How to Make an Outdoor Stove in Just a Few Minutes

What you will find in this post:

· How to quickly make and use a simple stove for outdoor cooking

Out of respect for your time and energy, my posts are written in “backwards” order, to help you gather the information provided as quickly as possible.



The Rocket Stove is an ingenious, yet simple stove that anyone can make in just minutes. It will enable you to cook food, boil water, etc. using small pieces of fuel that are easily obtainable


almost anywhere. There is no need to cut down trees or split firewood. The Rocket Stove is probably safer than making a camp fire inside a ring of rocks.

The Principle:

The principle at play with the Rocket Stove is simply the principle that causes any wood stove to operate effectively. That principle is the combining of combustible fuel, air and heat.

The Rocket Stove is simply a chimney, with a combustion chamber at the bottom end. The rising of the chimney causes it to draw air through the entrance to the combustion chamber, burning the fuel. The higher the chimney, the better the draw, the better the draw, the faster and hotter the fire burns, up to its “Tipping Point” where the chimney top gets too high above the fire for the fire to effectively heat the pot or pan on top.

It does a wonderful job of bringing air into the combustion chamber, creating a hot, clean burning fire that will cook food quickly. Once your fire is going, the combustion is so complete that there is very little to no smoke.


The Rocket Stove illustrated is made from 18 bricks. The same design can be made using rocks found in the wild, larger ones can be made using full size cinder blocks. The possibilities are only limited by adhering to the principles of combustion, the chimney and your imagination.

There is a 55 second video on YouTube that shows the construction of a 16 brick Rocket Stove that necessitates the cutting of a brick in half. I don’t like cutting bricks, so I added two extra bricks that enabled me to build this stove faster than I could have cut a brick in half. That video shows how to build one quickly and easily.

The solid layer of bricks on the bottom is not necessary, if you don’t mind burning the ground underneath your stove. My use of six bricks to form a solid foundation enabled me to just leave the unused half of two bricks sticking out on the rear.

This ingenious little stove will produce almost instant heat, using only small twigs, or fairly thin scraps of lumber for fuel. As the fuel burns down, just push more in through the opening in front to keep the fire going as long as you want.

In addition to the bricks or rocks to build the stove, you will need a couple of thin sticks or pieces of metal to place on the top, adjacent to the chimney opening that will hold your pot slightly above the chimney, so that your pot doesn’t stop the flow of air through the chimney, which would smother your fire.

The pictures below illustrate the building process.


The foundation; Layer 1


The second layer of bricks


The third layer


The fourth layer; view of top and rear of stove


The fire burning & supports for a pot on top


The fuel and tinder used for the fire in the photo above

To be sure and get more valuable, unbiased information on survival and productivity topics, just click below to follow this blog, to be notified of new posts.

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I hope this has made your day better, Ozark Mountain Bob


How toSanitize Stuff Without Toxic Chemicals

What you will find in this post:

· An inexpensive way to sanitize almost anything, without toxic chemicals

Out of respect for your time and energy, my posts are written in “backwards” order, to help you gather the information provided as quickly as possible.



Hydrogen peroxide is well known for disinfecting cuts and scrapes, but few people know that it is also a most excellent sanitizer for just about everything else that needs to be germ free. Some examples are for sanitizing tooth brushes, household cleaning brushes, counter-tops, sinks, kitchen compost containers, garbage cans and cutting boards.

Advantages of hydrogen peroxide are low cost, no odor and superior effectiveness for killing germs. It is also readily available at any grocery or drug store. The 3% solution commonly sold on the open market is strong enough for disinfecting.

Disadvantage: Peroxide needs a minute or two contact time to do its work.

The Principle:

Since sanitation is of utmost importance in survival or emergency situations, you should have an abundant supply of sanitizing compounds available. This will help prevent sickness and disease.


Peroxide is cheap to buy, makes a wonderful disinfectant, doesn’t stink or irritate the skin like so many chemicals that are sold for cleaning. Also, just because something “cleans” doesn’t necessarily mean it disinfects, just as water filters don’t purify water. There is a difference. Buyer beware.

At my house, we keep a good supply of hydrogen peroxide on hand for medical and disinfecting uses. One little known use that my wife calls on this great product for is disinfecting store bought produce, especially veggies like broccoli and cauliflower, which have surfaces that easily catch and hold on to the chemical sprays that are so commonly used in commercial agriculture.

For veggies, she just fills an appropriate sized mixing bowl about ½ to 2/3 full of water and mixes in some 3% hydrogen peroxide (she doesn’t measure, but it looks like about 1/8 to ¼ cup of peroxide-just a small amount) and then lets the veggies sit in the solution for about 20 minutes. After that soaking, she rinses the veggies with clear water and cooks as usual. I appreciate her extra effort, knowing that we are not ingesting toxic chemicals with our food.

Picking up an extra bottle or two of 3% hydrogen peroxide on every shopping trip is not difficult or expensive, and will result in a nice supply of pleasant to use disinfectant that could prevent sickness or disease in an emergency or survival situation.

What do you think? Isn’t that a good idea?

To be sure and get more valuable, unbiased information on survival and productivity topics, just click below to follow this blog, to be notified of new posts.

Your “likes,” “follows,” “tweets/re-tweets” and “mentions” on social media are very much appreciated.



I hope this has made your day better, Ozark Mountain Bob

Update on Cold Weather Clothing

What you will find in this post:

· Update on my previous post How to Keep Warm in Cold Weather, adding one more excellent type of cold weather clothing recommendation

· Why you should avoid skin tight stretch polyester long johns

Out of respect for your time and energy, my posts are written in “backwards” order, to help you gather the information provided as quickly as possible.



Polartec is a synthetic fabric that is very excellent for holding in your body heat and drying quickly, without using your body heat for that purpose.

Polartec fabrics were invented and are made in the U.S. Their garments are a little more expensive than polyester, and much less expensive than wool found on the usual commercial market.

The Polartec folks have a wide selection of fabrics, categorized on their website, by intended use. Their fabrics are unique and I have found them to meet or exceed their advertised claims. I use and recommend these products.

Please note that I am only sharing my limited experience with Polartec in this post. There is a lot more to learn on their website.

The Principle:

The operation of Polartec’s fabrics may vary according to a fabric’s intended purpose/use. Speaking of their “Power Dry” fabric, which I recently began using, it wicks moisture away from your skin via tufts, whose pattern resembles a waffle pattern, and after the moisture is wicked to the outer surface, it evaporates quickly. This leaves

your body heat next to your skin and the moisture is “discarded” without causing discomfort or chilling associated with evaporative cooling.


In my previous post, mentioned above, I taught about wool and polyester as very effective for warmth in cold weather, but I failed to mention Polartec, another synthetic fabric that I had forgotten about, and had less experience with.

Shortly after writing the previous article on keeping warm, I went shopping, with the intention of adding to my polyester collection of base garments, and found Polartec in the display next to the polyester. I purchased a set of Polartec Power Dry long john shirt & bottoms, and I AM IMPRESSED!

You need to understand that I get cold and miserable before almost anyone else in the United States. In the fall, when other people are still wearing short-sleeved T shirts, I am wearing long johns. It is very difficult for me to keep warm, therefore, I think that any garment that makes me comfortable will work for any more “normal” people too.

The Power Dry long johns are not tight fitting, which helps to hold body heat around your skin, they are soft and comfortable next to the skin, with no itching whatsoever. The shirt has a ½ zippered front, resembling a Henley shirt and looks good enough for casual outerwear, at least out here in the country. This fabric doesn’t stop wind (after all I am talking long johns), but when I added a denim outer shirt to block wind, I was very “toasty” in light-weight clothing, whereas under similar conditions in the past I would have been wearing a heavy jacket. Every part of me that was covered with the Polartec Power Dry long johns was very comfortable. When wearing these inside, I just naturally reduce the heat in my home several degrees below my previous comfort level.

I suggest that you determine your need for warm clothing and peruse the Polartec site at I think you will be glad to find their wide range of products. Keep in mind that their fabric is called “Polartec” and that it is this company’s own invention. It is not “Polyester,” although I think they do make some products with polyester also. I think that “Polartec” is a cut above polyester, although they are similar.

In the interest of full disclosure, my purpose with this blog is to provide valuable information to you, the reader, therefore, I do not wait until I have financial arrangements with companies before I share my thoughts or recommendations. I have no financial arrangements with Polartec. I do not profit if you buy their products. For now, my profit comes when you like and follow this blog.

If you decide on polyester for your base garment, I recommend that you avoid buying the ultra-stretchy, skin tight fitting long johns for winter wear because, while they will wick moisture, it is not moved away from your skin to evaporate because of the tightness. This causes cooling by evaporation, or evaporative cooling; the opposite of keeping warm.

In my tests with ordinary polyester, when I put on the skin tight garments, I immediately felt cooler, but when I put on loose/normal fitting polyester, I immediately feel warm. That is because of the small amount of air-space between my skin and the garment. That air helps to insulate.

One of my tests was to put on the skin tight long john bottoms and a loose fitting polyester T shirt, under my shirt and pants. When I went outside in cool weather, I was toasty warm from the waist up and felt quite cool from the waist down. When wearing the skin tight polyester under my Polartec shirt, I decrease the warmth of the Polartec by about 40%-50%. When I wear a loose fitting poly T shirt under my Polartec shirt, the warming effect of the Polartec is increased by an estimated 30%-40%, compared to wearing the Polartec next to the skin. As you can see, you can mix and match combinations to adjust the amount of warmth you need.

Next time I go to the big city, I plan to buy more Polartec.

To be sure and get more valuable, unbiased information on survival and productivity topics, just click below to follow this blog, to be notified of new posts.

Your “likes,” “follows,” “tweets/re-tweets” and “mentions” on social media are very much appreciated.


I hope this has made your day better, Ozark Mountain Bob

Watch Out for Counter-productivity

What you will find in this post:

· How to avoid the trap of being counterproductive

· How to recognize a counterproductive attitude

· Suggestions to overcome counterproductive propensities


There comes a time in everyone’s life when mental power gets too weak to produce effective results, and some of the big reasons for this is working too hard, too long, or being frantic about getting results.

There is a time to think/plan, a time to work the plan and a time to rest the mind and body because the mind and body are a part of nature and are subject to Pareto’s Law, the 80/20 Principle.

If we think too much, we get bogged down mentally, then we get frantic, then pretty soon the day is over and we are not happy with the results of our day’s work. That’s mental counter-productivity. “Too much thinking ends doing” – Unknown

If we push the body too much, as in physical exertion, we may experience muscle failure; the muscles just stop working, forcing us to do what we should have done long before – rest. After muscle failure, the quantity of rest needed to regain effectiveness greatly exceeds the rest that would have rejuvenated us, had we invested in the required care for the body before the crisis occurred.

When you find yourself being busy, but without accomplishment, it is time to relax, do deep breathing exercises, rest, eat, or play; engage in an unrelated activity that will serve as an investment that will pay dividends by preparing us to overcome the blockage, whether it is mental or physical.

Counterproductive – Tending to hinder the attainment of a desired goal. 

“Violence as a means to achieve an end is counterproductive.” – W.E. Brock


The Principle:

The principle at work here is that you can, and most of us often do, work too hard. Pareto’s Law, the 80/20 principle can be used to identify and  avoid the foolish idea of working through periods of counter-productivity.


Focus on accomplishing the 20% of work that produces 80% of the results. Don’t seek unattainable perfection; put in a diligent 20% while your mind is clear and your body is fresh, fueled and capable, take your 80% of most profitable results and enjoy your accomplishment, rest, and re-fuel, etc. After this “preventive maintenance” you can come back and take another productive 20% bite out of the remaining 80% of work that only produces 20% of results.

The result of pushing too hard and too long is that of counter-productivity, which is a blatant time waster. The effort expended is greater and the results reaped are lesser and inferior, compared to what you are capable of. Often, the result is the utter failure of the activity.

By trying to produce when you are too tired, too hungry, too thirsty, angry, upset or confused, you set yourself up to be counterproductive, risking that the results of your effort may be failure or hurtful to your reputation.

It is a fact of nature that our minds and bodies have capabilities and limitations. Wisdom says that we pay attention to its limitations, as well as its capabilities, and use the concept of preventive maintenance to ensure that we can exploit our body’s capabilities to the fullest.

Let’s not fall into the 20th century trap of spending our health making money so we can retire, then spend all our money attempting to regain our health.

These previous posts on this blog give more details about the 80/20 Principle, as well as tools to help you implement it.

How Successful People Succeed

How and Why You Should Think Inside the Box

4 Reasons People Don’t Prepare to Survive and How To Fix It

I hope this has made your day better, Ozark Mountain Bob

How to Quickly Have a Garden Anywhere

What you will find in this post:

· An alternative quick, easy way to create a garden in any location

· How to create a cheap “Greenhouse”

· Link to my original source for this information

· Seed planting tip

· Planting suggestion for a quick, quality crop

Note: This is another of my “backward” articles, written to enable each reader to get the information needed as fast as possible. This also lets you evaluate the article faster, to determine if it fits your interests. Your time is valuable. Feedback is welcome.


By using bales of straw (not hay), with the cut side up and conditioning them with fertilizer, either organic or chemical, and adding a little sterile potting mix on top, you can create any size garden anywhere. The major concern for this garden is that, after it is soaked with water, the water will run out the bottom, so it’s not recommended for indoor use, but will work well on a balcony or roof-top, in your driveway, on the patio or anywhere else you may need to locate it. If you were to do this indoors, you would also need to provide artificial light.


The principle at work is decomposition. Microbial activity causes the straw to break down (composting) and that process creates and releases nutrients that feed the plants, while creating enough heat to keep the roots warm enough for excellent growth, while the tops of the plants are exposed to the ambient outside temperature, sunlight and air. This is a great combination.

The Details:

One day, I tuned in to the Joyce Riley radio show and just happened to catch her interview with Joel Karsten, who is a horticulturist, who did all the necessary experimentation to learn and perfect this alternative method of gardening. The interview was very interesting, so I went to Joel’s website at and ordered his book.

Although the method is simple, easy and inexpensive, I being one who likes to jump right in, I tried to start my own straw bale garden, and it failed because I didn’t know and follow all the steps of the process. I was “redeemed” from this practice when the book arrived. You need the book for encouragement, neat ideas, beautiful illustrative pictures and step-by-step instructions. You may be able to find the book in your public library. I have no financial agreement/arrangement with Joel Karsten. As always, I recommend other people’s products based solely on my experience with those products, and my belief in their value to this community.

My purpose here is to alert you to the fact that this method of gardening is workable, and I do recommend Mr. Karsten’s book, because his system works. It is versatile and the limits of this system are few and unimportant.

The process that I followed from the book that produced a successful garden that all my neighbors marveled at was to condition the bales according to the day-by-day, step-by-step instructions from the book for 12 days. This is the process to get the microbial decomposing action going inside the bales, which is what feeds the vegetables you grow. After conditioning the bales, you will pack a little potting mix on the topside of each bale and plant your seeds. Conditioning only takes a few minutes per bale, per day. After the planting is done, all that’s left to do is water a few times per week.

For my spring/summer garden of 2014 I raised a fine crop of Arkansas Traveler Tomatoes, Purple Hull Peas, Blue Lake Bush beans, Cucumbers and Bell Peppers. I have just started my fall garden, because the weather has been so unusual for the last 3 years, with some cabbage plants. Decomposing straw bales from summer garden, now planted for fall. See the photo below.


According to Mr. Karsten, the bales should last through about 3 gardens; summer garden, fall garden and the next year’s summer garden. After that, it will be necessary to start with fresh bales again.

You can also extend the growing season in the bales by driving one post into the ground at each end of the bale, or line of bales, then tie a wire or small rope between the posts and hang plastic sheeting over the wire, forming a tent-like “structure” that extends to the ground and secure the bottom of the plastic under the edge of the bales, or if you need more width, pull the plastic further from the bales and secure with rocks, bricks, boards, or whatever you have available.

At Mr. Karsten has a short video that gives an accurate overview and explanation of how the system works.

As I have transitioned from store-bought hybrid seeds, which are GMO, unless otherwise stated, to heirloom seeds. I have enjoyed the fact that I get tastier veggies and that I can collect seed from the fruit for next year’s use, without any loss of potency or quality. For seed collecting methods and details, I defer to Jackie Clay at She is a real expert on that subject and much more proficient at it than I am.

One problem that I had with heirloom seeds is lower germination rates than with hybrid. Realize that the idea of hybrids is to overcome the disadvantages of heirloom seeds, which they do, but the quality of fruit suffers also.

To overcome that problem, my wife had a brilliant idea: Sprout the seeds before planting! It works; it is foolproof. She just folds a paper towel in half, dampens it with water and then places the seeds between the two layers of paper towel on a plate and places the plate in a window for light. Within a few days, depending on the type of seed, some sprout, some do not. We then just plant the ones that sprouted. We know we planted viable seeds and can also space them appropriately for the size of the forthcoming plants, eliminating the need for thinning after they come up.

You may remember a previous post that I wrote about gardening in the ground, using mulch. I still do that, too. This year the straw bale gardening was an experiment, and one that worked so well that we will continue it as part of our gardening procedure.

One thing that I like about the bales is that you can have a viable garden almost instantly, without suffering through several years of weak production, as you wait for the soil to be strengthened. That means that I could re-locate without having to worry about building up the soil at the new location before I could have a good garden. In similar manner, anyone, with any amount of space, can have a good garden right away, without concern for the surface underneath the bales.

At the moment, I am building a small greenhouse because the weather has been so unusual over the last three years, so I can have more control over the climate my veggies live in. For this winter, I will include 4 straw bales inside the greenhouse, along with potted veggies and a compost bin, which will produce a small amount of heat.

Planting suggestion: Kale is a very hearty green leafy vegetable that will survive cold, including snow. It is one of the most nutritious veggies you can grow, and, like the energizer bunny, it “keeps on going…and going.” It is easy to grow and harvest. To harvest, just cut about half of the leaves from a given plant, and in a short time, the remaining plant will grow more leaves to replace the ones you harvested. This equates to a regular supply of a vegetable from a really small garden.

Have you had experience with an alternative gardening system that would help readers learn to plant a survival garden quickly? If so, please share your wit and wisdom with the rest of us…let the conversation begin!


I hope this has made your day better, Ozark Mountain Bob

How Successful People Succeed

What you will find in this post:

· What success is…and isn’t

· How success relates to survival

· How successful people succeed

Note: This is another of my “backward” articles, written to enable each reader to get the information needed as fast as possible. This also lets you evaluate the article faster, to determine if it fits your interests. Your time is valuable. Feedback is welcome.


Success is what you think it is; the attainment of what’s important and satisfying to you. For most folks, it may well be a combination of accumulating money, eminence, and the satisfaction of benefiting others. Only you can determine what success is for you.

Success relates to survival in two direct ways:

1. Being successful in your work and personal life, by using Pareto’s Law will result in a net profit of time that can then be devoted to preparing to survive a disaster, without shorting other responsibilities. When applied to your finances, it can free up money to cover the expense.

2. The same activities that promote success in business and at home can be applied to successful surviving (highly recommended).

The Principle:

The best principle that will work here is Pareto’s Law, otherwise known as the 80/20 principle. I suggest that you implement it using a simple step-by-step method because it is a law of nature that is at work in your business, personal relationships, your finances, even the foods that you eat. You can harness this power to great benefit. This natural law will empower you to eliminate all time wasting, as well as activities that are not cost effective. It will also enable you to identify those activities. This law will set you free and free up an amazing percentage of time that typically results in frustration and anxiety.

The Details:

A suggested method of implementation that I recommend is one that I learned recently from James Clear, in Entrepreneur Magazine This method is to not focus on goals. Mr. Clear cites reasons such as discouragement as his reason to implement and focus on a system to reach your desired outcome, instead of fixating on goals. As examples he shows that the writer’s system is to follow the schedule he or she sets for the accomplishment of the goal, and how a person who wants to run a marathon will focus on his or her training schedule and let the results fall into place, which will, if planned correctly, be the accomplishment of the goal. Here’s the link for the article. 

A person whose vision of success is limited to the acquisition of fame and fortune may well resort to unsavory tactics to bring his desire to fruition; think mafia bosses, drug cartels, etc. Such success, in my opinion, is not success at all for moral reasons, and because, as Malcolm Gladwell points out in his book The Tipping Point, all good things have a limit to their being good. For example, increased income is good up to the highest point that it doesn’t restrict or interfere with other important aspects of life, such as family life. When it does start to interfere with other aspects of one’s life, the goodness of the increase begins to diminish, and the benefit diminishes in proportion to its cost in other things of value.

By default, and through (skewed?) human nature, the world teaches us that success is measured in money and power over other people. After all, as an example, the rich guys are the ones who get elected to powerful positions; they are publicly revered above the rest of us and usually prove to the masses that they are unworthy of the power entrusted to them. Surely, there is a better measure of success.

As I stated above, success is what you think it is. Webster’s Dictionary’s definition is: “favorable or desired outcome; also the attainment of wealth, favor or eminence.” Any of those things can be good, or any of them can be bad. It all depends upon our attitude towards them.

Most people that I talk to think of success as a combination of the three. They say that wealth is necessary to acquire the things that they need and want, and if they didn’t spend so much time making money, they could succeed in other ways. This suggests to me that most folks’ idea of success is to have more than enough money to just “get by,” while still having enough time to meet their family’s needs and desires abundantly and to tend to their own personal needs and desires. Such a balanced outlook, backed up by an organized plan for its attainment can avoid going over the “Tipping point” in any area, avoiding the law of diminishing returns.

Malcom Gladwell’s “Tipping point” is really an (unwitting?) explanation of the results of Pareto’s Law, the 80/20 Principle. Pareto’s Law says that 20% of your effort produces 80% of your results, and that if you zero in on the 20% that produces the 80% of results, you have almost maximized your benefit. Once you have identified and focused your activity on the super producing 20%, in most cases, you could skip the 80% of effort that produces poorly, or you can then apply the materiel and attention that makes the super producing 20% so effective to the remaining, or parts of the remaining under producing 80%.

The 80/20 principle is so obvious that you have probably observed it, but haven’t realized that it is a law of nature, that it affects you, and that it occurs almost everywhere. If you are a business owner who has ever said “If I could have 3 more employees like Sue, I could meet my customers’ needs in much less time,” or if you have tasks that you like because they consistently produce great results, but other tasks seem to be a bottleneck, you have experienced the 80/20 principle. If you have noticed that you have 10 rooms in your house, but do almost all of your living in 2 or 3 of them, you have noticed the 80/20 Principle.

Pareto’s Law applies in business to inventory, employees, thieves, shelf space, customers, suppliers. It applies to virtually every aspect of business. At home it applies to the space you have, compared to the space you use, to the food in your pantry, the utilities you use, the clothes in your closet, the time you spend with loved ones, etc.

Now, please realize that the numbers 80/20 can vary. Sometimes it’s 60/40, it can be 75/25 and occasionally you may find a 90/10 combination. As an example, I ran the numbers on the readership of this blog and found that 62% of my traffic occurred on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and that only 38% of traffic came on the other 4 days of the week. That’s basically a 60/40 imbalance. By the days of the week that also means that 62% of traffic visits here during 42% of the available time. That tells me that, as a minimum I can effectively service most of my readers by publishing only 42% of the time, compared to the maximum possible.

What did I do with that information? I reduced my work load by reducing my postings to the three most effective days. What have the results been? A 44% increase in readership! I did that without depriving even a single reader, because if someone can only schedule time for this blog on one of the less productive days, they can still get the articles when they are ready for it. This illustrates Pareto’s Law, in that I was able to reduce my workload, by focusing on and nurturing only the 40% that produces 60% of results, in 40% of the time I was using. That nets me an additional 60% of that time for other activities of my choosing.

The correlation of Malcolm Gladwell’s “Tipping Point” to Pareto’s Law is that I receive the increase of a good thing, without exceeding that tipping point of diminishing returns. I am working less and benefiting more! The savings of 60% of the time I used to put into this blog adds up to 8 ½ hours per week saved! That’s what most people consider a whole workday, plus lunchtime saved!

You can also catapult yourself to success by observing, studying and applying the 80/20 Principle in your life. While most teachers of this principle give great instruction on Pareto’s Law and tell you what to do, as I have here today, if you will read 2 of my recent posts: 4 Reasons People Don’t Prepare to Survive & How to Fix It, and How & Why to Think Inside the Box, you will find that I also give you tools to help you plan and chart your course, as you begin to profit from this principle that is so obvious, yet so unknown. Using this principle, combined with a plan and an applied, organized system is how some successful people succeed.

What have your experiences been with Pareto’s Law?

Have you discovered that it also works within itself and grows exponentially?

I hope this has made your day better, Ozark Mountain Bob

How to Keep Warm in Cold Weather

What you will find in this post:

· Why cotton is dangerous in cold weather

· Explanation of two better materials; why and how they work

· 2 places to find below average prices for better cold weather clothing

As fall progresses, and winter is drawing nigh, it is time to prepare in advance to survive the cold weather in as much comfort as possible. Even though “comfort” sounds luxurious, it is also a necessity because you cannot perform up to par when you are distracted by discomfort.

If a winter storm leaves you without power, forcing you to rely on alternative and probably a limited heat source, having prepared to keep each family member warm with less heat will be a very good thing. If you spend a lot of time outdoors, you already know that keeping warm is a good thing.

The first rule to keeping warm in cold weather is to stay dry. Wet and cold is a disastrous combination that can be deadly. That is why people who live in really cold areas will tell you “Cotton kills.”

Yes, cotton is nice and cuddly, and helps to keep you warm in moderate cold, but it is also problematic because of the way it handles moisture…that wet that is not to be mixed with the cold. What happens is that when you sweat, which does happen in cold weather, cotton absorbs the moisture and retains it because it takes a long time to dry. That damp fabric (especially next to your skin) becomes cold, then absorbs your body’s heat to attempt to dry. Remember, heat always moves towards cold. Cotton, then is robbing your body of the heat it is making to keep you warm, and hypothermia, a potentially deadly reducing of your body temperature, can set in. Hypothermia is not limited to extremely low temperatures; it can occur in moderately cold temps above freezing. This makes cotton a good fabric for warm weather, when your body’s main need is cooling.

As we have observed, cotton brings big problems in cold weather, so what do we do? In our modern technological age there are two answers, that give way to third answer, when combined.

First there is wool (not all wool is itchy). Wool is an excellent cold weather fabric to clothe yourself in because of its unique characteristic of absorbing water vapor from your sweat, while also resisting water, such as light rain or mist from the outside. The water vapor that it absorbs from the inside is evaporated via the air and sunlight on the outside of the garment. Wool can absorb about 30% of its weight in water vapor from your body, without feeling damp, so, to a certain extent, it can still keep you warm when wet/damp. It doesn’t depend on your body heat to dry, and dries faster. Wool will keep you warm and dry because it is so efficient at managing the moisture that your body produces, as it works to keep warm. Pure wool will shrink and must be washed by hand, in cold water, but many manufacturers are now blending with small amounts of other materials, to overcome that issue. If left to hang in the air, wool doesn’t need to be washed very often. Wool can be worn comfortably in all kinds of weather. Merino wool is made of extra fine fibers and is not itchy. I have four pairs of merino wool socks that I got from

a new, small American company for $25 on Amazon last year. I love them! The brand is People Socks.

Wool is also quite pricey, but I have never regretted investing in it. I have a medium weight wool shirt that I paid $25 for in 1982.

As you can see from this picture, it still looks good and it still performs perfectly. Even here in moderately cold Arkansas, I wear it regularly, especially when outdoors. Today, due to the fact that there is no inflation, the same shirt will cost between $150 and $175 in the usual markets, but I have found places that beat those prices and will reveal them shortly, after some important explanations.

The second option to avoid cotton in cold weather is polyester. Polyester works by wicking the moisture your body produces, away from the skin. Since it dries quickly, the moisture evaporates quickly and you stay dry and warm. It is a petroleum based fabric (ugh!), but it does do a good job of keeping you warm and dry. There is a lot of polyester underwear on the market these days, and I have found it to be a very good compromise. In cool weather, when I would normally wear a light jacket, if I wear a polyester T shirt, I don’t need the jacket. I am small and light, and I get cold easily, but the polyester undies give me a cozy warm feeling on my skin, when I would be cold with cotton.

As I was shopping and looking for the best deal for you, before writing this post, I checked the L.L. Bean website and found some good prices on things like their “Performance Henley” shirt which says it is a poly/wool blend, for $59. Not bad, in fact the best of two worlds, or so I thought. I called to ask the percentages of fabrics and it is 94% polyester and 6% wool. I was disappointed, because I am a wool lover. It’s not all that bad, though, because, as I stated above, polyester is a good substitute for wool, with its wicking and quick drying capabilities. The lady, Kathy, told me that some of their colors are on sale for $49.95 right now (Oct 6, 2014). Bean also has a “Classic wool shirt” for $69.99, which is much less than the $150+ prices I found on other sites.

If you’re not a $150 or even a $50 shirt person, you may want to check out in Billings, MT. They have a large selection of wool military surplus clothing, as well as some commercial clothing. They state whether the military surplus items are new or used, and they even have some dressy stuff. The prices are mostly very good and I am going to order a couple of wool items from them. I can’t lose much, and there’s a lot to gain.

So, there you have it, on how to keep each individual body warm in cold weather. Let’s review:

1. Cotton kills in cold weather

2. Wool is the best answer (IMHO), and it’s natural

3. Polyester is petroleum base, but works well for warmth and dryness

4. L.L. Bean has some poly/wool blend items that may be worth a try

5. can save you some money on military surplus wool clothing

6. Wool is not limited in usefulness to cold climates; it is comfortable even in milder climes down south