Archive for October, 2009

Free from Copper Carbonate, Finally…

Sunday, October 25th, 2009

Those of you who have followed this blog for a while would know that I’ve long been looking for proofs that one doesn’t need copper carbonate, a toxic (and expensive) chemical, to achieve the kind of maroon reds and blueish grays commonly associated with copper fuming.

I came really close to showing that I can get the same effects with copper netting from “Chore Boy” type copper scrubbers; but a real proof would require not having any copper carbonate in the pit at all — which I couldn’t really do in a group firing, where other people were there to get nice results for their pots, and not to help me prove or disprove some fine point in pit firing theories.

these are fumed with copper-coated scrubber

figure 1: these are fumed with copper-coated scrubber

But now I have my own test pit, and the only pots at risk are my own. Woo-hoo! So after two successful firings using my standard method, proving that this test pit works just as well as any other I’ve used before, I went for a test firing with no copper carb at all in the pit, and was very pleasantly surprised to see some very respectable looking results (figure 1) for my efforts.


The Perfect Test Pit

Sunday, October 18th, 2009

Three years ago, when I first started this blog, I wrote about using a BBQ smoker for pit firing, because I did not want to draw unwanted attention from nosy neighbors and fire marshals. As those of you who live in modern big cities would know, we often have all kinds of fire ordinances and burn bans to contend with, and striving for a look of innocently doing what every other urbanite or suburbanite would be doing is an important ruse for self preservation, if one is to succeed in pit firing in the city (or suburb) in the long run.

Unfortunately these BBQs didn’t work out all that well, as they were not designed for the prolonged high heat generated by a log burning fire. My BBQ smoker, for example, has paint on it that would start to burn after a while, and would give out noxious fumes and visible black smoke. Talking about trying not to draw attention! So I gave up this approach after just a few times.

cast iron fire pit

figure 1: the cast iron ‘fire pit’ in action

Then I started to see these stand-alone outdoor ‘fire pits’ made of metal or clay at the patio furnishings section of department stores. Would these work for my purposes? After all, they were designed to burn logs, no? So I bought a cast-iron one (figure 1) from Home Depot and start to experiment with it. I did my first firing with it at the end of April this year.