Sunday: Questions and Answers With The Wolf Pack

Note: The Format of this segment my change in the future, while we test to see what is more useful and effective for readers…

Question from Walt

I need a suggestion from someone who has thought such things through.  My wife have I have been talking about alternate means of cooking in the event there is no electricity and we are unable to get LP gas refills.  I have both a grill and a smoker to use as long as the gas lasts. They are both run off a 100lb tank, while our heat is run off a 500 gal tank. We currently cook with electricity.

We live in a rural area, but I am too old and out of shape to cut wood. When TSHTF and gas runs out, what do we do to be able to cook?

Our current consideration is to get two addition 100 lb tanks and a cheap gas cook stove and keep it in our garage for emergencies.  The two tanks would probably last quite a while–6 months or more. I am also considering building an outdoor oven to cook bread in. I have a stack of surplus oak flooring that I could burn in the oven, or even a campfire, but it would not last more than a few weeks, depending, of course, on how much we bake. Your opinion on these things?

Please help Walt out by posting your advice in the comments below…

M.D. Creekmore suggests the “EcoZoom Rocket Stove” you can read my full review here.


  1. KR Prepper says:

    Hey there,

    I dnt know about you guys but we get severe weather knocking down trees all the time. I’ve chosen to stack firewood vs charcoal just on price. And the food is better. And on pallets. They burn incredibly hot.. Id use it for my Woodstove starter

  2. t42n24t2 says:

    How about a Dakota fire pit? I just read about them in Survivalist #9 – Urban Survival. Anyhow, I know I can do this, so anyone can do it. Someone above already suggested it, but this is like an underground rocket stove. All you need to make one is a digging tool, and it works anywhere. The article is long but very clear. I bet you could find instructions online.

  3. mtmedic says:

    Another suggestion is a Cobb BBQ. It grills, frys, bakes and smokes and only uses up to 8 briquets. It sure works for us and is very handy to take to the beach or forest.

  4. Hunker-Down says:

    Hi Walt,

    I’m old and out of shape too. We stock propane in 30 and 1 lb. tanks because larger tanks are prohibited where we are. There are two reasons we rejected the idea of 100 lb. tanks; first is OPSEC. Because tanks should not be laid on their side, a 100 lb. tank in the back of the truck would advertise to the sheeple that we may have food and heat, as we go to the propane dealer for a recharge. Our 30 lb. tanks can be ‘snuck’ to the dealer and OPSEC remains secure. The second reason is because I’m “too old and out of shape” to dance with a 100 lb. tank and I can still lift a 30 into the back of the truck.

    When the propane runs out, it’s sticks and a Volcano stove that can also burn charcoal.

    I’ve been lurking at Walmart for 2 years looking for a sale on charcoal and they never have them in our area.

    • Missy Taz says:

      Hunker-Down, I usually buy my charcoal at Costco during the summer. Do you have a Sam’s or Costco close by?

      • Hunker-Down says:

        Missy Taz,

        We get to Sam’s about once every 6 weeks, it’s 90 miles away. I’ll start looking for charcoal at a good price there. We have a 50 gallon galvanized can about 1/3 full so far.

  5. If you live where there are trees then you live where there are tree trimmers. I buy 3 cu yds of chipped tree limbs (about two pickup loads) for $39 from a place where the tree trimmers take their limbs and trees to be disposed of. Almost any city, or power line company have millions of tons of wood to dispose of, find out where. . About two loads would last in a rocket stove forever. These chips are normally sold for mulch. Also, if there are any palette or cross-tie saw mills around they usually sell a pickup load of cutoffs for about 10-15 dollars.. another bargain. There is certainly nothing wrong with burning palettes but that is a waste of wood that can be used for a lot of things.. Anyone planning on burning propane, etc. to survive for very long is fooling themselves.

    • One of the sawmills I know also makes pellets for pellet stoves. They have more chips and sawdust than they can use for pellets so they sell the excess for mulch or to companies that have large commercial power generating boilers or who have steam boilers. They will sell a load of chips on a moving floor box van , which is 8x8x50 feet for $450 delivered and unloaded. That is enough wood chips to last for many years in a rocket stove heater or cookstove.

    • Portman90201 says:

      Bern you hit it hard on the nail head. Our city’s Dept. of Forestry is an endless supply of rough cut chips…… and I thought I was so smart as to be the only shmuck to think of it.

    • Bern,
      On the wood chips, a tree trimming company was trimming the trees near our home (around the power lines) we stopped and asked if we could have some. They delivered 5 large truck loads for FREE! It saved them money to keep from having to haul it off.

  6. Walt, We have a cook wood stove that will use coal or wood for emergencies. This will cook and provide some heat also. It takes smaller pieces of wood. You can buy wood ( or barter ) if you aren’t up to cutting your own(or don’t have a woodlot)We live in a northern climate. Arlene

  7. Mrs. M. says:

    I wholeheartly Agree with the Rocket Stove and Solar Oven, and all of the other great suggestions. But I thought I would offer up something completely different that I didn’t notice anyone discuss yet,

    Google Fresnel Lens. DH and I accidentally discovered our large lens free when we took a TV apart. The large plastic lens sits right in the front of the flat screen TV area. People are giving these away free. But be careful that you don’t set your neighborhood on fire! A person can certainly boil water easily with this thing, using an iron pot or pan. We are going to experiment with our lens more this summer after we build a frame and stand for it to help better control the beam of sunlight.

    Happy cooking! I am wondering if we could figure out how to heat a tub of water for hot baths. If not, solar will work.

    • Cool! I always wondered why lighthouse lamps had those ridges on them–wasn’t that the case for old car headlamps, too?

  8. Walt, you could probably barter that oak flooring for some good firewood.Oak flooring is very expensive these days.Arlene

  9. midnight1st says:

    I have a sun oven and a rocket stove. I have not used my sun oven yet, but my father made one himself years ago, and our family made whole meals in it. (His was bigger than the ones you buy now.) It worked great as long as it was sunny, and the food tasted the best!

    I do use my rocket stove on a pretty regular basis because my grand kids love to use it when they come. It works great, and the kids love to go pick up the fuel and watch it burn. It’s so different from what their parents do at home that it is a treat for them. I have also seen that you can can on them. I also think that you could purchase a Stove Tec for what you could buy firebricks for.

  10. I’m told that wood is good to start a fire but then throw coal on it and it will last all night. And that saves a lot of wood.

    • lo,
      If you’re talking about “real” coal, then that is true. Growing up in western PA, which is coal country, I had more than a few neighbors who used coal, as did my MIL & FIL here in Ohio when I first got marriaed. The problem with coal at this point might be finding a source, but that is potentially a good idea for any of us.

  11. Donna in MN says:

    When I was without power for a week last July 4th storm that devistated my area, I cooked with twigs in my webber, also used old charcoal and finally got a one burner propane stove. I bought a bunch of cylanders of propane to use, including two I had for 12 years that still were full of propane. You could also get fuel pellets that last forever, and use a solar oven to cook at emergency supplie stores like Emergency essentails..

  12. Walt,

    I’m with you. I’m no spring chicken with problems. I just got out of the hospital Friday with stints inside of stints and messed my back up a few years ago. I think you had your answer in your last paragraph.

    Three years ago I picked up a Camp Chief propane oven with two burner stove on top and two 100lb tanks. With the use I’ve gotten out of a 20lb tank, this setup should last me a year cooking two meals a day to include my biscuits and cornbread.

    I do have several backup setups, but this will be my mainstay. Hard times do not have to be that hard. By virtue of seniority (age) alone we have earned the right to a little extra comfort.

    Every suggestion I’ve read in the above comments is good, serviceable, useable and worth your consideration.

    Be Blessed,

    • I forgot to mention that for heat I picked up a Blue Flame high efficent propane heater and two 60lb tanks ten years ago. Runing the heater wide open for 24 hours a day, one tank would last 3 weeks. Using good sense, the two tanks should keep me comfortable for about 3 months. Worth thinking about.

      • Rex & everyone,
        Anyone wanting to use propane can make a simple calculation. Propane weighs about 4.2 pounds per gallon, so your 60 pound tanks contain about 14 gallons each. A gallon of propane contains 91,690 BTUs of energy, so each tank contains 14 * 91,690 or 1,283,660 BTUs. All heating and cooking devices contain a BTU rating for each setting, so I suspect your heaters at full throttle run about 2500 BTU per hour.
        One of our backup heaters is a ceramic wall mounted propane heater with selectable setting of 6000, 18000, and 26000 BTU per hour, and will pretty much keep the entire downstairs warm on a cold winter day.
        So if you know the size of the tank and the BTU rating of the appliance, you can get a reasonable idea of how long you can use it with your propane source.

  13. moonstone says:

    This is the best! I have learned so many new things just off this one post.Can’t wait for the next one!M.D. Thanks, this is just what we wanted!

  14. robert in mid michigan says:

    as many have said a solar oven, and a valcano stove are a good start. use your propane only when you must as it will for the most part not be replacable. learn to cook with a thermos quickly bringing your water to boil and placing in a good thermos to let it finish. this allows you to save fuel.

    cook in large batches when you do cook cooking six loaves of bread in an oven takes about the same energy as cooking one. you cant necassarily do this with parishable foods with no way to store it but bread type foods will last several days with out refigeration.

    find multiple fuel sources, twigs, dung, leaves, pinecones and corn cobs all work. newspaper logs work well as well. stock up on charcoal, propane, even small tea light candles can heat a meal although slowly.

    • robert in mid michigan says:

      no idea why it posted early but

      the idea is to have more than a single source of fuel and ways to cook. on sunny days you use the solar oven, on other days you use as little fuel as possible to get the job done. saving the fuels that are hard to get the least and only as a last option. if you have got to use the propane use it sparingly.

      the idea two is one and one is none is a way of life thier is no one single best source of anything really and having back ups to your back ups means no crunching on dry beans because you cant cook them.

      another thought you can grind, crush beans and other foods so that they cook quicker using less fuel. how do you feel about refried beans, cooks quickly and torteia shells are easy to make and require little cooking.

      i also like ezeikal bread done corectly it requires the same fuel as bread and it is a complete food add some soup and a descent meal is at hand.

      god bless and good luck

  15. Dont know if this has been listed or not I didnt go through the posts, but a good solar oven would be something to consider.

  16. I am just jumping in to suggest a Wonderbox Oven. You can make them if you can sew. A similar thing is an insulated box. It cooks and can keep things either hot or cold. A good book on the type of cooking is out of print but worth finding. It’s Fireless Cookery by Heidi Kirschner. Now, sells them, but they also sell a set of recipe cards for its use. The reason I have one and will learn to use it is because we have a lot of cloudy days here in Western PA. I also recommend a Volcano stove, which uses propane, charcoal, and wood. Now, all of the comments above have not been read yet. I just wanted to toss this in.

  17. Walt:

    Have you ever considered the Hobo Stove and Hobo candles?

    The hobo stove in a coffee can with an area around the bottom cut out so you can put fuel under it. It will work just like the rocket stove.

    To make hobo candles use old tuna fish cans filled with corrugated paper and parrafin. Cut the corrugated into strips about 18″ long by 1″ wide. Roll into a coil and place in the tuna fish can. Melt the parrafin and pour into the can. Once it dries it will burn for some time.

    It will probably take about 10 minutes to boil water, and the candles will give off a fair amount of smoke, but it will work with minimal cost and investment.