Off The Grid : Fuel: Heating, Cooking, & Cooling
By Dr. Richard Alan Miller and Yvonne-Marie Zancanaro c2011
The Problem: Keeping warm (or cool) without gas or electricity requires absolute planning. In the 12th hour after the grid goes down, you may not be able to gather enough fuel to keep warm.
The Solution: If your home has a working fire place or wood stove, now is the time to acquire wood. Depending on how cold it gets, a family that heats with wood can use 2 to 5 cords in winter, or about one cord a month. If you plan to use wood heat as a backup, you should have at least one cord of dry wood under cover or a tarp.
You can maximize your heat output with a “Grate Wall of Fire,” an efficient fire burning design. When you are using wood, you want the greatest amount of heat possible projecting into the room. Some bring a cold draft in from outside, using a small 2-inch hose from under the house. This makes the fire burn hotter.
Without wood as a backup, you will need another heat source. One of the best options is alcohol. Alcohol burns very hot and clean. It is safe to use indoors, unlike other fuels (like wood) that need to be vented. In Brazil, many heat their rooms by pouring a small amount of rubbing alcohol in a heavy-duty frying pan, placed on a brick and lit with a match.
A safe form of alcohol for heat is also available in a gel-form. Gel-alcohol, normally sold in a small can (Cook ‘n Heat), has a 4 to 5 hour burn time, (depending on altitude and oxygen supply), and can produce upward of 2,500 BTU’s of heat per hour.
When boiled with weak sulfuric acid, potato starch is changed into glucose, and this can then be fermented into alcohol. You can then make gel-alcohol from left-over bi-products, and does not require an expensive stove or facility. It is simple to make, using bi-products of egg shells, vinegar, and water.
As a last resort, burning 150 poof rum may be better than drinking it. Also, preparing old and rotting fruit or vegetables into mash to produce alcohol is easy. Yeast speeds up this process, as glucose sugars break down into alcohol.
Heat can be maximized by keeping your body warm and dry. You should dress in layers, but not allow the body to sweat. Sweating is for cooling the body, and can actually cause hypothermia. . As a survival tool, all forms of wool (including alpaca) heat when they become wet, and will always keep you warm and dry.
Most heat loss is also from the top of the head, so always wear a hat. Again, wool is best. Sitting or standing on a cold surface will cause body heat loss through transference, so make sure a blanket or other form of insulation is placed between any cold surface and a warm body.
In extreme cold, try to heat only one primary room of your home, not the whole building. If there is a basement, the temperature will be more moderate there and it will hold the heat better. Use duck tape, towels, blankets, or even news paper to cover windows to prevent heat loss.
Drinking plenty of water helps to keep warm. When a person becomes dehydrated, the body cannot maintain heat as well. You can also warm your body with specific herbs. Ginger in hot tea will warm you longer than black tea alone. Also chili pepper, garlic, black pepper, cardamom, and cinnamon will elevate body temperatures.
A great way to cook without fuel is solar. Even on a low-light day, you can cook your food or pasteurize water for drinking using the sun. If you want to make a solar cooker, the process is simple and there are numerous ways to go. You will need aluminum foil, cardboard and glue.
Food can be kept cool with the Pot-in-Pot Cooling System. This is a simple-to-implement evaporative cooler consisting of one pot inside another, with wet river sand in between and a damp cloth on top. When kept in a dry, well-ventilated, and shady location, water evaporates, cooling the inner container.
With this simple technology, eggplant can last 27 days rather than three. Spinach can be kept for 12 days instead of spoiling after one day. Tomatoes and peppers stay fresh for three weeks.
The best way to keep a house or apartment cool is to keep the heat out. Most heat comes in through the windows, especially when the sun shines on them. Your windows work like a solar cooker, heating up the inside of the building. To keep the building cool open all windows at night to let all hot air flow out.
In the morning, close the windows to trap the cold air inside. If you live in an area that has very hot temperatures, cover windows with cardboard that aluminum foil has been glued to on one side. These reflective covers will make a big difference and can be done ahead of time and stored in the garage.
This same concept can be carried a step further with the roof of the home. A tarp can be painted with reflective paint and put on the roof for the hot season. Anyone that has ever been on a roof in the summer knows how very hot the roof gets. A tarp on the roof may not be beautiful but it will keep the house cooler.
Dr. Richard Alan Miller, Physicist and Agricultural Consultantwww.richardalanmiller.com/ram/
Yvonne-Marie Zancanaro, Herbalist and Medical Intuitive