LIGHT AND SMOKE*
note: free books. A sequel, you may or may not want to try, PA https://amzn.to/2yXq5KX . You might have noticed we are doing a lot of repeats from a month ago. What can I say? The price. PA https://amzn.to/2tFUrfQ . Plague https://amzn.to/2tCVltB . Normally not my bag, baby, but here is a more religious or spiritual war story if you like that sort https://amzn.to/2MBYctA .
note: movie on Amazon Prime, mentioned by unmentioned guru in Idaho. "Prepper". Wow, if I hadn't watched this for free I'd have felt more violated. Drags for first 2/3's. Female lead was less rack and more horse teeth. Wooden acting. If you appreciate your political correctness in big doses of mixed racial relationships, gay gun dealers, and "can't we all just get along" kumbaya bullcrap, you'll like this otherwise. Prepping was depicted in the least offensive way but it was all just Hurricane Preppers Neighborhood Watch Edition. It wasn't so bad I couldn't finish watching it, but that is the best I can say about it.
A minion brought up a newly published book, the sequel to “Self Apocalypse”. Which was terrible by the way ( see my review at the Amazon page. It was “Self Apocalypse: Gary’s Cabin” ). But I’m glad it was brought to my attention as it gave me a reason to re-read the first book in the series. Again, a really good scenario rarely covered. Its main premise was an unrealistic scenario, as most Camping/Hunting Survival strategies are, but what I focus on is the really well thought out bug out camp to the original bug out camp. That is why the original story stiffened my nipples. Not that this is what I want to talk about today, but rather Light And Smoke From Fires.
The character was forever starting fires, mostly to drink yet even more coffee ( see the review mentioned above ). Even though there was a lot of discussion about how bad this was as the idea was to remain stealthy, almost every other page another fire was started and was done so according to need rather than according to advisability. I need coffee, therefore I shall start another fire. Not, oh no, I shan’t start a fire because it is the middle of the day and my smoke shall be seen. That would interfere with a cup of coffee. Now, of course, I’m being sarcastic. But if you think about it, how often will you need a fire even when you shouldn’t?
Even with solar gain, you’ll have periods of overcast or extreme cold where you really friggin need a fire. In theory you could stay under the covers for two weeks, but in reality how practical is that? And what are you going to do, eat cold cans but no bread, not bath and not drink hot liquid to raise your core temperature? You would be one smelly muscle atrophied sum bitch, wouldn’t you? Remember what has been said of clean clothes? Clean cloth has more air pockets and is warmer. In a desperate life and death situation you could muddle through without fire with only minimal mental degradation, but the simple fact is that man is a fire tool using species.
We live in cold climates and we can live on any food, and that is because of fire. Fire is really a necessary evil ( and I only call it evil in terms of dependency and it being a two sided coin as it can lead others to it through its detection ). For the die-off period, obviously propane is preferable ( along with batteries ). But that won’t last all that long. I guess-ti-mate two months, but that is all that is, a guess. Because of Just In Time Inventories, I think even weeks is too long for collapse to be held at bay. I don’t think most folks have much more than two weeks food on hand, and the body won’t escape major weakness after not eating for a month. So, a guesstimate of two months die-off.
A years worth of propane ( not all that difficult with minimum cooking, a water filter and storage rather than boiling, a solar hot water heater and cooker-I got over 100 hours on low use from a five gallon propane tank and it was possible to get three months off one tank. The empty tank is $30 at Home Despot and $15 to fill it at a station. $45 times four is not unreasonable ) and a not too old marine or golf cart battery hooked to your solar panel for use of a microwave to pre-cook or cook most items and heat water, and a years fire substitute is not too expensive. I’d estimate for most climes you could have $360 in three 100-watt panels and with a low watt microwave and $200 in batteries you would be golden ( $800 total or near is expensive to replace wood, but you are using them for other purposes and buying one piece at a time, also ).
Yes, I’m estimating a two month die-off and advising that you plan on one lasting a year. Just like you’ll die one month after you reemerge into the world but you still plan of five years of food for after the apocalypse. It is Just In Case. Just like you also plan on the absence of that propane and microwave. You need to plan around that smoke and light. And that isn’t all that easy ( are you rethinking your proximity to the cities, yet? ). A fire at night is going to cause light and a fire during the day is going to cause smoke. That is bad enough, but you need to cook during the day and heat during the night.
It seems you are screwed either way. If you heat and cook during the night, you must worry about light leaking out. If you cook and heat during the day ( just bundling up at night ), there will be some smoke. Even if you have dry wood and use a rocket stove, there is SOME smoke. Probably enough that if someone knows what they are looking for they can spot you ( although, after “camping” in my RV off grid for seven years I have no desire to go roughing it again and it has been some time since I’ve actually camped, and I could be wrong. This is where minion input is good ). And if there are a tribe of you, surely the smoke is obvious from that many people?
Are living in locations hell and gone and back making more sense NOW? Are defensive works around the village? Are constant perimeter patrols? Remember, this is AFTER the die-off. But given the many square miles of land per hunter/gatherer that is required for sustenance, even a 99% die-off still sees far too many folks around for true seclusion. At least at most locations. This is just a reminder how necessary fire is, and how hard it is to protect against it being detected from those looking. I‘d also like to bring up starting the fire.
We’ve discussed this before. Frensel lenses. Magnesium starters. Striker lighters as used in welding starting tinder. Hoarded matches. I’d like to remind you of another use for candles. Not for light. To help keep that eternal flame going that can be used at night or when there isn’t any sun that day to minimize fire starter consumption. You might feel, rightly, that it is better to stock matches over candles, price wise. I merely suggest that if candles are in the budget they can be a less effective yet longer sustainable method. Eventually no more matches can be manufactured, but candles sure can. In the meantime, save all candles by using all those LED lights running on AA solar rechargeable batteries.
END ( today's related link https://amzn.to/2tDD3sj )
* By the by, all my writing is copyrighted. For the obtuse out there
Some propane info. We have a 400 gal tank sitting in the side yard and it is used to fuel the furnace in the house and the small Pro-Com heater in my office. A 400 gal tank is never filled above 80% because of expansion due to heat from the sun. Ours is heavily shaded by large trees so expansion is minimal I guess.ReplyDelete
20 lb propane tanks have been changed over the past 10 years or so. If you buy a new tank today it has a different valve system than the old type. I found this out when I traded an old empty tank in at Blue Rhino for a new filled tank and when the new one got empty I took it to the hardware store to be filled. The HW store fills to 80% but when the pressure got to about 15 lbs the back pressure valve blew out the excess. The new tank could not be filled to 17 lbs like the old days because the valve was set up differently. I used to have 6 old tanks but traded all of them in over time, ignorantly, for the new ones. I was told gov't regulation required the reduced capacity. In your spare time sit back with a legal pad and pen and jot down as many of the wonderful things this rotten assed gov't has done for us as you can think of.
Regarding fire smoke for coffee, I can make a small hardwood fire in my tiny esbit stove that will boil 1/2 liter of water for instant coffee in about 10 minutes and the smoke is minimal and will never rise above the trees, far from it. If you can spread a tarp from tree to tree to tree to tree about 20' above a small fire and burn only hardwood any smoke will be widely dispersed and hardly noticeable.
My 100 hours on a five gallon tank takes into account they are new type tanks and only hold that 15lb gas. As for hard wood, back here in the west desert/mountains, mostly it is just soft wood.Delete
Smoke can be controlled, light can be hidden, but odor travels and betrays.Delete
Look up Dakota fire pits. They are about as good as you can do. You put your fire in a hole, feeding air from the bottom. Look it up.
For that matter, you can put your generator in a pit and greatly reduce the noise.
Another problem is glass: the flash reflection can be seen for miles.
I used to inspect for such things. Concealing one's position is hard work.
Hmmm. Perhaps solar panels flat on the ground, and a berm twenty feet in front of the solar gain windows?Delete
Minions should consider the ability to see smoke at night under moonlight or starlight especially on a horizon or high profile position relationship. Trees or multi broken terrain will help mitigate smoke signs. There will be dorks with thermal scopes still operational and out and about at night scouting around (defensive posture for themselves or as a raiding recon patrol). Adopt a nocturnal (graveshift) schedule and do all cooking/heating water/etc. at night if you have a boxed up shelter to conceal light-thermal signature-mitigating the smoke signalling like an indian tribe. Although a smokey fuel, coal can be stored forever and buried as a fuel cache for later use. Maybe diesel/fuel oil can be stored as well and oil burner type stove heaters be re-introduced into service as was in pre-environmental wacko times. Have a cooking-work shack/place and sleep and store gear in another separate-different location to avoid a total compromise/loss if discovered or overrun position.ReplyDelete
Hmmm-good thoughts. Consider keroscene too. I used to dismiss it as too expensive, but really you pay the same no matter what, by BTU. It eliminates the propane tank issue, although the stoves also cost three times as much. And you need some kind of container for the kero, also. I'd have to do some shopping around and do a comparison. Perhaps an article worthy subject, the cost comparison between using the two.Delete
Tinkerer type readers can consider rigging up a samovar type of water heater using coal nuggets,sterno or a kerosene/oil burner. This will burn-run most of day as a light heat source and have a quantity (size dependant) of water always hot and ready for drinks, reconstituting all those yuppie freeze drieds, bathing-cleaning, etc. An apocalypse and die-off doesn't mean minions have to live like total savages. Some luxury or comfort contraptions will make the perpetual camping experience more pleasant.ReplyDelete
A methane gas production system is much simpler now with those 300 gal plastic pallet totes and a few PVC pieces. No longer about steel drums or tire innertubes. Another needed article.Delete
This is what you need for less-smoke fires in your desert wanderings. I have the early version of this, made by "bushbuddy." It's pretty neat, as the wood gases (which create smoke) ignite, creating the appearance of a jet engine. The nice thing about the sagebrush out there is its so dry you can light the wood on fire with your Bic without going to much trouble getting tinder. Here's the current version from Solo Stove.ReplyDelete
Have you seen any of the training material from the person calling himself Selco, who survived the Bosnian conflict? He said one of the biggest needs (and lack of supplies) was for stuff to start fires with. I knew this was important already, but it was helpful to see it written down. After reading about his fire starting adventures I put together several 5-gallon buckets stuffed with many types of fire starting supplies like you mentioned above. Easily 1000's of successful fires await. Your fire supplies will last longer if you plan for solar cooking as a primary cooking source, a sun oven for oven purposes, and a parabolic for stove purposes.
The solar stove looks handy, but I'm wondering about that wire part. Seems a failure set up. Also, how much better, if any, is this compared to a mud rocket stove or a Dakota Hole?Delete
I spoke too soon. You are tuned in to Dakota Holes.Delete
Hell, even Hobo Stoves work decent. These things sell to idiots like me before they found out about free alternatives.Delete
I think the standard accepted method is to cook in one place and sleep in another. Be careful what you cook too. Coffee brewing can be smelled a half a mile away. Another reason for the hero in the story not to do it.ReplyDelete
Smoke shouldn't be such a big deal,everyone will have a fire. The smell of food cooking will be the danger
If you plan to bugout and sleep in a tent, then not even candles can be used after dark. It will light a tent up like a Chinese lantern.
"Coffee brewing can be smelled a half a mile away"Delete
French press. They have all metal ones.
Also, I should have added, if you want to minimize your equipment, vacuum thermos ( the one you slow cook in ) instead.Delete
I tried the thermos cooking method on some Spelt berries one time, and it worked okay. The next day when I ate them, they were still a little chewy, but still not bad. You’re supposed to only use the standard mouth thermos for this sort of cooking, but the wide mouth versions sure seem like they’d be a heck of a lot easier to remove the cooked food from. Maybe if you wrapped the thermos in a blanket, or the such, it would work better. But I’d want to try and figure out a way to make better use of the wide mouth thermos. As I recall, it was sort of a bitch to get the grain out of the standard thermos after it was cooked.Delete
I only ever successfully made potatoes in my small mouth thermos. Well, obviously, also the coffee. I think it would be fine for meat and potatoes but anything else like oatmeal or rice it would suck. I think the blanket w/widemouth would work just fine. Did you boil the wheat for five minutes prior to thermos? I only had luck with anything by doing that five minutes ( I had a few disasters with food sticking in the small mouth AND not cooking at all, really )Delete
“Did you boil the wheat for five minutes prior to thermos?”Delete
It was a few years back now, and I don’t quite remember. But I seem to recall only bringing it to a rolling boil, before placing it in the thermos. So you definitely want to do at least the 5 minute boil prior to placing it in the thermos.
I was thinking that you could use one of those insulated coolers (see link) as an insulation jacket, and then fill the remaining space around the thermos with some kind of insulating material, such as left over wool blanket material. But the next time I will try it with a wide mouth thermos, and I will find some way to make it work, because the small mouth was a pain in the ass to remove the food from.
I would think the wool alone is sufficient. Think how just a little in the snow boot keeps your feet toasty warm.Delete
Great article Jim. This is why I still after years continue to read your stuff!ReplyDelete
When I was a homeless day laborer living on my bike,near a secondary road.ReplyDelete
I only made fires at sunup and sundown in front of the reflector pit. It was under a tree and that broke up the smoke from pine wood.
I also used a solar powered shielded minimag light. The ancient halogen kind.
I'm guessing the sunup/sundown eliminated most issues? I've never heard of a shielded Maglite, unless you just mean you cupped it in your hand? I for one am glad Maglite finally went to LED. Haven't used one yet, but I'll probably eventually buy another as I think the quality difference will be critical.Delete
Don't forget about alcohol as a great fuel for small scale needs. It's smokeless and odorless. Remember the bunson burners from high school chemistry class? They would be a terrific choice when extreme stealth fire is needed. And for a quick experiment that will truly impress any doubters, just buy a bottle of 91% isopropyl alcohol at the dollar store and splash just a small amount on your next start-up of a campfire or charcoal grill fire.ReplyDelete
A couple other points about alcohol: It has long been used in cruising sailboats as stovetop and oven heat over propane because propane, when released from its liquid state in the tank to a "gas" state, is heavier than air and in the case of any leak will seek the lowest ground, which would be the boat's bilge. You would then have a literal bomb underneath you just waiting for a spark. Alcohol has the chemical disadvantage of being highly hygroscopic (not a mis-spelling), that means it will absorb moisture if exposed to air to the eventual point of becoming non-flammable. This issue is easily mitigated by storing it in a glass container. My recommendation would be a wine or beer bottle with an aluminum screw top that you dip in melted wax after filling. You then have a literal "forever fuel".
And one last thing: the alcohol can also be of the consumable variety if you so desire. It all burns the same. If you don't have a few books on your shelf that give detailed instructions on how to make moonshine then you are not fully "prepped".
I know about moonshine, and fuel from it, but you need to keep in mind that just as you won't likely have the extra nitrates to make gunpowder, you also won't have the calories to spare for alcohol. Without two thousand mile grains being shipping in, added to current soil degradation, you'll be lucky to be able to afford pasture, let alone "wasted" calories.Delete
Maybe a minion is in a location of wild berries to use for making hooch? That moonshining will definately be a start-up business as folks will sell their unruly daughters off for a couple jugs of booze (priorities!)Delete
Alcohol can be made from many other substances than grain. Anything containing carbohydrate sugar will ferment. These things range from switch grass growing in the road ditch to cactus in the desert, to wild fruits and berries, to sap from a tree, to the seed-head of weeds and even the flowers of weeds such as dandelion. You just need the knowledge and simple implements to distill them to high enough alcohol content that it will burn.Delete
Booze has a lot of good points in the apocalypse. Not just reality avoidance but also calories and a good way to shorten a crappy life. And a pain reducer for surgery, injury. I'm sure there will be booze regardless. But that also might be Tribal Illegal if it competes with food calories. But even only wild berry wine won't generate much hooch, and there certainly won't be enough for machinery.Delete
Kerosene is not utilized by the unicorn riding preppers as it is a wet messy fuel source. Deutschoptik in yerrington, nv. sells lanterns and a model in their three pack that has a cooker top to it as well. They have good jerry cans for fuel storage as well. I got the small 10 litre ones for kerosene, and sealed up it keeps forever. Home despot-lowes has 5 gal k-1. Larger towns-cities sells kerosene from the pump at fuel dealers at better price per gallon. Get drums and fill up little at a time and be stocked up. Cowboy movies do good examples of old school living with kero/coal oil lanterns. We will regress to that standard post apoc. Plan accordingly.ReplyDelete
Of course, even kero won't last all that long. Just another Oil Age fuel to use up. But great for the die-off.Delete
Peak oil and Post-oil doesn't mean "no oil" it means not enough oil to pave every road of the world 4 lanes wide so I can drive 100mph to Peking from Denmark. There will be kerosene, since this was 19th century Standard Oil technology that might be micro-industry capable if the EPA was a historical and remote memory. You might even have access to a stripper well or a natural gas seep on the property. You wouldn't want to run an internal combustion engine or a fancy heater that needs highly-refined fuel, but you could probably heat water with a low-tech burner assembly (that would get filthy and need frequent cleaning, but be worth it compared to chopping wood that you don't have). Kerosene has excellent shelf life in a sealed metal container,is not under pressure, or very toxic. For the "die-off" period, nothing beats having mass-quantity of 5 or 7 gallon propane tanks. They are many man-portable BTU's useful for household/industrial/offensive/defensive activity. I've been getting g-sale and free-pile tanks for years, getting them filled, and stacking in the shed. Don't sleep in a building with propane tanks inside.Delete
A samovar (russian-middle east) water heating container can be kept running with coal nuggets/alcohol/kerosene burners to have a quantity of water hot-on demand for beverages, reconstituting your yuppie freeze dried goat-testicle meals, bathing etc. Minions should have some luxury-life enhancing features come next dark age.ReplyDelete
The luxuries are the Oil Age materials we have left to work with. Ponder the plastic container, such an exponential improvement over all other primitive types.Delete
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This was the book I bought, but they haven't republished and it is too expensive:Delete
Just search under books for "rocket stove" and there are other options.
The trick to rocket mass heaters is to insulate the burn tunnel well, and the barrel is an expansion chamber for smoke to heat your room quickly (food cooking?). The mass surrounding your long exhaust should pick up heat and warm your room slowly. The exhaust should be clear and not very hot. Betchu find a .pdf out there with little effort instead of expensive first ed. 3rd ed is $20 and probably worth it for changes and updates. Bio-mass burners are very fuel-quality dependent, and need users who plan ahead and execute well.Delete
Here is one:Delete
I'm sure there are more, I didn't even get through my first search page
Search with DuckDuckGo! Not those other people.
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I'm going to have to look that one up, thanksDelete
I have a couple of those USB lighters, and they work okay actually. There’s an element that lights up when you slide the cover back. Once charged, mine lit up 30 times for around 7 second intervals each. But you’re not actually supposed to touch anything directly to the element, but rather get it close enough to ignite it from heat alone. Apparently, this is to prevent premature failure of the element.Delete
I don’t regret getting them, but a better purchase would probably be more fresnel lenses and ferrocerium rods.
Ah, okay, thank you. Sounds like I can forget about that then.Delete
My urban fortress has two BBQ size (9ltr) LPG (OK "Propane" but you have to say it like Hank Hill) that is piped into the house to fuel the stove top. We get roughly 3 months out of a bottle. I've got 3 permanently full and the one in use. Hopefully should everything go to pot it'll be the day after I refill the empty one. :-)ReplyDelete
I also have a silver fire scout https://www.silverfire.us/304-stainless-steel-scout-stove It's pretty darn good.
I like those twig burners-hard to envision ever running low on fuel. Peace of mind.Delete
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Ya'all are making my brain hurt! Typical, right? Any product has yahs and nahs. I'll put it on the wish list and ponder it for a good long while.Delete
For a primary source to cook, I use a plain old Coleman white gas stove. Although regular unleaded gas will work fine, I do prefer treated Coleman fuel, as it will store long term. I've got fuel which is eight years old and works fine. Got two, 2 burner models and a stand alone single burner. With spare pumps and regulators for all. Use outdoors only !ReplyDelete
For indoor use, I've got an Orego alcohol stove. Had one on the boat which we used for seven years with zero problems. It only consumed about a gallon per month for all cooking.
Of course we've also got a propane grill too.
Then two wood stoves...
Fuel kept on hand...
Ten sealed containers of Coleman fuel.
Ten gallons methyl alcohol.
Eight of the twenty pounds propane tanks.
Two cords seasoned oak (remember I'm in Florida ha ha and there is virtually an endless supply all around me)
Plus a solar cooker...
Where does one buy a gallon size of the alcohol? Hardware store in the paint section? Elsewhere? Only the boat place? I don't know how many different types of alcohol there are, only that you can't drink all of them :)Delete
T he paint store is likely your best bet for cost.Delete
Methyl, ethanol or isopropal alcohol will work.
Marine stores on the coastal areas carry it also.
Alcohol is by far the safest fuel, odor free and does not give off noxious fumes.. plus it is lighter than air and the fire can be xtinguished with water.
Thanks-I need to keep that in mind.Delete
Tho the stoves themselves can be pricey. I believe we paid around $250 twenty years ago for our non pressurized Origo single burner.Delete
Amazon has them about $350. Yikes! A pump up kerosene stove is $70. Hard to go with the less smelly safer stove at those rates. Although, the Origo is more of a Less To Break item, except the wool insert requirement also scares me off. Is this a consumed item like a wick?Delete
No , the wick kettle container is stainless and just as long as you don't let the fuel completely run out, the flame never touches the wick. I bought a spare fuel cell/wick when originally bought. Wasn't needed and still have both in good condition. Tho having a second one does help for quick refills in the middle of cooking.Delete
Refilling is done by pouring fuel directly into the top of the container...this being scary when it is still hot...
Yes they are expensive, but you could call them a forever stove.
Hell our one Coleman duel fuel is a hand me down from my dad, which is likely fifty plus years old. Of course its likely seen a couple new regulators and pumps too.
With certain items, it really does pay to get known long lasting equipment.
No, I really like the idea of a Forever Stove with no moving parts. That would be worth the extra. I'll need to see if the BTU Per Dollar relationship holds true with alcohol as it does for petrol products. That might be a factor. If not, a kero wick store does use VERY little wick and might outlast fuel.Delete
“Ya'all are making my brain hurt! Typical, right? Any product has yahs and nahs. I'll put it on the wish list and ponder it for a good long while.”ReplyDelete
5:18PM here. No need for that. I was just going to send you one of mine, but figured that for the cost of shipping, I’ll just send you a new one, so it’s on its way. I’m sending you a different model than mine. Mine is in the second link below, and is the element style. I figured that for survival purposes, the arc style in the first link below is better suited, so that’s the one you’re getting. Overrated as a survival item in my opinion, but now you get to make that determination for yourself for free.
Tesla Coil Lighters™ USB Rechargeable Windproof Arc Cigarette Lighter
TEQIN Tungsten Ultra-thin Metal Ignition Windproof USB Rechargeable Lighter Electric Flameless Coil
Well ain't you the bomb diggity!Delete