Archive for the ‘Tools’ Category

040310_0154_TheSOGPower1.jpgTo begin with today’s post, I will repeat the last paragraph of my last post: The bottom line here is that if your roots are not healthy and strong, neither will your tree of life be. Make sure the roots of your preparedness planning are strong, and diverse enough to withstand any potentially devastating event.

As we look at the illustration of the tree of life and survivalism, we find that there are several ingredients that  allow a tree to become big and strong, living life to its fullest expectancy. One of those criteria requires that the tree have a strong and healthy root system, so too must our preparedness and survival planning also have a strong root system.

One of the trends I have witnessed over the last few years in this arena is the marketing of gimmickry and neat gadgets to the prepper community. They may be cool items and we are all too frequently drawn to them because of what we think they may provide us in terms of disaster readiness, but they do not replace good old fashioned common sense preparedness.

For instance, one company is promoting a combo-tool type of product that will supposedly allow you to survive any disaster, against all odds. At least that is what the advertising leads you to believe. However, reality says that while it is a neat gadget, it does not do anything better than the tools you probably already have at hand, and in fact will most likely be less than able to compete with what you already have when the crap hits the fan.

Why is that? Well, one of the things i have learned about multi-tool gadgets is that while they may look cool, and perform a lot of tasks, it cannot perform any one task better than a tool that was specifically designed to do that task. In other words, while the gadget might be able to get you out of a quick bind, will it do the job better, and will it do the job longer that a tool that was designed for the job? The answer is simply; of course not.

Don’t get me wrong here, i am not against using multi-tools, and in fact own a few myself. Nevertheless, I do not rely upon them as my main survival tools. I use them as quick fixers in a situation where i just do not feel like getting out the big guns. When I want the job done right, I use the right tool. They might get you out of a jamb, but they will not carry you through a long-term survival situation.

Imagine if you will a widespread devastation and the world goes dark. No power, no fuel, no job, no cash, and even if there was, no place to buy anything. You can cook food and sterilize water by boiling it over a fire. Imagine cutting enough wood to live by with one of those little muti-tool  saw blades. See what I mean about planning? Do not get caught up in the gimmickry of today’s marketing and expect these quick fix items to be you main solution in any preparedness and survival situation.

Collect an ample assortment of real tools to do the job with for when the unexpected actually happens. Use your workshop as one of your roots to grow your tree of survival.


My new book ‘Surviving the Times’ is now available online at, as well as at the Remember ME! Media bookstore! Surviving the Times takes you through the steps of building your preparedness binder, as well as how to determine what the most viable disaster scenarios would be that you need to prepare for. I also look at the issue of gold and silver in your preparedness planning and what makes a good basic survival arsenal.

Alternatively, you can click onto the titles to go to a securedordering site.

Surviving The Times

Print: $20.00

Download: $10.00

Surviving the Times takes you through the steps to make your own preparedness planning binder. You’ll learn how to guage the level of various threats as they relate to your preparedness planning by using the three P’s of preparedness, the SaWaFo pyramid and more. We will look at some of the main issues such as gold and silver for survival, and the basic survival arsenal as well.


A Handy Disaster Preparedness Guide

Print: $14.95

Download: $10.00

A compilation of tips and how to’s on developing an emergency preparedness plan, and how to get ready for natural and man-made disasters. Also includes a comprehensive listing of state and federal agencies to contact for more help and assistance in dealing with emergency planning and dealing with the aftermath of a disaster.

Kinds of Fire and Their Uses

One of the important things about camping is a campfire. There are two kinds of campfires, the “warming up” fire, and the “cooking” fire. Of course there are others, such as the “smudge” to drive away mosquitoes, and the “friendship”—the kind you just like to sit around and talk or silently watch the flames shape themselves into fantastic forms. The most useful since man discovered fire is the cooking fire—flames for the pot and coal for the pan.

Select a sheltered and safe place to build your cooking fire, where no wind can blow it out or into the surrounding dry brush, ascertain the direction of the wind, and then build your fire so that the smoke will not blow into your face when you are doing the cooking. Next in importance is the wood. Certain kinds of wood, such as hickory, oak, beech, birch, hard maple, ash, elm, locust, longleaf pine, and cherry, have fairly high heat values, and laboratory tests show that one cord of seasoned wood of these species is equal to one ton of good coal. Short leaf maple, hemlock, sycamore, cedar, poplar, Norway pine, cypress, basswood, spruce, and white pine, have a comparatively low heat value. These woods ignite readily and give out a quick hot flame, but one that soon dies down. The principal disadvantage of the resinous, pines is their oily black smoke.

The woodsmen of British Columbia have a wood-chopping trick that keeps nicks out of the axe blade. When chopping the wood, instead of laying it on a block or on the ground where you have a chance to miss and put a nice nick in your axe, just stand it on end, holding it with the left hand at a convenient angle and strike a glancing blow into it, turning the branch till you have gone all the way round. It will then break with a blow from the head of the axe and you have a nice feathery end to catch fire easily.

You can make make what are called “fuzz-sticks” or “firelighters,” by taking a dry, resinous stick about an inch thick and shaving it with a good sharp knife into thin slivers, which remain on the stick. Three or four of the “fuzz-sticks” will insure the starting of a fire.

Gather dry twigs and dead branches and plenty of birch tinder. When the wood has been gathered and prepared, you are ready to begin building the fire. Time is saved by having everything on hand and within reach. Haste always wastes time in making a cooking fire.

The simplest and handiest all-round cooking fire is that made of two green logs laid parallel on the ground. Level off the top with an axe. Place them a few inches apart, so that a frying pan or coffee pot can rest upon both. Between the logs scrape a trench about six inches deep. In placing the wood in the trench, pile it in such a way that allows plenty of air space. Place several “fuzz-sticks” first, then dry twigs, and keep adding heavier wood as the fire progresses. When it is blazing well, start your water boiling. For broiling, or frying, or baking, scrape the hot ashes and live coals evenly, and you will have a wonderful fire for such purposes. Never add more fuel just before putting on your stuff to cook. Avoid too big a fire. Remember that you do not cook with flames, but with hot coals, which give a greater heat and one that is steady. Never use soft wood if you can get hard wood. Soft wood is smoky, covers the food with flaky soot, and produces a ruffled temper. A windbreak or fender will add to the convenience during chilly or windy weather.

A simple camp-fire crane that may be used in connection with any kind of an open fire can be made by cutting a sapling of hard wood about three inches in thickness. Drive sapling firmly into ground.

A common method of building a cooking fire is to take flat stones and put them together in a sort of fireplace. Grates may also be purchased for outdoor cooking. Toasted bread just reaches the right spot. A useful toaster can be made from flexible withes bent and tied in the shape similar to that of a miniature Wikiup. Bread will toast better when placed before glowing embers. Turn the bread frequently.

Making Fire Without Matches

There are three distinct ways of building a fire without matches. The simplest, but most difficult, is by the rubbing of two sticks or hand drills together; the second, by use of a bow drill, which is an improvement over the first, in that it gives a more rapid movement and increases the friction; and, third, by the use of flint and steel. Every good camper should be able to accomplish all three, and by all odds the last two.

Fig. 8 is a good illustration of the simplest sort of fire drill, one used by the Indians of Washington and the Northwest. Following is a description of the set, quoted by special permission from the Smithsonian Report, “Firemaking Apparatus in the United States National Museum,” by Dr. Walter Hough:

“It consists of a hearth, two drills, and a slow match. The hearth is a rounded piece of cedar wood; opposite the fire-holes, it is dressed flat, so as to rest firmly on the ground. There are three fire-holes with wide notches. The drills taper to each end, that is, are larger in the middle (Fig. 8). The powder, a fine brown dust, collects at the junction of the slot and fire-hole, where they form a lip, and there readily ignites. This side of the hearth is semi-decayed. No doubt the slots were cut in that side for the purpose of utilizing this quality. The drills are bulged toward the middle, thereby rendering it possible to give great pressure and at the same time rapid rotation without allowing the hands to slip down too rapidly, a fault in many fire drills. The slow-match is of frayed cedar bark, about a yard long, folded squarely together, and used section by section. Mr. Willoughby says:

“The stick with three cavities was placed upon the ground, the Indian kneeling and placing a knee upon each end. He placed one end of the smaller stick in one of the cavities, and, holding the other end between the palms of his hands, kept up a rapid, half-rotary motion, causing an amount of friction sufficient to produce fire. With this he lighted the end of the braided slowmatch of cedar bark. This was often carried for weeks thus ignited and held carefully beneath the blanket to protect it from wind and rain.’

“Fire is easily produced with this set. It takes but a slight effort to cause a wreath of aromatic smoke to curl up, and the friction easily grinds off a dark powder, which collects between the edges of the slot. When this ignites it drops down the slot in a little pellet, and falls upon the tinder placed below to receive it. Both drill and hearth are eighteen inches long.”

Fig. 9 shows a second set, reproduced from the same book, and shows the method the Indians used to keep the precious hearth dry. The entire length is carefully wrapped with a strip of taut buckskin.

Fig. 10, also from “Firemaking Apparatus in the United States National Museum,” and shows an interesting feature. The handle by which the hearth is fastened to the Indian’s belt also shows the spliced drill, the hardwood point spliced into a favorite or especially desirable handle.

Probably when the simple hand drill was used, the grinding of the powder was facilitated by adding a small pinch of fine sand to the bowl of the hearth.

The next method is that of intensifying the friction by means of using the bow drill. This is the more common method, and is found in general use, from the Indians of Alaska—who use bone instruments, except the hearth, which is usually white pine—to the Indians of South America. The principal law, however, is the same in all; only the material used changes with the locality. See Fig. 11.

Ernest Thompson Seton, the master of woodcraft, declares that the best results are obtainable by having the hearth and the drill of the same material. But others are not so agreed. There is one thing certain, however: the wood used must not be too hard nor too soft, but hard enough to make very fine brown grindings, and soft enough to make a sufficient quantity to hold the spark. The tinder and carefully prepared pile of slivers should be ready before the drill is set going.

No matter how carefully the process is described, you will never be able to make a fire without practice and personal experimentation. Study the cuts here reproduced, then adapt what you have to the principle. You are sure to succeed if persistent.

Third method, building fire with a flint and steel. Note carefully the implements in Fig. 12. To be successful you will need a select piece of absolutely dry punk wood, the longer the fibers the better, a piece of hard steel fashioned so as to get a good striking surface without injury to the hand (a large, stout jackknife can be made to work well), a selected piece of flint—it will take much experimenting to find just the right piece, but when found you have a prize. A small tin can may be used for a tinder horn, but the tip end of a cow’s horn is better and safer. Prepare the tinder, place it in the horn, then dash the sparks into it. When a tiny bit of smoke rises, blow carefully into a flame and apply the burning tinder to the twigs previously arranged for the fire. Anyone can become expert in this little trick with persistent effort. If not successful, ask some neighboring old-timer to come in and aid you until you see how it is done.

Modern day conveniences provide us with a plethora of goods, all made with high tech materials, and yes, in many ways today’s products are far superior than yesterdays. But not everything is superior, especially when the crap hits the fan and you cannot find a place to repair that fiberglass canoe that you damaged while duck hunting. Natural materials are far superior in these instances, and you can actually repair a hole in your fiberglass canoe temporarily by melting pitch, and covering the hole with a small sheet of thin birch bark. It is temporary, but it will get you home in an emergency.

Birch bark canoes were the Chevy of the woodland waterways over a hundred years ago and have since largely fallen by the wayside, along with the skills it takes to build one. I came across this letter to the editor of the defunct Forest and Stream magazine from the November 3, 1906 issue that describes the basic steps in building a birch bark canoe. It may be a fun project to learn how to build one of your own, and it may even turn into a second source of income to help you get through the coming times. Things are only going to get worse, financially, and there seems to be a growing cadre of re-enactors and survivalists that want only the original product when it comes to going back in time.

Building a Birch Bark Canoe

I am sending to you by this mail photographs of Micmac Indians building canoes on the Wild Cat Reservation in Queens county, Nova Scotia. I believe that only a small proportion of persons who have used birch canoes have a fair general idea of how they are made.

The builder first secures his bark, and this itself requires experience and good judgment or all the work will be in vain, as it is not every big birch tree with smooth bark that will yield the desired article. Next, the gunwales are dressed and the ends fastened together, and crossbars put in place. Then come the ribs; they are fashioned from fir splits and whittled into proper shape with a crooked knife. Taking one for the exact midships of the canoe, the two ends are drawn nearly together, near enough to leave them the width of the canoe in the widest part, and tied there. Into this bowed-rib, another is bent and fitted, and another and so on till the end is reached. Another midrib is prepared in the same way and filled in like manner as the first. These are well soaked before being bent and they are left to dry, when they will retain the shape as they were bent.

Meantime a slightly dishing place is prepared on the ground, and upon it is laid lengthwise the gunwales and cross bars tightly fastened together. All around this frame stout stakes are driven deep in the earth, about one foot apart, and left to stand above ground about two feet. The gunwale frame is then removed; and the bark, now all in one piece, sewed with spruce roots, is snugly stowed away into the space surrounded by the stakes, and there arranged nearly as possible into the required shape, fitted tightly against the dishing ground to give it the proper upward curve of the extremities on the bottom. The frame is then replaced with the edge of the bark on the outside of it next the stakes. The ends of the gunwales, already securely lashed together, are made fast to two stakes, one on each side at the proper height from the ground, and on the middle crossbar is hung a stone of sufficient weight to sag the frame into a graceful curve. The edges of the bark are then tacked to the gunwale, and a thin wooden ribbon is nailed the entire length to the gunwale, and on the top of them both another thin ribbon is nailed. Once they were all sewed with roots, for nails and metal tools were not to be had for love or money.

The next step is to line the whole inside with thin strips of fir that have been dressed smooth with the knife. They are to be held firmly in place by the ribs with which a beginning is made by placing the ends of the middle rib under the gunwale and against the bark, and then forcing by hand the lower part as tightly as possible into place; but even then it will remain slanting. The next rib is placed in like position; and so on with them all till both ends are reached. By the use of a bit of wood and a hammer the ribs are, by slightly tapping them one after another, driven into a perpendicular position, and thus the bark is stretched tightly over them and takes the desired shape. If at any place the bark is unyielding, and the rib is prevented from going into proper place, this portion is treated with the application of a warm stone to the rebellious spot, when the desired result is soon secured. This is done, as a matter of course, after the canoe is taken from the stakes when it must be made water tight by the application of pitch on the seams over which narrow strips of cotton are placed. At each end are fitted heads of thin boards beyond the last pair of ribs, and behind them the space is stuffed tightly with dry shavings to prevent the bark from shrinking inwards. If there is a suspicious place that looks like a crack, it is tested by placing the mouth over it and sucking; if air comes through, a little pitch will be the remedy.

This in brief is the manner of making the birch canoe. There are great differences among the builders; some of them are born mechanics and have an eye for a good model, and have a painstaking desire to make a “thing of beauty.” that if not a “joy forever” will at least gladden some owners while she lasts. To have seen one made before tools of metal were in the hands of red men would have been an interesting performance.

R. R. Mcleod.

Brookfield, N. S.

[Adapted from the USDA Farmers Bulletin #771]

The principle employed in the fireless cooker has long been known and may be briefly stated as follows: If a hot body is protected by a suitable covering the heat in it will be retained for a long time instead of being dissipated by radiation or conduction. In using a fireless cooker the food is first heated on the stove until the cooking has begun and then it is placed in the fireless cooker, a tight receptacle in which the food is completely surrounded by some insulating substance, which prevents the rapid escape of the heat so that it is retained in the food in sufficient quantity to complete the cooking. Sometimes an additional source of heat, such as a hot soapstone, or brick is put into the cooker with the food where a higher cooking temperature is desired. The same principle is also employed in other ways in cookery. For example, in camps, beans are often baked by burying the pots overnight with hot stones and ashes, the whole being covered with earth, and in the “clam bakes” on the Atlantic coast, the damp seaweed spread over the embers and the clams prevents the escape of the heat during cooking. The peasants in some parts of Europe were said to have started their dinner cooking and then put it into hay boxes or between feather beds so that the cooking may be completed while the family is absent in the fields.

One of the chief advantages of the fireless cooker is that it accomplishes a saving in fuel, especially where gas, kerosene, or electric stoves are used. Where coal or wood is the fuel, the fire in the range is often kept up most of the day and the saving of fuel is less. In summer or when the kitchen fire is not needed for heating purposes, the dinner can be started on the stove early in the morning and then placed in the fireless cooker, the fire in the range being allowed to go out. During hot weather the use of a kerosene or other liquid fuel stove and a fireless cooker is a great convenience, since it not only accomplishes a saving in fuel but helps to keep the kitchen cooler. As would be expected, the saving in fuel resulting from the use of a fireless cooker is greatest in the preparation of foods like stews, which require long and slow cooking.

The great convenience of the fireless cooker is that it saves time, for foods cooked in it do not require watching and may be left to themselves while the cook is occupied with other duties, or the family is away from home, without danger from fires or overcooking the food. Its use, therefore, may enable a family to have home cooking instead of boarding, or hot meals instead of cold foods. Another advantage of the use of the fireless cooker is that it makes it easier to utilize cheaper cuts of meat, which, although not having as fine a texture or flavor, are fully as nutritious, pound for pound, as the more expensive cuts. Long cooking at relatively low temperature, such as is given foods in the fireless cooker, improves the texture and flavor of these tougher cuts of meat.


While there are many good fireless cookers on the market, it is possible to construct a homemade cooker which, if properly built, will give very satisfactory results and is cheaper than one which is purchased. The materials needed are a box or some other outside container, some good insulating or packing material, a kettle for holding the food, a container for the kettle or a lining for the nest in which the kettle is to be placed, and a cushion or pad of insulating material to cover the top of the kettle.

For the outside container a tightly built wooden box, such as that shown in figure 1. is probably the most satisfactory. An old trunk, a small barrel, or a large butter or lard firkin or tin may be used. Another possibility is a galvanized-iron bucket with a closely fitting cover; this latter has the advantage of being fireproof. A shoe box 15 by 15 by 28 inches is convenient in size, since it may be divided into two compartments. The box should have a hinged cover, and at the front side a hook and staple or some other device to hold the cover down; an ordinary clamp window fastener answers the latter purpose very well. Whatever the container used, its size, which depends upon the size of the kettle used, should be large enough to allow for at least 4 inches of packing material all around the nest in which the kettle is placed.

Fig. 1.—Homemade fireless cooker, showing outside container and cushion for filling space above the cooking vessel.

The kettles used for cooking should be durable and free from seams or crevices, which are hard to clean. They should have perpendicular sides and the covers should be as flat as possible and provided with a deep rim shutting well down into the kettle to retain the steam. (See fig. 2.) It is possible to buy kettles made especially for use in fireless cookers; these are provided with covers which can be clamped on tightly. The size of the kettle should be determined by the quantity of food to be cooked. Small amounts of food ca not be cooked satisfactorily in large kettles, and it is therefore an advantage to have a cooker with compartments of two or more different sizes. Kettles holding about 6 quarts are of convenient sizefor general use, Tinned iron kettles should not be used in a fireless cooker, for, although cheap, they are very apt to rust from the confined moisture. Enameled ware kettles are satisfactory, especially if the covers are of the same material. Aluminum vessels may be purchased in shapes which make them especially well adapted for use in fireless cookers and, like enameled ware, they do not rust.

Fireless cookers are adapted to a much wider range of cooking if they are provided with an extra source of heat, since a higher cooking temperature nun’ thus be obtained than if hot water is depended upon as the sole source of heat. Obviously this introduces a possible danger from fire in case the hot stone or other substance should come into direct contact with inflammable packing material like excelsior or paper. To avoid this danger a metal lining must be provided for the nest in which the cooking vessel and stone are to be put. As an extra source of heat a piece of soapstone, brick, or an iron plate, such as a stove lid, may be used. This is heated and placed in the nest under the cooking vessel; sometimes an additional stone is put over the cooking vessel.

Fig. 2-Cover provided with deep rim shutting down into the kettle to retain the steam.

The container for the cooking vessel, or the lining for the nest in which it is to be put, should be cylindrical in shape; should be deep enough to hold the cooking kettle and stone, if one is used; and should fit as snugly as possible to the cooking vessel, but at the same time should allow the latter to be moved in and out freely. If the cylinder is too large the air space between it and the kettle will tend to cool the food. For this purpose a galvanized iron or other metal bucket may be used or, better still, a tinsmith can make a lining of galvanized iron or zinc which can be provided with a rim to cover the packing material (as shown in fig. 3). In case no hot stone or plate is to be used in the cooker, the lining can be made of strong cardboard.

Fig 3.—Metal lining for nest of fireless cooker: A, Rim to cover packing material. B, Metal container for cooking kettle and hot stone.

For the packing and insulating material, a variety of substances may be used. Asbestos and mineral wool are undoubtedly the best, and have the additional advantage that they do not burn. Ground cork, hay, excelsior, Spanish moss, wool, and crumpled paper may also be used satisfactorily. Of the inexpensive materials that can be obtained easily, crumpled paper is probably the most satisfactory, since it is clean and odorless and, if properly packed, will hold the heat better than some of the others. To pack the container with paper, crush single sheets of newspaper between the hands. Pack a layer at least 4 inches deep over the bottom of the outside container, tramping it in or pounding it in with a heavy stick of wood. Stand the container for the cooking vessel, or the lining for the nest, in the center of this layer and pack more crushed papers about it as solidly as possible. The method of packing with paper is illustrated in figure 4. If other packing, such as excelsior, hay, or cork dust, is used, it should be packed in a similar way. Where an extra source of heat is to be used, it is much safer to pack the fireless cooker with some noninflammable material, such as asbestos or mineral wood. A cheap and easily obtained substitute are the small cinders sifted from coal ashes, preferably those from soft coal, which may be obtained at the boiler house of any mill. The cinders from hard coal burned in the kitchen range will do, however. Experiments with this material made in this office showed that it is very nearly as satisfactory as crumpled paper as a packing material. If a fireproof packing material is not used a heavy pad of asbestos paper should be put at the bottom of the metal nest and a sheet or two of asbestos paper should be placed between the lining of the nest and the packing material. Whatever packing material is used, it should come to the top of the container for the kettle, and the box should lack about 4 inches of being full. A cushion or pad must be provided to fill completely the space between the top of the packing and the cover of the box after the hot kettles are put in place. (See fig. 1,) This should be made of some heavy goods, such as denim, and stuffed with cotton, crumpled paper, or excelsior. Hay may be used, but will be found more or less odorous. Figure 5 shows the vertical cross section of a homemade fireless cooker.


Obviously the fireless cooker must be to obtain the best results. It is best which require boiling, steaming, or long, slow cooking in a moist heat. Foods cannot be fried in it, pies cannot be baked successfully in the ordinary fireless cooker, nor can any cooking be done which requires a high, dry heat for browning. Meats, however, may be partially roasted in the oven and finished in the cooker, or may be begun in the cooker and finished in the oven with much the same results as if they were roasted in the oven entirely. The classes of food best adapted to the cooker are cereals, soups, meats, vegetables, dried fruits, steamed breads, and puddings.

When different foods are cooked together in the fireless cooker they must be such as require the same amount of cooking, since the cooker cannot be opened to take out food without allowing the escape of a large amount of heat and making it necessary to reheat the contents. It would not do to put foods which need about one and one-half hours to cook into the cooker with a piece of meat which would stay several hours.

Fig 5.—longitudinal section through tireless cooker, showing details of the construction: A, Outside container (wooden box, old trunk, etc.) B, Padding or Insulating material (crumpled paper, cinders, etc.). C, Metal lining of nest D, Cooking kettle E, Soapstone plate, or other source of heat, f, Pad of excelsior for covering top O, Hinged cover of outside container.

The size of the container used in cooking with the fireless cooker should be governed according to the amount of food to be cooked. Small quantities of food cannot be cooked satisfactorily in a large kettle in the fireless cooker. If a large kettle must be used better results will be obtained if some other material which holds heat fairly well is used to fill up the empty space. This may be accomplished in several ways. One is to put the small quantity of food to be cooked into a smaller, tightly closed kettle, fill the large kettle with boiling water and put the small kettle into it, standing it on an inverted bowl or some other suitable support. This boiling water will take up and hold the heat better than air would. Several smaller dishes (if tightly covered) may be placed in the kettle surrounded by boiling water. Baking powder or other tins often are found useful for this purpose. Another way is to place one food in a basin which just fits into the top of a large kettle and to let some other material, some vegetable perhaps, cook in the water in the bottom of the kettle. Two or more flat, shallow kettles placed one on top of the other so as to fill the cooker enable one to cook small amounts of different foods successfully. Such kettles, made especially for use in fireless cookers, may be purchased.

The time which each kind of food should stay in the cooker depends both on the nature of the food and on the temperature at which it remains inside the cooker, and before recipes for use with the fireless cooker can be prepared one must have some means of knowing how temperatures are preserved in it. In experiments made in this office a 6-quart kettle was filled with boiling water and put into the cooker, the packing of which happened to be newspaper. The temperature of the water, which was 212° F. when put into the cooker, was found to be 172° F. after four hours had elapsed and 155° F. after eight hours had elapsed. This shows the advisability of the common custom of allowing food to remain undisturbed in the cooker for at least six or eight hours, or in some cases overnight. If a soapstone, hot brick, or other extra source of heat is used, less time will be required. Materials which are denser than water (sugar syrup as used in cooking dried fruit), and therefore can be heated to a higher degree, will keep up the temperature longer when put into the cooker. Thus the density of the food material, as well as the amount and the length of time that the apparatus retains the heat, must be taken into consideration in determining how long different materials must be cooked in the cooker.

The recipes for dishes to be prepared in the fireless cooker differ somewhat from those for foods cooked in the ordinary way, chiefly in the amount of water or other liquids called for. Less liquid should be put into the food to be prepared in an ordinary fireless cooker, since there is no chance for water to evaporate. The cook must be guided largely by experience in deciding how long the food should be heated before being put into the cooker and how long it should be allowed to remain there.