How to Cook With Your Vehicle Engine

How to Cook With Your Vehicle Engine

Did you know that engine manifold and exhaust temperatures can reach up to 1200 degrees?  It’s true, and this is why it’s so important to make sure that your cooling system is working properly in order to protect your engine.  However, this high level of heat is also one of the reasons that using an engine to cook a meal during an emergency is such a practical idea.  You don’t need to gather wood and build a fire.  You don’t need to use fuel in order to get it going, and you can be eating your next meal in just a few minutes as opposed to a few hours. 

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Practical Considerations

It’s important to be mindful of some precautions and common-sense steps that are needed in order to avoid damaging the engine, causing a fire or ruining your dinner.  While it is completely possible to put a frying pan on top of a hot manifold, there are a lot of other ways that you can use your engine as a cooker.  The trick is to prepare the food properly and make sure that you are placing it in a location that poses minimal risk.

When slow-cooking a meal in your engine compartment, it’s important that you package the food so that it will be shielded from excessive heat.  It’s also important to prepare foods that produce a minimal amount of grease, and all meals should be packaged safely.  This involves wrapping food in quality aluminum foil and not in paper or plastic products.  You also want to make sure that the food can’t drip or leak out grease into the engine compartment as it cooks.  This could cause a fire or damage sensitive electronic components. 

The food should also be secured with wire since the heat in the engine compartment won’t cause other types of cordage or tape to smolder, burn or break.  One of the biggest concerns is to prevent the food from getting loose and ending up in the fan or fuel system.  Food particles, as well as the foil can also get caught in belts or pulleys and cause a lot of damage.  Finally, although unlikely, food can work its way into gears or brake systems. 

While the risk will be minimal when your vehicle is parked and you have the hood open,  you want to make sure that everything is bundled up nicely if you cook and drive.  Yes, you can cook and drive.  Think about the amount of heat that is radiating in your engine compartment, far away from the manifold.  If you strategically place a meal bundle in a spot that heats to an optimal temperature, you can theoretically slow-cook almost anything.  You just need to make sure that you prepare properly.

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Using the Manifold

The easiest and most practical way to cook with your engine is to use the heat from the manifold.  However, due to it’s high temperatures, you will want to position the food so that it won’t burn or vaporize.  This may involve building a rack that rests atop the manifold, or holding the pot or pan with your hand a couple of inches away to regulate temperature.  You can also start to cook some foods when the engine is off and the manifold begins to slowly cool down. 

As mentioned before, the most important thing to remember is that you don’t want to spill grease, have food splatter or put yourself in a situation where you can get burned as well.  Use common sense, take proper precautions and tinker around until you find the most efficient way to use your engine as a way to cook food.  As crazy as it sounds, it really works, and you may end up benefiting from this option during an unexpected crisis or survival situation. 


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