Are You Really Prepared For Grid-Down Cooking?

Welcome to this week’s newsletter, brought to you by former Force Recon Marine, Chris Graham’s 30-10 At-Home Pistol Training Program–Guaranteed to put you in the top 10% of all shooters in the next 30 days.  Learn more now by going >HERE<

It’s not always easy deciding on the best alternative cooking device.  There is a lot that needs to be considered, such as whether portability is important to your circumstances, and if cooking odors need to be considered if you live in an urban location.  There’s always the issue of fuel, and as discussed in an earlier post, Why You Can’t Depend Upon Natural Gas To Heat Or Cook With.

So, today we’re going to hit the problem from both angles…and give you ideas on both “stuff” you might want to have on hand for cooking after the lights go out as well as some high leverage TTPs (Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures) from David that you can use, regardless of what gear you’ve got.  

Let’s start with gear.

Many alternative cooking devices such as camp stoves are dependent upon a fuel source, so although they’re handy, easy to operate and affordable, it can leave people preparing for a potential disaster with a nagging feeling that a crisis could outlast fuel reserves.

The same nagging question applies when running a generator to power an electric range. . . will the fuel last?

(David’s note:  Please, please, PLEASE don’t even consider cooking with an electric range if you’re running on anything other than grid power.  I can’t definitively say the numbers, but am quite confident in saying that you’d be better off putting fuel in an alcohol burner or a multi-fuel stove than putting it in a generator and using the generator to power an electric burner.)

Let’s start with the “master of the obvious” option.  An outdoor fire pit is one solution, but if you live in a dense population where firing up a pot of beans could easily draw unwelcome visitors, this approach may not be the best solution.   

Luckily, the first three cooking alternatives listed below are affordable and reliable and will see you through a protracted crisis, no matter how long it may last.   

Rocket Stoves will burn wood, biomass or charcoal and are extremely efficient.  My favorite is the EcoZoom Versa.  It’s rugged, and it emits very little smoke (and you won’t be announcing mealtime to strangers),  and as long as you have good ventilation, you will be able to use it indoors.  This is a serious stove that uses refractory metal and incorporates a cast iron top in its design.  The cost is around $130 and  Amazon offers free shipping.  

Eco Zoom isn’t the only maker of rocket stoves.  Perhaps you have a particular favorite rocket stove you’d like to recommend?   The important thing about a wood/biomass burning rocket stove is not having to worry about your fuel supply should an emergency be long-lasting.  Plus, a rocket stove can heat a small area of a home or cabin (cordon off an area with floor-to-ceiling blankets to contain the heat).

If you like do-it-yourself projects check out How To Make A Rocket Stove that’s made from a metal coffee can.

Hobo Stoves are designed to burn charcoal, wood, or wood scraps.  They are not quite as fuel efficient as a rocket stove, but they are designed to be lightweight and portable–which makes them ideal for stowing in a backpack for emergency use. 

To make one yourself, check out  Mother Earth News, How to Make a Hobo Stove by Russ Mohney. 

Solar Ovens are portable and can reach temperatures of up to 400 degrees.  Provided  you live in an location that gets plenty of sunshine, they solve the problem of fuel. Another benefit of a solar oven is that they don’t generate high-level cooking odors that some other alternative cooking devices do.  Their drawback is the obvious need need for sunlight, meaning during cloudy or darker times, an alternative cooking method must be planned for. Their temperature is not easily controlled, so cooking with them takes practice and may require modifying recipes. 

You can build your own DIY solar oven. Visit Ivan’s Place article, Making A Solar Oven  

Camp Stoves can be as simple as a one-burner model, or as fancy as a Camp Chef with dual burners with a small oven– but they’re not cheap at around $176.00

Some camp stoves run on gel alcohol or hex blocks, some models use methanol, while other models   are pressurized and run on Coleman fuel, paraffin or even gasoline.  What camp stoves have in common is the need for a good supply of fuel, which in a short-term emergency does not pose a problem.  But if a crisis lasts for months, you’ll thank yourself if you plan ahead with a hobo stove, rocket stove or a solar oven backup.

Propane Stoves are popular with homesteaders and cabin owners who aren’t hooked up to the grid.  A large 300 to 500 gallon propane tank will last for months, a year, or more, depending on whether propane will also be used for heating and refrigeration.    

Wood-Burning Cook Stoves are popular with preppers who have a ready supply of trees nearby and  they are often the choice of preppers who plan to survive in place.  Some models of wood-burning cook stoves come with a water reservoir that will provide hot water for bathing and general cleanup.  A wood cook stove will heat a cabin or a portion of a larger home when a living/sleeping area is cordoned off with floor to ceiling blankets to keep in the heat they generate.   With a wood cook stove, it is also possible to do canning, but it will take practice.

The drawback to wood-burning cook stoves is the need to gather, haul and chop firewood and the smoke and cooking odors they generate.  Wood cook stoves must be vented outdoors and installed to code for insurance purposes. Unless you are comfortable with the idea of firing up a wood cook stove on a hundred degree summer day, you will want to have a cooking alternative in the summer months! 

Wood-Burning Heat Stoves can be used as an alternative cooking method with the use of a cast iron dutch oven when placed over hot coals. The top of the stove can be used to heat water and meals, and if you are interested in generating hot water, some wood-burning heat stoves come with water reservoirs. The negative of wood-burning cook stoves is no different than with wood-burning cook stoves; cooking or heating with wood requires the hard work of tree-feeling, hauling the wood, and chopping it, which is physically demanding. As already mentioned, store firewood out of sight.  A wood-burning heat stove is not your friend on hot days! Have a work-around for days when the mercury climbs.   

Fireplaces are not the most efficient way to heat a home, but if you add a wood-burning fireplace  insert, they suddenly become powerhouses. To cook in a fireplace, it’s easiest to use cast iron cookware placed over hot coals. The negatives have already been mentioned; the physical demands of gathering and chopping wood, the need for a reliable source of seasoned wood, the heat a fireplace generates on hot days, and the smoke and cooking odors that a fireplace generates. Firewood storage should be kept out of sight of passersby to avoid its being “liberated.”  

BBQ’s can be used as an alternative cooking method provided they aren’t used indoors! BBQ’s emit high levels of CO even when indoor spaces are properly ventilated. If you live in a rural location where the cooking smells and smoke coming from an outdoor  BBQ isn’t an issue, they can be used in a pinch. Be sure to set aside several filled back-up propane tanks.

A higher leverage approach to grid-down cooking (from David).

As we’ve talked about before, skills trump gear.  Gear’s great, and the recommendations given above are great, but skills based on solid tactics, techniques, and procedures will win out every time.  I’ve written in depth about the following techniques in the Journal Of Tactics And Preparedness, so I’m just going to touch on them here.

1.  For solar cooking, purpose built solar ovens are good, but satellite dishes covered in mylar or aluminum duct tape or a fresnel lens from a big screen TV will concentrate the sun’s energy and boil water INCREDIBLY fast.  As a bonus, there’s no smoke.  Get a roll of aluminum or mylar duct tape off of Amazon now so you’ve got it if you need it.

2.  I’ve written about enhanced Dakota Firepits in the Journal, but a regular Dakota firepit is a great stealth method of heating and cooking.


The hotter (and dryer) a fire is, the less visible smoke you’ll get.  This design traps the radiant heat from the fire and some of it reflects back, making the fire chamber quite hot.  As the smoke exits up through the throat, it sucks fresh air down the snorkel tube.  This air comes in with a certain amount of velocity which creates turbulence and gets O2 throughout the fire chamber.  The end result is hotter and more complete combustion and less visible smoke.

Want to increase the efficiency?  Line the pit with flat rocks.  Want to increase the efficiency exponentially?  Use the enhanced firepit design that I originally got from Ox that I shared with Journal subscribers >HERE<.

3.  Boil water instead of “cooking food”  When possible, boil water, take the water off your heat source, and heat your food in the water in a covered container.  You won’t get a “grilled” or “fried” taste, but you will limit your smell signature.  If you’re cooking meat this way, the smaller the pieces and the more surface area, the faster they’ll cook.

4.  Get Stoned.  Hot stoned, that is.  If you need to cook stuff longer than your pot of boiling water stays hot, one thing you can do instead of putting the pot back on the stove is to heat up stones and put them in the water to raise the temperature back up.

5.  Pressure.    If you’re at home and have a pressure cooker, use it.  The increased pressure will reduce cooking times and reduce your smell signature.

6.  Bury it.  Whether you’re cooking a pig for a luau, hobo cooking (cooking in enclosed aluminum foil), or Dutch oven cooking,  if you’re trying to do it in stealth mode, do it underground and let the dirt and other coverings absorb the smell and smoke.  In simplest terms, make your fire in a pit, get hot coals, put your food in, cover it up and let it cook.

For more information on smoking, check out our previous post, Smoking and Curing Wild Game, Fish and Fowl .

Have you decided which cooking alternative fits best with your needs, and did concerns over fuel supplies play a part in your decision?  What other alternative gear and TTPs do you have for cooking after the lights go out?  Please post your comments below.

God bless and stay safe,

David Morris and Survival Diva







Recent Ebola Developments: What We Need To Know

Welcome to this week’s newsletter, brought to you by former Force Recon Marine, Chris Graham’s 30-10 At-Home Pistol Training Program–Guaranteed to put you in the top 10% of all shooters in the next 30 days.  Learn more now by going >HERE<

Since the recent post, Ebola: How It Spread & Ways To Protect Yourself, there have been new developments and reports on the Ebola virus that we need to be aware of.  Before we get started, it should be pointed out that the CDC and the WHO continue to assure the public that it’s extremely unlikely the Ebola virus will reach the U.S., and should it, there are steps we can take now to protect ourselves and our loved ones which are included in this post.

Here are some of the developments that are being reported on, not all of it discussed on the 6 o’clock news:

President to Send Military Assets to Combat Ebola

As reported in the Huffington Post article dated September 7th, 2014, written by Elsie Foley, Obama: U.S. Must Act On Ebola To Prevent ‘Serious Danger’, the U.S. will be sending military personnel and equipment to affected Ebola outbreak regions in an attempt to get the virus under control.  The following is an excerpt:

Although Ebola isn’t a threat to Americans now, President Barack Obama said in an interview that aired Sunday that it could become one if the U.S. fails to help prevent its spread in Africa.

The virus has killed a suspected 1,800 people in West Africa, according to the Centers for Disease Control.  No confirmed cases have been reported in the U.S., but three Americans who were infected in Africa have been brought back back to the U.S. for treatment.

Obama told NBC’s “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd that the U.S. needs to send military assets to set up isolation units and equipment to help contain the spread of Ebola. He said it will still take “months” before the problem is controlled.

“If we don’t make that effort now and this spreads, not just through Africa but other parts of the world, there’s the prospect then that the virus mutates, it becomes more easily transmittable, and then it could be a serious danger to the United States,” the president said.

* * *

What wasn’t discussed was how will our military men be protected from becoming infected by the Ebola virus.

Our military takes an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, to bear true faith and allegiance to the same, and to obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over them, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Should this include fighting the Ebola virus?  And if so, will there be procedures put into place to protect our brave soldiers from harm and to safeguard that the virus is not inadvertently transmitted stateside.

In light of the rapid spread of this latest Ebola outbreak,  it is concerning that flights in and out of the affected areas are being allowed when the Ebola virus continues to spread, especially in light of the following CDC advisory.

CDC Advises Airline Personnel About Airborne Droplets

The Interim Guidance about Ebola Virus Infection for Airline Flight Crews, Cleaning Personnel, and Cargo Personnel advisory by the CDC advises that droplets expelled into the air by sneezing, coughing or talking should be contained with a face mask for anyone showing symptoms of the Ebola virus during flight.

It is also advised that the use of compressed air not be used by cleaning crews, as doing so has the potential to spread infectious material through the air.

Concerns Over Airborne Ebola

As reported by science Reporter Matt McGrath in a November 15th, 2012 report Growing concerns over ‘in the air’ transmissions of Ebola, Canadian scientists have shown that the deadliest form of the Ebola virus could be transmitted by air between species.

The following is an excerpt:

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the infection gets into humans through close contact with the blood, secretions, organs and other bodily fluids from a number of species including chimpanzees, gorillas and forest antelope.

The fruit bat has long been considered the natural reservoir of the infection. But a growing body of experimental evidence suggests that pigs, both wild and domestic, could be a hidden source of Ebola Zaire – the most deadly form of the virus.

Now, researchers from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and the country’s Public Health Agency have shown that pigs infected with this form of Ebola can pass the disease on to macaques without any direct contact between the species.

In their experiments, the pigs carrying the virus were housed in pens with the monkeys in close proximity but separated by a wire barrier.  After eight days, some of the macaques were showing clinical signs typical of Ebola and were euthanised.

One possibility is that the monkeys became infected by inhaling large aerosol droplets produced from the respiratory tracts of the pigs.

Updates On The Spread Of The Ebola Virus

As reported by Abby Ohlheiser on August 29th, 2014 of The Washington Post in the article The Ebola virus has spread to Senegal as the deadliest outbreak in history gets worse, 20,000 people could eventually be infected.  Here is an excerpt from the article:

As the Ebola outbreak worsens — with the death toll spiraling and the World Health Organization warning that 20,000 people could eventually be infected — another West African country has confirmed that the deadly virus has crossed its borders.

Senegal confirmed its first case of Ebola on Friday, according to a statement from Health Minister Awa Marie Coll Seck. The patient, a Guinean national who traveled to Senegal, is in quarantine.

The news brings the number of countries impacted by the outbreak up to five: Sierra Leone, Liberia and Senegal’s neighbor, Guinea, have seen the bulk of the 3,069 reported Ebola infections in the region, according to the WHO. More than half of those infected have died. The virus also spread to Nigeria through a traveling Liberian-American man. A separate outbreak of a different strain of Ebola has been reported in Congo.

There are conflicting numbers being reported, but The WHO estimates that 4,000 have been infected with the Ebola virus, leading to 2,000 deaths.  Liberia has been the hardest hit.

Food shortages are being reported across Ebola affected areas. On Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014, 3 News reported in a video and accompanying article, Hungry Ebola victim escapes Liberia that hunger caused one man who tested positive for the Ebola virus to escape a treatment center in search of food.

The following is an excerpt from that article which expounds upon the ongoing food shortage issues for the regions affected by the virus:

There were chaotic scenes at an outdoor market in Liberia after an Ebola victim escaped a treatment center in search of food.

He was seen wandering through the crowded market picking up bread. Eventually health workers in full protective outfits arrived and attempted to apprehend the fugitive patient.

The man, who did not appear visibly ill, resisted attempts to take him back to the treatment complex.

A Doctors Without Borders worker – with no protective gear apart from a pair of disposable gloves – helped to keep the angry locals at a distance, before also unsuccessfully trying to negotiate with the patient.

Eventually the man was carried, struggling, into the back of a vehicle and driven away. Everyone who came into contact with him is potentially in danger of contracting the deadly disease.

Locals say it is not the first time an Ebola patient has escaped from the treatment facility.

Liberia is the country worst-affected by the worst outbreak ever recorded, with almost 700 of the 1,552 reported deaths.

Labor shortages and disrupted cross-border trade caused by the deadly Ebola outbreak have sparked “grave food security concerns” in the worst-hit countries, the United Nations says.

Restrictions on movement in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone has led to panic buying, food shortages and severe price hikes, especially in towns and cities, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization said on Tuesday.

“Access to food has become a pressing concern for many people in the three affected countries and their neighbors” said Bukar Tijani, FAO Regional Representative for Africa.

“With the main harvest now at risk and trade and movements of goods severely restricted, food insecurity is poised to intensify in the weeks and months to come.

“The situation will have long-lasting impacts on farmers’ livelihoods and rural economies.”

At current infection rates, the WHO fears it could take six to nine months and at least US$490 million (NZ$588 million) to bring under control, by which time over 20,000 people could be affected.

Quarantine zones imposed in the epicenter of the outbreak straddling the three countries will lead to food shortages for “large numbers” of people, the FAO said, with the main harvest season for rice and maize just weeks away.

How We Can Prepare

There is no crystal ball that can tell us if Ebola will reach U.S. shores. Based upon the assurances of the CDC and the WHO, it isn’t likely. But, taking a few cautionary steps will enable you stay out of harms way should it come to the U.S. is prudent.

  • Many of you have gone through the Survive In Place Urban Survival Course and remember Lesson 5 on Pandemic Viruses.  MOST of the strategies and treatments, including vitamin D, grapefruit seed extract, essential oils, adequate sleep, and more that prevent people from getting the flu will also work to prevent other viruses, like Ebola.
  • (David’s note:  I am a firm believer in essential oils.  They saved my life when I had drug resistant pneumonia almost 8 years ago and have knocked out countless viruses and bugs in our family in the years since.  To learn more about the oils I use, click >HERE<.  If you don’t have time to watch the video, just click the big yellow button underneath it.)
  • Have several months of food, water, prep goods and medical supplies on hand.  In a very worst-case scenario, it may be necessary to isolate until the danger has passed.  This would include not coming into contact with others. Symptoms of Ebola infection can take as long as 21 days to show after a victim contracts the virus. It is said that until symptoms have presented, the infected are not contagious.  It should also be pointed out that not much is understood about the Ebola virus, and different strains have been reported.
  • If Ebola should be reported to be airborne, it would be best to have N100 face masks on hand, as well as antibacterial soap, protective eye ware, nitrile disposable gloves, and Tyvek suits for those treating anyone ill (while keeping the patient isolated from others in a household).  Consider purchasing supplies now , as the suggested items may become difficult to obtain if an outbreak occurs in the U.S.  
  • Although it hasn’t been reported that the Ebola virus has become airborne, particulates from a sneeze, a cough, or talking can expose others to the virus, therefore the CDC recommends that a protective mask be worn by anyone who is infected.  It is just as important for those who are not infected to wear face masks, protective gloves and protective eye ware when in close proximity to others, or when in close proximity to a family member or member of a group who may have been exposed or exhibits symptoms, as the virus can spread through contact with mucus membranes.  It is possible for the virus to remain on surfaces for up to several days (this includes bedding).
  • Symptoms of Ebola per the CDC are as follows:
    • Fever (greater than 38.6°C or 101.5°F)
    • Severe headache
    • Muscle pain
    • Diarrhea
    • Vomiting
    • Abdominal (stomach) pain

    Symptoms may appear anywhere from 2 to 21 days after exposure to ebolavirus, although 8-10 days is most common.

Have you been following the Ebola outbreak and are you preparing for any eventuality?  What’s your opinion about military involvement to help combat the growing Ebola outbreak?  Please sound off by commenting below!

God bless and stay safe,

David Morris and Survival Diva


Heads Up! Today’s X-Class Flare Could Interrupt Power Grids, Satellites & Radio Transmissions

Welcome to this week's newsletter, brought to you by former Force Recon Marine, Chris Graham's 30-10 At-Home Pistol Training Program--Guaranteed to put you in the top 10% of all shooters in the next 30 days.  Learn more now by going >HERE< Friday's post is an update on the Ebola virus that you won't want to miss, but in the meantime, we wanted to post this important heads-up about an X-Class flare that occurred today.  We've managed to dodge several powerful X-Class Flares over the past … Continue reading...

Thanks Everyone! Here’s The Final Movie List, With a Few Book Recommendations As Well

Original Top 20 Apocalyptic/Survival Movie Recommendations A Boy And His Dog American Blackout--TV miniseries Amerika--TV miniseries--difficult to find--check You Tube Children Of Men I Am Legend/The Omega Man 1971-second remake and a classic/The Last Man On Earth 1964--All 3 films are based on Richard Matheson 1954 novel, titled I Am Legend.  Jericho--TV series On The Beach Red Dawn (1984 Version) The Book Of Eli The Postman The Road The Road Warrior (AKA Mad … Continue reading...

The Farmers’ Almanac Predicts A Brutal Winter: Weather It With These Top 20 Movies

Welcome to this week's newsletter, brought to you by former Force Recon Marine, Chris Graham's 30-10 At-Home Pistol Training Program--Guaranteed to put you in the top 10% of all shooters in the next 30 days.  Learn more now by going >HERE< A prepper's to-do list is always long.  But in-between filling storage shelves and surviving what is purported to be a frigid winter, we deserve a little down time.  And what better way to do that than sitting down to a movie that reminds us why we … Continue reading...

Keeping It Clean

Welcome to this week's newsletter, brought to you by former Force Recon Marine, Chris Graham's 30-10 At-Home Pistol Training Program--Guaranteed to put you in the top 10% of all shooters in the next 30 days.  Learn more now by going >HERE< It's rare when a movie gets it right when trying to portray the reality of grid-down.  In most post-apocalyptic movies, the actors looked like they just stepped out of the shower, blew their hair dry, and their pearly whites are. . . well, pearly … Continue reading...

Smooth out and speed up your drawstroke, transitions, and visual acuity

Yesterday, we talked about using a metronome in your dry fire practice to work on smoothing out your trigger control.  Today, we're going to cover 3 more metronome drills that will smooth out and speed up your drawstroke, transitions, and ability to focus on the front sight to a level that you may not have thought was possible. 2.  Use the metronome for your drawstroke.  This is an incredibly high octane drill that will do more to speed up your drawstroke in less time than any other drill I … Continue reading...

Integrating Dry Fire & Live Fire with a Metronome (part 1 of 2)

Ox of Tactical Firearms Training Secrets and Dry Fire Training Cards. One of the biggest I get about dry fire training is whether or not it will carry over to live fire training.  Specifically, they bring up the fact that you can squeeze the trigger faster when doing dry fire than when you're doing live fire and have recoil to contend with. Today, I'm going to show you how to integrate your dry fire training and live fire and help you smooth out and speed up your … Continue reading...

Preparing Bulk Food Storage For Long Shelf Life

Welcome to this week's newsletter, brought to you by former Force Recon Marine, Chris Graham's 30-10 At-Home Pistol Training Program--Guaranteed to put you in the top 10% of all shooters in the next 30 days.  Learn more now by going >HERE< Bulk food storage is the most affordable approach to long term food storage.  Buying beans, rice, and other staples like wheat, flour and sugar in bulk costs less than half of what the fancy packaged mini-versions that sit on grocers' shelves cost, and … Continue reading...

5 Important lessons from the Ferguson Shootings

Emotions are still running high following the August 9th shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO, just outside of St. Louis.  But if you step back a little bit, there have been some incredibly valuable lessons that could just keep you alive if you ever find yourself in a self-defense situation…regardless of whether it’s with a firearm or if you’re empty handed. They span the gamut from time distortion, shot placement, self-defense psychology, and more. One thing to keep in mind is that … Continue reading...