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Melting snow with charcoal.

Offline beorn

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Melting snow with charcoal.
« on: December 19, 2021, 05:35:03 PM »
I tried an experiment melting the snow of my greenhouse shed with powdered charcoal and it seems to be working very well. I have in the past used charcoal as a deicer for the walkway.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5VTrWpHY4jA
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Offline Jerry D Young

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Re: Melting snow with charcoal.
« Reply #1 on: December 20, 2021, 12:56:30 PM »
When I was a kid in Missouri and we got the occasional heavy snow, we would spread coal dust and ashes over areas we wanted to clear. I learned the hard way to have the wind at my back when doing that. I was only about 9 or 10 at the time. It was highly effective.

A couple of years later we switched back to wood heat. My dad had come up with a couple of rolls of heavy black plastic somewhere for some reason that I cannot remember. He was working in St. Louis at the time, when we lived out about 40-miles. He was getting ready to head out to work right after we got the first big snow of the winter that year. He told me to get a pair of scissors from my mother, roll out one of the rolls of plastic and cut a piece as long as where we needed to melt the snow. Then he left to go to work. (He would stay in St. Louis for the week and come back after his shift on Friday.)

It was slow going at first, as I could barely move the roll as it was so heavy. And even back then my hands did not work well in cold weather. I finally got the piece cut and unfolded it. The wind had picked up, naturally, and I almost lost it several times, but I finally wrestled it into place and managed to get enough stuff piled on it to hold it down.

I was soaked and felt like I was frozen I remember. When I went inside my mother grabbed me and nearly stripped me naked to dry me off and wrap me up in a blanket. At least, that is the way I remember. Once I get cold enough I lose mental acuity as fast, if not faster, than I do physical dexterity.

I could not believe it the next morning when we left to walk the 5/8 of a mile to catch the school bus (and no, it was not uphill both ways), and the black plastic was almost four inches lower than the snow around it. I lifted an edge and sure enough, the ground was soaked but there was no snow.

If you can get anything fairly dark on top of the snow, it will melt amazingly quickly. Even if more snow falls and coats the black, unless it is a really thick coating of snow, enough of the infrared penetrates the snow, the black warms slightly, and the snow beneath continues to melt.

It was a lesson I have never forgotten. And it has come in handy several times since then.

Just my opinion.

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Jerry D Young

Prepare for the worst and hope for the best, and always remember TANSTAAFL

(TANSTAAFL - There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch - Robert A. Heinlein)