Natural Calamities are unpredictable, and the world has seen a host of tragedies caused by nature’s fury that has claimed lives and livelihoods across the globe. While in many countries there is relief, in others like India the population suffers due to weak and developing infrastructure. The result is unemployment and depression among the marginalised.
This story focuses on Mansukhbai Prajapati, a traditional clay potter who was one among thousands affected by the Gujarat Earthquake in 2001. A newspaper published a photograph of him next to his broken wares, titled : The Fridge of The Poor Has Been Broken. This fuelled him to build India’s first clay fridge made of 100% clay, that does not risk breakage.
Mitticool, which means clay and cool is intrinsic to the variety of clay products that his company in Gujarat manufactures. The fridge is a genius innovation sparked by a loss that today helps many people save electricity and energy. Vegetables and fruits have a shelf-life of three to five days while the fridge requires little maintenance or expenses.
Process: The firing process takes approximately 10 days where at least 50 to 100 fridges are processed together. A clay mixing ratio is set up keeping in mind the different factors needed for the product after which it is sent for moulding. Then the clay goes through two types of drying procedures, including a natural drying under sunlight. The processed clay is then sent to the kiln where it is baked in a temperature of 900 to 950 degree Celsius. Then begins the attachment procedure where the door, stand, etc. are joined to the existing clay part before the final verification and packaging is done. The process takes up to ten days and the refrigerators are prepared in bulk, depending on the manufacturing capacity.
Most of the clay is harvested from Gujarat while 30 per cent is sourced from UP, Rajasthan and South India. The clay is first tested in a lab for aluminium and other chemical toxins before it goes through various levels of processing. The fridge is innately porous and requires one to pour water depending on the fridge size to maintain cooling temperatures within. The water moves to the side walls of the fridge, causing the temperature to drop, thus retaining the coolness.
The clay is mixed for many reasons, including retention of coolness and shelf life. Some clay has strengthening factors while others have anti-microbial properties that fight moisture. The clay is acquired and then tested in a lab to check for aluminium levels and other impurities. It goes through at least three to four filtration processes before it is processed with fire. While much of the fridge remains in the natural colour of the clay, food grade versions of paint are used to prevent chemical intrusion and beautify the outer parts of the Mitticool Fridge.
The Mitticool Fridge is one among many unique clay items crafted by Mansukhbhai Prajapati ensures that India’s traditional craft of pottery stays alive and ensures clean energy. The best part: The fridge is immune to electricity cuts and calamities.