Bucket Stove

Discussion in 'General Survival and Preparedness' started by melbo, Aug 5, 2006.

  1. melbo

    melbo Hunter Gatherer Administrator Founding Member

    Grabbed this from Nuclear War Survival Skills,

    Nice idea

    In areas of heavy fallout, people would have to remain continuously in crowded shelters for many days. Then they would have to stay in the shelters most of each 24 hours for weeks. Most shelter occupants soon would consume all of their ready-to-eat foods; therefore, they should have portable, efficient cook stoves. A cook stove is important for another reason: to help maintain morale. Even in warm weather, people need some hot food and drink for the comforting effect and to promote a sense of well-being. This is particularly true when people are under stress. The Bucket Stove pictured on the following pages (Figs. 9.2 and 9.3) was the most satisfactory of several models of expedient stoves developed at Oak Ridge and later field-tested.

    ° Bucket Stove
    If operated properly, this stove burns only about 1/2 pound of dry wood or newspaper to heat 3 quarts of water from 600 F to boiling.
    Materials required for the stove:
    * A metal bucket or can, 12- to 16-quart sizes preferred. The illustrations show a 14-quart bucket and a 6-quart pot.
    * Nine all-metal coat hangers for the parts made of wire. (To secure the separate parts of the movable coat-hanger wire grate, 2 feet of finer wire is helpful.)
    * A 6 X 10-inch piece of a large fruit-juice can, for a damper.
    With a chisel (or a sharpened screw driver) and a hammer, cut a 4-1/2 X 4-1/2-inch hole in the side of the bucket about 1-1/2 inches above its bottom. To avoid denting the side of the bucket when chiseling out the hole, place the bucket over the end of a log or similar solid object.

    To make the damper, cut a 6-inch-wide by 10-inch-high piece out of a large fruit-juice can or from similar light metal. Then make the two coathanger-wire springs illustrated, and attach them to the piece of metal by bending and hammering the outer 1 inch of the two 6-inch-long sides over and around the two spring wires. This damper can be slid up and down, to open and close the hole in the bucket. The springs hold it in any desired position. (If materials for making this damper are not available, the air supply can be regulated fairly well by placing a brick, rock, or piece of metal so that it will block off part of the hole in the side of the bucket.)
    To make a support for the pot, punch 4 holes in the sides of the bucket, equally spaced around it and about 3-1/2 inches below the bucket's top. Then run a coat-hanger wire through each of the two pairs of holes on opposite sides of the bucket. Bend these two wires over the top of the bucket, as illustrated, so that their four ends form free-ended springs to hold the cooking pot centered in the bucket. Pressure on the pot from these four free-ended, sliding springs does not hinder putting it into the stove or taking it out.

    Bend and twist 4 or 5 coat hangers to make the movable grate, best made with the approximate dimensions given in Fig. 9.2.
    For adjusting the burning pieces of fuel on the grate, make a pair of 12-inch-long tongs of coathanger wire, as illustrated by Fig. 9.3.
    To lessen heat losses through the sides and bottom of the bucket, cover the bottom with about 1 inch of dry sand or earth. Then line part of the inside and bottom with two thicknesses of heavy-duty aluminum foil, if available.

    To make it easier to place the pot in the stove or take it out without spilling its contents, replace the original bucket handle with a longer piece of strong wire.

    The Bucket Stove owes its efficiency to: (1) the adjustable air supply that flows up through the burning fuel, (2) the movable grate that lets the operator keep the maximum amount of flame in contact with the bottom of the cooking pot, and (3) the space between the sides of the pot and the inside of the bucket that keeps the rising hot gases in close contact with the sides of the pot.
    In a shelter, a Bucket Stove should be placed as near as practical to an air exhaust opening before a fire is started in it.
    Book Page: 80
    Fig. 9.2. Bucket-stove with adjustable damper and movable wire grate. Photo 1397-78A

    </dir> Book Page: 81
    <dir>Fig. 9.3. Bucket-stove with its sliding damper partly closed. Foot-long tongs of coat hanger wire are especially useful when burning twisted half-pages of newspaper.

    </dir> Book Page: 82
    If wood is to be burned, cut and split dry wood into small pieces approximately 1/2 inch square and 6 inches long. Start the fire with paper and small slivers of wood, placing some under the wire grate. To keep fuel from getting damp in a humid shelter, keep it in a large plastic bag.
    If newspaper is to be burned, use half-pages folded and twisted into 5-inch-long "sticks," as illustrated. Using the wire tongs, feed a paper "stick" into the fire about every half-minute.

    Add fuel and adjust the damper to keep the flame high enough to reach the bottom of the pot, but not so high as to go up the sides of the pot.
    To use the Bucket Stove for heating in very cold weather, remove the pot and any insulation around the sides of the bucket; burn somewhat more fuel per minute.

    If used with the Fireless Cooker described on the following pages, a Bucket Stove can be used to thoroughly cook beans, grain, or tough meat in water. Three quarts of such food can be cooked with less fuel than is required to soft-boil an egg over a small campfire.

    ° Fireless Cooker
    Fig. 9.4. Boiling-hot pot of food being placed in an expedient Fireless Cooker.

    A Fireless Cooker cooks by keeping a lidded pot of boiling-hot food so well insulated all around that it loses heat very slowly. Figure 9.4 shows one of these simple fuel-saving devices made from a bushel basket filled with insulating newspapers, with a towel-lined cavity in the center. The Cavity is the size of the 6-quart pot. A towel in this cavity goes all around the pot and will be placed over it to restrict air circulation. If the boiling-hot pot of food is then covered with newspapers about 4 inches thick, the temperature will remain for hours so near boiling that in 4 or 5 hours even slow-cooking food will be ready to eat.

    The essential materials for making an effective Fireless Cooker are enough of any good insulating materials (blankets, coats, paper, hay that is dry and pliable) to cover the boiling-hot pot all over with at least 3 or 4 inches of insulation. A container to keep the insulating materials in place around the pot is useful.

    Wheat, other grains, and small pieces of tough meat can be thoroughly cooked by boiling them briskly for only about 5 minutes, then insulating the pot in a Fireless Cooker for 4 or 5 hours, or overnight. Whole beans should be boiled for 10 to 15 minutes before they are placed in a Fireless Cooker.
    Witch Doctor 01 and chelloveck like this.
  2. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    Some weenie will try that with a plastic bucket, for sure. At the rate things are going, galvy buckets are going to be in short supply pretty soon anyway.

    Now, then, the scheme is pretty good for camping as well, goes nicely with the idea of minimum smoke and visible fire, too. Leaves less markings than a proper fire pit, if you take it with you on the move.
  3. E.L.

    E.L. Moderator of Lead Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    When I was a kid, our Baptist Church had what was basically the equivalent of boy scouts, and we built something a lot like that, but miniturized and we used coffee cans.
    chelloveck likes this.
  4. Bear

    Bear Monkey+++ Founding Member Iron Monkey

    Nice idea... The Sierra Stove uses a concept of a can within a can to get air to your fire.... inside can or firepit has holes in it.... they sell the powered version now... but I have an old one that is just passive... works great....

    Why do you think galvanized buckets etc... will be in short supply?
  5. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    Largely because of cost. Plastic is WAY cheaper. Not so much galvy, but metal buckets in general. Any time plastic will do, the extra expense of metal will make the selection pretty simple. Thus, demand goes down, fewer are made and harder to find. IMHO.
  6. melbo

    melbo Hunter Gatherer Administrator Founding Member

    Come to think of it, I don't see many metal buckets or pails around... Might need to try and find a few.
  7. RightHand

    RightHand Been There, Done That RIP 4/15/21 Moderator Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    If you run into any Barn Sales or Farm Sales, stop in there. Old milking pails are perfect. I have a half a dozen around that I use for everything from water to mixing a small amount of cement.
    chelloveck likes this.
  8. monkeyman

    monkeyman Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    Im not positive about it but I have had several folks mention that galvanized metal puts off toxic fumes when flame is applied from the galvanizing, so a non galvanized bucket may be a better idea or at least check this out to be sure about it before trying it with the galvanized ones.
    Witch Doctor 01 likes this.
  9. RightHand

    RightHand Been There, Done That RIP 4/15/21 Moderator Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    I don't know how much heat it takes but welding galvanized alloys produces toxic fumes. When I owned a shop years ago, we had a contract from Loctite Corp. to produce large "baskets" (60" Dia x 60" ht) from galvanized wire cloth. We had a good (=cheap) source for galvanized mat'l so over the course of the contract, we bought that, had the galv. stripped, formed and welded the baskets, re-galvanized the completed product.
  10. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    The temperature is the key measurement. If the fire is hot enough to make the zinc bubble and give off fumes, it's probably too hot to cook with anyway. To be safe, stay upwind. The physiological effects of long term exposure to zinc fumes are similar to heavy metals, IIRC. Phishi may know more about it.

    Of course, if you can raid a small dairy barn, you may find some stainless steel buckets.
    chelloveck likes this.
  11. melbo

    melbo Hunter Gatherer Administrator Founding Member

    I know from working around Stained Glass that we encountered zinc in some of the older Church restorations. Zinc was to be treated just like lead.
    chelloveck likes this.
  12. Quigley_Sharps

    Quigley_Sharps The Badministrator Administrator Founding Member

    I have zinc triggers for fire dampers that melt at 200 degs or 250 I will have to find one and read it.
  13. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    Betcha those are more lead than zinc.:D It has to be an alloy (actually a eutectic, or a solid solution) that melts at less than any of it's constituents. [dunno] Forgot all the details some time back when I started doing a LOT less HVAC work.
  14. Quigley_Sharps

    Quigley_Sharps The Badministrator Administrator Founding Member

    yeah my mistake, should read 700 something
  15. monkeyman

    monkeyman Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    Yeah I dont know on the temps and so on, just figured since there was a mention of useing it in a shelter figured that it would be good to mention, I figure if it is only used outside and with covered pots then it PROBABLY wouldnt be a major concern as long as you stay up wind of it.
  16. Bear

    Bear Monkey+++ Founding Member Iron Monkey

    Yeah... depending on what you're going to use it for... get the stainless buckets... pet catalogs have them for cheap...

    Galvanized Metal buckets or those tubs are great.... but careful around too much heat...

    Zinc Metal Fume Fever

    Metal Fume Fever is the name for an illness that is caused primarily by exposure to zinc oxide fume (ZnO) in the workplace. The main cause of this exposure is usually breathing the fumes from welding, cutting, or brazing on galvanized metal. Metal Fume Fever is an acute allergic condition experienced by many welders during their occupational lifetimes. Studies indicate that the most common cause of metal fume fever I overexposure to zinc fumes from welding, burning, or brazing galvanized steel. Since galvanized steel is more and more common in industry, the chances of welders having to work on it are occurring more frequently all the time. Other elements, such as copper and magnesium, may cause similar effects.


    Zinc oxide fumes cause a flu-like illness called Metal Fume Fever. Symptoms of Metal Fume Fever include headache, fever, chills, muscle aches, thirst, nausea, vomiting, chest soreness, fatigue, gastrointestinal pain, weakness, and tiredness. The symptoms usually start several hours after exposure; the attack may last 6 to 24 hours. Complete recovery generally occurs without intervention within 24 to 48 hours. Metal Fume Fever is more likely to occur after a period away from the job (after weekends or vacations). High levels of exposure may cause a metallic or sweet taste in the mouth, dry and irritated throat, thirst, and coughing at the time of the exposure. Several hours after exposure, a low-grade fever (seldom higher than 102º F or 39º C). Then comes sweating and chills before temperature returns to normal in 1 to 4 hours. If you encounter these symptoms, contact a physician and have a medical examination / evaluation. There is no information in the literature regarding the effects of long-term exposure to zinc oxide fumes.


    The current OSHA standard for zinc oxide fume is 5 milligrams of zinc oxide fume per cubic meter of air (mg/m3) averaged over an eight-hour work shift. NIOSH recommends that the permissible exposure limit be changed to 5 mg/m3 averaged over a work shift of up to 10 hours per day, 40 hours per week, with a Short-Term Exposure Limit (STEL) of 10 mg/m3 averaged over a 15-minute period. Consult the NIOSH standard, Criteria Document for Zinc Oxide listed in the Information Sources for more detailed information.


    • Keep your head out of the fumes.
    • Do not breathe fumes.
    • Use enough ventilation, exhaust at the arc, of both, to keep fumes and gases from your breathing zone and the general area.
    • If adequacy of the ventilation or exhaust is uncertain, have your exposure measured and compared to the Threshold Limit Values (TLV) in the Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) for the galvanized material.
    • Never take chances with welding fumes. If none of this is adequate or practical, wear an approved respirator, air-supplied or otherwise, that adequately removes the fumes from your breathing zone.


    Good safe practices recommend using engineering controls, such as local exhaust and/or general ventilation, to reduce the exposure level to zinc oxide fumes. However, there are times when such practices and controls are not feasible, or are in the process of being installed, or are down during periods of failure. Then respirators are needed. Respirators are often used for operations in confined spaces, such as tanks or closed vessels, and in emergency situations. Always use only respirators that are approved by the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) or by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).


    Eight-Hour Exposure Evaluation

    Exposure measurements are best taken so the eight-hour exposure is based on a single eight-hour sample or on two four-hour samples. Several short-time interval samples (up to 30 minutes) may be used, but are not preferred. The air samples should be taken by a qualified person using approved collection methods and devices. Take the samples in the employee’s breathing zone (air that would most nearly represent that inhaled by the employee).


    National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Criteria for a Recommended Standard – Occupational Exposure to Zinc Oxide, DHEW, NIOSH Publication No. 76-104; NTIS Publication No. PB-246-693, available from National Technical Information Service (NTIS), 5285 Port Royal Road, Springfield, VA 22161.

    Short-Term Exposure Limit (STEL) Evaluation

    Take the measurements during periods of maximum expected concentrations of zinc oxide fume. Take a 15-minute sample or a series of consecutive samples totaling 15 minutes. Collect the samples in the employee’s breathing zone (air that would most nearly represent that inhaled by the employee). Take a minimum of three measurements on one work shift – the highest measurement taken is an estimate of the person’s exposure.


    Here are the main points when dealing with galvanized metal:

    • Metal Fume Fever is the result of overexposure to zinc fumes from welding, cutting, or brazing on galvanized steel.
    • Metal Fume Fever is a short-term illness with classic flu-like symptoms.
    • The permissible exposure limit (PEL) according to OSHA is 5 milligrams of zinc oxide fumes per cubic meter of air – always monitor and measure your breathing air.
    • To avoid the illness, keep your head out of the fumes and do not breathe the fumes. Use enough proper ventilation and/or exhaust. If
    • uncertain about the ventilation, use an approved respirator.
    • There are no known long-term effects of this disease.

    American Welding Society (AWS) Study. Fumes and Gases in the Welding Environment, available from American Welding Society, 550 N.W. LeJeune Road, Miami, FL 33136

    American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists publication, Threshold Limit Values (TLV) for Chemical Substances and Physical Agents in the Workroom Environment, available from American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH), 1330 Kemper Meadow Drive, Cincinnati, OH 45240

    Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Code Of Federal Regulations, Title 29 Labor, Chapter XVII, Parts 1901.1 to 1910.1450, Order No. 869-019-00111-5, available from Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, P.O. Box 371954, Pittsburgh, PA 15250

    American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists, Documentation of the Threshold Limit Values and Biological Exposure Indices, available from American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH), 1330 Kemper Meadow Drive, Cincinnati, OH 45240.

    The following references include the specific precautionary methods used to protect against exposure to fumes and gases:

    American National Standards Institute (ANSI). Safety in Welding, Cutting, and Allied Processes, Z49.1, available from American Welding Society, 550 N.W. LeJeune Road, Miami, FL 33136

    National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Safety and Health in Arc Welding and Gas Welding and Cutting, NIOSH Publication No. 78-138, available from National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Robt. Taft Labs, 4676 Columbia Pkwy, Cincinnati, OH 45226.

    American National Standards Institute (ANSI). Method for Sampling Airborne Particulates Generated by Welding and Allied Processes, F1.1, available from American Welding Society, 550 N.W. LeJeune Road, Miami, FL 33136.


    This information is offered by WeldWeb as general guidance only, and may not explain all relevant safety precautions and/or hazards
    3cyl and chelloveck like this.
  17. Tango3

    Tango3 Aimless wanderer

    yes welding,brazing galvanized anything will make you feel sick in short order(makes me nausea immediately), cure is fresh air and they say milk[booze].You'll know it fast; justa wiff under the welding helmet and you can feel something. lower temperature of a wood cooking fire I don't know about.but i'd certainly be cautious...
  18. ColtCarbine

    ColtCarbine Monkey+++ Founding Member

    I remember it being called galvanic poisoning, probably not the medical term but that's what we call it. Been there done that, from cutting galvanized "Q" Deck with a cutting torch for roof drains, made me dizzy and made my stomach feel a little weird, nothing a little milk didn't cure. I'm sure not being exposed to the fumes had more to do with feeling better than the milk but the milk did help.

    Not sure if a fire in a bucket would cause enough heat to produce the fumes. Sure way to find out is to build a fire and see if you get dizzy. :lol:
    chelloveck likes this.
  19. Tracy

    Tracy Insatiably Curious Moderator Founding Member

    If you light a fire and then get dizzy... Do you kick the bucket?
    Witch Doctor 01 likes this.
  20. sniper-66

    sniper-66 Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    So now I know what my problem is, I used to SCUBA dive in an old lead/zinc mine in southern Missouri. It was the most beautiful shade of blue, even when the sun wasn't out!
    If you have a decent patch of earth, save the bucket and make a Dakota Fire Hole. You dig a hole the size of a coffee can or whatever pot you want to use about a foot or so down into the ground. Then from the upwind side, start digging a small slant hole down to the bottom, creating a small air channel. Take a coffee can or such and make a wire handle for it. Start a small fire in the main hole and then put the can into the mouth of the hole and then feed twigs into the hole from the side of the main hole around the can and you will have a very efficient fire to cook or boil water. When you put the can down into the hole, it should just fit.
    This is what we used for four days in survival school, I bet we didn't use more than 100 pounds of wood the entire time.
    hot diggity likes this.
  1. JC Refuge
  2. Coyote Ridge
  3. ColtCarbine
  4. DKR
  5. DKR
  6. Hillbilly549
  7. deMolay
  8. Hillbilly549
  9. Motomom34
  10. DKR
  11. DKR
  12. DKR
  13. DKR
  14. Asia-Off-Grid
  15. Asia-Off-Grid
  16. Oddcaliber
  17. CottageIndustrialist
  18. DKR
  19. DKR
  20. Legion489
survivalmonkey SSL seal        survivalmonkey.com warrant canary