Simple Living: Offgrid – hygene and our woodburner story

Simple Living is something we all strive for or at least home for before we return to the Earth.


… It is something that we hope for here that continues well beyond the generation.


… You could look at it as that little ripple we hope to generate that helps to change the world in a better direction – even if it is only with our own kids and generations after them within our family.


What about yourself?


So you have already had the chance to read our Polar Plunge into Off-gridding – if not you can read it here (– this is our continuation story onto that.


What we have noticed when people see that other people are living offgrid in a more remote style, some may call it Amishish (yes, we’ve heard this lol) or a pioneerish way, their first thought is that you never take a bath.


Which is so far from the truth.


So our hygiene so far being offgrid

We actually take baths even though not tied to the grid or any solar power abilities right now.


I know shocker right?! – or at least I sure hope not.


How do we get hot water then – if the well pump and hot water tank doesn’t run?


The answer is pretty simple… We boil it! … Doesn’t that get old?…. Nope, it isn’t as tedious as you may think – unless you ask my husband and it’s to fill the bathtub lol.


When someone in our house feels like they need to clean up, but not dirty enough for a full bath, then a birdbath comes into play. Which is a washtub in the bathroom sink and our kettle heated up. Then you throw some castile soap in the water or use bar soap and get to washing up.


Then once or twice a week we get out the big stockpot (here soon will be two so task will go quicker) and get to boiling water. It takes about 4 stockpots (this is a stockpot big enough to hold a full chicken if not two – well maybe half of the second one – in it) loads to get the bathtub to bath level.


By bath level, I do not mean soaking – I mean get in get your wash your body and hair and get out.


This is how it goes – hubby get in first (he is still into those really hot baths even though they aren’t good for you lol), the middle munchkin, the oldest, the youngest well we get him in there between or sometimes he gets in with his father or one of his sisters (still young enough yet not a big deal), and then I am last… by this time the water is barely warm but I don’t mind a cold bath.


Right now this is the wintertime routine.


How dirty do you really get in winter when you live in an area that gets cold… for us not too much… so bird baths are big and a once a week bath.


Now summer time I foresee the bird bath still being our go-to thing for cleanups when not really dirty. But since it’s much hotter and you run a bigger chance of sweating a lot more high probability of getting dirtier beyond what a bird bath can handle.


Outside of that our bathtub routine will probably be more like – the kids get their baths first, water change out, then hubby, and again myself last.


Our goal/plan for the future

Is to get the Pioneer Princess cookstove with the side hot water addon – once we build our pole barn home conversion.

This will eliminate the hot water need for those that do not want a pure cold shower and want to take a bit of the chill off… yep, we plan on doing a showing instead of a tub in the home – best age in place option.


So that’s the hygiene on the homestead since going offgrid.


Now, what about the wood burner we are using now in the house till we get our new home built?


Our wood burner story

So we thought it was going to be easy, a piece of cake, to get the low budget wood burner in.


Boy, was that the farthest from the truth.


Through our struggles of realizing there was no way to get it up through the rafters and line up correctly – even if using some type of elbow (without having to use two at different angles) – with how this at least 100+ year old house was pieced together.


It opened up our eyes though… to the issues that this house hidden up in its attic…


Was that a big deal to us?


Nope, it got us to come up with a plan for a better setup to age in place and handle having a small solar setup to run a freezer, mini fridge, and hotplate/small electric things once in a blue moon if needed (but if we couldn’t it is no biggy – it’s just convenience).


So long story short…


The only place the wood burner could go in and clear both sets of rafters/beams was our bedroom. Thankfully the kid's room shares a wall with us. So we opened up a small walkway between the two allowing for the warm air to cycle into their room also.


Thankfully my uncle used to deliver fuel oil and they originally had a fuel oil furnace before he retired – then went to the heat pump style.


We had struck gold from the basement up through the roof. All hidden by a wall, except for the pieces that came out of the roof.


By struck gold I mean 6” stainless steel double walled stove pipe, flashing, rain ring, and cap.


This saved us well over $500.


So in this install, the only cost was the Castiron 900 sq ft wood burner…


[viglink with image of woodburner]


Our firebrick that we got at Menards for $14/$15 a box, we bought three boxes.


[viglink with image of firebrick]


The needed caulk and chimney cement.


Our underlayment pad $50, and two pieces of Duroc Cement Board $12 each (must be Duroc for it to have a .5 R-value – don’t let anyone tell you it doesn’t have an R-value everything has one lol).


[viglink with image of hearthpad]

[viglink with image of duroc cement board]


Now by chance, if you do get this wood burner (yes the reviews are mixed but it’s that way with everything) take note of these few things…


  • Pull out the insulation from the top. You can do this through the opening where the pipe goes. Make sure to get it all. This is what causes the smoking issues people review. All this is for is to qualify the stove to be EPA approved – it chokes out the smoke from being able to pass through it – poor design.
  • Layer the inside of the stove with one layer of firebrick. If you don’t you will need to make sure to have an underlayment that can withstand very high heat. The stove says it needs an R-value of 2.06. I believe it is well higher than that if you don’t put firebrick in it. We tested it and only let it go through a small burn which we had to open the door to help with dispersing the heat better – the underlayment system we had going was getting too hot to barely touch at one point.
  • If you layer the inside of the wood burner bottom with firebrick you can do like we did (if doing it yourself) for the underlayment. Get 2 pieces of Duroc cement board (make sure it’s Duroc, unless you know what the brand of cement board R-value is 100% for sure – duroc’s is .5) this will have you at an R-value of 1. Then get the hearth pad that has an R-value of 1.5. Combining this all provides you with the overhang you need all around the stove and an R-value of 2.5 (you only need 2.06). We also use this fireproof rug at the front – it is half on the cement board and half on the main floor – just for extra ash protection and sparks.
  • Now you can get this stove to glow red. We didn’t think it was possible. But they must not use too good of a high heat paint on the inside. The spots we got to glow red that paint layer was starting to flake. So save yourself the hassle and just layer the sides and back with firebrick (the top you won’t be able too). Now there may be a few spots that you’ll need to alter the firebrick so it’ll fit (the back and sides due to how their inner-system is designed). We did this by hand with a hammer and being careful – it is good enough that we no longer get glowing red issues (we still keep an eye on the top). You also do not want to put the firebrick clear up to the top in the back you will end up having about an inch or so of an area at the top that doesn’t have anything. You want this for circulation – trust me lol I had to remove pieces back there to fix the issue.


* Like with anything keep in mind these suggestions are just that our suggestions of opinion / personal experience. When in doubt always consult a professional.


So that is pretty much our journey so far since the plunge into offgrid.


Stay tuned for our next article on simple living were we go over our routine.



Jess Wardell & the Homesteading Family


P.S. leave a comment below letting us know your experience with wood burners or how you go about hygiene and being offgrid. Look forward to hearing everyone’s stories.


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