Thursday, April 9, 2009

Project Fail: Heating Bath Water With Hot Rocks

A while back I read about how the Native Americans ate hard boiled eggs as part of their staple diet - they boiled the eggs by putting rocks in a fire and then put the hot rocks into an animal skin and it boiled the water. The hot water heater at my place as of now needs to be fixed and I was wanting to take a hot bath pretty bad, and figured I could boil the tub water just like the Native Americans boiled eggs! Except I wasn't going to bathe in an animal skin, but rather a cold metal tub.
Bort (remember the dude who taught me how to make rope from yucca leaves) put the rocks in the fire and took them out with a fireplace shovel, thick gloves and placed them into a metal pot to bring to the tub. I was 100% certain this project would work, but it failed horribley. Here's some reasons why I think it may have failed (please tell me why you think it did too in the comments section):
1. The metal tub was capable of holding the cold in itself and kept the water so cold it cooled the rocks instead of boiled the water.
2. The rocks were only on the fire for no more then 1-2 hours, which afterwards Bort (who was a way good sport for this project) pointed out that in Sweat Lodges they heat the rocks for like six hours to get them to create the steam. Possibly the Native Americans let those rocks heat for a day or two?
3. The rocks were dirty. This didn't really make it fail heat wise (I think) but I shoulda rinsed those babies off first cause when they hit the water they sizzled a cloud of dirt out. I can tell you this, I would have bathed in the dirt water if it had gotten hot though.
4. Rock type? I considered that the structure of certain rocks may be tighter and hold heat longer, better, and have a slower release - and that the Native Americans knew secrets it may take me a while to figure out on my own.
Regardless of the fact that no bath took place and the water didn't even get warm much less boil (a hella lot of sizzling and bubbling though), and the smoke from the stove nearly choked us - I was still happy cause sometimes it's kinda fun to have a project fail completely. :) So the pic below is my not bathed clean self, since I had promised some peeps I was going to take tasteful bath pictures and post them here in my brilliant success glory, instead here is what accepting failing glory looks like!


Liberty said...

what an undertaking!
I think it's done by rotating stones - you are constantly getting new ones hot while the last set are warming the water. it takes many rotations before it boils I believe. I wonder if smooth, round stones would work better?
another wonder... I wonder if it would be faster to heat water right on the stove and them pour it into the bath.
when I was a kid, we lived somewhere with no hot water for a while and had an old claw foot tub outside and would heat water and bring it to the tub. took a while but was lovely having a bath outside! (this was rural BC - no neighbours)

The Oko Box said...

Hey Liberty!
Rotating the stones is a really good idea. I think the material the tub is made out of is what is mainly killing the whole thing too. With a claw foot tub it's sooooo much easier to hold and create heat. Outside bathing sounds like the most ideal bath of all!

Anonymous said...