Rocket Stove… You’ll need one of these when SHTF!

Rocket Stove… You’ll need one of these when SHTF!

When SHTF you will need a rocket stove. This is because we’re going to have to find new ways of doing just about everything. One of those things will be cooking our food. Electric ranges aren’t going to work too good when there isn’t any electricity and it’s doubtful that gas will be available for gas ranges. That means most people will be cooking on their barbecue grills, in their fireplaces or over a wood burning stove. While all of these methods are workable, they aren’t as efficient as cooking on a rocket stove.

Rocket stoves are a rather unique invention which uses kindling sized sticks as fuel, burning them very hot and very efficiently. This creates a hotter fire than you can usually get out of kindling, as well as providing sufficient heat to cook with from very little fuel.

While I suppose it would be possible to use a rocket stove for heating, that’s really not what they are designed for. The rocket stove produces a lot of heat at the cooking “burner;” it doesn’t really radiate heat like a fireplace or wood burning stove would. This means that they aren’t an efficient heater, even though they are an efficient cooking stove.Rocket Stove

Nobody really knows the origins of the rocket stove. Dr. Larry Winiarski described the principles in 1982, but in reality the rocket stove is based upon much older designs. The Mexican people, for example, have a stove which they call a “chimnea” which is very similar to a rocket stove, although it does not have a fuel magazine. Interestingly enough the Spanish word “chimnea” means “chimney.” Nevertheless, even without this magazine, the chimnea works essentially the same as a rocket stove.

How a Rocket Stove Works

Regardless of how a rocket stove is actually built, they are all essentially the same thing. The easiest way to think of it is as an elbow. One leg of the elbow is horizontal, while the other is vertical. This provides four separate functions for the rocket stove:

Fuel magazine – To hold fuel that is going to be burnt and provide a means of feeding it into the combustion chamber. This is the horizontal portion of the elbow, leading up to the corner.

Combustion chamber – Where the fuel is actually burnt. This is the corner of the elbow.

Chimney –Like any chimney, it provides a means for smoke to escape. However, that isn’t its most important function. The chimney also provides a means for the heat that the stove produces to reach the food to be cooked.

Heat exchanger – This is whatever is used to transfer the heat to the food being cooked, such as a pot sitting on top of the chimney.

A key element in the function of a rocket stove is the airflow through the stove. This requires that the openings at both ends of the elbow not be blocked. If a pot is put on the top of the chimney which totally covers it, airflow might be blocked. Although not as likely, the same thing can happen if too much fuel is placed in the rocket stove.

Airflow is controlled by simple convection. As the air inside the stove heats, it is drawn up the chimney. This creates low pressure in the combustion chamber, causing more air to be drawn in through the fuel magazine; providing a constant source of fresh, oxygenated air to the stove. More than anything, it is the chimney which causes the draft which controls the airflow through the rocket stove.

That constant airflow provides for very efficient burning of the fuel. The fuel in the combustion chamber has a more abundant supply of oxygen than it would in a stove which with a stagnant air supply. This increases the temperature of the burn, in much the same way that adding extra oxygen to a blowtorch increases the temperature of the burning gas. Any hydrocarbons which don’t burn in the combustion chamber are carried up the chimney and burn in the chimney, making for very efficient fuel consumption.

With the efficient combustion rate of the rocket stove, it doesn’t need large pieces of fuel or use as much fuel as other stoves do. Smaller diameter pieces of wood, which we would normally consider kindling, work exceptionally well for a rocket stove. This adds to the burn efficiency, by providing a larger surface area for the mass of wood being used.
A heat exchanger can be mounted to the top of the rocket stove for heating water or for using it as a heater, rather than putting a pot on top of it. Water from an adjacent vessel can be circulated through the heat exchanger by convection, with the heated water being cycled back to the vessel to be replaced by cool water to be heated.

How to build a Rocket Stove

As already mentioned, the basic rocket stove design is a 90 degree elbow, with a shorter horizontal leg and a longer vertical one. This can be made of literally any non-flammable material. Successful rocket stoves have been made of steel pipe (stove pipe), clay, cinder blocks and a variety of other materials. I’ve even seen temporary rocket stoves made by connecting a series of tin cans together.

The materials used aren’t as important as the basic design. While not a requirement, it is a good idea to use some insulating material around the entire rocket stove to protect users from being burned. The insulation will help contain the heat as well, ensuring that the most possible heat reaches the top of the chimney for cooking.

The easiest way to make a rocket stove is out of three cinder blocks. You need the kind of blocks that have two holes, not three. The bottom block, which is going to be the combustion chamber and fuel magazine needs to have the web between the two holes broken out. This is actually fairly easy to do, as cinder blocks aren’t really all that strong. The other two cinder blocks are used for the chimney and need to be broken so that they make an eight inch square. In other words, the central web becomes one side of the square and everything past it gets broken off.

Place the base block on a bare patch of ground and stack the other two partial blocks on top of it, so that the openings in them form the chimney. That’s it; the rocket stove is now ready to use. Load some sticks into it and light them on fire.

Knowing how to build a rocket stove will likely proof useful in a survival situation.

Comment below with any questions or share your experiences with a rocket stove.

How to Balance Your Needs versus the Weight of a Bug Out Bag

How to Balance Your Needs versus the Weight of a Bug Out Bag

When I look at some people’s bug out bag lists, I have to wonder how they’re going to carry it all. It’s easy to go overboard on a bug out bag, especially when you consider that you don’t really know how long you’re going to be out in the wilderness. However, every ounce of extra weight you carry is going to eat into your body’s energy reserves and slow you down. If you’re not careful, that extra weight can hinder you, more than help you.

How to Balance Your Needs versus the Weight of a Bug Out Bag

Seasoned backpackers say, “The lighter the pack, the more enjoyable the journey.” However, they’re going out for a week or less at a time; with the expectation of going home at the end of their trip. So, the criteria that apply to them, really can’t apply in the same way to bugging out. Even so, it can work as a starting point.

Looking at several websites for backpackers, it seems that ideal weights for backpacks vary a bit from one person to the next. Obviously, the physical condition and stamina of the individual is a factor that needs to be considered. However, most of these backpacking experts seem to favor a backpack that’s 1/6 of the person’s body weight.

One-sixth of a 150 pound man is 25 pounds. But 1/6 of a 220 pound man is 36 2/3 pounds. The problem here is that the 220 pound man probably isn’t n as good a shape, physically speaking, as the 150 pound man. So, if we go just on body weight, we may be hurting ourselves more than we expect to.

There are a few who advocate 1/4 of the individual’s body weight as a maximum weight. That actually seems more realistic to me for a bug out bag. This isn’t a pleasure trip, but rather bugging out to survive. That’s going to dictate carrying some things that are going to make your weight go up.

It is said that “the proof of the pudding is in the eating.” I think that’s very applicable to the bug out bag. Pack a bag with 1/4 of your body weight and see how far you can walk with it. If you can’t walk several miles, without feeling that you’re going to die, then it’s too much; regardless of your body weight. Try the same thing with a bag packed to 1/6 of your body weight. Then, adjust the weight to find a point that works for you. Make that your target weight.

Okay, so how do you get your bag weight down to the point of your target weight? First of all, realize that some percentage of that weight is food. You’re going to eat about two pounds of food a day. So, if you’re just a couple of pounds over, I wouldn’t worry about it. You’re bag is going to be under your weight limit all too fast.

Look through your bag, asking yourself the question, “Do I really need this?” You’ll probably find some things you’re carrying because someone said you should or because you thought it was a neat gadget. If you don’t really need it, it’s time to get rid of it.

The next thing to do is to look for places where you can combine equipment to save weight. Simple things, like replacing a pair of pants and a pair of shorts with a pair of pants that have removable legs, will save you precious ounces. The best savings for things like this are your heavier items, like tools. A combination hatchet, hammer and crowbar is lighter than having a separate hatchet and hammer.

Finally, look for ways of replacing equipment with lighter weight alternatives. Good backpacking equipment is extremely light; that’s a lot of what you’re paying for. So, take everything out of your pack and weigh each piece individually, preferably on a postage scale. That will tell you your heaviest items. Then go looking for lighter weight items to replace those. You can always sell your old items to someone who isn’t as concerned about weight as you are.

Let’s keep the discussion going. Comment below with how much your bug out bag weighs.



HOW TO PREPARE FOR ECONOMIC COLLAPSEIt may seem odd to think about how to prepare for economic collapse and the possibility of a complete US or a global imminent economic collapse right now. After all, the stock market is up and unemployment is down- things have gotten markedly better than they have been in years. There are those that believe that we are in the exact same place we were in 2008, right before we slipped into one of the worst recessions in US history. With our stock market set up with artificially inflated numbers due to an overly aggressive bond-buying program, we may soon see the entire economic system collapse upon itself. The entire market is currently predicated on a system of borrowing and investing and financial engineering that can’t bear its own weight.

So that raises the question; how to prepare for economic collapse? We don’t mean the stock market dropping a little, or the price of gas going up a few dimes. We mean to say the complete collapse of the economic marketplace that would make your bank accounts void and the currency in your pocket to become worth only as much as the cost of the paper. What if you had a newborn or small child at home, you as the head of your household have an obligation to protect your family. You need to know what is going to help you and your loved ones survive an economic collapse.

3 Tips on How to Prepare for Economic Collapse!

  1. Bartering Will Be Huge

Bartering is our oldest system of currency; physical goods or services for physical good or services- square deals built on a handshake. When money becomes worthless, barter will once again become the currency of the common man. That means you need to have either goods to trade, or a trade to ply. A few good items that you can stock up on now that will have huge value include personal toiletries, salt, liquor, staple foods, and if you have the ability and room- livestock and small game. As for trades, make sure you have some skills that will be in demand. You may be a marketing director now, but there will be little need for those skills in a collapse. Find a skill that will have real value; whether it is gardening, blacksmithing, knife sharpening, vehicle and mechanical repair, carpentry- anything that can provide a real and practical value.

  1. Don’t Trust All Your Money to the Bank

If the grid went down tomorrow every dollar in your account would float away like so much data. Don’t leave your survival to chance. While paper money will eventually become worthless, in the beginning cash will be king. There will be those who believe the system will right itself and they will be rich with all the cash they make. Keeping this in mind, start stashing away a little bit of cash every time you can. $20 here and there, maybe $100 when you can- anything to start a safety net of cash.

Eventually once you have a pretty good stockpile, say $5000, you should start considering a real investment.

  1. Precious Metals Will Always Have Value

Even as our dollar lowers in value every day, precious metals like gold and silver are steadily climbing in value. In 2006 gold was priced out at $472 dollars an ounce. As of this writing, it has climbed to a staggering $1,132.85. It has nearly tripled in value over a 9 year period. You won’t find a stock market investment that will yield that kind of return. As the dollar deteriorates, it will be precious metals that our economy turns to.

When answering the question how to prepare for economic collapse you have to keep in mind that disasters don’t really care very much whether you believe in them or not. That’s part of their strength, they happen when we least expect it and often despite our best efforts and intentions. You owe it to yourself and your family to be prepared for the very real possibility of a coming economic collapse. Nothing we have talked about here can hurt, it is all solid and logical. The only thing you are doing is giving yourself the peace of mind that you can protect your family and continue to provide for them.

Let’s keep the discussion going.

Comment below with any suggestion on how to prepare for economic collapse.

Keeping Warm at Night During Your Bug Out

Keeping Warm at Night During Your Bug Out

I think that most of us have a somewhat idealized vision of bugging out. We see it more as a way of getting away from it all and enjoying some time communing with nature. When we imagine ourselves on a bug out, we see nice weather, beautiful mountain scenes and a deer in our sights. Nice picture, isn’t it? But then there’s reality.

When the time comes to actually bug out, it’s probably going to be cold, wet and miserable. The highway will turn into a parking lot and we’ll be stuck abandoning our cars to head out on foot. It will be muddy, our flashlight won’t work, and we’ll have trouble finding anywhere at all to camp for the night, let alone an “ideal” campsite, like we saw in our imagination. With all the rain or snow, starting a fire will be an exercise in patience, rather than a demonstration of our survival skills.

Weather has a nasty way of playing tricks on us, especially at times when we need it to be cooperative. So, instead of planning the ideal bug out, we’d be much better off planning on everything going wrong. That way, we’re ready if it does and if the weather is actually nice, we can be pleasantly surprised.

Bugging out in bad weather adds a lot more challenges to our survival scenario. The biggest is trying to keep warm. Since hypothermia is the biggest killer in the wild, keeping warm is something that we can’t ignore. Even being a little bit cold could have drastic consequences, especially if it’s wet out too. Of course, that problem increases at night, simply because it pretty much always gets colder at night.

So, how do you make sure that you can stay warm at night during your bug out?

4 ways to Keep Warm at Night During Your Bug Out

Start by Staying Dry

The most important single thing you can do to keep warm out in the wild is to keep yourself from getting wet. Water draws heat out from our bodies, just like sweat does. Since most clothing will absorb and hold water, it increases this effect. In fact, most wet clothing will make you lose body heat faster than if you were standing their naked. A wet down coat can make you lose body heat 300 times faster!

Proper selection of clothing will go a long way towards keeping you dry. Your outer layer must be water resistant. That’s even better than being waterproof. Water resistant fabrics will cause the water to bead up and run off, like waterproof ones will. The big difference is that water resistant fabrics will also breathe, keeping the inside of your clothes from getting wet from your sweat.

The old Army rain ponchos were famous for this. You’d put on a rain poncho, because it was raining, and within a half-hour you were soaked under your poncho, from your own sweat. I always wondered what good they did.

You also want to make sure you keep your pack dry. If your pack isn’t waterproof, then you want to make sure that you have a waterproof cover for it or that your rain poncho is big enough to cover it as well. A backpack full of wet clothes and a wet sleeping bag won’t help you keep warm.

Make Camp Early

When traveling through the wild, it’s always a good idea to stop a couple of hours before sundown to make camp. This is even more important when it’s wet and cold out, as the temperature can drop drastically at sundown. If you don’t have your camp ready when the sun falls, you could fall prey to hypothermia before you can get it done.

There’s a lot to preparing a proper camp, starting with finding a good place for it. You’ll have a much easier time finding a good campsite during daylight hours, than you will at night.

The Right Sleeping Equipment

Since you’re probably going to sleep at night, having the right sleeping equipment is extremely important. The most important piece of equipment is your sleeping bag. I’m a firm believer in having a warm sleeping bag. If there’s a choice between two types of bags, for two temperature ranges, I’ll always go with the warmer bag. If I’m too warm, I can always open it a bit; but if it’s not warm enough, there’s not much I can do.

That’s why I like the North Face Furnace Sleeping Bag. It’s rated down to zero degrees, which is colder than I ever expect to experience. So, even if I’m stuck bugging out in the worst of weather, my sleeping bag will be warm enough.

Although the sleeping bag is the most important piece of equipment, it’s not the only one. Sleeping bags tend to crush on the bottom side from your body weight. The Furnace is designed with that in mind, having a special padding on the bottom side to compensate for that; but if your bag doesn’t have something like that, you need something to insulate you from the ground. Otherwise, cold ground could draw off your body heat.

The easiest way to solve that problem is with an inflatable or hard foam sleeping pad, like the ALPS Mountaineering Lightweight Self-Inflating Air Pad. That provides extra insulation between your body and the ground, eliminating that problem. Another way is to add a rescue blanket beneath the sleeping bag. If you’re going to do this, don’t use the thin emergency blankets, but rather a heavy-duty one.

You’re also going to need a good backpacking tent to keep the rain off of your sleeping bag. A double walled tent, like the Coleman Holligan 2 will go a long way towards keeping your warmer. The outer tent cover is actually a rain cover, but it also creates an air space between it and the inner cover, helping to keep heat in.

Build Your Fire Right

You’re definitely going to want a fire to help keep you warm on those cold nights. Building a fire in wet weather can be extremely tricky, but you can still do it, if you watch out for a couple of details. First of all, make sure that your fire is sheltered from the rain. Building it under some overhanging tree branches will go a long way towards making sure it doesn’t get doused by the rain. Also, make sure that it’s in a place where it won’t be flooded out. Raise it up off the ground a couple of inches, with a bed of rocks, so that it won’t be washed out.

Placing a large rock or building a pile of rocks behind your fire will help heat your tent, by reflecting the heat from the fire back to you. The fire will heat the rocks, which will then radiate the heat. That heat will go straight out towards you, helping to keep you and your tent warm.

Stack your extra firewood near the fire, so that the heat from the fire can help to dry it out. You’ll also want to cover it, so that the rain can’t fall on it. Dry wood will give you a much better fire, with much less smoke to advertise your position.

Sound off in the comments below on other ways you have used to stay warm while out in the wild.



How to Get Your Spouse On-Board with Prepping

How to Get Your Spouse On-Board with Prepping

How to Get Your Spouse On-Board with PreppingThere’s a very common problem that many people run into when they first become interested in prepping; that’s the problem of their spouse, or in the case of those who aren’t married, their “significant other” as the politically correct term has come to be known. It’s rare that a couple both develop an interest in prepping at the same time. Usually, one sees what’s happening in the world around them and decides they need to do something, while the other has their eyes closed to all that.

Even worse than having a spouse who’s eyes are closed to the problems we all face is having one that wants their eyes closed. Maybe they just don’t like to think about anything bad happening, but more likely they are counting on Big Brother government to take care of them. They haven’t realized that the government has a very poor track record of doing that.

Prepping without your spouse can be an especially challenging proposition. Not only does it help to work together on doing all that needs to be done, but there’s the problem of money. Spending money on stockpiling food and other supplies, when your spouse isn’t in agreement, can become a bone of contention in any marriage, especially when spending that money means that you might not be able to do something else that your spouse wants to do.

It’s clearly better to have both partners on-board with prepping. But how do you get that reluctant spouse going? What can you do, if they just don’t see things the way you do?

Be Realistic

First of all, be realistic. You’re not going to make any headway talking about the Yellowstone Supervolcano blowing up the country or the Earth’s axis shifting. Get them on board with seeing the risk of hurricanes or winter blizzards; any local weather problem which could leave you without power or the ability to go to the grocery store. Once they are on board with the little disasters, you can gradually work your way up to the bigger ones.

Take their Blinders Off

Part of the reason that your spouse may not see the need to be prepping is that they don’t see the world situation as you do. Maybe you watch the news and they don’t. If that’s the case, you are much more likely to see the risks that we face every day than they are. Educate them, so that they will know why there’s a good reason to be a prepper.

Be Reasonable

Don’t try to go off the deep end, selling your home and moving to a bunker, hidden in the middle of nowhere. Decide on doing preps that are in alignment with the risks you are talking about, not an end of the world scenario. As they come on board, you can gradually up the ante, looking at bigger risks and what you should do to be ready for them.

Be Patient

You’ve got to realize that it took time for you to get into the prepping mindset and it’s going to take time for them to do so as well. You can’t expect that the conclusion which you reached after months of thinking about prepping is going to hit them in one short conversation. You’ll probably need a number of conversations, each of which helps them come to understand the problems that you see.

Be Subtle

There are things you can do to start prepping, which don’t necessarily look like prepping, especially if you can attribute them to some other reason. Planting a vegetable garden can be because you don’t like the idea of GMOs, instead of for prepping. Then you can start canning, to preserve what you’ve grown. Put in a rainwater collection system, as a way of saving money on watering the garden and avoiding putting all that chlorine in the garden. Things like this make sense in a non-prepper world, but help you to be prepared as well.

You can also buy some survival equipment, without the need to make it look like prepping. It could be emergency equipment for the car or camping equipment, rather than bug out equipment. Buying a gun or a hunting knife makes sense for hunting or just shooting. You don’t need to shove it in their face that you are prepping, just work on it subtly.

Are you having trouble getting your spouse or significant other on-board with prepping? If so, share your situation and/or comments below.


Where and How to Find Flint

Where and how to find flint

“Where and How to Find Flint”

Knowing where and how to find flint is a useful skill to have in a survival situation.

The two main uses of flint are :

  1. For starting fires by striking it together with steel or iron and
  2. “knapping” it (chipping it) to make arrowheads and knives.

While most people probably won’t need these skills in a survival situation, you can never be sure. It’s better to know and not need that knowledge, than to find yourself in a situation where you wish you knew.

Flint is actually a form of quartz. It occurs naturally in sedimentary rock, often as nodules in chalks and limestone. It can be black, green, white, dark grey or brown in color and is typified by a glassy or waxy appearance. It’s not as glassy as obsidian, but rather more like a dull glass. It fractures along crystalline lines, so it will pretty much always have sharp edges.

You can find flint almost anywhere that you can find stone.

While some areas of the country are more likely to have it than others, the crushed rock used to pave dirt roads often has some flint mixed in. It can also be found mixed in with other types of stone in streambeds. 

New construction sites will often unearth flint while excavating, so if you’re trying to find flint, be sure to check out any construction sites near your home.

Since flint fractures, it is important to find flint that is not shattered, but rather solid pieces.

This can be difficult, as water can get into the flint through air holes and expand when it freezes, causing the flint to crack. Flint that is uncovered during excavation for a building won’t have this problem, as it hasn’t been exposed to freezing.

Pieces of flint may not be obvious when you pick them up. In that case, you may need to break the stone open to see what’s inside. You can do this by using a larger piece of hard stone as a hammer and striking across the edge of the stone you want to break. If it is flint, this should cause a piece to flake off, allowing you to see what’s inside.

Identifying flint is easy.

Start with its appearance; if it doesn’t fracture leaving a waxy looking surface, it’s not flint. I remember hearing a survival instructor say,

“If you’re looking for flint, pick up a likely looking stone and strike it with the back of your knife. If it sparks, you found flint.”

That advice still works just as good today, as it did years ago. While there are some other types of stone which will spark when struck on a knife, only flint has the right appearance, as well as sparking when struck against a piece of steel.

If you’re looking for flint that you’re planning on using for knapping, you want to be picky about the pieces you save. Look at them closely, preferably with a magnifying glass, to see if there are any cracks air bubbles. Those air bubbles will cause the flint to fracture in ways you don’t want, so only save stones which don’t have air bubbles in them.

Have you every set out to try and find flint? If so, where did you find the flint and how long did it take?

(Comment below)

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