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Leon's Blog

Can on a biomass stove? Sure – Check out the SilverFire Super Dragon stove

The adjustable electric fan is the key to the Super Dragon's precise heat settings.
Can on a biomass stove? Sure – Check out the SilverFire Super Dragon stove

Is it possible to can food on a biomass stove? Cooking for a lot of people and want to use a biomass stove? Check out this latest SilverFire biomass stove – it can answer both these questions.

by Leon Pantenburg

SilverFire is a SurvivalCommonSense.com sponsor. I was not paid to do this review.

“What about canning on a biomass stove? Can the heat be regulated well enough to use a pressure canner?”

This question has come up frequently. I used to say “no” because regulating the heat on a biomass stove was an iffy proposition. And with standard biomass stoves, the constant fuel feeding would be a really tedious chore.

This SilverFire forced air stove can regulate cooking heat very effectively.

This SilverFire forced air stove can regulate cooking heat very effectively.

But this latest innovation from SilverFire will change all that.

Biomass stoves are the wave of the future, IMHO. They are fueled with biomass materials, and produce intense cooking heat. The advantage over other types of stoves is that they operate on twigs, wood chips, small sticks and virtually any form of organic material. The downside is that many biomass stoves require almost constant fuel feeding, and the cooking temperature varies quickly with the fuel intake.

I stopped by the SilverFire booth at the June Mother Earth News Preparedness Expo in Albany, Oregon in June. I  found the company had addressed the canning issue with their newest stove, the SilverFire®Super Dragon with Pulse Width Modulater Fan Speed Control.

Several stoves were set up and working. I am familiar with the whole product line, and use them regularly. The SilverFire Scout® is my stove/cooking setup for backpacking – provided there are no fire closures in the area. My Survivor® is another winner.

I’ve used the Dragon Pot® extensively on Boy Scout campouts, and find it works well even when the temperatures are in the single digits. (Check out these SilverFire video product reviews.)

But the Super Dragon may top all these. It kicks out heat like a blow torch, and the output can be regulated with the twist of a dial from simmer to too damned hot.

Here’s some of the nuts and bolts about the Super Dragon:

The Super Dragon is a top lit updraft gasifier. It is simple to operate.  Insert vertical positioned fuel into the combustion chamber; next place a little tinder on top and light.  To fine tune the  flame adjust the primary and secondary air control knob on the stove.  These regulate air flow through mechanical orifices, designed in the fan housing.

This system works really well in all the SilverFire toploaders.

There are no electronic parts to fail, except possibly the commonly-available and durable 12V (0.48A) blower fan.  Super Dragon’s operate somewhat like a LPG gas stoves.

An off grid product should work without electricity, IMHO. The more gadgets and doodads added, the more complicated the item becomes, and more prone to failure. So I was curious to see how this forced air  fan could be powered.

Todd Albi demonstrates the SilverFire Scout at the Mother Earth News Preparedness Expo.

Todd Albi demonstrates the SilverFire Scout at the Mother Earth News Preparedness Expo.

Todd Albi, owner and designer of the SilverFire line of  biomass stoves, said the Super Dragon came about because people wanted more control over the heat output, and needed a way to regulate temperatures. They also needed high, sustained heat. This heat had to be accurate enough to work with a pressure canner.

This issue was solved with a fan powered with 110-volt AC adaptor that comes with every stove, a concentrator ring, and a cast iron trivet with pot supports.  This stove is designed for large volume pots, not a small pot.

The Speed Pulse Width Modulater (fan) is included with the Super Dragon stove for accurate heat control for canning, and low power cooking for delicate cooking (pancakes, crepes, eggs,  etc…).  Just plug in the PWM into the Super Dragon fan housing, add power cord and the dial control will allow you to set the fan speed at what ever setting you need.

In addition to the AV/DC option, the small fan easily runs off any 12 volt DC battery pack or small portable solar panel.

This solar panel easily powered the Super Dragon electric fan.

This solar panel easily powered the Super Dragon’s electric fan.

Albi was running the stove with the fan powered by a solar panel from Harbor Freight. The fan has a 12 volt input, meaning, it could be run off virtually any motorcycle, truck, forklift etc. battery. And Albi claims that means the stove fan could run almost indefinitely.

“The fan only draws three watts. The dome light on a truck pulls 12 watts,” Albi said. “You could get years of use off one forklift battery.”

The Super Dragon is easy to light, easily adjusted, lightweight, and cooks very rapidly.  Thin tight packed fuel produces a very rapid boil.  If you want to slow the cooking process down (e.g. slow cooking with cast iron) add thicker, dense fuel into the combustion chamber.

Dense material takes longer to burn, and is ideal for slow cooking on the charcoal ember selection setting.  Combustion in the Super Dragon produces minimal emissions, if using dry fuel.  The only residue left is minute fine ash, due to the efficient combustion.

I like the SilverFire line of products, and have recommended them for a variety of uses. For the prepper or preparedness types, who want the ability to can food when the power goes off, this is a really good investment.

Also, IMO, a good biomass-powered stove should be in every preparedness kit. The SilverFire Super Dragon is a good choice.

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Leon's Blog

Leon Pantenburg is a wilderness enthusiast, and doesn't claim to be a survival expert or expertise as a survivalist. As a newspaperman and journalist for three decades, covering search and rescue, sheriff's departments, floods, forest fires and other natural disasters and outdoor emergencies, Leon learned many people died unnecessarily or escaped miraculously from outdoor emergency situations when simple, common sense might have changed the outcome. Leon now teaches common sense techniques to the average person in order to avert potential disasters. His emphasis is on tried and tested, simple techniques of wilderness survival. Every technique, piece of equipment or skill recommended on this website has been thoroughly tested and researched. After graduating from Iowa State University, Leon completed a six-month, 2,552-mile solo Mississippi River canoe trip from the headwaters at Lake Itasca, Minn., to the Gulf of Mexico. His wilderness backpacking experience includes extended solos through Yellowstone’s backcountry; hiking the John Muir Trail in California, and numerous shorter trips along the Pacific Crest Trail. Other mountain backpacking trips include hikes through the Uintas in Utah; the Beartooths in Montana; the Sawtooths in Idaho; the Pryors, the Wind River Range, Tetons and Bighorns in Wyoming; Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, the Catskills in New York and Death Valley National Monument in southern California. Some of Leon's canoe trips include sojourns through the Okefenokee Swamp and National Wildlife Refuge in Georgia, the Big Black River swamp in Mississippi and the Boundary Waters canoe area in northern Minnesota and numerous small river trips in the Midwest and Pacific Northwest. Leon is also an avid fisherman and an elk, deer, upland game and waterfowl hunter. Since 1991, Leon has been an assistant scoutmaster with Boy Scout Troop 18 in Bend, and is a scoutmaster wilderness skills trainer for the Boy Scouts’ Fremont District. Leon earned a second degree black belt in Taekwondo, and competed in his last tournament (sparring and form) at age 49. He is an enthusiastic Bluegrass mandolin picker and fiddler and two-time finalist in the International Dutch Oven Society’s World Championships.

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