Whether you plan on bugging out or bugging in when SHTF, you’re going to need fire and heat. Most of us use electricity right now, but what will you do when the power goes out?
You should have at least a couple backup fuel sources for emergencies, but you might not know which ones to choose. Let’s briefly cover the most common fuel sources and determine what each of them are good for.
Wood is the most basic fuel source for fire. Humans have been using it for thousands of years, and for good reason. Wood is a free natural resource and can be easily gathered in any rural area. Even if you have to buy your wood, it should still be relatively cheap.
Because hardwoods such as oak, ash, and mahogany have long burn times, they’re good choices to heat a house.
Another benefit of using wood for fuel is that even when the fire dies out the coals will still be hot for at least another day or two, so it’ll be easier to start another fire.
For best results when burning wood, make sure to dry it out for a long enough period of time beforehand. Although damp wood can be burned, it won’t provide as much heat.
If you plan on using wood as one of your fuel sources, keep it stored in a shed to keep it dry, or at least cover it with a tarp to prevent the rain from getting it wet.
There’s no shortage of gasoline right now, but when SHTF, it’ll get used up quickly and become a scarce resource. It’s better to stock up on this useful fuel now rather than try to scavenge for it later.
Gasoline starts fires instantly, is portable, and can power vehicles. Imagine you need to make a trip away from your base. You could bring a small container of gasoline with you so you can and easily start a fire.
One of the drawbacks of gasoline in a SHTF scenario is that it’s irreplaceable and it’ll become harder to come by as time goes on.
The other drawback is that it doesn’t store well. You’ll need to add fuel stabilizer to it to make it last for a decent length of time.
Due to its short shelf life, you shouldn’t rely on gasoline as a primary fuel source. However, it’s still a good idea to have at least a few gallons on hand just in case.
Diesel and Bio-diesel
Regular diesel fuel offers the same advantages as gasoline. It starts fires instantly, is portable, and can power certain vehicles.
The advantage of diesel is that it has a longer shelf life than gasoline, making it more useful as a stockpiling fuel, though it still won’t store forever. You’ll still need to add stabilizer to ensure it lasts longer.
The downside of diesel is that it’s less common than gasoline, which will make it harder to scavenge for when SHTF.
On the other hand, you can make your own bio-diesel fuel, which performs almost as well as commercial diesel when made correctly.
The most common ingredient used to make bio-diesel is cooking oil. The process for creating bio-diesel involves heating it to a certain temperature, sustaining it, and eventually adding a catalyst. I’m not covering the details here, but you can find this information online.
The drawback to bio-diesel is that it’s hard to make. However, as you practice the process, it should become easier over time.
Propane is another popular choice for heating homes, powering generators, and for cooking. It’s cheap, burns for a long time, and has a long shelf life, making it a great fuel source for survival.
It’s a good idea to keep a large propane tank at your bug-out location. You’ll have months’ worth of fuel on hand. Then you can add propane to smaller containers and transport them around for different uses.
Since propane is so common, it should be easy to find when scavenging, though it will eventually run out over time.
Kerosene is a great source of light for lanterns and performs well as a cooking fuel.
Kerosene has a long shelf life and can be safely stored for a few years without major problems. The typical shelf life of kerosene is around five years, though people report burning their kerosene after storing it for much longer than that.
Which of these fuel sources you choose is up to you, though I’d recommend everyone stockpile at least a little bit of wood and at least a few gallons of gasoline or diesel.