Survival guide – Alternative cooking methods in the event of World War 3

Short summary : Learn alternative cooking methods using different types of stoves such as clay or earthen stoves and prepare for survival during WW3 and other emergencies.

Alternative cooking methods in the event of World War 3

1. Introduction

This is another article in our series of articles to prepare for the upcoming difficult times. Through spiritual research, we have found that during the period between 2020 to 2023 and a minimum of 3 years following this period, the world will undergo a severe, adverse period of war and natural disasters. During this period, electricity and gas supplies may be disrupted and we may not be able to use the conventional cooking methods that we have come to rely on. This article provides information on alternative cooking methods and the different types of stoves such as the chulha (earthen stove) and other emergency stoves for cooking that we should consider preparing in advance for these difficult times. The options listed serve only as a general guide and are not exhaustive. As such, you may wish to consider additional cooking methods and stove alternatives that are accessible and applicable to where you live. It is important to act now, start installing the alternative cooking options and try them out so that at the time of an actual emergency you are comfortable with applying them. Another benefit to these methods is that they can be energy-efficient and cost-effective. The intention of writing this article is not to create panic, but to help you to prepare so as to avoid difficulties later when times go bad.

2. Outdoor-only alternative cooking methods

You can consider the following alternative cooking methods if you live in a home with a backyard and/or have access to an outdoor/open space or a well-ventilated space.

2A. Make arrangements to build or buy a traditional stove or hearth (chulha)

 Traditional Indian stove (chulha)  

There are different types of traditional earthen or clay stoves which can be made or procured. These can mainly be used outdoors, but if you have a country home or a traditional home which has an outlet for the smoke like a chimney, then they can be used indoors as well. If the weather in your region and home environment is conducive, you may consider using a traditional Indian earthen stove, known as a chulha, that is fueled by natural combustibles such as wood and cow dung patties. To avoid indoor pollution, consider purchasing a ‘low-smoke’ model.

2B. Cast Iron Stove

Even if you do not have a stove or hearth at home, buy a stove made of cement or cast iron and keep it ready for emergency cooking in the house.

Cast iron stove

Cast iron stove

Metal stove

Some manufacturers make different types of stoves which use less fuel, generate less smoke, are neater and can be transferred from one place to another easily. Some stoves have the option of directing the smoke towards the chimney. You can study such options and buy as per your need and what is available.

2C. Making a stove with bricks

Cooking on a stove made by joining bricks together

Cooking on a stove made by joining big stones together

Depending on the circumstances and the time you have available, you can also make a stove during an emergency by joining some bricks or big stones in a particular arrangement or placing them in such a way as to make a stove. Place the stove in a way so that it is protected from direct wind or you can also choose to secure the stove using some contour shields or large rocks if possible.

2D. Traditional wood, propane or charcoal-fueled barbeque grills

Metal grill for cooking

Metal grill for cooking

Traditional wood or charcoal-fueled barbeque grills are another type of cooktop that can be used to cook meals in the absence of gas or electricity.

2E. Volcano stoves

Volcano stove

There are also newer types of stoves in the market, such as the volcano stove, that are portable and can use all three of the fuels, i.e., wood, propane and charcoal.

2F. Solar ovens and cookers

Such cookers focus or capture heat generated from sunlight to cook food. They are a good option in warmer climates with more sunlight. There are many different types of solar cookers, such as :

Solar box cooker

  • Box cookers – an insulated box covered with a glass or plastic window. The cooker utilizes trapped heat from sunlight to slowly and evenly cook food.

Parabolic (curved concentrator) solar cooker

  • Parabolic (curved concentrator) cookers – a reflector focuses sunlight into a small area where food can be cooked rapidly.
  • Panel cookers – reflective panels focus sunlight into a cooking pot covered by a second pot or heat-resistant bag.

Various solar cooker models are available for purchase commercially. Instructions are also available online for creating homemade solar cookers out of simple materials such as glass, aluminium foil and cardboard. Ideally, it is better to purchase the solar cooker models available commercially if possible.

2G. Propane fueled stoves and ranges

Propane fueled stoves

Propane fueled stoves are a type of stove that can be used when electricity and gas are unavailable. In most cases, propane-fueled stoves must be used outdoors, as they produce significant amounts of carbon monoxide or smoke. However, there is a likelihood that propane may not be available in the event of a Third World War.

There may, however, be propane-fueled cooking appliances in your country or region that are certified for use indoors, such as propane ranges fueled by a propane tank installed outdoors. Some of these range models are specifically configured for off-grid living (when electricity is unavailable) and function using battery spark or gas pilot ignition.

2H. Open fires

Open fire cooking

Open fire cooking

Cooking on an open fire is another outdoor cooking option. While this alternative cooking method may seem simple and intuitive, there are many safety guidelines that you should follow to ensure that the open fire is effective and safely maintained.

  • Use dry seasoned wood for the fire to ensure that it burns well and does not create excessive smoke.
  • Consider building your fire on a rock, or at the very least, on bare mineral soil.
  • Keep the fire shielded from the wind, to prevent the risk of forest fires.
    • There are guides available online that provide instructions on how to safely construct an open fire for cooking.
    • If using this alternative cooking option, ensure that you use cooking equipment suitable for open fire cooking, such as camp dutch ovens and over fire grills.

2I. A brick or earth oven

Earthen oven

This can be a good option for those with the tools and resources to build one. Instructions on how to build such ovens can be found on the Internet. Ready-made ovens and oven construction kits may also be purchased commercially.

Brick oven which uses combustible wood or coal for cooking

2J. Butane stoves

Butane stove

Amongst the different types of stoves, butane stoves powered by butane fuel canisters can also be a good outdoor cooking option during a short-term power outage due to their portability and ease of operation.

3. Indoor alternative cooking options (for ground floor/suitably ventilated areas)

The following alternative cooking methods are suitable for use on the ground floor (or other suitably ventilated areas) of your home :

3A. Wood-burning indoor fireplace

Cooking utensils to hang over the fireplace and cook indoors

An indoor fireplace can be used during an emergency to cook food. There are guides available online that demonstrate different ways to use a fireplace for cooking. For example, cooking accessories can be used to hang cooking utensils over the fireplace and cook indoors.

Fireplace inserts for cooking

There are also fireplace inserts and different types of cooktops available for purchase commercially that are specifically made for fireplace cooking.

3B. Wood burning cook stoves

Wood burning cook stoves are also good alternatives for cooking when gas and electricity are unavailable.

Wood burning cook stoves

Wood burning cook stoves

4. Indoor alternative cooking methods (for those living in apartments or homes with less ventilation)

Due to the risks of smoke and carbon monoxide poisoning, indoor cooking options are more limited for apartment dwellers as well as those living in homes with less ventilation.

4A. Induction stoves

 Induction stove for indoor cooking 

If you have a solar power facility, then you can opt for an induction stove which runs on solar power. There is special cookware available with an induction base which is compatible with induction stoves. These are needed to be able to cook on such stoves as we cannot use normal cookware. So, you can buy and keep such cookware handy for cooking during emergencies.

4B. Biogas plant

Biogas plant

If you have access to a lot of biodegradable waste, you can think of installing a biogas plant. If you are rearing cattle (cows, buffaloes, etc.) you can install a biogas plant that uses cow dung to generate biogas. In some states, the government gives subsidies, special discounts or pays the full amount for installing a biogas plant. If possible, consider installing a small biogas plant which can work on any organic waste or food waste including rotten foodstuffs such as rotten bread, fruits, vegetables, etc. This can produce the much-needed gas for cooking. It is important to note that the stoves that burn biogas are different from the common stoves that burn liquefied petroleum gas (LPG).

4C. Sterno

One indoor emergency cooking fuel is Sterno (an ethanol-based gel). The benefit to using Sterno is that it is relatively safe to use and store indoors. Sterno stoves are available for purchase, as are disposable cans of Sterno, with the 7 oz. cans providing a cooking flame for up to two hours.

Consider also keeping items that are non-perishable and require minimal cooking on hand, such as cereal, granola bars, canned soups, vegetables and fruits.

5. Other helpful tips for cooking during emergencies

To ensure that you are prepared for a possible crisis, practice using your chosen emergency cooking method (s) in advance.

5A. Ensure that you are well-stocked with cooking fuels, vessels and utensils that are compatible with your chosen emergency cooking method. For example, we can store the following in the required quantity – dry wood, coal, dried cow dung cakes, biomass briquettes, rice husks, sawdust (or wood shavings), chipped peanut shells, dried sunflowers or sunflower seed husks, etc. we can store. Biomass briquettes are available in shops in big cities and one can order them online.

5B. As much as choosing types of stoves is of utmost priority, making provisions for firewood and stacking/storing firewood has to go along with it, as otherwise, we may face a shortage of firewood. A certain amount of study is necessary to tide over a particular period. In this regard, fuel pellets (briquettes) can be more useful as they have a higher calorific value (more heat and less light) than firewood; additionally, as they can be procured or made in the sizes that you need, storage density will increase, thereby optimising space usage.

5C. Learn how to light a traditional earthen stove (chulha) and how to clean it every day. If possible, you can start cooking one meal a day on the traditional stove. This will help you to understand practically how to go about it, what precautions to take, the time needed for cooking, etc.

5D. Practice cooking without modern appliances that rely on electricity. For example, use a traditional mortar and pestle instead of an electric grinder. Practice using traditional utensils for other cooking purposes such as grinding grains and making flour, etc.

Traditional appliances for cooking – Mortar and Pestle

Traditional appliances for grinding

Traditional appliances for cooking

Traditional method of grinding

Traditional method of grinding

5E. Try to practice cooking without a kitchen slab.

Cooking without a kitchen slab

Cooking without a kitchen slab

Cooking without a kitchen slab

5F. Store some months or a year’s worth of non-perishable canned goods (depending on the availability of space and capacity), pulses and grains for use during an emergency. These provisions will be useful at times when food and/or cooking materials are scarce. You can also try home-canning fresh fruit and vegetables using a water bath or pressure cooker canning method. If you are new to home canning, consult an authoritative source on food preservation, such as the National Center for Home Food Preservation for instructions on how to can at home safely.

5G. Emergency food supply companies sell freeze-dried food, emergency food ration bars and ready-to-eat meals that you can safely store at home for many years.

5H. If there is ample sunlight where you live, you can try installing solar panels on the roof of your home or apartment building as an alternative energy source for cooking.

5I. Choosing just one alternative cooking method may not suffice. Having multiple alternative methods to cook will prove invaluable if one cooking method fails. We suggest looking into two or more methods. Out of the ones mentioned in this article, traditional wood stoves are one of the best options as they work independently of any other factor as long as dry wood is available. If wood is not available, then choose the option which is most feasible for you.

5J. Since the period between 2020 to 2023, will be marked with adverse circumstances, it may take some time to bring things back to normalcy in the years that follow. So, we can think of preparing ourselves in such a way that we can tide over this period and have the requisite alternatives for food preparation available since food is a basic necessity of life.

6. Conclusion

  • Applying these alternative cooking methods will help you to be prepared. Incorporating these methods into your daily cooking routine will help you to transition smoothly from conventional cooking methods (which one is accustomed to), to these alternative methods of cooking when times get worse.
  • By practising emergency cooking methods with different types of survival stoves, you will be able to see what is working, what are the problems you encounter and the workaround solutions.
  • Also, you will be able to see if you need any additional cooking equipment to be able to cook smoothly so you can purchase it in advance.
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