Making Sterno / Sawdust Candles for Cooking (?) : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) Preparation Forum : One Thread

The following is something I saved from the web (URL unknown). Does anybody have any other formulas (or good URLs) dealing with any type of cooking-fuel production?



Mixing Procedure:

Mix 11 Miligrams of Calcium Acetate (1/2 a film canister) with 10 mills of water. (fills up the canister) Then shake for 10 seconds, let it sit for approximately one minute then shake once more for 10 seconds, make sure the Calcium Acetate is completely dissolved.

Measure 10 mills of the solution and pour into can. Slowly add 40 mills of ethanol. As you add the ethanol, the mixture should "Gel" instantly. At this point I poured off any remaining Ethanol (a very small amount, looked like about 1/10 of an oz.) Because this mixture gels instantly, you do not have to combine the two until you need to use it for cooking Once the solution has Gelled (approximately instantly), it is ready to use.



Each can of "Canned Heat" will put out enough heat to fry anything for a period of 22 minutes. We used a 12 inch aluminum frying pan for the testing. (we were able to cook two eggs, two pancakes, and 6 pieces of bacon with one can.) If what you are cooking will take more than 22 minutes, have a second can ready to use.


You can use or make whatever is necessary to support the pan over the canned heat while cooking. I used a heavy metal coat hanger. I bent it with some pliers to form a support stand with four legs.

The above mixture produced enough canned heat to cook 2 eggs, and 2 pancakes. It only filled 0.25 inch in a tuna can and lasted for about 20 minutes).


Any thoughts (or good URLs) on Sawdust Candle construction? Proven techniques? How exactly are so-called 120+-hour candles made? Or, does anyone have any better suggestions for long-term light/heat/cooking. I understand that by placing 3 or more wicks into a single candle, that enough heat can be generated for rudimentary cooking. [Sorry I'm such a newbie at this.]

I'm looking for the most bang per ounce.. . . Cost of ingredients is a factor too, I guess.


-- Zach Anderson (, October 10, 1999


Just picked up a box of 4 candles, each supposed to burn for 480 hours, for $5.00 Basically just look like a candle in a drinking glass. Was an impulse buy at Wal Mart. I am planning on stopping at the church supply store - they have candles which some demoninations use that easily burn for a week. Don't know the costs though.

For cooking, I went to SAMS and bought a couple flats of their chafing dish fuel. Wasn't that expensive, and from what I've read, is ok to burn indoors, not as dangerous as Sterno, and doesn't "dry out" like sterno can. These will supplement my other alternatives, such as warming stuff in my fireplace or on top of my kerosene heater, and my coleman stove (outdoors only of course). There are also url's out there for "solar" alternatives (lots of good stuff at (one of these days I'll figure out how to hot link those things).

We are all newbies at one time - I still am for most of this stuff. That's why this is such a great forum - with very little flaming.


-- Eyell Makedo (, October 10, 1999.

We have friends with a sawmill, thus a supply of sawdust from wood without preservatives. Could anyone point me to a recipe for sawdust candles?

-- helen (, October 10, 1999.

The 11 miligrams of calcium acetate mentioned in the directions seems pretty small, only .011 of a gram (which itself is about the weight of a paper clip). Are you sure it shouldn't be 11 grams, since this seems a more likely mass for half a film canister?

-- Steve A (, October 10, 1999.

sawdust plus wax/parafin equals FIRESTARTER SUPREME.



-- Chuck, a night driver (, October 10, 1999.

Take a tuna can fill with sawdust that has been soaked with kerosene. and light it. Or thke tuna can cut cardbord in long strips no wider than the can is hight.rool cardbord tight [like a jelly rool] place in can. melt caneing jar wax ,pour into tuna can with cardbord,let cool,light tuna can candel ,and cook on it. Cooking on kerosene lamp: Take a round wire tomato stand.[it's shaped like a place it over your tomato plants to give the plant suport].Place this stand over your lamp [larde side down] Cut stand so wires are about 3in longer than the top of your lamp. Bend wire out away from lamp leaveing about 1in from the top of lamp. place frying pan on wire stand and heat from lamp will heat frying pan. Paint can heater: Take a clean paint can with out lid.Drill a 1in houl in center bottom of can.Place a 1in X 12in long wood dowl in houl. Fill can with sawdust and pack it as you fill [must be packed tight]. Set can on 3-1in stones [so can is 1in off ground].Pull dowl out,should be a nice 1in houl through can full of sawdust.To light. Twist news paper to fit through sawdust houl,wet paper with kerosene. light from bottom.this will light sawdust and it will burn a long time. Now cook.

-- hd (, October 11, 1999.

Thanks for the input.  Here's another variation on "Canned Heat":

Canned Heat

Two solutions are poured into a metal can, after a short time, the can is inverted and the contents will not spill out. The canned heat can then be ignited. Pour 150 mL of 95% ethanol and 30 mL of saturated calcium acetate simultaneously into a metal can. Do not stir the mixture. Wait 10 seconds and invert the can. The gel will remain in place. The gel in the metal can will ignite with a match. Darken the room so that the faint blue flame can be seen. The gel can be used for determining the heat of combustion of ethanol.

Prepare 100 mL of saturated Ca(CH3OO)2 by placing 40 g of solid calcium acetate in 100 mL of water in a stoppered glass bottle and shake occasionally over several days. If all the solid dissolves, add more. To dispose of the gel, allow the ethanol to evaporate or burn off. The Ca(CH3OO)2 can be dissolved in water and flushed down the drain. The addition of ethanol to the saturated calcium acetate reduces the solubility of the salt. The salt precipitates rapidly, forming a network of solid throughout the liquid. This network traps the liquid within it and forms a firm gel as soon as the liquids are mixed. Similar preparations are available commercially as "Canned Heat" for heat chaffing dishes.

Safety Note: This demonstration involves working with potentially dangerous materials. Only experienced and trained personnel in safety and chemistry should perform this demonstration. Appropriate safety protection and procedures should be followed at all times.

Bassam Shakhashiri Chemical Demonstrations Vol. 3, 1989 University of Wisconsin Press Madison, WI

-- Zach Anderson (, October 11, 1999.

You can buy gallon cans of jelled alcohol in restaurant supply stores. Spoon it out into the little cans for burning. It's way cheaper in gallon cans than in the little ones - about $9 a gallon.

Or check out AlcoBrite from Walton - a case of 24 16 ounce cans, if I recall, for about $80.

-- bw (home@puget.sound), October 11, 1999.

I have stainless steel cookware with the thick disk on the bottoms of the pans. The heat is so evenly distributed by these pans I can cook over a candle flame. 12 piece set for $99 at Sam's. I bought it to use on my fireplace insert and on the grill. Works great.

-- Carol (, October 11, 1999.

Make your own long burning candles using paraffin, Crisco' shortening and hot glue sticks.

Check out the details at the candle making site:

I'm getting ready RU2

-- Bernard Havran (, October 13, 1999.

BTW, good firestarters: take paper egg cartons, fill with dryer lint or sawdust, pour hot wax over this. cool & cut each little egg holder, tada, a dozen starters, lite easily, moisture doesn't affect them.

-- Lee Buffaloe (, October 13, 1999.

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