Recycle and Reuse Series: Corn Cobs

Growing up on the farm, we raised a large garden, enough to feed the four families that made up the family farm.  We also raised a few thousand acres of corn and soybeans.  Every fall the corn picker would come out of the machine shed and run nearly non-stop until the corn was all harvested.  Grandpa, the uncles and my dad took turns between harvesting and driving the grain trucks to the bins.  Once the bins were full, the rest of the corn went to the grainery for market.  When the corn was stripped from the cobs, the cobs went into a bin for the cattle to eat.  And they really liked it.  They had choices of feed and they chose the cobs.  I never understood why, until now.  I didn’t know it then, but we recycled and reused everything before recycling was cool.

Recycling and reusing corn cobs can be all kinds of prepper fun.When we ate sweet corn on the cob for dinner, we threw scraped the ears and fed the scrapings to the chickens.  We threw the cobs to the pigs.  Now I know that the dried cobs were just as tasty to cattle as the wet ones were to pigs.

On the same farm, we lived in a house built in 1887.  The basement had a huge old furnace that had burned a variety of fuels over time.  This things was room sized.  It had duct work as big around as a 10 year old child.  At one time it burned coal, then during the depression it started using corn cobs.  It burned cobs until it was converted to burning fuel oil.  When we moved in there was still a supply of cobs in the coal room, just in case.  If you needed to, you could have converted it back to using cobs.  Eventually, my parents had the monster of a furnace replaced with a less intimidating modern furnace.

Of course you could make corn cob pipes.  But there is so much more you can do with them.  They can be used to make  resins and solvents for automotive applications, making grit for sanding, and in making activated carbon.  Corn cobs can be used as part of a biomass tank to produce ethanol and storage for natural gas.

Here are some other suggestions, including a recipe for corn cob jelly and a hint at making corn cob wine.

Happy recycling and reusing!  The saved money will go nicely into your prepper budget some where else!

photo by: planetc1