Letter Re: Solid Fuel Stoves


Our home is located in NW Wyoming, at an elevation of just under 6,000 feet. We have operated both a coal stove (Hitzer Model 30-95 EZ-Flo Hopper Stove) and a wood burner (Blaze King Princess Catalytic Model) for a number of years. The wood stove is on the lowest level of our three-story log home, while the coal stove provides emergency heat for our storage/pantry building.

Over the years, we have learned a great many tips and techniques for using solid fuel heaters. The most important step in installing and using one of these stoves is to get the advice and help of a qualified chimney and stove installer. After hiring a couple of “experts” who had no idea what they were doing, we were fortunate to contact one of the best outfits in NW Wyoming. He corrected the glaring and dangerous mistakes of the bumblers and installed … Continue reading

Two Letters Re: Review Of The Jøtul F 50 TL Rangeley


Regarding FT’s review of the Jotul stove and her concern about dealing with removing and cleaning out the ash pan daily as they advance in age, I can only share my own experience as a youngster in a small southern town in the winter. In keeping with her observations about the merchant trusting her to pay for the stovepipe after installation, might I suggest that in regard to respect for elders, you’re not in California anymore? I recall my parents advising (ordering?) me to go down the road to our elderly neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. Ward, every winter day after school to empty and clean their ash pan from what sounds like a similar stove for the same reasons. When I (foolishly) questioned my father as to why I had to do this on top of my regular chores, I was told “Because they can’t and you can, and … Continue reading

Letter Re: Review Of The Jøtul F 50 TL Rangeley


Our primary heat for our home is wood. When I bought our home in 2011, I replaced a used wood stove with a brand new Blaze King model called the King. The company offers the Princess, the Queen, and the King. All three can be regular or catalytic type. Ours is the catalytic version.

We will start burning wood in September and burn through mid-April, and we have done this since we installed the stove. We burn only birch wood that has been split and stacked for a minimum of two years aged. I buy a load of logs that will have 66 logs in the load. The wood supplier guarantees a minimum of five cords in each load; I’ve never had less than six cords. The cost is $880 per load, and we could go and cut it ourselves if we wanted. I’ve seen home heating oil sell … Continue reading

Letter Re: Jøtul Woostove

Dear Hugh,

We have been using a name-brand (Firefox, a UK brand) woodstove at our home in the Greek Islands for about seven years.

We had the baffle at the top of the stove burn through within two years. The manufacturer would not send us a replacement, referring us to a retailer in the UK. They wanted the best part of $100 dollars for the part, plus postage of about the same amount.

Instead, I took the broken part to a local metal shop. They fabricated one out of much thicker steel for $20, and it’s still intact; in fact, it will probably last the stove out.

The firebricks were next. The agent wanted another $100 plus p&p. I got some firebricks locally and cut them to shape with a diamond blade angle grinder for the cost of $20.

We also had the glass break. Agent’s price was $50 plus … Continue reading

Prepare to Be Prepped – Sometimes You Have to Survive Daily Life, by Just-Do-It Jane

Most of us in the U.S. have been touched by winter storms. If you live in the South like I do, then you’ve probably tossed your hands in the air and said to yourself, “Wait a minute! What happened to mild winters?!”

Fortunately for me, my friend “Survival Messenger” has had the foresight to help me (and many others) understand why we should prepare for come-what-may scenarios. She has shared everything from her favorite high-tech gadgets to trusted and ingenious homemade solutions for everyday problems. I’ve been the thrilled recipient of handy buckets and bags filled with so many helpful goodies that it’s like Christmas each time she walks in the door. But her generosity doesn’t end with physical products. Almost every conversation we have contains a gold mine of valuable information I store for future use.  In January and February of one recent year, I came to … Continue reading

The Care and Feeding of a Woodstove

Here, at the Rawles Ranch, we heat our house with a masonry wood stove. Because of the thermal mass of its masonry construction, the stove holds heat and, therefore, provides a much more consistent heating effect; well, that is the case for at least three-fourths of our house. Our stove’s wood box is large, so there is the risk of overheating the living room, especially in the fall and spring, when the afternoons warm up outdoors. In those seasons, we have to be careful to keep the stove’s air vent nearly closed almost all of the time. (However, we are careful to let the stove burn “full rip” for a short time each day, to prevent an accumulation of creosote in the chimney. This is of course no substitute for proper chimney cleaning, which is a lengthy annual chore each spring. I usually do so after the roof is clear … Continue reading

Letter Re: Coal–The Other Black Gold

I was in a bad pickle this summer.  A housing opportunity came by and my family moved to a nice country home in Minnesota farm country.  It’s low traffic, well sheltered from the wind on all sides by mature trees, and safe for outside pets.  There is ample space for a large garden that will produce a surplus while feeding the entire family.  Yet there is one problem.  The house, while well kept, is a century old.  It is not very well insulated, and we knew from the previous tenant that it is difficult to heat in the winter.

The heating system we inherited is a central heating oil furnace.  It is a good backup unit and we did fill the tank completely, but we knew that trying to heat the house that way would take most of our spare money and prohibit us from expanding other necessary … Continue reading

A Contractor’s Preps: Materiel Storage, by Paul W.

I’d like to discuss my perspective on family preparedness, from the perspective of a architectural design and building contractor. There are four categories to this aspect of preparedness:  Materials, Tools, Knowledge and Usefulness

I read a lot of articles about things to stock up on when TEOTWAWKI situations occur.  One thing I do not hear discussed as much is keeping a well stock material shed at your bug out location.  Now keep in mind this is not a Bug out bag list.  The is a Bug Out Destination or Home list.

Coming from the world of Architectural Design and Contracting I have seen buildings become deplorable shacks in no time.  You would be amazed at how quickly a simple water leak can destroy your compound/home.  Maintenance is always key but sometimes Mother Nature will take over on even the best of us.  A downed tree branch, strong wind … Continue reading

Letter Re: Woodstove Chimney-Mounted Ovens

I don’t know about the Baker’s Salute Oven (that another reader asked about), but there is a man in Springville, Utah that makes a similar one that can be mounted on a wood burning stove or on a expedition tent stove.  They are much less expensive as he makes them from repurposed propane cylinders and they are called Grover Chimney Ovens.   They cost $205 instead of $539 like the Bake’s Salute Oven but they are not as large inside.   They are a double-walled oven, so the heated gases from the chimney stack surround the oven itself.  I am not affiliated with, or have any interest in these products other than to say that I want one.  He also makes one that will fit on top of a wall tent stove and he also makes a rocket stove using repurposed propane cylinders. – Brad M.

Help for the New Prepper, by Don H.

 Many of us that have been prepping since before the Internet have welcomed all the new information, knowledge, and interaction with our fellow preppers. But for someone who is just starting out, it can all be overwhelming. So overwhelming that they don’t know where to start. The sad part is that many of them don’t start. They feel that they have to  spend so much money at one time to get all the gear that the experts say they need, that they just can’t do it. This is in large part due to shows like Doomsday Preppers. While I watch these shows regularly, and enjoy them, they are, in my opinion, a two edged sward. They have made many people aware of the need to start preparing for _______(fill in the blank), but they also go so far beyond the basics (where we all started)  that they leave the new … Continue reading

Heating with Wood 101, by J.J.S.

 “If I have seen for miles, it is because I have stood on the shoulders of giants.” – Isaac Newton

This line sums up SurvivalBlog and the contributing writers: it is a community of concerned preppers trying to share knowledge to help each other out.  My focus today is residential heating with wood as your fuel based on my experience heating with my airtight cast iron stove.  Pretty boring topic for the seasoned prepper, but I think there are plenty of new preppers who have recently seen the light and can feel the stuff hitting the fan and hopefully this article will have a little for everyone.  Personally. I am a new prepper and was astounded to learn that this country and world is in one big mess, financially. I bet that a lot of us reading SurvivalBlog are just like me: Newly Aware and Astounded.

If you live … Continue reading

Letter Re: Building Cabins on a Shoestring Budget

Dear CPT Rawles,
Thank you for SurvivalBlog, and best wishes to all of you at the Rawles Ranch.  

My wife and I have written to once before about retreat locale recommendations, and you were so very helpful.  We are, I guess what you could call “late preppers” because we’ve only been working on this for about the last year, & part of that with admittedly a certain skepticism. Time has proven you right however, & now we are doing all we can.  It’s tough to prioritize when you need so much, and everything is like an emergency right NOW kind of need because of so many new regulations, and doors being closed.  I’m sure you understand how all of that is.  We have taken your past advice seriously, and are moving to the Redoubt in June of 2014, hopefully things will hold together that long…  Last year we purchased … Continue reading

Preparedness for Short Term Regional Disasters, by K.H.H.

I know this blog is primarily aimed at folks preparing for a long-term crisis, but I have a unique perspective on living without electricity after a regional disaster that I thought some might find informative. I live in the hills of northwestern New Jersey, and I have lived through three sustained (my definition: 4 or more days each) power outages caused by extreme weather events during the last two years. These power outages were caused, respectively, by Hurricane Irene, 19 inches of wet, heavy snow in October before the trees had lost their leaves, and Hurricane Sandy. I have learned important lessons from each power outage that I would like to share.
A wood stove and lots of firewood are necessities. I live in a county with tens of thousands of acres of forest. Today, however, most folks are too lazy to cut and process firewood. As … Continue reading

Home Power Systems: Energy Efficiency and Conservation, by L.K.O.

(Note: This article is part of a series of feature articles about alternative / sustainable / renewable energy solutions for self-sufficiency. Previous related articles in SurvivalBlog that complement this one are “Home Inverter Comparison: Off Grid and Grid Tied” and Home Power Systems: Micro Hydro. Upcoming article topics in this Home Power Systems series will include: Photovoltaics, Batteries, Wind generators, Solar Water Distillers, Solar Ovens, and Solar Water Heating.)

Overview of Energy Efficiency and Conservation : The First Step in a viable Home Power System The most recent article in this series, Home Power Systems: Micro Hydro, in a way ‘jumped the gun’ a bit, since the foundation of a cost-effective, sustainable home energy system is an honest and accurate appraisal of both average and peak energy requirements. While often not as important in many micro-hydro systems – due to abundant year-round falling water … Continue reading

Fire: Your Partner in Survival, by Pledger

Eons ago when people lived in caves, one of their most important tools was fire.  Its ability to keep them warm, cook food, provide light, and scare away predators was of the utmost importance.  Some kind of a societal upheaval may not necessarily mean returning to a stone age existence, but when the systems that keep our everyday life humming along go down, fire will once again have a huge impact on our ability to survive.

This fact was brought home to my wife and me two winters ago, when a February blizzard knocked out the power to several counties.  It was early evening – the lights flickered a few times, and then the house was plunged into darkness.  Everything became eerily quiet, save for the wind howling outside and snow pelting against the window.

Then there was another sound – the reassuring popping of a log in our big … Continue reading