Saltpeter, the adventure continues

April 26, 2010 at 8:07 pm | Posted in saltpeter | Leave a comment

Since getting actual crystals, albeit very impure ones, from my last batch of saltpeter, I have attacked the saltpeter experiment with renewed enthusiasm. I decided to try again from scratch, this time implementing some of the lessons I learned from the first time around.

During the first round, I used my own chicken manurial soil, which was only about 75% on its way to actually being soil. This time, I went to the feed and grain store and asked if I could dig up part of the pen were the store keeps pigs every summer. Not only are pigs the number one choice of Biringuccio for manurial soil, but the fact that the pigs are only kept in the pen for a few months meant that the soil had completely returned to normal, with no manure left. The store was growing grass in the pen area, so they would only let me dig around the edges, but I have seen that pen when the pigs are in it every year, and I am sure that there was manure in every inch of it. Pigs are not clean animals.

Armed with my new and improved manurial soil, I next made some minor changes to my dripping bucket. Last time I tried to make careful layers of the soil and ash/lime mixture, but ran into problems that meant I ended up having to dump it all together. This time, I was more savvy and was able to keep the layers intact.

At the King and Queen’s championship I spent a long time talking to a very nice woman with a Polish persona, whose name I unfortunately can’t remember and isn’t on the email of judging feedback. Among the suggestions she made, was to use linen instead of cotton as my filtering cloth, as she felt that it would not swell up as much and make the dripping process faster. Was she correct! Using linen, I could drip through the bucket in about a day, a process that was taking three or four times as long the last time.

In the next post: Boiling down the liquid, part one!

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