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Letters To The Editor

We had letters from several readers with advice for Panicked Mom, the lady who was worried about her options in the event a situation occurred where insulin was not available for those with Type 1 diabetes, an illness her daughter has. The first from a pharmacist…

Off The Grid News Editor,

Regarding the concern by a mom for a daughter with Type 1 diabetes, purchasing additional Insulin supplies in advance of use may help ease her concerns.  I am a pharmacist and insulin, if stored in a refrigerator between 36-46 degrees F, is stable for the expiration dating listed on the bottle by the manufacturer. Currently, the insulin we have in stock has dating out to 18-24 months. So, purchasing a one or more year supply of the insulin and rotating the “use by” date will give you a lengthy supply provided you can maintain the appropriate storage temperature. Insulin is stable for 30 days at room temperature. The only downside to purchasing supplies in advance is that if the type of insulin prescribed is changed by the physician, you are “stuck” with the unused supply. I would only recommended purchasing an advance supply once someone has been stabilized on a particular insulin type for a period of time. Hopefully within a one year period of time, any supply interruptions would be corrected, with insulin once again being available. Check with your pharmacist to assist you with getting product with the longest expiration dating and be sure to rotate your supply that you have on hand.

Prepping Pharmacist

And an interesting perspective from a Type 1 diabetes patient, which combined with the advice from Prepping Pharmacist above, gives some well-rounded advice:

Dear Off the Grid Editor:

I have a niece who has been on four shots of insulin a day since age 6. She is now 30. I was discussing this subject with her, and she pointed out that insulin is to control HIGH blood sugar. In an emergency situation, her biggest concern would be to find adequate nutrients so she does not have LOW blood sugar. Simply eating less helps lower blood sugar, and having high blood sugar causes damage over years of abuse. Low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia, can cause you to go into a coma and die. Hypoglycemia is the biggest danger. She has decided to use Karo syrup, if the need arises, so she will not go into a hypoglycemic coma.




And here are some letters we got about soapstone stoves…

Dear Editor:

My family and I have heated our home solely with our soapstone wood stove for several years now and we love it! Before buying our wood stove, we did some research on traditional cast iron stoves vs. soapstone stoves.

We found that soapstone stoves do tend to be a more expensive initial purchase than the traditional cast iron stoves. They are also a bit more difficult to find in that not every place that sells wood stoves carries soapstone stoves as well.

In our subjective opinion, the soapstone stoves are more attractive than the traditional cast iron stoves. They come in a variety of stone colors and, again, in my opinion, look a bit “dressier” than a traditional stove. Ours has a glass door that enables us to see the fire burning inside which is nice.

As far as efficiency goes, the traditional wood stove will heat to a higher temperature faster than a soapstone stove. However, and this was a big selling point for us, the soapstone stove retains its heat much longer than the traditional stove and releases it in a more slow and steady way. Once the soapstone stove is hot, you can cut back the amount of wood you are feeding it and still get a steady heat release. The soapstone retains heat so well that we can stoke our stove well right before going to bed and find that it is still warm (with live coals in the fire box) in the morning when we get up. We also noticed that the heat that the stove releases is a “cozier” and “warmer” heat than what we had gotten with our heat pump. I don’t know how that compares to a traditional cast iron wood stove. It’s hard to explain, but the heat the soapstone wood stove gives is a more welcoming heat.

Once installed (and we had that done by a professional) the maintenance on our soapstone stove has been minimal. Every year or two, we have the stove/chimney cleaned by a chimney sweep. At the beginning of the heating season, we light several very small fires in the stove for a day or two, letting them die out in between, to rid the soapstone of the moisture that it has absorbed over the spring/summer/fall. If you don’t do that and just light a roaring fire the first time you use it, you run the risk of cracking the soapstone. You probably don’t have to do that with a cast iron stove, but I’m not sure. Through the heating season, the only maintenance we’ve done is to take out ashes and clean the glass door. We’ve had our Hearthstone soapstone stove for about 4 years and that’s all we’ve ever had to do. And we burn all kinds of wood in it, too. The only other thing we’ve done is to purchase a “humidifier” to set on top of the stove to help put humidity back into the air. Basically, it’s an enameled cast iron pot, but a bit prettier than a regular pot or pan! We also purchased a non-electric wood stove fan (from Lehman’s catalog) that sits on top of the wood stove. When the stove temperature rises enough, the fan blades start turning and helps circulate the heat through the room. We also have a ceiling fan in the room which helps disperse the heat as well. Depending on how your house is arranged and if you are using the wood stove as a sole source of heat or as an adjunct to something else, you may or may not find these necessary. Ours is a long house and the bedrooms are at the ends of the house while the wood stove is in the middle and the fans help get the heat back to the bedrooms.

As I said at the beginning, we love our soapstone stove and joke about how warm we are with it as compared to sitting around shivering with our heat pump!



Dear Editor:

We had one [soapstone stove] for years in Ohio. During the early spring and late fall, we would put a waste paper basket of paper in the stove and light it. When we did this in the morning, by 7:00am, it would be very warm at 12:00pm still. It worked better than any other stove I have ever used. It was also very beautiful in the off season.



And one not-so-happy soapstone stove user… obviously a defective unit that the company refused to make good…

Dear Editor:

I owned an expensive soapstone wood stove. The heat out put was very comfortable and even. But the off-gassing from acrid high-temp burnt fumes leaking from the top stones mortared joints was toxic burnt smell, burning sensation to eyes and throat—it was awful. Warranty was a lot of convincing them type conversations that a problem existed then dealing with the tech person was very frustrating. I wouldn’t own one again, an expensive mistake. Long story short, problem was never resolved in eight years. We finally had an opportunity to sell house and moved, problem solved.


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