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Hi-Tech Survival » USB Power, Wood Stoves » Fire – Part 1: Camp Stoves

Fire – Part 1: Camp Stoves

This entry is part 1 of 1 in the series Fire

Your camp-stove is going to boil 1+ liters of water 3 times a day, every day during the emergency. The base-camp-stove’s main purpose is to make boiling water, in a hurry, to hydrate food stored in Mylar meal pouches and make hot beverages. You won’t be sitting around this camp-stove roasting marshmallows, telling spooky stories, or frying up a mess of dead squirrels, or raccoons for tonight’s meal; making boiling water very quickly is it’s ONLY function.

Additionally, a second camp stove is a backup to the first and generates electricity to power your electrical grid at night or in inclement weather when your solar panels don’t work that well.  Both camp-stoves have very specific functions and you need both of them.

There are hundreds of camp stoves on the market powered by dozens of different fuel sources; propane, butane, white gasoline, alcohol, solid fuel, etc.  Storing all that fuel is dangerous, toxic, and is not practical – you can’t store 3 months to 1 year of fuel to boil all that water and generate electricity.  There is a fuel, however, that is free, don’t need to hoard it, and available in huge quantities that will last decades – wood.  Heck, you can recycle your furniture and burn that, if you wish, in these stoves.

Boiling a liter of water (4 cups) must be done in 15 minutes or less and in all kinds of weather – poring rain, snow, sleet, and raging heat. That’s 15 minutes to produce 1 liter of boiling water from the time you place the stove down until you pick up the cooled stove. The stove must produce an intense fire that makes no smoke nor smell, doesn’t throw up burning embers that can be seen for miles, and most of the heat goes into boiling water. There is only one camp-stove out there that is specifically made for boiling water, from a wood fire, that quickly – it’s called the Kelly Kettle, or volcano stove. (There is a new manufacturer just entering the market but I can’t recommend them right now) It easily boils water as fast as your cook-stove in your kitchen.

The stove must burn fast and hot and not produce a plume of stinking smoke that bandits can follow back to your base-camp.  15 minutes is tops to make 1 liter of boiling water; and for heaven’s sake don’t boil water at the same time every day – boil it random times.  That’s why you have a thermos to store that boiling water.

The Kelly Kettle is a double walled container with a hollow center that is cone-shaped which results in blow-torch fires in just seconds.  The water is in a metal jacket surrounds this raging fire and a lot of the heat is transferred through the stainless steel chimney wall to the water and results in boiling water in 2-minutes. Additionally you can boil more water on top of the stove or do other cooking, like simmering food once the fire dies down.  Wood is added at the bottom or top to keep the fire going.

There are 3 sizes of Kelly Kettles:

Smallest model – 2 to 3 people:

This is a stainless steel stove that boils 19 fluid ounces of water in the kettle and the water pot can make 16 ounces more for a total of 35 ounces which is 1 liter or 1 quart of boiling water.

Sadly the medium sized Kelly Kettle is made of aluminium, instead of stainless steel, and I can’t recommend it.  If the water boils out or you forget to put in water the aluminium wall will melt in 10 seconds; I have no idea why the manufacturer would do such a stupid thing, but they did.

Largest model for 4 – 6 people:

Base-camp holds 50 ounces and the pot holds 32 ounces for a total of 82 ounces or 2.5 Liters or 1/2 gallon of boiling water.  If you have more people or require hot water for coffee or tea then boil up another batch of water.

As soon as the water boils, transfer it to a thermos and other members can immediately start to hydrate the meals.  You can make more boiling water or put the fire out and move inside.  The top of the stove cools in 2 minutes and the burning embers in the lower firebox can be dumped out and the whole thing should be cool enough to touch in 5-minutes.  Remember, you have just 15 minutes to setup, boil, and cool the stove – no more than 15 minutes or bandits/neighbors can find you.

It is imperative that your stoves produce NO smoke, smell, or flying embers that can attract bandits/neighbors. This means you ONLY BOIL WATER on your stoves – do not prepare any kind of food outside where the aromas can waft many blocks away and attract unwanted guests to your door determined to take what you have and they don’t.  Keeping a low profile is crucial in any emergency.


Some Hi-Tech camp-stoves do NOT burn wood directly but gasify the wood (char the wood to make charcoal and smoke/gas) into highly combustible gas and then burn that gas; they are called woodgas stoves and they have 2 walls surrounding the wood to be burned.  The next camp stove you must have is a backup to the Kelly, it can make boiling water, with a pot on top, AND generate electricity to power all kinds of USB devices at same time.  That electricity can run cell phones, power lights, recharge batteries, and dozens of other USB devices; many at the same time.

The BioLite stove runs on wood, as does the Kelly, and is a woodgas powered stove; wood is charred and the smoke is burned in the top part of the stove; charcoal falls to the bottom and burns slowly but very intensely.  It is as clean burning as a gas stove in your kitchen; no smoke or soot is produced at all.

An electric fan, powered by internal lithium batteries that are recharged from the stove itself, pumps in high-velocity air and produces an intense fire just like a blacksmith’s furnace. Thermoelectric plates, housed in the orange section, generate electricity from the intense fire, and is suitable for any USB powered device.

Running the BioLite is simple – plug in your cell phone to the USB port, stuff twigs and branches down the combustion chamber, light it, and BioLite does the rest automatically.

Since the BioLite contains a moving fan, lithium batteries, a computer, wires, and other electrical components it must be used ONLY for backup purposes and NOT daily.  If this stove fails you are SOL folks.  The Kelly Kettle and the solar cells have no moving parts and should last a long time, but their only backup is the BioLite.

Basically, you can boil water, and at the same time generate low voltage which powers devices plugged into the USB port.  I’ve used my BioLite for hours to recharge devices and lithium batteries that then were then used to power a satellite transmitter so I could sent text messages, from my cell phone, from/to satellites – I’ll show you how to do this later. 

The alternative to this stove is a hand crank device which powers some flashlights but I can tell you that cranking a generator for just 5 minutes is tiring for a grown man and you can’t do it for hours like the BioLite can.  With the BioLite you just add more sticks for as long as you want to generate electricity.

I’ve tried to incorporate backups to backups everywhere in your kits; the BioLite is the ONLY viable backup to boiling water and making electricity over the long run and it’s powered by wood. Don’t go cheap on me here folks, you need to buy this stove.

BioLite is not sold through Amazon yet so you will have to order it direct from the manufacturer – here is their link to order.

Fire - Part 1: Camp Stoves - Quiz

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