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Non-electric lighting/heating/cooking

Last post Fri, Feb 1 2008 7:41 PM by ern. 21 replies.
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  • Tue, Nov 13 2007 2:09 PM

    Non-electric lighting/heating/cooking

    I remember last April when western Kansas/Oklahoma/Nebraska had a blizzard that found them without utilities for weeks.  An ice storm can leave you without electricity for days...  What do you have on hand to supply your needs for lighting/heating/cooking in a similar situation?  Here are some ideas, please add yours.

    Non-electric sources for light:

    Candles quickly come to mind.  Tapered candles put out more light than votives and pillars, but all candles will put out some welcome light and heat as well.  If possible, place a glass hurricane globe around a taper to prevent any gusts of wind from blowing it out, it's also safer to use a taper with a hurricane globe around it should it accidently get knocked over.  If you are concerned about soot and toxins, use soy wax or beeswax candles.  Have a good supply of matches (keep them in a sealed jar) or a butane candle lighter.

    Kerosene or oil lamps and extra fuel.  Better light than candles, some heat, but are dangerous to use around pets/children and people who are unacustomed to using them.  If you use these (or any open flame for lighting), also have fire extinguishers handy, and don't place anything with an open flame near fabric (such as drapes), or on a table that could easily be knocked over.  Keep pets out of a room that has an open flame.  Remember, open flames also consume oxygen, be sure you have a window slightly open to provide oxygen in a room.

    Don't place open-flame lights (lamps/candles) near oil paintings, or other things the soot might damage.

    Flash lights.  Have an assortment of them; and make sure they aren't just a holder for old dead batteries Wink.  Have a supply of extra batteries.  Large lanterns can fill a whole room with light and can be powered with disposable propane canisters or large battery packs.  Give a small flashlight or lightstick to each child - something they can keep in their pocket.  Flashlights that crank to power them provide as much as 90 minutes of light for 1 minute of cranking.  We also have a hand-crank light/radio/cell phone charger.  These are great because they never need batteries or bulbs.

    Solar-powered Landscape Lights - bring them inside after recharging in the sun all day long. 

    Non-electric sources for cooking:

    Head outside to the gas grill....just hope the tank is full.  Remember, the cooking temperature will not get as hot in extremely cold weather as it does in the summer.  You may not want to cook large quantities of food (a Dutch Oven full of soup), keep your pans shallow for quicker cooking.  We also have a small grill that takes a one-pound disposable propane tank.

    Coleman (or other brand) campstove.  Be sure to stock disposable propane canisters outside.  If you use one of these inside, you need to be sure to have a window partially open for some ventilation.  Store it outside when you're done using it - most of them leak propane when not in use.

    Charcoal Briquettes - outdoor use ONLY.  I have a supply of Disposable Instant Light BBQ Grills (charcoal in an aluminum pan).  I got them for $2  each at the grocery store during a clearance of summer items.  Once again, the temperature is not as hot in extreme cold.

    Solar Oven - the ultimate non-electric cooker.  Even when it's extremely cold, you can cook in a solar oven - provided it's a sunny day.....

    Sterno/Canned Heat/Cooking Gel - can be used in chafing dishes and camp stoves designed to use with them.  They have approx. 6 hours of cooking time.

    Non-electric sources for heating:

    Portable alcohol heaters, kerosene heaters, propane heaters (Mr. Heater Portable Buddy and Big Buddy - safe to use indoors with disposable propane tanks, or a hose attached to a larger tank outdoors), hand and body warmers (Hotties - 18 hour hand and body warmer), sleeping bags, Emergency Blankets (aluminum laminated polyethylene - windproof, waterproof, reflects body heat, flexible in cold temperatures) - cost about $1.  Keep some Emergency Blankets in your car, as well. 

    It will also come in handy to have a selection of thermos bottles.  Heat water once and put it in a thermos to use for instant hot beverages, instant soup, etc.  Leftover heated food will safely keep in a thermos for another meal.  Fill a hot water bottle with hot water and warm a cold bed.  Then later use the still warm water for washing.




  • Tue, Nov 13 2007 5:10 PM In reply to

    • Gigi
    • Top 75 Contributor
    • Joined on Wed, Mar 28 2007
    • Posts 1,065

    Re: Non-electric lighting/heating/cooking

    We are prepared fas much as we are able, for a long term or intermittent power outage. We have found that you cannot prepare for every situation, so we chose things that we know have worked. No matter how prepared, using the alternate method, even when working well, can be burdensome.


    Create! Repair! Reinvent! Reassess!
  • Tue, Nov 13 2007 6:33 PM In reply to

    • babs
    • Top 10 Contributor
    • Joined on Mon, Apr 2 2007
    • Vermont
    • Posts 10,988

    Re: Non-electric lighting/heating/cooking

     WE have candles, kerosene lamp, flashlights for light. WE have wood stove for heat and can cook on the top. We also have gas grill outside that can cook. It doesnt work great but we have kept it just to have for emergency. We also have a gasoline generator that could be used to keep the freezor running if power is off for a long time.. Our freezer is in a unheated hall so it will stay frozen for a while without electricity. Babs

    Officially recognized Stretchpert in Prayer Circle
  • Tue, Nov 13 2007 7:31 PM In reply to

    Re: Non-electric lighting/heating/cooking

    Gigi, what type of birds do you have?   We are lucky, we had a wind storm sunday night our power went out for a couple of hours @ 4am but my sil who lives in a more rural area 1/2hr away still doesn't have power but she is used to it. wears out her appliances though. the house her apt is attached, they went to a hotel but they like spending money. We haven't had long power outages here yet. We do have flashlights, candles etc.  We would have to bbq if the power went out for a long time.

    My Family's Interests
  • Wed, Nov 14 2007 5:11 AM In reply to

    Re: Non-electric lighting/heating/cooking

    Candles & oil lamps are an excellent source of light but not ususally very bright. As a former home decor consultant I have a small stockpile of candle jars. Even the small jars have a 40 hour burn time. I really like the hand crank flashlights & radios and we keep several. I believe I would as far as possible do what some of the 'old timers' used to do & rise with the dawn and sleep at dark... making the most use of the daylight as possible.

    Also, a fireplace or woodstove is gr8 not only for heat but can be a method of cooking as well. A baked potato makes an excellent pocket hand warmer & then can be eaten.  And remember many foods do not have to be cooked... you can eat things straight from a can. Even frozen entree type dinners are usually a precooked item and would only need to be thawed to be eaten. Not necessarily appetizing but doable.

    For added warmth think layers of clothing, blankets, etc.  And don't forget hats... by all means keep your head covered cause it's where you lose the most body heat.

    We also have available to us our camper which has a propane heater & stove & fridge so we could survive in there for a while. The smaller size would make it easier to heat as well.

    I love to come here and glean new ideas. Thanks so much everyone for sharing.

  • Wed, Nov 14 2007 9:08 AM In reply to

    Re: Non-electric lighting/heating/cooking

    My daughter reminded me of this cooking method (she's a former Girl Scout and the mother of one).

    Buddy Burners - http://www.shurdington.org/Downloads/BuddyBurner.pdf



  • Wed, Nov 14 2007 9:55 AM In reply to

    • Edey
    • Top 25 Contributor
    • Joined on Mon, Sep 10 2007
    • Los Angeles County, CA
    • Posts 3,869

    Re: Non-electric lighting/heating/cooking

    I saw these 2 ideas somewhere for a charcoal barbeque. Take a large terra cotta flower pot, plug the drain hole with something, fill with sand about 2/3 full and put a grill on top.  Another is an old metal wheelbarrow, with a thick layer of sand on the bottom and use bricks, big rocks or empty cans to prop up a grill.

     If you can find the metal tub from an old washing machine, these are good for campfires and a grill could be put over this as well. E

    Edey's Vintage and Current Needlework Blog

    Life is like a quilt - it is made beautiful from all the little pieces stitched together.

    Use a HandCranked tool, it doesn't need to be plugged in or charged up!

    Treadle sewing machines. Get a workout and save electricity all at the same time. Plus it can go anywhere, even outdoors!

    READ THE ARCHIVES! It'll do you good.
  • Wed, Nov 14 2007 11:15 AM In reply to

    Re: Non-electric lighting/heating/cooking

    I saw these 2 ideas somewhere for a charcoal barbeque. Take a large terra cotta flower pot, plug the drain hole with something, fill with sand about 2/3 full and put a grill on top.


    I love this idea!! Except finding a cover to prevent rain going in. Confused 

    I'm not confused. I'm just well mixed. ~Robert Frost
    Laziness may appear attractive, but work gives satisfaction. - Anne Frank
    I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13

    Married my Blessing 10-16-10 :)
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  • Wed, Nov 14 2007 11:25 AM In reply to

    Re: Non-electric lighting/heating/cooking

    My friend used to be a girl guides leader and I use to save my coffee cans for her (they don't drink coffee) for their camping trips.

    My Family's Interests
  • Fri, Nov 16 2007 7:16 AM In reply to

    Re: Non-electric lighting/heating/cooking

    Almost everything Gingerbread had on her list is what we have in our camping gear.

    We were hard core non electric(most of the time)campers when we were younger.We keep all our camping gear in two places.This way everyone in the family knows where to head if the power goes out for an extended period.

    We have a large supply of kero lamps for inside the house and my DH's collection of old Coleman lanterns for use outside.

    There is a grill that we can use to cook on and an oven for on top of the coleman stove to use for baking.

    We also have three back up kero heaters and now the generator my DH was using on the tractor trailer.

    The pellet stove will be no use during a power outage because it has an electric feed.Looking back this was not a smart move, we should have found one we could also use during a power outage.

    We won't have water during an outage because we have a well with electric pump.This means no toilet flushing,but we do have the composting toilet to use and if we hang a lantern in the W/C it will stay warm enough for it to keep composting.

    We always have a supply of water on hand and we have water purification tablets in case we would need them.

    I saw the crank radio/flashlight/phonecharger in a catalog.This is something we have moved to the top of our "when we can" list.

    We do not loose our power very often here.Our electric company is a rural co-op.They do the very best they can to keep the power on and often we have power when our neighboring town does not.

    During a blizzard we can get snowed in because we are out in the boonies.


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