Seminar: Food, Water, Cooking

This seminar provides information about food, water, and cooking.. The presentation is tailored to a general audience and participation is highly encouraged.

Seminar Introduction

Water Filtration

Water is vital to life. In a survival situation you can generally life about 3 weeks without food but only about 3 days without water. Having clean, drinkable water is critical to preparedness. You should have some stored water in your house, vehicle, and hiking kits. You should also have water filters in your kits. Water filters are effective and affordable. Always have a water filter in your hiking kit and vehicle.

  • Having safe water is not as difficult as you might think.
  • Water filter versus water purifier
  • Have water readily available for home, vehicle, and hiking kits
  • Filter levels: 0.1 – 0.3 micron removes most biological contaminants and debris
  • 0.02 Micron Filters can remove most viruses
  • Normal water versus extremely fouled water
  • Water purifiers: reverse osmosis and distillers can remove even smaller contaminants

In an emergency the public water system could be compromised. Water lines could break and water treatment plants may fail. On a road trip you may become stranded and you may need to find and purify water. To be prepared you need to filter water. You can start with very small and inexpensive filters and upgrade these over time.

There are different types of water filters designed for different requirements. These are the most common types of water filters.

  • Personal Filters are low-volume, small, effective, inexpensive filters for any emergency kit.
  • Gravity Filters treat a larger volume of water but filter the water more slowly.
  • Pump Filters can filter larger amounts of water quickly and normally have a hose to reach the water source.
  • A Home Filter should purify extremely fouled water or you have secondary treatment.

Other Water Treatment Options

There are times when extremely fouled water can require additional treatment. If you are filtering extremely fouled water using a 0.1 to 0.3 micron filter then you may need a secondary treatment for that water. There are a number of secondary water treatment options.

  • Chemical Treatment kills bacteriological contaminants that the filters miss.
  • UV Purifiers render bacteria and viruses harmless but they do NOT remove chemicals and debris.
  • Boiling water is an effective way to kill microorganisms but it does NOT remove chemicals or debris.

These water treatments are NOT effective against extremely fouled water. To purify very fouled water requires something like a reverse osmosis purifier or a water distiller.

Water Storage

FEMA recommends one gallon of water per person per day. I recommend, at an absolute minimum, having one 0.02 micron water filter in your house and one 0.1 micron portable filter in your vehicle or in each hiking kit. You should also have enough water for at least two weeks for every person in your household. I use Water Bricks that hold 3.5 gallons each. Two Waterbricks per person should be enough water for a week.

  • Long-term storage, treatment, and containers


Your body needs fuel and food is that fuel. Have emergency food in home, vehicle, and hiking kits.

  • Can you supply the needed nutrition to keep your body functioning?
  • Pantry Food is food that you normally keep in your house. Your house is your first line of defense and a well-stocked home pantry could get you through a variety of emergency situations.
  • Ration Bars are high-calorie, highly concentrated food rations. These are normally very high in salt and calories. These normally are not pleasant to eat but can supply needed calories in an emergency.
  • Short-term food: No preparation, pre-packaged or ready to eat
  • Medium-term food: Easy preparation such as boiling water
  • Long-term food: Packaged for long-term storage and protection
  • Freeze-dried foods normally require no preservative, retains flavor and nutrients, convenient, cost-effective


You may be able to eat non-cooked foods for quite some time but at some point you will want cooked foods. Even the toughest outdoor survivalists resort to cooking food. There are many reasons for cooking food including:

  • Cooked foods taste better
  • Warm food is advantageous for retaining body heat in cold weather
  • Cooking food can kill harmful organisms


There are a wide variety of stoves that can be used for cooking and heating. You will probably have at least two types of stoves that you could use in the event of an emergency. For example you could have a barbeque and camp stove, camp stove and backpacking stove, etc.

  • 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. Variations on biomass stoves include the rocket (or can) stove, BioLite stove, and Kelley Kettle.
  • Dutch Ovens are cooking pots with a lid that can be used directly on or over a campfire. Most Dutch ovens are cast iron and have short legs. The lid has a lip around the edge so that you can add coals or embers on the lid for top and bottom cooking.
  • 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 27,000 BTU or more heat output), are 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.
  • Home Stoves can be used at home if your normal stove is unavailable. The portable stoves used in vehicle kits are an excellent choice. Other options include propane barbeques and grills, pellet grills, charcoal barbeques, woodstoves, and fire pits. 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.

Stove Fuel Options

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.