Being Prepared = Redundancy
You can ask my husband how I feel about redundancy when it comes to be prepared for any kind an emergency. He lovingly teases me about the myriad ways we can start a fire. Beyond having waterproof & stormproof matches, we have an assortment of different kinds of magnesium strikers and magnifying glasses, as well as fire starter sticks and various medium to use as tinder.
Just as having redundancy for starting a fire, is important, I believe in also having a variety of ways to heat water or cook. In a power-outage it’s easy enough to say, “I’ll just throw some food on the grill.” But what if you are in the middle of a blizzard, or a hurricane? If you go camping as often as we do, you know that Mother Nature does not always cooperate with your plans.
We also have a variety of ways to cook and heat water
Depending upon our needs and where we are at the time, we have options. For home use, of course there’s the grill. For setting up in a campground we have the two-burner camp stove that runs on white gas. There’s the small one burner lightweight backpacking camp stove that also runs on white gas – extremely efficient. And in case we run out of liquid fuel, we have the Bio-Lite Campstove that uses bio fuels, such as wood pellets, twigs, pinecones, cardboard, etc.
But What About Something Safe for Indoors?
But what about something I can use in the house during a power outage that will allow me to heat some water or a can of soup? I personally don’t want to use liquid fuels inside (and various fumes can be dangerous). And the Bio-Lite Camp stove creates a pretty healthy fire that, although safe for indoors fume-wise, would be a bit over-kill (read dangerous) for short-term indoor needs.
I recently found the perfect solution for $5 at a flea market.
It’s what they call a Folding Sterno Camp Stove. There are all types of varieties out there and I plan to check out a few more to see which one performs the best. The one I found holds a sterno can underneath with a large grate on top that will support a cooking pan. The reason I was excited about getting this unit is that I make my own sterno-type fuel, called Buddy Burners, using paraffin and cardboard. They are great for heating up foods or boiling water, but I needed a way to set my pan over the Buddy Burner. Some people use bricks on three sides and create a ‘stove’ of sorts, which will work, but is cumbersome and what if I don’t have any bricks handy? This little stove is perfect for my needs in that easily holds one of my homemade tuna-can-sized Buddy Burners underneath, and the large grate on top will support a pan large enough to boil a cup of water for a dehydrated meal pouch or heat a can of soup. I can safely use it indoors, using common sense precautions, such as setting the unit on top of my metal stove or other heat-proof surfaces. Always be safe using an open flame indoors! It also folds flat for easy storage. An important point for my limited storage space.
I’ve seen videos of people using these little stoves out in the wilderness and burning wood in them, instead of using the canned sterno fuel. Although these stoves are heavy, compared to the lightweight stoves made for backpacking, I can see why some would prefer them to having to carry fuel canisters.
This little camp stove is by no means a long-term solution for cooking. It’s small, and depending upon the fuel you use, will take some time to bring a cup of water to boil or heat food. But in an emergency situation it could be a real life-saver as it would allow you to boil water for safe drinking. And nothing makes a scary scenario easier to deal with than having some warm food to eat, or a hot cup of tea.
I think it’s a great addition for my emergency preparedness supplies here at home. And at under $10 a piece, I think I might add one to each of our car emergency bags as well.