Winter: Heating & Fuels

FIREWOOD: Newspaper Logs

Easy: roll up newspaper tight, tie with twine, soak overnight in water (yes, water: makes the paper structure clump up and burn better), then dry thoroughly. Burns like wood.

Careful though - they can generate creosote, which can foul your stovepipe and increase the risk of chimney fire. Also, they can burn hotter than wood, again increasing the risk of fire, since the woodstove/fireplace chimneys are built for a certain heat rating.

FIREWOOD: Pallets For Firewood

If you can get pallets cheap or free, they make adequate firewood. However, you have to watch for nails when you burn them. The nails are those spiral kind and they are hard to remove.

Be sure to clean the nails out of your woodstove quite often, 2 or 3 times a day I would suggest. If the stove has grates in they will begin to warp out of shape because of the nails. I'm not much on science so I can't tell you why the grates do that and what effect the nails have other than causing them to warp, but I do have the practical experience of having to replace the grating before finding out why it was warping.


Free fuel: Wood pallets can be easily disassembled and cut up into small blocks using just a circular saw. Free from most stores and construction sites. One pallet will easily supply enough fuel for three meals a day with one-half hour cooking time per meal for five days. Stack them up out of the way and use when needed. Free.

When burning pallets: You can cook on pallet-wood, but if the wood has been treated, it will not be so good for e.g. grilling meat. Still fine for heating, though.

GASOLINE: Storing Gasoline

Find some used plastic barrels (not steel) they are used to ship and store chemicals. The popular sizes are 30 and 55 gallons. They usually go for $25.00 range. Fill these with fuel and buy a hand pump to fill a smaller container to service your equipment. You can buy a pump from Northern .

LAST but not least use STA-BIL or PRI-G or the Briggs & Stratton gasoline stabilizer in the fuel unless you plan to use it all in month or two; with stabilizers, it stays fresh for better than a year and all it take to restore old fuel condition is add some more PRI-G, check out

Where do you get the barrels? Try manufacture plants, oil distributors, in large cities look in yellow pages under barrels.

Another idea: How about a fuel oil tank that can be purchased at an oil supplier?


Date: Sat, 01 May 1999
From: Tim S

We had recently turned our gas-start fireplace into a gas-log fireplace. The ceramic logs (which are bought seperate from the actual gas element) are designed to not only take a great amount of heat, but they are also designed to absorb and retain the heat long after the gas/fire is turned off. I found by heating them for 1/2 hour to an hour, I can turn off the gas, close the chimney off, and still get hours of carbon monoxide-free heat from fact, I get more heat because the heat doesn't go right up the chimney.

Many people already have wood-burning fireplaces, and others are buying wood-burning stoves. A good suggestion is to also buy a set of ceramic logs in various sizes. Place a couple of the logs on the wood fire until they are heated, then (carefully, and with tongs) remove them and place them on an open fire grate at the opposite end of the room (be cautious in case some wood sparks or ashes are still on may want to fireproof the area with aluminum foil). You will end up getting more efficient heat without the fear of carbon monoxide, with less fear of fire safety, and by using less fuel.

KEROSENE: Kerosene Is Very Safe

Kerosene is quite safe to store, not nearly as flammable as gasoline, and it doesn't break down over time. As a boy, we heated our home extensively with kerosene. Kerosene is very safe.

BILL'S PERSONAL WARNING: I have received an e-mail from an individual whose brother was burned and scarred while playing with kerosene and matches as a child. Though kerosene is not as volitile as gasoline, I would treat and store it with the same care as gasoline. Carefully read the literature that comes with heaters or lamps in which you use kerosene.

Please check the following webpage for more information on kerosene heater safety: 
     CPSC and NKHA Stress Kerosene Heater Safety

PROPANE: Low Cost Propane

The small amount of money I have available for equipment is going into the propane alternative. I bought a small two-burner propane stove at Walmart for about thirty dollars. I had previously bought a small one-burner propane stove from the same source for about $15. (I just loaned that one to a family of seven I came across who are without natural gas or electricity in their home due to extreme poverty. I was also able to make them up a basic packet of groceries from my stored food, which just goes to show how useful food storage is in the interim). I bought a dozen of the propane cylinder for this kind of stove for $10 from Sam's Club, plus 72 hours of canned heat for ten dollars, also from Sam (originally meant for chafing dishes). I am buying larger propane cylinders (20 pounds), one a month, for $20 (new, empty, without the propane), also from Sams.

One of the survival companies I have come across (I think it is B&A out of Oklahoma) offers a handy little device that allows you to run a propane appliance that usually uses the disposable cylinders off of a regular propane tank. That's the next equipment purchase (it is about $15).

I look at the classified ads every day for propane heaters. So far, nothing has turned up, but I have accumulated a list of addresses of places that sell used appliances, and in a week or so I am going to start visiting them looking for a "deal" on two or three propane heaters. My natural gas bills last winter were in excess of $200 a month (and that was closing off half the house and keeping the thermostat below 65) so this next winter I intend to turn the old gravity furnace down to sixty degrees (the lowest it will go) and use the propane heaters. This will tell me approximately how much propane needs to be in tanks in the basement.

In a big pinch, several small candles under a thin aluminum pot will bring the water to boil. Oatmeal can be made in a thermos jug (add hot water and oatmeal). If someone has a lot of sun, solar cookers can be rigged from aluminum foil and cardboard (these were designed for use in refugee camps for cooking beans and rice, largely). A link with plans is on my simple living page.

As for water, if you use 2 liter soda bottles, rinse them, fill them with water, add 8 drops of household unscented chlorine, store them in the dark.


We've had a Vermont Casting Co. "Defiant" model in our living room fireplace ever since the 1970s oil crunch. Recently got a Jotul (Norwegian) stove for our farm fireplace. Can cook on both. Some wood stoves burn pellets, but we prefer those burning real wood because pellets, especially in a Y2K-type emergency, might be hard to get. A Web search-engine like can come up with lots of wood stove articles and woodstove mfrs.' websites, all of which you can learn from.

One more thought: Don't get overwhelmed. As you inform yourself, start making lists, then tackle things one at a time. Festina lente (hasten slowly).

WOODBURNING STOVES: Checking A Used Wood Stove

Through Lehmans I received a book called wood stove cookery it is more than a cookbook she covers installation also. There are also quite a few books at the library all of which should help you find the one that will appeal to you and how you understand stuff if you find one that works look in the bibliography and go from there . Also a book called woodheat which covers cutting and bucking your own wood it will give you approximates for how much you will need for the winter in order to cook all that time. Now as to the stove open the oven door and look on the left hand wall near the top, this is the side closest to the fire box use a flashlight you are checking for fine pin holes caused by heat ashes and condensation, if you have some you may be able to replace it through the manufacturer.

Oh by the way if you can identify your stove you can purchase an owners manual through Lehmans they also have a very informed wood cook stove staff. Check also to see if all of the fire brick is intact and if the grate, the place where they burned either coal or wood is still in good shape sometimes these grates can rust out as it is inevitable, if it is rusted out the owners manual for your stove should have the part No. and an address if not Lehmans to get a new grate. If you are lucky enough to know someone who reconditions these stoves they may be able to find you a grate to fit, this same info goes for the firebrick. The two books listed above will tell you how to cook install a and do some fixing yourself to the stove I hope you enjoy your stove and that you are blessed by the time you spend using it.