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Blacksmith recycles canisters into cult kitchen knives for zero-waste foodies | Recycling

The little metal bulbs that litter parks, roadsides and metropolis centres – the discarded canisters from Britain’s second favorite drug, laughing fuel – trigger distress to many communities. However now one blacksmith has discovered an progressive use for them – turning them into handmade kitchen knives.

The prevalence of the canisters has prompted some councils to impose local bans, whereas the house secretary is eager to outlaw them nationally.

However Tim Westley’s handmade kitchen knives are gaining a cult following amongst environmentally aware foodies after being endorsed by cooks dedicated to low waste.

Since promising to make not less than two-thirds of his blades from empty “nos” canisters, Westley knives are promoting in document time on his web site, Clement Knives. “I often make about 5 per week, and once they go on the positioning there’s a rush to purchase them, particularly within the run-up to Christmas. This week it was solely two or three minutes earlier than they have been all gone,” he stated.

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“I’d prefer to suppose prospects are shopping for them as a result of they just like the zero-waste idea reasonably than that they simply need a knife.”

Westley, 33, a former artist-in-residence at London’s Museum of Water & Steam, moved his forge to south-west Scotland final yr. He has at all times been dedicated to knife making utilizing recycled supplies, together with metallic dredged from canals with magnets. Then, on walks together with his canine, Mayday, he grew to become troubled by the sight of littered piles of canisters, and fearful that they posed a threat to cyclists of skidding.

Discarded nitrous oxide gas canisters
Discarded nitrous oxide fuel canisters. {Photograph}: Gareth Fuller/PA

Final yr his good friend Douglas McMaster, founding father of Silo, the UK’s first zero-waste restaurant, challenged Westley to recycle the canisters into knives. The ensuing experiment proved so successful that Westley has promised to solely use recycled canisters for all his blades. For the handles he makes use of recycled plastic.

Based on Home Office figures nitrous oxide, or laughing fuel, is the second hottest drug amongst 16- to 24-year-olds, behind hashish.

The federal government is consulting on making the possession of laughing gas a crime. Nonetheless, the drug charity Launch has cautioned in opposition to criminalising what’s a comparatively benign substance if heavy use is prevented.

However there’s consensus that laughing fuel’s recognition has created an unsightly littering drawback. – Westley is doing his bit to scale back this contemporary type of waste, utilizing conventional blacksmiths’ methods.

For a typical 210mm blade he makes use of 10 nos canisters in a course of he says is laborious however worthwhile. He first cuts off the ends of the canisters with an angle grinder, then opens and flattens them with a hammer on an anvil.

The flattened items of soppy metal are then forge welded on both facet of a more durable carbon metal used for the sharpened edge. Westley stated: “It’s name San Mai, which has been used for years by Japanese knife makers. They use two smooth layers of metal round a tough metal within the center. The one distinction is that I take advantage of nos canisters for the smooth metal. It’s utilizing an historic approach to handle a contemporary drawback.”

He added: “It’s extra trouble, however its price it as a result of we must be utilizing extra of the supplies we have already got. My knives are simply nearly as good, if not higher, made with supplies discovered off the road. And there’s no industrial processes concerned, so there’s zero waste.”

Actually, Westley says the knives use extra waste than they create. All of the metal off-cuts go to a scrap metallic seller and the worn sanding belts used for sprucing the blades are turned into plant pots.

Westley gave the primary nos canister knife he made to McMaster and has been supplying his restaurant with knives ever since. McMaster stated they equalled any knife he had used, regardless of their grungy look attributable to the recycled supplies concerned.

His chef colleagues on the low-waste London pizzeria Crate are additionally utilizing them, and McMaster is planning to function Westley’s knives on his Zero Waste Cooking School YouTube channel.

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