Fuel is one of those “need forever” times of things. There will always be food to cook and bodies to keep warm in cold winters. But which fuel source is better, propane or charcoal?
The argument derives from the classic rivalry in the grilling world. Do you use a charcoal grill or a propane one? Each has their own arguments to how it changes the cooking process. But we’re not looking to perfect a weekend bbq pork rib, we’re looking to survive. We can use both of these items for more than just searing a steak.
Is Charcoal Better?
When it comes to long term heat retention, charcoal is hard to beat. The especially dried out wood chunks can hold a fair heat over the long term, so you’d get the most out of your efforts. This is great for slow-cooked dishes or keeping warm for longer. And if you’re clever, you can make more charcoal with wood from the forest.
The downsides are the level of inconvenience. It often takes lighter fluid to get a charcoal pit going, and it requires a fair bit of attention and effort to maintain at first. It’s also a bit of a hassle to put out. Combine that with the mess it makes and effort to make more, we can see why someone would be turned off by the hassle.
Is Propane Better?
Propane gas is the pinnacle of modern fuel burning. Slap a canister onto a grill and you’re ready to cook with even and reliable heat. No more burning your meats. It’s clean burning, so no worries about health breathing in smoke, either. You can store a great deal of fuel from a single canister, so you’ll have plenty to last. It’s a practical prepper fuel, after all.
Aside from the obvious limitation of use (you’re not about to make your own propane off the grid), the biggest problem with propane is the danger. A pressurized canister will kill someone if mishandled. Rust can degrade the container and the wrong kind of force can cause it to break. Not to mention the risk of breathing the fuel if not burned.
The Winner: Neither, It’s Wood
Surprise! In comes contestent number three to take the game-winning belt! Wood is the best fuel source. Wood can easily be collected in nearly any wilderness, it burns easy and burns long, it can be stored almost indefinately. Wood can burn hot enough for metal forging and low enough to cook or heat your home. If you want to survive on your own, wood is the way to go, not charcoal or propane.