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The Survivalist Blog Contest - Chance to win a Go Berkey Water Filter System

M.D. Creekmore over at the The Survivalist Blog – a survival blog dedicated to helping others prepare for and survive disaster – with articles on bug out bag contents, survival knife choices and a wealth of other survival information is giving away a Go Berkey Water Filter System (a $139.00 value)! To enter, you just have to post about it on your blog. This is my entry. Visit The Survivalist Blog for the details.

How To Make A Simple Wood Gas Stove (Large Version)

Wood Gas Stove -
Coaxial Downdraft Gasification 

This stove is based on the downdraft principle and typically built with nested cylinders which provides high efficiency in the burning process. Combustion from the top creates a gasification zone with the gas escaping downwards through ports located at the base of the burner chamber. The gas mixes with additional incoming air to provide a secondary burn. Most of the CO produced by gasification is oxidized to CO2 in the secondary combustion cycle, therefore gasification stoves carry lower health risks than conventional cooking fires.

Getting Started

  •  (1) 4 Liter/ 1Gallon Paint Can - Plain, Unfilled Type ($3-$5)
  •  (1) 1 Liter Apple Juice Can ($1)
  •  (1) Adjustable Metal Hose Clamp ($1.50)
  •  (1) Printed Template Of Drill Holes (Optional) (Basically Free)

  • Power Drill 
  • Step Drill Bit (1/16" to 3/4")
  • Sharpie Pen
  • Measuring Tape 
  • Can Opener (The One That Cuts On The Inside, Not Around The Outside)
  • Screw Driver or Driver Bit
Step 1 - Marking out the circles and cut lines on paint can lid

Take the lid of the paint can and use the apple can to trace out the centered position with your sharpie pen, like illustrated below. Now create a second circle inside the main circle you created with the apple juice can. Make this second circle smaller by 1/2" or 1-1/2cm.

Now draw lines connecting the circles together. Cut out the inner circle and then proceed to cut the lines up to the main circle. This with create tabs that will create a compression fit when we insert the apple can.

 Step 2 - Marking the drill holes in paint can & apple juice can, then drilling them out.

 You will only need to drill 14-3/4" holes just above the lip of the bottom of the paint can. You will need to use a step drill bit to cleanly achieve this. I recommend that you mark (14) 1-1/2" on center dots with your sharpie. This should give you approx 1/2" to 3/4" spacing between holes.

 Your holes should look something like this, these are 3/4" holes. I didn't measure exactly, so my spacing was off a little bit and this doesn't affect performance. 

You will need to take your can opener and open one end of the apple juice can, I would only use the can opener type that cuts open the top and not the side of the can, if you cut the side of the can you start to loose strength and can bend out of shape easily.

At the top of the apple juice can you will mark out  35-40 dots (1/16th drill bit holes) and mark them 1 inch down from the top to allow for the hose clamp and tabs from the paint can lid.

Now mark 8 dots (3/4 inch drill bit holes) spaced out approx 2 inches apart around the bottom side of the apple juice can.

You will need to make 60-80 dots (1/16th inch drill bit holes) on the bottom of the apple juice can. I wasn't able to make them perfect here but as long as you make a lot of them.

Step 3 - Putting It All Together

You will need to push the bottom end of the apple can through the top end of the paint can to make the tabs of the paint lid to catch and create the compression fit. You can do 1 of 2 things here, I seen people use cold weld compound to secure the lid to the apple juice can or like I did, I used a metal adjustable hose clamp. This way I don't have to worry about the compound break down over time or burning away after multiple uses at the camp site. Since the hose clamp is circular it holds the lid to the apple juice can very tightly and you can also swap out the apple juice can if it starts to get to rusty or fall apart after hundreds of burns.

After that you are pretty much ready to start your first fire in your new Wood Gas Stove!

You will need to hammer or pound in the lid to the paint can to securely fit into place.

 When you start to place your wood you want to layer them by thickness. Place thick sticks approx. 1 inch thick and 2 inches long on the bottom. Then the next layer of sticks should be only 1/4 inch thick and the rest small twigs. To achieve the best results do not fill above the holes at the top of the can. These are the jets for the wood gas to feed the fire.

You will need to just start your fire from the top and not from the bottom as the heat from the fire on top will help release the gas from the wood and help draw it through the top holes to efficiently burn the wood inside.  

As illustrated here you can start to see the wood gas coming through the top holes of the apple juice can.

Once you get the fire fully burning you will see all the jet holes burning nicely and effectively increasing the fire temperature and cleanly burning the smoke, wood gas and wood in your stove.  

   *******Notice Of First Time Burn********

Most paint cans these days come with a grey paint liner in them, so the first couple of burns you will need to burn off this grey liner and by doing so will produce a lot of black smoke. It took me approx three full burns to completely get rid of the liner. You may try to sand blast it off or use some kind of paint remover.

Tapping The Birch Part 2

After checking the trees in my backyard I found one Birch that was flowing extremely well. You don't need much in tools and materials to collect sap from the birch tree, and any tools used in collecting maple syrup can be used as well.

Here is a list of the following items I used;

  1. Hand Drill Brace (power drill will work as well)
  2. Knife
  3. Bottle or Container (I used a Pepsi bottle)
  4. Rope (strap, wire or anything that will secure the bottle to the tree)
  5. Branch (hose, tap, metal tube can be use to direct the flow of sap to your container)
  6. Rag/Cloth

You need to first clear away the bark from the spot where you intend to drill your hole. Either peel or scrape away the bark with your knife. Use your knife to make a cut into the truck of the tree to make sure that sap is flowing.

I then found a branch and whittled down with my knife to fit my hole that I will make with my drill bit and I also notched out a small channel on the top to help direct the flow of sap into my bottle. My branch/twig measured approx. 4-5 inches and I scraped all the bark off so that it was smooth so there would be no resistance.

I drilled my hole with my brace (hand powered drill) at a 10 to 20 degree angle to further effect the direction of the flow of sap. I drilled my hole to a depth of 1-1/2" to 2" and continued to hammer/pound in my branch/twig until it was fully inserted.

I recommend that you bring a rag or cloth to wipe the area around your new branch spout as liquid tends to take the path of least resistance. It also helps to use your finger to wet your spout down the shaft with the sap to promote direction of flow. I found that the sap ran down both the bottom side and in the channel on the top and they both met at the tip to forum a drip.

Next I secured a length of rope around the neck of the bottle and left approx. 8 to 10 feet of slack so that I could wrap it around a couple of time so that it would not fall under it own weight when the bottle started to get half full.

You need to wrap the rope around the tree and with every second wrap I found I needed to wrap the rope over the top and then under the neck of the bottle on every second wrap to hold it in place and prevent the bottle slipping down the tree. Alternatively you could use straps or strips of Velcro to secure it to the tree.

I was in luck that a fallen stump was laying right next to the tree and I found a flat rock to make a stable base for my bottle. The roots of this stump laid right next to the tree and made things a lot easier.

I was able to collect 1750ml of sap in about 6 hours and filled the bottle
in about 8 hours. After changing the bottle I was only able to get another 1/4 liter of sap in 12 hours. I proceeded to drill another hole 6-7 inch around the other side of the trunk and had similar results.

I would only suggest tapping the tree twice as you do not want to harm the tree and disrupt the natural flow of sap that the tree needs to grow and sprout leaves for the summer.

Please note that you need to remove the spout and stop the flow of sap by placing a plug made from a branch or twig. Your plug should be a
larger than your hole to create a compression fit so that no sap can leak out. I never seen a tree die (bleed to death) from a open hole but if you want to tap the tree year after year a little prevention couldn't hurt. You also need to make it long enough to fill the cavity as well.

So what plans do I have with my collected sap, well I was going to try making Birch syrup but at this time I haven't collected enough, as the ratio is 100:1 for birch and only 40:1 for maple syrup. I plan to drink my 4 liters which is packed full of vitamins.

I will plan for next year harvest and try both maple and birch syrup processing. I hope this will help anybody looking to tap the birch tree in early spring.

Tapping The Birch

I finally can start posting some new subjects, now that the snow is gone and spring is here.

First on my list is tapping the sap from Birch Trees. I have been testing my birch trees for the last 3 weeks of March and no sign that the birch is producing sap. After having 5 days of rain and being the 1st of April, the birch trees are producing the clear watery sap that I have been waiting so long to collect.

Like sugar maples, the sap that travels up through birch trees in early spring is sweet and tasty. The predominant, naturally occurring sugar in birch syrup is fructose, as opposed to maple which contains primarily sucrose. Fructose, due to its chemical structure, is more easily digested and assimilated by the human body. Fructose has the lowest glycemic index of all sugars and can therefore be the most suitable sugar for use. Birch syrup is high in vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, potassium, manganese, thiamine, and calcium. Native American Indians have long known of its medicinal benefits and have used it for centuries. The sap can be reduced down to a syrup; like maple syrup, brewed in to beer & wine or you can drink it straight from the tree.

The birch tree will produce this sap for approx. 4 weeks or until the leafs are in full bloom, this time period will shorten if the temps rise really quickly and stay stable during the spring which will lead to early sprouting of its leaves.

The tapping of birch trees and production of this syrup is growing in Alaska, birch tapping is not so common elsewhere. Perhaps it is because more than 100 gallons of birch sap are needed to make a single gallon of birch syrup; where as it only takes 40 gallons of maple sap to make a single gallon.

I will post some pictures in the next couple of days with a tutorial on how to tap birch trees.

Thanks for reading

Bushman Joe

Trees of Nova Scotia (Part 6)

Hemlock (Softwood)

Although we now regard hemlock as an important lumber tree, early lumberman passed it by for more valuable white pine. Eastern hemlock is found from Nova Scotia westward to Minnesota and south to Tennessee.

While hemlock wood can be dressed for interior work, it most often used in rougher work such as bridge planks, sills, boxes and crates. Because this species retains its lower branches for many years, it wood is usually knotty. These knots probably contain the hardest wood of any eastern. They can nick an axe blade very easily. Hemlock is dangerous in camp fires, because it throws out more sparks than the wood of any other native conifer except perhaps cedar.

Early leather-makers leached hemlock bark for tannin, a dye and preservative. Indians poulticed sores and wounds with boiled and pounded inner bark. Settlers drank hemlock tea to induce sweating, and made brooms from the branch-lets

Elements of the Hemlock

Needles: Dark, shiny green and flattened, with two white lines below.

Cones: Similar to those of tamarack, but longer and not erect, pale green with slightly toothed scale margins, each fertile scale produces two winged seeds.

Bark: Reddish or greyish brown, changing with age from scaly or flaky to rough and deeply furrowed.

Wood: Buff with reddish tinge; tough ,splintery and fairly hard.

Trees of Nova Scotia (Part 5)

White Spruce (Softwood)

This species has North American range slightly exceeding that of tamarack, and is the third most plentiful of Nova Scotia's softwoods. White spruce is our fastest-growing spruce, thriving on the moist, well drained soil along streams and lakes, and common on sandy soils along the coast.

Pulpwood is it chief use, followed by lumber, boxes, crates, and general construction. Straightness of grain accounts for its use in organ pipes, and arrow shafts. Reforestation is another common use for this species.

The Indians dug its long pliable roots for sewing birch bark on canoes and for decorating baskets. To prepare the slender roots they steamed coils of them for an hour or so in hot wood ashes, then removed and split them. Just before use, the roots were soaked in hot water. Examples of such spruce-root handicrafts can be seen in museums such as the
Halifax museum.

Although some people use white spruce for Christmas trees, its value is lowered by the rank odor. Moreover, like other spruces it quickly sheds its needles indoors unless the butt is placed in water.

Elements of the White Spruce

Needles: Four-cornered, long, sharp-pointed, blue-green, mounted spirally on little pegs and usually crowding toward upper side of twig.

Cones: Pendent, longer than those of red or black spruce.

Bark: Thin, scaly, ash-brown to silvery; inner bark streaked with rust-brown layers.

Wood: Nearly white to pale yellowish brown, with faint white dots, lightweight, soft, straight-grained.

Trees of Nova Scotia (Part 4)

Red Spruce (Softwood)

This is our most valuable lumber and pulpwood species. Other uses include general construction, boxes and crates (because it imparts no taste to foods) boat-building, and ladder stock (where cross-grained wood is unsafe). The wood is often sold with the other two spruces as "spruce". On good sites it grows to 28m (92') tall and 0.3/0.6m (1'-2') in diameter. Normally the trunk is straight and fairly free of dead branches.

After balsam fir, red spruce is the most common softwood in Nova Scotia. Predominating in all but the Cape Breton uplands, and in western Nova Scotia. Nova Scotia's cool, moist climate ideal for the spruce, which also thrives in Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and the New England States, and ranges south in scattered pockets through the Appalachians to Tennessee.

The small branches make a good , springy mat to place under balsam fir boughs when making a camp bed or survival shelter. (Place the spruce under-side up, the fir face up)

Elements of the Red Spruce

Needles: Four-cornered, long, bright yellow-green, sharp-pointed, attached to tiny pegs. (part of the twig, not of the needle as in fir and hemlock)

Cones: Pendent, green to purplish-green in September, turning reddish brown and opening the first autumn to release two winged seeds per fertile scale, falling in winter. Cone scale edges nearly smooth.

Bark: Finely scaly, thin, reddish brown; inner black brownish yellow.

Wood: Nearly white to pale yellowish brown, lightweight, straight-grained, fairly strong, grain slightly more pronounced than in white or black spruce.