Preparing for Emergencies
Preppers are famous for stockpiling ammunition and canned goods, but there's no better way to prepare for emergencies than to build your life in a resilient way. Building your home and your routines in a way that allows you to be self-sufficient can help to ensure you and your family are safe when the worst happens.
If the power grid goes down, if there is no more propane to buy, how will you heat your home, boil water, and cook your food?
Wood is an Ideal Emergency Heat Source
If you live in a cold climate, Winters can be downright dangerous without a non-electric heat source. Natural draft wood stoves are 16th Century technology, and require no electricity to operate. The "engine" of the stove is the rising hot column of gases in the flue system, which actively pulls combustion gases out and fresh air in.
Firewood is easy to store in bulk. According to the US Forest Service, one cord of hickory (approximately a 4' x 4' x 8' stack) produces 28,000,000 BTUs of energy. That's about the same as 300 gallons of propane, and firewood doesn't require a tank or any special equipment other than a tarp.
When your firewood stack runs out, downed wood can be foraged locally in most parts of North America. If wood isn't available, any number of solid fuel sources can be burned in properly equipped wood stoves including pressed logs, wood pellets, biofuels like canola and sunflower seeds and soybeans, anthracite coal, and even dry manure.
An Emergency Cooking Appliance
Many wood stoves, including the Dwarf, can be used as a cooking appliance as well as a heater. The top of your wood stove can be used as a burner to heat a kettle, a cast iron skillet, or a dutch oven. Using the rear exit option on the Dwarf stove provides the largest top cooking surface possible, but a small kettle can still be used with a top exit. Cooking can also be done inside the firebox (though we wouldn't recommend this if you're burning manure as fuel).
In a disaster situation, a safe supply of water is a critical resource. If surface water is the only available source, you need to be able to make it safe to drink. The CDC recommends boiling water to as the preferred method to remove pathogens. Place the water in a covered pot or kettle, and bring it to a rolling boil for at least one minute before consuming.
An Appliance You'll Actually Use
Perhaps the most compelling reason to use a wood stove as an emergency heat source is that you'll use it even when it's not an emergency. A small wood stove provides powerful, dry heat, uses cheap and readily available fuel, and provides a cozy ambiance to your living space throughout the Winter.
While your backup generator may rarely see any action, and that stash of canned food in your cellar may go unused for years, you'll eagerly await the cool Fall days when you can sit by the fire in the evening.