How To Recover Gold And Silver From Scrap

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If you’re reading this article, you’re probably a gold bug, or maybe a gold digger. Either way, you probably don’t know that in 100,000 cellphones there’s about 2.4 kilos of gold to be collected (as in recuperated) by a competent gold digger.

Yes, I know – 100,000 cellphones is quite a lot of old hardware. Besides gold, you’ll also find 25 kilos of silver and more than 900 kilos of copper (that’s almost a metric ton).

Considering the fluctuation in market prices, all that stuff combined makes for a cool quarter million dollars, give or take. The problem is, where on Earth can you get 100,000 cellphones and how can you get the gold out of those darn circuits?

How to Recover Gold from Electronics

Recycling electronics can be a lucrative business provided it’s done on an industrial scale. For regular folk, this kind of enterprise is quite difficult and time consuming, especially if not done nice and proper. Now, if you want to make your own personal scrap fortune, today’s your lucky day, so keep reading, I’m giving pearls here folks!

Besides cellphones, gold and other precious metals can be found in almost all types of electronic circuits, ranging from computer main-boards to processors and what not.

The idea is that instead of throwing your old gear in the garbage, considering that there’s a small amount of gold in all types of circuits, how about putting that gold in your pocket instead of making some scrap metal company rich?

Phones, laptops, cameras and the like are packed full of gold-plated circuit boards, due to the precious metal’s excellent conductibility. Even scanners and printers have silver, gold, copper, and sometimes platinum inside their guts.

Besides being pretty expensive, as in precious, gold is a highly conductive and pliable metal which was used for thousands of years by humans as a highly valuable commodity, as it retains its value better than almost any other commodity.

Until Nixon nixed (pun intended) the Bretton Woods system in 1971, even the US dollar was backed by gold. Since then, the dollar lost a lot of its value, i.e. $1 in 1971 had the same purchasing power as $7 today (official figures), but take a load of this: back then an ounce of gold was $35, now it’s like what, $1200 (it was almost $1900 at some point)?

So, you do the math and ask yourself if scrapping gold from old electronic gear is worth your time and effort. I am digressing – of course it is!

Let’s recap: due to its excellent properties, gold is the material of choice for manufacturing various electronic parts in computers, cellphones and what not.

Removing the gold from scrap parts requires access to various equipment and it’s a pretty complicated process. However, if you’re well-armed with the right tools and knowledge, you can extract, refine, and maybe sell scrap gold, provided you have enough raw materials to extract it from.

As a general rule of thumb, considering that you’ll have to deal with highly corrosive acids, you should perform all these operations outside and always use protective gear, such as gloves, goggles and even a respirator.

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Here’s a short list for starting a gold recovery enterprise:

  • rubber gloves
  • goggles
  • a rubber apron
  • hydrogen peroxide 3% from your local pharmacy
  • muriatic acid 31% (it’s available at hardware stores)
  • methyl hydrate (this is basically 99% methyl alcohol) available at automotive supply stores or hardware stores (it’s used for fuel line antifreeze)
  • a couple of large glass-made containers (a coffee pot would do the trick.
  • a funnel filter (a drip-coffee filter)
  • a stir stick made of plastic or glass
  • a blow torch powerful enough to hard solder
  • an accurate weigh scale (at least to one tenth of a gram)
  • borax
  • clay bowls or anything that has a melting point above gold
  • a measuring cup
  • and of course, a lot of scrap electronics.

The general rule is that you should collect any type of electronic scraps which are prone to contain gold inside, including computer processors, jewellery, gold tooth crowns, and old telephone wiring with an emphasis on outdated electronics, which may contain parts with a higher level of gold than modern ones.

Video first seen on indeedItdoes

In the first step, you must sort the gold into gold-plated parts: circuits which require cleaning, gold fingers, gold plated pins and so forth and so on.

Before working with chemicals, don’t forget to put on your safety gear.

In the second step, you must put the clean circuit boards and the gold fingers  inside the coffee pot. Using a different container, mix one part hydrogen peroxide with  2 parts muriatic acid and add the mixture to the coffee pot until it just covers the gold-containing stuff inside (gold fingers for example).

You’ll have to wait for about a week for the process to complete and don’t forget to stir your concoction on a daily basis.

After 7 days have passed, it’s now time to collect your gold. You’ll see that the acid has darkened and there are flakes of gold floating around inside the coffee pot. If you pour the acid through the coffee filter, the gold flakes will be captured by the filter.

Save the acid though, don’t dump it. The remaining circuit boards/gold fingers must be checked out, the clean parts thrown away, and the uncleaned parts saved for re-dipping.

Now, pour some water through the filter and then flush using methyl hydrate to clean it.

In the next step, you’ll have to add borax to your “mined” gold. Borax works by reducing the melting point of gold from its regular 1063 Celsius. By adding some borax to your cleaned gold flakes, you’ll be able to melt your gold out of the heavy mineral concentrate to salvage it.

Next you’ll have to heat the clay bowl (don’t worry if it splits or cracks) and add borax. When the borax melts, put the gold flakes in too and add more borax, then heat it continuously until you end up with a nice bead of gold. Let it cool and weigh it. There you have it, your own gold from scrap electronics.

That’s one method, the simplest actually.

Here’s an interesting tutorial about the top 10 most valuable computer processors, as in the ones with the most gold inside for recovery by weight counted down.

Video first seen on eWaste Ben

Here’s a detailed hard drive tear-down video tutorial, teaching you how to look for precious metals (gold, silver, palladium and aluminum) inside your old hard drives.

Video first seen on Rob The Plumber

Good luck and scrap hard!

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This article has been written by Chris Black for Survivopedia. 

How To Build A Privacy Fence

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There’s an old saying about good fences making good neighbors.

Until Donald Trump entered the White House, borders, which can be described as the ultimate fence of sorts, were not regarded as very important for our nation’s well-being by the progressive Obama administration. Now that old saying makes sense again.

So in today’s article, I’ll tell you a thing or two about how to build the perfect privacy fence.

Just like a nation’s border, building a privacy fence on your property is useful for a number of reasons. The most important one, which depends very much on where you live, is the fact that a properly built fence will increase your safety, security and privacy.

Of course, I am not talking about those nice white picket fences; those are mostly about aesthetics. A privacy fence will keep your children and pets safely enclosed and it will eliminate sight lines beyond your property.

According to various statistics, security and privacy are among the most common reasons for which Americans go home shopping.

The type of fence you have installed around your property limits plays a key role in both privacy and security, together with improving your home’s exterior design. Whether you’re using wood, wrought iron, or chain link, a properly installed fence will provide you with the true sense of home security and ownership we all desire.

Find out more on how to improve your layered home defense to survive disaster! 

And once you understand the basics of installation techniques and the materials required, you’ll see that DIY-ing a privacy fence can be a fun activity and fairly easy to accomplish.

Here are some important issues to consider before starting building your fence.

Why are You Building a Fence?

Decide on the height before getting knee-deep into the project.

A normal privacy fence is ~6 feet high (or more). Determining the fence height in the early stages of the project is pretty important, as it will influence various other things like post-hole depth and things of that matter.

What Type/Style of Fence are You Looking For?

Prior to DIYing your fence, make sure you have an accurate understanding of the whereabouts of your property lines. Talk to your neighbors and check your property file to make absolutely sure the fence is on your property.

Check with your local utility companies before you start excavating (if that’s the case) for underground utility mains which may be located on your property. Also check zoning laws and, if required, apply for a building permit before proceeding with the job.

Then what materials/design will blend best with the architecture/landscaping of your home?

There are different fence styles and different fence panels to choose from, which may differ in the fine details, but basically there are 3 main prefabricated fence panel styles available:

  • Solid – mostly used for containment fencing as they provide complete privacy and they’re mostly used between property lines and for surrounding swimming pools and the like. These fences are usually 5-6 feet tall and they use closely spaced pickets.
  • Spaced Picket – popular for keeping pets or children (some may argue that’s the same thing) in, and/or for defining boundaries.
  • Shadowbox – a mix of the two

For our intents and purposes, we’ll concentrate on the solid variety, because the name of the game in today’s article is privacy.

The PVC Fence

If you’re looking for the cheapest way to fence in your property, PVC is hands down the best option.

Even if PVC is not as sturdy as wood, it will last you forever without requiring any type of “servicing” and as far as privacy goes, PVC fences are just as impenetrable as wood fences.

The Vinyl Fence

A more high-tech option is vinyl fencing. According to some manufacturers, vinyl fences are 5 times stronger than comparable wood fences and 4 times more flexible.

The caveat is that vinyl  is kind of elite price-wise, but it will resist indefinitely to elements and even paint (read graffiti). All you have to do is to soap it up and put the hose to it and it will look as good as new in a jiffy.

The Bamboo Fence

And there’s bamboo, which is another type of wooden fence but with a more sophisticated touch, as bamboo is a relatively exotic type of wood. Other than being exotic, a bamboo fence is just like any other wooden fence; it just looks more interesting.

However, considering “regular” wood’s versatility and availability, most folks will go for an old-school wooden fence, due to its low-cost maintenance and building. You can also buy prefabricated wood fence panels, which will provide you with more flexibility and greater control in terms of quality (material wise), not to mention that wood is way more aesthetically pleasing compared to PVC for example.

The Wooden Fence

The most popular fencing material across America is wood. Wood fences are not very expensive compared to, let’s say, aluminum fencing. Also, wood gives you a welcoming and warm feeling, together with the sense of privacy wood fencing provides.

A wooden fence can easily be built to last forever, depending on what type of wood you choose. The quality of your fence can be compared with hardwood floors. There’s cheap stuff and more expensive stuff, woods that are better than others, and so on and so forth.

Video first seen on MyFixitUpLife show

The most common species of wood used in privacy fences are fir, spruce, cedar, pine, cypress and redwood (always go for heartwood  instead of sapwood, the former is older, has fewer knots and it will last for longer).

Keep in mind that if you’re choosing the wrong wood, your fence might only last you for 5 years before rot sets in. If you’re going for a high quality wood and you treat it well, a wood fence will last you for more than 20 years. Chemically treated woods are arguably the best option.

How to Build a Privacy Fence

First of all, you’ll have to stake the corner locations and place stakes at the corners, approximately where you wish your fence to go. In the next step, you’ll have to square the corners by tying a string around the stakes then running it between the respective stakes.

Once you’ve squared your corners, stake the middle posts, then dig the holes (step 4) at the locations you’ve staked.

As a general rule of thumb, keep in mind you’ll have to bury the posts at least 33 percent as deep as they’re tall. Then place your posts, get them aligned, then use a post leveler to make sure they’re straight and the corners are still square.

Remember to put 3-4’’ of gravel at the bottom of each hole then pour the concrete footing (instant concrete is best).  Then fill in with dirt once the concrete bed has set.

You can add a mason’s line at the top of the post from one post to another at equal height above the ground, thus keeping the height of your fence equal along the way.

Now it’s time to add your support boards and, in the final step, the privacy boards. Remember to treat the boards for increasing the longevity of your fence by painting them or applying a weatherproof finish.

Video first seen on Brandon & Meredith

If you’ll have to build a wooden fence on a slope, check out this video.

Video first seen on DIY Landscaping

And here’s a wooden fence with metal posts that will last you forever. You may have to change the privacy boards after a number of years, but the skeleton will last you indefinitely.

Video first seen on

Tips and Tricks on Building Fences

  • Let your wooden fence set before you seal it, as it’s very important that you allow it to dry out. If you try to preserve the wood by staining/painting it ahead of time, the substance will probably not be absorbed by the wood if it’s not dried properly. Remember that painting is required every few years if you care about the longevity of your fence.
  • A common mistake when building fences is failing to anchor down posts. A fence is only as strong as its posts – that’s an axiom – hence posts are essential for a solid fence and also pretty expensive. You must take your time and install the fence posts nice and properly.
  • Another mistake is improper gate placement or size. Gates must be placed out of the path of erosion, in well drained areas. Traffic must be taken into consideration, obviously. Proper gate size is equally important. The gate gets the most wear and tear, so remember to build it using high quality materials, including solid and properly sized hinges. Also the posts supporting the gate must be set much deeper than regular ones and you must add more cement around them.

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Surviving Off-grid: Hot Water From Your Wood Stove

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Whether we’re talking about off-grid survival or just having the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of living in the 21st century in our cabin in the woods, having hot water for taking a shower, shaving, or taking a nice long bath is one of the yardsticks of well-being.

What can be nicer than enjoying a hot shower after working all day outside in the cold? And even better, if that hot water is completely free of charge? It doesn’t sound bad, does it?

Moreover, it would be pretty nice to have hot water at your disposal without being dependent upon a utilities company, whether we’re talking about electricity or gas.

We’re Reviving Ancient Techniques

What I am trying to tell you is that nowadays, heating water is one of the most overlooked functions when it comes to the archaic wood stove.

Just a few decades ago, many wood stoves were built with a water tank (it was called a range boiler) behind/beside the respective wood stove, for producing free and virtually limitless amounts of hot water. A two for the price of one kind of a deal.

Basically, whether you’re looking to save some dollars on your utility bills or get hot water in some place remote without breaking the piggy bank, the main idea is that you can use your wood stove for more than warming your homestead, cooking and whatever else wood stoves are usually good for.

Truth be told, domestic wood stove-based water heating systems are not new; they were invented centuries ago.

The Romans constructed incredibly clever central heating systems for public buildings (and the rich also had them, because they were too expensive for plebes) in an era sans electricity, and we’re talking 2000+ years ago. I know it sounds incredible, but yes, they actually had central heating through the floors 2 millennia ago; that’s how smart Romans were.

The Roman system was called Hypocaust and it worked by producing and circulating hot air below the floors (even walls in some cases) using a network of pipes. Hot air passed through those pipes and heated the floors/walls and obviously, the air was heated via furnaces burning wood and/or coal, because there was no electricity or piped gas back in the day.

In the event of a grid-down situation, how many of you are planning on heating their home with wood?

Learn from our forefathers how to install an emergency wood-burning stove!

How the Heater Works

Hence, getting hot water using a wood stove uses the same basic principle as a Hypocaust, but with a twist: water is used in our case instead of air, because it’s difficult to take a shower without water, right? I know – there’s an invention called dry cleaning, but I wouldn’t recommend it.

Joking aside, to keep it simple: a regular water heater is nothing more than a tank of sorts, sitting on top or next to your wooden stove. As water rises when heated, hot water is drawn from the top and cold water is piped at the bottom via a piping system, obviously.

How does it work, you may ask? Well, it’s pretty straightforward: the stove water heater uses heat exchangers for transferring heat from the stove to the water. Depending on the design, the heat exchangers can be mounted inside of the stove, on the outside of the stove, or in the stovepipe.

Water is circulated through the heat exchanger when a fire is burning in two ways: naturally, via the thermosiphon principle which relies on water rising when heated or by using a pump.

The heat exchanger device is available in 3 main varieties:

  • a serpentine coil made of, in most cases, copper pipe
  • a small absorber, like a solar-collector
  • a box-like mini-tank. Most heat exchangers are mini-tanks or coils mounted inside the stove.

The heat exchanger can be built using copper, stainless steel, or galvanized iron, and they’re commercially available or they can be built in local shops or DIY-ed depending on your skills. For our intents and purposes, we’ll have to rely on the thermosiphon system, because this system works wonderfully off the grid and it doesn’t require fancy stuff like pumps and all that jazz.

The Tips that Lead to Success

“Keep it simple stupid” is the name of the game in a survival situation. As things get complicated, the probability of something failing rises exponentially.

Whenever the stove is used, water must circulate through the heat exchanger in order to prevent it from boiling. The storage tank must always be located higher than the heat exchanger and as close as possible to the stove.

Thermosiphoning-based systems are better than electrical-pumped ones not only because of their simplicity and availability, but also because in the eventuality of a power outage, the pump will stop working, leading to overheating the water in the heat exchanger.

This is a DIY project that can provide you with endless hot water without requiring electricity, as it’s based on the thermosiphoning process. This one uses a therma coil – a homemade unit – which consists of a serpentine made of copper, which is put inside the wood stove and connected via plumbing to a water tank.

This is a hot water-on-demand heater which can help you in a variety of situations. And best of all, everything is made using scrap materials, more or less (except for the copper piping, I guess).

Video first seen on engineer775 Practical Preppers

As a general rule of thumb, for best results, you should isolate all your hot water lines more than 3 feet away from the wood stove using slip-on foam insulation, which is designed for temperatures up to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.

Don’t forget to spend 10 bucks on a thermometer; it’s well worth the investment and it will help you with eliminating all guesswork with regard to determining water temperature.

Copper is one of the best piping materials out there, as it’s very easy to work with when building coils (the heat exchanger gizmo), but remember that when used with iron, the latter will corrode.

The second DIY job is made by the same guy but this time, instead of a copper serpentine placed inside the wood stove, he uses a simpler water coil made of stainless steel. The rest is basically the same, check out the video.

Video first seen on engineer775 Practical Preppers

The third project also uses the thermosiphoning principle (hot water rises) and copper tubing for making the serpentines, but this is a “larger scale job” compared to the previous two, and more complex.

Video first seen on

The fourth and last DIY project uses an interesting design, i.e. a double-walled water heater (a double-walled 6-inch pipe, basically) and between the walls there’s copper water pipe circling the inner wall, thus transferring the heat from the wood stove to the water circulating through the piping.

Video first seen on thenewsurvivalist.

That about sums it up for today folks. There are still many lessons to be learned.

Remember that knowledge is everything in a survival situation and take our ancestors’ example – they survived when there was no electricity.

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This article has been written by Chris Black for Survivopedia. 

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DIY Hot Tub For Your Off-grid Hygiene

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Survivopedia DIY Hot Tub For Your Off Grid Hygiene

When it comes to off-grid survival, personal hygiene is one of those delicate subjects preppers seldom talk about.

Ok, I know that women preppers consider personal hygiene a priority even after a plane crash, but generally speaking, surviving off-grid means that you must have a roof over your head and some chow in your belly, and eventually a cushioned place to sleep in. That about sums it up until cavalry arrives and gets you outta’ there.

However, living off-grid is slowly becoming a trend among outdoors enthusiasts and maybe student loan beneficiaries who cannot afford to pay both the rent and what’s owed to the good ol’ Feral Gummint.

Here is where the off-grid lifestyle comes into play. But living off-grid is not easy; not by a long shot. There are so many problems and challenges in a world without electricity that I don’t know where to begin.

One of them is the aforementioned issue, the personal hygiene thing – an issue that never occurred to you until now because you’re probably living the 21st century life style, with hot water pouring out of the faucet and the whole nine yards.

Basically, we all take modern hygiene conveniences for granted and that’s normal, because we’ve benefited from these cool things for almost 2 centuries now.

But, if you’re living off-grid together with your family, you’re probably aware of the fact that cleanliness is next to godliness, not to mention that keeping you and your family members squeaky clean is actually a matter of survival in its own rights.

The secret to a long and happy life is to live in a clean environment, and you can take that statement to the bank. The lack of proper personal hygiene may get you sick very easily and also you may pass the disease around and all that jazz; that’s how epidemics occur.

The good news is that there are ways to maintain adequate hygiene even if you’re living somewhere in the neck of the woods, as off-grid as it gets.

These ancient survival lessons teach you how to stay clean when there isn’t anything to buy!

There’s an old saying, about “Real men building their own [insert item here]”. In our particular case, real preppers built their own hot tubs.

Why hot tubs, you may ask? Well, the hot tub used to be regarded by many as a luxury if not a whim. Remember that old saying: that one needs only two baths in his/her lifetime – one when you’re born and the other one when you’re dead?

Especially back in the day, hot tubs were pretty rare not too long ago (circa 1700s), when  getting one was a rare experience, familiar just to kings and queens. Alright, and the rest of the infamous 1%, maybe.

One of the benefits of soaking yourself for hours in hot water is that such activity relieves pains and aches, beside getting you clean in the process.

But after reading this article, you’ll understand how hillbilly hot tubs changed the world for ever. And you’ll also understand that getting your fingers pruney is a God-given right for every American, even for those living in the back woods.

Also, let’s not forget that one of the most popular pieces of gear for outdoors survival after a hard and long day doing God-knows-what is a hot tub, right?

I am only kidding folks, but if you don’t know how to build your very own personal hot tub, well, that’s why I am here. I’ve scoured the depths of the Internet and I brought together some of the best tutorials in the world for helping you building your little piece of heaven.

Building the Tank

To begin with the basics, a DIY hot tub consists of two main things: a tank which makes for the bathtub itself and a device for heating the water inside of the tank. That’s all there is to it; it’s pretty straight forward.

As far as tanks go, you have two options: to use a prefabricated one, like an IBC container or a stock watering tank, or to build your own bathtub from scratch from wood; just imagine a big barrel of sorts.

Soaking in a wood-fired hot tub requires some planning, at least a couple of hours in advance, but the involvement in one’s bath is part of the attraction.

Here’s a video tutorial about how to build a cedar wood hot tub using planks of cedar and lots of skill and materials.

Video first seen on Heritage Craft.

The end result is a reminiscent of a big barrel, which looks pretty cool actually, but you’ll require some mad skills to get this done.

You’ll also require beaucoup gear, like cedar wood suitable for cutting and shaping, saws, chine joints, nails, a power drill, a carpenter’s level, screws and insane wood-working skills. But it’s doable, after all that guy did it and it looks pretty awesome.

However, there are other ways.

The hardest part of our first project is to build the tank itself, as it requires serious carpentry skills, but you can always go for a hillbilly hot tub that uses an IBC container using, for example, a prefabricated hot tub, then you just have to worry about the water heating device.

Here are two different projects, both involving a DIY wood-fired hot tub. The first one uses an IBC container, a steel cage, an old gas cylinder and pallets, plus some plumbing connectors. Except for the container, the rest of materials were free scrap.

Video first seen on Chris Jamieson.

The IBC container holds 1000 liters, which is more than enough for a hot tub, while the steel cage and the pallets are used for making the structure that will keep the water-filled container firmly in place. The pallet wood is used for decorating the steel frame; it makes it look better and all that.

The Heating Source

As for the heating device, here’s where the old gas cylinder comes into play. Basically, you’ll use a stove water heater. How does it work, you may ask? Well, it’s pretty straightforward: the stove water heater uses a heat exchanger for transferring heat from the stove to the water.

Water is circulated through the heat exchanger when the fire is burning (the gas cylinder makes for the stove in our case) whilst the heat exchanger is basically a copper serpentine made from copper pipe mounted inside the stove.

In this project, the hot tub is filled with water which is slowly flowing via a garden hose through the copper pipe and it’s getting hot as it fills. The process is relatively slow, but it produces very hot water.

The second DIY wood-fired hot tub system is very similar to the previous one, just that it uses a galvanized stock tank instead of an IBC container. Also, the heat exchanger system is the same serpentine made from copper pipe, but for heating the water, this project relies on the thermosiphon principle.

Video first seen on HomeMadeModern.

Think about our ancestors. They didn’t have the luxury of the modern industry but they were able to create their own hygiene products from simple, readily available stuff.

Do you wonder how our forefathers took care of their personal hygiene when they traveled for months? Click the banner below and uncover their long forgotten secrets!


This article has been written by Chris Black for Survivopedia.

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Emergency Fire-starter: Start A Fire With Bare Hands

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Starting a fire

Starting a fire with your bare hands may sound like the manliest activity you can do, doesn’t it? Bear Grylls has a couple of episodes about how to start a fire without any gear available, for cooking some crunchy worms, right?

I am kidding, of course, but knowing how to start a fire in a survival situation is a pretty useful skill to have. Without fire you can’t cook your food, you can’t get warm, you can’t dry your clothes, you don’t have light, you can’t signal your presence, you can’t disinfect water for safe drinking, and so on and so forth.

We rely on technology to survive; even when it comes to wilderness survival. We are comfortable thinking that it will be OK because we have a cool survival knife, even better than Rambo’s, not to mention our top of the line survival/emergency kit, which contains all the things we’ll ever need if SHTF, including some cool BIC lighters, impermeable matches and what not.

However, life has the unpleasant habit of ignoring our plans, and emergencies don’t seem to care about our personal inconveniences.

The question to be asked and answered is — what are you going to do if SHTF and you don’t have your survival gear on your person?  Well, you’ll have to improvise or die trying, right?

This scenario is pretty far-fetched at first glance; I mean, finding yourself alone and close to butt-naked somewhere in the woods, without any type of gear and all that jazz.

Find out how this little survival stove that fits in your pocket can save your life!

Fire is what separated the humans from the animal reign, along with the invention of the wheel and Facebook. (I’m kidding again, of course!)

But I can bet that even the invention of the wheel was somewhat related to fire, i.e. there are “cultures” in remote parts of the world who didn’t invent the wheel, but they know how to make a fire without a Zippo lighter. The idea is that if some troglodyte who still lives in the Neolithic period, technologically speaking, can make a fire using what’s naturally available, so should we.

And obviously, making a fire with minimal gear that you can do yourself will require a paleo approach, i.e. we’ll have to see how primitive cultures mitigate this problem.

As far as primitive fire starting goes, most of the methods (all of them actually, if I come to think about it) involve the 2nd law of thermodynamics, and I am talking about mechanical energy — friction in our case — which is converted into heat, another form of energy which leads to fire and a happy ending.

So, as the Greek philosopher and inventor Heraclitus said back in the day, everything changes, and so does energy. But enough with philosophy and let’s get down to business.

How To Start a Fire Using Sticks

The simplest method for making a fire via friction in dry climates is the hand drill. The concept is pretty simple: you’ll have to cut a V shaped notch into a piece of wood, or fire-board if you like, then to use a rock/knife or whatever you have at your disposal for making a small depression adjacent to the notch, where you’ll place a piece of bark which will eventually catch the ember and burst into flames.

In the next step you’ll have to put the spindle (a stick basically) in the depression and roll it vigorously between the palms of your hands. You know what I am talking about. You’ve seen endless “Wild Survival” documentaries about it.

Some tried it in real life and failed miserably, but this guy seems to have got the hang of it.

Video first seen on Videojug

It’s worth mentioning that two persons can do it better, i.e. one person will apply downward pressure to the drill constantly, while the other will use a shoelace or a piece of string to rapidly rotate the spindle.

How to Start a Fire by Friction

If you’re alone, you can use this method , which is way better than rolling the spindle in the palms of your hands, especially if you’re not used to manual labor. This method involves using a little bow for rolling the spindle and it’s order of magnitude is more efficient than doing it with your hands only.

Video first seen on AZ Film Company

How to Start a Fire Using a Cord Drill and a Pump Drill

Check out this guy who makes it all look very easy. Watching this clip, you’ll learn how to make a cord drill first, then to upgrade it to a pump drill (this can be used for making holes in things, which may prove useful). The cord drill is a spindle featuring a flywheel attached basically and it works very well for making fires and more.

Video first seen on Primitive Technology.

How to Start a Fire With the Fire Plow Technique

Another primitive method for making fire is the fire plow technique. The concept is pretty straightforward, as you’ll cut a groove in a soft piece of wood, which will be the fire-board for all intents and purposes, and then you’ll rub/plough the tip of a harder shaft up/down the groove.

This technique produces its own tinder as the sticks rubbed together will push out tiny particles of wood ahead of the friction.

Video first seen on Survival Lilly

How to Start a Fire With a Fire Piston

Here’s a cool method called the Fire Piston and it works under the principle that air gets very hot when compressed at high pressure.

If you’ve ever used a bicycle pump, you might have noticed the heat that is created in the cylinder. When you compress air inside a fire piston, it happens so quickly and efficiently that it can instantly ignite a piece of tinder placed at the end of the piston.

Video first seen on Discovery

Ancient methods of making fire pistons involve hardwood for the tube or even a horn. The tube must be closed at one end, accurately bored and very smooth inside. The gasket can be improvised from fiber or leather for creating a seal for the piston in order to get the compression required.

How to Start a Fire With Flint and Steel

A classic in the field of ancient fire making is flint and steel. If you strike a softer steel against flint (which is harder), you’ll produce sparks to ignite your fire. But you can also make fire with just what’s available out there, i.e. flint, marcasite, pyrite, fungus, grass/leaf and quartzite.

Video first seen on freejutube

Remember that fire provides you with a cooking flame so knowing how to start one with your bare hands will make your survival cooking easy as 1, 2, 3!


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3 Steps To Start A Fire When Everything Is Wet

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Start a fire when everything is wet

Starting a fire in adverse weather, whether is rain or wind or both is a very important survival skill every outdoors aficionado must possess. The ability of igniting a fire when things are less than perfect is a fine art which must be learned and practiced until mastery is achieved.

The thing is, nature doesn’t care much about our best laid plans, mice and men alike and an emergency never comes alone. I mean, when confronted with a survival situation, you’d at least expect fine weather, cool breezes and sunshine.

In reality, your survival in an emergency situation will become much more complicated than initially thought and I would dare to say nine times out of ten, as you’ll end up not only lost in the woods or wherever, but you’ll also have to deal with rain, cold and high winds.

Emergencies almost always bring bad weather with them, it’s almost like a 2 for the price of 1 deal. And that’s fine as long you’re prepared both physically and mentally.

However, in critical times, your survival may depend on your ability to light a fire under rain and/or wind and any hardcore survivalist, even Bear Grylls will tell you that you should always carry at least 2 primary and 2 secondary tools for starting a fire.

The idea is that a regular fire starter may not always provide you with the best results, especially if it’s raining and it gets wet. Also, if it’s windy and rainy, your chances of igniting a fire with just one match are pretty slim. If it’s freezing cold, your BIC lighter (which uses butane) may not work at all.

Basically, starting a fire when it’s windy, cold and rainy is one of the worst situations imaginable, other than starting a fire under water, which is a skill only Chuck Norris masters (he uses phosphorus by the way).

I think I have already told you a dozen times in my previous articles about the holy trinity of survival, which includes fire as a means of providing you with (cooked) food, (safe) water and shelter (warmth, protection from wild animals etc), but also about the importance of location.

But do you know which survival essential is the first most important?

Find out how this little survival stove that fits in your pocket can save your life!

1. Find an Adequate Location for Making the Fire

Everything in life is location, as Van Helsing used to say back in the day, and the same mantra is true when it comes to making a fire.

The first thing to look for is an adequate location for making a fire in harsh weather conditions. The idea is to provide your fire with as much protection possible from both wind and rain if possible. And if you’re not in the middle of a frozen desert with no snow around, that’s not impossible.

Shelter means three basic things:

  • shelter from the wind
  • shelter from the rain
  • shelter from the ground water.

2. Shelter the Fire

Ideally, you should shelter your fire on more than one side (upwind).

Build a Windbreak

You can protect your fire by building a C shaped windbreak with the open side downwind. You can build a windbreak using wood, rocks, snow, dirt, just use your imagination.

To shelter your fire from the rain when outdoors is the hardest job, but it can be achieved.

Make the Fire Under a Tree

But pay attention! The easiest way is to make your fire under a tree, as evergreens can be regarded as a natural tent of sorts. All you have to do is to pick a big one and make your fire under the lowest branches.

Making a fire under a tree may not seem like the best idea, as there are inherent risks attached, like setting the tree on fire, but if you’re paying attention and keeping your fire under control, the chances of such an event happening are minor.

You can minimize the risks further by building a good fire pit with no combustible materials around the fire.

Build a Fire Pit

The third requirement is how to protect the fire from ground earth, with the previous two taken care of by now. The easiest method is to use rocks for building a fire pit on a spot where the ground is raised from the floor.

Or you can do that yourself, i.e. you can build a little mound and on top of the mound you’ll put a layer of rocks, thus preventing your fire from staying directly on the wet ground and also making sure any running water will be drained ASAP.

3. Tinder, Kindling and Fuel

So much for location folks, let’s move on to the next issue and I will start with an axiom: if you don’t have the Bear Grylls flame-thrower with you, starting a fire using wet wood is basically impossible and a no-go under any circumstances. You’ll waste your time and your gear, bet on a dead horse and the whole palaver.

Video first seen on CommonSenseOutdoors

However, there are ways, as Gandalf used to say, but ideally, you should try to find something dry for starting your fire. As a general rule of thumb, a fire gets started in 3 stages: tinder, kindling and fuel.

The tinder is a combustible material which is very easy to ignite, i.e. it will catch fire quick and easy.

The kindling can be improvised using pieces of finger-thick wood that will be lit from the kindle.

The rest is pretty straight forward, as far as your kindle gets ignited you’ll start the main fuel and you’ll have a fire burning in no time.

Two of the best survival-tinder (fire starters actually) which can be used for igniting a fire in adverse conditions (even with wet wood) are cotton balls soaked in petroleum jelly and dryer lint mixed with paraffin. These will burn for at least 2-3 minutes, thus providing you with plenty of time to get your fire started. I’ve already written an article about this issue.

As an interesting factoid, even in the midst of a rainstorm, you can almost surely find dried branches under the bottom of big/old pine trees. Another great place to look for dry combustible is the underside of uprooted (or dead) trees.

Video first seen on IA Woodsman

How to Make the Best Fire Starter for Wet Wood

The best fire-starter for wet wood can be home-made using black powder (gunpowder) and nail polish remover (the one that contains acetone). The acetone will be the solvent for the gunpowder. The idea is to make something that burns slow and as hot as possible and the gunpowder/acetone mix is by far the best in this regard.

Making the mix is fairly easy, as you’ll start with a small quantity of gunpowder the size of a golf ball put inside a ceramic/glass bowl. Start adding nail polish remover so that the mound of gunpowder is totally covered then mix it together slowly and thoroughly (always wear rubber gloves).

Once the stuff inside the ball gets in a putty-state, you can pour off the extra nail polish and then start kneading the putty, just like when making bread. i.e. folding it over time and time again.

The purpose of the kneading is to create layers inside your fire-starter. In this way, the burn rate is more controlled. The more layers, the better your fire-starter will be. The finished putty can be stored in an airtight container, but keep in mind that you’ll want to use your putty when it’s still moist. If dried, it burns too fast.

This fire-starter burns at 3000 degrees Fahrenheit and a golf-ball sized piece will burn for more than 3 minutes. Basically, you can set anything on fire with this baby and even  dry out damp wood in the worst conditions imaginable.

One final thing, it would always be nice to use fire accelerants, like gasoline (or alcohol, paint thinner etc), for starting a fire in rain or wind.

If you have your car around, the better, as you can siphon out some gasoline from the tank and start a fire even with damp wood in a jiffy. Okay, you’ll not receive those extra bonus style points, but that’s okay.

You’ll always have the peace of mind knowing that no matter where you go and no matter how bad the weather is you’ll be able to start a fire and safely cook food and boil some water. Click the banner below to grab this offer!


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How To Build Your Best Camouflage

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Survivopedia How To Build Your Best Camouflage

When talking about camouflage, there are basically two types of gear: camouflage clothes and ghillie suits.

Camouflage gear is is a must have piece of gear  if you’re a sniper, a soldier or a hunter. Ghillie suits were originally designed for hunting purposes, but later on they were used by military forces, because they’re great at making people invisible or very close to it.

Basically, regardless of your intents and purposes, if you want to blend into your surroundings, camouflage gear is essential.

The key elements for efficient camouflage are inspired from the animal reign (think polar bears or chameleons), i.e. the color scheme is essential, together with  efficient 3D dimensional textures, which is aimed at diffusing and blending your figure/silhouette into the surroundings, thus fooling the eye.

If these two work together as a whole, the color scheme and the 3D (three dimensional) textures, you’re hitting the sweet spot in terms of good camouflage, being basically unrecognizable and virtually invisible from the distance.

It’s just like in the cool meme, with the apprentice sniper being admonished by the sergeant, something like “Smith, I haven’t seen you at camouflage practice” and Smith going like: “Thank you Sir”.

Let’s take a closer look about camouflage basics and start from there.

So, commercial or home-made regular 2D (bi-dimensional) camouflage is pretty good at helping you blending into all sorts of backgrounds, but it can’t mitigate one of the most tell-tell signs of you presence, i.e. your silhouette.

Hard core hunters and veteran hiders, such as military snipers or undercover spooks always rely on 3D camouflage, which consists of entire suits that are built using billowy materials, which help with blurring their outline, thus allowing them to become virtually invisible or to disappear in plain sight.

So, there’s regular 2D camouflage and the ultimate 3D camouflage, namely the ghillies.

Ghillie suits were first invented by Scottish folk, game keepers who probably were pretty good at tax evasion too using those suits (just kidding).

To begin with, let’s quote Sun Tzu, the Chinese general who wrote The Art of War thousands of years ago:

“Be extremely subtle, even to the point of formlessness. Be extremely mysterious, even to the point of soundlessness. Thereby you can be the director of the opponent’s fate.”

Find out more on how to improve your defense techniques to survive disaster! 

Camouflage Clothes – the Basic Gear for Ghosts

The first step is to determine your required 3 base-colors i.e. the top three most prevalent colors which are to be found in the environment you want to blend in. Don’t worry about exact tones and hues, just choose general colors.

For example, go for dark green/dark brown/black clothes and don’t waste your time trying to find pine needle green or chestnut brown.

If you’ve already determined the color scheme required for your camouflage purposes, buy plain colored T shirts/long sleeve/whatever you need in the respective color and stay away from fancy/expensive brands, the name of the game is utility and economy, otherwise you can buy commercially available camo, right?

The same concept goes for the hat and pants. Here’s a video tutorial with a guy who made his own camo shirt and pants using just a few common items besides the clothes themselves, namely a spray paint, some spare newspapers and some foliage with leaves.

Video first seen on Random Things.

The trick is to spray paint the leaves pattern onto the clothes and that’s about it, you’ll end up with home made camo for dirt cheap prices, especially if you’ll be using old clothes. The end result is pretty convincing.

The Ghillie Suit

Ghillie suit Now, with the basics taken care of, let’s see about the really good stuff, namely the ghillie suit.

Ghillie suits are arguably the best type of camouflage one can wear, as it helps you to integrate seamlessly (if it’s proper made obviously) into your surroundings, as it uses branches, foliage and/or leaves to break up your silhouette.

You’ll start with your already-made camo clothes, i.e. normal clothing spray painted (you can also use fabric patches) to match your desired surroundings.

A ghillie suit is basically 3D camo and it’s usually built using burlap, netting, sewing needles, dental floss and glue. Nothing fancy, nothing expensive.

The thing is, there are two basic designs for ghillie suits: the simple net for fixed positions and the suit construction.

The simple net design has advantages and disadvantages. For example, it’s pretty hard to use while on the move through forests/brush and it’s also very difficult to crawl in. The bright side is that simple net ghillies are light weight, hugely adaptable to fixed positions and they roll up forming a small bundle.

You can use camouflage netting which can be bought at army surplus stores, else you can always choose shrimp net or fish net (the former is the best as it’s treated with anti rot coating).

Suit construction requires a decoy bag, raffia grass, burlap, fabric dye, rubber bands, jute twine and seam reaper. Here’s a video on how to build a ghillie suit from the ground up using readily available and dirt cheap materials.

Video first seen on Zachary Crossman.

The most important customizing option for your ghillie suit it the use of natural vegetation, but this trick comes with the disadvantage that natural vegetation will wither and brown in a couple of hours. Here raffia grass comes into play, as it’s perfectly suited for dyeing and it’s extremely effective in desert, grassland and winter environments.

Other options include using spanish moss, carpet moss or even artificial vegetation and there’s a wide selection of artificial vegetation at hobby stores. You can mitigate its glossy appearance which is common with plastic made plants by using a flat spray paint in your desired color. Plastic vegetation can be painted/repainted ad nauseam,

Don’t worry, building your own ghillie suit doesn’t require mad skills, you’ll just have to know how to tie simple knots, to recognize plant shapes and mix different colors together.

What’s important before proceeding with your DIY job is proper fieldwork research, namely taking notes and photos that will help you with color matching your ghillie suit. Yes, you’ll have to do some scouting, going out to the grasslands/woods/desert plateau or wherever you plan to use your camo and observe the coloration of the terrain with your own eyes.

Building your own ghillie suit offers you some advantages and tactical options vs the commercially available ones (which are also pretty expensive).

For example, you can add a recoil pad pocket if you’re using your suit for hunting purposes, or a hydration pack for wearing it in warm climates, not to mention waterproofing on the areas that come in contact with moisture, thus helping you stay dry in wet environments.

Another advantage of a home made ghillie suit is that it will match accurately the color of your desired environment you wish to blend into, as opposed to commercial ones which are usually available for just 2 environments.

That about sums it up for today. I hope you enjoyed reading the article. If you have questions or comments, don’t hesitate to use the dedicated section below. Good luck, and stay prepared folks!


This article has been written by Chris Black for Survivopedia. 

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Wilderness Survival: 5 Self Feeding Campfires

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Self feeding fire

If you’re an outdoors aficionado and you go camping often, today’s article will tick you in all the right places, as I will present you, dear readers, with 5 ways to start a self feeding campfire.

Making a campfire is arguably one of the most fun and interesting parts of camping, as it keeps you warm and safe on cool nights, not to mention that it gives you the opportunity to make the best barbecue you’ve ever had in your life.

You know, food cooked outdoors on wood-fires tastes best. However, there’s a downside to this kind of activity. I am talking about the boring job of keeping the fire alive and kicking.

We’ve all been in this situation – sitting and chilling by the fire, trying to relax and all that, when once again, we’re forced to get up and tend the fire. That’s pretty unpleasant when your belly is full of your latest barbecue, not to mention during the night when you’re sleeping like a baby, yet you awake frostbitten and what not.

However, there’s an answer to these problems with regard to camping, and I am talking about a self feeding fire. Think about our forefathers, they were the experts of this basic skill as for them, a self feeding fire lasting all nigh long meant they could take a nap after a harsh journey.

This may sound nothing short of miraculous to you, but I’ll present you with some videos and you’ll see that I am dead serious, as usual.

So, considering that you can’t really enjoy the warm glow from your campfire if you’re forced to constantly feed it with fresh logs, let’s see about some self feeding ideas which will keep your fire going forever and ever.

1. 15+ Hours Self Feeding Fire

The next idea is about a 15 hours-plus self feeding fire, which sounds pretty awesome providing that it really works; i.e. a fire that will burn for more than half a day all by itself, requiring zero maintenance. That almost beats central heating, don’t you think?

The self feeding fire was invented by the pioneers that had to travel for months. We still have a lot to learn about their skills, as they are depicted in Claude Davis’s book “The Lost Ways”, who unearths the long forgotten ways and lifestyles of the ancestors of ancient times.

Discover the ancient secrets that helped our forefathers survive in the wild!

This type of fire will work if you’re doing it right and proper. The idea is that you’ll have to work a little bit in order for it to function, but it will be worth it. The concept is pretty simple: you’ll have to build two ramps opposing each other and load them with big logs.

The logs will self-load as the ones in the middle get consumed by the fire, but check out the video tutorial about this method depicted in “The Lost Ways” book, and see the concept in action for yourself.

Video first seen on Know More.

As you have noticed, the ramps are constructed in a very easy-to-understand way; there’s nothing fancy involved here.

In order to get the fire started, you’ll have to remember to leave a gap in-between the two logs at the bottom by putting a couple of pieces of dead wood in there to keep them open. In this way, you’ll be able to start the fire, and that’s kind of important.

You’ll also have to cut pretty big (and flat-that’s crucial) logs and the trick is to start the fire from below and make sure the logs burn completely all the way down to succeed.

2. The Upside-down Fire

The second self feeding campfire idea is called the upside down fire. The general idea is that you put the biggest stuff at the bottom, like the big logs, in layers, in a crisscrossed pattern, and as you build the logs up, the woods will get smaller, ending up with the tender pile of the top.

This is a very efficient way of building a self feeding campfire and here’s a comprehensive video tutorial.

Video first seen on NorthSouthSurvival.

The idea works and it’s pretty easy to DIY, ending up with an almost maintenance-free fire which consumes itself from the top down. This method is also known as the fall-down fire.

3. Self Feeding Fire Cigarettes

The third idea is called self-feeding fire cigarettes, just another moniker for a self feeding, long-lasting campfire. The goal of this project is to build a small scale fire as opposed to the previous idea which involves big logs for creating a heavy duty campfire.

So, what we’ll be dealing with here is a minimal campfire, ideal for cooking and lighting your cigars and, you know, keeping the lights on, so to speak.

The concept is to make a hole in the ground and stick 4-5 fire cigarettes (wooden sticks basically) inside, light them up from the bottom and as they burn slowly, the burnt parts collapse under their own weight. This is elegant, very easy to put into practice, and it really works. You must remember to dig out the ventilation tunnels required for keeping the fire alive.

Video first seen on Redfuel Bushcraft

4. 18+ Hours Self Feeding Campfire

Next on our program is how to make a long-lasting, self-feeding campfire that will stay alive by itself for approximately 18 hours, give or take (depending on the size of the logs).

First things first: you’ll have to find 2 big logs. The thicker they are, the longer your fire is going to last.

The general idea is that you’ll put these 2 thick logs on top of each other and set a fire in between them using dead/dry debris or something similar. You’ll have to use 4 stakes, 2 on each side of the logs, for keeping the logs from rolling out; something like a safety precaution. It’s best to use green wood stakes, as these don’t burn so well.

It’s important how you set up the fire; i.e. it works especially well if you set up in the direction where the wind blows, as it will fan the fire for you.

Video first seen on coydog outdoors.

5. Finnish Rakovalkea Fire

Lastly, let me present you with a clever system to build a self feeding campfire which is very popular in Northern Europe, in Finland and Sweden respectively, where it’s known as rakovalkea and/or nying.

This self feeding system uses for two notched-out short logs for its base that keep the fire lifted up off the ground for better ventilation, or more oxygen if you like.

The rest of the job is pretty similar to the previous project; i.e. you’ll have two logs on top of each other with the fire being set in the middle. Both the log on the bottom and the one on the top have a flattened edge as they’ll be facing each other, and in between you’ll have to put the combustible materials required for starting the fire.

Two poles are used to keep the logs firmly in place (via nails). But take a look at this video tutorial and you’ll see what’s up.

Video first seen on Far North Bushcraft And Survival.

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6 Ways To DIY Emergency Firestarter Kits

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Survivopedia ^ Ways To DIY Emergency Firestarte kits

To begin with, I’d take it as an axiom that any respectable prepper should know how to start a fire in an emergency. Also, I am a firm believer in the theory that any bug out bag or survival kit should pack a fire starter, together with a couple of Bic lighters, just in case.

If you’re wondering why, well, you should contemplate the fact that fire is maybe the most important invention in the history of mankind.

For starters, fire keeps you warm and that’s quite important during the winter season, especially when confronted with a survival situation, i.e. you get lost out in the big bad wood or whatever.

I am aware of the fact that we live in a day and age when people don’t go out much, especially in the woods/in the wilderness. Getting lost is a pretty rare occurrence as we’re surrounded by high-tech GPS capable gadgets, Google Maps at our fingertips, mobile internet, offline maps and whatnot.

However, nasty things can happen at any given moment. The likes of earthquakes, hurricanes, terrorist attacks or good-old power outages may render your central heating system useless in no time.

There are also still folks out there, in flyover country, so to speak, who still go out hiking and hunting (in my time it was called having fun), even in the winter, so you may face a situation where having a fire starting kit will save your life.

So, ranting aside, besides keeping you warm and preventing frostbite from incapacitating you in an emergency, fire will allow you to cook your food, purify water for medical treatment or drinking, keep wild animals away, and signal your presence during the night or during the day via smoke signals.

Survival isn’t all that fire is about though; it’s also needed for complex things that made civilization possible, like metallurgy or pottery.

Yes indeed folks, fire is pretty important in almost all aspects of our modern life, yet we seem to take it for granted, as we got lazy due to our high-tech dominated and lavish lifestyle.

Start a fire anywhere using concealed fire-starting tools worn right on your shoes. Click here to grab these amazing fire laces!

Getting back to our story, let’s talk about a few ideas with regard to DIY-ing emergency fire starters.

To begin with, I bet you’ve already watched a dozen movies where Crocodile Dundee or that weird dude which has the improbable name of Bear Grylls is rubbing 2 sticks together and somehow a fire magically appears. Believe me folks, that’s next to impossible if you’re a regular guy who never tried that before (like 200 times).

Here, the fire starter kit comes into play because, after all, we’re living in the 21st century and we’re supposedly smarter than your average troglodyte in the Amazonian jungle (I am not sure all of those guys discovered fire yet).

An emergency fire starter kit is aimed at making your survival story more pleasant and interesting to tell to your friends, and also more probable, as in “Staying Alive”, if you know that Bee Gees song.

What I am trying to tell you is that even if lighters or matches, are the easiest way to start a fire, having an emergency survival kit is pretty cool and it will make you stand out in the prepper crowd.

Joking aside, the main purpose of a fire starter kit is to help you with making a fire in adverse weather conditions (read rain, wind, snow or any combination of 2), when a simple lighter will not suffice.

1. Mini Fire Starter Kit

The first DIY project is the Micro Fire Starter Kit and it’s my personal favorite because it involves a Bic lighter, obviously.

The genius of this DIY fire starter kit is its simplicity. All you need is an old empty Bic lighter which is cut in half with a saw/knife or whatever. This creates a very small fire starter.

The striker still works obviously, and you’ll also use the storage chamber underneath (where the lighter fluid used to be) for your fishing hook.

You’ll also use cotton and the phosphorus paper, all of which are the must-have ingredients for an old school fire starter, sealed and waterproofed with hot glue for using in survival situations. I know what you’re thinking: you’d prefer a  brand new/working Bic lighter instead of that DIY fire starter kit, but life is not always easy folks.

Video first seen on American Hacker.

2. Micro Emergency Fire Starter Kit

Here’s another idea for DIY-ing an emergency fire starting kit using another Bic lighter for creating an ultra-light and uber-tiny keychain survival tool.

This project involves some tinkering with the lighter, but you’ll end up with a very small emergency fire kit which uses the same principle, i.e. the working striker of a Bic lighter combined with cotton balls mixed with petroleum jelly as combustibles, that are stored inside the cut-down lighter’s innards.

Video first seen on MeZillch.

3. Pocket Size Fire Starter Kit

For another idea, take a look at this pocket-sized fire starter kit which is made from an old pain reliever tube and nothing much else. By nothing much else I mean old wax, a Ferro rod and a striker. But just watch the video and you’ll discover a very clever way for making a fire starter from scratch, and most importantly, one that really works well (I tried it myself).

Video first seen on supergokue1

4. Self Igniting Fire Starters

Here’s a (clumsy) compilation of some of the best DIY self-igniting fire starters and combinations – a kit of sorts – which contains cool stuff like:

  • a self-igniting pine pitch fire stick fire starter
  • self-igniting dust fire starters
  • pine pitch fireball fire starters
  • pine pitch fire bomb fire starters
  • fire crackle fire starters, fatwood fire stick fire starters

This also includes char rope, char cloth, and a fire light candle. The idea is that you can buy all these gizmos from eBay and see how they’re made, then try to reverse engineer them if you think they’re worth the stretch.

Video first seen on The Tera Farley Channel

5. Chemical Based Fire Starters

Now with the old-school fire starter kits taken care of, let’s see how a chemist would make a fire in the absence of lighters, matches, Ferro rods, sticks and stones, etc.

Truth be told, this is something resembling a chemistry class, as the video tutorial will show you some pretty cool chemical reactions – four oxidation processes respectively –  which will all result into an open flame, provided you have the materials at the ready.

Basically, you’ll learn how to make a fire without matches if you get lost in your chemistry lab or something along these lines. The idea is that you’ll require sulfuric acid, potassium permanganate (these are hard to get over the counter), potassium chlorate, zinc powder, glycerol, acetone, ammonium nitrate and several other chemicals. It’s never a bad idea to know how to make fires this way because you don’t know what situation you may find yourself in.

However, as far as chemistry experiments go, these ideas are among the best out there, being nothing short of spectacular. Just don’t let your kids see the video, okay?

Video first seen on Thoisoi2 – Chemical Experiments!

6. How to Make Fire With a Lemon

I saved the best for last, as you can imagine. Now, sit down, take a deep breath and learn how to make a fire with a lemon.

Yes, folks, you can make a fire with a lemon if you’re from Sweden and you have a thick accent. Okay, and you have lemons, obviously.

This is not a joke, as the principle behind the lemon fire starter is pretty straightforward: the lemon is an acidic fruit, the juice inside is the electrolyte, and sticking a few copper/zinc pins (think electrodes) into the lemon will make for a primitive circuit which provides you with electricity when closed. You see where this is going, right?

The battery will be used for creating basically a short circuit via a thin wire, which will go incandescent in the process, meaning that you’ll be able to use it for lighting up dry tinder, thus making for a good fire starter by any measure.

Take a look at the video and see for yourself. It’s massive fun. As far as out-of-the-box workable ideas go, this one is the best in the world. I mean, if life gives you lemons, make a fire with them.

Video first seen on NorthSurvival

And yes, it works, I’ve tried it.

If you have other ideas or comments, feel free to express them in the dedicated section below.


This article has been written by Chris Black for Survivopedia. 

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How To DIY A Paracord Survival Grenade

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DIY Paracord Grenade

If you’re an outdoor aficionado, you’re probably checking constantly for survival tips and tricks and, as you may already know, paracord is one of those special items you should have on your person when SHTF. In other words, always have it within reach.

When it comes to survival gear, there are 4 basic things you should be capable of doing with it: shelter-building, filtering water, gathering food, and starting a fire. In an ideal world, your survival kit must be able to resolve all these issues without problems.

If you’re able to achieve this goal, you’ll be able to survive for a few days until help arrives, or possibly even indefinitely, in case the cavalry is busy somewhere else. You know what I am talking about – if you can procure water, food, shelter, and make a fire in a survival situation, you’re pretty much guaranteed for winning the prepper academy award.

This brings us to today’s topic, how to DIY a paracord survival grenade. Truth be told, a well-made (as in smart) paracord survival grenade can be described as the mother of all survival gear.

That’s because a properly made paracord grenade will provide you with all the basics of survival, i.e. you’ll be able to hunt and fish, start a fire, build yourself a shelter and, why not, even boil water.

The devil is in the details. That’s an old saying which is truer than ever when it comes to paracord survival grenades.

The thing is, you can buy a pre-made one. In case you’re wondering why, well, paracord survival grenades have already achieved legendary status among the prepper community, which is growing exponentially year after year. Because of that, this pre-made item sells quite well indeed.

13 Essential survival items are included inside this Paracord Survival Kit. Grab this offer now!

In a nutshell (pun intended), a paracord survival grenade has a core which contains essential survival items, all wrapped with paracord, which in itself is another crucial survival piece of gear, ending up in a nicely-wrapped, portable, space-saving packet of survival goodies.

Now, talking about commercially available items, some of them are wrapped together using a cobra knot with the paracord. This style knot makes the grenade look great, but looks won’t help you survive if it’s not functional.

The problem with the cobra knot is that despite its cool appearance, when the rubber hits the road and you need to use it, it is pretty hard to deploy. It’s not as quick as you may need it to be at the critical moment when your life depends on it.

Now, the problem with using other types of knots is that you may end up with an ugly looking paracord grenade, but in my book, usability trumps beauty, so fair warning.

As per future reference, I would suggest DYI-ing your paracord grenade using the quick-deploy type of the cobra knot, which is the solomon bar.

This type of knot requires some practice and patience, but it’s fairly easy to do after you get the hang of it, and it’s lightning fast to deploy if so desired. Here is an example, take a piece of paracord and start practicing.

Video first seen on TyingItAllTogether

Moving along with our story, nowadays almost everyone has heard about paracord bracelets, which actually became more like fashion pieces rather than survival items for the urban prepper. A survival paracord grenade has more than just plain rope, but what’s inside is what matters the most. It’s here that you must pay extra attention.

A basic survival paracord grenade holds about twenty feet of paracord. Ideally, you should go for mil-spec paracord, but any type of high-quality paracord, rated to at least 500 pounds, will do the job if you’re stranded in the middle of nowhere, in the wilderness and all that jazz.

Obviously, you can create a bigger or a smaller one, depending on your needs and personal preference, but as a general rule of thumb, 20 feet, or roughly 6 meters, of paracord are marking the sweet spot, dimensions-wise. The idea is to strike the perfect balance (as in portability/convenience) with your survival grenade, else you can choose to carry some rope and a bunch of survival tools in a bag if you’d rather.

As I already told you, one of the key issues with DIY paracord grenades is to be able to take them apart easily. For example, consider that you’re out there in the cold (it’s winter after all) and your hands are frozen stiff. Struggling to untie the knots of your paracord grenade for deploying your survival gear in order to make a fire is not the best idea in a survival situation, right?

Video first seen on MOD

5 Essential Steps to DIY the Perfect Paracord Survival Grenade

So, if you want to build the perfect paracord grenade, you must follow a few simple steps, together with knowing perfectly well what survival tools to include inside.

1. Built it around a carabiner

A paracord survival grenade is built around a carabiner. That’s what makes it look like an actual grenade. Aesthetics aside, a carabiner is a staple item in any respectable survival kit.

2. Put some fishing and trapping gear inside

Next, considering that one must eat in order to live to fight another day, you must put some fishing and trapping gear inside your survival grenade. Items such as snare wire, small game trapping items and a small fishing kit would be perfect.

3. Add a small LED flashlight

A small LED flashlight would come handy when in need, i.e. starting a fire is not possible and you can’t find your way in the darkness. After all, the sun has a tendency to disappear for hours, especially during the winter, and if you’re afraid of the dark … I’m kidding of course, but an LED flashlight is an excellent item to have in your survival kit in any situation.

4. Include a small blade and a Ferro rod

Another item to consider is a small blade and a Ferro rod, as an additional fire-starter item. Ideally, one should carry a survival knife at all times, but having a backup is always smart, hence the small blade recommendation.

These are the bare minimum survival items to consider, but use your imagination and don’t be afraid to improvise (a small lighter or match sticks, striking sheet, etc).

5. Wrap the survival items in tin foil

Last but not least, once you have decided what to put inside the core of your survival paracord grenade, don’t forget to wrap ’em all up using a tin foil. Besides keeping your survival gear inside dry, the tin foil sheet can be used as a water container and you also can boil the water in it, thus destroying the bacteria.

Remember – all items must directly contribute to base survival in one way or another.

Video first seen on LittleMtnOutdoors

This particular paracord grenade hides essential survival tools inside:

  • 6 feet of fishing line
  • a razor blade
  • 2 small hooks
  • 2 split shot sinkers
  • a small strip of sandpaper
  • 6 strike-anywhere matches,
  • 2 band aids
  • 1 foot of jute twine for tinder and aluminum foil
  • the paracord itself.

Click the banner below to grab your Paracord Survival Kit! 



This article has been written by Chris Black for Survivopedia. 

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7+ Tips To Survive When Camping In Winter

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Survive When Camping In Winter

For the average Joe out there, myself included, winter camping usually means renting a cabin somewhere nice in the mountains and spending the holidays with friends, family, and a few bottles of booze while chatting, listening to CCR and enjoying the downtime. (Still I would survive out there without these, if I have to.)

However, there are hardcore outdoors aficionados who actually resent the idea of camping in a heated cabin by a romantic wood stove. That’s not camping – it’s glamping.

Moreover, there are adventurous folks who prefer to grab their backpack, rent a snowmobile, and go somewhere in the wilderness away from the mad world, the rush, and the insanity of civilization for a few days or weeks.

Regardless of what your pleasure is about camping during winter, there are a few tips and tricks you should know before going out in the cold.

Hypothermia is a very “cold” (pun intended) fact to consider if camping outside in extreme weather conditions. If you want to return home in one piece, with all your thumbs and toes in working condition, then keep reading, as I will share with you some important information about how to stay warm even in -45 F. Okay, maybe not toasty warm when it’s that cold, but you got the idea.

To begin with, you should be realistic and realize that winter camping is not for everyone. However, if you’re properly equipped and trained, you may very well have the time of your life even on Everest.

Let’s begin with the basics: pre-trip planning. Pre-planning prior to any type of endeavor is the key to success, especially if we’re talking about camping during winter.

If you remember that old Bob Dylan song, you don’t need a weatherman to tell you where the wind blows. In other words, regardless what the weather forecast says, you must always prepare for the worst winter conditions possible. Better safe than sorry, right?

1. Plan Your Trip

Even if it may sound like overkill, make sure you’ll be packing all the emergency supplies you’ll ever need in a winter survival situation, such as extra food and water supplies (or means to procure water by melting snow and ice), extra clothes, etc., especially if you’re going somewhere remote.

Also, if the weather conditions are likely to bad, as in dangerous bad, you should play it safe and postpone your trip, that is, if you don’t want to win the Darwin award, if you know what I mean. If not, Google it. It’s fun in a macabre sort of way.

Pack light, but don’t scrimp on essential gear, like a camping snow shovel, plenty of lighting, spare batteries, a first-aid kit, ski poles/walking poles and always go for a strong/sturdy waterproof tent.

20 Survival Uses For An Emergency Survival Blanket. Get yours today! 

2. Take a Friend With You

Another crucial rule when it comes to winter outdoors survival is a rule I’ve learned from a Jack London novel. Never travel alone. Period.

3. Research the Campsite

Research the area you’re going to visit, check the surroundings, see if there’s a forest nearby (read firewood), see if there are any villages or small towns around, learn how long it will take to get from point A to B, etc. We’re living in the age of Google Maps and satellite imagery, so you don’t have any excuse not to get proper intel before going in!

Choose the right campsite (the sun is your best friend during the winter, so check out where it rises), start your fire first thing, before anything else, plan ahead, and stay warm folks.

4. Inform Your Family & Friends

Also, remember to inform your friends and family about your whereabouts, i.e. where you’re going to be for the next couple of days/weeks or whatever, thus making sure you’ll be able to get help if SHTF. If you can give them a detailed map of your route, that’s even better.

5. Keep Warm

Now, let’s talk about keeping warm. Obviously, the main thing to consider when camping outside during the winter is the right clothing. That’s the detail that will make all the difference in the world.

Dress in Layers

Layers is the word. Wear layers of clothing, as layers are the outdoors explorer’s best friend, besides a good fire. Layers work by trapping air between them, thus insulating your body from the cold. A few layers of clothing are more efficient than a single one, regardless of how thick it is.

Also, stay away from cotton clothes, because cotton absorbs moisture (you’ll get sweaty at some point during your trip) and damp or wet clothes are your worst enemy when it’s cold outside.

Basically, you should use three layers of clothing: the base layer, something like a second skin which helps you trap the body heat (synthetic materials/merino wool are the best for the base layer), the mid layer, which works as the main insulator (you can go for fleece lined trousers/heavy fleece) and the outer layer, which must be waterproof.

Dress In Layers

Keep Your Feet Warm

Feet are the infantry’s secret weapon, as my old drill sergeant used to say, so when you go out camping during the winter, pay extra attention to your feet.

To avoid cold feet, keep your cotton socks at home and go for polyester socks or wool socks. Specialty stores stock special foot gear (read socks and boots) designed for hiking. Obviously, the boots are very important too, as they must be waterproof and grippy, especially if you’re going to hike through the snow or ice.

Never Neglect Your Head and Your Hands

A huge amount of body heat, almost half of it in fact, is lost through the head during the winter, so make sure you wear a hat that’s going to block the wind and keep your heat in. Finally, don’t forget a nice pair of gloves.

6. Know Your Gear

The sleeping bag is an essential piece of gear when it comes to winter camping, so know your gear well if you want to survive low night-time temperatures. The idea is that you’ll require a high-quality sleeping bag if you want to be comfortable during the night and wake up healthy.

Or, double up your existing one just in case by putting one inside the other. Remember to always put a foam roll mat (or 2) under your mattress.

The idea is that shelter is pretty important when camping during the winter, as you may experience snowstorms, strong winds, and the whole palaver. Don’t get cheap on your tent, nor on your sleeping bag. They can make the difference between waking up relatively warm and safe and having somebody find your popsicle body.

7. Know Your Body

Together with knowing your gear, knowing your body is very important. Some folks sleep cold, others sleep warm. There are variables, like your age, sex, fitness level, experience, the amount of body fat and lots of other factors, which differentiate between the comfort levels achieved by different people using the exact same gear.

If you’re not familiarized with winter camping, it’s better to be over-prepared than not prepared enough. I am talking about layers of clothing, sleeping bags, and just about anything else that counts toward survival.

Go to Sleep Already Warmed Up

Always remember to go to bed, (inside your sleeping bag that is) already warmed up. The idea is that warmth cometh from within, while the sleeping bag is playing just the insulation part, so if you’re freezing and sleepy, do a few press ups/sit ups or just jump around a little before getting inside your sleeping bag. You’ll thank me later.

Eat Late

Another trick for a good night’s sleep while winter camping is to eat late, ideally a hot meal just before going to sleep. The ideal meal would be fatty (as opposed to carbohydrates), as fat gets metabolized slowly by your body (it lasts longer) and, needless to say, you’ll require fuel to make heat, right? Cheese, olive oil, bacon, pork; you know what I am talking about.

Eat high-energy food at all times, preferably in the form of warm meals. If you can’t, go for nuts, chocolate, and energy bars. Cover your exposed skin in animal fat or vaseline, just like the Inuit have been doing forever, thus preventing frostbite and windburn.

Keep Your Sleeping Bag Dry

Keep your sleeping bag dry at all costs, add more layers outside eventually as you need them. This doesn’t have to be clothes; it can be as simple as putting a metallic survival blanket over your sleeping bag.

This Emergency Survival Blanket helps retain 90% of your body heat. Get yours now! 

Video first seen on Survival Frog

Avoid breathing into your sleeping bag while sleeping (it introduces moisture) and sleep with your boots in your bag. Put them at the bottom of your sleeping bag so they don’t freeze during the night.

Leave your water filter at home and concentrate on boiling the snow. Chemical filters work painfully slow in the cold while mechanical ones may crack/fail due to the cold.


Don’t forget to drink enough water, even if you don’t have your usual thirst reflex, which is common in extreme cold. However, dehydration is a serious danger in sub-zero conditions, especially if you’re sweating. Also, a lot of moisture gets lost while breathing in and exhaling the cold air, as the air is very dry during the winter.

Try to prevent your water supply from freezing, but that’s easier said than done.

If you have other ideas or suggestions, feel free to comment in the dedicated section below.

This article has been written by Chris Black for Survivopedia. 

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DIY Winter Water Heaters For Chicken Coop

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DIY Water Heater Coop

If you’re a chicken farmer, you may already know that chickens actually thrive in colder temperatures, as they’re designed with a unique ability. They are excellent at regulating their body temperatures – way better than humans actually.

However, with the winter upon us, it would be nice to help our little feathered friends as much as we can.

The thing is that during the winter, your chickens require at least as much water as they do during the summer in order to generate body heat, so it’s still crucial that they receive an adequate supply of fresh, clean, unfrozen water. Going without water for even a couple of hours can decrease egg production for up to 2 days.

Keep Your Chickens Hydrated During Winter

Dehydration sets in quickly with chickens, especially in extremely cold environments. Even though your hens will drink significantly less water during the winter – about 3 times less on average than in the summer – it’s critical that you keep your “girls” properly hydrated during the winter.

Also, depending on where you live, wintertime survival for your chickens can be anything from a walk in the park and a day of busting bricks, if you know what I mean.

Another fact is that chickens are basically 65 percent water and shuffling back and forth to the chicken coop 3 or 4 times a day carrying heavy buckets of water in freezing cold and/or heavy snow is pretty far from my idea of having quality time during the winter months.

The problem with harsh winters and chicken coops is that water tends to freeze rather quickly in sub-freezing temps. Since your chickens need water on a daily basis, you’ll have to find a way to provide it to them without breaking your back in the process.

Water is involved in all aspects of poultry metabolism, which essentially means that if they don’t get enough of it, your girls will not be able to regulate their body temperature properly among other things (food digestion, body waste management etc).

Also, water is very important in the production of eggs, as an egg is made roughly from 74 percent water. If your girls don’t have access to enough clean/fresh water, you can kiss your egg production goodbye during the winter.

Just like humans, poultry are more sensitive to a lack of water rather than a lack of food, so you must be extra careful that they always have access to fresh and clean water (water no older than 24 hours would be ideal).

Discover how to easily build an attractive and affordable backyard chicken coop!

How To Stop Your Chickens’ Water Freezing

Now, during the winter, your biggest problem is preventing your chickens’ water supply from freezing. I know I am stating the obvious here, but just like with so many other issues, this is easier said than done.

Even if chickens come equipped with pretty tough beaks, they’ll never use them to pierce through heavy ice to get to the water. In other words, this will be one of your many designated jobs during the winter.

There are 2 main strategies when it comes to mitigating the freezing issue:

  • the hard way is to manually replace the water when it freezes
  • the easier way is to prevent it from freezing in the first place.

Carrying water may be quite fun – some may even say idyllic – during the summer, when it’s nice and warm outside, but it will make for a miserable experience during the winter’s freezing dark conditions. While this is basically the most passive option, it’s pretty far from the ideal one, at least in my book. It’s labor-intensive because you’ll have to refill the chickens’ water at least 3 times/day. Which brings us to the second option: prevention.

It pretty much goes without saying that in order to prevent water from freezing, you’ll have to summon a little bit of magic to apply some heat to the water container in your coop 24/7.

I must emphasize the word “little” here, because chickens aren’t very fond of drinking lukewarm water, pretty far from it actually, so you’ll have to pay attention to that issue. You should concentrate only on keeping the water from freezing because, as a matter of fact, chickens really love sipping freezing-cold water.

Again, there are 2 strategies involved here: if you’re not DIY friendly, you can always take the easy approach and buy an electrically heated pet bowl, though you’ll have to cough up a few bucks in the process.

Also, this solution only works if your chicken coop has easy access to a source of electricity (solar panels would work, but that’s overkill for your budget). These bad boys will do the hard work for you, but you’ll have no fun in the DIY-ing process and that’s a bummer.

Now, the flip-side to that coin is to use that big brain of yours along with a little elbow grease and build your own water heater.

Start building your own chicken coop. No special tools required. Get your free easy plans! 

DIY Winter Water Heater Using Electricity

As long as you’re handy with a screwdriver and you don’t have a problem with getting your hand dirty whilst saving a few bucks in the process, you can do this. To improvise a water heater you’ll just need a few basic materials and tools, including:

  • a stepping stone
  • a cinder block
  • a light bulb (the good old-school incandescent variety, alright folks?)
  • a fixing bracket.

The fixing bracket will be used to secure the light bulb firmly in place to the side of the cinder block. Also, you’ll have to drill a tiny hole through the side of the cinder block, so you’ll be able to run an electric wire to the light bulb.

When turned on, the light bulb will provide enough heat to keep the cinder-block warm provided it’s strong enough. It needs to be at least 40 watts. Obviously, if you place the chicken’s water bowl on top of the cinder block, it will stop the water from freezing without making it so warm that they won’t drink it. Depending on how low your temperatures drop, you may need a stronger bulb, or a weaker one.

Make sure you isolate all the electrical parts properly, because you don’t want to wake up in the morning and discover some fried chicken inside your hen house.

Video first seen on Gustavo Monsante

DIY Winter Water Heater Using Sun Light

If you don’t have electricity available or you just don’t want the fire hazard or you’re afraid of electricity, wiring and what not, don’t despair just yet. We have another solution for you: the Sun-is-your-best-friend approach. The idea behind this DIY job is to use the sunlight (if any) for keeping the water from freezing.

Since chickens are usually sleeping during the night, they’ll only need water during daytime, when the sun is presumably up and shining.

For this DIY job, you’ll only need:

  • a tire
  • styrofoam
  • a rubber tub
  • sunlight.

The idea with the tire is that, being black, it will absorb the sunlight, thus keeping the water from freezing.

The styrofoam is used for insulating. Remember, this neat trick only works if there’s enough sun, which is a best case scenario during the winter. This may not be reliable enough if you don’t live in an area that gets lots of sunny, albeit cold, winter days, though it’s worth mentioning.

Video first seen on Lisa of Fresh Eggs Daily

The easiest way to prevent water from freezing is to float 5-6 ping pong balls in your water container. The ping pong balls will float around the container at even the slightest breeze, thus making tiny waves on the surface, which will prevent the initial layer of ice from forming. That’s right – ping pong balls can prevent water from freezing as long as the temperature doesn’t dip much below freezing.

It’s essential to remember during the cold season to never use a metal water container. Always go for dark-colored (ideally black) plastic or rubber containers during the winter. For example, a deep-black rubber container alone, if placed in the sun (if any) will prevent the water inside from freezing to temperatures several degrees below freezing.

Also, the larger the surface area and depth, the longer it will take for the water to freeze. A 40-gallon rubber-made water trough will rarely freeze during the winter, but it all depends on where you live.

You can build your chicken coop on a budget with these ready-made easy to follow plans! 

This article has been written by Chris Black for Survivopedia.

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Winter Survival: How To Start A Fire In The Snow

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With winter here and global warming a thing of the past (now it’s climate change or something), knowing how to start a fire in the snow may save your life someday. I don’t know about you, dear reader, but in my neck of the woods it’s been snowing for days.

If you’re asking yourself why you should learn how to start a fire in the snow, well, the simple answer is: you never know, so be prepared for any situation.

Winter time is arguably the hardest in terms of outdoor survival and if you can’t build a fire, you’re dead meat regardless of the gear you have at your disposal.

And if you’re out there, stranded in the snow in the middle of nowhere and waiting impatiently for help from above, knowing how to make a fire will make the difference between life and certain death.

As night falls, the temperature will plummet, making you feel like you’re in an icebox. If you can’t make a fire, you’ll find yourself in a life-threatening situation if there ever was one. In addition to keeping you from freezing to death, fire keeps wild animals away and it allows you to cook (or defrost) your food, and even make water by melting snow or ice.

Fire is your best friend when it comes to wilderness survival, as it takes care of all that’s important for a prepper: food, water, and shelter (warmth).

For most modern folk, especially youngsters who live their lives pecking at their smartphones, starting a fire in any type of outdoor scenario is a rare occurrence, let alone making fire in extreme weather conditions (snow, wind).

On the other hand, if you never leave your house or the city, you may think bad things will never come to you. That works for hobbits, yes indeed, but then again, there are plenty of scenarios when your bubble can burst in a matter of hours.

For example, what will you do as you get trapped in the snow during your vacation in the Rocky Mountains or wherever, with a blizzard coming out of nowhere, blocking the roads and/or your car somewhere in the middle of…well, you see where this is going, right?

How to Start a Fire in the Snow

Getting back to our “story”, starting a fire in the snow is the second hardest thing after trying to do it during a rainstorm.

Starting a fire in the snow will present you with two basic problems.

First things first – snow will definitely melt at some point and the water may quench your hard work, together with the flames.

Another thing to contemplate about fires, snow, and winter is that cold comes into play, i.e. you’ll have to raise the temperature of your combustible materials farther than in the summertime in order to ignite them. That means that making a fire during the winter is more difficult than in the summertime, as it starts slower than “normal”, provided you know what normal is.

Video first seen on The Outside Files

Choose the Right Spot

Everything in life is location, and the same principle applies to starting a fire in the snow, obviously. Selecting a proper site is the first thing to consider and is exceptionally important for your success (survival). The location should ideally be protected from wind, water, and snow.

Folks traveling outdoors during the winter prefer to make a fire under a tree most of the time, but be aware of trees carrying a lot of snow on their branches, as the snow may fall into your fire as it melts and put it out. And then you’ll be in a world of pain.

If you’re going to start your fire under a tree, make sure you knock the snow off the branches first. That eliminates the aforementioned risk and also, it will make sure you don’t have to clear your spot twice.

Start with a Clean Spot

This brings us to the next step: clearing the snow from your desired fire location. You can’t actually make a fire directly on snow, maybe on ice though, provided you can build a platform from rocks/logs.

You can clear the snow by brushing it away or you may walk on it in order to tamp it down. If you’re going for the tamping, you must realize that the snow will melt at some point, so make sure the water resulting from melted snow can drain away from your fire.

Also remember to clear the snow off the ground on a place near the fire for storing your extra wood, and, if possible, try to use rocks for raising your wood storage spot above the ground. If you don’t have enough rocks, you can use sticks laid cross-ways or make a platform using branches (the same can be used for the fireplace itself in case you can’t find rocks).

Both ways are good for keeping the wood from coming in contact with the ground, thus offering it the chance to get as dry as possible before using it.

When it comes to starting a fire in the snow, or in rainy weather for that matter, it would be ideal to use a large, flat stone as the fire-floor.

Video first seen on ExploringWithGeorge.

Prepare Your Tools

Raising the combustible materials just 1’’ or 2’’ above the ground will make all the difference in the world by offering the water the required drainage channels to run off through.

Another thing to consider and that is hugely important is the heat reflector because, after all, starting a fire in the snow is all about keeping you warm, and a good heat-reflector is aimed at accomplishing exactly that.

A cliff face makes for a good heat reflector, also a big tree or a large rock. You can always improvise one from a blanket, the silver survival types, using the silver side which will provide you with the best reflection.

Read more about these 52 ways to save your life while laughing!

Starting the Fire

Now, with the “preamble” taken care of, let’s talk a little bit about the actual fire-starting procedure. Lesson learned the hard way: along with a first aid kit, always carry something that can be used as a fire starter. A packet of waterproof matches and a couple of BIC butane lighters are a must-have item in any survival kit.

Ideally, you should also carry a dedicated fire-starter kit, which consists of a block of paraffin and sawdust mix, available just about anywhere. You can DIY a good fire starter using cotton balls soaked with Vaseline (petroleum jelly), carried inside a film canister.

The idea is to use a fire starter that doesn’t die out fast whilst providing a lot of heat at the same time.

If you don’t have a dedicated fire starter, you can always use small pieces of dry wood, which may be a problem, but these fellas are usually easy to spot near the trunk of trees. Avoid wood that was in contact with the snow, as it definitely has a high moisture content.

If you can’t find small dry pieces of wood, get your knife, find the driest dead  branch possible, and whittle down until you hit dry wood. If you don’t even have a knife, I don’t know what you’re doing outdoors, really. You’ll have to get creative.

Tips to Remember

  • Always collect enough fuel to keep the fire burning for a long time. You don’t want to stop in the middle of the “show” to get more wood, as the fire may die out while you’re hunting for combustibles and you’ll have to start again from the beginning.
  • Always remember to gather large pieces of wood if possible, along with tinder kindling and smaller pieces for the initial fire.
  • The big chunks of wood are excellent for keeping the fire burning overnight, thus keeping you warm and allowing you to go to sleep without worrying about your fire dying and all that.
  • To get the most out of your fire, you’ll have to make sure that the fire and your shelter (if any) are as close together as possible.
  • Try to build your fire right at the shelter’s entrance and to use rescue blankets on the roof and at the back of the shelter for keeping the heat inside, thus keeping you warmer.
  • Don’t set it close enough that it’s going to catch your tent or shelter on fire, though.
  • Always travel with several rescue blankets in your survival kit; they’re hugely important and you’ll always want one of them between you and the ground, right?

You can also heat rocks into the fire and use them for warming your bed before going to sleep, or wrap a heated rock using a sweater or something like that and use it as a heater (yes, sleeping with a rock, a true love story). If it gets cold enough, you’ll see what I mean.

One thing to remember: coals generate the most heat in a fire, so make sure you keep adding enough wood to your fire so it can burn and turn to charcoal.

If you have any ideas or comments, feel free to comment in the dedicated section below. Stay safe, stay warm.

If you want more tips, click the banner below and discover the survival secrets that helped our ancestors survive harsh winters!


This article has been written by Chris Black for Survivopedia. 

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Projects For The Urban Survivor: DIY Tripwire Alarm

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DIY Tripwire Alarm

Tripwire alarms are among the simplest yet most effective ways for setting up a home security system.

If you don’t want to spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars on sophisticated pieces of equipment, today’s article is aimed at helping you to design and build a tripwire alarm for your home, dirt cheap and crazy simple – as in budget-friendly and easy to install.

As far as DIY jobs go, making your own home security system is among my top ten best ever. It’s fun, instructive and, most importantly, embraces the essence of prepping: “be prepared, son, be prepared.”

What Is a Trip Wire Alarm

Let’s begin with the basics: what’s a trip wire alarm? Well, as the name suggests, you just run a “wire” across a pathway you want to protect: in most instances, a door entrance, or a gate on your property, or whatever.

Then, if an intruder walks through and trips over the wire, an alarm is activated. Keep in mind that what I’ve described above is the most basic type of a tripwire alarm, as it refers to an actual wire and all that. Obviously, as we live in 2016, there’s always room for improvement.

Now, speaking of “traditional” tripwires, they’re incredibly simple, very intuitive and fairly easy to set up. But in our modern day and age, when wireless technologies and electronic components are dirt cheap and readily available at any Radio Shack or hardware store, we can go a step further and go a little bit more high-tech.

Regular tripwire alarms – the classic variety, so to speak – come with a built-in inconvenience, i.e. you’ll have to actually run a physical wire or line from the tripwire to the alarm itself.

If you want to protect a far-away location or a room or door inside of a building, you’re going to need a lot of wire, making it pretty difficult to set up.

However, you can get around this logistics nightmare fairly easy via high-tech (dirt cheap, don’t worry) gear, by using a small radio transmitter that will activate the alarm without requiring 5 miles of wire and what not.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Let’s start with the basics, shall we?

The conventional tripwire alarm, the one I’ve told you about in the beginning, consists of a line stretched across a path. Once an intruder trips over the respective line, the alarm is triggered.

Wired tripwire alarms are the most commonly used setups when it comes to homeowners installing them themselves, because they’re cheap and easy to install basically anywhere.

And learning how to DIY a tripwire alarm is very easy and fun.

If you want to learn more survival hacks, we recommend these Urban Survival Playing Cards that every prepper should have. Relax, have fun and learn more than 52 life-saving tips.


Types of tripwire alarms

  • Classic direct-tripwire alarm, i.e. the line stretched across a path, directly connected to the alarm using a wire/string/cord;
  • Laser/infrared tripwire alarm, which, instead of a wire/cord stretched across the path, uses an invisible laser/infrared beam;
  • Radio frequency tripwire alarm, when the tripwire assembly is connected with the alarm wirelessly via a radio transmitter.

The good news is that you can DIY at home basically any of these three using dirt cheap gear and basic tools.

Let’s begin with a classic in that field: the BANG tripwire alarm. The BANG particle refers to the actual alarm, which consists of ring caps.

So, for this low-tech and highly effective DIY project, you’ll require the following materials:

  • a mouse trap
  • fishing line
  • tent pegs
  • ring caps
  • screws
  • nails
  • rubber bands.

This type of tripwire alarm is the ideal solution for securing outdoors objectives, such as the perimeter of your home or a camp site. Needless to say, this project is very cheap, fairly easy to DIY and it works awesomely (the BANG part will scare most intruders away in a jiffy).

The basic idea behind this DIY project is that once the intruder trips over the wire, the mouse trap is activated and as it triggers, it detonates a ring cap, making a loud BANG. Pretty smart, huh?

Video first seen on kipkay

However, there’s even a simpler design for a classic tripwire alarm. First, you must select a location to set up the actual tripwire. Again, this is mostly an outdoor project that can alert you to the approach of a wild animal or various intruders. You must choose wisely, i.e. a place where you’ll have to actually walk to get into.

As the intruder passes by, his feet will catch the trip wire and trip an alarm. Obviously, the tripwire must be inconspicuous at a casual glance, or else your alarm will fail miserably. You’ll have to attach the trip line to a fixed location, between two trees for example, or between two rocks, roots or whatever. The idea is that the assembly must be stable enough to pull on the alarm itself when somebody trips over your wire.

Now, as per the alarm, you can use anything, including your imagination. Here are some suggestions: a string of noisy tin cans or an actual siren or whatever, provided it’s loud enough to warn you about an incoming danger. For example, you can use a string of tin cans stretched in a network-fashion hung between trees or something similar.

However, in our day and age, tin cans are kind of obsolete, so instead, you can use a cheap electronic siren. Here’s an even cheaper version of this type of trip wire alarm, which uses a battery and a clothes pin for creating a short circuit upon triggering, i.e. no sound, but a flame. This one works best during the night, obviously, provided is someone watching.

Video first seen on southernprepper1.

Here’s a project about DIY-ing a remote tripwire alarm, which requires building a small radio transmitter to activate the alarm via radio-waves.

Video first seen on Make.

Last but not least, this is the uber-high tech laser tripwire alarm, a fairly easy DIY project for your home security that will require a couple of mirrors, a cheap laser-pointing device and 10 dollars’ worth of electronic parts available at any Radio Shack or on Amazon. Using the laser tripwire alarm, you’ll be able to secure your entire house via an array of light beams which, unlike in B rated movies, are totally invisible and impossible to avoid.

Video first seen on Make

I know there are a myriad of designs and solutions with regard to tripwire alarms, but I’ve tried to select the easiest to build and to install. Try the project that suits you the best and start practicing your urban survival skills.

Get more than 52 survival secrets to survive any urban disaster or breakdown. 

This article has been written by Chris Black for Survivopedia. 

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Winter Survival: How To Build A Snow Shelter

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Do you remember the holy trinity of survival? Food, water, shelter: does that ring a bell? Also, do you know the rule of threes? You can survive for 3 minutes without oxygen, for 3 days without water and for 3 weeks without food.

Well, how about hypothermia? Do you have any idea how long will you last out there in the cold during a wintertime apocalypse?

The thing is that in an extremely cold environment, if you cannot find or you cannot build an emergency shelter, you’ll die from exposure in a matter of hours. It’s also worth noting that you’ll be totally incapacitated a long time before your actual death. Cold has this effect on people, you know.

In a winter outdoors survival situation, your worst enemies are frostbite and hypothermia along with other conditions like dehydration, but let’s concentrate upon what will kill you first.

Besides wearing the proper (layered) clothing, knowing how to build a snow shelter in an emergency situation in order to maintain a proper body temperature should be mandatory for any outdoors enthusiast.

Winter presents many survival challenges but also a lot of lessons. Now is the time to practice unique survival skills.

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The best thing about snow is that it makes for an excellent insulator. We’ve already talked about it in our article about how to insulate your homestead using snow during the cold winter months in order to save on your energy bill.

How To Build a Snow Shelter

Snow can be used for building a survival shelter, also known as a quinzee, which is basically a large pile of snow, a mound of sorts, that has been hollowed out, thus making for a cave-like place to rest, sleep, keep yourself alive and so on and so forth.

Basically, a quinzee is a man-made snow cave inspired most probably from what dogs and wolves do when a blizzard’s coming their way: i.e. they dig a hole in the snow and they wait for the storm to pass.

The thing is, for building a quinzee you’ll definitely require a snow shovel or something similar, as you’ll have to move around and dig out a lot of snow.


The best design in an emergency survival scenario, especially if you’re out there alone and you lack basic tools, is the snow trench shelter which is easier to build using just your hands. To begin with, you should be aware of 2 main things:

  1. First, practice makes perfect. Therefore, you should practice building a snow shelter in your backyard using meager means for as long as it takes. Don’t use snow blowers and high-tech stuff. That’s cheating. I am talking about acquiring the skills first because theoretical knowledge alone won’t save your life in a survival scenario; it’s just not enough.
  2. Second, while practicing DIY-ing a snow shelter, you’ll realize the amount of effort and elbow grease that it takes for piling and packing snow, then removing some of it for just a one-person space.

Even if it’s 10 degrees outside, you’ll be breaking a sweat constantly, and that’s particularly dangerous from multiple points of view in a real life winter survival scenario, because of the risk of dehydration and hypothermia, not to mention exhaustion.

Most experts agree that building a snow shelter is not a feasible endeavor for just one person, especially if you try to do it in a hurry and you lack basic tools (like a shovel), so fair warning. However, it’s also very true that when confronted with imminent death, humans actually gain superpowers in the form of adrenaline kicks, hence you might have a chance after all, so don’t despair just yet.

Another thing to remember is to never travel alone, even if we’re talking about short distances. You can easily get lost in a blizzard and find yourself in a world of pain.

Now, the equipment you have at your disposal and the environment will determine the type of snow shelter you can build: a quinzee or a snow trench.

Step 1. Find a proper location

As usual, location is everything, so before starting digging, you should select the proper spot for your snow shelter. Always avoid windy slopes and areas of rockfall. In other words, never dig your snow shelter in the path of a potential rockfall or avalanche.

Also, if you’re building on a windy slope, where the wind blows against your shelter, is very dangerous as snow can easily clog the entrance of your shelter overnight when you’re sleeping, thus preventing fresh air to get inside. You know what happens with asphyxia, right? In short, you’ll be dead without even knowing it.

Step 2: Find an are with deep snow 

Next, try to find an area with deep snow, thus saving a lot of work. Ideally, you should look for a snowdrift that’s at least 5 feet deep. The consistency of the snow is another factor, as fresh snow tends to be powdery, thus pretty difficult to work with because it’s prone to collapsing when you’re trying to make a cave.

The good news is that once disturbed, snow tends to harden, so if time is on your side, you should pile it up and wait for nature to take its course.

So, considering that you’ve already determined the size of the snow shelter you want to build and you’ve located the sweet spot for it, you should begin with stomping out the diameter of the snow shelter (a quinzee in this particular case) while wearing snow-shoes (provided you have them) thus packing the interior down.

In this way, you’ll create a strong platform upon which to build your snow shelter by eliminating layers in the snow.

Video first seen on OutsideFun1.

Step 3: Pile up the snow 

Now it’s time to start piling up the snow, assuming you have a shovel. As I already warned you, this may take a while, especially if you want to let the mound set up for a few hours, during which you may start building a fire, take a bite to eat while you wait, etc.

This wait time is essential when building a quinzee, as it allows for sintering to kick in. Sintering is a fancy word which depicts the energy released by snow while moving inside the mound you’ve created, making for the snow crystals to bond together, thus acquiring structural integrity.

Basically, sintering prevents the cave from collapsing over you while you’re sleeping inside; that’s the lesson to be taken home.

Step 4: Dig a tunnel into the snow pile 

Now, provided your mound has firmed up, you have to start digging your hole and you should begin with punching a few sticks (a foot long) through the mound, as they’ll serve as guides while you dig up your slumber chamber.

In the next phase, you’ll start digging the entry tunnel. You can plan on spending 2 or 3 hours digging the chamber area.

You can use tarps, pans or snow shoes to scoop out/remove the snow that resulted from digging. When you’ve reached your guide sticks, stop digging.

The ideal wall thickness is about 10 inches, so keep that in mind when designing your quinzee and putting your thickness markers in. Always remember to punch a few fist-size holes to let fresh air in.

How To Build a Snow Trench Survival Shelter 

If the quinzee is not an option because you don’t have the time, the energy, the tools or none of the above (or you’re alone), you must go for a snow trench instead.

Video first seen on Snowy Range Survival.

In an emergency survival scenario, the best alternative is to dig a trench in the snow and use a tarp or something similar (wood branches covered with snow for example) as a roof of sorts.

You can use tree branches or ski poles to prop the tarp up. Snow tranches are easier and faster to dig, but they’ll lack both the comfort and the warmth of a proper-made quinzee. Also, you can be buried in case of a heavy snowstorm, so keep that in mind too.

As for my final words: if you’re the outdoors type and you’re roaming in the wild during the winter on a regular basis, always make sure you have the proper clothing and equipment that you’ll require in a survival scenario, including a compact snow shovel and never travel alone.

Think about our ancestors, how they survived during the biggest winters in history and what mistakes they did – you don’t want to repeat them, trust me!


If you’ve ever built a snow shelter or have any questions, please share them with us in the comment section below.

This article has been written by Chris Black for Survivopedia. 

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DIY Basic Project: How To Build A Ladder

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DIY Ladder

Who doesn’t need a ladder?

In this article, we’ll explore a few ideas about how to build a ladder for your homestead. This project is fun and it has its purposes, but the main thing is that you can save a few dollars in the process while learning new things, especially basic carpentry, and that’s always fun and useful for a true prepper/homesteader.

If you take a look on Amazon for example, you’ll find cheap Chinese-made ladders starting from $30-$40 apiece; ladders that look pretty frail and fragile; truth be told, I wouldn’t bet my life and limb on their sturdiness if I’d ever have to use’em.

Not to mention that you can’t use one of those for decorative purposes, which is the case with an authentic wooden ladder.

Okay, maybe I am exaggerating a little bit, but you understand what I am talking about. Now, if you want to buy a rustic-looking, genuine solid-wood ladder, you can get one of those bad boys from specialty stores, too, but the price tag will skyrocket.

The idea is that, provided you have the willpower, some minor carpentry skills, and a few tools, you can DIY your own wooden ladder for a fraction of the price and you’ll also have some fun in the process.

Building a ladder is a super easy endeavor and, considering that the price tag of an authentic wood-ladder starts from $249 and goes up to $400 and even more, you’ll understand what’s up with today’s article.

How to Make a Rustic Ladder for $20 or Less

Let’s begin with the supply list. I would advise you to get cedar boards instead of pine ones as cedar has a rough side, which works wonders in terms of the rustic look and feel.

Here’s what you’re going to buy for DIY-ing a 6-foot-tall and 18-inches-wide wood ladder with 4 rungs. Obviously, if you want a bigger or a smaller ladder, you can always adjust the amount/dimensions of the lumber required in order to fit your desired size.

Supply list:

  • 2 pieces of 1x2x8 cedar boards (or pine or whatever wood fits your bill)
  • 1 piece of 1x4x8 cedar board
  • 20 wood screws
  • a saw
  • a drill
  • a level
  • any type of black paint
  • wood-colored stain
  • gray stain
  • 3 paint brushes (go for the cheapest ones, it doesn’t really matter).

With the supply list taken care of, in the first part of the DIY job, you’ll have to cut the lumber to your desired size. In our case, the 2 pieces of 1x2x8 must be cut to 72’’ long (each), as they’ll be the sides of your ladder.

The 1x4x8 cedar board will make for the rungs, i.e. you’ll have to cut it in 18’’ long pieces.

Next, you’ll have to assemble the pieces and build the actual ladder, so put the two  1x2x8 cedar boards side by side at sixteen inches apart and make sure they’re parallel, i..e the tops and bottoms line up.

Keep in mind that if using the cedar boards I’ve recommended, you’ll need to turn them with the rough side up before proceeding to assembling them.

Now, you must measure and mark the location of each of the rungs, then attach the rungs one by one to each side of the cedar board using 2 wood screws each. When you’re attaching the rungs, you should permit room for each to hang over the side boards by one inch on each side, thus making for an 18’’ wide wooden ladder.

Video first seen on Home Hardware

Be very careful that they’re level from one side to another, or else you’ll end up with a wobbly ladder and that’s a no-no procedure.

As an alternative building/assembly method for your rustic-looking ladder, instead of using wood screws you can cut out notches for the rungs and put wood-glue inside the notches for securing the rungs firmly into place.

You’ll have to make sure that the rungs go all the way in and that the notches are centered and even, whilst the two 1x2x8 cedar boards are perfectly parallel after all the rungs are in. This design is more complicated to build but it’s sturdier. You can use the ladder for practical purposes anytime you want with much more confidence.

After you’ve assembled your rustic cedar ladder (don’t worry if you didn’t get your rungs spaced out evenly, it will add to the rustic flavor), it’s time to give it its final finish.


Here’s where the paint and stain come into play. You can use whatever paint you want, especially if you’re going to be using leftover stuff.

For the sake of argument, let’s say you’ll use black paint. Be careful to apply it strategically via the dry brush method, i.e. you’ll dip the top of the brush into the paint then use a rag/cloth/whatever to wipe most of the paint off.

Try to begin with the minimum amount of paint on the brush, as you can always add more if required. The other way around is more complicated, as you can easily imagine.

Using the dry brush method for painting your ladder is a strategic trick for making it look old, like it was sitting for a hundred years in your barn accumulating dust and dirt. Obviously, if you’re not into the old-looking/vintage school of thought, you can paint your ladder using the classic method. Just make sure you paint it, as paint protects the wood from rotting and pests.

After the paint job is complete, allow it to dry and then, provided you enjoy the look of vintage ladders, apply the gray stain using the same dry brush technique. Once it dries, apply the wood-colored stain. The end result will be a brand new cedar ladder that looks old and as vintage as it gets.

The advantage of a vintage-looking wooden ladder is that it can be used outdoors as well as indoors for decorative purposes. For example, you can use it for hanging your blankets or towels; there’s nothing like a unique, hand-made piece of furniture for storing your things.

Here’s a video tutorial about how to build a very simple lean-to wood ladder using common tools and pressure-treated 2 by 4s. Unlike the previous “vintage” job, which is more on the decorative side, this baby is everything about functionality; it’s like art vs engineering.

Have you ever tried to build your own ladder for your homestead? If you have any comments or ideas, feel free to contribute in the dedicated section below.

This article has been written by Chris Black for Survivopedia. 

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8 Survival Hacks Using Plastic Wrap

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Survival Hacks Using Plastic Wrap

You’ve probably battled with your fair share of plastic wrap while trying to cover a bowl of leftovers, but that stickiness is one of its biggest assets when it comes to using it for survival.

That’s right – you can use plastic wrap for many different things if SHTF, so keep several rolls of it in your stockpile!

When I say plastic wrap, you can use the kitchen plastic wrap in a pinch, but you can also buy an entire roll of clear or green translucent plastic wrap at the hardware store that they use to wrap pallets. This type is much more durable than the plastic wrap meant for use in the kitchen. It’s dirt cheap, too.

1. Staying Warm and Dry

Possibly the best thing about plastic wrap is that it’s pretty much impermeable. That means that air and water can’t pass through it, so if you’re stuck in a storm or have to venture out in the cold, plastic wrap can be one of your best friends.

Not only does it keep air and moisture out, it keeps body heat in, so if you wrap your torso, limbs, and feet in it, you  can preserve a ton of body heat and stay dry at the same time, which will also help you stay warm.

The only thing to remember when you’re using it this way is that your skin needs to breathe. That means that as soon as you get someplace warm and dry, you need to take it off.

2. Collecting Rain Water

There are a couple of different  ways that you can use plastic wrap to collect water. The first way is the obvious way –hang a sheet of it so that it’s horizontal to the ground and let it collect either rainwater or dew.

If you have a bucket or container, even better – set the bucket underneath the plastic and use a stone to tilt it to one side, so that the water pours off of the plastic into the bucket.

If you just set the bucket out when it rains, you’ll only catch the water that directly drops into the bucket, but the plastic wrap will give you a larger area for the rain to hit, thus collecting much more water.

3. Create a Solar Still

The second way that you can use plastic to collect water is to build a solar still. This sounds a lot fancier than it actually is.

Dig a hole in soil that is in direct sunlight – this is important because you’re using the sun to dehydrate the moisture from the damp soil.

Solar Still

As the soil dehydrates, the water evaporates and rises, creating condensation on the plastic. Here’s how to do it:

  • Dig a hole in direct sunlight, preferably early in the morning. Make the hole a foot or two deep – the more damp soil you have exposed, the more water you’ll get.
  • Place a mug, bowl, or some other vessel to collect the water in the center of the hole.
  • Fill around the cup with any damp vegetation that you can find. The more moisture, the better.
  • Cover the hole completely with plastic wrap.
  • Place sand, dirt, and rocks around the outside perimeter of the hole to seal the plastic wrap to the ground.
  • Place a small stone or some dirt on the plastic directly over the center of the cup so that it forms a V into the cup. The plastic can’t touch the cup, though.
  • Leave the still there as long as possible – either until the dirt dries up or the sun goes down, whichever comes first.
  • If the hole dries up, either dig it deeper to reach more damp soil, or dig another hole and start over.
  • Enjoy the water. You won’t collect much this way, but in a survival situation, some is better than none!

You can also use plastic wrap to make a solar still to distill dirty water or salt water into drinking water. For a better visual for this purpose, check out this video.

Video first seen on desertsun02.

4. Build a Shelter or a Greenhouse

Yup, you read that right. You can build a shelter using plastic wrap. As a matter of fact, we just built one to use as a make-shift paint booth. We used the skeleton from a picnic tarp for the frame, but trees would do just as well.

Simply wrap the plastic wrap around the trees, or poles that you cut, then cover the top of it, too. We used a piece of cardboard to fashion a door, but you could just as easily cut a small, 3-sided entrance in the hole then wrap a stick around the vertical side and stick it in the ground to “close” the door.

Seal it up from the inside with another piece of plastic. You’re creative – I’m sure you can figure out an entrance.

It also collected dew on the top, so your plastic wrap house serves double duty as a water collector. This will make a wind-proof, waterproof shelter that is actually fairly durable and will hold heat inside.

This trait would also make it excellent material for building a greenhouse.

5. Start a Fire

You can use plastic wrap to start a fire. I didn’t really believe this was possible until I found a video that proved it. The idea is that water in a piece of plastic wrap acts as a magnifying glass.

Video first seen on The Outdoor Adventure.

The paper actually caught fire fairly quickly – within a couple of minutes, so it’s not something that I would discount.

Actually, starting the fire with the plastic and water seemed easier than using a bow, so if those were my only two options, I’d probably try the plastic wrap and water first. We have other great ideas for staring fires.

6. Waterproofing Your Gear

There’s nothing worse than trekking through a downpour and stopping for the night only to find that everything in your pack is soaked, too.

Maybe you’ve dropped it in a stream that you were crossing, or had to swim at some point. In any of these scenarios, plastic wrap would have kept your gear dry.

It’s not a total waterproofer, but I have used it when I’m out on a long distance ride – I don’t have saddlebags – to keep my pack dry. I just have a piece folded up in the bottom of my bag and when I need it, I unfold it and wrap my bag in it.

It probably wouldn’t do a lot of good if my bag was submerged, but it would give me a few extra seconds to catch it if I dropped it in the lake. You could also use it to cover things such as your firewood in camp to protect it from a downpour.

7. Rope or Lashing Material

Yes, rope is always good to have on hand. There’s no doubt about it. Plastic wrap used for shrink wrap is extremely strong and if you twist a piece into a rope (you have to twist it), it will stretch to about three times its original length then hold there. We tested it and it held 115 pounds without threatening to give.

That’s pretty solid for some plastic, especially when you consider that you can untwist it and use it for other things.

8. First Aid

There are several ways you can use plastic wrap for first aid.

First, a sucking chest would needs to be covered with plastic. You could also use it as a non-stick covering to keep water and debris out of a wound. It would work as a sling, or you could wrap it around as a binding. Throw some in your first aid kit.

In a survival situation think of what you can do with what you have. This is what our ancestors used to do.

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This article has been written by Chris Black for Survivopedia.

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DIY Fuel: How To Turn Wood Into Briquettes 

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DIY Fuel

Let me start today’s article with an axiom: despite the fact that DIY-ing briquettes is a hard and messy job, if you’re not afraid to get your hands dirty, you can make a reasonable income by selling (your extra) charcoal/wood briquettes.

The idea is that you can make DIY briquettes for your homestead provided you’re fine with “dirty jobs” whilst making an extra buck by selling some of them to your neighbors.

The demand for these babies is pretty high, so there’s definitely money to be made from briquettes.

Just remember that the coal industry in the US is expected to boom under Donald Trump‘s administration after it was eviscerated by the global warming cabal. Let that sink in real good folks.

So, not only you can save a lot of money on your heating bill by DIY-ing briquettes for your homestead, but you’ll be able to supplement your income by selling what’s extra. I don’t know about you, but to me this sounds like a definite win-win situation.

Now, as per the dirty part of the job, the hardest and dirtiest part of DIY-ing briquettes is represented by the charcoal dust, which must be crushed and mixed.

To begin with, briquettes are blocks made from compressed charcoal dust, coal dust, wood chips, sawdust, biomass etc, which are used as a fuel in boilers, stoves and what not.

Basically anything that burns can be used in making briquettes, but some materials are better than others with regard to their caloric output. In other words, some burn better and give more heat than others.

Today we will concentrate on the best stuff around for DIY-ing briquettes, which is wood and its derivative (charcoal).

How to Transform Wood into Briquettes in Three Easy Steps

Of course, I am not talking about getting out in the forest and chopping wood like an old school lumberjack. The idea is to use wood shavings, wood chips or sawdust which are byproducts of wood processing factories. Also, these materials are almost the ideal stuff for making fuel briquettes.

Actually, many of these factories (furniture/woodworking businesses) are buying wood briquette machines for processing the wood residues and making a few bucks from what others may consider waste.

Now, if you’ve got what it takes, i.e. the will power, skill, the briquette-machine, and the aforementioned raw materials, let’s talk about the specifics of DIY-ing briquettes from wood residues.

1.Prepare the Raw Material

First things first: you’ll have to take your wood raw material and get it ready for the manufacturing process. You’ll have to transform the big chunks of wood chips and/or wood shavings into sawdust, which is much smaller and thus more malleable. If you’re already in the possession of sawdust, you’re all set.

Generally speaking, sawdust can be more or less humid, depending upon how it was transported, stored and so on.

If there’s too much moisture trapped inside, you’ll have to dry it with a the dryer or whatever means you have at your disposal, as moist sawdust is not suitable for making briquettes. You’ll have to do this if the moisture level is over 16 percent. The lower the moisture, the better.

Truth be told, dryers are regularly used in large scale briquetting operations, but you can always air-dry your sawdust by spreading it out on the ground and letting it dry.

Obviously, the weather is key in this endeavor, so you’ll have to choose a sunny period that’s as close to dry as the Sahara desert as you can get. Just find a piece of smooth, clean ground and have patience. Drying your sawdust indoors would be the best idea, provided you have the means.

2. Put the Raw Material Inside the Briquetting Machine

Now, for the second part, you’ll have to put your nice and clean sawdust inside a briquetting machine. Usually, the feeding mechanism is an elevator, but you can feed the machine yourself, though you’ll have to be cautious and take care about the feeding-speed, so you don’t block the machine.

Video first seen on Rajkumar Agro Engineers Pvt Ltd.

There are basically two main types of wood briquetting machines: the screw briquette machine and the mechanical stamping wood briquette machine.

The latter can be used for making both thick briquettes and thin pellets while the former is regularly used for charcoal briquettes and/or barbecue briquettes. These are the droids you’re looking for. More about charcoal in a moment, right after the break.

3. Prepare the Briquettes for Storage

In the last step, after you’ve already made sawdust-briquettes, they must be cooled for storage and stored or sold, or whatever.

The idea is that if you have plenty of wood residues available, spending some money  on a wood briquette machine would be a clever investment, as you will become more energy/fuel efficient, get off the grid in small incremental steps.

Also, you’ll be able to make some extra money selling your excess briquettes to your friends and neighbors. Go in together with a friend on a second-hand piece of gear if you need to. Ideally, you should go for a briquetting machine which can build both wood and charcoal briquettes.

How to Make Briquettes from Charcoal

If you were wondering what’s up with the charcoal briquettes, well, charcoal is made of wood, alright folks? Hence, charcoal briquettes are basically the same thing as wood ones, just better.

The only messy thing about making charcoal briquettes is the crushing and the mixing of the charcoal dust itself, which is a dirty job by any measure.

Video first seen on Primitive Technology.

Transforming the charcoal dust into fuel briquettes will require a binder – something like the Force, which binds the universe together. I am talking about an agglomerating material which must be added to the charcoal dust to keep it together after enough pressure is applied to transform that dust into a solid and stable briquette.

Video first seen on roonymanfo.

Charcoal briquettes have higher caloric power than wood briquettes; they burn for longer and they produce more heat and less (almost zero) smoke. Also, they’re lighter.

In order to DIY charcoal/char, you’ll require wood scraps. The best material for making charcoal is hardwood such as birch, beech, hickory, maple and oak.

Charcoal briquettes are basically 90% charcoal/char dust and 10 percent “minor” ingredients, including the binding agent I already told you about above, which is typically starch made from wheat or corn, an accelerant (sawdust or nitrite for hard-core chemists), and lime as an ash whitening agent.

Here are some recipes for making your own charcoal briquettes:

  • 10 kilos of charcoal/dust fines and 0.3 kilos of starch or
  • 40 kilos of charcoal/dust fines, 4 kilos of sawdust, 2.5 kilos of starch, 1 kilos of lime (or calcium carbonate) or
  • 100 kilos of charcoal/dust fines, 3 kilos sodium nitrate, 7 kilos starch, 2 kilos of lime.

Video first seen on fireman7753.

The accelerant is important because charcoal briquettes need the stuff to burn faster because, due to the compacting process, the briquette cannot absorb enough oxygen for a proper combustion, unlike a lump of charcoal for example. Here the accelerant comes into play.

You’ll require 3-4% of sodium nitrate (this is an oxidant which releases oxygen when heated and accelerates the burning process)  in your charcoal briquette or 10-20 percent sawdust.

Keep in mind that if you’re using uncarbonized sawdust, your briquettes will be smoky; hence if you’ll be going for sawdust as an accelerant, it would be ideal to ferment it for 4-5 days by keeping the sawdust in water in order to reduce the smoke.

The ash whitening agent is an indicator in charcoal briquettes. When the briquette are burning inside your stove turn white, it means that they’re ready. The white ashes are very appealing in briquettes especially if you’re going to sell them.

To use starch as a binding agent, you’ll have to gelatinize it first, which in laymen’s terms means that you’ll have to make a porridge from your starch and then use the porridge to bind the charcoal dust together. You can also use mashed waste paper pulp as a binder if you don’t have starch or it’s too expensive.

Now that you have enough info to start making your own briquettes, it only takes some will to proceed with this project. Or maybe you already have any experience in making this type of fuel? This is a great skill that you would need for surviving an energy crisis or even an EMP.

Click the banner below to find out more about surviving this disaster, and even much more than that!


This article has been written by Chris Black for Survivopedia. 

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How To Make Briquettes From Daily Waste

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Do you remember that old saying that one man’s garbage is another man’s treasure? The same principle applies to our daily wastes.

In case you did not know it, Americans are among the most wasteful civilization in history. Actually, I would dare to say that we are the champions, my friends, and that’s nothing to be proud of.

We waste at an incredible rate: absolutely anything, including food, where we lead the world by a wide margin. Also, as a nation, the United States generates more municipal solid-waste per person/per day than any other developed/industrial country in the world, boasting 7.1 pounds of solid waste a day, per person.

If you crunch these numbers– 365 days a year x 330 million people x 7.1 pounds of solid waste – you’ll come up with astonishing numbers.

Putting Waste to Work for Energy

It was a Greek philosopher who once said 2000 years ago that nothing gets wasted – everything gets transformed, or something along these lines. To follow this guy’s axiom, we can transform waste into an excellent and basically perpetual source of energy.

We, the preppers, can help mitigate the “disaster” and put that amount of waste to good use, by making briquettes using daily wastes.

Briquettes are traditionally defined as compressed blocks of combustible material – usually coal dust, wood chips, paper, peat or sawdust – that are used to start a fire. The terms derives from the French language and it means “brick.”

Biomass briquettes are starting to become all the rage nowadays and daily waste is basically biomass. Traditionally, biomass briquettes are built from agricultural waste and they’re used as a “green” replacement for hydrocarbons (coal, oil etc) in all sorts of applications, including industrial stuff like heating boilers and whatnot.

Currently, almost half of the world’s population is using charcoal and/or wood for heating and cooking purposes.

Cutting the forest for subsistence farming or for cooking your food or heating your home is not a great idea if you have better alternatives, and that’s the whole purpose of technology: making the world a better place and improving the quality of life for humans, right?

Any household can reduce their need for charcoal and wood by creating their own fuel so to speak, by making “fuel briquettes” using waste plant material which is readily available in their own environment.

How to Make the Briquettes

So, what type of wastes can be re-used for making fuel briquettes?

  • Paper
  • Sawdust
  • Leaves
  • Husks
  • Charcoal fines
  • Any other type of agricultural waste.

It’s important to realize that not all waste is created equal, and this is where the calorific value of each type of waste comes into play.

As a general rule of thumb, the aforementioned materials are the best when it comes to DIY fuel briquettes (sawdust, paper etc), but you’ll have to use a home-made press for achieving legendary status, i.e becoming energy self-sufficient as much as humanly possible.

There are also commercially available presses. You’ll just have to look for them on the internet or in your local hardware store.

The fuel briquettes are being made around the world using mini Bryant and Peterson presses. You can also make them by hand or using a plastic mold.

Video first seen on The Do It Yourself World.

You can also use a plastic mold.

Video first seen on The Do It Yourself World.

Basically, you can use a plastic bottle or any other type of plastic container in order to shape the briquette. You’ll also need something that you can use as a piston that fits into the respective container to press it, in order to get the water out of the mix. You can use something like a tin can or a piece of wood as the piston along with a plastic bag, a knife and some wire.

Here’s a cool idea about DIY-ing a mold-press biomass fuel briquette using an old DVD container. The possibilities are basically endless.

Video first seen on nobodyprepper.

How to Make Briquettes in Easy Steps 

Step 1 – preparing the briquette mix

For example, if you’re going to use waste paper and sawdust (the simplest to DIY and very efficient and cost effective), you’ll have to soak the paper in water for a couple of days in order to soften it and to allow the fibers to be released, as these fibers will later bind the materials together.

In the next step, you’ll have to thoroughly homogenize the soaked paper using your hands until the stuff reaches the consistency of porridge or mashed potatoes, i.e. no pieces are evident in the “soup”. This step is very important but it takes some time and you’ll have to do it well.

To speed up the process, you can use tools such as a mortar and pestle or a dedicated pounding tool for processing the paper mix quickly and more efficiently.

The simplest mix for homemade briquettes consists of one part soaked paper and 3/4 parts sawdust. You can also add pine needles, rice husks, chopped leaves/grass, charcoal fines and any other flammable materials you can think of into the mix, as they’ll add to the flavor. You’ll have to use roughly 20% paper though – that’s the lesson to be taken home.

You can alternatively swap paper for cassava peels/flour, which can replace the paper’s binding properties into the sawdust-mix. You’ll have to boil the cassava until it gets very soft, but in sufficient amounts, the cassava paste will successfully replace the paper for the purpose of binding the sawdust together.

In the next step, you’ll have to mix the paper or cassava mixture with the sawdust along with enough water. The mix must hold together if squeezed; that’s how you determine the ideal consistency.

Step 2 – prepare the press

This step depends on whether you’re using a cool home press or an improvised device. Let’s say you’re on the low-tech side and you’re using a plastic bottle mold as an improvised briquette-making device.

You’ll have to cut the upper quarter of the plastic bottle (a soda bottle will do) and perforate the bottom, making 10-12 drainage holes. You can use a hot wire to burn the holes.

Then you’ll require a thin plastic bag to be used as a liner to help you remove the finished briquette from bottle. Don’t forget to punch drainage holes in the plastic bag too, both on the sides and in the bottom, so the water can be expelled during the pressing process.

Obviously, you can use something bigger than a plastic bottle, like a plastic bucket or a plastic flower pot. Ideally you’ll have two of each: one for playing the role of the mold and the second to act as a piston.  Don’t forget to put drainage holes in the plastic liner though – otherwise, the water won’t drain and you’re wasting your time.

Step 3 – press the mix

In this step, you’ll have to put a quantity of briquette-mix inside the plastic liner (bag) and then insert the bag into the mold. Then you’ll have to add more mix to the bag and press it with the improvised piston (a can, the other bucket/another bottle or whatever fits into the mold) so the water gets pushed out of the mix.

Push as hard as you can – the harder the better. Then you’ll have to pull the bag out of the mold and here’s your first briquette, folks.

Step 4 – dry your briquettes

But it’s not over yet. You’ll have to dry your briquettes for about a week outside in the sun. If they’re not properly dried, the briquettes will smoke when burned and that’s unpleasant to say the least.

If you can’t improvise a mold and/or a press, you can always make fuel-briquettes with just your hands, squeezing the mix in your bare hands and building fuel balls and you’ll have to dry these out too, obviously.

There are so many survival things you can do by yourself. Click the banner below to discover how to make your own wood creations.



This article has been written by Chris Black for Survivopedia. 

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5 DIY Survival Tools To Make From Scratch

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DIY survival tools

Let’s begin today’s article with a question: do you know what homo sapiens means? Well, I bet you do. But then again, how about homo faber? What’s the relation between homo sapiens and homo faber?

Translated literally, homo faber means “man, the maker.”

To put it simply, let’s assume that dolphins are very intelligent creatures since that’s what I hear constantly on National Geo and the Discovery Channel.

But that intelligence doesn’t help them much; they’re just the same as they were 500,000 years ago. Cute, intelligent creatures that constantly get caught in our fishing nets (by mistake) and they can’t get out. They often end up in tuna cans (that’s why I never eat tuna, but I’m digressing).

Are you starting to get the picture?

Homo faber is a peculiar creature, and I mean us, the people, the only “animals” on the planet which are able to control their environment through the use of – you guessed it – tools. Okay, tools and a juicy brain-to-body ratio. Some say that we control our fate too with those same tools, but I have my doubts about that.

Regardless of what you’re thinking about your fate or the lack thereof, tools are pretty cool to have, especially in a survival situation. But then again, tools aren’t necessarily defined by what you can buy for $3.99 in your local hardware store.

Actually, some while ago, I saw an octopus on TV that was using a small rock to break a clam’s shell. By most accounts, octopuses are pretty stupid compared to humans.

The idea is that when confronted with an outdoors survival scenario, you can improvise tools from scratch, thus living to fight another day. If an octopus can do it, so can you, right?

So, if early humans were able to manufacture tools using first animal bones, then stones, then metal and then via 3D printing, what’s there to stop you from learning from your ancestors?

Now that you have the general idea, let’s see about a few primitive-technology ideas which may very well save your life someday, or at least improve the quality of life for you and your family in a survival scenario, which is the next best thing.

1. How to build a fresh water prawn trap from scratch

The idea is very simple and straightforward: one must eat in order to stay alive. So, with the prawn trap you can catch prawns and eat them. The trap is very easy to build using lawyer cane, vine, and sticks. Prawn/fish traps are very easy DIY traps which can successfully be used to catch aquatic life thanks to their peculiar shape.

Basically, you’ll have to build a simple basket with an entrance designed in a funnel-like fashion so that the prawn will get funneled in, but it will not be able to get out. Here’s the detailed video tutorial about the DIY-ing job itself.

Video first seen on Primitive Technology.

The trap must be placed under some tree roots or something similar in the water and it doesn’t require bait, as curiosity kills the cat … err, prawns. You’ll require a little bit of basketry practice but if you’re into outdoor survival, learning this skill may prove very useful some day for many different tasks.

2. How to make a survival spear from scratch

Spears were among the first hunting/self defense weapons used by mankind and this video tutorial will teach you how to make your own survival spear  from (almost) scratch.

Video first seen on Animal Man Survivor.

All that’s required is a cutting tool, which may very well be a knife or a stone with a sharp edge. and a piece of wood of the desired length. Watching the video will also teach you how to make a fire using what’s available in the woods, i.e. almost nothing.

Oh, I almost forgot – here’s how to make a rock knife if you don’t carry a survival blade on your person 24/7 (not good).

Video first seen on Captain Quinn.

3. How to build a grass hut from scratch

You do remember the holy trinity of survival, right? Food, water and shelter. I know that a grass hut made from scratch is not a tool per se, but it’s a shelter by any definition and it can be built basically anywhere on Earth, provided there’s grass available. Which means, almost anywhere.

This project is easy to build, with a simple yet effective design and you’ll only require a sharp stone (or a knife) and a digging tool (stick, shovel, whatever). Here’s the video tutorial.

Video first seen on Primitive Technology.

4. How to DIY a Bow and Arrow from scratch

While hunting with a spear requires some mad skills, bows and arrows are the ideal hunting tools for long-term wilderness survival.

This video tutorial will teach you how to DIY a bow and arrow outdoors, using primitive “technology” – natural materials and tools made from scratch, i.e. a stone chisel, a stone hatchet, fire sticks and various stone blades.

Video first seen on Primitive Technology.

5. How to DIY a cord drill from scratch

Check out this video tutorial and you’ll learn how to make a cord drill from scratch. This baby consists of a fly wheel, a shaft, and a piece of cord and it can be used for making a fire without getting blisters on your (soft) hands or for drilling holes.

Video first seen on Primitive Technology.

Now, with the “survival stuff” taken care of, let’s see about a few life-hacks, i.e. some “more benign” tools made from recycled materials.

Next time you destroy a tape measure, you can improvise a depth gauge using a piece from the broken tape-measure by cutting out a twelve inch section using a pair of tin snips. To get an usable zero to twelve inch scale, start cutting at the beginning of a one footmarker and then use the ultra-thin, elastic material for measuring stuff in small/confined places

You can use scrap wood from the shop for improvising a table saw push stick for keeping your hands and fingers on the safe side when feeding wood to the saw at a consistent rate.

Video first seen on Adam Gabbert.

Here’s how to make a scratch stock cutter from an old hand saw which can be used for scraping/scratching a decorative profile into a piece of wood, a method used by furniture manufacturers on historic pieces for creating a hand-made appearance.

Video first seen on Wood By Wright

You can improvise an adjustable marking gauge by driving a dry-wall screw into a piece of wood.

Video first seen on Paul Sellers.

You can use an empty bottle as a glue dispenser, thus saving money by buying glue in bulk. You’ll require an empty bottle that features an extendable cap, which allows you to distribute a consistent amount of adhesive for, let’s say edge-gluing boards.

When closing the cap, you’ll prevent the glue from drying out. The best bottles to use are bottles with sports caps, such as water bottles,, Gatorade bottles, or dish soap bottles. An expired credit card is excellent as a glue spreader.

If you want to drill perfectly perpendicular deep holes without a drill-press, just use an old piece of mirror and position it against the drill bit.

You’ll have to fine-tune the position of the drill until the reflection and the bit are combined in such a way that they look perfectly aligned. That’s all!

Or you can make your own smart saw at home. Click the banner below to find out how to transform your ideas into real projects.


This article has been written by Chris Black for Survivopedia.

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3 Remedies From Medieval Europe To Heal The Common Cold

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Remedies For Common Cold

I think it was Hippocrates who said something along these lines: “let thy food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food”.

Today’s article is about trying to find a cure for the common cold or, more precisely, reviving ancient remedies from medieval Europe.

And speaking of cures for cold, there’s another saying in my neck of the woods: if you take cold medicine, you’ll get better in seven days, otherwise you’ll be sick for a week.

Do you see where this is going?

Let me tell you another interesting little story: despite the fact that there are only a small number of basic ingredients to be found in OTC (over the counter) cold-medicine—around ten, give or take (ephedrine, ibuprofen, paracetamol, aspirin, pseudo-ephedrine etc.)—the number of cold-related drugs in your pharmacy is in the hundreds.

Each major pharmaceutical company that has a hand in the cold industry typically has at least 10 different types. Many have 20 or 30 or even more.

That’s pretty confusing, especially when you’re knocked out by a bad case of flu or cold, you can’t think straight, and you just want something to get you out of your misery. You’ll gladly spend a bunch of money to feel better.

Little do you know you’re wasting it on pure crap. Do you think I am exaggerating?

Basically, in the cold medicine racket, the name of the game is making money via marketing and brainwashing. Have you noticed the huge number of drug-ads on TV? 70% of the money a television is making outside an election is from Big Pharma, so let that sink in really well.

I am writing this article because last week I suffered from a bad case of cold, which rendered me pretty much useless until I started making and drinking an old cold/cough remedy that I learned from my grandmother.

Onion tea

It worked from day one, put me back on my feet, allowed me to think straight, to breathe and to write; you know what I mean.

And then I realized that for us preppers, knowing ancient remedies for a disease that is wreaking havoc this time of the year would make for an interesting article. So, if you’re into staying healthy without taking drugs, keep reading.

Let me tell you how it all began: awake at 4 AM. Can’t think, can’t write, can’t breathe, stuffy nose, sore throat. Does it sound familiar?

Well, I managed to crawl to my car and hit a local pharmacy. I bought some stuff pompously titled “cold medicine”, got home, medicated myself, hit the bed, and woke up 3 hours later still feeling horrible.

Then, it hit me: my grandmother used to make onion tea when I was little and I had a bad case of cold. I remember it smelled awful and tasted like rotten pig guts, but if I was a good boy and drank a lot of it, it worked.

With these things in mind, I went to the kitchen, gathered 3 onions, washed’em up pretty good, and put them in the kettle to boil.

The idea is to take 2-3 small onions and boil them slowly in a full kettle until the water is reduced by half via evaporation, then drink the tea as hot as you can stand it.

Trust me folks, it really works: sore throat-gone, stuffy nose-gone, I was alive again. It does taste hideous, unless you’re a die-hard onion lover, but it’s a small cost to pay.

Basically, with this magic potion you’ll be able to function, to be active: to be alive, so to speak, from day 1.

You must drink two 3/4 cups of tea per day, essentially one in the morning and one before bed, that’s important.

If you manage to squeeze 3 more in during the day, it will work like a Swiss watch.

If all you have in the house are big-fat onions, you’ll just have to cut them in half before boiling it, but remember: don’t remove the peel. That’s essential; just wash the onion thoroughly.

How does onion tea work? I really don’t know. There aren’t any “official” studies that I know of, probably because you can’t patent onions and sell them for 5 bucks a pop. It just does, provided you drink it hot as hell and you follow the recipe above.

Vitamin C

Besides onion tea, supplementing with vitamin C and D3 is also very important when it comes to mitigating colds and flu (these vitamins play an essential role in immunity overall), but it’s important to take big doses. The RDA is a joke.

For example, I am talking about 2-3 grams of vitamin C per day, together with eating lots of fruit: oranges, grapefruits, lemons, kiwis, apples and, again very important, raw onions and garlic (natural antibiotics).

The RDA is the minimal amount of Vitamin C (or whatever) to be taken daily in order to avoid getting scurvy (speaking of vitamin C). To be healthy, it takes for much more than that; remember that.

Vitamin C

Tomato Tea

Another way of naturally treating a stuffy nose/nasal congestion is tomato tea.

The recipe is:

  • 1 cup of tomato juice, (but I’d use 2-3 tomatoes cut in half instead of tomato juice)
  • a teaspoon of fresh garlic (basically a clove)
  • half a teaspoon of chili sauce (I’d use a small red hot chilli pepper instead)
  • one teaspoon of lemon juice (again, I’d use a whole fruit instead).

Add a pinch of salt into the mix and heat them together in the kettle until they start boiling, then drink the tea as hot as you can take it.

During the day, you can drink a mix of green tea and ginger tea with honey, as these ingredients boost the immune system and they break up phlegm naturally (the drugs are called expectorants).

Streptococcal pharyngitis or strep throat is a common occurrence when it comes to seasonal colds and flu, and besides my aforementioned magic onion tea recipe, you should try 2 additional tricks if you want to get better ASAP: first, gargle with apple cider vinegar after you dilute it in a glass of warm water (1-3 teaspoons of vinegar in 8 oz of water).

Second, gargle with salt-water and if you’re hardcore, you can try rubbing your infected tonsils with salt (using your finger that is). It’s not a pleasant experience, but it works amazingly well. You can boost the recipe’s effectiveness by adding powdered cayenne pepper into the mix.

Add one teaspoon of cayenne pepper plus one teaspoon of salt in an 8 oz. glass, and mix well together, obviously. Gargle vigorously with this formula until you get better. It will definitely break up the bacteria coating in your throat so expect to spit profusely for a couple of minutes afterwards.

It’s very important to use high-quality, organic salt; not refined/processed stuff. I would recommend Himalayan salt (the pink variety), or salt-mine salt (the one that looks dirty). Processed, refined, snow white salt doesn’t work too great as it’s stripped of its essential trace elements.

I hope the article helped and I can’t wait to see your comments in the dedicated sections below, AFTER trying my onion tea, obviously.

Stay healthy folks and click the banner below to discover more ancient secrets that helped our ancestors survive harsh times.


This article has been written by Chris Black for Survivopedia.

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5 Great Survival Uses For Whiskey, Beside Bartering

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Let’s begin today’s article by agreeing that having the perfect tools and/or supplies at your disposal in a SHTF situation is a pretty rare occurrence.

The idea is that you’ll have to deal with an emergency using what’s available at that particular time and place.

That’s why, from a prepper’s point of view, stocking multi-purpose items is the way to go. That brings us to today’s topic: whiskey.

I know what you’re thinking – Wait a minute, whiskey and survival? What do they have in common? The answer is – much more than you think, my young Padawan.

With these questions in mind, let’s take a look at the answers.

To begin with a little bit of history, alcohol has been well known for its health benefits for hundreds, or even thousands, of years. Whiskey is a beverage with a high alcohol content that can be used in a multitude of ways during or in the aftermath of a SHTF event.

Regardless of whether you’re a big fan of Prohibition or a whiskey aficionado, the fact remains that many folks will always need their whiskey in a survival situation for various things, including drinking it or using it for trade, fuel, or medicinal purposes.


Are you ready to head to the liquor store? When the going gets tough, whiskey may be one of your best friends, because it’s a true multipurpose tool which may very well save your life someday. If you’re not stocking whiskey yet, keep reading.

Since humanity’s earliest days of trading, people literally risked their lives in the pursuit of happiness, which often included whiskey, wine, beer, or any alcoholic beverage. If disaster strikes and society breaks down, whiskey will be useful for lots of things, including bartering, for that very reason.

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Even though society is infinitely more complex than it was 300 years ago, whiskey will still likely become a form of currency during a crisis situation. It’s just the kind of “stuff” some people must procure for themselves at any cost.

But there’s more to whiskey than a valuable commodity in times of peril, though just that would make it a must-have item in your survival stockpile.

Use Whiskey as Combustible

Besides trading it, you can make fuel with it. It’s great to help start a fire when your combustible is damp. Whiskey is great as a fire starter provided its alcohol content is over 40% or 80 proof, so keep that in mind when shopping for your survival whiskey. Also, you can use it as a fuel for your lamp, or as a fire accelerant.

If you’re stocking a higher-proof whiskey, something like 100 proof or more, you can always use it as emergency combustible for certain types of engines. And yes, that will increase its value significantly as a barter-item in a survival situation.

Keep in mind that powering a traditional engine with high-proof whiskey is not a child’s play, as it requires significant tweaking to the ignition timing, the idle circuit, etc., but it’s possible if you know what you’re doing.

You can use it even as a last-resort, self-defense tool,  in a Molotov cocktail. And if the going gets really tough, you can always break the bottle and use the shards as a cutting tool or even as a weapon.

Whiskey Works as a Solvent

For the engineers out there, alcohol is a great solvent.

That means whiskey can be used successfully for cleaning your guns, an engine, electronic components and even for rust prevention.

Whiskey Kills Bacteria and Odors

Another cool thing about whiskey is that if mixed with water, it kills harmful bacteria, hence you can always use it to disinfect water procured from dubious sources (after filtering it). Also, if you add some whiskey into your water supply, it will last much longer without spoiling (and it will taste better for sure).

You can use whiskey in an emergency for its hygienic properties, as it efficiently kills odors and bacteria. You can use it as a deodorant, as a perfume (seriously), or as a toner/facial astringent (think aftershave). You can always refresh clothing with whiskey if there’s nothing else available or you can use it to repel/kill bugs.

Whiskey Helps You Staying Healthy

Whiskey can be used to treat/prevent swimmer’s ear due to its excellent antiseptic and drying properties (you can even disinfect medical instruments with the stuff) and it’s great to use as a medicinal mouth wash, especially when confronted with a tooth ache. Just don’t try it before a job interview, all right?

Since we’ve already started, let’s talk about whiskey’s health benefits from a scientific point of view. All types of whiskey decrease the risk of blood clots, help prevent stroke and dementia, and promote healthy cholesterol.

According to various studies, if you drink it in moderation, whiskey not only alleviates boredom but it will decrease your risk of diabetes. It actually destroys cancerous cells. This is especially true for bourbon, which is  required by law to be aged in oak barrels for a minimum of 2 years. During the aging process, anti-oxidants such as tannins and vanillins found inside the wood are passed into the bourbon.

Are you sold just yet? If not, let’s take a look at other medicinal uses for your precious whiskey reserve.

Whiskey can be used as an antiseptic agent, but topically only. You should avoid using it for treating deep cuts, though if nothing else is available, whiskey will do.

Also, whiskey is a pain reliever when ingested in small amounts for sore/aching muscles. If you mix whiskey with honey, it will help alleviate a sore throat, and a tiny quantity works miracles as a sinus cleanser. Just try it once; it will clear you right up.

Whiskey Makes You Happy and Warm

There’s also an even better reason for drinking it that you think; that warm and fuzzy feeling is more than just an imaginary experience; alcohol is a well-known anxyolitic, which means that it reduces anxiety.

It’s also a vasodilator, so it actually makes you feel warm, and it’s an antimicrobial. Because of these chemical reactions, it gets you warm, gives you hope when you’re under stress, and kills bacteria and viruses. More on that in a jiffy, right after the break.

The bottom line is this; stockpiling whiskey for the end of the world is not a bad idea after all, as it comes with numerous benefits, not to mention the fun-factor included in the deal.

Just remember to stock up on cheap whiskey with a high alcohol content – 80 proof or higher – as this guarantees it will ignite, and disinfect, better. For your personal drinking pleasure, feel free to stock some of the good stuff; there will certainly be plenty of people willing to trade with you if you find you have extra!

To store it long-term, always purchase your whiskey in glass bottles instead of plastic. That way, your whiskey will store indefinitely as long as you keep it in a cool, dark place with the bottles upright, like in the old days.


I hope this article helped, folks. If you have other ideas or suggestions for using whiskey in a survival situation, feel free to tell us about it in the comments section below!

This article has been written by Chris Black for Survivopedia.

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This Is How To Fireproof Your Home

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Survivopedia how to fireproof your home

Fire is a prepper’s best friend in an off-grid survival situation, but your best friend can turn into your worst enemy in a matter of seconds.

Fires were a common occurrence two hundred years ago (give or take), when most houses were built from wood and other “fire-happy” materials. Electricity was still a dream for most of the people and fire was used on a daily basis for all sorts of things, ranging from cooking and heating to illumination (candles and stuff like that).

The general idea is that if you’re surrounded day after day by open flames, (such as the situation of your off-grid home out there in the woods by the way), a fire is an accident waiting to happen. That’s why you have to consider fireproofing your emergency bug out home before anything else.

Out there in the wild, there’s no fire department to call if SHTF. Unless you’ve thought to stock them, there probably there are no fire extinguishers available. If a fire occurs, you’ll lose all your means of survival in a matter of seconds: your shelter and everything inside, including your food supply, your gear, your clothes, not to mention human lives.

And that means you’ll be in a world of hurt, right?

The answer to that is fireproofing, as fireproofing is arguably the best way to prevent a disaster from happening in the first place, especially if you’re dealing with a survival scenario, i.e. you have a small log cabin in the woods or something like that. The last thing you want is to watch it disappear in flames at the worst moment imaginable.

So, keep reading as I share a few ideas about how to keep fire away from your home.

5 Steps to Fire Safety at Home

Before getting to ideas about how to make DIY fireproofing substances, aka fire retardants, consider a few basic facts first about how to fireproof your home:

  1. Minimize the chances of a fire-occurrence inside your house by storing your combustible materials somewhere else where it’s safe, like not inside, doh!
  2. Keep all the flammable debris out of your yard, especially during the fall when leaves, twigs and branches are all over the place. You must keep your yard clean not for the sake of cleanliness, but as a survival strategy.
  3. If you’re using a solar powered device or a generator (anything involving electricity) inside your home, NEVER overload your power-outlet and unplug any appliance if not used.
  4. Be extra careful around open flames, especially candles, and watch out where you throw your cigarettes.
  5. Keep a fire extinguisher on hand, and learn how to use it properly.

fire extinguisher

Fireproofing Made at Home

Now, with the basics taken care of (sort of), let’s see about the fireproofing itself.

Almost any flammable material can be made fire-proof using a fire resistant solution which prevents the respective material from being ignited when exposed to an open flame/fire. Now, if you want to make any kind of fabric (curtains, things of that nature) or surfaces inside of your home fire-resistant, you can DIY a fire-retardant solution using several basic ingredients.

The main substance to be used in creating a home-made fire retardant solution is boron, which if saturated into fabric, cloth, paper and all sorts of other cellulose-based material (wood included) prevents them from burning.

The idea is to get the respective materials saturated with boron salts. The best things about fireproofing with boron is that the color of the cloth will not be affected (nor the wood for that matter) and also, boron is not poisonous.

DIY Fire Retardant Recipe

Things you’ll need: 7 ounces borax, 3 ounces boric acid, a spray bottle, safety goggles, a container, a wooden spoon, a paint brush and a measuring cup.

Step 1: Boil 2 quarts of water and pour it into a glass (mixing) bowl or any heat resistant container. Remember to wear your safety goggles at all times, nota bene.

Step 2: Add 7 ounces of borax and stir it for thirty seconds using the wooden spoon. Before you ask, borax can be found at any respectable store that is selling detergents (it’s a laundry booster). When all else fails, try the powers of the Internet! ( would be a great point to start).

Step 3: Add 3 ounces of boric acid and stir for another thirty seconds using the same wooden spoon. Boric acid is a relatively common substance which is used in the cosmetics industry and/or insecticides, being well known for its fire proofing benefits. You can buy boric acid from, yes, yes.

Step 4: Allow the solution to cool down and dissolve for half an hour and there goes your DIY fire retardant folks.

Step 5: Next, you’ll have to fill the spray-bottle with the fire retardant you’ve just made and spray it generously over any type of surface, fabric or whatever you want to fire proof. If you’re applying your homemade fire retardant on fabric/clothing, dowse a small, inconspicuous section of the respective fabric and allow it to dry for 10 minutes or however long it takes.

Use a cigarette lighter upon the “treated” piece of fabric to spot test the solution. If the fabric doesn’t burst into flames, there you have it. Continue applying the fire-proof substance to the rest of your stuff. If it does start to catch fire, just go on and add an extra-layer of your home-made solution.

Step 6: If you want to fire proof wooden surfaces, use the paintbrush for coating the wood with your homemade solution and make sure the entire area is thoroughly coated. Before applying a second layer/coating (just to make sure, right?), allow your fire-retardant to dry out for at least fifteen minutes.

Remember that I told you previously that borax and boric acid are non-toxic, right? The good news is that you can use the stuff (with the recipe I’ve just provided above) for fire-proofing basically anything, like your children’s clothing, household drapes or stage curtains. The substance is harmless, easy to apply and washes out in a jiffy. That being said, you’ll need to reapply if the material is washed or gets wet.

I hope the article helped. If you have other ideas or comments, just use the dedicated section below. Good luck, have fun folks!


This article has been written by Chris Black for Survivopedia.

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How To Use Concrete: 5 Projects For Your Homestead

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Use Concrete for DIY Projects

Concrete is a homesteader’s best friend, at least in this writer’s opinion (and that of Marcus Aurelius). Why, you may ask? Well, since the Romans, concrete can be described as the yardstick of modern civilization.

Basically, we live in a world made of concrete, while “urban homesteaders” hunt and forage in the concrete jungle. You see what I’m talking about? Concrete is the most widely used building material and it’s the ideal choice for building lots of stuff, ranging from roofing to furniture and everything in between.

Hence, today’s article is aimed at giving you a few DIY ideas about making and pouring concrete and to offer some suggestions for its uses around the homestead.

If you’re ready, let’s get to it!

First Things First: Learn How to Pour Concrete Yourself

First, let’s begin with the basics: the do’s and don’ts of how to DIY concrete.

The general idea is that knowing how to pour concrete yourself will definitely save you a few dollars if we’re talking about small scale projects or a bucket full when it comes to bigger things, like a garage floor or a swimming pool.

The good news is that pouring concrete is easy and relatively straight forward, as you’ll only require basic tools every homesteader already has in the garage or tool shed or whatever.

If you want to achieve better results, you should first determine which type of concrete to use, depending upon your project’s specifics. There’s a wide variety of concrete available on the market and ready-mix concrete is the most popular choice, because it’s very easy to use, i.e. all it requires is water.

However, if you want to get involved in a large-scale project, ready-mix concrete is more expensive than other varieties. If you’re the lazy type, there’s always the revolving barrel truck which will supply you with transit mix concrete at your doorstep, but if you want to save the most money and have tons of fun in the process (and also lose weight), buy the dry ingredients by yourself and mix ’em up.

Even if it will take some elbow grease (pouring concrete in large amounts is arduous labor folks!), it will be worth the stretch provided you own the proper mixing tools and the will to achieve!

When it comes to mixing your own concrete, keep in mind that there are 4 basic elements coming into play: the first is the Portland cement itself, then a fine aggregate like sand, a coarse aggregate like gravel/crushed rock, and finally, water. Gravel and sand are the main ingredients in finished concrete, but be extra careful and make sure there are no debris, such as dirt or leaves.

The best water to be used when pouring concrete is alkalide/acid/sulfate/oil-free water, which makes for filtered water by any definition. The quality of the end result of pouring concrete will only depend on how well you mix the four main components, so keep in mind that stirring thoroughly is key, regardless of the quantity.

If you’re working with wet sand, you must add 6 ¼ gallons of water for each bag of cement (standard bags have 110 pounds) if you’ll be building heavy duty stuff, such as walls, concrete-foundation or retaining walls.

Depending on the dampness of the sand, you must adjust the amount of water (more about that in the video tutorial) and always read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully for mixing concrete. Remember – Murphy’s Law.

Keep in mind that concrete is best poured when the weather is not very hot (the temps are between 40 and 80 F) and there’s no direct sunlight, as it may cause your concrete to cure too rapidly, causing cracks. Air that is colder will prevent the concrete from drying/setting properly or at all, so you should choose a period with moderate temps for a few days in a row.

Do the job during that time frame. Need I remind you, folks, that there’s a thing called The Weather Channel just for that, not to mention countless smartphone apps like AccuWeather.

Now, here’s the fun part, i.e. the YouTube video tutorial(s), actually there are 6 vids for you to watch carefully and then you can start pouring!

Video first seen on DoItYourSelfBuilder Brian Monroe.

If you’ve watched and learned your concrete-pouring/manufacturing techniques properly, let’s talk next about a couple of fun projects for your homestead using your own DIY concrete, alright?

Project 1: How To Make A Micro-concrete Roof Tile

First, let’s see how to make a micro-concrete roof tile. Roof tiles are pretty expensive to buy from the hardware store and if you have a giant house (implicitly a big roof in terms of real estate), you’ll save beaucoup bucks if you can manufacture your own tiles, won’t it?

The video is pretty straight forward: you’ll require a vibrating table, a plastic sheet to put over it, and the respective cement mixture. The rest is in the video. This is an easy, straight-forward job; the secret is to make the right mixture for roof tiles (or buy it directly from Home Depot or Amazon or whatever).

Video first seen on TAO Pilipinas.

Project 2: How To Build Custom-made Concrete Countertops

Here’s an interesting tutorial about how to build custom-made concrete countertops. The project is a much more complicated concrete-pouring job that will require lots of gear and materials, including things like glass fibers, glue guns, melamine-faced particleboard, plywood, furring strips, steel wool, various adhesives, and professional tools.

In the end though, it will at least be worth watching and afterwards imagining yourself doing it in a Sunday afternoon (just kidding, of course – anybody can do it with the right materials and equipment).

Video first seen on This Old House

Project 3: How To Pour Concrete Floors

Now, for a bigger, burlier job, let’s take a look at this YouTube video in which the people are pouring a variety of floors using techniques and tools such as floating the concrete, steel trawlers, bull floats, power trowels etc.

Basically, this is how professional contractors (masons) are doing it (as in pouring floors, this is a family show), so you can learn a few tips and tricks from “the Man” himself.

Video first seen on Mike Haduck.

Project 4: How To Build Concrete Furniture

Even furniture can be manufactured from concrete. I bet you never thought about that, did you? Here’s a cool idea about how to build a concrete table, an idea that came from Holland (thanks Leon) and which can be expanded further using your imagination (like, building two tables).

Video first seen on Leon Raymakers.

Project 5: How To Build Concrete Garden Pots

Last but not least, you can always build your own garden pots by pouring your home-made concrete and putting some not-so-intensive physical labor into the mix (pun intended). The process is very intuitive and fun to do: you’ll have to mix the concrete and then pour it into molds, thus making your own custom garden pots.

Just check out the video. It’s as easy as it sounds.

Video first seen on TheGardenerMag.

I hope the article helped. If you have other ideas or comments, just use the dedicated section below. Good luck, have fun folks!


This article has been written by Chris Black for Survivopedia.

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5 DIY Cooling Devices For Your Off-grid Survival

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Survivopedia DIY cooling devices

I’m not sure how the weather is in your neck of the woods, but here in Survivopedia-land I’m dealing with 93-94 F on a daily basis for the last couple of months.

Being hot as hell, the air-conditioner works full time during the day. Now, the question is, how can you deal with a heatwave when it comes to off-grid survival? I mean, our ancestors managed to get through it, but what would happen to you, dear reader, in a survival scenario?

The idea is that there’s nothing wrong with trying to improve your quality of life even when it comes to life in the wilderness.

Now, off grid survival means that you’re basically out there somewhere on your own, without a hardware store nearby and likely without power, right? Can you improvise something to mitigate a bad case of scorching heat, at least temporarily?

Well, let’s talk about a few ideas about how to DIY your own air conditioner in case you need it, shall we? Let’s begin with the basics.

Since we’re talking about off-grid scenarios, the point is to build an air conditioner which doesn’t eat a lot of power, like the regular ones do, i.e. we want to manufacture a cooling device that can work well on solar power or using a car battery.

Project 1: The Dirt Cheap Cooler

Our first DIY project is about an air cooling gizmo that is manufactured from readily available, dirt cheap materials. It’s fun and easy to build, yet strong enough to cool you off some on a day like this (today was a real scorcher).

The materials required for this baby are an ice-chest (a hard-sided/plastic one), PVC pipe, a small fan, and ice. Easy as pie, right? The trick is how to get the ice, but if you can sort that one out, well, the world will be your (cool) oyster.

To power this device, you’ll have three choices: solar power (you’ll have to put a solar-panel on the bucket-list), a battery, or your own automobile using the car’s 12 volt cigarette lighter plug.

The specs of the fan are 12 VDC 10 watt 0.8 amperes. If you’re going for solar power, you’ll need a 15 watt/1 ampere system. Also, this DIY project works best in dry climates, as dry air cools faster than humid air.

A block of ice will last for five hours (empirical evidence) while larger blocks will last you twice as that, up to ten hours. The DIY job is very straight forward and here’s a video tutorial with easy to follow instructions.

Video first seen on desertsun02.

Basically, you’ll have to cut 2 holes in the ice box. At one end you’ll install the fan, which will suck air into the ice-box (you must put a chunk of ice inside). At the other end, you’ll have to install a PVC pipe that will blow the cooled air into the room.

You’ll need a cutting tool to make the cuts in the plastic ice-box but, truth be told, this is a 15 minutes job tops if you’re good with your hands and you own the proper tools. This improvised AC is able to deliver very cold air – 42F more precisely – but when the ice runs out (as in melts away), you’ll start sweating again.

Project 2: Another Ice Cooler

This is a variant of the first DIY project, as it uses basically the same principle and materials as the first one, sans the plastic ice chest.

Instead, you’ll be using a Styrofoam ice-box, which is way cheaper and easier to cut for installing the fan and the PVC pipe. The rest is basically the same, i.e. a solar panel/battery for powering the fan and some ice.

As I already told you, in these 2 DIY jobs, which are massive fun if you’ll be involving your kids, the essential ingredient is the ice. If you can’t get the ice, you’ll be doomed. Here’s the video tutorial with detailed and easy-to-follow instructions.

Video first seen on desertsun02.

Project 3: The Bucket Air Cooler

This home-made air conditioner is an internet classic known as the five gallon bucket air cooler. Also, a variant of the previous two, using the famous five gallon bucket instead of the plastic/Styrofoam ice-box. The materials and tools required are the same: the fan, the PVC pipe, etc.

Remember folks, all three of these projects are non-compressor based, hence getting the ice is the catch 22.

However, one frozen jug of water put in the five gallon bucket air conditioner lasted for six hours, so we can describe these DIY “sans compressor” air-conditioners as the “redneck’s cooler”, provided you have power (via solar, generator, etc.) and a refrigerator available to make ice.

It’s also good if you can’t afford or don’t want to buy a regular AC unit for various reasons. I almost forgot the most important part: here’s the video tutorial.

Video first seen on desertsun02.

Project 4: The Geo-thermal Air Cooler

The next project doesn’t require buckets or ice chests and it has a fancy name too: the DIY geothermal cooling system. This is a rather complicated project which requires some skills and some tools and materials. The general idea is pretty simple, though.

Video first seen on luke Fugate.

This guy is using the water from a deep well and a small electric pump to recirculate it via hoses. There is a copper-hose section and also a bunch of recycled parts from an old AC unit used to build a very interesting air cooling device. It basically recirculates the cold water from the well to cool the air via a copper radiator mounted inside the house.

This is a low-energy-sans-compressor air conditioning unit, but it doesn’t require ice for doing the cooling job, hence it’s a true off-grid air conditioner, provided you have the gear and the well.

Truth be told, the geo-thermal cooling device makes for a very interesting idea to say the least, as this DIY air conditioner can be powered using a solar-panel installation or a car battery for extended periods of time (it’s not power-hungry).

Project 5: The Vortex Cooling Gizmo

Last but not least, enter the pompously named DIY Homemade Vortex Cooling Gizmo. Keep in mind that you’ll need a source of compressed air for running this DIY air cooling project, so there’s a catch 22 built into it from the beginning. As long as you have compressed air available, (as in a compressor which requires power), here’s the video-tutorial depicting all the stages of the project (there’s a part deux too).

Video first seen on Otto Belden.

Provided you have all the tools, materials, and skills required, you can build a very efficient air conditioner that can decrease the temperature anywhere between 10-15 degrees F when it comes to cooling. The idea is to build a vortex cooling tube (it has no moving parts) which separates hot and cold air using a compressor.

Thus, going from high pressure to low pressure, you’ll create a temperature drop, i.e. air conditioning. The same basic principle is used in commercial refrigeration systems like your AC unit or your fridge.

To make things simpler (less DIY that is), you can buy an expansion valve or an orifice-tube setup from an auto parts store (20 bucks or less) and save a lot of assembly work.

I hope the article helped. If you have other ideas or comments, just use the dedicated section below. Good luck and have fun folks!


This article has been written by Chris Black for Survivopedia.

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How To Build Your Own Irrigation System

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Survivopedia diy irrigation system

In the summer time, when the weather is hot (actually scorching hot in some places), what can be more important than knowing how to build your own irrigation system for your garden?

DIY irrigation systems will save you some of your hard-earned dollars, and they also make for an interesting learning experience. They help you with acquire new skills and that’s a big part of a prepper’s way of life, isn’t it?

Now, irrigation systems are essential whether you’re growing roses in your back yard for winning prizes or what not, or, more importantly, for your survival garden. Hose-watering your plants is quite a chore. You’ll have to move the hose around every 30 minutes or so and then store the hose in your yard afterward etc.; basically it’s a waste of time and resources.

Today’s article is built around a few ideas about DIY drip irrigation systems, as they’re very efficient and simple. As a matter of fact, their beauty is their simplicity, like a Swiss watch. Oh, and they’re also dirt cheap and easy to build using readily-available materials. That’s a huge plus in my book.

Soaker Hose vs. Drip Irrigation System

Taking into account that not all irrigation methods are created equal and obviously, there are quite a few systems of irrigation available, let’s begin with the basics.

While soaker hoses are the most common irrigation method for “amateurs”, i.e. home gardeners, they’re rarely used in commercial gardening for several reasons. One of the reasons is they will end up costing quite a lot. They’ll also cause you more problems than they solve.

The biggest problem with soaker hoses is that they don’t water your garden evenly. Due to their intrinsic design, i.e. they seep water all along the hose’s length, the water delivered at the beginning of the hose will always be considerably more than the quantity delivered at the end of the line; that’s a law of physics folks. Basically, there’s no way of delivering the optimal amount of water for all of your plants using soaker hoses.

Long story short, that’s inconsistent watering and it’s a big no-no for your survival garden, as it leads to rotting in some places (too much water) and your plants dying of thirst in others. Also, soaker hoses don’t function properly on slopes because they’re not pressure-compensating. The maximum length of such a system is less than 200 ft.

Another disadvantage of soaker hoses is that they’re prone to clogging easily and that leads to even more inconsistency over time. When left in the sun, soaker hoses are also prone to damage, as they’ll harden (rubber doesn’t cope too well with UV light) and get brittle in time, breaking over when you’ll need them most.

To make things worse, the soaker hoses are also prone to bursting, making a huge mess and leaking large amounts of water. And yes, a burst soaker hose is pretty hard and expensive to repair if needed, especially if it’s hardened and brittle from sun exposure.

Just check out this cool video about soaker hoses vs drip irrigation; you’ll see with your own eyes what I’m talking about. On the good side, soaker hoses are cheap and fairly easy to install compared to drip irrigation systems.

Video first seen on CaliKim29 Garden & Home DIY.

Now, talking about drip irrigation, these babies are built using flexible plastic tubing that features tiny emitters (holes basically) that allow water to drip slowly into the soil.

There are a few advantages of using drip emitters over soaker hoses: they are not wasting as much water as the latter, they’re totally fixable when they break, and even if they require some maintenance, many of the parts are re-usable. They’re one hundred percent repairable, which is very important in my book.

Besides the almost–zero waste of water, a drip emitter puts the water directly where it’s needed, with pinpoint accuracy so to speak. For example, you will be able to space them (the drippers) so the water drips exactly over the root zone of your plant.

How to DIY The Drip Irrigation System

Project #1

Now, let’s see about how to DIY a PVC-made drip irrigation system. Here’s an extremely interesting video depicting the advantages of a homemade drip irrigation system compared to regular flood irrigation.

Video first seen on Utah State University Extension.

This PVC-made drip irrigation system will help you save money, time, and water. A fabulous advantage of using this design is that you’ll be able to reduce water use by up to 75%, and that’s quite a lot, especially in a survival situation. All you’ll have to do is turn it on and forget about it, as it doesn’t require monitoring or supervision.

This system uses water wisely and you’ll end up with a beautiful garden that will provide you with fresh veggies for you and your family all summer long. Also, this project is not expensive: the estimated cost for a 15ftx15ft garden is under $50 and the time to build it is approximately 5 hours. You’ll only need ¾-inch PVC pipe, a drilling machine, and connectors/fittings. These are intuitive to use, user friendly, easy to set up, and lots of fun.

Project #2

The next project is about a small-scale DIY gravity-fed drip irrigation system. The complete plans for the project can be downloaded from here. Here’s a video tutorial depicting the system working and most of the DIY details.

Video first seen on Ross Lukeman.

The materials required for this project are dirt cheap and readily available; you probably already have them lying around your property somewhere. You’ll need a 5 gallon bucket for the reservoir, a drill, garden hose fittings, irrigation tubing, some planks of wood for building the structure that holds the bucket in place (you’ll have to cut them), and that’s about it.

For added precision, you can throw in a digital irrigation timer, which gives you a lot of flexibility because it allows you to do whatever you want. For example, if you want to water your plants every morning at 8 AM with a predetermined amount of water and so on and so forth, you can arrange it; just take a look at the video.

Project #3

Now, let’s talk about the easiest way to DIY a rain-drip watering system for keeping alive a relatively large garden. This DIY project is very efficient. It uses an electronic timer, a back-flow system, and a water filter to prevent clogging. It will help you with your bills and also with conserving water if you’re living in a remote area.

Thanks to the electronic timer, this irrigation system will save you a lot of physical labor, as it will basically automate the whole process and you’ll not have to water every plant by yourself. Also, this system is expandable, adaptable and relatively cheap, and it can be used with basically anything: flowers, veggies or hanging baskets. Take a look at this video and start working.

Video first seen on RedneckResponder.

Project #4

Last but not least, here’s an interesting idea about DIY-ing a self-watering container garden. The main benefit of a container garden is its efficiency, as the plants will draw the exact amount of water required from a reservoir placed below the soil; no more, no less. Also, there’s no loss of water through evaporation.

Video first seen on XoletteLife.

This project will provide you with better-tasting veggies and fruits, as the plants are free to use as much water as needed for optimum growth. The main benefit of a self-watering container garden is its relative self-sufficiency, i.e. you can go on vacation for extended periods of time. As long as you set the hose on a timer, the plants will take care of themselves.

The total cost of this project is about $50, so you’ll not have to break the piggy bank either. Materials required:

  • Commander 27-Gallon Tote
  • 10′ Orbit Polyethylene Riser Flex Pipe,
  • FLEX-Drain Corrugated Pipe with Filter Sock 4″ x 25′
  • Apollo 3/4″ Polyethylene Drip Irrigation elbow
  • Miracle-Gro 64 qt. Moisture Control Potting Mix
  • Apollo 3/4″ PVC Drip Irrigation Female Adapter

The rest is up to you.

I hope the article helped. If you have any other ideas or questions, feel free to comment in the dedicated section below. And click on the banner below to discover one amazing tool that any prepper should have for building what he needs for survival!


This article has been written by Chris Black for Survivopedia.

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How Many Ways Can You Build A Water Container?

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Survivopedia water tank

Preparedness comes in many shapes and forms, but water storage is one of the main problems to be taken care of in any survival scenario. Storing food for long term is not a big problem anymore, since freeze dried foods became affordable for the masses, but water storage is another discussion.

We can’t live without water, or at least we can’t live without it for more than three days anyway. Regardless of your situation, whether you’re an urban prepper or you’re already living off-grid somewhere in the countryside, storing water in a big tank on your property as a backup system would be a great idea.

I am talking about building a water tank and hooking it to a rain water collector; now you can see why DIY-ing your own water container would be a good thing for long term survival, because rain is a given regardless of your geographical location.

Generally speaking, the vast majority of people are getting their water from the public water supply system, which is totally dependent upon power to work. If the power goes, everything goes, including your source of potable water.

Hence, today’s piece about a few DIY ideas about how to build a water container, because there’s no way around it: if you don’t store enough water, you’ll get in trouble in no time if the power grid goes down.

Now, if you’re looking to build your own water supply system (as a backup for irrigation purposes, for your livestock or things of that nature), the water tank is usually the most costly part of the project.

Plastic water containers are generally a good idea as they’re fairly easy to set up and install basically anywhere, but they are pretty expensive if you order them in large sizes. So, you’ll have to look elsewhere for the answer.

Project 1: How to Build a Concrete Water Tank in Your Backyard

Concrete water tanks are used for thousands of years, I think the Romans were the first civilization to implement them on a large-scale.

However, you can build your own concrete water tank in your backyard for relatively little money and without requiring mad-engineering skills. This particular tank is 12 feet long, 3 feet wide and 3 feet deep and it is capable of holding 4 tons of water or 4 thousand liters (1000 gallons give or take).

Also, it’s built very close to the house itself, for making it easy to connect it to a rain-water collecting system. Unlike plastic water storage containers, concrete-made ones are cheaper to build and they will last longer. Also, plastic is not the best material for storing water long term, as it encourages bacterial growth and also leaks BPA, which is a well-known endocrine disruptor.

The materials used in this DIY project are mild steel rods for the frames and the edges, concrete, an electric welder and a few basic tools like a vice, nuts and bolts, a few planks of wood and small mesh chicken wire. Just take a look at the video tutorial and you’ll get the general idea.

Video first seen on Davethe Biscuitman.

Project 2: How to Build a Rain Barrel System

This project is a lot easier to DIY as it ‘s composed basically from 4 plastic barrels (50 gallons each) hooked to a rain water collecting system and it’s mainly used for providing clean/fresh rainwater for a veggie garden. However, if SHTF, the water stored in these containers can be used for survival, so it’s a win-win situation.

The barrels are installed very close to the house and they’re hooked to a rainwater collecting system which keeps them filled with pure water, provided it rains enough.

The materials required for this DIY project (beside the barrels) are relatively common: a few cinderblocks, a diamond blade, plywood and a plywood cutter, water sealer, a drilling machine, bulkhead fitting and threaded adapters, a garden hose fixture, garden hose, a slip locknut wrench, Teflon tape, mosquito screen, a hot glue gun, a hose mender kit, door&window caulk and some basic skills.

Just watch the video tutorial, it’s pretty explicit and straight forward. If you plan to use this system for potable water storage, it would be advisable to use food grade approved parts when you’re building it (caulk can be toxic, regular water hose contains lead and so on and so forth).

Video first seen on BubbleBeet.

Project 3: How to Build a Water Tank Using Plastic Bottles

This project uses plastic bottles for building a water tank and it arrived to us courtesy of Peace Corps USA in Tanzania, as they were helping the locals with a rainwater collecting system.

Basically, the water bottles are used as bricks for the water tank itself, being filled with river sand. In the first phase, you’ll have to build the foundation for the water tank and make sure it’s perfectly leveled. In the next step you’ll have to make the bottle-bricks, i.e. to fill them thoroughly with dirt/sand or whatever, making sure they’re very well filled. The dirt-filled water bottles will be used as bricks in the water tank and the gaps will be filled with cement.

To reinforce the water structure, you’ll be using a wiring/mesh system. Using this clever method, you’ll be able to build a 1000 gallon water tank spending next to nothing and using readily available/recycled materials. Watch the video tutorial below.

Video first seen on oldsoul247.

Project 4: How to Build a Sand Water Cistern

In our next project, we’ll explore how to collect rainwater from a roof, storing it via a sand cistern and re-using it for irrigation purposes or survival if SHTF.

What’s interesting about this experimental project is the fact that it’s a closed system which stores water in the pores of the sand, keeping it cool. The water is not exposed above ground at all and that’s an obvious advantage if you think about mosquitos and other insects that thrive in stagnating water. Also, being stored in the ground and away from sunlight will prevent algae from growing inside the system.

Usually, the word cistern is associated with a large water container (plastic/cement made) placed above ground. But this particular system once completed will totally disappear in the landscape. Are you amazed yet? Well, check out the video tutorial below and start building!

To get the general idea, using this method you’ll be able to capture 600 gallons of rain water in a 1 inch rain over 1,000 square feet of roof. And one big advantage of this clever system is that as water percolates into the sand, it gets filtered free of charge!

Video first seen on OklahomaGardening.

Project 5: How to Install a Rain Water Capture Cistern

This project is about digging a 500 gallons exchange system that will capture rainwater from the roof of your house for sustainable gardening or, who knows, for helping you in a survival scenario.

Keep in mind that this project requires some serious excavation and a water pump/filtration system, other than that it’s pretty straight forward and massive fun. Check out this video tutorial and start working!

Video first seen on Shawna Coronado.

Project 6: How to Build a Typical Water Storage Tank

This is not your regular DIY project, but watching the following video tutorial will make you understand how big-industrial sized water storage tanks are designed and built and maybe you’ll get ideas about how to improve your own home-made projects. It’s like a lesson in engineering and you may be able to translate some of these macro-ideas into your micro-DIY project. Enjoy!

Video first seen on Wessex Water.

I hope the article helped. And if you are interested in more ways to obtain water, click on the banner below to find out more!


If you have any other ideas or questions, feel free to comment in the dedicated section below.

This article has been written by Chris Black for Survivopedia.

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Prepper Project: 5 Ways To Build A Chicken Incubator

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Survivopedia diy incubator

Even if I don’t like chickens very much personally, I am aware of the fact that raising chickens on your own homestead is becoming increasingly popular, especially among preppers.

Raising your own livestock is a big step toward getting off the grid. If you own a small farm or you have enough room in your back yard, chickens are a great opportunity for providing yourself and your family with fresh meat and eggs, totally organic and the whole nine yards.

However, keep in mind that free range chickens tend to forage in your garden (if you have one) so be extra-careful with these pesky birds.

In my opinion, from a prepping/homesteading point of view, chickens are very close to perfection when talking about raising your own livestock, especially for beginners. Home-raised chickens are way more tasteful (and better for you) and also significantly cheaper compared to the commercial variety.

A home-grown chicken will be free of hormones, antibiotics, growth stimulators and the rest of the pharmacy you will find nowadays in store-bought chicken.

The same story goes for the eggs, which are an excellent survival food. If you’ll be raising your own chickens you’ll have fresh eggs on a daily basis for you and your family.

Last but not least, a backyard chicken farm will provide you with top quality manure for making compost, thus your veggie garden will benefit enormously from these beautiful critters (or creatures, whatever you want to call them).

Oh, and I almost forgot: raising chickens is incredibly easy, as they require very little maintenance and they will be able to take care of themselves provided they have enough space to forage for food (I am talking about free range chickens here). Basically, if you have a chicken coop, a little bit of space and some spare time, raising chickens will present no significant problem.

However, at some point in time, you’ll have to deal with the incubator problem. Any chicken farm operation will require an incubator, if you want to hatch your own chicks. Commercially available devices are pretty expensive, north of $200, but the good news is that you can build your own chicken incubator for as low as $3.

hatching eggs

The 3$ DIY Incubator

Okay, for three bucks you won’t get all the bells and whistles available on a name brand variety, but even the simplest and cheapest DIY incubator will succeed in its main goal: hatching chicks from fertilized eggs.

So, if you’re resonating with my preamble and you’re copacetic with raising your own chickens for scratch (that’s eggs), check out my first DIY project which will cost you just $3, no change. Remember, it doesn’t get any simpler/cheaper than this, so keep your eyes peeled:

For the $3 chicken incubator project, you’ll require:

  • a light-bulb socket
  • a regular extension cord
  • a thermometer/hygrometer (that’s like a thermometer which measures humidity)
  • some scrap wood for building the frame
  • an incandescent light-bulb (the wattage/power depends on the size of the box)
  • a Styrofoam box
  • a screen to wrap over the frame (a piece of fabric/hardware cloth)
  • a cup for holding water (an empty sour cream box will do the job with flying colors).

If you already have some of the gear available, as most homesteaders do, this project will cost you next to nothing. I mean, everybody has a light bulb around somewhere, along with Styrofoam boxes and pieces of cloth, right? The only high-tech piece of gear is the hygrometer and if you don’t already own one, well, you’ll have to cough up 7 additional bucks at your hardware store.

As per the DIY job, check out this instructable, it’s very straight forward: first, you’ll have to assemble the wooden frame to match the inner dimensions of the Styrofoam box, then attach the screen to the wooden frame, leaving enough room behind to fit a cup of water (hydration is always important).

Next, you’ll install the light bulb inside the box, put some ventilation holes in place, and in the last step you must install the thermometer/hygrometer inside. The assembly part is very easy and it will take you maybe 45 minutes. The general idea is that once you put some fertile eggs inside your home-made chicken incubator, you’ll just have to wait for three weeks for the fresh chicks to appear; that’s the boring part.

Now, whilst building the incubator is the easy part, the problem is with fine-tuning the environment, i.e. temperature and humidity. The general rule of thumb for hatching healthy chicks is that you’ll require a constant temperature of 99-102 degrees Fahrenheit 24/7. That temperature must be kept constant for three weeks. That’s why you need the thermometer inside the box, in real life the hen takes care of the temp problem.

Also humidity is important (here’s where the hygrometer comes into play), as it must stay around 40%-50% for the first eighteen days. In the last three days, it must be increased to 60%-70%. If it’s really cold outside, this may become tricky (cold weather means drier air) but you can mitigate the problem using a wet sponge placed inside the incubator.

Regulating the temperature inside your incubator is way easier; all you have to do is to cut additional holes in the lid until you hit the sweet spot (the optimal temperature). If you cut too many holes, don’t worry, you can always put duct tape over them.

Also, you can play around with the brightness of the light bulb and you have two options: you can switch the light bulb with a lower or higher wattage one or you can buy a dimmer switch for around $5. Either way, you’ll be able to get the ideal temperature relatively hassle-free. Additionally, you can purchase a thermostat and wire it to your power source; in this way, the light bulb will be switched off and on automatically when it gets too hot or cold.

Finally, you must turn the eggs a few times every day in order to prevent the developing chick-embryo from deforming (if you don’t turn the egg, the embryo will stick to the shell wall). Three times a day will do it.

That concludes our first project – the simplest, cheapest, yet very effective one. It’s the perfect DIY job for beginners.

4 Other Ways to Build an Incubator

Now, let’s take a look at a few more complex ones, shall we?

Here’s a video tutorial about a home-made incubator, a variant of the first but instead of a Styrofoam box, these folks are using a commercial cooler box but the rest is basically the same: a heat/light source, a hygrometer, a thermometer and a few happy chicks at the end of the video.

Video first seen on Sefa O’Reilly.

Take a look at this cheap home-made incubator, which is almost identical to our first $3 job, but with additional bells and whistles, i.e. a fan for controlling temperature/humidity better and a motor from a can opener for spinning the eggs automatically via vibrations (that leads to ADHD chicks, check that out).

Video first seen on Caton Domke,

Now let’s take a look at the next-level DIY chicken incubator, the fully automatic version. It’s homemade and uses an old fridge and some gear including water heater elements, a PLC Smatr Relay and a homemade rack.

Check out the video for more info, but keep in mind that this is a complex job. You’ll require some serious hardware and skills to pull it through. What I like the most about this project is that it turns the eggs automatically, industrial-style without the vibrations.

Video first seen on findrive.

Here’s another variant of the home-made incubator with an automatic egg turner. This baby uses a window motor from a Ford automobile with a PWM speed controller to turn the eggs, two limit switches, a timer and a Repti 500R thermostat. Again, a more complex DIY job, but check it out anyway.

Video first seen on gamecoker77.

I hope the article helped. If you have any other ideas or questions, feel free to comment in the dedicated section below.


This article has been written by Chris Black for Survivopedia.

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7 DIY Safe House Projects To Hide Your Valuables

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Survivopedia hidden safebox

You know that old saying that everyone’s got something to hide except for me and my monkey? Well, nowadays even my monkey has something to hide, so we put up today’s article about DIY safe house projects.

When speaking of things to hide, I am not referring to your dirty past, but valuables, stuff like jewelry, cash, sensitive information/documents or even gold which may very well be subject to confiscation.

It was in the past, if you remember the good old pre-World War 2 days and 1933’s Executive Order 6102. If you don’t remember, well, it’s time for a reality check, because history has a bad habit of repeating itself, whether you’re a scholar or just the average Joe Public.

Now, regular folk tends to keep their valuables in a bank safe box or at home, under a cipher lock or something similar, in case they can afford such luxuries.

However, keeping your stash in a bank safe deposit box is not the best idea in the world, if you’re familiar with the notion of bank runs or the aforementioned confiscation policies, in which case your valuables will disappear like fresh driven snow in the Kalahari Desert.

The other option is to keep your valuables at home, in a classic safe box, but these things tend to be really expensive and also they draw attention, if you know what I mean.

Another thing to contemplate if you’re a proud safe-owner is that a burglar who was tipped that you have such an abomination on your premises will be perfectly able to force you at gun point to open it; you know what I’m talking about, right?

Basically, could be pretty hard to maintain OPSEC when you have installed a safe-box in your house. I’m not trying to downplay the notion of safe-boxes, they sure as Hell have their uses, but a smart prepper (especially a prepper on a budget) should look at alternative means to hide his/hers valuables.

Now, from what I’ve learned about the psychology of a home invader, whether he’s a police officer or a burglar, I discovered a modus operandi which can be summarized in three basic rules: home invaders first look for openly displayed valuables, after that they look for juicy-looking (as in appealing) storage spaces (like classic safe boxes) and after that they’ll look at any other type of place which may be harboring valuable things like cash and jewelry.

Basically, all home invaders follow this simple algorithm for maximizing their chances of success, given the fact they only have a limited amount of time to spend in your home.

And here our DIY safe projects thingy comes into play, as they look inconspicuous generally speaking, making them the ideal choice for storing your valuables, sometimes even in plain view. And you know, stuffing money inside your mattress is getting old, get over it and keep reading.

The Lego Safe Box

My first project is about how to build a safe box (yes, you got that right) using your old/left-over Legos, thus turning them into a hidden/secret/magnetized/whatchamacallit safe. It sounds pretty darn’ interesting, doesn’t it?

The beauty of this project is its “in your face” simplicity. I mean, who would think that you’re hiding cash or jewelry inside a Lego block? All kids have Legos and that means you’ll draw next to zero suspicion hiding your valuables inside a Lego-made safe box, right?

Another cool thing about this project is the fact that you’ll not require spending lots of money on materials and tools and you probably already own a Lego set. It doesn’t get any better than that, believe me folks.

Now, just take a look at this video and learn how to turn your left over Legos into a magnetized safe. By magnetized I refer to attaching a bunch of magnets to your safe, making the secret drawer accessible only if you already know where the internal magnet is located.

The general idea is that you’ll be creating a Lego structure which features a hidden drawer inside, the perfect place to hide some cash or your engagement ring (use your imagination, ok?). The magnet gizmo makes the secret drawer to open only when using another magnet.

Video first seen on HouseholdHacker.

Pretty cool concept, don’t you think?

Hidden Wall Safe

Moving along with the article, the next DIY project is a secret/hidden wall safe. You may be familiar with the concept or not, but just take a look at this cool instructable video below and you’ll learn how to securely hide your cash/other valuables almost in plain sight via an easy to make wall-safe box which comes handy for storing even things like guns and ammo.

This particular project uses a fake wall-socket which masks a relatively small safe-deposit box behind, the perfect spot to hide some money and jewelry, but the limit is your imagination when it comes to hidden wall safes.

You can make them as big as you want, for example building a secret (and very big) compartment behind your TV using the same principle.

Video first seen on PostmasterPrepper.

The Fake Air Vent Safe Box

Another idea is to build a secret compartment/safe box using a fake air vent as a cover. The idea is basically the same, making for a clever and inexpensive way to hide your valuables in plain sight.

Obviously, you can use all these different ideas for keeping your stash safe, as in “don’t put all your eggs in the same basket”. Redundancy is the name of the game.

Check out the video and you’ll learn how to install your fake air vent securely using just a hot glue gun, screws, a jig saw and sheet rock saw, it’s a fairly easy project which may be completed in a couple of hours.

Video first seen on DIYeasycrafts.

The Floating Shelf Safe Box

How about a floating shelf featuring a secret compartment? I know, the idea is not new, I’ve already seen dozens of movies in which the hero draws a gun from a secret compartment inside a shelf and stuff like that, but that’s hardly a problem.

Video first seen on Moy perez woodshop.

I mean, can you think of a house where there are no shelves around? Shelves are ubiquitous, they’re an intrinsic part of the American culture and way of life sort to speak. And that makes them the perfect place to secretly store your valuables, don’t you think?

The Hollow Book Safe Box

Another idea for secret compartments to stash your valuables/guns or whatever is also borrowed from the movies: a hollow book (usually a Bible) and this one is a true classic. And the best thing is that you can find a hollow book for sale almost anywhere, they’re that popular.

However, here’s a video about the DIYing just in case.

Video first seen on Von Malegowski.

The Keyboard Safe Box

Now, if you’re a PC owner, you can create a small secret compartment in the unused portion of your keyboard, the Number Keypad respectively, as per this video. This is as cool as it gets, the bummer is the space is relatively small.

Video first seen on kipkay.

The CD Safe Box

Last but not least, this is one of my all-time favorites: how to build a secret safe using old CDs. Provided you’re old school, just like yours truly and you’re still using CDs, you can easily make a  secret-safe-hidden-in-plain-sight by using a cake box full with DVDs or CDs, whatever you have lying around the house.

The idea is to cut their inner hole and then glue them together, thus creating a secret hiding space inside where you can keep diamonds, rubies or some cash.

Video first seen on Shake the Future.

Try one (or more) of these clever methods to protect your cash or your valuables, use your creativity and get back to us with a comment in the dedicated section below.


This article has been written by Chris Black for Survivopedia.

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This Is How To Use Styrofoam For Survival

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Survivopedia styrofoam

When confronted with a survival situation, you will have to make the most of what’s available for getting through the day. Styrofoam is one of these items.

Today’s article is about Styrofoam, which may come handy in a variety of scenarios, being a versatile and useful material especially when you’re strapped for resources.

To start with the basics, let’s define our terms: Styrofoam is basically a commercial term/a trademark brand for expanded polystyrene, which is often used for building food containers and all sorts of housing insulation.

Styrofoam is also common as cushioning material in packaging, for making disposable dishes/coffee cups, for building coolers and things of that nature, due to its excellent insulating properties. Styrofoam is very lightweight and buoyant, as it’s made from 98 percent air.

Styrofoam for Starting Fire

Considering the holy trinity of survival in any imaginable scenario, i.e. water, food and shelter, let’s see how/where Styrofoam comes into play. Starting with shelter, one of the most important things related to outdoors survival is the ability of making fire. Fire keeps you warm and keeps predators away and that’s kind of important in my book.

Fire is also essential when it comes to purifying water and for cooking your food, thus being able to make a fire in a SHTF situation is crucial in this writer’s opinion.

Check out the following video that will make you think twice before throwing Styrofoam in the garbage bin instead of transforming it into something resembling home-made napalm.

Video first seen on MarcelsWorkshop.

The general idea is that mixing gasoline with Styrofoam you’ll get a sticky substance that burns slowly which makes for an awesome fire starter. Just imagine you’ll have to make a fire in an outdoors emergency situation and all you have for combustible is damp wood/cardboard, it’s windy and you’re cold and tired, you got the picture.

The Styrofoam fire starter is a must-have item for your bug out bag or your survival kit as it’s dirt cheap and highly efficient. This home-made napalm will transform you into a modern Prometheus in two shakes of a lamb’s tail.

Styrofoam for Insulation

Now, if you remember that Styrofoam makes for an awesome insulating material, how about using it for protecting you from extreme cold weather?

To upgrade your clothes with Styrofoam for surviving in harsh climates is relatively easy and it doesn’t require mad sawing skills or special tools. All you have to do is to gather a few pieces of Styrofoam, a sharp tool (a knife will do), very large shirts/pants, Velcro strips and a can of urethane glue.

The idea is to use the Styrofoam for filling your mittens, lining your parka etc. by trim fitting your clothes/shoes with pieces of Styrofoam. This procedure is simple and highly effective, but remember: for best results, the Styrofoam must be worn next to your skin.

You can also make knee pads/bun pads from Styrofoam in case you want to sit/kneel on snow or ice for extended periods of time.

Basically, using Styrofoam you can live comfortably when confronted with extremely low temperatures and even if you’ll look fat, at least you’ll be warm and you’ll live to fight another day. And that’s the name of the game when it comes to survival, doesn’t it?

Also, speaking of insulation, you can build yourself an improvised shelter in a very cold environment, something like a cardboard shelter to preserve your body heat. A tight and well insulated shelter will use your body heat for warming it up and for best results, you should use Styrofoam due to its excellent insulating properties.

For example, you can take a big cardboard box, like a refrigerator box or a big screen TV box or whatever is available for improvising an outside shelter, wrapped in plastic sheet on the outside to keep the moisture away and insulated on the inside with Styrofoam. You can use duct tape or glue for fixing the Styrofoam plates on the cardboard.

Styrofoam for Boiling Water

I bet you never thought about boiling water using a Styrofoam cup, did you? Well, it’s doable. Check out the video below and you’ll see how.

Video first seen on Zack Of All Trades.

Even if most people can’t believe you can achieve that, the trick is to let your fire burn down into a nice bed of coals. The next step is to put your water-filled Styrofoam cup on the coal bed, not on the open flame, that’s all there is to it.

Boiling water is the best thing to do if you want to get rid of bacteria and microbes, hence here goes another survival use of Styrofoam.

Styrofoam for Lifesaving Jackets

Styrofoam pellets can be transformed into improvised life jackets (you just fill a bag with the stuff and hang on to it) or you can even build a life raft from Styrofoam planks, as it’s highly buoyant. Here’s a video about DIYing a cool Styrofoam life jacket for emergencies using basic/readily available materials and tools, like wrapping film, stockings and blocks of Styrofoam.

Video first seen on waqashassanansari.

And here’s another video about homemade rafts using Styrofoam, with the frames welded together and the Styrofoam taped onto the respective frames, making for an excellent survival raft which holds the water impeccably.

Video first seen on RedneckInnovation.

Styrofoam for Casting Metal

Another interesting and potentially survival-related feature of Styrofoam is to use it for casting purposes. Check out this video and learn how to use Styrofoam for casting metal in an emergency. The possibilities are endless.

Video first seen on Grant Thompson – “The King of Random”.

This technique is called lost foam casting and it can be used for building any number of basic tools or even (stabbing) weapons, provided you have the ingredients, i.e. aluminum, sand and enough Styrofoam.

Now, let’s see about a couple of not-so-dramatic uses for Styrofoam.

For example, you can use a small piece of the respective stuff to hold small nails into place instead of using your fingers for that, thus avoiding bashing your thumb/forefinger.

If you’re in a SHTF situation, hands are very important and you’ll have to remain functional 100%, right? So, use a small piece of Styrofoam for steadying the nail against the wall instead of your fingers and live to fight another day!

Also, you may use Styrofoam peanuts for buffering sharp objects like awls inside your tool box, thus avoiding injury and staying healthy in an emergency situation.


I hope the article helped. If you have any other ideas or questions, feel free to comment in the dedicated section below.

This article has been written by Chris Black for Survivopedia.


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DIY Projects: How To Re-purpose Old CDs 

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Survivopedia Re-purpose Old CSs

Today’s article is about an almost extinct technology, the dinosaur of today’s modern digital media. Yes indeed, the good ole compact disc is near the end of its life cycle because it’s been almost completely replaced by USB drives, flash sticks and things of that higher-tech nature.

But what can we do with the zillions of CDs already in existence? Throw them away in the garbage can?

That’s not what a super-prepper would do; au contraire, waste is not cool in my book, as I’m all about recycling when it makes sense and repurpose as much as possible. Hence, today’s piece will present you with a few ideas about how to re-purpose your old CD collection.


Are you ready? Let’s start with…

1. How to make a solar panel (using your old Metallica CD collection, boot legs included)!

It sounds relatively implausible, I know. I mean, how on earth can you build a solar panel using shiny old plastic disks? Well, this is not a “real” solar panel, but it makes good use of the CD’s reflective surface for creating a solar heating panel. It’s a very simple and efficient project that even your kids could finish in a couple of hours.

Materials required for the CD solar panel:

  • super glue,
  • cardboard,
  • measuring tape,
  • a couple of dozen CDs (depending on the size of your window),
  • a utility knife,
  • a pencil,
  • a clear plastic drop cloth,
  • a few S hooks,
  • scissors,
  • an awl,
  • black spray paint,
  • masking tape.

You probably already have the gear, so let’s move it along.

Directions: The first step is to measure the width and the length of your window. Use your utility knife to cut a piece of cardboard using those measurements and adding four inches to the previous window measurements – add8 inches extra for the width and 8 inches extra for the length. For example, a 20 inch by 30 inch window will require a cardboard piece of 2 inches by 38 inches.

Next, use the black spray paint on the cardboard piece, and paint one side completely black (black is excellent for its heat retention capability). Let the paint dry completely and if necessary, add one more paint coating for best results.

In the next step, you’ll have to form a box from the cardboard piece, by cutting a four inch square from each of its corners, then bending the sides of the cardboard in such a way that the corners meet i.e. making for a box with the black painted side inside. Now you must use the masking tape for taping up the corners.

The CDs are now ready to be put inside the box in rows with the shiny metal side out. Make sure the rows are as even as humanly possible. You’ll have some wiggle room left, but that’s not a problem. Just make sure that the bottom row of CDs touches the bottom side of the cardboard box, and the same story goes for the top row – it should touch the top of the cardboard box.

Next, use a pencil for tracing the center holes of the CD rows (both top and bottom), then remove them and using your utility knife, cut the holes out. Next, you’ll glue the CDs with super glue over the holes. After that, you’ll glue down the rest of the CDs, but remember to leave a tiny space below the top and above the bottom row. Also, allow for some space below and above the center row.

It’s time to cut 4 rectangles out of the left-over cardboard, four inches wide and 3 quarters of your box’s width. Glue the rectangles into your box like maze walls, on the edge. The first rectangle will be placed above the bottom CD row/against the left side of the cardboard box, the second below the center row/against the right side, the 3rd above the center row/against the left side and the 4th below the top row/against the right side. After you’ve finished, allow the glue to dry for a few hours.

The final step is to cut a piece of plastic drop cloth, three inches longer/wider than your cardboard box then stretch it over the top, gluing it well over the sides,  making it as airtight as you can. Let the glue dry overnight, then make 2 holes in the upper corners of your cardboard box and introduce S hooks in each hole.

Now you can hang the solar thermal panel on your window, preferably on a south-facing one for best results, and benefit from free heat.

2.  Tesla CD powered-turbine

Using plain old recycled CDs, you can actually build a working turbine.

The Tesla turbine is very different from regular ones, as it uses just disks, working on the boundary layer effect principle. For this DIY project, you’ll require

  • CD spindle,
  • CDs,
  • glue pipe fittings.

Obviously, this is a beginner project and functions on garden-hose pressure. However, the same idea/design can be used with an air compressor. It’s extremely versatile and useful.

The CD turbine project comes with a unique design which doesn’t require bearings, seals, or a moving shaft; it’s almost frictionless. This particular design can run on either air or water pressure, mainly for fun purposes.

The materials required are half a dozen hot glue sticks, methylene chloride for welding the CDs to each other, ABS to PVC cement, PVC pipe primer, ¾ inch PVC plastic pipe, garden hose shut off valve, 1-1/2 inch plastic tube or straw, CD spindle with cover, Orbit WaterMaster Extension Nozzle Model 91129 and of course, CDs.

The tools needed for the job are a utility knife, a glue gun, sand paper and a dremel tool if you have one (optional). Here’s a video tutorial or read this Survivopedia article for detailed instructions for this project.

Video first seen on MrfixitRick.

3. Secret Safe

Too much high tech for today? Let’s see about how to build a secret safe using old CDs, and keep it simple folks!

Check out this cool video tutorial. I find it very interesting – I mean a stash of old CDs transformed into a secret safe for your money and valuables? Pretty smart, don’t you think?

Video first seen on Shake the Future.

4. Old CDs for Pest Control

The next project is even easier and more fun, as it involves using CDs for pest control, and I don’t mean playing your favorite CD from a boom box to scare the crows out of the field (though that might work, too).

The idea is to hang old CDs from a fishing lane around the perimeter you want to secure from pests, and as the wind blows, they move. Their random movement, together with the prism effect, will (hopefully) scare the garden-gobbling birds away from your property.

Video first seen on eHow.

5. DIY Lamp from Old CDs

Now, let’s see about how to make a lamp from recycled CDs in just 2 minutes with absolutely no tools required. If you still own stacks and stacks of unused CDs lying around your room (like your truly, I just can’t let them go), why not put them to good use?

The easiest and smartest way for DIYing a lamp using old CDs is to slide a source of light down the middle of the CD stack. Pure genius, right?

The problem is that you’ll have a hard time finding a fluorescent tube thin enough to fit that tiny hole, so you’ll have to buy under cabinet LED lights, as they come in thin strips that will perfectly fit the core of the CD stack.

Also LED lighting doesn’t produce much heat like regular bulbs or fluorescent ones, hence you’re in no danger of setting your house on fire. Here’s a video tutorial, enjoy.

Video first seen on HACKADAY.

The CD repurposing adventure stops here, with an interesting video that depicts even more uses for old CDs, such as turning them into USB-powered fans or even a clock.

Video first seen on MultiPenat.

I hope the article helped and you’ll have tons of fun tinkering around with your old CD collection.

If you have questions or comments, don’t hesitate to use the dedicated section below. And if you are in the mood for DIYing something bigger, click on the banner below to find out how to build the ultimate survival shelter on a budget! Good luck, have fun folks!


This article has been written by Chris Black for Survivopedia.

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Prepper Project: 3 Ways To Make Seed Bombs

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SVP seed bombsI don’t know about you, dear reader, but I really hate those barren vacant lots on city streets or on the side of the roads, you know what I am talking about? Every single time I pass by these urban wastelands, I fantasize about planting a garden there, in one of those blank lots.

However, in this day and age, I bet it would be against the law and I’d end up raided by SWAT teams, under suspicion of aesthetic terrorism or discrimination against urban decay. Ok, I may sound a little bit dramatic; it’s just for the artistic impression.

Regardless, empty lots are a common problem these days, and plant transplants will end up costing you an arm and a leg if you want to really make a difference.

Enter the latest seed-bomb technology, just for you, the new Captain Planet, the Eco-warrior. Seed bombs are a cheaper alternative compared to buying plant transplants, and as organic and natural as Mother Earth.

The Anatomy of a Seed Bomb

Make no mistake: the bomb particle in a seed bomb has nothing to do with terrorism. This is a bomb that, once “detonated”, will bring peace and harmony, fresh air, beauty, life, the whole nine yards. If I may use a metaphor, the seed bomb can be described as the weapon of choice for urban guerrilla gardeners, as it gets the job done in two shakes of a lamb’s tale.

A seed bomb is fast, precise and laser-accurate! Okay, now that I’ve got your undivided attention, do you know what a seed bomb is? Let’s begin with the seed, which in itself is an amazing thing, as it contains the key that makes life on Earth possible and livable.

The vast majority of plant seeds will require next to nothing for germinating/giving birth to a new plant. In most cases, all a seed will ever need is to get buried in moist soil, safe from direct sunshine or dehydrating winds, and away from predators, insects, or animals that would eat it  instantly…yes, it’s a hard job being a successful plant seed.

Nature mitigates these survival problems by spreading the earth with a huge number of plant seeds, as becoming a plant from a seed is a very risky business.

But there is another way, and that’s where the seed bomb comes into play. Using a seed bomb, you’re basically hiding the plant seeds inside of a ball made from an absorbent material, usually a mix of soil/compost and clay. As the ball dries and its shell turns hard, it becomes very easy to spread the respective balls (these are seed bombs actually) on the barren area you wish to bring back to life. The hard shell of the seed bomb keeps the predators away until the planting time is near.

When the right time arrives, i.e. when it starts raining, the hard coating of the seed bomb will soak up with moisture, releasing its “cargo” (the actual seeds) onto the ground and providing a protective layer which holds the moisture near the seed, helping it germinate and develop into seedlings and then into a new plant. This is an elegant and beautiful concept, don’t you think?

However, this is not a new idea – pretty far from it. Seed bombs were used traditionally by many Native American tribes for protecting their planted corn kernels from predatory birds and drought. About 40 years ago, a Japanese gardener invented clay seed balls as an efficient way for planting his next crop of veggies and grains, but without disturbing what was left from the previous crop.

Seed bombs are the perfect way for planting all types of seed in places that are not very easy to take close care of, such as roadside strips, meadows or stream banks.

Also, seed bombs are a great method for planting grains or veggies without tilling or digging the soil, or for adding patches of color in already established gardens, without disturbing the plants that are already there.

If you’re a free range chicken-farmer, seed bombs will help your newly planted seeds to survive the chicken attack, and, as a plus, seed bombs are really fun to manufacture and to use, especially for kids.

guerilla gardening

Now, let’s see about the DIY part of the deal, i.e. how to make your own seed bombs.

Seed Bomb Recipe 1


  • five parts pottery clay mix, available at your local art store,
  • two parts potting soil,
  • 1-2 parts seeds (whatever you desire),
  • 1-2 parts water,
  • a big tub for mixing the ingredients,
  • a big box for drying/storing the seed bombs.

Instructions: blend the clay, the soil and one part of water together thoroughly and stir vigorously, removing lumps. Add more water slowly, until the mixture has the proper consistency. It should be just like canned molding clay you buy in the store.

In the next step, you put the seeds into the mix and keep kneading until the seeds are mixed in well; if necessary, add more water.

Now it’s the time for building the bombs by taking small amounts of the mixture and rolling them to form a ball about 1 inch in diameter. If the balls tend to crumble, i.e. they don’t hold together easily, just add more water.

Let the seed bombs dry for one or two days in a shady location before storing or seeding them, for example put them inside a cardboard box, but never in plastic containers. They need the open air to dry or else they’ll mold.

After they are dried, you can place them/toss them on your desired location, but remember, don’t add water and don’t bury them. The rest is up to Mother Nature.

Seed Bomb Recipe 2


  • seeds of your choice,
  • colored paper torn into pieces (3 pages for example, orange, pink and red),
  • two cups of water,
  • a silicone mold if you don’t want to use your hands,
  • 2-3 pages of newspaper torn into pieces, a strainer,
  • blender.

Instructions: All the paper must be torn up and the pieces put inside the blender. Add two cups of water into the blender and blend, baby, blend, until everything turns to mush!

Place the strainer over a small receptacle and pour the contents of the blender into the strainer. The filtered “pulp” will be scooped out of the strainer and mixed with the seeds; this is basically the raw material for your seed bombs.

The raw material must be gently mixed and the excess water squeezed out, using the mold or your hands for making the same 1 inch-diameter ball as described in the first recipe.

In the final step, use a paper towel for pressing gently on every seed bomb, to soak any excessive moisture. You want to prevent the seed bomb from germinating prematurely; that would be bad. Now, allow your seed bombs to dry for two days and you’re ready to go. It’s best to store these seed bombs inside paper bags, remember that folks.

Or watch below for the video version about making the perfect tools for guerrilla gardeners and a great way for propagating seeds on a large scale or in not-so-rich soils!

Video first seen on Emilie Lefler.

Seed Bomb Recipe 3


  • seeds,
  • sawdust,
  • natural glue,
  • seaweed extract.

Instructions: Mix one part seeds with five parts sawdust, and add some natural glue to the mix (read my previous article about glue here) along with a little bit of seaweed extract. The mix shouldn’t be too wet, or too dry, but just moist enough to form and keep a ball shape.

Allow the seed bombs to dry out thoroughly for at least a day, by placing them on a sheet of newspaper for example, laid out in your shed or something similar.

Remember to consider the habitat when you’re in the process of selecting the seeds, i.e. do you desire seeds that will build a brand-new habitat or you want to add some variety inside your garden?

Good luck, and have fun folks in your prepping!


This article has been written by Chris Black on Survivopedia.

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Prepper Project: 5 Ways To Build An Oven

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SVP big ovenI remember that when I was a kid, I used to play cops and robbers, cowboys and Indians and stuff like that, but the girls were busy baking mud pies like crazy. You know what I’m talking about, right? Mud pies and earth ovens, these are the memories of my childhood; well, among many others I can’t write about here, because we have a family audience.

Mud pies are just a childhood memory, but wood-fired ovens are maybe the best things invented by humans, since…I don’t know, the biped posture? I mean, the best pizza in the world is made in wood-fired ovens, and so are many other foods.

Cooking in wood-fired ovens definitely improves the flavor of almost any type of food, not to mention that, if properly insulated, an earth oven will maintain its internal heat for days, making it quite efficient at cooking lots of food with minimal fuel spent.

So, today’s article is about how to build your own wood-fired, or earth oven, a skill which has the potential to save your life in a survival situation. And since we’re talking about SHTF scenarios, we will focus on oven designs that are dirt-cheap and easy to build using simple and readily available materials and tools.

1. The DIY Barrel Stove

Let’s begin today’s journey with the DIY barrel stove, also known as a wood-heater oven, which is any hobo’s dream.

In case you did not know because of today’s political correctness, the hobo stove is actually a specific design, representing a model of an improvised cooking/heat producing device, which is often used in various survival scenarios. After all, who knows more about how to survive a crisis than homeless people?

Why a barrel stove/hobo stove, you may ask? To put it bluntly, because the design is pure genius, due to its simplicity and efficiency. You can use a barrel stove for various purposes, ranging from outdoor cooking to boiling water for purification during power outages or what not. This type of stove can be improvised using readily available materials, such as basically any type of tin can or barrel, regardless of the size.

In the following video tutorial, the “hero” uses a recycled steel barrel for building a hobo stove, but you can also use a trash can, an old oil drum (make sure it’s clean or else you’ll have a bigger fire than you bargained for!), a gas canister or something similar; even a large can of ravioli/veggies will allow you to build a small stove and cook your diner.

Video first seen on RealWorldReport.

The advantages of the barrel stove/hobo stove are that it’s very easy to manufacture and it’s incredibly light, versatile and efficient. You can also transport it easily if required, and you don’t need high tech tools, nor skills, for manufacturing it.

Another advantage is the price tag, because there are many places where you can acquire an old oil drum basically free of charge; for example just pay a visit to your local garage and ask your mechanic. Demolition yards and scrap yards are also viable options.

The DIY job is very straight-forward and it consists of removing the top of the barrel first, and then punching a dozen or so small holes near the upper edge. You’ll also have to cut a larger opening on the side of the barrel near the bottom for air and fuel, and that’s basically it.

The wood is placed inside the barrel and ignited, while the bottom and the side orifices draw air inside through convection, keeping the fire alive as heat gets out through the top. You can use anything for combustion; not only wood, but even animal dung or wax. If it burns and isn’t toxic, you can use it.

2. The Ground / Earth Oven

Moving on with the article, let’s see about the ground/earth oven, your best friend when it comes to outdoor cooking, survival or just plain fun. You will find below a clip featuring a dude (pun intended) who builds his own ground oven while out in the woods, doing who knows what. He looks like he’s up to no good; however, don’t judge the guy from his looks, because he does an excellent job in the end with that roast (just kidding, here.)

Earth ovens, also known as cooking pits or ground ovens, are the simplest and oldest methods of cooking, and they’ve been around for thousands of years. They’ve been used all over the world, by almost all cultures and peoples. Earth ovens are an excellent choice in a survival scenario, being the best tool for cooking your food when you’re out there in the wild with next to zero equipment available.

This primitive yet highly efficient cooking method consists of digging a hole/pit in the ground, which is then cobbled with rocks. You’ll have to go find fairly flat rocks for lining both the pit’s sides and the bottom; that’s the hardest part of the job. Stay away from stream bed stones, as they tend to explode when exposed to heat due to the water which is trapped inside.

Just enjoy the video for getting the fine details (you’ll have to build a fire presumably) and remember, practice makes perfect folks!

Video first seen on NativeSurvival.

3. The Clay Cob Oven

Here’s a video tutorial which depicts the DIYing of the ultimate clay cob oven. Be aware that this is a complex job that requires medium to high skill levels and some elbow grease in the process.

But the end result is absolutely outstanding, as you can see from the YouTube video. Owning a backyard clay cob oven is a delight, especially when it comes to making your own wood fired pizza, garlic bread or jacket potatoes. Remember, nothing tastes better than food cooked in a wood fire, thanks to its wonderful smoky flavor.

Video first seen on Gavin Webber.

For building a cheaper/more basic cob oven, you can use recycled materials and cheap local resources (let your kids for help you with making the cob, which is a simple mixture of sand, clay, water and straw).

The materials for DIYing a clay cob oven are pretty basic: clay, sand, straw, gravel, rocks, tarp and water, together with a little bit of hard work and skill, but I bet in the end you’ll find that it was worth the stretch!

4. The Earthen Oven

The earthen oven, another great and relatively straight-forward DIY job for making your own food using wood fire and dirt-cheap materials. Earthen ovens are thoroughly documented way back to the ancient Romans and they were widely used in the US until the 18th century.

You can find them even today in various places, due to their excellent characteristics, the ease of use and the simplistic build. The design is relatively rudimentary; hence building your own earthen oven is by no means complicated, meaning that you don’t need previous building experience.

Needless to say, this project is a great confidence booster upon completion! You’ll require dry clay, sand, straw/dry grass, fire bricks, canvas tarp and plenty of water. The work itself is a child’s play, literally, as it resembles playing with sand, like on the beach when you were a kid.

You just follow the instructions in the video tutorial and later on, you’ll enjoy baking your own bread and pies using your own earthen oven!

Video first seen on Jas. Townsend and Son, Inc. 

5. The 24 Hours DIY Earth Oven

Our last project is another version of the earthen oven, made even simpler than the previous design. It’s a project that it can be finished in just under 24 hours.

Based on an 18th century design, this earthen oven will require minimal quantities of dirt-cheap materials and the least amount of time, going from bare ground to a baked pie in under 24 hours. Basically, the previous idea has been taken to its simplest and most primitive form.

Video first seen on Jas. Townsend and Son, Inc. 

As for materials required, it doesn’t get any simpler and cheaper than this: 2 bags of cat litter, play sand (from the hardware store, about 4 bags), water, straw/dried grass, sticks, bending sticks, a shovel, scrap fabric (not synthetic), a mixing tarp, firewood and a sacrificial board (a plank of wood basically).

That about sums it up for today. Think about your DIY oven project, and if you have questions or comments, don’t hesitate to use the dedicated section below. Good luck, have fun folks!

usf1newThis article has been written by Chris Black for Survivopedia.

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The Easy Way To Make Natural Glue At Home

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SVP diy glueToday’s article is not for glue-sniffers, but for preppers and/or homesteaders who want to make glue for their projects in a post SHTF world, or want to use home-made glue instead of buying it from the hardware store. Or maybe they like art, or have kids that are art-project happy etc.

There are a few reasons for making your own natural glue at home, and if you twist my arm hard enough, I can think about 100 survival uses of glue after an apocalypse. Don’t make me go there right now, okay?

One of them, is that making your own glue is way cheaper than buying it. Another one, and this is important especially if you have glue-happy kids, is that commercially available glues are usually filled with petroleum-based products and all sorts of chemicals. And kids, you know, are kids. Letting them play around with highly toxic stuff is not the best idea in the world, is it?

Truth be told, there are actually tens or even hundreds of DIY glue recipes available, many of them have been around for quite a while since, until commercial glue was invented, people had no alternative but to make their own. So, these recipes have seen some action and they’re “combat-proven”. Some of them are made with milk, others are flour-based, others use natural gums, and some use pine sap.

Another truth, and I must warn you folks, is that commercially available glues are still more effective than the homemade varieties, especially when it comes to heavy-duty stuff, so don’t try to use home-made glues for jobs they’re not suited for.

Just to let you know, you can easily DIY glue from junk, in case other ingredients are not available. See how this guy is making glue using a piece of styrofoam and a few drops of gasoline:

Video first seen on starspoter productions.

But there are so many other ways to DIY glue. Let’s see how to make the best “organic” glue in the world using only natural or non-toxic ingredients.

Recipe 1: Traditional Paper-Paste

Paper paste is a cheaper, easier alternative to commercial glue or rubber cement if you or your kids have a huge paper pasting job to do; for example a big group-collage project or a science-fair display poster. The ingredients are as follows:

  • 2 tablespoons of sugar,
  • 1/3 cup of flour (bread making and all-purpose are the best),
  • one cup of water
  • half a teaspoon alum powder.
  • The latter is not necessary if you’re using the paper-paste immediately and entirely – it’s basically a preservative to keep it “alive” for later use.

Now, with the ingredients taken care of, let’s see about the DIY part: you’ll have to mix the sugar with the flour, but gently. Add water gradually, but stir it aggressively because you need to get all the lumps out.

After the ingredients are thoroughly mixed, cook the mixture over low heat and keep stirring, until the paste turns gets clear. All you have to do now is to remove it from the heating source and, if necessary, add the optional alum-powder. Stir it and let it cool off a little.

Use a paintbrush to spread it over the cardboard or the paper respectively and before the paste dries, press and smooth the cardboard/paper to glue it properly.

That about sums up our first natural-glue home-made recipe. If you added the alum preservative, you can store your remaining glue inside a (covered) glass jar for a couple of weeks with no refrigeration required whatsoever.

Recipe 2: Water Resistant Homemade Glue

Let’s move on to a more high-tech DIY glue project, namely a glue that is water resistant and can be used for more heavy duty/complex jobs than the previous recipe. The water resistant glue can be used successfully for metal, ceramics, glass or porcelain. I personally used it a few times for gluing aluminum foil to planks of wood for making a light-box, and it’s still glued and ready to go, though 3-4 years have passed.

This glue is very different from the flour paste because it can adhere to non-porous materials; however, it’s just waterproof, not heat-resistant. In other words, you can repair a broken mug with it, but don’t put that mug into the microwave or the dishwasher because heat will be the end of it.

Here are the ingredients for the water resistant DIY glue:

  • two teaspoons skim milk,
  • one pack of gelatin (unflavored)
  • three and a half teaspoons of tap water.

Directions: Use a small cup for pouring cold water over gelatin, for softening it up, and put the milk inside the microwave oven for a few seconds for boiling it, and after that mix it with the wet gelatin inside the cup. Stir the stuff vigorously until all the lumps have disappeared, and that’s about it!

This glue works at its best when it’s applied hot.. If this glue initially proves to be too runny for the job, let it cool off a little bit before you paint it on the respective surface. The glue can be stored using a covered glass jar for up to a week, and remember before re-using it to warm it over a pan of hot water.

That wasn’t so hard, was it? Let’s get it on with our third project:

Recipe 3: Milk-based White Glue

Milk makes a great glue ingredient thanks to its high casein content. In case you are wondering what I am blabbering about, casein is a protein found abundantly in milk, which repels water molecules, meaning that it’s hydrophobic. Also, casein molecules repel each other; hence they remain suspended in the milk.

The trick is to add acid to the milk (vinegar is the acid in our case) and the casein molecules will start clumping together, making the milk curdle; to speed up the curdling reaction, you must put some heat into the mix.

The curdled lumps are basically casein, or in other words, natural plastic, and they’re very easy to filter out. If you add some water and a base, you can separate the casein molecules again, causing them to remain suspended in your DIY white glue. The stuff has a shelf life of approximately 14 days and it makes for a fun DIY project and also a pretty good glue in case of an emergency.

Here are the ingredients:

  • one cup skimmed milk (this particular milk is the best due to its high casein content),
  • two tablespoons of white vinegar (distilled),
  • half teaspoon of baking soda
  • one and a half tablespoons of water.

Directions: Using a saucepan, stir the skimmed milk together with the two tablespoons of vinegar over a source of heat (medium-low), but don’t let it boil. After the milk has curdled, remove the saucepan from the heating source and pour its content through a coffee filter. If you don’t have a coffee filter, you can use a cheese cloth or even a paper towel.

The filtered curds must be scraped inside a jar or a small bowl to smash them up. Using a separate container, dissolve the baking soda in water, then mix it with the curds slowly, until the stuff reaches your desired consistency. You can use the glue immediately for your project, or store it for later use, using a tightly sealed jar/container inside your fridge for up to fourteen days.

Recipe 4: Vegan-Mucilage

I know, it sounds weird, but this glue-recipe is absolutely awesome if you have kids obsessed with stickers. Why is that, you may ask? Well, this glue is 100% natural and it tastes great! Mucilage is that kind of glue which is used by painting it on a paper, letting it dry, then licked before gluing.

The mucilage is what the US Postal Office used for their stamps back in the day, and it’s one hundred percent both kosher and vegan. Of course, this recipe has little practical use, but you never know…remember that episode from Seinfeld, when George’s fiancée dies after licking toxic glue on wedding invitations? You don’t want that to happen to you, do you? Just kidding folks.

Here are the ingredients:

  • two tablespoons of sugar,
  • one and a half teaspoons of gum arabic,
  • one fourth cup of water
  • one and a half teaspoons of corn/potato starch.

As a cool trick, you can add a drop of vanilla extract or peppermint for flavoring.

To prepare your favorite mucilage glue, all you have to do is to mix together all the ingredients and then stir into water until all the stuff gets dissolved. Add sufficient water to get the ideal consistency, i.e. something between honey and syrup.

resinRecipe 5: Tree Sap Glue

If you’re the outdoors type, you must learn how to DIY glue using tree sap (also known as pitch glue), or in this particular case pine sap or resin. Pine sap glue can be used for lots of useful things, ranging from frog gigs to fish hooks or waterproofing your shoes.

You can find pine sap or resin on basically any pine tree, but also in some species of cherry trees. Just look for spots where the tree has been wounded (a broken limb or insects) and sap seeps from the respective wound.

Besides pine sap, the only ingredient required is charcoal, i.e. what’s left in your campfire, plain old charcoal. The first step in your tree-sap glue project is to melt the pine sap, using a tin can over a fire, or something similar. The charcoal must be crushed by using a stick or a flat rock until it makes for a fine powder. Mix the powder with the melted pine sap, in a 1:3 ratio (three parts resin, one part charcoal).

Video first seen on Survival Lilly.

If you add too much charcoal, the glue will become brittle; too little, and the glue will not be durable enough. Remember to stir in the charcoal properly and thoroughly while the mixture is hot, because as the sap cools, it becomes hard as a rock. That’s about it; once the tree sap glue cools, you must heat it up again in order to use it.

I hope this article helped and you’ll have tons of DIY projects to develop using your favorite home-made natural glue. If you have questions or comments, don’t hesitate to use the dedicated section below.

Good luck, have fun folks, and click on the banner below to discover other secrets about natural homemade stuff!

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This article has been written by Chris Black for Survivopedia.

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4 Ancient Survival Skills You Better Master Before It’s Too Late

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Image source: YouTube

Image source: YouTube


Do you ever contemplate the thought that we, modern humans, remained basically unchanged for hundreds and thousands of years?

Today’s humans, at least most of us living in the western world, are totally dependent upon our modern civilization. We take for granted things like running/potable water, electricity, transportation, shelter, food and clothes – all available on a whim.

In 1929, when the first great crisis was unleashed upon the US, a large segment of the population – 50 percent — was living in rural areas. Today, that number is down to 19 percent. Just think about it: We’re crammed by the tens of millions in mega-cities, living in huge air-conditioned concrete-made-caves, dependent upon companies and the government for survival.

Isn’t it time we learned some of the “ancient” skills of our ancestors – skills that made them self-reliant?

Restore Your Old Blades To A Razor’s Edge In Just Seconds!

So let’s get to it. Let’s examine some of the essential skills our ancestors relied upon to survive — skills which are now forgotten and derided by those hipsters flashing their iPhones. Each of the following skills contains a how-to video.

1. Foraging for medicine and food.

This skill is almost extinct nowadays. Basically, in an outdoor survival scenario, everything revolves around knowing what to eat and how to take care of yourself — with no ER or drugstore available. The vital information about edible/medicinal foods once was passed on from generation to generation, but today is a lost art.

Watch this video to learn how to forage for food:

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2. Tracking and hunting wildlife. This is an absolutely crucial survival skill to master, allowing you to determine how fast an animal was going, if it was frightened when running, and how long ago the tracks were made. Want to learn more? Watch this video:

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3. Navigational skills. Such skills are essential when traveling great distances without a working GPS/compass or even a map. Remember that our early ancestors managed to travel and trade thousands of miles away from where they were living. For example, indigenous Australians used a combo of storytelling, pictographic maps and various artwork for finding their way in the vast Australian outback.

Watch this video to learn celestial navigation:

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And, here is a video showing you how to navigate using only the sun:

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4. Making clothes from scratch. Depending upon the climate and the resources available, there are countless methods for making your own clothes and shoes using readily available materials. Shoes can be made using several types of materials, such as eel skins, deer/moose/elk/reindeer leather, old tires and even wood. The same story goes for leather clothing. Think about how Native Americans once took care of themselves during the winter.

Watch this video to learn how to make shoes from scratch:

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Watch this video to learn how to make a leather shirt:

What skills would you add to this list? Share your thoughts in the section below:

Learn How To ‘Live Off The Land’ With Just Your Gun. Read More Here.

Survival Garden: DIY Cold Frames

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Cold FrameToday’s article is aimed at preppers who aren’t lucky enough to live in warm or temperate climates yet are willing to try to grow their own survival garden.

Cold frames are basically mini-greenhouses and they work by collecting natural warmth to take care of your seedlings in the spring, and to keep your organic veggies alive and kicking through the fall and winter.

Basically, if you want to grow your own survival garden regardless of your climate (well, ALMOST regardless), keep reading folks.

Unlike a regular greenhouse, a DIY cold frame project requires less space, less work and less spending.

Being a do-it-yourself thingy for those of you working on a tight budget or a small scale operation, I will try to enlighten you about how to use readily available materials from around your homestead for protecting your survival garden during the cold months of the year.

To put it simply, a cold frame can be described as a regular box, featuring a transparent cover or a lid, which works by passively collecting the energy from the sun and also acts as a reservoir for your tender plants, seedlings and what not.

Just like a solar panel, the energy radiated by the sun heats the soil and the air inside the box and during the night, the absorbed energy (in form of heat) is released, keeping your mini-survival garden alive and well.

Cold frames are very useful especially early in the spring, when they provide an optimal environment for starting your veggie seedlings or transplanting the annual flowers you’ve already started indoors.

Basically, almost any type of seed can be started directly inside the frame and developed in a controlled environment until it can be safely transplanted outdoors, in your garden.

During hot summer months, the lid may be replaced by using shade lath or cloth, thus providing something like a nursery of sorts for rooted cuttings.

Now folks, everything in life seems to be about location, and the same theory applies to DIY-ing cold frames. You should choose a well-protected site for your DIY project to keep it safe from harsh winds. Choose a spot near shrubs, trees, a wall or a fence. Also, make sure you choose a place which is exposed to sunlight as long as possible during the day, and that your cold frames are oriented properly, to face southwest or south.

Another trick is to sink the frame ~10 inches into the ground, thus maximizing its heat-retention capability. Be advised that your desired location should have good drainage so that you avoid rain water collecting around your frame.

How to Build a Cold Frame

Next, let’s take a look at the basics of DIY-ing cold frames. Let’s start with the obvious: the dimensions. Since the most important thing in a cold frame is the transparent cover/lid, start by selecting your desired cover, as its dimensions will determine the frame’s dimension.

The best choice (and also the cheapest) would be to recycle an old storm window or a window sash; you may even have one in the attic or in the shed – go check it out. If the “going gets tough”, you can always use an old shower door. There’s little to no difference between all these options. Any of them would do just fine for your DIY cold frames project.

If you can’t find anything laying around, go cruising garage sales, keeping an eye out for recycled windows and things of that nature. If you’re skilled enough and patient, you can even build a cover by sandwiching fiberglass sheets or clear acrylic between strips of wood (the corners should be strengthened using metal plates). Even polyethylene film can be used, carefully stapled to a wooden frame. All of these methods are quick and cheap, but will only last for a limited amount of time. They’ll be good for about a year or so.

If you’re using old windows, make sure they’re not covered with lead-based paint (lead is very toxic and lead poisoning is a no fun). Also, check the wood for signs of rot and make sure that the glass is firmly secured in its wooden frame.

For those of you living in the extreme North, where below zero temps and heavy winter snows are on the menu for 3-4 months every year, you should stay away from glass covers, because the accumulation of snow will almost certainly break your glass covered cold frames.

In such areas, the best options are thick sheets of window-strength plastic, such as Lucite. There are other brands, some better, including  Lexane, which are extremely resilient against elements, such as ice, snow, sleet and rain.

Some professional gardeners are using 4×8-foot panels made from corrugated fiberglass for their cold frames. These are sold for building green house walls, so they’re as tough as they come and made exclusively for this job, but they’re relatively expensive.

However, the corrugated fiberglass panels let tons of light inside and, most importantly, they’re durable and they don’t turn yellow after prolonged exposure to sunlight; hence they’re ideal if you want to build a cold frame that lasts for years and years. If you look at the cost from that point of view, they’re actually not that expensive.

Keep the cover as light as possible so that it’s easy to lift and try not to make it too wide to allow for easy access to the plants inside the cold frame. Two or three feet of width would be as small as you’d probably want to go, while a length of four feet will allow you to grow almost any variety of plant inside while still being able to handle the lid without too much difficulty.

The frame itself can be built from scrap lumber, a cheap and readily available material. You can also use cedar, cypress or redwood (they’re naturally rot-resistant) or even dirt cheap plywood. Stay away from toxic materials, such as pressure treated wood, which may contain (almost surely) highly toxic substances, such as arsenic.

The simplest and maybe the cheapest frame can be built using hay bales. All you have to do is to arrange 4 bales of straw or hay into a nice square shape, the bales being basically the sides of your DIY cold frame project.

The transparent cover/lid goes on top of the bales (a plastic cover or a sheath of glass) and that’s about it. The straw can be used next spring for mulch after you finish with your frame and disassemble it.

If you’re making this a more permanent cold frame project, i.e. lumber-made frames, remember that the edges of the box should be weather-proofed using weather stripping on the top edges. Also, try to use galvanized steel hinges for attaching the cover/lid.

Remember to slope the frame with at least a 6-inch slope from the back to the front of the box for trapping as much heat as possible and to allow the rain water to run off. Vertical posts should be used for reinforcing the corners of the box to lend additional strength.

Another option for a permanent and very solid DIY cold frame project is to build the side walls from stone and mortar. Stone walls will definitely require more work and skills, but if you have these materials on your property, they can be very cheap, and you’ll learn a thing or two in the process (like pouring concrete, making mortar etc).

An interesting alternative for your cold frame side walls are cinder blocks, if you have them around your homestead and/or you can’t get your hands on bales of hay, straw, lumber or whatever. Cinder blocks are extremely durable and they insulate very well; just remember to arrange them in such a way that the holes point up and down or else the air will circulate freely.

Remember to keep the top holes covered, to keep your frame warmer during the coldest months of the year. You can also fill them with dirt to insulate them further.

If cinder blocks aren’t your thing, you can always use PVC to make a cold frame. The frame is built using PVC piping and a thick, strong sheet plastic for cover. This type of cold frame design is extremely light and portable, and also dirt cheap.

To prevent overheating, which translates into dead plants just as quickly as freezing does, make sure that you properly ventilate your cold frame. Proper ventilation is possibly the most important consideration when it comes to growing a survival garden inside a cold frame.

For keeping track of the temperature fluctuations, you should install a min-max thermometer. If the heat inside the frame reaches/exceeds 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit, be ready to prop open the lid using a dowel or a sturdy stick.  In the afternoon you must close the lid, for trapping the heat inside.

Remember to make notches on your prop stick. This way, you’ll be able to prop open the top cover at various heights, in correlation with the outside temperature.

As a high-tech option, you may use an automatic vent in your cold frame design, which opens and shuts your cold frame automatically when the desired temperatures are achieved.

However, the automatic vent is only usable if you live in a temperate geographical area, where snow is a rare occurrence, because accumulated snow on the lid will render the auto-vents useless, as they’re not strong enough to cope with the additional weight.

If the weather gets very cold, be prepared to drape the frame using a piece of carpet or an old blanket for additional insulation.

The last question we need to answer is: what can you grow inside a cold frame? The answer to that question is “anything you grow in your regular garden”. People commonly sow seeds of lettuce, spinach, choy and kale in cold frames during the fall months in order to enjoy them in the winter.

Also, in certain areas where the growing season is very short, your only chance of growing warm weather crops is a cold frame.

Take a look at the first tutorial, which details a cold frame DIY project step by step and than the second one which shows a 4×8 over a raised bed.

Video first seen on Fine Gardening

Video first seen on Bill Farmer

I hope the article helped and if you have suggestions or comments, feel free to express yourself in the dedicated section below.


This article has been written by Chris Black for Survivopedia.

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DIY Projects: 4 Ways To Heat A Greenhouse 

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Heat greenhouseIn one of my recent articles I thoroughly discussed the “how to’s” of DIY-ing your own greenhouse.

Now, let’s address another issue: how to heat a greenhouse during the harsh winter months, because even if a greenhouse is an excellent environment for growing plants and veggies, stabilizing the temperature inside is of major importance to your crops.

If you’re wondering what I am talking about, consider this: even in October and  November, the temperature inside a glass-covered greenhouse can fluctuate considerably, ranging between 30 degrees F lows and 100 degrees F highs.

This massive fluctuation in temperature happens regularly in certain climate conditions. Why? Well, the glazing of a greenhouse does a great job when it comes to letting in the sunlight and therefore the heat, but it’s also very good at letting heat out. That’s because glass or plastic does a relatively poor job in terms of insulation.

Actually, almost all greenhouses tend to overheat during the day if they’re not “temperature controlled”.

During the night when the temperature drops, the greenhouse loses all the heat, causing the plants to freeze. As you can easily imagine, plants (just like people) are not very happy in these circumstances.

So, what can you do to mitigate the problem? In order to control the temperature swings, you must install either a heater or a cooler inside the greenhouse. The cooling job is easier, as it’s basically taken care of by an efficient ventilation system.

Today we’ll take care of the heating thingy; that’s the hardest part of the job.

The smartest and also most sustainable way for mitigating the temperature swings inside a greenhouse is to capture the “extra” solar energy getting in during the day, then store it and use it later during the night when the temperature drops. That’s one solution.

Another solution is to build an efficient heating system that uses renewable or cheap fuels.

When building a greenhouse, remember to design it in such way that it doesn’t require very much cooling or heating in the first place. Good design is key and I discuss that in my article about building a greenhouse.

To revisit that topic briefly, that involves properly insulating the structure, using high-quality materials for roofing, and orienting the greenhouse facing south.

Now, let’s talk about heating solutions, tips and tricks, and the whole nine yards, right after the break!

1. Additional Insulation

Let’s begin with the simplest method: additional insulation. For blocking icy winter droughts and significantly reducing heat loss during the winter, the easiest and cheapest way is to add an insulating layer of bubble wrap, attached with clips to the inside frame of your greenhouse. This trick works very well even when it comes to unheated greenhouses.

For best results, go for horticultural bubble wrap insulation, which is available at garden centers. Unlike regular bubble wrap, this one is tougher and also UV-stabilized. Remember that the bigger the bubbles, the more light they let in.

Besides bubble wrap, you may also use horticultural fleece for further insulating your greenhouse and adding a few extra degrees for your plants during extra-cold winter nights. Just remember to remove the fleece during the day to ensure that your plants and veggies receive proper light and ventilation.

2. Heating System

Now, these are temporary, palliative solutions for heating a greenhouse. A better option is to invest in a heating system. Ideally, you should use electric fan-heaters, which can be easily moved around the greenhouse, thus preventing the apparition of cold spots and reducing the risks of plant disease.

When using an electrical heating system for your greenhouse, remember to save energy and money by investing in a thermostat, which will allow you to start the heaters only when necessary, i.e. when the temperature reaches a specific value. Also, invest in a high quality thermometer and check it daily; in this way you’ll be able to use and adjust your greenhouse heater more efficiently.

Try to avoid wasting money and energy by choosing the optimal temperature inside your greenhouse. Remember that most plants will thrive at temperatures as low as 45 degrees F and some of them even below that. The idea is not to transform your greenhouse into a tropical paradise; that’s not really necessary.

Remember to position your electric heaters carefully. Place them in a central spot, out in the open, or at one end of the greenhouse at a time, and heat only the areas that you need to.

For example, if you have a big greenhouse and only a few delicate plants, you just group them together and try to partition the greenhouse into smaller areas (use bubble wrap insulation curtains for example) which can be heated easily and economically.

But, there’s a problem with electric heaters: they are relatively expensive and they require a power supply. If you don’t have electricity nearby, you can go for paraffin heaters.

3. Heat Sink/ Thermal Mass

However, if you’re a die-hard off-the-grid prepper, you should opt for building a heat sink or a thermal mass (they’re the same thing basically). The thermal mass is the smart solution I was talking about in the preamble of the article.

Thermal mass can be defined as any type of material or structure which is able to store thermal energy. And, obviously, almost any type of material is capable of doing that; it’s a basic energy conservation principle, but some materials are better than others at storing heat.

The heat sink or thermal mass works by trapping the extra heat generated by the sun during the day and releasing it slowly when the temperature drops during the night, thus heating your greenhouse free of charge. Basically, it works like a battery, storing energy during the day and releasing it during the night.

Now, how much energy you can store in your “battery” is directly dependent upon the size of the thermal mass and also the heat capacity of its building materials.

Water is excellent at storing heat when compared to concrete or soil, having a twice the specific heat capacity volume of concrete and 4 times the heat capacity volume of soil. Hence, the best and most common method for building thermal mass/heat sinks is to use water barrels, due to the water’s excellent heat storing capacity.

The general idea is to stack 55 gallon barrels filled with water inside the greenhouse. How many you use will depend on the volume and size of your greenhouse. The barrels must be located where they receive the maximum amount of direct sunlight, i.e. near a north-facing wall.

The water inside the barrels will get warm during the day and the energy (heat) stored inside will be slowly released during the night, keeping your crop warm. Easy as pie, right? And cheap as dirt, too. Well, almost.

Remember to place the tender plants (seeding trays or warm-weather crops) near the barrels, which will be the warmest place in the greenhouse, for better results.

4. Heat Exchanger

Now, if the thermal mass idea, aka the water filled barrels, are not enough, you can go to the next level and incorporate a heat exchanger into your DIY project.

The heat exchanger is also called a Climate Battery or a SHCS (subterranean heating and cooling system) and it works by circulating the air through the heating mass.

There are lots of versions and designs for heat exchangers, but they all work using the same principles. The mechanisms of energy transfer and storage are identical: as the greenhouse heats during the day, the warm and humid air from inside the greenhouse is pumped by an electric fan via a network of underground pipes. The temperature drop produces water-vapor condensation; hence energy is released during the process (it’s called phase change).

The released energy is stored in the soil in the form of heat, thus creating a big mass of warm soil under your greenhouse, regardless of the season. During the night, when the outside temperature drops, the electric fan starts over (via a thermostat) and it circulates the air again through the underground pipes, which, this time, extract the heat stored in the soil and warm the greenhouse.

There are additional methods for building a heat exchanger, as the battery material may vary. For example some people choose to dig and backfill with stones or gravel the area underneath the greenhouse, as stone and gravel are better in terms of heat storing capacity than dirt.

It sounds a little bit complicated, but it’s actually pretty straightforward. This air-heat-exchanger system is relatively simple and time-tested for decades in homes and greenhouses all around the world.

Heat-to-air-exchangers are very efficient for two main reasons: first, the size/volume of the battery/thermal mass is huge when compared to a water-filled barrel (generally speaking, two times bigger).

Secondly, because the air is pushed actively through the thermal mass, this significantly increases the rate of heat exchange, making it more efficient when compared to “static” barrels.

Also, this system does three jobs at the same time: during the day, the greenhouse gets cooler, during the night it gets warmer and on top of that, ventilation is taken care of by design, making sure there are no cold pockets inside! Awesome, right?

You can use a thermostat to kick the fan on and off when the desired temperature is reached, offering you total control over the thermal mass, and that means it’s as smart as it gets, right?

Here’s a video which depicts how a heat sink helps with keeping the greenhouse warm during cold nights.

Video first seen on Michael Dibb

Here’s another idea about solving the problem of freezing during the winter when growing inside a greenhouse, called a Zero Energy Thermal Mass Greenhouse, which requires no power and it’s totally off the grid. It will work anywhere and it allows you to grow produce even in the winter.

Video first seen on Ted Pasternack

I hope the article helped and if you have suggestions or comments, feel free to express yourself in the dedicated section below. Also make sure to comeback on Sunday as we continue to talk about our survival gardens!


This article has been written by Chris Black for Survivopedia.

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How To DIY A Greenhouse: 9 Projects For Your Homestead

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GreenhouseToday’s article is as green as it gets, because it’s about DIY-ing greenhouses. How do you build a greenhouse, you ask? The easy answer is: you build a house and you paint it green.

Ok, I am kidding, but today’s article is about the basics of DIY-ing your own-personal greenhouse, the types you can build, tips and tricks, and what to beware of. You know, the whole 9 yards in DIY for the self-conscious prepper.

The first question to answer is: why do you need a greenhouse?

Well, maybe because gardening is a very rewarding hobby, especially when it comes to building your survival garden for when SHTF. And, it’s also a very relaxing one (hobby, that is), combining something very useful with lots of fun in the process.

So, if you’re that kind of prepper who tries to be as independent as humanly possible, today’s article will fit you like a glove.

If you seek to get off the grid, a greenhouse will definitely help you in your endeavor. I mean, growing your own food is more than rewarding; it’s the definition of survival. And growing your own food in a greenhouse means that even cold weather is not a problem.

Plant life and veggies are particularly sensitive when it comes to harsh weather, but a greenhouse is very effective in mitigating that problem. Moreover, when it comes to a do-it-yourself job, a greenhouse is the perfect solution, both in terms of complexity and costs.

So, let’s talk a little bit about greenhouses, or, better, about how to DIY them. There’s an inside joke about this type of projects: a DIY project will cost you twice as much, it will look half as good and it will take twice as long as you initially anticipated. The time part may be right, but if you follow the directions well, the cost and appearance parts are rubbish! Well, it will cost you a bit, but not nearly as much as if you paid somebody to come and build you one.

Hence, brace yourself, because DIY-ing a greenhouse is not exactly a child’s play, but the end result will be awesome.

When it comes to building stuff, first you must define the terms: what’s a greenhouse after all?

Simply put, a greenhouse is a type of structure which creates an ideal micro-climate for plant life to grow and develop, so it can be used to start plants such as veggies or to grow them from seed to…well, the end.

The first thing to contemplate is the location of your desired greenhouse. For optimum results, you must choose a south-facing area which will provide your greenhouse with good, consistent sunlight. Remember that all structures around must be to the north of your greenhouse.

You should opt for locations which offer morning light vs afternoon sun; however, ideally speaking, an all-day-long sun would be the best, as it will lead to better yields and it will speed up the growth of the plants.

Also, pay attention to nearby structures (like your house), trees and bushes and make sure they do not cast a shadow on your greenhouse. It would be wise to choose a spot that has easy access to electricity, as most greenhouses require some ventilation and sometimes additional heat for maintaining an optimal temperature inside, especially in very harsh climates.

Look for a well-drained area and remember that you must siphon away excess rain water, but the best thing would be to design your greenhouse foundation in such way as it would encourage drainage naturally.

With the location issues taken care of, let’s move on with our DIY journey.

Let’s begin with the basics: what type of greenhouse should you build?

It all depends upon several factors, including the geographical area you live in terrain, humidity, climate, and temperature. All these issues must be addressed. For example, if you’re living in a county with million-mile-per-hour winds, especially in the winter and in the spring, well, that means you’ll have to use a sturdy design in order for your greenhouse project to last and withstand those pesky winds.

Check out this self-explanatory video for further info about what type of greenhouse to build.

Video first seen on Bigelow Brook Farm (Web4Deb)

Another issue is the budget: how much money do you intend to spend on your DIY project? And here are a couple more questions: how big do you want your greenhouse to be? What do you want to grow inside your greenhouse? All these elements come into play and you must figure them out before you start building a greenhouse.

Note that any garden lacking a greenhouse is in fact incomplete, as a well-built and well-designed greenhouse will help you with planting fall and winter crops, thus extending the growing season by almost 100%, not to mention that you can grow produce all year long right in your backyard.

Now, let’s take a look at a few budget-friendly greenhouse building plans. None of these are really expensive and all are fairly easy to build with simple tools and moderate skills.

1. The Barn Greenhouse

If you’re not exactly a master DIY-er, you should start with a smaller project; something like a mini greenhouse. In this case, the barn greenhouse would suit you perfectly. The wall framing can be cut from wood-boards if you have them available on your property. If not, you can simply buy them from a hardware store for just a few bucks.

The side paneling can be built from roofing tin and you can trim the corners of the panels by metal flashing. This model of greenhouse is covered with corrugated roofing. For the detailed plans just follow the link in the photo source.


Photo source: Ana White

2. Lumber Frame Greenhouse

As the title says, the lumber frame greenhouse is basically an eight foot tall structure that’s very light and easy to incorporate into your garden. The frame is nailed together and you can fix it with stakes.

It’s built using a lumber frame for the skeleton, window frames for proper ventilation and a door. All the materials can be recycled from old stuff laying around your property or picked up from junk sales. For detailed plans, just go to the link from the photo source.


Photo source: How To Specialist

3. The Hoop Style Greenhouse

This project requires wood for the foundation and PCV pipes and rebar for the structure; the amount of material depends upon the desired area you want to cover. The hoop stand is made using rebar and then the PVC pipes are fixed on the hoop stands.

After the wood/PCV structure is built, you can cover it with plastic sheeting and attach the cover to the skeleton using a lathe. In the end, you can add a simple wood frame and a door to your greenhouse, and that’s about it. See the photo source for detailed plans.


Photo source: Alberta Home Gardening

4. The Fifty Dollar Greenhouse

As you will see for yourself, you can DIY a greenhouse for just $50, in a hoop-like greenhouse design. This is a hugely popular design, very similar to the hoop-style one, and you’ll end up getting a tunnel type greenhouse, ideal for confined spaces.

The basic frame can be built using lumber and for covering the top, clear plastic sheet is the best and the cheapest. On the sides of the wooden structures you can attach PVC pipes for enhancing rigidity and maintaining the shape of the hoop. For detailed plans, go to the link in photo source.


Photo source: Door Garden

5. The Dome-Shaped Greenhouse

This DIY project is aimed at art lovers, as this structure built from broken triangles looks absolutely beautiful. The detailed plans in the photo source, but keep in mind that this is a tougher project, requiring proper measurement and a well-thought plan for achieving that beautiful dome-look. Assembling it will take some time and after building the wooden structure, you can cover it with special greenhouse sheeting, available at hardware stores.


Photo source: Northern Homestead

6. The Scrap Window Greenhouse

As the title suggests, this DIY project will make the most of your old and, until now, useless window frames that are lying in your attic or wherever. Basically, you’ll have to build the foundation from wood and use screws to assemble the recycled window frames on it. You can finish the mix with some tin roofing. You’ll find the lots of ideas in the photo source.

greenhouse from old windows

Photo source: Inspiration Green 

7. The Scrap Door Greenhouse

This is a variation on the previous project, this time using scrap doors instead of windows. If you have enough old doors laying around in your junkyard, now is the perfect time to recycle them and make the most out of them. This is a very simple project, with scrap doors used instead of side paneling, with plastic sheets or tin roofing put into the mix for additional awesomeness! See photo source for more DIY details.


Photo source: Mother Earth News

8. The Plastic Bottle Greenhouse 

This project is perfect if you’re obsessed with recycling plastic bottles, as it requires hundreds of them, and you’ll save the environment in the process. The structure is very simple, made from wood, with the plastic bottles inserted in between, acting like a transparent wall. This is a recycler’s fantasy for getting the greenhouse of your dreams. This DIY project is perfect for small places and it is very friendly on the budget. Here’s a video detailing the how to’s.

Video first seen on: Wild Urban

9. The Sturdy Greenhouse

If you live in high wind and/or snowy areas, here’s a video detailing the proper DIY greenhouse project for you. These are built to be sturdy, which supports strong winds and heavy snow loads.

 Video first seen on LDSPrepper

I hope the article helped and if you have suggestions or comments, feel free to express yourself in the dedicated section below.


This article has been written by Chris Black for Survivopedia.

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Survival Skills To Learn From African Tribal People

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big african

Africa is said to be the cradle of civilization, and also one of the most fascinating people on Earth. In order to survive there, humans have had to adapt to harsh weather conditions and develop survival skills that easily rival and surpass those found in other cultures.

Today, some African people still live off the land, follow the same traditions, and use the same survival skills as their forefathers. Even though these ways are vanishing because of numerous factors, we can still learn a lot from what we know of the native ways.

Basically, while we are enjoying an easy life of dependence here in the US and benefiting from all the 21st century advantages, there are still indigenous people in Africa living off the land. They do not have the benefits of high-tech devices and technologies. If they have running water, electricity, or even reliable sources of food, it is the exception that can be taken from them at any moment by nature, warfare, terrorism, human perversion, and human greed.

While Africa may be progressing in terms of technological and green development, there is still much to be said for the older ways. Africans are born survivalists, so lets’ try to pick their brains, searching for the ultimate survival guide, Made in Africa!

Do you remember the holy trinity of survival? The basics are water, food and shelter, and they’re absolutely crucial in any survival situation, regardless of your location or scenario.

Finding Water in the Wild

Since living without water is not possible for more than 2-3 days (depending on various factors, like weather, health issues, age, etc), let’s start with the obvious and most important survival issue: how to find potable water as they do in Africa.

In many urban areas of Africa, potable water scarcity is often caused by poor infrastructure and high density population. Deep in the jungle (even if very little of Africa these days is jungle), among ancient African tribes, finding water is a matter that would make a 10 year old laugh. Finding water in a jungle is not a problem if you know what you’re doing. African kids start their education not with arithmetic and English literature, but as true preppers.

Jungles are by definition “wet” places, hence collecting rainwater comes as a no-brainer. Africans use the big leaves in the rainforest for collecting rain water (if any) or the morning dew in the worst case scenario.

Video first seen on Sigma 3 Survival School.

The same strategy can be used by any prepper. You’ll only need a container for storing rain water or dew and a big leaf (or something similar, like a sheet of plastic). Put the leaf/plastic over the container at an angle and leave it there overnight/during a rain episode. In the morning, you should have perfectly safe to consume drinking water within the container. Don’t worry if the rainwater/dew has an unusual taste, that’s due to the lack of certain minerals , as opposed to water from the rivers and lakes.

Another trick Africans use for getting potable water (and you can use it too), is to follow the tracks of wild animals which may lead to a nearby stream. But if you find a source of running water, you should be cautious and boil it first in order to destroy the parasites/bacteria. If you don’t purify your water you risk getting ill from various diseases, so try to boil the water for at least 10 minutes, play it safe. In order to avoid problems related to heavy metals, it may be better to avoid boiling the water, since it will only increase the concentration of heavy metals, pesticides, and other toxins.

Instead, try putting the water in a clear plastic bottle and leave the water in the sun for a few hours. The UV rays from the sun will kill pathogens without increasing the concentration of heavy metals and other chemicals in the water. In the end, your best bet may still be distilling the water or using an evaporation system (basically a pit in the earth where clean water can collect on a plastic sheath above and then drop down into a waiting vessel).

Green bamboo and certain species of jungle liana contain clear/odorless/potable water inside, that you can drink safely.


Video first seen on Andrey Siloch.

To access this source of water, all you have to do is to bend the top of a green bamboo tree 1ft off the ground, then tie it off and cut a couple of inches off the tip, place a receptacle underneath, then leave it there for a few hours to collect plant-water. This trick only works in the jungle/with certain species of plant life, i.e. in South America or Africa. Here’s an interesting video about how to find water in the Kalahari desert, I find it fascinating.

Video first seen on Africa Freak.

Finding Your Food

With water taken care of, let’s see about food. When talking about wilderness survival tricks learned from Africans, I can summarize them as it follows: hunting, wild game processing, and edible plants scavenging. I mean, that’s what hunter-gatherers used to do for hundreds of thousands of years: hunting game and scavenging for all sorts of edible stuff (plants, seeds and what not).

Hunting is an ancient art, and in a survival situation, you should learn how to hunt without a firearm. Basically, you should know how make a bow and arrows, plus know how to use them. Target practice and other exercises can help you develop your skills and also help you find errors in your weapon designs. Besides bows and arrows, you can always hunt with a spear or by throwing rocks with a slingshot.

Video first seen on Discovery.

Along with hunting, you must learn the ancient art of laying traps, snares, bird traps, lures and baits, together with skinning /cleaning small game.

Before becoming hunters, or due to lack of wild game, ancient African tribes used to eat leaves, roots, fruits, wild grain. Basically, that’s the lesson to be learned from Africans: you can always live off the land, provided you know the edible plant species in the respective area.

You know that saying: give a man a fish and you’ll feed him for a day, teach a man how to fish and you’ll feed him for a lifetime?  The same principle applies to prepping: learn how to fish and how to DIY a fishing rod. In a SHTF scenario, it may save your life some day! Also, consider learning how to build a fish-trap if you can’t improvise a fishing rod.

Video first seen on Sigma 3 Survival School.

And if you can’t make a fire without matches/modern stuff, your chances of survival will be severely diminished. You must learn and practice several methods for making fire using natural resources, so you’ll be prepared for any eventuality. Additionally , learn how to build and sustain a camp-fire.

Staying Safe in the Wild

Africa is a place populated by dozens of species of wild animals, some of them carnivorous, hence knowing how to shelter themselves from various animals and stampedes of animals is an essential skill to learn for Africans. So, let’s see how Africans scare off elephants, and how that skill can be used on other animals.

Even if you have no weapons, you can always use several tricks to stay on the safe side. The most effective tricks include never storing food at your campsite, at least not exposed, keeping your voice down and always keeping a fire burning on the premises.

Let me show you an amazing clip with Maasai people stealing food from lions, that should teach you that even lions can be scared off easily.

Video first seen on Nat Geo Wild.

Africans also use the sound of drums for keeping wild-life away, so making loud noises may help when you have no other options. Generally speaking, wild animals will not attack you unless provoked or very hungry.

Not Getting Lost in the Wild

Now, let me share with you another cool trick to learn from Africans : the basics of navigating via the stars and the moon.

Video first seen on AlfieAesthetics.

It may sound obvious, but the Sun rises in the East and sets in the West, while the North Star is better than any compass when it comes to determining true North. However, you can always use the floating pin on a leaf method for determining North, or when corroborated with other observations, vegetation growing on the north side of the trees (mosses and lichens sometimes grow better on the northern side).

Video first seen on bushcraft basics.

While in the wild, survival must be your top priority, but don’t forget to prepare a rescue signal and also be be ready to get out of the area ASAP

Fire is an excellent rescue-signal, along with a reflection mirror (if available) and/or colored rocks (in contrast with the ground) spelling HELP or SOS. The letters must be at least nine feet tall in order to be seen by pilots from the air.

Last but not least, when it comes to wilderness survival, always carry a good survival knife and/or an emergency kit, it’s better to have them and not needing them than vice-versa.

I think that about sums it up for today. If you have any other ideas or comments, feel free to comment in the dedicated section below.


This article has been written by Chris Black for Survivopedia.

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9 Ways To DIY A Chicken Feeder

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chicken feederEverybody loves chicken meat and eggs and many preppers have taken to chicken ownership, so we thought that some DIY projects for feeding chickens would be of interest to you.

These will be particularly useful if you’re a chicken owner looking for cheaper ways for feeding your, ahem, “livestock”, and who isn’t?

Chickens? Why?

For those of you who haven’t jumped on the chicken train, yet: Why raise chickens, you may ask? Well, home-grown chicken meat is healthy and it tastes good, and besides being a great source of food (eggs included), they’re fairly easy to raise and they’re also good fun (as in entertainment).

Are you sold yet? If not, keep reading!

Chickens can be grown in small, even portable, coops which are nicknamed chicken-tractors. These are excellent to use if you have a smaller backyard. Chickens are not picky when it comes to food, and they eat some of the stuff we eat regularly (bread, grains and stuff like that).

In the best of worlds, you should let them feed themselves, as in “free range chickens”, but in our modern day and age, that’s often difficult due to space restrictions or local laws. Many city ordinances don’t even allow chickens, let alone free-range ones. There’s also the safety of the chickens to be considered; if you live beside a person who has dogs or cats that run loose, your chickens are going to be considered dinner!

So, today’s article is about how to DIY chicken feeders. You may enjoy feeding them by hand, but this projects will free up some time in case you’re too busy to throw scratch every day.

Ask around and you’ll find out that chickens regularly spill the food in the feed dish or even poop in it, so go for a fresh and clean start with your chicken farm project by building a feeder which does not allow them to get inside the feeder and waste the food.

I know, chicken-chow is relatively cheap, but that doesn’t mean you must lose half of it to waste on a daily basis.

Are you ready? Let’s get it on, right after the break!

Project 1: PVC Chicken Feeder

PVC is almost a panacea for your homestead. I mean, if you can build entire underground watering systems from PVC piping, chicken feeders are child’s play! So, if you want to say goodbye to chicken feed waste and trampled grass, build your own chicken feeder using plain-old PVC piping.

The simplest design is a T-shaped system which can be easily built using 90 degree elbows along with PVC piping. The beauty of this chicken feeder is its simplicity and effectiveness. Also, this baby can be used for both feeding and watering your chickens, making it an absolutely must-have for your coop.

In terms of materials required, you’ll only have to go shopping for a 5′ long PVC pipe, a “T” joint, two 90-degree elbows, a cap and a jar of PVC cement. The idea is to cut off two 3” pieces from the PVC pipe which are required to join the “T” and elbows together.

The PVC cement must be applied in each one of the two holes of the “T” and, as quickly as possible, both of the 3” long pieces of PVC pipe must be firmly secured into the respective hole. I say quickly because PVC cement dries in a matter of seconds and it becomes rock-solid. Basically this is a two step process, repeated for each side hole of the “T”.

Next, the elbows must be dry-fitted onto the 3” pipe stubs. After you have them on, make a mark on the elbow pieces across to the joining parts of the “T” using a sharpie, to help you later when you’ll be gluing them together.

After you mark them, glue these parts together with PCV cement. The long pipe must be also glued in the top hole of the “T” piece and that’s about it; you’ve ended up with a T-shaped chicken feeder which can be placed basically anywhere and it can be used for watering your chickens too. For keeping it fixed firmly in place, you can use wire or something similar. Then, all you have to do is to fill the tube with whatever chicken feed you’re using, and place the cap on top.

This is how the two-sided gizmo looks in the end; the finished product and some complementary chickens, for your viewing pleasure:

Chicken Feeder 1

Photo source: Backyard Chicken Lady

And here’s a video tutorial depicting all the details for making a simple chicken feeder from PVC pipes.

Video first seen on Specific Love Creations

Actually, there are three different models along with the first T-shaped one, so go ahead, take your pick. There’s this next one:

Video first seen on Hobby Farms

And then these other really cool ideas:

Video first seen on Green Power Farm

Video first seen on Carolina Coops

Project 2: The Rodent-Proof Chicken Feeder

If you’re having a pest (read rats) infestation problem in your backyard where your chickens march gloriously enjoying the spring breeze, what are you going to do? You can’t just let the rats spread disease and eat you out of house and coop. Call pest control?

Well, that could work too, but the elegant, more permanent, chemical-free solution would be to build a rodent-proof chicken feeder. By rodent-proof, I mean the rats will be unable to get inside and grab a free meal on your dime whenever they want.

Enter the Chicken Feeder 9000; check out the video below and don’t worry because the door shuts in slow motion so that the chickens are safe and in a couple of days, even the oldest and stupidest hen will learn how to use it. And yes, it works folks. You can see the desperation in the little grey fellow’s misty eyes, can’t you?

Video first seen on East Bourne Diver

Here’s a video that will help you with the DIY job if you’re into trolling rodents!

Video first seen on TCSRock78

Project 3: The Wooden Chicken Feeder

This falls into the “high end” category of DIY chicken feeders and it requires excellent skills in terms of wood cutting and assembling. However, if you’re good with tools and wood, this project will fit you like a glove and your chickens will be happy. As you know, happy chickens give more eggs, so go for it.

In the photo source you can find detailed information about the respective job, including parts list, tools list and schematics. Materials required are screws, plywood, redwood plant stakes, veneer and miscellaneous materials (washers, sandpaper etc.). And here’s how the end-product should look in the end. Beautiful, isn’t it? On top of its astounding looks, this high-end feeder is bird/pest-resistant and, not counting the labor, it will cost you about 40 bucks tops.

Chicken Feeder Project 3

Photo source: Back Yard Chickens

Project 4: Zero Waste Chicken Feeder

Here comes a similar project, the zero waste chicken feeder, which also requires moderate carpenter skills, but don’t worry, here’s a video which will help you a lot with the DIY job. It looks easy and simple, right? What are you waiting for?

Video first seen on Stan Sullivan

Project 5: “The Best” Automatic Chicken Feeder

I don’t know if this one’s the best, as the ad says, but it certainly looks pretty good. The gizmo will provide your chickens with enough food to last 10 chickens for 2 weeks and it can be built for less than 40 bucks. It works very nicely and helps reduce food waste a lot. You can fill it with both pellets and crumbles and here are the detailed instructions.

Video first seen on Shawn Whetsel

Project 6: The Bucket Feeder

If you’re on a tight budget or just looking for the best deal in town, the bucket feeder is the answer to your prayers. This project will cost you 15 dollars tops and I think it’s the best idea that’s been created for a chicken-lover since immemorial times, or at least since plastic buckets were invented.

So, all that you’ll require for this bucket feeder/waterer (it works both ways, check that out) is a 5 gallon plastic bucket with a lid, an oil pan, washers, a nut, adhesive and some screws. I bet that most of you already have them around your homestead somewhere, right? So you may end up with 0 costs after all. Here are the detailed instructions.

Project 7: The Bulk Chicken Feeder

For this project you’ll require a drum, a flanged elbow and some basics tools, like a ruler, a pen, hacksaw or something similar for cutting the hole. Total building time? 10 minutes. Budget? 20 bucks. Satisfaction? Infinite!

Here’s the video tutorial, so check it out.

Video first seen on Rob Bob’s Backyard Farming

Project 8: The Three Bag Easy Automatic Chicken Feeder

Almost last but definitely not least, ladies and gents, I present you with the 3 Bag Easy Deluxe! This project requires a thirty gallon trash can (go for the least expensive one), six 3” pipe elbows and six 3” pipe end caps. The end result will be an automatic chicken (and duck) feeder which is fairly easy to make and works like a charm.

And here’s the video tutorial, folks. Life is great with chickens, isn’t it?

Video first seen on J&J Acres

Project 9: The Absolutely Free Gravity-Operated Chicken Feeder

The best things in life are free, including gravity operated chicken feeders. This project is at an 8-year old level of skill, it requires $0 and it can be built in 10 minutes or less. All you need is a PVC bucket, some thick wire, a knife and a few spare minutes to build it, so check out the tutorial.

Video first seen on Anže Rogelja

I hope this article helped and if you have suggestions, comments or other ideas about feeders, feel free to express yourself in the dedicated section below.


This article has been written by Chris Black for Survivopedia.

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Survival Skills To Learn From The Sailors

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Sailor skillsPrepping for a major disaster is almost like preparing to embark on a great adventure. While stories like Treasure Island and Captain Blood were filled with resourceful men able to brave any situation, there are also other stories where the characters were less prepared.

No matter whether you still remember how the boys managed in Lord of the Flies, or how Alec Ramsey kept himself and the Black Stallion alive on an uncharted island, but all these stories point to ways that people at sea stay alive in extreme situations. 

If you think about it now as then, sailors are still very much like astronauts. They must navigate both known and unknown waters for months or years on end. They must stay alive, while facing all kinds of dangers from nature as well as other people with hostile intentions.

Obviously, in order to achieve that, sailors developed all sorts of survival skills, and I bet we can learn a thing or two from their experiences. Survival at sea depends upon a few factors, which include:

  • Your capabilities/knowledge of using the equipment at hand.
  • Which items are most important to store away for future use and how to use them.
  • Your skills/stamina.
  • The ability to deal with the dangers you’re facing.
  • How to deal with common problems that may suddenly arise in a crisis situation. As an example, scurvy was one of the most common problems faced by sailors until they learned how to use citrus fruit to provide enough vitamin C. This kind of problem solving is something that cannot be taught, however, you will need to learn how to ask the right questions, who to ask, and how to apply the answers in a SHTF scenario.
  • And, last but not least, your will to live (essentially the prepper’s state of mind).
  • Also, you must never forget the holy trinity: food, water and shelter. Sailors developed their own methods for meeting these needs, and learning about these methods may just save your life.

So, what can we learn from sailors in terms of survival? Well, the first thing to contemplate in any survival situation is finding water. It may sound strange, but thousands of sailors  died and got sick while at sea because salt water is not potable and they did not have enough fresh water to drink.

If you’re dehydrating and you drink salt water, you’ll die quickly from kidney failure. While we do have water desalination methods available today, they require enormous amounts of energy and may not produce enough potable water for your needs. Since the human body can’t live for more than 3-4 days without water, sailors developed alternative sources for staying hydrated.

One of the most common sources of water for sailors was their own urine. It may sound gross, but I’ve heard lots of stories not only from sailors (books mostly), but also from soldiers in World War 2 (the desert battles in Africa) or in the French Foreign Legion (the guys with the March or Die! motto, as tough as they come).

Drinking your own urine is a last resort measure for replenishing your bodily fluids and it can be quite dangerous because of the salts inside it. In order to make urine a bit safer if you are on land, simply pour the urine into a hole in the ground.

Next, place a container in the hole and put clear plastic over the hole. Hold the edges down with rocks. Add an additional rock in the center of the plastic. As the sun overhead heats up the ground, the water from the urine will evaporate, collect on the plastic covering the hole, and then drip back down into the container. Just remember that this method will also remove salts and minerals that you will have to replenish in some other way.

Another strategy used by sailors was to collect rain water. So, if it rains and you’re out of potable water, all you have to do is to collect it and funnel it inside a container. If you are going to store rain water away for future use, make sure that you know how to avoid problems created by stagnation. However rain water these days can also have all kinds of acids and other chemical toxins so it may not be safe to drink without purifying it first!

For purifying water, sailors usually mixed rum and silver coins into the water, as both act as a disinfectant. Sailors from past times did not have to worry about chemical pollution or heavy metals in the water. Modern survivalists must account for these problems when considering optimal ways to get clean and safe water to drink.

While at sea, fish are great not only as a food source, but also for alleviating thirst. The largest source of liquids in a fish  are located in their spine, their eyes and their flesh. To quench your thirst, you can cut open a fish, break its back and suck on it.

Now, let’s see about catching food. We know that sailors were confined on their boats for months or years in a row, so food could also be a serious problem without the capacity to improvise. Here are some common and plentiful foods that sailors took from the ocean:

  • Fish and plankton
  • Seaweed and kelp
  • Crabs and other edible sea creatures

If you have no fishing gear on hand, you can improvise with something as simple as a shoe lace and some shiny metal from a tin can as a hook. Sailors were also experts at fashioning slip nets and other traps from small weights, rope, and other items they had on hand.

We probably owe to sailors the ancient skill of preserving food for long time storage. How did they do it? Well, generally speaking, sailors consumed heavily salted meats/fish (sardines, pork, beef) during their long journeys, along with dried fruits and legumes. They also were to first to can fruits for long term storage. Basically, salted and/or dried goods can last almost indefinitely if stored properly.  That’s the lesson from sailors to be learned for preserving foods for a long time in a survival situation.

Grains and fruits can be dried in the sun/air before storing them in a cool and dry place. Meat can also be preserved for long periods of time through drying; but first it must be cut into thin strips and salted. Salt is excellent at preserving meats and vegetables, as it kills bacteria and dries moisture. Salt can be used together with smoking, drying, and other methods for long term food preservation.

Now, with food-preserving taken care of, let’s see about “shelter”. How were sailors able to survive for days or weeks (even months) when they were thrown overboard or the ship capsized?

From sailor’s experience, when stranded in the open sea, signaling is better than trying to paddle toward the rescue ship on the horizon. Remember that trick in any survival situation: try to signal your presence to rescuers from the distance, using smoke, fire, letters written on the ground/in the snow, as opposed to trying to go to them.

In a hot climate, it’s better to travel at night and sleep during the day. You should also try to  keep traveling in the same direction until you reach civilization! The North Star shows you geographical North, and was commonly used by sailors for navigation. Star navigation can be used on land or at sea provided you know how to do it accurately.

Have you ever heard of the sailor’s knot? Knowing how to tie a knot that doesn’t slip when wet, is fairly easy to tie and untie and will not jam is very important. Even though sailors fashioned all kinds of knots, the Sailor’s Knot, aka the Carrick Bend or the Anchor Bend is one of the most important and useful ones for survival.

Here’s a video you can use to learn all about sailing/boating knots.

Video first seen on Purple Shirts

Another survival-related thing to learn from ancient sailors is to always carry a good knife wherever you go. In any survival situation, carrying a good quality knife can make the difference between life and death. Knives can be used for a lot of things including self defense, hunting game, preparing food, digging, cutting wood etc.

Sailors also used to carry a specially designed knife that was used for cutting knots, cutting lines, untying knots and any number of day-to-day jobs aboard the ship. Also, the knife was used for preparing food or as a universal kitchen utensil.

That about sums it up. If you enjoyed the article and you have other ideas/comments, feel free to place your comment and share your experience. But before that, click on the image below and learn 3 other pioneer survival lessons that you should know!


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Survival Skills To Learn From Eskimo People

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Eskimo SkillsToday, changing weather patterns mean that more people will need to learn how to survive in extreme temperatures. The Eskimos have been doing this for centuries using very simple technologies and methods.

We can learn a lot from them and incorporate these methods into our survival plans. Even if winter appears to be on the waning side right now, it can still come back with a vengeance, and will ultimately return in just a few months.

To understand what Eskimos are confronted with every day, consider that winter temperatures in the Arctic can easily drop below -58 Fahrenheit. During the summer, the average temperatures are anywhere between 14 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

The lesson to be learned from these factoids is that human beings are very resilient and ingenious. Regardless of the environment, survival is possible, provided you pay attention to what’s going on around you and you keep an open mind.

Now, let’s take a look at the fine details, i.e. the fine art of survival in the wilderness at sub-zero temperatures all year long.

The Man versus Nature? No, the Man AND the Nature

Eskimo people managed to survive in the Arctic due to their profound understanding of their habitat, and by that I refer to the specific “nuances” which exist in this extreme environment. Survival in these places is totally dependent upon the relationship/symbiosis between the Eskimo people and the local fauna that they use for food and clothing.

For example, by understanding the behaviors and winter modes of the caribou, hunting them becomes fairly easy while they are migrating South. This one animal provides them with enough meat and fat to survive through the harsh winter ahead. Also, the local fishermen know precisely where and how to cut a hole in the ice for catching the fish.

Centuries ago, Eskimo hunters acquired the skills necessary for identifying the places where seals get to the surface to breathe (they’re called breathing holes) by observing and learning from their behavior. The same story goes for moose and rabbits which are abundant in the subarctic forests. These animals leave very obvious tracks in the snow that make it easy for the Eskimo people to locate them and hunt them down.

Remember that survival in the Arctic still abides to the universal rules of survival: everything can be summarized by water, food and shelter. If you manage to acquire these, you’ll be fine.

The first thing to keep in mind when it comes to wilderness survival, especially in subzero temperatures, is water. The idea is to stay well hydrated at all times. This will be more challenging in freezing weather because your body will actually give off more water as it tries to generate more heat. If you’re hydrated properly, you’ll also stay warm, which will help you stave off frostbite. The easiest way to get potable water in the winter is to melt snow or ice in a receptacle over a fire.

Remember that ice is better than snow for generating larger amounts of drinking water. If you can’t make a fire, you can use a plastic bag filled with snow, and then melt the snow with body heat.

Since I’ve mentioned clothing, remember that proper clothing is essential when venturing out in the wild in Arctic conditions. The biggest enemy in such cases is wet clothing (if you get wet, you’ll have to make a fire ASAP and dry your clothes). Wearing a head cover at all times, even when you’re sleeping is also very important because 10% of heat is lost through your head. Keeping your body parts well covered with dry, well insulated garments is crucial for preventing frostbite and heat loss.

Hypothermia is a life threatening condition that can occur very quickly and render you unconscious before you can get warmed up again.

Eskimo people use bear or caribou skin to keep warm, especially when out hunting. Caribou fur is an excellent insulator because the hair collected from animals during autumn is very dense. Caribou hair also has hollow hair follicles that create a cushion of air, which act as a thermal insulator. You can also do some research on synthetic fabrics that are easier and cheaper to obtain than Caribou in your local area.

The second lesson to be learned from Eskimo people is from their diet, which consists of foods high in fat, protein, and calories. When exposed to the cold, you’ll need up to 5000 calories a day in order to produce enough body heat to stay warm and healthy.

As you probably noticed for yourself, when you’re outside and the wind blows, it “steals” the heat from your body. It is very important to protect yourself from the wind as much as possible. Wind is a real killer as it chills and dries exposed skin very quickly, leading to frostbite and health issues.

For example, at -20 Fahrenheit, a thirty miles per hour wind (which is common in Arctic regions) will actually freeze exposed skin in less than five minutes. For surviving such harsh climates, you’ll need a windproof layer of clothing (an outside layer) and, very importantly, a fur ruff or something similar for protecting your face. Eskimo people always turn their backs against the wind and also use their sleds for shelter whenever is possible.

Do your best to keep your body protected from the cold by using layers of clothing (the thicker the insulation the better). The more air you manage to trap between the clothes, the warmer you will stay. Here are some other ways Eskimos get the most from clothing layers:

  • Avoid any gaps in insulation air seals, which may let the heat to escape. For example, the open space between your pants and your coat can drain heat very quickly.
  • Always use foam pads and thick boots to help keep your feet warm.
  • Avoid kneeling or sitting on cold surfaces, as you may also lose a lot of body heat that way.
  • If your core body temperature drops, remember that you must pay extra attention to your extremities because they will become frost bitten first.
  • When in trouble, your body will try automatically to restrict the blood flow to the extremities in order to maintain the core temp. It’s a sort of a sacrifice move, as the body tries to protect its vital organs, for keeping you alive.

This is why frostbite mainly affects your legs and hands. This is also why you must take decisive action (to re-warm them) as soon as you feel them getting numb. Do not forget that you will lose body heat 240 times more quickly if you’re immersed in water than if you’re dry .


If your insulation becomes wet from perspiration, or water/snow gets inside of your clothes and melts, you’re in trouble, as the insulators will lose most of its capability of keeping you warm. If you start sweating, try to adjust your “layers” so that dryer ones are closer to you. If you get covered in snow, get rid of it before it starts melting!

Always travel with a GPS/Map/Compass, know your topography and don’t get lost. If at all possible, try to learn more about Eskimo star and sun navigation so that you can use these methods if devices that you are accustomed to fail. Bring enough gear and food when you travel on the land in Arctic conditions and if weather deteriorates, try to dig yourself a shelter in the snow and wait for the weather to clear.

Always travel with caution and avoid weak ice. If you fall through the ice and get wet, swim out ASAP and roll around in the snow because snow absorbs water very efficiently. Next, build a fire and dry your clothes(or change into dry ones, if available). It’s very dangerous to travel alone in the Arctic, so try to avoid it unless you have a party of experienced people to go along with you.

Also, before heading out in cold temps, always practice with all your gear, even when it comes to apparently insignificant tasks (such as tying a knot or putting on your skis). If you get in trouble, dealing with unfamiliar gear or discovering that you’re missing something significant, could lead to a life threatening situation in no time.

Be thorough at all times and put together an easy to carry survival kit, which must contain a good knife, a first aid kit, a flashlight, a shovel, a sleeping bag, water-proof matches, signaling flares/mirror, nutrient-dense foods, zippered plastic bags, a fishing kit, paracord and a compass.

That about sums it up. If you enjoyed the article and you have other ideas/comments, feel free to express yourself in the dedicated section below.


This article has been written by Chris Black for Survivopedia.

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How To Make Durable 3-Ingredient ‘Survival Cement’

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How To Make Durable 3-Ingredient ‘Survival Cement’

Image source: YouTube

Survival cement has been used for thousands of years, and it’s still in use on a daily basis in some undeveloped parts of the world.

But let’s begin with the basics: What is “survival cement”? The simple answer is a mixture of mud and grasses. Also known as cob and clom (in Wales), this is the stuff dream homes used to be made of, back in the day.

People used survival cement for a variety of projects, ranging from building shelters to ovens, food caches and kilns. The only limit in cob’s uses is one’s imagination, and during a survival situation, knowing how to make it could help you stay alive.

The general idea is that if built nice and proper, a cob-made house easily will outlive you.

What you will need for making cement is very basic: mud, water and dry grass/straw. The process of making cob is very simple, requiring a minimal set of skills and labor. A tarp is beneficial.

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To make high-quality survival cement, you should take care of a few things first. If you’re going to use the cob as a mortar, then make sure that the mixture is wetter and thinner so it will easily fill the joints/crevasses between bricks.

Depending on the type of structure you’re building, you should cut the grass to match the length of the item you want to manufacture, i.e. for large structures like kilns, you can let the grass grow as long as you want, and it will act like a type of reinforcing bar. The idea is that if you require tougher survival cement, then place the grasses parallel to each other, thus creating a heavy-duty building material. If you want to make a mixture for bricks, then you can use shorter grass.

Don’t let the mixture dry out if you run out of grass and you have to make an additional “gathering” trip. Cover it as best as you can.

Finally, if you have to add water to your mixture, add a little bit at a time, because it’s a hard job to rejuvenate a soupy/unusable mud mixture.

The First Step to Making Survival Cement

The most important ingredient in making cob is the mud, which should be as good as it gets. High quality mud for survival cement contains lots of clay. It’s easy to determine if you have enough clay: If you make a ball from the respective mud and it retains its shape, you’ve got the right stuff.

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Next, you must go hunt for dry grasses or straw, in a sufficient amount for your project, and cut them into various lengths.

Provided you have access to a water source, it’s time to add some water into the mix. Hydrate your clay to the optimal density for making bricks. That means you must be able to squish the clay through your fingers, yet it should maintain its shape when you mold it. Take care not to make your clay too watery or too dry. Find the right balance depending on your project. For bricks or other similar structures, you may use a firmer mixture; for mortar, you must use a thinner one.

Now, it’s time to mix the grasses/straw with the clay, and the easiest way to achieve that is to put them together and mix them on a tarp on the ground. Take a look at this video, which also uses sand:

Making cob and building stuff outdoors can be very entertaining — and you can even co-opt your kids. Mixing playful activities while learning vital survival skills is a winner in my book.

Start with making some test-bricks, since the “correct” recipe for cob is very flexible; see what suits you best, because there are lots of variations which all work pretty well. The only thing to remember is not to add too much straw, or your survival cement will fall apart. The more clay in the mix, the more straw you may add, but you must test it yourself and see how it feels.

You do realize that bricks are the building blocks for the pyramids, right? The sky and your imagination are the limit.

What advice would you add? Share it in the section below:

Learn How To ‘Live Off The Land’ With Just Your Gun. Read More Here.

5 Ancient European Recipes For Your Survival Kitchen

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PalinkaFood and survival are symbiotic things, I mean, you can’t think about surviving without food, water and shelter, right? And, when confronted with a survival situation when SHTF, what’s the best thing you can do?

If you ask me, the answer is pretty straight forward: you don’t have to re-invent the wheel, just look back into our history. How did people used to make ends meet, thousands of years before internet, electricity and internal combustion engines? It seems pretty improbable nowadays, right, even amazing?

Well, that’s just because we got used to our modern, care-free, high-tech life, when everything is just a click or a phone call away.

But keep in mind one thing folks: back in the day, survival was not a punch-line, it was a way of life. So, just by studying how our ancestors used to live (and eat, but back to that in a moment) would be awesome, prepping-wise.

In today’s article, I will try to increase your knowledge base with a few ancient European food recipes for your survival kitchen.

Remember what that ancient guy used to say? You don’t live to eat, but you eat to live? I don’t fully agree with Hippocrates on that issue, because I love to eat, and also I allow my food to be my medicine and my medicine be my food (that’s another paraphrase of Hippocrates).

The best thing about old-school food recipes is that they’re fairly easy to DIY, they require a minimum amount of skills and raw materials, they’re as healthy as they come (everything’s natural and raw, without chemicals, additives and stuff like that) and they’re dirt cheap to manufacture. Oh, and I almost forgot: they’re very tasty!

Also, being capable of cooking nutritious foods from scratch would come pretty handy in a survival situation, and more! I mean, these things are awesome, I eat (some of) them on a daily basis, so stick with me folks, because something good’s coming’ on right after the break!

Braga – the Beverage of Sultans

Let me begin with a tasteful and healthy homemade beverage, called bragă. I can bet you’ve never heard of that stuff before, and I’d be like 99% right. However, braga used to be very popular back in the day, especially in Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, Serbia, Macedonia, Herzegovina and Bosnia, not to mention Turkey and Albania, where it’s still very trendy and it is known az boza or bosa.

Braga is produced by the fermentation of cereal flour, being a malt-based refreshing drink and it can be manufactured from fermented maize, wheat or millet. Being a product of fermentation, it also contains something like 1% alcohol, which is negligible, unless you drink tons of it.

There are mentions of braga and its manufacturing process dating way back to the 8th millennia before Christ, in the ancient Mesopotamian and Anatolian kingdoms. Since then, it became hugely popular in the Ottoman empire, where it was served with cinnamon and roasted chickpeas, and even laced with opium and what not.

The general idea is that braga is a very tasty and healthy beverage, which can be easily made at home using basic ingredients. This beverage has a thick consistency, a sweet flavor and it’s slightly acidic.

Speaking about health issues, according to research performed by a Turkish Science and Technology institute, a liter of braga will provide you with one thousand calories (that means energy, which comes handy in survival situations), vitamins A, B and E, along with lactic acid (this helps with digestion).

Basically, you should drink braga every day, for your health’s sake; it’s all natural and very tasty, and it’s also a pro-biotic drink.

Turkish braga

So, how is it made? Braga, the beverage of Sultans, requires the following ingredients (this is the easiest way and the cheapest, nota bene):

For the yeast:

  • 1-2 tablespoons slightly roasted flour
  • 1 cup tepid water
  • 1 spoonful sugar
  • For the braga:
  • 5 l water
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup home-made ferment (yeast)

The yeast must be prepared one or two days in advance. The process is very simple, all you have to do is to mix the ingredients and leave them to ferment in a bowl  for a couple of days at room temperature.

For the braga itself, you’ll have to bake the flour in a dry pan until it changes its color to rosy, then you’ll have to let it cool in a big pot. Then, poor the 5 liters of water over the brown stuff and mix it really well, without making lumps. Then you must add the sugar and boil the mix for 8 minutes, mixing it properly all the time. Let it cool, then add the pre-made yeast, and let the stuff ferment for 2-3 days, then store it in the fridge.

Voila, you’ve made  yourself 5 liters of braga! You can flavor it with anything you like (cinnamon for example), and you may add sugar or whatever to suit your taste.

Borş – the Unknown Hang-Over Remedy

borsThe next ancient European recipe for your survival kitchen is called borş and it’s very similar to braga in terms of preparation and benefits. Borş can be described as a sour-fermented juice traditionally used in Romania in soups, and it’s made by fermenting wheat bran.

Also, hard-core Romanians sometimes drink it raw, as a hang-over remedy. Borş is full of probiotics, just like braga, and also contains the B vitamin complex, which makes it very healthy.

The main ingredient in borş is wheat bran or corn meal. To make borş, you’ll first need to make the starter, for which you’ll require a sterilized jar, water at room temperature and organic wheat bran, so it doesn’t contain preservatives.

Place the wheat bran in the jar, about 1/20 of the jar’s volume, and then fill the jar with water (pure, sterilized, de-chlorinated), at a temperature between 106 and 118 F, and let it ferment for a couple of days in a cool room, at approximately 60 F.

After 2-3 days, you should check the magic juice, and if it doesn’t smell at all, then all the bacteria is dead and you have to make another batch. If it stinks too much, it means it’s contaminated with bad/wild bacteria, and again, you must prepare another batch.

What you’re looking for is a faint, somewhat unpleasant scent, similar to how lacto-fermented pickles smell like, or B vitamins. The liquid itself is sour and if you leave it there for a couple more days, it will become even sourer (that’s actually the borş).

What’s now at the bottom of the jar is your starter. To preserve the stuff, you can mix it with wheat flour and corn meal, in equal quantities and make patties, then let them dry in a cool room (for later use). The patties are best stored in the fridge or in the freezer for long-term.

Now, with the starter taken care of, borş can be made as it follows: you’ll need 1 lb. of wheat bran, 1/2 lb of corn meal and a cup of the aforementioned starter. The ingredients will be mixed with pure/de-chlorinated water in a 1.5 gallon mason jar and the jar must be kept in a dry, cool room at 60 degrees F. The stuff will ferment in a couple of days and if you allow it an extra day, it will become even sourer. Don’t let it to ferment for more than three days, or it will spoil.

Once you’ve acquired the desired taste for your borş, strain it and pour it in bottles in the fridge for later use. You may add lovage in your borş for health reasons, making it even more beneficial.


Next on the list is pastrami, yet another ancient European recipe for your survival kitchen, delicious and nutritious, yet fairly easy to DIY. Just like corned beef, pastrami was invented as a survival food, for long-term storage in the absence of modern-day refrigeration methods.

What is pastrami? Well, a good old meat product, made from beef, mutton, pork or even turkey. The raw meat is the main ingredient, partially dried and seasoned with spices and herbs, marinated, and afterwards smoked and steamed.pastrami

How to make pastrami: brine is made by boiling one gallon of water into a big pot, then adding juniper berries (5), garlic (6 cloves, smashed/peeled) , salt (3/4 cup), bay leaves (3 broken into pieces), brown sugar (1/2 cup), curing salt (3/4 cup),  mustard seeds (1 tbsp.), and peppercorns (1 tbsp) if you like it spicy. Let it cool down and then put the meat inside (beef brisket for example, flat, trimmed to 1/4 inch), and refrigerate it for three days.

For the rub, combine coriander seeds (3 tbsp.), cinnamon (1 tsp), bay leaves (2) and black pepper (3 tbsp) in a spice grinder, then pulse until coarsely ground. After that add some sweet paprika (2 tbsp.), ground clove (1/2 tbsp.), and brown sugar.

The meat must be removed from the brine and rinsed in cold running water, then you must pat it dry using paper towels; now it’s time to put the aforementioned rub on the brisket, cover it with plastic wrap and let it sit into the refrigerator for one day.

The next step is to smoke the beef brisket for 3 to 4 hours on a charcoal/gas grill over low heat (200 F to 275 F) or use a dedicated smoker. The pastrami should be smoked/cooked until the internal temperature of the meat reaches 175 degrees F, then allow it to cool off at room temperature.


Pastrami is excellent when served with mujdei, the next European recipe for your survival kitchen. Mujdei is basically a garlic sauce and it’s used to flavor meat and fish dishes. Garlic is an excellent health-booster, a natural antibiotic, and is filled with vitamins and minerals.

How to make mujdei? Well, it’s fairly easy: you’ll need 3.5 ounces of garlic, salt and 5 ounces of sparkling water. You must grind the garlic and mix it with a punch of salt, add the water and stir it until it becomes a fine sauce.

You can add a little bit of pepper into the mix or use olive oil instead of sparkling water. Another recipe uses garlic, punch of salt, pepper and 150 ml of tomato juice instead of water/olive oil. Also, you may use cream or yogurt instead of tomato juice. It all depends on what you like more; go experiment a little bit.



Let’s End the Meal with a Shot

After a tasty meal, nothing is better than a shot of palinka (also known as palinca). Palinca is a traditional Eastern European alcoholic beverage: it’s a fruit brandy invented way back in the Middle Ages, and is usually made from plums, apples, cherries, pears or apricots.

For making palinka, you must double-distillate the fermented plum/apple/whatever juice, which results in a vigorous alcohol content of 40 to 70 percent ABV. Keep in mind that in certain US states, moon-shine (which this qualifies as) is strictly prohibited.

However, the basics for DIY-ing palinka are as it follows: first, you must prepare the fruit mash by removing the stony seed (if any) and sometimes you’ll need to grind the fruits to make the mash softer. The next step is fermentation of the mash, in an anaerobic environment using stainless steel or wooden containers. With the ideal temperature being 57-61 F, the fermentation process takes anywhere between ten days and two weeks.

The 3rd step is the distillation process, using a pot still or a column still.

Traditionally, Palinka is made using a pot still no bigger than 1,000 liters. Also, Palinka is always double distilled.

The last step is aging the Palinka in wooden barrels or stainless steel tanks, depending on the type of Palinka (some varieties can’t be aged in wooden barrels, as the wood cancels the fruity taste of the beverage). Here’s a DIY guide for a home-made distillation gizmo.

Video first seen on Fenyutas

Also, you can always buy palinka, if moonshine is not your cup of tea, but you’ll require strong connections in Hungary or Romania, the places which produce the best palinka in the world!

I hope the article helped. If you have other ideas or if you tried any of these recipes and want to share your experience, feel free to express yourself using the dedicated section! Or click on the banner below to get more about the ancient ways of survival that we should learn and start using!


This article has been written by Chris Black for Survivopedia.

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Do You Know How To Use Snow For Insulation?

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Snow insulationIt’s that time of year again – snow season. If you live in a nice, new home you may already have decent insulation that keeps your heat in and your heating bill as low as possible.

But if you don’t, you’re probably dreading those drafts. You probably try to block the drafts, or maybe you even block off entire rooms trying to keep the house warm, but how about using snow for insulation?

If you’re an avid reader of Consumer Reports, the bad news is that heating costs will sky-rocket this winter. Yes, you heard that right. Again.

In the scary side of the news, scientists now believe that we’re going to enter a mini-Ice Age, a few years ahead, due to Sun’s slowing activity. Indeed, goodbye Global Warming, hello Ice Age.

According to the Energy Information Administration, the average American household spends approximately $930 every winter on heating costs alone, and we’re talking about homes heating primarily with electricity. The figure is higher for people using propane ($1417) and lower for natural gas ($578).

Anyway, you must keep in mind that these figures are sourced for this winter’s forecast, which is expected to be very mild, milder than in the previous years. Mild or not, I bet it’s going to be very cold, especially if you’re not living in Florida.

Fortunately, there are things that can be done to mitigate the cold winter months ahead, so keep reading. I mean, regardless of the NOA predictions or what the Farmer’s Almanac says, if you can cut on your heating bill won’t hurt you, right?

A Few Survival Models to Copy

Now, if you’re the outdoors type, you probably noticed that wild animals and even stray dogs sometimes bury themselves in the snow when it’s freezing, and there’s a good reason for that.

Basically, they dig a hole in the snow and they manage to survive in that fashion even in -20 F temperatures. There are even species of animals that dig snow-burrows, where they hibernate for months, during the winter season. This obviously means that snow makes for an excellent insulator.

Also, you may be familiar with the concept of igloos. You know, those “houses” made of snow, or snow huts Inuit people are often associated with. Besides igloos, Inuit people used snow on a daily basis to insulate their whalebone/hide-made shelters. What makes snow such a good insulator?

Well, the answer is pretty straight forward: the air pockets which are trapped in the snow make it an outstanding insulator.

Why Is the Snow Working for Insulation?

To get an idea, even if the outside temperatures are as low as 19 degrees Fahrenheit, in a snow hut you can achieve 61 degrees Fahrenheit using body heat alone, provided we’re talking about a burrow, not a palace; i.e. a small fox-hole, large enough to fit you, so it can be heated sufficiently by body temperature alone.

The best snow in terms of insulation is fresh snow, because it contains a high percentage of air caught between the ice crystals. Fresh snow is basically all air, up to 95%, and that’s why it’s so light. Since the air is firmly trapped inside and it cannot move freely, the heat transfer is significantly reduced.

So, using snow for insulating your home doesn’t seem so farfetched now, does it?

That brings us to the next factoid: did you know that 10 inches of fresh snow, which is basically five to seven percent water, is the equivalent of a 6 inch layer of fiberglass insulation? That makes for an R-value of 18 (I told you about R-values in a previous article, check that out folks).

All these facts make snow the greenest insulator of them all (it’s natural, right?) and the cheapest too, because it’s like, you know, free?

Snow’s thermal conductivity, which is the scientific term that describes that R-value thing, can be described mathematically and it works in tandem with the snow density. The denser the snow, the greater thermal conductivity. So, if you want to use snow for insulation purposes, the best snow is the fresh driven/super-light-fluffy snow, as heat moves through it relatively slowly.

Also, using snow for insulating your house spells fun, especially for your kids, making it for a great DIY project.

So, you can save some of your hard earned dollars while having a good time with your family if you do it the Pioneer way, just like our founding fathers!

Just think about the concept for a minute, isn’t it beautiful folks? It makes you wonder about the old times, when people knew squat about central heating (okay, maybe excepting the Romans) and yet they managed to survive.

Yes, I know they had wood stoves and stuff like that, yet they didn’t even dream about our high-tech fiber-glass insulation. Or did they? Actually, we’ve already shown that at least some of them did. The bottom line is that when people HAVE to make due, they tend to be quite creative.

Enter snow, the all green-all natural insulator used back in the day by the common folk for insulation purposes.

How did they do it? Well, those living on farms used to drive six foot posts into the ground about 3 feet from the sides of the house, right before winter set in. After that, they used to pile straw between the house walls and the respective posts. After the first big snow, they packed the snow over the straw, creating something resembling a wall of ice.

That insulating wall stayed there until the spring, when it melted away. This ingenious yet primitive makeshift insulation really performed miracles, by keeping the winter cold out and the heat inside the house.

Sounds like a great idea, right?

Video first seen on Wilderness Innovation

How to Make It Work

Now, imagine a blackout in the aftermath of a snow storm. No central heat or electric to power space heaters, and it’s going to get cold fast! You have to move the snow anyway, to clear your driveway  and the sidewalks, so while you’re at it, why not put some elbow grease into the mix and pile a layer of snow (one – one and a half foot thick) up against your house?

It will help you a lot with insulation, just by shoveling it from the roof and the steps of your house. You’re killing two birds with one stone, right? The only thing to keep in mind is when spring comes around, you’ll have to shovel the snow away.

Another idea for putting the wintery blanket to good use would be to let it sit on your roof, depending on how solid the roof is built. If it’s built properly, a layer of snow will provide you with additional insulation, for free, but in case of heavy snow-fall, make sure you don’t allow more than two feet of snow to accumulate there.

Too much snow on your roof may translate into leaks, it may damage your roof when it slides off, or it may even collapse the roof, and that, obviously, would be pretty terrible.

Snow accumulating in decent amounts on your roof, without melting in certain unusual spots, is a testimony that your attic is doing its job, meaning there’s no heat loss through the roof, due to poor insulation.

A properly insulated home doesn’t show bare patches of melted snow on the roof. Hence, beside its insulation advantages, snow will act as an early warning system.

If you own a log cabin, you can use snow for banking, to keep it warm during the winter season. Usually, log cabins tend to leak air; hence the heat escapes during the cold season. To mitigate this problem, they are chinked with mud. Sooner or later though, especially when it gets very cold, the mud falls out, leaving cracks between the respective logs.

After the first snow, you can use the snow to bank the cabin walls again. Do it every time you can, until you pile up mounds of snow against the cabin’s walls, creating your own personal igloo on top of your log-cabin. In this way, you’ll be considerably warmer inside, and if you live in a cold area, any extra degree inside would be welcome, don’t you think?

All things equal, while snow makes for an excellent insulator, don’t bet on snow alone for shielding you from the cold. I mean, what are you going to do if faced with a low snow year?

If you have suggestions or comments, feel free to use the dedicated section below!


This article has been written by Chris Black for Survivopedia.

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Survival Projects to Study This Winter: DIY Outhouse

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big outhouse

Let’s begin today’s piece with the funniest statistic I’ve ever seen: 1.1 million Americans don’t have a toilet…

You can safely bet that I was thinking just what you were after reading this article: it’s our God given right as free Americans living on the land to own a toilet, even if it’s just an outhouse!

Yes, I am aware of the fact that going to an outhouse to take care of business during the cold winter months, especially if you live in, let’s say…Alaska, doesn’t sound very appealing, but something is still much better than nothing, right?

A DIY outhouse is a cool project for any homesteader, especially with the winter coming. I mean, if you have 2-3-4 months with nothing much else to do than watching the start of World War 3 on TV, you better put your mind and (later on, in the spring) hands to work. After all, idle hands (and minds) are the devil’s playground.

With that in mind, today’s article will provide you with some food for thought, i.e. some ideas and plans for building your own outhouse, because every man deserves a throne, right?

The Principles You Need to Know

The general idea is that when nature calls, you must be prepared; everything revolves around this concept – preparedness.

Also, sanitation is very important. We’re not animals, and learning the principles of  DIY-ing an outhouse will make sure that you won’t have to squat like a dog over a dirty hole dug in the mud in the rain when SHTF (literally speaking).

So, here are the four DIY outhouse basic principles, as I am an expert in building latrines, ‘cause I was raised in Arkansas where outhouses are still in use even today. Tere we go.

1. The most important thing when building an outhouse is the legal foundation. In our day and age, everything must be regulated with laws made by the good people in the federal government or at local level, because we’re too dumb to know what is good for us. Basically, you should check with your local authorities (environmental officials or state health officials) to see if there are any laws and regulations to be followed unless you like to pay hefty fines or get arrested for breaking environmental laws, like warming the climate.

There are also local zoning and building codes and permits to take care of. I am very serious; some states and counties will require an impermeable concrete-made tank to be installed in your outhouse, to prevent the pollution of the countryside or water. That will make for building an outhouse a pretty expensive project, especially if you must transport the concrete-made tank to your desired location.

If you live in remote areas, not so densely populated and inhabited by sane folks, there may be no laws regarding this issue, but it would be wise to check it out before starting your DIY outhouse project. For example, in the state of Utah, outhouses or latrines are totally banned!

2. The next best thing is to do proper recon when choosing the best spot for your outhouse. Take a good look around your property and find a high ground for installing the latrine in such way that it sits as far as possible above the water table.

The best soil for building an outhouse is a well-drained sandy soil. If you build an outhouse on top of heavy clay soil, the human waste and liquids will not be able to seep efficiently into the ground. Also, the latrine must be located properly; not too close from your residence (the smell can be nasty and the well water can be compromised) but not too far either (think about a cold winter night, it’s 4 a.m. and 20 degrees F below zero, and you have a bad case of the runs hitting your guts). The location should also take into account easy access for septic service pump trucks, which regularly have only ~150-200 feet of hose.

3. Build a long-lasting, bomb-proof outhouse. By that, I mean you must build your manly throne house to last for generations so that your family, your children and your children’s children will be able to enjoy and benefit from the outhouse experience. To accomplish that, you must use 2 by fours for the above ground structure, about sixteen inches on center. The materials used in the outhouse must be of high quality, like the ones you’d require for building a garage or your house: weather-proof siding, thirty-year shingles, specially treated lumber, waste-splash impervious materials below the “seat” level (for when SHTF), stuff like that.

The outhouse must endure the worst, so the pit liner must be made from materials that don’t rot (such as chemically treated timber or concrete). Another idea would be to use a plastic or concrete (watertight) holding tank, which can be easily and perpetually filled/pumped, time and time again, without getting damaged.

To prevent foul smells and odor contamination, you must design the holding tank or the pit with proper ventilation and seal all the wood parts like a real pro! In most cases, the vent stack consists of a four-inch PVC pipe which runs all the way from the roof to the seat board.

4. Make your outhouse look cool, classy and attractive, like a palace of some sort. I mean, not everybody is as gun-ho about latrines as this writer is, so keep in mind that your visitors, hell, even your kids must go to the outhouse with smiles on their faces. Make your latrine look appealing, alluring, and as inviting as possible. Put windows in it to let the light in! Try to build it in a place with a nice view over your real estate, especially if you’re living in a beautiful countryside.

Obviously, for privacy reasons, you should put up curtains to screen the latrine’s inhabitants from the view of others, but you got the general idea. Make your latrine a place in which spending time is nice and inspiring. Think ergonomic, size it with comfort in mind, for both small and huge users, with enough elbow room and what not.

Also think about people with disabilities and about ways to keep it clean without tremendous effort. Make enough room for storing large quantities of toilet paper and sanitation products, along with “reading” materials. If you want to go the extra mile, add power to your outhouse by installing a solar panel on the roof which can be used for powering a light bulb or even a small heating device for those chilly winter nights.

Let’s DIY!

With the basics taken care of, let us concentrate upon the DIY part, shall we? A century old booklet claims that building an outhouse is an easy job, easily done by a fourteen year old boy of mediocre intelligence. However, back in the day, people used to DIY a lot, while nowadays we all take things for granted. In the worst case scenario, a plumber or a carpenter is a phone call away.

To begin with, the easiest way to build an outhouse is to first dig a big enough hole in the proper location, and afterwards to build the actual structure on top of it. That will require a good plan, time, skill, elbow grease and dedication, plus some money, depending on the complexity of the project. The cheapest way is to use recycled materials for the structure, such as iron shed for the roof and barn wood for the walls. To elevate the front area, you can use mud/dirt for the supra-structure and flat rocks for making steps.

The size of the “hole” must take into account the traffic, i.e. how many people will use the outhouse. You can use a composting toilet, instead of choosing to pump and dump your tank. This procedure is called DIYing a composting bucket toilet, and here’s a video tutorial exposing its “dirty secrets”.

Video first seen on relaxshacksDOTcom

Now, here’s another tutorial which depicts the “journey” of building an outhouse at your off-grid cabin, starting from scratch, with the sky being the limit (it all depends on your imagination and budget).

Video first seen on Redneck Homestead

Here’s a Canadian guy bragging about his DIY latrine project (just the privy/thunderbox without the actual structure) using only reclaimed materials. He describes everything in a few simple steps.

Video first seen on Wolfmaan

Next, here’s an idea about building an outhouse using a barrel as a collecting tank, with a cool bluegrass soundtrack.

Video first seen on Pastor B Coy

How to keep the stink away? Check this out!

Video first seen on Fouch-o-matic Off Grid

And, for the grand finale, here comes a video with the detailed/animated plans for the outhouse construction.

Video first seen on Frank Vanh Nguyen

Enough with the chit chat, just get to work folks! And if you have other ideas or comments regarding the DIY outhouse thing, feel free to comment in the dedicated section below.

Good luck, have fun! And share your experience using the comment form below!

newUSF1.1This article has been written by Chris Black for Survivopedia.


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5 New Products For Your Off-Grid Survival

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big products

Today’s article is aimed at boosting your chances of survival when living off-grid, and then some!

I mean, the ideas I will present to you today are perfectly applicable to your day-to-day life, but in the case of a SHTF event, they will dramatically increase your chances of survival and they’ll make your life more comfortable.

1. Foot Powered Washing Machine

As you can probably imagine, the first thing that will go down in a SHTF scenario will probably be the power grid. Without electricity, almost everything that we’re currently taking for granted will cease to function. You know – internet service along with most other conveniences, including your washing machine.

So, the first idea, actually the first product, that’s designed for increasing your survival chances (ok, maybe I’m exaggerating a little bit) is a foot powered washing machine.

By no means is this idea new. I mean, people washed their clothes without electricity for hundreds of years, and the first designs for “man-powered” washing machines date way back to the 18th century.

In the last couple of decades, the new high-tech washing machines have become fairly efficient in terms of water and energy use, but the best washing machine on the planet will be rendered useless if there’s no power available.

Also, even the most efficient and eco-friendly washing machine consumes electricity, and if you’re trying to go completely off the grid and don’t have an electrical system yet, then this is the green way for you to go.

Enter the new electricity-free washing machine, which is powered by you, the owner, via a specially designed food-pedal. This baby is excellent if you don’t want to hand-wash yet you need a mechanical and as-green-as-possible alternative.

The Drumi is the name of the gizmo and it has an almost zero environmental impact; also, it saves energy, time and money all at the same time, in just one product. The Drumi is very easy to operate: all you have to do is to fill it with water, add the detergent and the laundry, then pump on the pedal. You can wash up to 5 pounds of laundry at a time with the Drumi, making it suitable for college students or camping trips, but not so much for large families.

Also, this baby comes in very handy in case of power outages and for saving a few bucks on your utilities bill, because guess what: the Drumi uses eighty percent less detergent and water when compared to a traditional washing machine, not to mention zero electricity.

A load of laundry only requires about 3 gallons of water; one and a half for the washing cycle and another gallon and a half for the rinse. Another cool thing about this device: the total wash cycle only takes 6 minutes, and that’s practically no time at all when compared to regular washing machines.

Here’s a video presenting the Drumi locked and loaded, in full throttle; if you think that’s the machine you’re looking for, you can pre-order the foot powered washer for $129, but it will take a while to actually get it.

Video first seen on YiREGO YiREGO

2. Free Electric Hybrid Bike

Now, that I’ve presented you with the man-powered Drumi, let’s go a little bit farther with the human traction trend, with an even better idea. How about powering ALL of your home appliances for 24 hours while doing your regular one hour daily workout? How does this sound? Awesome, right?

People always complain about the electric bill and how they’re so busy, they never make it to the gym…well, this fantastic idea kills these two birds with one stone.  You have to admit that keeping yourself in shape while powering your homestead for the entire day, basically free of charge, is highly motivating! I totally love this idea, and the best thing is that you can talk your entire family into doing it!

Also, having free power available anytime and anywhere sounds outstanding for those who want to live off grid by choice and consent, not to mention the one billion-plus people all around the world who live without having access to electricity.

Now, that I’ve hopefully captured your attention, let me show you the Free Electric hybrid bike, the brain-child of Manoj Bhargva, the founder and inventor of this game-changing device.

Video first seen on Billions in Change.

When you pedal the bike, you also drive a flywheel which drives a generator that charges a battery; it’s that simple. The Free Electric hybrid is highly efficient; so efficient actually that just one hour of pedaling will provide enough electricity for a rural homestead to last for 24 hours.

Basically, this project uses human mechanical energy for mitigating one of the most pervasive problems of the world’s population: those who don’t have access to electricity in the 21st century. And obviously, the Free Electric project comes pretty handy for preppers who want to achieve off-grid sustainability.

Having electricity available at your fingertips, regardless of your location, means a lot in terms of additional benefits. With electricity also comes internet access, which translates into educational learning opportunities, as well as the obvious benefits of modern refrigeration, lighting and heating.

Exercising to GET that electricity is a great step toward remedying the obesity crisis in the developed world and your electric bill will go away, all by using clean energy… Just to give you an idea, over half of the world’s population, or almost 4 billion people, has limited access to electricity;  only 3-4 hours a day if they’re fortunate enough to have it at all.

This free energy project could change everything, starting with easy access to education/learning opportunities via Internet. Google works on a project to provide the whole world with free internet using blimps, so if there’s a way to get power, then internet would be available, too.

3. Mud Oven Charger

The next cool idea comes from M’Chenga-Malawi. Okay, again, this isn’t exactly living off-grid, but at least it would be a way to keep communications available as long as satellite structures weren’t disrupted. This one shows you how to charge your phone using nothing more than a mud-oven.

Sounds far-out? Well, check out the video below and see for yourself how it’s done in the Darkest Africa!

Video first seen on BBC News

4. Rom in Room Heat Conserving

Okay, let’s move on to the next idea.. If you’re living in harsh climates, I bet you’ve already faced the not-so-pleasant exercise of trying to cut down on your heating bill by turning the heat down during the night.

Say hello to Room in Room, a post-modern project for a post-modern world, inspired from the indoor tents from South Korea. This clever design reduces your heating bill significantly during the winter months by conserving your body heat while you’re sleeping using some sort of a bed-tent.

In this way, you can keep the overall room temperature down without suffering from thermal discomfort while sleeping. Basically, Room in Room is a floorless tent built over your bed; it’s as simple as that. The design is clever. In order to fit almost any type of mattresses design/size, and it’s made using a blend of cotton and high density polyester, namely Tetron Cotton.

According to the Room in Room’s creators, the temperature inside the tent is approximately 10 F warmer than the outside room and using it may save ~10% on your heating bill. Here’s the website and here are some user testimonials.

Video first seen on Soeun Park

5. One Pole Tree House

The next idea comes directly from Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings universe: a One Pole Tree House in the woods! Basically, this project makes possible a co-habitation between trees and people by designing homes which are shaped and function just like trees, co-existing with these organic eco-systems, without displacing them.

I don’t know about you, but I think the idea is outstanding and beautiful, and I hope it catches with people, at least in Denmark, where everything began. Check out the inventor’s website. If you’re like me, you’ll stand in awe. It’s so beautiful and smart, it restores some of my faith in humanity!

Last but not least, let me present you with the Sun Hive. This high-tech bee-friendly hive was designed by a German sculptor and it’s made using a combination of rye-straw woven baskets and wooden support structures. What makes it different from other bee hives is that the Sun Hive is installed up in the air, 8 feet up, thus making the bees happier and the people passing nearby safer. Here’s a video revealing the details of the Sun Hive project, a hive like no other – a hive for bees, to quote the creators.

Video first seen on H.K. Herrmann

I hope you enjoyed reading this article and if you have any other great, off-grid ideas, please share them with us in the comments section below.


This article has been written by Chris Black for Survivopedia.

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Survival Projects: DIY Small Cabin

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big diy cabin

What’s so special about cabins? Well, maybe a better question is what’s NOT so special about cabins! They’re quaint, functional, sturdy and can be built so that they’re easy to defend.

Which brings us to the current subject – building your own small cabin. It’s pretty awesome to build something using your own hands and skills, especially when you can scale it up later to build a full-scale one, don’t you think?

Also, knowing how to build a cabin would be a very good trade to barter in a post-apocalyptic world, and it would come handy in a SHTF scenario. I mean, being capable of building your own shelter is a pretty big deal from a prepper’s point of view, and being able to build something beside a hut will also make life more bearable, at least that’s my opinion.

Another thing about cabins is that they look really nice on your property, even if you don’t live in it on a regular basis.

You can use it as an additional storage space, like a shed, or as your own “quiet time” retreat. Or you can build it in the middle of nowhere and turn it into your bug out location.

Kids love to play in them, too. Finally, any quality extra building adds to the value of your real-estate.

With all these things established, let’s go deeper into the rabbit hole.

Kit Log or Butt-and-pass?

Now, the DIY part may seem like a lot of trouble for some folks. Why bother with doing it yourself, when you can buy log cabin kits from virtually anywhere? The short answer is money. A log cabin kit will cost you significantly more than a DIY project. Thousands of dollars more, plus you’re probably not going to be able to mail-order your cabin kit after SHTF.

But wait, there’s more to it. The reality is that a log cabin kit means that the cabin is typically built on a construction yard (that’s the industry norm), then disassembled, loaded, shipped, hauled to your real estate and then re-built on your spot, by you or a contractor.

That’s a horrible idea, because a “shake and bake” log cabin requires keyways, screw jacks, slip joints, and other assembly components while a DIY project needs zero notch work. That  means that you’ll be able to avoid the hardest, and probably the most expensive, part when it comes to building a log cabin because you’ll be using a different method if you DIY.

If you correctly use the butt-and-pass method when building your log cabin (more on that later in the article), there will be no issue with the “settling” for you to be concerned with, as many will warn you of.

You’ll hear lots of rants about settling when it comes to log cabins, all of them coming from cabin builders, because they are people too and they need money to make ends meet. If every homesteader was aware of the butt-and-pass method of log cabin building, the log kit dealers would cease to exist, and I am not kidding.

When built correctly, a butt-and-pass log home is virtually indestructible. That’s the reason why you can’t build that type of structure in a factory, then disassemble it and ship it; it just can’t be done because it’s so strong. Hence, companies specialized in log cabin kits are choosing the next best thing (for them), i.e. that type of cabin that can be easily built on their premises, then taken apart and shipped to your property to be reassembled.

Why isn’t the shake and bake log cabin kit a good idea, you ask? Well, the answer is logical, and you’ll understand once we explain how to properly build a log cabin yourself. It’s about the aforementioned settling, which tends to occur especially in those types of log structures that have the ability to come apart easily.

More precisely, about a year and a half after you put it together, after re-assembling your dearest log-cabin kit, you’ll begin noticing an appreciable settling because the logs have finished their drying process. It may be the stairs (you’ll see they’re not aligned perfectly anymore) or you’ll notice gaps between the roof and the log wall, or maybe a window will be shattered under the weight of the logs; who knows?

However, the DIY method of butt-and-pass in a log-home construction requires absolutely zero settling space, hence that’s the way to go. Say no to kit log cabins! Since butt-and-pass log cabins must be built on the site (and in this case by you, the homeowner), you’ll incur no transportation costs or other hidden bills. And while the industry focuses on inferior (cheaper) methods to maximize their profits, the quality and endurance of the respective kit is put aside.

Here are a few benefits of butt-and-pass log cabins:

  • They are the least expensive, and I’ve heard about stories of a finished house (not a small cabin) costing just $7500.
  • They are the most durable in terms of wood-built homes.
  • They last longer than other timber-made homes, being more resistant to humidity and water damage.
  • If properly designed and built, they will require minimal amounts of maintenance than, let’s say, your regular stick-frame home.
  • You don’t have to hire a professional contractor, it’s a straight forward DIY thing for the average homesteader.
  • The butt-and-pass building method doesn’t require log seasoning or air drying the logs, because the settling issue is non-existent if built correctly.

The “HOW TO”

Now, before proceeding further, you must check with your local authorities and see if you require a building permit. If you go for a small cabin, on a budget, it would be very probable that you don’t, but you never know these days. With that thing taken care of, the permit that is, let’s see what’s with the butt-and-pass method, shall we?

Let me quote the experts on that: “Butt-and-pass involves having the logs around the structure all at the same level, i.e., the seam in a north wall will match up to a seam in a west wall. Where two logs come together at a corner, one butts up against the side of the other one which “passes” and sticks out in the familiar log house style.”

Here’s a video which depicts the butt-and-pass method; it’s way easier to understand:

Video first seen on The Woodworkers Shoppe

When built correctly with the butt-and-pass method, the respective structure will definitely outlive any other kind of log-cabin, and additionally, it doesn’t require the same maintenance, i.e. sealants, coats of stain and what not to protect it from decay.

Clicking on the photo below will take you to a website that will provide you with lots of technical details and pictures about the actual construction job.

Cabin DIY

The same story goes with the website linked in the photo below, which explains in minute detail how to build a small 12×20 cabin on a budget for about $2200, which is way less than the cost for a similar “shake and bake” kit.

DIY Cabin

10 Tips for Building Your Cabin Log

Finally, I will give you a few tips and some common sense advice if you want to build your dream log-cabin yourself while keeping the costs way down low:

  1. Try to do all the work yourself, or with a little help from a friend or your family members, or even neighbors (you’d be surprised by the natural kindness of the common folk in rural areas).
  2. It would be awesome if you could cut your house logs/lumber/timber from your own property (this will keep the costs WAY down).
  3. It would be great if you could gain access to a local sawmill; if not, you should try to purchase a portable sawmill and after the job is done, resell it.
  4. Try to use recycled materials for as much as possible.
  5. Buy the cement for the foundation in bulk and use a big barrel for storing it (a 55 gallon drum would suffice).
  6. Keep in mind that you’ll require a pick-up truck, quality tools (like a chainsaw, a big electric drill, a sledge hammer, draw knives, adze, a cant hook, a broad axe) and some skills (like welding). As you can see, besides being economical, durable and fast, the butt-and-pass method of log building doesn’t require a lot of tools! Also, even if you go for building a relatively big home, which translates into big logs that are heavy, you don’t need a crane to lift them up into place. You can use a block and tackle pulley gizmo, mounted at every corner of the house on a lifting pole.
  7. Socialize with your neighbors and talk to people, especially the personnel at supply houses; they can help you with your building project if you ask them for explanations or technical help.
  8. Read a lot. Do your own research if you don’t understand something.
  9. Don’t borrow money. Be patient because it may take a while until the job is done. Nothing just happens miraculously.
  10. Keep your sense of humor at all times!

If you have new ideas or questions, feel free to comment in the dedicated section below. Good luck, have fun!


This article has been written by Chris Black for Survivopedia.

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This Is How To Protect Your Firewood During Winter

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big firewood

To quote one of my favorite movies, “Brace yourself, winter is coming” folks. And if you’ve chosen wood for heating your homestead, you should pay extra-attention to this article.

Wood is an excellent choice for keeping your home cozy and warm during the harsh winter months and is the perfect alternative for cutting your heating costs, because it’s much less expensive than central heating that uses gas or electricity.

Especially when heating large rooms, wood works better than almost anything else. It’s a very cheap, efficient and quick heating method..

What Works and What Doesn’t

Now, that we’ve established that wood is a good alternative to electric or gas for heating, let’s see what makes for good firewood.

The difference between the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to firewood is the moisture content and the density, because in final analysis, all trees are more or less “built” from the same stuff, chemically.

So, you should choose harder woods for your winter supply, which are denser than the softer varieties. Go for oak, ash, locust, black maple and hickory. These woods tend to burn way longer than the others and the coals they produce are hotter.

These qualities are great for the coldest months of the winter, and even for those long, chilly nights of late fall and early spring. Plus it’s efficient, as we’ll soon discuss.

You may be fooled by the abundance and cheapness of the softer woods, such as pine, but these tend to burn pretty quickly, and you’ll have to haul heavy loads day after day, maybe more often than you’d like, wasting time and effort. In the end, you’ll likely spend just as much buying the cheap stuff because you’ll burn twice as much of it.

Storing Your Winter Wood Properly

Regardless of the type of wood you’ve chosen, the biggest problem, especially during the winter, is the storage issue. It’s crucial to choose the proper storage method when it comes to your wood supply, thus protecting your investment and your hard work. You may have spent weeks cutting your firewood for the winter season ahead, but make sure that you don’t skip the final, extremely important step: stacking it.

Wood is highly susceptible to exposure to the elements, especially snow and rain. If your wood supply is stored improperly and it gets wet, that will lead to decay. Also, a pile of wood looks really cozy to various species of animals, snakes and insects looking for shelter, and I bet that’s not what you had in mind for your firewood stack, right?

Firewood that comes in direct contact with the ground is prone to insects  and moisture exposure, and these accelerate the wood’s rate of decay, rendering it useless over time. By far, moisture is wood’s biggest enemy, as it also dramatically increases the chances of mold taking over your firewood supply.

All these things considered, it looks like the most challenging aspect of storage is how to keep your logs dry , isn’t it?

Having dry logs will make all the difference in the world when it comes to the efficiency of the wood stove/wood burner/chimney etc. This is a huge factor affecting the amount of heat your wood will produce. Keeping your firewood supply as dry as possible will maximize your investment and it’s beneficial for your homestead long-term.

Where Should You Start?

The first thing to contemplate is seasoning. Wood must be properly seasoned, and I mean dried, before you light your first winter fire. An insufficiently dried wood will tend to ignite harder, will burn inefficiently and will produce sub-par amounts of heat despite having a flame. It will also smoke and smolder.

How do you know your wood is seasoned good and proper? A few hints: dry wood is lighter (less moisture-less weight) and its ends are cracked. It turns deep brown, yellow or gray as it dries (wet/green wood is cream, white or light brown) and if you smash two logs together, they’ll sound hollow when they’re good and dry. Wet wood makes a dull thud.

To get the general idea about proper seasoning, softer essences of wood require six to twelve months while harder ones will need twice that (1 to 2 years).

To achieve proper seasoning, you should split the firewood before storing it into smaller sections, thus speeding up the drying process. Splitting it up increases the surface area which is exposed to the air. Alternatively, you can buy already split logs from a reputable supplier, to make sure you get high quality firewood that’s split properly.

You should allow the firewood to dry in the open air completely before storing it long term. The most important factor that contributes to open-air drying is the wind, as it speeds up the process, but never allow your logs to sit outside uncovered during a rainstorm. If your wood supply gets damp, it will take a long time to dry it out again.

Now, let’s see about storage options. Before storing your wood for the winter season, you must learn how to stack it properly.

This may take a little practice, but it’s very important to stack your firewood the right way when storing it. The general idea is to allow the air to circulate freely by leaving gaps between the logs and each layer must be stored in the opposite direction of the next, to assure the best ventilation possible. Check out the video below.

Video first seen on Cottage Life DIY

If your firewood is stacked next to a shed, a wall or some other structure, allow plenty of space between the stack and the respective wall (at least a 2 to 4 inch gap) , to allow the air to circulate freely. Failing to do that is a common mistake folks tend to make and it leads to termites popping up in your wood supply and wet logs. Oh yeah, and in your house, too, if it’s wood.

Another common mistake and one that can cause the most damage, is to cover your logs completely, thus stopping air circulation. This translates into moisture taking over, damaging the firewood and rendering it useless. If you cover your wood stack, be sure to allow proper aeration by leaving the sides uncovered.

Always remember to bring the logs inside your house a day in advance before you use them for heating purposes. Store them inside in a dry location such as your wood bin and they’ll be in perfect shape the following day. That brings us to storage options.

What About Storage Options?

Always think ahead when it comes to storing firewood. The general idea is to choose the perfect location at each step, from where you’re going to let it season, to where you’re going to store it within reach, to where you’re going to store it once you bring your firewood into the house.

Just think about it: logs are bulky and heavy, and carrying them day after day to your house is hard work, especially if you’ll require several trips for a day’s supply. So, do yourself a “solid” and store your seasoned firewood as close and as practical as possible to your heating device. You’ll thank yourself later.

Obviously, firewood must be stored outside of your home, never inside. Just think about termites and ants, along with other nastier bugs. They all love wood and you don’t want these intruders inside of your house now, do you?

Talking about outside storage, there’s an invention called a woodshed. While you can keep a small amount of wood inside the home, ready to be burned, seasoned firewood is best kept in an outside woodshed.

Video first seen on Jyienger

If that’s too much for you, a DIY log rack is the next best thing for storing wood for the winter. It’s important that  you elevate it, at least 2-3 inches off the ground, to keep your firewood dry and protected from insects.

If stacking firewood outside, it would be a great idea to cover it, in order to protect your supply from the elements, but remember to avoid the mistakes we’ve already mentioned. You will find specially designed rack covers in retail stores, featuring tie downs to keep them from flying away when the wind blows. These covers also have slits or perforations in the material to keep the air flowing freely.

Obviously, you can store firewood under any solid structure, such as an awning or a garage roof, or even a basement if it’s not connected to the rest of your house as long as you follow the rules of ventilation, elevation and space that we’ve already discussed.

Always remember to put the larger logs at the bottom of the stack in level rows and make sure your pile isn’t leaning. Also, don’t build  the firewood-stack too high, which will make it difficult for you or shorter family members to reach, and will also make it dangerous to be around because it may lean or even fall over somebody.

I hope the article helped and if you have ideas or comments, feel free to use the dedicated section below, we’d appreciate your feedback.


This article has been written by Chris Black for Survivopedia.

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Did You Know These Siberian Survival Secrets?

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    big siberia

In today’s world, Vladimir Putin is one of the most controversial leaders and Russia is starting to flex its geo-political muscles, 25 years after the collapse of the USSR. But regardless of what you think about Putin and the geo-political landscape, Russia is a very old civilization, with a rich culture and a long history of trials and tribulations.

We can learn a lot from the Russian people in terms of survival. Hence, today’s article is focused on survival recipes Made in the USSR, more precisely, ones originating from Siberia.

You know, if you think about vast, uninhabited lands, scarcely populated, extremely cold and filled with wild beauty and natural resources, Siberia is the first thing that comes to one’s mind. Siberia is the substantial equivalent of Alaska and Siberians are hard-working, tough people, who manage to survive in a very hostile environment. Therefore, if you want to learn about survival, you can look to Siberians and see how they’ve done it for centuries.

Holistic medicine is still practiced on a large scale in Russia and there are dozens of medical-scientific expeditions sent annually to Siberia to research old-school healing methods practiced by the ancient Siberian civilization.

siberian gingseng

The very harsh Siberian climate requires extraordinary efforts from its inhabitants to stay in shape, and today’s article will present you with some of the best holistic survival recipes and remedies.

These have been proven to boost health and energy time and time again, so pay attention and keep reading folks!

Relying on Nature for Medical Survival

Let’s begin with a well-known plant – almost a cure-all herb (or panacea).

They say it purportedly increases longevity, boosts your energy level and sex drive, promotes vascular health, improves memory, and prevents dementia in older people.

It also reduces the risks of getting cancer, reduces stress, increases insulin production and reduces blood sugar levels (excellent news for diabetics).

Ladies and gents, say hello to the Siberian Ginseng.

The Siberian variety is somewhat different from the regular Panax Gineseng (the Asian species) but it works just the same.

Siberians use it mainly for preventing colds and flu and for increasing their energy levels during the extremely cold winter months.

Rhodiola rosea, also known as Arctic Root, King’s Crown or Golden Root is another magic herb used extensively in Siberian holistic medicine for its extraordinary properties which are very similar to the ginseng’s, minus the hyper-activity ginseng may induce to certain persons.

Basically, in the holistic world of healing, Rhodiola is considered excellent for treating depression and chronic fatigue, also works miracles with stress-reduction.

Russian athletes and military personnel frequently use Rhodiola and ginseng supplements for staying in shape and improving their physical and psychological fitness.

Old people also appear to benefit from Rhodiola’s anti-aging properties, and the plant is also used as a great treatment for neurasthenia, depression and hypo-tension. Small doses of Rhodiola are great as stimulants (200 to 600 milligrams/day) while bigger doses have the opposite effect, being almost sedatives.

Saltbush, orache, or mountain spinach, aka Atriplex Hortensis is a plant species which originates from Central Asia and Siberia and it’s very similar to regular spinach. Saltbush is widely used in traditional Siberian medicine for treating liver, kidney and gynecological disease. The seeds are natural emetics and purgatives while the plant itself is used as a diuretic. It’s filled with minerals and vitamins, and works wonders for pancreatic dysfunctions. It’s also believed to be a cardio-tonic. Overall, saltbush is said to be excellent for digestion and circulation, and it should be on your menu regularly (remember Popeye the Sailor Man, right?).

The Healing Power of Ash

The ash resulting from burning wood in the oven is a basic ingredient for a lot of traditional Siberian survival recipe. It’s been used for hundreds of years to treat digestive problems, wounds and for stopping hemorrhages. It’s also used as a remedy for headaches and toothaches. Actually, Siberians consider wood-ash as a real panacea, especially the ash resulting from burning specific mixed wood essences.

According to Siberian holistic medicine, combining the ashes of different types of wood essences dramatically increases the power of the “medicine”, with the best wood combinations being linden, oak, birch and poplar. The ash resulting from the burnt wood must be sifted before being used in recipes or stored (in glass jars) for best results.

Let me enumerate 12 ancient Siberian recipes based on wood-ash for treating various diseases/conditions:

  • Skin ulcer: For treating skin ulcers you’ll need about 17 ounces of birch and/or linden ash (a mix or whatever) mixed with 5 quarts of boiling water. The infusion must be allowed to cool off until it reaches about 90 degrees F then it must be sifted. The affected limb (the hand or the leg) must be immersed in the infusion for half an hour, and then left to air-dry naturally. If the skin ulcer affects other areas of the body, you may use a gauze imbibed in the infusion, applied twice a day for two hours at a time.
  • Hives or urticaria: For treating hives, you’ll need half a glass of birch ash and 2 liters (half a gallon) of water, mixed thoroughly, then boiled and left to decant for 24 hours. After that you have to sift the solution using a gauze or something similar, then put it in a covered receptacle and store it in a cool, dry place, out of sunlight, for 2 days. Use the infusion mixed with water in a 1:1 ratio for washing your body 2-3 times a week, regularly, and let it dry naturally without rinsing.
  • Arthritis, muscular pain: Mix one tablespoon of cedar ash with one cup of boiling water in a covered receptacle; let it infuse for 12 hours and then sift it. Drink two tablespoons of the infusion three times a day for ten days, with a seven day pause and you can repeat the treatment if necessary for another 10 days.
  • Rheumatism: You’ll need 17 ounces of birch ash mixed with about a pint of water, boiled slowly for 10-15 minutes, then covered and left to cool off/infuse until the next day. Pour the infusion (take care not to agitate the container) into your bath tub (the water in the tub should be at least body-temperature). Soak in it for 15 minutes and repeat the procedure for 10 days in a row.
  • Lumbago: You’ll need three tablespoons of vineyard-stumps ash mixed with 4 cloves of garlic (smashed) and four tablespoons of lard. Mix the ingredients thoroughly and then spread onto a piece of cotton cloth. Apply the cloth  over the affected area and leave it to work its magic for 2 hours, for three days in a row. After a 20 days pause, you can repeat the procedure.
  • Menopause hot flashes: You’ll need 1/3 cup of salt, 2/3 cup of birch ash and about 2 gallons of warm water mixed thoroughly and then poured into a basin. Soak your feet for 15-20 minutes, 3-4 times a week for ten days.
  • Oral hygiene/health: Rinse your mouth with a mixture of wood ash and water 1:1 before and after every meal for 7 days.
  • Depression: Mix two tablespoons of aronia ash in a glass of water. Drink it in the morning on an empty stomach for 16 days in a row.
  • Pulmonary disease (bronchitis, pneumonia, respiratory viruses, etc): Pour one quart of boiling water over four tablespoons of poplar ash, cover the container and let it infuse for ten days in a dark, cool place. Drink 8 spoons (4 for kids) of the infusion three times a day (after meals) for 11 days in a row.
  • Regulating intra-ocular/intra-cranial blood pressure: Mix four tablespoons of oak ash and one liter of boiling water in a container, cover it and let it cool off until morning. Drink three teaspoons of the infusion (half a dose for children) three times per day, half an hour before a meal, for 2 weeks straight. You may take a 5 day pause then repeat the procedure.
  • Intestinal parasites: One teaspoon of linden ash mixed with half a glass of warm milk , administered two times a day (in the morning and in the night) for the first three days, one hour before meals is used to treat intestinal parasites. On the fourth day, drink the stuff first thing in the morning, on an empty stomach. During the treatment, you should avoid sugars and sugary fruits. After the four-day linden-ash treatment, you should drink an infusion of cranberry leaves, 2-3 times a day, thirty minutes before meals for two weeks, then repeat the ash treatment for 4 days, then the cranberry leaves procedure for 2 weeks, twice a year, at a 6 months-interval.
  • Dandruff: To get rid of dandruff, mix six tbsp of ash with three and a half ounces of alcohol and apply the mixture on your head, rubbing it gently on your scalp. Let it work for 10 minutes. After that, you can follow your shampoo routine. The treatment must be done twice a week for one month.

Coal, aka the black medicine, is widely used in modern medicine against various diseases, like flatulence, stomach ache and indigestion, and the same story goes for ash. It’s perfectly safe to consume it as long as the wood wasn’t contaminated with chemicals or radioactive stuff.

There Is a Natural Cure for Every Condition

Now, let’s talk about some Siberian methods to fight anemia and chronic fatigue naturally. These remedies are widely used currently all over Russia, the Ukraine and other places. Siberian popular medicine recommends a diet rich in liver, meat, eggs, veal brain, milk, butter, caviar, garlic and onions. And every patient must drink 2 liters (half a gallon) of fresh/unprocessed milk every day!

  • Here’s a recipe with Caucasian Aloe (from Caucasus/Central Asia) for treating chronic fatigue/anemia: take 4 stems of aloe and let them macerate in a bottle of wine for at least four days. Unlike many “tonics”, this treatment is very enjoyable. Drink a cup of the concoction three times a day.
  • Iron deficiency is the reason for anemia and Siberians treat this condition with a green apple in which they sink 5 – 10 (washed) iron nails. The apple is eaten after 24 hours and the dose is three apples/day.
  • For calcium deficiency (common in anemia/tuberculosis), Siberians recommend this recipe: take 10 fresh eggs and put them inside a glass jar, then cover them with lemon juice. Wait until the lemon juice (that’s citric acid basically) dissolves the egg shells (it takes up to two weeks), then add 12 ounces of honey and a glass of brandy. Mix them thoroughly and drink a small cup 2-3 times a day before meals. Another ancient Siberian “magic” potion is made using equal quantities of carrots, horseradish and beet juice (you can add honey into the mix to suit your taste), mixed and put inside a bottle which is then buried into the ground for 13 days. You must drink a small cup of the respective potion three times a day, before meals. Shake the bottle before drinking.
  • Here comes an energy formula, Siberian recipe. You’ll need 4 cloves of garlic, smashed thoroughly, 4 fresh onions ground (remember to keep the juice), 6 ounces of oats, 1.5 ounces of finely grated Valerian root, all mixed with 25 ounces of honey and boiled slowly until the mixture has a fine-cream consistency. Afterwards, let the mixture cool on a plate until it hardens, then cut it in small pieces and store it in a cool, dry place. Eat 3-6 pieces a day (a 2 cm piece) before the meals.
  • Another energy-boosting remedy for senior citizens is a mixture of garlic, onions and honey; you’ll need 3.5 ounces of garlic, 5 ounces of onions, 25 ounces of honey and two tbsp. of apple cider vinegar. The garlic and the onions must be finely grated then mixed with the vinegar. Let them to macerate in a warm place (in the kitchen for example) for 24 hours. Then boil the honey slowly, stirring it all the time. After it reaches the boiling point, add the garlic/onion mixture and then let it macerate for 7 days in a warm place. Then you sift the mixture and you’re ready to go. The treatment consists of 4 spoons of the stuff, once a day.
  • Here comes the Ukrainian elixir, another energy booster for senior citizens: 12 ounces of garlic, well smashed, mixed with the juice obtained from 24 lemons (without the seeds). Let them macerate in a glass jar covered with a piece of gauze for 24 hours. Take a spoonful in the evening, with half a glass of warm water. Also, you can take a spoon of finely grated horseradish 5-10 times a day, between meals, for boosting your energy levels even more.
  • To prevent atherosclerosis, especially if you’re over 50 years old, you must eat a tonic made from raw potatoes: you take a medium sized-raw potato, washed and peeled, you grate it finely and you eat the stuff (and the juice) every morning, on an empty stomach.
  • Here comes another tonic, garlic based, which is also recommended to senior citizens to prevent atherosclerosis: fill a 1-cup container with smashed garlic and add alcohol. Let it macerate for two weeks in a warm place then you filter the concoction. The recommended dose is 2 blobs/day for starters, before meals, and each day you add a blob until you reach 25 blobs per serving. Then you start reducing the dose one blob/day until you reach 0. If you take this treatment twice a year, the results will be exceptional.

I hope the article helped. If you have other ideas or comments, feel free to express yourself using the dedicated section below!


This article has been written by Chris Black for Survivopedia.

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The Proper Guide For Attic And Roof Insulation

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big roof

Brace yourselves; winter is coming!

With the winter almost here and record-low temperatures in Kansas, Minnesota and other places that are cold to begin with, you should know a few things about attic and roof insulation.

Why insulate your roof and/or attic? Well, if you care about your comfort during the long and cold winter months, and you also want to save on your heating/energy bill, keep reading.

Theoretically, it would be best to insulate your homestead from the foundation to its roof in order to achieve optimal energy efficiency, but that will definitely put a dent in your bank account.

Since  the most heat dissipates through the roof/ceilings, concentrating upon the most vulnerable areas is the most efficient way to preserve the heat inside your house while protecting your hard-earned dollars in your wallet.

Insulation is one thing, however, you should also consider air leakage and moisture control in all areas of your home.

Let’s Begin With the Basics, Shall We?

For a DIY job, you’ll require the following tools: protective clothing, plywood offcut, a miter box and a staple gun.

As for materials, you’ll need furring strips, adjustable metal clips, blanket insulation, thermal drywall, vapor barrier, adhesive for the wood work, tape, loose fill insulation and storage decking. This is by no means  the ultimate definitive list; you can improvise and use what you have, depending on your preferences.

Typically, people use batt insulation, also known as loose fill, for their attics. As a rule of thumb, this is the insulation of choice for many DIY’ers because it’s cheaper to install and also easier to work with than most of the other methods.

If installed by the book, it even provides you with better coverage. Keep in mind that before proceeding with this project, you should check for and seal any air leaks and make sure the roof is in good standing, i.e. there are no leaks or anything. If you don’t repair any damages to your roof before insulating your attic, you’ll waste your money and your time.

Another thing to take care of is to air seal and insulate all the knee walls and if you live in an area with warm/hot summers, remember to install a radiant barrier to avoid the heat gain during the hot months (check out the videos folks. It’s important).

Video first seen on Crawl Space Ninja

Video first seen Dr. Energy Saver Dealers

What Type of Insulation Suits You Best?

Now, with the preamble taken care of, let’s see what type of insulation will be best for you, shall we?

Basically, you have two choices: blanket insulation and recycled insulation.

The blanket insulation is the “standard” pink type, while the recycled variety is more environmentally friendly. The technique for installing any of them is more or less the same, but since the recycled type is the non-itch alternative, it’s more comfy to work with. Blanket insulation  is also known as batt and roll, as I told you previously, and it’s made using various materials; usually fiber glass but also plastic/natural fibers such as cotton or mineral wool. It comes in lots of widths, and as per length, you can cut it as you like to fit your premises during installation.

As for usability, you don’t have to worry because working with the blanket insulation is no big deal, being the most used form of attic and roof insulation. The only thing is that you’ll have to wear protective clothing at all times and it’s a bit uncomfortable to handle; remember to check the local building/fire codes, and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

However, you should always consider using the natural/recycled insulation as an alternative to the “regular” blanket kind. Recycled insulation, also known as blown-in or loose-fill insulation, is made from little clumps of various (recycled) materials like cellulose, fiberglass and/or mineral wool (the latter is made by using metal/mineral remnants) and it usually requires professional installation, because it is sprayed onto the attic’s floor and into cavities using special equipment.

Another thing to keep in mind is the kind of roof space you desire. I mean, you’ll have to choose between a warm and a cold roof space. If you go for a warm one, you’ll have to insulate under and between the rafters of the roof. That means you’ll probably have to increase the depth of the joists if you want to benefit from enough storage space, given the recently increased recommended depth of insulation.

For a cold roof, you’ll need to insulate at joist level, thus preventing the heat from escaping via the empty roof space.

Click on the map bilow to go to this website where you’ll find useful information about how much insulation you have to install, depending upon the age of your house and where you live, i.e. the climate zone.

climate zones

Also, keep in mind that insulating power depends on a factor called R-Value, where R represents the resistance to air flow. Hence, the higher the R value, the better insulating properties of the respective material. Note that the R value is cumulative in effect; for example if the insulation layer has an R value of 19 and the attic already has R 19 insulation, the overall R value will be 38.

The first step in insulating your attic or roof is to lay the blanket insulation. Next, you’ll have to build up the layers and since many attics harbor pipes and electrical equipment, you’ll have to work around the pipe work and electrical gear and create storage decking (if you want to use the space for storing stuff).

Next, you’ll have to insulate the pipes and finally, you’ll need to lay the storage decking. The next step is to insulate the walls and rafters and the best way is to use recycled batts as an alternative to blanket insulation, since it’s easier to position (blanket insulation tends to sag before being secured in place tightly by drywall) and it’s eco-friendly.

Below there’s a video about adding batt insulation to your attic, and another one which details the installation process.

Video first seen on Monkey See

Video first seen on This Old House

Here’s an attic blown in insulation, the DIY method for using recycled stuff without using professional tools or hiring technicians.

Video first seen on Your New House

Check out this comprehensive tutorial about attic prep and insulation, with the target being an R-50 value to give you sufficient insulation.

Video first seen on WxTV

Also, here’s an interesting video about insulating an old house’s attic with fiber-glass.

Video first seen on This Old House

The Dont’s of Attic and Roof Insulation

Now, let’s take a look at the worst mistakes (the DON’Ts) that you can make while trying to do the insulation job yourself, without calling in the professionals.

Remember that even if many jobs can be done by yourself, a crawling-space insulation job is a complex task which requires skill and expertise in construction, so you don’t have to feel ashamed for asking for help, okay? On to the tips.

  • Never go to work without protective clothing, as inhaling or even touching the insulation material may be dangerous. Skin rashes and lung irritation are common if you fail to wear the adequate protective gear, so skipping this step isn’t an option.
  • Another common mistake beginners tend to make is using unstable ladders and deficient lightning in their DIY endeavor, which translates into possible accidents or personal injuries, not to mention the chances of ending up doing a sub-par insulation job.
  • Yet another rookie mistake to make is choosing the wrong kind of insulation, especially insulation with an inadequate R-Value for your climate zone, which will result in an inadequate insulation job, along with wasted time and money.
  • If you insulate “most of the surface” instead of 100%, you’ll leave tiny gaps that will allow cold air to get through and heat to escape. Again, you haven’t succeeded with your DIY job. If the insulation isn’t installed perfectly, it will  shift away in time and gaps will appear out of nowhere.

If you’re not very good at this, I would highly suggest that you bite the bullet and hire a professional. It’s imperative to get the job done right the first time. There are lots and lots of mistakes that may occur and things that can go wrong.

That’s not a reflection of your character or abilities, it’s just that you lack expertise in this area. That’s why there are professionals; it’s not an easy job if you’re not cut out for it and this isn’t one of those times where you want to learn as you go.

Therefore f, after watching the videos and doing your own research, you don’t feel that you take this project on, it would be best to leave this job to professionals. This isn’t a project that you should tackle just to cut corners; you’ll end up spending more money and wasting your time if you just have to call professionals in to fix your work afterwards.

If you have any other ideas or comments about installing insulation, feel free to express them in the dedicated section below.

Good luck, have fun.


This article has been written by Chris Black for Survivopedia.

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7 Easy Homestead Projects Using PVC Pipe

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7 Easy Homestead Projects Using PVC Pipe

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What’s the common denominator between homesteading and PVC pipes?

The answer, my friends, is that you can build lots of useful things for your homestead using PVC pipes as building blocks.

Why PVC pipes? Well, they’re dirt cheap, fairly easy to work with, immensely durable and very light.

Bottom line is that if you’re the DIY type and you’re not afraid to put some elbow grease into your projects, keep reading.

1. How to Build a Watering Grid for Your Garden

You can build a grid for square-foot gardening from PVC pipes and thus increase your yield, while having some fun in the process. The PVC-made watering system will save you precious (watering) time and it will allow you to be more precise when it comes to the amount of water used for your garden — i.e. it will help you with the water bill. So, what is required for the PVC grid irrigation system? Well, not much. Depending on the size of the squares, you’ll require PVC pipe, caps, glue, a saw, a drill and fittings. Here’s a video tutorial depicting the detailed instructions for building a PVC (drip) irrigation system for your home garden:



Here’s another one about how to build a PVC pipe grid:



2. How to Build a Chicken Coop

You can build a low-cost chicken coop using PVC pipes instead of lumber. Here’s a video tutorial:



3. How to Build Your Own Longbow

This is a project for hunter-gatherers or archery enthusiasts, but I think it’s as cool as it gets no matter where you stand on hunting. I actually love archery and hunting, and hence knowing how to build your own longbow from PVC pipes is like a dream come true for me.

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Keep in mind that high-performance bows come with hefty price tags and they tend to break under heavy usage, not to mention that you can’t buy yourself a longbow when there’s a crisis and stores are closed. However, you can DIY one from PVC pipes. The total cost is about $10:



4. How to Build Hanging Planters

This is a fairly easy project, and you can achieve victory even if you never built anything with your hands until now. You can grow almost anything in these babies: edibles like lettuce and decoratives like flowers. This is a cool project for apartments, too! The materials required for building hanging planters are PVC pipes, a drill, a saw and a rope or chain from which to hang the planters. Watch this video:



5. How to Build Snow Shoes

If you live in a cold climate, you’ll love this project. I mean, in certain areas, snow shoes are as important as regular shoes, right? This is immensely fun to do it with your kids or friends if you are in a zone where snow is an intrinsic part of your life:



6. How to Build a Clothes Rack

If you have a house, a pool and lots of kids, having an outdoor clothes rack will come in handy. And PVC pipes are the best materials to use in this endeavor. Naturally, you can use this rack for lots of other things and not just for hanging towels, and all you need is a little bit of imagination. As for materials required, you’ll need PVC pipes, glue, fittings, a drill and a saw:



7. How to Build a PVC Pipe Wine Rack

If you love Bacchus, here’s an elegant idea about how to build a PVC pipe wine rack for your cellar. The best thing about this project is that it will cost you next to nothing:



What have you built with PVC pipe? Share your homesteading tips in the section below:

Harness The Power Of Nature’s Most Remarkable Healer: Vinegar

How To Desalinate Water During A Crisis

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How To Desalinate Water During A Crisis

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Earth’s potable water reserves are depleting fast, and while we hope for the best, we must prepare for the worst-case scenario.

So today, let’s look at a few DIY desalination projects. Water desalinization really works, and you don’t have to be an eccentric billionaire to benefit from it. We all know that Earth is covered with water, but the problem is that salt water is neither drinkable nor usable for growing plants.

But if you somehow manage to remove the salt, then the water can be used for basically any purpose.

There are large-scale projects for water desalinization, but they cost millions and millions of dollars. What if we could use a low-tech, dirt-cheap method instead?

Let’s begin by looking at distillation by evaporation, a process that can easily be used by homesteaders or survivalists who have access to salt water.

This process happens all the time around us — the water from the oceans/lakes/seas/rivers evaporates into the atmosphere, then it falls down to the Earth again as rain. That’s the circuit of water in nature, and we can mimic it on a smaller scale. We can do this by boiling water and using a random heat source.

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Upon heating, the water turns to steam (minus the salt, of course), and all you have to do is capture the steam and condense it to get fresh water.

The basic idea behind a device that uses distillation by evaporation is that water evaporates, but the salt won’t, and you’ll end up with potable water, regardless of its initial source.

Here’s a video depicting a homemade water distiller, which will provide you with reasonable amounts of pure water quickly, and the best thing is that it costs next to nothing, under $20:


Keep in mind that this method is not suitable for large-scale water distillation (such as agricultural purposes or irrigation), but it will secure you and your family an almost-infinite source of pure water for a disaster scenario, provided you have access to salt water and a source of heat to bring  the water at boiling temperature.

Below is another idea for a DIY salt water converter, this time using a pressure cooker as a water distiller. It’s very easy to build, cheap and works like a charm:


If you don’t have access to a heat source (fire), then you can use solar power for turning salt water into fresh water. Solar is a renewable source of energy, clean and abundant, hence using a solar water distiller is a great idea.

Below is another detailed video tutorial about how to build a solar water distiller using readily available materials:

If you have other ideas or comments about turning salt water into fresh water using basic/cheap/readily available materials and gear, feel free to comment in the dedicated section below:

Clean Water Is Becoming More Rare Than Oil. Read What To Do Here.

Essential Survival Secrets Beyond The Obvious

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Essential Survival Secrets Beyond The Obvious

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Just buying and stockpiling food and gear is not enough to ensure that you’ll survive during a natural or man-made disaster.

In fact, the greatest threat for the regular Joe Survivalist is not represented by economic collapse of predator drones, but his own hutzpah, i.e. an overblown ego.

Too much confidence can kill you faster than a smart bomb, and this article is aimed at showing you there’s more to learn and there’s room for improvement, so you won’t be defeated before your journey has begun.

Let’s look at a short list of what we’ll call forgotten survival secrets.

Things You May Have Forgotten

I’ve heard a lot of so-called survivalists acting and talking tough, claiming they’d rather drop dead than leave their property. That’s plain stupid and there’s no harm in having a Plan B if you’re a true survivalist. I admit, sometimes you must stand your ground and defend your property and your family if necessary, but an exacerbated sense of pride and lack of tactical thinking will definitely put an end to your life prematurely. Therefore, always have a bug-out/secondary retreat location.

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In such a scenario, your health and physical fitness will make all the difference between life and death. I mean, if you can’t run 200 yards without having a heart attack, you may be in trouble. Even if you’re an old homesteader/survivalist, there’s no excuse for not taking care of your body. The solution is very simple and obvious: Eat healthy, eat less and exercise, even moderately, on a daily basis.

Another open-secret which is actually an acute and obvious inadequacy in the survivalist movement is community building and organization.  There’s no point in playing lone-wolf ad nauseam. After all, there’s a lesson to be learned from history: United we stand, divided we fall. Basically, it’s almost impossible for any single person, prepper or not, to cover the wide spectrum of supplies and skill sets required to endure a long-term economic collapse or a natural disaster.

The most common logical fallacy is the argument that bigger communities are bigger targets. But, in a disaster scenario, everyone is a potential target; when it comes to societal chaos, having friends and neighbors you can count on in case of an emergency will definitely increase your chances of survival.

Essential Survival Secrets Beyond The ObviousSome of the biggest “guns” in any respectable survivalist’s paraphernalia are barter markets and trade skills. In a society collapse scenario, the private trade networks (the barter markets) will become the new normal; just look at what happened in Greece in times of huge financial instabilities. You must learn how to trade for acquiring essential supplies in dire times; if you fail to learn these things, you’ll find yourself in a world of hurt.

Get The Essential Survival Secrets Of The Most Savvy Survivalists In The World!

Let’s close by looking at a few items, in addition to food and water, that you should consider purchasing:

1. High-quality and durable survival clothing. Even if this may put a dent in your wallet, just bite the bullet and try to buy the best survival clothes you can find, and in multiples. These clothes will have to last (and protect you from the elements) for long periods of time in a crisis scenario, so choose wisely.

2. Solar panels/solar generator. It’s shocking how many survivalists overlook this aspect, i.e., owning a readily available and free source of energy. Being capable of powering your vital appliances during a disaster scenario will dramatically increase your chances of survival.

3. Geiger counters and chemical warfare strips. These are to prepare yourself and your community for potential radiological/biological disasters.

4. A greenhouse. You can use it almost anywhere and in any climate, and it will help you grow food year-round.

5. Raw materials for the home. For example, nails, lumber, steel, iron, sealants and bags of concrete; you never know when you’ll have to maintain your homestead.

The ultimate secret for becoming an accomplished survivalist is to act as an independent thinker, a free man on the land, making your own decisions and not expecting a helping hand from the government.

What would you add to this list? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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How To Dye Fabric, Deter Bugs And Even Make Tea With Food Scraps

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How To Deter Bugs, Dye Fabric And Even Make Tea With Food Scraps

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People tend to throw away loads of kitchen scraps, failing to recognize that much of the “garbage” can be easily repurposed.

Keep reading and I’ll show you a few tips and tricks for making your life easier if you’re an off-gridder or homesteader, or simply someone who likes to re-use items.

The most obvious thing one can do with food scraps is to place them in a compost pile, but we can do so much more with them.

1. Egg shells

Let’s start with my personal favorite food scrap: egg shells.

  • Fertilizer for your plants. In case you did not know, all plant life requires minerals; egg shells contain lots of minerals and if you grind them and mix the respective powder with the earth, your plants will love you.
  • Deterrent for various pests. Such as cats or deer messing around in your garden. All you have to do is scatter some crushed egg shells in the areas affected by these pesky “neighbors” and they’ll avoid bothering you in the future.
  • Make DIY food supplements for you and your family. Calcium is a very important mineral for human health and we all need plenty of it, especially children. To increase your daily calcium intake, all you have to do is grind the egg shells into an extra-fine powder and add a teaspoon of the respective stuff to your daily smoothie or other drink once per day.
  • Improve your chickens’ diet. Some people feed their livestock oyster shells for that, but since you can give your chickens their own egg shells back, why bother?
  • Make a candle. All you have to do is crack the top off really carefully and then fill the empty shell with paraffin or bees wax; next, you put a wick into the mix and, voila, you just made yourself an egg shell candle!
  • Make seed starter pots. Once again, just crack the top off carefully and put soil and a seed inside the empty egg shell. You’ll end up with your own fully organic seed pot which is already rich in minerals and especially calcium, everything a plant needs to grow strong and healthy! And you can place it directly in the ground.

2. Apple peels

Next on the menu is apple peels, as they also come with lots of good uses for your homestead.

  • Make jelly. Apple peels contain tons of vitamins and minerals, along with pectin which works wonders in making a tasty and healthy jelly.

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  • Clean your kitchen pots and pans. Apple peels are very acidic, and acids are great for removing stains and discoloration from your kitchen hardware, especially the aluminum stuff. All you have to do is fill the respective vessel with water, add some apple peels into the mix and bring it to a boiling temperature. Then, turn the heat off and let it sit there for 60 minutes. Drain and rinse properly.
  • Make apple vinegar. Put the apple peels inside a receptacle (like a jar) and cover them with pure water. Place a weight on top of the peels so they stay submerged under water at all times. Cover the respective receptacle and store it somewhere warm for at least 30 days.
  • Filter pollutants in the water. How do they work? Well, it’s pretty basic: Just put apple peels inside a jug of water and they will absorb (by attracting and capturing) ions and various pollutants. Keep in mind that this method is not fail-safe; I mean, apple peels will not purify the water completely and they’re not fool-proof against various biohazards. However, they will definitely remove at least some dangerous pollutants.

3. Onion peels

I know that they may smell bad, but don’t toss onion peels. Just use them! How?

  • Dye your hair, fabric or Easter eggs with them. For tips on fabric or Easter eggs, watch the videos below.

  • Remove pollutants from water. Just like apple peels, onion peels can help clean water.
  • Make an organic pesticide. Simply cook onion peels along with garlic peels.
  • Sooth stings. Simply press or hold them on the affected portion of the skin.

4. Corn husks

Last but not least, corn husks are excellent for your homestead. For example:

  • Make a water filter. Grind them into a fine dust and mix the dust with clay and coffee grounds. Basically, you must build a corn-husk bowl by adding water to the respective mix and transforming it into something resembling clay. Use that clay for building a bowl, and then let it sit in the sun to dry thoroughly and that’s about it. The corn-husk bowl will act as a water filter if you fill it with water, put it on top of another vessel and allow the water to soak through the corn husk bowl into the vessel. All the contaminants will be left behind; rinse and re-use, ad nauseam.
  • Weave and braid the corn husks into a DIY basket. Watch the video below.
  • Cook with them. For instance, you can wrap delicate foods like fish in a wet corn husk during cooking, preventing them from falling apart/burning.
  • Make corn silk tea. Follow the instructions in the video below.
  • Star a fire. Dried corn husks are highly flammable, and great at helping get a fire going.

Are there other uses you would have included? Share your suggestions in the section below:

Discover The Secret To Saving Thousands At The Grocery Store. Read More Here.

8 Prepper Mistakes That Could Get You Killed

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8 Prepper Mistakes That Could Get You Killed

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There are about 319 million people living in the United States, and approximately 3 million of them are survivalists, preppers, or whatever the parlance is of our times (I prefer to call them realists).

What does that mean? Well, it’s simple math: Only one person in 100 is truly prepared for a failing economy, natural disaster, regional war or pandemic – not to mention a simple job loss. Yes, we’re talking here about the top 1 percent, but in terms of situational awareness, not money.

If you’re among that group, your goal should be maximizing efficiency and reducing costs. That said, let’s look at the top eight prepping mistakes, in no particular order.

1. Not learning survival skills. The most usual frame of mind when prepping is that gear means everything. So, all you have to do is stockpile (food, water, guns, etc.) like there’s no tomorrow. But you must learn at least basic survival skills, i.e., how to fish, hunt, defend yourself, etc.

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Read those survival books, watch YouTube videos, go out camping, go hunting, fishing and so on and so forth. Basically, you should practice what you preach as a “survivalist.” Information is non-perishable, while gear comes and goes.

2. Planning for unrealistic events. For example, you may plan for a nuclear strike while forgetting that you live in a flood/tornado/hurricane/wildfire area. You must prioritize the potentially dangerous situations in your area, be realistic and don’t get lured by the hype.

3. Focusing on just one catastrophic scenario. You can spell disaster in various ways, ranging from losing your job and being unemployed for two years to, let’s say, total economic collapse in North America. You should prepare for everything and if that sounds complicated, just remember the basics of survival. In any given crisis scenario, you’ll need food, water and shelter. The rest are luxuries.

4. Failing to have a properly formulated survival plan. Even in a heist, there’s the man with a plan and the rest are executioners. The same story goes with every situation in life: First plan, then go for it. When disaster strikes, you (and your family) must know what steps are to be taken, what to do next, where to go, where to meet, whom to call and so on and so forth. There is no “one plan to rule them all.” Every plan is individually made to suit your unique situation, i.e., your climate, location, personal resources, etc.

8 Prepper Mistakes That Could Get You Killed

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5. Storing all of your eggs in one basket. That is, all of your stockpiles in the same place. By doing that, you will lose all of your supplies/gear in one single catastrophe. You should store your “nest eggs” in different places.

6. Being a total green-horn with your survival gear. Lots of people have stockpiled all sorts of cool survival gear/gadgets, but they are completely unable to use them properly in a disaster situation. You must spend “quality time” and learn how to use your, let’s say, emergency fire-starter kit, especially in a “hairy” situation when you don’t have much time on your hands and you can’t afford to make a mistake.

7. Not storing enough water. Yes, it may sound strange to you, but lots of survivalists fail to achieve this basic goal.

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You can survive without much food for weeks, but the lack of water will kill you much quicker than that, in just 2-3 days depending on the weather. Also, don’t forget to include water purification gear and to learn water collection/creation techniques (there are quite a few).

8. Failing to rotate your food supplies. This can be a very expensive “habit” because food has a tendency to spoil over time. Yet many survivalists tend to store food indefinitely, until they end up with lots of expired stuff that may not be edible. Basically, you must store what you eat and vice versa: Eat what you store. In this way, you’ll avoid waste or potential dangers to your health.

Stay prepared, stay focused, don’t get too comfortable and everything is gonna’ be alright!

What mistakes would you add to this list? Share your suggestions in the section below:

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