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Any options for cooking indoors when the power is down?

I’m helping a friend with some prepping stuff. She lives in a townhouse in an area which has often been affected by bad air from wildfires and where our local power company has also been shutting down the electricity for days at a time, in an attempt to prevent said wildfires (which they haven’t prevented anyway). One problem the friend has is cooking or heating food because she has an electric stove. I would recommend a small propane stove, but her area is really dry and last year the fire department pleaded with people to not create any sparks outside. I realize that these small butane stoves don’t produce much in the way of sparks, but she just really felt like she didn’t want to risk it.

So, I’m wondering what her options are for cooking or heating at least minimally, if she has to cook inside and rely on power from a backup solar generator or other rechargeable source of some sort. Regular hot plates and toaster ovens are massively expensive in terms of electrical use. What else can she do?

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  • Comments (6)

    • 3

      Butane burners are used inside all over Asia — should still crack a window but doesn’t create the carbon monoxide dangers using propane inside does

    • 2

      You can use gas-fueled camping stoves inside, provided you have your head on straight (eg. open a window, don’t overdo it, etc.) Many people have Jetboil-style stoves in their emergency supplies, so it could easily do double duty in those blackout situations.

    • 2

      We got a rocket stove at Christmas, for just in case as we are not campers. It uses dried grasses, leaves, or twigs as fuel and gives off little to no smoke as it burns extremely efficiently due to its design. That might be adjusted for your friend’s needs.

    • 2

      I bought a Snow Peak Home and Camp burner that uses butane cartridges.  The Snow Peak web site states that it is safe for home (indoor) use.  It’s a bit pricey (~ $110) if purchased at MSRP but they have them at REI and I used one of my regular 20% coupons.  REI also sells the butane cartridges.  I haven’t used it yet so cannot comment on how well it works.

    • 3

      What do folks think about alcohol burners. Apparently safe to use indoors…

      • 3

        Alcohol has about half the energy content by weight as canister fuels or liquid white gas, so the flame would have to be on twice as long inside the house to get things cooked.

        California and some other states have banned the sale of denatured alcohol, which only leaves the more expensive (due to taxes) Everclear 189 proof grain alcohol.  But the fact that you can drink the Everclear while you’re cooking with it might be bonus for some.