ideas for storing spent carbide

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ideas for storing spent carbide

Postby Trog » Dec 8, 2005 1:20 am

maybe I'm one of a dwindling minority but I still use a carbide lamp, a petzl setup. It works well for me. For the past several years now I use thick plastic bags for storing the used carbide when I have to load up while underground. I just tie the bags with rubber bands and stuff them in my bag. But this method hasn't been 100% hassle free. For swims, I still have to watch out for carbide leaks and water getting into the bags.

I'm looking for other ways to packing this stuff. Any other suggested method of storing spent carbide?
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Spent carbide

Postby cavedoc » Dec 8, 2005 1:45 am

I've seen it put in a cut up inner tube. Put it in, fold it up, then secure it with "rubber bands" cut from the tube too. I can't vouch for it myself but it seemed to work OK for others.

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Postby Trog » Dec 8, 2005 3:53 am

I used that inner tube method for carrying spare carbide and it works well. It's the spent carbide and the fumes that it keeps emitting that I have to deal with.
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Postby speloman » Dec 8, 2005 5:25 am

Is there some type of Bottle than can be used to hold it Like a baby Bottle or something? Maybe someone can answer that??
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Re: ideas for storing spent carbide

Postby bsignorelli » Dec 9, 2005 12:21 am

Trog wrote:For the past several years now I use thick plastic bags for storing the used carbide when I have to load up while underground.


yeah i've used double bread/newspaper bags with much success. just roll the inner bag down and then roll the outeraround it (with a twist or two).

For swims, I still have to watch out for carbide leaks and water getting into the bags.


Dry bag it. Either in a swaygo or a dry bag that you put in your pack when going into wet caves...you do carry a dry bag to keep your stuff dry when swimming right??!?! :)

I'm looking for other ways to packing this stuff. Any other suggested method of storing spent carbide?


Meander makes a nylon carbide bag that has a mesh filter (IMO sells it). This works well since it rolls up on itself. Also...from reading a couple of non-US caving manuals (Alpine Caving Techniques, Vertical, etc) they suggest emptying your generator more often than once. You do this about a third or halfway through a load and that Meander bag allows you to sift the dry powder out and just put the carbide back in. This seems to make the generator run better since it gets rid of all the powder that has a tendancy to turn to goop.

If you wait to long to filter it though you wind up with moist or wet powder that doesnt want to go through the filter.

That doesn't help your swimming problem but the Meander bag fits nicely inside my dry bag which is inside my Lost Creek pack :)

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Postby Patricia Bingham » Dec 9, 2005 6:26 am

No baby bottles! I was leading a grotto (not mine!) into a cave and they had brought zippered insulated soft picnic/lunch containers to hold their gear, to include baby bottles of spent carbide. They set the packs down and we went off a little ways to look and a few minutes later we heard (and felt) a gigantic BOOM! When we got back to the packs, one of the insulated containers had the lid partially burned off. I don't use carbide and I can't figure out how this occured. I can't believe it could just self-ignite, but I'm just a sissy electric caver.

And, by the way, is spent carbide toxic? I've heard yes and I've heard no. Anyone want to test this out? :) I need answers based on research or real knowledge; not just opinion or what you've heard. It would help me out with the Youth Groups info.
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Postby speloman » Dec 9, 2005 8:06 am

:shock: Wow I guess that answered my question. I am with you I am a electric caver too. Never used acetylene for any thing but metal work. besides I would probably end up like this :flamed: I am sure it has its advantages and disadvantages. But I will stick to packing batteries my self. take care and :cave softly:
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Postby Scott McCrea » Dec 9, 2005 8:23 am

I used to make carbide cavers put their spent carbide and lamps in a stuff sack that I would tie to the spare tire of my truck so the gas would not be inside.

I think zip-lock baggies are pretty good for spent carbide. They will split open if too much pressure is created. Also be careful if you are stowing spent carbide in a waterproof pack. The gas could be trapped in the pack, then when you open it and shove your face in with a burning lamp on your head... :flamed:

A funny story, a friend of mine was caving in Indiana years ago. They were doing a wet, wading cave. One inexperienced caver, using carbide, brought a one gallon milk jug half full of carbide in his pack. As he used more carbide, he would squish the jug down and stow it in his pack. Then when they waded in neck deep water, some got in the jug. Then if he turned just the right way or someone else got too close, the pack would burst in to flames. No one was hurt. The actually found it quite funny.
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Postby Phil Winkler » Dec 9, 2005 9:23 am

Pat, et al,

I believe spent carbide is calcium hydroxide and that is toxic and slightly corrosive to metal, too.
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Postby Cheryl Jones » Dec 9, 2005 10:58 am

No baby bottles!
:question:

Baby bottles have worked well and safely to carry carbide and spent carbide for decades of cavers. I suspect the cause of the spontaneous explosion was not the fault of the baby bottle, but of the the user.

Perhaps the carbide got wet, then the cap was put on tight. Or (more likely?) maybe a bottle of spent carbide had been sealed tight, so exploded when the remaining bits of carbide continued to give off gas, especially if the spent dust was damp. Spent carbide containers need to be vented, whether baby bottles or not.

Now how it ignited is a mystery to me.

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Postby Cheryl Jones » Dec 9, 2005 11:21 am

Phil Winkler wrote:Pat, et al,
I believe spent carbide is calcium hydroxide and that is toxic and slightly corrosive to metal, too.


Batteries are toxic, and corrosive. And detrimental to nylon.

Who/what is choosing down on spent carbide? This has been a reoccurring discussion over many years, and it seems that those who would be harmed aren't eating it. And now, of course, a person or animal would have to dumpster-dive to find any to eat, and pass up the more tasty offerings.

Also known as hydrated lime, calcium hydroxide is used on soils to improve pH. Another use, I believe, is to help outhouses work.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calcium_hydroxide

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Postby George Dasher » Dec 9, 2005 11:23 am

Plastic bag, loose wrap at the top.

Go into the produce department of your local grocery store and help yourself.
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Postby Phil Winkler » Dec 9, 2005 11:56 am

Another use, I believe, is to help outhouses work.


Here's a story about that: Around 1978 Chuck Pease and I joined the Swiss AGH Exploration team in Holloch for the annual Xmas/New Year's trip. Most exploration is done in winter when the water levels are down. We stayed at Bivouc II for 4-5 days. ABout 150m from BII is a room with a small canyon running thru it about 2m deep and 3m wide. At the edge was a rope bolted to the ceiling. At the end of the rope was tied a stick and this was used to hold a roll of toilet paper.

You also used the rope/stick to hold on to as you crouched over the edge to do your business. You then spread spent carbide all over your business. The lime or CaHO3 kept the smell down and eventually decomposed everything.

Now, I'm sure many of you are horrified at this, but they had been doing it that way for many, many years.

Anyhow, late one afternoon we had all returned to the bivouac from the day's mapping/exploration and were enjoying some hot tea (temp in cave is about 2-3C) and discussing the day's work. AFter a while I got up to visit the latrine and walked over to the canyon.

Imagine my surprise when I noticed the rope had broken in two. I turned to look down into the canyon and saw what looked like a snow angel pattern in the carbide/compost!

I went back to the bivouac and told my story, but no one would admit to having been the victim. :)

The mystery remains until this day.
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Re: ideas for storing spent carbide

Postby Trog » Dec 9, 2005 10:24 pm

bsignorelli wrote:yeah i've used double bread/newspaper bags with much success. just roll the inner bag down and then roll the outeraround it (with a twist or two).


I do that. Just wondering if there's a better way that you guys know of :)

bsignorelli wrote:Dry bag it. Either in a swaygo or a dry bag that you put in your pack when going into wet caves...you do carry a dry bag to keep your stuff dry when swimming right??!?! :)


My bag isn't watertight but I put the gear in watertight boxes.

bsignorelli wrote:Meander makes a nylon carbide bag that has a mesh filter (IMO sells it). This works well since it rolls up on itself. Also...from reading a couple of non-US caving manuals (Alpine Caving Techniques, Vertical, etc) they suggest emptying your generator more often than once. You do this about a third or halfway through a load and that Meander bag allows you to sift the dry powder out and just put the carbide back in. This seems to make the generator run better since it gets rid of all the powder that has a tendancy to turn to goop.


I presume you put the carbide in a sock before putting in the generator. That really makes cleaning much easier. I don't experience any problems with replacing carbide every 4 hours. The only issues I have are with swims; the water pressure messes up the performance for the rest of the trip and I have to keep adjusting to compensate.
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Postby Biggimo1 » Dec 12, 2005 10:50 pm

Phil Winkler wrote:
Another use, I believe, is to help outhouses work.


Here's a story about that: Around 1978 Chuck Pease and I joined the Swiss AGH Exploration team in Holloch for the annual Xmas/New Year's trip. Most exploration is done in winter when the water levels are down. We stayed at Bivouc II for 4-5 days. ABout 150m from BII is a room with a small canyon running thru it about 2m deep and 3m wide. At the edge was a rope bolted to the ceiling. At the end of the rope was tied a stick and this was used to hold a roll of toilet paper.

You also used the rope/stick to hold on to as you crouched over the edge to do your business. You then spread spent carbide all over your business. The lime or CaHO3 kept the smell down and eventually decomposed everything.

Now, I'm sure many of you are horrified at this, but they had been doing it that way for many, many years.

Anyhow, late one afternoon we had all returned to the bivouac from the day's mapping/exploration and were enjoying some hot tea (temp in cave is about 2-3C) and discussing the day's work. AFter a while I got up to visit the latrine and walked over to the canyon.

Imagine my surprise when I noticed the rope had broken in two. I turned to look down into the canyon and saw what looked like a snow angel pattern in the carbide/compost!

I went back to the bivouac and told my story, but no one would admit to having been the victim. :)

The mystery remains until this day.


:yikes: :doh:
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