Lifetime Fuel Economy: 39.49 mpg

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Saving another type of fuel

I was cleaning out the kitchen today (still waiting for an excuse to drive the 'scort, so I figured I could clean and then take the recycling to our neighborhood drop-off) and I discovered that our "fat jar" had become full. For everyone out there who doesn't know what a fat jar is, allow me to edify. When you're cooking with ground beef and you drain off the fat, it's a bad idea to dump it down the drain. The fat cools and returns to its solid state as it transfers thermal energy to your pipes. You don't want too much in your arteries, and the same can be said for your drains. Some people claim that using hot water while dumping it helps, but that's a huge energy waste as well.
To avoid all this trouble, we keep a fat jar - just an empty glass jar that we dump the fat into. We typically put it in the refrigerator after dinner when it cools down, which keeps it solid and prevents it from smelling or spoiling (don't know if it would anyway).
Anyhow, if you've ever done calorimetry of foods in a chemistry or biology class, you know that the bonds in food store lots of energy, and this can be released by combustion into lots of thermal energy and light. This got me to thinking, my grandmother used to burn oil lanterns in her cabin, and she always reminded us kids that they used to get oil for those from whale blubber. Now, I ask, is cow fat much different from whale fat? After trying it out, I think not!
Fats (lipids) have ~9 calories per gram, while carbohydrates and protein have 4 cal/g and alcohol has 7 calories per gram. My fat should be capable of releasing more energy than an equivalent mass of alcohol, and hopefully it won't end up like a molotov cocktail...
I stuck a birthday cake candle into the top of the fat and it burned like this for 30 minutes, without appreciably dropping the fat level. This is definitely something I'm going to start saving for the "just in case" scenario. ;)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We have one of those at my house. But it goes on the green beans. :)