How to Makeshift a Candle-Powered Tea Light Oven!

First, let me state that I’m not a big fan of using candles for much of anything during an emergency situation. I think they’re a significant fire hazard especially after a disaster when people do dumb things… possibly like this. There are better, safer ways to light up the night and cook food during an emergency.

That said, a week or so ago I read this post that Bev at SeasonedCitizenPrepper.com put up about makeshifting a tea light-powered oven with an old toaster oven. Well, since I happen to have a toaster oven I figured I would give it a shot myself. Here’s what happened (click images to enlarge and follow along below)…

  1. As I had no idea what to expect I figured I would try one tea light at a time to see how the temperature changed. Eventually, I figured out that I needed three tea lights to register a useful temperature and about five tea lights got above 225F.
  2. To get to 350F I needed only eight tea lights which was less than I expected and since I had made some banana bread to bake (that’s next week) I figured I would put one of the three loaves in this makeshift oven to see what happens. Well, it didn’t work out quite as well as I had hoped but this was a learning experience for me as I’ve never attempted a candle-powered oven before.
  3. I moved the grate down so I could fit the loaf pan in the oven and walked away. To my dismay, I found the temperature in the stove had dropped to about 250F. A few minutes later I realized that a few of the tea lights in the back had gone out. What happened? Long story short, the candles were starved for oxygen… well, duh!
  4. Since I didn’t want to prop the door open more than necessary and let too much heat out I ended up sticking a fork in it… literally between the door and oven body (click image four to see). I also found that, over the course of about 30 minutes, even doubling the number of candles to 16 wasn’t enough to get the temps back to 350F. I was having trouble keeping two candles lit and just gave up since the temps were over 300 and closed in at 325 at times. Then, my hour of bake time was almost up when…
  5. I smelled something burning. “What was that!?” I said to nobody in particular. Oh shit, the stoves on fire! Once I realized I wasn’t in immediate danger of burning the house down, I pulled out the bread in order to salvage it and grabbed my camera to take a picture, after all, wouldn’t you? It seems to me that three of the tea lights combined forces and got a bit out of control. No big deal as I just smothered them with the small baking pan that came with the oven.
  6. I then decided to move the oven outside to let it air out and hope that it’s not ruined because my wife would NOT be happy with me. Fortunately, my life is spared for another day as the oven is fine. Just don’t tell my wife what happened. 🙂

I think I’ve learned a few lessons here:

  • Don’t mess with candles, kids, they’re a fire hazard! If you’re going to use them then do so in a controlled environment, with an adult present, preferably not me.
  • Try stuff before you expect to rely on it… always. This is especially true of makeshift ideas such as this one.
  • If you’re going to make your own tea light oven then you probably need something to keep them from co-mingling and ruining your food as well as your day. I’m not quite sure what that would be yet.
  • It’s a good thing I didn’t try larger candles in our big oven. 😉

As for the bread? It didn’t turn out half bad after I cooked it an additional 20 minutes (beyond the called for one hour) in the big oven at 350… and cut off the burned bottom… and a bit of the sides! I should note that it was a big lopsided but it all went down the same as far as I was concerned.

What about you? Even try a candle-powered oven before?

makeshift-tea-light-oven-collage

Make it Mondays: DIY Vaseline and Cotton Ball Fire-Starters Without the Mess!

Have you ever wanted to make your own Vaseline and cotton ball fire-starters but don’t want your hands to look like a mess after coating just one? Then you’re in luck because you can easily make your own Vaseline-impregnated fire-starters with ease. Here’s how in roughly four steps:

It’s really easy, here’s how:

  1. Gather your supplies. A bottle of Vaseline, a handful of cotton balls, and a small bag. Any small Ziploc bag will suffice but I used small bags similar to these since I have plenty for some unknown reason.
  2. Invert the bag so that the outside is now inside and the inside is outside… you get the idea. Dip your fingers in the Vaseline and gather up a decent amount. Now, invite your buddy over for a prostate exam. 😉
  3. Return the bag to it’s original, upright position… no, wait, that’s an airplane tray table. Just flip the bag back the way it’s supposed to be and try not to make a mess, insert the cotton balls, shove them to the bottom, and begin slathering away. It’ll take a little bit of effort to roughly coat the cotton balls but, hey, what else were you going to do after reading this?
  4. Once you’re satisfied every last fiber has been coated go ahead and expel as much as air you can then roll it up, sealing the bag when finished.

Well, that’s it folks. You’ve just made some high-quality Vaseline-impregnated fire-starters without making a mess! Now go light something on fire. 😉

cotton-ball-vaseline-fire-starters

Make it Mondays: The “Big 3” Homemade Cleaners

big-3-cleanersWhen we clean the house we usually only use three cleaners to get most everything: an all-purpose cleaner, glass cleaner, and floor cleaner. Currently, we’re still using some leftover toilet cleaner that eventually I’ll have to replace but, by and large, these three cleaners do it all. And, obviously, I’m excluding homemade cleaners for doing the dishes and laundry.

As you can see from the photo above, they’re all stored in standard 32-ounce cheapo spray bottles I got from Wally-World a while back. Eventually, I wised-up and decided to write the recipes on the bottles so that whenever I needed to make more I didn’t have to look it up. How brilliant am I? 🙂

The one thing I wish I had done a bit differently was to more easily distinguish the above cleaners as people–usually the kids–accidentally grab the wrong bottle. It’s not big deal but just something to think about.

Here’s the recipes we use, though, there are many others you can find online. Also know that the ratios are sized so that they fill an entire spray bottle more or less…

All-Purpose Cleaner

I like this cleaner a lot and it gets used in many places, from kitchen countertops to the bathroom counters (and even the toilet) and if my wife isn’t looking the furniture too. 😉 When spraying, you will notice a hint of white vinegar at first but there’s also a hint of lemon too–our favorite essential oil for this purpose–and, regardless, the smells dissipate rather quickly.

Ingredients:

Combine and mix well, shake before use.

Glass Cleaner

I’ve tried using just vinegar and water before but for some reason it never seemed to work quite right. Then we found THIS recipe and it works much better. I think it has something to do with the cornstarch but I’ve never experimented with the recipe once we found this one.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol – we use 91% but I’d imagine 70% works fine too
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup distilled white vinegar

Mix well and shake VERY well before use since the cornstarch seem to settle at the bottom when not used for a while.

Floor Cleaner

Although in a spray bottle, this recipe will probably (eventually) go into a squirt bottle to more easily distribute it on the floor. I’ve read that you could use it diluted in a sink-full of water but we don’t mop like that unless it’s the bathroom tiles.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol – same as above
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dawn liquid dish soap (the blue kind) – just buy it at your local store (e.g., Walmart) as you don’t need much
  • 15 drops essential oils – again, we prefer lemon essential oil but experiment and find what works for you

Mix well and shake before use.

Well, that’s it! Those are the “big 3” as I see it. What cleaning recipes do you find useful? I’d be interested to know what you’ve tried that might work better.