Remember the Wonderbox cookers we built a while back? Thanks to a dear friend of mine who is building some Wonderboxes for Christmas gifts, I’ve been doing some research on Wonderbox Cookers lately. We found that you can order bean bag filling from Walmart online and have it shipped to your store for free, so she ordered some. However, the beads are quite large (the size of large peas–about 3/8″ in diameter). Our extension agent said the larger beads would work fine. But it got me wondering–How does the type of fill affect the heat retention ability of a thermal cooker like a Wonder box?
I thought of making two boxes with different fill and testing them out, when I found the owner of Thermal Cooker‘s website had already conducted just such an experiment with Wonderboxes with different fill types. According to their experiment, after 3 hours the wonder box with smaller beads was 7 degrees warmer than its counterpart with larger beads. They also tested regrind fill which is polystyrene filler made from grinding up solid chunks of foam like you find as packing inside your new appliance box. Here is their experiment results on a time/temperature graph (click to make it larger):
They said there was also a fourth box tested that had a mix of larger (1/4″ or larger) and smaller (1/8″ and smaller) beads which actually performed very slightly better than the box using all small bead fill. So what does all this mean?
It means the large beads from Walmart and most other online sources as well as the inexpensive regrind foam will work, but don’t retain quite as much heat as the smaller beads. You can check your old beanbag to see what size of fill it has and use that for your wonder box and then refill the bean bag with the larger beads if you want to order the inexpensive beads through WalMart. Or you can order small beads from some online dealers like Foamerica. We’re checking to see if we can find new beanbags with the smaller filling and then we can just use the filling from the beanbag to stuff the Wonderboxes instead of buying refill.
And in case you missed yesterday’s email newsletter, you can now purchase a Wonderbox thermal cooker already made right here from our site. That’s right, we have wonderboxes for sale. I know if you have old cotton sheets and a beanbag chair and sewing skills you can whip one of these out yourself and I’m not trying to discourage that. But a lot of folks don’t have that stuff–especially the sewing skills. So I thought I’d offer my sewing skills to make you your own Wonderbox style insulated cooker. I’ll be using the small 1/8″ beads for fill if you order it filled, or you can save a few bucks and just order the skin of the wonderbox and stuff it yourself with your old bean bag filling. To make things simple, I get to choose your fabric. It will be all cotton and all new (not my old sheets), but I do have a couple of options available: “Earth Tones” for the stealth types, and “Something Fun” for those who want a little cheer and pick-me-up while using their cooker. If you have a special request for fabric I may be able to accommodate you, but can’t guarantee anything (like I want it to be dark green to match my kitchen or I love horses or whatever). It all depends on what fabrics I can find. Just send me an email with your order and I’ll see what I can do. The price includes shipping, which is partly why the stuffed one is higher priced. It doesn’t weigh a lot, but they’re kind of bulky and with dimensional billing from the shipping companies that can add up. So if you’re lacking the sewing skills or the time to get your own Wonderbox made, feel free to let me make it for you! ;)
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