The Power Grid Is Far More Vulnerable to Cyber Attacks Than Most People Realize

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In December of 2015, 230,000 people in Western Ukraine lost power after 30 substations were mysteriously shut off. Contrary to what most people assumed at the time, this wasn’t an innocuous power outage. The authorities would later admit that the loss of power was caused by a cyber attack, which marked the first time that malware was successfully used to attack a power grid. A similar, albeit more sophisticated cyber attack, occurred one year later just outside of Kiev. Given the current tensions between Russia and Ukraine, it’s widely believed that the Russian government was responsible for these incidents.

However, there’s more to this story than meets the eye. A computer security company has been investigating these attacks, and has discovered the malware that was used to take down the grid. They’ve found that it’s far more dangerous and easier to use than anyone realized before.

The danger of the malware is that it can automatically trip the breakers within a power system that keep the electrical lines from being overloaded. If one breaker is tripped, the load is shipped to another portion of the power grid. If enough are tripped, in the right places, it’s possible to create a cascading effect that will eventually overload the entire system, said Weatherford, who was formerly the chief security officer at the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, the regulatory authority for North American utilities.

“In some cases, it could then take days to restart all the plants,” he said.

Two things stand out about the malware, dubbed “Industroyer” by the researchers — it’s an order of magnitude easier to use than previous programs and it wasn’t actually deployed to do any real damage, meaning whoever’s behind the December attack might simply have been testing the waters. 

In other words, this malware can induce what’s often referred to as a cascading failure. This is what caused the massive blackout that occurred in the Northeastern US and Canada back in 2003. An overgrown tree branch in Ohio touched a power line, which caused that section of the grid to overload and shut down. The electricity had to be transferred to other power lines, which in turn also became overloaded. This chain reaction continued until 55 million people were without power.

Cascading failure is the perfect example of just how fragile our power grid can be. Because our grid is so interconnected, something really small can have a huge effect on the wider system. Though the power grid in the US isn’t as vulnerable to humble tree branches as it used to be, it’s still quite vulnerable to the type of malware that was used to shut down parts of the grid in Ukraine.

Industrial control networks of the type used in power systems use communications protocols that are much less secure than the kinds of computer networks used by banks, retailers and businesses.

“They were developed years ago, without security in mind. They weren’t designed for smart grids or interconnectedness,” said Robert Lipovsky, a senior malware researcher with ESET…

…Industroyer’s ease-of-use is so disturbing because industrial systems are still playing security catch-up, said Raheem Beyah at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta.

“I knew we were going in this direction but I didn’t think it would be this soon,” said Beyah, who teaches a course on infrastructure hacking and protection for graduate computer science students.

Bayah says the software needed to take down an electrical grid no longer requires the resources of a nation to create. Adding a module to the malware is now “something that a strong computer science graduate student could do,” he said.

This “Industroyer” malware represents a new threat that people need to accept and prepare for. The power grid, which is the linchpin of our standard of living, is now vulnerable to software that is relatively easy to use. Though it seems likely that the Russian government was responsible for developing it, it could have just as easily been made and deployed by non-state actors on a shoe string budget.

This is a dangerous new reality that we live in. Now, someone with a modest education and a small budget can inflict billions of dollars in damages, and leave us all in the dark. Obviously, that makes widespread blackouts far more likely in the future.

And that potential is probably just the tip of the iceberg. It’s very possible that multiple cyber-attacks could keep us in the dark for weeks rather than just days. That would be more than long enough to cause society to disintegrate.

Fortunately, you’re not helpless in the face of this threat. You can prepare yourself now before it’s too late.

Additional Resources:

Are You ready Series: Rolling Blackouts

Could the Latest Solar Storm Warnings Bring an End to Civilization as We Know It?

The Big Blackout: Why I’m Going Lot-Tech to Prep for an EMP

4 Critical Components to Getting Prepped for a Blackout

Joshua Krause was born and raised in the Bay Area. He is a writer and researcher focused on principles of self-sufficiency and liberty at Ready Nutrition. You can follow Joshua’s work at our Facebook page or on his personal Twitter.

Joshua’s website is Strange Danger

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

Prepping This Item Before Winter Comes Could Save Your Life

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ReadyNutrition Readers, one of the things that always amazes me is the way people always wait until autumn sets in to begin cutting and storing up a supply of firewood.  I wanted to tell you guys and gals the way I do things here, and perhaps (quantity and geographic variances aside) you can see my overall intent.  As you well know, I live in Montana where it is usually bitterly cold with snow on the ground for anywhere from 7 to 9 months of the year.  I’m aware this is not the case in most of the U.S., however, there are some good reasons for laying in a firewood supply right now.

A year supply of wood for $20

Firstly, one of the really good things we have here in Montana is that the U.S. Forestry Service allows residents to pick up a permit (every April) to cut fallen dead and standing dead timber.  The permit runs $20 for four cords, and you can pay $60 and take up to twelve cords.  That’s a heck of a lot of wood, and dirt-cheap!  I’m not sure what it is in other states, however, I am certain that many of them have the same policy.

On this note, I’d love to hear from you and find out what the policy is in your home state: prices and amounts, and such.

The only regulations governing it are you must have a serviceable and up-to-date/inspected fire extinguisher with you if you use a chain saw.  In addition, there are certain times (and the USFS posts it) when the fire danger is high or greater.  In these periods, it is not permitted to run a chainsaw and harvest that dead timber.

But now is a great time for it!  All of the undergrowth has not yet emerged from its winter hibernation, so it is relatively clear to work.  I have much of it that I take where it is not permissible to take a vehicle and load up in the forest itself.  My way around that is to cut my wood, stack it up, and haul it out with a garden cart.  Sears make a pretty sturdy one that holds about 600 lbs, and it’ll run you just under $100 dollars.  It has some thick, tough-treaded wheels that can easily run the trails, and not have too much of a problem going over even fields.

The reason for the wood gathering is twofold.  Firstly (from a “normal” thought perspective) you’re laying in your supply for next winter.  The early bird gets the worm.  You’ll be able to pick up the best wood for yourself when most others are not even thinking about anything except their weekend trip to the beach.  Secondly (and also very important) from a prepper’s perspective, is the “What If?” reason.

What if that EMP attack comes from North Korea or China?  What if the economy collapses?  What should happen if there is civil war, or a war/invasion here in the U.S.?  Yes, your home will be warm already, but what about cooking?  What about hot water for laundry or personal hygiene.  How about some light when there’s no electricity?  And what about sterilizing instruments, boiling bandages, and running a home/field dispensary?

All of these, I hope you realize are good reasons to prepare and plan now, so that when the tough times arrive, it is not so great a hurt to deal with.  You have seen the news reports, and we’re just a step away from either a war or an EMP attack.  As with Aesop’s fable “The Grasshopper and the Ant,” although we in the survival community are hardly grasshoppers, if we’re ants it is best to be wise ants…covering all of the bases before the ball is hit to center field.

Now is the time to set up your wood-fueled “kitchen,” by investing in a good wood stove for heat and for cooking.  The wood stove also cuts down on the light signature at night…much better than a fireplace.  Along with the stove, start investing in cast iron cookware and utensils for cooking that can withstand rougher treatment than your standard dinner fare.

How much wood do you need?

If you have not done so already, now is a good time to estimate how much wood you will go through in the wintertime, and then estimate how much you would need to have a fire/woodstove burning 24 hours a day.  Typically, a cord of wood is 4 feet wide x 4 feet high x 8 feet long stacked and adds up to 128 cubic feet. As well, the cords may consist of whole logs or split logs. Here is some great information on how to estimate cords of wood from a standing tree. In the summertime it is significantly less, but take your winter consumption and double it, just to be on the safe side.

Invest in a good chain saw, with at least 5 extra chains, and plenty of rattail files to sharpen them when you need to.  Also in that equation, you’ll need a good bench vise to help you to sharpen them.  Stock up on oil and fuel for the saws.  Back all of it up with several good axes, and as many bow saws as you can find.  Remember: if you run out of fuel, you’ll have to do it the old fashioned way.

So take some time to figure out your fuel needs to heat your home with wood and to fulfill the other functions I have just mentioned.  Now is the time to do it, and it can be a good team experience for the whole family.  Make sure you always pack a first aid kit in your excursions and thoroughly familiarize yourself with the operation of all your cutting and safety equipment.  Happy woodcutting!  We encourage your input and thoughts in these matters and hope to hear from you soon!  JJ out!

Jeremiah Johnson is the Nom de plume of a retired Green Beret of the United States Army Special Forces (Airborne). Mr. Johnson was a Special Forces Medic, EMT and ACLS-certified, with comprehensive training in wilderness survival, rescue, and patient-extraction. He is a Certified Master Herbalist and a graduate of the Global College of Natural Medicine of Santa Ana, CA. A graduate of the U.S. Army’s survival course of SERE school (Survival Evasion Resistance Escape), Mr. Johnson also successfully completed the Montana Master Food Preserver Course for home-canning, smoking, and dehydrating foods.

Mr. Johnson dries and tinctures a wide variety of medicinal herbs taken by wild crafting and cultivation, in addition to preserving and canning his own food. An expert in land navigation, survival, mountaineering, and parachuting as trained by the United States Army, Mr. Johnson is an ardent advocate for preparedness, self-sufficiency, and long-term disaster sustainability for families. He and his wife survived Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. Cross-trained as a Special Forces Engineer, he is an expert in supply, logistics, transport, and long-term storage of perishable materials, having incorporated many of these techniques plus some unique innovations in his own homestead.

Mr. Johnson brings practical, tested experience firmly rooted in formal education to his writings and to our team. He and his wife live in a cabin in the mountains of Western Montana with their three cats.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

10 Awesome Tips You Never Knew About Using Wood Stoves That May Change Your Life

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 ReadyNutrition Readers, we’re having a heatwave out here in Montana…it’s 9 degrees Fahrenheit while I’m writing this.  I hope you guys and gals are nice and warm and you have a good wood stove in front of you keeping it so.  You recall I wrote one on wood stoves not too long ago, and I wanted to supplement this for a few more things you can do with yours.  Aside from using wood stoves to stay warm and cook food on, here are a few tips you never knew on how to get the most out of your wood stove.

10 Ways to Make the Most of a Wood Stove

Ashes

One of the things you should consider is the potash that comes from your stove.  Yes, all that wood turns into ashes that can be recycled and used.  One of the things that you can do is to store them in a container (preferably a metal one that has a tightly-fitting lid) and use them later for producing your own soap.  The ashes are boiled down in water (yes, this too can be done on your wood stove!), and combined with lye and other ingredients.

Your ashes can also be used for metal polishing, for the likes of metals such as brass and silver.  It works really well straight up, or mixed with just a few drops of water.  The ashes can also be combined with your compost piles and used as a form of fertilizer to replace many valuable minerals and nutrients that comes from carboniferous materials being burned.  Why do you suppose a new forest sprouts up in a few years after a forest fire?   All of that burned wood goes into the soil and enriches it.  You can turn it into your gardens when you’re planting in the springtime for the same effect.

Charcoal

Charcoal is another product that you can take from your wood stove.  Used for a variety of things besides just cooking, charcoal can also be finely-crushed and added to your ash supply to make soap.  It can be set aside for use as cooking material or a fire-starting ingredient and even used to clean teeth.  Charcoal can also be used to filter water (see previous articles on water purification).

Soot

There’s also soot from the chimney (although you’ll probably have to wait until springtime to obtain it when you brush your chimney pipe).  Soot is the black substance formed by the combustion of your wood in the stove.  This is fine particulate matter that adheres to your pipe walls, and is blackened, consisting mainly of carbon that has not been completely burned. Soot is responsible for many chimney fires.  Soot can be mixed (in small quantities as needed) with a little bit of vegetable oil and some water to make your own ink.  A type of soot is called lampblack, and is used in enamels, paints, and inks from a commercial perspective.

That soot also has a great deal of unburned oils and resins in it (especially if you burn a lot of pine…don’t scoff…if you live in the Rockies, you will burn pine unless your last name is Rockefeller, believe me).  The oils, resins, and unburned carbon are excellent to mix with things such as sawdust and lint, with some wax for fire starters for the wood stove or camping and backpacking.

Dehydrate Food

The top of the stove is great for dehydrating food as well.  You have recipes from ReadyNutrition for pemmican and jerky.  You can make your own on top of the stove with small-aperture wire racks…of the type to cool off hot sandwiches and the like.  Lay your meat on top of the wood stove top on the racks and allow that heat to dry them right out.

We’d love to hear any suggestions of things that you have found to do with your wood stoves (along with heating your home and cooking, of course).  It is all part of your preps and homesteading and learning to economize and obtain the maximum use for all of the materials you have at your disposal.  Explore some of these and let us know what you think, as well as things you have discovered on your own.  Keep up that good fight, drink a good cup of coffee, and stay warm!

 

JJ

 

Don’t forget to join us March 9th 7 p.m. (CST) for a FREE interactive webinar about solar cooking. Click here for more details!

MARCH9G

Jeremiah Johnson is the Nom de plume of a retired Green Beret of the United States Army Special Forces (Airborne). Mr. Johnson was a Special Forces Medic, EMT and ACLS-certified, with comprehensive training in wilderness survival, rescue, and patient-extraction. He is a Certified Master Herbalist and a graduate of the Global College of Natural Medicine of Santa Ana, CA. A graduate of the U.S. Army’s survival course of SERE school (Survival Evasion Resistance Escape), Mr. Johnson also successfully completed the Montana Master Food Preserver Course for home-canning, smoking, and dehydrating foods.

Mr. Johnson dries and tinctures a wide variety of medicinal herbs taken by wild crafting and cultivation, in addition to preserving and canning his own food. An expert in land navigation, survival, mountaineering, and parachuting as trained by the United States Army, Mr. Johnson is an ardent advocate for preparedness, self-sufficiency, and long-term disaster sustainability for families. He and his wife survived Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. Cross-trained as a Special Forces Engineer, he is an expert in supply, logistics, transport, and long-term storage of perishable materials, having incorporated many of these techniques plus some unique innovations in his own homestead.

Mr. Johnson brings practical, tested experience firmly rooted in formal education to his writings and to our team. He and his wife live in a cabin in the mountains of Western Montana with their three cats.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

DIY Portable Solar Power Unit For Camping Or Emergencies

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DIY Portable Solar Power Unit For Camping Or Emergencies Having electricity is a huge convenience, even if you’re camping. Not only can it charge electronics you can use for critical equipment, it can make things more comfortable. Having a small power unit can help you run an emergency radio, run the lights around your camp, …

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Three Underrated Alternative Energy Options You Can Find in Your Home

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Green Home
Sure, there are plenty of alternatives to fossil fuels:  most people have heard of solar cells, wind and battery power, but there are other energy options as well. Some of them are a few years away from being viable in the US, but many of them could be excellent candidates if a little more research and funds are invested now. Here are three of the most familiar, yet underrated, energy options.

Cooking Oil

There are reports of cooking oil being used as a fuel source as far back as 1896, and peanut oil was used to power diesel engines throughout the turn of the century. But there hasn’t been much of a desire to move further into the realm of using cooking oil for fuel; the issue that makes vegetable oil a less popular or likely choice is largely availability. Though the US alone produces more than 2.5 billion pounds of grease through restaurants and other industries, there are some regions where the byproduct is simply not available. Shipping drives up the cost and makes other resources more attractive. However, for those who DO have a readily available supply (such as farmers or restaurant owners), cooking oil can provide up to 25% of the energy needed to run these establishments. An investment in a special generator up front can allow these businesses to turn their used oils into energy and also cut down the cost of oil disposal (which can cost upwards of $75 a month) in the process. Best of all, cooking oil is completely renewable and burns cleaner than fossil fuels.

Garbage

Incineration, or the burning of garbage, has been around for centuries; however, the process is not as simple as merely torching trash and being done with it. Incineration produces pollutants such as dioxin and releases them into the air. One way around this issue is to create special waste-to-energy plants that control the release of hazardous air pollutants.

Estonia has facilities that meet these requirements and they recently made headlines when they imported 62,000 tons of garbage from other European nations for use in their power plant in Iru. Sweden also produces more than 60% of their energy using renewable resources (primarily a combination of wind power and waste-to-energy). Currently, the United States has 87 waste-to-energy plants that generate approximately 2,720 megawatts, or about 0.4 percent of total US power generation. In European countries there are more government incentives and business benefits to utilizing alternative energy resources, but in the US we’re still much more reliant on our traditional sources. We don’t yet have the infrastructure to make the strides that Estonia or Sweden have, but as these and other European countries continue to develop these methods, they can serve as a model for future areas of exploration.

Poop!

Yes, that’s right: human and animal feces can be used as a source of energy. When processed through bioreactors that are equipped at removing the natural gas from waste, this method is efficient and (after initial startup costs) affordable.

The specialized bioreactors work by feeding solid human and animal waste into chambers full of bacteria. The bacteria eat any remaining nutrients in the waste and release natural gas that we can use as fuel. It’s also possible to convert solid waste into hydrogen and other gasses for various uses. Toyota’s Fukuoka plant in Japan has been experimenting with biogas-turned-hydrogen for fueling a new fleet of vehicles. Hydrogen vehicles are currently available in the United States as well, but they are expensive and the filling stations are rare at this point. Scientists at UCLA are hoping that “brown energy” continues to develop in the US because the benefits are so great and the source material is, ahem, endlessly available.

 

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Pamela Bofferding is a native Texan who now lives with her husband and sons in New York City. She enjoys hiking, traveling, and playing with her dogs.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

New ReGen Villages Redefining Off-Grid Living

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 By 2050 there will be nearly 10 billion people living on planet Earth. Clean water, healthy food, and arable land will begin to grow scarce and only those well versed in a self-sustainable lifestyle will be safe from a great negative impact. With the skyrocketing population also comes an increase in the aspiring class (the approximately 4 billion people who can afford to buy their way to sustainability). For those who can afford it, there is a recent boom in integrated neighborhood concepts: luxury off-grid communities that have power positive homes, private renewable energy sources, water management, high-yield organic food production, and waste-to-resource systems. The first of these communities is calledReGen Village, and it’s currently under construction in Almere, Netherlands.

A Look Inside a Luxury Off-Grid Community

ReGen Village will make use of all available technology to build what its creators are calling the “Tesla of Eco Villages.” The creators want to redefine off-grid living from being merely a way to sustain the basics of life into a culture of luxury and comfort. The developments will use their own technology to meet their everyday needs but, because of cutting-edge advancements, they will not have the same restraints and conservation rules that typically define off-grid communities.

Who Gravitates to the ReGen Concept?

In June of 2016, the concept of ReGen Village was introduced at the Venice Biennale, an arts organization and annual exhibition of architects and designers. The concept went viral with more than 20 million page views of the ReGen website and over 10 thousand emails expressing interest.

The pilot community is being built now but plans are in the works for developments in Sweden, Norway, Germany, and Belgium. CEO James Ehrlich says their goal is to expand at a global scale and to create regenerative neighborhoods for an elite group of residents. A center with 100 units should be ready for move-in in about a year, though the exact price to secure a position inside is not yet available. A smaller scale, 35-condo version is also being planned nearby in order to prefect the model before it is scaled.

Time will tell if this concept will be the new norm in off-grid living, but it’s certainly an interesting development.

 

 

 

 

Pamela Bofferding is a native Texan who now lives with her husband and sons in New York City. She enjoys hiking, traveling, and playing with her dogs.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

A Nifty Tip for Keeping Your House Cool When the Grid Goes Down

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thermometerWhen most preppers imagine all the ways that a collapse of the power grid could hurt civilization, they usually think of our food distribution networks, water systems, financial networks, and the internet. But one thing that usually isn’t at the top of that list of concerns, is the heating and cooling of our homes.

That’s probably because we know that human beings have lived in extremely hot and cold climates for generations, and many of us just assume that if the grid goes down, we’ll find a way to deal with the temperature outside. This is no small matter however, especially when it comes to air conditioning. If it weren’t for the invention of AC, there would be tens of millions of people who never would have bothered moving to the Southern US or the Southwest. A city like Phoenix would never have 1.5 million people without affordable AC units in every home. If the grid went down now, a large swath of the American population would be living in a climate that they have no idea how to deal with.

And unlike heating, there really aren’t any comparable non-electric alternatives to cooling your home. If you lived in the northern climbs of the US, then you probably aren’t far from sources of firewood, but non-electric cooling methods never work as well as an AC unit. Swamp coolers work really well and use very little electricity, but that’s about as good as it gets. Plus, they only work well in low humidity environments.

While unpowered cooling methods simply can’t compete with AC units, there are still some methods of cooling your home that can take the edge off the heat. One of the newest methods involves a device called the Eco-Cooler, and it is incredibly simple.

The Eco-Cooler is nothing more than a board filled with half cut soda bottles. It works by compressing and cooling outside air before it enters your home. It’s just like when you exhale with an open mouth the air is warm, but when you purse your lips and blow, the air that comes out is cool.

eco-cooler youtube

The board is placed over a window; preferably one that is facing the wind. The air goes into the bottles, gets compressed and cooled as it’s pushed into the neck, and then cool air enters your home. The only concern that isn’t addressed in the building instructions, is the possibility of bugs entering your home through the holes. I’d wager that a mesh of some kind could be easily added over the holes, which might actually help compress the air even more.

As stated previously, it’s no match for the air conditioning unit that you probably have in your home right now, but in an emergency the Eco-Cooler can reduce the temperature inside your home by about 10 degrees Fahrenheit. Not bad for a non-electric device that’s made out of trash.

Joshua Krause was born and raised in the Bay Area. He is a writer and researcher focused on principles of self-sufficiency and liberty at Ready Nutrition. You can follow Joshua’s work at our Facebook page or on his personal Twitter.

Joshua’s website is Strange Danger

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

This New Car Engine is a Prepper’s Dream Come True

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stirling engineMuch like what kind of firearm you should own, or what should go into a proper bug out bag, most preppers could endlessly debate the qualities needed in a bug out vehicle. And like any debate among preppers, there is no definitive answer. The perfect vehicle for you will vary depending on your preferences, circumstances, abilities, and experiences. There isn’t a single type of vehicle that is perfect for anyone.

In the future however, there may be a new type of engine that just about every prepper will want in their vehicle. I say “in the future” because this setup was only recently invented by a man in San Antonio named Josh “Mac” MacDowell, albeit for very non-prepper reasons (though he’s not the first person to come up with this idea). Rather than an internal combustion engine, he wants to place a stirling engine in his vehicle.

I’ve written about the stirling engine and its potential uses for preppers before. It was invented in the early 1800’s as a safer alternative to the steam engine, but it never caught on. Thought it’s rugged, simple, easy to maintain, and has stellar fuel efficiency, the engine doesn’t work very well on a larger scale. Its motion is reliant on its ability to exchange heat between the engine and the air, so if the engine is too big, it will struggle to shed heat.

It also can’t shift into different speeds very quickly, which is why it never caught on in the car industry. Not that they wouldn’t be interested. The stirling engine has a fuel efficiency that’s about three times better than a gasoline combustion engine. Unfortunately the stirling takes a really long time to heat up or cool down, both of which determine how fast the engine is running. Those technical hurdles were too much for car companies to overcome.

However, those hurdles are no longer a problem with the technology that’s available to us today. Here’s what stirling engine is capable of, once it’s combined with a hybrid vehicle:

Though mechanically sound, the Stirling engine never caught on in the 1800s, with most businesses choosing to use steam engines for their industrial applications. NASA even experimented with the engine in the early 1980’s, and was able to achieve 54 miles per gallon, but the Space Agency never went any further with the technology. MacDowell borrowed one of these Stirling engines from NASA and began experimenting with it to see if he could use the regenerative engine with 21st-century automotive know-how.

MacDowell coupled the engine with existing hybrid technology, creating a system that will deliver 58 miles per gallon to a Ford F-150 and at least 100 miles per gallon in a smaller SUV. In his model, the Stirling engine runs at a fixed RPM generating electricity that is used to charge the batteries, which drive motors that propel the vehicle.

Using this thermopile technology, a Stirling-powered vehicle can drive at highway speeds without having to recharge. MacDowell also redesigned the Stirling engine to have the dimensions and appearance of a standard four-cylinder engine, making it compatible with existing automobiles. His idea was so brilliant that Texas A&M University became involved in the project, providing MacDowell with technical expertise and a testing environment to aid in the development of the engine.

By using the stirling engine as a generator to power the batteries, as opposed to directly powering the car, this bypasses pretty much all of the problems with the engine. Nothing but the benefits, such as the insanely good fuel efficiency, remain. MacDowell believes that if his experiments are successful, then his setup could replace the internal combustion for most applications in the near future.

So what else could this vehicle provide to preppers, other than giving a vehicle the ability to drive across the continental US on a single tank of gas (which MacDowell intends to demonstrate in a few months)?

For starters, it would be a stealthy car. You could turn the engine off and just run on the batteries if you found yourself in a hairy situation. Second, you would have a power generator everywhere you go, and a massive battery bank to charge whatever electronic devices that you brought with you. If you tried doing that with an ordinary non-hybrid vehicle, you would run the risk of burning out the lead acid battery.

The greatest advantage however, would be the versatility of the stirling engine itself. Since that engine runs on an external heat source, as opposed to an internal combustion engine, you could use pretty much any fuel source you can imagine. You could pour gasoline, diesel, bio-diesel, kerosene, or alcohol in the tank. With a few modifications, you could run natural gas or propane as well.

Though this certainly wasn’t MacDowel’s intention, he’s basically created the perfect prepper car. If there ever comes a time when our society collapses for a prolonged period, and fuel is both scarce and varied, a hybrid car with a stirling engine would be the last car on the road to “run out of gas”, so to speak.

Joshua Krause was born and raised in the Bay Area. He is a writer and researcher focused on principles of self-sufficiency and liberty at Ready Nutrition. You can follow Joshua’s work at our Facebook page or on his personal Twitter.

Joshua’s website is Strange Danger

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

Preparedness Advantages of Holding on to Your Older Vehicle

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pickupReadyNutrition Readers, I’m the last person on earth who would ever advocate going out and buying a brand-new vehicle from a showroom floor.  For any of you who may be selling automobiles, this is no insult to you or your products.  This article is meant to point out the advantages to “recycling” that older vehicle you have, and making an old thing into something new.  This has to do with a preparatory and survival mentality, not about saving dollars.  It has to do with things that may help you when you need them after the SHTF.

We have already seen and read a myriad of articles on the Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP), and the susceptibility of newer-model cars and trucks to the pulse, due to the reliance of the vehicles on complex circuitry and integrated computer systems.  OK, so you have an old 1973 Ford pickup truck, and it’s on it’s last legs.  It is a five speed and doesn’t utilize any of the ultramodern component parts just mentioned; however, the engine is not what it used to be.

Before you scrap it, I want to bring before you the possibility of doing a complete engine overhaul on the vehicle.  Understand if this avenue is pursued, you need the services of a competent mechanic…one who you can totally trust and rely on.  What an engine overhaul entails is detailed, but not complicated.  You will put out some money on this one, however, it may turn out to be a goldmine for you.  The pragmatic, non-preparatory reason is that if the engine is completely fixed and placed into reliable working order, the money you would have sunk into a new vehicle is completely eliminated.

The engine overhaul is just as it sounds: taking your vehicle’s engine completely apart, cleaning the parts that are serviceable, and replacing any parts with new ones as needed.  You can spend several thousand dollars on this, and once again, this will vary with your factors of the vehicle’s condition, availability of parts, and what not.  A good mechanic will do this and certify your vehicle after completion for an additional hundred thousand miles.  Then what?

Well, you’ve eliminated a car payment, as we mentioned.  Your older model should be well within the limits of being protected from an EMP, as mentioned, as it does not hold all of the modern hardware.  There are some other factors worth considering as well.  Remember those “black boxes” installed in the vehicles after 2012/2013 and (some firms) even earlier?  Well, that “secret agent” inside of your engine that tracks your every move with the vehicle is then eliminated.

In some states (Montana is one of them) if your vehicle is a certain age, you can apply for a “permanent” tag that will eliminate the yearly fee of their sticker on your license plate.  In addition, an older model may not be subject to the same emissions requirements as a new one, eliminating the needs for inspection, compliance, and funds expended.  Also, your insurance may even be reduced if you present paperwork showing that your vehicle has been improved in this manner.

Camouflage is another issue.  Your “beater” of a pickup truck doesn’t attract as much attention, both pre and post-SHTF.  It is less likely to be stolen or interfered with (interior looted, etc.)  Another thing is its simplicity.  The good mechanic will be able to advise you on what extra parts to obtain, pertaining to those that frequently wear out.  If the engine is simple, it is usually simple to repair it.  Of course there are other factors to weigh in, such as if it’s a gas guzzler, but here again, the mechanic can help you out in the initial assessment and can tell you whether or not the engine overhaul will significantly improve the gas mileage you’ve been getting.

Also worth mentioning is the fact that you may have “tailor made” this vehicle to serve your needs, such as weapons racks or tool brackets and boxes.  You are familiar with it, and know its limitations when you’re driving it…what it can and cannot do.  Think of how it was when you picked up the vehicle new.  You’ll be taking it back in the direction of that capability.  You won’t have to start out on a brand-new slate; it’s almost akin to having a surgery that will extend your life, and in this case it is the life of your vehicle.

Consider the engine overhaul on that early-model vehicle, and you’ll save money in the long run, and keep that anonymity that you so desperately desire as a prepper and survivalist.  The key is the good mechanic.  When all is finished, you’ll have something that will not look pretty on the outside as a new vehicle but you’ll have restored an asset that you need.  You will have invested in something that you know inside and out…capabilities and limits.  Then you can capitalize on this, and rely upon it again to suit your needs.  Happy motoring, and find that good mechanic!  JJ out!

Jeremiah Johnson is the Nom de plume of a retired Green Beret of the United States Army Special Forces (Airborne). Mr. Johnson was a Special Forces Medic, EMT and ACLS-certified, with comprehensive training in wilderness survival, rescue, and patient-extraction. He is a Certified Master Herbalist and a graduate of the Global College of Natural Medicine of Santa Ana, CA. A graduate of the U.S. Army’s survival course of SERE school (Survival Evasion Resistance Escape), Mr. Johnson also successfully completed the Montana Master Food Preserver Course for home-canning, smoking, and dehydrating foods.

Mr. Johnson dries and tinctures a wide variety of medicinal herbs taken by wild crafting and cultivation, in addition to preserving and canning his own food. An expert in land navigation, survival, mountaineering, and parachuting as trained by the United States Army, Mr. Johnson is an ardent advocate for preparedness, self-sufficiency, and long-term disaster sustainability for families. He and his wife survived Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. Cross-trained as a Special Forces Engineer, he is an expert in supply, logistics, transport, and long-term storage of perishable materials, having incorporated many of these techniques plus some unique innovations in his own homestead.

Mr. Johnson brings practical, tested experience firmly rooted in formal education to his writings and to our team. He and his wife live in a cabin in the mountains of Western Montana with their three cats.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

Turn a Car Battery Into an Emergency Power Source For the Home

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car batteryReadyNutrition Readers, this is a short primer to help you out in your troubleshooting with electrical problems.  The problems I am referring to are when you need to come up with a quick power source in a hurry for some kind of tool or device.  I’m not trying to preach advice on how to rewire your house.  Let the electrician handle the long-term jobs in your home and anything you even think you’re unsure of.  It is far better to err on the side of caution.

But what of when that killer hurricane is due to hit in a couple of hours and you weren’t able to evacuate?  You need to power up your jigsaw or circular saw, and all of a sudden, the power just died…this as you’re boarding up the house!  On that note let’s cover a few things.

Make a Lights Out Kit

Put together a good kit for yourself to begin with.  Here are some items you will need:

How to Utilize a Car Battery as a Power Source

Let’s go with some instructions for utilizing a car battery as a power source.  You will also need a power inverter.  This inverter “converts” the electricity into a usable form, and enables you to tap into a power source that would normally fry you.  The friendly wall outlets have died, and you really need to get that circular saw up and running.  The wall outlet is AC, or Alternating Current.  You need a new AC power source.

Your car battery is just that source, however, it is DC, or direct current.  With the power inverter, you can change that DC into the AC that will power your circular saw.  Guess what?  After you’re done with the circular saw, you can use the battery for your TV, or a lamp, or something else you may need.  Here’s how to hook up your inverter to the battery:

  1. First, connect the positive terminal on the power inverter (red terminal) to the positive (+) post on the car battery.
  1. Next connect the negative terminal on the power inverter (the black terminal) to the negative (-) post on the car battery.
  1. Now it’s time to turn the power inverter on, and you should then allow the inverter to warm up. Give it at least thirty seconds to be on the safe side.
  1. Now you plug in your circular saw into the power outlet provided on the inverter. Voila!  Done!

That’s a pretty simple fix that should not provide you with too much headache.  The main task is to positively and clearly identify the correct terminals on your battery and on the inverter.  Electricity is a pretty “mystifying” thing for most people who haven’t fooled with it very much.  I highly recommend obtaining some of those old Time-Life books from the mid 1970’s.  They are replete with excellent drawings and photographs that can take you step-by-step through simple and basic repairs.

The reason you should arm yourself with this knowledge is that when the SHTF, guess what?  You are now the electrician!  Yes, this frightening thought was not meant to discourage you, but to enable you to make preparations for the time when you need a little knowledge and skills in that area to see you through.

Safety First, Folks!

Just remember a few safety basics before you do anything.  Always disconnect your power at the breaker box/circuit box prior to any electrical endeavors you will undertake.  Make sure that you’re not sitting, standing, or kneeling in any water.  Remember that water conducts electricity and can give you an electric birdbath that will make you chirp sparks for a month!  Always better to err on the side of caution.  And study and practice this stuff before you make the actual attempt to fix something.  If you have to make a repair on the home, stick with the electrician and learn something.  You’re paying him, after all, and he can use an extra pair of hands.  He’ll probably be more than happy to explain what he’s doing when you hold a flashlight for him or run tools to him from his truck.

Electricity can be a great servant of man or a great danger.  Prepare and plan for the emergencies that you may be able to forecast for your own home in the midst of a disaster and lay in your tools and supplies.  When the power goes out it won’t be so much of a shock to you…pun intended!  Be safe and keep up the good work!  JJ out!

Jeremiah Johnson is the Nom de plume of a retired Green Beret of the United States Army Special Forces (Airborne). Mr. Johnson was a Special Forces Medic, EMT and ACLS-certified, with comprehensive training in wilderness survival, rescue, and patient-extraction. He is a Certified Master Herbalist and a graduate of the Global College of Natural Medicine of Santa Ana, CA. A graduate of the U.S. Army’s survival course of SERE school (Survival Evasion Resistance Escape), Mr. Johnson also successfully completed the Montana Master Food Preserver Course for home-canning, smoking, and dehydrating foods.

Mr. Johnson dries and tinctures a wide variety of medicinal herbs taken by wild crafting and cultivation, in addition to preserving and canning his own food. An expert in land navigation, survival, mountaineering, and parachuting as trained by the United States Army, Mr. Johnson is an ardent advocate for preparedness, self-sufficiency, and long-term disaster sustainability for families. He and his wife survived Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. Cross-trained as a Special Forces Engineer, he is an expert in supply, logistics, transport, and long-term storage of perishable materials, having incorporated many of these techniques plus some unique innovations in his own homestead.

Mr. Johnson brings practical, tested experience firmly rooted in formal education to his writings and to our team. He and his wife live in a cabin in the mountains of Western Montana with their three cats.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

How to Get a Year Supply of Firewood for $20!

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Buches_MG-47 (1)ReadyNutrition Readers, one of the things that always amazes me is the way people always wait until autumn sets in to begin cutting and storing up a supply of firewood.  I wanted to tell you guys and gals the way I do things here, and perhaps (quantity and geographic variances aside) you can see my overall intent.  As you well know, I live in Montana where it is usually bitterly cold with snow on the ground for anywhere from 7 to 9 months of the year.  I’m aware this is not the case in most of the U.S., however, there are some good reasons for laying in a firewood supply right now.

Get a permit

Firstly, one of the really good things we have here in Montana is that the U.S. Forestry Service allows residents to pick up a permit (every April) to cut fallen dead and standing dead timber.  The permit runs $20 for four cords, and you can pay $60 and take up to twelve cords.  That’s a heck of a lot of wood, and dirt-cheap!  I’m not sure what it is in other states, however, I am certain that many of them have the same policy.

On this note, I’d love to hear from you and find out what the policy is in your home state: prices and amounts, and such.

The only regulations governing it are you must have a serviceable and up-to-date/inspected fire extinguisher with you if you use a chain saw.  In addition, there are certain times (and the USFS posts it) when the fire danger is high or greater.  In these periods, it is not permitted to run a chainsaw and harvest that dead timber.

This is the best time to prep for next year’s cold weather

But now is a great time for it!  All of the undergrowth has not yet emerged from its winter hibernation, so it is relatively clear to work.  I have much of it that I take where it is not permissible to take a vehicle and load up in the forest itself.  My way around that is to cut my wood, stack it up, and haul it out with a garden cart.  Sears make a pretty sturdy one that holds about 600 lbs, and it’ll run you just under $100 dollars.  It has some thick, tough-treaded wheels that can easily run the trails, and not have too much of a problem going over even fields.

Cord_Wood The reason for the wood gathering is twofold.  Firstly (from a “normal” thought perspective) you’re laying in your supply for next winter.  The early bird gets the worm.  You’ll be able to pick up the best wood for yourself when most others are not even thinking about anything except their weekend trip to the beach.  Secondly (and also very important) from a prepper’s perspective, is the “What If?” reason.

What if that EMP attack comes from North Korea or China?  What if the economy collapses?  What should happen if there is civil war, or a war/invasion here in the U.S.?  Yes, your home will be warm already, but what about cooking?  What about hot water for laundry or personal hygiene.  How about some light when there’s no electricity?  And what about emergency medical care that pertains to sterilizing instruments, boiling bandages, and running a home/field dispensary?

All of these, I hope you realize are good reasons to prepare and plan now, so that when the tough times arrive, it is not so great a hurt to deal with.  You have seen the news reports, and we’re just a step away from either a war or an EMP attack.  As with Aesop’s fable “The Grasshopper and the Ant,” although we in the survival community are hardly grasshoppers, if we’re ants it is best to be wise ants…covering all of the bases before the ball is hit to center field.

Now is the time to set up your wood-fueled “kitchen,” by investing in a good wood stove for heat and for cooking.  The wood stove also cuts down on the light signature at night…much better than a fireplace.  Along with the stove, start investing in cast iron cookware and utensils for cooking that can withstand rougher treatment than your standard dinner fare.

How to estimate how much wood you will need

If you have not done so already, now is a good time to estimate how much wood you will go through in the wintertime, and then estimate how much you would need to have a fire/woodstove burning 24 hours a day.  In the summertime it is significantly less, but take your winter consumption and double it, just to be on the safe side. Typically, a cord of wood is 4 feet wide x 4 feet high x 8 feet long stacked and adds up to 128 cubic feet. As well, the cords may consist of whole logs or split logs. Here is some great information on how to estimate cords of wood from a standing tree.

Invest in a good gas-powered chain saw, like an Echo with at least 5 extra chains, and plenty of rattail files to sharpen them when you need to.  Remember, you don’t want to buy cheap tools. Always look at these as a necessary investment, because they will be a lifesaver in an off grid situation. Also in that equation, you’ll need a good bench vise to help you to sharpen them.  Stock up on oil and fuel for the saws.  Back all of it up with several good axes, and as many bow saws as you can find.  Remember: if you run out of fuel, you’ll have to do it the old-fashioned way.

So take some time to figure out your fuel needs to heat your home with wood and to fulfill the other functions I have just mentioned.  Now is the time to do it, and it can be a good team experience for the whole family.  Make sure you always pack a first aid kit in your excursions and thoroughly familiarize yourself with the operation of all your cutting and safety equipment.  Happy woodcutting!  We encourage your input and thoughts in these matters and hope to hear from you soon!  JJ out!

Jeremiah Johnson is the Nom de plume of a retired Green Beret of the United States Army Special Forces (Airborne). Mr. Johnson was a Special Forces Medic, EMT and ACLS-certified, with comprehensive training in wilderness survival, rescue, and patient-extraction. He is a Certified Master Herbalist and a graduate of the Global College of Natural Medicine of Santa Ana, CA. A graduate of the U.S. Army’s survival course of SERE school (Survival Evasion Resistance Escape), Mr. Johnson also successfully completed the Montana Master Food Preserver Course for home-canning, smoking, and dehydrating foods.

Mr. Johnson dries and tinctures a wide variety of medicinal herbs taken by wild crafting and cultivation, in addition to preserving and canning his own food. An expert in land navigation, survival, mountaineering, and parachuting as trained by the United States Army, Mr. Johnson is an ardent advocate for preparedness, self-sufficiency, and long-term disaster sustainability for families. He and his wife survived Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. Cross-trained as a Special Forces Engineer, he is an expert in supply, logistics, transport, and long-term storage of perishable materials, having incorporated many of these techniques plus some unique innovations in his own homestead.

Mr. Johnson brings practical, tested experience firmly rooted in formal education to his writings and to our team. He and his wife live in a cabin in the mountains of Western Montana with their three cats.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

Powering Your Survival Homestead

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Written by Guest Contributor on The Prepper Journal.

Editor’s Note: This post is another entry in the Prepper Writing Contest from Lancer. If you have information for Preppers that you would like to share and possibly win a $300 Amazon Gift Card to purchase your own prepping supplies, enter today.   A perennial problem faced by suburban and rural dwellers is obtaining water […]

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When the Lights Go Out: Tips and Tricks for Priming Off-Grid Light Sources

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As discussed in the previous article, on primitive light sources, early humans used shells and other non-flammable objects found in nature to create the first oil lamps.  Later, hand-made oil lamps were created using clay.

As human civilization progressed, so too did the oil lamp.  The earliest records of mass produced lamps have been found in Egypt, Greece, and Rome and may have been the first mass produced objects in history.  They were easier and safer to use than the open flame of a torch, burned more efficiently, and gave off fewer residues than candles and were refillable.

Not much changed in the design until the 18th century when Aime Argand, a Swiss physicist and chemist, invented and patented the “Argand Lamp”.  Like primitive oil lamps, his lamps contained a vessel in which to hold the lamp oil, but he improved upon the design by creating a cylindrical wick to give a larger surface to the wick and a glass chimney to direct the draft and protect the flame (and the person carrying the lamp!).  During the middle of the 19th century, oil lamps gave way in popularity to kerosene lamps and design improvements continued.  Kerosene lamps stayed popular into the 20th century, especially in places that were late to acquire the new invention of the electric light bulb.

Today, oil and kerosene lamps remain popular with those that live off the grid, collectors, and those that need an emergency back-up light source for when the power goes out.

First, the Fine Print

Before beginning a discussion on oil lamps, it’s important to talk about what you should NOT do.

Do not use any of the following fuels

  • Gasoline, diesel, or aviation fuel
  • Coleman brand fuel
  • White gas
  • Paint thinner or Mineral spirits
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Naphtha
  • Turpentine
  • Benzene

These fuels are extremely dangerous and are either explosive or create deadly fumes when inhaled, or both.  There are other equally dangerous reasons not to use these fuels or any fuel with a flashpoint under 100 degrees Fahrenheit, but for the sake of brevity in this article, I’ll leave it up to you to research the reasons these fuels are no bueno.

Read more about the most popular types of fuel to store for emergencies.

Be very cautious when lowering a lighted wick on the lamp.  Lowering the lighted wick is sometimes used to control or reduce the flame and is a perfectly acceptable method; however, use caution that the wick stays within the grip of the cogs in the burner and doesn’t drop down into the tank.

Oil lamps use flammable fuel and should be handled with care.  If your pet or dog knocks over the tableside electric lamp, you’ll probably end up with a broken light bulb, at worst.  If they accidentally knock over a lighted oil lamp, the glass tank could break spilling fuel out, ignite, and cause a major fire.  Always place oil lamps out of reach of little hands, wagging tails, and either species if they’re rough-housing.

If you plan on leaving your lamp stationary on a flat surface (like a shelf), museum putty works well to hold it in place.  Museum putty can be found here.  This is also a helpful product for areas prone to earthquakes.  Modern oil lamps, when used properly, are very safe.  However, accidents do happen.  If you find yourself with a runaway flame or a fire from a spill, do not use water to extinguish it.  Oil and water don’t mix and you’ll likely spread the flaming oil out further and cause a bigger fire.  Instead, smother the flame by using a fire extinguisher specifically made for flammable liquids, smother it with dirt, or invert a metal bucket over the lamp.

How to Care for the Lamp

If you’re like me and like to pick up bargains at thrift stores and garage sales, you’ll probably need to clean your lamp before use.  A dirty lamp can take years off of its usability and won’t function at its peak performance.  There are two methods that work well with most lamps and lanterns regardless of the material used to construct them:

PH-Down (Sodium Bisulfate) Method
This method will remove rust, crud, (and eventually paint) without removing the patina.

1.  Remove the fuel cap, globe, and burner from the lantern.
2.  Mix 1 cup of PH-Down in Warm Water in a sealable 5 to 10 gallon plastic container.
3.  Submerge the lantern and burner *entirely in the Solution for **1 day.
4.  Remove the lantern, and lightly scour with a Brillo pad, (not SOS,)
5.  Repeat steps 3 and 4 until all the rust or tarnish has been removed.
6.  Once you are finished, give the lantern one final rinse in the solution, then dry with paper towels immediately.  Use a blow dryer on low to dry the inside of the tank.
7.  After the lantern has been cleaned, I recommend polishing it first with Blue Magic ™ Metal Polish to bring out the luster. You can also use #0000 steel wool to buff out the lantern.
8.  To finish the lantern ***paint or lacquer it with your choice of finish.  If using paint, taping off the center air tube on hot blast lanterns, or the chimney on cold blast lanterns, makes for a professional, like factory, looking job.  If the filler spout is brass, you might also tape it off as well.  This also goes for brass wire guides and lift brackets as well.  The burner cone and burner should be left unfinished.  An alternative to painting tin plated lanterns is to wipe them down with a small amount of boiled linseed oil mixed 50:50 with kerosene.

Molasses Method

This method will remove rust, crud, (and eventually paint) without removing the patina.
1.  Remove the fuel cap, globe, and burner from the lantern.
2.  Mix 12 oz. of Grandma’s Molasses in Warm Water in a sealable 5 to 10 gallon plastic container.
3.  Submerge the lantern and burner *entirely in the Solution for **1 day.
4.  Remove the lantern, and lightly scour with a Brillo pad, (not SOS,)
5.  Repeat steps 3 and 4 until all the rust or tarnish has been removed.
6.  Once you are finished, give the lantern one final rinse in the solution, then dry with paper towels immediately.  Use a blow dryer on low to dry the inside of the tank.
7.  After the lantern has been cleaned, I recommend polishing it first with Blue Magic ™ Metal Polish to bring out the luster. You can also use #0000 steel wool to buff out the lantern.
8.  To finish the lantern ***paint or lacquer it with your choice of finish.  If using paint, taping off the center air tube on hot blast lanterns, or the chimney on cold blast lanterns, makes for a professional, like factory, looking job.  If the filler spout is brass, you might also tape it off as well.  This also goes for brass wire guides and lift brackets as well.  The burner cone and burner should be left unfinished.  An alternative to painting tin plated lanterns is to wipe them down with a small amount of boiled linseed oil mixed 50:50 with kerosene.

Source

Always make sure everything is perfectly dry before adding the fuel to your freshly cleaned oil lamp.  Refill the tank to the recommended level for your model, replace or trim the wick as needed, trim the wick, attach the burner assembly to the base (tank), and allow the wick to become saturated with fuel for about five minutes.  If you’re using a new wick, let it become saturated for at least 30 minutes prior to lighting.  Replace the chimney and you’re done!

If you use your oil lamp regularly, you’ll also need to clean the chimney frequently to remove soot build-up.  Extinguish the flame, let the chimney and lamp cool completely, and wash the chimney in warm, sudsy water.  Take care with temperature fluctuations and thin chimney glass.  The chimney can break easily if exposed to temperature extremes.

Proper Feeding

There are several options to choose from when deciding on which fuel is best for you.  Keep in mind that some fuels should not be used indoors, so check to make sure the fuel you choose is intended for indoor use only.  They all have their pros and cons:

Kerosene

  • Before using any kerosene, verify that the flash point of the kerosene you’re using is between 124 and 150 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Dyed kerosene, or any dyed lamp oil for that matter, will eventually clog the wick and inhibit proper functioning.
  • Regular kerosene, like the kind used for heating, while typically less expensive than Ultra-pure lamp oil made specifically for oil lamps (which is also a kerosene product), will also create more soot and for some, gives off an unpleasant odor.
  • Heating kerosene also requires ventilation: a door should be left open to an adjoining area or a window should be left cracked open. Without proper ventilation, one risks carbon monoxide poisoning

Clear Lamp Oil

  • This is hands-down the best oil to use in conventional oil lamps. Conventional oil lamps were designed to burn petroleum-based products, not animal or vegetables fats.
  • Due to the ultra-filtering, this product gives off very little fumes and soot and since it contains no dyes, it is least likely to clog the wick
  • Readily available nationwide in the United States and online
  • Can be scented with essential oils

Olive Oil

  • Not recommended for conventional oil lamps
  • Has the potential to clog the wick
  • Considered more sustainable and “greener” than petroleum-based oils
  • When burned, will give off less particulate than petroleum-based lamp oils but will also produce more odors*If you would like to use plant-based oils, it’s better to use lamps designed specifically for that purpose. They have a “rope” type wick instead of the flat wick used by conventional oil lamps.  Supplies to make your own can be found here

Paraffin Oil

  • Paraffin in the UK is kerosene. Paraffin Oil in the United States is Liquid Candle Wax , and is mislabeled for use in oil lamps and lanterns, when in fact it is only suited for Candle Oil Lamps that use small diameter (under 1/4 inch) round wick. Further, it burns only 1/2 as bright of any of the approved fuels listed above. Paraffin oil has a much higher viscosity and a flash point of 200 degrees or higher, as compared to the flash point of 150 degrees for kerosene. These differences inhibit the necessary capillary action of the wick, and will cause Lamps and Lanterns with 7/8″ or larger wick to burn improperly and erratic. Once a wick is contaminated with paraffin oil, it must be replaced in order for the lantern to burner properly. If you must use paraffin oil, it may be mixed 1:10 to 2:10 (one to two parts paraffin,) to ten parts standard lamp oil or kerosene so that it will burn satisfactorily. Source

Never add fuel to a lit lamp or to one that is still hot.  Extinguish the flame and allow the lamp to cool completely before refilling.  Wipe odd any excess oil from the outside of the lamp that may have accidentally spilled.  Kerosene and lamp oil will evaporate over time, so it’s best to store it in air-tight containers.  If you’re not going to be using your oil lamps anytime soon, it’s better to empty the fuel (cooled!) back into the storage bottle and clean and dry the lamps.

If you’re not sure where to fill the tank on a thrift store find, allow at least one-inch headspace.  This allows room for the fuel and gasses to expand and the lamp warms up.  Keep your lamps at least halfway full and use indoor lamps at room temperature for the most efficient use.  Very cold temperatures (under about 20 degrees Fahrenheit) can cause kerosene and lamp oils to freeze and become dangerously unstable, even when thawed.  Normal room temperatures allow the gasses to expand and be burned along with the kerosene and oil itself, thus producing a more efficient burn.

Whether you choose conventional oil lamps or vegetable oil-burning lamps, they’re a great alternative to relying on electric lighting and can add a wonderful ambiance to your home.  They’re also one of the less conspicuous preps for your home and can be beautifully and innocuously displayed.  Stay tuned!

Ruby is a first generation Californian who grew up in the heart of the Central San Joaquin Valley farming community. She’s been involved in agriculture for 40 years and learned to preserve food, traditional home arts, to hunt and fish, raise livestock and garden from her Ozark native mother.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

Primitive Living Skills: Creating Off-Grid Light Sources

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 With just a flick of a switch, we have light.  So many of us have become accustomed to the convenience of electricity that we’ve forgotten how to get along without it.  A campfire or the light cast from a fireplace will certainly provide light, but it’s not very convenient or portable.

Field scientists have discovered fossilized campfire remains of charred bones that provide evidence that pre-date Homo sapiens.  These remains give evidence that while those humanoids may have learned to take advantage of naturally occurring fires more than one million years ago, they hadn’t figured out yet how to kindle a fire on their own.

The evidence that early humans had learned how to master fire and light are the images found in deep caves in Western Europe; the most famous of these being in Lascaux in southwestern France.  These cave paintings date back about 15,000 to 30,000 years ago.  The caves are so deep and narrow that no natural light can penetrate.  An artificial light source would have been needed in order for those early humans to see well enough to paint.  Experts postulate that early humans formed man-made depressions in stone and simply burned a few lumps of animal fat in them to provide light.  As humans evolved, so too did their light sources.

Primitive Lamps

 Any non-flammable material with a depression to hold fuel can serve as a lamp: shells, bones, rocks, and clay.  An example of this type of archaic lamp is a primitive clay “lamp”. This easy-to-make lamp would be a fun and educational project to do with kids. It’s important to use the right kind of clay.  For this project, it’s best not to use modeling compounds that contain flour or plastic (Play-Doh and polymer clays, for example).  Instead, use the type of clay found in the ground that is comprised of fine-grained natural rock or soil material.  The best place to look for naturally occurring clay is along lakes, ponds, and the seashore.  Conveniently, Amazon also has a wide selection here.  Keep in mind that although this clay will become bone-dry on its own when exposed to air, it will remain brittle and easily broken unless it’s fired in a kiln.  However, as long as care is taken not to break your creation, it will work very well for this project even without being fired.

A Cannan lamp is another example of primitive lighting. To make an open-bowl lamp like those used for the cave paintings, simply shape the clay into a shallow bowl shape, allow the clay to dry, and then place a small lump of fat or tallow in the depression of the bowl.  To create a lightly more advanced lamp, create a lip along the edge of the bowl to hold a wick (think pour spout on a liquid measuring cup), The idea is to provide a reservoir for the oil and a depression along the lip of the bowl to support the wick upright.

To create an even more advanced lamp, you will need:

  • Naturally occurring clay
  • Water (to keep the clay moist while working it)
  • A wick
  • Olive oil or some other type of cooking oil.

 Almost any shape will work as long as it has a hole for filling the lamp and a spout to hold the wick upright and a shape that keeps the oil from spilling out.  The most commonly known shape for this type of lamp is the genie or Aladdin lamp.

Begin by shaping the clay into an ankle sock of elf shoe shape.  Bring the “toe” of the shape upwards in order to support the wick.  Create a hole for the wick in the end of the toe for the wick to protrude similar to the spout on a teapot.  The larger hole, where if this were an elf shoe one’s ankle would be, is used for filling the lamp.  At this point, a handle can be added to the lamp on the opposite end from the spout.  It’s not necessary to make a lid for this lamp in order for it to work.  Allow the clay to fully dry.

Next, you’ll need a wick.  The size of the wick will depend on the size of your lap.  You can make a primitive wick by braiding together strips of cotton cloth.  Again, it’s important that you use natural cloth like cotton and not cotton-polyester blends.  Pre-made cotton wicks can also be found here.

Pour the olive or cooking oil of your choice into the lamp and saturate your wick with the oil.  Gently push the wick through the spout of the lamp (a wooden shish kabob stick works well) until most of your wick is resting in the reservoir of the lamp and only a small portion is sticking out the spout.  Trim the wick if needed and light it.  If the flame is too big, extinguish the flame and trim the wick again.

Candles

Candles can be made from a variety of waxes: animal, vegetable, and mineral waxes for example, or a combination of those waxes.  The most commonly known animal wax is beeswax, but wax candles can also be made using tallow.  Tallow candles are considered of lower-quality and less desirable than beeswax candles because they give off a sooty smoke when burned and an aroma similar to cooking they animal they came from.  Vegetable waxes include soy and palm, among others.  Mineral wax, or paraffin, is petroleum derived wax and is obtained during crude oil refining.

For this discussion, we’re going to concentrate on the most self-sufficient and desirable of the animal waxes- beeswax.

Beeswax is produced by worker bees of the genus apis. Honeybees (apis mellifera) produce beeswax in order to build the comb in their hives.  When honey is harvested, either by the crush-and-drain method or by mechanical extraction, the leftover comb can be harvested and retained to produce beeswax candles.

Raw beeswax, fresh from the hive, bears little resemblance to the clean, purified beeswax beads one finds at craft stores.  In order to make candles, the wax needs to be stripped of any leftover honey and debris in a process known as clarifying.  A solar wax melter, like the one seen here, is an excellent way to clarify the wax.  If you find that your wax still has undesirable particulates, simply heat the wax again using a double-boiler and pour through a fine woven cloth or coffee filter.  (*Note:  it’s important to keep your wax warm during the second clarification in order to keep it pouring through the filter.  Otherwise, the wax will form a hard barrier on the filter and no wax will pour through).  Beeswax burns at higher temperatures than paraffin wax and therefore needs a specific type of wick.  Square braided cotton wicks that are about twice the thickness as those used for the same amount of paraffin are preferred.  And like the oil lamp described earlier in this article, the size (diameter) of the wick used will be determined by the size and type of candle you plan on making.

Hand-dipped tapers can be made by simply tying a length of wick to a stick and dipping the wick repeatedly in the warm, melted beeswax.  Patience is needed for this method in order to gain the desired thickness for the candle.  Be sure the container holding the melted beeswax is deep enough to dip the entire length of the candle in without the wick folding or bending at any point.

Dip the wick once, allow it too cool for about 30 seconds until the wax becomes firm but not hard, and gently pull on the bottom of the wick to straighten it.  This sets the wax for the shape your taper will take.  Dip the wick quickly into the wax (wait too long and the wax that is already on the wick will begin to melt off back into the melted wax).  Wait 30 seconds or so between dippings to allow the new layer of wax to firm up on the taper.  Continue the dip/wait/dip/wait until the taper has reached the desired thickness to fit snugly in your candlestick.

Use the links below to learn more about the history of light and primitive methods

The History of Light, In 6 Minutes And 47 Seconds

Discover Lighting

A Brief History of Light

History of Candles – Development and History of Candle Making

Learning to make primitive light sources is a fun and practical skill for all ages.  Homemade beeswax tapers also make a wonderful gift for the upcoming holidays.  Care should always be taken when using flammable products, especially when doing these types of projects with children. 

Stay tuned!

Ruby is a first generation Californian who grew up in the heart of the Central San Joaquin Valley farming community. She’s been involved in agriculture for 40 years and learned to preserve food, traditional home arts, to hunt and fish, raise livestock and garden from her Ozark native mother.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

Review: Xiaomi 16000mAh Mobile Power Bank

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Today’s world offers tremendous capabilities with portable multimedia and communication devices. I hear the argument all the time that “real preppers” should stay away from modern technology. I disagree. These are tools and if available and operational use them to your benefit.

Over the past couple years I have used numerous portable power banks to charge cell phones and tablets. I find these back up power resources very useful for when I am not near an outlet. Most of the devices I have used have worked fairly well for adding some additional usage time to my devices. Just recently I have expanded to larger, higher capacity power banks and the main model I have used over the past two months is the Xiaomi 16000mAh.

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What is it?

You may not be familiar with the brand “Xiaomi”. Over in China they are a leader in high tech devices such as cell phones, tablets and Bluetooth devices. I ordered the Xiaomi 16000mAh power bank from GearBest.com. By ordering directly from the country of manufacture substantial savings can be had. I paid $23.99 with free shipping.

The intended use of the Xiaomi is to provide power on-the-go to charge cell phones and other portable electronic devices. It does NOT provide enough energy to power an inverter or jump start a vehicle.

Construction:

The Xiaomi is constructed extremely well. All lines and seams are very smooth. No machining marks are evident. The case is anodized aluminum and very attractive with rounded corners. Nothing shakes or wobbles. If an Apple logo was slapped on the side of it no one would be surprised as it is built with similar quality.

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The LED power level lights, USB ports and power button all work as they should.

Operation:

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to operate the Xiaomi 16000 mAh. To charge it simply take the included cable plugging one end into the USB port of a wall outlet or PC, and the mini-USB end into the Xiaomi. Depending on the incoming charge the length of time to bring the unit to full capacity can take some time.  In my experience from totally dead to fully charged was between 9-12 hours.

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To check how much power is available simply press the power button and the LED indicators will light up. There are 4 LED’s which represent 100%, 75%, 50%, and 25%.

There are two USB ports providing the ability to charge two devices at one time. Each port will put out 2.1A which is enough to charge even the most demanding of today’s cell phones and tablets. Simply plug in your charging cable and then attach your device and the charging will begin.

Performance:

This is pretty simple: It works! For over 2 months I have carried the Xiaomi testing its performance and have been impressed. It does take a long time to charge however that is due to its large capacity. I have charged Samsung tablets, Samsung Galaxy phones, both an iPhone 5 and 6, and a crappy Blackberry. It will often charge these devices faster than a wall outlet depending on the amps of the outlet charger(many are only 1 amp).

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I have had no issues fully charging my Samsung Galaxy Note 4 multiple times – even while using during the charging.

For a price of $23.99 it is a heck of a bargain. The Xiaomi 16000mAh power bank is a great tool for the pack, the home, or the office – just in case.

For more information click HERE.

Rourke

Off Grid Air Conditioning: DIY Bucket Air Cooler for Camping and Other Uses

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diy-air-conditioner-bucket-coolerSo you decide you want to go camping in the dead heat of summer where it’s regularly in the 90’s or hotter. What do yo do to keep cool? Why not make yourself one of these off grid air conditioning devices? This diy bucket cooler not only proves useful for camping, but can also prove an extremely effective alternative to conventional air conditioning powered by electricity for people who want to live off the grid, or just save money on their electric bill.

Find out step by step…

How To Build A DIY Bucket Cooler
For Off Grid Air Conditioning