Cocoa Shells, First Successful Ember

burning cocoa shells

I first tried burning hulls by simply throwing them in wood stove. It never flamed well. Next, on side of strongly burning woods. The shells next to strong flame burned but never continued to reduce the rest to ashes. I stopped there. I thought it was not possible. Fuel is not the only possible use of cocoa shell anyway.

I gave it a second thought when I saw a video demonstration of rice hull stove. A small fan helps the burning process. I remember seeing a similar setup when I was in Benguet. A strong blower fan facing against a file of large firewood was keeping the flame strong.

The same concept might actually worked for burning cocoa shells. It might work better if I pack it closely in a cylinder, like a charcoal briquette and like a cigarette.

For a really quick and easy work trial. I gathered an empty sardine can. Tightly packed some shells into it. I provided a hole by placing a cardboard tube in the middle.

Time for testing. I placed one end against candle flame to start the ember. Removed it when 50% of surface was red hot. Then placed an electric fan in front. Ember got stronger and almost covered the whole surface after few seconds. I also noticed the ember getting weaker as it goes away from breeze and completely died out few minutes after turning off the fan.

burning cocoa shells

Plenty of white smoke. Thankfully it is not black. I heard from someone that coffee hulls cannot be used as fuel to power electric generators because of its black smoke. It harms the environment I think. The ozone layer maybe. On the other hand, I need sort of mechanism to vent it outside. Else, my house will be like floating in clouds.

I will continue experimenting on this whenever have time.

Cocoa Shells as Fuel Source

I have been thinking about it seriously. If it works, the shells as winnowing by-product, would be more than enough for our daily cooking needs. Then, an inspiration for development of shell-fired cocoa roaster.

Way back, when I was disposing a bag of cocao shells. I put some on side of camp fire. Hoping it would produce strong flame.

Why not? Cacao has an average of 50% butter content. During roasting, some are transferred to shells. Butter and other oils, when subjected under enough heat, flames. Candle follow this principle. The wick is soaked in wax. Lighting the wick produce flame. Then melting the solid wax underneath which serves as fuel.

However, it never worked as expected. The part covered with cocoa shells had its flame and ember extinguished. It was the lack of aeration I guessed. The covered part was deprived of oxygen that is necessary for burning.

Now, my plan is glue shells together to firewood shape forms. I never intend creating charcoal briquettes. The heat spent in the process is a waste. I want it all used up for whatever I intend to.

Few months ago, my problem on shell disposal got solved. My uncle and brother were regularly collecting it for their farms. Bringing it back to farmland is recommended as it is good plant nutrient source.

Shells are also good for making tea.  My recent test got a bad result though. I planned more future testing but my colleague warned me for possible ochratoxin contamination. It is a toxin produce by fungi and mostly resides on outer shells. It never degrades under roasting condition.  I need more data about this.