Water and Cooking – What Will You Do When the Lights Go Out?

When disaster strikes, what do you do about water? And what do you do about cooking? It doesn’t get much more basic than having clean water and food. What do you do about storing and filtering water? What alternative cooking methods can you use when the lights go out?

Those are the topics on the agenda for today’s DestinySurvival Radio as I visit with returning guests Kylene and Jonathan Jones, authors of The Provident Prepper. They were my DestinySurvival Radio guests a couple months ago, and you can find out more about that here if you’re so inclined. On that first visit we did a quick overview of their book.


Can You Keep Up With the Joneses?

Jonathan and Kylene Jones


Kylene and Jonathan are both passionate about preparedness, and it shows in my conversations with them. They practice preparedness with their family, and they promote preparedness in their community. Here’s a short summary of what they’re into.


Kylene and Jonathon Jones have both served on the advisory board and on the board of directors for The American Civil Defense Association. Jonathan also serves as a city councilperson, and has been tasked with developing the city emergency plan. Kylene is currently the editor for The Journal of Civil Defense, and both actively participate in a wide variety of forums, including community education courses, educational seminars, preparedness fairs and employee education programs.


What Will You Do About Water?

If you’re new to prepping, or if you want to reevaluate what you’ve done so far, where should you start? Begin with storing water.



Water should only be stored only in food grade containers. You might be surprised by how many containers of various sizes you can stow away in your home or apartment. Try to have two gallons of water per person per day for at least two weeks. You don’t have to have 55-gallon barrels. Of course, they’re nice to have, if you can do that.

Jonathan is a fan of catching rain water. Be sure you know the laws pertaining to that where you live. Rain water should be treated before you drink it. Otherwise, it’s great as is for your garden.

Water stored in barrels for a long period of time may be OK, but if you’re not certain, go ahead and filter it. Or give it a chlorine treatment. You may want to use calcium hypochlorite, rather than bleach.



Biological contaminants and chemical contaminants are the two issues we face when treating water. Clarify and disinfect before drinking.

The first thing to do is clarify your water. Run it through anything that will serve as a pre-filter to get the “big” stuff out. That helps make your ready-made filters last longer as well.

When it comes to disinfecting, one of the safest methods is to boil it. Keep it at a rolling boil for several minutes. Distillation is excellent, but it, like boiling, is fuel intensive.

You could pasturize water in a solar oven at 150 degrees for several minutes. Water won’t come to a rolling boil under those conditions. The sun’s UV rays can indeed disinfect water. Clarified water in a clear jar or bottle for 4-6 hours could be a life saver in an emergency situation. Kylene recommended a Web site with info about solar disinfection (SODIS). You can access info about the SODIS method here.

Chlorine bleach gets weaker over time, so calcium hypochlorite is a preferred option. A One pound bag can disinfect about 10,000 gallons of water. It should be 68% or greater with no other chemicals in it. You can find it on Amazon by searching for calcium hypochlorite. Shelf life is long–several years. And you don’t need 25 pounds in storage, since a little goes a long way.

The Joneses have a recipe for making a stock solution in their book. A teaspoon of calcium hypochlorite in 1-1/2 cups of water makes a 5% solution, which you can use as a disinfectant like bleach.

There’s quite a variety of filters available these days. A good filter will get rid of both biological and chemical contaminants. Each filter is a little different, so know what a filter’s attributes and limitations are when considering purchasing one. If you have a filter already, determine whether you might need to combine filtration with chlorine treatment. Some filters are designed mainly for getting rid of radiation particles.

The Provident Prepper has two chapters on water storage and treatment, and you’ll find plenty of helpful tables and pictures.


What Will You Do About Cooking?

In the old days (which weren’t really that long ago), you could operate a gas or propane cook stove when electricity went out. Today stoves have an electric ignition of some kind. And, of course, forget about running the microwave. When the lights go out, you need alternative cooking methods.

Kylene made the point that the most important thing is for you and your family to be safe. Don’t do anything that will poison everyone in your home with carbon monoxide. If that means eating a can of cold beans, so be it.

But there are other options, and we talked about a few of them. Whatever method you choose, you must have ventilation indoors. And Jonathan urges us all to have smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms.

Kylene’s favorite fuel is alcohol. Most of us are familiar with Sterno and the little stoves for it. She recommended Safe Heat. Caterers use it, so you know it has to be safe. She says it’s available in packs of 12 at Sam’s Club for a few dollars. If you can’t find it locally, look online at Amazon by searching for Safe Heat.

Kylene mentioned a couple of commercially available cookers which use alcohol, such as the Heat Pal 5100 and the EcoQue portable grill. Do an online search for each of these, since my current sponsors don’t carry them.

The Joneses have come up with a terracotta pot heater, which can be used for cooking and heating. It uses alcohol fuel, too. Search for Terracotta Pot Heater at TheProvidentPrepper.org.

We also talked briefly about MRE heaters. Make sure you use them while they’re still good because they do have a certain shelf life.

You can also use thermal cookers, which are commercially available, or you can make your own from an ice chest and blankets. Once you’ve heated your food, they’re great for keeping it hot for hours. Be sure not to let the temperature of your food get too cool, or you run the risk of problems from bacteria.

Don’t use kerosene indoors. Be careful with propane camping stoves, too. Go outdoors to connect to and disconnect your stove from the bottle of propane.

For outdoors, don’t forget about a charcoal burning grill. There are various rocket stoves which burn wood and biomass, too.

Last, but definitely not least, we talked a bit about solar cookers. Kylene’s favorite is the Global Sun Oven.

An abundance of alternative cooking methods and fuels are featured in a couple of the chapters in The Provident Prepper. That’s where you’ll find helpful pictures and charts, including plenty of ideas for homemade cookers.


The Provident Prepper

How Can You Find Out More?

Hear my conversation with Kylene and Jonathan Jones by listening to DestinySurvival Radio for February 5, 2015. (Right click to download.)

As you know, with any of my DestinySurvival Radio shows, we can only scratch the surface of important topics. This blog post can share only a few highlights of my conversation with the Joneses. If you really want to get hold of the great information they have to offer, get a copy of their book, The Provident Prepper. Click on its title wherever you see it linked in this post. And check out their Web site, TheProvidentPrepper.org.

Kylene and Jonathan have graciously allowed me to share material with you which they use in classes. Click on the llinked titles below to view in a new window, or right click to download.


Any products shown in those handouts are meant to serve as examples. However, if there’s something you’re interested in having as part of your own prepping supplies, I hope you’ll remember to shop with the companies featured in the DestinySurvival Prep Mart.

As always, if there’s something you’ve read here or heard on this week’s show, and you’d like to share a thought or two about it, feel free to leave a comment below.


Author: John Wesley Smith

John Wesley Smith writes and podcasts from his home in Central Missouri. His goal is to help preppers as he continues along his own preparedness journey.