How to Cook and Heat With Wood – One Solution

This is a guest post by Dan W and entry for our non-fiction writing contest.

How do you plan to heat your home (or BOL), cook food, bake or boil water if there is no longer a ready supply of natural gas, propane, fuel for Coleman type stoves, electricity or other power? It’s post SHTF and there’s nothing left anywhere to replenish these goods. What will you do in the long term? Cooking and boiling water can be accomplished using an outside fire or even an inside fireplace.

Pretty easy to do if there’s not 2’ of snow on the ground and a blizzard wind pushing the temps ever colder! For those of us that live where winter means snow and freezing temps this aspect of survival is a significant issue. I suppose if you live in a balmy climate your resolution to this question might be mitigated by the warmer temps.

However, after the storms of this winter that reached far into the south, I suspect that more than a few of you, living where you thought was “mild winter” territory, might be having second thoughts! Up here, in the great Northwest our winter routinely starts in October and runs through the end of March. It’s a long 6 plus months of short days and cold nights ……….. plenty of time to kick around ideas. This topic has been frequently discussed around our table as one of the prime problems we needed to resolve. I thought that you all might be interested our solution.

We live about as far north as you can go and still be in the continental U.S. It is about 60 miles to the Canadian border by road and 35 miles or so as the crow flies. Winter is the dominant season here! If it’s winter we’re coping with it and if it’s warm outside we’re thinking about the next winter. Even so, we manage to stay quite comfortable though the temps often go below zero and stay there for extended periods ……… That is, as long as the grid is up and the propane tanks are full. Our log home is a rather large 2.5 story that is extremely well insulated. We heat, cook, and heat water with propane. Our two 500 gallon propane tanks get refilled as long as the roads are passable.

Electrical service is fairly reliable but, without juice from the grid (or firing up our generator), we would have no furnace or hot water. Although we can still use our propane range top to cook, our oven is inoperative without electricity. We do have a gas fireplace that will work without any electricity (no blower) but it is very hungry and uses a lot of propane. Located on the main floor it will not provide much heat for the lower level.

We have a 12.5 KW gas generator and 175 gallons of gasoline in storage plus a lot of 20# and 1# propane cylinders. We’ve bought several Mr. Buddy propane space heaters and have multiple Coleman stoves plus a camp style small oven; but these are supplies intended for short term use. We’ve done about all we can as far as storing away extra fuels. The long term answer is not man-made fuels. Even the largest supply of non-biofuels will eventually run out no matter how well you manage to ration their use.

COOKING WITH WOOD 231x300 How to Cook and Heat With Wood – One Solution

Click for larger image…

All in all we feel like we’ve planned well and have put in place those things that will dramatically extend our survival time ……….. but, we were still dependent on electricity, gasoline and propane. If we could become better prepared so that our supplies of diesel and gasoline were reserved for things other than heating and cooking (Generator, Tractor, ATV, Truck) we’d be in a much better position for a much longer period of time.

Our 30 acre property is all timber and offers nearly a lifetime supply of wood. The obvious solution is to be able to utilize this firewood supply as a means to eliminate our dependency on non-biofuels. A wood cook stove would satisfy the heating needs for the main floor and loft as well as cooking issues. Due to the design of our home we would also need a heat source for the lower level. At one time we had a wood furnace located in the lowest level of our home and its masonry chimney is still functional. So, we decided to take advantage of it. A small wood stove in the lower level would give us the heat to ensure the pipes didn’t freeze and make it livable during winter. A wood fired cook stove on the main level would give us the ability to cook and provide heating for the rest of the house. It looked to be a workable plan.

The search was on for a wood fired cook stove that could be moved into place within the home and be safely put to use if/when the SHTF. I did not want to cut a hole in the roof for chimney pipe to pass through …….. a chimney thimble (just in case) mounted in our T&G roof decking was not acceptable to us. It would also mean that we’d have to get on our steep metal roof to initially install the chimney pipe and remove it when it needed cleaning. Not good! We did, however, have a large window in a location where we thought a wood stove could be installed. The window slides so that one half is open to a screen fitted in an outside channel. The screen channel could easily be replaced with a custom made solid piece of tin designed to fit exactly as the screen did.

This would be the exit point for the chimney pipe! I had the tin piece sized to duplicate the dimensions of the screen made at a local shop. I added a 6” insulated thimble to it. It turned out to be a good fit and can be installed without tools. The stove pipe would exit through the thimble, turn at a 30 degree angle and then head towards the 4’ roof overhang. The pipe would be supported at the edge of the overhang by plumbers tape before it once again made another 30 degree upturn.

A short section of straight pipe was then added and finished off with a spark arrestor cap. Our roof is metal which helps to reduce the potential for a spark causing problems. I know, it’s not the perfect arrangement for a chimney ……….. but since the entire length will be only about 14’, the stove should still draw well. This entire set up is adequate to safely exhaust the flue gases from a small wood fire like that contained within our cook stove.

The key to all of this working was the right stove. The one I was looking for needed to be relatively light in weight so it could be carried into the house when it was time to set it up. It needed to have an oven, be mostly cast iron, and be efficient. I did not want the typical Amish type wood cook stove as those were too large, too heavy, and way too expensive. Although I found a few of those type stoves for sale locally, with more on the internet, they didn’t fit my criteria. After much searching I finally found a stove that fit the bill ………. It’s the SOPKA! Manufactured by the SOPKA Stove Company and imported from Serbia (yeah, that’s right, Serbia), these stoves are an excellent example of a small dual fuel cook stove.

I spoke with the nearest dealer and was pleased to find out that the price was reasonable and delivery to our home was not a problem. I asked if they had sold many and were the buyers satisfied? The dealer’s response was very positive and they said that owners were very happy with the stoves operation, construction and performance. They also said they were glad they had decided to become a dealer for SOPKA as the company was very good to deal with and stood behind their products. We live about 250 miles from the dealer’s showroom and, as luck would have it, they had the model we wanted in stock. We purchased a black SOPKA Magnum complete with nickel trim. Check out the stoves at the SOPKA website: www.sopkainc.com .

What I especially liked about this stove is the size; it is actually a bit smaller than 3’ x 3’ x 2’. The smaller firebox uses small pieces of firewood and it is therefore easier to manage the cooking temps. As I said earlier, it’s also a dual fuel design that will burn coal as well as wood. The top cooking surface is more than adequate for our needs while the oven is large enough to bake four loaves of bread at the same time.

Both the firebox and oven have glass windows and there is a temp gauge mounted in the oven glass. There is also a full width storage drawer below the oven. It’s a small unit that offers virtually everything found on the larger old styled stoves. The outlet on this stove is 4” but it comes with a 4” to 6” adapter. I plan to have a water container made for it that will sit on the top surface in front of the stove pipe. When we placed the initial order for the stove we also ordered a large insulated floor pad (5’x5’) to protect our hardwood floors. The SOPKA stove, floor pad and the stove pipe now reside in our garage waiting for the day when they will be put into service.

Once we had the stove and floor pad in hand, I designed the window insert that would serve as the pass-through for the stovepipe. Made of a medium gauge tin it is designed to fit perfectly into the half section of the window slider where the screen had previously fit. A standard insulated 6” DW pipe thimble is installed. A 2’ straight piece of double wall 6” diameter pipe is inserted into the thimble.

Black single wall pipe from the stove is connected on the inside and double wall pipe runs up to the roof overhang on the outside. Since the interior walls of our home are cedar I designed a simple 4’ x 8’ wall heat protector using the same gauge tin as the window insert. This not only protects the wall surface but will reflect heat into the room. It attaches to the wall behind the stove using screws and spacers to create an insulating airspace. I painted the wall heat protector with heat resistant black paint. The drawing will give you an idea of how we plan to set things up.

We’ve verified that we’ve got enough lengths of chimney pipe to connect everything when the time comes. The stove weighs in at 441# but we will remove the doors and inserts to reduce that weight before it gets moved into the house. My little tractor can lift it and set it down on a furniture dolly on our front porch. From there it’s an easy matter to roll it to its home position in front of the window. By using a 6’ ladder on the outside deck all of the chimney pipe connections can be made without having to climb on the roof. This is important as the chimney pipe will need to be cleaned a bit more often due to the angles and expected heavy usage (once it’s put into service). I don’t even want to think about getting on the roof during winter!

For heating the lower level I found a nice little Windsor wood stove manufactured by the Majestic Company: http://majesticproducts.com/family/Stoves/Non-Catalytic/Windsor/ This is their smallest non-catalytic model. Weighing in at only 180 pounds, it’s rated at 23,000 BTU and takes up to 18” logs. Perfect for our application and priced right. The floor where this stove will be installed is concrete so no protective pad is needed. Believe it or not I was able to find this stove at a dealership in Iowa (we live in Montana) and have it shipped to us for a considerably cheaper price than I could buy it locally! It pays to shop around and buy off-season when you can.

To help move the heat around we purchased two Caframo Airmax Eco Fans (one for each stove). These fans sit on the stove top and generate their own power using the heat of the stove. Not the cheapest accessory but they do move a surprisingly large amount of air.

If the SHTF during a winter cycle we still have more than enough non-biofuels stockpiled to last until the warmer weather permits us to set up the stoves. All told we’ve invested about $4400 for the SOPKA and the Windsor wood stoves including the stovepipes and fittings. Yes it’s a big chunk of change ……….. But, these two stoves are pivotal items in our preps. Since our home is a BOL for several other families the expense has been shared. Now, we no longer fear that we will run out of man-made fuels and not be able to live in a heated environment or cook our food.

Obviously our solution to the issues of post-SHTF cooking and heating is not feasible for everyone. Expense is a big factor (when isn’t it?) as is the availability of firewood (or coal). We figured that if we end up never using this investment our heirs can always sell it! If, on the other hand, our worst fears do come to fruition ………….. we won’t be forced to cook outside over an open fire and freeze inside when winter arrives!

Prizes for this round in our non fiction writing contest include…

  1. First place winner will receive – A $150 gift certificate for Hornady Ammo  courtesy of LuckyGunner, a Wonder Junior Deluxe grain mill courtesy of Kitchen Neads, a one year subscription to the Personal VPN service courtesy of unspyable and 1 Case of Survival Cave Food Chicken with 12 14.5 oz. Cans courtesy of LPC Survival.
  2. Second place winner will receive – $100 off of your next order of Fish Antibiotics courtesy of Campingsurvival.com, a Survival Puck  courtesy of SurvivalPuck.com and a SurvivalistBlog.net Coffee Mug courtesy of Horton Design.
  3. Third place winner will receive – a copy of my book ”31 Days to Survival: A Complete Plan for Emergency Preparedness“ and “Dirt Cheap Survival Retreat” courtesy of TheSurvivalistBlog.net and a copy of “The Survival Medicine Handbook” courtesy ofwww.doomandbloom.net.

Be sure to read the rules before entering… This contest will end on March 17 2014

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Comments

  1. Texanadian says:

    Thanks for link to the stoves, they look great. When we relocate to the GWN – Great White North we’ll probably be in the market for one of these. Hopefully the place we buy will already have one.

  2. Backwoods Prepper says:

    In 08 when we moved into our home it had an electric furnace. After on winter with almost 400.00 electric bills that was unacceptable. We purchased a wood and coal combo from buck stove. This unit has a blower and the top raises for a cook surface. We had the same problem with the stove pipe so I removed the upper portion of the living room window and used two pieces of tin mobile home under pinning inside and out. After I cut the stove pipe hole I filled the space with empty aluminum cans ( not crushed they fit perfect laying on their sides). I took a 1 1/2 inch Sheetrock screw and screwed the cans around the pipe hole and continued to fill with cans above the pipe. I have checked the area several times in the winter with the stove buring really hot and it was only warm to the touch. Needless to say December and January is the only months with a bill over a hundred bucks and then it was 113.00. Until this winter it went up to 128.00.

    • Big Bear says:

      Great minds think a like! Using aluminum cans to make a “sandwiched” thermal barrier and heat sink is a good idea. I expect that more and more people will begin to look for alternate ways to “back up” their heating and cooking.

  3. JP in MT says:

    Our current property really does not lend itself to a wood alternative for heating and cooking. One of the big reasons we are looking to move.

    Thanks for the info. I will share this with a friend who is building his house right now, and has not “gird” services.

  4. Dan,
    When you state, “our oven is inoperative without electricity” it brings back memories. We had the same issue many years ago and decided the new (now 15 years old) range would have a standing pilot for the oven. That was easier said than done. We did eventually find one with standing pilots for both the oven and burners, but we had to look far and wide to find the one model that had that feature. When we have to upgrade again, we would like a standing pilot for the oven and igniters for the burners, but I have no idea if such a machine exists. One thing we’ve thought about, that might get you through loss of electric at least for some time, is an inexpensive computer UPS unit to run the igniter for the oven. Its low duty cycle and low power, so one of these might work for a rather long outage period.

    • Living in an area where the power goes out on a fairly regular basis, being able to use the oven without electricity has long been an issue.

      Around 1990, I purchased a stove with standing pilots that we’ve moved from house to house ever since. At the time, they told me that new government regulations forbid new stoves from having pilots because they “waste” propane.

      I suspect the only way you’ll find one is to look for a used one. And no – you can’t have mine. :)

      • Big Bear says:

        Our gas fireplace has a standing pilot light and will continue to work just fine without grid or gen electricity. We know that we’ve only got 1000 gallons of propane (if both tanks are full) so not being able to use the gas oven is not a big deal. I’d rather the propane be used for the cook top burners as the propane supply, un-refillable after the SHTF, would last a lot longer. We bought a small Coleman propane oven (camping style) and have a solar oven as well …….. backups to the backups!

        • Big Bear,
          If you have 2 propane tanks for 1000 gallons, then I assume that they are 500 gallon tanks, which may legally only be filled to 80% or 400 gallons each. We currently have a pair of 1000 gallon tanks, and can only have 1600 gallons on hand directly after our summer fill.

      • akaGaGa,
        Thanks for the info on the Federal regulations. Unfortunately, I’m not at all surprised. These idiots in DC have no clue what the real world outside of their Georgetown homes is like, so they ban incandescent light bulbs and keep us running on daylight saving time, even though the former has more uses than lighting, and the later has proven to save no energy. Then again, science and logic never got in the way of any moron in congress.
        As for a stove with a pilot, I already have a used one, which is the one we use today that was purchased around the same time as yours.

    • Big Bear says:

      OP,
      Our oven is a fairly new propane model and of course it has electronic ignition for the top burners as well as the oven. It’s not a big deal to get the oven lit manually, but the temperature control module needs power to cycle the oven on and off. I suppose I could jury-rig it to work if push really came to shove, but I worry a bit about the safety aspect of running the oven without the electronic control to inhibit over-temp situations.

      I’ll dig into it a bit more and see if your suggestion regarding a UPS would work.

      • Backwoods Prepper says:

        How about a deep cycle battery and a 45 watt solar panel. But I don’t have any idea about the inverter.

        • poorman says:

          That was my thought. I lose power several times each winter and if I want to use the oven I plug into the generator. That won’t work long term but battery’s and solar panels should..

          • Backwoods Prepper & poorman,
            The UPS does most of that except for the solar charging. Any inexpensive inverter rated at a few hundred watts should work; however, if the oven contains a light bulb, running that will drain the battery more quickly. I picked up a small 160 watts 12V inverter last year for $20 from 1saleaday that should do the trick.

        • Inverter: Cobra or Whistler 800 watt. Under $45 delivered from Amazon. Plenty of power to get your oven started. You could also run your computer, some lights, tv, etc. Buy a 100 watt panel instead for $150 and Morningstar Charge Controller for about $50.

          Add a couple more deep cycle batteries, few more panels, 1600 watt inverter and you will be surprised as to what you can run especially on sunny days.

      • The UPS does work. We tried it with an older oven; however, the DD insisted on a pilot when we replaced the old range.
        The amount of power drawn to light the oven will vary based on whether the igniter is a hot surface (bloeing wire) or spark gap type, with the spark gap drawing less power.

    • Exile1981 says:

      I had a discussion with someone recently about prepping and they said they would be fine if the electricity went out in a big storm as their new house had a gas furnace… to which I pointed out that the fan and blower need electricity and a gas furnace is useless in a power outage.

      • Exile1981 ,
        Not only the exhaust fan and blower; but, also the electronics that runs the furnace, which is essentially a small embedded computer.
        We have the same issue, and have installed a 5-panel wall mounted ceramic heater for such events. It runs with zero electricity as long as there is propane.

  5. You obviously put a lot of thought into this solution to a problem after SHTF. As I live in the deep south, your solution probably produces too much heat for our normal winter, but show how to think through this type of problem for ourselves. Cooking will be an issue for us withoug electricity as our propane supply will not last forever, but I have the added difficulty of wood smoke being one of my asthma triggers. Thanks for showing us your thought process as well as your solution.

    • Big Bear says:

      You might want to investigate whether or not a “Pack Stove” like that used by outfitters might be a solution to your issues. We have one that is designed to be carried by a horse in the pack panniers. It all fits into itself, has an oven, flue pipe and 5 gallon water heater tank. It is designed to be used outside or in a tent with a fitting for the stove pipe. Ours is a Riley Stove (Miss Daisy model) ….. it’s a nice little unit that is light weight and easy to set up. You could always set it up outside to keep the smoke under control.

    • Where we live every farmstead had a summer kitchen where they would do laundry and their cooking 9 months of the year. Today if you would drive through my state you would see that many have been converted to one car garages. Installing a wood stove in a detached garage, especially in the south may be a good option. It would keep the heat and smoke out of the house.

  6. When i was a kid growing up in northern Connecticut, we heated with wood. we had a stove in the basement and one in the living room. Ive lived in Louisiana for 34 years now and i had forgot alot that i knew about wood heat. I put a woodstove in my workshop and thois year was the first year ive needed heat in my shop,so i got to use it this year. I had forgoten how much wood you go through and i was fairly comfortable with the amount of firewood i had stored. I was way off and i need to at least double what i keep on hand (from 2 to 4 cords) if i hope to keep my house warm through a non electric winter.

    • Big Bear says:

      Yeah, when we first built our home we had a wood furnace (and it worked very well) but we went through 4-5 cords a year if it was an average winter. We got old and decided to go to propane heat which is no work ………. but vastly more expensive. The propane delivery guy smiles all the way down our driveway! The nice thing about the SOPKA stove (or one like it) is the small size of the firebox compared to the relatively large amount of heat produced.

      • Big Bear,
        I don’t know where you live or your situation; but, a little more than 10 years ago I purchased a pair of 1000 gallon propane tanks. Since I own the tanks, I can have them filled by anyone who sells propane; however, I fill them when I want to, not when I’m running low in January at the mercy of the tank owner who also provides the propane at the winter market price. In the summer of 2012 we filled for $1.01.9 and last summer we filled for $1.18.9. Recently we know folks who needed a fill and the price was nearly $4.00 per gallon with a 150 gallon maximum. YMMV; but, in our case it’s been a great investment both saving a lot of money and having that feeling of security that we’ll get through pretty much any winter without running out.
        It might be worth looking into.

        • Big Bear says:

          OP, Wish I had had the foresight many years ago to do what you’ve done. Before we added the second 500 gal tank I got a printout of our usage history from the propane company so I could see just how long I could expect the 1000 gallons to last. Even though the usage data included a gas furnace, the oven, and a gas fireplace (none of which would be in use post SHTF) I figured that two full tanks would probably last us through two years when used exclusively for the stove top burners. I also have 10 each of the 20# cylinders plus 50 of the smaller 1# propane bottles. These were purchased primarily for use in the Mr. Buddy heaters. We live in the far northwest corner of Montana so we focus a lot on our ability to get through the winters more than the other seasons.

          I look back at the direction our prepping has taken and would probably do things a bit differently if I was just beginning. Like they say; “hindsight is 20-20″! Nevertheless, we’re in pretty good shape and believe we’ll fare pretty well.

  7. Outstanding, detailed article on one way to solve the long term heating and cooking and hot water problem. Great links to the stoves. Our BOL has plenty of wood, so we will have to investigate this approach further. Thanks!

  8. j.r. guerra in s. tx. says:

    In our area, a ‘summer kitchen’ will HAVE to be utilized, our natural weather pattern between April – November is hot and humid. Adding heat to the house is NOT needed. So a covered carport type that allows wind to do its job is welcome.

    Anyone else have glass block panels on the outside of their house ? You can easily penetrate a wall by knocking out a block panel to route the stove pipe through. Put an insulating sleeve around the pipe and seal. Add a screen (spark arrester ?) to avoid vermin intrusion – we had yellow jackets invade our ranch house for years and never knew that was the easiest method to get inside the house.

    • Donna in MN says:

      I was told by a salesman I need a screen for my chimney top since I live in the woods, to prevent animals getting in. Very bad advice. In a week of using my stove, the soot built up on the screen to push the smoke back into my house putting me in a dangerous situation. I removed it and had no problems. I suppose it can be covered when not in use.

      • Ditto the rain cap on stove pipe, Donna- not a good idea. Oh, the idea for what it’s supposed to do is good, nothing wrong with it. But in reality, it’s a creosote trap. Best would be a stone/masonry chimney with a real rain cap at lest six inches above the opening. Also, keeping the exit more than two feet above the ten-foot-rule will aid in better draft.
        Keeping critters out isn’t much a problem. A chimney should be cleaned at least twice a year: once in spring and once in fall before use, more often is better to prevent chimney fires. Any critters or nests will be caught in the fall cleaning (and bees will have migrated) and spring will eliminate creosote. Though even after a lifetime burning wood, I’ve yet to find a bird nest or bee hive in a chimney that’s used during the year. Not that it isn’t possible, but I think unlikely due to the nature of smoke.

        • k. fields says:

          Here in Northern CA, screens and caps are mandatory due to fire regulations. Since I have wood shingled roofs, I would use them even if they weren’t mandatory.
          I’ve never experienced the problems mentioned, but maybe I’m just more careful on the types of wood used and how the fires are controlled.
          I clean the chimneys / screens twice a year.

          • k. fields,
            When we heated with wood, something we could still do in a pinch, I cleaned the chimney only once per year, and never had any major creosote buildup. I suspect that you are correct in what type and how seasoned the wood is, being the real issue. In our case we have no cap on the 8-inch tile lined chimney, and likewise no animal or bees.

            • I’ve found creosote buildup to be more a problem of what kind of wood as well as moisture content, air temperature, chimney temperature, and damper control. Birch seems to really build creosote- if the bark is left on. Remove the bark and creosote lessens. I’ve burned ash with less than 20% MC and had creosote build up faster than I can remove it. In 20 below temperatures, when the chimney cannot build up any real heat, creosote will build more rapidly than at warmer temperatures. Too, metal chimney outside the building, the faster creosote builds due to cooler chimney. Best solution is to have a method of keeping the chimney warm to prevent hot-cold transfer to the smoke, and to learn the proper damper-draft combination for the stove in use.
              Too, depending on the wood being burned, a lot of creosote is just soot build-up, which also burns rather easily when lest desired.

  9. Donna in MN says:

    For those who want manufactured wood stoves, get them now. The epa is setting new regs how efficient new wood stoves have to be, (80% now on the market will be banned)

    I use my wood stove for heating, stove top cooking, frying, baking, heating water, and drying clothes besides heating my home. It has a small blower, but I don’t need it if the power goes out. I got this wood stove in 2009 when the economy tanked and I feared I would tank as well if I didn’t get one. Since I am surrounded by forests, I get a lot of wood on my own. It is cost effective—propane heat $2000 a heating season; wood heat16 hrs/day and propane $800 a heating season. If I move, it goes with me.

  10. If anyone is thinking of heating with a wood stove it behoves them to purchase a wood stove in the next couple of years. The EPA (of course) has a proposal to force manufacturers to increase emission standards so drastically that it would force a lot of manufacturerers out of business and cause the price of wood stoves to increase quite a bit.

    • Dan,
      I hope somebody has the guts and money to sue the EPA. I live in west central Ohio, at least 100 miles from any bordering state, so I’m pretty sure any particulates from my wood burning are not traveling across state lines, and in any case, they should have to prove that it does. The EPA is pretty much out of control.

  11. Living in Minnesota, a close 30 miles from the border, I go through about seven cords of birch, maple or ash, a year, normally. This year I’ve gone through nine and have burned through my ‘junk wood’ pile, which is popple and pine- poor burners for real cold- and started burning in September rather than late October or early November as normal.
    My flat top stove also has an Eco Fan that really circulates the air well for my small house (1K sq. ft). I’ve been thinking of getting a second fan, but if I did, there’d be no room on top the stove for the coffee pot, bean pan and water pan. I’ve found that a crock pot liner (the stone bowl) works excellently to cook beans over night (or day), adding to the wonderful smell of maple from the fire. I’ve not used the stove for cooking more than beans or coffee, or keeping foods warm or heating water to boiling, but have no doubt I could fry eggs and bacon on top. One food that kids love making on the stove is potato chips… something Grandma taught us little critters. There’s something wondrous about slicing a spud, dipping it in salt water, watching it steam and curl and turn golden brown on the stove, then ploppiing it steaming hot into your mouth. MMMMM, yesss! Give me wood! But it’s work-work-work.

    • Donna in MN says:

      JSW, I used a box fan 15 feet away blowing towards the wood stove. It circulates very well when heat is needed everywhere fast. I didn’t think anyone was further north than I was. I’m in the Chippewa National forest. Nearly everyone has a wood stove around here, and the few who don’t got one this year due to propane prices.!

      • You’re not far from my birthplace… nearly the whole family was from that area until the diaspora of the Fifties and people had to go where they could find work and money.
        Yes, there is a great number of wood burners in my area now, and more every day. When the price of a unit of LP went to $5, the wood stoves were flying off the shelves, even the junk trash burners. Not to mention (but I will), there’ve been more chimney fires lately than I’ve heard about in years. Too many people don’t know how to use the damper and draft correctly or keep their chimneys clean. Lots to learn using wood.

      • oldguy52 says:

        Hey neighbor,

        Well, not exactly, but just a couple hours south. Still plenty cold here though :).

        The heating issue is heavy on my mind lately. Especially with the EPA getting out of control like they are. Easy availability of woodburning equipment is likely to become a problem if they get their way.

    • JSW,
      The need to burn all of that wood you use is no doubt due to global climate change; which in turn, is caused by all of that wood you burn, LOL.

      • OP, with as cold as this past winter was- the coldest I’ve ever lived in 67 years here- I’d welcome Goreball Warming. Trust me- if all it’d take to heat this planet is me burning wood, I’ve got a few acres I’ll light up as well as burn the stove all year.
        And now I’ve got 14 cords to cut up and stack for next year… but if it’d stop cold winters, I’ll strike a match to it tomorrow (and sneak into a few neighbors’ yards and…)…

  12. Big Bear says:

    Hi All,
    Just took a closer look at the drawing and realized that several of it’s components don’t show up! Oops! I used Word to create the image and of course it looked good on my computer ……… so much for hi tech. Anyway, look a this as a kind of inactive drawing. You should be able to figure out that the flue pipe goes from the window to the roof cap. The lower two smaller things on the page were intended to show how the thimble fits into the custom metal plate ……. problem is the metal plate didn’t show up except for the bends. Sorry, looks like I need to find a better way to make the drawings!

  13. Big Bear says:

    Meant “interactive drawing”. Must be time for my meds!!!!1

  14. Encourager says:

    Just a few ideas to add:

    1. You can use a large cast iron dutch oven, the type with a recessed lid, as an oven. If outside, or in a fireplace, or a large enough wood stove, you add coals under and on top to bake whatever needs baking. We use this when we are camping, in the fire pit and it works great…as long as you learn how many coals = what temperature.

    2. I think I have mentioned this before but it is worth posting again. At our age, climbing on the roof to clean the wood stoves stacks is a big no-no. And paying $200 for someone else to do it is cost-prohibitive. We bought a SootEater Chimney Cleaning System. It consists of fiberglass rods that snap together (you can buy extra rods no matter how tall your pipe goes), a head that resembles a weed-whacker, and uses a drill to power it. The drill whips the rods and end piece around and it cleans all the creosote off the inside of the stove pipe. We use a soot vac that sucks up any dust so it doesn’t go all over the room. Of course, in a SHTF situation with no electric, you would have to have a way of recharging a battery operated drill.

    We have heated with wood for over 34 years. Best heat in the world.

    • poorman says:

      I was just reading the other day on how many coals to use to bake in a cast iron dutch oven. You double the size of your oven 10 inch oven takes 20 charcoals (12 inch 24 ect) and that takes you to about 350 deg. they say.

  15. mom of three says:

    Our fireplace, is illegal it’s not up to standards any longer. We have the chimney, sweep out every other year but we don’t burn everyday either. It going to be very difficult to be able to continue to burn in the city’s anymore. Each time I start a fire, I always wonder if we will get a knock on the door, telling us we can’t burn anymore. I’m waiting for that day. Most of the home around our area people, are tearing them out what a shame. Wood heat, is the best warm heat outside of the sun.

    • mom of three,
      The story I’ve heard about wood heating is that it heats 4 times:
      • Once in the cutting
      • Once in the splitting
      • Once in the stacking
      • And once in the burning
      Been there, done that. Our biggest problem with wood heat right now is that the DW has developed an allergy to wood smoke, and can get a serious asthma attack, although we do keep several cords of seasoned firewood around and a working fireplace insert.
      This unfortunately also keeps her from being much help with the bees, since we burn cedar to smoke and calm them.

      • Cedar is one of the worst offenders for wood allergies. Carpenters who spend years working with cedar have been the worst hurt by the dusts and reagents in the wood- cedar dust is nearly as bad as asbestos in the lungs.
        To start fires in my stove, I use a couple pieces of cedar shake and for a couple days after, am nearly bed-ridden due to the effects.
        Maple smoke doesn’t seem to trigger any effect in me, while ash hits my eyes and nose the hardest.
        Point being, try a few differnt wood types in your stove or fireplace and see if there’s a different kind of reaction to the smoke. Also, be sure to heat your chimney with a newspaper before lighting the wood- the paper warms the chimney and creates a better draft so the smoke is minimal. (Of course, you knew this already, but it doesn’t hurt to be reminded.)
        And then there’s Peat…

    • If you can swing it (cost wise), Tulikivi makes soapstone masonry heaters that meet even stringent EU standards, and they can be retrofitted into existing fireplaces. Chances are they would meet your local city standards.

  16. plantlady says:

    Also from the great white north. Since we plan to thrive rather than just survive after tshtf, we got a big Kitchen Queen wood cookstove because it will heat our home, cook and bake our food and provide copious on-demand hot water. It has a huge oven – will bake 8 loaves of bread at once or bake a full meal for a big crowd. It has a 24 gallon hot water reservoir for up to 40 gal. Of hot water per hour…do you realize what a luxury hot baths will be after tshtf? It’s 43″x21″ cooktop will allow cooking for a crowd or upwards of 6 canning kettles at once. We thought about getting something smaller,but after tshtf we are going to have to live in larger groups for safety and to create everything we will need…so made more sense to “go big”. Not inexpensive…but worth every penny now and absolutely priceless after tshtf. And at 800 lbs, nobody is going to carry it off.
    Kitchenqueenstoves.com

    • plantlady,
      Nice!!!

    • Oh, golly, do I remember that water heater tank beside the stove! And, yes, just imagine how wonderful it’ll be to have hot bath water- at any time.
      Somewhere I have pictures of that stove and us kids sitting in the half-barrel taking baths and Mom scrubbing our heads.
      Thanks for the memories, PL- thanks a bunch.

    • plantlady says:

      The great big hot water resevoir was a huge selling point for us. When researching, found almost all other cookstoves have 5-7 gal. reservoirs. And the water is heated with a stainless coil…you can even hook it up to a remote tank or into your present system. The reservoir on this one goes across the entire upper back of the stove (51″), behind the warming shelf. I see they now offer a warming oven…when I got this one, only the shelf was available. Will be a good place to raise dough, make yogurt, etc

      • Be sure the warming oven is high enough for you to use your canner on the stove top.

  17. sounds familiar to me lol, I’m a 20 minute walk to Canada and this year we been hammered by extended bitter cold.

    I went with a little cast iron stove and had to haul it by hand down the trail to my place (my only source of heat in the winter, I salvaged a range from a camper and run it off grill tanks for canning though). used 10 face cords to heat this year, got 35 left in reserve and sold about 130 in the fall, if I aint got 3 sheds with a years worth in each I aint ready for 1 winter (to be safe from fire risks I have 3 sheds far enough apart that if one burns I still got 2 more). dragged in a used sheet metal stove I got cheap and put it in the barn as a spare, also got a barrel stove in the barn.

    I also built a couple simple stoves outside in the past for boiling sap