Winter Book Festival and Giveaway: Ron Brown and Lanterns, Lamps & Candles



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books library (Custom)Today I share the next author interview in the Backdoor Survival Winter Book Festival.  Ron Brown, the author of Lanterns, Lamps & Candles shares his answers to my questions and is also providing one of my readers with a free copy of his Book on CD.

Before we begin, I would like to announce the winner of last week’s giveaway.  “John S” has won a copy of Where There Is No Doctor.  Congratulations! I have contacted you by email with instructions for claiming your prize.

Here was John’s answer to the question “What do you feel with be the toughest health or medical challenge following a disaster, collapse or breakdown of society as we know it?”

I think the biggest challenge in a crisis will be finding clean drinking water. The second problem will be the lack of medical help. Of coarse, there will be many obstacles in a disaster but it seems these two are usually on the top of the list.

Be sure to check out the details of this week’s giveaway below.


Why did you write Lanterns, Lamps & Candles? What motivated you?

In 2003, I took a job in Canada. Began work on August 1. Three weeks later the lights went out all over the Northeast. For several days.

Talk about prepping. We had almost no food in the fridge. No local currency. And the cash registers didn’t work anyway. We had no lights of any kind. Not even a candle. Not enough gas in the car to get back to the border. When the sun went down it was bedtime.

So here we were in this fancy-schmancy townhouse where the company had parked us. It was furnished . . . right down to silverware in the drawers and towels in the bathroom. Pool. Maid service. Chandeliers. And all we could do was sit in the dark and hold hands. My wife was scared to death. I made up my mind that this was never going to happen again. It really was a wake-up call.

So tell me about your book. What does it cover? Who’s your intended audience?

Lanterns pretty well covers the gamut of non-electric lighting, from candle-making to pressure lanterns. Rayo, Coleman, Aladdin, Petromax . . . they’re all in there.

I made a YouTube video (my only one so far) that I think provides the flavor of the book better than what I can describe here. This particular video shows how to convert a Coleman gas lantern to kerosene. You can see it at //

When I began writing Lanterns, I thought it would be a simple matter of documenting the technology of grandpa’s era. Stuff everybody knew back then but that has been forgotten. It turned out to be much more complicated than I ever imagined. Plus, nobody agrees with nobody on nuttin’.

I wanted a book that would help people shelter in place (where supplies could be stockpiled) but would be equally useful for people who got caught away from home, as we did in 2003. Life would have been a lot easier had I known then what I know today.

So my intended audience is anybody who wants to know how to cope when the grid goes down – whether for a day or a year or for life.

How long did it take to write?

Four years. I’m retired, so it wasn’t just sandwiched in between my day job and the kids’ dance recitals. I worked at it full time. There were always more questions. More and more questions. I bought three or four thousand dollars-worth of lamps, mostly secondhand, on eBay. (My wife isn’t going to see this, is she?)

It took so long because of all the bad information I had to sort through. Recently, for example, on eBay, I saw a Rayo flame spreader jammed on top of a Duplex burner. The two parts had nothing to do with each other. It was being peddled as a “vintage rare rayo brass double mantle lamp wick adjuster.” I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. It was akin to taping a light bulb to a candlestick and promoting it as a vintage laser pointer.

What type of research did you do for Lanterns, Lamps & Candles?

When I decided to actually write a book, I went out and bought everything I could find on the topic that had already been written. I wanted to evaluate the competition. And I discovered that the books already on the market contradicted each other . . . and contained information I knew to be bogus . . . and really didn’t address my questions anyway.

So I searched the Internet. Found tons of information and tons of contradictions. That’s when I started buying lanterns and testing them myself. I have spreadsheets full of test results; binders full, as they say in politics. For several years, the dialogue with my wife has gone like this:

From the top of the stairs she calls down to the basement. “Are you burning something?”

I answer. “It’s just a science experiment, honey. Everything’s fine.”

“Do I need to call the fire department?”


Then we laugh.

Are you previously published?

Back in the 80’s I flirted with the idea of becoming a writer. I did publish a bunch of magazine articles, mostly on shop tips and small-scale farming, and placed one book with a royalty publisher. Translation: I can write saleable English prose. Hemingway? No. I’m not Hemingway.

Do you have plans for future books?

Sure. A logical sequel to Lanterns would be a book on off-grid electrical lighting for the home. Generators, batteries, inverters, solar panels, explaining Ohm’s law, etc., etc.

But, on a completely different topic, I may tackle a book on poultry. Breeds, natural hatching, home-blended feeds, backyard DIY stuff. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time.

Every book, fiction and non-fiction, includes a message. What message do you hope my readers will take with them after reading Lanterns, Lamps & Candles?

The big message is this: The best way to prepare for an uncertain future is with knowledge. Knowledge is something you can carry across international borders without fear of its being confiscated.

What kind of knowledge? Virtually anything that interests you. How to grade rare coins. How to speak a foreign language. How to can tomatoes from the garden. Morse code. How to change the oil in your car. How to improvise a lamp that burns vegetable oil. The more you learn, the more confident of the future you become. And that’s a good feeling.

The smaller message: Lanterns, Lamps & Candles will extend your knowledge in one important area. It will better equip you to face a hostile world. It will contribute to your peace of mind.

Can you tell us a little bit more about yourself?

Sure. I started out to be an Industrial Arts teacher. Which means I’m a hands-on, wrenches-and-screwdrivers kind of guy. My home workshop, in fact, rather looks like a Technology class with pegboard on the walls lined with tools, all that stuff.

But I never taught school. I went into industry instead (because the starting salary was nearly double). I started out as an Industrial Engineering trainee. Then became a full-fledged Industrial Engineer. Then a Senior Industrial Engineer. Then an Industrial Engineering Supervisor.

Plus a Certified Quality Engineer (which means a lot of heavy-duty statistics). And a Planning Supervisor. Blah, blah, blah.

Lanterns are a hobby. If, in some branch of writing this lantern book, I got in over my head, I turned to the experts.

The chapters on petroleum and fuel substitutions, for example, were reviewed by a university physics professor, a Chemical Engineer working in the oil industry, and two Petrochemical Engineers. Thus, while those chapters might not be perfect – nothing in life is perfect – they’re pretty darn good.

Admittedly, this last bit isn’t about me but I suspect people want to be reassured about the technical credentials of the folks who put this book together.

Is there anything else you would like to share with my readers?

Yes. From a prepping point of view, I’d urge everybody to compile a library for themselves. Medical books. Cookbooks. Gardening books. Farming. Camp craft. There are free PDF’s on-line. Book sales at your local library. Amazon.

Prepping-wise, knowledge is your biggest bang for the buck. But no one individual can know EVERYTHING. That’s why you need a stack of “how-to” books to fall back on.

And that’s where Lanterns, Lamps & Candles comes in. There are thousands of medical books. Thousands of cookbooks. Thousands of gardening books. Not so with non-electric lighting.

As I mentioned earlier, I bought everything on the topic I could find. Turns out, it’s a very small stack. Your choices are limited. As one reader put it, “On a scale of one-to-ten, Lanterns, Lamps & Candles is a 10+. Nothing else comes close.”

It’s available through my website at //


owl reading bookA copy of Ron’s book, Lanterns, Lamps and Candles has been reserved for one lucky reader.  To enter this giveaway, reply in the comments area below with a DIY tip or skill that you would like see addressed here on Backdoor Survival.

The deadline is 6:00 AM Pacific next Friday. A winner will be selected next Friday at random using tools on the website.


For the past six months or so, Ron has become a valued source of information on topics that I have wanted to write about but perhaps do not have sufficient information at hand to do so.  Over this time, he has given of this knowledge freely and for that I am grateful.

His book on CD holds a wealth of information on off-grid lighting with lots of DIY projects that will insure that you will “see the light” so to speak when the power is out.  I know you will like it!

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!


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In addition, when you sign up to receive email updates you will receive a free, downloadable copy of my e-book The Emergency Food Buyer’s Guide.

Spotlight Item: LANTERNS, LAMPS & CANDLES – A User’s Guide

Lanterns Lamps Candles 001

Lanterns, Lamps & Candles is a comprehensive handbook of non-electric lighting.  Because it is in PDF format, you can read it on your computer without being connected to the Internet.  There are 442 color photos and you can print it out; there are no restrictions.  Highly recommended.

Bargain Bin: Listed below are all of the books in the Backdoor Survival Winter Reading List. There are both fiction and non-fiction titles and a bit of something for everyone. Also, some of these books are Kindle e-books but you do not need a Kindle to read Kindle e-books. Simply download the free Kindle app from the Amazon site and you are good to go.

The Backdoor Survival Winter Reading List – Non-Fiction

The Prepper Next Door: A Practical Guide For Disaster And Emergency Planning (Author Charlie Palmer)

Rapid Fire!: Tactics for High Threat, Protection and Combat Operations (Author Max Velocity)

Lanterns, Lamps and Candles (Author Ron Brown)

An Operations Manual For Humankind – The Complete Compendium Of Natural Health: (Author: Paul Patrick Robinson)

Understanding the Use of Handguns for Self-Defense (Author David Nash)

Where There Is No Doctor (Authors David Werner, Jane Maxwell, Carol Thuman)

Making the Best of Basics – Family Preparedness Handbook: (Author James Talmadge Stevens)

How to Live on $10,000 a Year – Or Less – Newly Revised for 2013 (Author George Ure)

Barbed Wire, Barricades, and Bunkers: The Free Citizen’s Guide to Fortifying the Home Retreat (Author F.J. Bohan)

The Prepper’s Pantry: Building and Thriving with Food Storage (Author Anne Lang)

The Truth About Simple Unhooked Living (Author Estar Holmes)

The Backdoor Survival Winter Reading List – Fiction

Preppers Road March (Author Ron Foster)

BUG OUT! Preppers on the move! (Author Ron Foster)

The Light In The Lake: The Survival Lake Retreat (Author Ron Foster)

Patriot Dawn: The Resistance Rises: (Author Max Velocity)

Holding Their Own: A Story of Survival (Author Joe Nobody)

Shop the Emergency Essentials Monthly Specials: The monthly specials at Emergency Essentials feature discounts of up to 35% off sometimes a bit more.

Fruit ComboI eat a lot of fruit (usually three whole fruits a night as a bedtime snack) and in a SHTF situation, fruits will be something I will really miss. The Freeze-Dried Fruit Favorites Combo from Emergency Essentials is something I use all year round. With the grocery store a 20 mile round trip journey, I like the thought of being able to rehydrate my own fruit, in the quantity I want, at a moments notice.

The selection includes Apple Dices, Bananas, Peaches, Pineapple Dices, Blueberries and Strawberries.

But not to be left out, there are veggies too. The deluxe supply of Freeze Dried Vegetables includes 18 #10 tins of the following veggies in various quantities: Broccoli, Cauliflower, Sweet Corn , Green Beans, Green Peppers, Green Peas, Mushrooms, Potato Dices, Spinach, and White Onions.

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Updated Jul 9, 2013

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32 Responses to “Winter Book Festival and Giveaway: Ron Brown and Lanterns, Lamps & Candles”

  1. I would like to see information on a ‘delicate’ aspect of preparing. In a long term crisis there will be a certain amount of waste (both kitchen and human) that will begin to accumulate creating a health hazard Just ‘digging a hole’ doesn’t seem to be a satisfactory long-term solution. Have you or anyone else any ideas on a more organized method for handling this?

    • // has a lot of good information 🙂

  2. I would like to know about using a hand pump to get water from my current modern wel. Should a hand pump be installed before a grid-down situation? Should one be ready to install after the grid-down begins? How does one go about this?

    • I have also been concerned with this and in my process of getting answers i checked with the Amish about a hand pump for our well to get setup now or to be ready. I was told if it was more then 200 feet I couldn’t use it. Our well is 400 feet deep. Would love to know if there is another solution or a better answer.

  3. I would like to see information on using the entire animal when butchering…..from all the meat to actually tanning the skin to use in making clothing. When it comes to the SHTF situation, I believe that this would be a very important item as supplies will not be unlimited and waste will have to be avoided in all things.

  4. I would like to see more about solar panels and wind generators. Where I live there is always a bit of wind, so a windmill just makes sense for generating power.

  5. I would like information about natural spring water – best way to protect the spring, building a springhouse, etc.

  6. I would like to see info on small solar chargers for batteries.

  7. I’d love information on building a partially submerged stand-alone storage cellar, which details how to reinforce the walls to prevent them collapsing inwards, and prevent damp from rising through the walls / up from the floor. Our ground is on a gentle slope and having the top of the cellar earth covered and creating a cool(er) storage space below would be fantastic.

    A DIY tip I’d like to share is this: storing an opened tin of paint upside down will help prevent the “skin” forming on top.

    Tip # 2:
    For when you have a water outage; ensure that you have a large spare water tank in which you store potable water with an in-line pump. When the pump needs to be left on for a period of time, connect an outside tap, via a hosepipe, to the top of the tank and ensure that the tap is open. That way you can “collect” the water which you are not using whilst the pump is on, and the water is not currently in household use / demand.

  8. Great interview! Definitely adding this to my library!

  9. I would like to know how am I going to care/feed my pets long term. How do I keep enough food for them? What happens if I can’t get them to the vet if needed?

  10. Aquaponics! I know there’s a lot out there on the web, but I haven’t seen any yet that address sustainability in a total grid down or shtf scenario. Are there fish you can breed rather than buying? What do you feed the fish when you can’t buy fish pellets? How do you keep the pumps going? How do you heat the greenhouse in the winter?

    • I just got some great info on that topic called Backyard Liberty it was very well done. I would think he would be open to answering questions in that vain. He has been doing it for a long time and his presentation was great. I am presently doing Aeroponics and will add solar panels to them pretty easily if the grid goes down. But that doesn’t take care of your fish problem.

  11. I would like to see information on sewing patterns and recommended materials for baby diapers and menstrual pads. (Sorry if this is too indelicate!) In a long-term fecal-matter-collides-with-the-oscillator scenario, we’ll run out of disposables before long!

    Tip: (Here’s another ‘indelicate’ topic) – in such a scenario, pregnancies can easily result in true life-threatening situations (remember Walking Dead?) If appropriate for your situation, or for barter, load up on condoms. And pick up some books on the mucous method of birth control. (With self discipline, it is very effective.)

    • Her is a copy of my response to Backwood Homes Magazine in regards to menstrual pads.
      What did Grandma use?
      In answer to “What did Grandma Use?” Brenda Arnold asked about sanitary napkins & what to do. They used washable cotton that was absorbable like a diaper. I just found a company for myself that supplies these type of items. It’s called The Keeper Store (PO Box 12751, Portland, OR 97212 (503) 282-0436). They have washable cotton pads “Purdy Pads” 4 pack for $29.00. I suppose you could make your own out of extra absorbent cotton diapers. They also supply a natural gum rubber cup that is worn internally, holding monthly flow. The keeper costs $35.00 and has a life expectancy of 10 years. If water is short this might be a better alternative. I hope my answer is not too graphic. The second option is washable cotton pads available from:
      Feminine Options, N14397 380th Street, Ridgeland, WI 54763, 1-715-455-1652 (velcro holders, pads & pad pattern) Some places recommend sea sponges be very carfull you can end up with some serious infections.

      Zenia , Atlanta, GA

  12. I feel SOLAR is going to be key and find the topic very confusing and the information difficult to understand. I don’t think people totally understand how much we depend on it, if you have a child on insulin it has to be kept at a certain temperature or it breaks down rapidly. There is a book written by a North Carolina author called ONE SECOND AFTER if you really want to understand how bad it will get if the grid goes down. It makes you think of things you haven’t thought of, it is really well done. Author is William Forstchen. I just finished it and it opened my eyes on a whole new level. Does anyone have good solid answers on solar solutions or something better. Remember I am a female and I have to be able to understand it, I am not an electrican and Daddy’s gone.

  13. I would love to see more CARPENTRY SKILLS, ie basic hand building tools, and how to use them.

  14. I am interested in learning how to build an outhouse (toilet)…how big & how deep the pit should be…how to keep critters & insects out of it…any advice at all….

    • Have you looked at the book Humanure?

  15. Prepare for personal disasters – it is far more likely that you would need preps for your own personal disasters instead of giant dislocations. Look for ways to keep your family safe in personal troubled times, then if something big happens you will be able to survive with no trouble at all.

    How doI know this? A child with a brain tumor and a husband with a severely broken back was on the job training. Because of planning we always had food, always had clean clothes and clean house and fed cats. We could go shopping in the garage when we needed to. There was no time to go to the grocery store when I was staying in the hospital for weeks at a time with ur daughter. My husband could cook a crockpot of something at night and bring in fresh bread and a mason jar of soup or stew and clean clothes in the morning on his way to work. Weathering personal disasters isn’t fun but it is necessary.

  16. I am interested in How to take care of your pets when there is no more veterinarians or hospitals? What do you do when there is an emergency? What kind of herbal remedies can be used for your pets?

  17. Great question on taking care of the animals. We live on a farm and genrally have at least half a year’s food on hand. Also, when I geta great buy on things like turkey or chicken parts or things left over when there is butchering, I can it into animals food using the ball blue book for timing.

    So far I haven’t had to use herbal remedies – we have a good relationship with a wonderful vet and we have the normal farm supplies for the animals – there are times when you just cannot wait for someone to travel an hour just to give an antibiotic shot or put a splint on a lamb’s hurt leg. My best advice would be to learn everything you can and gather all the supplies you might need. Remember Vet Wrap is a wonderful thing!

  18. I would like to see articles on using vet and fish antibiotics for people, in a shtf situation. Diagnosing the infection/disease, choosing the correct antibiotic, when to use them, how much and how often, and side effects. Thank you for all the great information you supply.

    • @Ruby – Take a look at the following two articles to get you starteed:


  19. Any kind of hunker down shelter in place self defense information is always great. The more different opinions the better aa I believe everyone has something I should know, I just have to sort it out. Keep up the great site Gaye!

  20. It has been said that when the SHTF that Med supplies will be nill in certain places- I have heard that people who are Diabetics will be in a big problem. Therefore we must do what we must do- When i heard this i wondered about Dogs. Some are diabetics- I know this will be controvercial big time but when it goes down you WILL have to make choices you dont want to make nor would you in any other situation. Is it ok to take the Insulin and use it (from Dogs Insulin Bottle) in an Emergency situation .???? Ive read that the Insulin is almost the same in that it is made just slightly different but maybe could help. I really dont know.This has always made me wonder because if one had to set up an Outdoor /Rough style Hospital of sorts you have to improvise. Also we have made up a Charging system in that you take an Alternator something up around a 140-180 Amp (which you could get from a Bus or Truck that runs alot of lights ) and take that and wire in an Amp Meter to show it is charging and put this together with a Lawnmower Engine – Put a Fuel tank on it and have your wires connect from the Alternator to the Battery. YES it works-I use it all the time to charge multiple car Batteries at the same time. I connect the POS post to the other POS post on another Battery and the Neg to the neg and the connect the Alternator the same way Pos to Positive and the Negative to the Negative. I charge 5 Car Batteries at the same time. —There is another way- You can also charge up Batteries using a pulley system . But you have to have multiple pulleys and a hand crank. You have to have the Alternator at a certain RPM(Revolutions Per Minute ) to charge. It all works. If your mechanical or you know someone who is they or you can do this- It is a great source for power in conjuction with our Solar Panels. Have a Great Day Folks- Geo in Canada-

  21. I would like to add to my post that—-If you use Baking Soda that DOES NOT have Aluminum in it you will CURE Cancer and other Ailments -Anyone who understands Lab Procedure will tell you NOTHING lives in an Alkylyne System. Your body is a Battery so keep it that way. Cancer cells will not live in this enviroment.Check it out on line -I also know and 1st hand knowledge that it works- // I use it now as a maintenence program.Ive had problems in the past so i keep it up now and have not been sick in years-also if it stings at times when urinating just stop it for a couple of days -drink plenty of water and your ok. Or get the test strips. they work well also. If this happens you know your system is up to par- Watch the vid and see. You Cannot Argue with Success–Geo in Canada-

  22. Dear Gaye, I would love a copy of Lanterns, Lamps and Candles. In response to the question, I would love to hear more about WATER. I don’t think there can be too many articles or books on water. After reading and researching for months, I have decided on the following, but want to know if my plans will be sufficient.
    For bug out water, I would like to purchase a “Go Berkey” system, and also carry a weeks worth of water in my bugout luggage, as my husband calls it. For bugging in, I plan to get a couple of rain barrels and a couple of round, hard plastic, animal drinking troughs, that I would cover wtih screen. Then I would filter or boil the collected water, and refil my bottles. Another thing I do for non-potable water for bathing or whatever, is that I clean and sanitize the kitty litter jugs and fill with water. This water is probably drinkable. But it is not stackable and the lids leak. So I have the filled jugs line up and down my hallway.

  23. To Geo: Baking soda does not have aluminum in it. Baking Powder does…

    I would like to see an investigative study on and uses for microfiber.
    Also I need a DIY dish washing liquid that is natural and has some sudzing.
    I’d also like to see more on healthy eatimg.

  24. I would like to know the best way (female) to defend yourself and family without a gun, without purchasing a lot of special equipment.

  25. A handy tip for loose wood handle. Put the ax( or whatever ) head first in a small bread pan and add linseed oil. Handle absorbs oil and tightens up.

  26. A nice article on hand drill firestarting would be welcome!


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