Welcome to our new Magazine format! All new content will now be brought to you in this easy, new format. All our older content can still be found by scrolling below. Simply click the ">" to start the magazine and navigate via your arrow keys.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

How to Make a Candle Heater

With the cold season coming to a close I wanted to share one more survival craft that you can do in order to provide some off-grid heat to a small insulated area with just a candle!
I got this idea straight from the HeatStick.com site, where instead of ordering one of their “Kandle Heeters” I decided to make my own and share with you guys how you can too (it cost me about 15 bucks to make compared to 30 dollars (plus shipping) if you were to buy one).

How it Works

The basic purpose of this heater is to capture the heat given off of a candle flame and to concentrate it into a steel and ceramic radiator assembly. After some time, the ceramic surface will act as a thermal mass and begin to radiate the captured thermal energy into your room or office. Here’s how heatstick.com describes it (image and description c/o heatstick.com):
  1. Heat rising from a burning candle (or electric lamp) is first trapped in the Steel Inner Core and surrounding Ceramic Inner Module.
  2. The Inner Cores get very hot and radiate heat to the Ceramic Middle Core.
  3. This Entire Inner Region gets VERY VERY HOT!! Heat synergistically builds up and “boils out” of the Ceramic Inner Core into the Ceramic Middle Core. The Middle Core heats up and begins to Radiate Heat. Heated air “boils out” into the Ceramic Outer Core.
  4. The Large Surface Area of the Outer Core begins receiving Heat. The inner wall surfaces become very HOT! Heat travels through the wall to the Outer Surface.
  5. The Outer Surface gets VERY WARM to HOT and gently begins to Radiate Heat into your home or office.

Putting it all Together

The process for putting together the candle heater is very simple:

What You Need

  • one 4″ ceramic (not glazed) pot
  • one 2″ ceramic (not glazed) pot
  • one 1 1/2″ ceramic (not glazed) pot
  • two 1 1/2″ x 1/4″ washers
  • three 1 1/4″ x 1/4″ washers
  • three 1″ x 1/4″ washers
  • eight 3/4″ x 1/4″ washers
  • seven 1/4″ nuts
  • one 3″ x 1/4″ bolt

Assembly Instructions

I think that the easiest way for you to learn how to put one of these heaters together is to follow the cutout image (to the left) I used from the heatstick.com site:

Just place the washers and nuts in the right combination as the image and you’ll be good to go. Looking inside, it should look something like this:

Making the Stand

I found the simplest stand to make is to purchase three 4″ corner braces.
Then just put the three braces together with the middle brace facing the opposite direction and bend the outside two just enough to support the heater.

Test Results

I decided to test out the heater with the bacon-grease candle I had made (check out Homemade Lamps from Everyday Objects to learn how to make your own). Since the homemade candle jar was a bit bigger than the 4.5″ stand I made, I added 6″ corner brace extensions to support the larger candle.
After burning the heater for around 6 hours it seemed to be putting out only a small amount of heat (a decent amount of heat was pouring out from underneath though). However, since the weather has been warmer around here I wasn’t able to give this little heater a fair shake (and besides, how much heat output are you really expecting from a candle anyways?).
Despite the less-than-optimal testing conditions, still, in no way would it heat up your home (or even a normal size room for that matter), but in an enclosed area like your car I could see it having some benefit. Again I haven’t been able to truly test it so this is only conjecture.
Even though the heater doesn’t seem all that effective, making this contraption was far from a waste of time. I learned some important principles as well as came up with other ideas of how to convert a flame source to radiant heating (just think of a larger version of this heater combined with the rocket stove I reviewed and you’ll get what I mean).

Related posts:

  1. Survival Car Heater – Carbon Monoxide Testing Results
  2. How to Make a Survival Stove (Car Heater)

Hiking with Kids: Tips for Helping them Love It

You love hiking, and you want your kids to love it too. You can help them to love your sport by engaging them in it.
We did that with our own kids, but I’m afraid we may have made some mistakes. We probably pushed them too hard at times. Other times we let them set the pace.

Hiking trail
Image by Krug6 via Flickr
So, now that they are adults, we have pretty much mixed results, although leaning toward the side of success. One of our three kids loves hiking and outdoors activities. Another one enjoys hiking as long as he can do it with my wife and me. The third one has verbally made it clear that she hates hiking. Ironically, she joined the army where forced marches are on the daily list of activities.
Here are a few tips for helping your kids to develop a love for hiking.
1. Check out the route before you take the kids, making sure it is appropriate for their abilities and preferences.
2. Include the children in the planning of the hike.
3. Emphasize having an enjoyable experience, not mileage or speed.
4. Let the kids set the pace of the hike (Note: It will be much slower than when adults hike without kids.).
5. Make the smallest kid the main pace setter.
6. Make plenty of room for spontaneity in what the kids do for fun, allowing them to find their own fun along the way.
You know the benefits of hiking. So, try some of these tips so they’ll develop a love for this outdoor sport and reap those benefits throughout their lives.
by Richard Davidian, Ph.D.
We welcome comments. Please join the conversation.
Please subscribe to our RSS Feed for more great outdoors tips and issues (top right corner).
Winter Hiking: How to Stay Warm When Temperatures Are Cold
Hiking Tips: Safety First and Last and Always
Acquire survival skills quickly with Survival Playing Cards.
Follow me on Twitter for more great outdoors tips and issues.
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Gas masks and protective clothing

When we think of chemical or biological attacks, the first things that usually spring to mind are gas masks.

Some people run to the local Army-Navy surplus store and buy a mask secure in the knowledge that they will be safe in the event of an attack.

This is a mistake

Looking at the movies you get the impression that there's nothing more to gas masks than pulling it over your face and you're safe.  The reality, however, is altogether different. Gas masks are complex pieces of equipment. To use them inappropriately is potentially more dangerous that the chemical they're supposed to protect you from.

Having many years experience with Chemical & Biological weapons, I'll attempt to lay aside the myth of the gas mask and put you in a position to make a reasoned decision on whether you should use them or not.

Do you need a gas mask?

This is the million dollar question. Most experts would advise that stocking up on gas masks for the whole family is not worth it.  An appropriate gas mask will protect you from breathing in most chemical or biological agents, BUT there are some things to bear in mind before you run out to buy one:

A gas mask will be effective IF you're wearing it before exposure to the agent or immediately upon exposure. If you're inexperienced in the use of gas masks, or if you take to long to find it, you may be putting your life more in danger than if you simply moved quickly to escape the cloud. Of course there's every chance that you will not know what kind of poison is in the air and may not have the appropriate filter in your mask. This may lead to a false sense of security.

In the case of a biological attack masks are of little use. In most cases a biological attack will go undetected for at least several days making the gas mask virtually redundant.

It's also worth bearing in mind that gas masks are quite expensive. You can expect to spend about $200 for an effective mask. Then you need to decide if (1 you're going to carry the mask with you everywhere you go which would be uncomfortable, impractical and probably not too popular an idea with the kids or (2 you're going to have one mask for home, one for work, one for the car, and so on which would be very expensive.


In the case of a biological attack, breathing through a doubled-up t-shirt will greatly increase your chances of survival in an emergency situation. Unfortunately, this method isn't effective against most chemical agents.

I would suggest that a gas mask, used properly, would be useful in the event of an attack (provided you know how to use it and you're aware of the attack in time to put it on). However, I would not feel compelled - despite current threats - to rush out and invest large amounts of money in them.


Gas mask filters have a limited life-span. Most of them have just a few hours of active use (depending on the amount of dangerous substance being filtered and the relative air humidity). At this point the filter needs to be changed. Never buy a second-hand mask as you will not know how much life the filter has left in it.

You'll need precise instructions on using your gas mask. There's more to it than just pulling it over your face. Inappropriate use may be more dangerous than the substance you're trying to protect yourself against. Ideally you should get some training on the correct use of gas masks and both you and your family should practice using them regularly.

You should be clean-shaven when putting on your gas mask. A beard (or even stubble) may enable the poisons to infiltrate the mask.

If you've had no training in the use of gas masks, there's one important point to remember - take the plastic seal off the filter before putting the mask on. During Operation Desert Storm (1990) eight people lost their lives because they forgot to remove the seal (they thought they were being poisoned, when in fact it was the mask that was smothering them).

Some gas mask filters have larger intake openings designed for people with lung/breathing problems.

Increasingly, gas masks are available in various sizes - even for children and babies. If you're buying gas masks for your family, then be sure that each one has a perfect fit. Some masks are equipped with drinking systems, and masks that enable easier speech (via 'voice-mitter') are also available.

Don't buy masks via mail-order or over the Internet as you can't be sure that they'll fit properly. Always buy them in person from a professional who knows what he/she is talking about. Be sure to get a mask fitted for everyone in the family. To my knowledge, there are currently no gas masks available for pets...

Bear in mind that, while gas masks are effective against most chemical and biological agents, they do not assure protection against everything. Be sure to get a gas mask that is certified to be effective against chemical and biological weapons agents.

Generally, for biological agents to be effective, they need to be between 1 and 5 microns in diameter. For this reason, regular surgical masks, which are relatively cheap, would protect you against almost all biological threats. Protection against chemical agents, however, requires a gas mask.

If you have a baby or a young infant who is reluctant to put on a gas mask during an attack, then don't waste time struggling. Strive instead, to get both yourself and the child to a safe place as quickly as possible. It's for this reason also, that it's vital that you practice proper gas mask usage with your family -- particularly young children.

Buying a gas mask

There are a number of important points to bear in mind when buying a gas mask:

While there have been some advances lately in the production of gas masks for women, children and people with smaller faces, a lot of the masks on the market are designed with the adult male (military) face in mind.

Be sure to buy a mask that fits perfectly otherwise it will only give you a false sense of security (there's no point in a filter that keeps out bacteria at 0.3 microns if you've got 1mm of space between your face and the mask (which is why you have to be clean-shaven before putting on the mask). Of course, you would need to have a mask fitted individually for every member of your family.

Make sure that your gas mask is certified against chemical and biological warfare agents. But, bear in mind that no matter how good the gas mask is, the filter will not protect you against everything. You may need to get different sets of filters with your mask to have the broadest protection possible. Be sure to discuss this issue thoroughly with potential suppliers before buying.

Don't buy your gas mask from surplus 'Army-Navy' type stores. The gas masks you'll find here have most likely been used in military exercises, may be out of date and very possibly contain flaws in the structure (small cracks or holes in the rubber). If you are buying a mask, buy one from a reputable manufacturer and buy it in person with every member of your family available for a fitting.

The best masks are those with HEPA filter* (ideally coupled with chromium-free impregnated carbon, that filters both inorganic warfare agents like cyanide, chlorine and phosgene, as well as organic agents like VX, sarin, tabun, mustard gas and lewisite). Some gas masks can even protect you against acid gases and ammonia.

Protective Suits

Appropriate protective clothing can prevent exposure through the skin.

Protective suits usually come with built-in boots and hood. They can protect against liquid and vapor chemical warfare agents, as well as against biological warfare agents.

Several sizes exist, including those for children.

Protective boots are usually designed especially to accommodate the extra bulk of a protective suit, and remain relatively easy to put on even if you're wearing protective gloves. Protective boots are usually knee high and have a high chemical resistance.

Protective gloves are extremely solid, they can be as thick as 25mm and have a particularly long chemical resistance, resisting most toxic/hazardous chemicals.

Like gas masks, I would need to question the practicality of buying protective suits. Obviously, you wouldn't be able to carry one around with you everywhere you go (you're kids would definitely draw the line on that one!), and the cost of keeping a suit everywhere is prohibitive.

And, like gas masks, you would need to know about the attack in time to get the suit on. And again, you may be putting yourself in danger as you struggle to put on the suit when you could, instead, be making sensible efforts to escape the gas cloud

For more information about chemical and biological attacks; visit me at Prepare to Survive in California.

The Survival Retreat - Accessibility

One Way In

While having a survival retreat is a good thing, it's important to remember that having only one way in means there is usually only one way out. Limiting your options may not be a very effective strategy for your survival. A survival retreat that is located in a remote area may be what you're looking for but it will still need to be accessible by more than one means or route.

If for some reason you need to get out for whatever reason and the only way in is blocked, you may find yourself in a very bad position with little or no control over the situation. Having additional ways to get in will help you avoid this type of predicament. It will also mean that you have more than one way to get out if necessary.

Never place self-imposed limits on yourself when your survival is at stake.

Got accessibility?

Staying above the water line!



Way too much coffee. But if it weren't for the coffee, I'd have no identifiable personality whatsoever. ~David Letterman

How much caffeine do you consume a day? It may be more than you think. Some sweets and over-the-counter medications have caffeine (note Excedrin at the top of the chart below.) Sunkist Orange soda has more caffeine than Pepsi or Coke.
The MayoClinc says most people can handle 200-300 milligrams a day although there are individuals that are affected by as little as one cup of coffee, 100 mg. At levels of 500-600 mg/day you may see the following side effects:
· Headaches
· Irritability
· Anxiety
· Nervousness
· Restlessness
· Insomnia
· Nausea or other gastrointestinal problems
· Muscle tremors
· Fast or irregular heartbeat
Caffeine can be addictive. As the brain gets used to the drug, it takes ever more caffeine for the same energy “boost”. Caffeine withdrawal results once a person stops consuming caffeine. Withdrawal symptoms are consistent with other drugs, but without the life-threatening severity of alcohol or Valium withdrawal. Caffeine withdrawal typically begins within 24 hours and can last for a week or more with these symptoms:
· Headaches
· Irritability
· Anxiety
· Fatigue
Ironic huh – the top three symptoms can result from too much caffeine or too little.
ProductSize in Oz.Total Caffeine in mg
Excedrin, Extra Str,2 tablets130
Mountain Dew Game Fuel20120
Brewed coffee860-120
Double espresso245-100
Snapple Elements18108
Ben & Jerry's Coffee Fudge Frozen Yogurt885
Red Bull8.580
Instant coffee870
Tea - black845-60
Mountain Dew1255
Lipton Iced Teas2050
Diet Coca Cola1245
RC Cola1243
Sunkist Orange Soda1241-42
Dr. Pepper1241
Coke Classic1235
Dark Chocolate bar1.4531
A&W Cream Soda1229
Barq's Root Beer1222
Tea - green820
Tea - white815
Chocolate Bar1.559
Chocolate milk85
Hot Chocolate85
Decaf coffee81-5
Herbal Tea80
7-up, Fanta, Fresca, Sprite120
Yoo-Hoo Chocolate80
Bottom Line
Use the chart above get a perspective on the caffeine strength of common items. Suppose you want to set a limit of 100mg per day. That would mean a limit of 1 coffee, 3 Cokes, 4 Root Beers, 11 Milk Chocolate bars or 20 glasses of chocolate milk.