Cooking Without Electricity

(Some info in this section is adapted from

BASIC PRINCIPLES of Simply Ready Cooking

  1. Be ready to cook:
    • indoors or outdoors
    • at home or evacuated
    • in all types of weather
  2. Use methods that conserve fuel
  3. Cook in a well-ventilated area


  • Solar Panel Cooker – a reflective panel that directs sunlight to a dark colored pot enclosed in an oven bag
  • Food cooks at low heat 200°-275°
  • Folds flat, lightweight, inexpensive to make or buy
  • Solar Box Cooker – Insulated box-in-a-box; glass lid pointed to the sun traps heat like a greenhouse, often has reflective flaps
  • Food in dark, covered pots
  • Reaches cooking temperatures of 300°-450°
  • Ease to make or buy

Parabolic Cooker – Uses a parabolic mirror to focus light on a cooking pot placed at the focal point

  • Can reach temperatures over 600°
  • Mirrored ones are expensive; imitate using Mylar windshield screen (may not get as hot)

OUTDOOR COOKING to Conserve Charcoal or Wood

Rocket Stove – buy or easy to build with low cost material (Want to make one? Go to: or )

  • Burns branches, twigs, leaves, dung or just about any small combustible material. Material burns from the tip, which increases efficiency, creates a very hot fire and eliminates smoke.
  • An insulated chimney makes sure that heat goes into the cooking pot and not the stove.
  • A double door rocket stove allows you to burn charcoal as well.

Volcano Stove – portable multi-fuel outdoor grills ( )

  • Collapsible to 6” for easy transport
  • Uses minimal fuel; gets up to 15,000 BTUs
  • Sturdy to hold heavy pots
Butane Relatively Easy to Find
Clean Burning
Easy lighting,
no Priming,
no Pumping
Long Storage Life
Can use Indoors
Relatively Expensive
Freezes at low temperatures
Must buy Butane canister that
fits your appliance
K-1 Kerosene Relatively Inexpensive
Easy to find; can buy in bulk
Burns easily and hot
Can be used indoors
Stores Indefinitely
Burns dirty
Has an odor
Priming required
Can clog stove parts
White Gas/ Coleman Fuel
(Outdoor Only)
5-10 Years storage life
Relatively Inexpensive
Easy to Light and Burn
Priming Required
Highly Flammable
Readily available
Alcohol Stove has
fewer moving parts
Doesn’t burn as hot
Harder to light
Alcohol Gel
Safe; fuel can't be spilled
Environmentally friendly
Easy to light
Fuel relatively expensive
Easily blown out by the wind
unless protected
Propane Relatively Inexpensive
Readily available
Stores Indefinitely
Rotten egg smell alerts you to leaks
Can explode at ignition source
If leaking, gas can
accumulate and explode
Charcoal Very Inexpensive = 1 yr. about $100
Easy to Locate
Stores Indefinitely (Dry)
Predictable Heat (1 Briquette = ~35º)
Must remain dry
Hard to ignite
Wood Free if you collect/chop your own
No Toxic Fumes
Typically readily available
Low burn efficiency
Need lots of storage space
Not all wood burns well
Hexamine/ Trioxane
Compressed Tablets
No spillage
No smoke
Can calculate how much fuel needed
Can reuse remnants
Relatively expensive
Blackens pots and pans
Has an odor some don’t like
Flame is sensitive to wind