5+1 Organic Remedies For Your Spring Garden

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It’s almost that time of year again – time to set out your plants and get that beautiful garden growing! But, one of the biggest problems that many of us face is that we grow our own food to avoid chemicals, but we need fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides to really get the most out of our labor.

Don’t worry – there are excellent organic options to help your garden grow.

Read the article below to discover them!

Seeds

You’re not going to grow anything of quality if you don’t start with good seeds. It’s easy to go the cheap route and buy seeds at the dollar store, but do your research. This isn’t the place that you want to skimp because if you do it right, you’ll only have to buy seeds once because next year, you’ll use ones that you harvest from your own crop.

Now, you’ve likely heard of GMO, which stands for “genetically modified organism.” Scientists literally modify the DNA of the plant to make it “better.” Of course, we know that actually means, “more profitable,” not “more healthy.”

Because science tinkered with the natural structure of the plant, the seeds are unreliable. You may get great results by replanting them, or none of them may grow. Besides, GMO have been linked to several different illnesses. Skip them.

You want to go with heirloom seeds because they’ve been carefully cultivated from one type of plant for generations. They’re reliable and safe. To learn more about the different types of seeds, check out this article.

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

Organic Fertilizer

In the event SHTF, you might not be able to run down to the garden center and pick up a bag of Miracle Gro. Why would you want to even when you can? You can make your own fertilizer at home that’s every bit as good as the store-bought stuff, and you know exactly what’s in it.

But what if your tomato plants grow just fine? I’ll be rude and answer a question with a question. How do you know that they’re growing fine? Sure, they may be growing and producing, but here’s the thing – our soil is depleted.

That means that what passes for a tomato today likely only has a fraction of the nutrients that it had 100 years ago. Too many seasons of constant planting without a break has sucked all the nutrients out of the soil, and if there’s none in the soil, well, there’s none in the plant.

So you need fertilizer. Your compost is going to be a huge part of that, but you can also add nutrients in other ways, such as by mixing Epsom salt around your tomatoes and peppers or by mixing a bit of diluted vinegar in if your soil isn’t acidic enough. Check out this article for more tips for fertilizer, but don’t skip it, whatever you do!

Video first seen on GrowVeg

Compost

This is probably the most proactive step you can take for a healthy garden, but to do it right, you’re going to need to do it right. You can put many things, from food scraps to paper and ash in it, but there are definitely some no-nos.

Now, before you start saying that you can’t have a compost pile because you don’t have a big enough area, let me stop you because you only need an area the size of a bin to have a compost pile … err, bin.

Oh, and you can have liquid manure compost – aka manure tea – too. It’s exceptionally good for plants that require extra nitrogen. Manure tea is exactly what it sounds like – manure that’s been steeped in water. It’s a bit involved and takes some time, but it’s well worth the end result. It’s especially good for plants with deep roots.

Herbicides

Oh, those nasty weeds. Of course, if you’re container gardening, it’s not such a hassle, but if you have a traditional garden, it’s a real pain, literally and figuratively. And if you opt to use commercial herbicides, you’re often defeating one of the purposes of growing your own garden  by using chemicals on your food.

Fortunately, you have many natural options that will work just as well as harmful chemicals. First, mulch is an excellent idea for several reasons. It helps keep the weeds to a minimum, it holds the moisture in the soil, and it acts as a natural fertilizer when it breaks down. That’s assuming you make your own mulch, which is cheap (or free), or buy organic mulch, which is NOT cheap or free.

Another option that isn’t exactly an herbicide but works as well as one is to use landscape fabric, which you can also make yourself from recycled sheets, feed sacks, etc. Or, you can buy it. It prevents weeds from growing by blocking out the sunlight. A natural result of this is that it helps hold moisture in the soil as well.

Boiling water works, too. It’ll kill a weed quick, but this isn’t particularly effective if you’re treating your entire garden.

Borax, bleach, vinegar, and salt water are also effective herbicides though you may need to repeat the process. Add a little liquid dish detergent to each for an extra boost. Be sure to spray these only on the leaves of the plants that you want to kill because none of them discriminate.

Be careful not to saturate the soil because all of them alter the pH and can have catastrophic effects on your plants.

Video first seen on Grow Your Heirlooms

Insecticides

This is the big bad of the chemicals that most people consider necessary to growing a healthy, productive garden. And it’s true – nothing will wipe out a garden faster that a horde of hungry aphids, beetles, or other flying or crawling creatures.

Fortunately, you have options here, too, and some of them, such as dish detergent, serve double duty and kill weeds, too.

Neem is probably the most effective. It’s been used for centuries and has more than 50 natural insecticides. Since it’s safe for you, your pets, and your plants, you can use it without worrying about damage. The only problem is that the bug has to actually eat the plant to die, so if you have an infestation of something, you may have some losses before you win the battle.

Himalayan salt kills spider mites. Just mix 2 Tbsp. of salt in 1 gallon of water and mist onto infested areas.

Chrysanthemum flower spray is lethal to insects because it paralyzes their nervous systems and immobilizes them. Just boil 3.5 ounces of flowers with a liter of water into a tea and spray directly on the plant. The spray stores for up to 2 months. Add some neem oil to give it an extra boost.

I call this the pizza spray – it’s made of 1 clove minced garlic, 1 medium sliced onion, and 1 tsp. cayenne pepper. Add them to a quart of water and let it soak for an hour. You don’t want to cook it; just let it soak. Add a tablespoon of liquid soap and spray directly onto the plant. This will stay potent for a week or better in the fridge.

Grind a couple of handfuls of dried chilis and add to a cup of diatomaceous Earth, then add 2 liters of water. Let it soak overnight, then shake it up and apply.

Other natural pesticides include orange oil, citrus oil. Eucalyptus oil, soap, and mineral oil. Dilute them with water and spray directly onto the plant.

Note that, with the exception of the soap, all of these concoctions are drinkable (though I don’t imagine that you’d want to) so you’re not going to poison yourself.

Critters

Bunnies and deers are really cute until you find them eating your carrots and corn. Then, not so much. As a matter of fact, so may say that they’d look delicious on  a plate side-by-side with said veggies after they’re busted dining on your labors.

I once lost an entire crop of cherries overnight because apparently the birds had been waiting for them to be perfect just as I had, but they were up earlier than I was. Two words – bird netting.

But, they do have minds of their own and aren’t easily deterred. Some good ideas that may help you keep from feeding the neighborhood wildlife instead of saving it all for yourself are as follows:

Marigolds. Rabbits, deer, and other wildlife hate the smell of them so plant them around your perimeter. You can also build chicken wire fences around your garden, or around the plants that you’re worried about.

Raccoons and some other animals hate the smell of Epsom salt – which, by the way, isn’t a salt so it won’t kill your plants. Just sprinkle it around the perimeter of the garden. It also increases the magnesium in your soil, so your plants may thank you.

Solar motion-activated lights may help scare them off, especially if you relocate them regularly so that the animals don’t get used to them.

Finally, you can cover your plants at night using tulle netting – that gauzy stuff that a bride’s veil is made of. For that matter, if you’re only covering it at night, you can use light sheets or other fabric that won’t break the plants.

We’ve covered most of the ways that you can grow a healthy, delicious garden without worrying about chemicals leeching into your foods. Plus, most of these suggestions are free or super cheap, so it’s a win in all directions!

Do you wonder what are the secrets that helped our grandparents grow their own food to survive during harsh times?

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If you have any more ideas about organic remedies to keep your survival garden healthy, share them in the comments section below. Happy gardening!

This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia. 

How To Build A Walipini Greenhouse

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We use cellars because they maintain a more constant temperature than structures that are built above-ground. We use greenhouses to extend the growing season because they hold in heat. Well what if you combined a greenhouse and a cellar? You’d have a greenhouse that would allow you to grow plants year-round.

This type of greenhouse is called a geothermal, pit or, Walipini greenhouse, and is common in South America. ‘Walipini’ means ‘place of warmth’ in Aymara Indian, and it’s an apt name.

Basically, the idea is that once you get below the frost line (3-5 feet below the surface, the Earth maintains a fairly constant temperature. In the US, that temperature is typically around 45-50 degrees in the northern states and 50-70 in the south. That range makes for perfect plant-growing temperatures, especially when you add a covering to one side that sun can shine through and warm it up a bit.

You’re harnessing the existing geothermal heat by digging 6-8 feet underground and capturing and storing solar radiation in order to create a near-ideal growing climate that’s resistant to surface-level temperature changes.

Benefits of a Walipini Greenhouse

There’s the most obvious benefit – you extend your growing season, or even make it so that you can grow food year-round.

Another reason that this type of greenhouse may appeal to preppers is that, depending on how you build it, it’s not obvious what’s in it so your food will be better hidden.

I’ve even seen articles about Walipinis that are built in such a way that they are a self-sustaining unit containing animals, aquaculture, and hydroponic plants. That’s a bit complicated and beyond the scope of what we’re doing today, but it can be done.

If you live in a dry climate, another advantage is that your Walipini is going to hold moisture from the ground in. You can help this along by using water along the wall to help pull the heat from the earth. That way, you’re making the air warmer and moister. Plants will love you. Actually, take condensation into consideration when you’re building.

The final advantage that a Walipini or pit greenhouse has is that you can build the whole thing for just a few hundred bucks. Less if you already have the materials.

Learn from our ancestors the old lessons of growing your own food.

How to Situate your Walipini Greenhouse

The first thing you need to do before you start gathering materials is determine where you’re going to build. You need to know a couple of things when you make this decision:

  • your local water table
  • how large you want your greenhouse to be. The larger it is, the more stable the temperature will be.

Ideally, a Walipini greenhouse is built by digging into the ground so that 3 sides and the floor are underground, and the exposed side, which is covered with windows or plastic, is built facing the winter sun – south in the northern hemisphere – and at a 90-degree angle to the sun. Think digging into a hillside, then covering the hole with plastic, which is actually a pretty good description.

Of course, what’s ideal isn’t always realistic. We don’t all live in places that even have hills to dig into. You can also dig them so that they’re just a pit and the sun is directly overhead. Of course, you’ll see that you can use the dirt that you remove from the pit to build up the rear side of the pit both for better insulation and to give you that angle for your plastic that will both help with rain run-off and position your light better.

The important things are that you dig beyond the frost-line, provide good insulation that will pull the heat in, and make sure that you don’t dig below the water line. Obviously, that would be bad. You need to make sure that the floor will be at least 4 feet above the water line.

Now, if you live in an area where the water table is measured in inches instead of feet, (many coastal areas) that doesn’t mean that you can’t build this – it just means that you need to be a bit more creative and that most  of your structure will be above ground and you’ll pile dirt around it.

Video first seen on Ben Green

What do you Need to Build a Walipini Greenhouse?

At its most basic, all that’s needed is (maybe) wooden support beams (2x4s or poles), greenhouse plastic or windows, and insulating materials – natural soil may be used for the walls if it’s structurally sound enough to hold up – such as clay or mud bricks, clay, straw bales, earth bags, concrete, cinderblocks, or stone. Of course, you’ll need nails or screws for the support beams, and a door and door frame.

Video first seen on elicia clegg

Digging out your Walipini

When you start to dig, save the topsoil to use as the soil in the floor of your Walipini because the sub-soil won’t be good for growing. You can use the remaining dirt that you remove to build up the back berm of the structure so that you have better insulation and a higher back wall.

Many people dig a drainage ditch around the Walipini to help the water flow around the greenhouse instead of into it.

Dig down at least 6 feet (8 or 10 feet is even better) as long as you’re maintaining your distance from the water line. If you’re building into a hillside, you’re literally going to scoop a section out of the hill so that the back wall is vertical and the floor is horizontal.

If you’re building a pit, pile the soil that you’re removing so that it creates a berm behind and on the north side of the hole.

Remember when you’re digging that you’re going to be insulating the walls and floor so you’ll be adding at least a foot or so back to what you’re digging out. Account for that when you’re designing it.

There are so many different ways to design your Walipini based on your needs and geography that telling you where to put the door wouldn’t be of much help; just remember not to build one into your plans when you’re designing the Walipini.

Once you have your whole dug, reinforce your north, east, and west walls with whatever you chose as your insulator. Natural stone and brick are both great choices because they naturally pull the heat (and moisture) from the ground and into the greenhouse. Some people choose to line the floors with stones and some don’t.

Now, you have to decide if you’re going to plant directly into the floor or are you going to treat this as a standard greenhouse and use containers? I also saw a few great examples of container garden-type methods.

If you’re planting straight onto the floor, it’s a good idea to put a layer of gravel 6 or 8 inches deep under the soil to help with drainage and to pull more heat up from the ground. You can use compost or manure under the topsoil because it naturally generates heat as it decomposes and will help warm things up.

After you get your walls built, it’s time to cover the pit. I’ve seen several examples where people built a vent into the roof in order to let some of the heat escape. This may sound silly, but the inside of a Walipini can be as high as 100 degrees even in its below freezing outside – that’s no exaggeration.

So, either build in a vent or be prepared to leave the door open or cracked for part of the day in case it does get too hot.

The roof (cover) doesn’t have to be fancy. It can be clear plastic stapled over a wooden frame with braces every few feet.

There you have it – the basics on how to build a Walipini greenhouse. It’s a simple yet effective method to help grow plants during the winter or even in climates that aren’t typically conducive to gardening at all.

Click the banner below to discover the long forgotten secrets that helped our forefathers survive during harsh times!

Do you have a Walipini or pit greenhouse? If so, please share your ideas and experiences with us in the comments section below. Also, feel free to ask questions.

This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia. 

How To Grow Tomatoes For Survival

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If I were told that I could only grow one vegetable (err…technically fruit, but that’s irrelevant) in my garden, I would pick tomatoes. Why? Because they’re delicious, nutritious, easy to grow anywhere, and you can use them in so many ways that you’d likely never get sick of them. You almost have to grow tomatoes for survival if you want your garden to be complete.

Just a single cup of tomatoes provides about half of your RDA of Vitamin C (move over orange juice), 25% of your RDA of Vitamin A, some Vitamin K just for kicks, and minerals including iron, potassium, folic acid, Lycopene and calcium. Plus, tomatoes have been linked to cancer prevention. Not too shabby for a little red, yellow, green, purple, orange, black, or pink fruit/vegetable, is it? Oh and did I mention that they come in an array of colors?

But which ones should you grow? How long do they take? Do they have particular needs? How much space do you need? There’s definitely a bit more to growing quality tomatoes than just grabbing a pack of seeds at the dollar store, but throughout the following paragraphs, you’re going to learn enough to get you started.

Different Types of Tomatoes

Many people grow several different varieties of tomatoes because there are so many uses for them. Just like anything else, most tomatoes are better for one purpose than another. For instance, if you want to grow tomatoes for juice and for eating raw, you’ll likely want two different types of tomatoes.

Of course, there are definitely good all-around tomatoes, but variety is most certainly to spice of life. And since there’s very little difference in planting and growing, why not grow different ones best suited to your individual needs?

Here are some of the reasons you may want to grow tomatoes:

  • Slicing, or eating tomatoes
  • Cherry tomatoes for salads
  • Plum tomatoes for eating or cooking
  • Juice tomatoes
  • Sauce tomatoes
  • Whole canned tomatoes
  • Tomatoes for chutneys.

Now, think about it. If you want to slice a nice, meaty tomato to put on your burger, you want plenty of “meat,” right? But if you want to can whole tomatoes, you’ll want something a bit smaller, and with a different consistency. And of course, if you want a little tomato for a salad, you need yet another type.

That’s the beauty of tomatoes; there are hundreds of options. All you have to do is find the ones you like best!

Learn from our ancestors the old lessons of growing and preserving your own food for harsh times. 

Types of Seeds

There are four main types of seeds out there: GMO, hybrid, heirloom, and open pollination.

GMO

These seeds have been genetically modified at the DNA level in a lab. They’re meant to make the seed better in some form or another. However, because the plant has been altered at the genetic level, you may find it difficult to get the next generation of seeds to grow, or to produce tomatoes that are the same as the ones in the first generation.

Hybrid

These are often mistaken for GMO, but they’re vastly different. They’re a naturally-occurring plant that occurs when one variety pollinates with another. Think of the hybrid as a family – a mother and dad get married and have a child that shares their traits – hopefully the best of each parent.

Hybrids have no problem growing but may not be consistent from one generation of seeds to another. First generation plants and fruit tend to be more consistent in size and shape and are often more disease resistant than heirlooms, but you don’t know what you’re going to get next year.

Open-Pollinated

These plants are the result of plants that are grown close together pollinating each other in a natural manner. You’ll have some genetic variability because of this, and when the seed is saved, those traits are passed onto the next generation. Open-pollination tomatoes are often regionally unique and have unusual shapes, colors and flavors.

These are the seeds that most farmers count on, because they’re reliable. You can save the seeds with a high degree of confidence that they’ll grow next year.

Heirlooms

The queen of seeds. Heirloom tomatoes come from seeds that have been carefully preserved for generations – usually 50 years or more. They’re carefully tended so that the traits are consistent from one generation to another. The one trait that heirlooms have is that the fruit can vary greatly in size and shape even on the same plant. That’s not always the case, and it’s not really a bad thing – just something to make note of when you’re growing them.

Heirlooms grow consistently from one year to the next, so you can save your seeds and have the same exact plant next year.

So What Seeds are Best?

Many people grow hybrids and love them; for that matter, I have too. But if I’m saving seeds, it’s the ones from my hybrids and open-pollinated ones because I know that they’ll grow and I know what I’ll get. 

Growing Conditions

This is yet another trait that I love about tomatoes – no matter where you live, there’s a variety that will grow for you. Well, almost. If you live in an area that has no warm weather to speak of, or an extremely short (less than 50 day) growing cycle, your choices are limited unless you want to grow them inside, or in a greenhouse.

Altitude affects every single aspect of growing – temperature, soil conditions, precipitation, and humidity. In high-altitude climates, you often have short growing seasons, soil that’s either rocky and alkaline or shaded and acidic, too much rain, not enough rain, and a ton of wildlife that’s just waiting for you to grow them some delicious food.

But don’t despair, you can grow great tomatoes just about anywhere you want as long as you’re willing to put in the effort.

What do Tomatoes Need to Grow?

I read a story about a couple who invested all of their summer into a tomato crop only to yield a single fruit. They’d gone out of town one weekend and forgotten to tell their friends to water them, and that’s what did it.

Now of course, that’s a tall tale, but it’s not far off. Tomatoes need a consistent amount of water, especially when the fruit is ripening. But if you water them too much during this period, they’ll be washed out and flavorless.

So if your tomato could pick its ideal situation (and it can because if you don’t listen, it won’t grow) what would it be? There are some variances in their needs, such as length of growing seasons, but in general, the necessary components to successfully growing tomatoes are:

  • Temperature – tomatoes need an average of 3-4 months or warm, fairly dry weather to grow and produce well. In order to “set” fruit – a gardening term that means that your plant will produce fruit after flowering and pollination. Generally, they need nighttime temperatures of 55-75 degrees F for this to happen. They won’t develop the proper color if night time temps are above 85, and most will quit growing if nighttime temps are over 95 degrees. Now, there are tomatoes that thrive in hot weather, so if this is your situation, do some research and find them. Otherwise, you’re wasting your time.
  • Sunlight – Your plants need at least 6 and preferably 8 hours of sunshine per day. If you live somewhere temperate, 8 is great. If you live in the sweltering south, then 6 with a nice shady afternoon will be appreciated.
  • Consistent Watering – This part is SUPER important. You want your soil to be moist but not wet. Too much will kill the plant, too little will stop the fruit from growing, or will give it a poor texture and flavor if it does grow.
  • Proper, regular feeding – Tomatoes like nitrogen in the soil, so prepare the soil with ripe compost and a scoop of aged manure in the bottom of the hole when you plant it. Another trick is to add some Epsom salt to the soil monthly.

You can do this via just sprinkling a couple teaspoons around the plant, or by mixing a couple of tablespoons in a gallon of water and watering your plants with it. Be careful though, because too much nitrogen will give you a beautiful plant but will delay ripening. Add nitrogen when the top leaves turn yellow and the stem turns purple.

  • Loose soil that drains well – honestly, they prefer this but will grow in nearly any type of soil as long as you provide the proper nutrients. If you have plants that harvest early, sandy loamy soil is best. Plants that bear fruit late like heavier loamy clay. They also like slightly acidic soil with a pH somewhere between 6 and 7.
  • Take Care of the Roots and Leaves – tomatoes are a good plant to start inside because if you live in most zones, you want your plants to be 8-10 weeks old when you set them out 2 weeks or so after the last frost. It’s important that you wait this long because if you get an “oops” freeze, your plants are done.

You also need to protect them from wind that can break them and try to keep the vines off of the ground to help protect them from mold and bugs. Bugs love tomatoes, so be proactive in your insect prevention and check the leaves, top and underside, regularly.

Planting Your Tomatoes

Ok, not that we have that set aside, let’s talk about how to grow your plants. This is the exciting part – well, one of them anyway!

It’s best to prep your soil a week or two in advance by turning in some aged manure and compost. A bit of Epsom salt may help too, if your soil is low in nitrogen. Rest easy – though salt will kill your soil, Epsom salt isn’t actually sodium – it’s actually magnesium and sulfur. The magnesium helps your plant absorb nitrogen.

Some people just dig the hole for the plant and plop a trowel full of compost/manure in the bottom. This may be OK, but make sure that both are well-aged so that you don’t burn up your plants. I’d recommend mixing it into the soil.

If you started your plants from seeds, they should be at least 8 weeks old now, and you should harden them off for a week or so before you plan to plant them out doors. This just means that you’ll start putting them out for a couple of hours per day, protecting them at first from the sun and wind, then gradually increasing their time spent outside so that it’s not such a shock when you actually transplant them.

Now, let’s plant. You can plant them in your garden, or tomatoes make excellent container plants. 5-gallon buckets work great.

Dig a hole with your trowel about 6-8 inches deep. Remember that your soil should be loose. Pull off the bottom few leaves  of the plant, then put it in the ground so that the root ball is buried and the remaining leaves are above the surface of the ground.

Plant them about 2 feet apart.

Water well to help reduce shock to its roots.

Stake or cage immediately. This doesn’t seem like a big deal now, but trust me – in a few weeks when they’re growing like gangbusters, you won’t find it nearly so easy as you do right now.

Water your plants well for the first few days to help prevent shock and help it to acclimate. Water consistently throughout the season so that your soil stays at about the same saturation. In some growing conditions, you may be able to get away with watering once a week, but 2 or 3 times is better. They’ll need about 2 inches per week.

Just a tip here – using homemade mulch is a great idea because it helps hold moisture in AND it helps fertilize at the same time. You can put the mulch down when you plant or you can wait a few weeks to do it. Don’t forget about liquid manure compost, either.

Keeping a steady fertilization schedule is good, too, Follow the tips above about that.

When your plants begin to vine and you get them staked, it’s a good idea to pinch off sucker leaves – those leaves that don’t lead to more vine but only exist to suck the moisture from your plant.

Wait for your bumper crop of tomatoes to appear!

Video first seen on Rogers Gardens

Preservation Methods

Now comes the fun part. The best way that I like to preserve my tomatoes is in between two slices of bread – oh wait, it doesn’t last long like that! Seriously though, there are a number of ways that you can preserve your tomatoes. Each way ends up using a canning method, but there are many different ways that you can prepare them for preservation including sun-drying and adding to olive oil, or dehydrating.

Juicing and Sauce

I can’t even tell you how many tomatoes I’ve mashed through a sieve with a wooden  pestle to make juice! All you need to do is cut your tomatoes into quarters and toss them into a saucepan. Bring them to a boil for 5 minutes to soften them up and get the skins all loose. The juice will start separating out.

After they’ve simmered for that five minutes, turn off the heat and pour some of them over into your sieve or food mill (which is over a pot or bowl, of course) to separate the juice from the skins and seeds. Mash them through and pour the juice back into a pan and bring to boiling again for another 5 minutes, then can.

You should add a tablespoon of lemon juice to each pint just to boost the acidity enough to preserve it. I also add in a teaspoon of salt per quart (1/2 tsp. per pint).

Water bath can as usual or 35 minute for pints and 40 minutes for quarts. If you’re pressure canning, it’s 15 minutes for pints and 20 for quarts.

Note that your juice may “clarify”, or separate so that the bottom is dark red with the tomato pulp in it and the top is almost clear. This is perfectly normal – just shake it up before you use it.

If you want to make sauce instead of juice, it’s simply a matter of cooking it longer so that the water evaporates and the juice thickens. You can make plain tomato sauce if you want, but this is a great time to jazz it up by adding seasonings such as garlic, oregano, rosemary, etc. Think spaghetti, pizza, taco sauce, etc.

Whole, Crushed or Diced

Blanch your tomatoes for just a couple of seconds – that is, dip them in boiling water for 10 seconds then toss them into an ice bath. An old Italian guy (because nobody knew more about tomatoes than this guy) taught me that if you slice a small ‘x’ somewhere on the bottom of the tomato, it makes it easier to peel. The skin will fall right off and you can proceed to the next step.

Once you get the skins off, cut away any bad parts or green sections. If you’re canning them whole, stuff them into the jars. If you’re halving, quartering, dicing, or crushing them first, do it now. And add them to the jars and top with water so that you leave 1/2 inch headroom, at least. Add lemon juice and salt, seal, and can.

Paste

The process of making tomato paste is similar to making the juice except you cook it WAY down into a super thick sauce, then add olive oil and salt and bake it in a 200-degree oven, spread evenly in  pan, until it’s the thickness of tomato paste.

Chutney, Salsa, Etc.

This is possibly the best part! Make your favorite salsas and chutneys with tomatoes, onions, garlic, herbs, and other spices and can them up so that you have some of this deliciousness year round!

As you can see, there’s a lot that goes into growing tomatoes, but there are so many different ways that you can use them that it barely qualifies as work. It’s like growing an entire winter’s worth of possibilities all with just a few plants.

Study what kind of tomatoes you want to grow and get started! What are some of your favorite tomatoes? Do you have a recipe or an idea you’d like to share?

Discover how our forefathers produced their own food during harsh times! Click the banner below for more!

This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia. 

References:

http://leitesculinaria.com/87323/recipes-homemade-tomato-paste-conserva-di-pomodori.html

How To Grow Tomatoes For Survival

If I were told that I could only grow one vegetable (err…technically fruit, but that’s irrelevant) in my garden, I would pick tomatoes. Why? Because they’re delicious, nutritious, easy to grow anywhere, and you can use them in so many ways that you’d likely never get sick of them. You almost have to grow tomatoes for survival if you want your garden to be complete.

Just a single cup of tomatoes provides about half of your RDA of Vitamin C (move over orange juice), 25% of your RDA of Vitamin A, some Vitamin K just for kicks, and minerals including iron, potassium, folic acid, Lycopene and calcium. Plus, tomatoes have been linked to cancer prevention. Not too shabby for a little red, yellow, green, purple, orange, black, or pink fruit/vegetable, is it? Oh and did I mention that they come in an array of colors?

But which ones should you grow? How long do they take? Do they have particular needs? How much space do you need? There’s definitely a bit more to growing quality tomatoes than just grabbing a pack of seeds at the dollar store, but throughout the following paragraphs, you’re going to learn enough to get you started.

Different Types of Tomatoes

Many people grow several different varieties of tomatoes because there are so many uses for them. Just like anything else, most tomatoes are better for one purpose than another. For instance, if you want to grow tomatoes for juice and for eating raw, you’ll likely want two different types of tomatoes.

Of course, there are definitely good all-around tomatoes, but variety is most certainly to spice of life. And since there’s very little difference in planting and growing, why not grow different ones best suited to your individual needs?

Here are some of the reasons you may want to grow tomatoes:

  • Slicing, or eating tomatoes
  • Cherry tomatoes for salads
  • Plum tomatoes for eating or cooking
  • Juice tomatoes
  • Sauce tomatoes
  • Whole canned tomatoes
  • Tomatoes for chutneys.

Now, think about it. If you want to slice a nice, meaty tomato to put on your burger, you want plenty of “meat,” right? But if you want to can whole tomatoes, you’ll want something a bit smaller, and with a different consistency. And of course, if you want a little tomato for a salad, you need yet another type.

That’s the beauty of tomatoes; there are hundreds of options. All you have to do is find the ones you like best!

Learn from our ancestors the old lessons of growing and preserving your own food for harsh times. 

Types of Seeds

There are four main types of seeds out there: GMO, hybrid, heirloom, and open pollination.

GMO

These seeds have been genetically modified at the DNA level in a lab. They’re meant to make the seed better in some form or another. However, because the plant has been altered at the genetic level, you may find it difficult to get the next generation of seeds to grow, or to produce tomatoes that are the same as the ones in the first generation.

Hybrid

These are often mistaken for GMO, but they’re vastly different. They’re a naturally-occurring plant that occurs when one variety pollinates with another. Think of the hybrid as a family – a mother and dad get married and have a child that shares their traits – hopefully the best of each parent.

Hybrids have no problem growing but may not be consistent from one generation of seeds to another. First generation plants and fruit tend to be more consistent in size and shape and are often more disease resistant than heirlooms, but you don’t know what you’re going to get next year.

Open-Pollinated

These plants are the result of plants that are grown close together pollinating each other in a natural manner. You’ll have some genetic variability because of this, and when the seed is saved, those traits are passed onto the next generation. Open-pollination tomatoes are often regionally unique and have unusual shapes, colors and flavors.

These are the seeds that most farmers count on, because they’re reliable. You can save the seeds with a high degree of confidence that they’ll grow next year.

Heirlooms

The queen of seeds. Heirloom tomatoes come from seeds that have been carefully preserved for generations – usually 50 years or more. They’re carefully tended so that the traits are consistent from one generation to another. The one trait that heirlooms have is that the fruit can vary greatly in size and shape even on the same plant. That’s not always the case, and it’s not really a bad thing – just something to make note of when you’re growing them.

Heirlooms grow consistently from one year to the next, so you can save your seeds and have the same exact plant next year.

So What Seeds are Best?

Many people grow hybrids and love them; for that matter, I have too. But if I’m saving seeds, it’s the ones from my hybrids and open-pollinated ones because I know that they’ll grow and I know what I’ll get. 

Growing Conditions

This is yet another trait that I love about tomatoes – no matter where you live, there’s a variety that will grow for you. Well, almost. If you live in an area that has no warm weather to speak of, or an extremely short (less than 50 day) growing cycle, your choices are limited unless you want to grow them inside, or in a greenhouse.

Altitude affects every single aspect of growing – temperature, soil conditions, precipitation, and humidity. In high-altitude climates, you often have short growing seasons, soil that’s either rocky and alkaline or shaded and acidic, too much rain, not enough rain, and a ton of wildlife that’s just waiting for you to grow them some delicious food.

But don’t despair, you can grow great tomatoes just about anywhere you want as long as you’re willing to put in the effort.

What do Tomatoes Need to Grow?

I read a story about a couple who invested all of their summer into a tomato crop only to yield a single fruit. They’d gone out of town one weekend and forgotten to tell their friends to water them, and that’s what did it.

Now of course, that’s a tall tale, but it’s not far off. Tomatoes need a consistent amount of water, especially when the fruit is ripening. But if you water them too much during this period, they’ll be washed out and flavorless.

So if your tomato could pick its ideal situation (and it can because if you don’t listen, it won’t grow) what would it be? There are some variances in their needs, such as length of growing seasons, but in general, the necessary components to successfully growing tomatoes are:

  • Temperature – tomatoes need an average of 3-4 months or warm, fairly dry weather to grow and produce well. In order to “set” fruit – a gardening term that means that your plant will produce fruit after flowering and pollination. Generally, they need nighttime temperatures of 55-75 degrees F for this to happen. They won’t develop the proper color if night time temps are above 85, and most will quit growing if nighttime temps are over 95 degrees. Now, there are tomatoes that thrive in hot weather, so if this is your situation, do some research and find them. Otherwise, you’re wasting your time.
  • Sunlight – Your plants need at least 6 and preferably 8 hours of sunshine per day. If you live somewhere temperate, 8 is great. If you live in the sweltering south, then 6 with a nice shady afternoon will be appreciated.
  • Consistent Watering – This part is SUPER important. You want your soil to be moist but not wet. Too much will kill the plant, too little will stop the fruit from growing, or will give it a poor texture and flavor if it does grow.
  • Proper, regular feeding – Tomatoes like nitrogen in the soil, so prepare the soil with ripe compost and a scoop of aged manure in the bottom of the hole when you plant it. Another trick is to add some Epsom salt to the soil monthly.

You can do this via just sprinkling a couple teaspoons around the plant, or by mixing a couple of tablespoons in a gallon of water and watering your plants with it. Be careful though, because too much nitrogen will give you a beautiful plant but will delay ripening. Add nitrogen when the top leaves turn yellow and the stem turns purple.

  • Loose soil that drains well – honestly, they prefer this but will grow in nearly any type of soil as long as you provide the proper nutrients. If you have plants that harvest early, sandy loamy soil is best. Plants that bear fruit late like heavier loamy clay. They also like slightly acidic soil with a pH somewhere between 6 and 7.
  • Take Care of the Roots and Leaves – tomatoes are a good plant to start inside because if you live in most zones, you want your plants to be 8-10 weeks old when you set them out 2 weeks or so after the last frost. It’s important that you wait this long because if you get an “oops” freeze, your plants are done.

You also need to protect them from wind that can break them and try to keep the vines off of the ground to help protect them from mold and bugs. Bugs love tomatoes, so be proactive in your insect prevention and check the leaves, top and underside, regularly.

Planting Your Tomatoes

Ok, not that we have that set aside, let’s talk about how to grow your plants. This is the exciting part – well, one of them anyway!

It’s best to prep your soil a week or two in advance by turning in some aged manure and compost. A bit of Epsom salt may help too, if your soil is low in nitrogen. Rest easy – though salt will kill your soil, Epsom salt isn’t actually sodium – it’s actually magnesium and sulfur. The magnesium helps your plant absorb nitrogen.

Some people just dig the hole for the plant and plop a trowel full of compost/manure in the bottom. This may be OK, but make sure that both are well-aged so that you don’t burn up your plants. I’d recommend mixing it into the soil.

If you started your plants from seeds, they should be at least 8 weeks old now, and you should harden them off for a week or so before you plan to plant them out doors. This just means that you’ll start putting them out for a couple of hours per day, protecting them at first from the sun and wind, then gradually increasing their time spent outside so that it’s not such a shock when you actually transplant them.

Now, let’s plant. You can plant them in your garden, or tomatoes make excellent container plants. 5-gallon buckets work great.

Dig a hole with your trowel about 6-8 inches deep. Remember that your soil should be loose. Pull off the bottom few leaves  of the plant, then put it in the ground so that the root ball is buried and the remaining leaves are above the surface of the ground.

Plant them about 2 feet apart.

Water well to help reduce shock to its roots.

Stake or cage immediately. This doesn’t seem like a big deal now, but trust me – in a few weeks when they’re growing like gangbusters, you won’t find it nearly so easy as you do right now.

Water your plants well for the first few days to help prevent shock and help it to acclimate. Water consistently throughout the season so that your soil stays at about the same saturation. In some growing conditions, you may be able to get away with watering once a week, but 2 or 3 times is better. They’ll need about 2 inches per week.

Just a tip here – using homemade mulch is a great idea because it helps hold moisture in AND it helps fertilize at the same time. You can put the mulch down when you plant or you can wait a few weeks to do it. Don’t forget about liquid manure compost, either.

Keeping a steady fertilization schedule is good, too, Follow the tips above about that.

When your plants begin to vine and you get them staked, it’s a good idea to pinch off sucker leaves – those leaves that don’t lead to more vine but only exist to suck the moisture from your plant.

Wait for your bumper crop of tomatoes to appear!

Video first seen on Rogers Gardens

Preservation Methods

Now comes the fun part. The best way that I like to preserve my tomatoes is in between two slices of bread – oh wait, it doesn’t last long like that! Seriously though, there are a number of ways that you can preserve your tomatoes. Each way ends up using a canning method, but there are many different ways that you can prepare them for preservation including sun-drying and adding to olive oil, or dehydrating.

Juicing and Sauce

I can’t even tell you how many tomatoes I’ve mashed through a sieve with a wooden  pestle to make juice! All you need to do is cut your tomatoes into quarters and toss them into a saucepan. Bring them to a boil for 5 minutes to soften them up and get the skins all loose. The juice will start separating out.

After they’ve simmered for that five minutes, turn off the heat and pour some of them over into your sieve or food mill (which is over a pot or bowl, of course) to separate the juice from the skins and seeds. Mash them through and pour the juice back into a pan and bring to boiling again for another 5 minutes, then can.

You should add a tablespoon of lemon juice to each pint just to boost the acidity enough to preserve it. I also add in a teaspoon of salt per quart (1/2 tsp. per pint).

Water bath can as usual or 35 minute for pints and 40 minutes for quarts. If you’re pressure canning, it’s 15 minutes for pints and 20 for quarts.

Note that your juice may “clarify”, or separate so that the bottom is dark red with the tomato pulp in it and the top is almost clear. This is perfectly normal – just shake it up before you use it.

If you want to make sauce instead of juice, it’s simply a matter of cooking it longer so that the water evaporates and the juice thickens. You can make plain tomato sauce if you want, but this is a great time to jazz it up by adding seasonings such as garlic, oregano, rosemary, etc. Think spaghetti, pizza, taco sauce, etc.

Whole, Crushed or Diced

Blanch your tomatoes for just a couple of seconds – that is, dip them in boiling water for 10 seconds then toss them into an ice bath. An old Italian guy (because nobody knew more about tomatoes than this guy) taught me that if you slice a small ‘x’ somewhere on the bottom of the tomato, it makes it easier to peel. The skin will fall right off and you can proceed to the next step.

Once you get the skins off, cut away any bad parts or green sections. If you’re canning them whole, stuff them into the jars. If you’re halving, quartering, dicing, or crushing them first, do it now. And add them to the jars and top with water so that you leave 1/2 inch headroom, at least. Add lemon juice and salt, seal, and can.

Paste

The process of making tomato paste is similar to making the juice except you cook it WAY down into a super thick sauce, then add olive oil and salt and bake it in a 200-degree oven, spread evenly in  pan, until it’s the thickness of tomato paste.

Chutney, Salsa, Etc.

This is possibly the best part! Make your favorite salsas and chutneys with tomatoes, onions, garlic, herbs, and other spices and can them up so that you have some of this deliciousness year round!

As you can see, there’s a lot that goes into growing tomatoes, but there are so many different ways that you can use them that it barely qualifies as work. It’s like growing an entire winter’s worth of possibilities all with just a few plants.

Study what kind of tomatoes you want to grow and get started! What are some of your favorite tomatoes? Do you have a recipe or an idea you’d like to share?

Discover how our forefathers produced their own food during harsh times! Click the banner below for more!

This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia. 

References:

http://leitesculinaria.com/87323/recipes-homemade-tomato-paste-conserva-di-pomodori.html

How Long Does Shelf Food Really Last

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Just about any food item that you pick up is going to have a date that says something along the lines of “sell by,” “best if used by,” or “use by.” The question is, though, how important are those dates? Well, in some instances, they’re important. In others, not so much.

Baby formulas have strict dates on them – they’re about the only foods absolutely required by law to have them. Stores can’t sell them beyond that date and it’s not recommended that you use them beyond that, either.

Perishable Items

Perishable items such as milk, eggs, and meats should be used by the date on the package. Most meats have a “sell by” date, which means that the store or producer has likely figured that you’re going to keep it in your fridge for up to a week after that, so they allow a little wiggle room.

If you buy perishables that are within a couple of days of the “sell by” date, either use it or freeze it within a day or so just to be safe. It’s always a good idea, especially with meat, to eat it or freeze it within a few days of buying it even if you haven’t reached that date. (Poultry – 1-3 days, other meats, 3-5 days) It’s better to be safe than suffer food poisoning.

Now, if you’re talking about perishables that came from your farm, you may have a little more wiggle room.

Discover the ingenious recipes that helped our ancestors stay alive!

Eggs

Eggs most certainly last longer – It’s not uncommon for an egg to be a couple of weeks old by the time you buy them at the grocery store so if you’re pulling them straight from under the hen as soon as she lays it, you have some extra fridge time on those babies.

When you buy them from the store, you still have a minimum of 3-5 weeks that they’ll be good. Want to know if an egg is bad? Use the water test. If you put it in a container of water and it sinks, it’s fresh. If it sort of hover-floats with one end sticking up, but the rest trying to sink, it’s not so fresh anymore but edible. If it floats like your bobber in the middle of a choppy sea, toss it.

Milk

Milk, on the other hand, may not have any extra time, especially if you don’t pasteurize it – which we never did. The good thing about milk is that you don’t have to guess if it’s good or not. One solid swig of spoiled milk and there’s no doubt left in your mind! I’ve found that the “sell by” dates on my store-bought milk (oh how I miss the good stuff!!) usually allows me a week or so beyond it to drink it up.

Other foods, such as canned foods or shelf-stable foods, have the same tags, but this often has more to do with quality than safety.

For instance, I found a box of mac and cheese in the cabinet (I rarely cook that type of food, so it had been there awhile). The mystery cheese powder was a little dark and I found that the “best by” date was nearing. Like within a week. I mixed it up and, though I didn’t get sick, it didn’t taste that great. This is a good reason to practice the First-In-First-Out rotation method.

Food Preserved at Home

Food that you preserve at home has expiration dates, too, or at least some of them do. So, let’s talk about expiration dates, when they’re relevant, why they’re important, and how you can keep track.

The best way to determine if perishable foods are good is to look at them, feel them, and give them the sniff test. Bad meat will smell “off” and may look a little discolored and feel slimy. Especially with poultry, if you suspect it may be bad, pitch it – it’s not worth the risk.

If you ever run across a commercial can of food that’s bulging or leaking, toss it. If your home-canned goods are leaking or the seal has popped, toss it. If, when you open either commercial or home-canned goods, the food is frothy, discolored, milky, slimy, or smells off, toss it. Those are all pretty good signs that botulism is present.

After you throw it away, scrub your hands in hot, soapy water. That’s a bug that’s meaner than old Aunt Sally when she’s lost her teeth and her panty hose are twisted, and you don’t want to mess with it.

Canned Foods

I grew up on a farm and learned about food preservation early. We always canned enough to get us through for two years each season. That means that often, even when we rotated the foods out, we had foods that didn’t get eaten for several years because we may have overestimated.

Mom always said it was better to have too much put back than not enough. Of course, foods like apple pie filling didn’t usually last that long! We lived on a farm and we all hunted, which means that we had plenty of meat. We typically canned the majority of that. We’d make spaghetti sauce, canned meatballs, soups, and other meals in a jar, in addition to canning them separately.

Some we dehydrated into jerky, but that was usually just for fun – it never lasted more than a couple of days.

As far as home-canned foods are concerned, most “official” agencies will tell you that it’s good for anywhere from 5-10 years. Some even speculate that it’s good for up to 20. I loved the part in the movie “Holes” where the kid was trapped in the desert and lived off of 100-year-old canned spiced peaches that he dubbed “sploosh” because they were just mush.

I don’t know if I’d let my canned goods go quite that long, but I’d be comfortable eating them at 10 years, for sure. As a matter of fact, I have.

Dried Goods

Foods such as flour, salt, sugar, rice, and beans all have really long shelf lives. As a matter of fact, the only one in the bunch that really has an expiration date is the flour, and even it’s good for at least a year, though some say 6 months. As a baker, I can tell you that I’ve used flour that was a year old and it was fine.

That was all-purpose, though. When you get into the self-rising, it may go bad faster so do a test batch and add more salt and baking powder if you don’t get a good rise.

You can tell when flour goes bad because it gets a rancid smell to it and it may get oily or have a weird, sticky texture and off smell.

The most important step to take to getting the most mileage out of all of your dried goods is to store them properly: keep them in air-tight containers in cool, dark places.

Vacuum Sealing

I’ve taken to buying all of my cheese vacuum-sealed. The same thing goes for deli meat, if you can find it. Air is every food’s worst enemy because bacteria (except botulism) need air to grow. I even smash my packages of cheese, etc. flat and squeeze out as much air as possible, and it’s seriously increased my shelf time since doing that.

If you have a vacuum sealer at home, use it! Seriously, it can double or even triple the shelf life of food.

Dating

Sharpies are your friend. If you’re canning or preserving food at home, date everything that you make with the date that you made it. Then you know how long you’ve had it when you reach for it. For that matter, do the same thing with canned and shelf-stable foods that you buy at the store. Use either the date you bought it or the “best by” date. Then you don’t have to break out the magnifying glass to find the “best by” date.

FIFO

Organize your food so that the oldest food gets used first. This is easy to do by just putting the new food behind the older foods every time you bring in something new. Then you know for a fact that what’s in front is what you should use.

Finally, the shelf life of foods is most certainly affected by how you store it. Canned goods should always be stored in a cool, dark place. Milk, meat, and eggs should be refrigerated at about 35 degrees, and veggies should go in the crisper drawer because the temperature is different there, too.

Just as an aside, milk, butter, and other dairy products will freeze just fine, though they may separate a bit. The texture of your cheese may be a bit weird, too, but it should still taste fine. You can also home-can butter.

Knowing the shelf life of your foods is important, but what’s more important is knowing how to tell if they’re bad. If you even ask yourself, “Hmm. This looks/smells/feels weird. I wonder if it’s good?” then the answer is to toss it. Food poisoning is, at the very least, brutal until you get through it 5-8 hours later, and at its worst can be fatal.

Go forth and eat safely!

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If you can think of any tips or advice about food shelf life that I’ve missed here, please feel free to mention them in the comments section below!

This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia. 

To Grow Or Not To Grow Marijuana For Medical Survival?

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OK, so this is a huge topic that seems to divide people.

Within the year prior to this post, Florida became one of the 28 states to legalize medical marijuana.

Do I think that’s a good thing? Yes, but this is an article about whether or not you should grow medical marijuana, not about what my (or anybody’s) political views are. Good thing, right? Lately, that’s a powder keg that will blow up any family reunion.

We’ll simply discuss whether or not marijuana is a good crop to grow for medicinal purposes in your survival garden. And to that end, I’m going to discuss it just like I do any other medicinal herb – does it have enough benefits to merit a spot in your garden?

Finally, it’s on you to decide what suits you!

7 Medical Conditions Medical Marijuana Can Address

Like many herbs, marijuana has been used as an alternative treatment for many different illnesses and diseases for centuries. It’s active biologically active components are called cannabinoids and perform several different functions in your body. The two that are the most highly studied are delta-9-tetrahydrocnniabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), though others are being studied, as well.

Nausea and Vomiting

This is the big one that most people think of when they think of medical marijuana from a serious perspective. Chemotherapy – and cancer in general – robs a person of their appetite and causes nausea.

The FDA has actually approved a drug called Dronabinol to treat nausea and vomiting caused by chemo and weight loss and poor appetite in AIDS patients. It’s a gel-cap that contains THC.

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

Cancer Treatment

You don’t often hear about marijuana being used to treat cancer – only the side effects of chemo. However, according to the American Cancer Society website, some studies have shown that THC, CBD and other cannabinoids slows growth and/or kill certain types of cancer cells and may slow or prevent the spread of the disease.

Of course, these studies are preliminary and research is ongoing, but it’s significant because so far, there’s not much out there that we could grow naturally that can claim this. That being said, it shouldn’t be used now, when more effective treatments are available, as your primary treatment. Does this make it worth growing in your survival garden? Maybe so.

Still, though cancer is a big thing, it may not be an issue that you have to deal with, so what else is medical marijuana good for?

Pain Management

Also according to the ACS and many other studies, patients with cancer, MS, fibromyalgia, and many other painful diseases often need less pharmaceutical pain medications when marijuana or cannabinoids are incorporated into their treatment plans. It’s been shown to relieve pain related to both muscles and nerves.

This is actually one of the primary uses for marijuana as an herbal treatment and it was widely used up until the 1800’s as a treatment for chronic pain. Studies have now shown that chemically, it does have a substantial analgesic effect.

As a matter of fact, there’s a cannabinoid drug being tested now for use as a pain treatment for people with cancer and multiple sclerosis. That’s likely to spread to other diseases if the drug continues to show results.

Anti-Inflammatory and Nervous System

Cannabinoids have also been clinically shown to have an anti-inflammatory effect. To get all scientific, our bodies actually have two types of cannabinoid receptors: CB1 and CB2. CB1 is mostly expressed in the brain and, to a lesser extent, the cells in our immune system, and CB2 is primarily found on cells in the immune system.

This is where scientists are really studying cannabinoids right now because of the immune response that happens when THC is introduced. It gets a bit complicated, but basically what it does is cause an immune response that kills bad cells and results in decreased inflammation.

That’s why it’s being used as an alternative treatment (and now sometimes as an active part of many treatment plans) for inflammatory and autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, fibromyalgia, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, type 1 diabetes, and inflammatory bowel diseases.

Video first seen on Ride with Larry

Glaucoma

Yeah, this is the one that’s joked about the most – when somebody’s busted with pot, they protest – “But it’s for my glaucoma!” Well, that’s actually a thing. THC can lower the pressure on the optic nerve, which is what causes glaucoma, but as a warning, it can also lower blood pressure, which can make glaucoma worse, or increase your chances of getting it.

Once again, risks versus benefits according to your situation.

Epilepsy

This is actually one of the areas where medical marijuana really struts its stuff. In early studies, medical marijuana extracts have shown that they can cause a 50% reduction in certain types of seizures. That’s pretty darned significant when you figure that epilepsy is one of those diseases where medication is absolutely required.

Personally, if I or a family member were a med-dependent epileptic, I’d be studying which strain of marijuana was the best to grow for my survival garden.

Anxiety and PTSD

Anxiety relief is another historical use of marijuana, and studies are now showing that it has positive effects on one of the hardest diseases on the planet to treat – PTSD. How did we discover this? Because doctors started noticing that patients who were tired of taking 5 or 6 or 10 drugs to sleep and function as they dealt with PTSD were starting to feel better as they gave up on the meds that were causing them to feel like zombies.

When a handful of doctors bothered to ask what was causing the positive changes, large numbers of patients reported that they were self-medicating with marijuana. It turns out that, according to studies, they were on the right track.

About Growing Medical Marijuana

Actually growing marijuana isn’t hard and if you give the plants some love, you can get quite a yield in just a little bit of space. And it’s a great container plant. The problem, just like when choosing tomatoes or beans, is that you want to grow the right strain for what you need it for.

There are thousands of strains of marijuana. Some strains have higher amounts of THC (the chemical that causes the high as well as provides health benefits), but lower amounts of other beneficial cannabinoids such as CBD. Some are better at relieving pain than others, and some are so strong that they may actually make your nausea worse just because you’re not used to the drug.

My word of advice here to you is this: do your own research. Maybe talk to your doctor. If he doesn’t agree with the concept, and many old-school Western practitioners won’t, then find another doctor or an alternative healthcare professional who will advise you.

One final disclaimer here – you need to know your state laws because the government is serious about this. If it’s illegal, they will take you to jail – sometimes for a LONG time – if they catch you growing it. There are some states, such as Oregon and Arizona, where you can grow a small number of plants as long as you have the proper medical documentation, but as with everything we preppers do, know your laws and be smart  about them.

This is a huge topic and I know that many of you have questions or can offer advice. Let’s avoid the politics of it and share your thoughts and experience about the benefits/risks of growing medical marijuana for survival purposes.

Remember that knowledge is the only doctor that can save you when there is no medical help around.

Click the banner below to find out more!

This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia. 

References:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2828614/

http://medicalmarijuana.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=000881

http://www.governing.com/gov-data/state-marijuana-laws-map-medical-recreational.html

How To Can Water At Home

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We’ve had some questions about canning water and to be honest, I’ve never really given it much thought because I just have bottled water stored, along with purification tablets.

I’m the first to admit that I thought the idea was a little over the top because of the expense and unwieldiness of canning jars, but after researching how to can water at home, I’ve changed my tune a bit, just like I did when I first heard about canning butter.

Don’t Waste Space

After I had a jar of spaghetti sauce fall over in the canner and break because I didn’t have a full canner, I started filling my canner with jars full of water. I’ve always just left the lid off and used it as a place holder, but then I saw the suggestion to boil the water first, then put it in a sterilized jar with a ring and seal and let it process along with whatever I was canning.

Still, I didn’t give this much thought because I didn’t want to waste a good seal on water. But – read on! Somebody suggested re-using an old seal. Obviously, I won’t do this with canned food because I have absolutely no desire to waste the food or risk botulism if the jar doesn’t seal, but if you’re only canning water, does it really matter?

I mean, you can look at it from one of two ways – if you really want it to seal, you can just dump the jar or use it to water plants, or even pop it in the fridge and have a nice cold jar of water to drink later. Nothing at all lost.

How many of us have stored tap water in soda bottles or rainwater in barrels? Storing unsealed water really isn’t any different than that, though I may suggest that you purify it before you drink it just like you would any of your other water if it’s not sealed.

I also found a suggestion that supposedly came from a Mormon lady – when you empty a jar of food, wash and sterilize the jar and seal and re-can water in it. Otherwise, you’re just going to throw away the seal and have an empty jar sitting around. When you look at it that way, it does make sense. The jar’s going to take up the same amount of space whether it’s empty or full.

This proven-to-work portable device provides clean fresh water 24/7! 

Canning  Water by the Book

If you want to ensure that your water is just as safe to drink as your canned foods are to eat, then follow the same procedures. Boil the water for at least 3 minutes – 5 if you live at elevations above 3000 feet – and sterilize your jars and seals. Pour the water into the jars and process in a pressure canner (it’s low-acid like meat and some vegetables) for 20 minutes, leaving at least 1/2 inch headspace.

Now, that being said for safety reasons, I don’t think pressure canning is actually necessary as long as your jars were sterile and your water was boiled because you’re not canning food that can spoil.

This can still be done while you’re canning other foods if you don’t want to just can a batch of water. Or, if you’ve decided that it truly is a waste for all of those jars to be sitting empty, then do a couple of batches.

Everybody in my family loves dill pickles, so I usually buy the gallon jars of them, then turn around and use the jars for pickled eggs later. Either way, I still have extra gallon jars sitting around taking up space because it kills me to throw them away. So, I decided to be bad and re-use the commercial lid that it came with to store water that I’d boiled.

Now that jar is actually being useful instead of sitting on the shelf taking up valuable real estate. I’m seriously liking this idea; it appeals to me on several levels – I’m not wasting jars or lids and filling landfills by throwing them away, my unused jars aren’t wasting valuable space, I have even more water on hand, and it’s free. Color me converted.

Video first seen on 2leelou Preserves

Is Canned Water Sterile?

As long as you boil your water as indicated and sterilize your jars ahead of time, and then follow the processing time that we use to kill germs in everything that we can, then yes, the water will be sterile. Oh, and as long as it seals. Basically, it’s just like any other canned food.

Honestly, I think that processing it may even be a bit overkill as long as the water is boiled and the jars are sterilized, but better safe than sorry. If you’re going to do it, do it right, I guess. Still, I have water stored in well-washed Coke bottles and juice jugs (BPA-free, of course), so I’m not necessarily buying into the whole need for utter sterilization.

One instance that I can think of that would be an excellent reason to store sterilized water? For medical uses such as cleaning wounds. At that point, since infection is going to be such a huge deal if professional medical help and supplies aren’t available, sterile water would be an excellent commodity to have.

How to Revive the Flavor

After water sits in a container for a while it starts to taste flat. This is because it loses its oxygenation. There’s a simple fix – just shake it up or pour it back and forth between two jars. It still may taste a little flat, but it’s perfectly safe to drink.

As with any stored item, I highly suggest recycling it – in this case, every few months. Don’t pour it down the drain, though. Either drink it, make tea with it, or water the plants – do anything with it. It’s still good, and it would be a waste to just pour it out. Yeah, I realize it’s “only” water, but with the way things are going, it’s becoming a finite resource, so get it’s best to get in the habit of not wasting it now rather than later.

As I said, the idea of canning water sounded silly to me when I was first asked about it, but now I can see the value in it, from several different perspectives.

Next time you have extra space in the canner or empty a pickle jar that you intend to save, store some water instead of just wasting space!

Now that you know how to can water, learn how to DIY your own portable device for an endless water supply.

Click the banner below for more!

18_620x140

This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia. 

How To Can Water At Home

We’ve had some questions about canning water and to be honest, I’ve never really given it much thought because I just have bottled water stored, along with purification tablets.

I’m the first to admit that I thought the idea was a little over the top because of the expense and unwieldiness of canning jars, but after researching how to can water at home, I’ve changed my tune a bit, just like I did when I first heard about canning butter.

Don’t Waste Space

After I had a jar of spaghetti sauce fall over in the canner and break because I didn’t have a full canner, I started filling my canner with jars full of water. I’ve always just left the lid off and used it as a place holder, but then I saw the suggestion to boil the water first, then put it in a sterilized jar with a ring and seal and let it process along with whatever I was canning.

Still, I didn’t give this much thought because I didn’t want to waste a good seal on water. But – read on! Somebody suggested re-using an old seal. Obviously, I won’t do this with canned food because I have absolutely no desire to waste the food or risk botulism if the jar doesn’t seal, but if you’re only canning water, does it really matter?

I mean, you can look at it from one of two ways – if you really want it to seal, you can just dump the jar or use it to water plants, or even pop it in the fridge and have a nice cold jar of water to drink later. Nothing at all lost.

How many of us have stored tap water in soda bottles or rainwater in barrels? Storing unsealed water really isn’t any different than that, though I may suggest that you purify it before you drink it just like you would any of your other water if it’s not sealed.

I also found a suggestion that supposedly came from a Mormon lady – when you empty a jar of food, wash and sterilize the jar and seal and re-can water in it. Otherwise, you’re just going to throw away the seal and have an empty jar sitting around. When you look at it that way, it does make sense. The jar’s going to take up the same amount of space whether it’s empty or full.

This proven-to-work portable device provides clean fresh water 24/7! 

Canning  Water by the Book

If you want to ensure that your water is just as safe to drink as your canned foods are to eat, then follow the same procedures. Boil the water for at least 3 minutes – 5 if you live at elevations above 3000 feet – and sterilize your jars and seals. Pour the water into the jars and process in a pressure canner (it’s low-acid like meat and some vegetables) for 20 minutes, leaving at least 1/2 inch headspace.

Now, that being said for safety reasons, I don’t think pressure canning is actually necessary as long as your jars were sterile and your water was boiled because you’re not canning food that can spoil.

This can still be done while you’re canning other foods if you don’t want to just can a batch of water. Or, if you’ve decided that it truly is a waste for all of those jars to be sitting empty, then do a couple of batches.

Everybody in my family loves dill pickles, so I usually buy the gallon jars of them, then turn around and use the jars for pickled eggs later. Either way, I still have extra gallon jars sitting around taking up space because it kills me to throw them away. So, I decided to be bad and re-use the commercial lid that it came with to store water that I’d boiled.

Now that jar is actually being useful instead of sitting on the shelf taking up valuable real estate. I’m seriously liking this idea; it appeals to me on several levels – I’m not wasting jars or lids and filling landfills by throwing them away, my unused jars aren’t wasting valuable space, I have even more water on hand, and it’s free. Color me converted.

Video first seen on 2leelou Preserves

Is Canned Water Sterile?

As long as you boil your water as indicated and sterilize your jars ahead of time, and then follow the processing time that we use to kill germs in everything that we can, then yes, the water will be sterile. Oh, and as long as it seals. Basically, it’s just like any other canned food.

Honestly, I think that processing it may even be a bit overkill as long as the water is boiled and the jars are sterilized, but better safe than sorry. If you’re going to do it, do it right, I guess. Still, I have water stored in well-washed Coke bottles and juice jugs (BPA-free, of course), so I’m not necessarily buying into the whole need for utter sterilization.

One instance that I can think of that would be an excellent reason to store sterilized water? For medical uses such as cleaning wounds. At that point, since infection is going to be such a huge deal if professional medical help and supplies aren’t available, sterile water would be an excellent commodity to have.

How to Revive the Flavor

After water sits in a container for a while it starts to taste flat. This is because it loses its oxygenation. There’s a simple fix – just shake it up or pour it back and forth between two jars. It still may taste a little flat, but it’s perfectly safe to drink.

As with any stored item, I highly suggest recycling it – in this case, every few months. Don’t pour it down the drain, though. Either drink it, make tea with it, or water the plants – do anything with it. It’s still good, and it would be a waste to just pour it out. Yeah, I realize it’s “only” water, but with the way things are going, it’s becoming a finite resource, so get it’s best to get in the habit of not wasting it now rather than later.

As I said, the idea of canning water sounded silly to me when I was first asked about it, but now I can see the value in it, from several different perspectives.

Next time you have extra space in the canner or empty a pickle jar that you intend to save, store some water instead of just wasting space!

Now that you know how to can water, learn how to DIY your own portable device for an endless water supply.

Click the banner below for more!

18_620x140

This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia. 

10 Survival Uses For Epsom Salt

I think that as preppers and homesteaders, we can all agree that three of the top things we look for in an item that we consider worthy of stockpiling is cost, versatility and utilitarianism. In other words, how many different things can we use it for, and how often will  we reach for it?

Well, using those criteria, Epsom salt goes somewhere near the top of the preparedness list, along with vinegar and duct tape. But why?

Epsom salt, sea salt, table salt, kosher salt … they’re all the same, right? Just different textures? Nope. Actually, it’s not a salt at all. Sea salt, kosher salt and table salt are at least 97.5% sodium chloride. Of course, kosher salt is, well, kosher, and sea salt also has minerals, but Epsom salt is a completely different beast – it’s actually magnesium sulfate. And it has a ton of survival and household uses.

Another big difference between Epsom salt and other salts is that it doesn’t really have culinary value – it’s bitter. It’s used more as  a chemical than a seasoning. So, don’t pull out your box of Epsom salts when you run out of kosher salt – you won’t be happy with the results!

Draw out Toxins and Impurities

This was actually the first use of Epsom salt. In the early seventeenth  century, people that would bathe or soak in the waters produced by springs in the town of Epsom, England because of the curative effects that it purportedly had. The wealthy began to travel there just to soak. A doctor began extracting the salt and the rest is history.

Though studies are contentious about the actual curative effects of soaking, there’s no denying the fact that it’s been used for that purpose to alleviate muscle soreness and fatigue, arthritis, and skin conditions ever since. It’s likely due to the magnesium.

Epsom salt dissolves well in warm water but not so well in oils or lotions, so there’s no need to complicate things. Just dissolve a cup and a half or so in a half-gallon of hot water and add it to your bath water. If you’d rather just soak a particular body part – say, your feet – just add a cup to very warm water and soak away.

Because it does have magnesium and sulfate in it, you shouldn’t soak in the tub for more than 15 minutes a day, or in a small container for more than 30 minutes. Follow the directions on the container.

Discover the health and healing secrets that helped our forefathers survive harsh times! 

Boost Magnesium in Soil

Whether you want greener, thicker grass, tastier tomatoes and peppers, or prettier flowers, Epsom salt is a good option because magnesium helps plants produce chlorophyll and allows your plants soak in nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus, and some plants need more of that that others. Many soils lack enough magnesium to do this. If you just want to green things up so that your yard looks great to both your neighbors and your livestock, add 2 tbsp./1 gallon of water and spray on your lawn with a garden sprayer.

To give a monthly magnesium boost to your plants, mix 1-2 tsp/gallon of water and saturate the soil around the plants so that it goes to the roots. If you’re using a mister, use 1-2 tablespoons per gallon. This recipe also works well when you’re germinating because seeds need both magnesium and sulfur. Just water your seeds with it as soon as you plant them.

To add magnesium to your soil when you plant, sprinkle 1 tbsp. around each transplant.

Video first seen on CaliKim29 Garden & Home DIY

Tan Hides

The first step to tanning a raw hide is to remove the flesh from it. Some remove the hair as well, but some would rather leave it on. With magnesium tanning, the Epsom salt is added after the flesh is removed and is used in as a “swelling agent” to soften the hide, increase durability, and decrease shrinkage. It may affect the color of the hide or leave stains on it.

Be careful using Epsom salts because magnesium can, in combination with the right chemicals, become explosive.

Deter Raccoons and Slugs

Raccoons love your garden, your garbage, and your hen house, but you’re probably no so in love with them. Good news – they hate the smell of Epsom salts. Sprinkle it around those areas and your coon problem will go away. Remember to reapply after it rains.

Of course, that won’t keep them from dropping down off a fence or finding another way in, so it’s best to use Epsom salt in conjunction with other practices such as keeping your garbage is tight-sealing containers.

To deter slugs from your garden or your planters, just sprinkle it around the perimeter. Remember that it will dissolve, so you’ll need to reapply after rain.

Splinters, Insect Bites, and Poison Ivy

I’ve used Epsom salt for splinters, bug bites and skin irritations many times! The problem with any of these conditions is that if they get infected, and they quickly can, then you can be in big trouble in a survival situation.

One such situation that could lead to this is a splinter that you leave in. Soak in Epsom salts as I described above and it’ll help draw it out.

If you have bug bites or poison ivy, you can make a paste with Epsom salt and apply it to the area and it will help draw out the itch and discomfort. Some sources say to bathe in Epsom salts for poison ivy, sumac, or oak, but that seems counter-intuitive, because hot water makes you itch more, and it’s possible that the bath may spread the rash.

There are opinions on both side of the fence on that, but when it comes to the possibility of spreading the misery, especially to tender spots, I’d rather not take a chance. Of course, that’s up to you.

To find natural anesthetics that may also help in these situations, check here.

Relieve Constipation

You need to be careful taking Epsom salt internally because of the magnesium and sulfur content. That being said, it’s long been used as a natural treatment to relieve constipation. Dissolve 2 tsp of Epsom salt in 8 ounces of water and drink it. If you don’t have a bowel movement within 4 hours, try a second dose, but don’t do it more than twice in a 24-hour period.

Reduce Inflammation

If you have swollen or sore muscles, you can either soak as I described above or you can make a compress by dissolving 2 cups of Epsom salt in a gallon of warm water, then let it get cold. Soak a towel with it, then wrap it loosely around the area and leave it there for 15 minutes.

Recharge Your Battery

This one is controversial because it can be extremely dangerous and it may not work. You’re dealing with battery acid and magnesium; a lot of bad things can happen. That being said, in an emergency survival situation, you’re left to your own devices and you can decide for yourself whether to do it or not.

Dissolve an ounce of Epsom salt in warm water to make a paste, then add a bit to each battery cell. This probably won’t help if the plates inside are worn out or if the contacts between the cells are in bad shape.

Always wear eye protection and sturdy clothes and shoes that the battery acid won’t eat through before you can get it off, just in case. This isn’t something you should try if you don’t have experience. And remember – being prepared by having  a properly maintained car is always better than trying to fix it when you need it the most.

Video first seen on Mentorcase

Scrubbing Tiles and Cookware

I’m not sure if Epsom salt works well to remove shower grunge and baked on foods because of the chemicals in them (it’s a debate), or if it’s because of the abrasive quality, but making a paste with water and dabbing it onto your shower tiles, then scrubbing will remove grunge, and for pots and pans, soak it in Epsom and hot water, or just sprinkle the salt straight in and scrub.

Great Skin

OK, this one isn’t really for survival, but even if SHTF, cosmetics are going to be important for physical and emotional reasons. Having toothpaste and a clean face can make all the difference in the world when you’re searching for a dab of normalcy. Epsom salt has been a common ingredient in beauty solutions for practically forever, or at least since the 1800s.

You can add essential oils and herbs to them to make bath salts, mix it with coconut oil or water to make an exfoliant (oils are good here, too), and some say that rinsing your face in Epsom salt water will help heal conjunctivitis and sties.

Remember that knowledge is the only thing that can save you in a survival situation.

Click the banner below to uncover more survival secrets that helped our grandfathers survive!

This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia. 

10 Survival Uses For Epsom Salt

Click here to view the original post.

I think that as preppers and homesteaders, we can all agree that three of the top things we look for in an item that we consider worthy of stockpiling is cost, versatility and utilitarianism. In other words, how many different things can we use it for, and how often will  we reach for it?

Well, using those criteria, Epsom salt goes somewhere near the top of the preparedness list, along with vinegar and duct tape. But why?

Epsom salt, sea salt, table salt, kosher salt … they’re all the same, right? Just different textures? Nope. Actually, it’s not a salt at all. Sea salt, kosher salt and table salt are at least 97.5% sodium chloride. Of course, kosher salt is, well, kosher, and sea salt also has minerals, but Epsom salt is a completely different beast – it’s actually magnesium sulfate. And it has a ton of survival and household uses.

Another big difference between Epsom salt and other salts is that it doesn’t really have culinary value – it’s bitter. It’s used more as  a chemical than a seasoning. So, don’t pull out your box of Epsom salts when you run out of kosher salt – you won’t be happy with the results!

Draw out Toxins and Impurities

This was actually the first use of Epsom salt. In the early seventeenth  century, people that would bathe or soak in the waters produced by springs in the town of Epsom, England because of the curative effects that it purportedly had. The wealthy began to travel there just to soak. A doctor began extracting the salt and the rest is history.

Though studies are contentious about the actual curative effects of soaking, there’s no denying the fact that it’s been used for that purpose to alleviate muscle soreness and fatigue, arthritis, and skin conditions ever since. It’s likely due to the magnesium.

Epsom salt dissolves well in warm water but not so well in oils or lotions, so there’s no need to complicate things. Just dissolve a cup and a half or so in a half-gallon of hot water and add it to your bath water. If you’d rather just soak a particular body part – say, your feet – just add a cup to very warm water and soak away.

Because it does have magnesium and sulfate in it, you shouldn’t soak in the tub for more than 15 minutes a day, or in a small container for more than 30 minutes. Follow the directions on the container.

Discover the health and healing secrets that helped our forefathers survive harsh times! 

Boost Magnesium in Soil

Whether you want greener, thicker grass, tastier tomatoes and peppers, or prettier flowers, Epsom salt is a good option because magnesium helps plants produce chlorophyll and allows your plants soak in nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus, and some plants need more of that that others. Many soils lack enough magnesium to do this. If you just want to green things up so that your yard looks great to both your neighbors and your livestock, add 2 tbsp./1 gallon of water and spray on your lawn with a garden sprayer.

To give a monthly magnesium boost to your plants, mix 1-2 tsp/gallon of water and saturate the soil around the plants so that it goes to the roots. If you’re using a mister, use 1-2 tablespoons per gallon. This recipe also works well when you’re germinating because seeds need both magnesium and sulfur. Just water your seeds with it as soon as you plant them.

To add magnesium to your soil when you plant, sprinkle 1 tbsp. around each transplant.

Video first seen on CaliKim29 Garden & Home DIY

Tan Hides

The first step to tanning a raw hide is to remove the flesh from it. Some remove the hair as well, but some would rather leave it on. With magnesium tanning, the Epsom salt is added after the flesh is removed and is used in as a “swelling agent” to soften the hide, increase durability, and decrease shrinkage. It may affect the color of the hide or leave stains on it.

Be careful using Epsom salts because magnesium can, in combination with the right chemicals, become explosive.

Deter Raccoons and Slugs

Raccoons love your garden, your garbage, and your hen house, but you’re probably no so in love with them. Good news – they hate the smell of Epsom salts. Sprinkle it around those areas and your coon problem will go away. Remember to reapply after it rains.

Of course, that won’t keep them from dropping down off a fence or finding another way in, so it’s best to use Epsom salt in conjunction with other practices such as keeping your garbage is tight-sealing containers.

To deter slugs from your garden or your planters, just sprinkle it around the perimeter. Remember that it will dissolve, so you’ll need to reapply after rain.

Splinters, Insect Bites, and Poison Ivy

I’ve used Epsom salt for splinters, bug bites and skin irritations many times! The problem with any of these conditions is that if they get infected, and they quickly can, then you can be in big trouble in a survival situation.

One such situation that could lead to this is a splinter that you leave in. Soak in Epsom salts as I described above and it’ll help draw it out.

If you have bug bites or poison ivy, you can make a paste with Epsom salt and apply it to the area and it will help draw out the itch and discomfort. Some sources say to bathe in Epsom salts for poison ivy, sumac, or oak, but that seems counter-intuitive, because hot water makes you itch more, and it’s possible that the bath may spread the rash.

There are opinions on both side of the fence on that, but when it comes to the possibility of spreading the misery, especially to tender spots, I’d rather not take a chance. Of course, that’s up to you.

To find natural anesthetics that may also help in these situations, check here.

Relieve Constipation

You need to be careful taking Epsom salt internally because of the magnesium and sulfur content. That being said, it’s long been used as a natural treatment to relieve constipation. Dissolve 2 tsp of Epsom salt in 8 ounces of water and drink it. If you don’t have a bowel movement within 4 hours, try a second dose, but don’t do it more than twice in a 24-hour period.

Reduce Inflammation

If you have swollen or sore muscles, you can either soak as I described above or you can make a compress by dissolving 2 cups of Epsom salt in a gallon of warm water, then let it get cold. Soak a towel with it, then wrap it loosely around the area and leave it there for 15 minutes.

Recharge Your Battery

This one is controversial because it can be extremely dangerous and it may not work. You’re dealing with battery acid and magnesium; a lot of bad things can happen. That being said, in an emergency survival situation, you’re left to your own devices and you can decide for yourself whether to do it or not.

Dissolve an ounce of Epsom salt in warm water to make a paste, then add a bit to each battery cell. This probably won’t help if the plates inside are worn out or if the contacts between the cells are in bad shape.

Always wear eye protection and sturdy clothes and shoes that the battery acid won’t eat through before you can get it off, just in case. This isn’t something you should try if you don’t have experience. And remember – being prepared by having  a properly maintained car is always better than trying to fix it when you need it the most.

Video first seen on Mentorcase

Scrubbing Tiles and Cookware

I’m not sure if Epsom salt works well to remove shower grunge and baked on foods because of the chemicals in them (it’s a debate), or if it’s because of the abrasive quality, but making a paste with water and dabbing it onto your shower tiles, then scrubbing will remove grunge, and for pots and pans, soak it in Epsom and hot water, or just sprinkle the salt straight in and scrub.

Great Skin

OK, this one isn’t really for survival, but even if SHTF, cosmetics are going to be important for physical and emotional reasons. Having toothpaste and a clean face can make all the difference in the world when you’re searching for a dab of normalcy. Epsom salt has been a common ingredient in beauty solutions for practically forever, or at least since the 1800s.

You can add essential oils and herbs to them to make bath salts, mix it with coconut oil or water to make an exfoliant (oils are good here, too), and some say that rinsing your face in Epsom salt water will help heal conjunctivitis and sties.

Remember that knowledge is the only thing that can save you in a survival situation.

Click the banner below to uncover more survival secrets that helped our grandfathers survive!

This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia. 

How To Make A Potato Pot

Click here to view the original post.

I love potatoes. Boiled, mashed, fried, baked – it doesn’t matter how they’re served, I’ll eat them. They help stretch your food supply and provide energy when you need it the most.

Unless you have a place to grow a traditional garden, you may have discarded the idea of growing them, but you can make a potato pot and grow them wherever you want – and you can even take them with you if you need to bug out.

If you’re shooting for the “potato” that offers the most health benefits, shoot for yams or sweet potatoes. Though the names are often used interchangeably, they are not the same vegetable, nor do they have the same nutrients, though they’re both high in vitamins, particularly vitamin A. Technically, neither one are even potatoes but that’s outside the scope of this article.

How to Store Your Potatoes

If you were raised in the country, you likely remember the root cellars. Ever wonder why they’re called that? Me too, and the best explanation I can come up with is that they were used to store root vegetables – traditional white, yellow, or red potatoes, onions, garlic, carrots, etc. All of these will store all winter if kept at the right temperature. The important thing is to not wash them because the dirt extends their shelf lives.

Unlike other potatoes, sweet potatoes love the warmth – unlike traditional spuds, room temperature is great for them. They’ll keep up to a year! Again, don’t wash them. And if you’re growing them yourself, as you’re going to be after you make your pots, do your best to leave them somewhere warm – 80 degrees is great – for 10 days or so after you harvest them. This promotes the growth of a chemical on the skin that protects them from rot and also “cures” them to make them sweet.

Another advantage to growing sweet potatoes is that you have a tremendous yield. Believe it or not, you can yield as much as 130 pounds of sweet potatoes from just 3 potatoes.

You can grow both sweet potatoes and “regular” potatoes in pots, but the process is different. We’ll take about the easiest and fastest way first, then tell you how to grow sweet potatoes.

Now, are you ready to get your hands dirty and make a potato pot that will produce a great crop of potatoes? Good. Let’s get started.

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

Making a Standard Potato Pot

First off, I have to say that this is the perfect  idea for a prepper because once you get it going, you’ll have potatoes literally forever without even needing to add dirt or fertilizer. It’s absolutely brilliant, but so simple that anybody with 1 potato, soil, water, and access to clover can do it.

Of course, any potato crop is self-perpetuating, but with this one, you don’t need fertilizer and you won’t have to dig in the garden.

Expect to yield about 10x (perhaps just a bit less) the weight of potatoes that you plant; that’s ten pounds for every pound, so you don’t have to do math.

  • First, choose your container. You can grow them in anything from a 5-gallon bucket up. Use a bucket or container that has never been used to store any type of chemical or poison. A great place to get food-grade buckets is local restaurants and bakeries. They usually buy in bulk, and items such as pickles, lard, sugar, flour, and frosting often come in 5-gallon buckets.
  • Fill your container with a mixture of potting soil and compost. I’ve even heard of people using sand and sawdust, but for this method, use the potting soil and compost.
  • Let your potato sit long enough to start growing eyes. That way you know that it will grow because some are treated with chemicals that keep them from sprouting in order to extend shelf life. While you’re waiting, prepare your bucket and get your clover growing.
  • Drill holes in the bottom of your bucket for drainage and make sure that you have a place to put the bucket so that it’s not in direct contact with something such as dirt that can clog the holes and prevent drainage.
  • Put a few inches of gravel (and sand if you’d like) in the bottom of the bucket and fill it with soil to within several inches of the top.
  • Sprinkle white clover seeds across the top of the soil and just run your hand over them to get a bit of soil over them.
  • Once your potato sprouts eyes and you know it’s good to grow, your clover should be starting to grow, too. Dig a hole 12 inches deep or so in the center of the bucket. Don’t worry if you have to dig through the clover – it will grow back.
  • Plant your potato at the bottom and cover back up with dirt.
  • You’ll see a plant within just a couple of weeks, then all you have to do is water it once or twice a week and let it grow. After 3 months or so, the plant will die back. When it does that, your potatoes are ready to harvest.

Video first seen on Hollis & Nancy’s Homestead

Making a Sweet Potato Pot

This has several steps and takes quite a bit of advance wait time, but your yield will be awesome. Plus, sweet potatoes are delicious and nutritious just as they are. Not to say that a good old regular potato isn’t delicious, too!

Because the yield is so high, you may want to use 20 gallon buckets for this. That’s what was used here – if you’re only using 5-gallon buckets, just put one slip per bucket. You’ll know what that means in a minute.

  • Start with a single sweet potato. Unless you want to be overrun with them, or intend to sell them or trade them, you don’t need more than a couple because one potato seriously can yield forty pounds or so.
  • Find cups, jars, or containers that are wide enough and deep enough to accommodate one half of the potato, lengthwise.
  • Stick 3 toothpicks into the potato at equal distances around the middle so that you can dangle one end of the potato (half of it or so) into the glass or jar and have one end sticking out. You want to have at least a half-inch or so all around the potato between it and the inside of the container.
  • Put the potato into the container so that it’s suspended by the toothpicks.
  • Now it’s time to wait for the slips to grow. Slips are basically shoots that grow into individual plants, and one potato can yield up to 50.
  • The slips will begin to grow off of the bottom and up around the potato and will be ready to separate after a couple of months.
  • Once they are, separate them out into different jars, and you can even cut and root new slips off the first ones as they grow. Once you have the slips that you want and they’re at least 12 inches tall, it’s time to plant them.
  • You’ll want a trellis behind them because sweet potatoes vine, and they root where they touch the ground, so if you’re using containers, you don’t want them vining all over your yard.
  • Fill the buckets with equal parts potting soil, peat moss, and compost to about 6 inches of the top.
  • Ramp the dirt so that one side of the container (the one furthest away from the trellis) is 8 inches or so more shallow than the side closest to the trellis and soak it with water.
  • Place 3-6 slips in each bucket so that the tops are facing the trellis and the roots are at the side of the bucket that’s furthest away from the trellis.
  • Add soil mixture to cover the roots and make the dirt level. It’s OK if you cover up some of the leaves and only just the tops are sticking out.
  • Water it again a bit and cover with straw or mulch to keep weeds from growing.

Video first seen on OFF GRID with DOUG and STACY

They love hot weather and take about three months to mature. They’ll get super bushy, so try to encourage any long vines to grow up the trellis. The plants will also grow really pretty flowers, which makes them great for ornamentals. Since the good stuff isn’t visible, if people don’t know what they are, they’ll just think they’re bushes – hiding your garden in plain sight.

The leaves will start to turn yellow. After that, leave them for another week or so and test a part of the bucket by digging down to see if they’re ready. Or, you can just dump a bucket and see how they are. Though remember – you only get one shot if you do it that way.

Now you know how make a potato pot.

Potatoes are the ultimate survival crop and they were included almost in every meal during the Great Depression.

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This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia. 

14 Best Vegetables To Grow In A Bucket

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There’s nothing better for you than fresh, homegrown fruits, herbs, and vegetables, but not all of us have the luxury of being able to plant a traditional garden. But did you know that you can get great yields on many types of produce?

Today we’re going to take a look at the best vegetables to grow in buckets, so that no matter where you live, you can eat well.

Growing in buckets enables people with limited space to grow their own food. Even if you have the land, buckets still make growing easier if you have a hard time getting up and down to weed the garden, take care of the plants, and pick the veggies. Or, if you’re simply too busy to dedicate the time it takes to care for a traditional garden.

If you’re using buckets, don’t forget to poke a few drainage holes in the bottom. After you’ve poked the holes, use some natural filters so you won’t lose the dirt. Put a layer of rocks, then a layer of sand if you want, then your soil. Don’t use regular dirt because it will likely compact and impair growth. Instead, use an equal mix of ripe compost, potting soil, and peat moss.

Do a little research on what your plants need so that you know to make the soil more or less acidic.

If you live in a cold climate, it’s a good idea to plant seedlings for plants that require extra time. This includes just about every plant except for green onions, shallots, carrots, potatoes, and radishes, and plants that are grown from bulbs. Of course, you always have the option of moving the buckets inside if it gets too cold too early.

Finally, you may look at the yield you’re getting per bucket and think, “Wow. That doesn’t sound like much for the amount of space I’m using. There’s a lot of soil left underneath that plant that isn’t being used.” You’re absolutely right. If you want to maximize that space instead of wasting it, consider growing plants out the bottom, too. Many plants grow well upside down.

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

Potatoes

Whether you like plain old spuds or prefer sweet potatoes or yams (yes, there is a huge nutritional difference), potatoes are a great bucket crop. Potatoes are hardy, grow in virtually any soil, and are grown underground, so they’re tolerant to weather changes. They’re also simple to prepare.

The key to getting a good potato yield is to grow them in a nitrogen-rich environment. Potatoes also self-perpetuate, so you’ll never run out.

Hint – grow clover on top of your potato bucket, or on the topsoil of any plant that needs lots of nitrogen, because clover pulls nitrogen out of the air and distributes it through its root system and down into the soil.

All you have to do to plant regular potatoes in a bucket is let the “eyes” or little roots grow from it, cut the potato into sections so that each section has an eye, and plant it. Plant the equivalent of one whole, large potato per 3-gallon of bucket, and 2 potatoes to a 5-gallon bucket.

You don’t even really HAVE to cut it into pieces. I just do because it’s how I was raised with a traditional garden. Old habits.

Tomatoes

Tomatoes grow fabulously in buckets; just remember that you’ll still have to stake them to something. This can be as easy as sticking a stake right in the bucket with it. No problem.

Cherry or bush tomatoes work the best and you shouldn’t plant more than one per bucket. You can pull tomatoes off in a 3-gallon bucket as long as you’ve got something besides just a stake in the bucket to stake them to, so that the weight will be supported.

Video first seen on ROCKNTV1

Cucumbers/Squash

Any type of cucumbers or squash grow well in buckets. As a matter of fact, I have a little better luck with the buckets because it’s easier for me to find the vegetable. Often when I planted them in a regular garden, I’d lose a few in the foliage.

Plant one plant per bucket.

Peppers

These are nice to grow right on the porch as ornamentals. For that matter, so are cucumbers and squash because of the nice flowers. If you’re growing colorful peppers such as banana peppers or chilies, they brighten up the porch, too.

Interesting pepper fact that many people don’t know:

The only difference between green, red, orange, and yellow sweet peppers is the time they spend on the vine. Green ones are picked first, then if they’re left alone, they turn yellow, orange, then red. Nutritional values vary widely among the colors, though.

Plant two peppers per 5-gallon bucket.

Video first seen on Gary Pilarchik

Beans

Bush beans grow best. Plant 1 bush per bucket.

Carrots/Radishes

Plant 10 per bucket. You can get away with using a smaller bucket or planter for these. Just make sure that the soil is at least a foot deep.

Onions/Garlic

Green onions, shallots, and any type of larger onion all grow wonderfully in buckets. For green onions and shallots, you can use a shallow bucket or window box as long as the soil is at least 6 inches deep. Just sprinkle a tablespoon or so of seeds evenly across the top of the bucket and cover with 1/4-1/2 inch of soil. For large onions and garlic, plant 4-5 per 5-gallon bucket.

Beets

Plant 4-5 per bucket.

Eggplant

Plant 2 plants per bucket because each plant requires 12-14 inches of growing space. You may be able to get away with 3. They’re good as ornamentals, too. Eggplants can be a bit finicky to grow because they require adequate water, good drainage, and pollination. Nothing is more frustrating than growing a plant then watching the flowers fall off without bearing fruit.

For your soil, use half sand and half soil/compost. Make sure they get at least two inches of water per week – more if you live in a hot climate. It’s a good idea to give them all of this water at once so that the water reaches the roots. Test your soil between waterings to make sure that it doesn’t dry out. You don’t want it too wet, but it should be moist.

Since they’re wind-pollinated, you may have a problem with adequate pollination. If you’re worried about this, it’s easy to pollinate them yourself. Just take a little paintbrush and run it around the inside of each flower.

They’ll also need a support system just like tomatoes do.

Broccoli, Cauliflower, Cabbage

These are great vegetables to plant in a bucket and you can grow 2-3 plants per bucket. Broccoli and red cabbage in particular are packed with nutrients.

Herbs

All herbs grow well in buckets, and you don’t need to use a full five-gallon bucket, either – they only need about 6 inches of soil to grow well. How many you can plant per container depends upon the herb, so pay attention to planting directions. You can even easily and successfully grow herbs inside.

Growing plants in buckets is a great method for several different reasons. From a prepper’s perspective, perhaps one of the biggest advantages is portability. If you have to bug out, you can take your food with you.

Since nearly all plants have seeds, you’re basically leaving with a food supply that will self-perpetuate, so it’s best to use heirloom seeds to ensure consistent growth and quality. I can’t overstate how important it is to choose the correct seeds for your needs.

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This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia. 

Grand Canyon Survival Story: Student Stayed Alive. Could You?

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On March 12, 2017, Amber Van Hecke ran out of gas in the Havasupai Reservation while leaving the southern rim of the Grand Canyon. The twenty-four year old college student was there hiking for spring break when her vacation turned deadly. Thanks to her own resourcefulness and preparedness, she lived to tell the tale.

So, what can we learn from Amber’s experience? We found 8 survival lessons to learn from her adventure, and we’ll take them one by one in the following article.

When Hiking Goes Bad

First, I’ll bring you up to speed on what happened, then we’ll get to that part.

Video first seen on ABC News.

Amber’s problem started when she plugged Havasu Falls Trail Head into Google Maps and followed the directions, just like the rest of us probably would. She only had 70 miles of fuel left until empty, not counting the reserves (so she thought) in her tank and decided to roll the dice because, according to Maps, it was only a 40-mile drive to the next main road.

She took a right turn when it told her to, even though her gut told her that it was too early. She found herself on what she calls a “ratchet dirt road” and followed it for 35 miles before her GPS told her to take a right onto a road that didn’t exist. Being a person fairly experienced with backroads, and considering the horrible road she was already on, she thought that maybe part of the road had eroded, so she took the turn, hoping to run into the remaining section of the road shortly.

Instead of finding a road, she ran straight into a fence. Amber admits she panicked a bit and drove around trying to find the road when she should have just stayed put. By then it was getting dark and she was down to zero miles to empty, and her reserves were empty, too. She found the nearest man-made structure and decided to wait til morning to decide what to do.

She certainly didn’t lack creativity or motivation, and she had food and water because she was planning a hike. She actually had extra, as any good prepper or trail-savvy person does.

This is when her 5-day period of waiting began. She had no cell signal, so she made an SOS sign from rocks that were about 4’x10’. That didn’t work, so she spelled out “HELP,” again using rocks, but this time she went big – her letters were 20-30 feet tall. She tried getting help using a signal fire, but because she was stuck in an extremely dry area, the wood burned too clean to create smoke.

3 Second SEAL Test Will Tell You If You’ll Survive A SHTF Situation

After a truck drove right by her before she could flag him down, she barricaded the road (which was brilliant, actually, just in case). She had a flashing headlamp in her truck that she turned on at night, to no avail. Finally, after 5 days, she decided to take matters into her own hands and took off walking in an attempt to find a cell signal. Fortunately, she didn’t kill the battery in her car, so she was able to charge her phone.

She was smart about it, though. She left a detailed note with her vehicle, and she marked her trail. It said: “I started following the road EAST to see if I can get a cellphone signal. I am marking my way with white sports tape. If you read this, please come help me!”

After she’d walked 11 miles east of her vehicle and tried a whopping 76 times to get a call out she did manage to find a weak signal and contacted the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office. Her call dropped 49 seconds into the call and she couldn’t get another call out, so she just had to hope that they’d managed to locate her before the call dropped.

She walked almost all the way back to her car, but the helicopter did find her after searching with the limited information that they had. They spotted the glint off of her car and the help sign that she’d made. They also found her note and followed the direction that she said she’d gone in order to find her, and they succeeded.

Because she’d had a stockpile of water and food, she was in good shape when they found her. She rationed it because she didn’t know how long it would take, and she made ramen noodles on her dashboard.

8 Survival Lessons to Learn from Amber’s Story

With little to no injury, Amber survived because she was prepared and knew what to do in an emergency. Did she make mistakes? Yes, but don’t we all?

Just for those of you who need to know it:

Stranded with no way out =/= camping regardless of how well I prepared with my supplies.
I had a compass and I am fantastic at reading maps but I made the mistake of not bringing one this time.
Almost everyone has run out of gas at some point, mine just happened to be supremely inconvenient.
It was not a matter of simply turning around since I wasn’t aware how to get out and I was legitimately lost.

So, yes, I made silly mistakes. However, I also maintained composure when I found myself in an unfortunate situation…

Amber Van Hecke Facebook Page

Let’s look at what we can learn from her experience.

Don’t Depend Solely on Technology

Her gut told her she was turning too soon, and had she heeded that instead of doing what many of us are trained to do – trust that technology knows more than we do – she may have found her way and her story wouldn’t have been more than another leg of her travel plans.

Don’t Cut it Close on Fuel

Only having 70 miles left in your tank is just fine if you’re tooling around town or heading between one major town and another, where there are many opportunities to refuel. However, the US – especially the US West – still has many roads where there are at least 70 miles between gas stations.

As a woman who rides a bike, I have a standing rule – never turn down the opportunity to pee or get gas. It’s a good policy to follow, especially when you’re in a remote area.

Stock That Vehicle Bag

Let’s see … what did she use that many people wouldn’t have necessarily had in their vehicles? A flashing headlamp. The materials to make a fire. White sports tape. Oh yeah, she had books that kept her occupied. Pen and paper. Food and water. A mobile cellphone charger.

Did they all work? No, but she had options and tools, and some of them – the charger, the food and water, and the pen and paper saved her life. Any one of them could have worked had the right person flown over or driven by at the right time.

Don’t Risk Getting Lost

She makes a comment at one point in an interview that she got bored and tooted her horn to make the coyotes leave the prairie dogs alone. What if she’d panicked and taken off walking in the dark? What if she’d made a wrong turn on her way back to her vehicle after she made the call because she didn’t mark her trail?

She did everything right when it came to this part of her experience. She stayed where she had shelter – there wasn’t anybody there to honk the horn to keep the coyotes off HER – and she marked her trail when she did leave so that she could find her way back.

Pack Energy Dense Food

She purportedly had sunflower seeds and an apple left when they found her. Those are foods that are high in sustained energy – the apple because it has fiber that slows down the digestion process, and the seeds because they have both fiber to slow down the processing of the sugar, and fat that your body will use after it uses the sugar.

Packing food isn’t enough – pack the RIGHT foods.

Be Proactive

Nobody wants you to get saved more than you do. She communicated: she made signs, she built a signal fire, and, when none of that worked, she got tired of waiting and took her fate into her own hands and decided to walk til she was able to help people help her. Don’t just sit around waiting for the cavalry when they may not even know you’re missing.

However, don’t screw up your chances by not communicating – in this case, had she not left the note, the rescuers may have missed her.

Keep Your Vehicle in Good Repair

Yes, she ran out of gas, but the rest of her car was in good repair and ready for a trip. Had her battery failed, she may still be sitting there, out of water and out of hope.

Don’t Panic

Yes, I realize that it’s easier said than done, but she admitted that she ran the last of her gas out because she panicked. Would it have made much difference in her case? Probably not. But what if it was the middle of winter, when temperatures can drop to the single digits in the desert? What if she’d been in Maine or North Dakota instead of in Arizona?

By panicking, she didn’t just run out her source of transportation, she exhausted a major heat source, too. True, she could have started a campfire, but that would have left her to the animals, that likely didn’t have granola bars, seeds, and apples stocked back. Keep your head and think before you act.

Amber survived this situation because she was prepared. Of course, she also got herself into it because, when it came to fuel, she made a mistake and went in unprepared. Her story offers dual lessons of what to do and what not to do. Thankfully, she did way more right than she did wrong, and that – along with a bit of luck – ensured that she lived to tell the tale!

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This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.

References:

University Of North Texas Student Survives For Five Days Stranded In Grand Canyon

9 Ways To Disinfect Wounds In A Survival Situation

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Getting wounded when you have no access to professional medical care and equipment can turn ugly quickly, so it’s important that you take care if it immediately and continue wound care until it’s healed well enough that infection is no longer a danger.

The most critical part after you stop the bleeding is getting the wound clean of debris and bacteria. That’s probably the crummiest part of it, especially for the person who has the wound, but it’s essential to get it clean right away so that your body can start repairing itself.

Keeping it clean throughout the healing process is critical, too, but it’s this first cleaning that will set the tone for your healing. Do it right. In order to make sure that your wound is clean, you’ll need some form of antiseptic, bandages, poultice or salve, clean cloths, and possibly tweezers to remove debris.

The antiseptic is probably the most important ingredient after debris removal because it’s going to kill any bacteria and other bugs that will hinder the healing process, or worse – cause infection. It doesn’t take long for infections to go septic – enter your bloodstream – and if that happens, you’re in serious trouble. That will literally kill you if you don’t have antibiotics.

So. Get it clean. Here are some different antiseptics, how they work, and how to use them.

Water

If you have absolutely nothing else, water will have to do. For that matter, clean water is what you should use to initially clean the wound before using antiseptic. The problem is that if the water isn’t sterile, it can add bacteria to the wound and hurt you way worse than it will help. Simply using water from a lake or pond – or for that matter, rainwater – is a terrible idea.

To prepare water that isn’t straight from a sealed bottle to be clean enough to clean a wound, you need to:

  • Filter it if it has any type of debris in it at all
  • Sterilize it by boiling or by adding 1 part bleach to ten parts water. It wouldn’t hurt to do both. As a matter of fact, bleach kills 99.9 percent of germs. That’s about as close as you can get to perfect.
  • If you’re going to boil it, keep it at a rolling boil for at least a minute, or 3 minutes if you’re above 1000 feet above sea level.
  • Let it cool, but use it or bottle it in sterile bottles immediately after to prevent bacterial invasion.

You can clean a wound with water by pouring it over the wound and allowing the water to wash away the debris. If you couldn’t care for the wound immediately, you can soak the wound for a few minutes to loosen the dried blood and debris, then irrigate with water. If necessary, use a clean, sterile cloth to gently wipe away debris, and irrigate again after. Repeat until the wound is clean.

If you have absolutely no antibacterial agent to use, be extra vigilant about washing with water then bandage according to the wound type.

Gunpowder

In the 19th century, the doctors used to pour gunpowder into the wound and set it on fire. Burning gunpowder destroys impurities, and stops the bleeding. You probably know what I mean if you watched Rambo 3, where John Rambo has to find a way to heal his shrapnel wound.

Video first seen on Christian Sansone

But you have to be aware we’re talking about an extreme solution: if you use this method, you will cause a lot of pain and ugly scarring.

Also, as dr. Radu Scurtu says in his medical guide “Survival M.D.” you don’t just close off the blood vessel but also the muscle, causing an extra burn which can become infected.

Antiseptics

Now that you have it clean, it’s time to apply the antiseptic. There are many different types that are effective, but you need to have at least one kind on hand at all times. We’re going to talk about some standard ones, but also some that you may not think of.

Sugar

Have you heard of this? Most people haven’t, but it’s been a practice for centuries. I checked the NCBI thinking that it was possibly a snake oil situation. It’s not. Sugar helps lower the pH of the wound, which inhibits bacterial growth. It also acts as an anti-inflammatory, pulls microphages (your body’s natural little bacteria eaters) to the surface, and promotes the growth of new tissue. Go figure. Carry a sugar packet.

Povidone Iodine (brand name Betadine)

The bottom line is that it may sting like crazy, but betadine is the bomb when it comes to killing what may ail ya in a wound. It’s an antibiotic, antiviral, and antiseptic and kills on contact. Since some of you may possibly consider using it to purify your water, you’re getting more bang for your buck since you can use it to clean wounds and surfaces, too. That’s right. Hospitals use it to sterilize surfaces because it’s so effective.

Sugardine

If you’ve been around farm animals, you’ve likely heard of sugardine. It’s a mixture of 1 part povidone iodine to 3 parts sugar mixed to make a paste to use on a wound. It’s one of the most effective antiseptics around and promotes healing, too. Sugar and iodine work well because sugar is obviously too dry to adhere to the wound effectively and iodine is too runny. Mix them together to make a paste, and you’ve got a good recipe that combines all of the benefits of both ingredients.

Isopropyl Alcohol

Ouch. You’ve heard about using this for wound care as a kid. As a matter of fact, you’ve probably run screaming from the house when you saw the bottle. Alcohol is a decent antiseptic because it kills bacteria, viruses and fungi by denaturing their proteins, rendering them useless.

However, alcohol can’t kill bacterial spores. That means it’s not an effective method of sterilization but it still works well as a skin and hard surface antiseptic. It needs to be at a concentration of between 60 and 90 percent.

Liquor

You see it all the time in westerns – the wounded cowboy is biting down on a piece of leather and somebody is pouring his whiskey or moonshine (yowza) into his wound to clean it. But does it work. Actually, the answer is yes. It needs to be between 120 and 180 proof to be most effective.

You should know though, that many studies show that ethyl alcohol, the alcohol in liquor, doesn’t kill some bacteria, including Clostridium, the bacteria responsible for tetanus, botulism, and gas gangrene. Still it kills most others, though it works slower than isopropyl alcohol.

So, if you’ve got the vodka or the whiskey and a wound that needs cleaning, bite down on the strop and pour it on. Since it has other uses such as making tinctures and drinking, it’s a good thing to have around.

Mouthwash

That antiseptic mouthwash that you have in the cabinet is acceptable for use as an antiseptic because of the high concentrations of alcohol and chlorhexidine. The latter, unlike alcohol, does kill spores and is considered both a germicidal and a disinfectant, so it’s a good combination.

Honey

For centuries honey has been used as an antiseptic and research backs it up. Honey is antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral. Make sure your wound is clean and you will definitely need to cover the it after putting honey on it. Otherwise, you’re a walking debris magnet.

Honey is also one of the items on this list that you can “grow” yourself, so you’d never have to worry about running out.

Peroxide – NOT

We all have it in our medicine cabinets. My mom was a nurse (a very smart one), so I was taught growing up that peroxide wasn’t any good as an antibacterial but was helpful in bubbling up and helping get rid of debris in the wound. That’s a fact. Research shows that it doesn’t retard growth, but it doesn’t kill bacteria, either.

So, it’s good to keep on hand to “bubble out the dirt” as Mom used to say, but you need to follow it up with a good antiseptic.

Disinfecting a wound as soon as possible and keeping it disinfected while it’s healing is the best way to prevent infection and promote healing. Especially in a survival situation where you may not have access to hospitals or antibiotics, preventing infection is critical to staying alive. Also, know your first aid!

Remember that knowledge is the only doctor that can save you when there is no medical help around you.

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Resources:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2956799/

How To Store Tap Water For Survival

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How To Store Tap Water For Survival

You turn on the faucet and there it is: as much water as you could possibly want. But then, as a prepper, you think, “What about the day when I turn it on and nothing comes out?”

Many people buy bottled water for their stockpile, and that’s fine, but you can also store tap water for survival and it won’t cost you a dime beyond your monthly water bill, if you have one.

There are some precautions that you need to take, but otherwise, turn on the tap, fill your containers, and store away!

Use Clean Containers

Even a few bacteria will quickly travel and multiply in room temperature water. That’s why they say to turn the sink in a public bathroom on and off with a towel. Even if you’re the only one who drank out of the bottle, the contents of the bottle can spoil and contaminate the tap water stored in it and make it undrinkable.

To avoid this, run the containers through the dishwasher using the hot water cycle, or clean them with hot soapy water just like you do your canning jars. It’s important to use containers that are easy to clean and don’t have little nooks and crannies that can harbor bacteria.

This proven-to-work portable device which provides clean fresh water 24/7! 

Containers to Store Tap Water

It’s important to choose the right container to store your water in. Some people use milk jugs but I wouldn’t recommend it for a number of reasons. They’re relatively flimsy, which makes them easy to puncture.

They’re also difficult to get clean because of the narrow handle. The lids nowadays often pop off. You don’t want a container that’s going to easily leak, and milk jugs are just a flood waiting to happen.

Some containers that are good for storing water include 1- and 2-liter soda bottles, juice jugs, and, if you want to store a larger quantity, 5-gallon food-grade buckets are great. They’re sturdy and stackable. You can also buy the sturdy camping water containers at your local superstore. They’re a bit expensive, but they’ll hold water for years.

Glass containers are always a good option too, though they’re heavy and breakable.

Make sure that all of your plastic containers are BPA-free so that no chemicals will leech into your water. Using opaque containers is good too, because direct sunlight will cause algae and the like to grow, just in case there are any spores at all in your water.

Video first seen on NoBudgetHomestead

Store Your Water in a Cool Location Out of the Sunlight

Sunlight promotes the growth of pathogens, so store your jugs out of direct sunlight. Sun also breaks down some plastic containers, which is why it’s important to use BPA-free containers. Also, hot water takes up more space than cool water, so you may have a problem with your containers swelling and leaking – especially if you’re a die-hard believer in milk jugs.

Remember that even if your containers are clean when you put the water in them, they’re not sealed so pathogens can still get in.

Add a Few Drops of Bleach

If you have city water, your water already has chlorine in it that kills pathogens and prohibits the growth of more. If you have well water, you may want to add a few drops of bleach to serve the same purpose. To be more exact, add 2 drops of bleach per quart of water to kill pathogens.

You may be thinking, “Why do I have to worry about this if my containers are clean when I put the water in it?” Well, there are a couple of reasons. Even if your containers are completely sterile when you fill them, they’re probably not completely air-tight, which means that pathogens can still find a way in.

A few drops of bleach will make it a very bad day for any germs that happen to choose your container!

That being said, if the container isn’t airtight, the chlorine will break down and leave it vulnerable to bacteria, which leads us to our next subject.

Rotate

Water doesn’t go bad, but it can get slightly acidic after a while. That’s because a minuscule percentage of it chemically changes to carbonic acid when it’s exposed to air. This makes it a prime breeding ground for bacteria. Considering that and the fact that bleach or chlorine breaks down, you should probably rotate tap water every six months or so.

This isn’t necessary for commercial water because it’s sealed, but it’s still a good idea to use the FIFO (First In, First Out) method, if for no other reason than to keep in practice.

There used to be expiration dates on commercially bottled water, but the CDC lifted the requirement due to lack of evidence that water goes bad. Remember though, that this water is sealed so that air can’t get in it, and the water and container are both sterile when the water goes in. That’s not the case with tap water.

Empty, clean, and refill your tap water containers at least every six months. Use the water that you’re dumping as grey water to water your plants or whatever.

Make Ice

If you have the room in an extra freezer, store some of your water in there. Frozen water bottles will help keep your frozen food cold longer if you lose power. They’re also great to toss in a cooler in place of messy loose ice, and if you’re heading to the gym or hiking, or anywhere really, a bottle of ice will melt so that you have nice cold water for a few hours instead of drinking it warm.

If you use the small bottles, they’re also great for ice packs.

Store in Different Sizes

You may have noticed that I’ve mentioned different size options for your bottles. Why choose just one? You can store large quantities of water (i.e. 5 gallons) for use by the entire family for a day, then store gallons to have on hand to use for cooking or personal use throughout the day, and store individual servings such as water bottles to carry with you on your person.

Having water stored in 5-gallon buckets or 55-gallon drums is great if you’re staying in, but what about if you have to bug out? That’s a danged heavy thing to tote around. Also, that many large water containers will be tough to keep inside and tough to hide outside.

Storing tap water is a perfectly reasonable, safe, cheap way to prepare for disaster. As long as you store it properly and rotate it, there’s no reason why it isn’t every bit as safe as store-bought water. Between it and rainwater, which we show you here how to collect, you can store as much water as you need to survive for at least a while.

This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia. 

Ancient Survival Medicine That We Lost To History

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Ancient Survival Medicine

Before Europeans discovered the Americas and introduced such diseases as chicken pox, the flu, smallpox, and measles, Native Americans were relatively disease-free and, for the most part, lived long, healthy lives, unless of course famine struck.

Native American remedies for existing illnesses were made of indigenous medicinal plants, many of which were highly effective.

Unlike modern medicine, sick patients weren’t just handed medicine until they either got better or died. Instead, Native Americans took care of their health holistically; it was strongly linked to spirituality.

The Native American ideal state of health and well-being was intrinsically linked to a close connection to the Earth and living in harmony with the environment.

In other words, they weren’t the “savages” that Europeans assumed that they were; I’m sure that, if they had the European desire for progress and financial gain, the Americas would have been vastly different than they were when Columbus found them. Instead, they believed that natural balance must be maintained. Life was about coexistence, not the almighty dollar.

But, if you take a look at what they actually did to maintain that balance, you may be surprised to find that their methods coincide with what modern medical practitioners preach on a daily basis.

Regular Cardio and Strength Training

Many tribes greeted the dawn with an early morning run to celebrate the arrival of a new day. How many people do you know that run in the mornings (or at some point during the day) as part of their exercise routine?

Of course, along with the physical exercise they also benefited from the release of stress-releasing hormones that we now know comes from physical exercise. Since running was, in large part, spiritual, there was also surely the clarity of mind that comes with meditation.

Oh, and we can’t forget that regularly carrying animal carcasses, curing hides, carrying water, setting up and tearing down camps, and participating in ceremonies and games that centered on acts of physical strength are all examples of strength training in its purest form.

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

Healthy Diets

The Native American concept of fast food was eating berries, fruits, and nuts as they picked them. They didn’t typically gorge themselves unless it was a celebratory feast and the only chips they had were possibly buffalo chips – depending on location – that they used to start a fire (or possibly create a home remedy).

Everybody now is preaching that free-range, organic, hormone-free meat is the only healthy option. Well guess what – the Native Americans were already following that diet. They treated sick animals in the same way that the treated sick people – herbally.

Either that or they just put them down and maybe ate them, depending on the illness or injury. Plus the animals weren’t ingesting grass poisoned with artificial pesticides and other chemicals.

Nuts and seeds were rich in Omega-3’s, high in good fats and low in bad fats, so they had that covered, and the berries that they ate, again, had no pesticides or chemicals. And lest we forget, they had to work for their food, so they were naturally exercising every day of their lives.

Until less than 100 years ago, diabetes was practically non-existent in the Native American population, until they began to adopt the eating habits of other Americans.

Mental Health

We now know that mental health is critical to physical health.

Native Americans regularly meditated and practiced acts of gratitude for everything that surrounded them.

As some modern philosophies teach, they were present and mindful. They celebrated the seasons and the bounty, and they were grateful and respectful to the animals that they killed to sustain themselves.

In a nutshell, Native Americans had a healthy outlook on life and worked regularly to maintain that. They knew, without an advanced medical degree, what it took to stay healthy.

Medicinal Herbs

For every illness, there’s a cure. At least in theory. Though Western Medicine hasn’t managed to find cures for many diseases, Native Americans had treatments for just about everything, and if you pay attention to early American writers, they often worked.

These treatments were entirely natural – no penicillin or opiates required. There are natural elements that provide the origins of these modern meds, such as soil and plants that contain natural antibiotics and plants such as willow bark that contain natural pain killers. In fact, willow bark was an original ingredient in aspirin.

Just because a cure is natural doesn’t mean that it doesn’t work as well as modern medications; in fact, the opposite is often true.

As preppers, we realize that we may not always have access to OTC and prescription meds so, considering that, we’ve put together a special report on Native American remedies that teaches you how to use the eight super-plants that treat more than thirty diseases. You’ll also learn how to help your body stay healthy and heal itself naturally, and how to preserve your food without refrigeration or electricity.

Click here to subscribe to Survivopedia’s newsletter and get this month’s FREE REPORT to find out more about our ancestors’ natural healing secrets. 

Native American Remedies

In general, their naturally healthy lifestyles prevented many diseases, but some did exist. Plus, you have to consider injuries such as broken bones, open wounds, and infections.

When treating any medical condition, the knowledge of the tribe healer often saved the day with a combination of treatments.

Throughout the generations, natural remedies were handed down from one healer to the next, and it seems pretty likely that the entire tribe knew how to use herbs, plants, seeds, and roots for healing, too.

These ingredients, alone or combined, were used to make poultices, teas, decoctions, salves, and oils that worked in conjunction with other holistic methods described above.

Sweat Lodges

Also known as medicine lodges, sweat lodges were often used for healing, prayer, introspection, and purification. Sweat sessions were required to be supervised by trained elders who were experienced with the process and could safely control the situation in case somebody became ill or uncomfortable.

Many holistic healers believe that sweating purifies the body by flushing toxins from the body and may help kill disease by raising the body temperature to a point that bacteria and viruses can’t survive. That is, of course, theoretical, but it makes a certain amount of sense.

Remember that knowledge is the only doctor that can save you when there is no medical help around you.

This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia. 

Ancient Survival Medicine That We Lost To History

Ancient Survival Medicine

Before Europeans discovered the Americas and introduced such diseases as chicken pox, the flu, smallpox, and measles, Native Americans were relatively disease-free and, for the most part, lived long, healthy lives, unless of course famine struck.

Native American remedies for existing illnesses were made of indigenous medicinal plants, many of which were highly effective.

Unlike modern medicine, sick patients weren’t just handed medicine until they either got better or died. Instead, Native Americans took care of their health holistically; it was strongly linked to spirituality.

The Native American ideal state of health and well-being was intrinsically linked to a close connection to the Earth and living in harmony with the environment.

In other words, they weren’t the “savages” that Europeans assumed that they were; I’m sure that, if they had the European desire for progress and financial gain, the Americas would have been vastly different than they were when Columbus found them. Instead, they believed that natural balance must be maintained. Life was about coexistence, not the almighty dollar.

But, if you take a look at what they actually did to maintain that balance, you may be surprised to find that their methods coincide with what modern medical practitioners preach on a daily basis.

Regular Cardio and Strength Training

Many tribes greeted the dawn with an early morning run to celebrate the arrival of a new day. How many people do you know that run in the mornings (or at some point during the day) as part of their exercise routine?

Of course, along with the physical exercise they also benefited from the release of stress-releasing hormones that we now know comes from physical exercise. Since running was, in large part, spiritual, there was also surely the clarity of mind that comes with meditation.

Oh, and we can’t forget that regularly carrying animal carcasses, curing hides, carrying water, setting up and tearing down camps, and participating in ceremonies and games that centered on acts of physical strength are all examples of strength training in its purest form.

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

Healthy Diets

The Native American concept of fast food was eating berries, fruits, and nuts as they picked them. They didn’t typically gorge themselves unless it was a celebratory feast and the only chips they had were possibly buffalo chips – depending on location – that they used to start a fire (or possibly create a home remedy).

Everybody now is preaching that free-range, organic, hormone-free meat is the only healthy option. Well guess what – the Native Americans were already following that diet. They treated sick animals in the same way that the treated sick people – herbally.

Either that or they just put them down and maybe ate them, depending on the illness or injury. Plus the animals weren’t ingesting grass poisoned with artificial pesticides and other chemicals.

Nuts and seeds were rich in Omega-3’s, high in good fats and low in bad fats, so they had that covered, and the berries that they ate, again, had no pesticides or chemicals. And lest we forget, they had to work for their food, so they were naturally exercising every day of their lives.

Until less than 100 years ago, diabetes was practically non-existent in the Native American population, until they began to adopt the eating habits of other Americans.

Mental Health

We now know that mental health is critical to physical health.

Native Americans regularly meditated and practiced acts of gratitude for everything that surrounded them.

As some modern philosophies teach, they were present and mindful. They celebrated the seasons and the bounty, and they were grateful and respectful to the animals that they killed to sustain themselves.

In a nutshell, Native Americans had a healthy outlook on life and worked regularly to maintain that. They knew, without an advanced medical degree, what it took to stay healthy.

Medicinal Herbs

For every illness, there’s a cure. At least in theory. Though Western Medicine hasn’t managed to find cures for many diseases, Native Americans had treatments for just about everything, and if you pay attention to early American writers, they often worked.

These treatments were entirely natural – no penicillin or opiates required. There are natural elements that provide the origins of these modern meds, such as soil and plants that contain natural antibiotics and plants such as willow bark that contain natural pain killers. In fact, willow bark was an original ingredient in aspirin.

Just because a cure is natural doesn’t mean that it doesn’t work as well as modern medications; in fact, the opposite is often true.

As preppers, we realize that we may not always have access to OTC and prescription meds so, considering that, we’ve put together a special report on Native American remedies that teaches you how to use the eight super-plants that treat more than thirty diseases. You’ll also learn how to help your body stay healthy and heal itself naturally, and how to preserve your food without refrigeration or electricity.

Click here to subscribe to Survivopedia’s newsletter and get this month’s FREE REPORT to find out more about our ancestors’ natural healing secrets. 

Native American Remedies

In general, their naturally healthy lifestyles prevented many diseases, but some did exist. Plus, you have to consider injuries such as broken bones, open wounds, and infections.

When treating any medical condition, the knowledge of the tribe healer often saved the day with a combination of treatments.

Throughout the generations, natural remedies were handed down from one healer to the next, and it seems pretty likely that the entire tribe knew how to use herbs, plants, seeds, and roots for healing, too.

These ingredients, alone or combined, were used to make poultices, teas, decoctions, salves, and oils that worked in conjunction with other holistic methods described above.

Sweat Lodges

Also known as medicine lodges, sweat lodges were often used for healing, prayer, introspection, and purification. Sweat sessions were required to be supervised by trained elders who were experienced with the process and could safely control the situation in case somebody became ill or uncomfortable.

Many holistic healers believe that sweating purifies the body by flushing toxins from the body and may help kill disease by raising the body temperature to a point that bacteria and viruses can’t survive. That is, of course, theoretical, but it makes a certain amount of sense.

Remember that knowledge is the only doctor that can save you when there is no medical help around you.

This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia. 

How To Turn Your Bike Into A Bug Out Vehicle

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The first thing that people do in the movies when there’s a catastrophic event is try to get out of town. They end up in gridlocked traffic and end up surrounded by panicking people abandoning vehicles that can’t go any further. Obviously, there was a lack of planning.

As preppers, we’re prepared to avoid these types of situations either by bugging in, or by having bug out vehicles that can navigate terrain, and will allow us to avoid major roads so that we have a better chance of getting safely away.

Though many people don’t consider a motorcycle a good choice for a bug out vehicle, don’t discount the advantages out of hand. After all, while all of those cars are gridlocked, you can ride the berm or split the lanes to continue traveling. This would, of course, come with the risk of somebody knocking you off your bike, so you’d have to be extremely cautious while also traveling quickly.

You can also travel off-road if you have the right bike and it’s properly equipped. Oh, and if you have an EMP room that’s at least 5 or 6 feet square, you can keep the bike right in there along with an extra motor and parts and still have plenty of room left for your other stuff.

Also, a motorcycle gets anywhere from 30-70 mpg. The average dual sport bike has anywhere from a 3-6 gallon tank, which means that you can make it 150-300 miles on one tank. They’re also versatile and do well both on the street and off-road assuming you choose a good bike and put knobby tires on it.

Many people like to use a 250cc for a bug out vehicle, but I like a little more speed and power – I’d recommend a 600 – it doesn’t weight that much more than a 250, though you will lose a little mpg. That’s negligible, though – 10mpg maybe. Chances are good that your bug out place is still going to be well within your tank range.

There are downsides. You can’t realistically take more than two people and will only be able to take the bare essentials with you. Ideally, you should probably use a bike to get you to a pre-stocked bug out location. Most sport bikes, enduros, motocross bikes and duel sports are light enough that 2 people can lift them up into the back of a truck.

However, there are a few modifications that you should probably make in order to optimize it for bugging out. These are just general suggestions – you’ll have to account for your individual terrain and bug out plans.

Put Headlights on Toggle Switch

Motorcycles typically have headlights that turn on as soon as you turn the key as a standard safety feature. Since you may need to hide, it’s probably a good idea to put the headlight on a toggle switch. Fortunately, the wiring on a motorcycle is fairly simple, so this is easy to do.

Paint to Match Your Terrain

I absolutely love the electric blue and neon green paintjob on my GSXR, but it doesn’t exactly lend itself to hiding.

Not only do you want to keep from being seen on it if possible, but you don’t want it to stand out for somebody to target as a potential getaway vehicle for themselves should you need to stop and be away from it. (i.e., bathroom breaks, etc.)

Fortunately, it doesn’t take much paint to cover an entire motorcycle. Choose a paint that will help you blend into your terrain. Whether it’s green or tan, or somewhere in between, camouflage that ride.

Cargo Racks

You can buy a cargo rack for behind the seat, or you can do what I did for my last bike and build it yourself. This allows you quite a bit of customization because you can add a little bit of storage here and there.

For instance, you can potentially add a rifle carrier that would ride under your thigh, or a storage rack in front of it. You can also buy or build saddle bags. We are, after all, the kings and queens of DIY.

Use Quiet Exhaust

On a standard day, I’ll preach that loud pipes save lives all day long, but not in this case. Your goal is to fly under the radar, so you want the bike to be as quiet as possible. Because of the way a motorcycle motor works, you’re not going to be able to get it whisper-quiet like a car is, but you can muffle it significantly by modifying the pipes.

Especially if you’ve opted to use a small-cc bike, don’t do too much in the way of modifying the heads to muffle the sound because you don’t want to restrict the airflow.

Have an Extra Motor and Parts in Your EMP Room

If you have an EMP room, you have room for a motorcycle motor. They’re small and fairly light – less than 150 pounds in many cases.

Discover how to assemble a simple device that will shield your electronics from the EMP!

Magnetic and Handlebar Bags

Once you start looking, you’re going to be surprised by how many places you can put a storage bag on your bike. There are handlebar bags made to sit in the triple tree. I put mine on the front between the forks when I carry it.

You can also get magnetic tank bags that will carry a surprising amount of gear and supplies.

Magnetic Holsters

These are great. The magnets are seriously strong enough to hold onto the tank even if things get rough. I had one on my last bike that I used when we went camping and I kept it on the front of my tank up by my gauges. You can, of course, always customize them or have them custom made.

Backpack

This is probably my most important piece of survival gear because it stays right with me all the time. I don’t have to worry about it falling off or catching on things, or slowing me down as long as I’m on my bike. Put what you can’t live without in here, in case somebody steals your bike.

I always keep, at a minimum:

Sounds like a lot, but actually if you think about it, the only big item is water. It all fits in the bottom of one of my pouches, and I have a nice little “just in case” kit.

I also keep a toolkit underneath my seat that holds the main 3 sockets and small wrenches that work on my bike, a pair of pliers, and zip ties.

Suspension

Depending on the bike that you have, you may need to adjust the suspension so that it’s fit to ride off-road. This is a topic best researched before you decide on a bike. I can’t really offer much advice that would be any good because everything depends on what you have to work with.

Tires

If you’re going to take your bike off-road, you need to have knobby tires on it. If you’re not, you need to keep your street tires in excellent condition because in the middle of an emergency is the worst time possible for you to have a blowout.

These are just a few tips to help you get your motorcycle ready to use as a bugout vehicle. I considered recommending armoring the tank and you can do that if you want, but truthfully, you’re using it as a vehicle that is light, nimble, and maneuverable. You want to avoid weight where you can.

Do you have any other tips to help prepare a motorcycle so that it will serve as a good bug out vehicle?

Click the banner below and discover how to survive more than an EMP!

This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia. 

Product Review: Plug & Farm Tower

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I waited until I had a chance to actually grow some plants in the tower before writing this review. Because I live in a warm area of the country (zone 9b) I’m able to have a year-round growing cycle, but I don’t have a lot of space.

This seemed perfect for me, so I’m recommending it to any prepper interested to grow its own food and save some space and money.

And here’s why!

Building the Tower

The tower itself was easy to assemble and get started and came with all of the necessary tools and parts, as you can see in the unboxing video below:

The drip system was logical and was organized in such a manner that it worked with gravity.

With a standard soil-based drip system, this usually means that the bottom plants don’t get as much water as the top plants, but since this system is made in such a way that it recycles water from top to bottom and uses a planting medium that’s much less dense than dirt, the water flows freely through it so that the bottom plants get just as much water as the top ones.

All in all, with the exception of the instructions, I’ve had a good experience with the tower.

Save Yourself $24,000 Instantly Using This One Easy Prepper Hack!

Each section is well-constructed, as is the base, though I did mount it to a wall for stability. It’s easy to use and easy to assemble, and works with gravity.

It also uses very little water, which is, of course, a huge deal, especially in a drought or survival situation. I can even see where it would be perfectly good for indoor use if you were so inclined.

What to Plant

I chose to plant strawberries, green peppers, tomatoes, basil, and lettuce. I sprouted the seeds and grew them to seedlings, then transplanted them into the tower.

I had a mishap a few weeks after I planted my seedlings and lost the whole crop, so I had to start over. I’m now starting to see the beginnings of fruit from the new batch, so I’m excited to see what happens.

I also reevaluated the positioning of my plants the second time through. Originally, I’d place the tomatoes in the middle because I thought that it would be easier to stake them using the side of the tower and letting them grow down, but I rethought that and decided it would be better to have them on the far left so that I can use lattice to support the plants if need be.

If you’re looking for a great way to grow vertically in small spaces using very little water, this tower is a great option.

Click the banner below to grab this offer now!

This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.

How To Choose A Good Pressure Cooker

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Ahh  … the much revered and often feared pressure cooker.

Your mom makes delicious pot roasts in them, and you can cook food in a fraction of the time that it takes to cook it on the stove or in the oven. The problem is that you’ve heard horror stories about pressure cookers that blow up and spew hot food and liquid all over the place.

That’s a reasonable fear. I cook with a pressure cooker at least once every couple of weeks, but I have had an explosive incident when I was young and learning to use it. It was a completely user error.

I was using an old pressure cooker with the top jiggler and I didn’t put it on correctly, nor did I properly seal the lid. The jiggler blew clear through the dry wall in my ceiling, and my roast beef blew all over my kitchen.

They say there’s no better teacher than experience. Fortunately for me, I had my mother to tell me what I did wrong, after she made sure I was OK, then laughed for ten minutes when she saw my kitchen.

Don’t let this story scare you. It’s a rare thing, and if you’re buying a modern pressure cooker, much of the mysticism and dangerous flying objects have been removed so that anybody can use one without needing to patch their ceiling.

For that matter, if you’re buying an old one, you’re gonna be just fine after you read this article.

Can I Can Foods in a Regular Pressure Cooker?

The short answer? No. don’t do it. And this is coming from somebody who laughs in the face of most government-issued warnings.

And here’s why you shouldn’t use a pressure cooker to pressure can foods. Pressure cookers don’t maintain a steady heat and pressure. Both rise and fall, and you don’t have control of heat other than high, medium, or low.

It’s imperative that your pressure-canned food maintain a minimum temperature for a set amount of time in order to kill pathogens that won’t kill you in 2 months or 2 years when you get around to opening that jar. Buy pressure canners specifically meant for canning. You can find these at thrift stores and yard sales, too.

Discover the ingenious recipes that helped our ancestors stay alive!

Types of Pressure Cookers

There are two types of pressure cookers: rangetop and electric. Electric pressure cookers may be better for you if you’re especially timid because they work very much like a crock pot does; well, at least they’re more goof-proof. On the other hand, they are useless during blackout unless you have a good and steady energy source.

A stovetop pressure cooker can be a bit trickier, especially if you’re using an older one. One is no better or worse than the other and the end result is the same as long as you use them properly. Rangetops do typically cook faster, though.

Video first seen on thenewsurvivalist.

Tips to Buying a Good Used Pressure Cooker

Like most of my good kitchenware, I inherited one of my pressure cookers and picked the other two (yes, two) up at yard sales. There are five traits to consider when you’re buying a used pressure cooker.

  • First, make sure that the seal is in good condition. You’ll find this in place in a ring around the inside of the lid. Pull it out and inspect it. If it crumbles in your hand or shows signs of dry rot, skip it.
  • Next, make sure that the pot and the lid are in excellent condition. This isn’t one of those products where you can overlook a few dings. You want to make sure that the sides all feel even and that the lid seals tightly onto the pot. Most have a locking mechanism that falls into place when the lid is properly locked, so check that if there is one. Lock it down to make sure that it works. The handles should line up and stop. If they just slide right past each other, skip it.
  • Don’t forget to look at the jiggler. It’s technically called a regulator and most that you find will have at least five- and ten-pound capabilities. Make sure it’s there because the pressure cooker won’t do you a lick of good without the regulator.
  • Make sure that the rack is in it. Pressure cookers have a rack that sets in the bottom of the pot. This keeps the food suspended above the bottom so that pressure can circulate all around it, and it keeps the food from burning to the bottom of the pan.
  • Finally, look for a good brand name. Even if you buy an older one, if it’s by a well-known brand name, chances are good that you’re going to get a good product and will likely be able to buy a replacement seal if yours goes bad.

After all, a pressure cooker is something that you’ll be able to pass to your kids. One of mine is over 50 years old and is still as reliable as an April shower. Or snowstorm, depending on where you live.

Two excellent older brands that are still producing pressure cookers today are Presto and WearEver. Newer brands include Imusa, Fissler, WMF, Tramontina, and Fagor. Two of mine are Presto and the other is WearEver. I don’t have any experience with new ones.

Tips for Buying a New Pressure Cooker

First of all, you’re going to have to decide whether you want to buy an electric pressure cooker or a rangetop pressure cooker. Both have advantages and disadvantages. Rangetops typically cook faster and the pot can be used by itself as a stockpot. You’ll have to regulate the pressure via the regulator and the heat settings on your stove.

Electric models automatically pressurize and depressurize according to how you set it and most of them can be used as slow cookers and steamers. They take longer to cook, though.

Which type of pressure cooker you need is up to you. They come in different sizes and some offer only a couple of pressure settings while others offer 3 of 4. The electric ones can get pretty fancy and have many settings. It’s all a matter of what you want and need. Good Housekeeping did a review on top pressure cookers that may help.

In general, you’re going to need to pick a size based upon what you plan to cook in it, and you’ll have to decide between electric and rangetop. Look for a pressure cooker that has a good seal, and I recommend one with a locking mechanism for somebody just learning to use one. That takes away the chance of not aligning the lid and pot properly.

What’s up with the Different Pounds on the Regulator?

The pressure regulator is what determines the pressure inside of the pressure cooker. Typical pressure settings are 5, 10, and 15 though many of the electric models have ranges from just a couple of pounds up to 15 pounds. That number is how many pounds of pressure build up inside the cooker.

Different foods require different pounds of pressure. For instance, delicate vegetables like spinach may only need 5 pounds, while roasts require 10 or 15. In many new cookers, this will likely be expressed as low, medium, and high.

Now that you know how to choose your pressure cooker, you can easily go ahead with the best recipes for your family.

Find how our forefathers handled their survival food, and steal their secrets for your own survival!

This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.

How To Feed Your Family Without Any Soil Or Space

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Growing hydroponically sounds complicated and expensive, but it’s actually neither. All that it means is that you’re growing your plants without soil. I’ve seen examples of hydroponic systems made out of our favorite tool ever – a 5-gallon bucket.

I’ve also seen systems that are exactly what you imagine – tables and tables full of fancy equipment and mysterious-looking tools and chemicals.

Just like anything else, it’s just a matter of how complicated you really want to get.

Let me give you a quick rundown of what it’s all about though, and why you should consider it, then we’ll talk about why it’s a great partner for vertical gardening.

As we already determined, you don’t use soil. The entire system is based on the concept that the roots are freely flowing in the water. They’re not packed tightly in soil. Hydroponic plants grow 30-50 percent faster than their soil-grown sisters, are generally healthier, and produce more fruit.

This is likely because the extra oxygen in the water helps the plant absorb nutrients better, and the nutrients are readily available in the water/solution and the plant doesn’t have to work to extract it from soil. It uses the extra energy to grow and produce.

Use it Inside

Hydroponic growing is also good to use inside because you don’t have the dirt mess and the plants don’t have to struggle so much to get the nutrients that they need, so it’s easier for them to grow in a semi-challenging environment. It’s a great way to grow food in small spaces.

Save Water

Vertical gardening and hydroponics also pair well because the drip-down system is an effective method of watering, and if you’re using a hydroponics system to catch the runoff, you’re saving a ton of water.

In a situation where fresh water is limited, that’s a huge benefit. As a matter of fact, in a world where soil is becoming depleted and water isn’t as plentiful as it used to be, vertical hydroponic gardening is seen by many as the method of future mass food production. Of course, their plans for world garden domination is a bit more complex, but it’s based on this theory.

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Stack it Up – The Foundation of Both Ideas

Also, and this takes us to our next point, hydroponics systems are commonly used in a stacked fashion so that the water is drawn up from  catch basin at the bottom and is released via drips onto the plants below. Then it drips from the top layer to the layer beneath, and so on until the water is back in the catch basin.

This makes hydroponics a great partner for vertical gardening.

Lighter and Portable

One problem that you often face with regular, dirt vertical gardening is that the wall is heavy and bulky, in large part because of the weight of the wet dirt.

With hydroponic vertical towers, you get rid of that.

There’s still some water weight, but unless you’re using gravel or sand to secure the roots, the weight is less.

This makes it more portable, too, especially if you use a well-contained system like Plug and Farm Towers. Portability is good for a couple of reasons.

If you need to move your vertical gardening wall or tower so that the plants are getting more or less light, or so that looters won’t know that you have food, then you want to be able to quickly and easily move the wall.

Know What You’re Eating

Another huge benefit is that you know exactly what’s going into your plant. Though you can buy bags of soil to grow your plants in, there’s no way for you to know what’s in that dirt. The same goes for using plain old yard soil. There could be residual fertilizers, pesticides, or acid rain in it and you’ll never know.

When you use hydroponics, you know exactly what your plants are coming into contact with. Enough said about that.

Best of Both Worlds

Finally, the “piece de resistance”, so to speak, about combining vertical gardening with hydroponics is that you get the benefits of the expanded growing space that comes with vertical gardening with the faster growth and higher yield of hydroponics. Bam! That’s what does it for me.

Vertical gardening and hydroponics are like peas and carrots – different, but when you bring them together, they’re a delicious combination that just works!

Start growing your own survival food without soil or space! You only need 10 minutes per day to take care of your fresh food.

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This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia. 

Why Vertical Gardening Works for Preppers

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As preppers, we all share the common goal of being able to take care of ourselves and our families in worst-case scenarios.

Having a ready supply of nutritious food is most certainly at the top of that list. And since we don’t all have the acreage (or even the yard) to grow a huge, traditional garden, enter vertical gardening!

Vertical gardening is exactly what the name implies – you’re growing your plants vertically instead of on a flat surface (the ground). This is great because it allows for growing fresh produce even if you don’t have any space other than a wall or a porch. You can even grow a vertical garden inside!

Grows Anywhere

Whether you have a fence around your yard or you only have a space on the porch or even a wall inside your house, you can grow a vertical garden. Living in urban areas doesn’t mean that you can’t grow your own food – it just means that you have to get creative about it.

If you have even a little bit of a yard, you’ll be surprised how much you can grow using the vertical gardening method – the options are practically limitless. You can even grow plants out the top AND bottom of the planters!

If you only have a single closet or small wall in your apartment, you’re still in luck, though you’ll have to make sure that you have plenty of light either in the form of sunlight or grow lights. Herbs are great to grow vertically, as are tomatoes, strawberries, peppers, onions, and green leafy vegetables.

Can be Used for Privacy

If you have a porch or yard, build your vertical garden in such a way that you block vision of your house. If you use a solid back that faces out from your house, people won’t even know what you’re doing!

Of course, you may not want to advertise what you’re doing, so grow it somewhere that people can’t look over your fence.

Works Well with Hydroponics

Growing plants hydroponically is a great way to increase your produce yield while decreasing your water consumption. It also takes the guesswork out of what you’re exposing your plants to, and how many nutrients the plant is getting, because you control both of those conditions.

Plants grown hydroponically, such as in the Plug and Farm Towers we tested, and have been shown to be healthier, grow faster, and produce a bigger yield. This is likely because water is oxygen rich, which helps the plants absorb nutrients, and they don’t have to harvest the nutrients out of the soil, so they can use that energy to grow instead.

You can Grow without Sharing What You’re Doing

Because you don’t need to lay everything out in the yard, you can grow in places that your neighbors won’t know about. You can grow a ton of vegetables on vertical growing racks inside your house. If you decide to go with a hydroponics system, you won’t have a dirt mess, but you can grow them in soil just as well.

Other places that make good hiding places include old sheds or barns that back up to a place in your yard that’s out of site. Just remember that you need plenty of light no matter where you plant them.

Grow Year Round

If you decide to grow a vertical garden inside, you can have year-round fresh herbs, veggies, and fruits. They do well in greenhouses, too. This is yet another advantage you’ll have over your neighbors if stuff goes south in the winter.

You’ll have access to fresh produce right there in your guest bedroom. Don’t be shy about putting a vertical garden in your living room, either. They look beautiful and make the house smell good, especially if you’re growing herbs.

You can Grow a Variety of Produce

The good thing about growing up instead of out is that you can have 7 or 8 different types of plants in an area that’s only 8 feet long and a foot or so wide. Nearly everybody has that much space!

An advantage to this is that if you don’t have access to a good food supply, having several different types of plants growing in what space you have will allow for you to have a variety of nutrients. Go for different colors because each color has different nutrients – red, yellow, orange, green – they all provide different nutrients that will help keep you and yours well-nourished.

Easy to Care for by Anybody

It’s hard to get down on your hands and knees to root around in a garden, pulling weeds in the sun and making sure the soil stays loose. With vertical gardening, it’s all right there in front of you. You can sit on a chair to take care of your plants if you need to. And harvesting is easy, too. For that matter, if you plan it right, you can make your vertical garden portable.

Another way that vertical gardening is easier is that, especially if you’re growing hydroponically, there are minimal weeds and you don’t have to worry about squatting over to take care of your vining plants.

Less Waste

This is one of my favorite reasons to grow vertically – the plants aren’t dragging on the ground and the fruits aren’t sitting in dirt, so they aren’t as prone to disease and rot.

There’s nothing worse, in my opinion, than working hard to nurture plants all the way from seed to harvest just to lose part of it because it was tucked under leaves where we couldn’t see it, and rotted. That’s not a problem with vertical gardening.

I’m obviously a fan of vertical gardening because of where I currently live and have benefited from it myself.

Remember that every survival plan should have food at its core. With only 10 minutes per day you’ll never have to worry about feeding your family again.

Click the banner below to grab this offer and start growing your own survival food!

This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia. 

Start Growing Your Own Food Using Hydroponics

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Hydroponics, the process of growing plants without soil, is gaining momentum throughout the gardening community for many different reasons.

The water requirements are stupendously less than growing in soil, you don’t have to worry about what chemicals have leached into your soil, and you can grow healthier plants that yield more fruit in less space, both indoors and out.

Though many people are vaguely interested in the concept, most people write it off as being too technical, difficult, or expensive. The truth is that none of those terms apply, or at least they don’t have to.

You can start a hydroponic garden for very little money and it takes practically no effort to maintain it, at least in comparison to a soil garden.

Start Your Seeds

Regardless of whether you are planning to grow your plants in soil or in a hydroponic system, starting them from seeds is basically the same process. You need to choose a medium to start the seeds. You can use just about anything that you want – rockwool, grow cubes, or even plain dirt. The important thing is that you get your seeds to grow to seedlings.

There are also mediums that support starting your plants right in the system from seeds. In that case, don’t worry about the seedlings! The only problem that I’ve heard about from folks that do this is the same one that I’ve experienced when starting my garden using only seeds – they’re not all going to sprout, so you may have dense areas and sparse areas.

Regardless of whether you’re putting seeds or seedlings in your system, it’s a good idea to start your own seedlings.

Seeds are cheap, you can choose what you want to grow instead of depending on what plants the store has available, and your system won’t be contaminated with chemicals, pests, or diseases that may accompany commercial plants.

Choose a System

You also need to choose a system. For your first time, it’s probably a good idea to start small so that you can make your mistakes and learn the ropes on a small, manageable scale. There are several different types of systems, but the one that we’ve found to be most efficient on a small scale is a drip system.

Drip systems use a submersible pump placed in a basin on the bottom that pulls the water up to an irrigation tube above the plants. The water drips down into the pan(s) and trickles back down into the catch basin and is then recirculated. It’s efficient and simple to use.

NOTE: Very few commercial hydroponics systems (or DIY ones for that matter) operate without electricity. In the case of an EMP or a complete grid failure, your system will require manual watering, so choose carefully if those situations are a concern for you. You’ll want to choose a system such as a vertical gardening tower that makes it easy to water without an operational pump.

We tested the Plug & Farm Tower system that’s great for both beginners and experienced growers and works well indoors or out, though it does require electricity. There are many different options out there, or you can build your own.

What Can You Grow Hydroponically

Well, just about anything, in theory. After all, you’re providing everything any living plant needs to thrive – water, nutrients, light.

However, there are some plants that are more challenging than others. For instance, root vegetables are a challenge and require a system that’s deep enough to grow them. You may want to get a bit of experience before you jump off that particular log.

Vining plants and light-weight fruits grow well hydroponically, too, and did well in the tower we tested. You can even start fruit trees, then plant them into soil when they’re big enough.

Now, for the system that we tested, vining plants, herbs and green leafy vegetables worked, but not root vegetables.

Transplanting Seedlings

If you’re starting your seeds outside of your system and transplanting it as a seedling, it’s a simple process. Germinate your seeds. You can do this by placing them in a grow cube or in a paper towel or baggy.

If you use the grow cube, just keep it damp with water or your hydroponic solution until your seedling pops through – anywhere from two to four weeks.

If you’re germinating the seeds before putting them in a growing medium, put them in a damp paper towel on a plate and keep the towel damp. Your seed will germinate in just a few days.

Now that you have your seedlings, you’re ready to transplant them to your system so that they can grow into delicious plants.

This process is going to be determined by the system that you’re using but will consist of placing the seedling so the roots are in the water/solution and the plant top is not.

A Note about Growing Mediums

You can use many different mediums in your hydroponics setup including gravel, sand, coconut shells (they don’t break down easily) or just about anything else that is food-safe and won’t decompose.

If you choose to use gravel, be sure to choose stones that won’t leech minerals into the water, because then you’re affecting the nutrients available to your plants.

The entire purpose of the medium is to support the roots in a way that water can flow freely around them, so don’t use mediums such as mulch that are going to break down to, well, soil.

Growing Your Plants

Now, your plants are in your hydroponics system, so what next?

Make sure that they stay hydrated and are getting the nutrients that they need! They should be watered thoroughly several times daily to prevent the roots from drying out, and the automatic drip system is great for this.

Once your plants begin to grow in earnest, you’ll need to provide support for vining plants. Trellises are great for this.

Keep your plants from dragging the ground in order to avoid rot and exposure to disease. Prune them properly and watch them grow!

Click the banner below to grab this offer and start your own survival farm!

This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia. 

8 Tips On Reusing Containers For Water Storage

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One of the things that we as preppers and homesteaders are most proud of is using what we have on hand. If everybody operated like we did, there would be a lot less waste on the planet, and a lot more creativity. We re-use and repurpose so many items that we’ve taken it to an art form, so why not do the same with our water storage containers?

Sure, you can buy the fancy water containers at your local Walmart or Target, but they’re expensive and you’re not much bang for your buck. Why not reuse something that you’ve already paid for and are just going to throw away anyway?

What NOT to reuse as water storage containers

There are some things that you just shouldn’t use as water containers either because they’re not suited for it, or they can kill you. Neither situation is ideal, and we’re talking about storing something that is non-negotiable in terms of survival. You absolutely cannot live without a ready supply of clean water regardless of the season.

Food Grade Only

So, first on the list are porous containers that held toxic materials such as oil bottles, antifreeze jugs, and kerosene oil bottles. This may seem obvious to you, but believe it or not, there are cases of people who have reused these types of containers, much to their detriment. Use only food-grade plastic that has only stored food. So, enough said. Use your common sense.

Milk Jugs

Next on the list are milk jugs. I know – many people use milk jugs to store water, and they’re great for short-term storage in the fridge or freezer, but not for long-term storage. They’re relatively flimsy and easy to puncture or damage, especially if they’re warm or frozen, and the lids aren’t particularly tight on many of them.

You may use them for a couple of years, then come to check your stockpile and notice that one was punctured by a nail head or something when you scooted it across the shelf the last time you moved something, or the lid popped loose. Now you have water on the floor or shelf and it may have ruined some of your stuff. At the very least, it made a mess.

Plastic with BPA

Don’t use plastics that have BPA in them. BPA, or bisphenol A, is an industrial chemical that has been used for decades to add strength and resilience to plastic and to line cans and packaged food containers to prevent leakage and rust.

Unfortunately, it leeches out into the food or drink and binds to estrogen receptors and interacts with other hormones. This can disrupt body functions such as cell repair, growth, energy levels, metabolism, fetal development, and body temperature regulation among many others. In other words, you may not want to drink it.

Because of the controversy, many companies, especially ones that produce bottles and jugs meant to hold liquid, are shying away from BPA. Just check to make sure that your container is BPA free. It will either say it, or the little recycle triangle will have a 1,2, 4, or 5 in it. These are free of BPA and other harmful chemicals, but avoid containers marked with a 1. We’ll discuss that in a minute.

Now that we have our list of containers NOT to use, let’s talk about ones that are good to use to store water for long-term water storage.

Our forefathers used different methods to store their water when they settled with their entire family in new areas.

This long forgotten water storage secret can save your life! 

Good containers to reuse for water storage

Thankfully, this list is long and most of them are already in your refrigerator or cabinets.

How to distinguish food-grade plastics

As long as the little recycling number has a 2 (HDPE – high-density polyethylene), a 4 (LDPE – low-density polyethylene) or a 5 (PP – polypropylene), you’re good. It’s not a good idea to reuse containers marked with 1 (PETE – polyethylene terephthalate) because detergents and heat will break it down and can cause antimony, a toxic chemical, to leech into your water. So, use only plastic containers that have a 2, 4, or 5 in the triangle.

A tip about reusing plastic for water storage: wash it in the dishwasher or in warm, soapy water, rinsing well, and allow to air-dry.

Juice jugs

These are great containers to reuse to store water because the plastic is usually thick and juice is pretty easy to wash out of the jug. The lids are usually secure, too. Since the plastic is usually sturdy, you don’t run the risk of tearing it by snagging it on a nail head or breaking it if you bump a corner when you’re moving it.

Some people will tell you that you can’t get all of the sugars out of the bottle and that can lead to a breeding ground of bacteria, but if you use chlorinated water or add a few drops (2 drops per quart) of bleach, you should be fine.

Juice jugs come in many different sizes, from small, single-serving bottles to gallon (or bigger) jugs. All of them are good for storing water, and it’s a good idea to have water stored in smaller containers so that you can take it with you if you have to flee. Also, if you have all of your water stored outside in drums, people will see them. You want to keep your water supply hidden.

5-gallon buckets

Ahhh… yet another use for 5-gallon buckets. Personally, I like the idea of storing water in these because they’re stackable, they’re typically made to contain liquids (think pickle juice), and they’re opaque. They meet all of my needs except portability, but won’t it be nice to have a few gallons of water if you need to make a huge pot of soup to feed everybody?

As with all plastics, make sure that they’re food-grade because not all of them are. Though you can buy these, there’s really no need to because you can go to restaurants, bakeries, grocery stores, and just about anywhere else that sells food and get them for free.

If they happen to smell like pickle juice, wash them well and fill them with water, then add half a cup of bleach to it and let it sit overnight. Charcoal and vinegar work too, but I don’t like to add vinegar on these because then it smells like vinegar, which is suspiciously similar to pickles. You can always just take off the lid and let it air out for a few days, too. Sometimes that works and sometimes it doesn’t.

Soda Bottles and water bottles

Soda (aka pop) bottles are great for water storage. Since they come in many different sizes from 8 ounces on up to 2-liters, you have a lot of versatility. Many water bottles are reusable, too. As with all other plastics, clean well with warm, soapy water and rinse thoroughly.

55-gallon drums

If you want to store large quantities at a time, then these are a great option. Again, just make sure they’re food-grade and haven’t had any non-food products stored in them.

If you want to buy them new, just search the net for them. You may even be able to get them for free if you live near a soda distribution plant because that’s what they buy their syrups in. If they have a policy against giving them away, ask who picks them up, then contact that company. Chances are good you’ll get them for just a few bucks a piece.

Oh, and these come in both plastic and stainless steel, so you have options. I’ve never used the stainless steel ones so I’m not sure how heavy or unwieldy they are compared to their plastic counterparts. On a similar note, you can make a collection, storage, and filtration system using 55-gallon drums.

Now that you have some ideas for reusing containers for water storage, what are you waiting for? Start storing.

Remember the Law of Three: you can survive without water only three days. Click the banner below to discover our ancestor’s methods of water storage!

This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia. 

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.

Save Yourself $24,000 Instantly Using This One Easy Prepper Hack!

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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Survival Kitchen: How To Revive Cast Iron Cookware

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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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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

References:

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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.

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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.

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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.

This Simple “Bible” Trick Can Help You Instantly Burn Unwelcome Weight!  

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.

Lower your home heating bill with this D.I.Y. Home Energy System! 

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.

With this D.I.Y. Home Energy System you can take control of your home’s energy. 

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.

newEMP_2

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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This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia. 

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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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This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia. 

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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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This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia. 

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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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This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.

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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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This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia. 

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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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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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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