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  1. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    I read the other day (in a boiler service manual, of all places) that you should burn about 10 liters of potato peels every couple of months to help clean the heat exchanger tubes in a wood gasifier. It's the manufacturers' recommendation, so I assume it's true, but I never heard that before. Anybody else?

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  2. wg_bent

    wg_bent Minister of Fire

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    I can see Eric's neighbor's this January. "Damn... they put in the friggin McDonalds they were talking about :-( " ;-)
  3. Harley

    Harley Minister of Fire

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    I'm not sure if this is just and old wive's tale or not, but I've heard people "swear by" burning potato peels in the wood stove to lessen creosote problems.
  4. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Can one assume they mean "dried" potato peels? If yes, I would think they'd burn very hot, with no creosote produced.
  5. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    I wouldn't assume that they mean dried. I suspect you'd get a better chemical reaction, if that's in fact what is supposed to happen, with wet ones.
  6. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    I think you're correct to question the procedure as to it's real intent and methods. I could only find one good reference in a search and they were specific to burning dried potato peels to cleaning a chimney. If green how would one get them to burn?

    http://www.endtimesreport.com/chimney_cleaning.html
  7. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    I found this comment in davesgarden.com:

    "I have a wood stove and my chimney is cleaned every year by a pro. I had a friend who swore that if you use potato peelings this wouldn't be necessary. To make a long story short, her house burned down. Mine is still standing."
  8. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    Well, thanks for clearing that up, BG. The manual is a pretty hilarious translation job from its original Polish, so it's not always clear what they're talking about. Entertaining, though.

    Actually, I have the model with the automated heat exchanger cleaning option, so the potato peels aren't needed. Good thing, too, since we usually leave the peels on.

    As to how you would burn green potato peels: Personally, I'd just get a good bed of wood coals and toss the peels in. But come to think of it, 10 liters is a lot of soggy biomass.

    Here's a link to the translated manual, in case anyone is in the mood for a good chuckle over semantic mangulation. The bit about the potato peels is on page 17.

    http://www.stjosephky.com/Operating Manual Eko 25-80 KW Gasifier.pdf
  9. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Hmm, I was thinking Irish stove manual at first. But come to think of it, the Polish make a lot of fine vodka. Maybe they pour some of that on the green peels? ;-)

    I think burning good dry wood should help a lot, but I'd still like to know what is in the potato peels that helps. I'm guessing potassium salts?
  10. Harley

    Harley Minister of Fire

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    Oh my god, Eric.... I just read a few paragraphs, and I have a headache!!! Were you able to get through the whole thing?
  11. SeanD

    SeanD New Member

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    I used to work for a company that manufactured copper/brass/solder radiators for automobiles. Part of the process involved dipping part of the radiator core in a pot full of lead/tin solder. Over time some of the copper and brass would leach into the solder. This was not a good thing. From time to time we would toss a potato in the (very hot) pot. It would bubble like crazy. Supposedly the starch in the potato absorbed the impurities. It would float to the surface and we would skim it off.
    We were skeptical of whether something so strange actually worked, so we did a chemical analysis before and after potato tossing. Solder was much cleaner after.
    Idaho potatos with skin on worked best.
  12. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    Interesting story, SeanD.

    The manual specifically mentions the starch, too.

    I'm a magazine editor, remember, Harley? I get worse stuff than this from some phDs that I have to wade through and try to figure out. Actually, once you get hip to where the translators are coming from, it starts to make sense.
  13. Harley

    Harley Minister of Fire

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    Yes, I do remember that, and my hat is off to you for being able to wade through through that stuff and make sense of it all. I did go back and re-read some of it, and I think I could figure out most what they were saying (hey - being 1/2 polish does have it's advantages - we can use potatoes for just about anything) :lol:
  14. Michael6268

    Michael6268 Feeling the Heat

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    Two old wives tales - Potato's and empty aluminum soda cans in you fireplace/wood stove help eliminate creosote. Ive heard both are un-true.
  15. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Eric, I once read (a long time ago) in The Mother Earth News about using potato peelings. They gave the amount and how often it should be done. I'll try to find the article if possible.
  16. smirnov3

    smirnov3 Feeling the Heat

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    That makes me suspitious - the starch will be broken down in the fire & lose all effectivness.

    maybe if you took a handfull of potato peels and used them to scrub out your pipe, they would do a good job on the creosote, but otherwise... :)

    it sounds like a case of 'a little knowledge is a dangerous thing' - the manufacturer probably read that 'starch clears up creosote', so obviously burning potatos = clean pipes
  17. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    I found multiple references to using potato peels, but no real scientific explanation. But often plant folklore is based on practical experience, so there may be a grain of truth to it. All claims seem to point out that it softens tar like creosote, but doesn't remove it. It would be great if someone found actually testing of this and other folk methods (ie: adding salt to the fire, aluminum cans, etc.) That would be a good posting.
  18. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    In looking at the safety sheets for Rutland creosote cleaners I see TSP as a common ingredient. It's used together with manganese acetate. Has anyone used tri-sodium phosphate as a chimney cleaner?
  19. n6crv

    n6crv Feeling the Heat

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    Hello, I used alot of TSP and it does seem to allow the creosote to come off easier. I looked at what Safety Flue had as main ingredient and it is TSP. I did put about 1/8 cup in every week and it was really not too bad to clean the chimney.
    Don
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