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Letters and email from readers about Backwoods Home Magazine and the BHM website


Archive for the ‘Jeff Yago’ Category


Loved the article!

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

I came to your article for the 10-day survival pack and the low cost, do-it-yourself approach.

There is one item you could add that costs about 2 dollars and offers a great deal of versatility, a “candle heater”.

There are a variety of instructions for various versions on the web.

What I’ve settled on personally is 3 cans of varying size.

– A #10 with it’s plastic lid for containing the whole set-up. Used to be a simple coffee can, but they are plastic now, an empty paint can will work but it needs to have all it’s chemical plastic coating/paint coating burned off in a camp fire first. Restaurants still get things in #10 cans and some come with the plastic lid, if you can find one.

– Nest inside that can two others, a typical bean/soup can preferably taller than your emergency candles and punch a few holes around the rim of the open end for air flow

– Nest either a third can of larger diameter than the bean/soup can (tuna) or a metal measuring cup or coffee cup

– A few pieces of heavy foil are a good addition, lets you ‘cook’ other items (a fish) or reflect more light around a space

– Some large 3 inches tall 1 inch diameter emergency candles, other sizes work, see can note below

The large can is your container and insulator.

It’s a bit of a puzzle, but once you get the two smaller cans nested, surround them by all the candles you can fit, matches and dried legumes.

Close it and wait for your emergency.

Set it up by:

Making a nest of dirt in the largest can (you can use the legumes but you can’t eat dirt)

The soup/bean can then rests nestled in the dirt in the #10 can

Two or three candles in the center can are the burner.

Rest the third can on top as a pot of sorts to make soup (with the legumes) or boil water for other food/drink

By inverting the third can (pot) as a lid on the candle can you protect the flame, but keep the heat (don’t forget the air holes mentioned above).

Sit it on the floor of your car between your feet or on the ground under your camp chair. (might add a few pieces of reflective foil depending on camp chair material)

You need to be smartly cautious, it is open flame and it will get hot, but the air space between the soup can the #10 can means you can touch the sides gingerly to move it around and not get burned. One candle makes a surprising amount of heat.

It’s nearly free, we have one in each car and two in the house with other emergency stuff.

Anyway, thought I’d pass the idea along to use as you see fit. What makes it great is that it’s DIY, you can use those hideous Christmas tapers instead of regifting them, any collection of cans will work as long as they are different sizes. Each family member can have their own, and they are relatively safe – knocked over the wax would probably put out any flame and the whole thing would still be kind of enclosed.

Thanks for a great site and great ideas. 9-11 made us all really think. And for us, Dec. 2007 10 days without power in the Pacific Northwest, made all the emergency prep worth it!

Jane H.


Mandated switch to CFC bulbs

Sunday, January 18th, 2009

Thank you for your article on various types of cfc bulbs (“Dim Bulbs in California“)

I came across it while looking for information on why I can no longer purchase an incandescent reflector flood R20 60-watt (apparently, federal law) even though the replacement of 45-watt bulbs puts out insufficient light for our kitchen.

What nobody mentions in articles about CFC’s is that, efficiency aside, the quality of the light put out by incandescent is far superior to CFC. Light is such an emotional thing. Even the “warmer” (ie, yellow) CFC bulbs are cold and depressing. I appreciated your sensitivity to governmental “strong-arm” tactics, and your implicit understanding that some consumers may just prefer incandescent bulbs for various reasons.

I have been advised that I should just “learn to like” CFC’s. But I don’t like the light they produce. It’s a flat and creepy effect. Things illuminated lose their depth and shadow and nuance. Things illuminated take on a weird color. It’s unpleasant.

We’re in the process of starting a home remodel, and with all the cost and effort involved in Northern California, even in a down real estate market, we are dismayed to learn that we will be severely limited in the kind of illumination we will be forced to live with. Sheesh!

Edith Lavin
Berkeley, CA



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