This is my second installment in two weeks on stovetop baking. As promised, this week we take a look at a variety of kerosene stoves that I run with diesel fuel, using ovens made for the stovetop. Diesel isn’t propane, and it is not by accident that propane has become ubiquitous in camp stoves. Unlike diesel/keroene, propane is never smokey and regulating the burn is easy with modern equipment. The problem is, propane requires a pressurized tank to store it, and by the gallon, propane is two to three times the cost per BTU of gasoline and diesel. Of gasoline and diesel, diesel is safer and easier to store, and of stoves that will burn diesel, the wick varieties are easier to control, and they don’t need pumping.
As I explain in this week’s video, (which you only need to watch if you don’t mind watching paint dry), though diesel it is still more yellow colored than kerosene, modern diesel doesn’t burn with any sulfur smell, and if you keep the smoke down, it doesn’t impart any flavor on food at all with an open oven above the flame. This is a stark difference to last week’s article on stovetop baking with wood.
My regular readers will recognize the mop wick kerosene stove that I use in the beginning of the video, and this week I added a couple of new types of stoves to the mix. For those of you who have been waiting for me to finish with an overview of kerosene/diesel stoves, I’m done.
The first new stove is what I call a flat wick stove. For some reason I lost some video of me showing you the wicks, but it isn’t rocket science. On a flat wick stove, the fuel sits in a bottle next to the stove, and flows down a connecting pipe to the burner or burners. The wick is a flat piece of either asbestos or fiberglass that sits sideways in a level pool of kerosene or diesel.
I use two versions of this stove in the video. One is new production, under the Butterfly brand from St. Paul Mercantile. This is the same company that imports the mop wick stoves, and the sock wick stoves I cover at the end of the video.
Even though it is a bit of a pain to build, I strongly suggest the $135 stand stove you see in the video, as opposed to the $110 table top version. It is important to level these stoves well, and I found that having a stove with its own stand not only frees up prep space, it is easier to level it and keep it level. If you order either of these stoves, request the original asbestos wick that comes from China, not the replacement fiberglass. Asbestos lasts twice as long and has no real downside, since you probably won’t spend an afternoon trying to inhale fibers that might fly off. Each to his own.
I had also bought a “new old stock” version of this stove under the Boss name, and you’d be surprised at how often they show up on Ebay. Right now there are at least two, and both are in the $100 range, plus shipping, and both appear to be used, not NOS. Until the 1950s, the Boss stove was very common in middle America where gas and electric lines had not yet been installed. I think the stoves go for that much on Ebay because people don’t now that you can get a brand new one for about the same price, rust free and powder coated.
The same is true of the Boss stovetop oven. As you’ll see in the video, I actually bought an old one on Ebay before I found that Lehman’s sold a brand new one. I linked to it last week, so it is no surprise for my regular readers, but for those of you just clicking in for the first time, I can’t tell you how much of a score this oven is from a survival perspective. There is no long term storage food you can get that is more calories per dollar than flour, and outside of a cast iron waffle iron, or a frying pan for pancakes, the best way to cook your storage flour is as loaves of bread. Even without yeast you can build a dough sour, and eat really good food every day for very little cooking fuel, be it wood, diesel, propane or gasoline.
At the end of the video you’ll see that I decided to wrap up my overview of diesel stoves with what most people call “sock wick” stoves. The most popular brand of these is called the Alpaca, and in South Korea where they are made, it is a very common everyday use cookstove. You’ll find them on Ebay right now for $259 direct from South Korea, and there is one US NOS for $130 expiring. But beware that the fiberglass wicks don’t work with diesel. Apparently in South Korea they have a clean cut of kerosene available for cheap. This is not true in most of America.
Right now St. Paul Mercantile is not selling the sock wick Butterfly, sorry. I would have skipped this in the video had I realized that they were currently out of stock. You can still buy the sock wicks for those of you who find a cheap Alpaca. As a daily cookstove I have to say that they are more adjustable and less smokey than the mop wick stoves. I personally ordered a bunch of wicks for my mop wick stoves a few weeks ago, and after using these stoves for this week’s article, ordered some extra sock wicks as well.
As I’m sure you can tell, I’m not a big fan of the small ovens, whether they be the Butterfly or the Coleman. To me they are just too small, and if you see the end of the last segment, you’ll see that I learned a new quirk with them that I hadn’t realized. If you want hot air to circulate to the top, you have to leave space around whatever you are cooking on the rack. Yea, I should have realized it and for most people it would just be common sense, but to me it just screamed that the $219 Lehmans oven is well worth the investment. Your local steel shop could make a version of this oven for a fraction of the price of course, but with the powder coating, thermostat and nice door mechanism, I think you can’t do much better overall.
Lehman’s also sells 2 and 3 burner gravity fed flat wick kerosene stoves for $779 and $929 before shipping. They are made for the Amish, and if you have the cash, I’m sure they are more stable and robust than the Butterfly (but not 100% sure lol). Lehman’s really hasn’t responded to my requests for review product, and I don’t think there is an exponential benefit (3x-5x the price) to most of their high end products.
As I said at the end of the video, I think we are getting into the window where the opportunity to prepare will quickly vanish. How quick is anyone’s guess, but as I’ve said a dozen times, ten years too early is better than one minute late. That the Presidential frontrunner is a coke snorting gangster, calling bullshit on the government employment stats and predicting a stock market crash (and we all want to vote for him), should be consideration enough to go out and buy some survival food. Trump has been a vocal 911 truther over the years, and he definitely knows about the Solar Radiation Management program run by our corporatized military, and therefore the real truth about our dying planet. I say we don’t make the general election, but I hope I’m wrong.