Cooking & Stoves

Being prepared includes having the proper cooking equipment. There is a wide variety of cooking options and fuel types. The type of stove to select varies depending on where and how you intend to use it. Backpackers require lightweight stoves. Car campers can use a larger but portable stove. Homes can use stationary stoves or barbeques. These are some of the basic cooking options:

  • Biomass Stoves come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and prices. These stoves burn available material such as wood, twigs, pine cones, paper, etc. They range from backpacking size to very large. These stoves allow you to be completely “off gird” and do not require and processed fuel.
  • Backpacking Stoves are small, lightweight stoves normally use ISO Butane, liquid fuel, or biomass.
  • Camping Stoves can be larger but are still portable. These often include the traditional camp stoves by Coleman, Eureka, and others. These are traditionally two burner stoves but some have options such as griddles and grills. These typically use 1-pound propane bottles, larger propane bottles with an adapter hose, and some can use a variety of liquid fuels including white gas. These stove normally have a fold-down top and clasp so that they close to resemble a brief case. These stoves are effective (typically 10,000 or more BTUs per burner), affordable, and durable.
  • Barbeques are a very viable option for home preparedness. If electricity and/or gas lines fail then a simple barbeque with propane tank could be very practical.
  • Pellet Grills may look similar to some traditional barbeques but they operate completely differently. These grills use pellets to create heat and smoke used for cooking. An auger feeds pellets into a firebox and a fan makes the fire burn efficiently and circulates air creating a convection oven effect. The fan and auger require electricity so the grill cannot be used if the power is out.
  • A Home Stove can be used if your utilities are working (gas or electricity).
  • A Wood Stove can both heat your house and be used for cooking.
  • Dutch Ovens are cast iron pots with lids that allow you to cook a wide variety of foods directly in or over a campfire. A Dutch Oven is a very good addition to a camping kit.

For emergency preparedness you should have multiple ways to cook if you are stuck in your home. Ideally you should select a cook device that is reliable, has fuel readily available, and can heat relatively quickly in all types of weather and conditions.


Cooking equipment requires fuel and the fuel type is critical when selecting a cooking device. I recommend using fuel that is readily available and affordable.

  • Propane: Many traditional two burner camp stoves use 1-pound propane canisters. These stoves are portable, have high heat output (normally 27,000 BTUs are more), and work well with standard pots and pans. These larger stoves are normally NOT suitable for backpacking. Some include accessories such as grills and griddles (Gas vs Propane).
  • Butane: Butane stoves often have a single burner and are lighter and more portable than the propane stoves. While butane canisters are readily available they may not be as common as the propane canisters. For this reason I prefer propane stoves over butane ones.
  • Iso Butane: These are the smaller canisters used with backpacking stoves such as the MSR, JetBoil, Primus, etc. These canisters are readily available and normally come in three sizes. With many of the backpacking stoves the canister fits into the cooking vessel supplied with the stove kit. If using the stove for vehicle or home consider stocking larger fuel canisters for greater longevity.
  • White Gas is a liquid fuel used in pump-action stoves such as Coleman, MSR Whisperlight, etc. This is the most economical fuel. Stoves and lanterns that use white gas typically require you to manually pressurize the fuel tank on the stove (Gas vs Propane).
  • Other Gas such as diesel, unleaded gasoline, kerosene, and alcohol can be used in some stoves. These stoves normally use white gas but can use other liquid fuels also. I have never used alternate fuels in my white gas stove but it is nice to know that I could if I had to.
  • Biomass Stoves use materials such as twigs, branches, paper, pine cones, etc. as fuel. These stoves are often less efficient than ones that use more conventional fuels. The big advantage of these stoves is that they can use a variety of easily obtained materials and you do not have to rely upon processed fuels.


For the larger camp stoves I recommend white gas or propane types. Propane stoves are readily available, less expensive than white gas stoves, compact, and efficient. White gas stoves are larger, heavier, more expensive, more versatile, and can use a variety of fuels (white gas, unleaded gas, kerosene, etc.). For the portable camp stoves use Iso butane or white gas. The white gas stoves will be larger but are often better when using larger cookware. Make sure that you use the proper fuel with your stove.

Additional Information