The United States was built on crop farming, with one of the most prevalent crops being corn.
Corn has been a part of human history for thousands of years, throughout the Americas.
The crop is extremely versatile and has hundreds of practical uses.
This plant is used for more than just feeding you and your livestock.
Do Corn Cobs Burn?
Yes, your corn cobs can burn and are quick-lighting fire starters.
Thanks to the fibrous and large amount of surface area created by a dry corn cob’s rough texture, corn cobs will ignite extremely quickly.
A fresh, wet cob will not ignite as well due to moisture preventing the fire from spreading.
Dry materials will always ignite better moist materials.
The reason that fresh corn is harder to ignite than wet corn is the water’s ability to balance out the heat.
When you see a flame on an object, what you are seeing is the oxygen molecules being consumed and added to the visible heat energy.
The water trapped inside fresh corn is balancing the heat energy and disturbing hydrocarbons at a rate much faster than the flame’s ability to consume them.
This doesn’t last forever, though.
Once all the hydrocarbons have been consumed, the corn cob will then ignite.
Can You Burn Frozen Corn Cobs?
Yes, you can burn frozen corn cobs, but they hold no benefit over unfrozen corn cobs.
Frozen corn cobs actually take longer because the corn needs to reach a certain temperature before it will burn.
When you watch an object ignite into flames, you are seeing the point where the tiny amount of water left in an object is being overtaken by the sweltering heat of the flame.
Different chemical compounds catch flame at varying degrees.
By freezing the corn cobs that you intend to burn later, all you are doing is making the temperature lower which increases the amount of work the flame will have to do in order to remove all the moisture.
There is no advantage to freezing your corn before burning it.
Freezing your corn cobs is probably the worst temperature you can make them unless you are using a freeze dryer.
Most other freezers will create too much water inside of the frozen corn and the corn cob will only become soggier once it is unfrozen.
For the best burning results, you will actually want to dry your corn.
This will rid the corn cob of any moisture, which will then make it easier for the fire to start on the corn cob.
Drying your corn can be very difficult.
Corn is able to act as the most efficient sponge in the air around it.
In the days when the corn cob stove was popular, people had special rooms built in their houses for storing corn.
The exact temperature of the corn cob that you intend to use for fire fuel doesn’t matter.
It can be hot, cold, or even room temperature.
Most people who use corn cobs as a heat source keep them at room temperature.
How To Use Corn Cobs As Fuel
People have been using corn cobs to fuel fires since the American settlers made their way across the Great Plains.
Some people would soak their ears of corn in kerosene to make them even more flammable.
Corn cobs act as a replacement for coal, but they are still best paired with some firewood for a longer burn.
Corn cobs burn up quickly and are really only used to get the fire started.
Otherwise, you may find yourself shoving an entire bushel into your stove for only a short-lived flame.
The only exception to not adding a longer-lasting fuel for your fire is if you have a corn cob stove or pellet stove.
Corn cob stoves are really only meant to have corn used as fuel.
Other materials could damage the stove and be a fire hazard.
Corn cobs are an excellent way to start bonfires when you’re out camping underneath the stars.
Most people will cook corn over a fire while camping, so you can just save a couple for the first fire, eat the rest, and then use the eaten corn cobs as fuel for the next day.
They are the perfect zero waste product.
Corn can fuel you and fuel your fire.
When you burn corn cobs, you haven’t added any negative chemicals into the air or the ground below.
You may even use corn cobs to fuel your car.
Ethanol is made by fermenting corn.
Environmentalists are still looking into whether ethanol is truly beneficial for the planet, but it does make an effective fuel once it has all been harvested.
Corn has been used as a fuel for different things that people have needed for generations.
It may not always keep its natural shape but has always made an excellent fuel.
How Can You Use Corn Cobs Today?
Unless you are cooking outside, you will need a stove that can handle the oils that can come off of corn when they burn.
The oils have the potential of burning a hole in your stove if you are not careful.
However, most modern corn stoves aren’t used for cooking, but to warm your house.
The smoke they create is much cleaner and vastly less harsh on your lungs than other coal or wood-burning stoves.
A corn stove can produce 60,000 BTUs.
BTU is the British thermal unit and is used to measure the amount of energy.
One BTU is capable of increasing the temperature of a pound of water by one degree.
A new corn stove will cost you anywhere from $600 to $1,500.
By replacing your electric heaters with a corn stove, you will find that you save a lot of money on your electric bill.
Modern corn stoves do require a bit of energy, but not nearly as much as your typical heater.
The average three-bedroom home costs about $150 per month to keep warm constantly.
Those with a green thumb can even grow and dry their own corn.
One acre is able to grow about 150 bushels of corn.
That is enough corn to warm your house for half of a year, and that is only one harvest.
On average, it takes 90 to 120 days for corn to grow.
That means that every three to four months, you are growing more than enough corn to warm your home consistently.
Homeowners in areas where corn can grow will mostly not need heating in their houses 24 hours per day throughout the whole year.
There aren’t many heat sources that you can grow the fuel at home for.
How To Dry Sweet Corn Cobs
It is important to remember that different types of corn have different ways to effectively dry.
This is because different types of corn have different kernel sizes and natural moisture to them.
What may work for one type of corn may be too much or too little for another.
To start the corn drying process, you should check all of your corn for rot or mold.
If a corn cob feels especially squishy, then that may be a sign of corn beginning to rot.
You will need to shuck the corn and remove the husk.
You’ll also want to remove as many of the silk-like strings as possible.
Once they have been prepared, you will need to get a wire basket that can go inside a boiling pot.
You may want to cut your corn cobs in half before placing them into the wire basket.
Once all of your corn is in the basket, lower the basket into the boiling water.
They will need two to five minutes to boil.
While the corn is boiling, grab another large bowl and fill it with ice water.
Pull the corn cobs out of the boiling water and immediately dunk the corn cobs into the ice water.
Leave them in for two to five minutes in order to let them cool off.
Dry your corn off gently with a towel and place your corn cobs onto a baking sheet, keeping two or three inches in between each cob.
Turn your oven to 140 degrees Fahrenheit and leave your oven door ajar by about five inches.
You will need to leave the corn cobs in the oven for eight hours, turning them to the other side four hours into their bake time.
This step will need to be repeated multiple times until the corn is hard and brittle.
How To Dry Calico Corn Cobs
Where you get your calico corn will affect how many steps you will need to take.
Store bought calico corn is almost always dried before it hits the shelves at stores.
However, if you are picking your own calico corn, you will need to follow each of these steps.
Similar to sweet corn, you will need to check for mold, rot, and insect infestation.
During the entire drying process, you will consistently need to check for insects.
Calico corn is easy for bugs to chew through and is a part of their natural diet, like all crops.
Unlike sweet corn, you will need to leave the husk on in order to help the drying process.
Turn the husk backwards, making the husk stand up.
You will let your corn cobs dry by hanging them by their husks.
You can hang them on a clothesline in an extremely low-humidity, heated room.
Leave your corn out for about a week to dry.
You will know your corn is ready if you can press on it firmly without being able to make a dent in it.
If you notice that your corn is taking a lot longer than average, then the room you are using may have too much humidity in it.
You will want to invest in a dehumidifier for the drying room.
Corn Is The Future
As consumers are becoming more aware of their daily impact on the Earth, more of them are turning to corn stoves and starting to use corn cobs to light their bonfires and grills at their local parks.
Corn cobs have been burned as fuel for generations across the United States and are returning to popularity.
Originally, corn cobs were the best fuel to use because they were the cheapest, but now that we know it is also the most eco-friendly, the fire fuel has come back into style.
Corn cobs’ ability to burn only confirms that corn has a multitude of uses.
Its versatility and adaptability make it one of the most useful crops that is grown in the United States.
Burning corn cobs isn’t just saving the environment, but it is also saving you money.
That’s something charcoal and wood could never be able to do.