Cotton Balls as TinderWe hosted a cub scout meeting a couple weekends ago, and as host I decided to have a show and tell session to demonstrate the use of flint and steel and cotton balls as tinder to start a fire.
Adding Vaseline (a petroleum product) to the cotton ball creates a long lasting tinder. It is cheap, light-weight, water-resistant and lasts a long time. The cotton acts like a wick for the Vaseline, holding the flame while allowing the Vaseline to change from solid, to liquid to vapor, then burn. (Hey, that's all you get -- I'm an Jack Daniel's Economist. If you what physics come back at closing time).
Here are links to the starters and to a couple videos showing how this all works.
- Sample video showing the Cotton + Vaseline method
- Here is how Candles actually work.
- Gerber 31-000699 Bear Grylls Survival Series Fire Starter
- UST Blastmatch Fire starter
Conducting basic research in the internet is always a unique journey of discovery. While watching video number 4300 or so, an interesting question came up:
What is the optimum about of Vaseline to add to a cotton ball?
- Take a plain 100% cotton ball and light it (record the burn time).
- Add increasing amounts of Vaseline to the cotton ball and record the burn time.
(Change the ratio of tinder/fuel from 0% to ~99%).
- Determine optimum amount of Vaseline to add to get the longest burn time.
Can you light 100% pure Vaseline? No, not with a flint and steel, not with a match, not with a cigarette lighter... it just melts.
Economic Link - Cotton Balls, Vaseline, and Fed Liquidity
Where is all of the Fed Liquidity?
Quantitative Easing, billions and billions and trillions of dollars, has only generated a couple percent GDP growth. The entire point of QE was to provide liquidity - to support the balance sheets of the banks and stimulate economic growth. So what happened?
Super-saturated cotton balls (economic capability) and Vaseline (pent up liquidity).
In our previous experiment we showed that a cotton ball loaded with Vaseline will burn longer than a clean cotton ball. Too much Vaseline and it will not burn at all. It has to be a lot too much, but you can try it yourself.
Maybe the Fed has created a situation where they have provided so much liquidity (Vaseline) that the economy (cotton ball) simply can't function.
PhD, Jack Daniel's School of Economic Stuff.