Camping At Home Is Cheaper

Dutch Oven Cooking over open flame.

Dutch Oven Cooking over Wood Fire

Original Image

It’s an odd world sometimes.

In market economies, cost and price dislocations are subject to pressures that push them into equilibrium.

Sure, there can be “local monopolies”. So at the movie theatre when you are “captured” inside the ticketed area, a soft drink can run $5 for one, while at the bulk food mart that $5 will get you a 24 pack. At the campground, gasoline can run $6 / gallon when it is $4 at the competitive stations (that are 100 miles away and require an exit and reentry which may involve fees). So there are some common reasons why prices may diverge.

But…

One expects that major competitive markets will reach some kind of equilibrium that is close to parity for equivalent goods.

In regulated industries, this isn’t the case. Prices can be set (and often are set) at arbitrary points by arbitrary political forces. Often this can lead to dramatic dislocations in the economy. In the limit case, in places like the old USSR, where the Central Planned Economy controls all goods supplies and prices, there were cases of farmers feeding bread to pigs. Why? The bread had a price subsidy that made it cheaper than pig feed. (When discovered, these rational farmers were punished severely for not being pig-ignorant and politically correct…)

It came as a bit of a surprise to me that power sources in California were approaching that same kind of “What the???” stage.

Last time I paid the electric power bill, I noticed that the rates now rapidly put one into a place where there were political penalties for using more than an arbitrary “Lifeline” quantity. It was 14 cents / kW-hr for the first 100 something+ kW-hr, then jumped to something like 23.5 cents / kW-hr. That seemed, er, “high” to me. (It runs about 5 cents / kW-hr to make power in most competitive power plants and as low as 2 cents / kW-hr in some older base load facilities).

This got me thinking (always a dangerous thing ;-)

Might there be a cheaper way?

As they were nagging me about the fact that I cooked dinner at dinner time and we watched evening TV in the evening (we have new “Smart Meters” that have managed to figure out most usage is low when folks are sleeping and highest when they get home from work in the evening and turn on lights, entertainment center, cook dinner and wash…). So I got this “Political Nag” about using power the same time everyone else uses power – when it is most desirable and most convenient.

We can escape from the “Smart Meter” if we pay over $100 one time AND something like $25 / month. As the electric part of the bill runs about $100, that’s a pretty steep price. So I figure they will keep sending me paper nags (no, they will never get an email address…)

Looking forward just a bit, I’m fairly certain that they will start to have “Time Of Day” premiums added to prices just as soon as they can get it through the Political Process. It will not be a discount…

My first thought was just that I can make my own electricity. I’ve got a nice Honda generator and at present gasoline prices, I can make it at about $0.50 / kw-Hr (if my estimates are close). So if its “a double”, then the generator can be fired up during “peak”. Yeah, a bit of noise, a bit of smog. Consumption of more petroleum. But nothing is too sacred if you need to go “PC Green” and cut your electricity usage… Still, 50 cents is more than 24 cents and I’d rather pay less, not more.

The next thought was that my Diesel is about the same efficiency without regard to how fast it is running. It makes about 1 kW right now from the alternator and my “average” usage is about 1 kW. (Skipping a bunch of math) I can make power at about 42 cents / kW-hr using my Diesel / 12 vdc alternator and an inverter. PLUS, it lets me use the power in “a few kW bursts” via the battery / inverter set.

Yeah, having the Diesel idle in the driveway would annoy the neighbors and passers by, but… Nothing is too sacred if you need to go “PC Green” and cut your electricity usage… Still, 42 cents is more than 24 cents and I’d rather pay less, not more.

So I looked at the PG&E bill again. Natural Gas runs about $1 / Therm (roughly 100,000 BTU or about 29 kW-hr) and that’s around 3.5 cents per kW-hr worth of fuel. But that’s “baseline” and I’d rapidly be moved into the non-baseline ranges. $1.35 / therm then about $1.75 / therm. So it rapidly runs up to about 5 cents / 6 cents per kW-hr. BUT, you still have to turn it into electricity. That runs it up to about 18 cents / kw-Hr. Hmmmm….. 18 is smaller than 23.5 and I’m starting to like this… ( I could probably get it down closer to 15 cents and maybe even 10 cents / kw-Hr with a bit of work and / or buying some new equipment. If I captured the heat from my generator and used it to, say, heat water, it would approach 5 cents / kW-hr providing I needed the heat… think Alaska and Buffalo New York, not Orlando or Los Angeles… unless you have a pool).

Honda makes a very nice package:

http://www.freewatt.com/freewatt_plus.pdf

but are only selling it in Europe, Japan, and the North East of the USA. (I guess they don’t care that you can use ‘waste heat’ with an ammonia system to make air conditioning. My dream solution would be one of these units with an ammonia AC unit on it. Heat / AC / and electricity… no kW / BTU wasted. But not having $10,000 or so to put into a custom AC build… it will have to wait for my first $Million from a surprise novel…)

So while that (or for commercial operations, the cogen unit made by Capstone Microturbine – our local high school has one and it has worked well for several years now ) will have to wait, I need a more ‘field expedient’ solution…

OK, on the “ToDo” list has gone: “Investigate getting a cogeneration combined heat/power unit eventually” and “price low end natural gas powered ‘backup generators’ as they will pay for themselves and clear a space in the garage where the neighbors are unlikely to hear it and the gasses can be vented.”

Yeah, having a generator running in a ventilated box in the Garage would annoy the neighbors, bother the spouse, piss off the Local PC Gendarmes and probably violate a few local ordiances, but… Nothing is too sacred if you need to go “PC Green” and cut your electricity usage… Besides, 18 cents is a lot cheaper than 24 cents and 15 cents to a dime starts to be “crazy cheaper”, and I’d rather pay less, not more…

So I’m likely to go shopping at the “RV Recycle Center” for old RV generator units with an easy natural gas conversion, and pricing new units. I know that at low power settings (25% or more away from stoichiometric mix) my precombustion chamber style Diesel will run nicely on natural gas just valved into the air intake. (Masters thesis in U.C. Berkeley Engineering Library plus personal experimentation). So it could be as easy as just running a small fuel line sized hose to the car in the driveway and hooking up the inverter (that I already have from the LAST time the Democrats were screwing around with electricity markets in California). So I can get about 2 kW of power for the cost of a small hose and 2 hours of work. At about 18 to 15 cents / kw-Hr. But I’d rather not have to ‘hook up’ and unhook whenever I go somewhere. So looking for that generator is still on the list…

Still, that 15 cents would be a long way from the 3-5 cents for the fuel. Is there a better way?

Fire! I cause you to Burn!

(Apologies to some 1970’s era rock song only 1/2 stuck in my head…)

In looking at the bill, and knowing what we do at dinner time, it’s clear that the 300 W or less of “TV stuff” isn’t the “bulge”. The water heater is gas, so not the washing or showers. Lighting doesn’t change later at night (goes up, in fact, as the TV goes off).

No, the “bulge” is the stove / oven. “All Electric Kitchen”… and I’m a bit fond of baking and casseroles… The oven is a not very low power GE design that runs about 3 kW, so about $3/4 / hour to operate at my costs. Maybe only $1/2 / hour on bake instead of broil.

Add in the cooktop for the side dishes and It’s easy to hit $1 / hour. Figure I cook a meal for the spouse and me, the kids cook one for them… that can be $2 / night. $60 / month. Just about the size of the “bulge”.

So what I really want is heat, not electricity. And gas makes heat very efficiently.

But I’m not going to put a new chimney in the kitchen for a new oven. What to do, what to do…

(gas is plumbed to the cooktop, so I’ll be swapping it for a gas unit “someday”. That will fix about 1/2 the problem.)

Until I do the swap, though, is there a faster solution?

Looking around, I found a useful chart at wiki. Comparative Gallons Of Gasoline Equivalent for different fuels:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gasoline_gallon_equivalent

Down a ways in the page is this chart:

Electricity Costs
1 GGE = 33.40 kWh
For Local Rate
Per kWh 	$/Gallon Equivalent
$0.07 	$2.338
$0.08 	$2.670
$0.09 	$3.006
$0.10 	$3.340
$0.11 	$3.674
$0.12 	$4.000
$0.13 	$4.342
$0.14 	$4.670
$0.15 	$5.010
$0.16 	$5.344
$0.17 	$5.678
$0.18 	$6.012
$0.19 	$6.346
$0.20 	$6.680
$0.25 	$8.350
$0.27 	$9.018
$0.28 	$9.352
$0.29 	$9.686
$0.30 	$10.020

What is particularly interesting is that with gasoline running about $4.30 / gallon here, that makes it about 12-14 cents / kw-Hr equivalent. I have a nice Coleman camp stove that runs on gasoline. So all I need to do, really, to cut from 24 cents to 12 cents (roughly) is get my camp stove out, set it on top of the electric cook stove, and use it.

Who knew?

Gasoline would need to rise to over $8 / gallon before that became a losing strategy. At $8 / gallon, the US economy implodes and the situation self-corrects, so the risk of that lasting long is zero. (Even if the ‘fix’ is a bother…)

Quick. Easy. Millions of homes already have one of those gasoline stoves.

If the PC Crowd jump up the price of electricity too much, if coal power prices “necessarily skyrocket” (to quote Obama), it won’t take long for the average Joe and Jane to figure out that they can cut costs by “Camping in the Kitchen”. That is the moment when Herr Commissar will have a “bread and pigs” moment.

Local Propane sells for about $3 / gallon equivalent last time I looked ( in truck sized units), but jumps up closer to $4 / $5 per gallon for home sized tanks. Even at those prices it is cheaper than electricity. Soo…. Cooking on the Big Outdoor Grill just became a much more economical proposition. Time to add “Shopping for Gas Grill” to the list. Sure, it will put more smog in the air, especially when the ribs start dripping on the burners, but hey, nothing’s too big a burden to go “PC Green” and cut electricity usage…

I’ll likely be getting one that is “dual fuel” and can use wood / charcoal along with propane. Why? Well, I have some bamboo that I need to get rid of… and it’s even cheaper than Propane. Saw one at Lowe’s yesterday for about $120. Lets you do smoking of meats too.

But what about things like Bread and Cakes? Not everyone likes “BBQ Flavored Birthday Cake” and it can be a bit hard to get the hickory smell out of the BBQ… Any way I can add a decent oven?

I found two that are interesting. Aside from the Coleman folding camp oven (that is basically just a tin shell set over the food and burner) there is another product that is a solid cube (so not so good for packing) but a more sturdy oven. Something pretty easy to set on the non-BBQ burners next to the grill. And with a nice door.

Also found this nice “cube” design. Don’t know if the bottom is open or closed.

http://www.foxhill.net/double.php

But in any case it is more sturdy than the Coleman (even if it doesn’t fold for packing).

This one is made for a 2 burner kerosene stove (but works on others, too, per the ad). It looks like it has a closed bottom (which I’d expect with kerosene) and is a nice large size:

http://www.lehmans.com/store/Stoves___Cook_Stoves___Gas_and_Kerosene_Burning___Fullsize_Perfection_Oven___622BB

Update: Following a link or two, I found the “Perfection” stove it is designed to fit. A “made by the Amish” two burner kerosene stove. Runs for 24 hours with one burner on medium on a 1 gallon tank. Call 12 hours with two on medium. I make that about 10 ounces per hour or 5 ounces per burner-hour for “medium” cooking. Locally Kerosene prices are all over the place. From $5 or so / gallon at the gas station to $20 or more for jugs at the more fru-fru stores. Still, one can always get Jet Fuel Kerosene if you try and it runs a bit less. Kerosene is also a safer fuel than gasoline… So about 20 cents / hour / burner on “medium” or about 40 cents / hour using the oven with two burners running. How odd. An Amish solution running about 1/2 the price of my AEK… While I really want one of these (just because it’s so ‘retro’ and connected to the Amish roots) I don’t really have the place to set it up. But IFF I ever get a cabin in the woods…

http://www.lehmans.com/store/Stoves___Cook_Stoves___Gas_and_Kerosene_Burning___Perfection_Kerosene_Cookstoves___62822

So I might “go for it” as it does everything I really need and would let me use relatively cheap gasoline.

But for a “cleaner” propane experience, there’s this one:

http://www.amazon.com/Camp-Chef-Camping-Outdoor-Burner/dp/B0013LLSZG/ref=pd_sim_sbs_auto_1

Currently selling for under $200 is this little gem. Like a portable “real stove” with 2 propane burners on top. Modest built in kitchen like oven. Just dandy for me and the spouse. (Kids move out next year when graduation is over). Runs on disposable bottles for “camping” and can hook up to a bulk tank if desired. Nice. So an oven on the Patio would be all of 20 feet further from the fridge than the one in the wall. I can live with that. Means a bit more time on the patio and less in the kitchen, but I’m fine with that.

Though for a bit over $150 you can get ‘just an oven’ at WalMart:

http://www.walmart.com/ip/Camp-Chef-Oven-Junior/20468062

Just about the right size for a 2 person casserole or the occasional muffins.

These folks have one for under $70 as I type. A little taller with less of a 13 x 9 dish shape, though:

http://www.kotulas.com/deals/ProductDisplay?catalogId=10602&storeId=10152&productId=26110

Decisions decisions… from $40 for the Colman Tin Tent on my existing camp stove to $70-$150 for a “casseroles and more” and on up to $200 ish for an all up stove /oven combo. Not sure which, but clearly it’s time to “spruce up the Patio / Kitchen” and do some measuring and planning. I’ll likely go for the one from Wally World as it does my favorite 9 x 13 sized lasagna dish… and I don’t need the added burners on top of the other one.

There are even more choices listed here:

http://www.nextag.com/camping-oven/products-html

In Conclusion

Yes, I’d much rather use 5 cent per kW-hr nuclear electricity in my clean All Electric Kitchen with zero smoke, fumes, CO2, fire hazard, fuel hazards, and production of soot / particulate matter and push button on/off convenience. But “We MUST Go Green!” after all, and that means using less electricity. (Clearly it must, as the Democrats keep trying to put electricity generators out of business and make prices “necessarily skyrocket”).

I also own an old Dutch Oven of the type for use with coals. Looks like this summer I’ll actually learn to use it… I can make free coals via the bamboo, and it’s hard to get cheaper than “free”. I’ve also bought some cinderblocks and $10 of ‘dryer vent’ materials with which to make a patio “Rocket Stove as seen here: http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2012/05/27/beer-cans-will-save-the-world/ and initial calculations say I can make a decent E85 stove pretty easily. ( The 85% ethanol 15% gasoline blend sells for $3.80 or so locally. Much cheaper than pure alcohol in tiny bottles and cleaner burning than gasoline). We’ll see. It may have some fractional distillation issues with the gasoline component coming off first.

(Though I do have to say, I have this feeling that we, collectively, are headed toward a “feeding bread to pigs” economy and that makes me just a tiny bit worried… as I am not pig-ignorant; and that can be hazardous to my freedom.)

A summer of “Camping at Home” and “playing with fire” looks to be the plan for the summer. Besides, it will get the “cooking heat” out of the house… and cut AC needs.

So I’ll be digging out the gasoline stove while I price propane ovens and smoker / wood-propane grills and learn to make bamboo charcoal. No price is too high to pay for “going Green!” … other than 24 cents per kw-Hr thermal…

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
This entry was posted in AGW and GIStemp Issues, Economics, Trading, and Money, Food, Political Current Events. Bookmark the permalink.

51 Responses to Camping At Home Is Cheaper

  1. EM – here in France the tariff changes by day and by time – there are 6 tariffs total (day and night, times red, white and blue). Red days (expensive) run at about 40 euro cents (around 50 US cents) per kWh which is a barrier to using electric heaters. I heat with wood, which is either cheap or needs to be cut (for free). Those red days only happen for around 4 winter months, and there are 30 in the year. The rest of the time, it’s quite cheap – blue nights (the cheapest) are around 4 euro cents, blue days around 6 euro cents.

    This is not to rub your nose in it, of course. Given the real costs of producing electricity it seems reasonable to me to have this multi-tier pricing level, since using electricity at night for the water-heating cuts the bill quite a bit and also evens out the load on the generating stations. This means you need fewer power stations and they are run closer to capacity, thus are more efficient, so the power generation becomes cheaper per kilowatt-hour.

    Cooking by gas gives you more control, and I use bottled gas for that – it also helps avoid high bills on red days. If you use the gas directly for heat, rather than burn it for electricity, you use less gas overall and thus produce less pollution, although of course the pollution is very local to you rather than far away. The cost-saving seems pretty dramatic for you.

    Since LENR promises to be a bit easier than chopping wood to heat the house, I’m working on that. In the meantime, using heat where you want heat and using electricity to run lighting and the television/PC etc. seems a better and cheaper way to live.

  2. E.M.Smith says:

    @Simon:

    Add to that, that in France most of the power is nuclear, so a big penalty for “load following”. Here we have more natural gas fired turbines that load follow well, so it ought to be about 10 cents / kW-hr or less, even “off hours”. But it isn’t.

    In Texas (where they use their own lignite coal to make power) electricity runs around 7 cents / kW-hr and all of these gyrations would be just silly. They are installing wind turbines to sell power to California; which has a “Green Mandate” at over 20 cents (IIRC about 28 cents) / kW-hr wholesale. Nice work if you can get it… use your own 7 cent power at home, sell Boutique Power at 28 cents to someone who must buy it, sanity or time of day be damned…

    Yes, it is thermodynamically much better to use fuel for heat if you want heat. But economics are often a bit “different”.

    My home is mostly “heat for heat” in that the water heater and space heater are gas. It is only the AEK (All Electric Kitchen) that is a bit out of touch. (Built when OUR nukes were making electricity at under 5 cents per kW-hr).

    I have a gas stove top in hand that is now a “July Project” to install. (The “hole” a stove top sits in varies slightly between gas and electric and has to be within 1/16 inch or about 1 mm; so I may need a new counter top as part of the “project”… we’ll see when I’ve ripped out the old one.) First I need to set up the patio kitchen, though, so nobody will miss the kitchen cooktop if it takes a week or two to get it done….

    Frankly, I didn’t care when we were at 14 cents / kW-hr and I knew it was “economical but take some work” at 18 cents / kW-hr. Hadn’t noticed that we’d already hit 24 cents / kW-hr and still had not done our “necessarily skyrocket” yet… So now I’m doing a bit of “catch up” along with some “pre work”.

    If we go to “Time Of Day” pricing with enough discount, I’ll put most of the house on a UPS and just charge the house at night. Only leaving the “big surge” items directly connected. Motor for the heater, and washer / dryer for example. Heck, if it gets cheap enough at 2 am, I’ll even build a battery box and get a big inverter for them, too ;-)

    But for now, with no TOD discount, it’s 24 cents every day all the time. So best I can do is just “become my own utility” and use “heat for heat” from the lowest cost fuel source.

    The “good news” is that our climate is mild enough that home heating is pretty much a 4 month deal. Dec Jan Feb Mar. Sometimes a bit in Nov and April. This year we used the heater into May, but I hope that isn’t the future norm…

    I have a fireplace insert, and in prior years have used wood during peak months. However, in California we have the California Air Resources Board that has reached a pinnacle of stupid. They have a goal of zero anything added to the air. So we get “spare the air” days and “no burn” days. There are also laws preventing any new fireplace installations and on the days when you most need heat (cold winter days with still air) we are forbidden to use the fireplace. There are fireplace police with IR cameras that run around looking for hot chimneys and writing citations with large fines…

    So on my “someday list” of projects is to make a clandestine wood heater that vents diluted cooled air away from the chimney and has a small hot water circulation pump into the house. Just enough to keep one bedroom warm. I’ve been using the electric heater for that, but…

    So at night when the house heater is shut down, I’d turn on the little roll around electric 1 kW job and just heat the bedroom. Oddly, what would make a LOT of sense, is to get a small generator with a water jacket. Park it in a cinderblock double wall box behind the house and run a hot water loop under the floor for “general heat” while taking the 1 – 2 kW output and using it to focus a little ‘extra’ in the bedroom. Then when I get up, the whole house isn’t fully cold (saving on utility power) and I’ve got a kW or 2 to use for “morning stuff”. Then shut the generator down ( or let the gas run off…) for the rest of the day. Repeat at night. Biggest issues would be making it quiet enough ( I know I can hide the heat signature well enough) and that I’d need some custom work to make it. (Not a lot of water cooled <3 kW generators for sale…) Ought to run about a dime / kW-hr of total used kW (thermal and electric).

    The most effective solution would be let the power company make power in the most efficient way possible and deliver it to me; and I'd buy the best appliances for those prices. That's what we did from about 1930 to 1970 or so. Worked really well… But now electricity is a Political Football. Best I can do is stop playing the game…

    At any rate, thanks for the input on the Red White and Blue in France. Gives me an idea what is likely to arrive next from EU land to Sunny Kalifornia (to reach the rest of the USA 5 – 10 years later).

    As I type this, I'm in the easy chair on the patio. "Lunch" was really late breakfast. Ham and Eggs with coffee. Made on the propane single burner "emergency" stove that sat in the box in the kitchen for the last 20 years. ( It got pulled out and used during various storms and earthquakes and what not. Probably a half dozen times? It was easy for the spouse to set up and use. Screw on tank, light it. Knob to adjust.) Still one of my favorite $10 buys. I think they are likely in the $15-20 range now:
    http://centurycamping.com/stoves/trail/

    Got the Coleman 2 burner gasoline stove out of the back corner of the garage where it has been sitting for about 20 years too. (Last used during earthquake preparation drills about then and left unused since, as we just used the 1 burner propane job in actual power outages and in the Loma Prieta 7.1 quake (that's what it was when it happened, revisionism to below 7 will be ignored. I'm not giving up my 7.x Merit Badge! :-) so it’s essentially “new in box” with only one “proof of function” burn on it. The project for later today is to clear a spot on the flagstone (next to the ’50s era fire pit with giant metal grid that’s a poor grill…) for it to be set up. Then I’ll have 3 burners “good to go”. Still need to settle on an oven option… I really like mix and bake dinner casseroles…

    It gets me out in the sun and fresh air a bit more too ;-)

    But at zero added cost (all materials and fuels in inventory already) I’ve cut my electric stove usage to “near zero”… (the rest of the family not so much…)

    As prices rise, more folks will do the same. It doesn’t take long for insight to spread.

  3. EM – the prices you’re being charged are so unreasonable as to almost be criminal. There may be a way you can get your revenge by installing photovoltaics. I suspect they also have a buy-back rate that’s also around 28c/kWh. Certainly there’s that deal running at around those rates in the UK and France.

    I’ve found that every stove-top I’ve installed has been just enough different that the previous hole was not right. One of those things where some sort of standard would be useful, but no-one gets round to complaining about. You could try using high-fired ceramic tiles around the new one if there are slight gaps – they would be strong and easy to clean. Stone is nice, but harder to clean unless it’s marble or similar.

    In France the electricity is around 81% nuclear with 10.7% renewables, 3.4% coal, 3% natural gas and a few oil-fired and others, according to my bill. That gives very little wriggle-room for load-following, so the structure makes sense. There are of course a lot of other tariffs available to businesses and individuals, so I have the one that suits my low consumption.

    Since I’m out in the sticks, power interruptions are pretty common. In summer, normally just a few cycles out when somewhere gets a lightning strike, the same in winter with the possibility of a longer outage. This is a good reason for generating your own electricity, or at least for having a battery backup/UPS setup for the house. It does tend to be just long enough to reset the router and too short to give a proper reset, so it’s something I need here for the comms. Rather than go for big lead-acid batteries and a house to keep them in, it may be a better idea to go for the supercaps that are just about getting to mature technology now. I have to wait a bit till the price goes down, but it may be cost-effective for you now.

    It’s worth saying that it looks like LENR-driven generators (home-sized) look like they really will be available in a few years now. As you said on the SPAWAR note a few days ago, it’s real science just waiting for the technology to become mature enough. There will be a delay in getting them on-sale in the States because of regulatory problems, but give it another year after the first ones go on sale and there will be so many grey imports in the States that they will become easily available. It’s worth bearing this in mind, that your current solution may only need to last a few years before a better one becomes available.

    Getting the rest of the family to use the new toys is always a problem. Try expressing a preference for flame-grilled food….

  4. adolfogiurfa says:

    Conclusion: You need to change politicians or use them as fuel… :-)

  5. E.M.Smith says:

    @Simon:

    Well, I’m the cook for 1/2 the family. The other half will use whatever stove top is available and also like using the propane grill on the porch. As I’m the guy who does 90% of the baking in the oven, it’s mostly going to just be swap the cook top and move my baking somewhere else.

    Looking at the “Camp Ovens” at the local store ( that one with built in burners and the one that’s the same thing minus the burners) it’s just a touch too short between the lower shelf and the top to take my “Chicken Roasting Pot”, so I’d either need to get Yet Another Pot (without the handle on the top…) or go with a different solution.

    Having looked around today, I ran into something I like ( $40 at Walmart) for a “Brinkman Smokin’N Grill. It’s on this page with a bunch of others:

    http://www.walmart.com/cp/Smokers-Fryers/4885

    As it will use the chunks of Timber Bamboo that are stacking up… The picture on it at least shows it doing a whole chicken. I’ve wanted to learn how to “smoke meats” anyway, and it looks like a cheap way to try it and decide if I like it. If I don’t, no big loss. If I do, well, I can ‘move up’ to a more deluxe model as my skills justify it. ( I check charcoal – not in the list above – and it’s about 50 cents a pound. Diesel being about 50 cents a pound, it isn’t too much out of line. Just missing all the hydrogen ;-)

    Need to look at similar things before I buy. though, just to be sure I’m not making a ‘novice stupid’ choice and could do better with a day of thinking…

    Then I can work out what to do for a ‘casserole oven’ later. Then again, if I’m having BBQ chicken and smoked sausages and ribs, maybe that casserole isn’t so important ;-)

    FWIW I don’t really need to do any of this. More a “political statement” of my own. They nag me, I stop buying their product…

    Frankly, having looked at several of the “camp ovens”, I’m most likely to design my own and have The Mechanic weld it up for me. (He’s great with TIG and MIG and does sheet metal a fair amount. Also aluminum. So an inner box and an outer box with hot air flow in between. Door on the front with inset temperature guage. Ought to be about it. Would keep fumes out of the food and be big enough for my chicken pot… Or maybe I’ll just buy one of the pre-made ones…

    Per Solar:

    Unfortunately, I’ve done a very nice job of making sure the home is modestly well shaded… then the neighbor planted Redwood Trees ‘up sun’ from me about 25 years ago. (They are now about 50? foot tall and shade the whole house mid-day). So solar is a ‘no-go’. Besides, I’m not interested in “feeding the monster” by taking subsidy money. “It’s just wrong.”…

    Doesn’t work so well for powering the oven for all of an hour at night either… so it’s more a buy/sell market manipulation proposition than a technical fix.

    Back at the UPS. I “collected” several 1.5 kW ‘backup UPS’ boxes when doing a shutdown of one company. Used them for about a decade and they carried us through several power outages (not even the TV fading). Now the batteries need replacing. So not a big deal to swap and have them running again. Look at the local computer supply place and you will likely find an APC or similar UPS for not too much money. Just put the router et all on one and no more worries. (They do “cheep” on a power fail, so if you like quiet disconnect the ‘alert’..)

    The big one is about the size of a briefcase, so not that much space.

    It’s stuff like motors and fridge that would take a closet sized one. For those, I’m willing to just plug them into the generator on a power outage.

    @Adoflo:

    Render one, two Ceasars… and make into biodiesel… ;-)

  6. Sandy McClintock says:

    I have also been thinking about LPG as a source of heat or electricity. You can buy small generators that use LPG but they look too expensive to be viable. The nice thing about them is they are less likely to be hard to start when used only on ‘red’ days – liquid fuels tend to degrade in the tank.
    FYI I have a Solar PV system rated at 5KVA peak. It is averaging 22KWh per day but this drops to 5KWh on bad days makes 32 KWh on the best days. The mid day peak rarely reaches 4.1KW so dirty panels may be reducing efficiency.
    I have been reading up about LENR following your recent tip-off :) It seems Palladium-Deuterium was the more successful – but expensive system. Nickel-Hydrogen is a much cheaper combination and is claimed by Rossi (ecat.com) to work and be able to run for 6 months between services (rebuilds?).
    Another thing I picked up was the claim that when fuel-cells convert Methane etc to electricity, they are about twice as efficient as using the gas to drive a generator. http://www.datacenterknowledge.com/archives/2010/02/22/google-using-bloom-box-but-not-in-data-center/

  7. E.M.Smith says:

    @Sandy McClintock:

    Were I buying my generator today, I’d be getting a “Tri Fuel” generator:

    http://www.electricgeneratorsdirect.com/power/tri-fuel-portable-generators.html

    Set up to run on your choice of LPG, Nat Gas, or gasoline.

    Have a “bottle” of propane for “typical” standby / emergency use. Use gasoline for planned / expected use when fuel cost matters. Have the parts to connect to the Natural Gas Line if needed (or connect it all the time if you expect to use it a lot in one location).

    These folks take real Honda generators and “convert” them to tri-fuel:

    http://www.generatorsales.com/order/Honda-EU3000iS-Tri-fuel.asp?page=EU3000iS_Tri_Fuel

    for the 3 kW job. Need more? How about 10.8 kW continuous 12 kW surge?

    http://www.norwall.com/products/Winco-HOME-POWER-12000-Watt-Tri%252dFuel-Portable.html

    Run off natural gas to avoid all the fuel deliveries / refills for a 10 kW production… but able to run off propane or gasoline if the earthquake takes down the natural gas lines…

    In my “dream home” I’d have a tri-fuel electric start plumbed into the natural gas line, with a couple of 20 lb tanks of propane in a shed well away from the home. Along with an old car with 18 gallons of gas in the tank and a ‘bleed line’ preinstalled into the fuel line…

    Almost always, just hit the ‘start’ button. After the quake, put it on a propane tank in less than a 5 minutes, get everyone settled. Have the neighbors over and start them cooking dinner on the grill with the OTHER propane tank. Then get a gas can and go drain a ‘refill’ from the car when convenient. After dinner, with tents set up and folks going to bed, turn off the generator and swap from the propane tank to the gasoline (to save propane for cooking).

    Next day, run on gasoline with ‘refills’ as needed from the car / tank. Invite rest of block over for “BBQ, Tunes, and Cold Drinks from the fridge”. Remind them to bring any meat from their fridge as it will be good that day, but not the next, and that beverage cooling is provided but they need to bring the beverages ;-) Declare block party commencement and assign someone to collect gasoline from participants cars as they agree that “Pot Luck with Party” sounds much better than “Rotten meat alone in the dark”…

    Then again, if your solar cells survive, all you really need is a battery box and inverter…

    Per fuel cells:

    There are folks making such things ready for home cogeneration as well. Honda has one in Japan, IIRC. Still very pricey and I don’t know how they do in earthquakes… buy yes, more efficient. FWIW Santa Clara has a 2 MW one running:

    http://www.power-eng.com/articles/print/volume-100/issue-7/news-update/santa-clara-fuel-cell-plant-is-up-and-running.html

    About 10 miles from me…

    In an ideal world my utility company would be doing all this stuff and setting up the fuel cells to turn the cheap natural gas into really cheap electricity. But the political class has decided to break things so that they can be important and talk about the need to fix them instead…

    Sigh…

    The “problem” is stuff like this:

    http://news.cnet.com/8301-11128_3-20037454-54.html

    Stationary fuel cell makers, including Bloom Energy and FuelCell Energy, focus mainly on business customers. But ClearEdge Power is targeting its box, about the size of a refrigerator, to both homes and small businesses. The company has sold about 200 units in California, with more than half of the fuel cells installed in 34 California businesses, according to a representative.

    The price for a five-kilowatt unit is $56,000 before installation. ClearEdge Power is initially marketing to consumers in California, who receive up to $17,500 per five-kilowatt unit in financial incentives from utility rebates and federal tax credits. Commercial customers can get as much as $27,500 in incentives, according to the company.

    So instead of a $1500 5 kW generator it’s $56,000 / 5 kW. “only” about $55K more… but you can get a subsidy for $17,500 of that… (Typically industrial generation runs about $2k / kW of capacity, so you can see this is “crazy expensive” in the home installations… No, I don’t know why.) But that my taxes are paying over $3k / kW just in subsidies is just crazy.

    Welcome to politically driven decisions about power production…

    Just because a $20,000 solar panel or a $56,000 fuel cell is subsidized, that doesn’t make it a good nor wise investment for society. It makes it a political boondoggle. That the end user and the manufacturer and the politician may gain at the end, at the expense of the tax payer, does not make it a good investment for society. It makes it a political boondoggle and tax rip off.

    I’m so hoping LENR works so this junk gets tossed… Though a collapse of the California Government looks to be winning the race. It, too, ought to stop some of this insanity…

    So, for me, I refuse to support “Subsidy Insanity” and insist on only spending money on things that have real payback in real wealth conservation or wealth building.

    Were I doing this for more than just a hobby / way to complain about utility companies and political driven stupid: I’d use a Lister Type Diesel running a generator with hot water capture for space heat. Widely used in south Asia.

    http://www.generatorsales.com/order/09929.asp?page=L09929

    and I’d run it on used french fry oil for nearly nothing…

    Per the Rossi “rebuilds”: I think he uses a metal powder electrode, likely preloaded with H. After several months the powder will have sintered and the H depleted (despite some coming in from the feed gas) and output will drop. IMHO. So easiest to swap electrodes and start over. Plus gives him more revenue ;-)

  8. p.g.sharrow says:

    After spending 5 days and 6 nights snowed in and in the dark I decided that the utility was just not dependable enough for me. A friend gave me a 1200 watt UPS that was dead,(batteries) so I gutted it and added a dozen salvaged 12v batteries and had a 10,000watt hours backup for my lights, TV, computer and other electronics as well as line fault protection. Not quite enough for the refrigerator but strong enough to operate the coffee making or microwave for a few minuets. I recommend to my friends that they should at least hook up something similar to run their electronics. After 6 years of use the batteries are dieing and need to be replaced, guess I will buy good new ones this time. Maybe even a couple of solar panels to charge the batteries. No blown Electronics on this circuit, I suppose I should make this a permanent installation. pg

  9. Ed Forbes says:

    I looked hard at the tri fuel solution several months ago. Honda looked to be the best bet.
    With natural gas and an inverter, I was looking to use it as I would on grid solar, but no solar panels.

    If rates per kw in CA continue To increase, will likely go this way as natural gas now looks to stabilize in cost.

  10. Adrian Camp says:

    This one?

  11. George says:

    You are touching on a sore subject with me. With current CARB regulations in California, if it gets to the point where I can not afford to cook with the stove or if the power supply is so unstable that I can not rely on it, I can be fined/jailed for cooking outside on a “spare the air” day. So basically what they will be doing is telling people they must go hungry because of air regulations but this is absolutely asinine because one can suffer smoky air, they can’t suffer starvation or food poisoning from uncooked/undercooked food. If a wood fire is detected on such a day and you are reported by a neighbor, the consequences could be steep.

    The politicians are going to have to learn that you can not just keep jacking energy costs up and at the same time expect the air to get cleaner because at some point people are going to start running individual generators or burning wood for energy. I have access to a fairly large amount of pretty good sized oak trees that are down on the ground. I could cut up enough wood to cook my food for a year or two. I can put a wood burning cookstove in a shed in the back yard and basically keep that thing going most, if not all, of the time. I could also get a kerosene cookstove like the Amish use and burn WVO biodiesel in it. All I need is a steady supply of waste vegetable oil which isn’t really all that hard to find; just find a tortilla factory.

    But what chaps my ass is the notion that people will be put into a position where they can’t afford to use their appliances and the state is going to fine/jail them for using wood. The state of California is about to get itself into a war with its own people.

  12. R. de Haan says:

    George says:
    30 May 2012 at 7:51 am

    “The state of California is about to get itself into a war with its own people”.

    It’s a war on humanity George and it goes far beyond California.

    From Africa we had reports of women beaten to death for cooking their food with Camel dung.

    Modern societies like Germany and the UK now have serious problems maintaining base load power generation. We know where current Government poliies bring us.
    This is global and the masses are still sleeping.

  13. R. de Haan says:

    In the mean time Shell operations in the Arctic region are hammered by… thick ice
    http://climaterealists.com/?id=9710

  14. EM and pg – for your UPS battery problems, it may be worth trying this http://members.shaw.ca/pferlow/desulfator.htm and although I haven’t tried this myself there are good reports. At the moment I’m too busy on other stuff (LENR) to spend the time needed to prove this one, but you can also buy them commercially.

    On your “save the air” days, can you run the barbecue on charcoal? Those rules seem pretty draconian – I thought France was pretty complex in the rules of what you could and couldn’t do. Down in the south-west, however, the rules are there to be applied only if you break them too obviously, and generally things are pretty relaxed.

    Interesting point – if the trees that are down are left to rot naturally they’ll produce a fair amount of methane, but if you burn them they’ll mainly produce (carbon-neutral) carbon dioxide. The AGW people tell us that methane is a far more potent greenhouse gas, so by that standard it is better to burn the wood. Meantime I read that around 1/4 of the methane production is by termites, and another 1/4 is by cattle. I’m not sure how they produce these estimates, though – too much seems to be a guess based on a very small sample.

    Fuel cells in general run pretty hot, and take a while to start or stop. Given the costs of purchasing and running them, it is not really a home-use device yet. Utility companies should be producing cheap electricity with them, though, since it looks like the USA has more than enough natural gas to power itself cheaply and reliably for a century or so. Even with the capital costs being so high, the electricity produced will still be cheaper and the pollution is much lower.

    Back in ’82 or so I nearly got a job with Lister’s in Dursley as one of their programmers. One of my friends at the time lived out in the woods, and his Lister diesel generator ran the whole house. Once a year it was taken down for a maintenance day, but otherwise running all day. A new power line was laid in his direction and he was forced to to on the utility power, and subsequently suffered a lot more power cuts when the line failed. Those Lister diesels are tremendously reliable. If you heat the filtered cooking-oil to around 70°C before injecting it, they are supposed to run on that quite happily. No need to make biodiesel if you are running it all the time, though if you are starting it’s easier to use diesel of some sort.

    One other alternative heating method would be to use old cooking-oil in a spray burner. With enough air-mix and an insulating fire-brick burn chamber the flames are soot-free. Try it with a compressed-air paint sprayer set to a fine spray, and light the spray – somewhat of a flame-thrower. Useful if you live near a taco factory or KFC etc….. It’s not burning wood, so may be legal until they find out.

  15. p.g.sharrow says:

    Back in the “Good old Days” we had slow speed DeWitt diesel generator units that were quite loud. To quiet them a barrel was buried in the ground and the engine was exhausted into the barrel. pg

  16. R. de Haan says:

    E.M, as you know I have been doing my share of off grid home power generation, most of it based on propane fuel and some solar voltaic so I have read your “camping article” with interest.

    I am sure those with two right hands and some brain will adapt to any situation but the fact is that we don’t have any energy problems other than a political regime that wants us to think we have a problem thus creating a situation where they can fleece us with the consent of the masses.
    I have concluded that it is more effective to spend your time fighting the political regime than playing around with beer cans (because that is exactly what they want you to do).

    This is about our freedom and we should invest our precious time effectively bringing the current pact of freeloaders and thiefs down.

    So, write your book and publish it.

  17. adolfogiurfa says:

    @R.de Haan: Though the “Global Warming” scam was defeated and you have to be a fool to just believe in it, the speculative elite calls it now “Sustainability”, and all leftist fools (not paid) are defending such a “sustainability”, which goes from fighting against “trash food” ( they, obviously want to become the owners of very profitable fast food chains), against mining (those corporations not owned by them), etc.etc. I have arrived at the conclusion that they want to own everything. They work through the UN and through NGO´s, and anyone who dares to oppose their will it is a human rights violator.
    It´s OK if you are paid by them, but just believing in their lies, “social justice” and “fair share” included, it is utterly silly.
    An example to make it clear: “Land Reform” was one of their lies/arguments to bring “social justice” to farms, however, wheresoever it has been applied, what has happened in the end is that land property changed to their hands with no “social justice” at all.

  18. Pascvaks says:

    @Adolfo-
    “Conclusion: You need to change politicians or use them as fuel… :-)”
    @ R. de Haan-
    “Civil disobedience anyone”
    _____________
    Said in jest? I think Not entirely.
    This is a very ‘real’ alternative (at least in terms of ‘likely’ possibilities to rising prices); in fact if history be any guide to human nature, it’s more “likely” than everyone using old cooking oil from KFC (which won’t last long –maybe 30 seconds– if the economy goes belly-up anyway;-). People (when counted in the millions) don’t really have much of an alternative source than their current system, and when they get tired of it being inefficient or totally currupt, and after they ‘steam’ a little in a cold house afraid to lite up a BBQ for fear of Clean Air Cops, it’s Sayonara, Auf Wiedersehen, Adieu, Adiós, Ciao, Ta’ta, So Long, Good-Bye to everything and everyone. They get this bad-hair-day kind’a thing and want to rip someone’s eyes out. Usually the psychos at the bottom of the food chain (college students and gangs looking for an excuse to ‘march’ or loot) are the get-it-firsters, but it spreds like fire on a nice Santa Ana day in Kaliforniastan. Really!

    Anyway! That really didn’t need to be said, we all know it, we’ve seen it. But for the Beavis and Butt-Head Web Cops monitoring all we say and do I thought they ought to get some ‘feedback’ to pass on to the Top Cops. (Snarrrl, bark, bark, yhip, yhip,,,,ahhhhh… mea-ahoooo?;-)
    _____________

    NASA already has the technology, remember we’ve already paid for the R&D, there’s nothing to do now but give it all to the Chinese and sit back a wait. Right? That is the ‘American Way’! Imagine, in no time a’tall we’ll be cooking and heating with natural gas from HWC’s (Human Waste Converters) and running everything on 24vDC from house shingles with photovoltaic cells implanted in asphalt (24vDC HSWPCIIA’s;-)

    _____________

    To all you Feds out there, thanks for listening. You’ve been a marvelous audience. I know! You know exactly where to find me, and will, if I keep this up. But you see it’s the medicine I take, sometimes it keeps me calm and sweet, sometimes it doesn’t. You really ought to go after all those foreign drug manufacturers first. Sayonara Guys, whereever you are!

    ____________

    PS: Chiefio- (Encode) Rice Hulls(EndEncode;-)

  19. Power Grab says:

    EM, I like the way you think. And the company you keep. This is all so fascinating!

    I have a couple thoughts to contribute:

    1. Isn’t Hillary Clinton working on some kind of “clean stove” initiative that would affect folks in the Third World? They say they’re trying to save them from deaths caused by cooking fires. But when I heard about it, I thought it was just another way to force people to use expensive fuel sources – or no fuel at all, which could conceivably lead to fewer people due to undercooked food! Anyway, what’s to prevent those PC-crazed loons in Kalifornia from taking up that cause, too?

    2. When I was in college, I asked for a “large toaster oven” for Christmas because the big oven in the house I was renting did not work. By the time I got the little oven (a Toastmaster System III), the landlord had replaced my non-working big oven with one that worked. But that’s beside the point. I found that the little oven, which looks like a toaster oven on steroids, and works great for baking and uses less electricity and heats the house less than the big oven. I still have it. It bakes. It broils. It also has a slow-cook setting and makes wonderful slow-cooked pot roast (better than my mom’s!). It holds two racks, and you can really bake in it. I wouldn’t try to bake a whole turkey in it, but it would probably handle a turkey breast just fine. Since you like casseroles and baked goods, you might consider looking for something like that. I got another one for the office off Ebay that was somewhat newer than mine and has a convection fan built in so it can cook things in less time than usual. The fan also helps prevent hot spots, which were not really a problem with my original oven, though.

    Good luck!

  20. adolfogiurfa says:

    @Power Grab: All these initiatives end in another kind of “stoves” or rather “kilns”…Be careful.

  21. Pascvaks says:

    FYI – FWIW –
    (In a real pinch, when the Klimate ‘n Fresh-Air Kaliforniestan KGB is out thar’ sniffin’ n waintin’ fer ye ta lite-up yer Bubba’Q and ya ain’t got all day ta Kook yer Vittals;-)

    Where There Be a Will, There Be a Way!

    http://www.solarcooker-at-cantinawest.com/things-sitting-in-the-garage-for-a-haybox-cooker.html

  22. Power Grab says:

    @adolfogiurfa:

    I know.

  23. E.M.Smith says:

    @Adrian Camp:

    Yup, that’s the one!

    @P.G. Sharrow:

    I have a couple of those UPS-with-dead-battery things sitting in the “deal with” heap. Just need to decide to buy an exact replacement and put them back where they were (in between wall and entertainment / computer clusters for example) or perhaps add a large outboard RV battery for much longer life and make them a more “permanent” feature. Or just toss in the recycle if I do something else…

    Usually available for free about 4 or 5 years after a company buys them after the last major power outage ;-)

    @Ed Forbes:

    Easy enough to do. I’ve got a natural gas “stub” to one spot in the garage where an old gas dryer used to be. Has the valve and everything. I’m about $500 to $1000 (depending on size I want) and one weekend away from having my own Natural Gas driven utility. That’s the barrier to cross and it’s not very high. (Bigger issue is convincing the spouse that having a motor running in the garage is “OK” even in a box with exterior vents…) That’s a large part of why I’d likely build a battery box and put in a big inverter (so 90% of the time the generator is off, only a couple hours a day does it charge batteries). That way it can run when SWIMBO is gone ;-)

    Leaving the “big motors” in the AC / washer on line power feeds lets me shrink the whole system (as it can be sized for ‘normal’ instead of ‘surge’) while converting the stove to gas lets me just tell them to stuff it on that electricity for heat thing…

    The Honda motors are designed to run for years continuously as they are commonly sold to places with no effective power grid as their primary power source. I’ve seen “street vendors” that use their Honda 8 hours a day every day for years and years… running the lights on their “stand”.

    I need about 20 kW-hr / day, so a 5 kW generator would need to run about 4 hours a day. Not hard at all. Charge / discharge losses roughly the same as the demand dumped via using direct heat instead of electricity in the stove, so I can use that ‘shortcut’ of ignoring both.

    @George:

    OK, the “Advanced California Strategy” – that I’ve avoided going into as it’s a bit arcane and only really applies with the Insanity Of CARB…

    I have a ‘portable electric oven’ that I bought a few years back for large Thanksgiving Dinners where the oven was full. It looks like a giant roasting pan and plugs into a normal wall socket ( so 110 VAC < 15 amp). This is a smaller version ( in a quick look I couldn't find a picture of mine, that's about 1.5 cu ft)
    http://wize.com/crock-pots-and-slow-cookers/p392728-hamilton-beach-proctor-silex-32700-portable-roaster-oven

    So on "spare the air" days when I can't use wood / bamboo in an open BBQ / Smoker mode, nor have a 'home fired" wood oven…

    I fire up the "emergency generator" and plug in the portable electric oven ;-)

    They will have to come up with some law that says it's illegal to use "emergency generators" for this to be forbidden. (AND, if they do, I just clip the 2 kW inverter onto the car and…. )

    See, they can make the rules and The Folks can find ways around them…

    But yes, they are slowing defining themselves into a war with the people.

    FWIW part of why I've not been very fast about getting an "alternative" oven that runs on propane or "whatever" is that I already have the "Generator and portable oven" bypass on wall power. BTW, I'm also pretty sure that "Propane BBQ" is exempt from the "no burn" regulations, so a 'stove top oven' that sits on the gas BBQ ought to also be a head scratcher for the PC Police…

    BTW, any place that sells French Fries replaced the oil daily to weekly (depending on the place) so there's LOTS of WVO. Also you can make a retort to make your own charcoal. Put the wood in a can with the gasses piped back under the pot. Have a screen in the pipe to prevent flash back during startup and make sure the lid can 'lift' rather than explode… Build a small fire under it on "burn days". Wood inside will start to distill off CO, CH4 and H3COH that then burns under the pot. End game is you get charcoal. (You can do this without the gas burn but with more wood consumption and greater safety…) Same thing could be done with a container to restrict oxygen getting to the fuel set in a BBQ. Think "pipe with small holes in it" so gas can get out but oxygen not in in enough quantity to matter. Charcoal is not "burning wood" on "no burn days" ;-) It's using a "BBQ" and "that's different"…

    If you really want to get into it, you can make a wood distillation device that condenses the vapors and make your own methanol for "those days"…

    Finally, look up Biogas or Gobar Gas fermenters. All that cellulose (especially the leaves and twigs) can be turned into methane. Now they get to say that you can't use a gas appliance? Not going to happen. Gobar gas is common in India and Pakistan and related

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biogas

    I've thought of making one just to play with it, but not enough time and space. It would take one about the size of a bathroom to make enough to be interesting. Then again, if you use wood MOST days and only need the gas sometimes… slow production and storage is fine.

    Welcome to California: Looking to 3rd World Nations for guidance for our future…

    @R. de Haan:

    Interesting links, thanks! Ice thick in the Arctic, who knew ;-)

    BTW, I can do multiple things at once. Often I do things like "Play with beer cans" or "set up cinderblock stove" with the hands while the brain is working through a mental puzzle for an article… or The Book…

    BTW, on the "civil disobedience" point: IF it catches on, a lot of folks will find a new use for beer cans and rust… ( Thermite is powdered aluminum and iron oxide. Brings down towers nicely from a ring of it poured around the base and lit. I can think of ways to defend a wind farm, but it's not easy, nor cheap, and not likely to stop a fast hit and run.) I REALLY hope it doesn't reach that point. I'm in favor of simple "moral suasion" of folks and generally despise gratuitous damage to property. ( If offends my sense of 'preservation of wealth'). Once it reaches that point, the rate of damage production usually accelerates to general destruction as the folks who love Chaos and Delinquency join 'movements' just to commit destruction (you see some of that now on the side of the "Greens" and EarthFirsters) and the Authorities escalate in response bringing their own destruction to the party. In the end, everyone loses (just some more than others).

    @Simon:

    Interesting idea. Pulsed power to get through the sulphate. But the batteries in these things a little "Gel Cell" about 10 cm on a side. Not worth it, really. I'm mostly interested in setting up my battery box (bought during the Gov. Grey (out) Davis years but not needed once "regime change" was voted by the people ;-) and putting in a large deep cycle RV battery. Still, maybe a few years after that I'll need to desulphate it …

    Yes, the CARB California Air Resources Board has set for itself the goal of near nothing in the air, Having achieved more than clean enough, it needed a new reason to continue to exist.

    So there are "Spare the air days" where you are not supposed to do things like run your lawn mower or use a fireplace.

    BBQ is "special". I'm sure eventually they will try to ban it, but for now the BBQ lobby has gotten it "OK to use". So I once burned up a pile of rubbish in the back yard (where "open fire" is prohibited) by feeding it to the old Brick BBQ (with about a 2 foot by 3 foot fire pit) one shovel at a time. Had a plate of cheap hotdogs sitting next to it the whole time so that if the PC Police showed up I could just say "I like my hot dogs well done."….

    The old Lister engines were designed with vegetable oil in mind. Just warm it up, as you note. They sell them already to go with a heat exchanger and all… But I need more room to do that.

    I'm not too worried about finding paths around the rules. For example, I could just make a big box filled with eutectic salts. Run a fire for days making them molten and hot, then on "spare the air" days put the fire out. The "Salt box" would stay hot for days… and as we have a 3 day "pulse" to air flow, in about 2 days I start the fire again….

    There's no shortage of "ways"; it is more about finding the one that is cheapest and laziest ;-)

    @Adolfo & Pascvaks:

    That's why I'm not fond of "revolutions" and "civil actions". They end up coopted by one side or the other. They become ugly pretty quick.

    Yes, we're pretty much stuck with the capital stock we have when things go bad. (That's why I have a gas BBQ, a charcoal pit, some bamboo growing, a natural gas feed, and electric stove, a gasoline generator, a Diesel car and inverter, a…)

    Yes, most folks have no clue and do not prepare.

    Yes, after the quake "Smith's Kitchen" will open and both feed and educate:… (While you are enjoying your Raccoon Stew, thanks Jim for the raccoon, I'll be showing you how to make a stove from the rubble of your home and how to dry fruit on it. Jane has a load of fruit on her tree that won't keep, so work with her on that…)

    FWIW, I've "hung out with cops" a lot in my life. While the #1 rule is "follow orders and the law", most of them are not sympathetic to stupid laws… Their generally good folks doing a job with a lot of crap in it. Some from their "clients" and a lot from the bosses… Generally a simple "This is illegal? Ok, I'll tear it down / shut it off / where can I learn the rules?" gets you a pass on the first "Aw Shit Visit"… They want to bust "Bad Guys", not harass the source of the paycheck.

    @Power Grab:

    Well, you hang out here too ;-)

    Per the Hillary Stove: Didn't know that… It's a bit of a "hot button" for me, too. Women walking miles to collect tons of wood to make themselves blind cooking food for men who fight for dominance just "wears me the wrong way"… The Rocket Stove is being promoted in may areas (Madagascar in particular where 90%+ of the island has been denuded for cooking fuel…)

    I've often said that promoting it would do more to "Save the planet" than anything else.

    Maybe I'll have reconsider tossing snide remarks at Hillary… She has had to put up with Bill ;-)

    I'll look into it. For more reason than just "personal use".

    Yikes! I have a "toaster oven" on the shelf. Largely unused due to sloth other than at Thanksgiving… Just right for small muffins / rolls and OK for modest sized casseroles…

    Why didn't I think of that…

    At any rate, with it in the mix, I have 3 levels of "oven" already: Toaster, Portable, 3 kW Built in" and really I'm just looking for an excuse to make / buy a non-electric one…

    Bet the toaster oven will even work well of my 1 kW generator… I feel a grilled cheese sandwich coming on ;-)

  24. E.M.Smith says:

    Clearing plants from the “next to the old BBQ” shelf (that I’ve been using as a nursery of sorts) I made a space to set up the camping stove. Right now the Coleman is quietly heating a pan of Mexican Beans. Despite having been in storage for about 20 years and with a bit of old Coleman Fuel still in it, filling with Unleaded (also about 2 years old from the “Generator Can” stored with fuel stabilizer) and it fired right up.

    Oops… pot is steaming… guess lunch is ready. Dang that thing is fast…

    Maybe a grilled cheese later ;-)

    UPDATE:

    I added “Charcoal” to my cost spreadsheet. It only has about 9000 BTU / lb (wood is about 7000 / lb) and costs about 50 cents / pound for local cheap stuff. (Expensive stuff twice as much).

    At that point, it runs about 19 cents / kW-hr Thermal AND you have to allow for the start up lag and shutdown waste. Using commercial charcoal is likely a ‘break even’ with the high end of my electric rate. Home grown wood / bamboo and charcoal made from it YMMV.

    Lowest cost stays Natural Gas by a long shot while next is, surprise, Propane in bulk cylinders at 10 cents and Diesel at 11.5 cents, then Gasoline at 12 to 13 cents. (Using $10 / fill of a 20 lb tank which was about what it cost at the Way Cheap place outside Winter Park Fl. If paying $20 at the rip off gas station, you are buying 20 cent / khW-th fuel).

    Golly. Looks like it’s the Coleman Unleaded stove for most things. (Diesel is a bit hard to use and sooty even in a good stove – one of which I have – an old backpackers multi-fuel stove) Propane runs between 40 cents and 80 cents in the small 1 lb cans, so not economical as a solution at present costs. Get the big tank adapter if using more than for fun…

    As I have the “propane adapter” for my gasoline stove and somewhere in the garage is a “tank adapter” for it (a long hose with fittings at each end) and in the corner is an old large tank of propane…. I think I’m set for a while… Given how much gasoline it took to cook the beans, I’ve got an entire summer of cooking just in the fuel already here.

    I think I’m about ready to yank the cooktop from the kitchen and start the conversion. I’ll give it a couple of weeks to “settle in” to a routine first, though, just to be sure.

    Guess, given the charcoal costs, I’ll ponder an oven box for the gas stove for a while longer. Maybe while I see how well bamboo works in my little “one person sized” portable BBQ that I use on road trips…

    Oh, and Spring may finally have gotten here. Despite “below 50 F” this morning, the afternoon is a nice “70 something”. Good BBQ Weather.

  25. Jason Calley says:

    Per pulse chargers, I have used them quite successfully to regenerate sulphated “unusable”, “junk” batteries. I have only done larger lead acid, so am not sure whether it is worth trying on gel cell. My circuit? Hold on… this might be scarey. Take line current, 120VAC. Run one leg through an old starting capacitor (I think it was maybe 60 microFarad) then feed the AC (now with a relatively small amperage) to a fairly good bridge capacitor. That gives you a roughly 60VDC low amp spikey wave. Hook up your 12 VDC battery to the spikey 60VDC. Leave for an hour or two or a day or so depending on whether you have one battery or a bank of them. Charges 12 VDC, or 24VDC, maybe a bit higher. The voltage peaks fast enough and is low enough amperage that it dissolves the sulphates. The batteries I did were probably less than like-new after treating, maybe 90% of capacity or so.

    Will try to dig up old details if anyone interested.

  26. adolfogiurfa says:

    @E.M…..So your are prepared for anything that could happen. That´s good. The great majority of us don´t. So you have acquired quite a lot of energy paraphernalia, good for you. 2012 anyone?

  27. E.M.Smith says:

    @Jason:

    Was that “bridge capacitor” really “bridge rectifier”? So an AC current limited by capacitor at the input, then DC it… I can do that out of parts “laying around”…

    @Adolfo:

    Yup. See the “Emergency Preparation and Risks” category on the right.

    http://chiefio.wordpress.com/category/emergency-preparation-and-risks/

    Dad had an Amish Mom and grew up on a farm in Iowa during the Great Depression. He believed you ought to be able to do anything you needed to do to live, and do it well enough to be comfortable (and they DID need those skills during the Great Depression). I grew up in a Mormon Town where having a year of food stored was “The Norm”.

    So I’ve been a “Prepper” since before there was a word for it. (We just called it “Being ready for bad times”.) Learned to shoot at about age 5? Can hit a crow in a tree at a few hundred feet. Sparrows about 50 feet with a BB gun and iron sites (at least, I could then…) Know how to catch, skin, and prepare most anything with fur, feathers, or scales. Can grow a garden most anywhere (change of plants needed… and different materials) and know how to do “stuff” from field surgery to building a shack from forest litter and downed trees.

    During the 70s and 80s (Arab Oil Embargo and USSR Nuclear Threat) laid out some decent “preparedness” kits (see listing under topic) and have used them in many natural need situations.

    Lately I’ve been more in the “Getting rid of” stage. Down to only one generator. Dumping a car or two. Fewer plant seed types. Don’t have the Tilapia aquaculture “starter stock” any more. (They multiply in the dozens / generation and with fast generation times. Just too hard to keep a stock going and NOT have 500 of them to feed ;-) Basically, it’s time for the next generation to be prepared to “restart civilization after the EMP fries the grid and government fails”. I’m cutting back to just enough to “Get by for a decade”. That is, I don’t need a car that will take me 40 miles to where I can install a 5 kW generator and get the comm gear running again after the EMP from a Soviet Attack… At one time I needed that. (Ran a data center ‘not too far’ from Moffett NAS that might survive a sub nuke on the NAS but would be seriously without power from the EMP.)

    So mostly I’ve been in the “time to tidy up and reduce” mind set. Then CARB decided I ought be ready to survive a Communist Attack, but not from the USSR…

  28. Jason Calley says:

    @ E.M. “Was that “bridge capacitor” really “bridge rectifier”? ”

    Ooops! Yes, a bridge rectifier. Sorry, but I was rather intensely multitasking when I posted that; must not have allocated enough memory for that function. :)

    At the risk of being too obvious, this circuit has NO SAFETY PROVISIONS. (Sorry about the shout.) Please, anyone who makes one of these, always unplug from the wall before touching any part of it. Hook it to your battery first, THEN plug into wall. Unplug from wall, THEN unhook from battery. Be cautious of any charged capacitors. Do not self-fry yourself. Oh, also, make sure that you top up the water in the battery before you charge, and leave the caps loose so that they can vent if needed. Plain water worked well for me — I did not have any acid anyway. I think that as the sulphates are driven off the plates and back into solution that the acid is at least partially restored. Any chemists out there please correct me.

    I was pleased and more than a bit surprised that so simple a circuit worked. My first impression was “Whoa! Do I really want to send 60VDC pulses into a 12VDC battery?” Turns out that as long as the current is limited the high voltage does no damage. Do check to see whether the battery is heating up or bubbling excessively. If it does, then you may need a smaller capacitor or a bigger battery. As I said, I seem to remember that the capacitor I used was about 60microfarads, maybe 80microfarads. The size is not critical; the bigger ones pass more current, the smaller ones pass less. It was just a regular starting capacitor off a half horsepower AC motor.

    My initial use for this thing was to restore some computer room batteries I had snagged for the labor of hauling them off — the owners told me they were dead and only good for scrap. I used them for several years for backup power at an off-grid cabin. I made a second such charger for my brother to use on an old battery powered scooter where he worked. (I think that charger was 45microfarad.) The company expert had pronounced the batteries unusable. After a day or two on the charger they worked fine.

    Hope this helps — and be safe!

  29. E.M.Smith says:

    @Jason Calley:

    I might also look around for a small transformer. Something that makes, oh, 30 to 60 volts, and run that through a bridge rectifier. Current would limit on the transformer so could be set quite small and no “storage of charge” problem. A “110 to 240″ transformer put in backwards ought to work, too, but it might be hard to find one of those in the ‘fractional amp” range.

  30. Power Grab says:

    Yet another thought to offer:

    An electric frying pan. I have one that heats up faster than the stovetop, has its own thermostatic control, and is stainless steel. I gave up nonstick cookware a long time ago. Ditto glass cookware (for the stovetop). Now I’m back to vintage Revere Ware and Flint Ware.

    Just about any of the commercial stainless steel cleaning powders works great at keeping things shiny–which means that food sticking is NOT a problem.

    Oh, and file this one away in long-term storage: Those powdered stainless steel cleaners work FANTASTIC at cleaning pottery. I had a coffee cup that I used at work for a really long time. I didn’t have ready access to a kitchen. It got really badly stained. One night I decided to try to clean it up. I used every cleaner I had, every scrubber. Nothing really got it clean. As a last resort, I pulled out the stainless steel cleaner. Just shook a little into the mug, got a paper towel slightly damp, and wiped for a few seconds. It came out just like new. Smooth and shiny white inside the mug. Who knew!

    I’ve tried all the different brands of stainless steel cleaner that I’ve ever seen, and they all work just fine.

  31. Jason – (sorry, the last attempt posted itself before I’d got far in) you could also use the ballast coil from a fluorescent lamp as your current limiter. This would reduce the power drawn to around 60W and thus limit the heating of the cells. The de-sulphating effect is said to work better with high frequencies, though, and the little circuits as mentioned before would seem to be better at that as well as being somewhat safer in use. Still – whatever works is going to save a lot of money if you don’t need to buy new batteries. Your method will work for the liquid electrolyte, but maybe too much outgassing to be good with the gel cells that EM has.

  32. adolfogiurfa says:

    @Power Grab: The problem is that “stainless” steel it is not as “stainless” as usually believed. It releases CHROMIUM under certain conditions, and that is a carcinogen. The best cook ware is either carbon steel (iron) or clay. With iron we don´t have any problem, even if it gets oxidized, our bodies like iron as it works on the oxidation of Fe+2 to Fe+3, and then, in the cells by the reduction of Fe+3 to Fe+2. The typical brown color of clay is due to iron oxide (Fe2O3).

  33. Jason Calley says:

    @ Simon
    Ohhh, good idea on the ballast, and you are probably very much correct on the better effect of higher frequencies. The simple capacitor and rectifier was a result of just being what I had on hand, and being a very quick and dirty solution suitable for my somewhat limited talent set. I like higher tech toys, but sometimes I still end up using sticks and rocks.

    As for the gel cells, absolutely, I would only use a battery with liquid electrolyte. Might be fun to try a gel cell if you had a very low charge rate, but even then it would be chancey. Also, (though this should be obvious), a de-sulphating circuit will not do anything to cure a shorted cell.

    By the way, I once needed a six volt battery and only had some odd eight volt gel cell units I had been given. Well, they had plastic cases, and I could see that they were divided into four sections in series… I got a regular carpenter’s hand saw and just sawed off the last cell, then put a new connector where the metal stub crossed over from cell three to the now missing cell four. Viola! Instant six volt batteries! Seemed to work OK.

  34. E.M.Smith says:

    Well, a check of the most recent power utility bill shows we’ve gone to 3 tiers. 12.x cents, 14.x cents, and the top tier is a bit shy of 30 cents / kW-hr.

    Looks like even easier to justify that Natural Gas Generator and back yard BBQ…

    @PowerGrab:

    I found a very small electric skillet for something like $17 at the grocery store. Just the right size for “car camping” and meals in hotels. I’d put it in my “car kit”, but will be fishing it out. Most of the stovetop use is for small things. Heating soup or water for tea. A full sized e-Skillet is just too big for that, but the little one…. (And I’ll likely be adding a small ‘hot pot’ for just heating one cup of water).

    FWIW, I have an interesting “emergency stove” that is really a can of fuel with a metal cage on top. It uses glycol for fuel on a wick (very hard to accidentally light). I just used it to heat some soup for lunch and didn’t even have to leave the TV to do it. I have the stove on a pie tin on the floor and just set the pot on top. Easy to watch while cooking. (if tipped over the stove does not leak and nothing really happens as it is inside the pie tin).

    I just “did the math” and it takes about 15 minutes to reach a nice simmer. (It’s lousy at boiling water, but great for cooking food, as it doesn’t burn the food easily). It runs about 8 hours on a filling and that’s about 32 “uses” per can of fuel, or about 3 per ounce of fuel or about 400 / gallon of anti-freeze. At $10/gallon that’s about 3 cents / use. Or about 6 minutes of electricity in a 1 kW burner…

    Looks like even just burning anti-freeze beats Politically Correct Electricity.

    I’m going to make my own version of the stove (that’s easier to refill and cheaper to make) and that I can also make in 2 sizes – simmer and boil. It’s very convenient to use for “small stuff”. Sort of like very cheap and safer Sterno… Glass jar, hole in lid, wick. That’s about all it takes. Then a pot stand to hold the pot above it. Could likely just use a kerosene lamp base… which I have… Hmmm….

    And yes, I’m having way too much fun playing with my old collection of camping and emergency stoves ;-)

    @Simon:

    Good point on the ballast. There are lots of them around and cheap. I think I’ve got 3 or 4 in the garage…

    @Jason:

    The hacksaw is your friend! ;-)

    @Adolfo:

    Only some ions of chromium are suspected carcinogens. It’s about as safe as you can get. The stuff in clay is far more variable and can be far more risky. Frankly, I’d be more worried about the nickle in S.S. (as the spouse has developed a nickel allergy and can not have S.S. medical devices / implants…)

    At any rate, time to finish lunch… clam chowder heated in a stainless steel pan eaten with stainless steel spoon…

  35. E.M.Smith says:

    Ah, found a newer version of the same fuel / stove. This stove is much more sturdy than the one I have (and not near worth the $50 they are charging) but the picture lets you see what this thing is like. Just a can, a wick, and a pot holder):

    http://safetycentral.com/mahepocaemco1.html

    This one at Ace Hardware for $12 is closer to what I’ve got. (Mine is a 20 year old version where the “stove” is more like a tin can with the side replaced with window screen… and screws onto the can neck.)

    http://www.acehardware.com/product/index.jsp?productId=1292353

    FWIW, after 20+ years sitting on a shelf in the kitchen (used and reclosed 2 or 3 times during initial testing after purchase) the top of the fuel can had a layer of rust on it (probably from condensation on the cold metal from time to time) but the whole thing just worked fine.

    It’s a dirt cheap and convenient “emergency stove” that’s not hard to figure out for the average non-prepared person digging through the kit before you get home… A lid and a wick are pretty self explanatory… Glycol burns with a mostly blue alcohol like flame, though it can throw some soot if the flame hits the pan bottom and cools prior to complete combustion.

    Next time I’m at Walmart I’ll have to see what the cheapest antifreeze costs ;-)

  36. kakatoa says:

    E.M.Smith says: 2 June 2012 at 7:07 pm
    “Well, a check of the most recent power utility bill shows we’ve gone to 3 tiers. 12.x cents, 14.x cents, and the top tier is a bit shy of 30 cents / kW-hr.”

    “Looks like even easier to justify that Natural Gas Generator and back yard BBQ…” EM- PG&E is requesting that they be allowed to drop baseline levels another 10% to spread the costs of the RE efforts across all their customers not just the Tier 3 and 4 folks. This info is available in their “Rate Design Window 2012″ application (at the CPUC) which is located here-

    http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/published/proceedings/A1202020.htm

    I concur that nat gas looks like the way to go asthe fuel source for back up electrical energy generation. For planning purposes (future electrical energy costs from PG&E) you might find this info of interest-

    Rate Design Window 2012 Application”

    Page 2-7 Table 2-4 PG&E cumulative Impacts of the 33% RPS on NON-CARE residential rates-

    “Year- 2015
    RPS Premium (1000s) = $1,159,000.
    Residential Share (1000s)= 486,000
    Cumulative Class Average Rate Increase= $.0.015
    Cumulative Tier 3/4 Rate Increase= $0.048″

    Much of the application covers who should pay for the increased costs. To get a feel for the costs this is stated- “Line 10 (page 1-14) “Absent any change in the residential rate design methodology, the differential between Tier 2 and Tier 4 rates, which was 18.9 centers per kWh in Jan 2012 (33.5 vs 14.6 cents per kWh), is forecasted to increase by 65 percent to 31.1 cents in 2022 (50.5 vs 19.4 kWh). The gap is already far in excess of what is equitable on a cost of service basis, and the failure to address this problem will rapidity worsen the situation.”

    I would go with a nat gas back up generator if we had nat gas in my area…….

  37. EM – for interest, I have a double-burner fondue set that runs on alcohol or gel fuel, which came from a garage-sale equivalent. Useful as a backup when all else fails. The same sorts of wicked (as in “with a wick”) burners are also used in the cooking-stone slab I got in a sale a while back. These sorts of things are not meant for outdoors – no wind shield. The gel fuel is sold as barbecue lighter, too, since it looks like the fuel from ACE is very overpriced. Cheap antifreeze tends to be a mix of alcohol and glycol, since glycol on it own is somewhat expensive. It may be cheaper just to buy alcohol.

  38. E.M.Smith says:

    @Kakatoa:

    That 2022 rate structure is crazy. They are projecting over $1/2 / kw-hr? “in 2022 (50.5 vs 19.4 kWh)”

    So they expect folks to be buying Chevy Volts in droves, that even using the manufacturers / EPAs flaky estimates will get maybe 2.8 miles / kW-hr and then pay 50 cents? I make that 18.3 cents / mile just for electricity AND if it doesn’t push you into a new “Tier”… I make that the same as $7 / gallon Diesel (or gasoline) in a car getting 38 mpg.

    With no allowance for charge / discharge / charger losses and no allowance for standby losses that can run 10% or so.

    Even as it stands now, Gasoline at $4 /gallon is 10.5 cents / mile in a 38 mpg car while the Volt at 30 cents / kW-hr is 10.9 cents / mile. Might end up being cheaper to just run the gas motor in the volt and let it make it’s own electricity… forget plugging it in. (They rate it 37 mpg in ‘gasoline only mode’, thus my using one digit higher for comparison). At 30 cents / kW-hr it’s the same cost as $4.02 gasoline. Presently it costs about that in my neighborhood. So ANY increase in electricity cost makes it cheaper to run gasoline in the car. (Wonder how hard it would be tap the electricity out of it and have a nice mobile generator….)

    Folks who think they can mandate prices in a market economy are just so clueless…

    @Simon:

    The antifreeze here is just straight glycol. You can also get propylene glycol as a ‘green’ antifreeze. Alcohol costs about the same but has less BTU / lb J/kg. Glycol is easier to find too. Also makes a fairly safe fuel.

    It’s not at all the cheapest, though. Gasoline and Diesel have that honor here. (Ignoring backyard wood / bamboo).

    But it’s a fun fuel to play with in interesting stoves.

    The ACE price is for a convenience item of stove plus fuel. At $12 it’s actually pretty cheap. Hard to find much of anything for less than that. (Heck, a bag of charcoal costs more… I just bought one at $16). The stove isn’t being sold on a $/ gallon of fuel basis. It’s a “going camping once and done” or a “quake happened need disposable soup warmer” item.

  39. kakatoa says:

    EM;

    Yes, the goal is to have bunches of EV’s on the road in CA by 2020. The ISO’s (PG&E, SCE, San Diego) and a couple of the larger public utilities (LADWP and SMUD) have included EV in their expected demand as noted here-

    http://www.energy.ca.gov/2012publications/CEC-200-2012-001/CEC-200-2012-001-SF-V2.pdf

    Last time I checked PG&E’s E9 rate schedules (for charging EV’s) the owner of EV’s gets a pretty good discount on the costs for their electrical energy (and they don’t pay sales taxes or any road use taxes either) at home as long as they don’t charge at peak times. A lot of the 240 volt public charging stations are free (to the EV owner that is). I am not sure who picks up the costs………… The fast charging stations (440 volt) are not free to the best of my knowledge. NRG is going to be putting some fast charging stations in shortly.

    It is my understanding that PG&E is projecting the price of Tier 2 energy to be $.19 in 2022 and Tier 4 prices to be 50 cents. They didn’t note Tier 3 prices but they will be close to $.45 or so. IF the economy improves and fewer of PG&E’s customers fall into the CARE category (currently 28% of their households fall into this category) the increases for Non CARE customers will be mitigated at bit. .

  40. E.M.Smith says:

    From time to time I’ve wondered just what was in stuff like Sterno. How it was made. Now I know. From:

    http://zenstoves.net/Sterno.htm

    Refueling

    Gelled chafing fuel can be purchased in large gallon sized containers at food services stores. Note that some gelled alcohol fuels are intended for fire starting or gelled alcohol fire logs and may do be suitable or ideal for cooking with and they may pop, sputter and contain undesirable toxins.

    Empty cans may also be refueled with liquid alcohol, but you loose any of the tipping protection provided by gelled alcohol.

    Make Your Own Gelled Alcohol Fuel – Canned Heat

    Extreme do it yourselfers can make their own gelled fuel at home with by mixing alcohol and calcium acetate (C4H6CaO4).
    [...]
    Add 25g of crushed chalk or egg shells (calcium carbonate-CaCO3) to 100ml of vinegar (water and acetic acid – CH3CO2H) and stir for about 5 minutes.

    This should produce carbon dioxide (CO2), calcium acetate (C4H6CaO4) and water (H2O) plus leave you with some left over chalk (CaCO3). If you are guessing on how much chalk to add, just make sure that there is a little extra after 5 minutes of stirring.

    Remove the excess chalk by filtering your mix through some filter paper (coffee filter or napkin can be used).

    Set a funnel in a jar, place your filter in it and pour your suspension through it.

    Mark the level of your solution in its container and allow your solution to evaporate off about half that volume to remove the excess water.

    Place your solution in an oven set on low heat or place it out in the sun to dry. If you went to far – just add the missing water.

    Note – if you like, you can dry out your solution completely and store the remaining dried calcium acetate for future use.

    If your solution isn’t already in the container you want your gel in, then pour it in there now.

    Add 30ml of alcohol (ethanol, methanol, or isopropanol) to your solution and watch the gel form. Do not stir.

    Once the reaction in complete, pour off any extra fuel.

    Y2kSurvivor suggests:

    Dissolved calcium acetate solution ratio:

    1 part dry calcium acetate (by volume) to 2 parts water

    Solution to fuel ratio:

    1 part dissolved calcium acetate solution to 4 parts alcohol

    Egg shells, vinegar, alcohol. Who knew?

    Looks like an easy thing to do and a lot cheaper than buying the stuff. Also lets you play with different alcohols. I’ll likely pick up some 90% isopropanol, mix a slightly more concentrated CaAcetate and see what happens.

    The thing you can stumble on wandering the internet…

  41. Pascvaks says:

    “Camping at Home can be cheaper..”
    …If one would see the future, he must study the past.. “America 2024″

    http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_C0zJ_d4FXRY/TAE7uGYnK3I/AAAAAAAADXw/rj5G6vANJRQ/s1600/hobo.jpg

    …Oh Yes! A picture is still worth a thousand words… ahhhhhhhh.. in fact, what with inflation and devaluation and all, it’s probably better to say it’s worth an Oz or two of Pure Gold words.

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  44. Kenoldman says:

    Thanks for your site E.M. I was raised in an Australian outback lifestyle, where you were short of everything, but made the most of everything. Nothing was wasted and invention was twisting fencing wire to make a repair to keep your car, your farm machinery operating. We were happy with what we had and were probably lulled into a false sense of acceptance of our politicians, we didn’t trust them, nor the bankers, but understood we needed them and of course when the big corporations came they told us they were their for our own good, to look after us, and for a while we Australians lived in the greatest paradise with hard fought for rights like holidays, tea breaks, lunch breaks, long service leave, good healthcare, local doctors and hospitals and most had 4 weeks break at Christmas and lots of holidays throught the year where we could take a “long week end off” every so often.

    In fact we became a bit like California, laid back accepting, liked our sport, liked our mates, then the big cities began to rule, we gravitated to them and lost most of those survival skills we knew, we became educated, but in actuallity worked our way to becoming the serfs of those in power, the source of taxation, regulation which was insidious as it intruded into every nook and cranny of our existence, just like your regulators and they latched on to the saving you, saving the world, to take your savings and you should be grateful!! We are doing this for you.
    We now know probably too late, that the liars and cheats are in control, they waste, they tax, they really can’t stand us, particularly as we grow older. There is a new crew on the block, they want to dispense with us old folks, as since they have taken all we have, we are now useless to them and will clog up the aged homes.

    Well I for one like what you are doing, these are things, old skills, that might just outsmart the corporations, the taking politicians, as the old cunning and skilled get together and work out ways to legitimately beat the sods, the bank, the corporation, and use ingenuity that has been lying dormant. Maybe in the “mens sheds” of Australia we can invent our way and of course make our remaining existence vital and self sufficient.

    Maybe they shouldn’t have underestimated those who have lived through so much and I enjoy showing them we can see through their bulldust!!

    Thanks.

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