylinder is removed from the press plate and a block of cocoa solid material is removed. This block is ground down to make Cocoa Powder, used for hot chocolate, baking, chocolate ice-cream, etc. The cocoa butter is added to the chocolate in the Conche so that it mixes in thoroughly and becomes one with the chocolate mass
Figure 2: Grenada Chocolates hydraulic cocoa butter press
Grenada Cocoa Press.jpg

Cacao Cucina makes high quality, artisan chocolate machinery using the same principle as Chocolate Grenada, a hudraulic press. Unfortunately, because it takes an ample amount of power and expenses, it cannot be used as a viable option for an appropriate technology, though the theory of how it works is applicable.

Figure 3: Cacao Cocina Coco Butter Press
Cocina Cooca Press.jpg
The ideal cocoa butter press that this project will focus on is cheap, portable and light while also processing at least 1 liter of cocoa liqueur. The Living Earth Student Clinic uses a hydraulic press that is compact, and can produce large quantities of oil. This model
s designed to extract herbal oils and be possible to be used in chocolate butter extraction.

The herbal press, or known as a “tincture” , is a commonly used device to make herbal potions. Horizon herbs sells high quality hydraulic tincture press with the following parameters:

Features of the 1/2 gallon tincture press:
• Heavy steel construction with green powder-coated finish
• All stainless steel herb contact surfaces, including custom piston and pressing pans
• Heavy duty 6-ton hydraulic jack
• Automatic spring-loaded return
• 2 hoses and 2 pressing cloths

Specifications of the 1/2 gallon tincture press:
• Measures 11” wide x 27” high x 6” deep
• Weighs 45 pounds
• Processes smallest batches up to ½ gallon or more per pressing
• Normal turn-around time 10 minutes per pressing
• Easily presses 3 gallons of herbal solution per hour
An example of a tincture press is shown below.

Figure 4: Living Earth Student Clinic Hydraulic Tincture Press for Herbal Oils and Extracts

Tincture Press.jpg

In conclusion, the appropriately designed cocoa press must take into account high pressure, a heating element, relatively light in weight, and must produce a volume that is considered economically advantageous. The herbal tincture is an ideal design for its size and mechanics. A heating element must be devised as well. Only experimentation can tell if cocoa butter can be extracted from such a machine and modifications will most likely be made to efficiently extract cocoa butter.

Proposed Decision Matrix

42% 29% 13% 13% 4% 100%
Option (Scores 1-100) Cost Durability Ease of Repair Energy Usage Portability Score
Al Frame /Bottle Jack /Electric Heater 50 60 35 60 70 53
Al Frame/Bottle Jack/Fire Chamber 65 75 60 80 80 70
Al Frame/Crank Jack/Electric Heater 55 65 45 60 70 58
Al Frame/Crank Jack/Fire Chamber 70 80 70 80 80 75
Steel Frame/Bottle Jack/Electric Heater 45 70 30 60 55 53
Steel Frame/Bottle Jack/Fire Chamber 60 80 55 80 65 68
Steel Frame/Crank Jack/Electric Heater 50 75 40 60 55 58
Steel Frame/Crank Jack/Fire Chamber 65 90 65 80 65 74

3/5 Fire/Electric Chamber removed from final design constraints
*Chambers initially designed to heat cocoa liquor, but heating prior to press was found to be more practical

“Artisan Butter Press.” Welcome to Cacao Cucina. Cacao Cucina. Web. 26 Jan. 2014.
“Grenada Chocolate – Cocoa Butter Press.” Grenada Chocolate – Cocoa Butter Press. Grenada Chocolates., Web. 26 Jan. 2014.
Omland, Correne. “Spiraea Herbs.” Spiraea Herbs. N.p., 11 Jan. 2011. Web. 26 Jan. 2014. <>
“Onderzoekers in actie: Peter van Dam De geschiedenis van de firma Van Houten Cacao” (in Dutch). Retrieved 2008-05-25.
“Tincture Press,” Stainless Steel, 1/2 Gallon Size, Spring-Loaded Return.” A “Tincture Press,” Stainless Steel, 1/2 Gallon Size, Spring-Loaded Return. Horizon Herbs, LLC, n.d. Web. 26 Jan. 2014. <>.

Lab History
Lab 1 & 2: Getting Red Tag Certification and Brainstorming
Lab 3: (1/28/14)
Built a mini makeshift cocoa press from the materials around the lab.
We drilled part way into a piece of wood, placed a tight fitting 1/4 inch plastic cylinder in the whole, and lined the bottom and top with cheese cloth. Then we added melted (via microwave) cocoa liquor to the cylinder and pressed it using a hydraulic press mounted to a metal frame. As the pressure increased, the cocoa liquor began oozing out from underneath the sides of the cylinder. As we kept on pressing, we noticed liquor seeping from the side of the block of wood. The pressure had actually forced the liquor through a tiny crack in the wood and traveled 5 inches through the center to the exterior. As we took apart the press, we found cocoa powder stuck to the cheese cloth – meaning that we did achieve some separation of cocoa butter and cocoa powder!
What we learned: Cheese cloth is too permeable. Hydraulic press gives out sufficient pressure.
For next time: Build a metal base/cylinder combo that wont allow liquor to seep out. Find an less porous filter material. (for example, felt).
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Lab 4 (2/4/14):
With a plastic PVC pipe-like material with a cap, felt sheet, and a polyester sheet, we created a miniature cocoa butter press. Our first idea was to seal the bottom of the cylinder and press the butter out of the top. This was unsuccessful in that the cocoa liquor seeped (unfiltered) through the felt and out of the top while also working its way up the thread of the crew on bottom cap. For our next attempt we drilled 5 tiny holes through a quarter (that was just smaller than the cylinder of the PVC pipe) covered it with 2 layers of metal screening, a felt piece, then a polyester piece. We slid that into the cylinder, poured melted (via microwave) cocoa liquor over it, placed a polyester slip over the cocoa and then pressed it with the hydraulic press and a fitted extended plug. The result was cocoa butter (still holding some traces of cocoa solids-making it “chocolate brown”) and cocoa powder! We pressed the liquor until the plastic cylinder cracked under the pressure, but at that point there was no original cocoa liquor to be found.
What we learned: that our basic concept and methodology of pressing the cocoa liquor is effective at separating the cocoa butter from cocoa solids.For Next Week: We will travel to a hardware store and try to find more sturdy materials to make (or buy) a cylinder, bottom cap, and top pressing piece out of. Then we shall replicate the test in a larger scale with materials that wont “break under the pressure.”

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Eyes: cocoa powder; Nose: quarter w/ holes; Mouth: cocoa butter

Lab 5 (2/11/14):
This week was a bit of a challenge and we ran into some barriers in making progress. Due to a lack of group communication and planning, we were unsure of what materials we would use to make the press. On the night before lab, we decided that Adam would go to McCarthy Steel in SLO to look for either a rod to make disks out of and/or fit the cylinder, other than the one we found in the scrap bin of the Bonderson shop. As Adam was getting the parts, the rest of us scoured the scrap shed for more pieces. Adam returned with an aluminum rod which we decided to make the disks out of. With the help of a handy lab tech, Sam, we shaved down the diameter to fit tightly in the steel cylinder, but also leave enough room for the felt to fit around the edge. Then we cut a 0.75 inch disc off the end. By this time, lab was over! Not as much ground was covered as we had hoped, especially after two previous labs of exciting cocoa liquor pressing tests! However, we did learn a valuable lesson – communication and planning are key in ensuring successful and efficient lab time.

Our fearless leader Peter Schwartz also brought up a good point, that we should find materials that are readily available in our target community, so that building/repairs are easily possible without waiting for a new disk/needed materials to be shipped. For this reason, we are considering experimenting with a piston from a car engine.

What we learned: the lessons described above, and that the detail with which the lathe cut the disks off the aluminum rod was unnecessary. A mill should be sufficient and quicker for next time.For Next Week: We will travel to Lesco Engines in SLO and try to find a large piston we can use.(2-13-14 Update: The piston cylinders at Lesco all had openings in the chamber and would not work for our purposes). As “back-up” we are going to cut another disk off the aluminum rod. Then we can start working to create groves for the butter to drip out of on the bottom disk.
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Lab 6 (02-18-14):
During this week’s lab session, we put our newly acquired steel cylinder and aluminum discs to the test. After having drilled extraction holes into the bottom disc, we secured the felt/polyester/steel screening onto the disc and pressed it into the bottom of the cylinder; a perfect fit. Using the same hydraulic press as with the PVC cylinder, we ran into a problem. The steel cylinder was much deeper than the PVC pipe. For this reason, we had to rest the cylinder on some metal blocks found at the shop. After also tightening the pressure release of the hydraulic press that we noticed had been slightly open, we were successful in pressing cocoa butter from the cylinder. This time, the cocoa butter was much more pure, as demonstrated by the absence of cocoa solids in the butter, seen in the photos below. In our first trial, the cocoa liquor had cooled too much before we could press it in the cylinder, so solids from the first trials were still a bit saturated. However, being more conscious of time during the second trial yielded a better, drier cocoa solid. Nonetheless, during the second trial, pressure built up enough on the top disc to force chocolate out between the disc and cylinder. For this reason, we are planning on drilling holes into the top disc as well, and installing tubes through which butter can flow. In this way, butter will be pressed both through the top and bottom of the cylinder.

After bringing our results to Dr. Neuhaus, we learned that our cocoa soilds still have a considerable amount of butter left in them. He informed us that cocoa liquor is composed of 55% butter & 45% solids, and that even industrial machines can’t separate all the butter from the solids. He stated that a 35-40% removal of cocoa butter from cocoa liquor would be realistic for our purposes.

What we learned: Be sure that the pressure release valve is fully closed on the hydraulic press while pressing.For Next Week: We are going to find small tubing that we will fit into holes that we drill into the top disc. Trials will reveal whether these holes solve the problem of chocolate pouring out through the sides of the top disc. Also we are going to try heating the steel cylinder in hot water in order to keep the cocoa liquor warm and the butter mobile enough to press out. Here is what we are hoping to achieve for next week:If our press can hold 12 oz of liquid cocoa liquor and we can press out 4 oz cocoa butter (33% of the total weight, which should be in our range according to Dr. Neuhaus) than 4 separate batch presses should give us 16 oz of cocoa butter. 16 oz of cocoa butter is enough for one batch of chocolate in Depa, Ivory Coast (where Dr. Neuahus/Project Hope and Fairness has started the in-village chocolate making).

Lab 7 (02-25-14):
For this week’s lab, we heated the steel cylinder in hot water until it was just too hot to hold and added the bottom disk and filters. Then we quickly added 13 oz of 120 degree F cocoa liquor, which left about 1 inch from the top. We pressed the cocoa for 40 minutes, lowering the 12 ton hydraulic press about 1 or 2 pumps every 30-60 sec. The cylinder stayed warm for about 20 min. After 30 min, the butter would drip about once every pump we gave, until about 40 min in until there was hardly a drip every 2 minutes. There was minimal leakage out the top of the cylinder, but the top filters were mildly saturated with cocoa butter. The yield was 3.2 oz of cocoa butter, ~25% of total liquor weight. This is shy of our goal of 30-40%.The cocoa solids block still had a noticeable amount of cocoa butter in it, more so then our press last week. Using the 12 ton jack, we calculated that we could generate about 3400 psi on the cocoa liquor. With a 20 ton press, it would be possible to generate 5700 psi, which could yield the 30-40% yield we’re striving for. Further calculations showed that we are in absolutely no danger of compromising the structural integrity of the steel cylinder, as it would take hundred of tons of force, the likes of which are impractical for building an appropriate tech. cocoa press.

A little research into industrial pressing reveals some rather interesting factoids about the pressing process. Firstly, like us, industry uses hydraulic presses to achieve the high pressures necessary to press cocoa butter. Unlike us however, these presses cost thousands of dollars, and are powered by electricity, versus our manual cocoa press. For this reason, it is possible in the industry to achieve pressures of ~7800 psi, over areas ranging between 247 – 1750 sq. in. This means that these electrically driven hydraulics are capable of achieving force as high as 900 tons. This is a far cry away from our ~28 sq. in. aluminum disc, and 12 ton jack. Due to these larger sizes that industry can use, it is possible to press massive amounts of cocoa liquor, up to 341 lt worth! See for more details.
We also realized this week that we cannot drill holes into the top until we determine a way of pressing the liquor without relying on the additional metal cylinder that we use to distribute the pressure evenly over the entire disc (middle photo below). Therefore, we’ve decided to drill more holes into the bottom press plate, as a means of hopefully reducing the amount of liquor the presses out between the top disc and wall of the cylinder.
What We Learned: 1. Our current cylinder can hold 13 oz cocoa liquor and can press that amount fairly well.
For Next Week: Variables to change. 1. More holes in the bottom press plate 2. Maintaining heat on the cocoa liquor/cylinder while we are pressing. 3. Use a 20 ton hydraulic press

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Lab 8 (03-04-2014)
This week brought a little less pressing action and more communication/discussion/publicity. In the first part of our lab, we discussed our ideas on how the frame would look and what other modifications to test for with our current cylinder. During this time, Memphis and Dr. Pete had a particularly interesting interaction, which brought us to the question: Is our main goal to give Dr. Neuhaus the”imperfect” materials that we are working on in order to have some prototype sent to West Africa, or do we want to use our current materials to keep testing new variables of pressing and possibly not have a working press to send to Africa? After talking to Dr. Neuhaus, we decided that we would continue to test new pressing techniques – risking breaking our materials. Dr. Neuhaus explained that he would like a cylinder that could hold more liquor than our current one so the final product will likely be made out of new materials anyway.
Regarding the frame, it is fairly easy and inexpensive to purchase a built frame (a few hundred), so that is what we will do. Ideally we will buy and modify an existing frame from the USA, and Dr. Neuhaus can give our prototype to a to West African machinist, who can replicate it. Then, the means of producing them in our target community will be fulfilled.
In the second half of lab, we had a film crew come in and document our cocoa press, as well as interview Dr. Neuahus and Garrett for a video Cal Poly is making. In giving the video crew a run through of the press, Dr. Neuhaus “accidentally” heated the cocoa liquor for longer than normal. When we pressed this extra hot liquor, the cocoa butter flowed out seamlessly from both the top and bottom. Interestingly, our need of hoses for extracting butter from the top disk proved to be premature, as removing the butter from the top was as easy as tipping the cylinder over our collecting bowl.

What we learned: Open discussion and “argumentation” are wonderful things. Heating the cocoa liquor higher that 120 F might be beneficial. We dont have to worry about building a frame. We can continue to tinker with our current cylinder because it will not be the one we send to West Africa.

For Next Lab: Use a 30 ton press to see what happens. Also press ground up cocoa nibs to see what happens. Do a series of 3 tests with the only changing variable being the amount of cocoa liquor in the cylinder in hopes of extrapolating the amount of pressure that would be necessary to get 30-40% cocoa butter extraction when we increase the volume of our cylinder.

Lots of cocoa butter coming out of the top


Lab 9 (03-11-14): Our Last Lab
During our last and final week, we used the 20 ton press of the FSN department technician’s work shop. He set us up with an air compressor-controlled 20 ton hydraulic press. After filling our cylinder almost to the brim with 145 degree F cocoa liquor, we began increasing the pressure on the jack by hitting the air compressor for .5 sec every 15 to 30 sec. The cocoa started to drip out just as before, but at what seemed to be a slightly faster rate. It was few minutes of pressing at the same rate when we hear a crack – we dented the frame of the press!
The FSN technician took a look at it (was not very happy) but let us continue pressing, this time with just our body weight and a level (the old fashion way). Because of the hiatus in pressing when the technician inspected the broken frame, we ran out of time to complete the press to its fullest extent. We would have liked to press for another 15 min at least. The cocoa powder cake still have quite a large percent cocoa butter, so we didn’t measure it.
In the lab part 2 (the afternoon portion), we didn’t feel comfortable asking to use the 20 ton press again, so we used the 12 ton hydraulic jack to press some roasted and reheated cocoa nibs (ground beans). The difference here is that these nibs would be a closer to a form of cocoa that a cocoa farmer could process without electricity. To make cocoa liquor, the beans must be ground in a melangeur for many hours to achieve the ideal particle and create cocoa liquor. We were able to achieve an immeasurable amount of cocoa butter out of the press, in that we could see cocoa butter on the bottom press plate, but not enough to drip off and allow us to measure the yield. Although, it would not be a bad idea to further experiment with this idea. It would be a worthy test to find a large mortar and pestle, smash/grind cocoa beans until a paste is formed, and then head and press that paste.

What we Learned this week: Our results from the tests with the 20 ton hydraulic press were inadequate and more testing with a 20 ton jack are needed.
While pressing the cocoa nibs, we caramelized the extra nibs with some coconut sugar. The result: cocoa nibs + sugar = euphoria

Memphis working the 20 ton jack
The slightly bent frame of 20 ton jack
Pressed Cocoa nibs

Also during this last week, Anne Reynolds ( contacted us (via our website) wanting to collaborate on cocoa farming/chocolate making appropriate technologies. We are still in the process of trying to reconnect with her.

Plans for Continuing the Project
Because we were not able to come up with a final prototype of a cocoa press, we are going to work with Dr. Neuahus to find another Cal Poly group to continue where we left off. The goal is to have a cocoa press (including a frame, cylinder, hydraulic jack, and set of procedures) for Dr. Neuhaus to take to Depa, Ivory Coast. Some ideas of groups to contact are: Greg Fiegel and his connections with honor students and Engineers w/o Boarders. Chris and Garrett have agreed to work with such group in crafting the cocoa press.


Garrett Morris – “Trash Bag Buddy“I will be carrying my garbage around with me and sorting it at home every night – paper, plastic, and glass into recyclable. No throwing stuff away at school allowed. Compost everything that I can, and the rest carry the with me all week.

For my 7 day intervention, I collected about 1 pound of trash (see below). The experience brought me a greater awareness of the amount of waste we produce. It made clear the relationship between trash and inconvenience. There are so many ways to reduce waste just by simply planning ahead and being prepared. Most of my waste is food containers – whether that be food packaging or the containers you use when getting food on campus. As far as food packaging, I noticed that fresh foods (which are usually better for you anyways) have less if any packaging, where as many processed foods are sealed in a bag that could preserve the food for 10000 years. For the times where I ate on campus, I just made sure to bring my own Tupperware to put my food into. Besides a few strange looks at the cash register, it was not an issue and I saved 3-4 food containers from being used for 5 min and then being thrown away.
Another thing I noticed was that I (someone who is relatively aware of sustainability issues) had a hard time figuring out what was recyclable and what was trash, particularly when it came to plastics. Sometimes things looked recyclable, but there was no recycle logo – for situations like this, I just kept them in my trash bag.
Also, I usually do not consume very much meat, but because of an assignment for one of my nutrition classes, I had to follow a diet with meat in it. I was confused as to what to do with the bones – they aren’t good for the compost, definitely not recyclable, so I just kept them in my trash Ziploc, which got kinda gross.
I found myself more aware of the trash around me. I would pick up more trash that I found on the ground than I normally do. Because of my “all-or-nothing nature” I couldn’t throw that trash away because that was against my intervention (even though it wasn’t “mine”) so I just kept that in my “trash Ziploc” too.

Memphis Wong – “No meats or dairy for two weeks.”

Understanding the environmental impacts in regards to the Co2 that is produced in the manufacturing and farming of beef and dairy, I decided to reduce this footprint completely by not eating any meat or dairy products. Initially it didn’t seem that bad. I at mostly salad and fruits, but I found that got boring very quickly. I noticed that I was hungrier than usual at certain times and the initial change turned planning out meals and even eating, itself, at times, into more of a chore than something normally enjoyable. Something I noticed immediately was how prevalent meat and dairy is in the social norms for foods and snacks in America. It was difficult to pull away from the smaller things, such as creamers in coffee. I drank half as much coffee during these two weeks and was tired often the first week. My first trip to the grocery store lasted longer than average by about ten minutes as I had to contemplate which non-meat and dairy meals I could make and snacks I could actually eat.

My grocery bill came out to a higher total by about ten dollars than the average and I saw that the non-dairy and non-meat foods were generally higher in price than their counterparts. I was appalled at how much time and money this might cost in the long run. The second week was better in terms of how I felt and my energy levels. I felt cleaner and more energetic without coffee. If I were to stay on this diet permanently, I would have to weigh the cost of the foods and preparations and the near inability to eat out. During the two weeks, there were many places that I felt I could not practically/reasonably eat at, such as McDonalds. After the two weeks had past, I found that I lost around three pounds and enjoyed a slightly higher average mood. When I went back to the coffee, meats, and dairys after my intervention, I found it dramatically put me into a larger craving for the foods I wasn’t eating. I gained about seven to ten pounds and felt very groggy. There could be confounding factors that it was finals week and that I might have splurged on the unhealthy eats coming back from the deprivation of some of my favorite foods. Overall, I feel that I would want to try the intervention again, but for a longer period of time and perhaps when I am less stressed. I can see the process being very beneficial for both my long-term health and the environment.

Adam Yee– Sleeping in my car for a week. Inspired by an annoying neighbor.
So basically, on March 6th, a neighbor left her bass system on all Satuday night. I called the cops and even watched them try and ask the neighbors to turn it off. However, the police pretty much knocked for a while and no one responded. That probably means that she left and forgot… to shut off her bass system… I decided to sleep in my car. I drove all the way to the Cal Poly library and took a nap, being woken by the rain a lot of the time. The sunlight really bothers you as well.

During high school, I read a bit about homelessness and a lot of homeless people live in their cars. Infact, those kind of homeless people take advantage of a lot of things, such as showers from the gym. These type of homeless people have jobs, but not enough money to afford a home. Not a bad idea, right? It was a very uncomfortable experience. Usually, it takes me a long time to go to sleep, this really amplifies it.

I always park my car near Carl’s Jr. and the Barber shop, that is about 5 minutes away from my apartment. They say they tow cars in two hour intervals. I leave my car there for days and nothing happens.

Day 1: Decided to sleep in my jeans and was very uncomfortable. Had to go to the bathroom, guess where I went. Overall, got 4 hours of quality sleep. Because my car has a poor insulation, I woke up every 2 hours to blast the heater in my car because it was freezing. I woke up with a sore back.

Day 2: Brought more comfortable pants for me to sleep and still was not comfortable. Got about 5 hours of sleep. Wasn’t good. Woke up every 2 hours. Same story, I was cold every 2 hours because of the poor insulation.

Day 3: Brought a sleeping bag this time. It was too hot in the beginning so I didn’t use it. As soon as my car was super cold, I switched to the sleeping bag and had a “comfortable” sleep.

Day 4: Tried the same thing. noticed my car kinda smelled so I aired it out a lot. I only wake up once now and put on the sleeping bag. The light still bothers me.

Day 5: People are wondering why I have pillows here. I make up a strange excuse. I act more cranky because of the lack of sleep and the quality of sleep.

Day 6: I think I slept well just because I was very tired. I still woke up because of the whole sleeping bag deal but I have gotten into a routine that I found comfortable.

Day 7: Final day, it was alright. As I reflect on why I’m doing this, I realized that I am fortunate to afford rent and that I am fortunate to live where I am now. Sleeping in your car, though more humane than on the road, is miserable and I wouldn’t recommend doing it. The change in temperature is very frustrating and themobilty of my body in the car was uncomfortable. As I embraced my bed the next day, it was so rewarding.

Christopher Watanabe – “Bucket Showers“. Not physically with a bucket, but rinse, soap, rinse, out, so as to take less than a couple minutes each time. No more than twice a week for as long as I feel fit. My metric for this experience is the AMOUNT OF WATER saved, which, in it of itself, is dependent on TIME. The Federal Energy Act of 1992 [1] required that all shower fixtures have a flow rate less than 2.2 gallons per minute (GPM). Assuming that I consume 2.2 GPM while taking a shower, this would put me at an average of 22 gallons for a typical ten minute shower. Cutting this time down to 1 – 2 minutes means I would only consume 3.3 gallons, on average. 22 – 3.3 = 18.7 gallons of water that I conserve by taking a shorter shower. That’s not to mention that not waiting for the water to get warm also conserved energy, and conserving energy means conserving money! Let’s do the calculation.

Let’s say with the temperature of the water originally, measured to be 22.8 degrees Centigrade. We have 22 gallons of it, because that’s how much water I use for a shower. I want to get it to a nice warm temperature of 33.5 degrees Centigrade, a rise of 10.7 degrees!!! How much energy does it take? Standard procedure for such a calculation requires taking the amount of energy needed to heat a mass of water one degree (also called the heat capacity) , and multiplying that by the amount of water, and the temperature change desired. The final calculation yields 1.13 kilowatt hours. This saves me roughly 8 cents, every time I shower, assuming that we pay 8 cents per kWh.

Another interesting measure of this endeavor is the carbon footprint of it all. According to Sopris Foundation, which produces neat little cards that contain information on carbon footprints of every day habits [2], a 10-minute shower produces 7 lbs of CO2. If I took two 10-minute showers every week, that would add up to 364 lbs of CO2 per year, just for showering! Cutting the time by a tenth cuts my CO2 shower footprint by a tenth as well, or 36.4 lbs of CO2 per year, just to shower. In comparison with my full footprint per year, roughly 15 tons (30,000 lbs) per year, this is next to nothing. However, as Henri Frederic Amiel would put it:

“What we call little things are merely the causes of great things; they are the beginning, the embryo, and it is the point of departure which, generally speaking, decides the whole future of an existence. One single black speck may be the beginning of a gangrene, of a storm, of a revolution.”

In my own coming and going, I see that one single shower may very well also be the beginning of a gangrene, of a storm, of a revolution. Then came along Pete and introduced this idea of timing my showers. Simply genius. I looked at this as a challenge, my shortest shower being roughly 15 seconds. I wanted it short enough that I wouldn’t need a watch to keep time. This was a success, as my showers ranged between 15 and 45 seconds. The water’s chill also did much to shorten the time span of my showers.

Success? Failure? Good questions. Success: I put myself out of my comfort zone, and the research revealed a stunning fact: IF you actually use your flow rate limiting shower head (and didn’t just remove the plastic piece that does the limiting), a ten minute shower means 22 gallons of water! That’s a lot of water, just to get clean! So limiting the amount of water I use was something I will retain from this experience. Failure: Cold showers = Uncomfortable. The amount of energy saved from not using hot water is not worth it to me to take cold showers. That being said, I will certainly increase my carbon footprint by using warm water in my showers, but my rationale is that the amount of water I save has a much larger affect on the environment than the electrical heating of the water.