Palmer Furnace style emergency shelter

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Palmer Furnace style emergency shelter

Post by Burncycle » Thu Nov 15, 2018 4:07 am

Especially this time of year, where it's relatively warmer during the day but dips to freezing at night, I wanted an emergency shelter I could carry with me in a cargo pocket. Additionally, our fire station does water calls year round, so it would be nice to have something on my person in case something happens to our boat so that once we got to shore we could stave off hypothermia long enough for backup to come pick us up.

This style of emergency shelter involves sitting up against something (like a tree), wrapping yourself with the emergency blanket (or poncho, or trashbag, etc) and lighting a candle between your legs. Doesn't make for a comfortable night, but it beats freezing...

I'm not the first to do this by any means, but I just thought I'd share since this is the first time I've tested it out. I'm using an SOL poncho (since it's made of the same reflective material as the heatsheets blankets), couple of rubber bands to close off the arms, an inflatable seating pad, and a beeswax candle roughly the size of an altoids tin.

Image


Tonight it's ~33f and drizzling after raining all day, albiet little wind, I figured it was a good time to try it out. I was wearing a light softshell jacket (Condor) and a hat, simulating what I probably would have been wearing while active during the day, but it should be noted I started off dry and warm, going directly from inside the house. After about 30 minutes the thermometer measured the interior at just above 80f, which was a lot more than I was expecting from two little wicks and was warmer than the inside of my house. This size tin will burn about 5 hours in my experience.

The SOL poncho is long enough, but only just (I am 5'7" ~160lbs)

Since it did better than expected, I'll have to figure out a time and do a more realistic test (such as starting off very cold and/or wet), but it proved the basic concept in my eyes

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Re: Palmer Furnace style emergency shelter

Post by NT2C » Thu Nov 15, 2018 10:09 am

The main issue I see with this is getting the candle lit while shivering and not dripping on it.
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Re: Palmer Furnace style emergency shelter

Post by majorhavoc » Thu Nov 15, 2018 10:53 am

NT2C wrote:
Thu Nov 15, 2018 10:09 am
The main issue I see with this is getting the candle lit while shivering and not dripping on it.
Or setting yourself on fire if you nod off with a lit candle between your legs.

It is an interesting concept however, assuming you can get through the night without having more to worry about than just hypothermia. Still, if it works, as Burncycle says: it doesn't make for a pleasant night, but it sure beats freezing to death.

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Re: Palmer Furnace style emergency shelter

Post by NT2C » Thu Nov 15, 2018 11:57 am

majorhavoc wrote:
Thu Nov 15, 2018 10:53 am
NT2C wrote:
Thu Nov 15, 2018 10:09 am
The main issue I see with this is getting the candle lit while shivering and not dripping on it.
Or setting yourself on fire if you nod off with a lit candle between your legs.

It is an interesting concept however, assuming you can get through the night without having more to worry about than just hypothermia. Still, if it works, as Burncycle says: it doesn't make for a pleasant night, but it sure beats freezing to death.
Probably little chance of setting yourself on fire if you're soaking wet. But on the other hand, you really shouldn't stay in that wet clothing as you'll be expending precious heat trying to warm up all that water in the fabric. This can be mitigated quite a bit by wearing wool (I once spent a winter backpack camping in the Adirondacks and wool long underwear was a wonderful thing) but if you're sodden from a dunking getting out of the wet clothing will speed warming up. A vacuum sealed bag with just a simple jumpsuit and wool socks would help, even more if you could afford space for underwear and a t-shirt.
Nonsolis Radios Sediouis Fulmina Mitto. - USN Gunner's Mate motto
Whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Except sailors. They will kill you and sing songs about it.

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Re: Palmer Furnace style emergency shelter

Post by moab » Thu Nov 15, 2018 2:18 pm

This is an old soldiers/marine trick. It works. I'd suggest a better poncho for holding the warmth in. I used to do something similar with heat tabs. A candle works better. It's pretty amazing how easy it is to light under your poncho. You stick your head and arms in while seated. And light everything. Then pop your head out with the hood up. And your arms. And your a little heater tent if you will. A 5 hr candle is a lot of warmth. Even if you can't sleep that way.
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Re: Palmer Furnace style emergency shelter

Post by Evan the Diplomat » Thu Nov 15, 2018 3:05 pm

If you want a better starting point for your simulation, soak your duty clothing with a garden hose, leave it on back porch. Take a cool shower, wet walk to your porch, get dressed and repeat your experiment.
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Re: Palmer Furnace style emergency shelter

Post by moab » Thu Nov 15, 2018 3:26 pm

Evan the Diplomat wrote:
Thu Nov 15, 2018 3:05 pm
If you want a better starting point for your simulation, soak your duty clothing with a garden hose, leave it on back porch. Take a cool shower, wet walk to your porch, get dressed and repeat your experiment.
I wish I had a picture. But I don't. It works very easily. Whether your soaked or not. As your seated with your legs spread apart and the poncho over your head and covering it and your whole body. Place the candle between your legs on the ground. Lean over it and light. You may be wet. But the inside of the poncho is dry and wind free. Even if your dripping wet. It doesn't matter. As your hunched over the candle under the poncho.As long as you not wringing out your clothing onto the candle your fine. Even if you just lean to one side so your not dripping all over the candle.

But even if your not soaking wet or wet. Either way this is a good trick. If all you've got is a flame source and a poncho. There are of course better shelters. But if your stuck in a fighting hole or similar situation. Say an observation post. IT's a nice way to stay dry. If your careful with light discipline. Even if I were say stuck in a car I would do this. As your going to save more heat onto your body this way. Than just lighting a candle in a car. Or any other shelter for that matter. It really concentrates the heat onto your body with the help of the poncho.
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Re: Palmer Furnace style emergency shelter

Post by RonnyRonin » Fri Nov 16, 2018 5:12 pm

I'd be very curious how much better the SOL poncho is then a traditional one for this purpose, I'd have to assume a LOT better but I don't know.
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Re: Palmer Furnace style emergency shelter

Post by Rachel-86 » Fri Nov 16, 2018 8:15 pm

Burn Cycle, i’ve bee researching the Palmer Furnace concept and decided to include it in some of my kits. A SAFETY NOTE: Accepted wisdom is to keep CO off your face by tightening the neck closure. Also some commentators say inflatable pillow= almost no insulation on cold ground. They champion a 12” x12” , 1/8”-1/4” closed cell foam sit pad. Some say to first wrap yourself in aluminzed pocket blanket, then the poncho over the top. I’m using a 4.2oz. Exotac bees wax, 3 wick, 30hr., tinned candle. There is a smaller, lighter 4hr. version. If I don’t carry the sit pad, I will sit on the blanket and poncho , with my back to a tree, if possible. If available, I’ll put dry leaves or pine bows underhanded, at the location of my butt.

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Re: Palmer Furnace style emergency shelter

Post by moab » Fri Nov 16, 2018 10:44 pm

moab wrote:
Thu Nov 15, 2018 3:26 pm
Evan the Diplomat wrote:
Thu Nov 15, 2018 3:05 pm
If you want a better starting point for your simulation, soak your duty clothing with a garden hose, leave it on back porch. Take a cool shower, wet walk to your porch, get dressed and repeat your experiment.
I wish I had a picture. But I don't. It works very easily. Whether your soaked or not. As your seated with your legs spread apart and the poncho over your head and covering it and your whole body. Place the candle between your legs on the ground. Lean over it and light. You may be wet. But the inside of the poncho is dry and wind free. Even if your dripping wet. It doesn't matter. As your hunched over the candle under the poncho.As long as you not wringing out your clothing onto the candle your fine. Even if you just lean to one side so your not dripping all over the candle.

But even if your not soaking wet or wet. Either way this is a good trick. If all you've got is a flame source and a poncho. There are of course better shelters. But if your stuck in a fighting hole or similar situation. Say an observation post. IT's a nice way to stay dry. If your careful with light discipline. Even if I were say stuck in a car I would do this. As your going to save more heat onto your body this way. Than just lighting a candle in a car. Or any other shelter for that matter. It really concentrates the heat onto your body with the help of the poncho.
I forgot to mention I would not leave my head in the poncho. Just until it's lit. Then you pop your head out. You actually leave the candle burning beneath your two feet. Your knees serving as a sort of tent. You'll warm up real quick. We used heat tabs too. We didn't have candles that often as I recall. In fact maybe only in cold weather training. So it was short lived. But on a cold night it would do wonders for your morale. I've done it hiking and hunting. But usually I'm better prepared than that. And have no need or an additional heat source other than a fire.

But in answer to Ronny. Yes. I agree. I'd think a thicker poncho would serve you better. I could see the addition of the survival blanket as an added bonus whether you lit a candle or not. And ya. You definitely want to find a dry/soft place to sit.

I wonder who "Palmer" was? lol.
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Re: Palmer Furnace style emergency shelter

Post by Burncycle » Fri Nov 16, 2018 11:05 pm

Thanks for the comments!

I've messed around with a separate mylar blanket and disposable poncho, it works but it's easier to deal with just the SOL poncho which is essentially both in one. As others have mentioned it doesn't stop conductive heat loss, so whatever touches it will get cold, but your core should still remain sufficiently warm.

A heavier poncho (like USGI poncho), wool blanket, and closed cell foam pad would all be superior IMO, but they also wouldn't fit in my cargo pocket ;) I do keep a proper sleeping bag, bivy, insulated pad, hammock and tarp in my daypack and it would be my go to if I had the pack with me.

I've seen diagrams of military use, and I've heard "palmer furnace" in reference to a geologist who apparently used it once with a carbide lamp to stay warm, but haven't really been able to find any details beyond that.

I think what I'll ultimately need to do is get wet and try it to simulate kind of a worst case scenario. Polar plunge anyone? :lol:

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Re: Palmer Furnace style emergency shelter

Post by NT2C » Fri Nov 16, 2018 11:44 pm

Burncycle wrote:
Fri Nov 16, 2018 11:05 pm
Thanks for the comments!

I've messed around with a separate mylar blanket and disposable poncho, it works but it's easier to deal with just the SOL poncho which is essentially both in one. As others have mentioned it doesn't stop conductive heat loss, so whatever touches it will get cold, but your core should still remain sufficiently warm.

A heavier poncho (like USGI poncho), wool blanket, and closed cell foam pad would all be superior IMO, but they also wouldn't fit in my cargo pocket ;) I do keep a proper sleeping bag, bivy, insulated pad, hammock and tarp in my daypack and it would be my go to if I had the pack with me.

I've seen diagrams of military use, and I've heard "palmer furnace" in reference to a geologist who apparently used it once with a carbide lamp to stay warm, but haven't really been able to find any details beyond that.

I think what I'll ultimately need to do is get wet and try it to simulate kind of a worst case scenario. Polar plunge anyone? :lol:
One more concern... flammability of the various materials. Yes, you're holding everything clear of the flame with your legs, but if you should nod off... is the SOL poncho going to combust if it hits flame?
Nonsolis Radios Sediouis Fulmina Mitto. - USN Gunner's Mate motto
Whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Except sailors. They will kill you and sing songs about it.

Sic quemadmodum gladius neminem occidit; occidentis telum est - Seneca the Younger, Epistles

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Re: Palmer Furnace style emergency shelter

Post by Burncycle » Sun Nov 18, 2018 1:34 am

One more concern... flammability of the various materials. Yes, you're holding everything clear of the flame with your legs, but if you should nod off... is the SOL poncho going to combust if it hits flame?
It will definitely melt

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