Sarah has now become an expert soap maker and has gone into large scale soap production. We have been selling boxes of 6 soaps in Spain and also around Europe.
We have so far only sold soap to people we know.
We even have an Etsy and a Wish page.
Sarah invented and designed this system to wrap the soaps using a wooden template.
This page is about a solar hot water system I installed in 2018. It provides us with free washing up water and free pre heated water for the kettle. Water is sent out from below the sink, through the wall and then through about 15 metres of black plastic tubes. The water stays in the tube and heats up during the morning. By 11am the temperature is around 35C (95 F) and later on the temperature can get up to over 45C. (115 F)
Black tubing strong enough to withstand house water pressure is very cheap and a system like this could be installed very easily by anyone with some basic plumbing skills. If you take the concept a little further you could extend the black tube and provide a lot more water for showers etc. My system is quite untidy but if someone lives in a more urban place you could make the tubes look more tidy.
I am not a very good TV presenter but I made made this video to explain the system.
There are subtitles in English, Spanish and French.
We are about to have a climate conference in Glasgow where the politicians will probably come up with inadequate solutions to avoid climate disaster. As an individual it is very frustrating but at least we can try to reduce our carbon emissions on a small scale in our personal lives and save some money.
Several years ago I started using black PVC tubes to heat water up with 100 metres of 16mm PVC tubing which adds water to our swimming pool every day. Black plastic tubing is very cheap and as long as you have some space to put the tube in the sun it is very easy. You see lots of complicated you tubes with coiled up tubing but if you don’t mind it being a little untidy you can let the tube just run over any surface.
We tend to have our main meal in the middle of the day which is normal in Spain so for months on end I use this hot water to do the washing up. It is also useful for preheating water for making tea. During the hours of strong sunlight I use a 900 watt electric kettle for boiling water and using pre heated water cuts down the boiling time considerably.
Some facts about black tubing:
In one metre of 32mm (1 inch) tubes there is 804cc of water.
In perfect conditions a 1 metre length of tube perpendicular to the sun would receive around 40 watts of energy.
In Spain 100 metres of PVC tube that can withstand 10 bars of pressure costs around 100 euros.
This system has been running for over 3 years. At first my tube was not long enough and it did not completely fill the sink, so I extended it. As the tube gets hot it needs to be good quality 10 atmosphere tube.
To work out the length of the tube, you have to work out how much water the tube can hold. The best way to do this is to use a this online calculator. https://www.omnicalculator.com/construction/pipe-volume The formula is: pipe volume = π * (radius * radius) * length, where radius = inner diameter/2. Pi is 3.14 Asterisk means multiply.
If I were going to do this for a pool shower or for showers I would buy a 100 metre roll. In my pool heater set up I have 100 metres of 16mm tubing in the sun. Even with flowing water it heats the water up to around 45C. By the way: Tubes don’t hold the heat for very long. By 4 or 5pm the tubes will have cooled down.
In the winter I empty the tubes during January and February because the tubes might freeze during the night.
This is a juvenile ladder snake that our cat caught. This snake is the most common at the cortijo. The one in the photo above is a young one. It is about 30cm long. When the snake gets older there are 2 lines along the whole length of the snake.
This type of snake grow up to around 170 cm long. They are non venomous because their teeth are Aglyphous (lacking grooves) which are not adapted for injecting venom.
This snake moves about 100m per day, the average home territory of an individual is 4,500m2. Adults may sometimes be found in out buildings hunting for rodents.
They eat mammals such as mice and shrews, spiders, insects (especially grasshoppers) and a few birds.
We are always trying to find new ways of using our almonds. The price we get from selling them to a cooperative is very low so it is best to use them ourselves if possible. We brought this machine to make oil from almonds, walnuts and sunflower seeds.
Results so far:
1 kg of almonds resulted in 230 grams of oil. The oil is fairly cloudy at first but after a couple of days most of the solids fall to the bottom and the oil becomes clear.
We warmed up the almonds slightly. Most of the time the machine works very well. Towards the end of the kilo batch of almonds the screw got blocked and the machine started to produce almond butter in the oil tray. We could have stopped the machine and cleaned the spindle but the almond butter was a good surprise product.
If the nuts are the right size, have the right temperature and the correct oil ratio the machine works very well.
I think this machine is good for small quantities of nuts. It requires a fair amount of vigilance to make sure all is working correctly. It is best to be in the same room so that you can make sure all is OK.
The almond flour which is the powder left behind after the milling process can be used for many purposes. So far we have added it to flour to make bread with good results.