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December 9, 2006

Filtration
Posted by Teresa at 12:01 PM *

How fine are coffee filters, as in microns? Does anybody know?

I’m trying to figure out whether there’s an inexpensive way to filter particles that will pass through a coffee filter.

Thanks.

Comments on Filtration:
#1 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2006, 12:29 PM:

Brief googling suggests that coffee filters run around a 100 micron pore size. Water filters designed for hikers/campers have a pore size of less that one micron, in general. Whether these count as "inexpensive" depends on how much time and volume they're being amortized over -- you can get low-end ones for ca. $50 at places like REI. For a larger variety of options, you can try laboratory equipment suppliers (I was browsing at labdepotinc.com for a rough sense of what's out there) and may be able to get 1 micron filter paper in ca. 10 cm rounds (fold into a cone in a kitchen funnel for use) at around $25 for a 100-pack. A lot depends on whether you're simply trying to remove the particles or are trying to retain the particles for further processing.

#2 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2006, 12:32 PM:

What brand of filter? Probably about 40 microns.

Here is a 10-micron filter.

Lab filter paper runs around 5 microns.

#3 ::: kid bitzer ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2006, 12:38 PM:

lab-quality vs. safeway/brand-x coffee filter:

worth remembering there are likely to be two kinds of difference:
average pore size, and then variability in pore size (something like standard deviation).

It's not just that brand-x coffee filter is going to have bigger pores on average. It's also that their manufacturing process and q.c. standards are probably going to give rise to more glitches.

So you have to ask yourself not only "how big is the average particle I'm willing to allow to come through?" but also "how much do I really, really want to avoid anything larger than that coming through?"

#4 ::: kid bitzer ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2006, 12:40 PM:

e.g., stray coffee-grounds on the one hand, shigella on the other.

#5 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2006, 01:18 PM:

A Pur tabletop pitcher filters .5 micron sediment, and replacement filters are about three for twenty bucks.

#6 ::: Holly Parkis ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2006, 01:55 PM:

It would, of course, bring the cost down if the secondary filtration method was reusable, so if that's possible, Nitex nylon screening may be a good idea. This place has a good range and for reasonably decent prices; a yard of 80 µm is $50, and of 5 µm is $130, but of course you won't need a whole yard. The stuff is really pretty durable -- we use it for plankton tows.

#7 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2006, 02:13 PM:

we use it for plankton tows.

it really isn't nice to drop a juicy tidbit like that and just leave us hanging. What the heck is a plankton tow? and where does one do that?

#8 ::: paul ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2006, 02:25 PM:

Depending on your application the cloth used for wood shop dust collection might also do reasonably. Singed shaker felt goes for rather less than the plankton netting, in 1 and 5 micron spec. Wouldn't vouch for ever getting it clean once used.

#9 ::: Sam Kelly ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2006, 03:17 PM:

Heather Rose Jones wrote: fold into a cone in a kitchen funnel for use.

A neat trick I learned in the lab (in fact, the very first thing I learned in the lab) is how to make fluted filter papers. They're apparently a bit more efficient, though I'm not sure how much. A quick google says it's supposed to be better for when you want to keep the liquid rather than the solid, but we just used it for all filtration.

(Another definite plus is that when you remove it from the funnel and open it out, it makes beautiful symmetrical star-shaped patterns for photography. I wish now I'd had a cameraphone when I was synthesizing squaraine dyes, and getting glittering green-gold flakes piled high on the paper.)

Fold it in half and in half again, then open it out and reverse the second fold. Repeat the process 45 degrees around, so you have eight radial valley folds all going in the same direction. Curve each triangular section inwards lengthways and put a ridge fold into the centre, then squeeze it all into a symmetrical star shape and drop it in the funnel.

Googling "fluted filter paper" got me several guides with illustrations, for those of you who learn better visually, but I don't think any of them are the same way I learnt.

#10 ::: Andrew Willett ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2006, 04:03 PM:

Greg in #7: Holly clearly has to haul plankton over the public highway system. You use it as a failsafe: once you've hooked up the hitch--installed at the front end of the plankton, and available at marine-biological supply houses--wrap the Nitex around the linkage.

#11 ::: Holly Parkis ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2006, 04:37 PM:

Greg #7 - Forgive me. A plankton tow is what marine biologists do when they want to find out what little tiny creatures (and algae, and larvae, and so on) are floating around in the ocean. Essentially, you drag an enormous cone made of Nitex behind a boat for a few minutes, then pull it up and wash all the little bits into a bottle. Then you look at the bits under a microscope and try to keep down your lunch; the plankton's quite beautiful, but using a microscope on a boat is one of life's little delights. There are variations on how the dragging process occurs (horizontally, vertically, at what depth, etc.) but that's pretty much the gist of it.

Andrew #10 - Thank you. I have now been seized by a vivid mental image of driving back from the field station, bouncing a large, drippy, nylon-wrapped package behind the truck. I don't think I'm going to be able to forget that one all that soon.

#12 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2006, 05:07 PM:

Singed shaker felt

Yes, but where do you find the singed Shakers?

#13 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2006, 05:11 PM:

TexAnne #12: At any shop selling complex gifts.

#14 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2006, 05:14 PM:

Fragano, #13: What? (Signed, A Grading Fool)

#15 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2006, 05:16 PM:

TexAnne: I'm in between the last of the regular semester's grading and the finals (all of which are next week. Ugh).

Ah, your question: It was an allusion to the well-known (I had thought) Shaker hymn 'Simple Gifts' ('Tis the gift to be simple...')

#16 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2006, 05:18 PM:

Myself, I was wondering what the singed Shaker felt, but realised the answer was "a little too warm, thank you, brother."

#17 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2006, 05:24 PM:

#15: Indeed, yes. If I'd been in my right mind that would have been funny.

#18 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2006, 05:27 PM:

TexAnne #17: No one grading is in their right mind.


Rather them bringing integrity back to government as promised in their contract wit America, Republicans have brought unprecedented new levels of correction to government.

The Roma also believe that a woman’s menstruation cycle is also a curse and should be washed separately from other articles of clothing.

We began first with Thomas Hobbes, whom many considered an extreme pessimist, due to the fact that he lived in the industrial revolution, which brought great dislocations, and the unmerciful, and uncomfortably state of nature.

#19 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2006, 05:30 PM:

Fragano @18

That last one has me thinking of nudist contortionists. (dislocations + state of nature)

#20 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2006, 05:32 PM:

Abi #19: Ouch! I was quite taken by washing the 'menstruation cycle'.

#21 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2006, 05:32 PM:

#18: Wow, Fragano. At least mine have the excuse of writing in a foreign language.

#22 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2006, 05:49 PM:

TexAnne #21: For many of my students (native-born United Staters all), standard American written English is a foreign language. It certainly has nothing to do with they way *they* speak. The young man who thinks that the 'menstruation cycle' can be washed is guilty of other offenses against the Queen's English. He wants to be a lawyer. I very patiently explained to him that words matter, and that if he, as a lawyer, made some of the errors that he was making in his essays he could end up costing his employers millions.

#23 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2006, 05:53 PM:

Fragano @22:

...guilty of other offenses against the Queen's English.

But Fragano, since the Revolution, Americans don't have to speak the Queen's English. The President's English is the equivalent, I think.

In which case he is fine.

#24 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2006, 05:55 PM:

Fragano, 22: No joke. How people can be expected to learn a second language when they don't even know how theirs works is beyond me. But I'm preaching to the choir, or showing the Fluorosphere how to luminesce, so I'll just go have some chocolate instead.

#25 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2006, 05:58 PM:

TexAnne @24

How people can be expected to learn a second language when they don't even know how theirs works is beyond me.

Not sure I agree. I learned more about language as a whole, and therefore my native language, with every additional one I learned. What is required, and is lacking, is a love of language.

I am not convinced that can be taught.

Enjoy the chocolate.

#26 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2006, 06:44 PM:

Abi wrote -
Myself, I was wondering what the singed Shaker felt, but realised the answer was "a little too warm, thank you, brother."

Reminding us, of course, of the gentle unwisdom of that infamous homily -

"Light a man a fire, and he will be warm for an evening. Light a man on fire, and he will be warm for the rest of his life."

#27 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2006, 07:23 PM:

Abi #23: Given the credibility of the current president, I don't think so.

#28 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2006, 07:25 PM:

TexAnne #24 & Abi #25: I really can't understand how people cannot love language. Yet I am regularly confronted with evidence that they don't. To me, this is one of the great mysteries.

#29 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2006, 07:37 PM:

Fragano, I don't get it either. [snipped: one long and wistful speech about the vagaries of students and my own limitations.]

#30 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2006, 07:51 PM:

Fragano, TexAnne, it's a mystery. I suspect that language is a much more low-res experience for them, the way that plants are low-res objects for those not botanically inclined.

About filtration: I should have explained what I'm trying to do. The problem is my liqueurs, especially the citrus ones. They have some kind of superfine particulate in them that, over time, will settle toward the top of the bottle, or toward the bottom, or in a weird-looking drift in the middle. It's unsightly and offputting, and it'll pass straight through a double layer of non-off-brand coffee filter. Letting it sit and settle for a few months, then racking off the clear parts, just reduces the size of the particles that'll settle in a visible deposit in the supposedly clear liqueur over the next couple of months.

I'm trying to figure out whether there's an inexpensive filtration method that'll catch particles that small.

#31 ::: rams ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2006, 07:54 PM:

Wheras I thought the Shakers singed a lot -- and danced, too.

#32 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2006, 08:01 PM:

#30, Teresa: You may be on to something. I've noticed that the people who don't incandesce about language don't seem to incandesce about anything, whereas those who love language also geek out about many other things. (Or maybe it's just the company I keep. I don't really know any boring people, fortunately.)

#31, rams: Thank you for making me giggle.

#33 ::: glenda larke ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2006, 08:16 PM:

Ah, Teresa, you shouldn't have explained. It was much more fun imagining what you wanted the filter for...plankton, wood dust, squaraine dyes, singed shakers...

#34 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2006, 09:04 PM:

TNH #30: You may be right. I worry, however, about people who use language without ever thinking about what it is they're doing or what the nature of the tool is. I think TexAnne's point about incandescence is also on the money.

I wish I could help on the filtration issue. I suspect that you may be stuck with the particles, though. My father made a pimento liqueur (that's a liqueur made with ripe allspice berries, not one made with the fake peppers stuffed in olives) which was pretty heavy on the particulate content. I never worried about it as the alcohol he used to stop the fermentation process and thus make the liqueur was 190 proof rum. He filtered the liquid through cheesecloth, which meant that the particles were all rather large.

#35 ::: Emily Cartier ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2006, 09:28 PM:

Since it's for the liqueurs, it may be unwise to get too enthusiastic about clarity. I know for wine and beer, if you go for clarity above all, you end up losing flavor. Very fine grade filters can actually filter out some of the flavor molecules.

This is... undesirable.

Generally when wine is very very clear, it's because it's been racked off the sediment repeatedly. And realistically, in home brew beer you just accept the sediment in the bottom of the bottle. You can't rack it off readily without losing the fizz.

#36 ::: Howard Peirce ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2006, 09:39 PM:

Here's a blog post that was making the rounds a couple years back about some folks experimenting with a Brita pitcher and cheap vodka.

I think it's worth a shot. There's always the possibility, though, that the Brita filter might remove some of the flavor as well. I'd be curious to hear the results, if you try this.

Oh, and reading down the comments on that post, they mention that you should run a couple of quarts of water through it first to get rid of any stray carbon bits.

#37 ::: The New York City Math Teacher ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2006, 09:41 PM:

Laboratory fritted glass filters which according to Hervé This, works fine. Also, they are reusable and cleanable.

#38 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2006, 09:56 PM:

Okay, Fluorosphere, help me out here. Teresa, I have this vague sense that you are looking for a clarifying agent, rather than a filter. The bits that are floating to the top of my brain include eggwhites and, oddly, the word 'isinglass.'

[quick Google later]

Ah - the Wikipedia article on isinglass explains what it is and suggests that what you are trying to do might be called 'fining.'

#39 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2006, 10:50 PM:

debcha @ 38:

Why old boiled-coffee recipes call for an egg (usually beaten before being added to the uncooked coffee).

Dang, now I will have to find the cookbooks... I have a copy of The Kansas Home Cook Book (by the Ladies League of Leavenworth, ca 1888), which undoubtedly has all this sort of thing in it.

#40 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2006, 10:56 PM:

#10.

For those who just heard a spoing, that was my brain the for some reason felt compelled to image the description, then went snap trying to make all the bits line up.

ouch.


#11.

Ah, now that is something I can visualize without simultaneously experiencing pain.

Much better.

My brain thanks you.

#41 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2006, 10:57 PM:

Everytime I see the title of the thread, the first thing that pops in my head is "Flirtation". I don't think I'm dyslexic, although that might explain some things.

Is it just me?

#42 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2006, 11:01 PM:

Fragano, TexAnne, Teresa,

And how do these people fit into that odd-to-me (by 'odd' I mean 'what species of beings are they?') category of people who do not love books?

For instance, my significant half and I sometimes entertain ourselves on Sunday afternoons by touring open houses (in San Francisco). More often than I though should be possible, we've seen houses without books. These were not staged houses: there was no evidence that bookcases were hidden away in the garage.

We found these houses creepy, and I assume, were I to know the sorts of people in those houses, that I'd find them creepy too. Philosophical zombies, missing some type of inner experience.

(Although thinking about it, when I was young I did know people who didn't love books or language, but did have a small library. A friend's parents, where half the books were textbooks, half the books about a religion.)

#43 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2006, 11:13 PM:

Kathryn from Sunnyvale #42:

I'd say there was a huge overlap between the two categories. I know most of my students do not read for pleasure, and the majority of those who do read very narrowly.

I find the idea of a house without books strange. My problem is where to put the ones I have.

#44 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2006, 11:51 PM:

Kathryn:

I grew up in a household almost entirely bereft of books. There were a few stray Reader's Digest Condensed Books and a not-very-good (and bright orange) encyclopedia set, that I read cover to cover to cover. My parents don't really get the idea of reading for pleasure, and think that the only worthwhile reading is that which is part of your education. Actually, I guess I feel that way too - I just have an infinitely broader idea of what 'education' means. :)

The giveaway that a visitor to my apartment or office is a non-reader is often this query, which I'm sure will be familiar to many of you: 'Have you read all these books?'

#45 ::: Dan S. ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2006, 11:59 PM:

Teresa, I suspect this post just raised your Terrorism Score slightly . . .

#7, 10, 11 - I'm still imagining a broken-down plankton sitting on the side of the road 'til the tow truck comes by . . .

#30: low-res - that's a marvelous way to describe it. Wow.

#38: "The bits that are floating to the top of my brain include eggwhites and, oddly, the word 'isinglass.'"
Something fishy about that . . .
I always vaguely associate isinglass and Isengard, which leads to me imagining the mighty tower of Orthanc adorned with fish bladders (and mica windows?) . . .

#42: Bookless philosophical zombies - I honestly can't understand 'em, being someone who can reliably be expected to start reading the books used for decoration in home-furnishing showcase rooms (and a few restaurant chains) if around them for more than a few minutes (although I'm starting to see more fake books -blah). And the funny thing is that they tend to consider us the odd ones . . .

#43 - I gave up and placed some 26 boxes of them in storage, but that's an extremely unsatisfactory solution . . . .

#46 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2006, 12:14 AM:

As a pre-teen, I stayed a couple of days at my second cousins' house where the only reading material they had were several bibles and many back issues of Prevention magazine.

I couldn't wait to get out of there. Just the memory gives me the willies.

Fragano @18 - Wow, I would have bet dollars to donuts that the last quote couldn't have been written by a native English speaker. Oy!

#47 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2006, 12:18 AM:

Bookless houses creep me out. Postliterates -- folks that can read but don't -- creep me out.

Um, no. They don't creep me out. I despise them and feel sorry for them.

I don't like to think about this, because when I Go There, I start thinking like a Heinlein character talks.

#48 ::: Jim ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2006, 12:55 AM:

Debcha (#44) mentions the oft-heard question:

'Have you read all these books?',

to which of friend of mine would respond:

'Of course not! What good is a library full of books you've already read?'

(This may not have been original to her, but it was the first I ever heard it.)

#49 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2006, 01:02 AM:

Teresa, filtering may not be a complete answer. If the sediment is at all similar to what you get with a decent red wine, no matter how much you filter, it may throw some more later, unless you really get agressive.

Tannins and pigments in red wine (mostly phenolics) will slowly form sediments over time. Even if you get the current stuff out, more will form, just more slowly. As someone else mentioned, you can do a lot of things to ensure clarity -- mainly adding fining agents to force the phenolics out of solution and then remove by centrifuge and filtering. The problem is that you want the phenolics -- they are anti-oxidants and may be a major contributor to the reported benefits of drinking red wine. Also, fining and filtering change the color and taste, and can greatly affect how a wine ages. The better the wine, the more delicately it is treated. Red Mountain comes from a more, well, industrial approach.

#50 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2006, 01:02 AM:

I don't know what people who don't read do for insulation...(looks around at ridiculous number of bookshelves).

Anyway, about filtration: one commercially available gadget that would be worth trying is a back-country water filter, which has the ability to filter out Giardia cysts. But as Emily Cartier and Howard Pierce have mentioned, I'd be concerned about removing some of the flavor, and would definitely run small-batch tests.

Another random thought: since it's the citrus liqueurs which are clouding, maybe the problem is not so much particulates per se but instead emulsified globules of essential oil aggregating over time. The solution for that would be a vigorous shaking, not filtration.

And was it Christie or Sayers who, in a short story, had the victim offed by a bitter-almond liqueur that had separated so that there was a layer of cyanide? Sayers, I think, a Montegue Egg story...

#51 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2006, 01:02 AM:

Jim, I like that answer a lot. I may appropriate it the next time some visitor walks past my floor-to-ceiling shelves with their double-stacked content.

#52 ::: Daniel Boone ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2006, 01:33 AM:

"For instance, my significant half and I sometimes entertain ourselves on Sunday afternoons by touring open houses (in San Francisco). More often than I though should be possible, we've seen houses without books."

I recently discovered that in Oklahoma, they have entire malls that contain no bookstores -- not even a Waldenbooks or a B. Daltons. Entire malls where you can't buy anything at all to read while you sit and wait for other people to finish shopping. It still creeps me out. What do they do to keep the brain busy during all the little bits of dead time that would otherwise fill a life?

#53 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2006, 02:14 AM:

Daniel @52,

As a tourist in Edmonton Alberta last month (benefits of Edmonton in November: no crowds), I went to the West Edmonton "the Mall of America fits in our hockey rink" Mall. Three MacDonalds, three bookstores counting the small religious bookstore.

Fragano @43,

I can understand students who have to cut back on reading for pleasure while in school because of workload (and there's been dreadful tuition inflation since I was in school), but ones who don't at all? Universities have such beautiful libraries.

#54 ::: oliviacw ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2006, 02:34 AM:

Larry @46: I had a similar nearly book-free summer vacation once. It was a trip to my grandparents house in Florida, and I think it was the summer I was 14 (we only visited them twice while I was growing up). Their reading matter consisted of a fine selection of old Reader's Digest magazines and condensed book selections - I believe I was the only person who had ever read some of them!

My great discovery (and disappointment) that they did repeat jokes in Reader's Digest, over a several-year period.

#55 ::: Michael Sedio ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2006, 02:43 AM:

I'm trying to figure out whether there's an inexpensive filtration method that'll catch particles that small.

You should be able to get pads that can filter down to 1 micron at your local tropical fish store, and they're usually under 10 bucks. I don't know if you'd want to pour something you'd drink through them, but brand new out of the box I don't think there would be anything wrong with them.

What you would look for are replacement pads for aquarium filters and then cut it open and put it over whatever you want to pour over. Hope it helps.

#56 ::: Mac ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2006, 03:00 AM:

"My great discovery (and disappointment) that they did repeat jokes in Reader's Digest, over a several-year period."

Not only jokes, but also entire anecdotes .. stories were printed in the 'Laughter is the best medicine' (Jokes) section one year, then the 'Life's Like That' (True stories) a few years later .. often credited to someone else entirely!

I still have a few shelves of Reader's Digests dating sporadically back to the 1950s ...

Mac

#57 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2006, 05:48 AM:

Teresa,

JESR @50 mentioned the possibility of it being essential oils rather than particles, which leads me to ask -

Does the cloudiness in suspension vary with temperature of the liquid?

#58 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2006, 08:56 AM:

filters run around a 100 micron pore size

"Captain Adama! The Cylons are only 60 microns away!"

#59 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2006, 09:41 AM:

Larry Brennan #46: Alas, it is the case.

#60 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2006, 09:43 AM:

Kathryn from Sunnyvale #53: Quite a few students only go to the library when they have to. My university library isn't the best, but it's allowed me to reread all but one of the novels of John Hearne, for example.

#61 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2006, 09:55 AM:

Stefan Jones @ 47... Bookless houses creep me out. Postliterates -- folks that can read but don't -- creep me out.

Actually, a bookless house doesn't necessarily indicate illiteracy. Sue and I have so many books in the room where I'm currently typing this that, if this weren't at ground-level and without a basement, the weight of everything would probably have had the floor collapsing. Meanwhile, Sue's sisters have bookless houses. Are they illiterate? Hell, no. They are smart, educated, Berkeley graduates. They just don't read much fiction and neither do their hubbies. (I was surprised once to find that one of the fiction books they had was John Brunner's The Sheep Look Up.) Still, a bookless house feels incomplete to me. I guess Sue and I were lucky to find a mate who also reads. Then again, if not for our enjoying books, we'd never have met. Let's hear a few cheers for the fan groups of F/SF writers!

#62 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2006, 10:47 AM:

That query about filtering "particles" nearly made me think the blogmistress wanted to weed out some of the links in the lefthand column....

And the discussions of language that crept into this thread might make it an appropriate place for this link to an excellent SFGate piece (by Orville Schell) on the government's abuse of language and its relation to everything from the fall of the Greeks to Orwell's take on tyranny's misuse of words.

#63 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2006, 11:00 AM:

Thanks for the link, Faren. Say, is my memory being selective or were there indeed very few instances of orwellian language during the Clinton Years?

#64 ::: Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2006, 11:27 AM:

Filtering tricks:

Firstly, home beer brewers deal with this problem all the time, so there's a large knowledge base there. They're also good for getting sheet filters, which specify a given particle size, the spec is written as "This filter will trap 90% of all particles of X and larger."

Cold filtering -- chill well before filtering, which will cause many things that cause haze to clump. Being larger, they then filter out.

#65 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2006, 11:51 AM:

#32, TexAnne: I know many brilliant engineers who geek out to an insane degree about technology, but don't give a rip about language. And I work with a multitude of financial geniuses who don't give a rip about technology.

My life would be much less rich if I dismissed as "boring" those whose passions differ from mine.

#66 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2006, 12:08 PM:

Fragano Ledgister:

Rather them bringing integrity back to government as promised in their contract wit America, Republicans have brought unprecedented new levels of correction to government.

You have managed to provide the image I least needed before breakfast: Dick Cheney wearing high heels and fishnet stocking and carrying a bullwhip. Thank you, I think.

Howard Peirce:

My old boss, who was in her early 20's and operated on a low budget, used to swear by the use of Brita filters to make the cheap Vodka she could afford drinkable. She always said it took numerous passes (5?) and you needed to make sure the filter had been used three or four times with water first to get rid of excess charcoal. I never asked her about special steps to dispose of the old filters, but I kept wondering what would happen if she mixed in a little saltpeter and sulfer and then threw the filter into the fire.


#67 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2006, 12:11 PM:

Dick Cheney wearing high heels and fishnet stocking and carrying a bullwhip.

Maybe Susan should ask Dick to help out next time she does a fundraiser with the "Sweet Transvestites" number at Philcon.

#68 ::: Cranky Observer ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2006, 12:52 PM:

> It's not just that brand-x coffee filter
> is going to have bigger pores on average.
> It's also that their manufacturing process
> and q.c. standards are probably going to
> give rise to more glitches.

If you are talking about a safety-of-health/safety-of-life application, then of course you will use food grade (or higher) filters with certified pore sizes.

However, having worked for consumer goods manufacturers I can report firsthand that it is a fairly common practice to make all similar products on the same production line to the same standards, then sell the lab-certified ones for 50x the price of the "consumer grade" version. (in fairness to this practice, the certified version will have much higher documentation and product liability costs). Another example of this is kitchen scales: I am reasonably certain that the higher-end kitchen scales ($75) have the exact same load cells as the lower-end lab scales ($500).

Cranky

#69 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2006, 01:03 PM:

#50: Si, correcto. It was indeed Sayers, and IIRC Montague Egg saved an innocent man (the bohemian future son-in-law, I think) from being tried for murder.

#70 ::: ctate ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2006, 01:08 PM:

Cranky #68: Another example of this is kitchen scales: I am reasonably certain that the higher-end kitchen scales ($75) have the exact same load cells as the lower-end lab scales ($500).

You may well be right about the load cells themselves, but having worked with both I'm also fairly sure that the lab scales have better power management (i.e. reducing vibration and line noise from the load cell output), signal filtering (ditto), and software (ditto again -- a certain amount of software integration and averaging is the norm in anything that takes a fuzzy voltage signal and presents a digital readout).

Rose Levy Berenbaum is scarily perfectionist, but it makes perfect sense to me that when she got her first weight-measuring tool for the kitchen, it was by Mettler.

#71 ::: JC ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2006, 01:50 PM:

#61:Actually, a bookless house doesn't necessarily indicate illiteracy.

Another example would be where the household just doesn't have money in the budget to buy books. e.g., I didn't really own any books as a kid, but I managed to wear out library cards for two different public library systems. (I note that I've apparently been making up for lost time on the whole book buying thing...)

#52: Entire malls where you can't buy anything at all to read while you sit and wait for other people to finish shopping.

One of the things in Patrick's "The state of the industry" lector that freaked me out was the idea that there used to be entire towns which did not have a bookstore. My life would have been quite different if that had been the case when I was a kid.

#72 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2006, 02:05 PM:

JC... Most of my high-school days's fiction-reading was thru the school's library. The librarians (*) liked me a lot because I obviously was there because I wanted to. I did buy some, but not much, because I had to use my own funds. Even then, when I'd purchase the latest Asterix graphic novel, my parents would still grumble about the waste of money. (They were good people, but never read anything but the daily newspaper, mostly it seems to me, to find out who they knew who mighht have died.)

(*) No, they looked nothing like Jane Curtin and Bob Newhart.

#73 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2006, 02:43 PM:

Bruce E. Durocher II #66: I thought immediately of Condolleeza Rice when I read the essay. In fishnet stockings, with a switch....

#74 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2006, 02:55 PM:

It is very telling that this group can turn a discussion about micron-scale filtering into a discussion about libraries, bookstores, and love of language in less than 30 posts. I love this place.

I read my wife a few choice quotes, including Fragano's grading samples, in between this morning's chat over coffee of: which schools our son might do well in, types of intelligence and their correlation or lack thereof, what it feels like to solve problems in computer programming, what centers of the brain might be involved or coopted in doing high-level mathematics or programming, gestalt process thinking, how she solves diagnosis problems in psychology, what's wrong with computer science degree programs, the presence of practicing incompetents in every field, Teresa's "bad terms with the Muse of Language" quote, how less people speak real Hawaiian pidgin these days, the process by which pidgins evolve to creoles, fascinating features of the Tok Pisin (or Wontok) creoles, back to the Fragano quotes and the "second language" issue, the good idea behind the whole "Ebonics" media stupidity, and the serious problems with the Hawaiian language immersion school programs. At one point, she paused and said: "While we're having this discussion, part of me at the back of my mind is acting as the Observer and noting that anyone who walked in here would either think we're insane or be completely lost."

#75 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2006, 04:04 PM:

Clifton Royston @ #69, thanks for affirming my memory; I now wonder where the paperback of Sayers short stories has gotten to- with luck, it's in the library overload room down in the barn.

I do know exactly what happened to my copy of The Sheep Look Up, though: after the week of nightmares which followed my first reading it, I dropped it down a storm sewer in Pullman during a very wet February. I love Brunner, but that last chapter was not something I wanted sharing my living space. (My son had the same reaction to Bambi; it's a thing.)

#76 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2006, 04:59 PM:

Howard (36), I tried filtering with a Brita. The alcohol picked up something extremely nasty going through the filter, and I had to throw the whole batch out. Same thing happened when I found out the hard way that nylon stockings (my old all-purpose filtration device) are now being made with alcohol-soluble dyes. Bleah!

NYCMT (37), could you give us the link on fritted glass filters again? That one didn't work.

Debcha (44), my childhood reading included more Readers Digest publications than I care to think about. It was educational, in its way; among other things, it taught me to recognize astroturf.

Claude (49), it would explain a lot if I assumed that the particulate was being continuously generated. Makes the whole thing sort of Sisyphean. Oh, well. The liqueurs taste fine; they just look annoyingly imperfect.

JESR (50), it's not aggregating globules of undissolved essential oil. I tried increasing the alcohol content, and the globules didn't disappear. I'll admit to having made liqueurs that turn white when water hits them, but they didn't have much trouble with particulate.

Michael Sedio (55), I've been looking at fishtank filtration equipment online. That's why I finally asked how big the pores are in coffee filter paper: so I can tell whether their filter materials' stated micron size would be an improvement.

Abie (57): no, but sometimes it drifts higher or lower in the bottle with the changing seasons.

Erik (64): [brewing OR zymurgy "sheet filters"] -- I can work with that.

One version of "cold filtering" I've used has been to put my stuff into quart-size takeout Chinese soup containers, freeze it solid, and set the frozen chunk to slowly melt on top of a fine-mesh strainer. The particulate isn't pressed through the mesh, but rather piles up on top of it. Stuff that clumps when cold will stack up too.

Bruce Durocher (66): "You have managed to provide the image I least needed before breakfast: Dick Cheney wearing high heels and fishnet stocking and carrying a bullwhip. Thank you, I think."

Dismiss it from your mind. Cheney could never be a top. It requires paying close attention to the people you're artistically mistreating.

Clifton (74), that sounds like normal life to me.

JESR (75), you don't like The Sheep Look Up John Brunner?

#77 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2006, 05:08 PM:

JESR... I never read The Sheep Look Up. I just found it amazing that someone who never reads SF had a book by Brunner. That being said, I did read Brunner's Stand on Zanzibar and I liked it, but that was 33 years ago and we're now only a few years away from the story's 2010.

#78 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2006, 05:31 PM:

Mary Dell: Thank you for your contrary examples. I am, however, nearly certain that "None of my friends are boring" is not the same as "People who are not like me are boring."

#79 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2006, 05:54 PM:

Teresa @76 (and Serge, too) The Sheep Look Up hit nearly all of my nightmare buttons, especially the last scene with the microwave. I read it in Pullman, WA, in late February or early March, 1978 (I may have misstated the date above, but had a chance to review the memory more fully since), right after the Russian Flu epidemic had passed through town and pretty much knocked the population on its ass. Two weeks when the WSU campus was an echoing ghost town probably increased the impact of its description of man-made apocalypse.

Serge, I've been rereading most of Brunner since the millenium turned; it's funny to see where his near-future predictions were closest to reality. But that book is indeed a strange one to find in a non-SF reading home, unless they were also, perhaps, Earth First! adherants.

#80 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2006, 07:04 PM:

I'd never heard of The Sheep Look Up, so I went to Amazon to find it. The reviews are nearly uniformly good. Hmm. I wonder if the local library has it.

#81 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2006, 07:14 PM:

Linkmeister, the fact that I have clear memories of the story 28 years on says something about the work. I don't regret having read it, but unlike some other of Brunner's near-future stuff (Shockwave Rider, The Stone that Never Came Down and another which I can't remember the title of but in which spam faxes play a part in the setting, as well as Stand on Zanzibar, I have not found myself wishing to reread it, nor regretting disposing of my copy in a somewhat melodramatic fashion.

#82 ::: jotter ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2006, 08:25 PM:

#5, Holly; Funny you should mention plankton. Sounds like a job for kieselguhr, aka diatomaceous earth, aka the silicate skeletons of (some of) said plankton, aka Celite.

Teresa, wash your filter grade Celite with some alcohol:water in the same proportions as in your liqueur, and build up a thin layer of it on your filter paper circle (use a Buchner funnel). Then add more washed Celite to your liqueur and mix before filtering. More filtration details here.

Also like the idea of centrifuging. All kitchens should have a small table top clinical centrifuge, no?

#83 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2006, 08:26 PM:

Two copies in the state system, it turns out, one on Oahu and one on the Big Island. I've reserved it, but I'm second in line.

#84 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2006, 08:37 PM:

I've always thought kitchens needed a centrifuge; also a hard-vacuum hookup to your pressure cooker, so you can boil off water without heating whatever you're working with.

#85 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2006, 08:55 PM:

#78, TexAnne: Fair enough. I read your comment as casting "boring people" and "people who love language" as opposites, rather than "boring people" and "people who geek out" as opposites, which is probably what you actually meant. And is a sentiment I can get behind.

#86 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2006, 09:01 PM:

And a fume hood, for when you're making habanero oil.

#87 ::: claire ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2006, 09:39 PM:

#74 Clifton Royston:

"It is very telling that this group can turn a discussion about micron-scale filtering into a discussion about libraries, bookstores, and love of language in less than 30 posts. I love this place.

I read my wife a few choice quotes. At one point, she paused and said: "While we're having this discussion, part of me at the back of my mind is acting as the Observer and noting that anyone who walked in here would either think we're insane or be completely lost."

My conversation with my fifteen year old son this morning involved Homer/The Odyssey (which he is reading for school) and why "The Simpsons" was the perfect way to get people involved in the story because everyone needs to Get Storytelling. I suddenly had that moment--most people never have this kind of conversation in their lives, much less on an ordinary Sunday morning while making breakfast.

And I can't wait to try Ms. T's concoctions...

--claire (who is busily babysitting several fruitcakes)

#88 ::: The New York City Math Teacher ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2006, 09:42 PM:

Laboratory fritted glass filters - http://www.adamschittenden.com/technical/500Frits/502Frit_info.php - made to arbitrary mean and absolute range pore sizes - sealed into glass tubing, and used with a waterjet vacuum pump.

By the way, if you don't already own a pressure cooker, buy one. I just made boeuf en daube with lavender and haricots in 25 minutes.

#89 ::: JKRichard ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2006, 09:47 PM:

Teresa you may want to take a gander at muslin cloth filters like the one here. One or two stacked should do the trick.
-=Jeff=-

#90 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2006, 09:54 PM:

Ah, lavender. I've never tried it in a savory dish. Done some chicken with rose syrup and garlic, which was good. I'll be making some lavender-lemon shortbread later in the week, for part of our parish's contribution to refreshments for the Bonyfiddle Christmas church tour.

#91 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2006, 10:00 PM:

microflirtation is something plankton do with their toes

#92 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2006, 10:33 PM:

TNH at #84 says : "also a hard-vacuum hookup to your pressure cooker, so you can boil off water without heating whatever you're working with."

To which I must answer with a hearty "yea", as the hot pepper simple syrup I made this afternoon was just a tad too much volume to fit in any of my storage jars, and I was rather over breathing capsacin fumes.


#93 ::: kid bitzer ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2006, 11:03 PM:

89--

"you may want to take a gander at muslin cloth filters"

help! muslin cloth filters! muslin cloth filters!

islamofascist kitchenware! terror-loving cooking tools! help! help! hel--

oh. muslin. with an n.

never mind.

#94 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2006, 11:52 PM:

Claude (49), it would explain a lot if I assumed that the particulate was being continuously generated. Makes the whole thing sort of Sisyphean. Oh, well. The liqueurs taste fine; they just look annoyingly imperfect.

The slubs you may find in this liqueur are not imperfections; they are indicative of it being a fine handmade product.

#95 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2006, 12:19 AM:

Teresa:

I've always thought kitchens needed a centrifuge; also a hard-vacuum hookup to your pressure cooker, so you can boil off water without heating whatever you're working with.

And an autoclave. I think it's grossly unfair that only Lord Rutherford and Dave Langford get to cook their meat with fun lab gear...

Dismiss it from your mind. Cheney could never be a top. It requires paying close attention to the people you're artistically mistreating.

True. The mental picture of him fitting Rumsfeld with a ball gag that arrived shortly thereafter didn't do me much good either: I'll be glad to let both of them fade away.

#96 ::: Andy ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2006, 12:26 AM:

Teresa--I saw your high-octane limeade recipe, and it's giving me ideas (maybe making it with lemons and using seltzer as a mixer?). What would you recommend using as a straining material?

#97 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2006, 01:56 AM:

#33 glenda larke: Ah, Teresa, you shouldn't have explained. It was much more fun imagining what you wanted the filter for...plankton, wood dust, squaraine dyes, singed shakers...

When I read the post, I naturally assumed that Teresa was contemplating attempting some kitchen-table O-chem.
So my first guess was an attempt at home-brewing Cylert.

I’m trying to figure out whether there’s an inexpensive way to filter particles that will pass through a coffee filter.

I'm somewhat surprised that we're nearly a hundred posts into this discussion and no one has yet quoted the deathless slogan

"If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate."

#98 ::: Avery ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2006, 11:07 AM:

Having done some brewing and vintning and some sterile filtration I would recomend.....

1) Try your regular brand of coffee filters first. If it works, yay! if not you're out a coffee filter and some time.

2) If that doesn't work, or time is short, look into some of the clarifying agents that are out there. I think these might be a less annoying task as you probably don't have "house vacuum" and will find youself yelling, "Drip. Drip! Drip, damn you!" in short order.

Here's a web site that lists some. http://www.brewerylane.com/finings.html

#99 ::: Malthus ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2006, 01:01 PM:

Activated charcoal, maybe? Not sure of the pore sizes in that. You might be able to get some at a pet store (part of some fish tank filtration systems -- not sure if this is the same thing as the "pads" mentioned above).

#100 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2006, 01:03 PM:

#32 Texanne: I've noticed that the people who don't incandesce about language don't seem to incandesce about anything, whereas those who love language also geek out about many other things. (Or maybe it's just the company I keep. I don't really know any boring people, fortunately.)

Well, people who aren't very interested in language might not convey their intensity effectively to people who *are* very interested in language.

"Some people have a way with words, and some people....um, thingy."

I was thinking about people who are in the non-verbal arts--some of them are very articulate, but I've heard that some dancers get into dance precisely because they don't trust words to communicate reliably.

And then, this show came on NPR--it's Voices in the Family, an interview with Gerda Weissman Klein (a Holocaust survivor who teaches children about tolerance and respect) and Morris Dees (of Southern Poverty Law).

To my ear, Dees doesn't use language precisely all the time--but he gets his passion across *very* clearly.

http://www.whyy.org/91FM/voices.html--there doesn't seem to be a link to the specific show, but it looks like it will be up for a couple of weeks.

#101 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2006, 04:01 PM:

Teresa, you shouldn't be picking up any flavor from a Brita filter that's had a few gallons of water run through it already...you didn't forget to break it in, did you?

We tried the vodka filtration trick a while back and ruled that while it didn't turn "Tito's Handmade Vodka" into top-shelf, it definitely improves the stuff.

#102 ::: The New York City Math Teacher ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2006, 08:54 PM:

I have had experience doing membrane and filter-bed through and blind pore characterization, primarily through bubble-point/flow porometry and mercury porosimetry.

Muslin cloths would be useless. Mean through pore sizes in the 200 micron range. In other words, drafty as a barn.

Hypoallergenic bed linens get you down to the 25-50 micron range, but to get much lower, you either need to use fiber, powder bed, or sintered/fritted filters.

Municipal water treatment plants use beach sand powder bed filters, with enough of the right in the right layers sand, you get through-pore sizes down to the 1/2 micron, enough to filter out the vast majority of pathogens.

As I said before, well-known molecular gastronomist Hervé This recommended the use of fritted glass plate filters.

#103 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2006, 05:43 PM:

You've given me too many ideas for Christmas presents.

#95 & previous:
"I've always thought kitchens needed a centrifuge; also a hard-vacuum hookup to your pressure cooker, so you can boil off water without heating whatever you're working with.
[here endeth the metaquote]
And an autoclave. I think it's grossly unfair that only Lord Rutherford and Dave Langford get to cook their meat with fun lab gear..."

... and my friend Fiona, in college, at one point.

I'm trying to figure out if there is an autoclave useful and portable enough for a personal chef, now.

#104 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2006, 06:33 PM:

#56:

My parents were married in 1946. Their (post-war impoverished) wedding party - groomsmen and bridesmaids (and in those days they were indeed maids) clubbed together and got them a Lifetime Subscription to Reader's Digest.

I grew up with it as a standard part of Living in Nebraska.

My mother still receives it, of course. It's a weird time machine to go visit and see the current copy on the end table.

Part of me wants to grab it and check out "Life in These United States" and "Humor in Uniform" WHAT??? opposed by the part that wants to run for the car.


#105 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2009, 03:49 PM:

That hollow piping sound is me blowing the smoke from the barrel of the control panel.

#106 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2009, 04:36 PM:

Abi Sutherland will be back in The Quick and the Dead - Part Two.

#107 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2009, 05:27 PM:

Shouldn't it be called Vivos et Mortuos in her case?

#108 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2009, 09:52 PM:

Xopher @ 109... specially if the Spanish 'vivos', like the French 'vif', means 'quick' and 'alive'.

#109 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2009, 05:13 AM:

I think Xopher was going for Latin, in which case I would think it would be Vivi et Mortui -- nominative case rather than accusative.

#110 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2009, 07:03 AM:

David Goldfarb @ 111... I stand corrected. Regarding the French 'vif'... You remember all those westerns with 'wanted: dead or alive' posters? In French, they 'say 'recherché: mort ou vif'. (Yes, 'recherche' is also the French word for 'research'.) And the expression 'chair à vif' translates as 'raw flesh'.

#111 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2009, 10:39 AM:

Nope, David, I wanted the accusative, to evoke the Mass text '...judicare vivos et mortuos'.

Which is, of course, what all the books and movies with that title were doing; you just can't tell in English.

#112 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2009, 03:15 AM:

I have to admit I wasn't familiar with the phrase.

#113 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2009, 04:00 PM:

It's a prophecy about Jesus, from the Credo. "He shall come in glory to judge the quick¹ and the dead."

___
¹I suspect, but cannot prove, that the person who wrote this thought 'vivi' meant "the living" rather than "the quick."

#114 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2009, 05:30 PM:

Xopher, "quick" does mean "living." Unless the NyQuil has made me miss your point?

#115 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2009, 05:41 PM:

TexAnne @ 116... Or, as Sean Connery said in that certain movie you are adamant has no sequel:

"The sensation you are feeling is the quickening!"

#116 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2009, 06:59 PM:

TexAnne, it must be the NyQuil. It couldn't possibly be that I didn't know that 'quick' formerly meant "alive" as opposed to "fast moving." No, no, surely not. :-)

#117 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2009, 03:14 AM:

I guess we'll have to wait until Abi has set up shop for the day.

#118 ::: Stephan Brun sings "Spam" ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2009, 01:25 AM:

Thyroid, above.

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