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Cooking After the Zombie Apocalypse

Posted on July 18, 2015 by Jeanne Roberts There have been 0 comments

After a storm, or during a blackout, you may suddenly realize how often you take your electric cooking appliances for granted.

It does not even require the above mentioned Zombie Apocalypse. One night in the dark, eating out of cans (if you have a manual can opener), and you suddenly realize that the 1930’s energy revolution – from wood to electricity or gas – was a greater leap than anything since, except possibly space travel. After all, even your cell phone can’t feed you.

It isn’t always an emergency, either. Suppose you, a single person, go on a one-day fishing trip and decide to make it two. You can sleep in your car, no problem, but eating is another story, and even at 20, you no longer consider Skittles a meal.

Then there is the ego factor. If you are with a friend or SO, or even a group, you might want to impress them with your survivalist skills. What better demonstration than building a serviceable cooking fire? Not a simple campfire either, but something that uses less wood to cook much hotter and more reliably than the average blaze, and continues to burn even in a downpour or high wind?

Types of Cooking Devices

Fortunately, there are a number of rough-and-ready solutions to your dilemma. Beginning with dirt, or a hollow stump, and including empty food cans or sections of pipe, you can build a perfectly suitable wood-burning stove to cook your fish or any other food you can find.

Starting with nothing but a cleared area – bare dirt – there is the standard campfire. Even built carefully, it uses a lot of wood, is easily snuffed out, and can set the whole forest on fire. A better solution is a version of the rocket mass stove.

The Dakota Fire Pit

Called a Dakota fire pit in my neck of the woods, this involves a short tunnel (12 to 24 inches long) about six to nine inches below ground connecting surface openings at either end.

Build a small fire in one end of the tunnel, and cook food (on a stick, or a flat stone) at the other. Unlike the simple campfire, rocket mass stoves rely on the fact that fire tends to burn much hotter when it pulls in oxygen from one opening to produce heat delivered to another opening.

In the event of rain or high winds, the Dakota firepit can be shielded at both ends to protect it. A simple flat-rock “tent” over the fire hole, and another flat rock or piece of metal (larger than the opening but not completely flush to the ground) at the opposite end will actually make the fire draw harder and burn hotter.

The Hollow Log Fire

Walking through any mature forest, you are bound to find a hollow stump or log. These make excellent fire pits. All you need to do is set it upright (if it is fallen) and carefully bank it with dirt. Unless it is growing mushrooms or lichen. In that case, look for another.

It may take a few tries to get a fire going, but once you do your stump becomes a “hot stack”, drawing more air down the inside, and forcing combustion gases and smoke up and out. Clear the ground carefully for this type of fire. Your hot stack can turn into an inferno!

The Rocket Stove

You can buy expensive and highly complicated outdoor (and indoor) emergency cooking units, but why would you when the simple ones are so much more fun to make and use? The basic idea behind the rocket stove is a combustion chamber that – like the Dakota firepit – draws oxygen to generate more heat.

In addition to being easy to make, from readily available supplies like empty metal buckets and cans (see image), rocket stoves burn hotter than open fires, thanks to the natural draft they create. They are also easier to control, use a mere handful of fuel, and burn twice as long as an open fire.

Finally, the natural draft means that rocket stoves do not smoke as much as open fires. They also do not produce toxic gases like kerosene, sterno, butane, or charcoal stoves, to name but a few fuel types.

Cooking without Fire

The truly green individual will no doubt argue that burning wood is an ecological no-no. Given the loss of forests in the last 50 years, thanks to the effects of climate change, it’s hard to argue.

If this is your position, by all means buy a solar grill. Just keep in mind that the sun doesn’t shine during a blizzard, tornado, hurricane, or deluge, inside your house, or at night, so you still need to know how to make fire.

This post was posted in Blog and Green Library, Green Tips and DIY, Health and Safety, Save Energy and was tagged with blackout, campfire, cooking, Dakota fire pit, homesteading, RECYCLED-UPCYCLED, solar cooking, storm, survivalist, tin can rocket stove, zombie apocalypse


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