The Problem With Masonry Stoves

On the The Rural Working Class FEMA Plan, Deirdre commented….

One thing I often think about is how it would be nice to have an oven. Obviously, worst case scenario, you can bake bread directly over coals, and we probably wouldn’t have the yeast for anything other than flatbread, anyway. But in my imagination, it would be nice to have a nice, woodheated oven…. Even if it was just a fairly short power outage, where running out of food wasn’t a concern, if the generator stopped working, we wouldn’t be able to bake anything. But baking things isn’t a survival necessity, it’s just nice to have. You can live without brownies.

In around about way, this brings up a topic that I did not address in my FEMA series. And that topic is there are lots of cheap things that would be nice to have if society goes all third world on us that I did not talk about or consider because they take a lot of skill to use. I tried to include only things that I imagined would still be useful even if you had little or no skill. And even though masonry stoves are not that hard to build, they do take a fair amount of skill to use. It might be just because I am incompetent at such things, but I would guess that it would take me more then a month to get half way proficient with a wood fired masonry oven. The below video demonstrates some of those issues……

Now some of the David the Good’s problems are because he is always broke and trying to do things as cheap as possible. A roof and more brick would have helped somewhat. And obviously one of his complaints is related to just his climate. But his complaints about the difficulties of cooking with it are going to be the same everywhere.

Of course, people who are more dedicated and less cash constrained can do a much better job then David the Good did. Take a look at these pictures for a oven build that uses far less wood and requires far less maintenance then David the Good’s oven. But it also required a lot more skill and knowledge to build (not to mention money, although I would guess the biggest cost was in the shelter that was built over it). Here is video of a cheap version with little thermal mass version of the stove those pictures in operation.

Another thing to keep in mind is that you can bake a lot of things with Dutch ovens with a regular fire beyond the bread the Deirdre mentioned. Below is Paul Harrell making a fairly fancy thanksgiving meal outdoors with Dutch ovens. From a disaster perspective he is cheating by using charcoal but that is because he under a time crunch and working by himself. To duplicate this with wood, you would need someone dedicated to the fire while someone else was cooking and the person tending the fire would need to get started enough in advance of the cook that the fire had a good bed of coals.

Note how much skill and experience goes into making things. The cost of his Dutch ovens is not all that high. But the time investment to figure out how to use them is considerable.

And for those who doubt that Paul’s example has much bearing on a “survival” setting, below is a video of someone doing the same kind of thing in a “survival” setting.

Obviously his meal is not as elaborate but as you can see he uses all the same basic methods.

The bottom line is that there are number of ways you can have an “oven” to bake brownies in (provided you have the supplies to make the brownies). The constraint is not so much monetary as it is time it takes to learn how to do it successfully.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.