Prepping 101: Cooking With Diesel/Home Heating Oil/Kerosene

As I explained last week, in this iteration of Prepping 101 I plan initially to go through topics that I covered somewhat piecemeal originally. A big one of those is cooking. Because as I discovered new ideas and the associated products, and educated myself as to the options out there for cooking off grid, I interspersed my articles on cooking with others on everything from Ham radios to rain collection.

When I back up from it all, and look at the entire body of knowledge, diesel fuel is the most practical option for long term storage. And hey, like I said in the video, if you live in the woods, it’s not for you probably. Soon I’ll come back to cooking and cover rocket stoves for wood, which have come a long way since my first article on them. But for those of us who live in urban or suburban areas, and we really don’t want to have to go outside to collect twigs to cook, keeping a few months of diesel on hand for cooking is beyond prudent.

The stoves for diesel are generally thought of as being made for kerosene. Kerosene is a great option if you live on the few parts of the US where it is similar in price to gasoline or diesel. But for most of us, the only kerosene we see is in small jugs at Walmart, for roughly 4x the cost of diesel. Jet fuel, and airplane fuel in general, is also kerosene, but if you can even get it, the cost is generally higher than regular gas station diesel.

Modern diesel fuel is not what it used to be. It used to be heavy yellow, urine colored, and it stunk like sulfur. These days, due to environmental regulations, diesel has become very close to kerosene in it’s color and smell. I have only had one can of diesel that had any sulfur smell, and since I generally use these stoves outside, who cares anyway.

As you’ll see in the video, the first stoves I cover use 8 to 22 wicks, which are like the strings in an old style mop. In my experience, the diesel does not clog these wicks up, and they burn just as hot and clean as with kerosene. It seems like if a wick is made of cotton, regardless of the design, modern diesel does not clog it. I did find a few wicks over the course of my tests that were made from some kind of poly, and they clogged and did not produce the normal level of heat, but it was rare. The Alpaca, with it’s original poly round sock style wick, was one of these, and I mentioned that in the video. Replacement cotton wicks, even in that, worked fine.

Those stoves are all silent, and use a wicking methodology. The other kind of kerosene stove works on pressure, with no wick used for actual cooking. You may have experienced this type of stove as a white gas Coleman stove, which were very popular before the common availability of propane canisters. Like the kerosene stoves I cover here, an old Coleman white gas stove has a pressure pump. Once in a while I still see these stoves at Walmart, though the American market for camping stoves has been completely taken over by propane, which I feel has very little cost effective long term prepping value at all.

The white gas stoves will also run gasoline, and I do hope to get to that subject again, but they don’t run kerosene, because they don’t have a pre-heater tube running over the burners. As you’ll see I explain this in the video, and if you look through the Prepping 101 archives, you’ll see the actual stoves in action. Pressure kerosene stoves require preheating, which is done by lighting a wick material soaked with fuel under the pre-heating tube, as you’ll see in the Chinese stoves, or the burner itself, as you will see in the old European Primus-type stoves, and in the Indian stoves that copy these old designs.

I am trying to keep these videos relatively short so that you can get the whole picture without having to sit for a long time, so please check out the archives if something seems confusing. Almost all of the actual tests will come up if you search cooking and diesel here on GunsAmerica Digest.

There is a wealth of knowledge and experience in the archives, and I do not plan to repeat a lot of it. Time may finally be getting short. I am not sure yet. But what I said at the beginning of this column back in 2013 still applies today. Ten years too early is better than ten minutes too late. At these speed at which this world moves these days, the whole charade may come down in an instant.

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