Written by Phil Brown, Badger Bushcraft Tuesday, 21 December 2010 10:02
Once more 2010 has seen a cold snap in the lead up to Christmas and we were fortunate to have a stove in the Tentipi that we were living in last week whilst working in the snow covered woods in West Sussex.
With temperatures plummeting across the United Kingdom and working out in the woodlands it is essential to look after oneself in many respects. Sleeping warm is not a problem for me and I often sleep under a Tatonka 2TC tarp with the Snugpak Special Forces Combo System sleeping bag which I have found to be suitable for all seasons in the temperate woodlands of the UK and Europe
Last week temperatures of -9 C were predicted in our area of the south east, with possible -15 C for other areas forecast. I was therefore fortunate to have the comfort of a Tentipi, a modern single pole tepee which was also fitted with a Moskoselkatan stove which initiated some interesting experimenting with fuels.
I lit the stove prior to retiring in the evening to allow the tepee to warm up a little before stripping down for a good wash and a change of socks and undergarments. The internal temperature of the Tentipi was hovering around the -2 C but within twenty minutes of lighting the stove there had been a 25 C shift with the internal temperature recorded at 23 C.
This is by no means a personal record! In 2009 we had an initial internal temperature of -6 C I managed to get thermometer to read at 27 C, at total shift of some 33 C within the 20 minutes time frame I allocate. To be honest this was a little too warm for me and I recall having to lay on top of my sleeping bag watching the glowing metal of the stove and waiting for things to cool down a little before zipping myself in for a nights sleep.
This year I have found that an internal temperature, at breast height, of between 21-23 C provides an exceptionally comfortable living environment. I have also had a tinker with various fuels and found that European larch ( Larix decidua) provides the most exceptional short term increases in temperature. Sadly the larch is burnt far too quickly and the heat soon disperses through the polycotton shell into the atmosphere. A mixture of unseasoned, but not green, ash (Fraxinus excelsior) mixed with some quite damp dead standing sweet chestnut (Castanea sativa) seemed to provide an exceptionally long and sustained burn which maintained an even and pleasant temperature.
As you will be aware, there are many other desirable woods to burn but we must be mindful of our impact on the environment and the sensitivity of the ecosystems we share with a myriad of organisms. I am therefore passionate that we should take only wood for the fire that has the least of impacts and this may mean that we do not have the best of fuels.
I am keen to experiment with some of the firewood that grows in abundance near to our base in mid-Kent. Hornbeam (Carpinus betulus) is without doubt my personal favourite firewood as it is very plentiful, burns exceptionally hot and relatively long. Perhaps I will be able to rig up our Bison Telt Lavvu and stove to experiment should the snow last between Christmas and the New Year!