Again and again, you need to think in some other terms in order to understand importance of some everyday and usual things when SHTF.
It is hard in way to explain importance of some thing that is so common and usual for us today so we do not even notice it, because we take it for granted. We take it like it was always there, and it going to be there always. When SHTF only then we understand real importance of these things.
Fire means lot of things (especially for survival), fire means warm place to sleep, fire means hot soup. Fire also means clean clothes and clean water. Fire means life. It’s no surprise that our ancestors thought about fire as something holy. It is really that good.
In old history fireplace was almost magical place where all important things happened, wars started or peace was made. It was center of the house. Fire had to be kept alive.
There is reason why lighters were so valuable during my time in war. They enabled people to make fire and with that a lot of very basic but important things were possible.
I remember clearly guy who was walking over open space on one intersection, on sniper alley, in the middle of the night with flaming torch in his hand. He did not perform any strange ritual. His fire went in his stove in house because he did not have any matches or lighter or anything to start it again.
He went out walk for a few kilometers, found fire somewhere and went back in his house to start fire again. People died while trying to get fire from one place to another. I talk about this in detail in my course.
And all that happened maybe few months after war started. How many ordinary folks have 20-30 lighters or matches stored somewhere in house? I know you probably have now and that is good.
But other than you not too many of them.
You are completely dependent on fire
Just do one practice, go and sit in cold and dark room for a few days and then let someone offer you cold soup, or hot soup. Small thing, but single hot soup just makes amazing difference.
You need to have fire place inside your house. That does not mean that you need today to smash walls and change your house plans in order to install fire place.
It can be done on some simple ways like hole in wall for exhaust, or finding some small stoves that you can install when SHTF and use all kind of fuels for them. Even a bigger grill for barbecue is better than nothing.
Stoves are not such big problem, finding fuel for them is.
So good idea is to have some amount of fuel ready stored somewhere. I have currently 300 liter of diesel fuel and 50 liter of petroleum stored. Or if that is not possible try to have plan where you can quickly take some fuel for fire when SHTF, again before others.
You as prepper have hopefully “first mover advantage” that you realize what you need before others.
After some time all folks just realize “let’s go out and take those trees from park“. So do not wait for everybody else to go there in that park. Just like with everything else try to be ahead of other folks.
Of course this does not mean that you need to go tonight to park and start to chop trees. This actually means that you need to have all tools ready today, and plan how to drag the trees and where to put them when SHTF.
Good idea is to have some kind of storage for firewood and some amount of fire wood, but since that is almost impossible for most of the folks who are living in urban areas, today you can do everything in order to be ready to start quickly to gather firewood when time comes.
When SHTF just go out and do it quickly. Do not learn where and how to do that when SHTF. Have plan for that today ready. If you never chopped wood go and help someone at rural place and learn to chop some wood safely.
Getting a stove
There are all kind of stoves around to buy and to make by yourself. Without going into the brands and models of them, here are few things to think about when you buying it.
1. You are needing stove for what?
As I mentioned already, you gonna need fire for lot of things. To make food, clean your water(boiling), heating… So when you are obtaining wood stove for you think for what thing you are gonna use it? How that thing gonna look like is not important thing at all.
It also helps A LOT to have some kind of metal frame to hang things over fire. You can buy it here but make sure it is really sturdy. If you are with group you want to cook a lot of water at same time.
2. How much fuel you are gonna have?
If you are living in area where wood is no problem then you are lucky when it comes to stove, because in other case you are in situation like I was, always something like half cold and freezing.
I used two types of stoves, real wood stove, old type, that used lot of wood, but gives lot of heat, and keep heat lot of time (long time). I just do some upgrading on that thing by switching heating plates (thick) with thinner, in order to boil things faster.
Other type was very thin and small stove, something like big can. You could bring that thing to red heat in few minutes with very small amount of wood, or cardboards and all junk. Intense heat was good to make something very quick (food) or to warm yourself with small abount of fuel in very quick time. That thing went cold very quickly after fire went down of course.
3.Look around you
Again and always: have and do what most folks around you are doing-that means actually LOOK like you are looking for and doing what everybody else is doing.
I mean if most of the folks are freezing around you, it does not mean that you need to freezing too. Just look like that. Do not talk about how warm and cozy your place is when you see neighbor or someone in the streets. Pretend to be still cold. Once your body is cold it takes long time to warm up again so pretend to freeze. It is easy to forget but people are not only hungry but cold too. They want to get warm no matter what, even if that means move in YOUR house if you want or not.
Just like everything else, there is no universal advice for everybody. If you are living in lonely place, thick smoke from the chimney and tasty smell of chicken soup is something like invitation for not wanted guests when SHTF.
In my case smell of burnt ruins and burning stuff was in the air all the time together with smoke, and other worse smell, so I did not have problem with visible smoke and smell.
4. Have portable stuff
You will eventuall go out and take trips for many reasons, and on these trips you are gonna spend time, take shelter somewhere and need fire. Think about solution of portable stove and what kind is best for your situation and surroundings.
Military type portable stoves, with liquid fuel, simple „can“ type portable stoves, or you are gonna start fire in place, on ground. But be sure that you have some stove to move around. For example something like this here.
5. Take time today and make some tests
Be familiar with all kind of wood in your sourondings and learn what you can expect from different kinds of wood or other fuels. You gonna save some important time when SHTF if you check that things today. Know what wood chips you can use for tinder and if you have some tinder fungus in your area for example. Also know what kind of wood or other fuel gives how much heat, and for how long, and also important how intense smell and smoke.
If you can not try it because you are in urban area try to go to parks and other places with public fireplaces or areas. Even trying things with wood on barbecue grill somewhere is ok to get familiar with different materials.