Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Pot Accelerant

Not that kind of pot, it’s a stovetop scavenger. Not that kind of scavenger...
 
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One of my slowest single kitchen tasks is getting water boiling, usually to cook pasta. Sure, I multitask, but the water slows me down. If a watched pot doesn’t boil, then perhaps it follows that a pot which you cannot see well will boil sooner.

The scavenger is an aluminium cylinder that is open on both ends. Like a sauce pan, it has a handle, but is unlike one both by having notch in its side, and by having no bottom. The stovetop scavenger will be made in a variety of diameters and heights, select one that matches your pot. A good match will be about the same sidewall height, and be about a finger’s width greater in diameter than the pot. (Caution! Do not check for fit while in operation.) The designed-in top notch allows the handle of the serviced pot to stick through. Additional notches at the bottom will allow in combustion air. The aluminium cylinder will first be anodized in a variety of fun colors (one per scavenger), and then the inside surface will be polished to a high shine.

The cylinder works by reducing radiant heat losses by reflecting or absorbing and then re-radiating the lost heat back whence it came. It also reduces convective heat losses from hot air that would otherwise not be trapped close to the sides of the pot. By keeping the hot air in contact, heat may be conducted in through the sides of the pot. [please see bad diagram]

Laughs Last, Aug 02 2004

Diagram http://www.geocitie...etop-scavenger.html
[Laughs Last, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 05 2004]

Similar design on Whisperlite backpacking stoves http://www.mtbjourn...atreflectorpkg.html
Whisperlite backpacking stoves come with a heat reflector for the bottom and the sides. They claim that it improves efficiency 20-50%. [scad mientist, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 05 2004]

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       Man that fish doesn't look happy...
simonj, Aug 02 2004
  

       I just hope that you have a stainless steel cooktop. If you have an enamel cooktop, you will have permanent black stains and cracks. They use something like this for woks, to contain the heat, and they will thrash your stovetop.
Klaatu, Aug 02 2004
  

       Why, I don't know, but after the first paragraph, I thought this was going to be a pot lid with a magnetron, stirrer and electricky bits built in to add microwave energy to accelerate the water boiling process.   

       +, but I have seen the wok stand ringy thingies mentioned. I'm visualizing them with holes though. Maybe those are strictly for gas cooktops?
half, Aug 02 2004
  

       After looking at wok stands, I can see a resemblance. I wonder if the meme for a stovetop accessory was buried deep in my head? The wok stands look like they are meant just to support the wok, and the big holes look like they would not direct hot gasses right at the wok. Also, they all appear to be steel, for strength. I bet the thrashing comes from the dynamic woking action.   

       If I remember from episodes of Yan Can Cook, the sides of a wok are cool, so that the cooking can be controlled at the hot oily bottom. Or was that an unintentional result of the wok design, and not the intent?
Laughs Last, Aug 02 2004
  

       Did he pay you to say that? ; >   

       I thought I understood this, until I saw the diagram. What are those "pinball flipper" things on the bottom?
phundug, Aug 03 2004
  

       I think that's a cross sectional view of the pan (drip pan?) that sits below the heating element.   

       I now recall that those are called "reflectors" by some manufacturers.
half, Aug 03 2004
  

       <consumer advice>Make sure you're letting your tap water get as warm as it can before you add it to your pot. Waiting 30 seconds for hot tap water can save minutes on the stove.</consumer advice>
Worldgineer, Aug 03 2004
  

       // "pinball flipper"   

       Hmmm. Wondering aloud if a verrry slow fan under the pot would slow heat convection just a tad under the pot and thereby boost the pot bottom's ambient heat.
dpsyplc, Aug 03 2004
  

       [half] yes, exactly. Thats what my stove would look like if I cut it in half, and only looked at part of it, if my apartment was a poorly drawn cartoon.   

       [World] because my hot water is included in the cost of my rent, I let it get as hot as it will get coming out of the tap. Then I rinse the pan with hot water a couple of times to heat up the metal. Then I fill the hot pan with hot water, and put it on a burner that I've had pre-heating while messing around with the water. This process shaves minutes off the time-to-boiling, but darn it, it is still too slow.
Laughs Last, Aug 03 2004
  

       I've known many who bring water all the way from cold - drives me mad. Just making sure you weren't one of these.   

       Have you tried making a prototype from aluminum foil?
Worldgineer, Aug 03 2004
  

       Funny you should ask, but yes. Rising hot air jostled the foil about, and it then came to a rest touching the electric burner. Parts that were touching started to melt. I quickly tried to remove it, but without a handle, I grabbed it directly. That was a bad idea. I'm thinking that the production model should have a couple millimeter's thickness, for weight.
Laughs Last, Aug 03 2004
  

       I remember seeing some little gizmos that heat a cup of water by immersing the heating element in the water. For the purposes of boiling water, maybe a stove's electric element could be unplugged from the stove, extended with a cord with water-tight connectors and dropped straight in to the pot. What? Of course it'd be dangerous, but darned effective at transferring the heat to the water.   

       Alternatively and less universally than, but similar to the proposal at hand, tight fitting rings could be applied at the base of the pot that would fit down over the burner and keep the heat from convecting itself off in to the wild blue yonder.
half, Aug 03 2004
  

       Hmph. I've had a very similar idea myself, but wasn't motivated to remember/post it, so, through the jealously, I bun anyway. Good idea, though.
absterge, Aug 03 2004
  

       Strange. Some of the most time-consuming tasks *I* do in the kitchen are things like folding puff pastry 50 times, stripping kilos of redcurrants from their stalks for summer pudding, filling hundreds of individual voluevent cases, simmering pie fillings for hours to get that tender-melting texture and so ons and so forth. Boiling water would have never occurred to me to be a laborious task. Still, I'm all for improving the efficiency of stoves and for saving energy so, bun for you, [LL] (you can eat it raw to save time, if you want).
squeak, Aug 04 2004
  

       I'll boil water from cold if I'm not in a hurry, or if some other prep is going to take longer than the boiling. I'll also boil from cold if the water is an ingredient (pudding, oatmeal, etc...) since I'll use filtered water instead of tap water. If I'm just boiling water for a quick pot of noodles, I'll let it run hot first.   

       I've used shields like this when camping, so I call baked.
Freefall, Aug 04 2004
  
      
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