Disaster Survival

If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear. (D&C 38:30)

Site Updated: 27 JAN 2018

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Alternate Fuel Sources

In a crisis, we know that getting enough food is critical. Higher energy demands and stress only make us hungrier. So when it comes time to eat, the cooking methods you have prepared and stored up will also be critical. Our cooking methods also need to be beneficial in an emergency - features that go beyond our everyday cooking at home.

We need something easy and efficient.

Charcoal

Charcoal- What's more American than a cookout over the grill? Chances are, you'll find one in 9/10 homes. This fact means you probably already have this cooking tool on hand to fall back on. Grills and smokers are great for cooking meats, most veggies and some fruits. Fuel will eventually run out - even for scavengers. However, tasks like boiling water can be more inefficient on a grill.

Pros:
Commonly available - grills and fuel can be shared, bartered or scavenged from abandoned homes
Most people are already familiar with how to use - no practice necessary
One of the most delicious ways to cook meat and many veggies
In temperate weather and fair conditions, fuel is long-lasting

Cons:
Can be inefficient for boiling water, pressure cooking and canning
Require more energy and focus to regulate heat
Must be used outdoors. Smoke and cooking smells could attract unwanted guests or thieves
Fuel will eventually run out - even for scavengers

Solar Oven

Solar ovens have come a long way in recent years. They used to be prohibitively expensive and bulky - or you had to build your own. Solar ovens are typically constructed of glass and metal. Together, these two materials trap and reflect sunlight to produce heat. The major drawback is that solar ovens work best in full sun. In fact, many manufacturers do not recommend cooking raw meat in anything less than full sun. Also, many available units with tube-style cooking inserts are unable to boil water.

Pros:
Most abundant heating fuel on Earth - nothing to gather or store
Relative ease of use - given that you practice
No smoke produced and cooking smells are minimal as unit is enclosed
Smaller units are affordable and/or relatively easy to build

Cons:
Requires full sun for maximum efficiency - not ideal in colder climates away from equator
Must be used outdoors - not practical if avoiding radioactive fallout, biological agents, or pandemic
Large-scale units are expensive and bulky
Many units are incapable of boiling water
Cooking times are much longer than all other methods

Electric Stove or Hot Plate

If you are able to produce electricity off-grid consistently, then this is an extremely viable option for you. Like an on-property gas option, you can also use this every day.

Pros:
Can be used indoors
With the right appliances, can be extremely efficient
One of the safest options on this list
Sustainable if your power is renewable

Cons:
Must be able to generate sufficient electricity to power
If powering your whole home or retreat with power, you may attract unwanted guests or thieves. Just avoid broadcasting you have power
Working knowledge of appliance repair may be required if stove or hotplate breaks down over time

Wood-burning stove, hearth or campfire

Before electrification, this is how the majority of Americans prepared all their meals. In fact, the majority of the world, particularly in developing nations, still cook this way.
There are many variations of large-scale wood-fueled cooking. From cast-iron stoves to pits to the open hearth to the campfire ring, all will get the job done and keep you warm. There's also something intrinsically calming about gathering around a fire with the people you love.

Pros:
Fuel is abundant, available locally throughout most of the country and sustainable
Can be very efficient for a wide variety of cooking tasks
Also warms you up
Can be used indoors with sufficient ventilation

Cons:
Smoke and cooking smells could attract unwanted guests or thieves
Fuel can be hard to get if crisis prevents you from going outdoors
Regulation of heat can be hard to master - requires practice

Biomass Stoves

Biomass stoves are the portable sibling of the wood-fueled stoves above. Design and technology has enabled us to make these stoves smaller, more efficient and easily regulated. Very much like an unlimited source of charcoal.

Biomass, in this context, means any organic matter than can be burned for fuel. This includes wood, bark, twigs, pinecones, pine needles, straw, grass, weeds, peat moss, leaves, charcoal, paper and more. With a constant supply of waste - from construction and demolition activities, to wood not used in papermaking, to municipal solid waste - green energy production can continue indefinitely.

Pros:
Fuel is widely available and easy to collect - very little is needed to generate sufficient heat
Fuel is sustainable
Many models, like the Instafire Inferno can regulate heat. The Inferno uses a USB-powered fan.
Can reach very high temperatures
Boils water quickest of all portable options
Produce minimal smoke
Can be taught to others and made by older children.

Cons:
In cold and wet conditions, freely available fuel will not be efficient. We recommend keeping fire-starter on hand in case of this scenario
Must be used outdoors - cooking smells could attract unwanted attention

Ever thought about making your own charcoal or biomass briquetts?

Biomass production

Briquette Stove

The emergency cooking methods you prefer will be based on your needs, locations and potential scenarios faced. Further, it would be disastrous to recommend a single cooking method above any other. You need to build cooking solutions redundancy in your planning. What that means is you have a backup if one method fails or is no longer ideal. If you only have one method, you have none. Two? You have one. And so on. You always want to have a backup, preferably several.

One more final piece of advice:

PRACTICE USING YOUR EMERGENCY STOVES. Don't skimp on this. You want your cooking to be second nature when the anxiety of a crisis strikes.
Have fun... do it while on a camping trip.

Video - Rocket Stove - Briquettes

Video - Pine Cone Briquettes

Biomass.net - A case For Biomass

Mulches