Why You Should NEVER Use Paper to Start a Wood Stove

My family and I have been visiting my in-laws over the Christmas holidays. The time has been nice and mostly without incident, but the day after Christmas we had an unpleasant surprise await us when we returned from the movies… the house was full of smoke!

You see, my brother-in-law had been trying to keep the house warm with my in-laws wood stove as it’s been rather cold of late here in Missouri.

Unfortunately, he had been using paper to get the wood burning fireplace going rather than firestarter bricks which they normally use.

That, coupled with the fact that they (my in-laws) haven’t had their stove flue cleaned in probably a few years AND, equally important, the flue has two 90-degree bends in it, well… the inevitable happened and the flue clogged up just enough to continue a very slow burn yet not exhaust the smoke up the chimney. And since the smoke had nowhere to go it filled the house.

Normally, we would have quickly noticed something was wrong but, since we all went to the movies, there was nobody home to realize it!

Who knows why my brother-in-law decided to try and start a fire even though we were all leaving. I assumed he wasn’t successful and had given up when I walked out the door, but I was wrong… which brings up another great point: NEVER leave your home unattended if you have a fire going because you never know what might happen.

You see, my in-laws have a few dogs, one cat, and even our dog was trapped in the house as well. Here’s my father-in-law with all the dogs standing outside in the cold:

Fortunately, my sister-in-law (who chose not to go to the movies with us) had decided to stop by and, to her surprise, found a house full of smoke along with a handful of terrified animals. If she had been 15 or 20 minutes later, who knows if we would have had a few dead animals on our hands as well.

When she realized what was going on my sister-in-law quickly called 9-1-1, ushered out the dogs, and managed to corral the cat too. Within minutes the fire department showed up, along with an ambulance and two police cars; I’m sure it was a scene for the neighbors, to say the least.

Within an hour or so the fire department had removed the obvious smoke so we could go inside again. Regrettably, ever since then the entire house has smelled like a campfire but worse because there’s no fresh air to replace the smoky smell. The first night or two most of us had a bit of a headache and I actually slept with the window open even though it was quite cold that night.

It was so bad that we (really my wife and sister-in-law) decided to wash the walls with a vinegar/water solution and vacuumed the carpets with baking soda. Eventually, they’ll get the carpets cleaned professionally too. The cleaning has helped, though, it will probably be months before the smell complete dissipates.

Anyway, I figured I would share a personal example of a failure to be safe to get the New Year off to a running start, lol. Yes, it was a “perfect storm” of mistakes that caused the problem, but all of the mistakes could have easily been avoided had we considered our safety–and that of our pets–and bit more.

Be safe out there.

Splitz-All Log Splitter

My kid has been watching YouTube videos lately on neat, new gadgets and one that caught my eye was this Splitz-All Log Splitter. And, while I’m not quite sure it’s worth the price tag, the Splitz-All sure is an interesting way to split wood besides with an axe or hydraulic log splitter. Enjoy…

Why A Ferro Rod May NOT Be Worth Having In Your Pack

I’m really starting to like this guy a lot because he offers good, solid advice and clearly knows what he’s talking about with respect to wilderness survival. Today he’s discussing whether or not those trusty ferro rods every prepper–including me–tends to include in their packs is worth having… and stick around to the 12:00 mark to see his “trick” for fire starting.

Why A Mylar “Survival” Space Blanket Is Worth Having In Your Pack

I’m generally VERY against the cheap mylar “survival” space blankets mostly because there are better option and, honestly, people don’t use them right. I’m a much bigger fan of the SOL Heatsheets (or get two person version) which are discussed in the following video. That said, any such blanket has limitations and must be used appropriately as shown below…

Here’s One Time You May Not Be Testing Your Smoke Alarms

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So I was downstairs in the basement this morning getting a fire going and I was having a hard time of it. Reason being is that this particular fireplace has a 90-degree bend in the flue which makes getting it going a bit challenging and takes some patience.

I wasn’t feeling very patient today and so I just “went for it” using kindling that was a bit too large and more than I should have started with, knowing full-well that I would probably smoke out the basement as a result. And, of course, I did have to open the doors to air the basement out while I was getting the fire going.

The thing is that I wondered why the smoke alarm nearest the fireplace didn’t go off because I was sure that it would have. And I knew for a fact that the batteries were good because I just recently replaced them a month or two ago.

Clearly, I wondered what was wrong, so I took the smoke alarm down and pressed the test button… nothing. I then opened the battery cover, removed the 9-volt, and my problem was obvious: I’d put the battery in backwards… literally 180-degrees the wrong way!

No doubt THAT smoke alarm was going to do me no good should I have ever needed it. Fortunately, I probably go overboard with my smoke alarms throughout the house, so I was likely covered by another–relatively nearby–smoke alarm but, regardless, I made an easily preventable mistake that I don’t believe I’d ever made before. And it was a mistake that could have cost lives.

Now I get to go check the rest of the smoke alarm batteries just to be sure they’re all installed correctly and, of course, I should be pressing the “test” button to ensure each of them works as expected… especially after I replace the batteries.

The Mors Kochanski Super Shelter

Here’s Mors himself discussing his “super shelter” design (based off the igloo) for wilderness survival. Inside the video he shows you a few different shelter, including one really BIG one! You can get the book he recommends, The Two Kilogram Survival Kit Field Manual, to explain the idea even more, if you like…

Rocket Stove Fuel Alternatives

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If you’re “into” survival at all then you’re likely very familiar with rocket stoves… they’re awesome! And they can be fashioned out of all sorts of items, from sheet metal and tin cans to masonry bricks and even earthen materials.

The thing is that I’ve ALWAYS used sticks and twigs to fuel them; however, as the following post explains: “…when a hurricane brushes by my coast and dumps 4-10 inches of rain, there are no dry branches or twigs to gather, light and cook dinner with!”

Clearly, you’ll need an alternative rocket fuel in that case. Here’s a few ideas…

A rocket stove can burn just about anything, including your furniture if need be!

Like any cooking appliance, it needs fuel of some sort. The Rocket Stove is no exception. For me, when a hurricane brushes by my coast and dumps 4-10 inches of rain, there are no dry branches or twigs to gather, light and cook dinner with! I found it difficult to long-term store dry twigs and small branches for its’ fuel, until this week. I found that the Preppers favorite long-term storage container, the 5-gallon bucket, works perfectly!

Wood Fuel for the Rocket Stove:

Here are two buckets, one has split wood in it (about ½ to ¾ inch square by 12-13 inches long) ready to use. The other bucket has scrap 2×4’s and 2×6’s in it, I had this wood on my fireplace wood pile and because of rains, it is too wet to easily split with a hand ax so I’ll get to it in a couple weeks. The nice thing about using 5-gallon bucket for the wood storage is just snap a lid on it and it is neat, dry, bug-free, and clean in your closet or pantry storage…”

Read the full article here

Top 8 Portable Stoves for Survival

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The following is quite an in-depth article detailing the eight best portable stoves on the market in 2018 and includes specifics on the different types of stoves available, why you should have one or two (or maybe all eight, lol), as well as key features you should look for in a portable stove.

The list includes classics like the Coleman stoveJetboil flash, and Solo stove, to name a few. Check out the article to see the rest…

Of course, they offer some solid recommendations, including

“A portable stove is a lightweight, compact stove. One light enough to transport from place to place with ease.

The critical word being – ease.

Sure, “technically” you can move your kitchen stove, but not with ease.

Portable stoves are the kind you can pick up, pack, and store in a vehicle or backpack without hassle.

For it to be genuinely”portable,” it must be small and lightweight. At least small enough for a petite human to carry it by themselves without throwing out their back.

Yet, just because they are small and light doesn’t mean they are not great at cooking food.

The best ones function as well as your standard kitchen stove.

You should be able to use a portable stove for cooking food or purifying water – in camp and on the go…”

Read the full article here