Category Archives: Household

What The Holzhaufen!?!?

If you don’t know, don’t worry. Until the other day I didn’t know what a holzhaufen was either. As it turns out, in German, holzhaufen means “woodpile.” But the term holzhaufen has been taken a little bit further and has been associated with a certain method of piling wood. From what I have found, a holzhaufen in its modern definition is a cylinder shape stack of split wood with a pyramid on the top (see picture below). I thought this was too cool to not share because it not only seems to offer an alternative to the traditional wood stack but it dries quickly with a built-in visual indicator of when your firewood is ready to burn.

Picture Credit: Farmshow.com

So how the heck do you build one of these things?

The rough guidelines to construct a holzhaufen include:

1. Wood must be cut in lengths between 12 inches and  24 inches.

2. Wood must be split. Split wood not only dries faster, but also interlocks which is a requirement for sturdy holzhaufen construction. (Have some kindling size pieces available for filling in the gaps when needed.)

3. Build your holzhaufen on a level piece of ground. (Dry ground is recommended.)

4. Decide how high your stack will be (anywhere from 4 to 10 feet high) and drive a stake in the ground to the height, centered in the location of your holzhaufen. FYI – Don’t build the stack higher than you can reach to the top!

5. Determine the diameter of your stack (4 feet to 6 feet across) and start stacking your wood aligned with the outer perimeter. This will leave a space in the center around the stake. As the stack grows around the outer perimeter, fill the empty space in with wood stacked vertically to fill in the gaps. (It does not have to be a real tight fit.) The key is to allow air to move up the stack like a chimney to allow the wood to dry quickly and effectively.

6. While stacking the wood keep an eye on how level the stack is. The idea is to maintain a slight inward lean after about the first third of the stack is built. This can be accomplished by setting the thinner end of the split wood on the inside of the stack. To avoid the stack getting out of balance, “cheater boards” (thinner pieces of split wood) can be placed perpendicular to the other boards on the inside or outside of the stack as needed to keep the stack from falling. (This can be seen in the picture below.)

7. Once you get to the top foot or two of your holzhaufen start the pyramid effect toward the center. When you do this, ensure that the wood used is placed bark side up to offer the highest level of protection to the wood stack below from the elements.

8. Now that you have a completed holzhaufen, sit back and wait for your wood to season. Once the stack has settled about 20 to 25 percent it should be good and ready for the fire. A simple way to know when the wood is ready would be to make an indicator mark at about the 25% point on the center pole when you are building your holzhaufen.

Advantages of the holzhaufen:

  • One holzhaufen can contain as much as two and a half cords.
  • Includes a visual indicator of approximately how dry the wood is.
  • A 6 foot diameter and 10 foot high holzhaufen can be constructed in just one hour.
  • Drying time is shortened compared to other stacking methods due to the chimney effect of the holzhaufen.
  • The small footprint of the holzhaufen compared to other wood stacking methods results in less wood rot and bug infestation because of less wood being in contact with the ground.

*Fancy Homesteader Trick – If you would like to offer even more protection to your holzhaufen from the elements, you can place a patio table umbrella down the middle of the stack to keep it dry. A few words of warning with this method…it might be a good idea to find a way to anchor the umbrella if you do this, you may end up with a smaller holzhaufen this way, and it is also unlikely that you will any longer be able to sit outside and enjoy lemonade under your patio table umbrella when there is a huge stack of wood underneath it!

Sources: Farmshow.com, Mother Earth News, The Morning Call

Do You WD-40?

Image Credit: WD40.com

You learn something new every day and I am far from being the exception. I was astonished to learn today that WD-40  has over 2,000 uses. Of course, my wife knew that already and immediately put my manhood into question. Not much to be done about that though I guess. What I thought was a handy product, I now view as liquid miracle in a can. With so many uses, WD-40 can do just about everything but set a dislocated shoulder!

I also learned that WD stands for water displacement and the 40 in the name made its way there because it was the 40th attempt that finally got the formula right. So after 40 attempts to develop this secret recipe of lubricants, Water Displacement – 40th Formula (WD-40) was created. This multi-purpose lubricant is safe to use on metal, wood, rubber, and plastic and performs the five functions of lubrication, penetrating, protection of surfaces, removal of dirt and grime, and displacement of moisture.

So the variety of WD-40 uses span the following six major categories and include specific uses like:

Home/Garden

– Keeps blades on outdoor power equipment from rusting.

– Cleans and protects garden tools.

– Spray around the bottom of your garbage cans to prevent animals from getting into them.

Car/Truck

– Keeps vehicle battery terminals clean and rust free.

– Keeps winch cables clean and lubricated.

– Unfreezes car doors.

On The Job

– Cleans magazines for magazine-fed firearms.

– Spray on hands before using heavy adhesives to prevent sticking.

– Improves cutting time for drills.

Garage/Workshop

– Protects tools from corrosion.

– Drives out moisture from flashlights.

– Prevents corrosion on pulley systems.

Sports/Recreation

– Lubricates pump-action firearms.

– Keeps fishing reels rust free.

– Cleans knife blades.

Other

– Loosens tight propane tank handles.

– Spray locking rods of portable fire-proof safes to keep them operating properly.

– Keeps missile silo doors swinging freely.

It seems to me that after stumbling upon the list of 2,000+ uses for WD-40 that it might be a great item to have on hand and potentially even stockpile for barter use in the future. In addition to the over 2K uses for WD-40, it literally has an indefinite shelf life which makes it perfect for your survival stockpile. Don’t forget to print off a copy of the over 2,000 uses for WD-40 to keep in your prep library.

If you know of a great WD-40 use or a story about the uses of WD-40 please leave a comment!

A Blackout Kit For The Common Man

Photo Credit: Popular Mechanics

Yesterday’s post was about a recent power outage that my family and I went through. Part of what got us through our lack of electricity was our blackout kit. A blackout kit defined is simply the basic supplies that an individual or group of people need to get through a period of blackout (failure of the electrical power supply). Sounds simple, right? That’s because it is! There are no parabolic quadratic equations that are mandated here. Because your blackout kit is yours, you can put whatever you think you need in it. So without further ado, I will outline the most comprehensive list of items for a blackout kit that my mind is capable of compiling.

Light

Flashlights w/ Batteries (Include Extras)

Chemical-Illuminescent Lightsticks (Glowsticks)

Candles w/ Matches

Oil Lantern w/ Oil & Matches

Communications

Whistles

Battery Operated AM/FM/Weather Radio w/ Batteries (Include Extras)

Battery Operated Shortwave Radio Receiver W/ Batteries (Include Extras)

Battery Operated CB Radio w/ Batteries (Include Extras)

Old Style Telephone That Draws Power From Phone Line (Found @ Second-Hand/Thrift Stores)

Back-Up Cell Phone (TracFone) – Ideally A Carrier Different Than Your Usual Cell Carrier (Include Car Charger)

Food

Canned Goods

Granola/Energy-Type Bars

Beef Jerky

Hard Candy

Dried Fruits & Nuts

Peanut Butter

Foods That Only Require The Addition of Hot Water

Metal Cup For Heating Water

Manual Can Opener

First Aid

First Aid Kit

First Aid Manual

Emergency Medications

Extra Prescription Glasses

Water

Bottled Water

Water Containers

Water Purification Tablets

Water Purification Device

Drink Mixes

Heat

Indoor Safe Propane Heater w/ Propane

Sterno Fuel w/ Matches

Hand Warmers

Foot Warmers

Tools

Gas Wrench

Wrench For Water Main

Basic Mechanic’s Tool Kit

Multi-tool

Work Gloves

Assorted Fasteners (Nails, Screws, Nuts, Bolts, Hose Clamps, Zip Ties, Etc.)

Security

Firearm w/ Ammunition

Taser

Baseball Bat

Golf Club

Expandable Baton

Knife

Shelter

Mylar Survival Blankets

Sleeping Bags

Blankets

Rain Gear/Emergency Ponchos

Plastic Sheeting w/ Duct Tape

Tarps w/ Twine or Cord

Entertainment

Deck of Cards

Board Games

Battery Operated Hand-Held Games w/ Batteries

Books

Battery Operated MP3 Player w/ Batteries

Documentation

List of Emergency Contacts

Family Contact Roster

Evacuation Plan (Minimum of Two Routed In Each Direction If Possible)

Cash (To Conduct Transactions During Blackout Period)

A blackout kit should remain fairly small and basic if possible. My goal is to make my blackout kit into a plastic tote container or a 5 gallon bucket. This makes the kit easy to store around the house but also easy to load into the car in the event that it needs to be taken with you in a bug out situation.

As always, please make this list the best that it can be by making a comment and pointing out additional items that I may have not thought of or unintentionally omitted from the list.