The end is near… Well maybe not today, but who knows what tomorrow will bring. Until then, you may want to go camping, a picnic in the wilderness, or maybe you’re into motorcycle touring where storage space is at a premium. Cooking your meal can either be a big production with a campfire, lots of firewood, hot ashes to contend with, or you might want to consider something easier and a whole lot more efficient.
A Jet Stove is a simple little stove that is designed to burn small twigs, bark, and things you would normally consider tinder. Fuel is so efficiently used a few handfuls is enough to make a hearty soup, stew, or that ever mandatory pot of coffee.
When you’re done, the amount of waste hot ashes will amount to only a few tablespoons worth that will cool down in a matter of minutes. Cleanup becomes a snap and storage is easy with your whole stove being the size of a tomato juice can.
There are no critical measurements or specific items you need to build your stove. Thrift stores, junk shops, and your own pantry will provide you with components. For the most part the important ingredient is imagination, the ability to see how something designed for another purpose can be used to form the parts of your little stove.
For my stove I used a 1qt steel paint can, the remains of an outdoor light fixture, an empty tuna fish can, and a small 12v cooling fan from a computer and a handful of sheet metal screws.
The shell of the light fixture became the burn chamber, the paint can became the combustion air plenum, and the tuna can houses the little fan that forces air into the bottom of the burn chamber.
You can see by the size of the stove you wouldn’t want to try balancing a large cast iron dutch oven on it, but a 1quart saucepan, or a pot from a mess kit cooking set, will sit on top of the stove nicely.
There are a variety of ways to get your fires started. Dryer lint works well, soaking it in Vaseline gives some longevity to your flame. Cotton balls are another alternative to lint. Dipping them in candle wax also makes a good fire starter.
Start your fire with very small twigs and as a good base of embers starts to build increase the fuel to larger pieces. Size is all relative because no matter what there isn’t much capacity or need for large fuel.
Once the fire is starting to burn the initial small twigs turn on the little fan. This is where the name “Jet” stove comes in. Combustion air is being forced into the burning chamber under the fire. This is where it will do the most good. Your fire will rapidly increase in intensity and will heat your food or drink all that much faster.
There are a couple ways you can power the small fan. If you’re backpacking, or anywhere away from power, a simple 9v battery like what you find in many smoke detectors will power the fan quite nicely. My stove will become part of the survival kit I carry when trail riding with our ATV. I have a 12v power port available on the ATV so I wired a length of cord and a 12v power plug to the small fan.
Fuel for your stove can be found almost anywhere. If you want to carry your own fuel supply a zip lock bag of dryer lint/cotton ball fire starter combined with another zip lock bag containing wood pellets that are sold for certain wood burning stoves can provide enough fuel for a half dozen cooking sessions with very little bulk or weight.
Once you start planning for Armageddon, and begin getting your bug-out bag filled with supplies, don’t forget to include a small stove. Those cases of Ramon Cup-a-Soup you have stored under your bed will need a heat source if you want to enjoy them.
If all of it sounds like too much work to you, then you are absolutely right. You can avoid all these hassles by choosing meals ready to eat. You can easily find many reputable manufacturers on the market such as XMRE, Eversafe or MRE Star. The price range is very affordable taking into consideration you can have a warm meal under 10 minutes without fire.