Stage 1: Getting Acquainted with Prickly Pear:
What we did:
- scissors (tried to cut off the prickles)
- pliers (in a circular motion to pull the prickle out)
- scraper (good for peeling skin and digging the prickles out-but when we peeled the skin off of the plant, it broke apart more easily, falling into our juice container; pete said that isn’t necessarily a bad thing)
- lighter (prickles burned off easily, but if we were trying to do this for mass amounts of cacti it wouldn’t be ideal)
- made somewhat natural bricks with leaves, corn stalk, and prickly pear juice (leaving them in the sun until next week to see if it ends up working as a binder).
|hitting the prickly pear with a hammer
|trying to compress natural material with prickly pear juice
|scraping the skin off the prickly pear
|prickly pear juice
|adding the prickly pear juice to leaves
|using the juice as a binder
|compressing the prickly pear
|collection of prickly pear leaves and fruit
Our next step:
- Bring a cheese grater, blender, strainer and paper towel technique; we could maybe blend what we grated to make it easier to work with; want to bring some materials for natural/adobe bricks, experiment with bamboo (layering bamboo and prickly pear plant to see if it is a strong hold).
Questions we want to explore:
- Boiling the plant: will this denature the binding chemicals or could it be a useful method?
- What amount of the juice would be needed for it to be useful? Which method of extraction would be the most feasible for a large scale utilization of prickly pear juice?
- Where could this technology be useful? (ei: where is the plant abundant that would be willing to try the technology)
- How sticky does the juice need to be?
- What method gets the most juice per 10-12 x 5″ piece of cactus leaf?
- How much juice is needed to work?
- How concentrated does the juice need to be?
- Are there other plants we could use?