“You know, when the power went out, I couldn’t even warm a cup of coffee,” Red said. “What did you do, Disaster Guy?”
“I’m not a coffee drinker, but I did make some Ramen noodles,” the Disaster Guy said. “Then I made some hot chocolate before I went to bed.”
“But you’ve got a gas stove in your kitchen,” Red said.
“My kitchen stove is an electric stove,” the Disaster Guy said.
“Then you brought your propane camping stove indoors and cooked your noodles on that,” Red said.
“Truthfully, I didn’t,” the Disaster Guy said. “I hoped the power wouldn’t be out long enough to merit setting up the propane camping stove.”
“So you went outside and started a campfire, or you got some charcoal burning in the grill?” Red asked.
“Neither of the two,” the Disaster Guy said. “It was raining, and I didn’t want to try to start a campfire on a charcoal grill in the rain.”
“I give up!” Red said. “What did you do?”
“I simply used my source of light to cook with,” the Disaster Guy said.
“Come on! You didn’t cook food over a flashlight!” Red said.
“No, I cooked it over a kerosene lamp,” the Disaster Guy said. “Didn’t think of that, did you?”
“Of course not!” Red said. “Who would ever think of cooking food over a kerosene lamp? Only you, Disaster Guy!”
“Thank you for the compliment!” the Disaster Guy said. “It is a good trick! Would you like to learn how?”
“Yes!” Red said. “I’m sure my wife will be amazed when I boil some instant coffee over a kerosene lamp.”
“She will, she will! Now, the principle is that a kerosene lamp is designed to produce light, but it produces a lot of heat, too,” the Disaster Guy said. “Usually all that heat goes up the lamp chimney and is wasted.”
“But if we had a way to use that waste heat, we could use it for warming and cooking food,” he said. “I’m talking about small quantities, say about a cup. You wouldn’t be roasting a turkey with it.”
“So, all I have to do is hold a tin cup over the kerosene lamp, and it warms whatever is in the cup?” Red asked.
“That’s basically it. The bottom of the cup, kettle, or pan needs to be within one-half inch from the top of the lamp chimney, but not touching it,” the Disaster Guy said. “That one-half inch lets the heat spread out over the bottom of the pan, without wasting too much heat.”
“But I’d have to hold the pan for a long time,” Red said.
“A way to avoid that would be to build a cooking stool,” the Disaster Guy said. “It would need to be taller than a regular stool, which is why I suggested you build it.”
“Let’s say your kerosene lamp is 18 inches high,” the Disaster Guy said. “I have a teakettle that’s 9 inches tall with the handle extended. I have a camp pan with a bail, like on a tin pail, that is 10 inches tall with the handle up.”
“I could suspend the teakettle or the pan from a hook on a small chain that’s maybe 6 inches long,” he said. “Add it all up, and the bottom of the cooking stool could be 34 to 36 inches high. And everything would fit under it.”
“So, you’re cooking under a tall stool?” Red asked.
“Exactly!” the Disaster Guy said. “You hang the wire bail of pail or kettle from a piece of chain, hang the chain from the bottom of the stool until it’s one-half inch above the kerosene lamp chimney, and you’re ready to cook.”
“Any tricks I should know?” Red asked?
“Well, it helps to make the stool large enough that you can get a pot or kettle between its legs easily,” the Disaster Guy said. “If you make the stool with removable legs, you could even take it camping!”
“When you do take it camping, it sets up quicker than a campfire or a camp stove,” he said. “It’s the easy way to get a hot drink.”
“How long does it take to cook?” Red asked.
“You can make stew, boil eggs, and make coffee or tea with this cooking arrangement,” the Disaster Guy said. “It takes three or four times as long as cooking the same thing on a regular stove. They say a ‘watched pot never boils,’ Red, but even yours will, eventually!”
The idea of cooking over a kerosene lamp isn’t new, but it’s a smart way to use the heat from the lamp. Other emergency preparedness information is on the website, www.DisasterGuy.com, as Tips you can download for free.