Emergency preparedness is something everyone should practice. Batteries, water, medications if needed, etc. but really it boils down to eating. Because even scared in the dark, you get hungry. So the power is out-no microwave. The gas lines are shut down-no stove. You can't get to your grill and the propane tank is most likely empty or blown away. So what do you do? What. Do. You. Do? Stove-in-a-can is what you do.
No, you don't make one-you buy a stove in a can (www.stoveinacan.com) and stick it in your basement or wherever you keep your emergency kit. Actually I'd recommend at least two, because you have to eat. Well, in my house you do. Even in a disaster. Oh yeah, and water is pretty important too.
Into the can we go....well the stove in a can. When opened I found 4 fuel cells, a pack of waterproof matches, a fuel ring and a cooking ring for the top of the can. The fuel ring gets coiled like a snake and placed in the bottom of the can (or is it now the stove?) and the fuel cell sits on top of that. Place the cooking ring on top of the stove in a can before lighting the fuel. I didn't and got myself a decent singe. You can light the fuel cell one of two ways. The first is to unwrap the puck and crumble a bit off the edge and place it on top of the puck. Light a match and set it on top of the crumbled bits. The other method is the one I used. This is to open the wrapper slightly and then light the wrapper, theoretically this will in turn, ignite the fuel. It didn't happen for me on the first try. Or the second. Or the third. My husband wasn't home to heckle me, but I did finally get the darn thing lit. Once I did, WHEW, did that baby burn!! So here I'm going to suggest using the crumble and light method, or if you know how to use matches better than I do (I think most 5 year olds do) go ahead with the method I used. I just didn't prefer it. Actually, when I re-lit the fuel, I used a long-necked lighter like you would use to light a grill. For me, that worked tons better. Your choice, I'm just apparently inept. After not burning your hands, place the lid from the can upside down on top of the cooking ring (there is a groove that the cooking ring will fit into. Nice touch. No wobbly top.) Wait for the cooking plate to heat up a bit and you're set!
I cooked up a charred pepper sauce and then some broccoli. I did notice that one side of the stove-in-a-can cooked hotter: meaning that one side of the pot boiled faster than the other side. That was because the fuel cell slid when I was trying to light it. So if that happens, the flames from the cell will lick up the sides of your pot or pan. No big deal, just watch your fingers. That being said, the Stove-in-a-can accommodated my 3qt sauce pan very nicely. That is fantastic because I've found a 3qt pot is the most commonly used cook pot size. My 8 inch cast iron skillet fit on the top nicely as well as my little sauce pot which is maybe just shy of a quart.
Now, on the website there is a video showing the stove-in-a-can being used with a griddle to cook pancakes. Man, did I want to try that. I think it's a great idea to have more than one stove-in-a-can to do just this. Also, for emergencies; but sometimes pancakes are an emergency. Maybe I'll have to pick another one up and try it out. Prices hover around $30.00 online and for what you get, I think it's a great price, given the fact that the stove-in-a-can has an indefinite (yes, indefinite) shelf life. Also, if you don't use up the fuel cell in one cooking session, the remaining fuel can be lit again.
So some other points to note are that the fuel cells are not explosive and do not contain hazardous material. That is fantastic since I had my face over the smoke from the fire while I was taking pictures. I like the non-toxic feature, always a good quality when cooking. Additionally, the Stove-in-a-can website (www.stoveinacan.com) has a really comprehensive FAQ section as well as great instructions for use-complete with video. The website also states that you can use the stove as a heat source as well: great point. Maybe some people would not think of this, I didn't. It makes sense, just because it is marketed as a stove, doesn't mean it is its only use. Use it for heat in an emergency even if you don't need to cook. So this product takes care of the need to eat as well as the need for warmth. Double duty is always a good way to justify cost. Really though, if you're using this to outfit your emergency/disaster kit, it's a no brainer. You really need one. Stove in a can is a compact, durable, long-lasting and economical way to make sure you have some basic needs covered in case of an emergency.
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