Cooking and heating your home once the power grid fails could be accomplished in a variety of ways. Waiting until a SHTF scenario occurs is definitely not the right time to learn how to cook with cast iron over an open flame, use a rocket stove, or make and utilize a solar oven.
The prepper motto, “Two is one and one is none” should be applied to the off-grid or disaster cooking preparedness plan — and every aspect of your survival regimen as well. Learn how to make and use a variety of different cooking and heating implements so you can feed and warm your loved ones in spite of the changes that would likely occur during a doomsday disaster.
Camp stoves and ovens as well as indoor propane stoves are excellent “first options” for off grid or disaster cooking, but eventually the propane might run out. Should the power grid fail or a nuclear war occur, tractor-trailers will not be pulling into the local big box store for months, possibly years — or maybe never again.
Fireplaces and wood stoves will keep your home warm and provide a heat source for cooking, but it takes some trial and error to learn the exact cooking times and temperature for meals prepared in this manner. A seemingly endless supply of wood to fuel your fireplace and wood stove could disappear quickly if a fire sweeps through your area or substantial flooding occurs. When calling 911 is not an option, firefighters will not be able to battle the blazes that will surely occur when transformers burst into flames after a solar flare or EMP attack.
Buying a solar oven if it fits your budget is a great idea, but not necessary if you are handy with some simple tools. Even if you do purchase a solar oven, build an extra one for backup or barter.
There are several ways to build an effective solar oven, but using a fresnal lens (a flat sheet of plastic with concentric rings molded on the backside of the device), may be one of the best. The lens acts as a magnifying glass and can help the cooking or baking progress during cloudy days or cold weather months. If sight discipline is a concern, use a solar oven instead of an open flame for cooking. Smell discipline is also helped along when using a solar oven, but the scent of a delicious long-term storage food meal will still waft through the air to some degree. Follow the link to view step-by-step instructions for making a portable fresnal lens solar oven.
Off Grid Survival Stoves
As noted in the eFoodsDirect Survival Cooking: Off Grid Stoves And Food Preparedness Options report, there are at least four other easy-to-make or inexpensive emergency stoves that are excellent energy sources to cook your long-term storage food and to heat the room during a disaster.
- The Crisis Cooker is a lightweight cooking system that is designed to function with charcoal, wood or propane as fuel to grill, bake, boil or fry food. A rocket mass heater is very similar to a rocket stove but is substantially larger. The survival stove doubles as a masonry heater system. Homemade rocket mass stoves feed wood into a J-shaped combustion chamber where the gases are then pushed through an insulated brick or metal secondary combustion chamber.
- A Hot Water Rocket generates very hot water in just a short amount of time. The water can be used for boiling and cooking long-term storage food or homegrown/raised offerings. The stove can also be used to sterilize baby bottles and bandages and to purify water for drinking.
- Hobo stoves are made by slicing off the bottom of a #10 can or similar aluminum can, cutting a 4-inch square door along the lower side of the can, and detaching the can bottom and allowing it to rest on the inside of the top of the can. While they are small, they are also lightweight and portable. Hobo stoves are sufficient in size to heat a small amount of water and to heat a can of soup or long-term storage food packet without delay.
Wood Burner Hot Water Heater
Using a wood stove as a hot water heater is a multi-step and multi-hour project but does not require any advanced mechanical knowledge or skill. Even though wood stoves get incredibly hot, the liquid inside the attached hot water heater piping is not known to boil due to the constant circulation of the water. The heat used to warm the water does not lessen the heat inside the firebox or add additional cook time to food being prepared on the top of the stove. Exterior heat still radiates in the same manner even if the piping were not present.
The wood stove hot water heater instructions in a Mother Earth News report are broken down into easy steps complete with plenty of photos to help guide novice builders along the way.
The instructions reveal that the off grid hot water heater was constructed by using 1/4″ copper tubing coiled into a plaster of Paris-filled panel. The material is gypsum-based, which helps to evenly distribute the heat through the coils and permits the “exchanger” to remain in direct contact with the wood stove without causing the system to overheat.
The assembled coils are attached to the side of the wood burner using bolts commonly found at any hardware store. The system is then plumbed into a 42-gallon water heater. The water heater does not have to be new or possess a functioning heating element. The heater is solely used for its tank and pressure relief valve.
A 10-gallon-per-minute pump is then installed on the heater to allow water to circulate through the coils and back into the T-bar, which is positioned beneath the pressure relief valve on the tank. Cold water moves through the inlet of the system and then the energy from the wood stove warms the water and moves it through the coils and into the tank. All of the lines in the off-grid hot water heater system are thoroughly insulated with 1-inch-thick high-density foam.
Although it may be impossible to fully plan for every possible situation that may arise during a long-term disaster, covering the basics will help to ensure that you and your loved ones are better prepared to survive a SHTF scenario.