Over the last decade sustainability has become the byword of governments intent on imposing “green taxes” on the populace in order to fund new and renewable energy systems, weaning us off our addiction to carbon based fossil fuels. To many this is the bulk of what sustainability represents.
Preppers however realize that sustainability is the only thing that will keep them and their families going after TEOTWAWKI level event.
Most of us who are wise enough to be planning for our future put the ability to heat our home and cook our food very high on the priority list of must haves. For those who don’t own a coal mine this means that wood will be the combustible material of choice, as well as something we need to repair and replace items that wear out over time.
This in itself is going to lead to problems. Many if not most preppers do not live in an environment where they are fortunate enough to have an almost limitless supply of trees to cut down and use for fuel. Even those that do have a decent wood supply will need to replant to ensure ongoing supplies.
For those without acres of land growing enough trees to sustain the needs of a family or group on an ongoing basis would be pretty much an impossible task.
That’s where bamboo comes in. It’s a grass with a thick woody stem and its one of the fastest growing plants on the planet. There are varieties that will grow in almost any conditions, and it flourishes even when waste water, rather than fresh is used to water it. It grows fast, very fast, and can become invasive if not contained. It propagates itself with ease and requires no attention beyond the original planting and watering in arid regions.
Forming an almost impenetrable barrier it is ideal for edging a property and being exceptionally strong and lightweight there are literally hundreds of uses for it. Many countries actually use it for scaffolding such is its strength.
Bamboo also burns, and it burns hot. You will need more of it than you would hardwood but it’s a fast growing renewable source that can be harvested year after year and will increase in size year after year, this for me outweighs the problem of having to use more of it.
The hollow spaces inside the bamboo expand and ‘pop’ when heated, often with enough force to shoot chunks of red hot bamboo out of an open fire. To avoid this it should be split along its length, which is done easily by laying a decent hunting knife blade down across one open end and banging the knife into the stem.
Twisting the knife will split the bamboo. Once its split, chop it across the some of the nodes to release the air, and leave it to dry naturally. This takes a good deal less time than seasoning hardwood but different varieties will take varying times to totally dry out. Once dry it can be used exactly as you would use wood. Slivers of bamboo are a great lightweight fuel for rocket stoves and any bits that break off when splitting it is a superb, easy to light kindling.
For those with a limited amount of space bamboo could be a viable supplemental fuel to wood though there is nothing to say it can’t be used exclusively as it is in the Far East and in some tropical regions.
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Contributed by Lizzie Bennett of Underground Medic.
Lizzie Bennett retired from her job as a senior operating department practitioner in the UK earlier this year. Her field was trauma and accident and emergency and she has served on major catastrophe teams around the UK. Lizzie publishes Underground Medic on the topic of preparedness.