If you live in the northern climes it is getting to be that time of year again where you worry about getting caught in the cold with no electricity and no chance of it coming back on anytime soon. As I explained in my article on water, the best thing you can do to guarantee yourself fresh drinking water and a warm enough place to sleep is to build a greenhouse. If you have the land, a greenhouse will melt your water all winter long, no matter how cold it gets. You can also put a tent inside your greenhouse and sleep in there, and with the double insulation, it will be warm enough, most of the time. A supplemental wood stove or other alternative heating system certainly won’t hurt, and I found a really inexpensive stove that works great. And even if you aren’t in the cold, it doubles as a great cookstove for cheap money.
I bought my stove for $57 with free shipping on Ebay. That was about a year ago, and today I can’t find it cheaper than $79 (free shipping) on either Ebay or Amazon. Like many things survival, there has been a bunch of hidden inflation because the demand is fairly high and China just isn’t giving away free stuff anymore.
This stove can be found under search terms “portable wood stove” on Ebay and Amazon, as well as “TMS Stove” which is the company that makes it in China. TMS is the only company selling them on Amazon right now, directly from the factory. Note that there has been a prepper sale on Ebay of late and I found a sold out ad for this stove for $54. So if you want to wait and see if they replenish that, by all means wait. The hard freezes are still a month away for a lot of people still.
There are two main weaknesses to this stove. One is that the door is not gasketed. If you want to improve the performance, you can seal the door with wood stove gasket rope, and it will make a substantial difference in how long your fuel lasts through the night, because you can throttle the heat back with a much slower burn. The other problem is that the paint is not heat paint, so it burns right off the first time you use the stove, then it will rust.
If you are unfamiliar with wood stoves, they retain efficiency in the use of your fuel by limiting the air intake to the fire. Wood needs oxygen to burn, so by throttling back the burn, the wood lasts longer. An open fire with unlimited air burns very hot for a short amount of time, so if you are in a building, tent or greenhouse with not a lot of insulation, it will get hot, too hot, then the heat will all leak out and you’ll be cold very shortly after. A wood stove will burn cooler and longer, so that you can go to sleep and wake up to a warm living space.
Real wood stoves are made with thick cast iron usually, and will last indefinitely. They also come with the fiberglass rope gasket and they are very controllable. They don’t go for $100, so this $100 stove is thin sheet metal. It will rust out at some point under daily use. You’ll make it through the first winter with it most likely, which will give you the whole next year to come up with something else. (or you can just buy two) You can also find cheap wood stoves at flea markets and yardsales, and there is really no such thing as a not working wood stove. It is just a big piece of cast iron, though it might need a new gasket for 6 bucks.
One of the weaknesses of this stove is that it doesn’t have a bent pipe. As you can see from the pictures, it does have a very tall pipe, but it is straight. this is fine for the corner of your greenhouse because you can make a stove jack for it in the corner (don’t put the stove closer than 36″ from the walls). In a tent, there is a stove jack on Ebay you can get for $69 that will allow you to use a straight pipe without having a bend. But in a house, where you will be putting the stove pipe out a window (preferably with a stove jack in the window), you really need a bent pipe, and there is no easy fit. If you plan to put this stove in your prepper gear, in advance go to Home Depot and pick up a heat rated pipe that will bend to be able to use your stove through a window. Make the stove jack at the same time. Ideally, test it.
Inside, in a house, you can’t be too careful with a wood stove. Get a steel plate to put it on, and make sure that your exhaust pipe is solid, sealed well and tested. This is not something you want to mess around with. If you live where it gets below freezing, you should be testing your prepping solution no matter what, and taking every precaution to prevent a fire.
Note that this $100 stove comes with two food warmers for the sides. There is currently a version for sale on Ebay right now for $94 that comes with an additional water heating container that sits along side the exhaust pipe. This is probably the best buy in the stove right now.
The main thing I don’t like about this stove is that you have to split your wood very thin for it to fit in the door. This is a product of not actually buying a real wood stove, but you can find this issue even with old pot belly wood stoves. The doors are very small. This sheet metal stove is made for branches and other pickups you would find camping or rely upon for a survival situation. Is it perfect? No, it’s kinda lame, but if you don’t have a lot of time or money to put into your wood stove solution, it’s a pretty good stop gap kind of stove to make sure you have something.
I haven’t actually lit my stove because I have no use for it down here in South Florida as a heater. And as a cookstove it would be a 3rd tier backup to other systems I already have in place (though I’m glad to have it). I got the information about the paint burning off from the Amazon reviews, and if you look at the several offerings you’ll see lots of tips on how to make the stove work well for you. I ordered one to see just how well it was made, and I think it is a great buy even at $100. It weighs less than 30 lbs and is extremely portable, as compared to even a small real wood stove needing two people to lift it. This is a great survival tool and buying it is only a click away. Don’t leave yourself in the cold. This stove is a great little investment.