Saturday, May 7, 2011

Cooking stoves

We often talk about the top priority that is having a good amount of food stored for emergencies. The food stored will preferably be palatable, will store well for long periods of time, and something else of great importance, it will require little or no cooking. Canned food fills the requirements well, but it soon gets expensive when storing large amounts.

Grains and cereals stored in mylar bags inside buckets are a great way of storing food for long term storage. Rice and wheat, they are favorite staples for survivalists because they allow a broad spectrum of recipes and combine well with other stored foods. Yet here we come up with the problem of cooking. We have the food stored, but unlike canned goods here we need a heat source to actually process it properly.

During one of the videos I recently made for youtube, I mentioned the “Sarajevo Survival Guide”. In that book it explains how the citizens of Sarajevo, being sieged and not having outside resupplies ended up burning the city’s trees, furniture, wooden floors, they even chopped down the trees of its cementery for heat and cooking.
Think about it. What would you do if you have no electricity and no propane? How would you cook your food?

In Argentina its still common to use smaller propane tanks for cooking. Most homes have one, and even in those homes where they don’t use it much you’ll probably find done in the shed, still ½ full of propane.
For short term problems where power may go down for a few days or the service of natural gas interrupted, this is a nice quick alternative both for heating and cooking.
Manchester Tank 10054 5# ACME/OPD Vertical LP Tank
Manchester Tank 10054 5# ACME/OPD Vertical LP Tank

Bayou Classic SP10 High-Pressure Outdoor Gas Cooker, Propane
Bayou Classic SP10 High-Pressure Outdoor Gas Cooker, Propane

For longer term situations where you may end up scrounging fuel, a camping type stove will be handy to keep cooking with whatever fuel you find.
These two are my favorites. The Coleman Multifuel is a classic, using coleman fuel, unleaded gasoline or kersone alike. Of course this is basic camping gear so you can use it as well during camping trips, having a good time.
 Coleman Exponent Multi-Fuel Stove
Coleman Exponent Multi-Fuel Stove

The little Trangia stove uses alcohol which of course is cheap and plentiful. This stove uses the same concept used in “penny” can stoves. What I like about this type of stove is that its fail proof, there’s nothing to break, no o-ring to dry up, no delicate or moving parts. Its pretty cheap too at $14. The only way to destroy this stove is crushing it beyond its useful shape. For an emergency/disaster kit, this is a very compact stove as well and while not the most efficient, still uses little amounts of alcohol.
Trangia Spirit Alcohol Stove
Trangia Spirit Alcohol Stove

If you have thousands of dollars to put into huge propane tank installations then more power to you. If not these are some cheap alternatives to ensure you have means of cooking if services are disrupted, and you don’t end up needing to burn your furniture or floor to survive.
Take care guys and have a nice weekend!

Join the forum discussion on this post


DaShui said...

I like this stove- can use wood, alcohol,esbit.


Anonymous said...

I found a video today where they show you how to refill those really small propane cans frequently used in portable propane stoves from one of the bigger ones used in grills by using an adapter. Hope it is of interest.


Bones said...

Great post, very practical! If your area has natural gas service, have a natural gas stove and oven installed. There are also natural gas fireplaces - we have all 3 and it gives an easy alternative means of heating the house if the electricity goes out. This has come in handy for us many times over the years.

If your camping stove runs on those little one pound cans of propane, there are adapters you can get to connect to a 20 lb or larger propane canister. You can also get an adapter to fill the little cans directly from the larger canisters. Keep a couple of the larger canisters filled at all times. Most people already have propane gas grills and it's a snap to keep a few extras around.

K said...

An even cheaper alternative would be to build or obtain your own rocket stove. There are many videos on youtube.


Rocket stoves use a lot less fuel than a bon fire


Anonymous said...

Here's some awesome tips re: the triangia:

"I've used my brass Trangia burner happily for 3 decades from MN Winters to the tropics, and have never found a stove that beats it. Simple, dependable, dead quiet, and it will even run on booze!

The Trangia Sets are kinda bulky and overkill for me, so I've pared mine down to the bones. The first thing to go is the beautiful and heavy brass cap..it's really useless. Then I make a BETTER pot support/windscreen out of an empty 1 lb coffee can.

Here's how:
Just cut off the top and bottom of the can and drill 1/4 holes around the bottom about 1/2" up from the edge. Now, cut the can down to an overall height of 95mm (40mm space from the burner top to the bottom of your pot is optimal..I've done all the testing for ya already) with a tin snips. Now make 3 equally space marks around the top edge and use the snips again to cut out narrow 'heat vents' betweewn the 3 marks. Do NOT make the vents more than about 1/4" wide when your pot is resting on the 3 support nubs, and you're done. The support/windshield protects the delicate alcohol flame completely and acts as a flue to draw the heat up, and the narrow vent slots force it against the pot intead of letting it dance around or blow out the sides. The three 1/4" high nubs act as a tripod and keep your pot stable and grip far better than wires or flat edges.

A great support/windscreen is the secret to these great stoves, and brings out their real potential. Pickup a $10 surplus Swedish stove/mess kit and you're in business. I saved the mess kit and issue pot suppport for the car trunk, and just add the stove to it between hikes...I'm always ready for emergency Spaggetti-O's!

If you have trouble lighting your burner in the brutal cold, just add a teaspoonful of Naptha (lighter fluid..don't use gasoline!) to 16oz of alcohol fuel. The flame will be more yellow and easy to see, and it will light quickly and safely. Also, if ya slop food down over the fine burner holes here's a tip:

Strip a piece of stranded speaker wire back about 3/4 of an inch and then cut the wire about 1 1/2 inches long to form a tiny 'broom'. Tape it to the bottom of your stove or toss it in your pack and just pluck out a strand when you need one to poke open the tiny clogged burner jets.

So..I just slosh an ounce of alcohol into the brass burner, light it and drop the support/windscreen down over it and set my pot on top. I'm cooking, and have plenty of time to help others find O-rings and parts for their Miracle stoves. Sometimes I just lean back and wonder when I'll get to see another 22 oz fuel bottle detonate in the twilight.

Simple is good."

Anonymous said...

"This is a stove that never stops working.
The Trangia is as simple as they come. I´ve used the 25, 27 and mini for many years, allways reliable. Bit heavy though.
During my military service in Sweden we used a similar stove made by Optimus or Primus. (memory fails) The burner and stovesetup was the same as the Trangia. The only real problem was igniting during the winter. When temperatures plunged to 30 below, (-30 F approx -30 C) and it did a lot, we carried the burner and a small extra fuelbottle in a pocket to keep it "not so cold". This really speed things up, and you light your stove instantly.

There´s another problem during the cold season. The stove cooks quite slowly.
The trick in the cold is to use the lid as an extra-burner. You light some fuel in it (remove O-seal) and place it under the lit burner. With the lower windshield this is no problem. All you have to do is to sit back and wait for the fuel in the burner get really hot. Now you´ve got a real NASA rocket! Steer clear of tents and buildings though!!

The downside is the soot. 10% water, ok during summer, but no hit during winter. Depending on the quality of the fuel ofcourse, but to rub a bit of liquid soap on the bottom of the pan works. Cleans easily."

Anonymous said...

Coffee can 'Hobo' wood burner. Plenty of web sites with directions to build, mainly using the big metal coffee cans as a beginning. If you can't scrounge enough wood to burn in this one, you is in trubble!

I really like those alcohol stoves, but mainly for heating liquids or foods with high moisture content. Trying to grill with one of those is durn near impossible unless you have a lot of time and fuel.

Great topic sir - thanks for beginning it.

FerFAL said...

Everyone, thanks for the excellent comments! lots of interesting links here. The "penny" stove/can stove is easy to make with a bit of patience.

Double Tapper said...

I have many, but I always seem to return to either my SVEA 123 or my Coleman white gas.