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dried animal dung as fuel for the grill

Rather than derail another thread, I thought it wiser to start a new one. I do know that cow, buffalo, camel and others are a common fuel in many parts of the world and I assume only the VERY dried sort is used, but are there any other health concerns one needs to be aware of? length of smolder time, etc.? apparently some swear by the flavor imparted (I know, let that gorge settle)

- suburban boy living in the sticks for a while with some really noisy cows.

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  1. The host of TV's "Survivorman", Les Stroud, has made use of the foul fuel on a number of occasions. He's never made a comment about odour or health, so I suspect there aren't any concerns in those areas.

    2 Replies
    1. re: FrankD

      @ FrankD or it was "assumed" Editing is a powerful tool.

      To hill food : Yah know, you never know. If you are looking at this as a cost cutting measure, are you sure you wanna risk your life like that?

      1. re: Quine

        Considering he makes it a point to identify every potential danger, from contaminated drinking water, to poisonous plants, to not building fires next to a cliff face (lest the change in temp trigger a rock fall), I think if there were hazardous issues, he would have mentioned it. Have you ever watched the show?

    2. I saw/smelt it being used by Fijians of Indian decent a long time ago and I had forgotton all about it until your post. Don't do it unless you ABSOLUTELY have to. The stench inparts into everything.

      1. As Homer would say, "Mmm, dried animal dung"...

        1 Reply
        1. re: MacTAC

          HA! to all responses. it's not a budget move I'm just sort of stuck out here doing odds and ends on a small-time cow operation and while replacing some siding noticed all the patties accumulating and just sort of got wondering. maybe I'll torch a couple without food over it and see what the result is. I'm guessing it's not a health thing (the cleansing fire and all) as much as it is an aesthetic one.

        2. Dung stoves produce a large amount of soot which is not only an inhalable irritant, but is also thought to be strongly correlated with global climate change. The particulate lingers in the air, so without proper ventilation, one faces an elevated risk of acute respiratory, eye and ear infection in addition to chest discomfort.

          1. Ugh, don't do it...! Compost them insead and build a vegetable garden in the spring. Although it's best to cure them for a couple of years.

            12 Replies
            1. re: Gio

              Gio: dry aged s#!t ("mine is 7 year") I love it.

              JungMann, interesting, more than wood smoke? re climate and health issues.

              1. re: hill food

                Seven year old itshay? Perfect. Where's the shovel? Where's the garden gonna be?

                1. re: Gio

                  maybe I'll start moonshining (I guess I can't call it Scotch), and use that in lieu of old peat. Plotch?

                  1. re: Gio

                    Gio, the 100 year old stockyards in OKC, abandoned as a feedlot in the 1970's, are still being mined on a smaller commercial level for it's hoof packed deposits, used mostly by lawn landscapers.

                    Since it is salty, due to the immobility of penned cows, it's a tough go in the garden, and is best used as a deep sublayer in conjunction with powdered gypsum. I applied it as a base when I first established the garden and broke the backyard sod and dug out to 18" deep into the clay layer. It's saltiness causes problems when used as a topdressing.

                    More thoughts of dried dung as a cooking fuel are found here on a recent thread. I prefer buffalo over cow.


                    1. re: FoodFuser

                      I think that's the thread I was trying to not derail, but thanks for the cross reference.

                      and hey to you punning knuckleheads downstream, I like where you're going, I just hope this all flies (now I'm doing it) under the moderators radar.

                      FoodFuser why buffalo? the diet's not much different is it processed differently? I guess it stands to reason as buffalo cheese tastes so different from cow.

                      1. re: hill food

                        Hill food, the advantage of buffalo (Bison, not yak) comes in its easily separated chips=wafers/discs. This allows more focus of the flame at those required hot spots, (boiling rice, or legumes) and reduces the waste of heating the entire hearth surface area. For a simulation, try a focused twig fire for boiling water, versus the wider used hardwood fires with larger diameter..

                        Chips, with well focused flame, maximize the winter's inventory of BTU value within the dried dung.

                        Your secondary question may well pertain to the BTU value of bison vis a vis cow. If someone wants to track down that data, it could be certainly be incorporated into a decision. I keep it simple on Bison shit, and visit the wildlife refuge once a year and collect a bagful, which is later fully dried in my suburban sun. They are used mostly for the day-long slow simmer of deeply spiced and smoked "Ranch style" pinto beans. When the beans are done and the kids and parents show up for the feast, the above mentioned history lesson of prairie tradition kicks in.

                        Simple answer: chips provide focused expenditure of valuable BTU inventory in cooking..

                          1. re: hill food

                            The discussion is about a dried product. So, time is no Master. Refrigerated items and perishables would be a different matter, but we're talking the advantages of fully dried poop.

                            1. re: FoodFuser

                              so maybe for the best result in regards to your and JungMann's comment below, I should improvise a sort of cold frame for them to fully dry (I still can't really believe I'm discussing this) and then employ. hmm (please note the h at the start of that sequence of m's).

                              1. re: hill food

                                I respect that you are dealing now with place...locution.., but you gotta get them turds out there and talk is no solution

                                Be they Rembrant's , or dilution,
                                Here's the kitchen execution
                                That will get them to the stove... as patties.... burning bright..

                                Take the fork... thank the sunshine
                                For the heat that is so Dee-vine
                                And just dry patties out there in the air;.

                                If meshed frame is provided, I'd hope that it's decided
                                That quarter-inch mesh that is what rules.
                                The half-inch will getcha
                                It's messy, I'll betcha
                                But quarter inch dries well with Bison stools.

                                If we focus on BTU put-though,
                                It's right there up with other dried doo-doo
                                Its surge ain't the best
                                on quick "temp up" requests
                                But it's downright good fuel, for a poo-poo.

                  2. re: hill food

                    Biofuels release black carbon generally. It is more difficult to sufficiently dry cow fuels which contain residual moisture and plant matter, so they tend to produce a dirtier flame.

                    1. re: JungMann

                      so would I get a different result if I baked it first, sort of whatcharcoal is to hardwood? (although one of you is going to have to explain to my mother why her oven is full of $&it at 180 for 6 hours)

                2. The question that begs to be asked here is why burn dried feces when trees and dried grass are clearly in sight. You yourself admitted that you live in the sticks and last I knew, wood is abundant there. Gosh, this reminds me of the episode where Bear Grylls squeezes water out of elephant dung. Here --> http://wn.com/Bear_Grylls_drinking_fr...!!

                  Could the flavor imparted by dried chips be that good ??

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Cheese Boy

                    well yeah we've got hickory, oak, cedar, sumac etc. out the wazoo, it's just idle curiosity.

                    1. re: hill food

                      Yup, I read that *afterwards* somewhere upthread. I guess it's okay to burn it, just don't COOK over it. Since it is good fuel for fire, I wonder if it can be used indoors in the fireplace. That might be something to ponder rather than use split logs.

                      1. re: Cheese Boy

                        indoors? i dunno, somebody was warning about the smell.

                  2. As others have said, it's used in some parts of the world only because that's all that is available or affordable, not because it's better. Wood. coal and fossil fuels where available and affordable are much preferred everywhere that dried animal dung is used, for everything not just cooking or heating. If you're looking for uses for cowpies, compost, as previously mentioned, would be a better bet for a suburban boy who has other options for fuel.

                    1. As someone who managed 300-350 head of cattle, I wouldn't use it. I can understand the poster who mentioned the OKC stockyards grounds and the use for landscapers/salt content. Even in a pasture setting where the urine mixed with dung wouldn't be as concentrated, I'd be concerned about all of the meds that cattle get. Where I was at between the antibiotics/vaccines/dewormers, etc. the cattle had in their system I wouldn't trust it. Reading the warning labels on some of the meds was scary enough. A few had precautions that they were pretty lethal to humans if accidentally injected. I've been exposed to some bovine/equine meds and the results were NOT pleasant.

                      1. Ted Turner, in his retirement, is doing wonderful work restoring the native ecosystem on his huge ranch in Montana, with thousands of buffalo as the main grazer. He distributes their meat through his chain of over 50 restaurants.

                        As a peripheral business, he is shipping huge volumes of dried Buffalo dung to upstate New York, where an emerging restaurateur is going back to the deepest tradition of "Buffalo Wings" by fueling their deep fryers with it. They haven't yet decided if their disc shaped potato fries will be called "Buffalo Chips".

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: FoodFuser

                          ewww FF. even I'm thrown by that.

                          and BTW we don't use excess vaccines/antibiotics or oddball feed. it's a toboggan ride and maybe not high efficiency but they live. not in it for the immediate money anyway.

                          and thanks hsk, that is sort of my hunch, but had to ask.

                          1. re: hill food

                            Sorry if it seems a bit dongue in cheek, but Buffalo is trying to reclaim its eponymous bar entree of hot wings.

                            This thread is valuable, because it is pointing out some of the pluses and minuses of closed system agriculture from grazer to digested fuel.

                          2. re: FoodFuser

                            Hehe... We use to have a wing -joint in town that did call their fries Buffalo Chips, and it never stopped me from enjoying them.

                          3. Hi...probably completely off topic here, but just a story to share.

                            This is from my early childhood memories, on my first visit to India, we went on a crowded train followed by bus followed by buffalo cart to a remote village in Gujarat where we apparently have some very distant relatives. The family were dirt poor and the whole village relied on simple agriculture and the output of a handful of buffalo for sustenance. Everyone lived in basic huts, where cracks and faults were patched up with a buffalo dung mixture (no smell)

                            Mid-day came around and we sat down on brushed mud floors for the noon repast.

                            Dhosa ladoo (the carb substitue for chapati's), brown chick pea curry, a variety of pickkles, daal, rice and khichi papadums (made froma rice and lentil flour). Food was cooked on a sagri (see african Jiko) all fuelled by dried buffalo dung that had been baking in the Indian sun for a month.

                            All was washed down with salty cumin lassi made from buffalo milk and chilled in a nearby river.

                            It was one of my more memorable meals...delicious all the more so because of the mutual sharing, laughter and enjoyment derived from such a simple repast. An experience never to be forgotten

                            1. I would think that the health risks would depend on if you're cooking directly over the fire (e.g., roasting meat) versus something in a cooking vessel. (This leaves aside all the enviro considerations.)

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: Erika L

                                I think we need to apply some "Economic Stimulus Dollars" to this ,just think, your Whole Foods Market now carries Natural Dung Logs to keep your fireplace warm and you toasty. and brings on new meaning to "Hey your house smells like s**t'

                                1. re: ospreycove

                                  Osprey - heh, hey I have a marketing background, that could be a kick if I could sell a few, what, buckets? at a farmer's market. "but it's all natural!"

                                  or maybe it's quantified as a dumpload.