Take The Advantage Of Growing Hydroponic Plants!

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Unless you’ve been living in a cave, you’ve probably heard of hydroponic planting. Even if you did live in a cave, you probably saw an example of it when you saw that little plant growing in a puddle of water in the rock. That’s what hydroponic growing is – it’s simply growing plants without soil.

But why should you try it? That’s what we’re going to talk about today.

When you think about hydroponically growing plants, you probably get this vision of complicated systems and expensive grow lights, but that’s not the case. Growing plants using a hydroponic system is actually easier that using a soil-based system, as you’ll see in a bit.

You can use water alone, gravel, sand, coconut husks, or even artificial materials to secure the roots of your plants, but the idea is to choose a medium that allows the water to flow freely around the roots of the plant.

Here are just a few advantages of growing hydroponic plants.

Plants Grow Faster and Yield More Fruit

Studies show that plants grown hydroponically grow 30-50 percent faster than soil-grown plants and also yield more fruit. This is probably because there is a constant supply of water and the nutrients are delivered straight to the roots throughout the day.

Since the plant doesn’t have to search through the soil and break the nutrients down in order to absorb them, it’s free to use that extra energy to grow and produce.

Also, there is generally more oxygen in water than there is in soil. This helps the plant absorb nutrients faster and it also promotes root growth.

No Weeding

Since you’re controlling the medium and you only plant what you want in it, you’re not going to be dealing with weeds, and if you do manage to get a couple weed seeds blown or carried in, they’re easy to pluck out, roots and all.

This saves you time, and prevents the plant from fighting with weeds for nutrients and water.

You Control the Nutrients and pH

One of the biggest problems that we face when we grow plants in dirt is that we’re often at the mercy of the quality of the soil. Without sending it off to be tested, it’s tough to tell what nutrients are in your soil and how acidic it is.

Since some plants prefer a more acidic soil and others prefer neutral or base soil, you’ll find that some plants grow better in your soil than others.

With a hydroponics system, you take all of the guesswork out of the growing process because you control the amount and type of nutrients as well as the pH. This is another reason that plants are healthier and more productive.

You Know What you’re Eating

You really don’t know what’s in your soil even if you’ve lived there for 20 years because pesticides, chemicals, and even acid rain can contaminate it with all sorts of harmful materials. When you grow your plants using the hydroponics method, you know exactly what’s in the food that you eat.

Year-Round Fruit

Because there’s no dirt to mess with, hydroponic systems are exceptionally easy to manage indoors or in a greenhouse, which means that you can have fresh produce year-round.

If you get sick of growing tomatoes, just switch them out and grow some basil to go with them. Since your plants will also yield more fruit, you’ll really ramp up your production.

Indoor/Outdoor Options

We just mentioned that hydroponic systems are easily adapted to indoor growth, and there is more than one reason why that’s a good thing. First, you don’t have to go out in the rain or heat to tend your plants, or look at a snow-covered, barren garden in the winter.

That’s great, but what about security? If you’re growing plants inside, nobody will know what you’re doing. In hard times, when you’re trying to survive, this can be a deal-changer. And you don’t necessarily need much room for an indoor hydroponics system, either.

As a matter of fact, we’ve tried on, the Plug & Farm Towers can be mounted against a wall and only extends about 6 inches from the wall. It’s only a few feet wide and tall, but is designed so that you maximize your growing space. You can use it in an apartment or even a slightly large closet as long as you have the necessary lighting.

Less Space

Unlike traditional soil growing techniques, hydroponic systems lend themselves nicely to growing in stacked trays. I’ve seen many setups that range in size from the Plug & Farm Towers to ones that consist of 5 or 6 layers of trays that are several feet wide with a couple of feet between each layer.

If you use a gravity system, you can get quite clever with your angles so that each layer trickles down to the next, then is fed back up to the top again. Even using a hydroponics system that large, you’ll still be using very little water in the scheme of things.

Vertical crops

Soil Quality Doesn’t Matter

This one sort of goes without saying since you’re not using soil. To drive home the point, though, I live in Florida and the soil is extremely sandy, with just a bit of loam on the top. Tomatoes grow OK here in that, but they’re merely compared to ones that I grew in the rich soil of West Virginia.

However, if I use a hydroponics system, I don’t have to worry about soil quality. If you pair this with an indoor growing system, you can grow pretty much anything.

Lower Water Requirements

Any plant needs water because that’s how it absorbs nutrients.

Now, of course we can’t give an exact number here because the US has such a wide variety of soils and rainfall amounts, but in soil that’s not too wet or too dry, and grown in conditions that aren’t miserably hot with low humidity, it will take about 20 gallons of water per week to water a 32 square foot garden. That’s a garden that’s roughly 5 feet x 6 feet.

Now, if you have to water an area that large using a hydroponics system, you’re going to use as little as 1/4 of that. Maybe less if you’re filtering and oxygenating the water, because it’s a re-usable source.

In other words, with a soil garden, you’re going to be using 80 gallons per week, but in a hydroponics garden, you’re going to be using that initial watering (5 – 7 gallons) over and over again.

When you’re in a survival situation, that’s a huge difference in the amount of something that you need to live! In essence, that saves you an extra 15 gallons just in the first week, and, even assuming you lose a couple of gallons to evaporation weekly, you’ve still saved at least 40 gallons. That’s enough water for almost two people over a month!

Diseases and Pests are Easier to Get Rid Of

The way that many diseases and pests attack your plants to begin with is via soil. So, since you’re eliminating soil, you’re also eliminating much of the risk of your plants becoming infected. And one of the main reasons that pests and diseases are so hard to get rid of if you DO get them in soil-grown plants is because they hide in the soil and keep reinfecting your plants.

With a hydroponics system, there is no dirt to hold the pest or disease, so they’re easier to get rid of if you are unfortunate enough to contract them in the first place.

Greater Variety

Since you’re no longer dependent on soil quality or large land areas, and you can easily use a hydroponics system to grow year-round in a greenhouse or indoors, you can grow basically whatever you want.

You can also experience three or even four growth cycles (depending on what you’re growing), so even if you have a smaller growing area, you can grow one plant this cycle, and another plant the next cycle.

Physically Easier to Grow and Harvest

You can grow your plants at whatever height is comfortable to you – just build your system accordingly. That means that you don’t have to bend over on your hands and knees like you do when growing a traditional garden.

You don’t have to weed the garden, either, at least not on any serious level. If you do need to pick out a few, they pull out easily because their roots aren’t buried in dirt.

Now that you have a few really good reasons to try a hydroponics system to grow your fruits and vegetables, get started! We’ve provided a link to one that we’ve personally tested. It’s efficient, easy to assemble, and simple to use.

It’s also big enough to make a nice wall garden outside, but small enough to use inside even a small apartment. And with only 10 minutes a day you’ll never have to worry about feeding your family again.

Click the banner below to grab your own survival farm!

This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia. 

This Is The Smart Way To Invest In Food!

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The Smart Way To Invest In Food

Remember when Mom or Grandma would send you to the pantry or down to the basement to grab another jar of pickles or peanut butter? There were probably at least a couple of extra jars behind the one that you grabbed.

That’s because they lived through times when having backup food meant the difference between eating and going hungry. They had it “just in case.” Do you practice this? If not, you should.

We live in unsure times. The United States economy is by far the largest in the world; more than twice that of China, the world’s second largest economy. US money and goods support the global economy to the point that if we suffer an economic collapse, we take the rest of the world down with us.

But there’s one solid way to hedge your future – a basic commodity that everybody will always need: food.

Considering the state of the nation right now, an economic collapse is just as likely as not – maybe even more likely. The crazy explosion in the US monetary system and the instability of our government doesn’t just make it possible that we’ll face hyperinflation in the near future – it practically guarantees it.

Food costs are going to keep increasing and in the case of an economic collapse, will quickly increase to the point that foods that are barely affordable to many households now, such as meat, will be completely out of reach. The price of many “affordable” foods such as sauces, pasta, rice, sugar and flour will likely increase to the point that they’ll barely be affordable, assuming they’re available.

Until recently, the primary concern for most of us was economic collapse, with governmental collapse being a peripheral concern. Now, in these uncertain times, either – or both – is increasingly likely. Both would bring about life-altering circumstances that would dethrone the current money-based system in favor of a barter system.

Guess what that does to all those stocks, bonds, and savings accounts (and for that matter, cash) when that happens: they become worthless. But do you know what gains value exponentially? Food. And to a lesser extent, hygiene products. Investing in both will give you the tools you need to barter, survive, and even thrive.

No matter how poor somebody is, they’ll always need to eat. That doesn’t mean that you should gouge them. It just means that you’ll have a commodity that will be of value to everybody.

So, investing in food is the way to go. Even if you only invest in it passively, without ever selling a single noodle of it, you’ll still be saving much more by buying food for tomorrow at today’s prices than many investments that most of us can afford would yield. The longer you eat food bought at today’s prices, the more money you’ll save.

Food costs, with the exception of fresh fruit, decreased for the first time in years from December of 2015 – December of 2016, but that isn’t anticipated to continue. The USDA anticipated a hike in 2017 based on stable conditions – in other words, before the political climate changed so radically. Essentially, you have the chance right now to buy at bargain basement prices and put off buying when the prices go up.

So, how do you invest in food? Well, there are several different ways, and you can do it, at least to a certain degree, no matter where you live or how much money you have.

Considerations to the Return on Your Investment

Unless you have a huge farm with numerous gardens and storage spaces, and a lot of money to feed livestock and grow fresh produce, you have some challenges. That’s OK. You just need to work with what you have and find a proper way to secure your future.

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Space

This is probably the biggest limitation that you may face. If you live in a 1-bedroom apartment in an urban environment, the only space you may have is a closet and some cabinets. That’s fine. Make the most of what space you have by stockpiling a variety of staple foods and hygiene items.

Even the cabinet under your bathroom sink will hold more hygiene products than you might think. The more you can buy now at a lower price, the more you’ll save. Utilize your space well, buying products that you’ll use, and that will last.

Shelf Life

No matter how much space you have, shelf life is always a consideration. If you buy enough food to meet your needs for five years but it expires in two, you’ve wasted your resources.

Allocate your money responsibly and with forethought. Know how much you and your household eat monthly/annually. Use the FIFO (First In, First Out) method and store food in a way that will preserve it for as long as possible.

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What Types of Food You Can Store

While you can save a ton of money on buying extra boxes of cereal and jars of peanut butter, there are some types of foods that will save you more than others.

For instance, meat, eggs, and dairy prices are anticipated to increase significantly more than cabinet foods but they don’t have much of a shelf-life. Consider your resources and storage capabilities when you plan your shopping.

Methods to Help You Invest in Food

Now that you know what you need to consider when you’re investing in food, let’s talk about ways to help you invest better so that you get the most bang for your buck.

1. Buy a Freezer

Milk, meat, and eggs just aren’t shelf-stable as-is, but they’re the top foods that increase quickly in cost. You do have some options. All of these products have canned or powdered options that have excellent shelf lives.

You can also can your own meat and butter, and you can buy a freezer to store up to a year’s worth of food. Believe it or not, all dairy is freezable.

Many people are worried about lack of electricity in the event of a collapse and avoid freezers, but the odds of complete electric failure are pretty slim if you have an alternative power source. Most meats and dairy store frozen for up to six months, or even a year. Also the cost of a freezer, if you have a proper place where you can put one, will be covered by the savings in a short time.

2. Build a Food Storage Space

If you have the space, build or buy an extra food/supply shed. The money that you save in food and necessaries will pay for it in very little time.

3. Use Coupons and Sales

If you combine coupons and sales, you’ll be amazed how quickly you can build a stockpile for next to nothing. It’s a matter of paying attention to what’s on sale.

For instance, today I bought 6 bottles each of ketchup, shampoo, and laundry detergent for $13 total. My total savings was $24. And that doesn’t even count what I’ll save by not buying later when the price is higher.

All three are products that I use and that would be valuable if something happens and I need to barter, so there’s no way I can lose.

4. Buy Popular, Necessary Products

There are some foods and products that everybody just has to have. Examples: flour, green beans, tampons, deodorant, etc. Don’t buy a ton of lima beans if they’re on sale unless you really love them because they’re not a popular food. Sometimes there’s a reason things are on clearance – nobody else wanted to buy it!

Also, if you’re preparing for a bartering situation, alcohol and tobacco are going to be premium, in-demand products. Cigarettes are brutally expensive, but loose tobacco and rolling papers are fairly inexpensive and, as long as they’re sealed in air-tight containers, have a long shelf-life.

Regarding alcohol, remember that it’s not just for drinking – you can make tinctures and clean wounds and first-aid tools with it, too. Having extra vodka or bourbon is never a bad thing.

5. Buy Healthy Products

For some reason, people seem to want to pile in the boxes of cookies and cans of spaghetti-o’s because they’re cheap and delicious, but have no (or little) dried eggs, milk, canned meats, or meal stretchers such as flour and rice.

Think healthy. It’s important that you buy foods that you like – and cheap is good, too – but remember that you may be depending on your stockpile for survival. Stock up with healthy foods, too.

Also, canned milk, eggs, flour, rice, and other similar products are extremely versatile. You can eat or drink them as-is, or you can use them in recipes to make other products such as bread, cakes, side dishes, etc.

6. Buy in Bulk

This is our final point today, and it’s a big one because you may not need 20 pounds of flour or sugar now, but will you use it eventually? Of course you will, and it really doesn’t go bad as long as it’s stored properly.

A 20-pound bag of sugar often costs only a few bucks more than a 5-pound bag. Same with sugar. Compare cost per unit instead of just thinking of one being more expensive than the other. Dollars to donuts, bulk is almost guaranteed to be cheaper than smaller portions.

Now that you have some ideas about how to invest in food, start planning, then start buying. You can have a great stockpile built up in no time even if you just buy stuff that’s on sale buy-one-get-one-free and put back the extra. It adds up quickly, and you’ll have a nice nest egg sitting in your pantry or basement!

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This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia. 

11 Tips For Riding A Motorcycle In Bad Weather

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Survivopedia 11 Tips For Riding A Motorcycle In Bad WeatherYou’re out on a ride on a lonely backroad, thirty miles from home, and it starts pouring rain. Ideally, the best option would be to pull over and wait it out.

Realistically, you may have to pick up the kids, be riding to work, or be bugging out. At that point, pulling over is not an option.

Rain changes the game, but with the proper skills you can make the ride much safer when the roads are slippery and you can hardly see. Here’s what to do!

Wear a Full-Face Helmet

Wearing a full-face helmet, at least during inclement weather, is the first step toward making your ride safer. Broken legs heal. Broken skulls or brains usually do not.

As an additional bonus, a helmet serves to keep your head dry and warm and keeps the rain from beating in your face and eyes, thus preventing distraction and improving vision.

If you’ve never ridden in the rain, even a light drizzle feels like you’re getting hit with gravel when you’re going 40 or 50 mph. It’s hard to focus on the road and other drivers when it feels like you’re getting exfoliated with a sandblaster.

Adding a layer of Rain-x to your face shield will help repel the rain so that your visibility is improved even more.

Have Good Boots

There are all kinds of fancy boots out there that look great but remember that their primary purpose is protection.

For riding in bad weather, it’s good to have tall boots that cover your shins. This helps keep you warm and dry (if they’re waterproofed) as well as protect you from losing your footing when you put your feet down.

Especially in inclement weather, it’s important to have boots that have non-skid bottoms. You can find non-skids in every design – cruising and racing. The most important factors are comfort and grip, so try several pairs on to see which ones fit the best. Scoot a little to see if they truly are “grippy.”

Wear a Sturdy Coat Designed for Riding

I’ve been down twice – once while wearing a T-shirt and once while wearing full race gear, which included high-quality racing leathers. Fortunately, I was going slow – about 20 mph when I went down wearing the T-shirt, but I still have the scar on my arm from the road rash, and it was difficult and painful to clean out the dirt and gravel, and care for it while it healed.

When I was wearing the leather, I was on the track and went down at 65 mph. I had no skin injuries whatsoever, and I slid for over 20 feet. The leather made all the difference. I also have both a leather motorcycle jacket and a nylon/Kevlar jacket that’s more in line with the sportbike that I ride. The leather is waterproof and offers supreme protection in cold, rainy weather.

I specifically recommend jackets/coats designed for motorcycles because they have three features developed just for riding

  • the tail is longer in the back so that it doesn’t ride up,
  • there are zippers on the sleeves that zip so that they’re snug around your wrists to keep out cold air and rain/snow,
  • the zippers have pull tags on them so that you can zip/unzip with gloves on.

Also, the pockets zip up instead of down to prevent the zipper from opening while you’re riding.

Keep in mind that safety is number one priority when riding a bike and you have to be prepared for anything and to assume full responsibility for your personal safety.

Carry Survival Tools

I never leave the house without my backpack (saddle bags are nice, but don’t really come with sport bikes). I carry various survival/emergency items that include:

  • The common sockets/wrenches that fit my bike
  • Zip ties
  • Faro stick/striker
  • Fire starter – Vaseline-soaked cotton balls in a baggie
  • A Bracelet made of 550 paracord
  • A bottle of water
  • OTC pain killer
  • A knife
  • A baggie to put my phone and gadgets in so they stay dry
  • A couple of granola bars
  • A hand mirror
  • A whistle
  • A sweatshirt/extra T-shirt – wet shirts are miserable when you reach your destination, and it tends to get chilly once the sun goes down.
  • A small flashlight

Yes, that may sound like overkill and some of my rider friends tease me about it, but only until their bike breaks down or it starts raining and they want to put their phone in my baggie. Then I’m not so silly.

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Wear Gloves

Wearing gloves serves two purposes – they protect your hands and keep the oils in your hands from degrading the rubber in your grips.

Choose gloves that are reinforced on the top of the knuckles and palms in case you go down. Those are the two areas that are most likely to come into contact with the pavement.

Wear Chaps

You’d be surprised how much a pair of chaps protects your legs from the cold and rain/snow. Of course, they also provide an extra layer of protection in case you go down.

Avoid Road Paint and Other Road Debris

Now that we’ve covered gear, let’s talk about some road hazards. Road paint – you know, those white lines used at stop lights/signs or to designate parking spots – is like stepping on ice when it’s wet. Even in non-skid boots, it’s slick. Avoid it.

The same thing goes for sand, leaves, oil, and other materials that gather on the road. Watch where you put your feet.

Also, when it first starts raining, the oils, grease, and other slick material on the road is washed to the surface and distributed all over the road, so the pavement is going to be extra slick.

Look Ahead

In good weather, leave yourself plenty of room to see what’s on the road at least 30 feet in front of you. Double or even triple that if the roads are wet or icy.

Remember, you’re on two wheels, so you don’t have the ability to lock up the brakes, and if you run over something such as large stones, animal carcasses, puddles, or small limbs, it’s hard to stay in control.

Also, it tends to hurt when you rear-end them and you need more road to stop than you would in a car. Pay attention.

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Ride Staggered

I know that riding what’s called 2-up (side-by-side) seems nice, but it’s not safe for a wide variety of reasons, especially in bad weather.

You (and other riders) need room to dodge road debris, standing water or ice, loose sand or gravel, and cars that may not see you and come into your lane. You also need room in case you take turns a bit too wide or have a tire blow-out.

For all of the same reasons, you need to ride on the opposite side of the lane as the rider in front of you, with your front wheel no closer than several feet behind and to the side of him/her. In addition to being safer in case something happens, this also keeps you from getting a face full of road water coming off the spray of the rear tire in front of you.

Keep Bike in Good Repair

This is the safety tip that you can’t afford to ignore. If your bike breaks down in inclement weather on a back road, you may just find yourself stuck for hours or even overnight., a flat is tough to recover from when road conditions are perfect, but if they’re wet or icy, the chances of an accident increase exponentially.

Slow Down

It’s tempting to want to hurry to get somewhere warm and dry, but when you combine decreased visibility with poor road conditions, you’re asking for trouble. You’re likely already soaked to the bone, so another few minutes or so isn’t going to make much of a difference.

Riding a motorcycle in bad weather is hazardous to say the least. Following all of these tips will help to make it safer for you, but when it comes right down to it, you need to watch the weather, ride within your abilities, and use your common sense to determine what’s best for you in your individual situation.

Ride safe, and keep the shiny side up!

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This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia. 

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Survival Kitchen: How To Revive Cast Iron Cookware

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SVP cast iron skillet final

Want to know the best thing about cast iron skillets and pots? They’re practically indestructible and will last literally hundreds of years.

I used to have a couple that were well over a hundred years old. When they were stolen, I was heartbroken. Yes, that’s right. Somebody stole them. And that, my friends, is about the only circumstance from which you can’t revive your cast iron cookware.

Another great thing about cast iron is that, unlike most other kitchenware, you can use it on an open camp fire without damaging it. As a matter of fact, Dutch ovens were designed for just that use. They’re suitable to bury in the coals and use them as an outdoor oven.

Since you can use them outdoors, they’re excellent for making one-dish meals in and come in sizes that can accommodate a meal for one or a meal for ten depending on your needs.

How to Find Quality Cast Iron

I absolutely love this part – I have 6 different pieces of cast-iron cookware and I only bought one of them new. I found each of the other pieces at yard sales and junk stores.

Actually, I found the two skillets that were stolen at an old “antiques” store (translate junk shop) that sat along the highway leading into Mt. Airy, NC. I bought each of them for $5. Best 10 bucks I’ve ever spent.

This is the most important investment you can make to your well prepared survival kitchen!

I live in Florida now, and I still see them at about a quarter of the yard sales that I go to, and probably three quarters of the estate sales, and most of the time they’re listed at less than $5. The salvation army and Goodwill frequently have them, too.

You can, of course, also find them used online from places like eBay, Craigslist, Freecycle, and Letgo, and you can buy them new at any home goods or super store. Basically, cast iron cookware is about as easy to find as toilet paper. Well, almost.

What to Look For

The good thing about cast iron is that even if it’s got some surface rust, it’s usually redeemable. What you want to watch for, though, are integrity issues.

Check to make sure that there are no cracks, and rub your fingers along the sides and bottom to check for uniform thickness. Set it flat and make sure that it doesn’t rock. Test the handle and make sure it’s sturdy.

Make sure that there aren’t too many cooked-on rough spots because, though you CAN get usually get them out, it’s a lot of work considering how easy common pieces like skillets and griddles are to find. If it’s a good one and you’re willing to invest the elbow grease and the time it will take to re-season it, then use the rough spots as a means to talk them down on the price.

Just make sure that it’s actually a cooked-on rough spot, though, and not rust that’s been painted over. I’ve seen it, believe it or not.

If you flip the cast iron skillet or pot over and there’s a lipped ridge or rim around the bottom of it, it’s an old one. That lip was used to keep it steady on top of a wood burning cook stove, so you can figure it’s a good 100 years old, at least, and likely older.

There will also likely be a seam visible across the bottom. Don’t let on like you know what you have because, if it’s in good shape, you’ve found a gem!

How to Revive Old Cast Iron

Now that you’ve got your gem at home, it’s time to bring it back to life! What I’m about to tell you may earn me some frowns from “those who say so,” but I’m speaking from 30 years of experience finding, reviving, and using cast iron cookware.

  • If it has rust that won’t just rinse off, sticky stuff, or baked-on crusties, use a steel wool pad to scrub all of the rust off. All of it. Inside and out. Yes, I’m aware that they say not to do this, but who are ‘they’?
  • Now that you have a clean, rust-free surface, it’s time to re-season it. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and bake the piece until it’s almost too hot to handle.
  • Remove it and apply a thin layer of vegetable oil, olive oil, or solid shortening inside and out. No butter or cooking spray. You may want to put a cookie sheet under it in the oven in case it drips, but you really shouldn’t have that much on it.
  • Put it back in the oven and bake for an hour, then allow it to cool completely and repeat the process. I like to repeat twice, at least, so that the seasoning really has a chance to set.

Remember that this is just the beginning of the seasoning part and unless you were fortunate enough to get one that already had a nice seasoning to it, it may take a few uses for the seasoning to completely cure and build a hard, non-stick coating on the inside of the pot or skillet.

Video first seen on Tasty.

The first few times I use a new skillet, I like to cook fatty foods such as bacon, sausage, or other meats in them so that they can absorb the fat and really get a nice non-stick coating going. Before you know it, it will be the best egg skillet you have. Seriously.

People differ in how they like to clean their cast iron. Some say not to use any soap, ever – just wash it out with water and call it good. I have a bit of a problem with that because of silly little things like salmonella and other creepy crawlies that make people sick. I use soap, but make sure that I rinse it WELL.

I definitely do not use steel wool on any of my skillets or pots after they’re seasoned. You shouldn’t have to. If food becomes cooked on, I just put a bit of water in the skillet and if it won’t soak off in the sink after a few minutes, I place it on the stove with about a half-inch of water in it and bring the water to a boil. That usually works to get off any stuck-on food.

Once you’ve washed it, place it on the stove on low heat so that it dries completely, then add a thin layer of oil (I just put a drop in the middle of the skillet and wipe it around with a paper towel) and let it cool. Done.

I really can’t emphasize enough how important it is not to let your cast iron air dry. It promotes rust, plus each time you heat it and add oil, it helps keep it non-stick so that your great-grandkids can enjoy it long after you’re gone. They will appreciate it as much as we appreciate the knowledge that we’ve inherited from our forefathers.

We still have a lot to learn from our ancestors. Click the banner below to discover more of the secrets that kept them alive!

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This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.

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7 DIY Ways To Remove Odors From Your Pantry

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Ugh! You open the door to your pantry and your nose is assaulted with the vile smell of rotten produce, spoiled broth that spilled on the back of a shelf, or just plain mustiness. It smells as if it’s seeped into the walls, so how do you remove odors from your pantry without repainting the whole thing?

Surprisingly, you have several options. The first thing you need to do is clean up the mess. Thoroughly.

Until you do that, you’re not going to be able to get the smell out. If it ran down the walls behind the shelf, you may need to clean the wall clear down to the baseboard. Do whatever you need to do to clean it up completely.

Now, you’ve got the mess cleaned up, so how do you make it smell better?

Vinegar

You can always use a bit of vinegar to wipe down the walls and shelves. Just blurp a half-cup of white vinegar into a half-gallon of water and start wiping. This will likely make your pantry smell like vinegar for a bit, but it’s better than rotten potatoes.

Cleaning and wiping with vinegar is also good to get that musty smell out. Dust off the tops of your less-often used containers and just tidy up in general. Most of the time, it’s mildew or dust that gives your pantry that musty smell.

Vinegar can be used to get rid of cooking smells. Leave a small bowl of vinegar in the kitchen or in the pantry overnight to absorb the odors and you can enjoy cooking for your loved ones.

These lessons of yesterday will teach you the basic skills you need for survival cooking! 

Bleach

We all know that bleach kills almost anything, including bacteria that cause odors. Use 10 parts water to one part bleach to wipe down your entire pantry, shelves, floors, and walls, and you’ll soon notice that your pantry smells much cleaner.

If the mold and mildew have settled into rough wood, simply put your bleach solution in a spray bottle and spray it over the wood.

Baking Soda

OK, this one is actually best to use as a preventative measure, but placing a couple of boxes of open baking soda around your pantry will help prevent and eliminate most odors. You may want to use this in conjunction with other methods if you’re in a hurry or the odor is particularly offensive.

Change the boxes of baking soda out every few months to keep them working. This also works wonderfully in the fridge and freezer. Just pop the top and set it on a shelf. Baking soda is one of those must-have, multi-use survival items that you just have to have.

odor elim

Essential Oils

Many essential oils have antibacterial properties, and it’s not hard to find one that smells good. Mix several drops (how much depends on how strong you want it to smell. Use the sniff test til you find a ratio that works for you) into a half-gallon or so of water and wash down your entire pantry.

Some good suggestions are orange oil, rose oil, lavender oil, or even tea tree oil or eucalyptus if you like that piney, astringent smell. You can also add a few drops of essential oil to your vinegar to really get some bang for your buck and knock out nasty odors.

Charcoal

Charcoal is an excellent odor absorber and one that I particularly like because all you have to do is rip the bag open a bit and set it in your pantry. If you’re like me, you go through charcoal pretty regularly because you grill, so the bag doesn’t have time to lose its odor-absorbing qualities.

You can use charcoal in your cabinets, too. Just place a piece of two inside in the back and change it out every few months. Cool trick – if you have a plastic container that smells like onions or garlic, pop a piece of charcoal in it overnight with the lid on it and it will smell tremendously better by morning. The smell will likely be completely gone.

Mineral Oil and Alcohol

To remove stubborn odors from your pantry and condition and seal wood so that it won’t absorb more odors, mix 1 pint of mineral oil with a half-cup of rubbing alcohol and wipe all surfaces with it. Again, feel free to add a few drops of essential oil to make it smell good.

Lysol

Odors in pantries are typically caused by bacteria or fungi that are feeding of food or moisture and causing rot, mold, or mildew. Lysol, as well as bleach and vinegar, kills 99 percent of these pathogens and will therefore get rid of the odor. The distinct advantage that Lysol has is that it now comes in a variety of pleasant scents.

Lysol comes in mist and spray solution. Use the mist if your pantry just smells a bit musty (it’s handy to keep in the bathroom, too!). Use the cleaning solution if you’re cleaning up rotten produce or if the odor is so pervasive that you have to clean your shelves. Lysol cleaners are great to use when you’re spring cleaning.

Just a word of common sense caution: don’t spray Lysol on your food, especially produce that you’ll be ingesting directly.

Odors in your pantry can spread to your whole kitchen. If nothing else, they’ll assault your olfactory senses every time you open your door. Since the odor can be absorbed by boxed goods and even pastas and other foods, this is a case where an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Do you wonder what are the secrets that helped our grandparent survive during harsh times?

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How To Make Lye At Home

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Making Lye At Home

Knowing how to use what you have on hand to make what you need is one of the hallmarks of a true prepper or homesteader. So is repurposing items and avoiding as much waste as possible.

So, in that frame of mind, what do you do with all the ash left after you build a fire, or dozens of them throughout a winter? Make lye!

There are many uses for lye, chemically named potassium hydroxide. You may also hear it called caustic soda or caustic potash. There are two different chemicals referred to as lye – the type that we’re talking about today that’s made from wood ash, and sodium hydroxide, which is made from salt.

The reason that we’re focusing on the type made from ash is that all of the ingredients that you need to make it are already right there in your house. Actually, you only need two ingredients – water and ash.

That’s it. To make sodium hydroxide, which is a common ingredient in industrial cleaners and caustic products such as drain cleaner, you need carbon electrodes and a power source. Not exactly prepper-friendly.

What’s Lye Used For?

So what, you may ask, is lye used for? Well, several things. First, it’s a necessary ingredient in soap.

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You also need lye to make biodiesel and can use it to adjust the pH of your soil. There are also cooking uses for lye, such as making chocolate and preserving processed foods, but that’s pretty delicate and it’s completely outside my wheelhouse.

Oh, and lye also degrades soft tissues and, given enough time, will soften and break down bone. This was actually a trick used by a famous mobster to dispose of bodies. So on that note, let’s talk about how to safely handle lye.

Handling Lye

You need to exercise extreme caution when using lye because if it comes into contact with your skin, it will almost instantly start interacting with the fatty tissue to turn you into a bar of soap!

Seriously, that’s kinda what happens. Wear goggles because it can – and will – put you blind. It’s a good idea to use gloves and wear long sleeves, too. If you happen to get lye on your skin, pour vinegar on it to neutralize it.

Lye will also erode some metals – specifically aluminum – so be careful what you make it in.

Ingredients Needed to Make Lye

We’ve already discussed that you only need two ingredients to make lye: water and ash. Sounds easy, right? Yes it is, but you can’t use any water and ash or else the lye won’t leech properly out of the ash and it will be too weak to be effective.

Rainwater is the best and cheapest water to use. You don’t want to use tap water regardless of whether it’s city or well because of the minerals and chemicals in it. You can use water distilled using a steam process, but that can get expensive quickly. So, get a nice rainwater catcher and you’re in business.

It’s always a good idea to have rainwater collection vessels anyway, because it can be used as a backup water source or as a source of gray water to wash clothes and water plants. Well now you have yet another use for it.

You can’t use just any ash, either. Well, technically you can, but the soap that’s made from this type of lye made from softwoods and coniferous trees will be soft soap instead of hard soap. Good woods include ash, apple, hickory, beech, cherry, birch, elm, oak, walnut and maple.

You want to use hardwoods for your fires anyway because it burns longer, and we all know that you can’t use pine in your woodburners or fireplaces unless you want the resin to accumulate and burn you out at some point, likely in the middle of the night.

Lye Making Methods

So now that we know what woods and water to use to make the best lye, let’s talk about a couple of methods.

There are three basic ways to make lye at home:

  • the ash bucket method
  • the barrel method
  • the cooking method.

They all three work; it’s just a matter of personal preference and how much effort you’re willing to invest.

We’ll discuss them in the order that I just listed but again, a reminder not to use aluminum containers. Use glass, wood, enamel, stainless steel, or heavy-duty plastic.

One final tip: some of the old timers would add 2 percent or so lime to the ash mixture to make sure it produces a good hard soap. Salt works too, but you add it to the fat during the soap-making process instead of at the lye phase. Use about 2 ½ pints salt to 5 gallons of fat.

The Ash Bucket Method

This is pretty much exactly what the name implies. It’s kind of the lazy prepper’s way of making lye. Add a few cups of hot water directly to your full ash bucket and stir. Make sure you have a second ash bucket to hold your dry ashes! Let it sit for a few hours, stirring every thirty minutes or so.

Use a ratio of about 2 parts water to one part ash. Equal amounts work, too, but don’t exceed a ratio of around 3:1 water to ash if you want your lye to make quickly.

Once you’ve stirred it several times throughout the afternoon, do the egg test. This is a great way to test the alkalinity of your lye water. If you drop the egg in and it sinks, the lye is too weak and you need to let it sit for a while longer. Stirring more frequently may be helpful, too.

The lye has the perfect pH when the egg floats with about a quarter-sized part of it sticking out of the water. If your lye accidentally gets too strong, just add a bit more water. Throw the egg away when you’re done because it’s not edible after coming into contact with the lye.

Once your lye is perfect, pour it slowly and carefully from the ash bucket into another bucket making sure that you don’t pour any of the ashes into the mix.

Video first seen on Eddie Borges.

The Barrel Method

To make lye using the barrel method, you’ll need a water-tight wooden (or stainless steel) barrel and three catch receptacles. Drill several small holes in the bottom of the barrel, then set it up on bricks or blocks that you can get your catch basin underneath of it to collect the lye. Make sure it’s stable – the last thing you want to do is spill lye everywhere.

Line the bottom with a layer of clean stones so that the straw that you’re using in the next step doesn’t clog the holes. Put a thick layer of straw over in the bottom of the barrel, then fill it almost all the way with ash. Pour hot water over it, then remove the container underneath that’s now full of weak lye water.

You’ll have to repeat this process several times, just pouring the used, filtered water over the ash and straw until the lye becomes strong enough. Just so you know, the lye is perfectly fine, but the straw may discolor it a bit by turning it yellow.

After you’ve repeated this process five or six times, do the egg test and continue accordingly.

Alternatively, you can use a barrel with a spigot instead of the holes and just let the water sit in it for several hours and test. When it’s done, just drain the lye out the spigot, leaving the ash residue behind.

The Cooking Method

This method is perfectly acceptable but you need to make sure that the room is well-ventilated just to be on the safe side. We’re going to start the process by adding the ashes and the water to your pot. Bring it to a slow boil or simmer and cook it for a half hour or so, then allow it to cool and do the egg test.

If it’s not strong enough, pour the water over a fresh batch of ashes and repeat until your lye is as alkaline as it needs to be. And be careful that none of it splashes on you as you boil it.

See, now that you know that lye isn’t so hard to make, you can do it yourself whenever you need it as long as you have ashes and rain water, just like our ancestors used to make it.

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How To Make Soap On A Rope For Survival

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How To Make Soap On A Rope For Survival

I can remember as a kid, my dad would get soap on a rope as a gift and it never made much sense to me. I thought, hmm, what a weird thing to do to soap. That’s life as a modern kid in a civilized world.

Soap on a rope was a novelty item, and now it’s practically unheard of. So, what was its purpose, and why do you need it as a survival item?

Originally, soap on a rope was invented by the English Leather Company in 1969 to keep their soap from getting soggy and dissolving. Yep, tricked me, too; I would have guessed that it’s much older than that, but apparently not. Still, I’d be amazed if at least one enterprising pioneer didn’t think to make this novelty, because it’s truly ingenious if you think about it.

Since soap can be made mostly with ingredients that you already have around the house, let’s make some soap on a rope.

Why would you want your soap on a rope?

Think about it. Many good soaps take months to cure properly, so wasting even one bar is foolish in a survival scenario because good hygiene is going to be what saves you from disease. Since it’s also going to be a huge trade commodity, you’ve literally lost what will equate to money if you lose a bar or soap or let it sit in a puddle and dissolve.

Enter soap on a rope. You can take it to the river with you and hang it around your neck or your wrist – a wrist rope seems more functional to me – so that you don’t lose it in the stream or drop it in the dirt. You can also hang it up to dry so that it’s not sitting in dirt or a puddle of water that will cause it to dissolve.

Soap on a rope is one of the most simply frugal ideas I can think of.

But, how do you make it?

The short answer: just like you make any other soap, except you put a rope in it.

The long answer? Well, OK. Let’s have a quick soap-making tutorial.

Can I make soap without lye?

In order to make a solid soap, you’re going to need wood ash, because of the lye (sodium hydroxide) in it. Of course, right now you can just buy lye, or buy melt-and-pour soap that’s already been saponified (the process that lye instigates that causes the liquids and fats to mix and gives soap it’s cleansing properties), but that won’t be the case if SHTF, so it’s good to know how to make it yourself. You’ll be surprised how simple the process is.

And 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 ingredients.

These survival lessons from our ancestors will teach you how to take care of your hygiene when there isn’t anything to buy. 

The number one thing that you need to know about soap making is that you need to follow the number one rule in chemistry class – use safety equipment and precautions. Lye is extremely caustic, but if that worries you, just remember that fire is lethal too, but that doesn’t stop you from cooking and camping. Just be careful.

And no. You can’t make soap without lye. If you try to, you’ll just have a bucket full of fat and water. The lye causes the saponification process that allows them to mix and gives soap its cleansing properties.

If made correctly, there is not unreacted lye in the soap, but it’s important to use the right ratio of lye to water in order to make sure that this is the case. There are many soap calculators that you can find to help you with this process until you have it down.

A couple of safety tricks to remember – always add the lye to the water, not the water to the lye. As soon as you add the lye, the chemical reaction will start and the mixture will heat up ad steam for 30 seconds or so. Keep a bottle of white vinegar on hand to neutralize the lye if it splashes on something. It will eat a hole in cloth or burn your skin.

Stir immediately so that the lye doesn’t settle in the bottom and possibly cause an explosion (don’t be a baby – you can do this. Granny Clampett did and look how long she lived). Seriously, though, don’t worry about it overly much; just be careful and do it right and you’ll be fine.

Making the Soap

The only ingredients you actually NEED to make soap are water, lye, and fat. That’s it. Of course, smell-good agents, essential oils, and colors make it smell nice, add therapeutic properties, and make it look pretty, but they’re not necessary to make soap that will get you clean.

Now, to make soap on a rope, you obviously need the soap to be solid, so if you’re making your own lye, use wood ash from hardwoods. Otherwise, your soap will be soft.

There are a variety of fats that you can use, including tallow, lard, olive oil, coconut oil, jojoba oil, avocado oil, or any of the “butters” – cocoa, shea, or mango butter. You’ll want to use a combination of fats and oils in order to have the right consistency.

There are two ways to make soap: hot processing and cold processing. As the names suggest, one method requires heat and the other doesn’t.

The main difference is that the heat in hot pressing speeds up the saponification process so that your soap is ready in days instead of weeks, like it would be with cold-processing.

Here’s a cold processing recipe from DIYNatural.com. She’s been a soap maker for many years, and actually teaches university classes on the subject.

Ingredients

The notes after the ingredients are hers, not mine, and I’m paraphrasing her directions. I’ve also added in the rope, and the rope instructions.

Soap on a rope ingredients

Process

First is the chemical reaction, so use gloves and goggles if you so choose. Measure out the water into a quart-sized canning jar and slowly add in the exact amount of lye, stirring as you add it. Stand back a bit so that you’re not breathing the fumes caused by the chemical reaction. Stir until the water starts to clear, then move to the next step.

In a smaller container, combine the oils. You should have almost exactly a pint. Heat them up for just a minute either in the microwave or by placing them in a glass jar and placing them in hot water. You want the temperature of the oils to be about 120 degrees.

By now, the lye mixture should have cooled to about the same temperature. Let the oils and the lye cool until they’re between 95 and 105 degrees F. This is an important stage because if it cools too much it’ll combine quickly but it’ll be crumbly.

When they’re both at the right temperature, pour the oils into a glass mixing bowl and slowly stir in the lye until it’s all mixed, and keep stirring for 5 minutes. The soap mixture will thicken and become lighter in color. Keep stirring either with by hand or with an immersion blender until it looks like vanilla pudding. When it does, add your colors, oils, or herbs.

Pour your soap into 4 molds, or one loaf pan or cardboard box lined with parchment paper that will make 1 solid piece that you can cut into smaller bars. Pour the soap into the molds or pan. Double the rope over into a loop and press the ends down into what will be the center of each bar of soap that will extend from one end of the bar to the other.

Wrap the mold in plastic wrap and then in a towel so that the saponification process can start.

Check it after 24 hours and if it’s still warm or soft, let it sit for an addition 12-24 hours. When it’s finally cold and firm, turn it out onto a piece of parchment paper.

If you made one solid piece, cut it into bars now, making sure to cut it so that the rope runs down the center of each bar.

Since this was a cold process, the soap will need to cure for 4 weeks or so. Turn it every week or so to expose all sides to air. You can also cure it on a rack and won’t have to turn it. Once your soap is completely dry, wrap it in wax paper or store in an airtight container because homemade soap makes its own glycerin, which attracts water.

Now you know how to make quick and easy soap on a rope!

Do you wonder how our forefathers took care of their personal hygiene when they traveled for months?

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This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.

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How To Make Your Own Aspirin For Survival

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How To Make Aspirin

Knowing how to make a natural pain reliever if you’re stuck in the wild can be a life-saver. Because aspirin is a pain reliever, anti-inflammatory, blood thinner, and fever reducer, it has many uses. Fortunately, most of the United States hosts a tree or three that has salicylic acid – the active ingredient in aspirin. We’re going to tell you how to make your own, sort of!

First, remember the rule – “natural” doesn’t equal “safe.” Arsenic is natural but you wouldn’t eat it. Well, you might, but the results would be less than desirable! Anyway, now that you’ve been warned, apply the rule to aspirin.

Some people are allergic, so it’s important, especially in a survival situation, to know whether or not you can safely take it.

Side Effects of Aspirin

Aside from the results of being allergic, there are some common side effects that you may experience even if you can take it. These include:

  • nausea
  • headache
  • dizziness
  • drop in blood pressure
  • excess bleeding from wounds
  • kidney irritation
  • respiratory depression.

Consuming too much can be fatal, so take only what you need to do the trick.

Plants that Contain Salicylic Acid

Willow barkThough willow tree bark is by far the most common source of salicylic acid because it’s so rich in it, there are several other plants that contain the acid, or its base, salicin.

For instance, birch trees and poplar trees contain salicylic acid in their barks, and berries are a decent source of it, too.

Medicinal use of willow bark dates back to the days of Hippocrates, when it was used to reduce fever and treat inflammation.

It’s been used throughout the centuries across the world, and is still used today, to treat pain (particularly back pain and arthritis pain), menstrual cramps, headaches, stroke prevention, high blood pressure, and inflammatory conditions such as tendonitis and bursitis.

Topically, white willow bark tincture or birch bark tincture is good for treating skin conditions such as acne, warts, psoriasis, or eczema. Though all willow trees contain salicin, the bark of the white willow has the most.

Other good sources are the purple willow, black or pussy willow, and the crack willow. You should research your area so that you know which, of any, of these trees are local to you.

If you don’t live in an area that has willow trees, birch trees, particularly white and yellow birch trees, contain methyl salicylate, the forerunner to synthetic aspirin. The white birch is also called canoe birch, sweet birch, silver birch, or lady of the woods.

Cottonwoods, poplars, meadowsweet, and black haw also contain salicosides. In all of these trees, the inner bark is the medicinal part. That’s the papery part of the bark that you find when you peel the bark away from the tree.

If you don’t have any of those trees around (which would be rare in the US), many fruits and vegetables, including blackberries, blueberries, cantaloupe, grapes, dates, kiwis, guavas, apricots, olives, green peppers, radishes, tomatoes, chicory and mushrooms, also contain significant amounts of salicin.

For today, we’re going to focus on how to make aspirin from willow bark and birch bark. Both white birch and willow trees grow in zones 2-9, which includes almost the entire US except for the southernmost part of Florida, and maybe a few southern parts of California, Texas, and Arizona.

Get this lifesaving information about surviving when doctors, pharmacies and hospitals are shut down!

Both trees like moisture and are typically found growing wild in forests and around a water source. Look up your area, determine which types of trees you have around you, then scout them out. For that matter, it won’t hurt to have some willow or birch bark on hand at all times if you prefer natural treatments.

How to Make Aspirin from Willow Bark or Birch Bark

Remember that dosage is important because willow bark, in too high a dose, can make you really sick. Same thing with birch or any other source. If you’re new to the game, it’s probably best to start with a smaller dose and take a bit more if you don’t see results in 45 minutes or so.

A white willow has a rough, furrowed, grayish bark, smaller branches that are golden brown, slender, and flexible, and long, slender, finely serrated leaves. The tops of the leaves are shiny and green, and the undersides are silky and white. They alternate instead of being opposite each other on the branch.

To find physical descriptions of other willows, check your local guides. A good test, though, is to look at the leaves. Willow tree leaves share the same characteristics regardless of species.

After you’ve found the tree, it’s time to harvest the bark. This is easy – just peel away a piece of the bark, making sure to get the papery part between the hard bark and the meat of the tree. It’s much easier to peel the bark from smaller branches than from the trunk of the tree.

At this point, the bark can actually be chewed to achieve local anesthetic benefits as well as systemic ones, especially if you have a toothache. You can also make a tea, tincture, or powder from it.

Video first seen on Howcast.

Willow Bark or Birch Bark Tea

To make the tea, let the bark dry for a few hours if you can. You don’t have to, but it’s recommended for best results.

Bring about 3 cups of water to a boil, if you have that much to spare. If not, use what you have. Put the bark in and continue to simmer. This serves two purposes – you’re making the tea and purifying the water at the same time.

If you’re using heat to purify the water, make sure to boil it for at least 10 minutes, with or without the bark. Use about 1 tablespoon of bark for each cup of water. Simmer for 5 to 10 minutes and remove from the fire.

After removing your tea from the fire, let it steep for 10-20 minutes. By that time, it will have cooled enough to drink. Drink a cup of the tea every few hours. Watch out for side effects and adjust the dose accordingly.

You can also make a decoction by boiling for a bit longer – 15-20 min – and letting it steep as directed for the tea.

Making Willow Bark or Birch Bark Powder

Without a doubt, the powder form of willow bark is the easiest to carry with you. If you have it on hand, you can quickly make a tea. To dry the willow or birch bark, simply separate out the paper parts and allow them to dry completely. Grind. Add a teaspoon to a cup of boiling water and make your tea as described above. Store excess in a dry, airtight container.

Make Willow Bark or Birch Bark Tincture

As we’ve described in another article, tinctures are great for long-term storage, or for use with plants that don’t have a high degree of solubility. It’s easy to make a tincture from willow bark or birch bark as long as you have some alcohol. Vodka will do nicely as long as it’s at least 80 proof. Simply add 1 tablespoon of bark per cup of vodka, cover, shake, and let it steep for at least 2-4 days. Take 1 tsp of tincture 2-3 times daily.

Now you know how to make aspirin tea from a willow tree or a birch tree. The upside to these treatments is that you know exactly what’s in it, but make sure that you know what you’re doing and remember that it’s better to start with too little that too much.

The dosage amounts that I’ve listed here are for adults. You can also use aspirin for kids and pets, but the dosage needs to be adjusted accordingly. Just as with all natural remedies, don’t use them if you don’t know what you’re doing.

If you’ve ever made your own aspirin or used willow bark or birch bark for natural pain relief or to reduce a fever, please tell us about your experience in the comments section below. And remember that knowledge is the only doctor that can save you when there is no medical help around you.

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This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia. 

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Survival Food: 5 Hearty Soup In A Jar Recipes

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Soup in a jar

We’ve already discussed how to preserve many foods, and even entire meals, by canning them using either pressure canning or water bath canning. Canning entire meals in a jar provides both convenience and nutrition; both of which will be to your advantage in a survival situation.

The difference between the two types of canning is that any food that is low acid, which is most vegetables and all meats, needs to be pressure canned in order for the food in the jars to reach a temperature that will kill all microorganisms such as botulism that will make you sick.

The general rule of thumb is that you process pint jars for 60 minutes and quart jars for 75 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure for vegetable soups, and 75 minutes for pints/90 minutes for quarts for meats. Leave 1 inch of headspace in the jars.

If you’re canning something with dried beans, put them in a pan and cover them with a couple inches of water. Simmer for 2 minutes, then remove from heat and let them soak in the hot water for at least an hour. Bring back to a boil, remove from heat, drain, and add to the soup.

The general rule for canning soups is that you have half small cubed solids and half liquid. This may sound like a lot of liquid, but by the time the other ingredients absorb the water and swell, it will be nice and hearty.

You want that much liquid in the beginning so that heat can circulate evenly, but when it’s finished, you’ll find that it’s about 3/4 solids to 1/2 liquid. Just enough to soak some bread in!

Don’t Overcook

The main thing to remember when canning soups is that you don’t want to cook it until it’s mush. You lose both flavor and nutrients at that point. This means that you’ll likely pack everything into the jars nearly raw. You can make soup and then can it, but if you do that, just know that many of your veggies will be pretty soft, and some will cook away altogether.

Bring everything to a rolling boil for 5 minutes or so, just long enough to get everything good and hot, then pack it into your jars and process. Let it cook in the jars.

With the long cooking times, you may find that rice (not instant) is better in your recipes than pasta, which cooks to goo.

These lessons of yesterday will teach you the basic skills you need for survival cooking! 

Sterilize and Clean Everything

This is the key to successful canning. Your jars need to be sterilized before you put food in them.

Do this by washing them in hot, soapy water. The same thing goes for all of the equipment that you use, including lids, rings, spatulas and anything else that will come into contact with the inside of the jar, or the food.

Video first seen on Marjorie Vangenewitt

Now, without further ado, let’s get to the recipes!

And remember – you can adapt any of your favorite recipes so that you may can them and have your favorite meals anytime that you want.

Canning isn’t just about planning for the apocalypse. In fact, that’s just an added bonus. Canning is a means to preserve healthy food that you’ve grown yourself, so that you know what you’re putting in your body. If you have some left over, then even better!

5 Delicious Soups in a Jar

1. Italian Rustica

  • 2 gallons tomato juice
  • 3 cups cubed carrots
  • 2 cups chopped green beans
  • 2 pint canned tomatoes, rough chopped, not drained
  • 4 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon rosemary
  • 2 teaspoons thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 tablespoons chopped or dried oregano
  • 2 cups dried rice

Combine all ingredients except the rice in a soup pot. Bring to a rolling boil, then add the rice. Pack into jars and process. Yields about 12 quarts.

2. Ham and Bean Soup

  • 2 gallons water
  • 4 cups dried northern or cannelloni beans
  • 4 cups chopped ham
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper

Soak your dried beans as discussed above. Bring them to a boil, along with the salt, pepper and ham. Pack in jars and process accordingly. Yields about 12 quarts.

3. Beef Stew

  • 4 pounds beef tips
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dried rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon dried tarragon
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cups sliced carrots
  • 4 medium potatoes, cubed
  • 2 cups celery, diced
  • 1 pint canned tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 gallons beef stock

Braise beef tips with the onions and celery in a skillet just until rare but browned on all sides. Add all other ingredients and bring to a boil. Pack and process accordingly. Yields about 16 quarts.

4. Cabbage Stew

  • 4 pounds ground meat, your choice
  • 1 head cabbage, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cups carrots, chopped
  • 1 pint canned tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 cup celery, chopped
  • 3 gallons water
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder, or to taste

Brown your meat in a skillet and drain. Add it along with all other ingredients to your stockpot and bring to a boil. Process accordingly. Yields about 12 quarts.

5. Southwest Stew

  • 3 cups white rice, not instant
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 quart diced tomatoes with juice
  • 4 pounds chicken breast, chopped
  • 3 cups corn
  • 3 15 oz. cans black beans, drained
  • 2 tablespoon dried cilantro
  • 2 packs taco seasoning
  • 1 small can green chilis, diced
  • 2 gallon chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Put all ingredients in a stockpot and bring to a boil for 5 minutes. Pack and process accordingly. Yields about 12 quarts.

All of these soups are both delicious and healthy, and fairly easy to prepare.

Do you wonder what where the cooking secrets that helped our grandfathers survive the Great Depression? Click the banner below to uncover them!

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If you have any recipes that you’d like to share with us, we’d love to hear from you in the comments section below.

This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia. 

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First Aid During Winter: Can You Handle It?

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Winter First Aid

In an emergency situation, it’s difficult to provide good first aid even in good weather, but if you must tend to sickness or injury in freezing weather, your job is going to be twice as hard.

You’ll have greater difficulty getting to a warm place to provide treatment, and snow and freezing weather will make it difficult to start a fire or find healing herbs that would be abundant in warmer weather.

You will also have to take care of yourself by wearing appropriate cold weather gear, which may impair you.

In this article we’re going to discuss how to meet these challenges and provide adequate first aid even in freezing weather.

How to Reduce the Risk of Injury

The first problem that you’re going to face is that chances for injury are going to be much greater. You’ll be facing the risk of frostbite, hypothermia, falls and hunting injuries. As a provider of first aid, the first rule is to avoid injury yourself.

In freezing weather, it will be an uphill climb to provide life-saving treatment without risking yourself as well.

Get this lifesaving information about surviving when doctors, pharmacies and hospitals are shut down! 

Hypothermia

The first challenge that you’re going to face when providing first aid is avoiding hypothermia on top of treating the injury, or perhaps the injury is hypothermia. The problem is that in order to treat hypothermia, you need a way to warm up the person, which isn’t going to be easy if you’re stuck outdoors.

In severe temperatures, your core temperature can drop dangerously low when exposed to the elements in a matter of minutes even if you’re awake and active. If the patient is unconscious, their body temp drops even faster because they aren’t moving about to generate extra body heat.

When you sleep, your body temperature drops by as much as a couple of degrees, which can be critical since hypothermia, by definition, is a decrease in body temperature. When you’re in a deep sleep, you don’t shiver to maintain body temp.

Your body also pulls heat from the shell (your limbs) to maintain core temp, which puts the extremities at risk for frostbite. Loss of blood increases the chance because blood is basically the hot water in your body’s radiator – the warm blood in your vessels keeps the surrounding temperature warm.

The take-away here is to keep the person awake and warm, even if he or she is in pain and you would normally encourage sleep.

Though you may need to shed at least your gloves or mittens to provide treatment of wounds, it’s critical that you stay warm in order to prevent becoming hypothermic, too. If both of you are down, there’s a high probability that you’ll both die.

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Frostbite

If a person has an injury that requires removal of clothing, such as a gash or puncture wound, there’s a much greater risk of frostbite.

Like with hypothermia, it doesn’t take long in freezing temperatures for frostbite to set in and cause potentially permanent tissue damage that can result in loss of digits or limbs, or even gangrene.

The risk is particularly high around the wound area because it’s wet so it’s important to get it dry and keep it dry, or at least under a dry dressing so that the wet material and flesh isn’t exposed to the cold.

Ice

Ice presents many problems when traversing terrain in bad weather. The risk of broken bones, severe bruises, concussions, and just about any other injury is increased exponentially if you’re walking or traveling on ice. It will also make it much more difficult to get an injured person to safety.

If you have to provide first aid in an icy environment, don’t forget the first rule – keep yourself safe.

If a person has fallen through ice on a body of water and you’re trying to save them, do the best that you can to ensure your own safety. Tie yourself to a secure tree or fixed object before going after them, and if you have to go out onto the ice, lay flat so that your body weight is distributed over a larger area.

If you have a path that you use several times a day, use rock salt to melt the ice. You don’t have to use much, but you will need to reapply it at least once per day to keep the water from the melted ice from re-freezing.

Some ice on a shelter may act as an insulator, but if it gets too heavy for the structure to bear, you’ll find yourself without shelter. Monitor and do what needs to be done.

Inability to Travel

First aid is called that because it’s often meant to be the precursor to a higher level of medical treatment. For instance, if a person has severed a digit or limb, or has a severe injury, they’re going to need more than a bandage and some antibacterial ointment.

Tourniquets can only be used carefully and for a short amount of time without causing tissue death or damage and wounds such as gunshot wounds need surgery if the bullet or foreign object is still in the patient.

Freezing weather, especially in a SHTF scenario, makes travel much more difficult. Trying to travel in severe weather may result in further injury to the patient, or injury to you, and we already know that’s the last thing that needs to happen.

The best way to prepare for this is to know how to make snowshoes and to keep a means of transporting a patient, such as a sled, handy in case you absolutely have to get out.

Proper vehicle maintenance will go a long way here, too. It’s also good to know how to make a litter to carry somebody should they be injured away from home or camp.

How to Keep Supplies and Equipment from Freezing

All of those great balms, ointments, and elixirs that you have stored in your first aid kit are likely to freeze, and the lubrication in your equipment can freeze and make them difficult, if not impossible, to operate.

The same thing can happen to cloth bandages if they’re even remotely damp.

Any liquid treatment made with a large percentage of alcohol will likely be fine. That includes tinctures and rubbing alcohol. Peroxide will remain liquid up to -60 F or so. If you’re in temperatures that cold, you have bigger problems that a need for peroxide! Other meds such as cough syrup or saline bags will be popsicles.

One med that you really need to keep from freezing is insulin. Every package insert I researched was adamant about not freezing the product. I did some further study, thinking that this was, perhaps, Big Pharma’s way of keeping you from stockpiling product.

What I found was that “R” type insulin may survive freezing and still be viable, while “N” types don’t fare so well. That being said, I am certainly not a doctor, or even a diabetic, so if you have to use frozen insulin, do so at your own risk and monitor your levels closely. Also know that you’re going to be affected by cold weather more than your non-diabetic peers.

For your other antibacterial and special-use ointments, it seems prudent to store them in small enough packages that you can warm them just by holding them in your hands or placing them in your sock or somewhere else on your body.

Carrying MRE heaters or heat packs to warm them as well.

To keep vehicles running in freezing weather, make sure to use a lower viscosity oil in any internal combustion engine and follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding the proper antifreeze to use in the radiator.

Working with Layers of Clothing

If it’s below freezing, providing treatment while wearing gloves will be difficult. Another problem is that the injured person may need to have protective layers of clothing removed to be treated. In both of these scenarios, the risk of hypothermia and frostbite is increased.

To protect yourself, always carry rubber gloves. This will help in two ways – it will keep you from getting your gloves and skin wet, and rubber gloves will help keep your body temperature in at least a little.

To protect your patient, provide treatment as quickly as possible and get them re-dressed immediately.

Again, carrying heat packs such as hand warmers in your medical kit can help – you can tuck them into areas such as armpits where the heat will be best utilized.

A nice down-filled jacket that was keeping a person warm ten minutes ago can quickly turn into a body-heat sponge that wicks away warmth if it gets wet. Carrying extra clothing in a water-proof pack can be a life saver.

How to Stop Bleeding and Wound Care

When your body is cold, circulation is increased, which means that your blood pressure goes up. Depending on what type of wound you’re dealing with and whether or not blood flow has been restricted in favor of keeping the core warm, it may be harder to stop bleeding.

If the cut is deep and on the trunk, you may have increased blood flow, which means you’ll have to work harder to stop the bleeding.  If it’s on an extremity, you may not have problems stopping the bleeding, but will want to make very sure that your bandage is loose enough that it’s not restricting what little circulation is getting to that area.

The bleeding may be large, medium or small, but in the vast majority of cases, (in 80% of them) the bleeding stops through compression if you press down for 3 to 5 minutes. This is one of the things that I’ve learned from dr.Radu Scurtu after reading his book “Survival MD”, but believe me that it’s only a tiny piece of the medical survival knowledge you can get from his guide.

One more thing to learn in order to properly stop the bleeding: take a good look at the color of your blood since it will tell you how bad the wound is and how likely is to stop it by yourself, without involving specialized help. Arterial bleeding has red, purple blood, venous bleeding has black, dark blood. In the first case, you might stop it by compression, but the second one is much more life threatening, and it’s very likely you will need to get the victim to the hospital as soon as possible.

Caloric Intake

We already know that your body needs more calories to properly heal, but it also needs more calories and possibly even more water, to survive in extreme temperatures. Part of this is because every chore is harder because you’re traveling in snow and bad conditions wearing a ton of clothing, and part of it is because your body burns a ton more calories just keeping warm.

Don’t be surprised if you have people experiencing light-headedness or sugar lows, especially if they’re diabetic, if you’re treating them in freezing conditions. Yes, it may be the onset of hypothermia, but it may also simply be that their body is out of gas or dehydrated.

Make sure that everybody in your party makes allowances for up to twice the caloric intake and at least half again the water requirements to avoid this problem. In a pinch, you can always melt snow and ice for water.

Providing adequate first aid in freezing weather will be challenging, but it’s not impossible. The important thing is that you educate yourself and understand the adversities that you’ll face before going in. As in all things survival-related, knowing and being prepared is half the battle.

How to Stay Dry

Aside from gushing wounds or injuries that render you unconscious, being wet is probably the quickest way to die in freezing weather. Wet clothing, including wet shoes and socks, leeches your body heat and causes your core body temp to drop at least as quickly as if you were standing there naked.

If you have a patient that’s gotten wet, the first thing that you need to do, after treating severe bleeding or more life-threatening conditions, is to get them dry. Pack extra clothes in a way that they won’t get wet.

Another point that you may not consider is that sweating makes your clothing wet. For this reason, dress in layers, with the layer next to your skin being made of a wicking material such as wool. This goes for your feet as well as the rest of your body.

If you’re wet, get dry immediately before the doctor … err, first aider … becomes the patient.

Building a Fire

First order of business when setting up camp should be to find a way to get and stay warm and cook food. Building a fire in snow isn’t nearly as easy as it is in warmer conditions but it’s definitely possible, especially if you have a good fire starter.

Carry a fire starting kit to help you kick start your fire.

Finding or Building Shelter

In warm weather, it may be just fine to sleep under the stars but in freezing conditions, you need something that’s going to hold in heat and protect you from the wind and freezing temperatures. In the end, it’s a survival situation and the rule of three is still applying.

If you’ve studied up on your bush craft, you should already know several ways to build a shelter that will sustain the conditions and hold in heat.

You can even build a snow shelter, though it’s a lot of work and takes hours to do. Ice and snow can act as insulators, though that seems counterintuitive. If for no other reason than building a wind-proof shelter, you should carry garbage bags, moon blankets, or tarps.

In addition to making the walls secure against the weather, you also need to make a floor that will protect you. Lying on cold ground will suck the heat right out of your body. You can use tree boughs, tarps, a thick sleeping bag, or even layers of clothing or newspaper to do this.

How to Avoid Detection

If you’re in a survival situation, you may need to avoid detection. That means that you won’t be able to build a fire during the day because of smoke, at least in an open area, and you’ll need to shield the light from dangerous entities at night.

Since a fire is just about a necessity in freezing weather, learn your local terrain and how to use it to build a fire that will keep you warm without giving away your location. If it’s absolutely not possible, you may have to resort to shared body heat to stay warm.

When I lived in WV and CO, there were numerous caves that could be used both as shelter and as a means to have a fire without being detected, but in many places, that’s not an option. Just know your area and work out ways to make this happen.

If you can think of other challenges to providing first aid in freezing weather, please share them with us in the comments section below. And remember that knowledge is the only doctor that can help you survive when there is no medical help around you!

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This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia. 

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Surviving Off-Grid: 4 Recipes To Cook In A Haybox

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Haybox cooking

I have to admit, this was a new one for me, and I thought that I’d tried every method of outdoor cooking invented since cavemen sporked frogs and roasted them over an open fire. As it turns out, haybox cooking is a combination of two of my favorite cooking vessels – a Dutch oven and a slow cooker.

This method came about during WWII when cooking oil was rationed for the war effort. The air spaces in the hay trap the heat, as will anything similar, such as shredded newspaper or corn husks. You want the hay to be fine, though, so that you can pack it tightly. You don’t want stems and brambles.

The basic premise is that you heat the food in its own juices, or water, and then once you bring it to a boil, you put it in the haybox, which insulates it, and let it finish cooking all on its own. Of course, this is a method that requires food that is in a broth, but that’s about the only limitation that I can think of.

You can use it for roasting, boiling, simmering, or steaming; as long as there’s liquid to hold the heat.

This would serve you well if you were traveling and couldn’t cook along the way, or if you don’t want to use a ton of fuel by cooking it over heat all day. For that matter, it’s great just to help you save on your electric bill! All in all, it’s an extremely efficient way of cooking.

Learn the secrets that helped our grandparents survive the Great Depression! 

What Is a Haybox Cooker and How to Build One

HayboxA haybox cooker is exactly what it sounds like – it’s a box full of hay that you cook in.

The idea is that the hay is packed around a Dutch oven that has food in it that’s already cooked to boiling. You transfer it from the heat source immediately to the haybox, pack the hay around it, close it up as tightly as you can, and go about your business.

It’s a natural slow cooker, and just like cooking with its electric-dependent sisters, it takes several hours for food to cook. How long exactly, depends on the initial cook time of the dish, how long it’s already cooked, how tightly the hay is packed, and how air-tight the box is.

As you can imagine, it’s hard to give an exact time, but a good haybox will hold usable heat for up to 8 hours.

If you already have a trunk or old military locker/box that’s about 30 inches cubed, then you’re already good to go. If not, build one.

Start by building a sturdy wooden box that’s as airtight as you can get it – try to score some scrap tongue and groove from your local mill or home-improvement store.

Build a box with a sturdy, tight-fitting lid. Line the box with sturdy paper or cardboard to seal any cracks that remain so that the heat can’t escape.

To cook in your box, pack it with about 3/4 of the way full of hay, then form a little nest in the center for your Dutch oven and pack it as tightly as you can get it.

How to Cook With a Haybox Cooker

Bring your food to a boil or simmer, then transfer immediately to the hay box. Pack the top and remaining sides with more hay as tightly as you can pack it and shut the lid. Let it cook, and you’re good to go.

Note: You can even make you haybox in a hole in the ground – how handy is THAT for living in the woods in a survival situation? In that case, you could use dried grass and leaves, or whatever you could find lying around as insulation.

Oh, and did I mention that you can also use the haybox to make frozen treats such as ice cream?

Just make your favorite ice cream recipe and pour it into a coffee can with a lid. Find a bucket that’s 4 inches deeper and 8 inches (total) wider than your can. Put 4 inches of ice and coarse salt in the bottom of the bucket, put the can on top of the ice, and pace more ice and salt around the can. Put it in the haybox and seal it up. You’ll have ice cream in about 4 hours! 

Video first seen on Organikmechanic. 

4 Delicious Haybox Recipes

1. Hearty Beef and Cabbage Soup

This soup is especially filling and comforting. It’s a great meal-in-a-bowl for busy weeknights – just turn it on in the morning and come home to a wonderful-smelling pot of soup.

  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 2 cups chopped red cabbage
  • 2 cups chopped green cabbage
  • 1 large white onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • 1 clove crushed garlic
  • ¼ teaspoon celery seed
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 dry bay leaf
  • 4 cups beef broth
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

In a large heavy skillet, cook the ground beef over medium-high heat, just until browned, breaking up with a spatula periodically until meat is crumbly. Drain all but 1 teaspoon or so of oil/drippings and return to heat.

Add the cabbages, onion, carrots, garlic, celery seed, paprika and cumin and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently, until it reaches a rolling boil.

Add all to the Dutch oven and add bay leaf and broth. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a rolling boil for 5 minutes. Transfer to hay box for 8 hours.

2. Steak Chili

Sometimes nothing hits the spot quite like a good chili!

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 pounds top sirloin steak, cut in 1-inch pieces
  • 2 12-oz cans dark red kidney beans
  • 4 carrots, peeled and cut in 1-inch chunks
  • 2 10-ounce cans diced tomatoes with green chilis
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 5 cloves crushed garlic
  • 2 10-ounce cans beef broth or 2 ½ cups beef stock
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 ½ tablespoons chili powder

In a heavy skillet, heat olive oil and then brown the steak (in batches if necessary) on all sides for about 4-5 minutes.

Add all of the vegetables to the Dutch oven, pour in the broth and add the seasonings. Stir well to mix. Add the steak, cover and bring to a rolling boil. Transfer to haybox and leave there for 8 hours.

3. Slow Cooker Beef or Venison Stew

There are few things that say “comfort food” better than a hearty beef stew. Slow cooking means the meat is always succulent and tender and you’re welcomed home with wonderful aromas.

  • 1 ½ pounds beef or venison stew meat
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 4 carrots, peeled and cut on 1-inch pieces
  • 1 stalk celery, sliced
  • 1 large onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 bunch fresh kale, trimmed and roughly chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 3 cups beef broth or stock, with ¼ cup reserved

Trim the stew meat of visible fat and cut into bite-sized pieces. Season with salt and pepper.

In a large heavy skillet, heat olive oil over medium high heat and brown the stew meat, in batches if necessary, about 4-5 minutes until browned on all sides.

Add carrots, celery, onions, potatoes, bay leaf and parsley to Dutch oven, then add meat. Pour 2 3/4 cups broth over all. Bring to a rolling boil for 5 minutes, then transfer to haybox for 8 hours.

4. Vanilla Ice Cream

Delight your loved ones with this classic and delicious frozen treat you can make in a haybox.

You will need:

  • 1 can sweetened milk
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 1/2 cups of whole milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar

Add fruits or nuts after it’s frozen.

Have you tried haybox cooking? If so, please share your experiences with us in the comments section below!

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This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia. 

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How To Speak Survival Abroad: SOS Signs And Languages

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Survivopedia How To Speak Survival Abroad Sos Signs And Languages

So, it just so happens that you’re on vacation in Italy when SHTF in a small or large way. You were dependent upon your little English-to-Italian dictionary or Google Translate, but somehow it seems inefficient to stop to look up the translation for “help me, I’m choking.”

Are there universal words or gestures that transcend language barriers so that you can survive no matter where you are? Sort of.

We’ve had some questions about learning a “universal language of survival” and we are going to adress them now.

“One thing I have never seen suggested is to learn a few key words or better yet, phrases, in multiple languages. As our communities become ever more diverse, knowing a few phrases in at least two other languages may make the difference between getting help or getting shot! Just knowing the word “Doctor” in another language may save you or a member of your family or team and could mean life or death in a SHTF meltdown. I hope we never need any of these things we prepare for but as my dad always drilled into my head, “Better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it!”. I had no idea how important that saying would be until I was face to face with a situation that required prior prepping to have survived it. Thank God I did and I am here to report it works but you need to do it now (prepping), when you find out you should have, it will be too late. Thanks daddy for riding me hard and may you rest in peace, I had it when I needed it!”

Twister Jones

First, understand that you need to be very clear when using gestures, and at least educate yourself a bit about local customs and gestures.

For example, the A-OK sign here (pointer and thumb touching, other fingers up), and in most other places, will get you a smile and an acknowledgement that everything is, indeed, OK. However, in France, it means zero or worthless. In Venezuela or Turkey, you’re implying homosexuality, and in Brazil, just go ahead and save yourself some time by flipping them the bird. That one’s universal.

The thumbs-up sign is another that you may want to avoid, especially in the Middle East. Here, we have a similar meaning if you start with the thumbs-up sign by your leg and jerk it up – it means, basically, “up yours.” There, just the thumbs-up is enough to convey the sentiment.

On the other hand, there are some gestures that are universal: shrugging for “I don’t know,” nodding for “yes,” shaking your head for “no” (except from Bulgaria, where they are reversed) and putting both hands to your throat to indicate that you’re choking. And that’s about where the open line of universal communication ends.

Even different militaries can’t get on board with a universal signaling system. There are, however, two realms that DO have international signals: sailing and diving. Very few people outside of those two worlds understand all or even most of the signals.

Learn the long forgotten secrets that kept our forefathers alive!

The same thing goes for Morse code. One thing that everybody should know, though, is Morse code for SOS, or distress. It’s three long (or slow) taps, three short (or quick) taps, and three more long (or slow) taps.

Video first seen on survivexnonprofit

Come here, or follow me

If you’re trying to get somebody to come to you or follow you, it may be a good idea to use the closed palm, sweeping gesture instead of the one-fingered come-hither gesture that is perfectly acceptable in the states. That one is offensive in several places.

Stop

This one is crazy confusing and has even been associated with examples of lethal miscommunications. Stop means stop, but there is no universal sign for it. Some people use a closed fist, which can be associated with a “right on” expression or even a Seig Heil-type sentiment.

An open palm, which is more common with Europeans, can be a sign of welcome or a sign that a person isn’t armed in some cultures. It is, however, the universal diving signal for “stop”.

Listen

This one actually is pretty universal. Cup a hand to your ear to tell somebody to listen.

Look

To get somebody to look at something, the gesture of pointing your pointer and middle fingers at your eyes, then toward whatever you want the person to see is fairly universal. Again, this is also the universal diving sign for look.

Distress

This one is much more universal, though not in a social scenario. You may have noticed that the distress signal in Morse code had a bunch of threes in it.

Three is a common number for distress signals. If you’re building an emergency signal fire or sign, place three fires or indicators in a triangle pattern. If you’re using a whistle, use three blasts.

Choking

This one actually has a universally-recognizable signal. Place both hands at your throat. If only everything was this simple.

Buddy up, or stay together

This one is pretty much universal. Point to the people that you’re referring to, then touch your index fingers together horizontally. You can also pair the middle fingers together with the pointer fingers, which may indicate more than two people.

I’m cold

Cross your arms over your chest and rub your upper arms.

Throughout my research for this article, I was hard-pressed to come up with any words at all that are universal, and very few signs or signals other than those used to indicate distress. I have, however, had some experience with diving and believe personally that their system is a good one. The signals are clear, concise, and universal to the diving community.

There are, of course, some signals that are local due to native dangerous fish, etc. but for the most part, the signs are recognized all across the community.

With a combination of signals and body language, you may be able to get your point across. For example, if you cross your arms over your chest with your fists closed and shake your head vigorously, people may understand that you’re trying to tell them that something is dangerous.

The “X” is sort of a universal code for dangerous or poisonous – think skull and crossbones.

There doesn’t seem to be any single word or phrase that can be used to communicate effectively even in a survival situation. The best thing that you can do is coordinate with the people whom you are traveling with.

It’s also a good idea to learn the native words for stop, danger, food, water, cold, shelter, help, come here, fire, exit, and any other emergency word that you can think of that you may need in a survival situation.

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This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia. 

References: 

http://www.neadc.org/CommonHandSignalsforScubaDiving.pdf

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Healthy Ways To Lose Weight After Christmas

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Lose Weight

Now that the Christmas season is over, you’re probably scared to even step on the scale. After a month and a half of cookies, candy, stuffing, gravy, and eggnog, you’re probably sucking in your breath to button your jeans.

Well what if I told you that you didn’t have to give up the good stuff to do get back into your skinny jeans?

Read on to learn how to lose weight and get back into peak shape so you’re prepared for any emergency that may come your way.

The Low Fat Myth

Back in the 50s, President Eisenhower had a heart attack and top nutritionists and other government agencies decided it was time to find out what was causing such an increase in heart disease and obesity.

They did some quick research and decided that dietary fat was the problem. After all, being fat was the problem, right? So, the idea to follow a low-fat diet as a means to become healthy was born.

The only problem with this conclusion is that they didn’t consider how the body works, nor did they factor in other behaviors and conditions that we now know are bad such as smoking, eating too much sugar, and not exercising.

We all know that if you eat a tomato your skin doesn’t turn red, right? Or if you eat an apple, you don’t become apple-shaped. Well, saying that you’re going to get fat if you eat fat is sort of along the same line of thinking.

Now before you start thinking I’m off my rocker, hear me out. I’m not saying that you should start gobbling down fat willy-nilly. I’m just saying that fat has been unjustly demonized. It’s true that our bodies take longer to burn fat, and that it burns it as a last resort, but what most “educated” nutritionists don’t realize is that the solution lies in that statement.

Our bodies take a long time to burn fat, which means that fat is a steady source of energy, once our bodies burn up all the carbs to get to it.

Think of your body like a camp fire. You light kindling and small bits of dried wood to get it going, and they flare and then quickly burn out. While they’re flaring, you put on a nice log that burns steadily for a long time, then add another log when that one’s about out.

Well, carbs are the kindling that burns hot and fast, and fat is the log that burns long and steady. That’s why they call it a “sugar rush”; you get a lot of energy quickly, then you bottom out. Carbs, even those from fruits and veggies, are not a viable source of consistent energy. Unfortunately, since fat has become a swear word in the nutritional world, the solution is to eat more carbs more often. Well guess what your body does with extra carbs? That’s right – it converts them to fat.

Your body has three sources of energy – carbs, fat, and protein – and it burns them in that order. You don’t want to get to the point of burning protein because at that point, you’re damaging your kidneys and losing muscle mass.

On the other end of the spectrum, though, you’ll struggle to find a consistent plane of energy by consuming carbs alone. That leaves healthy fats which, gram for gram, provide twice the energy potential as carbohydrates.

Why Big Business and Big Pharma Push Carbs

Ahh … as with most things, big business and big pharma don’t want you to lose weight. There’s no money in it for them because they make billions every year from pushing junk food, processed food, diet pills, and a host of medications that treat obesity-related conditions. Now that the money train’s rolling, they don’t want it to stop.

Just think how much money the general population throws to Big Pharma. High blood pressure medications, cancer medications, diabetes medications, Alzheimer’s and dementia meds, arthritis meds, sleeping pills, pain pills and the list goes on and on.

They don’t care about our health because they’re making a fat living off of our illnesses, pun intended.

The truth is that processed foods are killing you, and Big Business and Big Pharma are getting rich while you get fat and die.

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Junk In, Junk Out

It’s true that you are what you eat. When you eat garbage, your body rots. There are a whole host of conditions related to eating improperly (translation: too many processed carbs and bad fats), including:

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Alzheimer’s
  • Obesity
  • Metabolic Syndrome
  • Diabetes
  • Acne
  • Early Aging
  • Joint Pain
  • Chronic Fatigue
  • Bloating
  • Inflammation
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Brain Fog
  • Insomnia
  • High Cholesterol
  • Cancer

This is just the short list, and it’s now backed up by scientific fact.

Did you know that your brain is comprised of at least 60% fat and can’t function properly without it? Or that Alzheimer’s has been dubbed Type 3 diabetes because it’s now been linked to insulin resistance and deficiency in the brain? Well, now you do. Imagine the bucks that Big Pharma is going to make selling more Alzheimer’s meds to treat THAT.

Your brain can’t function properly without fat, and once people add healthy fat back into their diets and decrease carb consumption, one of the first two improvements that they note is increased cognitive function and weight loss.

Your brain isn’t the only organ that needs fat, either. Your gallbladder needs it to function, fat protects your liver from alcohol and other toxins and actually makes it dump its own fat cells, you can’t make critical hormones without fat, and your bones need it to adequately absorb calcium.  Oh, and they help you control the stress hormone that causes you to retain belly fat, the most unhealthy (and unappealing) kind there is.

And those are just a few ways your body uses fat. The complete list of whats and whys would be the length of a thesis, not an article.

Oh, and a steady supply of fat boosts your metabolism, even when you’re sitting still. Yes, I just said you can lose weight while you’re watching TV. And you can eat fat while you’re doing it.

Though modern science has proven over and over again that our bodies NEED healthy fats, even saturated fats, it’s been vilified for so long that the mindset is tough to change on a country-wide basis. Other countries who consume significant amounts of healthy fats, such as those in the Mediterranean, are twice as healthy as the average American. They’re significantly skinnier, too.

Good Fats vs Bad Fats

Now, that I’ve blathered on about how you need fat to get skinny, let’s talk about what kinds of fats. Specifically, you want to consume unsaturated fats such as those found in nuts and seeds and fatty fish, and healthy saturated fats such as those found in coconut oil, olive oil (which has both), butter, and, yes, even some red meat (gasp).

Good Fats

Omega-3 fatty acids are the real hidden gems in many good fats. They do everything from help you lose weight to preventing Alzheimer’s and are found in olive oil, fatty fish such as salmon, nuts, seeds, avocados and a host of other foods. They’re the gold standard of fats.

You know what fats you shouldn’t eat? Fake fats, aka, trans fats. This is man-made fat created by hydrogenating vegetable oil so that it stays solid at room temperature. They’re terrible for you. They really do lead to obesity, increased bad cholesterol and other diseases that most fats are blamed for. Like I said, it’s all about the good fats. Put down the margarine and butter your veggies instead.

Oh, and grow your own in compost that you’ve made because commercial ones are grown in nutrient-poor soil and aren’t nearly as high in nutrients as they used to be. You’ll notice that most of these low-carb foods I’ve listed can be easily canned or stored in other ways so that you can stockpile it. That will keep you healthy even if SHTF.

Now, we’ve given you a head start on how to lose those Christmas pounds, but how do you put them to use? Well, you know what you need to know to get started, but we’ve found a system that lays it all out for you. With it, there’s no calorie counting, no starvation, and no energy roller coasters.

The girl who created the system actually found it when she was reading the Bible looking for ways to help her husband, who had been diagnosed with ALS. She compared the way the bible instructed people to eat with modern scientific studies and came up with a plan that works.

It’s called the Shepherd’s Diet, and outlines exactly what you need to eat (or more accurately, what you won’t have to give up) as well as providing you with detailed shopping lists that help you buy the foods that you need in order to get lean and healthy.

Anyone can do follow her plan – remember, she came up with it while looking for a treatment for ALS – and it comes with some great free gifts, including a great guide to help you reduce stress with food.

It really is worth checking out. If not, do your own research and put together a plan that incorporates the right balance of good fats, protein, and healthy carbs. The upside to the system is that she’s already done the work for you, but if you’re willing to invest enough hours, you can do it yourself if you insist.

Regardless, we wish you a lean, healthy New Year!

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This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia. 

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How To Choose Warm Clothes For Cold Days

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Cognitive function begins to be impacted when you lose just 2 degrees of body temperature. In temperatures below freezing, that can happen in just a matter of minutes if you’re not dressed properly.

The right clothing can quite literally be the difference between living and dying if you’re caught outside in bad weather.

Of course, keeping all of your fingers and toes and avoiding freezing to death are benefits of choosing the right clothes for cold weather, too!

Today we’re going to talk about the top considerations to keep in mind when choosing your winter clothing. Your primary goals are to stay warm and trap body heat inside.

Dress in Layers

The first and most important step to keeping warm is to dress in layers. This helps in several ways.

First, it allows you to shed some clothing if you get too warm. There’s nothing more miserable that sweating so much that your clothing gets wet, then being exposed to cold. Staying dry is extremely important if you’re planning on surviving long enough to warm your toes by a fire somewhere.

Layers also serve different functions. Your inner layer (or layers) should be made of something that wicks away sweat. A middle layer should be warm and insulating, and the outermost layer should block the wind. It’s also good to make this layer waterproof.

cold-weather-dressing

Now, most people make the mistake of only thinking about a coat; if you’re going to survive, you need to cover as much as your body as you can, while still maintaining mobility. You lose most of your body heat through your head, hands, and feet, so make sure that you keep those well-insulated.

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Layer One

The first layer, your long underwear, should wick away sweat. There are any number of synthetic and natural fibers out there, but the best wicking fabric is wool. Of course, it’s also itchy. Merino wool is much softer than other wools and wicks well, but it’s a bit pricey.

Of course, you can always get really into the project and raise your own sheep and make wool yarn so that you can knit your own long underwear, but that’s not an option, or a preference, for many people.

A cheaper, less time-consuming option may be to choose something other than wool.

Polypropylene doesn’t absorb moisture at all, which makes it a great material for your bottom layer, but it’s flammable. Just keep that in mind around the campfire at night.

Silk feels great but it doesn’t wick very well. Stay away from cotton and flannel because they hold moisture. That’s bad when it comes to staying warm, because that wonderfully soft fabric that felt so good on your skin when it was dry turns into clingy, heavy material that sucks out all of your body heat when it’s wet.

Oh, and anything that sucks your body heat out is promoting hypothermia, which, if you don’t know by now, is a bad thing. It also creates a petri dish for bacteria.

Speaking of which, there are several synthetic blends out there that actually have compounds in them that inhibit bacterial growth. This isn’t really a big deal if you’re going to wear it for a day or two, but if you’re going to be in it for several days or more at a time, it’s a concern.

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The Middle and Outer Layers

Your coat may serve as both the middle and outer layers if it’s stuffed with insulating material and has a wind-proof outer shell. The stuffing is the middle layer, and the shell is the outer layer.

Coats that are made to keep you warm as you go from your car to the office often offer more aesthetic incentives than functional ones. They keep you warm, but they’re not built to keep your heat in long-term or to really block wind or keep you dry.

When you’re choosing a coat for serious warming power in the real outdoors, go for a coat that has baffling – those little layers of pockets full of fluff that are sewn together, sort of like a quilt.

It’s good because it helps hold the down in place and create what coat folks refer to as loft. We normal people would probably just call it fluff or puffiness. You don’t need as much stuffing if your coat has plenty of loft.

Down coats are great, especially if you choose a good one, and they’re light. Cheaper varieties often use feathers instead of down, which aren’t as insulating. It’s all about the density of the down that traps the warm air in. You can tell how many feathers are in it by giving it the pinch test. If you can feel quills, there are feathers.

There are also good synthetic blends that offer great insulation as well as breathable yet waterproof shells that block the wind. Two common ones are polyester and nylon.

Since polyester is basically made from plastic, it has great value as an insulator and a windbreaker. Nylon is tough and doesn’t absorb much water. What it does absorb, it doesn’t hold. Instead, the moisture evaporates, making it great outer shell material.

Gloves/Mittens

You absolutely have to have gloves – think of them as a coat for your hands. For that matter, you want your gloves to have the same properties as your coat.

Mittens are the best option because they keep all of your fingers together in one warm little pocket, whereas with gloves, your fingers are isolated. It’s important that your gloves have great insulation if you choose to use them instead of mittens. Gloves do offer much more mobility than mittens.

What type of fabric you choose depends on your activity. If you’re going to be sweating, you want something breathable that wicks moisture away while keeping your hands warm. If you’re not going to be active, you may want to go for something with more insulation.

Socks and Hat

Cold feet are miserable. Not only that, they can be deadly. If you get frostbite, you run the risk of developing gangrene too. No fun. Wool socks are, again, the best because of their wicking and insulating properties, and cotton socks are the worst. Just as with coats, there are blends that work wonderfully, too.

If you want, you can always buy a coat with a hood. There are some limitations when you’re wearing a hood versus a hat, though, so if you opt to go with a hat, follow the same rule as you do with socks. Wool is good because it’s both insulating and wicking.

Oh, and don’t forget to cover your face. Your nose is one of the quickest appendages to freeze, so cover it up! A good wool balaclava will keep your head, face, and neck warm and toasty.

Choosing winter clothing that will keep you warm every day and alive if SHTF doesn’t have to be difficult, but you should consider your environment and assess your needs (durability, flammability, etc.) before investing in good outdoor clothing.

Some things you can skimp on, but this probably shouldn’t be one of them. Buy the good stuff – your life may depend on it at some point.

Make your home 100% immune from future power outages or blackouts with this D.I.Y. Home Energy System. 

This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.

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Small Spaces Survival: Growing Food Upside Down

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One of the most basic supplies that you’ll need in the event that SHTF is food, but living in an apartment or small area can make it tough to grow your own.

You can build a standard vertical garden, and you can do a terrarium, but it may seem that you don’t have many options.

That is, unless you’re willing to think outside the box and turn traditional gardening upside down! Literally!

What is an Upside Down Garden?

I’m sure you never saw your granny growing her tomatoes upside down while lettuce was growing above it, but that’s just because she never thought of it. Upside down gardening is exactly what it sounds like – you grow your plants out of the bottom of the planter instead of the top. Think of it as doubling your vertical gardening space.

Maybe you’ve seen the kits for these at your local superstore or garden center, but those are almost exclusively for tomatoes.

This space-saving food solution lasts for years with just 10 minutes of work per day.

There are several other fruits, veggies, and herbs that grow great in this manner, which means that you can nearly double your growing space without taking up any extra square feet!

Video first seen Yewtoobnube’s channel

In addition to practically doubling your growing opportunities without eating up more space, growing plants upside down had a couple of other advantages. First, the plants aren’t touching the ground so you don’t have to worry so much about mold, rot, or insect infestation.

Upside down plants also grow more vigorously, they’re easier to water, and you don’t have to break your back weeding them or tilling a garden. Finally, the fruits, veggies, and herbs are easier to access. Just pluck them off the plant. No bending, twisting, or kneeling. All in all, they have all of the same benefits of standard container gardening and then some.

Upside down garden

What Plants Grow Well Upside Down?

Though it seems weird to think of any plant growing upside down, just about any plant that has a sturdy root system and a decent-sized stem will do well. Here are some of the best:

  • Tomatoes
  • Cucumbers
  • Peppers
  • Strawberries (ever-bearing plants are great!)
  • Eggplants
  • Zucchini
  • Summer squash
  • Pole Beans
  • Bush Beans
  • Herbs with a Sturdy Stalk (Basil, Parsley, Lemon Verbena, etc.)
  • Parsley
  • Creeping Herbs (Oregano, Thyme, etc.)

Blueberries can also be grown upside down, but they have some specific growing requirements, so make sure your zone meets these, or make arrangements to artificially emulate their needs.

The only thing that you need to consider is weight of the produce. Larger varieties of eggplants and peppers may need to be picked when they’re still a bit small to keep them from breaking off the plant. Other than that, you’ll be surprised at how well most plants do upside down.

Compatible Plants for the Top

Since the name of the game is maximizing growing space, don’t waste all that real estate up top. You can grow lettuce, peppers, herbs, onions, garlic and any other plant that isn’t going to grow far enough over the sides that they become entangled with their upside down planter mates. This is something that you may just want to play with.

Oh, and if you aren’t desperate for edible plant space, you can always grow flowers such as petunias in the top to make the entire display even more beautiful.

How do I Grow an Upside Down Garden?

Excellent question. There are many different designs that you can choose from but most of them are extremely simple. You can even do an internet search and make your own from burlap bags, hanging baskets, terra cotta pots, or even plastic buckets in a size suitable to the plant. The only requirement is that container is large enough and strong enough to support the weight of the dirt and the full-grown plant.

Now, you may be thinking, “How in the world do I start a plant upside down?” Another great question. You can’t use seeds – you have to use seedlings of small plants.

To get started, you need to drill a hole or holes in the bottom of your container. Depending on the size of the plant or the container, you may be able to plant more than on plant per container. Just keep in mind the size of the roots and of the mature plant.

To grow tomatoes, cucumbers, and other large plants in a 3 or 5 gallon bucket, drill a two inch hole in the middle of the bucket. For smaller plants such as strawberries, you can put smaller holes (1 1/2 inches in diameter or so) every few inches around the bottom of the bucket. If you’re using long planters, you can plant tomatoes et al. every 12 inches or so. When you’re drilling your holes, keep in mind the size of your seedlings or young plants.

You really want to choose plants that will fit safely through a hole no bigger than 2 inches because there’s this thing called gravity that will pull your roots and soil through the hole. You can combat this fairly easily, but only if you keep the hole small.

To do that, you’ll need something that will fit across the hole to keep your plant secure until its roots are large enough to do the job. Whatever you use will also help keep the dirt from washing out through the hole when you water it.

I chose to use scraps of denim from a pair of jeans that I was going to throw away, but you can also use landscaping fabric, newspaper, a coffee filter, or whatever else you have handy. Just make sure that it’s something you’d be safe drinking water through.

I lined the entire bottom of my bucket with it, but you don’t need it to be that big; just 6 inches or so in diameter so that there’s enough extra fabric for the dirt to hold in place. Cut a 2-inch (max) slit in the fabric and slip your plant through it so that it divides the plant from the roots. Keep the slit as small as possible for maximum performance.

Next, gently push your plant through the hole in the bucket and adjust it so that the roots are completely confined within the bucket. Push your fabric down against the bottom of the bucket, then fill the container to within a couple of inches of the top with soil and compost.

Video first seen on subtac

What to Grow in the Top of your Planter

If your goal is to maximize your growing space, this is the most important part of all because you still have all of that dirt real estate at the top of the bucket or planter. There are only two things that you need to consider here when you’re deciding what to plant on top: watering needs and root size. Oh, and compatibility.

Most plants grow well together, but there are a few that just won’t play nice. For example, garlic onions (all varieties, including shallots) stunt the growth of all types of beans and peas. Onions and mint shouldn’t be grown with asparagus. Cucumbers are mean to fresh herbs. Pole beans and mustard don’t work well with beets. Cabbage of all varieties inhibits strawberries. This isn’t an inclusive list, but it’s a start.

Research before you plant so that you know if your plants are compatible and if they share similar watering and lighting needs. Also, make sure that they don’t have such long roots that they get root-bound. You can avoid that by using the right size container and leaving plenty of space for the roots to spread from both top and bottom.

Growing food upside down is a great solution for the problem of growing food in small spaces. It’s also great for people who have difficulty bending, squatting, or performing other physical activities required by traditional gardens. All you really need to do is water and occasionally fertilize if necessary. Voila!

One of the benefits that I enjoy the most is that if you hang these around your porch, they provide natural, beautiful shade and privacy.

Grow your own food, save space, and you don’t even need a yard!

This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia. 

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11 Reasons To Stockpile Castor Oil For Survival

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Old timers used castor oil for everything from colds to parasitical worms, but recent generations have pretty much forgotten about it. That’s a shame because, if our elders are to be believed, it’s one of those multi-purpose items that deserve a place in your stockpile.

Read the following article, and you will see why our ancestors were so right about this natural cure!

Castor oil is made by cold-pressing the seeds of the castor plant and is composed mostly of the fatty acid ricinoleic acid. That’s the ingredient that is responsible for the healing, analgesic, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties associated with the oil.

Though most of us don’t keep it at home any more, it’s still a common ingredient in cosmetics, soaps, massage oils and even textiles.

I’ve done some research and, though there isn’t a ton of formal research available to support its effectiveness as a home remedy, there’s usually something to be said for centuries of use by entire civilizations.

As you probably know, in order to garner our attention, an item has to do more than treat constipation or hydrate dry skin in order to make our list. We need products that can be used for everything from treating sunburn to sharpening scissors, and castor oil fits the bill.

Note: The treatments outlined here can also be used on your pets.

1. Skin Care

We’ll start with this one because, in addition to keeping your skin soft and youthful, it’s also used to ease the pain of severely dried and cracked skin and lips. In a survival situation, this is a condition that can quickly lead to gangrene, so it’s a big deal.

Castor oil is also a good base ingredient for soaps, lotions, and cosmetics because of its hydrating properties. It has omega-6 and omega-9 fatty acids, both of which are often used to promote healthy hair, skin, and nail growth. Some claim that it has anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties that can help get rid dandruff and possibly athlete’s foot.

It has been shown to have analgesic properties, so it’s good to treat sunburn, rashes, bug bites and other minor skin conditions. It’ also used to treat ringworm. Just rub it directly on the skin.

Finally, the anti-inflammatory properties are great for treating cystic acne. The best thing is that it works fairly quickly. Swab it onto your clean face at night and you should notice improvement by morning.

2. Digestive Issues and Parasites

This is one of the most commonly-known uses for castor oil. It helps your bowels move. Be careful that you don’t use too much because it works remarkably well for this condition. You don’t want to become dehydrated, so start with a tablespoon and give it a few hours. Take more if needed.

If you want to just “take your medicine” and get it over with, just swallow it straight. If not, you can mix it with juice or a food. Apple juice would be good, because it also helps relieve constipation.

Castor oil is also a common home remedy for intestinal parasites.

3. Arthritis, Muscle, and Joint Pain

This is another common reason that it was used by our elders because of its analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties. Some say to make a poultice with other herbs and rub it into aching joints for relief. You can also take a tablespoon internally. If you have diarrhea, you may want to try the rub.

Video first seen on Ancient Current

4. Gets Rid of Corns, Moles, and Warts

The fatty acids in the oil are purported to dissolve these conditions. For corns, simply dip a cotton ball in castor oil and tape it over the blemish. Change it out once a day, but in a week, the corn will be gone. For moles and warts, add a bit of baking soda to the cotton ball, too. It may take a couple of weeks for this method to work. You can also try just dabbing it on regularly.

5. Get Rid of Yard Pests

Apparently, moles and other yard pests find the smell of castor oil as repugnant as people do because if you mix 1/2 cup of castor oil with a couple of gallons of water and sprinkle it around your garden or yard. It won’t kill them, but it definitely encourages them to find a better place to live.

The upside to this is that ferns and other greenery respond well to castor oil. It helps them look greener and lusher.

6. Hemorrhoids

Because of the anti-inflammatory properties, castor oil is often used to treat external hemorrhoids. Dip a cotton ball in the oil and apply it over your hemorrhoids. Leave it on for 15 or 20 minutes a few times a day if possible. If not, just applying daily will provide relief.

7. Lubricate Just About Anything

Because of its viscosity, castor oil doesn’t freeze, so it’s great to use to lubricate hinges, scissors, meat grinders, motor parts, and anything else that gets sticky.

8. Boosts Immunity

Because of the fatty acids in it, castor oil has been shown to boost your immune system by increasing white blood cell production. The odd part about this, though, is that it does it when you apply it topically. That’s right – just rub it on your skin and, according to the study, your white blood cells may increase by as much as 20 percent.

9. Treat Infected Cuts or Rashes

The antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties may be helpful in healing a mild infection. Just dab it on with a cotton swab or dribble it directly onto the wound a few times daily until the infection heals. There are also many herbs that you can add to it to help even more.

Along the same lines, you can use it to help treat vaginal infections.

10. Treat Aching Feet

This is a treatment that waitresses have been using since, well, since before they were called waitresses. Just warm a bit between your hands and rub directly into your feet. You can also help lessen the pain throughout the day by rubbing some on your feet before you go to work, then wear cotton socks.

If you have extreme pain, you may want to try generously applying castor oil then wrapping the effected body part in plastic wrap before you go to sleep.

11. Pilonidal Cysts

I’ve read several testaments where people swear that a gauze coated in castor oil works to get rid of the pain and inflammation of pilonidal cysts. It may also help draw out the infection so that the cyst opens, drains, and can heal. Lay the gauze over the cysts, then place a heating pad over it and keep it there for an hour. People reported tremendous improvement just after the first treatment or two.

There are many uses for castor oil – these are just a few of the big ones. I’ve combined several of them under the skin care and digestive issues section because there are so many different uses for it for those particular areas.

Click the banner below to discover more natural survival remedies that helped our forefathers survive harsh times!

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This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia. 

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8 Bentonite Clay Uses For Survival

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Bentonite clay has been used for centuries for everything from treating constipation to making toothpaste. There are so many practical uses for this versatile material that it’s a must-have for any prepper or homesteader.

Let’s talk about why this wonderfully useful clay should have a place in your survival planning or homesteading daily life.

Bentonite clay, also known as Montmorillonite, is composed largely of volcanic ash. It should be light grey or cream colored and should feel silky. If the clay that you get is white, it’s unlikely that it’s pure Bentonite. It’s also odorless and won’t stain your clothes, which is one reason why it’s used in so many different personal hygiene items.

There are two main types of Bentonite clay: Sodium Bentonite and Calcium Bentonite.

The primary difference is that Sodium Bentonite swells up to six times its size and has the most electromagnetic properties. It’s the one that you want to use for your face masks and external detoxifying.

Calcium Bentonite has smaller particles that don’t particularly swell like Sodium Bentonite particles do. This makes it better for ingestion because the smaller particles can pass through the colon and into the bloodstream. There, it does pretty much what Sodium Bentonite does; it attaches to the toxins in your body and leaves minerals behind.

1. Removing Impurities

Bentonite clay is named such because of the primary, huge deposit of the clay is located at Fort Benton, Wyoming. It’s unique in that it develops an electrical charge, a negative electric charge to be specific, when it’s wet.

This is important because toxins, heavy metals have a positive charge, so Bentonite clay can bond to them and carry them out of your body.

How? Bentonite swells and opens like a sponge when it comes into contact with water. The negative charge of the clay attracts the positive charge of heavy metals and other toxins and the toxin is absorbed into the clay and carried out of the body.

During this process, the minerals in the clay are also released into the body, so it’s taking the bad parts and leaving good.

2. Deodorant

First, bentonite clay can be used as an ingredient in your personal hygiene items. It may make your toothpaste or deodorant look a little more like mud than what you’re used to seeing, but because of its absorbent properties, it’s great to use as an antiperspirant.

Commercial deodorants are packed with chemicals that stop odor and prevent your pores from perspiring. These include aluminum, phthalates, talc, parabens, diethyl alcohol, and others.

To make deodorant, simply mix bentonite clay with equal parts baking soda (neutralizes odor), arrowroot or cornstarch (absorbs moisture), and a few drops of your favorite antibacterial essential oil.

Once you combine the powdered ingredients, add enough coconut oil to make it a smooth, thick paste, then add your food-grade essential oils. Remember that coconut oil liquefies at 74 degrees, so depending upon the temperature in your house, it may be the consistency of butter or it may be liquid. If you keep it in the fridge, it will be closer to the consistency of lard.

Video first seen on Steven Parente

3. Face Masks

Many people also like to use it because of its ability to draw toxins out of the skin. This is one of the main reasons that it’s used in face masks. In addition to drawing toxins out with its negatively charged ions, the texture of the clay makes for a gentle exfoliant. This, along with the antibacterial properties of the clay, helps keep your skin free of blemishes.

Video first seen on Healthy Living on a Budget

4. Wounds, Bites, Skin Ulcers, Eczema

A study conducted by Arizona State University shows that minerals in Bentonite clay have the potential to kill many antibiotic-resistant bacteria including MRSA, e.Coli, Staphylococcus aureus, and others.

It’s already been shown to effectively treat Buruli ulcers, and the only other treatment option is remove the lesion surgically and hope for the best. That’s saying something, even if it did take months of treatment with the clay to completely heal the wound.

To use it, for wound dressing or treatment of other conditions, make a poultice and apply it directly to the wound, changing it out when it dries. Remove the sting and itch of bites, burns, cuts, and scrapes by applying Bentonite clay and letting it dry.

Treat eczema in the same way daily. There are many different remedies for skin conditions that would meld well with bentonite clay.

For centuries, our ancestors survived using natural remedies to heal their wounds and other health problems. Click the banner below to discover more survival remedies for our forefathers!

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5. Baby Powder

You’ve likely read about the link between talc and cancer. If not, check in to it, because it’s a big deal. Bentonite clay is a great option because it’s absorbent and has healing properties that may help prevent infections that love warm, moist environments.

6. Toothpaste

Bentonite clay is a great additive for your toothpowder because it may help brighten and re-mineralize your teeth. Some people also like to mix it up in water and use it as a mouthwash to kill oral bacteria than can cause tooth decay and bad breath. Simply add the clay to your standard tooth powder or toothpaste recipe.

Video first seen on Live Healthy and Blessed

7. Morning Sickness and Nausea

Pregnant women who have tried taking 1/2 tsp. of Bentonite clay in a small glass of water to treat morning sickness have reported success in reducing nausea. Most doctors and midwives say this is fine, but check with you doctor before starting it, just in case.

People suffering from other digestive issues such as gas, bloating, and even parasites report positive results from simply drinking a 1/2 to 1 tsp. of Bentonite clay to water or juice daily.

Don’t use more than that, and drink a glass of plain water after you ingest the clay in order to keep the clay from settling in your stomach or digestive tract. Taking too much can also cause constipation.

8. Digestive Cleanses

Toxin buildups cause many symptoms including fatigue, allergies, headaches, skin conditions, and other conditions that apparently have no cause. Add a teaspoon of clay to your water, juice, or smoothie.

Though I couldn’t find any research supporting it (that’s pretty common with natural remedies because Big Pharma doesn’t want cheap, natural remedies to cut into their profits), it seems to me that if Bentonite clay removes heavy metals, it may be at least partially effective in removing radioactive substances. It certainly couldn’t hurt.

The most important things to remember about taking Bentonite clay are that need to follow it with plenty of fresh water so that it flushes through your system without settling, and that you shouldn’t take more than a teaspoonful a day.

Personally, I’m more interested in the external healing effects of the clay, but there are many who firmly believe in the benefits of taking it internally as well.

That decision is, of course, up to you.

This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.

References:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2413170/

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11 Gifts Under $25 For Preppers

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I don’t know about you, but just thinking about what to get a few of my friends and family members for Christmas makes me crazy.

They either already have everything, or I just can’t think of something that they’d like. I’m just not good at it. Plus, who thinks of prepping gifts for Christmas? It’s just not at the top of most people’s minds.

We’re here to save the day and, thanks to Amazon Prime, if you’re subscribed there’s still plenty of time to get these gifts and have them wrapped so that the prepper in your life can shake it and wonder about it for a bit before it’s time to unwrap it!

These gifts are also great for birthdays or just because you want to be nice.

1. Emergency Mylar Blanket

blanketWhen it comes down to surviving, a Mylar blanket is useful for many other things than just keeping warm, though it does trap up to 90% of your body heat.

They’re 52”x82”, so you only need 1 to cover you unless you’re really tall.

It’s waterproof and can be used as an emergency windbreaker, blanket, or raincoat.

It can also be used to catch water and form the top, sides, and bottom of a shelter.

The best part is that they take up less space than your wallet. As a matter of fact, you could get 3 in the space that your wallet would take up.

We chose the Titan brand 5-pack because they’re an American company owned by veterans, and all of their products have a lifetime guarantee. You can buy the cheaper ones sold in China, but why would you do that?

2. Ferro or Magnesium Fire-starting Rod

Without fire, you won’t last long in the wilderness, and your prepper knows it.

The problem is that matches get wet, tinder and kindling get rained on,ferro and lighters run out of fluid.

Starting a fire doesn’t have to be hard, though. Magnesium and Ferrocerium are two minerals that create extremely hot sparks that give you a leg up when you need to start a fire.

This one is our top pick because it comes with everything you need to start a fire quickly: wood chips, hand-cut fatwood sticks, jute string dipped in wax that catches fire easily from the sparks that are created by the ferro stick and striker.

The stick will light thousands of fires. It’s all packaged in a tin can that fits in a shirt pocket, and it’s extremely affordable.

This one doesn’t come with the tinder, but it IS attached to a paracord lanyard that can be used for many different things in the wilderness.

3. Water Filter

bottleYou can only survive for three days without water, but it’s not safe to just drink any water that you find. Water filters are a must-have in a survival kit, and there are a wide variety of them out there.

The thing to remember is that it’s not necessarily the thing that you can see in the water that you have to worry so much about; it’s the chemicals and pathogens in the water.

This bottle is BPA-free and converts crude water to potable water by filtering out 33 contaminants, 99.99% of microbial pathogens, and undissolved impurities from the water. It also reduces chlorine and trihalomethanes. That may sound technical, but your prepper will appreciate it!

4. Dutch Oven

Preppers, homesteaders, and just people who love to cook love cast iron, and a Dutch oven is a classic. These wonders are so great for camp cooking dutch oven that pioneers reserved precious space and weight in their wagons to carry them across the country.

The thing about cast iron is that it can literally last for hundreds of years. I have an iron skillet that’s more than 150 years old and it’s still an integral part of my cookware.

Dutch ovens such as this one serve triple duty because it can be used as a pot on the stovetop or in the oven, and the lid serves as a skillet, too.

Put the two together and you can bury them in coals in a campfire and cook anything that you want, including cakes, breads, and biscuits. Even though this one is $35, it’s still list-worthy because the lid is a full-sized skillet. This one falls within the $25 price guideline and is good, too.

5. Multi-tool

multi-toolBecause a person can only carry so much, multi-purpose items take top priority for a prepper.

There are many types of multi-tools that range in price from just a few bucks to nearly $100.

This one is a flat one that also comes with a flint fire starter, an emergency whistle, and pocket cover.

The tool itself has 25 uses including a knife, bottle opener, ruler, smartphone stand, saw and butterfly wrenches.

You can also go for traditional ones that offer hand tools, like this one. It’s attractive and the tools in it are actually useful instead of repetitive even if a person wants to carry it around as an every-day pocket knife. It comes with a bonus keychain mini-mulitool.

6. Prepping Books

One of the things that any good prepper will tell you that they know for sure is that they don’t know everything! It’s impossible to remember everything about survival, especially if you’re not doing it every day.

Since most of us aren’t living in the woods on a daily basis, or trying to exist without power, a guide is always a good thing.

The Bushcraft Field Guide to Trapping, Gathering, and Cooking in the Wild is good because it’s not easy to remember how to make a trap or memorize every tip for gathering and cooking outdoors in an emergency. Another skill that’s important to preppers is using everyday items in many different ways.

This book provides some useful uses for common household items.

Finally, this book is great for comprehensive information that touches on a bit of everything. Consider it an all-around guide to survival.

7. Paracord Jewelry

550 paracord is an integral part of any prepper’s kit because it has so many uses that you really can’t even count them all.paracord

Paracord jewelry is the best of both worlds because it has an earthy,  stylish look but is extremely functional; one bracelet has around twelve feet of paracord. That may not sound like a lot, but it really is!

This one has a fire starter and compass on it, or if you’d like to design your own unique piece for your favorite prepper, or even his dog, check out this site!

8. Gun Cleaning Kit

gun-cleaning-kitWhen it comes to weapons, cleanliness is next to godliness, because a dirty gun can quite literally be the death of you in a few different ways.

If your prepper is a gun owner, he or she will most certainly enjoy a gun cleaning kit.

This one is nice because it’s universal. You don’t need to know what kind of weapon your prepper has because this one works for any kind, handgun, shotgun, or rifle.

If you’d like, you can also buy some bore cleaner and lubricating oil to make it a total package.

9. Camping Mess Kit

camping-messOne of the biggest decisions that face a prepper is deciding what to pack in the bug-out bag. There are many things that a person will need, but one person can only carry so much.

This camp mess kit has everything needed to cook and eat a meal in the wilderness, and is lightweight anodized non-stick aluminum.

It even has a wooden spatula that can be used for many different things. It’s all nicely packaged in a carrying bag.

The way that it’s made, a person could even pack some fire-starters or any other smaller items inside of it, making even better use of the space. It goes over our $25 limit by a dollar, but it’s a dollar well-spent.

10. Tactical Vest

tactical-vestWhether your favorite prepper enjoys shooting or just needs space and pockets to put other survival items in, a tactical vest is always a good investment.

The weight is carried in the front, leaving the carrier’s back open for a backpack.

There are many different types out there, but this one is economical and functional. For additional surprises, fill the pockets with goodies such as a fire-stick or ammo!

11. Biomass Camp Stove

This biomass stove is a bit bigger than the original SoLo stove, but it can hold a pan instead of just a can. It’s lightweight but sturdy and allows your stoveprepper to build a fire without the need for oil, charcoal, or gas.

Its lightweight design makes it a viable addition to any survival kit.

We’ve tried to include diverse products with a range of prices, but if you’re still having problems thinking of a great gift for your prepper friend, head to your local Outdoor World, Bass Pro Shops, or Cabela’s. Better yet, hit the local Army surplus store.

Chances are good that you’ll not only find a gift for your friend, but will find something cool for yourself, too.

This pack of cards contains 52 encapsulated survival tips, covering everything from water purification to OPSEC.

This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.

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Survival Lessons From The Old: One Pot Meals

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For eons, entire meals from stews to casseroles have been made in one pot.

The cowboys and settlers did it because they only had the luxury of one pot on the trail, and we do it today because of the convenience and simply because there are so many recipes out there that are delicious as well as fast.

We follow their example, and learn from their knowledge. Here’s what we should know about this old way of cooking!

As preppers, it’s important that we know how to cook without electricity, and though I’ve included slow cookers in this article, the rest of them don’t require anything other than fire and the vessel.

There are some rules for cooking in a single pot if you want the meal to be delicious and safe to eat, but for the most part, they’re quick and easy to prepare and clean up.

Adjust Cooking Times of Veggies

First, you want your vegetables to cook evenly, so if you’re standing over the pot, you may want to throw hard veggies like carrots in 15 minutes or so before you add the rest.

For soft veggies such as cabbage and broccoli, put them in at the last minute since they only take 10 or 15 minutes to cook in a pot. This isn’t a necessity, if you’re throwing something in the crockpot and leaving, so just know that some veggies may be a little mushy if you put them in all at once.

Sear Your Meat

Next, searing your meat adds flavor to the meal. This is especially true of large pieces of meat such as roasts, pork chops, beef tips, and other meats that are thick and solid. You don’t have to do this, but if you do, it will add an extra layer of flavor. Hamburger and Salisbury steak has a crispier texture if you sear it beforehand.

Beware of Pathogens

You must make sure that your meat cooks all the way through, especially if it’s poultry. This isn’t such a big deal with red meat as long as you don’t mind it a bit rare in the middle, but birds carry salmonella.

Trust me – one bout of food poisoning from that and you’ll make sure it never happens again! USDA guidelines say that red meat should be cooked to 145 degrees F, ground meats should cook to 160 degrees, and poultry should be 165 degrees.

When you’re finished eating, make sure that you refrigerate it. Bacteria begin to grow quickly between the temperatures of 40 degrees F and 140 degrees F, so too avoid the risk of food poisoning, refrigerate your food within 2 hours (1 hour if the temperature outside is above 90 degrees) after it comes off the heat.

Cold foods, especially ones that contain mayo or eggs, should be kept at 40 degrees, so just put them in a bowl of ice if they’re going to sit out, and stir it frequently to keep the entire dish cold.

Leftovers can be kept in the fridge for 3-4 days as long as their stored in containers, and can be frozen almost indefinitely, but they’ll begin to lose flavor after a month or so depending upon the food.

Types of Cookers

There are several types of cookers that you can use depending upon the dish and the circumstances. Especially if you’re cooking over a fire, you’ll want to cook as efficiently as you can, and one pot meals are certainly the best way to do that.

Since our primary concern is cooking in a survival situation, we’ll start with those methods.

Dutch Ovens

This is one of my favorite ways to cook outside because you can quite literally cook anything that you want to in them. Whether you want to make stew, chopped steak, or breads, a Dutch oven will do the trick. They steam the food internally, which keeps it moist and tender. You can buy aluminum and cast iron Dutch ovens, though the cast iron, in my opinion, is far superior in nearly every way.

The history of the Dutch oven is believed to date back to Holland in the early 1700s, and was brought to America with the first settlers. They were popular with settlers and other people, such as ranch trail cooks, and were used in work camps during WW1. Paul Revere improved the design by adding a flanged lid and made some other modifications, likely to improve the strength and consistency of the cooking.

Joseph Lodge built a cast iron foundry in Tennessee that still produces arguably the highest quality Dutch ovens and iron skillets available today.

They come in different sizes and two primary designs – the bean pot or kitchen oven, best for use indoors or placing on a rack over an open fire, and the camp or outdoor oven, which has a flanged lid that can also serve as a skillet. It also has legs, a flat bottom, and a sturdy wire handle so that you can hang it or lift it from the coals.

They’re great for cooking indoors or out and can be used in the oven, over a campfire, or buried in the coals, depending upon your needs and what you’re cooking. Cooking with a Dutch oven is simple, too, once you get the hang of it.

Solar Oven

Cooking with a solar oven is a great alternative when you don’t have (or don’t want to use) electricity. Though you can convert many of your own personal favorites and use them with your solar oven, here’s a recipe written specifically for that cooking method. You will surely love this pot roast cooked on your solar oven.

Ingredients for this tasty recipe are:

  • 3 pound rump roast
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder or 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 large onion, quartered
  • 4 medium potatoes, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 5 carrots, cut into 2 inch chucks
  • 1 tbsp. Italian seasoning
  • 2 c beef broth (or 2 cups water with 2 bouillon cubes).

Put the roast in a roasting dish and sprinkle with salt, pepper, garlic, and Italian seasoning. Add the veggies around the roast and then pour the bouillon in. Place in your solar oven and bake for 3 hours or until tender.

Stop asking yourself if the solar oven works during winter, because it does, and here’s the proof!

Video first seen on jnull0.

Let’s celebrate the Winter Solstice with a special offer for Survivopedia readers!

Use the promocode SurvivoSolstice and get 10% discount to boost your cooking! 

Iron Skillets

Thank you again, Joseph Lodge for making iron skillets of the highest quality readily available in the US. The original iron skillet dates back to 1707, when Abraham Darby invented a process to make cast iron in large quantities so that they could be produced for common use.

Iron skillets come in a variety of shapes and sizes, often with lids, and are great for cooking one pot meals in smaller quantity. They’re not quite as versatile as the Dutch oven, but certainly have value, especially for cooking quick meals such as breakfast scrambles and meals that don’t require a deep pot or long cooking times, such as Salisbury steaks, cornbread, camp biscuits, and fried chicken.

Slow Cookers

Ahh, possibly one of the best cooking inventions of modern times. Just as with man, the slow cooker started as something quite a bit different than what it is today. In 1952, West Bend came out with the electric bean pot, which was just a ceramic pot that sat on top of an electric heating element. This wasn’t much different than cooking on a stove, but was perhaps the first commercial attempt at a portable cooking vessel.

Enter Irving Naxon. He had developed the idea of a portable cooker that would have a crock sitting inside a casing that contained a heating element, thus providing even heating. He applied for the patent on May 21, 1936 and received it in January of 1940.

Naxon credited the idea to his Lithuanian grandma, who told him about how she used to cook dish called cholent after hours at a local bakery. She would prepare the meal, then place it in the oven so that the fading heat would slowly cook it overnight. This provided his inspiration for “low and slow” cooking.

He brought his idea, called the beanery, to market in the 50s and in 1970, Rival manufacturing hired Naxon, rebranded his product as the Crock Pot, and put it on shelves across America for $25. Surprisingly enough, that price hasn’t increased by more than a few dollars for a standard version since then.

There are, of course, improved versions with fancier technology and higher capacity that cost more.

Slow cookers are absolutely fabulous for all sorts of meals from stews to ribs that you want to cook slow and low while you’re away from the house or busy doing other things.

Canning

As survivalists, we would be remiss to leave out this method of preparing one pot meals.

We’ve discussed in another article how to put these together and, like our other cooking methods, canning is a great way to prepare both meals and desserts. You can also dry-can meals using dry ingredients that only require that you add water.

The one benefit that makes canning stand out is that you can eat the meal right out of the jar. It is, of course, more delicious if you heat it up, but if you’re without power and don’t want to draw attention to yourself with a fire, eating straight out of the jar may be your only option.

Another benefit here is that you can prepare the meals years in advance as opposed to cooking them on the spot. In a survival situation, that’s a huge plus.

The Beauty of One Pot Meals

There are a ton of reasons why a one pot meal is so appealing, but from a survival perspective, the ease of cooking is probably the biggest one.

You can cook a pot roast complete with all the fixings in a Dutch oven and you can even cook such meals as chicken and dumplings. They’re not just for soups and stews.

Having a variety of delicious meals is a huge morale booster as well as a way to get all of your nutrition out of one pot. Though beans and cornbread are delicious and filling, it gets old after a few days and isn’t a well-rounded meal.

One Pot Cooking Ideas

A quick internet search will net you a ton of great ideas for one pot meals, but you can always just use your imagination. There are also some recipes that you should know by heart. They aren’t necessarily one pot meals, but they are essentials that will help you keep your crew full and nourished.

  • Want fried potatoes, eggs, and sausage for breakfast? Toss your potatoes in first, then add your sausage and cook both til they’re done and throw in your eggs. Scramble them all together, and you’ve got a delicious one pot meal.
  • How about beef tips with gravy and a baked potato? Toss your beef tips into your crock pot or Dutch oven, wrap your potatoes in foil and toss those in with it. When they’re done, remove the potatoes and add some flour and milk to the beef tips. Cook it for a few minutes until the gravy thickens and you’ve got dinner.
  • Soups and stews, of course, are obvious, but how about ribs with corn on the cob and roasted potatoes? Easy peasy. Cut your potatoes into cubes and toss them in your seasoning. Wrap them in foil packs. Do the same with the corn after you break the ears into halves, or cut it off the cob. Put your rub or sauce on your ribs and toss them all into your Dutch oven or crock pot and you’re good to go. You can also do the potatoes and corn in the coals.

One pot meals are, for the most part, only limited by your imagination. They’re easy to throw together, toss into your cooking vessel of choice, and forget about. Also, you’re getting many more nutrients than you would if you only cooked a single item. That makes them a great survival food.

There is a great opportunity for Survivopedia readers to prepare for cooking in the sun, so grab this offer available only for a few days!

Use the promocode SurvivoSolstice and get 10% discount to boost your cooking! 

This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.

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11 Tips On How To Survive A Polar Vortex

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The term “polar vortex” isn’t one that most people became familiar with until just recently. We had to face it last winter, and we have to face it again these days.

Now, however, it’s a serious concern and needs to be figured into your potential disaster events if you live in areas that may be affected.

Read the following article to find out what a polar vortex is, what it isn’t (if you haven’t been affected by one), and what you need to do to prepare!

What is a Polar Vortex?

We have two polar vortexes – one around each pole. It’s an area of low pressure that circulates counterclockwise in the stratosphere around the pole all the time, but weakens in the winter time.

Sometimes it wobbles a bit and throws a surge of bitter cold south into the US, and other countries in equivalent latitudes around the world.

When this happens, it can drop temperatures below zero. It’s a phenomenon that is always around, but we just don’t notice it until it puffs a blast of freezing air toward us.

scientific-american

It actually plays a big part in the weather worldwide throughout the year. Think about it – how often do you ever hear of cold fronts coming from the south?

Usually, polar vortexes force temperatures down into the single digits in areas of higher latitude such as the Dakotas and Michigan, but the temperatures go up farther down the map.

Still, even if temperatures drop into the teens or twenties, even a light wind will make that temperature seem exponentially colder.

What a Polar Vortex Isn’t

There’s a lot of misinformation out there about polar vortexes, so let’s clear some of them up. First, they’re not a sign or result of global warming. Though many weather anomalies of recent years are linked to the warming of the Earth, polar vortices aren’t. They’ve existed exactly as they are since we started tracking them and the frequency or intensity hasn’t changed.

Next, a polar vortex doesn’t bring snow with it. Weather events such as rain and snow occur in the lower level of the atmosphere and polar vortices occur right above that. They bring bitter cold that can make snowstorms much worse, but they don’t actually bring snow or freezing rain with them.

What you need to Know about a Polar Vortex

The first and most important thing that you need to know about a polar vortex is that it can be lethal.

Even if you’re in a warmer part of the area that’s affected by the vortex, temperatures combined with wind chill can easily drop to temperatures that can cause frostbite and hypothermia quickly if you’re not bundled up.

Polar vortexes also tend to set in fairly quickly and hang around for at least a few days. If you don’t have to go outside during one, don’t. Avoid driving anywhere if you can, because it’s a guarantee that the roads are going to be icy even if it does snow.

If snow or freezing rain is going to happen right before or during a polar vortex, that danger is going to be amplified because temperatures that low can cause several disasters including car crashes, hypothermia, collapsed rooves, limbs, and powerlines, and burst water pipes.

Obviously, even one of those can be horrible, but they may also occur in tandem. It’s not outside the realm of possibility that your roof can collapse while your power is out. That’s why you need to take precautions and be prepared.

How to Prepare for a Polar Vortex

There are relatively small steps that you can take in advance that will help keep you safe. Other steps will need to be taken during/after the snow, but they’re relatively minor.

Technically, to prepare for just a polar vortex, you only need to worry about the cold, but since it often coincides with a snow storm, we’re going to assume that the worst case scenario and prepare for both a polar vortex and a snow storm.

1. Stockpile Food and Water

You may have a tough time getting to the store because of ice or snow, so make sure that you have at least a week’s worth of food and water stored back.

Yes, you’ll have access to plenty of snow, but if you want to drink that, you’ll have to filter and purify it. Stockpile at least 2 gallons of water per person per day. You’ll need to drink more because, oddly enough, water needs increase with extremes in temperature.

Regarding food, figure on at around 2000 calories if you’re going to be outside for more than just a few minutes at a time because your body burns a lot of fuel just to keep warm when temperatures drop that low.

You typically have several days of warning, so there’s no excuse not to be prepared.

2. Stay Inside

Seriously. If you don’t have to be outside, don’t be. In temperatures in the single digits, it only takes 15 minutes or so for frostbite to become a possibility, and when the temperatures are below zero, that time decreases even more.

Hypothermia is also a problem and, like frostbite, increases the colder it gets. Wind plays a big factor in the onset of both conditions.

Also, it’s a guarantee that there’s ice on the road, so there’s no reason to risk it if you don’t have to. Be prepared in advance, because crashing your car for a gallon of milk is bad, but dying for it just isn’t worth it.

3. Wrap Your Pipes

If you can access them, wrap your pipes to protect them from freezing. This tape keeps your pipes warm enough that the water in your pipes won’t freeze. If you don’t know how to do it, read our article about how to insulate your heating system.

This not only saves you a ton of money if your pipes burst, but also ensures that you have access to your water and heat as long as you have city water or a generator for your pump.

4. Trim your Trees

There’s nothing cozier than sitting around a tree limb that’s fallen through your roof and into your living room. Oh wait – yes there is.

This is a relatively easy disaster to avoid – simply keep your trees trimmed back from your house. Here’s a short guide on how to prepare your garden for winter.

5. Bundle Up

If you absolutely must go outside, bundle up. Make sure that your fingers, ears, nose, and toes are particularly protected because when you get cold, your body automatically pulls the blood flow to the center of your body to preserve heat. This leaves your extremities vulnerable to frostbite.

You also naturally lose more heat through the top of your head, the bottom of your feet, and your palms, so make sure they’re covered well to preserve that heat.

Mittens are actually better than gloves because they keep your fingers together and allow the heat that emanates from your palms to warm your entire hand.

mittens

6. Your Animals

Your animals are going to need some special attention depending upon what kind they are. Regardless of their species, they’re going to need to stay warm and they’re likely going to need extra food and water to meet the caloric needs required to stay warm.

Extremes in temperature can also cause animals such as milk cows and chickens to stop producing milk and eggs, so it’s especially important to keep them comfortable.

Winterize your barn and coop by sealing it up, but leave ventilation going through in order to keep the air fresh. Know your animals and adjust to meet their needs.

7. Check your Roof

Before winter even sets in, check your roof and rafters for damage and stability. This is one of the biggest risks you have in the case of a polar vortex and snow storm clashing.

If temperatures drop enough to make building materials brittle, then heavy snow is piled on top, the odds of your roof collapsing increases quite a bit.

8. Seal Windows and Doors

Your heating system is working hard enough to keep you warm even if your house is well insulated and sealed.

Cracks around windows and doors can really dampen that effort and make it nearly impossible to keep your house warm, so take care of that before winter sets in. It will also help save you money in the summer by keeping cold air in.

Read this Survivopedia article to find out how to build your own frames for insulating windows.

9. Winterize Your Car

This may not seem like a big deal, but it can save your life. You need good tires, but not as much for traction (nothing really sticks to ice though good tread does do much better in snow and mud) as to make sure that you don’t get a flat.

Chains for your tires, adequate anti-freeze, winter-grade thinner-viscosity oil, and just a general winterizing is important. Getting stranded in freezing weather is extremely dangerous.

On that note, make sure that you have a get-home bag in your car. You need a full change of clothes, extra socks and gloves, and even extra shoes. Also, have several bottles of water, hand warmers, several protein bars or MREs, and flares.

Blankets, at least emergency blankets, should be in there, too, and a fire-starter wouldn’t hurt. Besides these essentials, you just need to know your circumstances and build the rest of the bag around your needs.

10. Have Alternate Heat

If you rely on electricity for heat, you REALLY need to have an alternative heat source. Installing a wood burner is probably your best option, but a generator or wood for your fireplace (if you have one) are good, too.

Whatever you decide on, have plenty of fuel and the equipment to start it. Be realistic and base your heating needs on your house and your family, not some ideal version of them.

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11. Include Games and Activities in your Stockpile

You’re going to get bored pretty quickly, especially if you lose cable and power. Make sure that you have several different games, books, or hobby supplies on hand to alleviate stress and boredom.

Being prepared for a polar vortex is extremely similar to preparing for a blizzard, except you need to make some modifications for the extreme temperatures that you may have to deal with.

If you have any suggestions or ideas that I’ve missed here, please feel free to add them in the comments section below.

This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.

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Survival Cooking: How To Use A Dutch Oven

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How To Use A Dutch Oven

Pioneers no doubt had to make some rough choices about what to take and what to leave behind when they made the voyage west. One thing that they didn’t even consider leaving behind, though, was their Dutch oven.

This marvelous piece of cookware is so versatile that it warranted a spot in the precious little space inside a covered wagon.

When you think about camping, you probably don’t think about making bread, biscuits, or cookies – other than s’mores of course! That’s because you’re not familiar with how a Dutch oven works.

In short, it’s magic.

A Dutch oven actually consists of two pieces: a pot and a lid. The lid seals over the pot when needs must, and serves as a skillet, too. You can use a Dutch oven on a stove or in an oven just like you’d use any other pan or skillet, but it’s so much more useful than that.

First, cast iron cookware in general is just fabulous to cook on. Other cookware, such as those made from aluminum or coated in Teflon, can be toxic to us over time. Teflon starts to flake off into your food after a few months or maybe a year. Then you run the risk of getting cancer. Aluminum has been associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

Cast iron, on the other hand, has been associated with family treasures that are passed down from generation to generation.

Cookware made from cast iron can quite literally last hundreds of years – I have a skillet that’s nearly 150 years old and it’s seriously the best skillet I own. I have a square one that I bought 25 years ago, and I won’t make cornbread in anything else. I use it at home on the stove, in the oven, and on the grill. I take it camping and use it over an open fire.

So, I’m not just preaching it from the handbook, I’m drinking my own Kool-Aid. Cast iron rules.

Now that you know how I feel about the material, I want to get on to the exact piece of cast iron cookware that we’re discussing today: the Dutch oven.

Simply surviving isn’t good enough if you’re to stay happy and healthy in the long run. You need good food, companionship, and hope. A Dutch oven can’t do much about who you eat with, but it can be used to cook luxury foods that keep morale up. Cornbread, biscuits, cake, hot rolls, and desserts such as cobbler are all possible as long as you have the ingredients, a fire, and a Dutch oven.

Video first seen on Cooking With Cast Iron.

You don’t need electricity or gas, nor do you need an actual oven because a Dutch oven IS an oven. If you know the basics of cooking with one and have the ingredients, you can make anything that you want.

So, without further ado, let’s talk about how to cook with a Dutch oven.

Aluminum or Cast Iron Dutch Oven

I know, I’ve just expounded on the benefits of using cast iron, and even knocked aluminum cookware a bit. I personally don’t like to cook in it because studies have shown that the aluminum does leach into food, especially if the food is extremely basic (baking powder), or extremely acidic (tomato juice, vinegar, or fruit juices).

Studies show that anodized aluminum doesn’t pose this risk, so if you opt to go with an aluminum Dutch oven, make sure that it’s anodized. There are some benefits to cooking with an aluminum Dutch oven, primarily the weight. A cast-iron Dutch oven weighs about 7 pounds as opposed to the 18 pounds or so that you’ll be toting if you’re carrying a cast iron one.

Aluminum also doesn’t require seasoning like cast iron does, nor will it rust if you don’t care for it after you wash it. Many even come with a non-stick surface, but cast iron will become non-stick if you season it correctly.

Aluminum heats faster, but that’s not necessarily a good thing because the heat fluctuates in it, and aluminum will melt if it gets hot enough. Still, aluminum may be better for baking bread or making sauces and gravies than cast iron.

Cast iron holds heat evenly and for longer periods of time. It will actually keep cooking your foods for quite a while even if your coals cool down so you don’t need as much fuel to cook with it. The lid is heavy enough that it seals and steams your food so that it doesn’t dry out. This is why I said above that aluminum may be better for baking bread.

So, there are the differences. If you have to carry it, aluminum may be worth the downfalls to you. If you don’t, I’d say that cast iron wins hands down. I’m sure that there are those that disagree.

Types of Dutch Ovens

If you’re standing in the pot aisle at the store trying to figure out what the heck you need, or researching online before you go buy one, it can be confusing.

First, know that a camp oven and an outdoor oven are the same thing. These will usually have feet and a handle that you can use to hang the pot over the fire. The lid will also be flat and have a lip that seals the oven so that coals can’t get into it. You can use the lid as a skillet, too.

Kitchen pots and bean pots are also two names for the same sort of pot. They won’t have feet. Bean pots aren’t just for beans so don’t let the name fool you. It’s actually a cooking method that was common back in colonial days. These pots will have a flat bottom and a domed lid that may have spikes for basting inside of it. The steam rises, then drips off the spikes down onto the food.

Don’t be afraid to buy a used Dutch oven. As a matter of fact, I got mine from a yard sale for $5. Just be aware of what you’re buying.

  • First, don’t buy it if it has riveted tabs. You want the oven to be cast together, not riveted.
  • Look for inconsistencies in the thickness. That will lead to inconsistent heating and cooking
  • Don’t be scared away by a little rust. As long as it’s just surface rust, it will clean right up with steel wool.
  • Make sure that the bottom is level. It shouldn’t rock.
  • Make sure the lid fits well – not too loose, and not too tight, and it doesn’t rock.
  • Check for chips and cracks as well as imperfections in the casting.
  • If you’re buying a camp oven, make sure that the wire handle is sturdy.

Seasoning your Dutch Oven

Cast iron takes a bit of time to reach that non-stick state. This is called seasoning. Basically, the iron needs to absorb fat so that it develops a patina that keeps the iron from absorbing your food, causing it to stick. Seasoning also prevents the iron from rusting and makes cleanup much easier.

New ovens (or any cast iron) come with a protective coating from the manufacturer. The same is true with aluminum but all you need to do in that case is wash the aluminum with hot soap and water to remove the coating.

Cast iron takes a bit more work on the front end, but it will be well worth it in the end because you’ll have a piece that will be good for the rest of your life, and your children’s lives for that matter.

Before you season your skillet, wash it well. Some people use soap, others don’t. I use soap when I get a new one, or a used one that isn’t seasoned or has rust. I’m not like most people though, who only use hot water and steel wool.

Once you have your Dutch oven clean, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. You may want to turn off the smoke alarm, just in case.

  • Put the Dutch oven and the lid in the oven long enough that it’s so hot that it’s almost too hot to handle, then remove them.
  • Dribble a bit of olive oil, solid shortening, or vegetable oil. Don’t use butter, margarine, or cooking spray.
  • Use a paper towel to smear the oil over the entire surface of the pot and lid, inside and out.
  • Put the pot and lid back in the oven bake them for an hour. You should probably put a cookie sheet on the rack under them in case they drip. No need to burn the house down while you’re doing this.
  • Turn off the oven and let the pot and lid cool completely, then repeat the process.
  • Wipe down, and you’re done!

Video first seen on JRKFamilyOutdoors

Of course, the more you use your oven, the more seasoned it will become. Every time you use it, you need to clean it, then heat it to get the water out of it and wipe it down with a thin layer of oil again; just a tiny amount on a paper towel while the pan is cooling.

Avoid cooking super acidic or high-sugar foods the first few times you use your oven because these will break down your seasoning before it has time to harden.

Using a Dutch Oven in Coals

You may not know it, but the ashes under the fire are actually usually hotter than the fire itself. The ashes are compact and hold in heat. This makes for an excellent cooking environment. If you think about it, that’s exactly what happens in your oven at home, right?

Maybe you’ve cooked ears of corn or potatoes wrapped in foil in the coals of your fire, but it’s pretty tough to bake a piece of apple pie like that? Well that’s where your Dutch oven comes in. Different foods cook better depending upon how the Dutch oven is situated in the coals, and you can cook entire meals in it, too. Casseroles, desserts, stews: they’re all within your reach.

First, you need to decide if you’re cooking IN the Dutch oven, or WITH it. You can either cook your food directly in the oven or you can put the food in another container, such as a pie plate, and cook in on a trivet or rack inside of the oven. This is usually done to keep the food from burning, or to make cleaning your oven easier.

If you’re cooking a dessert and your oven is still relatively new, you may want to use this method so that the sugar and acids in the fruit don’t eat away your seasoning.

If you’re using your oven for frying, or boiling, all of the heat should come from the bottom. In other words, place the oven on top of the coals or a grill rack (or hang it over the fire).

If you’re stewing or simmering, the majority of the heat should come from the bottom. Place the pot in the ashes with most of it buried, but put some of the coals on top, about 4:1 bottom to top.

If you’re roasting food, heat should come from the top and bottom equally. Place coals under and on top.

If you’re baking, most of the heat should come from the top. The ratio should be 1 part on bottom and 3 parts on top.

If you’re wondering about specific foods, typically soups and stews should be cooked with most of the heat on the bottom (2/3 or so on the bottom, and 1/3 of the coals on top. Meats, veggies, and cobblers should have equal heat distribution, and cakes, biscuits, bread and cookies should have 2/3 of the coals on top and 1/3 on the bottom.

Dutch Oven Temperature

Bread and biscuits help you get a lot more mileage out of a meal and are comfort foods. They’re also the trail version of fast foods. You can cook extra and if you get hungry along the trail, you can pull out a roll or a biscuit and eat it on the run. Neither of these would be possible in large quantity without a Dutch oven.

You can make biscuits inside of the oven, or right on the lid – just butter or oil both sides so that they brown equally.

Bread or rolls are best if you let the final proof take place inside the oven, then bake them immediately. Some old recipes call for coating the inside of the oven with flour before you put your bread in to rise/cook. The flour will burn but your bread will be fine.

If you’d rather not use the flour, just oil the inside of the oven and the top of the lid, then let your bread proof. Put your oven in the coals, with 2/3 of them on top. When there are 5 or 6 minutes left for the bread to cook, take of the lid and butter the top of the bread. Put the lid back on and let it finish cooking. Bread is done when you peck on the top and it sounds hollow.

There are different ways to cook with your Dutch oven, but these are the basics. You can pick up a good Dutch oven for as little as $35 or so, and that’s for a Lodge, which is American-made and arguably the best brand of cast iron skillets out there.

There are, of course, gourmet chefs coming out with their own lines of cast iron cookware too, and some of them are even pre-seasoned, but you’re likely going to pay quite a bit more for them. It’s up to you, though. There are definite advantages to buying a pre-seasoned piece, but I’m old-school and take a certain pleasure in doing things for myself.

Learn how to make your own food based on survival ancient recipes from our forefathers. Click the banner below and uncover more survival secrets, and stay close for a great offer that will boost your survival cooking!

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This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia. 

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15 Skills For Surviving A Collapsed City

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Urban Survival

Will you survive a disaster in a city without having resources such as water, food, and safe shelter at your immediate disposal? You’re going to be facing hard times and the adversity from your fellow urbanites who aren’t survival-savvy.

Whether it’s a financial collapse or a natural disaster, you need to know how to survive. You can prepare building a food and water stockpile. But the most important thing to stockpile is knowledge.

That’s going to be the difference between you and 99% of your neighbors. Knowing what to do to survive is three quarters of the battle.

You still have time to learn and develop your skills by grabbing the amazing offer we have for you. Read the whole article to find it!

1. Adaptability

First and foremost, you need to know how to adapt. To do this, you’re going to have to be flexible and think outside of the box. It may reach a point where paper money has no value; instead, commodities like food, hygiene products, and useful skills will become the new dollar. This is where stockpiling, prior skill acquisition, and living simply will come in handy.

2. Find Water Reserves and Sources

Do you know where the city water pipes are? What about the main source of drinkable water? Do you know where dairy and produce farms are in the immediate areas surrounding your city?

Clean water and access to purification methods will be critical to survival, not only for drinking and cooking, but also for personal hygiene and disease prevention.

Water filtration

3. Scavenging

Gleaning, dumpster diving, freecycling, or upcycling: regardless of what you call it, scavenging is a great way to find perfectly useful products and edible food. Though we live in a society that places a huge stigma on going through somebody else’s trash, we’ve also taken wasting to all new levels.

Probably half of what goes into a landfill isn’t actually garbage: it’s just something that somebody didn’t want any more or didn’t bother to fix. We encourage such behavior by making new items so affordable and accessible that it’s easier, and often cheaper, just to throw something away.

Scavenging now can save you a ton of money and decrease the amount of waste, if even by a bit. Imagine if everybody did it!

In an urban survival situation, scavenging may just save your life. After all, there may not be any stores open to buy parts to fix your generator, replace lost clothing, or buy fresh produce; these are all items that will be readily available in the dumpsters nearest you if you’re just willing to look.

This is all part of living simply and switching to a more frugal, less wasteful frame of mind.

4. Bartering

The art of getting a good deal for what you buy and trade is a valuable skill now but will be absolutely critical to surviving an urban collapse. Know what your possessions are worth, and have a stockpile of items that you know will be valuable in that situation.

Hygiene items, food and useful skills are going to be at the top of the list when it comes to barter. Weapons and ammo may be up there, too, but that may be something that you want to keep for yourself depending upon your situation.

The take-away here is that you need to know how to barter in such a manner that both you and the person you’re bartering with feel like a good trade was made.

5. Escape from Debris

If an event such as earthquake or engineering failure, you may very well find yourself trapped in a sea of debris. Knowing how to escape without causing further cave-ins or getting lost will be a valuable skill.

It will be similar to escaping a thick jungle full of hazards that can kill you if you’re not extremely careful. For that matter, it may kill you, or trap you, through no fault of your own.

You’re going to deal with not only keeping yourself safe and treating your own injuries, but also helping others out.

Learning how to escape debris requires adaptability, medical skills, a bit of structural and physics knowledge, tracking and woodcraft skills to prevent going in circles, and psychological skills. Being physically fit will also work to your advantage.

6. Living Small

This is a skill that you should learn now, and it goes along with many of the other skills that we’ve discussed: bartering, scavenging, adapting. Living small simply means decluttering your life and learning to make do with what you need, not want you want right at any given moment.

Your goal is to eliminate everything that isn’t directly integral to your survival or happiness.

Fixing things instead of throwing them away, being willing to upcycle products instead of always buying new, growing as much of your own food as possible, and leaving a small carbon footprint in general are all parts of living simply.

The less you depend upon other resources for your survival, the harder it will be for you to adapt to a survival situation.

7. Cooking on a Car Engine

Did you know that you can cook an entire meal on a car engine? All you need is some aluminum foil. First, warm up your car and feel for the hottest parts, and parts that get too hot to touch, but not so hot that they’ll catch things on fire. Most of these spots will be directly around the engine.

Many of those spots have nooks and crannies where you can tuck your food to cook while you travel. You don’t necessarily have to go anywhere – you can cook as long as the car is running – but it’s a waste of fuel.

Remember that potatoes and corn will cook much faster than a roast, so make sure that you put those on after you put the roast on to cook. You may also want to cook meat for the first half-hour or so in the hottest spots, then move them to places that aren’t quite so hot so that they cook all the way through.

Video first seen on Howcast

8. Stopping Bleeding

The first goal of urban survival is surviving! You can’t do that if you or the people that you care about bleed to death before you escape the building that’s fallen on you or whatever other disaster you find yourself in.

There are several different herbs that can help stop bleeding. You also need to know how to apply a tourniquet and how to pack a wound. Also, none of these skills will do you any good if you can’t keep your cool and adapt to the situation as you need to.

9. Start a Fire from Scrap

You likely won’t have access to trees and forest debris to start fires, but you will have access to broken doors, window sills, clothing, cotton swabs, and other extremely flammable items. Just about anything will burn, but it’s important that you learn what materials are toxic and which ones are safe to burn. Also, you want to burn items that don’t produce much smoke.

Again, just being able to adapt and think outside of the box will serve you well.

10. Cooking Under the Radar

Without a doubt, there are going to be a ton of starving people if things get bad enough. After all, we know that we, as preppers, are the small minority of society. If you want to survive, it’s going to be important to learn how to cook and eat without being noticed.

If you live in an apartment, developing a joint apartment communications team can help avoid this problem. They watch out for you and you watch out for them. This is something that you need to do before SHTF, and it’s still a good idea to play your hand close to the vest and not reveal exactly how much or what you have stockpiled.

Help avoid problems by hiding your stockpile, and don’t tell anybody that you’re even building one now. Even the nicest, most honest people will turn on you when they’re hungry and desperate.

Finding ways to cook without people smelling it will be one of your biggest problems.

The Urban Survival Playing Cards offer tips and hacks that will help you survive an urban crisis, and the best part is that you can carry them with you so that you can flip through them in an emergency.

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11. Building Small Traps for Defense

Booby traps are quite easy to make but you need to be careful about how you set them. You don’t want your kids or old Mrs. Cunningham in 204 to get caught in them. Booby traps should blend into the environment. Cover holes in the stairs with old carpet, for example.

If you have an area that’s particularly difficult to defend, it may be best to seta a trap that causes a local, yet heavy, cave-in. You want it to be so dense that they can’t get through, but you don’t want to run the risk of weakening the structure of the rest of the building.

The idea is to make it difficult enough to get through that they leave in search of easier pickings.

12. Underground Navigation

Knowing how to get from one point to another unobtrusively is a valuable skill to have. Most cities sit atop a network of sewers, maintenance tunnels, and subways that make for excellent discreet navigational avenues.

Even if there is somebody else there, it’s easy to slip into the shadows and wait for them to pass. Most of these blueprints are available at city hall if you just know where to go.

This is part of gathering info and knowing what your resources are.

You can actually escape the city if you understand the underground tunnel system well enough to navigate them, even if part of them become blocked by cave-ins or are being observed by opposing forces.

13. Losing a Tail

If anybody so much as suspects that you have a supply stash, there’s a good chance that somebody will try to follow you home. This may also be the case if you’ve been out surveilling and the enemy catches on. In both these cases, you need to know how to lose a tail.

How you do this will, of course, depend upon your situation. If you can get lost in a crowd, losing a tail will be easier. Remember to walk at the pace, and in the direction of, the crowd.

Change your appearance as you go. Take off a hat or jacket because that’s what your tail will look for first – identifying clothing. Sneak in the front of a place and out the back.

14. Building a Shelter from Scrap

You’re going to need a place to stay if your apartment or house is breached or rendered uninhabitable. You can build shelter from debris such as cardboard, old doors, washer and dryer lids, garbage bags, and other items that you scavenge.

Knowing where to build a shelter is critical, too. Knowing the tunnel systems and the source of fresh, clean water will both play roles in helping you find a safe place to stay.

15. Staying Unnoticed by Keeping a Low Profile

If you’re prepared, you don’t want people to know it. You want to blend in. This means eating away from everybody, acting as if you’re in the same situation as everybody else, and behaving in as nondescript a fashion as possible. In essence, you want to be invisible by being just like everybody else around you.

However, you don’t want to change so much that you make other people suspicious of you, either. If you’re normally helpful and friendly, keep those traits even if you have to tone them down a bit. That probably won’t be hard because it’s who you are at your core.

The truly hard part is going to be resisting the urge to offer too much help. While it’s true that there is safety in numbers, the bottom line may be that you have limited resources that you can’t afford to share if you want your own family to eat. Decisions may be difficult.

One More Tip for Your Survival

Without a doubt, surviving a collapsed city will present more, or at least different, challenges than surviving an emergency on a well-stocked homestead that’s already partially off the grid. Still, it’s going to be the reality for many of us, and it’s a situation that you can survive if you’re adaptable, knowledgeable, and prepared.

Need a way of “trying the waters” with extended family and friends? Give them a pack of these playing cards or break them out the next time you get together to play poker. You’ll be able to tell by their reaction, whether they are interested. Who knows, you might even plant a seed in their minds, converting them to your point of view.

This is a great idea, especially as a way of introducing survival to people who are not yet preppers. It can be used as a tool for teaching children and adults alike. Either way, it could turn into a great Christmas gift.

Discover more than 52 survival tips that will help you thrive after disasters and breakdowns in urban areas. 

This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia. 

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Urban Survival: 9 Tips For Living Small In The City

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Living Small In The City

When you live in the country, it’s easy to live small. But what does living small really mean?

The concept is pretty fluid and has different meanings for different people, but the general idea is that you cut the fat and learn to live simply. That’s all.

Unclutter your life, physically and figuratively, so that you can open up other, better possibilities for yourself. It’s about freedom.

Here are the steps to take for living small in a big city. Read the article and look for more: a collection of survival tips can be yours easily!

We’ve surrounded ourselves with so much stuff that we don’t know what to do without it. We don’t know where our food comes from, and most of the people don’t care. We buy things, then throw them away when they break and buy new. We do the same thing with relationships.

We order huge portions of food, then throw half of it away. We buy cars we can’t afford and clothes we won’t wear. Our lives are based upon consumption and waste.

Well what would happen if all of those sources of consumption were no longer there? What if you had to grow your own food, or fix your shoe instead of throwing it away?

What if you had to get to know your neighbors, and work with them to survive? What if you were forced to give up your large living and live small?

It’s not such a horrible concept, and it’s completely possible, even if you live in an urban area that’s built entirely on the precept of living big.

As a matter of fact, learning to live small will teach you to appreciate the truly big things in life.

How to Start Living Small

Living small is a process. You can’t just go from being $50k in debt to living small. Your journey to living small will begin with tiny, fettered baby steps, but can end in long, free strides.

1. Make a List

The first thing you have to do to heal the wound is stop the bleeding. Sit down and make a list of ways that you’re living above your means. Next, figure out what steps you can take right now to live smaller.

Nobody needs a new pair of shoes once a week. Seriously, find out where you’re spending frivolously and decide if having all of those shoes is really worth being tethered to a credit card payment. If it is, then living small isn’t for you. Stop reading.

Now, make a plan to get rid of the debt. Can you really afford your apartment or would you be better off with a smaller place that costs less?

Don’t sacrifice your safety by moving into a bad neighborhood, but don’t put yourself in the poorhouse paying $2k/month in rent when you only make $3k. The big stuff will take a while to pare down. The important thing right now is to NOT make it worse.

Make a list of 5 things that you’re going to change today to live cheaper, because adaptability is one of the key attributes of a survivor. All of the things that we’re going to talk about from here on out are all about adapting a new, simpler lifestyle.

Living small isn’t about giving things up. It’s about living life on your own terms, in pursuit of your own happiness.

2. Fix Things!

Oh no – your jeans have a tear or the leg on your chair is loose? Well grab what you need and fix it! Don’t know how? Well thankfully you have the internet at your fingertips. What happens if you find out that you enjoy sewing?

You may just end up with a new hobby. Even if you don’t you’ll end up with a new skill. And you won’t be in debt any deeper. You just took your first step toward living small.

3. Learn Something

There’s something to be said for the power of learning to do things for yourself. Pick three skills that you’re interested in learning, then learn them.

Be open-minded and flexible. Try something that you may not have thought about doing up until now.

Having skills if SHTF will put you head-and-shoulders above 99 percent of your neighbors. Besides, this country was built by people who knew how to do things for themselves.

You can learn something new anywhere, anytime, even when playing cards with your loved ones.

However, if you want to take it to the next level, we also recommend these Urban Survival Playing Cards, featuring 52 more life-saving lessons, you can learn through play, that also act as a quick-reference ‘cheat sheet’ in times of emergency.

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4. Learn How to Barter

There are flea markets and thrift shops in every city – it’s just a matter of finding them. Learn how to barter, or at least how to haggle. It’s a trait that will serve you well, and you may just find some great stuff that you can use instead of allowing it to go to a landfill.

5. Downsize Your Life

This is, after all, about living small. Go through your closets, drawers, and cabinets and if it isn’t something you’ve used in the last year, get rid of it. I’m not talking about your wedding video, but do you really need those shorts that are two sizes too small or that ugly shirt that your great aunt Sally got you for Christmas?

Don’t throw it away – have a yard sale or give it to charity. Better yet, do you know somebody that could use it? If so, give them first pickings before you take it to charity. This is all about learning to live. Nothing feels better than to do something good for somebody else.

6. Start a garden

So what if you live in a tiny apartment. That doesn’t mean that you can’t grow your own food. There are all kinds of ways that you can garden indoors.

You can live in a city and grow plenty of things. You just have to be creative. Terrariums are great and vertical gardening is good, too.

Indoor Herbs

7. Teach your kids to live small

The path to a better world starts with our kids. Teach your children how to garden, and how to fix things. Raise them with the “living small to be happy” mentality.

Life isn’t about stuff, and now is the perfect time to teach them that life is about embracing what they have and what they can do, not about collecting material things and drowning in debt to get it.

8. Slow down

Take time to smell the roses. Literally. Don’t get so trapped in the rat race that life passes you by. Look at the clouds.

Take time to go for a walk or take a bike ride. Eat lunch in the park. Take the kids with you, but sometimes go by yourself. You only get one go-round so make it worth it. Make memories, not worries.

9. Learn about your resources before disaster strikes

You’re going to need to know where to find water and food if things go on beyond what you prep for, so learn about your local co-ops and resources. Network and find like-minded people. Holing up and making it through on your own may sound like the thing to do, but it’s not.

Build relationships. Since you’re living in an urban environment, it’s going to be next to impossible to live independently because you won’t have the resources to do so.

Know how to get out of the city if you need to. Know what’s around the city, including water sources and escape routes and maybe even hiding spots, just in case.

Living small isn’t about living less. It’s about living life in a way that makes you happy and safe. Nobody is happy living in debt and struggling just to make it from payday to payday.

Also, you won’t be safe and able to survive since you rely and depend totally on the wealth around you. Start practicing your survival skills by turning to living small!

Get more 52 survival secrets to help you thrive after disasters and breakdowns in urban areas!

This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia. 

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Winter Survival: 5 Tips To Boost Your Dairy Cows

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Dairy Cows

Winter, in most parts of the US, is never a good time for animals. It’s cold and often wet, the days are short, and fresh grass is non-existent. It’s no wonder that milk production may slow down a bit.

For example, cows get stressed when it’s cold, and they don’t produce as much milk as cows that are comfortable. Routines change, it’s colder, the food is different, there are many factors that stress your cow, but the number one stressor is cold.

We talked about how to get more eggs. This time, let’s see what to do to boost your dairy cows and keep the milk coming in the freezing winter days!

1. Have Your Cows in Good Condition

cowBefore winter sets in, it’s important that your cow is in good physical condition.

She needs to be at a good weight, and she needs time to acclimate to the cold so that she can grow her winter coat.

If she’s going to be outside for winter, leave her outside as the days grow shorter and the weather drops.

If she’s used to being in a barn during the summer, she’ll need to stay in it during the winter, too.

Assess your cows a couple of months before winter. Body fat is going to be one of the top two factors that help her stay warm. If you only have one or two cows, this obviously isn’t as difficult as if you have a herd.

Still, if your girls are a little on the thin side, increase their feed so that they’re carrying the right amount of weight heading into winter. This will keep them from stressing so much from the cold.

If they’re thin, they’ll use what fat stores they have to keep warm instead of giving milk. Thin cows may also produce weak calves, have problems producing colostrum, and take longer to come back into heat.

How your cow should look depends upon her breed and age – two year olds are the toughest if they’re breeding because she’s giving milk, growing, and eating to feed a baby, too. She may need A LOT of feed. Know your cows and know what they need.

On the other end of the spectrum, if your cow is obese, she’s not going to winter as well either. Just like people, obesity in an animal does not contribute to good health. Adjust feed as necessary.

In addition to keeping her milk production up, being at a good weight will also help her give birth easier if she’s pregnant, and will help her regain her weight and come into heat earlier after she gives birth.

2. Feed them Enough of the Right Feed

Throughout winter, your cows are going to need more food that they do during the summer. It’s also important that they have access to plenty of water and a salt lick as well.

Roughage – hay – is what helps a cow produce the energy she needs to stay warm and happy. If she doesn’t have enough hay, the weight will fall off of her.

This is because the fermentation and breakdown of the cellulose in the hay creates energy. High quality alfalfa may provide plenty of nutrients, but alone, it won’t provide enough roughage for your cows to stay warm.

You may not know it, (if you don’t, you should) but cows shiver. If they get that cold, they’re burning calories like mad. You need to avoid that. Give them plenty of hay.

Just so you know, a cow’s energy needs increase by anywhere from 17-50 percent after giving birth, so there’s a starting point for you.

Next, consider the temperature. A cow in good physical condition that has acclimated to winter by growing a good coat is good to go on regular winter rations until she reaches her critical temperature.

That temperature is around 20-30 degrees F. At that point, she’s burning fat to keep warm and you need to increase her feed in order to keep getting milk. A rough rule of thumb is to increase her rations by 1 percent for each 2 degrees below critical temperature.

Once the temperature drops below zero, she may be eating up to a third more than she would at 50 degrees just to maintain her body heat.

Don’t forget to factor in wind chill, length of the cold snap, and whether or not she’s wet. Even the best winter coat doesn’t trap body heat if it’s wet – imagine going outside in wet clothing.

3. Give them a Morning Boost

This goes along with feed, but I thought that it merited its own section because it’s just that important. If you’re counting on pasture to provide part of your rations, you may need to give your ladies a little push in the mornings with some hay to get them warm.

Even though there’s pasture available, if they’re cold, they’ll stand huddled to preserve body heat instead of going out to graze. Give them some hay in the morning to get their bodies producing heat and then they’ll go out and graze.

4. Build a Shelter

You know that even if it’s 40 or 50 degrees, if there’s a good wind blowing, you’re going to pull up your collar and huddle into your coat. If it’s raining, it’s even worse. It feels a lot colder than it actually is. Your cows feel the same way.

It’s important that your cows have shelter. If you don’t have to worry about much snow or wet, then a windbreak may do, but if it’s raining or snowing much, they need a at least a lean-to to shelter in. A barn is preferable. Whichever route you go, your cows need to have a warm, dry place to get in out of the weather if it’s cold.

If you keep them in a barn, make sure that it’s well-ventilated. Damp and moisture lead to respiratory conditions in cows.

If you’re getting a blizzard, you can partially close some of the vents to keep the snow from blowing in, but you want at least a half inch of open ventilation for each 10 feet of building width, no matter what.

Provide Adequate Bedding

If you have free stalls or lean-tos where your cows sleep, provide adequate bedding in them. This means that it should be dry and there should be enough to provide some warmth.

5. Protect Her Teats

Just like our delicate lips, faces, and hands get chapped in the cold, so do a cow’s teats.

It’s extremely important that you make sure that her teats are dry when she leaves the milking stall or feed area, and you should also provide windbreaks around the barn, too.

Bag balm is called that for a reason. It helps sooth bags and teats that may be moderately irritated.

Dip teats before milking and after milking. Though it adds a few seconds to the process, it’s worth it because it really does help reduce mastitis both directly by killing bacteria and because chapped, cracked teats inhibit the milk from dropping, which leads to infection.

Video first seen on MonkeySee

Use germicidal dips that also contain 5-12 percent skin conditioners. Don’t wash them because that washes off the natural protective oils, and make sure that the teats are dry before they leave the milk shed.

Warm, well-cared-for cows are happy, healthy cows who give lots of milk. If she’s stressed so much by being cold, or is so cold that she uses  all her energy staying warm, or if her teats are chapped and sore, she’s not going to give good milk.

Your goals should be keeping her warm and healthy, and these are all steps toward that outcome.

Are you prepared for a coming food crisis? Click the banner below and discover how you can feed your family with healthy foods during any collapse!

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This article has been wrriten by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia. 

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How To Wax Food For Long-Term Storage

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How To Wax Food For Long Term Storage

You’ve probably noticed how shiny your cucumbers, apples, or other smooth produce looks when you buy it. That’s because it’s coated in a wax.

Though they pretty appearance is one of the benefits of waxing food, the main reason for waxing food is for preservation. Wax is also used for jellies and cheese.

Using Wax to Preserve Fresh Produce

The wax that commercial producers use may contain fungicides, bactericides, growth regulators, anti-sprouting agents, or other preservatives so that the food stays good as long as possible. The wax itself helps hold in moisture and slows oxygen penetration that causes ripening.

Another reason that wax is used on produce is to reduce the use of disposable, non-biodegradable packaging such as sleeves and plastic wrap.

Though waxing fruits and vegetables slows down the ripening process, it doesn’t extend it for long enough to be considered a viable long-term preservation method. There are better ways to preserve your produce long-term.

Using Wax to Preserve Jams and Jellies

For many years, paraffin wax was also used to seal the top of jams and jellies. This was meant to be more of a temporary preservation method of a food that didn’t spoil quickly anyway.

Consider it the precursor to Tupperware – it just formed a physical seal that prevented mold from growing for a couple of months until it was eaten.

The technique for this was fairly simple. You sterilized your jars and lids, and made your jellies just like you do now.

Instead of adding the lid and water-bathing it, though, you would have poured a quarter-inch or so of melted paraffin wax over the hot jelly, then stirred it just a bit to completely cover the top.

The wax is lighter so it stays on top, and as the wax and jelly cools, the wax forms a seal. Then you add your lid.

Since the advent of canning, waxing jelly has pretty much gone by the wayside because canning preserves your spreads for years instead of months.

The acid and sugar in preserves are pretty decent preservatives, anyway – the wax just extended that by keeping water from settling in dips and wells on the surface. That’s what promotes mold growth.

Using Wax to Preserve Cheese

Now, another food that’s still preserved with wax is cheese. You’ve likely bought those little individual bites of cheese that are covered in red wax. You just peel the strip back and the wax opens up like a lid, revealing the cheese inside.

If SHTF, cheese will be a luxury item, so learning to make it and preserve it now is the way to go. Even if you just buy cheese from the store and wax it, it’ll keep in a cool dry place nearly indefinitely.

We all know that everything’s better with cheese on it, and if you have a stockpile of it, you’re going to have a delicious way to keep food interesting. You’ll also have a valuable trade item.

Now, you should know from the outset that the government warns against eating any type of dairy product that hasn’t been refrigerated because of the risk of botulism.

They actually spend millions of dollars a year fighting the bacteria that afflicts 160 or so people a year. Don’t get me wrong – botulism is nasty business. It’s just that I couldn’t find a single case of real cheese-induced botulism.

Wax is great for preserving cheese because it keeps the moisture in and the bacteria and molds out that cause spoilage.

I like the thought of waxing for a couple of reasons – it allows the cheese to age and develop flavor, and it preserves one of my favorite foods in a manner that doesn’t require refrigeration.

What Cheese Can I Wax?

Great question. Because of the high moisture content, soft cheeses aren’t good candidates for waxing. Harder cheeses such as cheddar, Swiss, parmesan, Colby and Gruyere are all good for waxing. If you start checking deeper into the USDA thing, many extensions say that it’s OK to store hard cheeses without refrigeration.

Choose cheeses that have a 40 percent or less moisture content. After all, moisture is a breeding ground for bacteria, and you don’t want your cheese to spoil inside the wax.

Remember that your cheese will continue to age after you age it. I think that’s a good thing, because I like those sharp flavors.

Video first seen on Linda’s Pantry

What Kind of Wax to Use?

Before you pull out your chunk of paraffin, you need to know that you can’t use it for cheese. It’s not pliable enough and it doesn’t get hot enough to kill bacteria. You need to buy cheese wax specifically. This is easy to find online by running an internet search for cheese wax or cheese making supplies.

Word of caution: wax explodes at high temperatures, so once you heat it to 180 degrees F (the temperature that kills bacteria), turn the heat off. It’s a good idea to use a double broiler, too.

Another benefit of using cheese wax is that you can strain it through cheesecloth to get the cheese off of it and re-use it. Finally, it dries faster than paraffin, which cuts down on your processing time and gives bacteria less time to reach the cheese.

Oh, and don’t forget about gravity – your cheese is likely going to be sitting on a rack so that moisture can’t pool under it, so it’s going to sink a bit. Cheese wax will shift with it, but paraffin won’t.

What do I Need to Wax Cheese?

In order to wax your cheese, you’re going to need three things, at minimum: cheese wax, a cheese wax brush, and a can to melt the wax in. A metal coffee can is great because you can just put the lid on when you’re done and store the wax right in it until you want to wax your next batch of cheese.

Waxing Cheese

The reason that you need a special cheese brush is that regular nylon brushes will melt when you dip it into the wax. That’s never a good thing. So, buy a good brush.

Methods to Wax Cheese

Ahh. Now the rubber’s going to hit the road. There are two different methods that you can use to wax your cheese. You can dip it or you can paint it on. Either way, remember that two thin layers is better than one thick layer, so plan on going over your cheese twice, regardless.

1. Dipping

Dipping your cheese in the wax is a much prettier way to wax your cheese but it has one major downfall: you can only dip cheese chunks as big as your container, and as deep as your wax.

Still, if you’re waxing store-bought cheese in the small bricks, dipping will work just fine. So, let’s get started.

Before you wax your cheese, it’s best to let it rest at cool room temperature for a few days and get a bit of a harder rind on the outside. That also helps it dry out a bit more.

Now that you’re ready to dip, heat your wax up in your can or container until it’s 180 degrees and remove from heat. Have parchment paper ready to put your cheese on after you dip it.

Now, using tongs  or your fingers (use tongs!), dip your cheese in the wax as far up as the tongs or your fingers, then pull it out and let it drip for 10 seconds or so until the wax dries.

Place it on the parchment paper and move on to your next piece. Pick it up by the part that’s already been waxed, and dip the uncoated part, holding it up for 10 seconds or so just like you did the first side.

Repeat this process so that the cheese has two coats. Make sure that you get all of the little air bubbles or pin holes covered so that the cheese is completely covered.

2. Painting on Wax

The next method is exactly what it says – you paint the wax onto the cheese. Heat the wax the same way as above and lay your cheese out.

The main benefit of painting wax is that you can cover any size piece of cheese that you want. After you’ve coated the first side with the first layer of wax, flip it over and do the other side. Add two coats.

Now your cheese is ready to store, and you no longer have to worry about facing the end of civilization as we know it without cheese.

There are so many things you can learn from our ancestors about preserving your food for survival. Click the banner below and discover how to keep your loved ones well fed when SHTF!

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This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.

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Diatomaceous Earth? Here’s How To Use It For Your Homestead

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Diatomaceous Earth Uses

Diatomaceous earth, aka DE, is a completely natural product derived from fossilized diatoms, which are hard-shelled algae from bodies of water. You’ll usually buy it in the form of a light-colored powder, and it’s not expensive. It does meet one of our biggest needs as preppers – it’s multi-purpose.

However, you should learn how to use it right. We’ll help you solve this problem starting from the questions one of our readers asked.

“Are there any potential health risks when using diatomaceous earth? I heard it could cause some problems despite the uses it has… By the way, can I use it to treat my animals?”

Diane K., Missouri.

Is DE Harmful?

Let’s start with a couple of words of caution: there are different types of DE and you want to make sure that you buy food grade so that it doesn’t have any chemicals in it.

If your skin is exposed to DE for too long, it could dry more than usual, so take care how long you keep it on you, then gently wash it with warm water.

Basically, if inhaled, DE it’s not more harmful than the dust in your home, but even the dust can cause problems if you are asthmatic. DE it’s fine as it sticks to surfaces, so if you don’t want to breathe it or get it into your eyes, use a simple mask to prevent it.

As for the internal risks, eating too much DE can cause constipation, so lower the DE intake and grow your water consumption to prevent it from happening. You will need to drink more water anyway when using DE internally, as it also could cause bloating if you body lacks a proper level of fluids.

Also, there were rumors that DE can cause cancer, but there is not study yet to expose a link between the exposure to food grade DE and cancer. Still, you need to be careful about prolonged interaction with pool grade and industrial DE, as it has been proven as being risky to your health.

de

Leaving apart the precautions, DE still has a lot of uses that no prepper should ignore. Let’s see a few of them!

1. Detoxifying

Many people take DE because it may remove toxins such as mercury, endotoxins, pesticides and drug residues, and E. coli. It may be a natural colon cleanser and detoxifier, which can have a massive positive effect on your health.

The reason that it works like this is because it retains its traits even when suspended in liquid for long amounts of time. It breaks down into a colloidal form, which means it has a negative charge.

This attracts free radicals, then they bond to the DE and are carried out of the body. This slows oxidative damage, which causes many different diseases such as atherosclerosis and cancer as well as the physical signs of aging.

2. Deodorizing

Just like baking soda, diatomaceous earth absorbs odors. It’s great to put a satchel or container of it in your fridge, freezer, or coolers and it’s also a good ingredient to add to your homemade deodorant.

Sprinkle some in your garbage cans, too. It serves double duty by absorbing both moisture and odor in all of these instances.

3.Purifying Water

Many water filters contain DE, though not the food-grade kind. Its shown to filter out fine particles that pass through other types of filters. It’s often used to purify the water in fish tanks and for making wine, beer, syrups, and sugar without altering flavor, taste, color or nutritional value.

A study published in the Journal of Applied and Environmental Microbiology found that it helps kill viruses in drinking water.

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4. Use for Packing Wounds

Since DE is so absorbent, it’s great to use to use as a base for a poultice because it can help draw out infection and toxins.

Not only does diatomaceous earth have numerous uses around the house and farm, it also has healing properties because its ions have a negative charge. It’s also affordable and easy to use, as long as you’re careful not to breathe it.

5. Reduce Cholesterol

As bad as Big Pharma hates to admit it, this claim has actually been backed up by scientific study. Taking just 250 mg per day lowered cholesterol levels and they stayed low, even six weeks after the subjects quit taking it.

The weight is tough to translate into teaspoons but most people take ‘2 teaspoons per day. You can always weigh it when you buy it.

6. Whitening Teeth

In a survival situation, or even if you just don’t want to use store-bought toothpaste, you can add DE to your homemade toothpaste as a whitening agent. Don’t use it every day though because it can damage your enamel. Baking soda is also an option for this, or combine them!

Video first seen on mylittlehomestead

7. Hair, Nail and Skin Care

Just as DE may draw toxins out of your body, it can also draw them out of your skin, plus it acts as a natural exfoliant, removing dead skin cells and clearing pores. Since it doesn’t have a bunch of chemicals, it’s less likely to irritate your skin or cause an allergic reaction, though the possibility is always there.

It also supports collagen production, which is great for your nails, skin and hair. Add a teaspoon or two to your morning juice or smoothie to reap the health benefits. Just make sure that it’s food grade!

8. Healthy Scalp

Adding DE into your daily shampoo can help strengthen your hair and promote growth. It also kills and prevents lice.

9. Healthy Bones, Joints, and Tendons

Dietary silicon is good for bone and connective tissue and it can also help prevent the bone loss that leads to osteoporosis. If SHTF, this is going to be a big deal because there won’t be medication around to treat arthritis or osteoporosis.

Though the connection is solid, those in the know aren’t exactly sure exactly how DE helps with this, but it’s suspected that it has something to do with the fact that silicon helps your body make collagen and also helps mineralize your bones. This helps keep your bones and joints healthy.

10. Deworming

To those who use it, they’ll swear that DE is better at deworming and preventing worm infestation in pets than commercial chemical dewormers. Just sprinkle a quarter teaspoon on Fido’s food daily.

11. Kills Pests, Including Fleas, Roaches and Bedbugs

Individual diatomaceous earth grains are ragged and crack the exoskeletons of these pests, dehydrating and eventually killing them. Since it’s non-toxic, you can put it on your carpets, furniture, and even directly on your pets, with no fear of illness.

To kill fleas, sprinkle DE in your carpet – it doesn’t need to be much, a light sprinkling will do – then leave it in overnight and vacuum it up. Repeat every couple of days for a month. The lifecycle of a flea from egg to adulthood is 12-22 days, so this should kill all of them.

You can give your pets so quick relief by rubbing the DE right into their fur. As a matter of fact, they’ll probably enjoy it. Just rub it in well so that it reaches the skin.  You don’t need to do this daily. Every few days would work, or after a bath.

To get rid of bedbugs, sprinkle on your mattress, making sure to get in the seams of any stitching and around the edge because that’s where they like to hide. Repeat every couple of days for three weeks.

Video first seen on ZappBug.

It takes two weeks for the eggs to hatch, so three weeks should be enough to kill them all. It may not hurt to repeat again in a few weeks because bedbugs can live up to a year even without food (blood), though their typical lifespan is four to six months.

To keep your house free of ants, cockroaches, silverfish, spiders and other creepy-crawlies, sprinkle DE around the outside of your house and in dark, tucked-away spots where they’re likely to hide.

To keep your garden free of slugs, snails, and beetles, sprinkle in the dirt around your plants and the perimeter of the garden.

12. Help Your Livestock Produce More and Be Happy

Many farmers have found that a daily dose of DE helps keep their farm animals healthy and can increase production.

For instance, your cows may produce more milk and have glossier coats. Your chickens will lay stronger, better eggs. DE is also good to put in your chicken coop so that they can roll in it. They love to do that, and the DE will help keep the mites and other bugs off of their skin.

There are also studies that show that hens that were fed DE had significantly lower incidents of parasite infection. In the same study, hens in the DE group laid eggs that had bigger yolks, which means they had more nutrients.

13. Food Storage

You know those little packets that come in many products to keep the moisture out? Well those are packets of silica, which is in DE. You can wrap little satchels of DE and put it in your food, especially your dried foods, to absorb moisture and thus help keep your food dry so that it won’t mold.

This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia. 

References: 

http://mmbr.asm.org/content/64/1/69.abstract

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9533930/

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Why Vertical Gardening Is The Way To Go For Survival

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Vertical Garden Survival

One of the biggest problems for many of us when it comes to gardening is space. Not everybody has a few acres to spare to grow a full, standard garden.

Another problem for many people is physical limitations. A regular garden requires a lot of labor that some people just can’t handle.

Many of us also worry that people will find our food source if SHTF.

An open garden planted on flat earth is painfully obvious to just about anybody passing by, but if you can build a vertical garden that is out of sight or even portable so that you can move it out of sight if you need to.

Vertical gardening solves many problems.

4 Benefits of Vertical Gardening

We just touched on a few of the benefits of vertical gardening but let’s get into it a bit further, because this is seriously great way for just about anybody to grow food.

Demands Much Less Physical Labor

When you’re growing a garden, you already know that it’s going to be a ton of work. You’re going to need to till the space, then plant the seeds or plants. You have to weed the gardens so that your plants thrive, and you have to keep the soil loose around them. Then, of course, you have to harvest your crops.

Nearly all of this requires a lot of bending, kneeling, and twisting. That’s great if you’re 25, fully healthy, and WANT to do that much work.

However for many of you, that level of physical labor is difficult or even impossible. Growing a vertical garden eliminates all of these issues.

It’s Easier to Hide

Another benefit is that, even if somebody happens to glance at your back yard, they’re not necessarily going to pay attention to something growing on a wall, especially if you’ve planted flowers among your vegetables.

Looters won’t be prone to look too hard because they’re in a hurry looking for an easy mark.

Vertical gardens are a bit easier to camouflage than an acre-wide garden. Also, you can make your garden so that it faces the back of your house, which would make it virtually impossible to see.

Finally, you can always make your vertical gardens portable so that you can move them out of the line of sight of looters.

Covers Plain Walls with Beautiful Plants

There’s nothing particularly pretty about a blank wall, so cover it up with a beautiful, and possibly edible, wall of plants! Don’t want to look at that privacy fence between you and your neighbors? Cover them in plants.

There’s just something cozy about a backyard with vine-and-flower covered fences and walls. It gives the whole place a homey feeling.

Easier Quality Control

When your plants are growing in pots or planters that you’re managing, you know exactly what’s in the dirt and you’ve possibly made your own fertilizer so chemicals aren’t an issue.

There’s no need to worry about the quality of the nutrients in your dirt; you put them there. You also control the amount of moisture and can feel when the plant needs more or less because all you need to do is stick your fingers into the dirt.

Plants that are off the ground are easier to inspect for insects and fungi that can wipe out all of your plants before you get to taste even one morsel of them.

You can also nip the sucker leaves off and provide all the care that your plants need from a much more comfortable position. When you’re comfortable, you can take your time and care for your plants properly.

Different Types of Vertical Gardens

A vertical garden is exactly what it sounds like – a garden planted vertically instead of on the ground. There are many different ways that you can do this depending upon your space, what you want to grow, and how you want to do it. Your garden, your decision!

Aquaponics System

Aquaponics is the art of growing plants and fish together. The plants provide the fish with nutrients that they need and the fish byproducts provide nutrient-rich fertilizer for the plants.

The system can be as simple or as complex as you’d like to build it. You can use dirt or start an aquaponics system. As a matter of fact, you can build an aquaponics system that’s very nearly a vertical garden itself, and it gives you fish AND plants.

Latticework with Baskets or Boxes

Another way to build a vertical garden is to use hanging baskets and latticework. This type of garden is good for plants that don’t grow out or get too tall.

Plants such as peppers, strawberries, onions, garlic, lettuce, and spinach are great for  the baskets. To help your space do double duty, use the lattice work to grow vining plants such beans or tomatoes.

An alternative to baskets is to hang planters from the latticework. This will allow you to grow plants that vine out a bit or need more room to grow, such as potatoes, carrots, or squash.

You can stagger the boxes as needed to accommodate the space requirements of the plant. Again, you can grow vining or heavy plants on or at the base of, the latticework.

Gardening Walls

If you have an empty wall – it could be the side of your house, an outbuilding, or a garden wall – then you have a place to put a vertical garden. Plus, you’ll be covering up a plain wall with beautiful plants.

Be sure when you use a wall that you allow space for the extra moisture so that you don’t damage your wall.

You can use just about any construction material that you want. Chicken wire, lattice work, and trellises are all good choices.

You can also use gardening bags, which are made from a variety materials including burlap and canvas. One of the good things about using bags is that the extra moisture drains right out the bottom. You can use this system to water the plants below if you’d like.

Gutter System

I saw this in a magazine and fully plan on making it my next project. The problem is that I don’t have access to old gutters. It’s a simple yet brilliant design.

Just drill drainage holes in the bottom of old gutters and hang them on a wall of some sort. The holes will keep the moisture content at a good level and will even allow for trickle-down watering.

Vertical Towers or Walls

I love these systems. I’m currently using one right now and even though I’ve just started, I absolutely love it. It’s easy to use and has an aquaponics watering system that makes my life much easier while keeping my plants happy, too.

Usually I build my own stuff, but this one looked too good to pass up, so I bought it. It’s a tower farm wall and the short video above was made while unboxing the package.

Possibly the best thing about  the wall is that it’s easy to put together regardless of your skill level, and it’s easy to take care of.

The trays are set at heights that are easy to reach regardless of how tall you are and if you were to anchor it, it would be free-standing with very little modification. Low maintenance is always a good thing as far as I’m concerned.

Towers are always a fun way to go. For instance, you can cut out holes from a length of PVC, fill the pipe with dirt, then plant strawberries or other similar plants in the holes. You can also make a tower using round planters.

Use a large one on the bottom, then use two mediums – 1 turned upside down inside the big one for support, and the other one upright to hold dirt. Repeat this step with 2 smaller pots. Fill with dirt and you have a 3-tier plant tower. You can add to the levels if you like.

These are just a few ideas to get you started. Though making your own vertical gardening structures is awesome, it’s not always practical. If not, then consider the Tower Farm Wall that I discussed above. I really am having a good time with it and the customer support is great.

Start growing your own food right now and you will not have to worry if SHTF. Click the banner below to discover how to provide as much food as your family needs in a crisis, with only 10 minutes a day.

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4 Easy Solutions For Lighting Your Indoor Plants

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Lighting Your Indoor Plants

Whether you’re trying to start your seeds so that you have healthy seedlings or young plants to set out when the weather warms or you’re growing all of your plants inside, lighting is an integral part of growing.

Finding the best indoor lighting options for your plants can be a challenge, though.

It would be ideal if you could place all of your plants by windows so that they can get their natural source of light: sunshine. However, that’s not always possible, especially if you’re growing a lot of plants and you want to keep them under the radar.

There are plenty of great options and, thanks to technology, they won’t all cost a fortune. We’ll discuss that as we go.

Choosing the Type of Light

Before we start discussing bulbs, you need to understand a bit about growing plants and what type of light they need. Many newcomers to the scene think that, like owning a guinea pig or a snake, the light is used to keep the plant warm, but that’s not the case.

light

Plants require light to grow and flower, but not all light is equal. For that matter, not all light is necessary and the types of light that plants need are actually dim to human eyes.

The sun offers a full spectrum of light colors that range from blue to red. It’s actually those two colors that plants need the most. Blue light enables the plant to grow bushy and full. Red light causes the plant to produce a hormone that makes it flower. As you’ve probably already figured, you want both for your edibles.

The colors in between, particularly green, are completely unnecessary; green light is purely for aesthetic purposes. It just makes your plants appear green and glossy because the plant reflects it back. That may be useful information if you want your plants to look pretty as they grow.

Another factor that you need to consider is heat. Unless you’re growing your plants in a cold room, standard room temperatures are more than enough heat to grow most plants. You really don’t need heat from your bulbs. Too much heat will burn your plants and many high-heat bulbs burn out fairly quickly, too.

You’ll see watts, which is how much energy the bulb produces, and you’ll also see Kelvins. Kelvins are the basic unit of color temperature that’s used to measure that whiteness of a bulb’s output. In other words, it’s the best description of the visual warmth or coolness of the bulb.

The higher the degree of Kelvin, the bluer the light. The lower the Kelvin, the warmer, or redder, the light looks. Shoot for 4000-6000 Kelvin because that level of light borrows from all parts of the spectrum including the blues and reds that you need for growth and flowering.

Some plants, such as peppers and lettuce, may not need as much red light because they don’t flower quite as much.

Now that you understand the basics of what you need to make your plants grow, let’s talk about the different types of light and whether they’re best for your needs.

1. Incandescent Lights

These are the types of bulbs you probably already have in your fixtures. They’re pretty much standard bulbs. Incandescent bulbs put off a ton of heat and don’t really produce the type of light that your plants need to grow.

Only about 10 percent of the energy that they produce goes toward light; the rest is heat. They’re OK for growing low-light plants such as vines, but they’re not much good for growing anything seriously.

2. Fluorescent Lights

These lights put off mostly blue light, which means that you’ll have bushy plants. These are OK for growing plants that you don’t need to flower such as lettuce or cabbage. They’re also good for starting your plants inside. Fluorescents come in different lengths and are shaped like tubes.

One of the biggest downsides here is that you have to hang them is special ballasts. Regular fluorescents are great for at least starting your seeds, and they’re good for plants that don’t need so much of the red light such as herbs.

If you opt to go with fluorescent lights, you should know that the narrower the bulb, the more efficient the light is. They also use 75 percent less energy than standard incandescent lights.

Now there’s a new fluorescent system out called the T5 system. They put out double the amount of light per tube as regular fluorescent tubes and they’re full-spectrum. That means that instead of just having the blue light like regular fluorescent lights have.

If you’re using a T5 system adjust the proximity of the light to the plant as it grows. Since the bulb isn’t insanely hot, you don’t have to worry about burning the plant.

Video first seen on katie phibbs.

3. High Intensity Discharge Solutions

These are great options for growing your plants but they’re expensive. High-intensity discharge lights are extremely efficient and produce a lot of light. There are a couple of types that emit different spectrums of light.

The Metal Halide, of MH, light emits the blue light that will encourage the leafiness, and the High Pressure Sodium, or HPS, lights produce the reds that you need to make it flower.

You could use the MH light to get it started and full, then swap it out for the HPS to get it to flower, or you could use them in tandem. These bulbs are expensive but one 1000-watt lamp can produce the same amount of light as fifty 40-watt fluorescent bulbs. They come in different sizes.

Just to give you an idea, one 400-watt bulb can produce enough light to cover a 15sf growing area, or a 4’x4’ garden. The 1000-watt bulb covers about a 7’x7’ area. Figure that each 25 watts covers 1 square foot of garden.

4. LED Lights

We’ve been using them for Christmas lights for years but LEDs are relatively new to the agriculture scene. They produce practically no heat and don’t use hardly any power, either. Remember how we discussed the Kelvin measurements? Well LEDs can be programmed to 5700K to mimic the light spectrum of the sun.

Right now, LED grow lights are expensive but they’ll likely become cheaper as they develop the technology and the method becomes more popular.

Figuring Costs

Remember that you’re going to be in this for the long run. If you’re only growing a few plants, it’s probably fine to go with a cheaper bulb or system but if you’re going to grow a significant amount of plants and plan to do it for the foreseeable future, you’ll probably be better off to invest a bit of money in the beginning and let it pay off in the long run.

To figure the cost of your system, add up the combined wattage of all of your lights and divide that by 1000. That will give you the kilowatts used. Multiply that by how much your power company charges you per kilowatt hour. Multiply that by the number of hours the lights will be on per month and you have your monthly energy cost that you can compare to the original cost of the system.

If you’re fortunate enough to live completely off the grid and you are powering your house by solar or some other sustainable method, then you can go with the best system for your situation that’s within your price range. If you notice, though, the more expensive systems use relatively little energy.

Every survival plan must have food at its core. Click the banner below and discover how you can grow your own food with just 10 minutes a day!

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How To Meet The Challenges Of Urban Farming

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Urban farming

Urban gardening and, to a smaller extent urban farming, started as a way for people who live in urban environments to grow healthy food untainted by chemicals. For some, it was a way to grow food that was healthy; for others, it was a way to be able to afford to eat good food. People wanted to grow their own food even though they lived in a city.

Regardless of why or how it started, urban gardening has grown to epic proportions and is now a movement committed to producing healthy, sustainable, locally-sourced food.

Urban farming is coming along, but it’s harder to keep animals in many urban areas.

It’s not easy to grow food in a city, so people got creative. They went from growing a couple of plants in a pot or a window box to having a full garden in the middle of the city.

There are several different methods of urban farming that range from a few plants and maybe a couple of chickens grown by one family to entire city lots grown and managed by co-ops of people with the same end goal.

  • Indoor Gardening is great for somebody who has no porch, patio, yard, or roof where they can grow food. All plants are grown inside in containers or even small, indoor greenhouses. Some people are even lucky enough to have a solarium.
  • Container Gardening works well for people who have small yards, porches, patios, decks, or balconies where they can grow food in containers. Window boxes, small raised beds, barrels, pots, and even kiddie pools serve as containers that plants can grow in.
  • Community Gardening is becoming a big deal in a lot of areas. Neighbors or community members are coming together and planting edible plants in community places such as parks or other outdoor public areas. Some communities are now actually encouraging people to grow gardens on empty, abandoned lots because it makes the neighborhood look better and raises property values.
  • Guerilla Gardening is actually one of the most interesting urban gardening methods that I’ve heard about. People subversively grow plants in public places or spaces that don’t belong to them such as vacant lots, road medians, or even strips of dirt beside sidewalks.
  • Green roofs are a relatively new development, at least on a wide-scale basis. Roofs are designed specifically with a growing medium so that plants and trees can be grown to eat, clean the air, or make the area beautiful.

There’s no doubt that urban gardening is a good thing. It brings people together and adds green space to concrete while providing locally sourced food and plants that help clean the air.

Urban gardens can also help mitigate soil erosion and the urban heat island effect. Finally, it teaches inner city kids the value of growing things and even provides green recreational and leisure space.

The problem is that some people don’t see the benefit of it. That wouldn’t be so bad if those people weren’t complaining neighbors and members of local governments who want to put a stop to it. This was a huge issue when urban gardening was just something “troublemaking hippies” were doing.

Thankfully, it’s now becoming the vogue thing to do – thanks in large part to popular restaurants and TV shows that promote locally-sourced foods and environmental sustainability.

Because of the growing popularity and the improvements in property values due to turning a vacant lot into a garden, local governments are coming around.

However, for many of us, the struggle is still real because the problem still exists: you have no space to grow the garden that you dream of so that your family can eat healthfully and maybe even grow some of your own stockpile.

You have plenty of options, though. You can grow a small garden indoors, or if you have a small yard you can do some raised beds. You can even grow a portable garden!

Indoor gardening

Talk to the Local Farmers

But say you want to do more than grow a few plants in your house or yard – what then? How do you get involved in the bigger scene?

Well, if you have a local farmers market, then that would be a great place to start. Go down and talk to some of them.

You’ll be surprised how friendly most farmers are, and how willing they are to share information. Though cities can be huge, the farming community is probably relatively close-knit, so if you can’t find anybody who is directly involved in the local urban gardening projects, somebody can almost surely point you in the right direction.

Start Your Own Urban Farming Movement

Have you and the neighbors been talking about how nice it would be to start growing your own food? If so, you may have found some resources that you didn’t realize that you had. Hold a neighborhood meeting and see what others are willing to do.

It could be that the big empty lot between you and your neighbor is actually owned by that guy so that he didn’t have somebody move in right next to him. If so, they may be open to making it useful, and you will have a place to start your garden. Organize it!

Most municipalities don’t care as much about urban gardening as they do about urban farming. Pepper plants and apple trees don’t seem to cause as many problems as goats and chickens do.

While laws often support (or at least don’t forbid) urban gardening, most cities do not support the presence of animals within the city limits. That’s a fight you can pick, if you want, at the local level.

Personally, it may be better to talk to your neighbors to see how they feel about seeing or hearing chickens in your back yard. If you can work with them from the beginning, you may not have as many problems as you would have if you had bought some critters without speaking with them first. Even if they say no, at least you know they’re going to complain.

You can also talk to some of the local co-ops about keeping animals on a farm outside the city or participating in a meat-share or produce-share with them. You have so many options; you just need to find them.

Start growing your own food even though you live in the city. With just 10 minutes a day, you’ll never have to worry about feeding your family again. Click the banner below to discover a great option to start your urban farming!

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How To Measure Water pH At Home

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How to Measure Water pH

I was raised in the country and we had well water. It tasted good but it turned the tub, our clothes, and even our hair red. That’s because it had iron in it, which is a sign that the water was acidic.

To combat this, we used a water filtration system, which increased the pH in the water by removing the excess metals in the water.

But is water pH important for any other reason that white tubs? Yes it is!

We’ve discussed the importance of pH before, in articles such as how to make wine and vinegar. Obviously, those two food items are acidic, which means that the pH in each of them is less than 7. Pure water has a pH of 7; a pH less than 7 is considered acidic and a pH greater than 7 is considered basic, or alkaline.

The Visual Effects of Acidic or Basic Water

As I stated above, the contents of your water have an aesthetic effect on clothes, dishes, and pipes. The average pH for surface water is 6.5-8.5. Normal groundwater is 6-8.5. If you go too far in either direction, higher or lower, you’ll likely see some physical evidence of it.

Water with a pH of less than 6.5 or so is acidic and often contains heavy metals such as iron, manganese, copper, lead, and zinc. Obviously, you don’t want to drink too much of these because of the damage that these metals can do to your health. We’ll discuss that in a bit.

Acidic water is corrosive and can damage pipes, stain laundry and appliances with a blue-green tint, and leave a buildup on dishes. It may also taste metallic. You may remember what the water tasted like coming out of the water hose when you were a kid; that’s similar to what acidic water may taste like.

The way that you balance it is by adding a neutralizer such as soda ash (sodium carbonate).

Water with a pH higher than 7 is considered basic or alkaline, though it’s not really outside the realm of “normal” until it’s higher than 8 or 8.5.

Alkaline water is often high in calcium and will leave whitish scaly deposits on your dishes, utensils, tubs, and appliances and can clog your pipes. It also tastes a bit bitter, especially when you make your morning Joe, and can make it hard to get a lather out of soaps.

pH

Health Risks Associated with Water pH

I’ve written content for the holistic health and medical fields for a long time, and though there’s a certain following that says that water pH can change the pH of your body, there’s simply not enough evidence to corroborate that. Your body does a dang good job of balancing itself and saying that water pH can alter your blood pH is a stretch.

Also, pH levels, in and of themselves, do not indicate the safety of water. For instance, arsenic may be present but not significantly affect the pH.

However, pH can be a good indicator that there are toxic substances such as heavy metals in your water because “soft” water (water with a low pH), can leach metal ions out of soil and pipes. For example, lead is never a good thing, and a low pH is an indicator that your water may contain lead or other poisonous metals.

On the flip side, calcium found in water with an alkaline pH can balance some of this out. It can make some heavy metals such as lead, copper, and zinc less toxic.

Calcium can strengthen pipes by lining them with a protective coating, but it can also clog them if it builds up too much. You’ve probably heard the term, “hard water.” That refers to water with a high pH, because of the build-ups. In limed soil, calcium can immobilize iron and cause a shortage even if there’s plenty of iron in the soil.

As you can see, the primary health concern when it comes to the pH of drinking water is consuming heavy metals. The important thing to remember is that pH is only one measure of water safely. It doesn’t necessarily tell you what other toxins such as fertilizers, fungicides, and other chemicals are in there.

Alkaline Water

The Effects of Water pH on Soil

The pH of water plays a much bigger role in other ways, though. The two biggest areas may be in how it affects soil and aquatic life. As we’ve already discussed, the calcium that’s typically found in alkaline water can affect how your plants absorb essential minerals such as zinc and iron.

Again, pH isn’t the only factor; some fish that can survive in water with a pH as low as 4.7 will die at a pH of 5.5 if the water contains just a tick too much iron. PH isn’t everything, but it’s a good indicator.

PH is important to soil because some plants prefer an acidic soil and some prefer an alkaline soil. Planting in the correct soil will increase plant health and growth, and therefore yield. If you’re going to plant it, you may as well get as much bang for your buck as possible!

PH affects everything from the levels and types of good and bad bacteria in the soil to the texture of the soil itself. For instance, clay that is in the optimal range or 5.5-7 is granular and easy to work with. If it’s overly acidic or alkaline, it becomes sticky and hard to work with.

Most plants thrive in neutral or almost-neutral soils, but there are some that love acidic soil. These include radishes, blueberries, cranberries, sweet potatoes, parsley, peppers of all sorts, and rhubarb. The majority of plants can tolerate a mildly-acidic soil, but they’re much less tolerant to alkaline conditions.

This is because minerals dissolve better in acidic soil. This sounds like a good thing, but only to a certain degree. A pH of about 5.5 is about as low as any plant will tolerate because below that, the concentration of metal ions, especially aluminum, manganese, and iron, become so high that they can inhibit plant growth. Phosphorus, calcium, and magnesium may also be less available.

Following the pattern, you may guess that alkaline soils inhibit the release of minerals and nutrients, which is why plants can’t tolerate those conditions.

It’s important to test your soil and know your plants. The goal isn’t so much to achieve a certain pH as it is to make sure that the soil acidity is such that there aren’t any toxic metals and the nutrient availability is maximized. In other words, no poison, plenty of nutrients!

If your soil is too acidic, you can neutralize it a bit using lime. Alkaline soils, on the other hand, aren’t as easy to adjust. Sometimes you can add sulfur or acid-forming fertilizers, but it’s probably easier just to add nutrients via fertilizer and compost.

Note that pH isn’t everything. Many sands have a great pH for growth but contain practically zero nutrients. That’s OK – you can always add nutrients.

Importance of pH in Streams

Now THIS is where water pH makes a real difference. We’ve already discussed how acidic water induces the release of minerals and we know that many of those minerals are toxic in high levels.

When the pH of water becomes too acidic due to contamination by acid rain or run-off that contains fertilizers or other acidic chemicals, it can be catastrophic to aquatic life.

Many plants and aquatic creatures are adapted to survive in a specific pH and can’t tolerate more than just a minuscule change.

Not only does the acid affect the nutrients in the water, it can also cause the same physical problems to fish and plants that they cause to your drains and pipes.

Heavy metals can accumulate on gills and even cause deformities on young, growing fish. The same idea goes for plants that grow in the water, except they’re affected by the pH in the soil as well as the water.

The biggest issue here isn’t that one fish or one plant can’t tolerate a change; everything that eats that fish or plant, or is eaten by that fish, is affected as well. Aquatic systems are delicate and even a small change can cause huge ripples.

As you can see, pH is just a number; it’s the changes that accompany that number that can cause problems or bring joy and growth. Keep an eye on the pH of your soil because it can change!

How to Measure pH

There are simple pH strips that you can buy at a pool store which use color strips to tell you what the pH of the water or soil is. If you’d rather do it the natural way, which is the way we usually prefer to do things, you have a couple of choices.

The first way is to gather 1 cup of soil (total) from a few different parts of your garden. Add a couple spoonfuls to 2 separate containers, then add 1/2 cup vinegar to the soil in one container. If it fizzes, your soil is alkaline, with a pH between 7 and 8. If it doesn’t, add 1/2 cup baking soda to the other cup. If it fizzes, you have acidic soil. It’s a good guess that the pH is somewhere between 5 and 6. If it doesn’t fizz either time, you have neutral soil – congrats!

The second way to test pH – and this works for soil and water – is to use a red cabbage. Yep, that’s right. Simmer 1 cup of red cabbage in two cups of distilled water for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let it steep for another 30 minutes or so.

To test your soil, place a couple of spoonfuls of your soil to a couple of containers, like you did before. It would be good this time around if the containers are clear. Strain the cabbage, keeping the water. It will be a purply-blue color and has a pH of seven – completely neutral.

Add 1/4 cup or so of cabbage water to each cup, stir it up, and let it sit for 30 minutes. If the water turns pink, your soil is acidic. If it’s blue/green, your soil is alkaline.

Video first seen on Carl Nelson

To test your water, simply substitute water for the soil. The same colors apply.

Now that you know a bit more about how and why pH makes a difference with your water and soil, try the tests. If you have something to add about pH, please feel free to comment in the section below.

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This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia. 

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How To Plan Farmer’s Calendar All Year Round

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Farmer's Calendar

A farmer’s work is never done. You’d think that in the winter when there are no crops to tend or hay to mow, there may be some time to take a break, and that’s somewhat true, but not really.

Winter is actually one of the busiest times of year; in addition to taking care of the animals, clearing snow, and keeping things running, you need to plan and prep for the next year.

Winter appears to be a time of sleep and relaxing by the fire, but for a homesteader, there is no such thing. If you have cows to milk and chickens to feed, then you still have to take care of that. Then there are all of the other tasks that you have to do: clearing the roof, bringing in firewood, making impromptu repairs.

Winter is a great time of the year to make a plan for what you need to do in the spring, summer, and fall to make your homestead successful.

We’ve put together a calendar of things to do in the winter to help make your homestead successful all year round.

Check your Stockpile

Winter is a great time to check your stockpile for several reasons, but the primary reason that we’re adding it to the calendar is so that you can decide what to plant in the spring.

If you’re running out of green beans but still have a ton of corn, you can adjust your crops accordingly. Plant more beans and less corn. The same thing goes for canned meals and condiments. If you’ve just about eaten all of your beef stew and salsa but still have a ton of chicken soup left, adjust accordingly.

You can also determine whether you’re best using your crops. Say you had a bumper crop of apples and made pie filling, applesauce, apple cider vinegar, and apple butter. Now you’re out of pie filling but still have 32 quarts of applesauce. It seems like you may want to adjust how you use your apples next year.

Make a chart and record your findings so that you can compare to last year and make your adjustments. You don’t want to use your entire stockpile.

It’s good to have enough for a couple of years, but you don’t want to can 6 months’ worth of apple butter and 5 years’ worth of okra, especially two years in a row.

Concentrate on Your Herbs/Winter Crops

I don’t know about you but I love herbs. They’re great for adding flavor, and for using medicinally. Since they’re easy to grow inside, you can grow them year round. Since you’re likely slam busy all summer and fall, wait until winter to harvest and store your herbs. This is a good time to make your essential oils and medicinal blends, too.

If you live in a moderate climate, you may be able to grow some winter crops such as garlic, kale, carrots and potatoes during the winter. They’re easy to grow and won’t take up hardly any time. Search the internet for crops that will grow in the winter according to your zone.

There are also early spring edibles that you can start growing and have ready to eat while you’re waiting on those peppers and tomatoes to grow.

Winter crops

Start Your Seeds

If you live in a zone where you have short summers and you want to grow crops that have a long growing period, start them inside as early as February. That way, you’ll have healthy seedlings or young plants to transplant when the weather warms up. Your garden will have a great start before the snow is even off the ground!

Make a To-Do List for the Coming Months

Plan your summer. Sit down and make charts of what you’re going to plant, how much of it you’re going to plant, and where you’re going to plant it. Keep in mind soil types and compatible plants when you’re making your chart.

Think about your animals. Do you want to breed? Do you need more eggs? Did you put back enough meat this year? Are your chickens cramped and need a new coup? How about the barn – does it need repairs? Is the tractor running rough? Do you need any new equipment? Make a list by month of all these projects that you need to address.

Plan Your Expenses

Now that you’ve sat down and planned your crops and equipment repairs and made a list of other things that you do, then plan how much you’re going to need to spend versus when you’ll need it and when you’ll have the money to do it. Try to project any equipment replacements or repairs that you’ll need, too. Remember to allow for any unexpected expenses.

You don’t have to stop with just the next year. Do a five-year plan, then adjust as needed. Keep adding a year every winter. This will really help keep you on track as long as you actually refer back to the list and follow it as much as possible.

Make Syrup

If you live in an area where you have birch or maple trees, late winter is when you can gather the sap from the trees and make your syrup for the year. Just FYI, it’s a bit of work to make, but it’s free and you can sell it for a great profit. That’s assuming your family doesn’t make you keep it!

Do all of the in-house repairs. Think about those creaky stairs, unpainted rooms, loose carpets and wobbly stools that you’ve been meaning to fix all summer. Now’s a great time to get all of that stuff done so that you can check it off the list.

Video first seen on TacticalIntelligence.

Help Your Animals Adapt

Winter affects different animals in different ways. Chickens will likely slow down production when the weather changes. You can head this off a bit by making sure that they’re snug and warm, but make sure that the coop stays well-ventilated. Keeping your hens happy will make your breakfast a happy event, too.

Cows and horses, on the other hand, may need to be fed more so that they have enough energy to stay warm and (in the case of cows) keep producing quality milk. If you’re new to homesteading study up on your animals before winter so that you’ll know what to do to keep your animals safe and healthy.

Winter is definitely a bit slower than the rest of the year, but there are plenty of things that you can do to maintain and improve your farm. Relaxing a bit isn’t a bad thing, either – you work your buns off the rest of the year, so give your brain and your body a break.

Have Some Family Time

Farms are a ton of work and though we all squeeze in “together” time while we work, cleaning out the chicken coop together just isn’t the same as picking up a Redbox or heading out for pizza and an evening of fun. There’s so much work to be done in the other months that it’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle and forget to have some fun. Now’s your chance!

Educate Yourself

Winter is a great time to use your mind instead of your back. Farming, homesteading, sustainability, and prepping are ever-changing beasts, so take the downtime to catch up on the latest news and ideas that are available all over the net.

Feel free to go old-school and buy some books and magazines to get some new ideas about how to move your farm forward. Think about planting guides, new equipment, new prepping ideas, or ways to help keep your animals healthy naturally.

Another good subject to study up on is the plants that you’re growing. If you don’t know all about each plant that you grow, take this time to learn. Not all plants like the same types of soil. Some like rich, loamy soil, some like sandy soil. Some grow great next to each other and others, such as tomatoes and potatoes, shouldn’t be grown together.

Just knowing these small facts will increase your yield and even improve the quality and flavor of your crops.

If you have anything else to add to the winter calendar to-do list, please share it with us in the comments section below.

We can all learn from each other, but never forget the ways our forefathers made their own food, harvested their own plants and made their own medicines to survive during gloomy times.

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Survival Pharmacy: 9 Ways To Use Ginger For Your Health

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How To Use Ginger For Your Health

Ginger has been used for centuries for medicinal and culinary purposes. Though we don’t use it commonly in much American cooking, you’re likely familiar with pickled ginger when you eat sushi and it’s also becoming a popular dried and candied product.

The medicinal properties and ease of growth make ginger a plant that you should definitely be growing for your survival garden!

I’ve been growing ginger in a potted plant inside, which is the best way to grow it if you live in a small space or a region that gets cold. It doesn’t like the cold, so if you live in a cooler area, you need to grow it indoors or outdoors in pots so that you can bring it inside before the frost.

The actual growing part is easy but first, let’s clarify something. Ginger isn’t a root; it’s a rhizome. It does have roots, which are the long, hairy-looking parts that draw in moisture just like roots do for any other plant. Rhizomes are actually underground parts of the stem. They grow horizontally under the ground, with roots on the bottom. New stems grow from the top to the surface.

It’s the rhizome part that we eat, but most people refer to it as ginger root, so we’ll still do the same. Ginger rhizomes grow buds, or eyes, similar to potatoes. Those are the parts that will grow.

What Part do you Plant?

Planting ginger is similar to planting potatoes; you plant the buds that grow off of the rhizome. On a potato, we call them eyes. You can buy the rhizome at your local garden store or order from a seed store. Another option is to just allow a ginger root that you buy from the grocery store to bud, then plant it.

One problem with using one from a grocery store is that they’re often sprayed with growth inhibitors to keep them from budding while they’re on the shelf. You can soak the ginger to get as much of this off as possible, but you still may have problems getting it to bud. If you can, then go for it!

Another problem with using a store-bought one is that it may have pesticides or herbicides on it. To resolve both problems you could buy organic. It’s a bit more expensive but if you can’t find anything at your local stores, then this is a good option.

Perfect Growing Conditions

Ginger likes rich, moist soil, partial or full shade, humidity, and warm weather. The soil needs to drain well in order for the rhizomes to develop. They grow horizontally, so they’re one of the few plants that flourish in shallow containers. I live in Florida, so my soil is sandy and the weather is, of course, temperate so I could plant outside if I wanted to.

I just scoop soil right out of the ground for my dirt, then mix it half and half with compost. Since I use a pot (actually a rectangular box) and rich soil I don’t add any type of fertilizer. The plant will only grow 2-3 feet tall and it smells great.

If you plant it outside in soil that’s less than ideal, or if you get a lot of rain, give it a drink of the fertilizer or compost teaof your choice every couple of weeks or so. The reason for this is that when it rains, the water washes all the nutrients out of the soil.

Put mulch around it too. That helps keep the moisture in and it nourishes the plant as the mulch decomposes. It also helps keep out weeds because ginger is pretty delicate and other plants will plow it right over. It doesn’t like wind, either.

So … to recount, no wind, no cold, no full sun, and not too much water. Instead, it likes rich, well-draining soil, moderate moisture, and partial sun or shade.

Preparing and Planting

If your rhizome has more than one bud, you can cut it into pieces, leaving a bud on each piece, then plant them. You can also just plant the entire thing. Let the rhizomes soak overnight, then bury them 3-6 inches deep and water sparingly, just enough to moisten the soil. Some people prefer to let them sit in water until the grow roots before they plant them, but I haven’t found that to be necessary.

Best time to plant is late winter/early spring as long as you’re not planting outside in a cold zone. If you live in a tropical zone, plant it at the end of the dry season/beginning of rainy season.

You don’t need much space to plant enough ginger to get you through the year. Each rhizome will only produce a few leaves the first year and they don’t mind living in close quarters. Plant them 6-8 inches apart and they’ll be fine.

Video first seen on DIY Home and Garden.

Harvesting Ginger

This is the best part! Once your ginger has been growing for three or four months, you can trim pieces of the rhizome off of it simply by digging through the soil to the side of the plant and just nipping a piece off the end, then covering it back up. This green ginger won’t be quite as flavorful as ripe ginger, but it’s still good.

You can also wait until the end of the season and harvest the ginger when the plant starts to die off. This takes about ten months to happen. If the temperature allows (or if you’re growing inside), you can replant right away. Harvest all of the ginger, break the rhizomes apart, and separate out a few that have good buds.

Toss those back in the ground or pot and use the rest. Ginger freezes well. You can also store it for several months in a root cellar, slice it thinly and dehydrate it, candy it, or pickle it. If you dry it, you can grind it into ginger powder that is great for baking or medicinal use.

Medicinal Uses for Ginger

Now we’re down the heart of the matter – why growing ginger is a good thing for a prepper to do. The active ingredient in ginger – gingerol – is an antibiotic, anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant. It’s also an anti-coagulant. There’s a reason ginger is considered a superfood!

1. Heart Disease and Stroke

Since it’s an anti-coagulant, which means it prevents your blood from clotting, it can help you avoid heart attacks and strokes. Its antioxidant properties also help fight free radicals that cause heart disease, so it’s a double whammy.

2. Stomach Upset, Heartburn, and other GI problems

Ginger has been used in holistic medicine for centuries to treat all sorts of upper gastrointestinal problems. It’s good for stomach upset, heartburn, constipation, bloating, and even morning sickness during pregnancy. That’s because it helps induce the stomach to release its contents into the small intestine.

It’s also effective at treating ulcers.

This is now officially backed by science. I actually use it to get rid of heartburn by eating a slice or two of candied ginger. You can also drink it in a tea for quick relief.

3. Motion Sickness

Though this is going to be a short section, it’s well warranted because ginger has actually been shown in at least one study to treat motion sickness, especially seasickness, more effectively than Dramamine! Ginger doesn’t just ease the nausea; it treats ALL of the symptoms: nausea, cold sweats, and dizziness.

4. Strengthens Immune System

Interestingly enough, ginger’s beneficial effect on digestion also helps your immune system because, in addition to the antioxidants, a healthy digestive tract is required for proper nutrient absorption.

Not only that, gingerol has the effect of boosting your body temperature – maybe that’s why gingerbread is so great in the winter! –which may help remove toxins that prevent your immune system from functioning properly.

5. Arthritis, Muscle Soreness, and Joint Pain

Since gingerol is an anti-inflammatory, it’s extremely effective at relieving the pain and swelling of arthritis. People with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis report noticeable relief of pain as well as increased mobility when they consume ginger regularly.

Have you had a rough workout? Eat some ginger or drink ginger tea. You’ll feel better shortly!

This isn’t just something that “people say”. It’s been quantitatively measured in studies where arthritic inflammation was measurably decreased. In other words – it works!!

About Ginger

6. Fight Staph and Strep

Again, science prevails. Recent studies have shown that ginger essential oil was more effective than traditional antibiotics at treating staph and strep infections. If nothing else, it won’t hurt to take it if you’re going to be in a hospital or round somebody who’s sick.

And if you’re sick, ginger doesn’t interact with other medications so you can’t do any harm! Oh, and other studies have shown that it’s just as effective on other types of bacteria.

7. Diabetes

This is extremely new research, but it’s big, especially since we, as preppers, don’t have any way to prepare for life without access to many life-saving medications. Insulin is one of those drugs that are absolutely critical for survival but doesn’t have an effective natural alternative – at least until (hopefully) now.

Two grams of ginger powder per day was shown to decrease resting blood sugar by 12 percent. Instead of getting really scientific here, I’m just going to give you a link to the research findings so that you can see the details and additional results.

8. Menstrual Pain

One gram of ginger powder per day works as well for many women to relieve menstrual cramps and pain as ibuprofen.

9. Enhance Brain Function and Prevent Alzheimer’s

Because of the anti-inflammatory properties of ginger, studies have shown that it can help prevent cognitive decline. It can also help prevent disorders such as Alzheimer’s, which wasn’t’ actually a surprise to me once I read the results of the diabetes study – Alzheimer’s has actually been commonly referred to in many circles in recent years as Type 3 diabetes.

You can reap any of these benefits by eating ginger raw, candied, or by making a tea with it. You can also juice it, but I’ve found that to be ineffective in a manual juicer. Even in an electric juicer, you don’t get much juice from ginger and it requires a high-power juicer because it’s so hard.

There’s also the option of making an essential oil, which isn’t as difficult as you may think.

Ginger is an amazing food that’s easy to grow, doesn’t take up much space, and has medicinal properties that could very well save lives if SHTF.

I hope that this information has helped. I seriously drink this particular Kool-Aid so I know for a fact that it works, at least for stomach problems and joint pain, so I’m happy to vouch for it from a personal standpoint. There are many other benefits – I just touched on a few of the most important ones here.

I’ve discussed the health benefits of garlic and other plants for the same reason – grow them, too!

If you’ve grown ginger or have any health benefits or personal success (or report of a tall-tale), please share it with us in the comments section below.

Knowledge is the most important survival skill. Discover how our ancestors grew, harvested and used survival plants during harsh times.

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Senior Preparedness: What Types Of Food To Store?

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Senior Preparedness

The great thing about modern technology and food industrialization is that there are now all types of food commercially available.

That’s great news for those of us who aren’t exactly spring chickens anymore because it makes building a diverse stockpile extremely simple.

What to Stock?

When you’re making your list, be sure that you include the following groups in order to have a full supply of foods that will meet your dietary needs:

  • Vegetables: These are most easily bought canned. If you have high blood pressure, watch out for the sodium content because salt is often used as a preservative. Be sure to get a variety of colors because each one offers different nutrients. For example, oranges and reds are high in vitamins A and C and greens offer iron, vitamin C and, often, the B vitamins. Veggies also offer protein as well as fiber that will keep your digestive tract healthy.
  • Fruits: Fruits can be purchased canned, freeze-dried or dehydrated. All forms of preservation maintain high levels of the nutritional value of the fresh fruits. Be sure to buy ones canned in juice instead of ones canned in syrup. Again, go for different colors for the nutritional range that the offer. Fibrous fruits such as peaches are great for long-term energy because the fiber slows the absorption of the natural sugars in the fruit.
  • Meats: Thanks to modern technology, well-preserved meat can be purchased dehydrated, smoked, or canned. Each way is nutritious and delicious. Again, watch the sodium levels if you have blood pressure issues and shoot for nutritious meats such as jerky and canned tuna and chicken instead of fatty, processed meats such as Spam or potted meat.
  • Beans: You can purchase beans canned or dry. They’re a great source of protein and B-vitamins as well as carbohydrates. If you have digestive problems with beans, try soaking them first and cooking them with an onion. That sometimes helps get rid of the “gassy” properties.
  • Dry Goods: Flour, sugar, pastas, rice and other dried goods will be good for two reasons: they’ll help round out your meals with delicious, filling sides and sauces and they’ll make great barter items.
  • Spices: Dried spices last for years and are easy to store. You can also opt to grow your own indoor herb garden, which we’ll discuss in a bit. Spices will make a great barter item as well as help you add flavor to meals.
  • Desserts and Treats: Sometimes eating is about more than nutrition. A nice piece of apple pie can boost morale and give people the mental boost that they need to get through tough times. Adding some pie filling or some chocolate chips to your stockpile will add a welcome burst of comfort to life if SHTF. Don’t depend on treats for nutrition, but storing some for treats or trading is a good idea if you have the room.
  • Fats and Oils: Healthy fats such as olive oil and coconut oil deliver nutrition and a good backup source of energy. They also help flavor meats and are necessary if you want to make such dishes as biscuits or sauces. Your body needs omega-3’s in order to function and since it can’t make them on its own, you need to eat them. Fish and olive oil are both good sources but olive oil doesn’t have the risk of mercury poisoning that you may encounter by eating too much canned fish.
  • Energy Bars: Because they’re portable and often contain all of the nutrition that you need for an entire day, energy or protein bars make great additions to your stockpile. Since they’re lightweight and take up very little space, you should toss a few into your bug-out bag so that you have some quick energy and nutrition should you need to evacuate.

Stocking Up with Store-Bought Foods

Though growing your own food and being completely independent of outside food sources is great, it’s also extremely difficult to do if you live in an urban area or have physical limitations. There are numerous reasons why purchasing your food supplies from the store may be your best option, especially as you get older. Here are just a few:

  • The food is safely preserved.
  • You can buy a wide variety all at the same place.
  • There’s no manual labor involved.
  • You don’t have to learn any special food growing or preservation techniques (though we recommend that you learn how to do it in case you need to in a long-term survival situation!)
  • You don’t need garden space or special equipment.
  • Purchasing your food is by far the easiest way to build your stockpile. If you watch for sales and use coupons, it’s extremely affordable as well. Even just taking advantage of BOGO sales will save you a tremendous amount of money.

Not only can store-bought foods save you time, many of us don’t have the space or the physical strength to manage a large garden anymore.
Growing a small one for fresh foods is fabulous but growing one large enough to produce extra for canning can be taxing when you get older. Heat stroke is no fun at all, and picking beans sure is hard on the back muscles.

Foods Shelf Life

If you’re nodding your head in understanding and agreement, store-bought supplies may be the way to go.

A Bit About the Types of Foods Available Commercially

You’ve been buying commercially prepared foods all of your life but you probably haven’t ventured far beyond the standard canned foods aisle in your local supermarket. A trip to a hunting goods store or a military surplus store will open up the doors to a few more options. Here’s a brief rundown on the major preservation methods available to you:

  • Canned Food: This one doesn’t need much of a description because unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve eaten it in mass quantities throughout your life. Food is sealed in plastic or glass jars or in steel or aluminum cans in such a way that air can’t get in to cause spoilage.
  • Dehydrated Food: Again, this one doesn’t need much of an explanation because you’ve surely had jerky or dried fruits. Food is seasoned and cooked in an oven or a dehydrator to remove the liquid. It’s then typically sealed in a bag or jar in order to keep out moisture that will cause spoilage. With the moisture removed, dehydrated food is lightweight, takes up very little space, retains nearly all of its nutritional value and is good practically indefinitely as long as no moisture gets to it. Great for your bug-out bag. You can add water to dehydrated foods to rehydrate them and cook with them.
  • Freeze-Dried Foods: This is a method that you may not be so familiar with. Freeze-drying is a 3-step process sort of similar to dehydrating, except the food is first frozen. Then it goes into a warm vacuum chamber where it remains for several hours. Instead of turning to liquid, the vacuum causes the liquid to leave the food in a frozen form that vaporizes. Finally, the food is dried to remove the rest of the water and sealed to keep moisture out.
    Most freeze-dried foods have a recommended shelf-life of 25 years. It’s also extremely light and can be eaten as-is or rehydrated and cooked. You can buy single products such as fruits or complete freeze-dried meals.
  • Meals Ready to Eat (MREs): These are meals created originally by the military to provide nutrition to soldiers in the field. Nowadays, they’re available from military surplus stores if you want the real thing. Companies also produce them for the private sector and you can buy them at sporting goods stores. As with freeze-dried or dehydrated foods, MREs are available as single foods or entire meals.
  • Dried Foods: Spices and beans are great examples of foods preserved by drying. It simply involves allowing the product to hang and dry naturally. Unlike dehydrated foods, the process doesn’t involve heat. Otherwise, it’s the same idea; remove the water and bacteria can’t grow.

With all of these options available, there’s no reason why you can’t stock your pantry and eat well even if disaster strikes.

Here are a few tips for buying supplies that will help you store what you need while getting the most mileage for your buck:

Buy foods that you eat. Yes, canned asparagus may be on sale but if you hate it, don’t buy it. There’s a reason that you still have 2 cans of it in your pantry from 1972 – you think it’s gross and would rather go hungry than open that can and ingest the contents. Not a great way to stay in good spirits in a tough situation.

Buy in bulk. Food is often cheaper if you buy large quantities of it. For instance, a 50lb bag of flour is going to cost much less per pound than a 5lb bag will. You can always separate it out into manageable proportions. Since a bag that large is difficult to handle, check to see if any of your local grocers deliver. Many of them do today and that will make it easier and safer for you to buy items that are difficult to handle.

Buy extra when you can. This is a great way to build your stockpile with foods that you enjoy. If you’re buying a can of clam chowder, buy two instead. If they’re BOGO, buy four! You’re accomplishing two things here; you’re building your stockpile and you’re ensuring that what you stock is what you like. Plus, you’ll have an extra can of soup on hand if you feel like sharing or if you forget to get it the next time.

Seal your dried goods. Just because your flour may be good for a year or more, it’s not going to be that appealing with bugs in it. When you get it home, store it in plastic containers or bags that bugs can’t get into so easily. This will keep it fresh longer, too.

Don’t buy damaged cans. If a can has a dent, don’t buy it. It’s entirely probable that the safety of the food has been compromised because if the can’s damaged, air could get in. Also, cans have a protective lining that keeps the steel or aluminum from seeping into your foods but if they’re dented, that protective lining could be damaged. Don’t risk it even if you’re going to eat it that night.

Building your stockpile with purchased food offers a safe, simple way to ensure that you’ll have what you need to get you through a survival situation.

It’s time to go back in time and learn valuable survival secrets and skills from our ancestors.

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This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.

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5 Things To Know About Bleach Storage

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Things To Know About Bleach Storage

We’ve recently had a question from a reader about bleach storage. She lives in a warm area of the US and had a problem with leakage that ruined some of her other preps.

Starting from this question, today we’re going to take a look at proper storage of bleach as well as discuss some viable options for it that will suit your needs at least as well as bleach.

Why is Bleach Important?

Though many people think short-term of looters and thieves, one of the biggest risks to your survival when SHTF will be disease.

Because there may no longer be public water sanitation systems, water supplies may become contaminated. People won’t understand the need to keep waste away from water.

Another reason disease will be an issue is because of poor sanitation. Somebody with cholera will leave the bacteria behind and you may touch whatever is contaminated.

If you become contaminated, you’ll then have cholera. Those of us in the know and prepared won’t have as much of a problem, but the largest portion of society may not fall into that category.

Bleach kills 99 percent of disease-causing germs and you only need to have it in a ratio of one part bleach to ten parts water to create a cleaning solution that will kill germs.

You can also use bleach to sanitize your drinking water. For that, you use 8 drops of bleach per gallon of clear water and 16 drops for cloudy water.

You’ll also need to learn how to bathe without using contaminated water too, because some germs can permeate your skin while others will get to you when you lick your lips or get some in your eyes. It’s not OK to bathe in bad water. It’s better to not use water at all if you don’t have clean water.

However, you have other alternatives for sanitizing water that we’ll get to in a bit.

5 Things to Know about How to Store Bleach

First, it’s important to understand that bleach expires. When you buy it, use a black sharpie to write the date.

It’s a good idea to also write 8 drops/1 gallon because in an emergency situation, your brain may not be able to pull up all of the numbers you need. If you really want to be prepared, tape a plastic eye dropper to the jug, then when the bleach comes up in your rotation, just remove the eye dropper and tape it to the next new jug of bleach that you buy.

The ideal storage temperature for bleach is between 50 and 70 degrees F. At those temperatures, bleach maintains its full strength and efficacy for between 3 and 6 months. After that, it loses about 20 percent of its strength per year. If it’s stored in hotter temperatures, it loses its strength even faster.

The best way to store bleach is in a cool, dry area away from direct sunlight. Because the containers can sometimes be a bit fragile, you may want to store them on a piece of old linoleum, and keep them out of the way so that the bottles aren’t inadvertently kicked or knocked off the shelves.

It’s my guess that this is what happened to our reader’s bottles because they don’t generally degrade.

Just as with all of your prepping supplies, use the first-in-first-out rotation so that you’re always using the oldest product, and when it reaches its 6-month date, you don’t necessarily have to throw it out. You can still use it in the laundry, and if SHTF, as long as it’s not more than a couple years old, you can still use it to fight odors and germs in waste areas or to kill bugs in the garden.

The reason that it stays good for that is because when bleach breaks down, it turns into salt and water. Even if it’s completely degraded, salt still inhibits many bugs and kills others.

Because of its short shelf life, bleach isn’t the ideal stockpiling item because it’s not like spaghetti sauce – you may only use a gallon every few months in everyday life.

Though it’s definitely good to keep around, there are other safer, space-saving options with almost indefinite shelf lives that you can stockpile for water purification.

Note: If you’re storing ammonia for any reason, keep it well away from the bleach. Should a spill happen, you’re looking at toxic gas formation, or even, if enough ammonia is present, an explosive product. It’s a bad idea to blow up your laundry room.

Using Bleach for Water Purification

Bleach can absolutely be used for water purification, but it’s not your best option. We’ve already discussed the issue of short shelf-life, but it’s also not good for you to drink bleach. Yes, if you’re drinking city water, it’s chlorinated, but the maximum amount of chlorine is 4 ppm. That’s a heck of a lot less than 8 drops per gallon. Make sure that your bleach is unscented!

Another reason why you should only use bleach to disinfect your water is that when sodium hypochlorite (bleach) mixes with the organic contaminants in the water, it causes them to oxidize, which create carcinogenic trihalomethanes.

Video first seen on MySurvivalGear.

Boiling is the best option, but if all you have is bleach, then using it is better than drinking contaminated water by a long shot.

Because you have no idea what may be in a pond or a stream after an event, it’s a good idea to have your own water collection and storage systems in place. There are even natural contaminants that can make you sick. That will give you a leg up on your water sanitization needs. We have a few good DIY water collection/filtration ideas here.

Bleach Alternatives

OK, so we’ve determined that bleach may not be the most viable option for long-term storage, so what DOES work? You have a couple of options.

Steramine tablets – are often used in restaurants, daycares and other places that need to sanitize hard surfaces. One tablet sterilizes 1 gallon of water and there’s 150 tablets in a bottle. A case of them on Amazon is about 30 dollars. So, that’s pretty cheap. You can’t use it for drinking water sanitization, though.

Portable filters – for portable water sanitization, there are several different types of portable filters that you can buy (LifeStraw is one example), and you can also carry drinking water sanitization tablets. They’re a bit pricey compared to some other options, but then again, anything “convenient” usually is. The cheapest ones I found on Amazon were about 17 bucks for 100 tablets.

Calcium hypochlorite aka pool shock – this is my favorite drinking water sanitization method. It comes in dry granules and has a shelf-life of 10+ years. The best part? It’s SUPER concentrated – one 1 lb. bag treats 10,000 gallons of water – and it’s just as effective as household bleach for both sanitizing drinking water and sanitization of surfaces.

I wrote an article awhile back that explains how to use pool shock. Oh, and did I mention that you can buy that 1 lb. bag for about 12 bucks? Doesn’t get any cheaper than that. I’m not much on math, but off the top of my head, that’s like 1/10 of a cent per gallon of drinking water. That’s about as close to free as you can get.

Well, we veered a bit away from the original question about how to store bleach in hot climates, but I think that the best answer is, “You don’t have to store bleach at all because there are better alternatives.”

I hope that this information was enough to solve the problem. If any of you have more or better ideas, please share them with us in the comments section below.

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FAQ On Survival Food: How To Pressure Can Bacon At Home

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How To Pressure Can Bacon

It’s bacon. Who doesn’t love it? Bacon for breakfast, bacon bits, bacon grease, bacon for your beans … bacon is awesome.

But it’s one of those foods that, unless you have a pig and a smokehouse, you may have given up on for survival because it needs refrigeration.

We’ve had some questions about canning bacon, and we’re going to address them now.

“A question about canning the bacon. How long do you pressure can the bacon? Do you also add 1/2″ of water to these jars? Does the pressure canning melt wax paper? Can parchment paper be used instead?”

Cheryll

Though you can purchase canned bacon, it’s extremely expensive – the cheapest I found was about $15 USD for a 9-ounce can. That’s out of the range for many of us, but don’t throw in the towel yet! You can home can bacon so that it will be there to comfort you no matter how bad things get.

Until recently, the only way that I’ve ever heard of home canning bacon was raw and dry; in other words, you don’t cook it, and you don’t add anything to the jar. However, I recently watched a video that documented how to can cooked bacon.

There’s some merit to this because cooking it before you can it may reduce the chance of botulism. Some people believe that the meat doesn’t get hot enough in the middle to kill the toxin. However, I’ve spoken to many people who swear that they’ve canned bacon raw forever with no problems whatsoever.

My suggestion would be to roll it a bit looser if you’re canning it raw than if you’re canning it cooked so that the heat can circulate better through the roll. The key is to pressure can that bacon regardless of whether you can it raw or cooked.

I’m going to outline three different methods of canning bacon. Let us know which ones work for you.

But before we begin, let’s go ahead and get the ever-present government warnings out of the way. None of these methods have been approved by the USDA as safe. As a matter of fact, the USDA hasn’t approved ANY methods of canning bacon.

Now, let’s can bacon.

Ingredients and Tools for Canning Bacon

There are only a few tools and 1 ingredient that you’ll need. Of course, you need bacon! The thick-cut cans better than the thinner slices because they don’t tend to stick to the paper as much if you’re going to use the rolling method.

You can also home-can bacon ends and pieces (the cheaper kind of bacon that you can often buy in 3-pound packs for just about the same price as 1 pound of strips. That requires a different method, though.

Next, you’re going to need wide-mouth quart canning jars, rings, seals, and jar tongs, a pressure canner, and the divider for the bottom of the canner. Finally, if you’re using the rolling methods described below, you’ll need parchment paper or masking paper, which you can buy at your hardware store for less than ten bucks for a decent-sized roll. Do not use waxed paper because the wax will melt.

Before you start any of these processes, prepare your jars by sterilizing them, and get your seals in hot water if you’re using standard seals.

1. Canning Raw Strips of Bacon

Each quart jar will hold about a pound and a half of bacon, or maybe a bit less. Lay out an 18-inch piece of parchment paper. Lay out the strips of bacon side by side as close as you can get them without touching. Cover with another layer of paper.

Fold each end of the paper over the first and last strips of bacon. Next – and this is a little tricky – fold the paper in half lengthwise. Just to be clear, fold it so that each strip of bacon is folded in half. It may help to use a yardstick or something else to help you flip it.

Now it’s time to roll the bacon so that it will fit in the jar. Start at one end and roll the bacon strips into a log. Remember, if you’d like, you can roll it a bit loosely if you’re worried about raw packing, but you won’t get as much bacon per jar. Stuff the log into a quart jar. If you can’t get it in, remove a few strips of bacon until you can.

Clean the mouths of the jar well so that there’s no grease on them or else you won’t get a good seal.

We’re dry canning the bacon, so you don’t need to add water.

Once you have the seals on, screw the rings on finger-tight. Place your jars in your canner, making sure you have the divider in the bottom. Add 2-3 inches of water to the bottom. Put on the lid, but leave the weight off so that you can allow the air to escape. Bring the water to a simmer and let it simmer so that all the air is out. Place the weight on and cook at ten pounds pressure for 90 minutes.

Allow it to cool on its own. It’s fine to leave it in for a couple of hours to cool after you’ve turned off the heat source.

Remove the jars from your canner and set them on a towel on the counter. Let them cool for 48 hours so that you can make sure that they seal properly before you store them. It’s not uncommon for some of it to “unseal” a few hours after the seal because of a bit of grease or some other problem.

You’ll have some juice in the bottom, then the grease will be on top, so you’ll have the bonus of having bacon grease, too! Date your jars and store.

Video first seen on BexarPrepper.

2. Pressure-Canning Cooked Bacon

This method is absolutely identical to the one above, except you cook the bacon before you put it on the paper to roll it. You can bake it at 375 degrees for 10-15 minutes. Baking is a bit better because the bacon cooks more consistently. Don’t add the grease from the pan to the jars.

Cook the bacon until it’s done but still pliable before you wrap it, then pressure can it for 90 minutes. You’ll have less juice and grease but there will still be some.

One advantage here is that your bacon is ready to eat straight from the jar.

3. Pressure-Canning Bacon Ends and Pieces

Packs of bacon ends and pieces are something that I stumbled upon several years ago at Wal Mart. They’re kind of a pain because the bacon is all lumped together and there are some pieces that are just fat. However, the 3-pound pack is often just about the same price as one pack of sliced bacon.

Since I use bacon fat in my beans and to cook potatoes, and even in some of my sauces, I don’t mind having the extra fat. I look at it this way – I’m getting a pack that has slices of bacon to fry for breakfast or a BLT, I have pieces of bacon fat to add to my beans, and I have crumblies of meat to fry up for bacon bits or to add to a salad or something.

Considering the cost, it’s a win, especially if you’re canning (or living) on a budget. Each 3-pound pack is going to yield about 3 quarts of meat and fat. Simply take the meat out of the pack and stuff as much into the jar as you can because it’s going to shrink up. Leave a half-inch or so headspace. There’s no reason why you couldn’t do this with regular packs of strips, too.

This is a raw packing process, so don’t add any liquid to the jars. When you have your jars stuffed, clean the rims thoroughly because they’re going to be greasy. If you don’t get that grease off, the jars won’t seal.

When they’re clean, add your seals and rings, finger-tight, and put them in the canner. Process as described above. 90 minutes for quarts, 75 minutes for pints.

Tip: If you have hard water, add a tablespoon of vinegar to your water to keep that white film off your jars.

If you’re in a survival situation, don’t throw away the paper because it’s an excellent fire starter with all of that grease!

Raw-packed bacon stores well for up to five years. After that, the fat starts to break down and the bacon won’t be the same. This is one good reason to rotate your canned goods, so that you don’t have meat going bad.

Video first seen on BexarPrepper.

Nobody has really shared any information on the shelf life of cooked bacon, but I would imagine that it’s about the same. It would be interesting to hear from any of you that have done it.

When you open your cans of bacon, don’t just rely on the seal to tell you if it’s good. Just in case, give it the sniff test. If it smells off, throw it away. If it’s got a greenish tint, throw it away.

Now you have three different ways to can bacon so that you don’t have to go without that deliciousness even if things go south.

Click the banner below to discover how to make the ultimate survival food plus other survival secrets that helped our ancestors survive hunger and deprivation!

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This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.

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10 Shopping Mistakes When Buying Stockpile Items

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Shopping Mistakes When Stockpiling

You want to build your stockpile in case SHTF, whether it’s for a small emergency such as a storm or for an event that changes the world as we know it.

There really isn’t one correct way to do this, but there are some common mistakes that many people make when shopping to stockpile supplies.

These mistakes can be costly, both in terms of money and in terms of food loss or inefficient storage space utilization.

Don’t worry though, today we’ll address some of those common mistakes people make when stockpiling so that you can avoid them.

1.Paying Full Price

This actually isn’t a mistake if you really want to spend a ton of money that you don’t have to. For most of us, though, saving money is just part of the way we live. It’s a form of reducing waste and making the most of what we have. Rarely is there a valid reason for paying full price for anything that goes in your stockpile.

The easiest way to save money is to take advantage of buy-one-get-one-free deals. If you only need one jar of spaghetti sauce, put one in your stockpile. If you need two jars, then pay for two and put the two free jars back. If you watch your local sales flyers, you’ll know what’s on sale.

Chain drug stores are great places to pick up BOGO first aid supplies, cleaning supplies, and personal hygiene items, so this doesn’t just apply to food.

Using coupons is another way to build your stockpile in a hurry, especially when combined with sales and BOGO offers.

Yard sales, Craigslist, Letgo, Freecycle, and other places to buy second-hand items are great resources for such things as generators, tools, blankets, ATV’s, building supplies, and just about everything else you may need.

2. Buying Just Because Something is Cheap

Many people make the mistake of scooping up things that are cheap just because they’re cheap. For instance, I saw what must have been an extreme couponer buying at least 20 tubes of hemorrhoid cream because it was on clearance and she had coupons.

Seriously, if you need that much hemorrhoid cream, you have a bigger issue than a coupon addiction. Because I enjoy couponing, I know many people like this, and even if you only pay 20 cents per tube, it’s a waste of money if you’re not going to use it.

I’ve seen the same thing with unpopular food items such as lima beans, hominy, and cranberry sauce. It’s all well and good to stock those items if you enjoy them, but the point of stockpiling food and personal items is so that you’ll have extra when you need it.

Why buy lima beans and hominy just because they’re cheap if they’re not something that you’re going to eat between now and the zombie apocalypse?

This is also a buyer-beware issue when it comes to first-aid supplies. Often, these items are on clearance for a reason: they’ve been on the shelf for too long and the store needs to get rid of them. Buying old items is a waste of money because the shelf life is already reduced.

3. Buying Stockpile-Only Items

This goes hand-in-hand with the lima bean issue above. Every item in your stockpile should be something that you use or something that has high trade value. Exceptions here may be first aid supplies, but even many of those items have a shelf life; bandage tape dry-rots or turns into a roll of goop after a few years.

Your stockpile should be fluid; though you’re certainly working to build volume, you should also be rotating it using the first-in-first-out method. This means that you use the oldest item (the first in) before you use newer, identical items.

The easiest way to keep track of this is to place new items behind old items, then use the ones in the front. This keeps your supplies fresh. Are you really going to eat 10 cans of hominy? If so, then buy them, but if you’re not a fan, then it will be more money-wise to buy items that you’ll use.

4. Buying the Wrong Types of Food

Many foods come in several different forms. For some foods, one item is just as good as the next.

For others, there’s a huge difference in shelf lives. A good example of this is instant rice and instant oats. Both of these items have much shorter shelf lives than their standard-cook counterparts. Do your homework.

Also, are you stocking a freezer full of vegetables, fruits, and meats? Remember that if you lose power, those foods will need to be eaten within a couple of days. Anything left after that will be waste unless you plan to can them quickly over an open fire or some other heat source.

It’s better when buying items for your stockpile to buy foods that don’t require refrigeration.

Food Stockpile

5. Not Buying in Bulk

While it’s true that I’m a big proponent of buying items with coupons, it’s often cheaper in the long run (unless you’re getting the item for next to nothing) to buy in bulk.

Though that 10 pound bag of rice looks huge, it’s probably only seven dollars or so. If you look at the cost of smaller bags, even when they’re on sale, it’s usually more cost-effective to buy in bulk.

Another advantage to buying in bulk is that you can store the item in a 5-gallon bucket or air-tight bin. Of course, you can pack the smaller bags in there, too, but you still have the cost to consider. Shop around.

6. Not Buying a Variety

You need to have a well-rounded food supply. This means stockpiling fruits and vegetables in all colors, because different colors have different nutrients. Make sure that you have plenty of every color stockpiled.

Another issue that will be a concern is that you can get so sick of eating one food that your brain will actually make you physically ill when you try to eat it. There are accounts of people in famine situations dying of starvation when they had a plentiful supply of rice, but only rice.

You can avoid all of this by simply stocking a wide variety of food.

7. Not Considering Nutritional Value

There’s no doubt that there are many delicious foods out there that can be purchased for very little money, but beware of the nutritional value.

Some foods, such as spaghetti rings, are full of fat, cholesterol, sodium, and artificial chemicals but have practically no nutritional value. Avoid these.

Before you buy a can or jar of food, look at the label and decide if that food is worth the space that it’s going to consume in your stockpile. If not, then skip it; you need to use that space judiciously for foods that will nourish your body.

8. Sacrificing Quality for Low Price

There’s most certainly something to be said for the expression, “you get what you pay for”. Some items, such as gasoline and canned foods, are what they are no matter what you pay for them. In these cases, you should definitely go for the lower price.

However, there are certain cases where it’s better to pay for quality, or to buy used. Tools and hardware (nails, etc.) are definitely in this category, as well as equipment such as chainsaws. Other items in this category are water barrels, weapons, and rope.

9. Not Having a Well-Rounded Plan

Everybody has the vague image of a stockpile that will get them through an emergency, but many people make the mistake of gathering stuff willy-nilly. If you do it this way, you’re going to end up with 42 cans of green beans with no can opener, a box of nails but no hammer, and some bandages without any tape.

Sit down and develop a list based upon what you’re prepping for. Figure out how much food and supplies you’ll need for each day, then think of other items that go along with those.

Items such as can openers, cooking utensils, and fuel for cooking, and then think of what you may need for first-aid and medicine, and for cleanup or survival.

Imagine yourself completing a task. If you’re going to cook rice, you’re going to need rice and water of course, but you’ll also need salt, a pan, heat, and maybe some vegetables. If you’re adding vegetables, you’ll need a can opener and you may want some other seasonings.

If you’re going to board up a window, you’ll certainly need wood and nails, but you’ll also need a hammer.

It’s these little details that you need to think of, but once your brain starts working that way, it will come more naturally to you.

It will take you days or even weeks to come up with your initial list but once you start it, you’ll be able to start stockpiling while you continue to work on it.

10. Don’t Put Stockpiling Off!!

This is absolutely the biggest mistake people make! Even if you can only set aside a few cans of food per week, do so. A box of bandages is only a couple of dollars.

Add something to your stockpile every time you go to the grocery store or drug store. There’s always something that you can get for $1, and every item makes you a bit better prepared than you were when you left the house that morning.

These are some of the most common mistakes that people make when stockpiling for an emergency; now that you know them, avoid them! This was just a starter list to get the conversation going, so feel free to add other mistakes or suggestions for stockpiling in the comments section below.

And if you want to discover the long-forgotten secret that helped our ancestors survive harsh times and will help you improve your life and survival skills, click the banner bellow!

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This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia. 

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Killing Us Softly – How Just Breathing Is Deadly

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Killing agents air

You step outside. It’s a clear, beautiful day and you take a deep breath of what smells and tastes like fresh, clean air. But is it? Probably not.

Even though you may live in a place that’s relatively unpopulated and doesn’t have big cities or factories for miles, we live in a big bubble. At least certain air pollutants from Tokyo may eventually make their way to Montana.

Air pollution is a huge problem for all of us. It’s bad enough that we have to worry about other countries using chemical warfare on us; we’re already getting slowly poisoned just by breathing!

What is Air Pollution?

As with many health hazards, the Environmental Protection Agency has set minimum standards for controlling the air that we breathe. To be fair, there’s no way that even Big Brother can completely eliminate air pollution because some of it occurs naturally.

Air pollution is defined as any gas, liquid, or solid that is released into the air in a large enough quality to cause harm to people, plans, animals, or property.

In its completely natural state, Earth’s air is made almost entirely of oxygen (21%) and nitrogen (78%), with extremely small percentages of other gases such as carbon dioxide (.05%) and argon. The thing is, just a slight shift in these percentages can cause problems. For example, if the concentration of carbon dioxide would increase to even 5%, it would kill us in minutes.

What are the Leading Air Pollutants?

Air pollution can be broken into 2 categories – particulate and gas. Particulates are actual, physical contaminants that float in the air in either solid or liquid form. Sometimes you can see them, and sometimes you can’t. Some examples of particulates are dust, smoke, dirt, soot, and different –oxide gasses such as nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide that form particulates as they’re carried on the wind.

The EPA has identified and created guidelines for 6 different pollutants. Of course, since they’re a government entity, they have an acronym for the guidelines they set: NAAQS – National Ambient Air Quality Standards. It would be too hard, I guess, to just say “air quality standards”.

Anyway, these “criteria pollutants” are found everywhere in the US, though the concentrations are definitely different throughout the country, and include:

1. Ground-level Ozone

This is the type of pollution that’s created when chemical or volatile organic compounds such as gasoline vapors, car exhaust, oil on the streets, electric utilities and emissions from factories form a chemical reaction when exposed to sunlight.

Though they’re not emitted into the air, they’re close to the ground and can cause all sorts of health problems and lung diseases. It can also harm plants and affect ecosystems.

Air Pollution

2. Particulate Matter

We already talked about this a bit, but particulate pollution can cause lung damage and breathing issues that may be permanent or temporary. Some can actually pass into your bloodstream, so if the particulate is hazardous, it’s now in your system. Particulate matter is the leading cause of haze in the US.

3. Carbon Monoxide

This is a gas produced by burning something, particularly fossil fuels. You’ve likely heard of carbon monoxide testers for your house. Vehicles and machinery also emit it in exhaust outside. Inside, you have to worry about proper ventilation when you’re using your fireplace, gas stoves, or other fuel-burning appliances.

This isn’t anything to mess around with. It will cause dizziness, confusion, unconsciousness, and death within an extremely small amount of time. You’ll go to bed and not wake up.

4. Lead

We all know about lead paint and lead-paned glass. There’s speculation that Picasso actually had lead poisoning, which caused him to paint the halos in his pictures. It wasn’t his imagination – he was actually seeing them!

The EPA has restricted the use of lead in paint and most everything else. There are also regulations in place for houses that contain lead. They won’t pass inspection until the lead paint is removed and the lead-paned glass is replaced, and there are guidelines for safe removal.

Because it’s a mineral, lead is also a concern in water, and leaded fuel is still used in aircraft. Other sources of lead contamination are utilities plants, waste incinerators, and battery manufacturers. Since the EPA regulated the use of lead in automobile gas, lead levels in the air decreased by 98% in 25 years.

Lead accumulates in your bones and, depending upon your level of exposure, can harm your nervous system, kidneys, immune system, reproductive system, developmental stages, and your cardiovascular system. It also impacts the oxygen carrying capacity of your blood and can cause behavioral problems, learning disabilities, and decreased IQ in kids.

Finally, lead can decrease the growth and reproduction rates of many plants and animals. The thing with lead is that just touching it isn’t necessarily the problem; it’s when the dust turns into particulates that there’s a problem.

For instance, when a kid would chew on lead paint on crib bars, it broke up into small pieces and entered the bloodstream. On the flip side, people have lived with lead bullets in them for decades with never a hint of lead poisoning.

Read also TOP KILLING AGENTS HIDDEN IN YOUR WATER

5. Sulfur Dioxide

This is another gas produced from burning fossil fuels. It’s also a byproduct of volcanoes. It gets in the air via power plants and other industrial factories that burn fossil fuels. Trains, ships and many types of heavy equipment also produce Sulfur Dioxide. The presence of sulfur dioxide is also an indicator of other Sulfur gases in the air and it’s a component of smog.

Brief exposure can cause respiratory issues, especially in people with asthma. The real problem comes when it reacts with other compounds and form small particulates. These can dig deep into your lungs and cause serious problems. It also causes harm to plants and animals.

Dealing with excess Sulfur Dioxide is tricky. We worked to reduce it, then found out that, just like the cooling effect it has in the cloud over a volcano, it also keeps a certain level of sunlight from penetrating. When we reduced levels, we went too far, and it contributed to global warming.

6. Nitrogen Dioxide

This is another gas that’s a byproduct of burning fuel. It gets in the air via car exhaust. Like Sulphur Dioxide, Nitrogen Dioxide is an indicator for a larger group of nitrogen oxides.

Health effects are the same as Sulfur Dioxide – respiratory issues including asthma and respiratory infections, visits to the ER, and admission to the hospital. It can form particulate matter and ozone. Both cause respiratory problems.

The big thing here is that Nitrogen Oxide and others in the group react with water and cause acid rain that damages plants and entire ecosystems such as lakes, ponds, and forests.

The EPA has strict regulations, but as you well know, that doesn’t stop big industry from sneaking around and doing what’s cheap instead of what’s right. We’re also to blame – we all get out there and start our cars every day. It’s a tough problem to solve.

Read also TOP 10 CHEMICALS FOOD LABELS WON’T TELL YOU ABOUT

Other Air Pollutants

Just because the EPA only regulates 6 pollutants doesn’t mean that there are only 6 that we have to worry about.

We discussed carbon dioxide as a harmless, natural component, and what can happen if it’s increased beyond the normal levels. On top of being toxic to us, it’s also the number one greenhouse gas that’s contributing to global warming. Since nearly every living creature emits carbon dioxide when we breathe and all of our vehicles emit it when we drive, it’s a tough problem to solve.

Guess what, though? Trees and other plants breathe carbon dioxide, and exhale oxygen. Sounds like planting things instead of making more parking lots may be a good start.

Volatile organic compounds, aka VOCs, are carbon-based chemicals that easily evaporate at natural heat levels and turn into gases. VOCs are used in household chemicals such as wax, varnishes, stains, and paints for exactly this reason. Unfortunately, they cause respiratory problems among other issues, and also harm the environment.

Read also DO YOU KNOW HOW TO USE YOUR GAS MASK?

What Can You Do?

About AirNow is a government sight that offers daily air quality conditions for more than 400 cities. Now, you note that I said a government site, so do with that what you will. On days that pollutants are high, they recommend that you keep your windows closed and stay inside as much as possible. Also, change the air filters in your house regularly.

The best thing that you can do is be proactive, and everybody else needs to be, too. Though that sounds incredibly naïve, it’s the only real solution. Plant trees and plants, walk or bicycle more and drive less, and use environmentally-friendly paints, cosmetics and other products.

If you do that, you’ll not only help reduce things long-term, you’ll also be healthier now.

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This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.

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Help – It’s Illegal to Live Off-Grid!

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Living Off-grid illegal

It seems like every politician spouts rhetoric about how they support sustainability and promote the use of clean energy, but it’s mostly bunk. In fact, it’s illegal in some states, such as Florida, to live off the power grid.

Even if you have enough solar or wind juice to run indefinitely, you are still required by law to be connected to the power grid and to pay your electric bill, even if you don’t use a single iota of power from the utilities company.

Your home must also be attached to an approved sewer and a clean supply of water, but this is often fairly easy to work around. It’s the power that gets you.

Now, just to be clear, it’s not illegal to power your house with solar panels or use your own water filtration system or composting toilets; it’s just that you still have to pay the money to Big Utilities, too. Any way that you look at it, it rubs. At best, you’re paying money you don’t need to spend. At worst, you’re chained to the electricity grid whether you want to be or not.

We’ve recently had a question asked of us by one of you, dear readers:

How can you live off the grid if it’s illegal in Florida? Can you homestead and still go unnoticed? How can you do it and still stay safe?

I have an answer to these questions, but they’re not exactly ideal. First, do your thing. If you want to run your house off of solar panels, then by all means, do so!

If you want to use rainwater and a filtration system to meet your water needs? OK, what are you waiting for?

Just Because You Are Connected, Doesn’t Mean You Have to Use It

The laws only say that you have to be connected; not that you have to use it. For the most part, there’s no reason that you can’t homestead if you live in a state that requires this. Yes, it’s true that you’re not allowed to have a permanent dwelling that isn’t attached to the grid, and many city regulations disallow the ownership of livestock in city limits.

Right now, unless you’re willing to buck the system (I believe somebody should), you’re just going to have to suck it up and do it, as long as you want to live on the right side of the law. You can always have the electricity connected, then not pay the bill, but if you do, it’s legal for them to revoke your certificate of occupancy.

In essence, these regulations are simply devices used to protect Big Utilities under the guise of consumer protection. As usual, they know better than you what’s best for you.

Unfortunately, there was a case a few years ago that was used over and over again to support this fact, but the bottom line is that I lived in that city at that exact time, and it wasn’t her right to live off-grid that was what got her shut down.

You have to live in a manner that promotes health and well-being. In other words, you have to have clean water and you can’t just dump your sewer down the drain, which is what was going on in that situation.

But some misguided, misinformed people got ahold of pieces of information and ran with it before they had the whole story. It didn’t do anything to help the cause other than just make people look dumb by those who know what really went down.

Still, it’s true that, by law, you have to be hooked to power and have a clean supply of water and a sanitary waste disposal method if you follow the rules in Florida.

Now that you know that you basically have no legal rights when it comes to refusing public utilities, let’s look at what you can do within the scope of the law. You always have the option of saying the hell with the laws, but do that at your risk.

Living off the grid

Trust me – if you do decide to go off-grid in Florida, or anywhere else you aren’t allowed to free yourself of the strong-arming, you won’t be alone. Many people in Florida live successfully off the grid – they just do it right so that they don’t get caught. They don’t go pouring their waste down public sewers.

My advice? Keep your house hooked up, but have your off-grid methods in use. Don’t let them tell you that you can’t use them because you can. Unfortunately, you’ll still have a nominal bill for the pleasure of looking at the wiring at the end of the month, but you won’t have the same expense as if you’d use it.

I’m not going to say “living off-grid” because that’s not legal, but you can certainly live independently and sustainably.

If you have property that’s out of the way and you’ve decided to say to hell with the law and do as you please, you may want to build an outhouse, collect rainwater and filter it properly to meet your drinking, cooking, and hygiene needs, and find a way to stay cool or warm. Many choose solar panels to meet that need.

One Step Further

The next thing that you need to do in order to successfully live off-grid is to fight the laws that restrict you.

For example, there’s a proposed Amendment to our constitution that supposedly advances the use of solar power, but in reality, it’s setting the Big Utilities up to continue their monopoly on power in our state. Start by voting NO on 1, and on any other proposed law changes that take more of our rights and give more power to the government or Big Utilities/Pharma.

Basically what I’m trying to say is that you own your life. If you want to live off the grid completely and risk getting caught, then do so. If you want to work within the parameters of the law and pay a few bucks per month for utilities that you don’t use, then go for it.

Regardless of what decision you make, make it for the best interest of yourself and those you love, because it’s a sure bet that you’re the only one who will.

There will come a time when you will face severe environments without power, water, fuel or means to buy food. The only way to survive is to learn how to live independently and sustainably.

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This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.

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5 Survival Recipes You Should Know by Heart

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Survival Recipes

What do you do now if you want a recipe for something you don’t know how to make? You go to the internet, or perhaps to a cookbook, though that’s becoming a rarity.

However, if you’re faced with an emergency where you have no power or no access to your cookbooks, you’ll have to know how to make some basics from memory.

Today, I’m going to tell you about 5 foods that will help you fill bellies in an emergency situation. Memorize them!

Pemmican

This is crazy simple to make, and was a staple food for Native Americans. It stores well and contains enough nutrients that you can effectively survive off it for a long time. It’s also easy to carry and doesn’t require refrigeration, which is why it was a staple for nomadic tribes or for hunters.

Traditional pemmican has three primary components: fat, lean dried meat, and dried fruit. That’s it. Add some flavor, nutrition, and texture by adding honey and nuts.

Tip:

Don’t use pork or bear for this recipe due to high fat content of the meat. Use any other lean meat, including beef, venison, caribou, or moose. Here’s how to make it.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups dried crushed meat
  • 2 cups dried crushed berries or dates
  • 1 cup melted fat
  • 1/2 cup crushed nuts
  • 1/4 cup honey

Instructions:

Trim all of the fat off the meat, then dry in a dehydrator until it cracks and breaks. If it bends, there’s still too much moisture in it. Do the same thing with the berries. Render the fat into a liquid form and crush your nuts. You can grind them if you want, or leave them a bit chunky to add texture.

Crush the meat and berries into a fine powder. Using your blender or food processor for now will work better but if you’re making it without power, just grind them with a pestle. If the meat is a challenge, use the pestle or a hammer, or even your fingers to get the meat as finely ground as you can.

Add enough fat to the meat and berries (and the nuts if you’re using them) to make it stick together; no more. Add enough honey that it’s sweetened but not overly sticky.

Roll it out and cut it into bars, or do it as the Native Americans did and roll it into balls. Store in a bag in a cool, dry place.

In the video bellow you can discover the great Pemmican recipe inspired by The Lost Ways guide. You can prepare right now this delicious pemmican.

Many other survival secrets and recipes that helped our ancestors survive gloomy days are about to be discovered in “The Lost Ways” book. CLICK HERE for more information about this awesome survival book!

Hardtack

If you’re like me, when you hear the term hardtack, you might think of candy, but traditional hardtack is basically a cracker that will last practically forever as long as it stays dry. Cowboys carried hardtack with them to eat when they had nothing else. It was a staple for soldiers on long military campaigns.

It’s not as nutritious as pemmican, but it will fill the hole in your belly and provide you with carbs that you need to keep moving. It’s extremely hard, which explains the nickname “molar breakers”, and is easier to eat if you dip it in your coffee or water or add it to your soup.

Hardtack is extremely simple to make and consists of only three ingredients. You can cook it on the trail, too. Some recipes call for milk, sugar, and butter, but those ingredients significantly reduce the shelf life.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup water

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Combine the salt and flour, then add the water. The dough shouldn’t stick to your hands, so either add the water a bit at a time, or add a bit more flour if it’s sticky.

Roll the dough out into a rectangle until it’s no more than 1/2 inch thick. Cut the dough twice lengthwise and twice across the width into 9 equal squares, then use a nail to poke 12 holes (a 4×4 grid) into each square.

Place each square onto a cookie sheet or into your Dutch oven or covered iron skillet if you’re cooking on the trail. Bake for 30 minutes on each side. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Store in an airtight container.

How to Make Hardtack

Beans and Rice

Though this recipe is extremely simple, it’s packed with nutrients and is a complete meal. If you’d like, throw in some bacon or some cayenne to taste to spice it up.

Ingredients:

  • Equal parts beans and rice (not instant or quick-cook). Any type of beans will work, but pintos, great northerns, or black beans are exceptionally good.
  • Salt and pepper to taste – start with a teaspoon per cup and add until it suits your taste.
  • Three times as much water as you have beans and rice

Instructions:

Rinse the beans and let them sit overnight. The next day, bring to a simmer and let them cook until the beans are still slightly crunchy, but starting to get tender – about 2 hours. Add rice and cook for another 30 minutes. If you’d like, throw in some bacon when you start cooking the beans. Add spices such as cayenne pepper, onion (fresh or powdered) or garlic to suit your tastes.

Trail Biscuits

You can make biscuits in your oven or in your Dutch oven or a skillet on the trail. Though ingredients such as buttermilk make them fluffier and more delicious, you can make biscuits with much simpler ingredients. These are heavier, but still soft and go great with gravy.

This is a stick-to-your-ribs food that will help stretch rations or fill bellies. The egg and lard is optional, but if you’re not using lard, substitute the baking powder for a couple of teaspoons of baking soda.

Ingredients:

  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp. baking powder
  • 1 egg (optional if available)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup butter or lard
  • 1 – 11/2 cups milk

Preheat oven to 370 degrees F. or stoke your coals so that they’re hot enough to cook in.

Combine flour, salt, and baking powder in a bowl, then cut the cold butter or lard (bacon grease actually makes them delicious, but heavy) into the flour mixture until you have pea-sized pieces. Add milk until dough is barely sticky. Don’t overmix or your biscuits will be tough.

Drop about 1/4 cup at a time into a greased pan or Dutch oven.

Cook for 20 minutes or so until biscuits are brown. If using a Dutch oven, put the biscuits in, then put the lid on the oven and bury in the coals for 15-20 minutes.

Sausage Gravy

This recipe can be modified to use bacon, hamburger, or just about any other meat, but you will need a fat source. That means that venison is likely out unless you have some bacon grease or other flavored grease because that’s where the flavor comes from.

Though this recipe calls for milk, I’ve made gravy with only water. It’s not nearly as good, but it’s edible. It’s better to carry some dried milk than to skip the milk altogether. You can also use all milk, but when it’s in short supply, the amount listed will do just fine.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound sausage
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 cups water

Directions:

Fry the sausage, crumbling it up with the spatula as you cook it.

Sprinkle flour, salt, and pepper over the sausage and allow to brown, stirring as you go. Smash it with the back of the spatula to keep it from clumping.

Add the water a 1/2 cup at a time, stirring and smashing with the spatula well to prevent lumps. Once you have it smooth and it’s turning from a thick paste into a thin paste, pour the milk in, stirring vigorously as you do.

Gravy is easy. You don’t have to use exact amounts. Just add enough flour to make the grease a thick paste, then add enough milk and water to bring it to a gravy consistency. If it starts to get thin, stop adding liquid. If it’s too thick, add more. Remember that it will thicken slightly as it cools.

Sausage Gravy

There are many different easy recipes that you should learn so that you can make them off the top of your head. Fried cornmeal mush is one that I can think of. Cornbread is another.

Remember that in all recipes, dried milk, dried eggs, and dried butter are all perfect substitutes for fresh ingredients and will make your recipe better than if you don’t have it at all.

Eventually, you’ll have to make it up whatever you have on hand, just like our ancestors did in times of need. Click on the banner below to find out more about the way they survived during hard times!

 

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Surviving Blackout: 12 Survival Alternatives To Candles

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Survival Candles Alternatives

The electric is out and you’re digging frantically through the drawer trying to find the candles. Or maybe you’ve already used all of your candles and still need alternative light.

Well, the good news is that you have plenty of options and most of these are readily available in most homes.

Before we talk about makeshift candles, we need to talk about wicks and containers for a minute.

If you don’t have any candle wicks at home, you can make one using:

  • A shoestring with the plastic end cut off (which, by the way, is called an aglet!)
  • A strip of cotton cloth from a shirt, towel, sock, etc.
  • A piece of rope from a mop
  • Para cord
  • Candle wicks, which can be bought online individually or by the roll or at craft store.

Unless you’re using actual candle wicks that aren’t coated in wax, prime the wick by dipping it into whatever you’re using as a candle. Good containers include:

  • Mason jars
  • Sturdy used food jars
  • Tin vegetable/fruit cans
  • Sea shells
  • Empty tuna cans
  • Altoids tins
  • Teacups/coffee cups
  • Metal lids
  • Aluminum foil shaped into a cup/bowl
  • Beer/soda cans
  • Birch bark

Crayons

Crayons: those magical wax sticks that allow your 4-year-old to express his artistic side on your wall. Well guess what? They’re flammable and can serve as a candle in a pinch. Granted, you won’t get much light from a single crayon, but it’s better than nothing and one crayon will burn up to 30 minutes.

Before you light the tip, heat the bottom a little bit, then stick it to a solid surface. Put it on something that you don’t mind getting wax on. Then all you need to do is light the tip.

You can also create a longer-burning candle by taping 3 crayons together around a wick, then lighting a wick, or go big and make a pillar candle in the same manner using as many crayons as you want, along with a couple extra wicks.

Video first seen on DaveHax.

Crisco

A single can of Crisco can light your nights for a month. That’s right – just one can will burn for 8 hours a day for a month. Just stick a wick down the center of it, push the Crisco back around it, and light it.

If you’d like more light, put more than one wick in it. If you want to spread the light around into different rooms, put some Crisco and a wick in a few smaller containers such as jars or cans.

Bacon Grease

Do you keep a cup of bacon grease in the fridge? I still do! If the lights go out and you don’t have candles, stick a wick down the center of your bacon grease just like you would with Crisco. If you don’t have bacon grease, don’t worry!

If you have bacon in the fridge, you need to use it before it goes bad anyway. Pull off the fatty pieces and wrap it around a wick, put it in a container, and you have a candle. Plus … it smells like bacon!

Canned Fish

Cans of tuna, salmon and sardines, which we’ve already suggested that you stockpile, are some of the canned foods that are packed in oil. Now remember: some are packed in water, which is what many people prefer, so this idea won’t work – the meat has to be packed in oil.

Either drain the oil out of the meat into another container, or just poke a hole in the top of the can, push the wick in, and burn off the oil. Don’t forget to prime the wick. The meat is still edible after you burn the oil out of it. With sardines that you eat right out of the can, you can just eat them and then put a wick in the oil.

Cooking Oil

Just about any cooking oil – vegetable, corn, olive, coconut – will work as fuel for a candle. Pour it into a jar or can (a jar works better because you can put a lid on it and poke a hole in it for the wick. If you use a can, just hold the wick up with a clothes pin or something. It’s doubly important that you prime the wick.

Butter

Yup, you heard it. Cut a wedge of butter in half, stand it on end on a plate, and stick a wick in it. You’ll get about an hour per tablespoon, which means 8 hours per stick. If you’ve canned butter as we’ve discussed here, you have an instant candle just by adding a wick.

Video first seen on Grant Thompson – “The King of Random”.

Lard

Lard was actually what was originally used to make lamp oil and candles, so it’s tried and tested. The reason that I mention it separately from Crisco is because this is something that you can make at home. If you’ve already canned it, just pop the top, stick a wick in it, and you have a candle. You can also divide it into smaller containers to divide between rooms.

Cheese Wax

If you’ve turned some of your extra milk into stored cheese, or bought waxed-cheese, then use the wax off your cheese – or any extra wax that you have stored back – to make a candle. Shape the wax around the wick and you have an instant candle. The more wax you use, the bigger the candle.

Petroleum Jelly

We all know that cotton swabs dipped in petroleum jelly make great fire starters. It makes an excellent candle replacement, too. It’s not a good idea to use the plastic container that it comes in, so dip it out into another container, add a wick, and you’ve got a candle.

You can also dip a cotton ball into the Vaseline, then fold it up into foil. Cut a small x in the foil, pull a bit of the cotton swab through, and light it. It will burn for about 30 minutes.

Old Candles

Chances are good that you have candles that you’ve burned down, but didn’t use all the wax. Get that out of the jars by warming up the jar or gently using a butter knife to crack it into pieces to get it out of the old containers.

Melt the wax together. Place a wick with a weight on it, either the little piece of metal if it came with it, or even a little rock so that it stays in the bottom, then carefully pour the wax in. Let it set and you’ve got a brand new candle.

Lip Balm

These are nearly always made from either petroleum or from natural oils such as coconut oil or jojoba oil, all of which are flammable. Especially if you buy the little tins of lip balm, you’ve already got your own little candle, just add wick. If it’s in a plastic tube, just roll it clear up and squish it into a container that you can burn it in and add a wick.

Bonus Cooking Candles

This is a great way to warm up a can of soup or even cook something. It’s like a home-made Sterno, sort of. Use a tuna can, a sardine can, or some other short metal container. Cut a strip of cardboard that is as wide as the can is high. Wrap or fold it so that it fits tightly into the container. Pour wax or enough oil to saturate the cardboard over the cardboard and light it. You have a mini-stove!

Make a Candle Out of an Orange

You don’t even need a wick for this one! Cut the orange in half and clean out the pulp, leaving the center pith. Fill the peel with wax or oil and you have a candle!

So what’s the lesson of the day? Be creative and keep multipurpose items in your stockpile! Can you think of anything else that will work as a makeshift candle? If so, please share it with us in the comments section below.

And be prepared to survive an EMP! Click the banner bellow and prepare yourself for this disaster scenario before it happens.

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50 Things To Stockpile On A Budget This Fall

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Depending on where you live, summer heat can be miserable, but the dead of winter can be lethal. Good thing we have autumn between, which leaves us enough time to prepare for the harsh time of winter.

If there is a blizzard or downed powerlines, it may be tough to get to the store. Even if you do, the shelves may be bare. That’s why you need to stockpile for winter weeks ahead. 

I’ve composed a list of must-have items that you should have on hand before the snow flies, in no particular order (except the first 4). But first, you should know how to calculate your reserves, so read this Survivopedia article to determine how much food and water would you need to survive in the worst case scenario.

Remember that stockpiling on a budget IS possible, if you know how to make the most out of coupons. We put up a list with useful tips and over 100 companies that you can ask for coupons from, when building your autumn reserve. CLICK HERE to subscribe to our newsletter and get full access to this info, and the rest of our survival free reports.

The List you Need to Have When Shopping

  1. Even if you’re surrounded by snow that you can melt if necessary, there’s no way to tell what’s in it. Plan on 2 gallons of water per person per day, and don’t forget about your pets.
  2. Two fuel sources, plus vehicle fuel. Make sure that your primary sources for warmth and cooking are well-stocked, and have a back-up fuel source for both. If the power goes out, you still have to cook and stay warm. A back-up supply is especially critical if you heat and cook with electric. If nothing else, keep extra Sterno cans.
  3. Back-up light sources. Even if you’re lucky enough to have solar panels, there may not be enough light to charge them. Candles and camp lanterns are two good choices. Make sure that if you’re using camp lanterns, you have plenty of batteries or fuel for them.
  4. First Aid Kit. If you’re like me, you probably pick through your first aid kit throughout the summer; a band aid here, some tape or first aid ointment there. Make sure that it’s replenished with fresh items before winter. Items such as tape actually go bad after a while.
  5. Pre-cooked canned meat. Tuna, chicken and salmon are all nutritious choices. Some of the canned hams are OK too, but avoid the unhealthy processed “meats” such as potted meat. If possible, can your own meat. Plan for at least 1 serving per person, per day. 2 servings are better.
  6. A variety of canned vegetables, preferably home-canned. Go by color because in general, different colors contain different nutrients. Eat at least 2 different colors per person per day. Plan on at least 4 servings per person, per day.
  7. A variety of canned fruits and dried fruits. Follow the same color rule as above and shoot for 2 servings per person, per day.
  8. A variety of canned meals. You can make can your own, or you can buy them in the store. Soups are great and are often BOGO at the grocery store if you watch the ads.
  9. Powdered milk and canned milk. Both have a long shelf life.
  10. Powdered eggs. Great source of protein and can be used in baking and cooking just like fresh eggs can once you reconstitute them.
  11. Whole grains have a longer shelf life than flour, but I’ve used flour that’s 2 years old and it was fine. If it goes rancid, it will smell funny. Store flour in air-tight containers or dry-can it so that bugs can’t get in.
  12. This is probably the cheapest, most versatile, longest-keeping food you can get. Stockpile whole-grain rice though, because it has a longer shelf life than instant.
  13. You can prepare cheese so that it will store for years and it’s a great source of protein. It’s also a luxury food that will help the kids eat veggies.
  14. Your body needs sodium, and it adds flavor to food.
  15. Sugar and honey. Honey literally keeps forever. Perfectly edible honey has been found in tombs that are thousands of years old. Even if it crystalizes, heat it a bit and it’s good as new.
  16. I prefer cubes, but powder is available, too. It turns a few mixed veggies and some canned beef or chicken into soup.
  17. A variety of spices. You can stock up on store-bought spices, dry your own, or even keep fresh spices growing indoors year round.
  18. Coffee or Tea along with filters. Seriously. Enough said.
  19. Peanut butter. It has a great shelf life as long as it’s unopened and is another good source of protein.
  20. Cooking oil and lard/shortening. Did you know you can actually can butter?
  21. Baking soda. A great multi-purpose item, useful for cooking, cleaning, and first aid.
  22. Again, multipurpose. I prefer apple cider vinegar because of the health benefits. You can make your own if you have apples.
  23. Active dry yeast packets. There’s nothing like fresh-baked bread. You can make your own yeast if need be.
  24. Baking powder and cream of tartar. Quick trick – if you don’t have baking powder, you can make it by combining 1/2 tsp. of cream of tartar and 1/4 tsp. baking soda to equal 1 tsp. of baking powder in a pinch.
  25. Dried beans. Amazingly nutritious and are available in such a variety and can be prepared in so many ways that they won’t get boring.
  26. Extra can opener. Ever tried to open a can without a can opener? It’s easier to just keep a backup or two.
  27. Hay and grain for livestock. If you’re an experienced farmer, you know this already, but if you’re just starting out, store enough hay for the winter now, and at least a few weeks’ worth of grain. Trust me: the price of hay skyrockets once the snow flies.
  28. Weather radio with extra batteries.
  29. Extra blankets or sleeping bags.
  30. Toilet paper. Being trapped in the house for a week or so due to a blizzard just isn’t the same without it.
  31. These have dozens of uses, so they’re not just for girls. There should be a few in your first aid kit, and they make excellent fire starters.
  32. Laundry soap.
  33. Hygiene items such as soap, lotion, toothpaste, etc.
  34. Lighters or matches. Hard to light a candle without one.
  35. Spare cash. If the power goes out, your ATM card will be useless and the banks will likely be closed.
  36. Pain medication such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen, or aspirin. Personally, I go with the ibuprofen because it’s an anti-inflammatory as well as a fever reducer and pain killer.
  37. Bleach.
  38. Alcohol that’s 70 proof or above has a variety of uses, including sterilizing needles or wounds, starting fires, and making merry when you’re stuck in the house. If you’re using it for the latter, see number 37.
  39. Baby wipes. They’re not just for babies.
  40. Peroxide.
  41. Extra equipment parts. Do you have a snowplow or tractor that you use to clear the driveway or to carry hay? Keep extra of the parts most likely to break.
  42. Garbage bags. If you need to leave the house, they keep the water and cold air out and the body heat in. They have several uses, so keep different sizes handy.
  43. Games, books and crafts. Board games, puzzles, puzzle books, and even Twister are good ways to kill time. Crayons, paper, scissors, coloring books (kids and adults), glue, and whatever else you need to perform your craft project(s) of choice.
  44. Rubbing Alcohol.
  45. Fire starters if you’re heating with wood.
  46. Fire-proof cookware if you’re using your grill or a fire as a backup cooking method.
  47. At least 1 5-gallon bucket with a lid. There are dozens of uses for them.
  48. Extra plywood, nails, and screws. If a window breaks during a storm, you can freeze to death quickly if you don’t get it sealed up. Plywood is also good for getting a car or tractor un-stuck.
  49. Rock salt. This keeps your walkway safe, but be careful. It melts the snow, but that water will refreeze again if the salt is washed away or absorbed into the ground.
  50. Duct tape. I through in an extra, because you always need duct tape.

This is a good list to use as a guideline but each situation is different. I’m sure that I’ve left off some important things, so if you have anything to add, please do so in the comments section below.

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Pantry Checklist: 6 Ways To Preserve Tomatoes

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tomatoes

One of the first things many people think of when they hear the word ‘garden’ is fresh tomatoes. They come in all shapes and sizes, from the aptly-named cherry tomato that is great in a salad or to just pop in your mouth, to the giant heirloom steakhouse tomatoes.

But now that you’ve got a garden full of them, what do you do to preserve them? You have many options!

First, it’s important to know what you’re going to use the tomato for. There are so many varieties that it’s impossible to say, “This is how you should prepare any tomato”, so we’re going to talk about options, and you can decide which ones are right for your crop.

Before we talk about preserving them, you need to know that tomatoes will continue to ripen even after they’ve been picked. You can actually pick them when they’re nearly green, set them in the windowsill, and they’ll ripen on their own. That’s important to know, so that you understand that you have a limited window to prepare them for storage.

Refrigeration

This is, of course, the most common way of storing tomatoes that you’re going to eat within a week or so.

I always clean mine and pop the stems off if possible before I put them in the fridge, but that’s just to save a little time later. To keep them the longest this way, put them in the crisper drawer.

Freezing

Most people don’t think about freezing tomatoes, but it’s a good way to go as long as you have the freezer space. If course, they aren’t going to be the same as a fresh tomato, but frozen tomatoes are great in sauces and soups.

You can blanch them, peel them, then freeze them, or just freeze them whole with the skins on. You can also puree them first, or even just chop them into chunks. If you’re going to use that method, peel them first.

This is my preferred method because if something happens and you don’t get to them in time, the skin helps protect them from freezer burn. The downsides here are that they take up so much space, and if the power goes out, you have to use them immediately.

Can Your Tomatoes

I’ve found that canning tomatoes is my preferred method. Since tomatoes are acidic, you may safely can them using the water bath method. If you have smaller tomatoes, you could can them whole, or if you’d rather, you could quarter, chop, dice, or puree them first. Again, it all depends on what you want to use them for.

When canning tomatoes, you don’t just have to can plain, whole or quartered tomatoes. You can mix in some cilantro, onions, or other goodies to make salsa or chutney. They’re also great juiced, pureed or cooked down into tomato sauce or paste.

Don’t forget about spaghetti sauce, either! You can even throw in some meatballs if you’d like, though I personally find canned meatballs a little weird.

sauce

You should skin your tomatoes before you can them but that’s not as hard as it sounds. Just bring a pot of water to boil, then dip the tomato in for a few seconds, transfer it to a bowl of ice water, and the skin will slide right off.

Sun-dried Tomatoes

Though most people refer to any type of dried tomato as a sun-dried tomato, you can also use your oven or dehydrator. Most people don’t live in a climate that’s dry enough and warm enough to actually dry them completely in the sun. Regardless of which method you use, preparation for preserving your tomatoes in this manner is the same.

Wash the tomatoes then remove the stem, core, and any bruised or bad spots. If you want, you can scald them to remove the skins. That’s completely optional. Cut them in half, or quarter them if they’re longer or wider than 2 inches.

If you’d like, gently squeeze the seeds out without losing the pulp. You can scrape them out if you’d rather. Sprinkle them with salt and any other seasoning you’d like to add. Remember that you’re drying them, so a little salt goes a long way.

Some people prefer to soak the tomato slices in vinegar for a few minutes before dehydrating in order to kill germs. I don’t, but feel free to do so if you want.

Drying them in the sun requires hot days with little humidity, and will take about 3-4 days. Make a box with nylon netting on the bottom. Lay your tomato pieces on the netting with the cut side down. Cover with cheesecloth or some other breathable material to keep the bugs out.

After a day and a half or so, flip the tomatoes over so that the cut side is up. If you live in a place that has heavy dew at night, or if it’s going to rain, bring the tomatoes into a dry place at night or until it quits raining.

dried-tomatoesDrying tomatoes in the oven is easy. Place the tomatoes cut side up on a baking sheet and set your oven to 175-200 degrees F.

Put your tomatoes in the oven, leaving the oven cracked a little.

After about an hour and a half, turn them over and gently squish them flat with a spatula.

Leave them in the oven for another hour and a half or so, then check to see if they’re leathery to the point that they aren’t sticky, but aren’t so dried that they get tough.

At this point, you have a couple of options. If you’d like, you may can them in oil and seasonings. If that’s your plan, you don’t have to be quite as careful of the moisture content. If you’re going to completely dry them, leave them in the oven until they’re about as leathery as a dried apricot. If you don’t dry them long enough, they’ll mold.

Drying your tomatoes in a dehydrator is basically the same process except it will take several more hours. When I dry mine in the dehydrator, I like to flip them every couple of hours to ensure even drying.

Just like with any other dried food, the shelf-life isn’t as long as if you can them, but you can dry-can them, freeze them or vacuum seal them to extend shelf life.

Make Tomato Powder

Tomato powder is absolutely delicious and stores fabulously so this is a great way to preserve tomatoes. Just add a couple of tablespoons to whatever you’re making (adjust the amount according to taste).

You have a couple of options; you can either make them from whole, dehydrated tomatoes, or you can dehydrate the skins that you’ve removed while canning and make the powder from them.

When I’m making tomato powder, I prefer to dry my tomatoes (or peels) until they’re nearly completely dry instead of just leathery, but either way will work. After you dry them, freeze the dehydrated tomatoes for a day, then remove them and put them in your blender or food processor and pulse until you have a powder.

Since the tomato powder tends to clump, you may want to add a teaspoon of arrowroot powder or corn starch per every few cups of dried tomatoes.

I recommend dry canning or vacuum sealing the tomato powder if you’re not going to use it quickly.

Pickle Your Tomatoes

canned-tomatoesThis isn’t a method that you’ll often see used for tomatoes but I think they’re delicious, and it’s crazy simple.

They’re delicious in salads or to chop up for salsa or chutney. I recommend using pint jars, and cherry tomatoes are the tomatoes of choice for this.

First, clean your tomatoes and remove the stem and leaves. Run each tomato through with a skewer so that the pickling can penetrate them.

Stuff the tomatoes into pint jars and add a sprinkling of fresh herbs (dried will work, too) of your choice in on top. I prefer basil and oregano. Feel free to add onions, a few cloves of garlic, or any other spice or vegetable that you like.

Though I prefer to keep it more Mediterranean flavored with the ripe tomatoes, pickled green tomatoes taste wonderful and make great gifts. Here are a few ideas for pickling spices for green tomatoes.

Basic Pickling Spice

  • 2 tsp yellow mustard seeds
  • 2 tsp celery seeds
  • 2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp whole allspice

Garlic Dill Pickling Spice

  • 1 tbsp. dill seeds
  • 2 tsp black peppercorns
  • 2 bay leaves, crumbled
  • 8 cloves garlic, peeled

Spicy Pickling Spice

  • 1 tbsp. black peppercorns
  • 2 tsp brown mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 2 tsp red pepper flakes

Combine these spices and divide them among the jars evenly, either before or after you add the tomatoes.

Next, combine the following ingredients in a pan and bring to a boil. Note that this is enough for about 3-4 pints so double or halve as necessary:

  • 5 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 5 cups filtered water
  • 1 tbsp. salt

Pour the pickling juice over the tomatoes, leaving a half-inch or so of headspace after you’ve gotten all the bubbles out – use a small spatula or spoon to do that. Add rings and properly prepared seals, then process in a water bath for 15 min. Store in a cool place.

Now you know of six different ways that you can preserve tomatoes! If you have any ideas or comments, please feel free to share them in the comments section below.

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4 Ways To Preserve Food In A Solar Oven

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There are many ways to preserve food, but how many of those methods transfer to your solar cooker? I decided to check things out and see whether or not you can even use it for food preservation; after all, the temperatures can be a bit erratic and heat is dependent on the sun.

It turns out that you can use your solar oven for more than just one way to preserve your food. It’s possible to can your food and dehydrate it using your solar oven. If you don’t have one, we can take care of it, just read this article to the end to find an offer you can’t miss!

Before we get into that, I’m going to quickly explain how a solar oven works. There are a variety of different ways to trap the heat, but the general idea is that you trap the heat of the sun in order to heat up your “oven” enough to cook foods.

Most solar ovens only reach 325 degrees F, maximum, on a sunny day so you do have some limitations. Also, since it’s tough to maintain a consistently high temperature, you can’t really pressure can in your solar oven.

You can cook in it, you can roast in it, you can dehydrate in it, you can even can high-acid foods in your solar oven, but it’s not safe to can low-acid foods in it. There’s no way to guarantee that the temperature will stay high enough long enough to kill the botulinum toxin that causes botulism.

Canning High-Acid Foods in a Solar Oven

Now that we’ve established that you can’t pressure can, that narrows down the list of foods that you can preserve in your solar oven. High-acid foods such as most fruits and tomatoes are safe to can in your solar oven, but you can’t can most vegetables or any meats. Unless of course you’re willing to die for it! Trust me, botulism is no fun.

If you’re canning tomatoes, it’s still a good idea to add a bit of vinegar or lemon juice just to boost the acid content. Fruits that are low-acid include:

  • Figs
  • Pears
  • Melons
  • Bananas
  • Dates
  • Papaya
  • Ripe pineapple (I know – this one surprised me, too!)
  • Persimmons

These fruits shouldn’t be canned in your solar cooker because there’s not enough acid in them to kill the bad bacteria.

acid-foods

To use your solar oven to can, it’s important that you start in the morning on a clear day so that you have plenty of time to get it warmed up and give your cans plenty of time to process.

Start by sterilizing your jars and equipment so that you reduce the risk of contaminating your canned goods with bacteria. Prepare your fruit just as you would for regular canning.

Just as you do when canning in a water bath, fill your jars with fruit, sugar (if you want) and water or juice. Slide your spatula down the sides to get as much air as possible out. Leave the head room at the top of the jar as recommended by the instructions for your particular fruit. You may want to leave a quarter of an inch or so more than recommended.

Place your jars in your solar oven and close the lid. Once the proper temperature has been reached, the fruits will begin to boil in the jars. Process according to the recommended time for what you’re canning, starting at the time that it boils.

Remove your jars carefully as they will be hot. Not only are you in danger of burning yourself, but the jars are also more fragile because they’re hot and pressurized. Set them somewhere where there won’t be a draft, cover them with a towel, and let them cool naturally.

To test if they sealed after the jars are cool, gently press down on the center of the seal. If it pops back up, your jars didn’t seal. You need to re-can them, or eat that jar within the next few days. I hate re-canning fruit because it gets soggy, so unless I’m making jam or jelly, I usually just eat it or give it to family or friends.

Personally, I would recommend starting with a small batch so that if things go wrong, you don’t lose a whole batch of fruit. I do this any time I try something new with canning because, even if I grow my own, it’s still labor-intensive and I don’t want to waste all my hard work. In this case, the heat source isn’t costing you anything, so what do you have to lose.

Note: I’ve seen some instructions on the internet that say it’s OK to allow your food to boil out of the jars, but as a long-time canner, that goes against what I’ve always been taught. Follow that advice at your own discretion, but I wouldn’t do it.

Dry Canning

I haven’t seen anything yet about dry canning in a solar oven, but it seems to me as if it would work, if you’re a person that dry cans in the oven.

Personally, I’ve used the oven method and it worked just fine, so I don’t see why it wouldn’t work in a solar oven. Just keep the temp low – below 250 degrees or so.

Dehydrating Food in a Solar Oven

A solar oven is excellent for dehydrating food – the only trick is to keep the temperature low enough that you don’t cook it instead of dehydrating it. Prepare your meat, fruits, or vegetables just as you would for the dehydrator and place them on a sheet or, even better, on a drying wrack.

Put the pan or drying rack in the solar oven and leave it in there at a low temp of no more than 150 degrees until it reaches the crisp phase. Remember that your meat or produce needs to be sliced thinly before dehydrating. Flip your product from side to side every couple of hours so that it dehydrates evenly. Turn your dehydrator accordingly, too.

After you dehydrate your food, you could also dry can them in order to extend the shelf life.

Fruit Leather

Your solar oven would be a good way to make fruit leather, too. Prepare your fruit by creating a smooth paste. Add sugar to the mix if you’d like, but if you’re using super-ripe fruit, which is the best type to use for fruit leather, you probably won’t need any.

Again, you don’t want to cook the fruit; you want to dehydrate it, so you don’t want to let your solar cooker get too hot. Spread parchment paper on a cookie sheet, or whatever type of pan will fit in your cooker, then spread the fruit puree in a thin layer on the paper. Dry as long as needed to make it like leather. It will still be flexible and slightly sticky, but should stay together in a sheet.

The only downside to making fruit leather in a solar oven is that you can only make a small amount at a time unless you have a way to stack the racks. Since we’re preppers and homesteaders, that shouldn’t be a problem, though!

You can only use your solar oven for a couple of food preservation methods, but even if you only can your jellies in it, you’ll be saving a ton of wood if you’re canning openly in a SHTF situation.

All you need now to get started is your solar oven, so we have for you this incredible offer that you shouldn’t miss! Click the banner below to grab this opportunity!

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This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.

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9 Myths About Surviving On A Budget Debunked

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Surviving on a budget

While it’s true that you can certainly build a stockpile, and even a bug out destination, inexpensively if you’re resourceful, there are some myths out there about surviving on the cheap that I really have to debunk.

I Can Live on Less Food and Water

This is absolutely not the way to go. As a matter of fact, if you have to run, survive without heat or air conditioning, or expend any more energy than you are now, you may need even more calories than you’re surviving on now in order to maintain and survive. Even stress burns calories.

Store enough for at least 1500 calories per day if you’re a woman and 2000 calories per day if you’re a man. Cutting back on calories is not the way to go if you’re prepping on a budget.

I Can Live on Cheap Foods

Though this is true, cheap foods tend to be low-nutrient, high-carb, high-trans-fat foods that will not only NOT sustain you but will actually make you sick. Buying inexpensive food may be necessary to accommodate your budget, but there are ways to stockpile healthy foods for the same amount of money, or even less, than what you’d spend on garbage.

Couponing is an excellent way to get healthy food on a budget. Many grocery stores offer BOGO sales that, when combined with coupons, can result in huge savings. If you find a really good deal, buy a couple of extra to add to your stockpile.

Regardless of whether you’re living day to day in the world as you know it or in a post-collapse scenario, you need to eat a variety of nutritious foods.

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Expiration Dates Don’t Matter

This is only partially right. Law requires that all foods have an expiration date, so many products that may be good for a decade or longer may have an expiration date of tomorrow. Much of this depends upon how the food is stored.

If it’s canned in glass or steel containers, the expiration date isn’t so important. If it’s preserved in plastic or paper, then the expiration date is likely closer to accurate. Another consideration is whether or not the food is preserved in an air-tight container. If so, the shelf life is extended considerably.

Gardens Equal Free Food

No. They don’t. Seeds cost money and so do plants. There’s also value in your time, and you’ll be investing quite a bit of that. You’ll also need to invest in or create fertilizer and natural or chemical pesticides. After the plants have grown, you’ll need to buy jars to can them, along with canning equipment if you don’t already have what you need.

Gardening is certainly cheaper in the long run than buying either canned food or fresh produce to can yourself, but it’s not without expense. The biggest advantage is that you know exactly what’s in your food. If you don’t know where to start, here’s a good article about the most nutritious, basic foods to start your garden.

I Can Build It Cheaper Than That

As a prepper, this is a great mentality to have, but if you don’t have at least a drip or two of the skills and knowledge required to complete the task, then you’re better off saving up, buying used, or asking for help.

While it’s true that many commercial items can be recreated (and often improved upon) by somebody who knows what they’re doing, that doesn’t mean that anybody could, or should, do it all the time.

For instance, I can most definitely build my own shed and save a ton of money by using upcycled and scrap materials, but I’m not going to build and install solar panels because I have absolutely no experience in that area, and it would be a dangerous waste of money for me to do so. It’s better to spend the money to buy them and pay somebody to install them.

I also wouldn’t use old, lead-paned windows in my building no matter how cheap they were because they’re a hazard and they wouldn’t hold up to hardly any stress. Would I rather find double-paned, safety-rated windows used or on clearance? Yes, and that’s likely what I’d do, but I would still pay the extra for the quality.

There’s a huge difference between saving money and cutting corners. To get an idea for some DIY projects to get you started, check out our current DIY page.

You Can Build a Bunker from a Shipping Container

I’m not sure where this one got started (probably from a movie or from somebody who was thinking with the mentality described in the last few paragraphs) but it’s not entirely true.

Shipping containers are built to be stacked and lined up together. That means that they’re reinforced around the edges and corners. If you put them in a hole and cover them with dirt as they are, the tops and sides will collapse.

We do have several ideas for building bunkers on a budget. Here is an article to get you started.

I Can Live off the Land

Doubtful, unless your land is lush with ripe berries, fruit trees, fresh vegetables and animals that will stand still and let you eat them. And that’s assuming you have the stuff to cut your firewood, skin the animal, build the fire, and complete the cooking process.

Oh, and do you like unseasoned meat? I hope so, because meat doesn’t come seasoned on the carcass, which is how you’ll have to eat if you’re living off the land.

Instead of picturing yourself in a Rambo scene, roasting a rabbit over a spit, you should probably picture something more along the lines picking up rocks and eating bugs. Seriously. You may need to check out our survival hacks article.

Even the most highly trained military personnel will tell you how difficult could be to live off the land, and they’ll also tell you that they might not do it again by choice. As a matter of fact, if you’re a former (or current) seasoned member of our military, please feel free to chime in about this in the comments section below.

I Have to Spend Money on a Bug Out Spot

No, you don’t. As a matter of fact, chances are good that if something catastrophic were to happen, you wouldn’t be able to get to it, anyway. Even if you do need to leave your home, you’re better off if you have limited resources to plan to stay with family or friends if you need to leave.

If you’re trying to prep on a budget, your money is better spent on stockpiling, upgrading your house if you own it, or saving your money to buy your own house so that you’ll own your own bug in home. Here’s a good list to help you prioritize.

I’m Only Prepping for Me

I know that there is a good portion of people out there who follow the construct that every man is an island, but I don’t happen to believe that. Many hands make light work and, especially if you have limited resources and funds, networking may be your best friend.

There are very few disasters that would actually cause as societal collapse, and even if that occurred, new societies would develop. Having a like-minded, prepared group of people ready to face disaster with you is much better than doing it alone.

I’m not saying that you should shout it to the heavens that you’re prepping for disaster, but I am saying that you may want to get a feel for your neighbors and pack back some extra ramen and vegetables for them just in case. After all, it’s cheap and extra food is always good – you can trade it or share it.

Prepping on the cheap isn’t that difficult, though it may certainly take you a bit longer than if you were rich. However, there may be some benefit to having to work harder for it; you’ll learn how to do things for yourself and you’ll develop an appreciation for what goes into the process. There are also a lot of survival secrets to learn from out ancestors, so click the banner below to find out more about them!

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Because we’re naturally people who love to save money and find better ways to do things, I’m sure that there are many of you who have more to add to this article. Please do so in the comments section below.

This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia. 

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7 Mouth-watering Recipes To Cook In The Sun

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Cooking with a solar oven is a great alternative when you don’t have (or don’t want to use) electricity. Just remember there are some big differences between the different types of solar ovens available on the market.

With just a little practice, cooking on a solar oven is a piece of cake, and these seven recipes are exactly what you’ll need to prepare a good meal.

And if you’re wondering how could I proceed all these mouth-watering recipes without a proper oven, keep reading the article below, because we have a great offer up for grabs!

Follow These 10 Advice for the Best Solar Oven Cooking!

Since there are so many variations of solar ovens, it’s hard to set any hard and fast rules but there are some dos and don’ts that are applicable to pretty much all of them.

Don’t Assume you’re Invisible

One of the reasons that solar ovens are good is because they’re smokeless; they operate solely off the power of the sun. However, most ovens depend on a shiny surface to reflect the sun to cook the food (think 80s-style tanning with the silver tray under your face).

This means that you have a reflective surface that is easily seen from up to miles away depending upon how flat your geography is. Though there won’t be smoke, there will be shiny, so make sure that if you’re using your oven and trying to hide that you are completely surrounded in such a manner that it can’t be seen from a hilltop or anywhere else.

You won’t be able to do much about planes and you can’t (generally) use it in the dark, but you may be able to position it in such a way that you can use it without giving away your location. Just plan carefully.

 

Don’t be in a Hurry and Start Early

Many solar ovens don’t get super-hot, so you’re going to need to allow plenty of time to warm it up and then more extra time to cook. Food will likely take longer to cook in a solar oven, though that won’t always be the case.

If you’re planning a meal such as beans or stew that takes hours to cook, you need to start the meal early. Remember that you can’t typically use your solar oven after dusk because, well, it’s powered by the sun.

 

 

weather-for-cooking

Don’t Forget to Check the Weather

Remember, you’re counting on the sun. If it’s raining, you better have back-up rations if solar cooking is your only heat source. As a matter of fact, let’s make that a subsection here: Always have a backup cooking method.

If it’s smoggy or hazy, your food won’t cook as quickly and you’ll have to pay closer attention to make sure that your oven is pointed in the right direction.

Don’t Waste Food or Heat

Don’t waste food scraps or that precious heat – if you’re cooking supper tonight and planning a soup for tomorrow, use the leftover veggie and meat scraps to make a stock for tomorrow’s soups.

Put them in a jar or two, add salt or some vinegar or wine to pull the calcium out of the bones and into your stock, season it and toss it on the cooker

Don’t Forget to Level Your Oven

You’ve bought a super fancy oven, and you’re all excited to give it a shot. It’s set up and ready to go and you’re going to try something quick and easy – cookies.

You warm up your oven, you mix up your dough, you place the cookies on the sheet and slide it into the oven. Now all you have to do is wait, and you’re going to have ooey, gooey, deliciously crispy cookies.

You come back 20 minutes later and you have long, oval, thin cookies, which are crispy and delicious, but ugly as a mud fence in a rain storm because you forgot to level your oven. Now, the end result here is just ugly cookies, but if you were cooking cornbread or a pie, you would have had a mess on your hands.

So, the moral of the crooked cookie story is this: Level your solar oven!

Do Turn Your Cooker

Especially if you’re using a box cooker, it’s important that you turn it as you cook in order to increase efficiency. This isn’t as important if you’re cooking something quickly but if you’re cooking for longer periods of times (more than an hour), you definitely want to turn your solar oven in order to get the most out of it.

If you have to be away from your cooker for more than an hour or so and your food is going to take a few hours, point it to where it the sun will be directly on it in an hour and a half or so. As with all things survival and homesteading related, use your head and adapt to how long you’re going to be away.

Do Cook in Black Pans

Because you’re using reflection to direct your heat, it only makes sense that you use a non-reflective, heat-absorbing cooking vessel. A thin, black metal is best because it’s lightweight and dark colored. Cast iron is also good for a couple of reasons. First, it’s black and absorbs heat. Second, the iron holds heat for a long time.

As a matter of fact, even when I’m making cakes or cornbread in my iron skillet in a regular oven, I take it out a few minutes before it’s completely done because it holds so much heat that it keeps cooking for several minutes after the heat source is eliminated. The downside to iron skillets is that they’re heavy.

If you can’t use black cookware, use glass. Using aluminum or stainless steel is counterproductive. Never cover your food with foil.

Add Reflective Panels to Cook While You Bake

If you really want to crank up the temperature to fry foods, add additional reflectors that reflect the sun directly onto the food as well as the ones used to heat the oven. Elevate a shallow pan so that it touches the glass, then attach the three-panel reflector to aim the extra light onto your food. You can even do this while baking other products inside the rest of the oven.

Build Your Oven According to Your Needs

If you’re still experimenting with solar cooking, get the function down before you worry about a solid, permanent form. Also, if you just want to cook for yourself, you won’t need a full-sized cooker.

Do you want it to be portable? Do you want to cook for a large family? What size pans will you be using? Your cooker needs to have at least an inch headspace above your pot, including the lid. Build according to what you need.

Do Build in Security

If you’re building your own solar oven and it’s going to be substantial (not made from a pizza box) build in a way to padlock it to something larger. For example, you could build a place to attach a padlock to the hinges of a box cooker.

Time Your Cooking Accordingly

Just like when you’re cooking inside, don’t add carrots and spinach to a soup at the same time and expect them to cook evenly. Add hard vegetables first, and if you’re cooking more than one dish, start the one that takes longest to cook before you start the faster-cooking one.

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Just use your cooking common sense that you use in the kitchen. If you don’t have any yet, you quickly will, as we help you cook your first meal on a solar oven with these 7 recipes.

And Finally, 7 Survival Recipes to Cook on Your Solar Oven

Though you can convert many of your own personal favorites and use them with your solar oven, these recipes are written specifically for that cooking method. Some of these recipes for solar ovens are basics, and some are for more luxurious dishes, but even in a survival situation, tasty treats can go a long way toward boosting morale.

After all, who doesn’t feel a little better after eating a good brownie?

Remember that times are going to be different depending upon how hot your oven gets. Some can get as hot as 425 degrees while some can barely break 325. Because of that, take the times with a grain of salt and start checking your food 5 minutes of so before the time listed to see if it’s done.

Fresh Baked Bread

This recipe will yield two loaves of bread or about 24 rolls. Remember that, unlike biscuits, the more you knead bread, the better it will be because kneading activates the gluten, which provides the elasticity.

  • oven-bread6 c bread flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil or butter
  • 2 1/2 c very warm water (not hot!)
  • 2 packets quick rise yeast
  • 1 tbsp. sugar

Stir the yeast into 1 cup of the warm water and set aside so that it can activate.

Sift together the flour, salt and sugar, than add the butter or oil and the yeasty water. Stir together, then mix in the remaining water 1/2 cup at a time until your bread is kneadable but not sticky. You can do this in a bowl or on a lightly floured surface.

Continue to knead by folding the dough in half on itself and pushing together until your dough is elastic and shapes easily into a loaf. If you need to add a bit more flour or water to reach a good consistency, do so. Count on kneading for at least 5 minutes, and maybe even 10.

Place in a warm place, rub a tsp of oil over the top, and cover with a clean towel. Allow to rise until it doubles in size, then punch in down, knead it just a bit more, then divide your loaves or rolls, place in bread pans, and allow to rise again. Place in your sun oven, which is hopefully around 300 to 325 degrees F, and bake for about 45 minutes.

Tap on your bread and if it sounds hollow, it’s done.

Pot Roast

  • 3 pound rump roast
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder or 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 large onion, quartered
  • 4 medium potatoes, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 5 carrots, cut into 2 inch chucks
  • 1 tbsp. Italian seasoning
  • 2 c beef broth (or 2 cups water with 2 bouillon cubes)

Put the roast in a roasting dish and sprinkle with salt, pepper, garlic, and Italian seasoning. Add the veggies around the roast and then pour the bouillon in. Place in your solar oven and bake for 3 hours or until tender.

Meatloaf

  • 1½ pounds ground beef
  • 1/2 c ketchup
  • 2 tbsp. mustard
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ cup chopped onion
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 1 tbsp. Italian seasoning
  • ¾ c rolled oats or breadcrumbs

Mix all ingredients in a mixing bowl thoroughly then place in a loaf pan. Bake in solar oven at 350 for 1 1/2 – 2 hours or until meat reaches 160 degrees inside.

Barbeque Chicken

Great served with fresh vegetables, corn on the cob and cornbread. You can also serve it with rice to feed more people. However you want to serve it, it’s delicious!

  • 6 chicken quarters or breasts, or a dozen legs
  • 1/2 c vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 1/2 c ketchup
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp liquid smoke (optional)

Combine all ingredients except for chicken. Just FYI, this is a good sauce to make ahead and can! Place chicken on a baking sheet and paint the sauce onto the chicken. You could marinate it in it for an hour if you’d like.

Place the chicken in the solar oven at about 325 degrees and bake for 45 minutes, saucing again about half way through. Chicken should be 165 degrees F in the center, not on the bone. A good tip is that the chicken will pull easily away from the bone.

Solar Brownies

Brownies are one of those comfort foods that will definitely boost morale with very little work, time, or special ingredients. Makes 1 8×8 pan or 4 pint jars.

  • 2 c sugarbrownies
  • 2 c white all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 c dark cocoa
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 c shortening
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 c chopped nuts, optional

Cream sugar, shortening and vanilla together in a bowl, then beat in the eggs.

Add dry ingredients and mix until batter is smooth – about 2 minutes.

Fold in nuts if you’re using them. Feel free to toss in mini marshmallows, chocolate chips, or whatever else you like in your brownies. Batter will be thick.

Pour into a greased and floured 8×8 pan and bake in solar oven at 350 for 35-45 minutes or until brownies pull away from the sides of the pan.

Note: If you’d like to make these ahead in pint jars, simply combine dry ingredients well and add to jars. Write complete recipe on an index card and attach to the jar. To extend shelf-life, dry-can.

Apple Crisp

Apple trees grow naturally and prolifically in every state in America, so this is a dessert that will barely touch your food supplies in the fall. It’s also extremely easy to make and, except for the peeling process, it’s not difficult to make enough to feed many people. You can also rehydrate dried apples to make it.

Filling:

  • 6 c apples, peeled, cored and sliced into 1/3 in slices
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 3 c water
  • 2 tbsp. cornstarch
  • 3/4 c sugar
  • 1/3 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg

I always keep apple pie seasoning on hand and use this in replace of the cinnamon and nutmeg.

Topping:

  • 1 c rolled oats (not instant)
  • 1 c brown sugar
  • 1 c all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/3 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 c cold butter

Place apples in a large bowl and sprinkle in the lemon juice. Toss to coat. Add remaining ingredients and stir well to coat the apples. Pour into an 8×12 pan and cover with a lid. Bake in solar oven at 350 degrees F for about an hour, or until apples are almost tender.

Combine topping ingredients by cutting together into pea-sized pieces with a fork or pastry cutter. Remove the lid from the apples and sprinkle the topping evenly over them. Put it back in the solar oven and cook for another 30 minutes or until the topping is brown and crispy and the apples are tender. Warm, homey, nutritious (for a dessert) and comforting.

To make peach crisp, simply substitute the same amount of peaches for the apples.

You can also make this by using your canned apple pie filling and skipping the first stage of cooking.

Cornbread

This is a dish that every survivalist and homesteader should know. It can be used as a bread or as a dessert – serve it with butter as a savory side for meals, or slather it with jam as a delicious dessert.

  • 1 c cornmeal
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 6 tbsp. butter, melted
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/2 c milk or buttermilk

Combine dry ingredients thoroughly then add butter, eggs, and milk. Combine ingredients thoroughly and pour into a greased 8×8 pan. Bake in solar oven at the highest temperature for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. If your oven doesn’t get that hot, just extend cooking time until it’s done. The top should be a good indicator of when it’s done as it will brown fairly evenly as it cooks.

Buttermilk adds tenderness and lightness to batter because the acids chemically interact with the baking powder or baking soda. If you want the tang of buttermilk but only have 2 percent or whole milk, add a tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice to it and let it set for a few minutes before adding to the mix. It won’t have the thick creaminess of buttermilk, but will function the same.

Remember that for all of these recipes, you can use dry milk, canned or dried meat, fruit, or vegetables, and powdered butter and eggs. Just reconstitute according to directions and you’re good to go!

For the most part, cooking with a solar oven is extremely similar to cooking with a regular oven, except you may have to cook things longer. Nearly all of your favorite recipes, especially crock pot recipes, will translate right over.

Don’t think that you’ll have to skimp just because you don’t have a “real” oven, because this problem is now easier to solve that you have ever imagined. We have the best deal for you if you decide to buy a solar oven, and it’s now available on Survivopedia.

Click the banner below to take advantage of this incredible offer!

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This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.

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7 Ways to Boost Your Immune System Before Winter

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7 Ways To Boost Your Immune System

Nobody likes to be sick in a normal situation, but if you happen to fall ill when the power is out from a blizzard or an ice storm, it’s twice as bad.

Fortunately, there are several steps that you can take to boost your immune system before winter sets in so that you don’t have to sniffle and cough your way through the cold months!

Don’t just practice this stuff for yourself, share the love with your kids and other family members in your care to help the whole family stay healthy. Once one of you comes down with a cold or other illness, it won’t be long before you’re all sick. Plus, staying healthy is one of the best survival skills you can teach your kids!

Here are seven ways to strengthen your immune system before winter:

Eat Right

Your immune system requires a variety of nutrients in order to be strong, so your first line of defense should be a walk through your garden or your local farmers’ market. I say garden or farmers’ market because you want to avoid chemicals, preservatives and artificial colors and flavors that have no place in your food, and therefore have no place in your body.

Often, these chemicals instigate an immune response in the form of inflammation or allergies, so eliminating these from your diet is a great step toward boosting your immune system.

Don’t think that by taking a vitamin, you’re going to avoid getting sick because your body can’t necessarily use nutrients in that form, so basically what you’ll be buying is very expensive urine additive. You need to eat a wide array of vegetables because in order for your immune system to be strong, the rest of your body has to be healthy so that your immune system is taxed.

Vitamin C
Vitamin C is one of the primary nutrients that helps boost your immune system. It’s an antioxidant that fights disease-causing free radicals and it also helps with iron uptake. Though most people think of citrus fruits as the primary source of vitamin C, that’s not necessarily the truth.

As a matter of fact, green cruciferous veggies such as kale, broccoli, and spinach have more vitamin C than an orange. Strawberries and kiwis are good choices, too.

Garlic
I can’t stress enough how good garlic is for you. Not only does it boost your immune system, it helps heal you if you do get sick. It’s an antiviral, antibacterial, anti-fungal machine. It’s also an anti-inflammatory. It helps avoid all sorts of illnesses including the flu, the cold, and even high blood pressure.

Garlic

These are just a couple of examples. Other nutrients that play a role in strengthening your immune system are the B vitamins, selenium, Vitamins A and E, zinc, and copper. Shoot for a well-balanced diet that includes nutritious fruits and vegetables of all colors, and get plenty of protein, too.

Stop Using Antibacterial Soaps

Your immune system stays strong by fighting off a small amount of germs every day but if you’re constantly using antibacterial soaps and antibacterial gels, you’re depriving your immune system of exposure to the stuff that makes you sick. You can’t develop antibodies if your body isn’t exposed.

This may sound counter-intuitive, but think of it this way – if you wash your hands regularly (and after seeing somebody cough all over something that you have to touch), then you’re already practicing good hygiene. When we were kids, we drank out of the hose, waded in creeks that were surely packed with bacteria, and ate moon right after we made mud pies.

Our bodies were exposed to all sorts of bacteria, yet we were healthier then than we are now that we’re toting around hand sanitizer and using it like crazy. Our bodies had a chance to develop antibodies in small doses so that when we were exposed in large doses, it could better fight off the illness.

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Lay off the Antibiotics

It seems like everybody I talk to is taking antibiotics for one reason or another this time of year. It’s a doctor’s cure-all to make people stop whining. They know good and well that antibiotics only work on bacterial infections but yet they scribble out the prescription anyway.

When penicillin was invented, it was a miracle drug. Every major plague we’ve ever had (almost) could have been avoided if there was wide-spread access to antibiotics. The problem is that they’re so over-prescribed that bad bacteria mutate into worse bacteria in order to survive. Then we have superbugs that are resistant to antibiotics.

That’s not the only reason that you should only take antibiotics if you really need them, though. The main reason is because your body is already designed to be one big antibiotic machine. Fevers crank up the body temp to temperatures that the bug can’t live in. White blood cells attack it.

Your immune system is like an internal emergency response team; it knows its job and will do it well if you just let it. Don’t get me wrong – there are times when you SHOULD take antibiotics.

Abscessed teeth can kill you because the vessels are so small and plentiful in your mouth that it’s easy for one to tear and allow the infection into your bloodstream.

If your body’s been fighting off a bacterial infection for more than a few days and things are getting worse, take antibiotics. If you just had surgery, take antibiotics.

I’m not saying not to take them when you need them; I’m just saying, don’t take them if you don’t. Oh, and if you find yourself in a SHTF scenario, there are many natural antibiotics out there at your disposal.

Exercise

Though heavy, extended exercise may actually weaken your immune system because your body has to work so hard to repair tissues, moderate exercise is thought to actually help you avoid illness. Some theories are that:

• You’re working your lungs and getting your blood flowing so your body may better flush out toxins and bacteria that cause illness.
• Your body temperature rises temporarily while you’re exercising, which actually mimics a low-grade fever, one of your immune system’s first lines of defense to burn up bad bacteria.
• Exercise reduces stress, which has most definitely been linked to a weakened immune system.

Runners

Reduce Stress

Stress causes your body to release cortisol, which is one of the chemicals responsible for you fight-or-flight instinct. In the short term, that’s a good thing, but over a long period of time, it causes high blood pressure and a host of other health issues that weaken your immune system.

The best cure? Relax! Exercise, meditate, drink less caffeine, pet the dog, spend time with the family, and do whatever else it is that helps you chill out.

In these politically tumultuous days, many people suffer from chronic stress caused simply by the fact that the world is falling apart and disaster may be right around the corner. The best way to reduce that stress is to be prepared. Have a plan, build your stockpile, do whatever it is that you think you need to do in order to survive.

Get Plenty of Sleep

Sleep is when your body repairs itself. Think of it as your computer rebooting. While you’re snoozing, all of your body’s circuitry is making new connections, repairing old ones, carry bad bugs out of your system, and basically shoring up the walls; stuff that it can’t do during the day while it’s busy keeping you functioning.

Therefore, without sleep, your body can’t stay healthy. If you have problems sleeping, there are many things that you can do.

  • Take a hot shower or bath an hour and a half or so before bedtime. Your body temperature spikes a bit, then lowers again, which will make you feel sleepy.
  • Make your bedroom a place for sleeping. Don’t work in there, or watch TV, or play video games. It’s a place for relaxation and you need to train your brain to think of it that way.
  • Drink a glass of warm milk before bed. Yes, this was Grandma’s solution, but there’s actually science behind it.
  • Develop a regular sleep pattern. You have an internal clock called the circadian rhythm and if it’s constantly disrupted, you’ll have problems sleeping well. This is why night owls are night owls and early birds are early birds – it’s just how their clocks are set!

Milk

Practice Good Hygiene

I know – I just said that your body should be exposed to a certain amount of germs in order for your immune system to build a good defense. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t wash your hands after you just see Susie, who looks like death warmed over, touch the copy machine that you’re about to use.

Oh, and wash your hands after using the restroom – you’d be amazed by how many people don’t. Google “bacteria in restaurant mints” if you want a truly disgusting read.

Hygiene consists of more than just washing your hands, though. Try not to touch your face, especially your mouth or nose.

This one’s for everybody else – Instead of coughing or sneezing into your hand, cough or sneeze into the crook of your elbow. That way you’re being polite and keeping your germs to yourself instead of getting them on your hands and spreading them everywhere you touch.

Wash hands

There are many ways that you can boost your immune system in order to get ready for winter but the bottom line is that you need to live a healthy lifestyle. Eat well, sleep plenty, exercise regularly, and practice good hygiene. Your body will take care of the rest.

If you have anything else to add to this list, please feel free to share it in the comments section below, but please – wash your hands first.

This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.

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Hidden Toxins In Everyday Life That Are Slowly Killing You

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Hidden Toxins

We’ve gotten so far away from eating and living naturally that our bodies are responding with allergies, cancers, arthritis, and myriad other illnesses. There are, however, many changes that you can make to improve your health and your quality of life.

Toxins in Water

The first place that you should look for toxins is in your water because your drink it, you cook with it and you bathe in it. Don’t underestimate the power of toxins in water if you’re only bathing or washing your hands in it because you can absorb the toxins through your skin.

Here are the top things in your water that are killing you slowly:

Chromium 6 aka Hexavalent Chromium

This is the toxin that the movie Erin Brokovich made famous. It’s used as a coolant in factories and for in the production of chrome plating, stainless steel, tanned leather, preserved wood, pigments, and textile dyes. It’s carcinogenic and has been proven to cause everything from skin conditions to breathing problems, to cancer.

Though the chemical was “outed” in the movie, it remains prevalent in many cities across the US and there is actually a designated “safe level” of it. Personally, I’m not big on drinking anything that can kill me, no matter how small the dose.

The only way to remove chromium 6 from your water is to use an ion filtration system, but even then, you have to be extremely careful and make sure that the filter is changed regularly.

Fluoride

This is an iffy topic because fluoride is added to the water in many cities in order to fight tooth decay. However, since then, the National Academy of Science conducted a review that concluded that fluoride is an endocrine disruptor. Other studies show that it accumulates in the bones and may cause bone disorders and other health issues.

The only ways to remove fluoride from your water are reverse osmosis, deionizers, and activated alumina.

Lead

Remember all those condemned houses that had to be stripped of paint by professionals who knew how to properly dispose of lead paint? Well apparently a house with lead paint won’t pass an inspection but it’s OK to have it in drinking water.

The EPA has set the legal “safe” limit at 15ppb and all water facilities are required to test regularly for lead. The problem is that many old houses still have pipes made from lead as well as household fixtures such as brass doorknobs, so I don’t know whether this should go under water toxins or environmental toxins. It’s obviously both.

There are no safe levels of lead because it builds up in your system and can cause a whole host of conditions including abdominal pain, aggressive behavior, memory loss, high blood pressure, anemia, kidney failure and a whole host of other problems.

Regarding water, lead can be removed by standard charcoal filters. It’s up to you to remove it from your house, though if you work in an old building, there’s not much you can really do.

Chemicals and Meds

When somebody flushes their meds down the toilet, either in the form of a pill or as bodily waste, it goes into the water system.

When rainwater is washed into drains, all sorts of chemicals are washed down with them. When you clean your toilet or dump dirty wash water down the sink, you’re putting chemicals in the water supply.

Because so many city systems are antiquated, they can’t remove them. Many can be removed by reverse osmosis, though some chemicals evaporate at such a low temperature that they can’t be filtered out.

This infographic from Dr.Jokers shows exactly what is in your drinking water:

What's in your water

To read about other toxins in your water, and how to get rid of them, check out our article here.

Toxins in Food

All you have to do is look at the back of just about any packaged food and you’ll see a long list of ingredients that you can’t even pronounce. If you can’t say them, why on earth would you eat them?

Here’s a real kicker though – you intentionally avoid packaged foods and only make the “healthy” trek around the outside aisles of the store – produce, meat, fresh dairy. Well guess what? They’re toxic, too.

Growth Hormones

What happens when there are more people demanding chicken breasts and rib eye steaks than there are chickens and cows to provide them? Why, we simply pump them full of growth hormones to make them grow much faster than normal, right? Well, yes. That’s how it’s worked up til now.

Currently, there are six natural hormones approved by the FDA for use in food animals: estradiol, progesterone, testosterone, zeranol, melengestrolacetate trenbolone acetate. These are in addition to several synthetic hormones that are also approved. Yum, right?

Not so much. Every single one of these hormones has been linked to some sort of health problem: cancer, endocrine disruptions, mood disorders, birth defects, and thyroid disorders.

If a chemical can make a chicken grow from chick to full grown chicken in 11 weeks, what do you think that does to you? It’s OK though; the FDA gave the stamp of approval. Buy organic meat. Period. No hormones are allowed in the production of any animal that’s meant for food or to produce food.

Pesticides and Herbicides

The thing with pesticides and herbicides used in either personal or commercial gardening is that they don’t just stay on the produce. They’re absorbed into the ground and washed across the surface of the ground into bodies of water that can reach the water supply or be eaten or drunk by livestock or people.

Atrazine is extremely common and has been found in drinking water in areas that it’s used in. it disrupts hormones and may affect reproductive function.

Chlordane, Melathion and Heptachor are all associated with breast cancer.

These aren’t as big of an issue for some forms of produce as it is for others and frankly, sometimes you’re wasting your money buying organic. If you want a current list of produce that’s been sampled by the Environmental Working Group in huge quantities and shown to have either high or low traces of pesticides and herbicides, search for “The dirty dozen list” and the “clean 15 list”. Better yet, grow your own.

To learn more about toxins in foods, check out our article here.

Food Toxins

Environmental Toxins

This list is so long that I don’t even know where to start. There are chemicals in detergents, garbage bags, cosmetics, plastic bottles, flame retardants on your clothes, furniture and furnishings; everywhere you turn, there’s some sort of toxin that you’re touching, breathing, or eating.

It’s hard to choose even a list of the top 10 environmental toxins because there are so many. Two common ones that come to mind are:

  • BPA which is a chemical used to make plastics and epoxy resins that are used in everything from water bottles and food can linings to bottle tops and thermal paper receipts. It’s an endocrine disruptor that’s linked to many conditions including obesity, infertility, aggressive behavior, hormone-related cancers such as breast cancer and prostate cancer, and fertility problems.

To reduce exposure, use BPA-free water bottles (look for #7 or #3 recycling codes), eat fresh or frozen foods instead of canned foods, and don’t microwave your food in plastic.

  • Phthalates are used to soften plastics and are found in many cosmetic items including shampoo, lotions, nail polish, deodorants and soap. It’s also found in many different forms of flexible plastics such as water bottles, can liners and plastic food containers. The US is in the process of phasing out phthalates but they’re still widely in use. They cause disruptive behavior in kids and thyroid dysfunction in adults.

To avoid them, look for #3 recycle code on plastics and check the ingredients in your foods and cosmetics.

Fortunately, both BPA and phthalates exit the body quickly after you stop using them. Even a few days after participants in one study quit eating packaged and canned foods, BPA levels were greatly reduced so you CAN control these particular toxins.

Everything from food and water to shampoo and water bottles and even the air we breathe is packed with toxins.

The best advice is to grow your own foods, filter your water or buy purified water, and watch the ingredients in EVERYTHING!

Even if you live in a small space or an apartment, you can still grow at least some of your own food. You’ll know exactly what’s in it, and you’ll have a sense of pride that comes from doing it.

This is definitely an abbreviated list, so if you have something to add, please do so in the comments section below.

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This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia. 

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4 Ways To Preserve Vegetables For Long-Term Survival

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Preserve Vegetables For Long Term Survival

You’ve worked hard in your garden and now you have a ton of beautiful vegetables ripe and ready to eat. What should you do with them, though? Preserve them, of course! There are many ways to prepare your produce so that you can store your vegetables long-term and enjoy them for months, and even years, to come!

Can Vegetables

This is probably the most common way to preserve your vegetables for long-term storage because canned veggies can be eaten up to a decade (or longer) after they’re preserved. There are a few methods that you may choose depending upon the type of vegetable that you are canning. For some vegetables, you may choose the water bath method, and for others, you’ll need to pressure can them.

The reason that canning preserves your food is because, during the process, bacteria are killed and most of the air is released out of the jar. The jar seals because air shrinks as it cools, causing the rubber around the seal to create a vacuum in the jar. Thus, air and bacteria can’t get into the jars and spoil the food.

How long you have to boil the jars in order to kill the bacteria depends upon the type of vegetable that you’re canning.

Water Bath Canning

Water bath canning is great for canning fruits, high-acid vegetables such as tomatoes, or for vegetables that are canned in a high-acid juice or sauce. We’ll get into the reason behind this when we talk about pressure canning in a minute. This manner of canning is relatively easy to do and only requires a few pieces of equipment that you likely have on hand including:

  • A pot large enough to hold your jars and tall enough that you can fill it with enough water to cover your jars to the neck.
  • A rack that sits on the inside bottom of the pot to keep your jars from coming into direct contact with the bottom of the pot.
  • Canning jars
  • Canning rings
  • Canning lids with seals
  • Tongs (preferably canning tongs) to remove the jars from the pot
  • A spatula small enough to slide down the inside of the jar to release air pockets

You can buy a pot specifically designed for water bath canning. It comes with the rack for the bottom and the size is already adapted to hold a certain amount of jars. If you don’t have one, though, you can use a stock pot or pressure cooker pot.

Pressure Canning

This procedure requires a pressure cooker and is required for canning low-acid vegetables and meats. Since most veggies are low-acid, this is the method that you should use in order to avoid botulism. The botulinum toxin that causes botulism thrives in low-acid, low-air environments such as in canned, low-acid veggies.

Botulism affects your central nervous system and can easily kill you, especially if you’re young, old, or have a weak immune system. Even if you’re healthy as a horse, botulism will still make you extremely sick and the damage to your central nervous system can be permanent.

Some signs that your canned food contains botulinum toxin are bubbles in the jar, food or juice oozing out of the jar, a big release of air and possible spewing of juice or veggies when you open the jar, or a slimy white or cloudy discoloration in the jar. If your canned goods show any of these signs, throw them away. It’s not worth the risk.

The only equipment that you’ll need to pressure can that’s different from water bath canning is a pressure cooker. You don’t have to can vegetables separately, so get creative. You can actually can entire meals, such as vegetable or beef stew. I’ve created some pressure canning recipes in this article to get you started.

Dry Canning

This method is often used for vegetables that you’ve dehydrated in order to significantly extend shelf life. There are a couple of different methods of dry canning, but the most reliable is probably to use oxygen absorbers. Dry canning only works for dried foods, including vegetables, flour, sugar, and dried meats, pastas, and dry mixes such as cake mixes.

Dehydrating

Dehydrating your vegetables is another great way to preserve them, especially if you dry-can them after you dehydrate them. You can use a food dehydrator or oven, hang them in a cool dry place, or dry them in the sun. Which way you choose depends upon the type of vegetable and your personal preference. You can even make your own food dehydrator!

To use dehydrated food, you can either eat it as-is or rehydrate it and use it in its (almost) natural form. Dehydrating preserves most of the food’s nutrients, so it’s a good way to go and provides a delicious, nutritious food that’s lightweight and space-efficient.

Pickling

Pickling food is another way that you can preserve vegetables for long-term storage. Many people confuse pickling and fermenting but there’s definitely a difference that we’ll discuss in the next section. Pickling your vegetables simply consists of soaking them in brine, typically made of vinegar, until they’re preserved.

You’ve probably eaten pickled cucumbers, cauliflower, banana peppers, jalapenos, beets, beans, or even carrots. Just about any vegetable can be pickled, though not all taste so great when preserved this way.

There are old styles of pickling that don’t call for canning, but to ensure that all bacteria are killed, modern pickling involves cooking the pickled vegetables, usually using water bath canning in order to make them practically non-perishable as long as they’re pickled and canned properly.

Here is a nice infographic from fix.com about how to pickle anything like a pro.

How To preserve Vegetables

 

Fermenting

Do you love sauerkraut and yogurt? How about vinegar (which, by the way you can make at home)? They’re all made by a process called fermentation. Fermentation is a chemical process that occurs naturally. Since we’re talking about veggies, it occurs when salt is added to a vegetable. It’s a simple process that we cover in this article.

Many people add water and a starter to hasten the process, but most vegetables will ferment on their own with just salt. This is because the bacteria needed to start the fermentation process are on the skin of all organic vegetables.

Note that I said “organic”. It’s important that you use organic vegetables when fermenting because they don’t have chemicals such as pesticides on them, and the natural bacteria haven’t been washed away.

Fermented foods are packed with enzymes, probiotics, and lactic acid. They don’t lose vital nutrients such as vitamin C during the process; in fact, some nutrients are actually enhanced by the fermentation process. The nutrients in fermented food are also more bioavailable than in the raw product. Though canned foods retain many of their nutrients, the heat kills the enzymes and probiotics that are so good for you.

In order to preserve your vegetables long-term for survival, it’s always best to use fresh, ripe produce that has no bad spots. You don’t want it to be overripe, but you don’t want it to be green either; not in most cases anyway.

How you choose to preserve your food depends on the type of food, how long you want to preserve it for, how you plan to use it, and how much space you have. Sometimes it comes down to personal preference! Remember that all of these methods can be performed without electricity should you need to do it.

We have the sun for drying, fermenting only requires salt and a cool place, and pickling and canning only require a fire. If you’ve preserved food in any of these manners and have something to add, or if you’d just like to talk about food preservation a bit more, please do so in the comments section below.

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This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia. 

 

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8 Dangers After Floods You Need To Know About

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Dangers After Floods

We’ve all heard that you shouldn’t drive across flooded roads or stay when you’re told to evacuate, but what about after the water recedes? You just go back in, clean up the debris, and start living again, right?

Well, no. Flood waters are full of disease-carrying bugs, and there are other dangers after floods you need to know about, too.

1. Bacteria

Flood water is nasty. It’s full of chemicals, garbage, animal waste, biohazardous waste (think about other people with bleeding wounds and open sores wading in it and often sewer and septic waste, too. It’s sort of like walking through a toilet that ten thousand people have used without flushing.

Then all that nasty stuff soaks into your belongings, your ground, and the surface of everything on your property that it’s touched. It’s imperative that you wear rubber boots, heavy rubber gloves, and follow other safety protocols when you’re walking through your property or touching anything that was in contact with flood waters.

Especially if it’s warm, pathogens breed like crazy, so just because the water is gone, don’t make the mistake of thinking that the yuck went with it.

2. Drinking Water

During flooding, city water is often contaminated due to broken pipes or leaks caused by collapses, breaches, or facility flooding. This means that basically, you’re drinking flood water. That’s how you catch such diseases as cholera.

The same holds true for well water. Flood water seeps into the ground and can contaminate your well. It’s important to test your water after flooding.

To ensure that your water is safe to drink, boil it at a rolling boil for at least 1 minute. If you’re above 6000 feet in elevation, increase that time to 3 minutes. I always at least double that just to be sure. You can also use purification tablets, bleach, or iodine to kill pathogens in your water.

3. Standing Water

Standing water is a breeding ground for bacteria and disease-spreading insects such as mosquitoes. After flooding, standing water is an issue in low spots and in places such as planters and buckets. There may also be standing water left in basements or other parts of your house.

Empty all containers that you can and use a sump pump or wet vac to get as much water out of your house and buildings as possible. Even sweeping out the water is often effective, though labor-intensive.

Open windows, assuming it’s not raining, and put in the corners to help floors and walls dry faster.

4. Unsafe Bridges and Structures

Flooding often causes structural damage to bridges, roads and buildings that may not be obvious to the naked eye. Don’t cross closed bridges and inspect your house and buildings closely before entering. Better yet, have your property inspected by a professional.

Remember, too, that even weight-bearing walls can be damaged during flooding, so if the dry wall is damaged, assume that the inner framework may be, too.

5. Mold and Mildew

This is a HUGE issue after flooding because mold and mildew hide in places that you can’t see. As a matter of fact, they thrive in dark areas. Both are ugly to look at, but more importantly, they can cause serious health issues including respiratory problems that can lead to death.

Black mold in particular can be deadly. In tropical areas where it’s humid most of the year, black mold is a critical issue that can actually cause a house to be condemned because the health risk is so serious. Since flooding occurs most often in the summer, all types of mold and mildew should be a consideration when moving back into a space.

Drywall or paneling that has gotten wet should be closely inspected for mold and mildew. Bleach in a 1:5 ratio to water will kill mold and mildew but you need to make sure that you kill it all. Again, a home inspection is in order just to be sure and you really should just replace drywall and paneling that’s gotten wet.

Here is an infographic from Heiton Buckley to help you make mold removal easier.

Mold Removal Infographic

6. Electrical Lines

One of the biggest safety issues following any disaster is downed power lines. Since many powerlines are now run underground, things can get particularly tricky. NEVER, under any circumstances, approach or try to handle power lines. It may seem like a common sense thing, yet people continue to die because they don’t heed that advice.

To be fair, many times downed power lines aren’t immediately obvious. Think about a tree that was swept over in the woods behind your house. You fire up the chainsaw to clean it up and don’t realize that there’s a powerline tangled up in it until it’s too late. Be extremely aware of what you’re doing and what’s around you.

If you’ve used alternate methods to power your home during a flood, don’t abandon it until you know for sure that the power is on and will stay on.

7. Stray Animals

After a flood, there are going to be stray animals that range from cats to even cows. Be careful when you see them and don’t approach them if at all possible. Remember that though they’re adorable, they’ve been out in the flood waters and could be carrying any number of diseases. It’s best to call animal control.

Stray Dog

8. Garden Dangers

As homesteaders and preppers, this is a huge consideration because we’ve invested so much time, effort, and money into our gardens. So what’s safe to eat and what do you need to throw away?

This is a concern especially for people susceptible to illness because of weak or compromised immune systems such as small children, the elderly, and the sick. Because flood waters carry so many health risks, it’s better to err on the side of caution no matter how healthy you are.

There isn’t just one easy answer to whether or not you can eat produce from a flooded garden. It depends upon how it was flooded – was it just standing under water that built up in your yard during a heavy rain or did water rush in from other places and cover it?

How far along was your garden when it was flooded? Had the seeds just been planted? Were the plants young? Did they already bear fruit? Are they above-ground, or root veggies?

First, if your plants were just waterlogged by clean, standing water in your yard, you likely don’t have to worry about much more than washing the veggies before you eat them.

If your garden was recently planted and the ground was flooded by overflown rivers or flood waters that cover large areas, you may still be OK. If the plants won’t be ready for at least 120 days, they will be considered safe to eat in most circumstances.

Early season plants that were already bearing fruit and will be eaten within a few weeks of the flood will be OK to eat as long as the fruits remained above water and the veggies are peeled and/or cooked.

Any produce that is damaged or has cracks that could let in contamination should be discarded.

Rotting Potatoes

 

A good guideline to use to determine whether your crops are safe to eat is the National Organic Program guidelines for harvesting food from soil that was fertilized with non-composted manure. If you’re using liquid manure, you may already be familiar with these rules.

This is because research suggests that food that’s been fertilized with non-composted manure may present more health hazards than food contaminated by flood waters.

Basically, the guide says that there should be a 90 day period between planting and harvesting produce grown in soil fertilized with manure that wasn’t composted. If the edible part of the plant came into contact with the non-composted manure, there should be 120 days between contact and harvest.

If the produce is ready to harvest when it’s flooded, I personally would count it as a loss and health officials agree with that sentiment. However, if the flooding happens part of the way through the growing season and you’re going to starve without the food, you have the option of cooking it.

Though cooking will kill most microbial sources of illness, it won’t do anything about chemical contamination. Again, in a life or death situation, produce that can be peeled should be.

Floods present many health and safety issues that must be dealt with immediately. Safety issues such as mold, pathogens, and structurally compromised buildings can’t just be ignored; you have to deal with them immediately.

Because every flood is different, consult with your local health department and department of agriculture for more accurate guidelines. Remember that if you evacuated, you shouldn’t go back until your area is declared safe, because there’s much more to consider than whether or not the water has receded. Water has to be checked, electric lines must be secured, and a thousand other details looked after. Be smart and be safe.

One of the best ways to get a head start on your flood cleanup is to prepare properly for a flood in advance. You can’t prevent everything, but you can protect yourself and your property as much as possible. You need to be prepared to face this emergency as no one – including doctors – might be there to help you out.

Survival

If you’ve experienced a flood or have anything else that you’d like to add, please do so in the comments section below.

This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia

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Secrets Of Dehydrating Fruits For Long-Term Storage

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Survivopedia dehydrating fruits

There are several good options for preserving food for long-term storage, and each has its advantages and disadvantages. Dehydrating foods is one of the skills that you should acquire in the event that SHTF. Fruits, along with several other foods, are perfect candidates for dehydration.

There are several advantages to dehydrating foods for both homesteading and prepping purposes. The most obvious advantages, at least from a storage and survival point of view, are that dehydrated fruits take up very little space, pack a ton of nutrition in a handful of food, and is so light that it adds very little weight to your bug out bag.

You can, of course, buy freeze-dried fruits if you’re looking for lightweight foods, but it’s nearly impossible to make them at home. The equipment required is extremely expensive and the environment is difficult to duplicate.

Dehydrating is a good option to freeze-drying for home-preserving lightweight food.

The primary problem with dehydrating fruits is that if they’re left open to air, they will absorb moisture. Along with the moisture that they absorb and the sugar content of the fruit, dehydrated fruits are extremely susceptible to spoilage. There’s a few different fixes for that, though.

Choose and Prepare Your Fruits

The only fruit that doesn’t dehydrate well is avocados because of their high fat content. Otherwise, have a ball. Choose fruits that are ripe because as they dehydrate, all that delicious sugar will make the end product delicious. Unripe fruits can be bitter or tasteless when dehydrated.

To prepare your fruit for dehydrating, clean them, remove stems or leaves, peel them and slice them into small slivers when possible. The exception to this is citrus fruits. It’s best to slice them into wheels instead of peeling them. Though they may not be as tasty whey dehydrated, they are excellent to use as flavorings or in medicinal teas.

I like to spritz all off my fruits with lemon juice to add the extra preservation and vitamin C, but it’s critical that you do it with apples, peaches, apricots, bananas, and pears to keep them from oxidizing, thus turning brown. You can also soak them in a solution of ascorbic or citric acid. For the ascorbic acid, you don’t have to buy anything fancy. Just crush up 20 vitamin C tablets and dissolve them in 2 cups of water.

Don’t slice more fruit than you can dehydrate at one time because it will turn brown.

Another option is candying your fruits. This doesn’t work so well with bananas, at least for me, but it works for other fruits. Make a simple syrup of 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water (some people also add 1 cup of corn syrup), then blanch – simmer – the fruit slices in it for 10 minutes, then let it set for a half hour or so. Drain it well, rinse it, let it drain again, then dry it.

Methods of Dehydration

There are several different methods of dehydrating the fruit. The most important consideration is that the fruit needs to be thoroughly dehydrated before it starts to spoil or oxidize. This timeframe varies by the water content of the fruit, the humidity in the air, and the method of dehydration.

You want to remove as much water as possible. Your goal is 4 percent moisture or less. At this point, the fruit will snap when you try to bend it and will store for much longer than if you dehydrate it to that leathery state where the fruit is still pliable – at that point, it still has about 35 percent moisture. That’s not good for long-term storage.

You need three things to dehydrate food: dry air, movement to wick away the moisture, and heat that’s warm enough to draw out the moisture, but not so hot that it cooks the food.

Using a Dehydrator

If you have a food dehydrator, then great. It will work for now, but if you lose power, it won’t work. Until then, though, it’s an awesome tool. Drying times vary using dehydrators depending upon the wattage of the machine. How many trays you use alters the time, too. Or you can build one yourself, and read this Survivopedia article to find a few ideas that might work.

solar dehydrator

As a long-time dehydrator, I like to switch the trays around so that the food dries evenly. I also remove dehydrated fruit as it’s finished and consolidate trays. You don’t have to do that, but I like to get it done faster. No fruit should take more than 16 hours or so to dry.

Using the Oven

You can most certainly use your oven to dehydrate fruits. Lay the fruit out in a single layer on a cookie sheet and set the oven to its lowest setting, usually 150 degrees, and let the fruit dry. For apples, you may want to bump the temp up to 200 or 225.

After a few hours, check the fruit and flip the pieces over so that it dries evenly. Once it snaps when you try to bend it, it’s done.

Sun Drying

Sun drying isn’t that great for some foods because they require higher temperatures but it’s a good method for dehydrating fruits. You need warm weather – the temperature needs to be at least 85 degrees F and the humidity needs to be less than 60 percent.

You’ll need clean racks or screens to place the fruit on and to cover it with. I use screen-covered racks because then I don’t have to worry about bugs getting it from the top or the bottom, and I can flip it over so that each side is getting an equal amount of sun.

If you have a fan that you can place in front of it (without blowing sand or dirt over the food), then that’s great. Place the racks on cinder blocks, point the fan on it if you have one, and let the fruit dry.

Bring it in at night before the dew sets, and set it out as soon as the sun is out the next morning. You won’t be able to get the fruit past leathery using this method unless you live in an extremely dry, hot environment.

drief fruits

Extending Shelf Life of Dehydrated Fruits

Even though you’ve removed as much moisture from the fruit as you can, the problem is that there is more than 3 percent moisture in the air pretty much regardless of where you live. Your fruit will reabsorb that moisture and spoil.

In order to prevent that, you need to store your dehydrated fruit in an airtight container, preferably one in which as much air as possible has been removed. You have a few options. You can vacuum seal it using a home vacuum sealer, you can use Mylar bags, or you can dry-can them. Any of these methods will extend the life of your fruit by several months.

Vacuum sealing is good because it keeps the fruit lightweight. If you opt to do this, store the individual bags in a 5-gallon bucket in order to keep bugs and rodents from chewing through the bags. For directions on dry canning, check out our article here.

Rehydrating Fruits

Sure, your fruits are great to eat dehydrated as a snack, but you can also rehydrate them to use in recipes such as pies, sauces, baked goods or anything else that you want to make.

Essentially, you just need to reverse the process by soaking them in water. Different fruits require different times, but for some ideas, we go into a bit more detail here.

Dehydrating those delicious summer fruits is a great way to bring back a bite of summer when the snow gets deep and the days are cold. Because the heat is low during the process, much of the nutrition in the fruits is maintained. You can eat them dry or rehydrate them; it’s up to you.

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If you’re a seasoned dehydrator and would like to add something, or if you’re new to the game and have questions, let us know in the comments section below.

This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.

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Old Skills Revived: How To Fire Pottery Outdoors

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12569057 - old pottery kiln and pot. pottery theme

12569057 – old pottery kiln and pot. pottery theme

In previous articles, we’ve discussed how to extract clay locally, how to throw clay on a potter’s wheel, and how to build your own potter’s wheel.

The next and final step is firing your clay so that it’s durable and, in the case of stoneware, usable for storing food.

Why Fire Clay?

Greenware, which is what clay is called before it’s fired, can’t be used for storing much of anything because it’s extremely delicate and porous. The process of firing clay pulls the remaining moisture out of the clay and actually melts the clay so that the particles meld together and make the clay as strong as it can possibly be.

This process is called vitrifying, and it means that you’re converting something into a glass-like substance, typically by using heat.

Fun fact – glass is actually made by melting sand particles together! I threw that in to help you understand what happens during the firing process. This isn’t a process that you can do in a home oven because you need temperatures of at least 1100 degrees F to vitrify clay.

Different clays vitrify at different temperatures. For example, earthenware clays contain impurities such as iron and other minerals which somewhat degrade the durability of the clay. Therefore, it typically vitrifies at temperatures between 1300- 1900 degrees F depending upon the type of clay. This translates to about cone 018 to cone 3, which I’ll explain in a bit. It’s also about the temperature of a bonfire, so you can vitrify your earthenware in that manner.

The downside of earthenware is that, because of the impurities, it’s difficult to get it to vitrify enough to make it waterproof, even with glazes. Earthenware I porous and much softer than stoneware once it’s fired. It’s great for making such items as tiles, bricks, decorative pottery, and planters.

Stoneware doesn’t have the level of impurities that earthenware does, so it vitrifies at higher temperatures and melts more thoroughly. You’ve surely heard of (and probably used) stoneware crocks, plates, mugs, and decorative items. Stoneware can be made waterproof with the use of glazes and can therefore be used to hold water and food.

Stoneware vitrifies at temperatures of 2100-2372 degrees F (cone 3 – cone 10). Because of how well it vitrifies, it bonds well with glazes and can be completely waterproof assuming it was fired properly. It’s also extremely durable compared to earthenware.

Note of warning: If you fire clay beyond its vitrification point, it will first slump, then bloat, then melt all over your kiln, making a royal mess. If you think about it logically, this makes sense; you’re melting the clay particles, right?

If you’re working with clay that you’ve sourced yourself, test it starting at lower temperatures and work your way up so that you don’t ruin a whole firing, or make a huge mess in your kiln from firing it too high.

I cannot stress the importance of letting your piece dry to bone-dry enough – if there’s too much moisture when you fire it, it will explode.

What are Glazes

You use glazes to make your pottery waterproof, food safe, and/or pretty. They’re made from many different materials, depending on what you want it to look like and why you’re using them. Some glazes can be put on greenware and some can only go on bisque and thus requires a second firing.

The absolute best site that I found about making and using natural glazes, especially for earthenware and pit firing, is this one. Packed with good info, based on the concept that you’ll be doing this in a post SHTF situation.

How to Fire Your Pottery Outdoors

I’ve used this method several times and absolutely love it. It nets some of the most beautiful designs I’ve ever made, and the best thing, at least to me, is that there are so many design options.

You can sprinkle different minerals onto the greenware to make some awesome colors. For example, copper oxide turns anywhere from blue to green, and I’ve even had friends tell me that they got purple hues. It depends on the composition of your clay, too.

You can also add textured items such as leaves or netting. Press them into the clay when it’s still impressionable, and when you fire it, the leaves or netting or whatever burns off and the design is left behind. You can wrap it in newspaper, or t-shirts soaked in salt or other minerals for different effects – it’s just a matter of what you can imagine.

Pit Firing

This method dates back tens of thousands of years. It’s exactly what it sounds like – you dig a pit and fire your pottery in it. Here are the exact steps:

  • Dig a pit at least a few feet deep and wide, depending upon how much pottery you’re firing at once.
  • Place a layer of sawdust, woodchips and small pieces of kindling a few inches deep on the bottom of the pit. You can even throw in leaves or grass to add color and texture.
  • Sprinkle your colorants on top of the sawdust. Copper oxide, copper carbonate, cobalt carbonate, steel wool – you research or experiment and decide.
  • Place your pottery in the pit.
  • Sprinkle more colorants over the pottery.
  • Add a layer of newspaper (this adds color AND protection).
  • Add a significant pile of wood on top to fill the pit. You want a hot, intense fire to begin with, so add enough dry wood that your fire will burn hot for at least 20 minutes and leave enough ash and coals to mostly cover the pottery so that it stays hot for several more hours.
  • Leave overnight and remove. Clean it up and you’re done!

There are a few other methods that you can try, too. Check out Up in Smoke Pottery’s website – they have great info and pics there for different ways to fire your pottery outdoors.

Also, Simon Leach, one of my favorite potters that we discussed in the article about how to build a potter’s wheel, creates a really cool little kiln/pit cross that only needs a few cinder blocks, some chicken wire, and saw dust. Check his video below:

Video first seen on Simon Leach.

Eduardo Lazo shares some cool techniques for color and texture, too.

The art of pottery has been around for millennia and will continue to be an integral part of our world, pretty much regardless of what happens. As long as we’re here, we’ll need vessels to carry water and to hold food and medicine. Pottery is great for all of that and now that you know that the clay can be locally sourced, there’s no reason why you aren’t already doing it if you’re so inclined!

If you’ve pit-fired pottery, please tell us about it in the comments section below.

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This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.

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15 Survival Projects For Preppers Before The Winter Comes

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outdoor

Summer is almost over, but we still expect to enjoy some warm and sunny days! It’s time to get out of the house, do some barbequing, and stretch your legs. Time to enjoy the weather and go swimming, weed the garden and fix all the stuff that fell apart over the winter.

While the weather’s still nice, there are plenty of survival projects that you can work on, too. Just click on the links in the article below to check these projects.

  1. Take the Kids Camping

starting fireEverybody (well, nearly everybody like us) loves to go camping, but in between the ghost stories and the s’mores, take the time to teach the kids some wilderness skills.

I’ve found some great articles and projects that offer some awesome ideas.

Learning how to tie knots is a skill that can come in handy in a survival situation. Knowing which knot to use can mean the difference between holding a raft together and floating down the river on one piece of Styrofoam.

Also, many knots are meant to hold strong if pulled from one end, but come loose easily if pulled from the other. That means that you can reuse the rope without cutting knots out of it. Check out this instructable: How to tie various knots

Building lean-tos and shelters can be made into a fun “build a fort” type of project now but may save lives later. Here are a couple of good ideas for different types of lean-tos. How to build a lean to in a deciduous forest and Nice DIY shelter and hunting camp.

Knowing how to start fires without matches or a lighter is a great skill to practice when camping, too. Here are a couple of cool methods: 5 ways to start a fire using water, and the good old fashioned bow drill method.

Finally, navigating without a compass is possibly one of the most important survival skills you and your kids can have. Here’s a good instructable that shows 3 different, easy ways to find north. You can also make a duct-tape compass.

  1. Make Fire Starters

Stocking up on fire starters is a great idea, regardless of whether you’re doing it to build a fire during the winter, or to add to your stockpile and your bug out bags.

There are dozens of ways to make them, but here are a couple of ways that are free (or nearly free), light, and simple. The first is a waterproof dryer lint fire starter and the second is a nifty little project made with straws and cotton.

  1. Learn to Cook without a Stove or a Box

Cooking over a fire is a great survival skill but it’s not as simple as it sounds, at least until you get the hang of it. I’m a firm believer in iron skillets but that may not be possible if you’re packing light. Practice cooking on the grill and over an open fire.

Even if you have a ton of boxed mixes stored, you can only live so long before you run out of cake and biscuit mix. You’ll eventually need to know how to do it yourself, so why not learn now? It will taste much better too, once you get the hang of it!

Here’s a good article to get you started on your journey to cooking from scratch. Redflycreations also shares some great baking mixes that you can make yourself so that if you want to stockpile some baking mixes and dry-can them, you can. You can use the fire starters that you made from the instructables above, or practice starting a fire without a lighter.

  1. Stockpile Wood

Now’s the time to get your wood seasoning for next year. Remember that it’s best to let wood season for at least a year before you use it so that it’s dry and easy to burn.

Check out our own article on every aspect of choosing, cutting, splitting, and burning wood.

  1. Build a Solar Panel

This is a really cool project that the kids can help you with. I like it because it recycles cans that you’re going to use anyway and it actually works to heat up air. That may just be the difference between freezing or not, or at least washing in warm water.

Check out this instructable for DIY solar panels from soda cans.

  1. Learn about Edibles around Your Location

The weather’s beautiful and the kids are going to be stir-crazy. Take them outside and show them what they can eat and what they can’t around where you live. If you don’t have kids, (and especially if you do!), pick up a book on local edibles and go for a hike.

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  1. Scout Bug Out Locations

Summer is the perfect time to scout potential bug-out locations both around you and far away. If you’re considering buying a homestead somewhere, this is the ideal time to look.

Be sure to do your homework before you start looking. Read these Survivopedia articles about how to choose your land when buying and the problems you might have when relocating in rural areas to get the knowledge that you need.

Of course, what you should look for depends on whether or not you’re just looking for a local place to hole up or an entirely different home or bug out place with all the amenities. Do your research and make up a list before you go on the hunt so that you don’t forget anything.

  1. Set up a Rain Water Collection System

You can only survive 3 days without water, so it’s critical that you have a  way to capture water even if your well goes, or the grid goes down and you don’t have any city water.

Even if you just want to save some money on your water bill or water your plants with rain water, building a rain water collection system is easy with this guide.

  1. Build a Backyard Fire Pit

I love sitting around a fire at night, listening to the sounds of the crickets and owls and watching the fire pop. Having a backyard fire pit has also served me well several times when the power was out and I was out of charcoal.

A little bit of wood and a grate and you’ve got yourself a great outdoor cooking source. Here are a couple great ideas for building a fire pit for next to nothing. I’ve actually built one similar to each.

For the first one, I used a broken grill that I’d picked up at a yard sale so it only cost me about $5 and it looked great. The second one is dirt cheap assuming you have cinder blocks laying around, or can get some recycled ones.

And here’s also a nice infographic on building fire pits:

fire pit

  1. Build a Spiral Herb Garden

Fresh herbs are great, and if you have limited space, this is spiral herb garden is definitely the project for you. My only advice is to do some research before planting because some herbs will merge flavors if you plant them near each other.

  1. Go Fishing

They say a bad day of fishing is better than a good day at work, and it’s the truth. This DIY prepper project is necessary and fun – your homework is to go catch fish! Do you know how to clean your own fish, though? I also found some cool tips about making fish hooks from soda can tops and ways to make fish hooks out of what you can find around outside. Oh yeah – and you’re going to need bait so catch some with this pickle jar minnow trap.

  1. Build a Triple Compost Bin

Are you tired of waiting for your compost pile to mature before you can use it, then starting over? Well here’s a great idea for having compost in 3 different stages so that you always have compost ready to use.

  1. Build a Simple Water Filtration System

You have all of that rain water collected, and now you need to be able to drink it as well as water your plants with it. Filtering water is a great DIY preppers project that’s useful. This fairly simple water filtration system uses gravel, sand, and charcoal and is actually 3 different systems that can be used individually or altogether for a total treatment. There’s another water filtration that uses a plastic barrel system that’s fairly easy to make as well.

  1. Learn How to Use a Gun

Just because you own one doesn’t mean that you know how to use it properly. I’m not trying to be offensive, but even if you’re experienced and capable with your weapon, ask yourself this – can your other family members break down your gun, clean it, tell when it’s loaded, shoot it, and reload it? If not, don’t you think they should learn? After all, what if something happens to you?

Make yourself and your family an appointment for a firearms class. Also, if you’re interested in learning how to make reloads, here is the first in a series of articles about learning to reload on the cheap.

  1. Hit the Flea Markets and Farmers Markets

Some of the best things about summer, as far as I’m concerned, are the flea markets, farmers markets, and yard sales. They’re great places to find fresh foods, reusable items to make stuff on the cheap. These places are also great places to make connections – for food shares, prepping and homesteading resources and partners, and just all around good people.

I hope that at least some of these DIY prepper projects sound appealing to you, and that you find the links fun and useful. I know that some of them are simple and some are more complicated, but I tried to find a balance that would be within everybody’s ability.

If you have any good summer prepping projects to add, please tell us about them in the comments section below.

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This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.

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How To Throw Pottery On A Potter’s Wheel

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potterNow that you’ve made your pottery wheel, it’s time to try it out. I can tell you right off the bat that you’re not going to make anything but a mess the first few times that you try this because it takes a little bit of trial and error.

Don’t worry though; it won’t take you long.

You can have a rough piece made after probably 10 or 15 attempts as long as you start small. Note that I said a “rough piece” and that’s exactly what I mean. Unless you’re either really lucky or really adept, the first few pieces that you make are going to be pretty crude and ugly.

That’s OK though – you have to start somewhere. It won’t be long before you’re making pottery that you’re not embarrassed to claim as your own.

Choosing the Clay

The first choice that you need to make is what type of clay to use. In another article, I’ve told you how to make your own clay regardless of where you live, so now, we’re going to go with the store-bought variety that you can get from local pottery shops or craft stores. You can also order online, which is handy if you don’t have a local shop.

There are two basic types of clay – stoneware and earthenware. You want to go with stoneware if you can because it’s much more durable than earthenware. Stoneware clay is also often finer, which makes it a better medium to learn with, at least in my opinion.

Glossary of Pottery Terms

And here are some basic terms in case you still need them.

  • Slip is clay that’s been watered down to a thin, glue-like consistency. You make it by letting clay soak in water until it breaks down. You use slip just like you use glue, or to cover cracks or smooth the surface of a piece.
  • Throwing is the actual process of making a piece of pottery on the wheel.
  • Firing is the process of drying and hardening your pot. This is usually done using a kiln but you can do it in a fire, too. I talk about that in another article. Pottery can be single-fired or double-fired for a variety of reasons.
  • Greenware is unfired pottery.
  • Bone dry is when your unfired pottery is dry and ready to fire. At this point, it’s extremely fragile but it’s non-pliant. This is a good time to clean off any errors or rough spots.
  • Glaze is used to seal the pottery so that it’s non-porous. Some glazes are for decoration and some are to make a container safe to hold food. Glaze starts as a liquid that’s applied to either the greenware or the pottery and requires firing.
  • Bisque is pottery that’s been fired but not glazed. It’s not uncommon for the artist to choose to paint the bisque rather than glaze it – the pottery is functional at this point as long as you don’t want to use it for food purposes or as outdoor ornamentation.
  • Grog is basically ground ceramic material. It can be super fine, or grainier than sand. It’s often added to clay to add “tooth” or a rustic texture. It also helps maintain the structure of the clay while it’s being thrown. Grog aids in even drying which helps prevent cracking.
  • Bat is the wheel that you put the clay on.

Make your Pot

OK, that should be enough to get us started. Let me give you some forewarning – throwing pottery is physical work, especially if you’re using a manual potter’s wheel.

Tips: Keep a sponge and a bucket of water handy because you’ll need them both. Also, be gentle until you get the hang of this – a little pressure goes a long way!

  1. Start with a smaller ball of clay – 1 pound, or 2 pounds at the most. Shape it into a cone and use the tip as a guide to place the clay in the center of the bat.
  2. With dry hands, center the clay as well as you can and shape it into more of a ball while turning the wheel slowly.
  3. Wet your hands and place your palms together, then place your palms against the ball of clay. Turn the wheel a bit faster while holding your hands steady against the clay, helping to center it perfectly.
  4. Brace your elbows tightly against your body and wrap your hands a bit more around the clay while it’s spinning faster now.
  5. Once the clay feels stable, start to apply some pressure evenly to the sides so that it starts to build into a cone shape.
  6. Keep your hands wet. Use your thumbs to flatten the top of the cone. Now your clay should be just a bit wider at the bottom than it is at the top, and it should be flat on top.
  7. Put one hand back on the side as you’ve been doing, and place your other hand flat on top of the clay.
  8. Keep spinning, and apply steady pressure with both your bracing hand and your top hand. Allow your bracing hand to move out as the clay flattens. This is to push the clay down and get it perfectly centered. When it’s at roughly the same height as it was when you started, repeat the process so that you’re sure that the clay is perfectly centered.
  9. Once the clay is spinning perfectly between your palms, bring it back up as you did at first, but this time, make the walls vertical instead of conical. You want the clay to be about as big around as it is tall.
  10. Now it’s time to open the clay. You do this by running your finger across the top of the clay to find the exact center. If you don’t start the hole in the exact center, your pot will collapse and you’ll have to start over. Chances are good that this will happen at least once, so don’t get discouraged!
  11. Some people use a forefinger to open the hole and some people use their thumb. Personally, I prefer my thumb, but do what seems comfortable to you. Start applying gentle pressure in the center. A hole will begin to form.
  12. Slowly push your finger down to make the hole bigger until you’re an inch or so from the bottom, using your other hand on the outside to act as a stabilizer. Once you have the hole made, slowly remove your finger with the wheel still turning.
  13. To enlarge the hole, put your finger back in the hole while the wheel is quickly spinning and start pulling gently towards you. Again, use your other hand on the outside as a brace. It’s important during this step to keep the walls fairly vertical.
  14. When you’ve reached the diameter that you want your pot to be, stop pulling.
  15. If the bottom seems a bit thick or uneven, you need to thin and even it out. Do this by placing your thumbs at the bottom at the edge of the wall. With the wheel spinning, gradually and gently push down while bringing your thumbs in toward the center. You’ll end up with a cup-like figure once you reach the center. Keep going until the “cup” detaches in the center and remove the clay. Put it aside – this is still perfectly usable clay.
  16. At this point, the wall should be a bit thick, because you’ve got to stretch the clay taller to make it the height that you want it to be.
  17. Again, make sure that you pull your hands away slowly as the wheel slows if you’re going to stop for a minute. As I’ve said, this can be tough on your back, shoulders, hands and fingers.
  18. The pot should still be perfectly centered with no wobbles. Now it’s time to compress and shape the bottom, refining what you just did. If you ski this step, you can end up with cracks. Using your wet sponge, start in the center of the bottom of the pot and as the wheel spins, apply gentle downward pressure, working your way out.
  19. Now it’s time to raise the walls. This is actually a few steps because you want to do it slowly. Place your index finger and middle finger of one hand against the inside of the pot at the bottom, and the middle and index fingers of the other hand on the outside of the wall in the same spot, placing the wet sponge against the outside wall.
  20. Start the wheel turning and GENTLY apply pressure with your inside fingers, using your outside fingers and wet sponge to help the process along. This helps to thin the sides and stabilize the pot. Your clay should be fairly wet at this point.
  21. If you want the pot to be vertical, then pull it straight up. If you want the top to be wider, pull a bit more towards the outside as you work your way up. In the beginning, you may want to make a cylinder to begin, then shape it after you have a solid, stable base to work with.
  22. Repeat this step a few times until you have the pot the height and thickness that you want. Always work your way all the way to the top, smoothing the rim, or else your clay will collapse or sling right off the wheel.
  23. Once you get the hang of this, you’ll be able to do this all in one step, but to learn, it’s easier to do it a bit at a time.
  24. If you choose to build it straight up, this is considered a base cylinder and can be your finished product or can be taken further and shaped into whatever shape you’d like to make it.
  25. If you didn’t shape it as you went up, you can now go back and pull the cylinder out from the bottom. A simple flower pot shape with straight walls angling out is a good project to start with rather than trying to make a piece that’s rounded in the middle. Do this by starting at the base like you did when you were making the cone and pulling gently and gradually out as you move toward the top.
  26. If you’d like to make the top a bit wider than the body so that it has the wider lip like a flower pot does, apply less pressure to the outside as you reach within an inch and a half or so of the top.
  27. Using a damp sponge, smooth out the top by touching the sponge to the top of the piece, and putting your palm against the outside so that it’s cupping the pot and touching the sponge. Spin gently to smooth.
  28. Now it’s time to trim the bottom. You’ll surely have a bit of flat clay around the bottom and it needs to be separated from the pot. Using a sharp, pointed wooden tool. Start the wheel going again and touch the tool to the spot on the bottom where the bottom of the pot should start. Push the tool at a 45 degree angle until you reach the bat.
  29. Stop the wheel and clean away the extra clay and put it back on your pile.
  30. To remove your pot from the bat, use a cutting wire and run it underneath the pot, keeping it tight against the bat. Your pot is now ready to cure! It will need to sit until it’s bone dry before you fire it.

Throwing pottery is a fun, useful skill to have and if you already have a wheel when SHTF, you’ll be a step ahead of most people. Once you read about how to make your own clay, build a kiln, and fire your own pottery, you’ll be good to go.

If you’re like me, pictures are really helpful. I found some great ones on this site. And here is also a video that might help you:

Video first seen on Ingleton Pottery.

If you have any questions or are an experienced potter with advice, please feel free to share them in the comments section below.

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Important Tips For Home Canning Sweet Foods

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Who doesn’t love jams, jellies, pickled beets and other sweet goodies, especially if they’re homemade? As homesteaders and preppers, we’re all about storing our own foods.

Different types of foods require different techniques. Home canning sweet foods is no different.

The thing about sweet foods is that they’re likely acidic. Nearly all fruits are high in acid, which makes them easy to can, even over an open fire. You don’t have to use a pressurized canner like you would with meats or low-acid vegetables, but you do need to take some extra precautions because mold and bad bacteria like sweet stuff.

Since you may want to can sweet foods in different forms (whole, jellied, etc.) we thought it might be a good idea to touch on some of the special needs of these particular foods.

The most important key to successfully canning anything is to hygiene. All utensils and jars have to be thoroughly cleaned and as sterile as possible so that your products don’t go bad. With fruits, you always want to use a ripe product, with no bruising.

Canning Jellies and Jams

There are two primary concerns when you’re canning jellies and jams: getting them to seal, and getting them to thicken. The sealing part is an easy fix, though if you’re a first-time canner, you want to be extra careful so that you don’t ruin all of your hard work just to find that you didn’t get a good seal.

Getting Canned Jams and Jellies to Seal

The first key is to use good quality jars that have no chips or cracks on the rim, or on any other part of the jar for that matter. You can check this off by visually inspecting the jars.

The second reason that your jars may not seal is because you didn’t get all of the juice off of the rims of the jars before you put the seals on. This is a bit harder to fix, but you just need to be thorough.

Use a clean damp towel to wipe each rim well. I usually do this twice, with two different towels, to make sure that I get them clean, then I follow up with a dry towel. My mom, whose been canning for upwards of 50 years now, calls it overkill, but after one time of re-canning an entire batch of jam so that it wouldn’t go bad, I’d rather take the extra steps.

Finally, to make sure that you get a good seal, heat your seals in warm water, if you’re using the standard kind. This makes the seal a bit gummy so that it adheres and seals to the jar better. Make sure that the water that you heat them in is clean.

Note: Completely off topic, sort of, but I recently discovered how to make rose jelly, which is absolutely delicious as well as beautiful. I didn’t even know that roses were edible until I stumbled upon the information via a friend.

How to Make Jams and Jellies Thicken Properly

This is another stumbling block for many new home canners. Nothing is more disappointing than to open up a beautifully sealed jar of jelly to find that it’s more juice. You can also go the other direction and cook it too long so that it’s more like taffy. There are two components to thickening: sugar thickens it and pectin gels it. Getting your jams and jellies just right is easy as long as you use the right amounts of sugar and pectin and you pay attention.

  • Pectin is a natural fiber found in fruits and vegetables that give the cell walls structure. Some fruits, such as blueberries, cranberries, and apples have enough pectin in them that you don’t need to add extra. Low-pectin fruits such as strawberries and pears either need to be canned with high-pectin fruit or have pectin added to them so that they gel.
  • Use the spoon method to tell when your jams and jellies are done. While you’re cooking your jellies, do the spoon test. If your sauce runs off of your spoon easily, it’s not done. If it drips slowly off and forms a drip off of the bottom of the spoon that drips off slowly, it’s either done, or super close to being done.
  • Use the freezer method. This isn’t one of my favorite methods because if your jelly is done, you’ve overcooked it by the time the test is done, but here’s how to do it. When you put your fruit on to cook, put a couple of saucers in the freezer.

When you think that it’s almost done, pull the plate from the freezer and put a blop of jelly on the plate. Stick it back in the freezer for a couple of minutes and if it’s jelly consistency, it’s done. Cut the heat on your jelly while you’re waiting.

  • Use a candy thermometer. This is my preferred method because it keeps me from overcooking my jams. Sugar is able to bind with pectin, both naturally present and added, at 220 degrees F. Use this in conjunction with the spoon method and you’re much more likely to end up with a good consistency.
  • Don’t freak out if your jelly isn’t firm as soon as it comes out of the canner. It can take a few days for it to set properly.
  • Don’t go the other direction and cook it too much either, remember, sugar is the main ingredient in candy and the last thing you want is strawberry candy instead of strawberry jam!

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Canning Whole Sweet Foods

Jams and jellies are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to home canning sweet foods. What if you want to preserve those beautiful peaches and pears so that you can eat them or bake with them throughout the year? Again, it’s a lot of hard work but the process isn’t difficult.

Tip: Stone fruits are much easier to peel if you blanch them first. That just means dipping them in boiling water for a few seconds. Peaches, apricots, nectarines and plums that are blanched will slip right out of their skins, saving you time and waste.

There are a couple of different ways to can fresh fruit. You can hot pack them, or raw pack them. Which method you choose depends largely on the type of fruit and what you want to use it for. Usually, it’s just a matter of personal preference.

Raw packing is easier, but your fruit may turn brown because there’s a greater chance of air. Just peel them, remove the seed, and slice them (or halve them), then stuff them in the jar and add sugar water. Some people sprinkle sugar over them as they layer them in the jars, then just add hot water. It’s a matter of what you prefer to do.

Hot packing is more work but may end up with a fresher tasting, prettier product. Cooking the foods for a few minutes releases the air from the fibers of the fruit, shrinks the fruit, and helps with the seal.

If you want to make apple pie filling, you’ll want to hot pack them because you want to cook the apples so that the syrup thickens and the spices soak in. This means that you cook the apple pie mixture, then put it in the jars hot.

Here are some tips to help you successfully can whole fruits:

  • If you’re packing the fruit in syrup, make sure that it’s a light or medium syrup because when canned in heavy syrups, the fruit will float to the top. This will also happen if the jars aren’t packed tightly enough.
  • Another problem that you may encounter when raw packing is trapped air. We all know that air is not a good thing when canning. As a matter of fact, it contributes to several different situations in canned foods that can kill you. To help avoid this, slide a spatula or spoon down the insides of the jars to release any air pockets.
  • As your fruit processes, the syrup is going to expand, so you need to leave a half-inch or so of headspace to allow for that.
  • On the other hand, your syrup may cook down so that there’s not enough in the jar to cover the fruit. To combat this, make sure that you get as much air as possible out of the jar before sealing, and keep the jars covered with water while processing.

I hope that you’ve learned a bit about canning sweet foods that are delicious, nutritious, and beautiful. If you have anything to add, please feel free to do so in the comments section below.

And click on the banner below for more old tips on food preserving for survival!

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Old Skills Revived: How To Tan A Deer Hide

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You’ve shot the deer, or maybe you’ve butchered a cow or one of the rabbits that you’ve raised. You’ve field dressed it and butchered it, but you have no idea what to do with a hide. For the most part, hides are discarded, and that’s not only a waste of a valuable commodity, it’s disrespectful to the animal.

The problem is that having a hide tanned is expensive, but why not tan the hide yourself?

There are many different ways to tan a hide, but traditionally, it was done using brains. Since that’s probably not the method that most people would use, that’s an article for another day. There are also tanning methods that require harsh chemicals, and we aren’t ever going to write that article because it’s not what we’re about.

As preppers, we want to be able to use what we have on hand, and though some of these may require an initial trip to the drugstore or superstore, everything is readily available.

Now, the next question is whether or not you want to tan your hide with the hair on or the hair off. If you leave the hair on, it’s a great decorative item, or can be used to build a shelter, make a coat or a pair of boots, or just about anything else that you can think of. If you decide to take the hair off, you have leather that you can use for endless purposes.

Removing the hair requires some extra steps, but we’ll cover both ways. I’d like to make a suggestion here. It may be a good idea to try this with something small like a rabbit hide because a full deer hide can be a bit overwhelming for your first time.

If you’re tanning a cow hide, consider at least cutting it in half down the spine. Quartering it will make it even more manageable. The process for any hide is essentially the same with the exception of drying times. Obviously, bigger, thicker hides will take longer to soak and dry than little rabbit hides will.

What You’ll Need to Tan a Hide

We’re going to focus on tanning a deer hide to keep things relatively manageable but within the broad range of animals that most people hunt.

You’re going to need non-iodized salt, ammonia alum, and neat’s-foot oil. If you’re removing the hair, you’ll also need hydrated lime powder and wood ashes. If you’re dealing with a hide with greasy hair, such as a bear, you’ll need to degrease the hide too, but that’s a messy job that we’re not going to get into here.

Prepping the Hide for Tanning

OK, now that you’ve skinned the deer, you can either head directly into the tanning process or store the hide until the weather warms up, which is a good idea because you’re going to be working outside in water. Do you really want to do that in freezing weather?

Also, a frozen hide is much harder to work with than a warm one is. Another reason to wait is that the first step, salting, helps soften the meat and makes it easier to remove it from the hide.

We’re starting with a freshly-butchered hide. Salt the back side (non-hair side) liberally, then roll the hide up with the hair on the outside and put it in a garbage bag, then freeze it. You can also leave it to air dry, but if you do this, be ready to remove the meat within a few days.

Here’s an example of salting:

Video first seen on Starry Hilder.

When you’re ready to tan the hide, remove the hide from the bag, unroll it, and begin removing the meat from the back of the hide. You want to get all of the flesh off the hide so that all you have left is the hide. Use a dull knife, a paint scraper, a putty knife or some other tool sharp enough to scrape but not sharp enough to cut the hide.

Carefully scrape all of the meat off the hide, then resalt the hide, roll it back up, and refrigerate it for 3 or 4 days. Remove the hide, give it one more good scraping, then rinse the hide in water to remove the salt. Hang it up to drain.

Now you’re ready to tan the hide if you’re leaving the hair on. If so, skip the next step.

Remove the Hair from the Hide

For this step, you’re going to need a garbage can. Put the hide in the garbage can and cover it with a solution made of water, hydrated lime, and wood ashes. Use 1/4 cup lime and 1/2 cup ashes per gallon of water. Stir it around every couple of days and when the hair is starting to slip off the hide, remove it from the water.

Use your dull scraping tool to remove the hair from the hide. If there are still spots where the hair won’t come off, put the hide back in the solution for a couple more days. Once you have all of the hair off, rinse the hide in a boric acid solution to neutralize the lime.

Use around 1/8 cup of boric acid per gallon of water in the now-clean garbage can. Swirl the hide around as much as you can and drain and repeat a few times, then move forward to the next step to start actually tanning your hide.

Tan the Hide

Now that you’ve got the hide ready to tan, let’s get to it. Mix a solution of alum and salt using 1/2 pound of salt and 1/4 pound of alum per gallon of water. Cover the hide with the solution and let it set for 4 days to a week. Stir daily to keep the mixture evenly distributed and the hide covered.

After a week, remove the hide from the solution and rinse it well with clean running water. Hang it up to drain, but don’t let it dry completely. You’re almost finished tanning the hide, but you’ve got some elbow grease ahead of you!

Oil and Soften the Hide

At this point, the hide is still going to be fairly stiff. You’re about to change that, and this is the part where starting with a smaller hide, or a hide cut into pieces, is going to make your life easier.

While the hide is still damp, rub neat’s-foot oil into the flesh side of the hide and stretch it in all directions. Let that soak in, and apply another lighter treatment of neat’s-foot oil. Work it by rubbing it over the edge of a sawhorse, worktable, chair, or anything sturdy with an edge.

Make sure that you get the whole hide because this step breaks down the grain of the leather, which is critical to soften and tan the hide.

Keep working the hide until it’s soft and supple. You may need to use a dowel, the end of a mallet, or some other smaller, smooth tool to work out tougher spots. If the leather starts to dry out and crack as you’re working it, add more neat’s-foot oil.

Finish Tanning the Hide

The final step to tanning the hide is to smooth the flesh side with fine-grit sandpaper. This will get rid of any rough spots and make it nice and soft to the touch.

That’s it. Now you know how to tan your own hide. There are many directions that you can go with the hide now, but you’ve got a tanned hide to work with.

One cool bit of history is that the Native Americans used the hides on their teepees so that the smoke would waterproof them. Just a factoid. Another ancient secrets of survival are available now for you, just click on the banner below to find out more about them!

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If you’ve ever tanned your own hide, please share your experience with us below, and if you have any tips to make the job easier, we’d love to hear about it. Even seasoned tanners can learn from others!

This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.

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How To Store Flour, Sugar And Rice For Survival

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In addition to your garden, if you have sugar, salt, and rice, plus some chickens and a milk cow (a few beef cows or  canned meats would really put you up there), you have everything that you need to survive.

The thing about sugar, salt, and rice is that you can’t really produce it yourself without a lot of acreage, ideal conditions, and a ton of work, so you need to stockpile them.

Fortunately, all three of them are relatively cheap, especially if you buy in bulk. The problem is how to store flour, sugar, and rice for the long-term. All three of these items are sensitive to moisture and well-loved by critters of all sorts, so it’s imperative that you keep them sealed in a manner that won’t allow them to be eaten or ruined by moisture.

This point was driven home to me just the other day when I opened a new bag of flour to make biscuits. It hadn’t been on the shelf for more than a few months, yet when I dumped it into the bowl, I noticed little black bugs in it. Now I’m not a picky eater by any means, but I draw the line at bug biscuits. I guess I’ve just never been that hungry.

And if I have my say, I never will be. I learned my lesson – now all of my flour, even the smaller bags, go straight into a plastic container. That’s not the only way to store any of these items though. As a matter of fact, I’ve discovered a few pretty nifty tricks that I’m going to share with you!

Check flour, sugar, and rice before you store it

This is a big deal. I say so because I’ve bought both buggy rice and flour in the past, and ended up having to throw away most of the stuff in the cabinet because they infested all of my dry goods that were either boxed or open.

It would have REALLY upset me if I’d been pouring it into my storage bin with other flour or rice because then I would have lost all of it. Since those two incidents, I’ve been really careful about checking for bugs before I even put it in my cabinets. This is a concern for beans and pasta too, so take a look at them all before you toss them on the shelves.

You can check the rice and beans at the store before you buy it  – just look for the bugs in the bottom of the bag. Flour, sugar, and pasta isn’t so easy. Pasta gets kind of a whitish, dry, brittle appearance when it’s buggy, so that my help you avoid buying buggy noodles.

If you’re going to pour a bag of dry goods into a larger container, I’d highly suggest pouring it into a big bowl and checking it before just tossing it in with the rest of your batch.

Store flour, sugar, and rice in plastic buckets

5 gallon buckets rock – that’s just all there is to it. When it comes to a great survival item, they rank right up there with duct tape as far as I’m concerned, at least when we’re talking about non-portable items. The great thing about 5 gallon buckets is that you can get them for free from local restaurants and bakeries.

If they happen to smell like pickles or whatever else was stored in them, scrub them good with some soapy bleach water and rinse well. If they still smell a bit weird, put a box of baking soda or some charcoal in it, put the lid on, and let it sit overnight. It’ll smell fine the next day.

When you’re getting your buckets, make sure they’re food-grade and make sure that they have a rubber seal around the inside of the lid. Most do, but check to make sure before you store your dried goods in them. If you have trouble getting the lids off, you can actually buy a tool specifically designed to help you with that.

You can also buy gamma lids, which seal, and then part of the lid screws on and off so that you don’t have to struggle with removing the whole lid. They’re a little pricey but if you get your bucket for free, then it may be worth it to you.
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Dry-Can Flour, Rice, and Sugar

This is a good method if you want to store your dry goods in smaller containers that you’ll use quickly. I wrote an article about safe dry-canning a while back that gives you specific instructions on how to do it.

Vacuum Packing

I think that vacuum packing is a great idea but, after having been raised in WV where the mice have no shame and in Florida where they’re actually armed, I’m not a huge fan of using vacuum packing as the only method of storage. We’ve written an article that gives you some great ideas to keep the mice away here.

Don’t get me wrong – it’s a great way to extend shelf-life but if you’re going to vacuum seal your dried goods, throw the in a 5-gallon bucket to keep the critters from eating through the plastic. Then you’d have the best of both worlds – small, lightweight, portable portions stored securely in one larger space that nothing will chew through.

Mylar Bags

I know that Mylar bags seem to be the direction that everybody is heading and I can’t deny that they’re a great way to store food, but the cost of them is prohibitive for me. However, if you don’t mind paying a bit more, then by all means, jump on it. They’re certainly more secure than just vacuum sealing. As a matter of fact, they can preserve food for up to 15 years, so that’s a definite check in the bonus column. Again, I’d use the buckets to store the bags.

Barrels and Drums

Since I’m typically the “if it’s free, it’s for me” type of girl, I didn’t realize until recently that there was such a great selection of food-grade barrels and drums that came in sizes other than 5 gallons and 55 gallons. I don’t mean to sound out of the loop, but it just never occurred to me to check it out until I was looking for smaller rain barrels.

It turns out that you can buy them in just about any size in between, and they’re made for both food AND water, so you have a wide array of fairly affordable options that suit your needs no matter how much space you have or food you want to store.

Shelf Life of Flour, Sugar, and Rice

This is probably something that you haven’t given a lot of thought to, but shelf life is pretty important when you’re talking about long-term storage. As always, practice the FIFO (First in, first out) method of stockpiling.

That aside, sugar and white rice (along with several other great foods discussed here) have a shelf lives of literally forever as far as anyone knows, but flour and brown rice are only good for about 15 months. After that, both will start to go rancid. Though both may last longer, especially if stored in airtight containers in cool, dark environments, you’ll know if either have gone bad because they’ll smell sour.

This lends credence to the ideas of canning, or to vacuum sealing, then storing in buckets because both canning a vacuum sealing keep out the air that facilitates spoilage.

Did I miss anything, or do you have any questions? Let me know in the comments section below!

And click on the banner below to learn how our ancestors used to store their food for survival!

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7 Uses For Clay Pots That Every Prepper Should Know

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You’re walking down the aisle at your local superstore and you see the clay pots. Those are just used for planting flowers, right? Oh how wrong you are!

We’re preppers and homesteaders, right? We find unusual uses for everyday items. The same goes for clay pots. They’re not just for planting, and that’s what we’re going to talk about today!

1. Potting Plants

I had to say it! Clay pots are, of course, used for plants – haha, now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s get creative!

2. Clay Pot Refrigerator

Clay pot refrigerators such as the one shown here can reduce the internal temperature by 30 degrees or more. That makes it cool enough in most cases to store perishables; at least fruits and veggies in order to slow spoilage.

Strangely enough, it works on the same theory as a standard refrigerator. It pulls moisture from the inside of the pot, thus cooling the inside of the pot. Click on the picture below to read our article and see how we built it!

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3. Clay Pot Smoker

I’ve seen several versions of this, and I’m dying to try it for myself, except I don’t want to use an electric hot plate that all of the plans call for. I’m going to try simply using an old metal bowl with charcoal in it.

The concept is that you place the heat source (usually the hot plate, but I’m going with the bowl) in the bottom of a large clay pot, then light the charcoal and set a barbeque grate on the inside rim of the pot. You light the charcoal, let it burn to white as usual, then place the grate on.

Put the food on the grate and turn another clay pot the same size as the other (with a hole in the bottom) upside down on top of the other one. The food smokes and cooks inside.

I don’t see why it wouldn’t work this way. If anybody has tried it, please let me know in the comments section below. Otherwise, I’ll just give it a shot and see what happens.

4. Clay Pot Candle Heater

This is a pretty cool trick for cooking without power or an open flame. We’ve made a detailed plan to make one in this article. It’s good for camping, cooking at home when the power is out, or for any other time that you need to cook without electricity or a large open flame.

You can’t cook a lot over it but it will certainly do for heating soup or coffee.

5. Make a Clay Pot Oven

One of the foods that go the furthest is biscuits and bread, which make them great survival foods. You can use a clay pot oven to bake them and anything else that you’d like to bake. The directions are actually pretty simple, and so is using it. This clay pot oven works exactly the way a brick pizza oven works.

You’ll need a 24”x24” concrete paver, a large, thick-walled terra cotta pot, at least 16” in diameter, with a hole in the bottom, and a saber saw with a tile blade. You’ll also need a couple of 2”x4”x18” pieces of wood.

Draw an opening for the door on the rim of the pot. Make it 8” or so tall and about the same wide so that you can get a loaf of bread in, but not so big that you’ll lose heat. Cut it out with the saber saw SLOWLY so that you don’t break the pot.

To use it, set the tile on the wood, then pile 50 or so charcoal briquettes or wood on the tile and light it. Let it burn until there are no flames, then put the pot over the charcoal. Put an oven thermometer in the top hole and let it reach at least 375 degrees.

You have to get the hang of controlling the draft by using a small ceramic tile over the opening and controlling the hole on top. When it’s ready to use, slide the charcoal to the edges of the oven and slide your bread in!

6. Line the Bottoms of Planters

Broken clay pots can be used as filtering material in the bottom of your planters in place of rocks to keep your soil from washing out the bottom. Broken clay is much lighter than rocks, so this makes your planter lighter as well as repurpose a broken item.

Or you can use broken pieces as mulch. Planters and window boxes are great places to grow vegetables and herbs, but weeding them isn’t so fun. Use broken pieces of clay pots as mulch to keep the moisture in our plants and to prevent pesky weeds from growing.

7. Use Clay Pots to Make Fermented Foods

How do you think sauerkraut is made? It’s cabbage, vinegar, and some spices combined in a clay pot and kept in the dark. The same concept applies to kimchi, wine, and any other item that needs fermented. Use a clay pot with a lid to make any of these foods.

Make sure that it’s glazed and food-safe though. If it’s not glazed, it’s highly possible (probable even) that the liquid will leach through the pot.

Can you think of any other uses for clay pots? If so, please share them with us in the comments section below!

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This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.

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The Secrets You Need To Know About Fermenting Food

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Survivopedia food fermentation

Foods have been fermented for centuries. It was used originally for preservation but modern knowledge about nutrition has revealed that fermentation provides several nutrients including probiotics, or good bacteria, that helps keep your GI tract healthy.

For survival purposes, this makes it a no-brainer but there are some things that you need to know to safely and effectively ferment foods at home.

What is Fermenting?

Fermenting is actually fairly similar to wine making, except it’s easier and you don’t need as much specialized equipment. Fermentation takes place during a process called lacto-fermentation, in which natural bacteria feed off of the sugar and other carbohydrates in the food to create lactic acid. All you need is the produce, the starter, water, and an anaerobic (air-free) environment.

Some foods are fermented using sugar as a starter, and some are preserved using salt, whey, or even seaweed. Obviously, sauerkraut is salty, but wine is sweet. In a pinch, most foods don’t need the starter because they will eventually create the starter themselves. It’s already on the skin of the produce. Salt does, however, speed up the process and help keep the food crunchy.

Fermentation preserves the nutrients in the food. It also creates other nutrients including essential Omega-3 fatty acids that your body needs but can’t produce, B vitamins, and enzymes that help with digestion. The probiotics created during the process help keep the bacteria in your GI tract in balance.

Fermentation creates a unique, pungent flavor that you may initially find overwhelming (think sauerkraut) but once you get past that, you’ll find that the flavors are actually quite delicious.

What’s the Difference between Fermenting and Pickling?

This gets bit confusing, especially when you think about the fact that salt is used in the fermentation process. So, simply put, the difference between pickling and fermenting is that pickled foods are preserved in an acidic medium such as vinegar. Fermented foods create their own acidic liquid during the fermentation process.

This process is why fermented foods have the wonderful probiotics and other enzymes that pickled foods don’t.

Also, there is no heating or canning process necessary for fermentation. In fact, heating fermented foods in order to can them will likely kill the enzymes.

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What Foods Can Be Fermented?

When you think of fermenting, foods such as yogurt, sauerkraut, ginger, and kimchi probably pop into mind. You may be surprised to learn that cheese, salami, bread, vinegar, and olives are other examples of fermented foods. Wine is included in there, too.  Just about any vegetable or fruit can be fermented, but not all of them, such as leafy greens, taste good.

Today, we’re concentrating on fermenting vegetables. Here are some examples of foods that ferment well:

  • Cabbage
  • Cucumbers
  • Okra
  • String beans
  • Green tomatoes
  • Turnips
  • Parsnips
  • Carrots
  • Garlic
  • Beets
  • Peppers
  • Sweet potatoes/yams
  • Ketchup

You don’t have to use just one vegetable at a time; you can combine them to create chutneys and vegetable blends.

When it comes to fruit, you can most certainly ferment them, but they need to be consumed quickly before the fermentation process turns the sugar to alcohol. You probably don’t want the kids to get drunk off the strawberries.

What Vessels Are Good for Fermentation?

Two of the best vessels to allow your food to ferment in are glass canning jars and stone crocks. You absolutely do not want to use plastic because chemicals can leach into you foods. Metal aren’t good either because the salt corrodes them.

If you choose to use canning jars, use the wide-mouthed variety. You need to use your hand or a tool to pack the veggies tightly. Self-sealing jars are ideal because they lock the air out.

If you use stone crocks, use ones that are glazed inside and, preferably, have airlocks with a release system. You can buy these online and they help you control the fermentation process by making the environment anaerobic. That being said, you can use a standard stone crock. Just make sure that the vegetables are weighted so that they stay submerged so that they ferment, and covered so that bugs can’t get into the brine.

Tips for Fermenting Food at Home

Though fermenting food is almost bulletproof, there are some steps that you can take to make the process more successful and ensure that the food is properly preserved.

  1. How you slice, dice, or cube your veggies doesn’t really matter as long as you keep the pieces fairly uniform so that they ferment at the same pace. Dense vegetables such as turnips, carrots, and beets should be sliced, diced or chopped so that the lactic acid can reach the center.
  2. Keep food submerged in the brine. This is important because food left above the brine will spoil instead of ferment and will ruin the batch.
  3. Fermented foods are acidic and need to have a pH of at least 4.6 or lower.
  4. Though botulism found in home-fermented tofu and other bean products is one of the top causes of food-borne illnesses in china, there’s only been one reported case in the US. Still, follow refrigeration and preservation protocols to avoid this. Botulism is not your friend!
  5. If your food has slime, mold (yeah, some people say it’s fine, but experts say don’t risk it for home fermenting), a creamy white film, a yeasty smell, or your cabbage is brown or pink, it didn’t ferment correctly and isn’t safe to eat. A white film on top is OK as long as there’s no slime.
  6. Be careful if using sealed containers because the fermentation process releases gases that can cause your container or seal to blow. Using airlock devices helps with this.
  7. A film of olive oil across the top of your brine lets gas out while keeping oxygen from getting in.
  8. Though many recipes may call for a starter, you may not want to buy one, or you may not have access to a retailer in a SHTF situation. You don’t really need one – it just hastens the process that will occur anyway.
  9. Don’t forget to sterilize everything that comes into contact with your food, including the jars, utensils, table top and weight. Wash your hands well, too.

How to Ferment Your Food

plumsNow we’re getting down to the good stuff.

There is no blanket recipe for fermenting foods because some veggies obviously already have a lower pH than others.

These foods won’t need as much salt. You’ll also see recipes that call for whey or a starter.

Both of these are to add extra bacteria to get the fermentation process started.

The veggies will do this on their own if you ferment them correctly, so you don’t necessarily need them. Salt is used for preservation.

There are a couple of different ways to begin the fermentation process: You can make salt water brine, or you can salt the produce and use the natural juices from the produce to make the brine.

If using salt brine, simply add 1-3 tablespoons of salt per quart of water. Pack veggies tightly into container, cover with brine, weight the veggies with a heavy plate (you can add a freezer bag full of water to the plate to help weight it if you need to, or a sterilized rock), then let it ferment as follows.

Here are the steps for using the natural juices.

  1. Choose your vegetables. Use only organic produce to ensure that there are no chemicals and the good bacteria can flourish.
  2. Begin by chopping or slicing your food in whatever manner suits you, as long as the brine can penetrate. Are you going to eat it as a relish or in the form of slices on a sandwich? Prepare you food according to what you’re going to use it for.
  3. If you’re using whole vegetables, pack them into your jars or crock. If not, salt your vegetables in layers as you slice them to draw out the moisture, then squeeze, knead, or mash the juice out of your produce and place it into your fermentation container. This will be your brine.
  4. The amount of salt you use depends on the product, but a good rule of thumb is to use 1-3 tablespoons per quart of food or brine. Any type of course sea salt (gray, black, pink, or red), or Himalayan Salt is a good choice if you don’t want the food to taste super salty.

You can use whatever salt you like as long as you make sure that it’s pure salt – no anti-caking agents or any additives. As long as you reach the proper pH, the level of salt is a matter of personal taste. Salty sauerkraut may be fine, but you don’t want your chutney to be so overpowering. Experiment to find what you like.

  1. Tightly pack the food into a fermenting crock or jar and cover completely with the brine.
  2. Add the airlock lids or, if you’re using another type of container, weight the food with a plate or whatever you want to use (not plastic) so that the food stays under the brine. The liquid, and even the veggies, will likely expand during the process, so prepare for that.
  3. Let the veggies ferment and ripen for 7-30 days in a dark place at room temperature. When they process is complete, refrigerate, vacuum can, or store in a cool, dark place. Fermented foods can keep for months.

The Three Fermentation Stages

As I said above, the fermentation process can take anywhere from 3-30 days. This varies depending upon room temperatures and vegetables. During the first stage of fermentation, you’ll notice bubbles. Next, you’ll notice a pleasant, sour aroma. It shouldn’t be yeasty, exactly.

Finally, you’ll notice a sour, tangy flavor. Smell and taste your fermenting veggies daily if you can so that you know when they’re to a stage that you like. If you smell anything rotten, the process has failed. Throw it out.

After your fermented veggies are finished, store them in the fridge, or at least in a cool, dark cellar.

Now you know how to ferment foods at home! But wait, there are more survival secrets to learn from our ancestors! Click on the banner below to discover them!

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How To Make Outdoor Paint The Old Way

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Survivopedia homemade paint

Bright red barns setting in the middle of a pasture are beautiful, but paint does more than just make a house or building look good. Paint also protects your wood from the weather. If you want to live sustainably, it’s easy to make your own outdoor paint that will look great and last for years!

Now in the old days, it was common to paint wood with motor oil or tar to waterproof it. Both methods were effective but extremely hazardous and definitely not environmentally friendly.

There are other homemade outdoor paints, including whitewash and milk paint, that have been used for centuries that are both effective and safe.

You probably haven’t given much thought to what exactly goes into making paint because it’s much easier to grab a can or a bucket of it from your local superstore or home supply store. It’s OK. We looked for you, and you probably have just about everything that you need to make your own indoor or outdoor paint already in your cabinets.

To make paint, you need three primary components: a binder, a thinner (solvent), and a pigment. The last is, of course, optional but it’s not that hard to make your own pigments out of berries, roots, or clay. Clay is often used as the binder too, so you can kill two birds with one stone. If you don’t think you live in an area with clay, think again! You can extract clay from just about any soil using just water.

A fourth component, a filler, is often used to add texture and bulk. Common natural fillers are hydrated lime powder (pickling lime), clay (great to use with flour) and powdered chalk (called whiting).

Binders are what makes the paint stick to the surface. Common binders are clay, flour, milk, linseed oil, and even beeswax (it’s a great waterproofer). Common thinners are water, citrus thinner, turpentine, and mineral spirits (the last two serve as drying catalysts as well). Pigments, of course, can come from anything from clays and minerals to flowers and berries. If you’re using clay as a binder or filler, you may want to keep that color in place of adding pigment.

How to Make Whitewash

Up through the ‘50’s or so, most picket fences and even white buildings and houses were often painted with whitewash. This is a simple paint to make and can last for several years. The catch is that you need to add several layers because it’s extremely thin. It’s made with hydrated lime powder and water, which is why it’s chalky.

You can also add fillers such as salt, flour, clay, or milk to make it thicker or more durable. Whitewash as is, with just lime and water, has almost zero sticking power until it cures, which can take a few days. It’s really only good for porous surfaces.

You may have noticed that old whitewashed surfaces chip off but still have color underneath – that’s because there are so many layers, and they’re doing exactly as intended! Making whitewash isn’t an exact science. Add enough water to the lime to make it fairly watery – thus the name. Add fillers to give it more substance if you want.

Paint on in layers, adding a new layer as the previous one dries.

How to Make Flour Paint

This is a paint that’s easy to make and will last for as long as 5-10 years, even outside. Though most of the time, it seems like flour recipes are designed for indoor use, this one incorporates linseed oil. That makes it good for outdoor use.

 Video first seen on TheGridTO.

How to Make Milk Paint

The recipe for this paint sounds almost like a cheese recipe! Milk works for paint because the protein in it, casein, gives it sticking power. As you may suspect, it will have a milk smell until it dries and cures.

As with whitewash, milk paint is fairly translucent so you’ll need to add several coats. You can also add fillers to give it more substance.

To make one gallon of milk paint:

  • Juice from 4 lemons or 2 cups vinegar
  • 1 gallon skim milk (this part is important – it MUST be skim!)
  • Pigment of your choice, if you’d like
  • Cheesecloth or towel

Mix the lemon juice or vinegar with the water in a bucket and let it sit to curdle at room temperature overnight. Strain it using the cheesecloth or towel. Add the pigment. If you’re using a powdered pigment, add a bit of the milk mixture at a time to make a paste, thinning it until you can mix it into the batch without lumps.

Milk paint is going to be super thin, so if you’d like to add fillers or other binders, then you can and still have paint that’s the consistency of, well, paint.

As you can imagine, milk paint will spoil quickly so you need to use it immediately. It’s great to use on porous surfaces, so just brush it on. .

How to Make Oil Paint

Oil paint seems to take forever to dry but is probably the best paint to use on outdoor surfaces. Some may never harden completely. Instead, it remains a bit plastic, which is a good thing because it allows for natural expansion and shrinkage of the underlying wood. Oil paint also adds waterproofing, and it lasts longer than other paints that we’ve discussed.

It’s best if the wood you’re painting is sanded down so that the paint can cover it well. Priming it is preferable, but if you’re doing large surfaces such as a barn, you probably won’t want to take the time to paint it twice, or maybe you will.

The one problem that I’ve found with making outdoor oil paints is that you will need A LOT of oil for large projects, which may be in short supply if SHTF. It would be great for small projects that you only need a gallon or so to complete, though. At any rate, here are a few recipes.

Oil Primer

Primer helps to seal the wood and prepare it to hold the paint better. You can apply 2 coats, 48 hours apart, if you’d like. It’s simple to make a primer. Just combine equal parts of linseed oil and solvent. Paint it on with the grain, wipe off excess, and let it dry for 48 hours.

Oil Paint

There isn’t an exact recipe for oil paint because it depends on what fillers and pigments you use. Those components make a difference because they absorb the oil differently. Combine the fillers (clay or flower are probably best), pigment, and oil until you get a paste that’s the color that you want. Add more oil until it turns into a thick liquid that flows, then thin with solvent until it’s the consistency that you want.

It will keep for quite a while in a sealed 5-gallon bucket but it is, of course, best if you use it immediately. Just paint it on with a brush – you probably won’t need more than one coat.

Oil Glaze

Oil glaze is great to add waterproofing to flour and milk paints. They’re also great to use as stains. You can add pigment, or just use it to protect and waterproof the natural color of the surface that you’re glazing.

To make a quart of glaze, dissolve 3 tablespoons of filler into 1 cup of linseed oil by adding oil to the filler a bit at a time to avoid lumps. If you want to add pigment, do that now, to the color that you want. Once you get it combined, add another cup of oil, then add 1 1/3 cup solvent. Stir until there are no lumps and strain through cloth if necessary.  It’s ready to use immediately. Remember that since it’s an oil, it will take a couple of days to dry completely.

These are just a few tried-and-true ways to make outdoor paint at home. Some are more durable than others, but each has its advantages and disadvantages. One advantage that they all have, though, is that you can make them yourself from ingredients that are readily available to you.

If you’ve made any of these paints or have suggestions for others, please share with us in the comments section below. And click on the banner below to find out more secrets of our ancestor survival!

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How To Make A Potter’s Wheel For Off-grid Survival

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Pottery has been an on-and-off passion of mine since I was in high school. I’m a fair hand at it and have made some pieces that I’m pretty proud of. I’ve explained in another article how to make pots using other methods but today we’re going to talk about how to make and use a potter’s wheel.

The benefit of using a potter’s wheel is that you can create more refined, beautiful, functional pieces that you can use for yourself or for trade. The other methods are perfectly acceptable for creating functional and even beautiful pottery but there’s just something about using a wheel.

Throwing pottery (what it’s called when you use a wheel), is an art that allows you to make virtually any size or shape of pottery once you get the hang of it. It’s also extremely therapeutic. It takes all of your concentration to throw pottery, so your concerns tend to melt away, and the end result gives you a real sense of accomplishment.

There are two basic types of potter’s wheels: electric and manual wheels. In this article, the focus will be on the manual types because you can use them even if you don’t have power. Plus, I prefer a manual wheel because, at least for me, an electric wheel tends to be more jerky when starting and stopping, and the speed isn’t as easy to control.

There are two primary types of manual potter’s wheels: kick wheels and treadle wheels.

How to Build a Kick Wheel Potter’s Wheel

There are several different ways that you can build a kick wheel but the primary components are a flat plate (bat) to actually work on, and a weighted flywheel attached to the plate so that you can turn it and control the speed. To speed it up, you just kick faster. To slow it down, you just drag your foot on the wheel.

I also highly recommend using a splash pan around the throwing wheel to avoid a tremendous mess on you, the floor, and the walls. This will also save clay waste because you can catch it in the pan and throw the excess back in with your clay or slip.

You can get fancy and build a potter’s wheel with an attached bench, such as the one shown in this instructable, but you can pull up a chair just as easily. The advantage of building one without a bench is that people of different heights can comfortably use it. Of course, if you’re going to be the only one using it, feel free to add a bench!

Another feature that some potters like to have is an arm rest. This helps keep your hands steady as you throw. I found a fabulous, detailed, step-by-step design for a kick wheel that has no bench and an adjustable-height, removable arm rest here. It lists exactly what you’ll need, then it explains with both text and pictures, how to build it.

If you decide to build an arm rest into your potter’s wheel, it should be nearly level with the throwing wheel (called the bat). This is critical because you need to ensure that the clay is perfectly centered on the bat and if your arms aren’t level, it will put unnecessary strain on your shoulders, wrists, and elbows. It will also make it difficult to work the clay properly and get it centered. If it’s not, your piece will end up collapsing on you as you build it up.

I’m currently  without a wheel and think that I’m going to build this one myself because the instructions are great and it only costs about $60 total. Just a suggestion though – it’s best to keep this in a garage or a separate craft room because pottery is a super messy endeavor, just like most good projects!

Building a Treadle Wheel

The other type of wheel, a treadle wheel, is still more stable than an electric wheel because you have more control of the speed, stopping, and starting; it’s less jerky. That being said, it’s much more complicated, and probably more expensive, to build that a kick wheel.

You may often see a treadle wheel referred to as a Leach treadle wheel. This is because the most popular treadle design was created by the sons of Bernard Leach, a famous British potter. His grandson, Simon Leach, has posted a series of detailed pictures of each part of the Leach treadle wheel.

I’ve never thrown on one, so I can’t offer an opinion one way or the other on functionality but the design is interesting. I have read that many potters prefer a kick wheel because the bottom wheel is weighted and thus easier to manage because the weight builds momentum and doesn’t need as much energy to keep it going.

Instead of using a pole that directly attaches to the bat, a treadle potter’s wheel operates by adding a reciprocating pedal and a crank for greater control. The bottom isn’t weighted as much as a kick wheel, though potters who use them seem to love them.

The one site that I found with both pictures and plans is great. It actually looks pretty amazing, and the picture is close-up, so those of you who are handy can probably look at it and duplicate it. There’s also a picture of an old set of blueprints that may help. If any of you try this, I’d love to see some pics and a review of how it works.

Video first seen on Nate Cummings.

Regardless of which type of pottery wheel you decide to use, be aware that there’s a learning curve. The first few times that you attempt a pot or a mug, or even a plate, it’s probably going to look like something a kid may bring home from grade school, assuming you actually accomplish and end product.

Don’t worry, though. It doesn’t take long to become proficient using a pottery wheel and I’d honestly recommend learning on a manual wheel instead of an electric one because it doesn’t require the coordination that an electric one does. I’m not saying that you’re going to be a master potter in a week, but you should certainly be able to manage a coffee cup or small pot in that amount of time.

If you do some searching on the internet, you’ll find several different ways to make potter’s wheels from simple household items such as mop buckets. There are also a wide array of instructions for making simple electric pottery wheels out there too, but like I said, I prefer to use the manual wheels. Call me old school, I guess.

Manual devices won’t ever let you down in a case of an EMP, so be prepared and get all the knowledge you can get on off-grid survival. Click on the picture below to find our more about surviving this type of disaster!

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If you have any suggestions about how to build a potter’s wheel, please share your thoughts with us in the suggestions box below.

This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.

Refrences:

http://thepottersplaceblogger.blogspot.ro/2009/08/how-to-build-home-made-pottery-potters.html

http://www.pottery-magic.com/pottery/tools/kick-wheel.htm

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