Saturday, January 15, 2011

Making Paper: Part 2

We have paper! Sort of.

We researched commercial methods of creating paper from jute (the plant from which burlap is made) and there is still currently experimentation going on at that level for how to do it. Some use strong alkaline solutions, while others use powerful acids. We didn't want to do either. So we tried soda ash, which is sodium carbonate (also known as washing soda), which is widely used as a water softener. Pretty safe stuff.

So we chopped up the burlap sack, and put some in water with some soda ash, and boiled it. It smelled terrible. After boiling we let it sit for a while.

We put the soup in the blender, and immediately noticed a difference. It seemed to be breaking up very well. So we poured it in the mould and pressed the pulp, and out came a sheet...of paper!

We blended some more of it, and got a second piece of paper.

We made pulp, and made paper. However, it’s not very strong. The fibers are still (relatively) very large. And it much more resembles felt than paper. We tried another batch from scratch, but it kept boiling over from too much soda ash. So we’re still figuring it out. We might start experimenting with adding waste paper to the mix.

In other news, gardening is moving forward. We’ve continued to meet with different organizations in the area about community gardening, and two of our missionaries attended their first Gateway Greening Growing Gardeners class.

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