In preparation for moving, I’m “running down the inventory” on various stored food & fuels. Along the way, I’ve noticed a few things about how long stuff lasts, and some of that may be useful in the future.
This will be semi-random order as I wasn’t planning on this, just realized maybe I ought to “take notes” ;-)
The gas I’d stored about 1.75 years ago start of the plandemic was smelling just a tiny bit funky, but not “varnish” yet. Started the 1 kW Honda generator and ran one whole evening on it (nominal run time 8 hours, I got about 7 as I had it partially choked to stay running). Figure “one fill per night” if running a TV some lights and a bit more.
This generator has always been a bit cranky when cold and loves having a bit of choke on some gas (high in ethanol). It is the OLD 1kW from about 30? years ago. I don’t know if the gas was part of the issue, or just that it’s 30-ish years old, was always cranky unless really warmed up, and maybe some jet has grown just enough more oxide in the orifice to push it over the edge. I’ll likely get a professional service / tune up on it at some point (first ever!).
It is about a quart fuel tank, so figure about a quart a day for minimal but usable electricity (MINUS the fridge… for that you need 24 x 7 operation so figure 1 gallon / day).
The other 6 gallons or so has been dumped into the Subaru that seems to think it is Just Fine, thank you very much.
2 gallons of Kerosene, stored since I did my Kerosene stove review (3? 4? years ago) were just fine. They have been fed to the Diesel Mercedes (which loves kerosene). Not much more to say about it other than it seems to keep nearly forever. The plastic storage container (those blue with spout kind) had “sucked in” as it was about a 5 gallon size and the 3 gallons of air, when cold, shrank. This put a partial crack in the top. It has been sent off to Recycle Land.
I think I’d really like to find a nice METAL traditional Jerry Can for storing Kerosene…. if they can be had.
I didn’t have any stored right now (other than in the car fuel tank). It tends to keep nearly forever anyway. I’ve stored it for many years in prior decades with zero issue. Only issue with Diesel is that I’ve never found a stove that burns it without putting soot on your pots. I have no intention of storing extra Diesel in the future. I’d rather have stored Kerosene (despite the extra cost) as it is cleaner, less prone to sooting, can be used in lanterns and stoves, and works in the car (essentially the same as #1 winter Diesel, which is not available in my area as we don’t DO winter here ;-) so I’ve never tested it as cooking fuel.
White Gas / Coleman Fuel
My “Dual Fuel” single burner stove and dual mantle lantern have been fired up. The stove has been my primary cooking appliance for about a week now. I used the lantern one night.
The lantern was found to have a full tank already. I’d guess about 2 to 3 years ago was the last time I fired it up. UPDATE:
It smelled fine and worked fine. Used about 3/4 of a full tank in one night, that holds about a US pint of fuel. Call it about 12 ounces for one evening / night. I eventually emptied the remaining fuel out to measure it, and found that the gasoline in it was smelling significantly of varnish formation. Also the burn rate was closer to 1 cup per night and the tank size is 1.1 quarts I’m going to be using up the rest in the coming week. After the first burn of the lantern I decided to use up my candle supply instead, so set it aside. My guess at this point (to be proved up this week) is that you get about 1 full winter evening & night of light per fill. Call it a pint a night. UPDATE: A cup a night is “enough light” and a pint would cover a very long winter night.
This, of course, will vary dramatically with how bright you run it, and how many hours. For the one night I ran it, I was “nearly full power” (mostly as I would pump up to full pressure but then it slowly dims as the pressure drops, then pump up again, rinse and repeat), but on average not full power.
The cooking has taken about 1 cup / day. Maybe a bit less. This includes making regular coffee and one pot of beans that I simmered for about 3 hours. I’ve used it all week, which ought to be about 1/2 gallon by that estimate, but the gallon can of fuel feels like closer to 3/4 full. Only thing not cooked with it this week was a loaf of bread and a pumpkin pie, both baked in the regular oven.
I’d plan on about 2 gallons / month for cooking for a family, one for one person. More if you have a bigger tribe. Considering that they will also use Unleaded Gasoline (but I run them on Coleman Fuel normally as it runs just a bit better), storing enough “emergency cooking fuel” is pretty easy.
The Lantern uses a lot more fuel near as I can tell. Likely because most of the cooking is a 5 to 10 minute “fry something” or a 10 to 15 minute “boil or steam”; while the lanterns is run for hours at a time. If looking for a place to conserve fuel, this is it. Charging an LED lantern from your car battery would be a big win here.
I mostly keep one for “Heater with free light” use and the potential of “no electricity anywhere!!!” which I could likely cure with a hand generator or solar panel. But whatever… I just like playing with them and the nostalgia of the sounds and smells reminding me of sitting by one at The River when night fishing with Dad…
Wax / Candles
Wax just keeps forever. It just does. Only thing that can go wrong that I’ve run into in about 40 years of using it as an emergency light source is that candles will melt in the trunk of your car in the heat of summer. That’s why I created my “candles in a jar” (shown in another posting). Just stick a candle stub to the bottom of a 4 oz jelly canning jar, pour some “almost setting up” wax around it to the top, and put a lid on it. I’ve pulled these out after a few years in a trunk kit, found the wax has at some point softened enough around the edges to “flow” to one side with the tiny bit of air now all on the other side. Just use something sharp to lift the wick out of the wax layer, light and go. Works a champ.
So now I usually keep a dozen or so of these “on the shelf” and ready to go. The 8 oz. low wide canning jars also work, but harder to get the wax to burn all the way to the glass with just any old candle in the middle.
I bought 2 boxes of “stearic acid” candles from Ikea a decade or 2 ago. These also keep forever. They also don’t melt as easy, and don’t smell bad (they smell like Crayola Crayons a bit… guess why ;-) These have a Nice Big Wick (likely due to the viscosity of the stearic acid melt) and cut to the appropriate length make a great center candle for the poured wax jars. Assuming Ikea still have these, I’m planning on buying a couple of boxes again at the other side of the country.
OK, I’ve been almost entirely running candles for light this week. I had about 5 wide mouth pint jars of crappy cheap petroleum wax candles. These are about the thickness of my little finger and just short of the top of the jar. Each jar also had a box of matches on top. Tonight I’ll finally finish them off. I’ve also used up about 4 of my “1 cup” candles and 2 of the “4 oz” ones.
Realize I’m running these from sundown (about 5 pm) to a bit after midnight, and often running 4 or 5 in a room, in 2 rooms. I’m not trying to conserve them, I’m trying to use them up before the spouse gets home (she does not like candle smell…). So it looks to me like I get about 2 to 3 days off of the “candle in a jar” ones, and could likely stretch it to a week with the 8 oz ones. I get about 1 night / pint on the cheap commercial 6 inch or so candles. These slowly “pressure welded” to each other in the jars, but easily broke free as the contact was just a thin line.
In a real emergency you could likely get double that run time out of the stock with a little care.
My conclusion is that for True Minimal Emergency indoor light, “candles in a jar” are a great option. It is taking forever to use up this inventory, and I’ve set aside 4 x 8 oz. versions to keep just because I’m getting tired of candles! ;-)
Oh, and I had a cheap Walmart Pillar Candle, about 3 inches x 6 inches that I just left running each night, in the bathroom. Just enough to “go”… It has 1 or 2 nights more left in it.
Not a lot of light from any one candle, but just minimally enough to not be blind in the dark. 3 or 4 give pretty good lighting, and with a half dozen I can do decent cooking and such (where color, texture, and other details matter more).
I’ve not yet gotten into my stores of Butane Canisters, Propane Canisters, Methanol (2 gallons ;-) and likely some other thing I’ve forgotten about. (Somewhere I have a cheap stove with wick that runs on glycol, you know, like anti-freeze… and there’s a jug of antifreeze in the garage.)
I may add a note here later if I get into them before the spouse returns and insists on a modern life style 8-0
The Methanol will likely be last. I had to go out of State to get it in the first place, so it is a bit “precious” to me. It is also in nicely sealed metal cans and never goes bad. My remaining 2 gallons of Kerosene are similarly stored. I’m thinking that’s going to be my “crossing the country a few times moving stuff” fuel with any left from each run going to storage on the Florida end.
IIRC, the “hairspray can” sized Butane ( 4 for about $10 at Smart & Final) run for a couple of days of meals each. I had run on them in the Flat Asian Stove for a week or three when the house electric stove died and I was tearing it apart to repair it some years ago. I think I’d change a can about every 2nd to 3rd day. Figure a 4 pack is good for about 1 week to 2 if you don’t cook much. Propane Canisters have about the same cooking capacity / pound, but hold about double the fuel. I’d figure on about 1 week each if being careful. 2 / week if cooking a lot of stored beans and rice ;-)
For more on stoves, see: https://chiefio.wordpress.com/2018/03/20/computing-by-kerosene-lamp/ or put “stove” in the search box at the bottom right of the side column.
What I’ve learned overall here, is that just storing a little bit of a few different fuels, I had a LOT more cooking time available to me than I was likely to need in any Post Quake Outage of a couple of weeks. OTOH, if 3/4 of it was crushed in the rubble and not reachable, I’d still be OK…
Oh, and I note in passing that the Webber and 20 lb Propane Tank have gone to a friend. That was the propane “deep stores” where I have the adapter to hook up a 2 burner camp stove to it and be set for a month or two. Planning on a new BBQ and 20 lb tank “at the other end” instead of trying to move the thing.
My plan ATM is to keep about 1 month of fuel for cooking and lighting available here, and find a place there to start ramping up storage as stuff is moved. Initially I’m planning that THE major “fuel storage” will be gasoline in the fuel tank of the cars at each end. In a real emergency I’m happy to pull the fuel line off the car and drain a gallon. Each end will have about 1 gallon of Methanol and 1 gallon of Kerosene in easy to reach cans. (Yes, I have a Coleman Kerosene lantern too ;-) and eventually I’ll add a couple of propane cans along with propane stove at the other end (or just get that BBQ with side burner…)
That ought to be more than enough for any minor “emergency” likely to pop up during a couple of months of being “Bi-Coastal”. Like “rolling blackouts” in California…
We started “running down the inventory” about 6 to 9 months ago. Remember that I’d stored close to a 6 month load at the start of this mess. At this point, everything that was in a “Food Pile” in the pantry area is no longer on the floor. It moved onto pantry shelves as the shelves were emptied of canned goods. I can’t really give much information about how much got used per unit of time, as it was mixed with a lot of “fresh from the store”. Just note that I’ve bought nearly no dry goods nor canned goods for about a year…
What I can do is state what gets eaten first, and what takes too long. I’d buy more of the former “next time”.
What’s Left Now?
That’s the bulk dry goods. Rice. Beans. Flour. Oats. Noodles & ramen packets. Instant Mashed Potatoes Etc. Along with the lesser interesting canned goods (so I bought too many green beans, not enough peas, and using canned potatoes in stews just doesn’t happen as long as you have fresh potatoes available. Ditto mashed fresh vs instant.) I’m down to my last gallon jug of Olive Oil and my last jug of Coconut oil.
Simply put, I’ll use Pancake Mix before making pancakes from stored flour. I’ve been buying a fair amount of Store Bread instead of using up all the stored flour (though about 6 months back, had run out of All Purpose Flour so bought another 25 lb bag…). I’ll use fresh butter before substituting OO or Coconut oil.
What’s gone first?
Fresh milk, butter, yogurt, fresh meats & fish, fresh eggs, cheeses, fresh vegetables & fruits. (Followed more rapidly than expected by canned fruit… something about that syrup ;-) Also cans of “meals in a can” like ravioli and stews. Ritz Crackers, cookies, snacks like jerky and trail mix, and chips all disappear rapidly too.
Knorr Sides (in those foils packages for about $1 each) and canned milk get used rapidly too. I’m going for more of them next time. I’ve only used one packet of the powdered milk (but only had bought 4 of them anyway. OK for cooking, but drinking not so much…)
In between was the canned meats. Folks may remember that I canned a dozen or so big jars of chicken legs & thighs. Due to fresh being available, it was only about a month ago I used the last of them. Tuna gets used up regularly, but not binged like cookies, nor left to sit like canned carrots. I still have some of the sardines to finish, but I’m down to about a dozen cans from several dozen.
I’m currently working off the last of the canned goods and trying to remember to cook that plain oatmeal (all the instant oatmeal packages, about 150 of them, are all gone now). Similarly, I need to make about 20 more loaves of bread and a couple of months of Chili Beans… I gave a 20 lb sack of rice to the Daughter already.
Oh, and I definitely overbought on Mustard & Ketchup. I’ve got 3 jugs of mustard left and one of Ketchup. Out of Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce as it makes bland beans interesting ;-)
Some links on food preservation: https://chiefio.wordpress.com/2020/02/17/some-food-storage-links/
and how I store my stuff: https://chiefio.wordpress.com/2009/04/06/food-storage-systems/
So there you have it.
Next time I’m buying more “almost ready to eat meals like stuff” and less “beans and rice”. The Knorr Sides, Kraft Mac ‘N Cheese, and canned milk to make them, are a great easy fix and get used up readily. Canned meals too.
After that, the vegetables you usually eat the most and more fruit in cans. I’m also going to “put up” many more jars of chicken parts when settled in and set up for canning again. Those were a GREAT addition for making preferred meals needing chicken but without a run to the store. And a LOT more tuna, less sardines ;-)
Then clearly the “Snack Isle” is higher on the list. They are not just for variety to use a little on the side with beans and rice. They are a preferred food source (at least when folks here started “grazing”…) So I’m adding a LOT more “gorp”, trail mix, crackers, jars of jam for the crackers, cookies, pouches of jerky, etc.
It is likely that in the “final move”, the Daughter will get another dozen or two pounds each of beans, rice, and maybe flour. We’ll see. It isn’t worth the cost to move it. It may be that the next 2 or 3 months (while “bi-coastal”) has a lot of bean soups, chili beans, and “Curry Lentils over Rice” on the menu. Or maybe the “last load” will not fully fill the trailer and I’ll just set it all in anyway.
For fuels, what stores easiest, is easiest to use and with fewest issues is Propane, followed by the little Butane cans for the “Asian Stove”. Camping Iso-Butane stoves come next but are harder to cook on, have less control and pots want to fall off, and the fuel costs more. I’ve done near zero use of them “in production”. Alcohol Stoves work well, and easy. I’ve used one for years to make coffee sometimes even when at home. But harder to find fuel in California (other states go to Home Depot or Lowe’s…)
Gasoline / White Gas work well, but storage is more problematic. Not just the flammability issues if it is open or spilled in pouring; but for Gasoline, you get a year, 2 max, and need to rotate it before it goes all varnish on you. Gasoline is the cheapest fuel, and in an emergency can be extracted from your gasoline car.
Storing enough for a generator takes a lot of fuel and will violate most home insurance (that often limits gasoline on premises to 2 gallons). I’d rather have a small Diesel Generator but the smallest Honda I have found was 12 kW, which is about 12 times the size I need!
I’m very much of the opinion that a Survivalist Generator of about the size of the Honda 1 kW, but running on Diesel OR Kerosene, would sell to a LOT of folks around the world. I’d pay double the going rate of a gasoline version. I’m pretty sure there’s a way to make a 1 cylinder version that has an injection pump built into the motor / crankshaft. (OTOH maybe just the precision machining and good materials needed for the pump and injector makes it way too costly…)
At present, I’m planning to just bolt a 1 kW inverter into the car and have it run as “generator with really big fuel tank” at idle.
Sidebar On Towing
FWIW, I’m pretty much settled on one of two options as a Tow Vehicle. I can buy each used from about $4k to $10k depending on quality (and definitely able to make the run). I found a trailer shop nearby with new trailers of very good quality (Interstate) for about $10k. So for about the cost of renting PODS, I can get the rig to “tow my stuff” to Florida and start the move. Then, when done, still have the value in the rig (if kept, or just sell it to recover the cash).
The two I’m liking at:
The Dodge Durango, 2nd Generation, with the 5.7 L V8 engine. 8600 lbs towing capacity. (Smaller engine versions are about 5000 lb).
The Mercedes ML320 CDI or ML350 Bluetec. Both with about 7300 lbs towing capacity (the gas engine versions are about 5000 lbs). Available for about $7k to $14k for post 2001 versions (best years are after 2001 and to date, but I can’t bring myself to pay up so much for new…)
The Durango is much more widely available and cheaper, but will suck gas like crazy. Figure about 10 MPG towing.
The Mercedes Diesels are harder to find, especially equipped for towing and not in colors I don’t like, like red and black… They also cost more and are right at the line of lowest towing capacity I want to be using. However, they get 20-something MPG on the freeway so figure closer to 15 towing. A lot better on fuel, but not enough to make up for the higher prices.
Both available in 4 x 4, which I want.
Comments and Opinions welcome.
My intent is to make 2 (no more than 3) trips over about 3 months moving our stuff in a 16 to 18 foot long trailer. Camping a bit along the way as I like camping. Even if it is just pulling off the road at a paved park…
Sidebar On DaimlerChrysler:
The W166 platform was used for the ML 3rd Generation in 2011, the Durango 3rd Generation in 2011, and the Jeep Grand Cherokee WK2 in 2011. What changes is the motor / transmission set, the transfer case (with Jeep keeping 2 speed while MB & Durango sometimes are 1 speed) and body lines / interior.
I test drove a newer ML and a newer Durango and they road almost the same, even having paddle shifters in the same place. The jeep, for some reason, has relatively low towing capacity numbers while the Durango is the highest. You would think the same platform would stay the same, but it doesn’t. Seems to be largely driven by engine torque specifications and perhaps transmission fitted.
At present the leaning is toward the Durango just for overall lowest cost with highest towing capacity (so bigger trailer and maybe one less trip possibly) then sell it when done. (The Mercedes Diesel I’d want to keep… but that would be silly ;-)
Is it stupid in some way to say “Gee, a Travel Trailer that’s nice is 7200 lbs GVWR and the MB is 7300, so that’s Just FINE.” and would it be better to have the 8600 lbs for some added margin?
Realize this is for a hypothetical travel trailer I don’t own. First I’d just buy a box trailer to move the stuff, then sell it when done (rentals are crazy expensive in comparison here in California) with a MAYBE MAYBE MAYBE slow crossing the country RV-ing after that. Is it silly to plus-up the trailer capacity for a hypothetical and not just get the more efficient Diesel and get on with it?
(Current schedule has the first run between Thanksgiving and Christmas hauling about 800 to 900 cubic feet, so things are happening “soon”. We will have an official residence in Florida before the new year, though still holding the California place due to medical issues. Being “bi-coastal” yet again for a while.)