Corn burning made easy


We heat our house with corn; which means that our heating bill has been pretty expensive this year. Burning corn kernels for heat was really great a few years back when corn was cheap, today it just seems like a lot of work. I comfort myself with the cost by remembering how much warmer 70 degrees feels from a corn stove in comparison to a forced-air furnace. Anyway, this week I wanted to tell you about our corn heating system.

First off, I am not nuts. I don’t want hard work just for the work, I want to be paid for my labor in the form of savings or some kind of benefit. The world will never allow the hard-working farmer to become rich so eventually corn prices will come down. At that time I will once again feel the reward of cheap, room-filling heat. I have also reduced my labor will a vacuum delivery system so I have less labor to balance with reward, which is what I really want to talk about this week.

I used to carry all of our corn with a wheelbarrow then clean it with a sieve and place it in pails inside the garage. Today I usually pick-up our corn in a 300 gallon pallet tote. I can lift the tote from the pick-up and place it on the porch of our house. This technique removes the need for a storage bin, auger, gravity box and my old buddy, the wheelbarrow. I still need to move a little over six tons of corn inside the house and burn it over the course of a winter which is less work than burning wood but more that just paying a higher utility bill.

This winter I was prepared with a vacuum delivery system. Farmers would recognize this system because they use something similar when they employ a vac-u-vator to empty a grain bin. I placed a large shop-vac in the basement of our house which I can control with a remote control. I then connected the vacuum to a system of plumbing which delivers negative pressure to a chamber separated by a screen. There is an outlet on this chamber which passes through the wall of our house and into the tote of corn on the porch. The corn is then pulled up through a hose and into the chamber where small particles and dirt pass through the screen and into the vacuum cleaner. The kernels of corn hit the screen and fall into a wooden hopper inside our house where they collect until the hopper is full. I can then pull a self-cleaning, dump valve which releases corn from the hopper into a pail-clean and ready for use.

I feel so smart when I explain my little invention. The truth is that it’s simply a conglomeration of ideas I’ve discovered from farmers, the wood-milling industry and the internet. I am not a talented musician but rather the conductor who leads all of these disparate ideas into working together to make life a little easier. Now if someone could just get me corn for under two dollars, that would make life really easy.

The vacuum chamber and hopper are the heart of this systemHere is the corn tote with vacuum hose leading to the house
Here is the corn tote with vacuum hose leading to the house

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