When life hands you lemons….

January 5, 2010

Gadget, Prototype

…. burn them.

I had a bad day. No details, thank you, but the only thing that kept me going was the thought of making a homemade alcohol heater when I got home.

If you try this at home, kids, don’t blame me for any damage, alright?

I read a couple of tutorials on the subject of emergency heat. Ever since my friend Kate lost her power over Christmas I’ve been secretly hoping we’ll lose ours wondering what we would do in the same situation. I’ve got my trusty candle heater and snowsuit, but what else could there be? Short of ripping a hole in our roof and installing a wood stove (which I really, really want to do), this seemed the safest, least-carbon-monoxide-emitting way to go.

Basically, you take the middle out of a roll of toilet paper. You put the de-middled roll in a small metal coffee can. (I only had a tiny green bean can, hence the cutting of a half-used-up roll. The t.p. should be shorter than the can.) The you pour 70% or 91% isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol on it until it soaks it up and is no longer dry (you can use a little more), then…….(drum roll)….. light it on fire!!! The t.p. is a wick, and burns the alcohol. There are some things to know, but I certainly won’t remember them. Check here if you’re interested.

Yes, I cut toilet paper.

I only had 70%.  Your t.p. will get wet from water after too many burns.

My camera didn’t show the fire terribly well, so no ‘after’ shot. I was impressed with the flames (they’re hard to see – so be careful), but a bit disappointed in the heat output. Apparently this will keep you alive in your car, but good luck not setting your car on fire, I say.

I think it may need modification…… like a giant Kandle Heater thingie!!!

About Lauren

Lauren Sommerer is a preschool teacher who likes to build prototypes, grow cats, cook things once, save money, reduce, reuse and recycle.

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11 Responses to “When life hands you lemons….”

  1. Brad Said on:

    Some guy commented on a YouTube video about this and said you could prepare the toilet paper in the can as usual, but pour melted wax over it. It becomes a giant candle and it’s more portable than alcohol. I didn’t see a video of that though, so it might be sooty.


    • Lauren Said on:

      I remember a coiled-cardboard-strip-inside-a-tuna-can version of that from a Girl Scout book. I agree -- it would probably be sooty. I’ll test it.


  2. Kristi Said on:

    What a knife! What brand is that?


  3. Peggy Said on:

    What are the odds (Lloyd) that I also tried a toilet paper experiment just this morning!!! Not kidding!!! It involved washing my hair though.


    • Lloyd Said on:

      Was there rubbing alcohol involved?


      • Peggy Said on:

        No, no rubbing alcohol. Baby powder.


        • Lauren Said on:

          I know about that! It’s like the Laverne & Shirley episode -- I believe it was Dippy-Do. “Does your hair feel icky-poo? Wash it out with Dippy-Do! The dry shampoo!”

          Did it work?


          • Peggy Said on:

            I think so. I don’t have very oily hair as it is…but I wanted to ‘dry’ wash my hair this morning & it seemed to me that I remembered reading somewhere that you could use baby powder on cotton balls that you then stick on a hair brush & go over your hair to clean it. Well I was out of cotton balls, so I just dumped some powder on the top of my head & then ruffled it out with TP. It left my part a little white, but my hair did look un-dirty. Tonight I’m going to try and wash it in the sink without getting my back wet. (TMI ?)

            (Due to some ‘patch’ testing I’m having done, I can’t get my back wet for 2 days.)

  4. Lauren's mom Said on:

    I hope you had a better day today.


  5. Annette Said on:

    I’d have to be MacGyver to keep all those supplies in my car.
    Did it smell like alcohol?
    (altho, I’d like to keep MacGyver in my car!)


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