Heating Natural Dye Pots- Naturally
October 10, 2009
All my dyeing days up to this point have included heat sources that leave quite a carbon footprint. I’ve used gas stoves and electric hot plates- the energy required to heat these tools was inefficiently and unsustainably pumped, mined, or extracted in some way. ‘Plugging-in’, may feel very convenient, but the process is hugely inconvenient for the planet.
I worked over open flames at both the Navajo reservation, and in Wyoming this year- to find that while I loved the quick heat generated from the fire, I had challenges with the physical feelings induced by smoke inhalation. The carbon foot-print of open flame work also seemed quite large– with smoke rising into the air in big plumes. An unexpected solution to my heat source issues arrived when my friend Brock Dolman introduced me to Fred Colgan– a designer, carpenter, and humanitarian who works with the stovetech company.
The StoveTech stove was the brainchild of an appropriate technology company in Oregon- whose goals are first and foremost humanitarian. This stove was originally designed for the 3 billion people on the planet who cook over open flame fires daily. It uses 40-50% less fuel, and reduces emissions by 50-75% compared to open fire cooking. This eliminates 60% or 1-2 tons per year of green house gas emissions. My stove was $40- a very fair price. I can boil 1 gallon of water in 20 minutes using just three bits of wood- if kindling isn’t available, I can use any biomass from my garden- roots, dried grass, etc. For natural dyes, the quick boiling time is wonderful, and temperature can be modulated by simply adding less fuel.
My black walnut dye was ready in 30 minutes, and the pot stayed warm enough for me to add more skeins. I used a total of 6, 1.5″ in diameter and 10″ long pieces of kindling for a great color outcome.