Homemade Emergency Canned Heat

can_wlid

We lost power at 4:23 am on Saturday morning. We had power restored at 11 am on Monday. It was a long few days. We were able to stay in our house. Thankfully no pipes broke and there were no major events other than the power outage.

I want to really encourage you all to be prepared for such emergencies. We have moved twice in the last year and had let our supplies dwindle. We had no propane for the camp stove. We had no firewood. Not a good situation to be in. We did have some knowledge though and that helped us to get through until we were able to get wood and propane.

You can make your own “Sterno” at home for heating water. It is an open flame. By that I mean OPEN FLAME! Especially when initially lit. The flame starts out tall and then gets shorter. I found this to be true each time it was lit (not just the very first time). tall_flame

Never to be put where it can tip over, get knocked over, be around children (we have 5 of those), etc. I decided to clear one side of my sink and put the can in the sink to hopefully minimize any accidents.The flame is burning off alcohol so it can not be put out with water. I wanted to be clear that I put it in the sink not so I could douse it with water, but in case it tipped over I would at least not have flame rolling across my floor.  I was also careful to clear the area around the sink of anything flammable.  This homemade cooking/heating gave us some hot water and our first hot meal (Spaghetti-o’s) in 24 hours.  Having a way to heat food & drinks really boosted our moral.

Supplies:

  • Large metal can & its lid
  • Roll of toilet paper
  • Isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol)

How To Make:

Clean The Can: You need a large clean metal can and it’s lid. In our case, I emptied a can of crushed tomatoes into a bowl, cleaned the can and lid (be careful of sharp edges) and dried them. Do NOT throw away the lid!

The Toilet Paper: Remove the cardboard tube from the toilet paper roll. Fold the TP roll in half length wise and then in half again (you’re crushing the roll and making it as compact as possible). Insert the roll of toilet paper into the can. Wrap additional toilet paper around your hand (making a mini-roll of TP) and compact in the same way you did the large roll – use this to fill in any spaces. Repeat until you have the can tightly packed with toilet paper.

flat_roll

folded_roll

Adding Alcohol: Slowly pour the isopropyl alcohol over over the TP in the can until the TP is saturated. This took nearly 2 bottles in my case.

Use:

Hold a match to the alcohol. It should light right up. This will burn nicely for quite some time. To put the flame out simply lay the lid on top of the flame. I am told that snuffing (eliminating any source of oxygen) is the only way to put this flame out. That is why you need the lid. I used tongs to put the lid on because I had them available. Make sure the flame is out and keep it out of the reach of children.

After several uses you see a bit of charring on the TP & some blue candle wax from lighting it (we were conserving matches).

After several uses you see a bit of charring on the TP & some blue candle wax from lighting it (we were conserving matches).

cooking

You will need to hold the pot above the flame (resting the pot on the flame will put it out). I used an oven rack across my sink.

 

**Please know that I am sharing this in the hope that it may come in handy one day to you or your family. YOU are 100% responsible for your safety should you choose to try this. I can make no guarantees on how well or how safe it is. As with any open flame; you must make sure there is proper ventilation. Keep yourselves safe! I used the canned heat several times before we were able to obtain propane for our camp stove and I had no problems using it. I made sure my children were no where near me when dealing with the can in any way.

 

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