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Tips for Non Electric Heating, Lighting and Cooking

    • 3111 posts
    October 16, 2014 5:30 AM PDT

    Tips from the old forums..



            Tue, Nov 13 2007 1:09 PM          
    •                      Gingerbread     
    • Top 200 Contributor
    • Joined on Wed, Oct 24 2007
    • Posts 251


    I remember last April when western Kansas/Oklahoma/Nebraska had a blizzard that found them without utilities for weeks.  An ice storm can leave you without electricity for days...  What do you have on hand to supply your needs for lighting/heating/cooking in a similar situation?  Here are some ideas, please add yours.

    Non-electric sources for light:

    Candles quickly come to mind.  Tapered candles put out more light than votives and pillars, but all candles will put out some welcome light and heat as well.  If possible, place a glass hurricane globe around a taper to prevent any gusts of wind from blowing it out, it's also safer to use a taper with a hurricane globe around it should it accidently get knocked over.  If you are concerned about soot and toxins, use soy wax or beeswax candles.  Have a good supply of matches (keep them in a sealed jar) or a butane candle lighter.

    Kerosene or oil lamps and extra fuel.  Better light than candles, some heat, but are dangerous to use around pets/children and people who are unacustomed to using them.  If you use these (or any open flame for lighting), also have fire extinguishers handy, and don't place anything with an open flame near fabric (such as drapes), or on a table that could easily be knocked over.  Keep pets out of a room that has an open flame.  Remember, open flames also consume oxygen, be sure you have a window slightly open to provide oxygen in a room.

    Don't place open-flame lights (lamps/candles) near oil paintings, or other things the soot might damage.

    Flash lights.  Have an assortment of them; and make sure they aren't just a holder for old dead batteries Wink.  Have a supply of extra batteries.  Large lanterns can fill a whole room with light and can be powered with disposable propane canisters or large battery packs.  Give a small flashlight or lightstick to each child - something they can keep in their pocket.  Flashlights that crank to power them provide as much as 90 minutes of light for 1 minute of cranking.  We also have a hand-crank light/radio/cell phone charger.  These are great because they never need batteries or bulbs.

    Solar-powered Landscape Lights - bring them inside after recharging in the sun all day long. 

    Non-electric sources for cooking:

    Head outside to the gas grill....just hope the tank is full.  Remember, the cooking temperature will not get as hot in extremely cold weather as it does in the summer.  You may not want to cook large quantities of food (a Dutch Oven full of soup), keep your pans shallow for quicker cooking.  We also have a small grill that takes a one-pound disposable propane tank.

    Coleman (or other brand) campstove.  Be sure to stock disposable propane canisters outside.  If you use one of these inside, you need to be sure to have a window partially open for some ventilation.  Store it outside when you're done using it - most of them leak propane when not in use.

    Charcoal Briquettes - outdoor use ONLY.  I have a supply of Disposable Instant Light BBQ Grills (charcoal in an aluminum pan).  I got them for $2  each at the grocery store during a clearance of summer items.  Once again, the temperature is not as hot in extreme cold.

    Solar Oven - the ultimate non-electric cooker.  Even when it's extremely cold, you can cook in a solar oven - provided it's a sunny day.....

    Sterno/Canned Heat/Cooking Gel - can be used in chafing dishes and camp stoves designed to use with them.  They have approx. 6 hours of cooking time.

    Non-electric sources for heating:

    Portable alcohol heaters, kerosene heaters, propane heaters (Mr. Heater Portable Buddy and Big Buddy - safe to use indoors with disposable propane tanks, or a hose attached to a larger tank outdoors), hand and body warmers (Hotties - 18 hour hand and body warmer), sleeping bags, Emergency Blankets (aluminum laminated polyethylene - windproof, waterproof, reflects body heat, flexible in cold temperatures) - cost about $1.  Keep some Emergency Blankets in your car, as well. 

    It will also come in handy to have a selection of thermos bottles.  Heat water once and put it in a thermos to use for instant hot beverages, instant soup, etc.  Leftover heated food will safely keep in a thermos for another meal.  Fill a hot water bottle with hot water and warm a cold bed.  Then later use the still warm water for washing.




    • 1125 posts
    October 16, 2014 9:45 AM PDT

    These are all great!   I know a friend's mother heated her home in a winter time power loss by heating up clay plant pots on her gas stove until the pots glowed red.  then she shut the stove off and just lived in the kitchen and adjacent bathroom until things warmed up.   She was in her 80s and did just fine.   This went on for several days.   I took a page from her book and used a bolt and big steel washers to make a version of this candle heater ( to set on the propane stove in my camper.  It wasn't SUPER warm but I could get the temperature up about 5 to 10 degrees in a half an hour.  I shut the stove off as soon as the "heater" was very hot and used a battery powered fan blowing the warm air down from the ceiling.

    Gramma told me that when the power has been out when she was a younger wife she would put together a group of about 5 votive candles and manage to heat a small kettle of water for washing or making tea. 

    • 252 posts
    October 16, 2014 1:56 PM PDT

    We have a wood cookstove, candles, lots of gas lamps and kerosene, flashlight with batteries. Propane camp oven and stove. Been there done that.  :)

    • 3111 posts
    October 16, 2014 6:54 PM PDT

    Sad to say I don't have many of the things I used to..time to recollect stuff!


    • 252 posts
    October 17, 2014 4:41 AM PDT

    at our last home we went 3 days without power after a storm. We also have a gas generator. The storm was during the summer, so after the 1st day, we had to take turns periodically running the generator to keep our fridge and freezer cool.

    • 800 posts
    October 20, 2014 7:36 AM PDT

    A couple of years ago we had a major ice & snow storm here and were without power for about 4 days. It was cold enough that we didn't lose any food, so that was good. We don't have a generator, and our house got cold quickly! We used candles & flashlights for light, so that wasn't an issue. Heat was a problem. We do have a portable propane heater, but didn't want to use it indoors. We just used extra blankets. For cooking, we used our outdoor propane grill.

    • 1271 posts
    October 20, 2014 8:38 AM PDT

    The first thing we did during the ice storm was tack quilts, blankets and comforters over all the outside doors and windows.  Any leftovers that we weren't going to be using to keep warm at night we tacked up on outside-facing walls, and over the doors to rooms we were shutting off because they weren't being used. Our stove couldn't be used, so we taped a garbage bag under the hood. 

    • 3910 posts
    August 27, 2018 9:30 PM PDT
    good ideas for winter prep emergencies
    • 1442 posts
    September 6, 2018 12:11 AM PDT
    When a underground cable broke, we were without electricity. For light and heat, we used our gas stove and fireplace.

    We now have solar panels, so we should be
    ok with electricity.

    Wool is very warm as it keeps skin very dry. I have lots of wool clothes and socks. Down blankets and flannel sheets help too.