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fits like a glove...

by RL Maiden
(Sac County, California)

A few years ago, while taking a college art course, I worked with papier mache. No, not the flour-and-water paste kind, but the art paste kind. We did shred newspaper to use with it and we created sculptures. I spoke with my professor about using cellulose (the insulation type) for this purpose; she told me that another professor created her sculptures with this medium.

Hmm. It seemed to me that this would work quite well as haybox material, with a bonus of a great deal of sculpting medium left over (Oh, boy, are there leftovers).

A (very small) box of art paste powder cost (much) less than $5 and makes up a gallon of clear, well, goo and will 'keep' for six months once made; a bale of cellulose insulation (it is treated with boric acid to stop 'critters' from infesting it and for fire retardant) cost, at that time, less than $10. This will give you enough materials to make many, many, MANY boxes. Or create a small sculpture city, complete with high-rises.

I found a small sturdy box that would accommodate one of my 3-qt granite ware pots w/lid that I use, allowing at least 1-2" on each side. I wrapped the pot in plastic (saran), then in thin foil, shiny side in. I mixed up a small batch of goo ( weighed it, then cut down the proportion of powder, making a pint instead of a gallon), mixed some of it with the insulation, then I began filling the box with the very thick mixture. I placed the pot inside when I had about 1 1/2 inches of medium on the bottom, then filled in the sides. I left it like this for several days, then pulled out the pot. It was necessary to glue the foil back in. For the top, I took a few sheets of newspaper and made a 'quilt' for the top, filling it with cellulose insulation and pasting more foil to the bottom of it (the foil is for heat reflective and water protective purposes).

This haybox kept food piping hot for over nine hours (the most time that went by before we ate it) and finished cooking our food on the occasions when it was not possible to continue via solar. It lasted for years until someone tossed it away, not realizing that beat-up box had a purpose. I have used other types of hayboxes, I've improvised many, but this was the most efficient one that I've used.


Thank you RL for sharing this with us, this is a great little story of a practical and effective use of a haybox cooker...real world application.

Great detail and explanation, this will definitely be helpful and useful to our site visitors. the way, do you have any photos of current hayboxes that you might share with our site visitors?

Thanks for sharing.


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Apr 29, 2013
fits like a...
by: Anonymous

I used a box that a cooking pan came in for the outside (it had a glossy exterior). I built it up over a specific graniteware pan that I use in both cookers, layer by layer, allowing the medium to dry between layers, then removed the pan/form. I placed the sleeve upside down in the box, then I built up the rest. I use a shredded paper-filled 'pillow' across the top.

If you can remove it from the plastic 'shell' to let it dry first, then put it back in, that would probably work.

Apr 27, 2013
Problems with the drying
by: MrsBeasley

I think like you! My haybox is currently sitting in my garage drying. It's been there for 3 days. I made it in a plastic bin, thinking the bin would be sturdy and this haybox would last for years.

I'm not pleased with it's drying, I don't think I can turn it out of the bin yet to complete drying. Perhaps I made the insulation around the pot too thick. It's about 4 inches thick. I think the plastic is hindering the drying.

What kind of box did you use?

Perhaps I'm being impatient, I'm just so eager to try it out!

Mrs Beasley

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