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Need emergency heat

 
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Just found this wonderful forum this morning. I live in a hurricane Micheal zone and my house is unlivable. I am staying in my barn with my 13 yr old, I am a 57 yr old female. There is no insulation in the barn and the electric is not enough to run any good size heater the small 1 I do have will blow the breaker if not careful. I am looking for a fast wood burning solution that is doable for me. Money is extremely tight at the moment or I would have already purchased a tent stove for in here. Freezing in Florida. Any ideas would be most helpful. I already tried the flower pot method and that was a no go. Thank you Patricia
 
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Hi Patricia! Welcome to permies!

I think for your situation, the pebble-style rocket mass heater would be the best, because it will be relatively cheap and easy to build.



And perhaps, microheating may help as a form of electric heating to prevent blowing your breaker.
 
pollinator
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Is there any way you can use combustible heat in your shelter?  Meaning, can you run some, any type of stove and exhaust outside?  If so, there are a couple of options.

If not, might you be able to use a radiant propane heater?  The exhaust products should not be dangerous or require a special caution, though you would want to be VERY careful about fire hazard.  Maybe you could place the heater in an old metal tub of some type?

I did a very quick google search and found a propane heater here, https://www.zoro.com/dyna-glo-tank-top-portable-gas-heater-lp-tt15cdgp/i/G3769357/feature-product?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI3o3njPLW3wIVgRhpCh1zAQ_SEAQYAiABEgIdpvD_BwE

Please don't think I am advocating this particular heater or even this form of heating, I am just trying to find a way to keep you warm.

I have no idea if this next idea would work for you or not, but growing up in central Illinois, we would always get some winter nights that would get to -20.  We had an outdoor cat that I was very concerned about as a child.  Our solution was to boil water and pour it into 3 empty milk jugs, place the milk jugs in an old doghouse and cover the doghouse with a blanket.  About an hour after I tried this experiment, I stuck my head out into the garage where it was still about -20 and headed over to the newly minted cat house and stuck my head in there.  My cat was purring loudly, basking in the 90 degree heat being given off by those milk jugs.  The milk jugs kept the little house warm all night long and in the morning it had only cooled to around 80 degrees.  Maybe you could try a version of this by boiling water in some 5 gallon buckets with lids (or really just anything to cover the bucket.  It could even be a garbage bag closed over the top.  This will keep the steam in and prevent the place from getting wet with condensed steam.  I am assuming you have access to hot water.

The link I sent to you also had several other heating options and one of them might be more important.

Another option would be a little propane stove, but there is the risk of fire hazard.

My last suggestion is to get good access to lots of hot liquids.  This is not exactly a solution, but if you are drinking hot liquids, you will be storing the heat inside you where the heating value will be most efficient.

These are only suggestions.  I would of course want to be careful with anything involving an open flame, but you sound desperate so I am just thinking of any idea that comes to mind.  Can you describe your shelter a little bit better. You said it was a barn.  Is this a barn with straw and animals around?  If so, it is unlikely to be fit for human in-habitation.  I totally realize you are in a desperate situation, but the more you describe your surroundings, the better feedback we can give.

Eric
 
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Patricia are you a Florida native? I ask because if you have always lived in a warm climate you may not know how to dress for the cold. The coastal areas of Florida shouldn't be that cold most of the winter, looks like night time lows are in the mid 60's all week. Yes I realize it gets colder but if you are actually suffering now then the proper attire would be one quick and easy fix until you come up with something else.
 
master pollinator
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In a survival situation is it much more important to keep the bodies warm than to keep the space warm, so if your funds are limited, I suggest investing in warm clothing and cold-weather sleeping bags.  If you have a tent, or can obtain one, set that up inside the barn and sleep in there.  Pretend you're camping. (Everyone likes camping! Ha!) The advice to consume warm beverages is good.

Warm hats, stocking caps, are especially important.  "If your feet are cold, put on a hat" is the old saying.
 
master steward
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Patricia, welcome to permies.

Is it possible that you could run something like a clothesline with rope so you could hang blankets or tarps to make the spce smaller?

We use these in deer blinds so if you could reduce the space to maybe 300 sq ft this might work for you:



Amazon Link to Mr. Heater Big Buddy
 
Patricia Jorge
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The barn was used for storage so I had not bothered with insulation or etc.. it is a small weather king. half the roof was messed up but have a decent tarp on it at the moment. I am in better shape than some whom are still in tents. I use a cooler for food and that is ok. I like the propane heater tho it looks a little scary LOL the price is very good.
 
Lucrecia Anderson
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Also if night time temps are the problem then filling jugs with hot water and putting them at the foot of your bed/sleeping bag helps a lot. Remember to wear heavy but LOOSE fitting socks, and ideally change into fresh clothing before you go to sleep (even slightly damp clothing will make you feel much colder at night). Some say cayenne pepper sprinkled into socks also helps since it dilates the blood vessels or something like that.

Can you boil water? If not a cinder block rocket stove may be an easy/free option.  Here is one super simple design that you can set up in literally 3 minutes (for outside use only, of course):



 
Patricia Jorge
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I am in the panhandle and the temp right this minute is 48 but feels like 20. Thats 48 inside and drinking hot coffee at the moment my 13 year is drinking hot chocolate. and yes do have a way to heat water.
 
pollinator
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Have you seen picture/videos of folks in Maine camping in the snow in winter.

Get a really good sleeping bag and a tent or two, walmart/target/etc should have some.
When you are not sleeping wear extra thick jacket, sweater, layers of clothing.
Then minimize how much time you stay at home. Join the cheapest gym you can, take warm showers there.
Have your son go to the gym after school and pump iron/swim/etc. You can do the same or similar.
Sign your son up for free/cheap afterschool programs.
Volunteer at a soup kitchen or anywhere really. It will get you out of the cold house and make you feel better.

On average I would say that each layer of shelter adds 10F. So the barn will make it 10F warmer. and if you have a 8person tent it's another 10F warmer (20F in total). You could then have a 2 or 1 person tent inside the 8person tent. Layers really does work wonders.

You could probably try and use an electric blanket inside the tent.

Try not to boil water/cook inside the barn, the extra humidity will do you in.
Wear clothing that will wick the moisture from your skin. Try salvation army/goodwill/target/walmart/etc.

Also it is okay if you feel cold, it sucks but you will be okay, as long as you dress properly.
My biggest worry would be health complication. Do drink probiotic like water kefir, milk kefir, amakaze/koji and others.
Do find ways to de-stress yourself (walks/praying/kickboxing/idk whatever works for you).
Try and lean on your emotional support network if possible.
Eat extra amount of vegetables, fruits and root crops. Your body and mind will need less 'junk/comfort food' and more health promoting food.
 
Lucrecia Anderson
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Patricia Jorge wrote:The barn was used for storage so I had not bothered with insulation or etc.. it is a small weather king. half the roof was messed up but have a decent tarp on it at the moment. I am in better shape than some whom are still in tents. I use a cooler for food and that is ok. I like the propane heater tho it looks a little scary LOL the price is very good.



If you don't want to use propane then a small kerosene heater is another option. I prefer kerosene to propane, the small kerosun heaters tun out a LOT of heat and they have a super easy to fill removable 1 gal tank.

Plus they are light enough to easily carry around. I have two for emergency heating in case the power is out during an ice storm and they keep my small (650 sq ft) house warm, as in 90 degrees even when there is snow/ice outside. They cost about $130 and you will pay $4 or so per gallon of K1 kerosene (12 hours of run time per gallon). Though you may have to hunt a bit for a station that sells K1, I think it is frequently used for boats so stations near the water may have it.

 
Eric Hanson
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Patricia,

Good information.  So it sounds like the barn is yours and you can do to it what you wish?  I know that the propane radiant heater looks scary, but it will put out a LOT of heat.  You do want to be very careful about fire hazard though.  Is your barn made of wood or do you have metal sides?  How about the floor?  I am trying to get an idea of any potential fire risk.  it is good to know that it sounds as though you are not living next to animals and lots of straw (which would be highly flammable).  Another option for heat is a kerosene heater.  These are quite safe and heat well.

Some of the other comments were extremely sage advice.  Do you have cold weather clothing?  Dress in layers if you can.  Can you wrap blankets around you even when you are not sleeping?  Warm clothing should best be done in layers.  The layer next to your skin should fit close but not fit tight,  The second layer should add bulk, and the final layer protects in inner layers.  As a general rule, cotton is not advised as it will absorb moisture from your body and then become heat conductive.  However, you are desperate and you will have to make due with what you have.  Can you get some cheap sweatpants and sweatshirts?  When I wear a sweatshirt, I almost always layer it with a T-shirt.  These are just ideas and you can assess your situation better than I can.

Also, it is indeed good to reduce your heating volume to a minimum.  Can you get any exercise?  This will heat you from inside (though shed some layers.  Firstly, you want your body to generate its own heat.  Secondly, sweaty clothing makes for lousy insulation.)

An outdoor wood furnace could give you some temporary relief from the cold, give you a place to cook food, boil water, etc.

So sorry you are in such a rough place in your life.  Please let us know if any of these approaches are workable for you.  Such as do you have any access to any type of warm weather clothing, a sleeping bag, the general description of the interior of your barn (how big is it, what is it made of, what is the floor, etc  The more information the better).

Hang in there,

Eric
 
garden master
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As a Mainer, let me just add a hat to your list of warm clothing (our mothers all beat that into us before we went out in winter here).  If the rest of your skin is covered then the head is the place you'll loose the most heat from.  
 
Greg Martin
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Also, if there's a Walmart nearby, in the camping section they have the metalized mylar emergency blankets for a few dollars.  You can wrap yourselves in those or hang them up and duct tape them together to make a warm space.  They do a great job of reflecting your lost heat back to your body.


If you have the space outside and it's if it's not windy you might also consider a small camp fire outside to sit by bundled up with the barn to your back.  Maybe it would also be fun for the teen.  But whatever you do, please be VERY safe with fire.
 
S Bengi
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Maybe you are sleeping on the cold concrete floor inside your barn on 1inch of sleeping bag insulation. No amount of heat is really going to help that.
Upgrade to two layers of rigid insulation. 4ft by 8ft R-10 for $35, it will not draw up moisture from the cold floor either.
https://www.homedepot.com/p/Owens-Corning-FOAMULAR-250-2-in-x-48-in-x-8-ft-R-10-Scored-Squared-Edge-Insulation-Sheathing-52DD/202085962
 
Patricia Jorge
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I do have plenty of blankets and cold weather clothing. The reason I am in search of wood burning solution is the massive amount of downed trees the storm left behind and it is killing me that it is all being wasted. The beautiful live oaks are gone and going to be wasted. I do have a tent outside setup to hold water bottles and MRE boxes. As I said my situation is better than some and I have been researching ways to turn my place into an off grid homestead for a long time. The storm has forced me to start whether I wanted to or not LOL. I do appreciate the concern thank you.
 
Patricia Jorge
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Almost forgot the barn is all wood even the floor. I sourced a small rug I layed on the floor to help with the cold.
 
Dave Burton
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Patricia Jorge wrote:The reason I am in search of wood burning solution is the massive amount of downed trees the storm left behind and it is killing me that it is all being wasted. The beautiful live oaks are gone and going to be wasted. I do have a tent outside setup to hold water bottles and MRE boxes. As I said my situation is better than some and I have been researching ways to turn my place into an off grid homestead for a long time. The storm has forced me to start whether I wanted to or not LOL. I do appreciate the concern thank you.



Wood could be used for hugelkultur, junk pole fences, making artwork, building wooden bikes, or so much more.
 
Lucrecia Anderson
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Greg Martin wrote:Also, if there's a Walmart nearby, in the camping section they have the metalized mylar emergency blankets for a few dollars.  You can wrap yourselves in those or hang them up and duct tape them together to make a warm space.  They do a great job of reflecting your lost heat back to your body.


If you have the space outside and it's if it's not windy you might also consider a small camp fire outside to sit by bundled up with the barn to your back.  Maybe it would also be fun for the teen.  But whatever you do, please be VERY safe with fire.



Mylar blankets are awesome! They work best if you layer them in between your clothing or bedding to reflect the heat back (close enough that there is heat to reflect back). Downside is they are super crinkly sounding and that might keep some people awake at night.

They are also great to put behind heaters to reflect the heat into the room (but they are super flammable).

Patricia I am no wood stove expert but I am pretty sure the downed trees are too green to make great all purpose firewood. You will have plenty of time to chop that wood up and let it dry out, then you can use it for firewood in a year or two.
 
pollinator
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From the sound of it, the first thing I would recommend is starting to harvest that wood. Cut, split and stack it so when you have your wood burning system ready, the wood is too. The other thing about wood heat, if you cut your own wood, is it will heat you up cutting it, heat you splitting it, heat you up stacking it, and heat you up when you burn it.

In terms of insulation, cord wood construction could provide a great way to use a lot of that wood to produce sturdy, insulated homes/structures and a reasonably low cost. If wind is an issue and the barn is drafty, seal the drafts and start cord wood walls around it to add wind resistance and insulation.

Just my thoughts.
 
Patricia Jorge
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I have researched the cord wood method of building. I also have 2 chainsaws and know how to use them. LOL
 
S Bengi
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The land I am closing on in SW Florida have super super thin soil. Uhmm, actually it has no soil. I hope I am able to get the local tree clearing guys to chip trees and drop it on my lot.
 
Eric Hanson
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Patricia,

OK, we have a better idea of your dilemma now.  The way I see it, you are not in danger of freezing.  You are also probably not in danger of hypothermia.  I think at this point you are not in a life-threatening emergency.

What you are in is a very uncomfortable state of recovery, and this is something we can work with.  Given the information you have given us, I assume you are dressing for the elements.  It also sounds like you are equipped to deal with all the potential firewood.  In that respect, your situation reminds (but is MUCH, MUCH worse than) a situation of my own.  Many years ago (May 8th, 2009--locally refereed to as the May 8th storm, there is even a Wikipedia article on it) we had a storm with 100 mph winds (no, no where as strong as yours, but strong nonetheless) rip through the country side, and I lost about 20 mature oaks and hickories on my 3 acres of woods.  It was absolutely heartbreaking to see the devastation to the woods.  My house was fine, but my heart sank nonetheless.  I had a LOT of wood after that.  You have much more from what I can see.  As you stated, you are trying to find a way to make use of a beautiful resource that is now being trucked off.  So good for you for being resourceful.  

I realize that money is tight, but if you are to build any type of stove heater for your barn (how big is it again?  We still don't have a great idea of the space we are talking about.), you will need to spend some money on materials unless you can find them (and maybe you can) by scavenging around a bit.  I am not going to try to tell you how to build a stove.  There are plenty of people around here that are better in that department than I am.  I am simply going to talk just a bit about fire safety.  Your structure is completely wood, even the floor.  That needs to change under a stove.  At the bare minimum, you will need to find some sort of ceramic tile to set those on, and by tile, I mean something at least as thick as a concrete paving stone.  Preferably, make this several inches thick to get the heat off of the floor--you certainly don't want to burn down your remaining structure.  You then need to get something like some metal sheeting to protect the wooden walls from the intense heat that comes from the stove and the chimney.  Preferably, this should be fastened so that it is spaced just a bit from the wall so that it does not conduct heat directly to the wood.  You have a chainsaw (and know how to use it!)  so I am betting that you have some other tools as well.  You will eventually need to make a hole in the side of your wall (or ceiling if you prefer) to let the smoke outside.  

I have no idea what the area around you looks like.  Are there materials you can scavenge?  Can you find a few cinder blocks?  4'-6" ducts for a chimney?  If so, maybe start gathering some of these materials.  You have some wood, so I would at the least start cutting some wood if nothing else.  Personally, when we had our huge storm, I hated to see perfectly good wood just trucked out.  I did have to burn a LOT of my wood just to make room to move around.  But after I cleared a bunch, I was able to stockpile some.  The last of that wood is now rotting away as the edges of my raised bed gardens.  My point is that while it is tragic to lose all of those live oaks (it really hurts to lose trees!) at least you have the mindset to use them as a resource.  Can you get some from neighbors?  Might be too much to carry, I am just thinking if this idea does work out, you might find yourself using wood faster than you initially thought.

The only information I will give about making a stove for temporary shelter heating is to make it small.  Here https://permies.com/t/72466/Cheap-easy-mini-homemade-biochar is a link to a thread I started a while ago where I made an extremely simple biochar kiln out of a 1 gallon paint can and three soup cans.  This little kiln put out a LOT of heat.  Far more usable heat than a similar sized pile of wood would ever produce.  And when it was finished I had a little soup can of charcoal.  This was a no-money setup.  This particular design would not be suitable for indoor heating--I have no idea how I would go about venting these extremely hot gasses safely outside--but something this sized in an appropriate design might do well for you.  For the record, in this particular design, a total of 1 gallon of hickory wood split to the length of my thumb put off tremendous heat for over an hour and a half.  Perhaps you can make a similar sized stove.

These are all just ideas.  I hope that they will be of some use to you.  Again, what sized area are we talking about?

Eric
 
Anne Miller
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Maybe something like this would work:

Portable Wood Burning, Biomass and Charcoal Camp Stove for Camping, Outdoor and RV



Amazon Link for EcoZoom Dura Rocket Stove
 
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Not an expert on stoves so will leave that to others. One way to bring heat into a structure in an emergency from outside would be a wood burning fire outside ringed by rocks. Once the rocks are very hot they are moved into the structure to provide heat, a method used in survival scenarios where your fire needs a little distance from a shelter. A cheap hand truck could be employed for moving the rocks. A second set of rocks could be rolled next to the fire while the hot ones are inside. You will certainly warm up moving heavy rocks around.
 
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I remember one set up for hot water at an event campground. They used a metal drum which had two chambers.  The upper one had metal water pipe and coiled exhaust pipes together, possibly supported in sand. A regular garden hose connected to both sides of the drum feeding cold water in and hot water out. Keeping a wood fire going in the bottom chamber made hot water available on demand.  Not only is hot water nice to have for it's own sake, I suspect if you have the skills to produce the water heater, you can probably also modify it to act as a radiator
 
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Hi Patricia.
Hope things work for you with the heat issue.
Stay focused and be creative.
Be thankful you dont live in northern Canada..its real cold..
Screenshot_20190108-095914_Weather.jpg
[Thumbnail for Screenshot_20190108-095914_Weather.jpg]
 
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Anne Miller wrote:
Is it possible that you could run something like a clothesline with rope so you could hang blankets or tarps to make the space smaller?



This is a really great suggestion.  If you can make an impromptu roof, it will work even better.  Basically, build a smaller "room" out of blankets for walls and ceiling.  Moving blankets or the like work great.  They are nice and thick and block air infiltration, but any blankets, quilts, etc. will work.  A sheet of cheap plastic between two blankets seals out air leaks as well.  For sleeping, you can make an area that is just tall enough to sit up in, or even shorter.  Think canopy bed with a canopy you have to crawl into.  The best part about this method of doing it is that there are no on-going costs for fuel or electricity, and you don't have to buy a heater that you will only use a month or two in the winter and then it sits around collecting dust.  If you don't have enough blankets, Goodwill may have blankets, or sheets that are inexpensive.
 
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Get a hold of a steel barrel and use one of the kits that convert them to a wood stove. You'll need a drill and some hand tools and a way to cut the holes in the barrel. Know any handy blue collar type people?

$44.00 but you'll still need stove pipe which isn't all that cheap

That's still as cheap as it gets to get into wood burning.

Can you get assistance from FEMA? Did you have insurance?
https://www.disasterassistance.gov/
 
The first person to drink cow's milk. That started off as a dare from this tiny ad:
Switching from electric heat to a rocket mass heater reduces your carbon footprint as much as parking 7 cars
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