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Saturday, March 13, 2010

Survival Cooking and Heating 101

This is a quick overview of some of the methods you can use to prepare your food when the power grid is down or gone. This is only beginning info to start you on your own research. You’ll have to consider your individual circumstances and choose how to approach heating and cooking. Print out info you need and save it to your emergency USB flashdrive.
All methods take preparation in advance.
First, remember folks survived winter without furnace systems and the power grid for centuries. Hot summer heat is actually more deadly.
Warm clothes and blankets. I mean the real deal with long underwear and wool.
A small tent to sleep together inside. You can be warmer at night bundled up together. In very cold days you’ll want to repair to a small area.
In that vein, block off areas of your home in winter and gather in one small, central room. Insulate it as best you can covering windows etc. You can drape a large tables in blankets and sleep underneath. You can use a tent to concentrate heat also.
You need warm WOOL clothes, including caps and socks, plenty WOOL blankets and down comforters to use in case of heat outage.
Collect sturdy,serious utensils to cook in. Cast iron, particularly a Dutch oven, will be golden. You need a cast iron dutch oven NOW to bake bread anyway.

Temporary measures

Methods that take replenishment from materials the grid provides (will the trucks be running?) are temporary. If the trucks aren’t running, you aren’t going to be able to get replacement propane canisters for cooking. Ditto for propane and kerosene. In a long, slow emergency, they may be available for some time, or at least until you can get an alternate way of cooking/heating. For temporary outages having one of these alternate methods of cooking/heating would be good. Around 1918, some families avoided the Spanish flu because they had kerosene heat stored and didn’t need to go out and buy other fuel. Having an easy, temporary stealth method of cooking and heating would be convenient to get you through the first shock-ridden days of the manure flying.
Consider cooking outside with camp stoves or your propane powered grill. You could use specific RV propane stoves designed for indoor use or kerosene stoves inside with a window cracked.
Note: Cooking with charcoal and propane can be fatal if done indoors! Only use stoves indoors that are specifically made to be used indoors and carefully follow directions.
Kerosene is my personal choice temporary backup cooking/heating method. It’s stealth, the stoves are inexpensive and I have a outdoor shed for storage.
Kerosene stoves

Kerosene heaters

Long term methods
Wood cooking and heat
How are you going to cut, store and transport wood? Think about this ahead of time. Chain saws take power. Wielding axes and moving large amounts of wood take muscle and energy. You need to plan and store the means to do this ahead of time if you’re planning to rely on wood heat.
Wood cooking isn’t stealth but it works. For long term you might need to make an outdoor kitchen with a grill. I remember barbecues on my grandfathers big outdoor brick grill fondly.
If you have a fireplace, you’re in luck. I’d invest in a wood stove insert. A grill or campstove to put over the fire would also be handy.
For wood cooking and heat indoors, you’ll need a wood stove. Now is the time to buy and store one along with the materials you’ll need to install it. Once the manure flies, they’ll be more precious than gold. A small wood stove can be used in an inexpensive trailer too (more on those later).
Do you have a place your family will gather in the event of a disaster, such as your grandparent’s paid-for place? Take along a wood stove.
What if you live an apartment? A wood stove obviously isn’t going to work. Other rentals depend on your situation with the owner. In the event the grid goes down and stays down, a wood stove is a valuable addition and probably could be negotiated.
Note on wood stove installation: Be sure and find somebody who knows what he/she is doing to install it.
I have this cool camping stove called a ZZ stove. It works on an AA battery and any solid fuel. It’s a good way to heat something up quickly outdoors.

Thermos cooking
would be a good adjunct to this and would also cut your energy usage down with any method. Here’s an article that adjusts Kurt Saxon’s advice. It’s why it’s good to test out your chosen methods before you need them.
Solar cooking is great resort for apartment dwellers and as more permanent method of baking bread etc, even in winter, if you have good sun. It’s best to test out your methods now, before you need them.
If there is a source of coal near by you, what about an old fashioned coal stove? They definitely have their drawbacks, but if coal is abundant and cheap, they will heat your home through the winter. It goes without saying to get it professionally installed.
Sharon Astyk, with her brilliant self, has a more comprehensive article. Check it out.
Originally posted 2008-08-15 06:44:00.
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