Choosing an Emergency Stove

Dear Black Bag Confidential Reader,

North America was hit with over 160 natural disasters in 2016 — the highest number in 36 years. In the aftermath of a natural disaster, while essential services are still unavailable, you may be forced to fend for yourself. Two of the most important things you will need to provide for yourself are food and water. Good thing there is one survival tool that can help you with both — a survival stove.

With a survival stove, you can cook or reheat your food and boil water for drinking. Hot food and sanitized water are crucial in helping you and your loved ones prevent disease. And depending on your needs, there are survival stoves these days that can even charge your cellphone.

So here are a few things to consider before purchasing a survival stove of your own.

1. Outdoor vs. Indoor

You can find a good selection of indoor stoves in retail stores or online, but you should always read the fine print before purchasing. Do not burn anything that could release harmful fumes into your home.

Wood-burning stoves, for example, can emit dangerous levels of carbon monoxide if they are not properly ventilated and maintained. If you have one in your home, make sure it’s safe to use before you light a fire.

If you choose to cook outside, use extreme caution with open-flame stoves. Smoke is visible during all hours of the day, and you don’t want uninvited guests joining you for dinner. Find a stove that suits your cooking style and quickly heats enough food for you and your family.

The good news is there are several reliable brands to choose from — check out stoves made by Coleman and Camp Chef.

2. Portable vs. Stationary

Stationary stoves produce more heat, cook more food and allow you to more effectively monitor the temperature. Portable stoves often get packed away with survival gear, but a stationary stove is always out and in use. Those who use a stationary survival stove on a regular basis are more likely to have well-maintained equipment and a sufficient amount of fuel on hand at any given time.

If you’re forced to evacuate your home on short notice, portable stoves are great because they are typically lightweight and easy to carry. Portable stoves take a little more time to cook a meal, but they are great in a pinch. Add a portable stove to your bug-out bag so you can cook food wherever you end up.

One portable stove I recommend is the Coleman Single-Burner Propane Stove. This stove is easy to use, clean and store.

3. Fuel

Find a stove that uses fuel you are familiar with. For an indoor stove, I like to use kerosene. Kerosene is one of the safest and most affordable fuels you can find, and it has a long shelf life. It does have a faint odor to it, though.

That being said, you can also find quality propane gas stoves, if that’s what you prefer. Whatever you decide, you’ll need to store enough fuel for at least a month. Storing fuel is important, but it must be done safely. Know the shelf life of your fuel and check it often.

Some portable stoves require wood for fuel. Just be sure to inspect the size of these stoves. Portable wood-burning stoves are often smaller than they appear, which means you’ll have to spend time chopping wood into small pieces before you can start a fire, and the fire might be too small to create much heat.

4. Water

This is a secondary consideration, but to save time and fuel, you should also consider how you plan on acquiring clean, safe drinking water during a disaster. As I’ve mentioned, you can use a survival stove to boil water as a backup, but I highly recommend having a water filter in your bug-out bag to use as a primary method of purifying water.

I am 100% confident in the water filter I use. I can put filtered water into a pan on my survival stove for cleaning forks and baby bottles. This is a good way to save time so I don’t have to wait while I boil water.

With all this in mind, another choice for an emergency stove is Coghlan’s folding stove. This stove is fueled by cans of ethanol gel. Typically, ethanol gel cans last for three hours, but you can find chafing fuels online that are easier to open and more affordable and last twice as long. The fuel and stove are lightweight and simple to use. The stove has four walls to keep the flame lit in the wind for outdoor use, and it is even safe to use indoors.

A folding stove will allow for a variety of different fuels to burn — wood, paper, cloth, etc. ­— so if you run out of gel cans, you can use these items as backup fuel options. The metal also keeps heat contained while supporting the food you’re cooking.

In August 2016, Louisiana experienced flooding that damaged 134,000 homes. As one survivor was quoted, “You keep looking around for the cavalry… Then you’re like, s***, there is no cavalry.”

In a disaster, relief efforts can take days or even weeks to reach everyone affected. It’s up to you to provide for your family, and survival stoves are a great tool to help yours with food, water and warmth.

Survival stoves come in a large variety of sizes and styles, making it easy to find one that will suit your family’s needs. Review this list to determine the type of stove that will best benefit you, and prepare by picking one up today.

Stay safe,

Jason Hanson

Jason Hanson

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