Dear Fellow Survivalist;
One of the scariest scenarios we face in our modern world is that of an EMP, terrorist or cyber-warfare attack taking out our electrical grid. Modern society is so dependent on electrical power, that if we every truly lose it, our entire way of life will go down with it.
According to estimates by the EMP Commission, 90 percent of Americans would die in the aftermath of an EMP. That makes it one of the most devastating disasters that could possible strike this country. With that in mind, preparing for an EMP makes a good basis for establishing how you plan on surviving a disaster. While it doesn’t cover everything, being prepared for an EMP would make you prepared for just about anything that could come along.
Part of that preparation means figuring out alternative ways of doing all the things we use electricity for. Amongst these, one of the most important uses in the home is refrigeration. Without the ability to keep food cool, it has a tendency to spoil faster. In a world where food may be scarce, losing food to decay would be almost criminal.
Fortunately for us, our ancestors found ways of keeping their food cool, long before the modern refrigerator was invented. Some of these require massive preparation, like cutting ice from lakes and rivers and storing it in ice houses. But there are other ways they used, which are quite easily adapted to a survival situation.
One of the most common ways of keeping food cool was to keep it underground. Caves, wells and other underground areas are always cooler than the surface temperature, sometimes considerably cooler. That’s why many people dug root cellars. Quite literally, the root cellar is nothing more than a man-made cave where food is stored. By keeping it underground, the food would last longer, without the need for any electricity.
Another great way of keeping food cool, for those who have a stream or pond on their property, is to put it in the water. The temperature of any body of water is lower than the surrounding air, simply because of evaporation. Water also takes longer to warm up than land, as the warmer water on the surface acts as an insulator for the colder water down below.
But one of my favorite means of keeping food cool doesn’t require storing ice in the winter, to be used in the summer or require having a body of water on your property. That’s to use evaporative cooling.
When water evaporates, it has to absorb a huge amount of heat energy. That’s how sweating works to cool us. Our bodies sweat and then the sweat evaporates. As it does, it absorbs heat energy from our bodies. Ultimately, this cools us.
We can apply this same concept to keeping food cool, quite easily. All we need is a couple of clay pots, one larger than the other, and some sand. The kind of pots we use is somewhat critical though, as we must have unglazed pots. We need water to be able to soak into the clay of the pot, or we won’t have an evaporative cooler.
This sort of food cooler is called a Zeer Pot and has existed for centuries. Nobody seems to be sure where it originated; but it seems to be somewhere in Africa, where there’s lots of heat. Experiments have been done there, showing that produce kept in a Zeer Pot will keep four times longer than food left out.
To make a Zeer Pot, nest one pot inside the other. If the smaller pot is also shorter than the larger, put some sand in the bottom of the larger pot, to make the rims sit even. Then, set the smaller pot inside the larger, centering it in the space available.
Now fill the space between the two pots with sand. This is going to become an important part of the working mechanism of the Zeer Pot. When the sand is filled with water, the water will leech out of the sand, soaking the clay of the pots. So, the sand acts as a reservoir. While the water that soaks into the inner pot doesn’t do much, the water that soaks into the outer pot evaporates, cooling the surface. This causes the temperature of the entire Zeer Pot to lower, keeping the food cooler.
I’ve built Zeer Pots that have kept food 20 degrees or more cooler than the ambient air. It helps to cover the opening in the pot with a thick wet cloth, like a washcloth. This adds to the evaporation, as well as forming a barrier between the cooler inside temperature and warmer ambient air surrounding it. Keeping the Zeer Pot in the shade helps as well.
While the inside temperature will never be as low as a refrigerator will keep food, using a Zeer Pot will help keep your food fresh longer; and that’s the idea. So, if you don’t have a Zeer Pot yet, maybe that would be a good weekend survival project to do. It’s not even all that expensive, but will make a huge difference when it comes time to survive.
In the mean time, keep your powder dry and your survival equipment close at hand.