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Bacon Micarta? [Nov. 3rd, 2011|07:31 pm]
Doug Ayen
I can't decide if this is stupid or brilliant. Bacon micarta.

Micarta is layers of material, such as paper, fiberglass, fabrics (denim is popular) or other suitable substrate, laminated with epoxy or other binder. The result, when cured, is durable, waterproof, and hard, even if the original material was squishy or delicate.

Cook the bacon until it looks right, vacuum out the residual moisture (as in put it in a vacuum chamber and hook up a vacuum pump for a few hours, I've got the setup, might as well use it), pressure-saturate with water-clear epoxy, press in a mold and cure. It might smell a bit like bacon and plastic for a while, but once the surface volatiles boil off, the fats should polymerize over time and exposure to the cured epoxy and it's catalyst, and the result should be a very stable block of plasticized bacon.

I think a bacon micarta handle might look really neat as a handle for a chef's knife or pizza wheel. Now, who makes the prettiest looking bacon?

[User Picture]From: dcseain
2011-11-03 11:41 pm (UTC)
Prettiest bacon is raw pork belly from an Asian market. If you want cured bacon, hit up a good butcher, who can work with you to get the cut or cuts you want of thickness you want.
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[User Picture]From: rmd
2011-11-04 12:19 am (UTC)
I vote BOTH!
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[User Picture]From: blackanvil
2011-11-04 12:22 am (UTC)
Step 1 is complete: Bacon (Smithfield, center cut, thick cut) has been obtained.

Step 2 is underway: cooking said bacon in a low, slow oven (I'm starting at 250F) to maximize the removal of fat and moisture while minimizing any damage to the bacon itself.

Good idea about the pork belly, I'll make due for the experimental stage with this stuff. I may switch to thin-cut depending on how much penetration I get on the bacon and what the final product looks like.
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[User Picture]From: blackanvil
2011-11-04 01:44 am (UTC)

MUST! NOT! EAT! EXPERIMENT!!1!111!1eleventy11!1!

The house smells like yummy bacon. A couple of pieces were ready first, and as I pulled them out, I just couldn't resist. Oh, slow cooked bacon, just at that right point of crispy yet pliant, a pastel of darker and lighter reds and browns, and that smoky. . . scent . . . of . . . of BACON!

Just one slice though. I guess I can still claim my scientific integrity is intact, since it was logical to eat as one piece to confirm it's essential baconness. I was able to resist temptation for the other slice, and have hopes my will shall remain resolute long enough to get them drained and in the vacuum chamber.
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[User Picture]From: infinitehotel
2011-11-04 01:54 am (UTC)
Fantastic. Do you actually have to cook it? I could see something like prosciutto (with that really startling white/pink boundary) working beautifully, but you'd lose it with the heating...

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[User Picture]From: blackanvil
2011-11-04 02:54 am (UTC)
For a first attempt, I wanted to cook it -- it removes hindrances to adhesion such as water and fat, while increasing surface roughness for a better hold, but at a cost of contrast. Besides, the local market doesn't carry prosciutto and I didn't feel like driving the 10 minutes to one that does.

This helps set up a best case scenario, though if it fails due to adhesion I'll try using commercial degreaser on it after cooking, and see if that does the trick.

For non-cooked products like raw bacon and prosciutto, I'd probably eschew the epoxy for something more penetrative -- a slow-cure water-thin penetrating style wood hardener (Minwax makes one, other formulations are available commercially, I've got two different ones in inventory right now) might be able to diffuse through thin fatty and possibly moist material. I'd worry about color bleeding, but that's what experiments are for. It would take a while to set up, but once it's set it's like solid wood.
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[User Picture]From: blackanvil
2011-11-04 02:29 am (UTC)

Final update for the night

The bacon is cooked, drained, and is currently being pressed between paper towels under a screw press. No, really. It should force out more fat, hold it in shape while it hardens, and protect it from cats until the morning when I can hit the hardware store and buy some parts for the vacuum chamber. Looks like I need to make a smaller one, I'd forgotten that I made this for vacuum-stabilizing wood, and so it's made of 6" dia PVC pipe, 4' long. Oh, and I stole a couple of fittings off it, so I'd have to patch it up first anyway, might as well make one dedicated for smaller work.
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[User Picture]From: jbsegal
2011-11-04 04:01 am (UTC)
{Laugh} Magnificent. I look forward to the experiments.
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[User Picture]From: dcseain
2011-11-04 04:40 am (UTC)
BTW, i think it's brilliant and worth finding out if it's feasible. You know the market is there if you can get it to work.
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