Homemade salt dehumidifier?
January 2, 2005 4:01 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for and learning about energy-saving/environmentally-friendly clothes dryer alternatives. My (basement) dryer is inefficient and requires a good 6' - 8' to vent (again, inefficiently) outdoors. I'm thinking of getting a Spin Dryer, but still just occasionally using the regular dryer to finish larger loads after the Spin. For the regular dryer I'm thinking of using an indoor dryer vent, but I'd like to limit the added humidity with a homemade salt dehumidifer. Anyone have experience making one? Can I just put the indoor dryer vent in a big plastic tub with some road salt to trap the moisture, maybe with some filtration media instead of the tub's lid to allow for some air escape? Or something somesuch? Does this plan sound okay so far?
posted by Shane to Home & Garden (8 answers total)
See this thread (posted today), and more specifically, this combination washer/dryer. I have never used it myself (and just found out about it today) but it looks pretty cool.

Regarding your vent issue, directly from the product description:

VENTLESS DRYING: Equator technology does not require venting. Hot air from the drying cycle is water-cooled internally causing the moisture in the heat to condense. The condensed water is then flushed out through the water outlet hose via the pump.

Hope this helps.
posted by purephase at 5:02 PM on January 2, 2005

That's really cool, purephrase. Thanks. Only prob:
Equator EZ 3612CEE Washer Dryer Combination Clothes Processor + FREE EXTENDED WARRANTY (replaces EZ 3600CEE) 16265KF $900.00 Shipping Surcharge $75
$975 (incl. shipping), while my options are easily under $200 total, possibly less than $150 (not including my existing washer/dryer, which I'm in no position to replace).

Of course the Spin Dryer is much less convenient and only processes 11(wet)# at a time (albeit at only 2-3 minutes/load), but I'm betting my options save more energy/$$.

What I'm really interested in is homemade dehumidifier suggestions, as I'd like to start keeping the basement as moisture-free as possible, but any experiences/comments on the Spin Dryer are welcome too.
posted by Shane at 5:51 PM on January 2, 2005

Yah, water-cooled internally is going to equate to humongous water wastage. Bad idea, that.

What on earth is the matter with an 8' run of ducting? In my old condo, it was at least 25' of ducting; in this house, it's a good 10'.

As long as it's 4" diameter aluminum or steel pipe (not that awful coiled/expanding shite), there isn't going to be any problem with an 8' duct.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:05 PM on January 2, 2005

Having just returned from Asia where even in the highest of highrises people still hang their laundry out to dry, I can only assume the reason you didn't mention clotheslines is because you have to deal with weather that won't allow for it year round. So let me suggest some indoor solutions that are energy-saving/environmentally-friendly clothes dryer alternatives:
posted by furtive at 6:27 PM on January 2, 2005

I've used the indoor dryer vent of the type that you linked to, it flows the air through water to remove the lint, a problem you will have with the salt filter (maybe water filter first, then salt). I was living in Montana at the time, so the extra humidity was a plus, not a minus. If you made (or modified) a water filter that held sufficient water so that the water stayed cold, much less humidity would be generated. I think the salt may quickly turn into salt water, after all, all the water in the wet clothes will end up in there. I have often wondered if you could dry clothes more efficiently by pulling a vacuum on them. You can boil water at room temperature pretty easily with a vacuum pump. The problem is that the evaporation causes the temperature to drop (possibly enough to freeze). If its summer you can use the indoor air as a heat sink, but if its winter, you will cool the room and have to run the furnace (might as well run the dryer). I guess a clothesline is out of the question?
posted by 445supermag at 6:44 PM on January 2, 2005

We vent our dryer into the garage with a nylon over the vent to trap the lint.

First thing tomorrow morning I am ordering that water-vent-humidifier thing. That is the neatest thing I have ever seen.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 7:25 PM on January 2, 2005

Thanks, folks.

(not that awful coiled/expanding shite)

I recently replaced the old aluminum partially with the awful expanding shite and the problem became worse, but I had a problem before. Guess it's a cheap dryer. The moisture just isn't efficiently escaping through the exhaust, leaving me with loooong drying time (and wasted $$/energy consumption) and baked, somewhat shrunken clothes, like a generously XL flannel whose sleeves now end at my elbows.

Anyway, confirmed by this thread:

Awful expanding shite 'flexible foil dryer duct' sucks.

I dried some pants yesterday, opened the dryer door after an hour, and it was like opening up a dishwasher right after a cycle: the moisture billowed out as if from a sauna and the clothes were still soaked.

Dryers keep getting cheaper, and I'm sick of the whole situation, including the energy and $$ wasted by even an efficient dryer. Spin Dryer sounds cool ;-)

YES, the exhaust tubes are clear and lint-free, and nothing is jammed inside the dryer itself (although a chipmunk was in there briefly, causing me to tear apart the old exhaust tubing, which in turn caused me to replace it w/ expanding shite; I also critter-proofed the outside opening to the vent with a plastic grate; the chipmunk lived happily after I removed him outside the house, unless 'twas he the hawk nabbed a month later...)

I have often wondered if you could dry clothes more efficiently by pulling a vacuum on them.

Check out that Spin Dryer :-) Good point about the salt turning to salt-water quickly. After using the Spin Dryer, maybe the amount of moisture produced by the indoor dryer vent will be too small to worry about anyway.

By the way, I googled "homemade dehumidifier" and found this fun link to a pot-grower who dehumidifies his closet pot-room with containers of frozen water that draw moisture out of the air in the form of condensation. Amusing, heh.

Thanks for the suggestions, furtive; I'll check 'em out!
posted by Shane at 8:15 AM on January 3, 2005

Following on furitive's comments: futon frame, fan and open window. Frames are sturdier than the wire drying racks. Takes overnight to twenty-four hours. (Caveat: my apartment is dry, so I don't have the worry about humidity.)
posted by philfromhavelock at 11:21 AM on January 3, 2005

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