How To Make An Efficient Air Purifier Using Box Fans

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People today that suffer from allergies and breathing problems already know that decreasing air quality is only making them sicker. On the other side of the equation, actually improving air quality in the home may seem like a hopeless task because it impossible to get rid of all the air leaks and drafts.

In most cases, these drafts aren’t the actual problem. Rather, it is the lack of good air flow throughout the building that allows dust, toxic gasses, and other pollutants to build up. This is just one of many reasons why you may benefit from building a DIY air purifier based on a box fan.

Why You Need to Purify the Air in Your Home

Even if you aren’t suffering any effects from air pollution, it is still important to make sure that you can remove any number of toxins in the air during a major crisis. For example, a major wild fire outbreak, gas attack, nuclear attack, and other problems will either force you to wear a gas mask all the time, or be able to control the air quality enough so that you do not need to wear a mask.

While the basic DIY air purifier described in this article will not filter out 100% of toxins all the time (this version filters out about 50 – 70% depending on the pollutant and the filter lifespan position), it will give you enough difference in air quality to manage a number of situations.

In addition, with a a few changes in the filter media and changes to the air flow in your home, it forms a vital basis for any air purification system that will have close to a 100% efficiency level.

DIY Box Fan Air Purifiers vs. Pre-Built

As a means of summary, DIY box fan air purifiers are more efficient and have greater potential for expansion across every comparable measure when compared to pre-built air purifiers that you commonly see in department stores. Have a look at how a 20 x 20 box fan can easily beat just about every model on the market for a fraction of the cost:

CFM (cubic feet per minute) – this is the amount of air that the unit is capable of circulating through the filter apparatus. The higher the CFM, the better. Most small air purifiers only produce about 100 CFM, while larger units designed for medium sized rooms will produce about 400 CFM.

By contrast, a 20 x 20 box fan on its highest setting will produce about 2500 CFM. You may lose around 400 – 500 CFM when using higher capacity filters, however even at that reduction, the CFM is easily 3 – 4 times more than the maximum output of more expensive options.

Filter surface area – in general the greater the surface area, the better the filter will be at capturing particles without clogging up or impeding air flow. Most conventional air purifiers on the market have decidedly puny air filters that measure well under 10” x 10”.

In fact, most purifiers have filters that are around 6” x 8” or 9”. On the other hand, when you fit a filter for a box fan, the most active area will extend across the entire diameter of the blades. In most cases, this is about 15 – 16” across (including the subtraction for the fan motor vent area).

This Device Easily Turns Air Into Water!

Here, you have double the surface area with good air movement across the area. Depending on how you arrange your filter layers, it is also very easy to double or even triple this extended surface area and even recapture some of the lost CFM.

Easy to customize – no matter whether you need to get rid of gasses and fumes with activated carbon, get rid of bacteria, or manage mold, pollen and mildew, there is likely to be a filter or combination of filters that will meet your needs.

While pleated filters tend to allow a larger surface area, do not overlook padded versions that offer excellent air flow, and sometimes a lower cost. By contrast, when you buy a conventional air purifier, you must also purchase the pre-made filters. If the manufacturer does not offer a permanent filter, an activated carbon pre-filter, or decides to stop making replacement filters altogether, you will be stuck with a useless unit.

Box fans and filters are much cheaper and last longer. Conventional air filters will cost a minimum of $60.00 off the shelf for a relatively small unit. On the other hand, a brand new box fan costs about $20.00.

A good quality 3M Merv 12 filter with an electrostatic grid costs about 15.00, and an activated carbon pre-filter costs between $10.00 and $20.00 depending on the brand and design. If you decide that you want a HEPA grade (Merv 13 and above), the cost per filter ranges between 12.00 per filter and up, depending on where you buy them and the quantity.

Your total cost for a DIY box fan filter can be as low as $40 – 50.00 (including incidentals like duct tape), or higher depending on the filter options. Insofar as filter changing costs, you will find that it is still much cheaper to buy furnace filters and variants of them without sacrificing on quality or air cleaning capacity.

Speaking of filter ratings, most air purifier manufacturers only state that the filter is a HEPA filter. While you may assume this means the filter is at a hospital grade or above, they may be using a filter that is barely above the top level filter you would use for your heating system.

On the other hand, when you buy filters for your box fan, you will always know the exact efficiency rating. Depending on the manufacturer, you may also be able to see the test results for each filter.

Filter Options and What They Mean

Before you decide on a specific filter or combination of filters, it is very important to know how they are rated and what you can expect.

Efficiency Ratings – this refers to the particle size that can be removed by the filter. Typically, the higher the efficiency rating, the more particles the filter can remove without becoming clogged up. Higher efficiency ratings also give you some information about the size of the particles that can be captured.

Filters with a higher efficiency rating can capture a higher percentage of smaller size particles. For example, a MERV 10 filter may capture as much as 70% of pollen and mold spores, but only 20% of bacteria, while a MERV 12 will capture as much as 90% of pollen and mold, but as much as 40% bacteria.

Even though both filters will be rated for capturing these particles, the higher MERV rating still means a better rate of capture. Aside from MERV ratings, you may also see some other scales being used such as FPR and MPR. Most filters will come with a handy guide for showing what each filter will remove.

You should still compare the scales to gain some ideas about the percentage of particles removed.

Pleated Filters and Pleat Sizes – as you may be aware, folds can greatly extend surface area without taking up more space in terms of length and width. As with your brain and intestinal tract, pleated filters also have double or better surface area as filters without pleats.

That being said, there is a delicate balance between having so many pleats they interfere with each other and ones that don’t take advantage of the maximum surface area expansion. The depth of the pleats is also very important. Deeper pleats can translate to longer lasting filters without necessarily sacrificing efficiency.

You are best served, however, with starting off with conventional 1/2” pleats, and then move up from there if you feel it is needed.

Pad Filters – these filters do not have pleats, and are usually made from various fibers. They are not as efficient as pleated filters, and usually do not go above MERV 8 or 9. These filters are good for pre-filtering, however the best quality will still come from pleated variants.

Electrostatic Grids – dust and many other airborne particles carry a weak electrical charge. When air passes over the metal electrostatic grid, it also generates a very weak charge that attracts airborne particles. This can draw in more particles faster and increase the overall efficiency of the filtering system.

If you are going to build your own filters or trim down rolls of pleated material, it is worth your while to buy media that has the electrostatic grid included.

Activated Carbon – if you are concerned about poison gasses, volatile organic compounds, automobile exhaust, and other fumes, filter media impregnated with activated carbon will be absolutely essential. Since the MERV ratings for these filters doesn’t exceed an 8 or 9, you will have to use it as a pre-filter.

Fortunately, MERV ratings don’t have anything to do with the overall efficiency of the carbon layer. It will still remove the same amount of gasses and toxins regardless of the percentage and size of solid or liquid particles removed by the supporting media.

Reusable Filters – at this time, it is very hard to find a good quality, inexpensive reusable filter with a guaranteed MERV efficiency rating. If you are committed to using reusable filters, try to see if you can find a company to custom manufacture some on your behalf.

This is an expensive option, however if you can get the quality you need in a filter that will last a lifetime, it will save money and concerns over stockpiling filters in the long run. Just make sure that you have a reliable system onhand to test the quality of the filter once you receive it, and that the company has a good reputation and warranty system.

Items and Tools You Will Need

Once you purchase the fan and filters, it will take very little in the way of tools and time to assemble a Box Fan Air Purifier. In most cases, you can complete the initial installation in about half an hour. Later on, when you change the filters, allow for an additional 10 minutes or so to vacuum out the motor and remove dust from the fan blades.

  • Duct tape
  • cardboard (you can use the box the fan came in for this part)
  • permanent marker
  • drafting compass
  • scissors
  • padded work gloves
  • fan (20 x 20 box fan, any model and manufacturer)
  • filters (depends on your needs and research findings). This article is based on the 3M MERV-12, 20 x 20 pleated filter and the WEB Absorber Cut to Fit 20 x 25 filter.

Building the Box Fan Air Purifier

Start off by unpacking the fan and making sure that it works. Run the fan on high speed for at least 48 hours to make sure it does not have an strange odors or burning smells. If you detect anything bitter, foul, or “electrical”, return the fan immediately and exchange it for another one.

A fan with a smelly motor at the beginning will continue to smell. It’s just not worth the effort to put up with it.


At the back of the fan, carefully measure the diameter of the motor vents.

It is very important to keep these vents open because the motor will get quite hot from constant operation. Covering the vents will only shorten the life of the fan and provide little in the way of useful filtration.

Take a drafting compass and make a circle on the cardboard large enough to cover the motor vents. Next, cut the cardboard into the shape of a circle. You now have a template to use for cutting the holes in any filter you decide to attach to the fan.

Attach a small piece of duct tape (or clear tape) to the template so that some of the sticky side touches template, and more sticky surface is exposed to the air. Place the template over the fan motor holes.

Lay the innermost filter on top of the fan and template. Make sure that the air flow arrows on the filter match the direction the air will flow through the fan. Press down slightly on the center of the filter. At this point, the template should stick to the filter. Simply lift the filter up and you will know exactly where to cut the hole into the filter.

Use a permanent marker to trace a circle around the template. When drawing the circle on pleated media, you only need to mark the top of the pleat.

Put on padded work gloves for the next few steps. The electrostatic grid on the filters is very thin and can cut into your skin easily. While these aren’t necessarily big wounds, it is still best to avoid them.

Remove the template and proceed to cut out the circle area from the filter with the scissors. The easiest way with pleats is to snip the top as far down as you can reach with the scissor. Next, flip the filter over and match the scissor snips on what is now the top surface of the pleat. Do not cut the electrostatic grid during this process.

Carefully reach into the pleated area, and pull the cut circle area through the electrostatic grid. Work the paper back and forth until you get a feel for how to pull on the paper to bring it through the grid without breaking the metal. If the paper feels to thick or bunches off, cut some off and continue pulling through another hole. When you are done, the filter should look like this:

If you are using a prefilter, you will also have to cut a hole in that one. Keep the first filter in place and fit the template back over the hole. Make sure some sticky tape is exposed.

Place the prefilter on top of the template so that it fits correctly on the fan.

if the filter is too large in length or width, use the scissors to cut it down to size.

Press the second filter down in the center region to engage the tape. Lift the filter and flip it over so you can see where the template is stuck.

As long as the filter is not pleated, you can just use the scissors to cut around the template.

Make sure the inner filter is in proper position.

Place outer filter on top so that the holes line up with the holes in the fan motor.

Place the grille that comes with the Web Absorber Cut to Fit pads over the two filters.

Take some duct tape and slice the strip down the middle about 1 ½ inches.and place it on the grille so that the slices are separated by the bars in the grille.

Fold the tape over the bars so that it sticks to itself, like this:

Finish off the taping by attaching it to the side of the fan. Use at least two pieces of tape for each side of the fan to ensure the filters stay in place.

Your DIY air purifier is now ready to use. Put it near heating vents, doorways, or other areas where dust and contaminated air are most likely to come in. Do not forget to change the filters at recommended intervals, or more often if they become soiled quickly.

During this process, always vacuum out the motor and fan blades so that dust does not build up. At the beginning, you may go through more filters simply because there may already be a sizeable build up of pollution that you are so used to you don’t notice it anymore.

Rest assured, however, as the air gets clearer and cleaner, you will definitely notice when the filters need changing!

Safety Precautions

As with any other electrical appliance, there is always the risk of overheating or a fire. You should never leave the fans unattended. If you must leave the house, even for a short time, close them down and unplug them.

Remember, even though you are allowing air flow for the motor, this is still not a listed “safe” application for a box fan. Never trust these devices to be unattended. As a final note of safety, use this design at your own risk. Results and outcomes may vary. Neither the author nor the publishers are responsible for any injuries or other damage that may result from using this design or recommendations.

When it comes to affordable and efficient air purification methods, I have found nothing that works as well as attaching regular heating system filters to the back of box fans. While there are some important precautions that must be observed, this system can work and produce clean air for years to come.

If you have experience already with this kind of system, or have tried other air purifiers, I would love to hear about your results and see if they match mine.

This article has been written by Carmela Tyrell for Survivopedia.

Wilderness Survival – How to Build a Shelter in a Tree

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Few wilderness survival resources are more important than trees, so making camp in proximity to trees often makes a great deal of sense as it puts the survivor’s shelter in proximity to resources and often provides a solid support structure off which to build.

Trees can also provide areas to build a shelter that are relatively free from deep snow. In these cases, trees can save a great deal of time and work.

Saving work by building off what is already provided by nature burns fewer calories and helps keep the survivor from working up a sweat, which can lead to severe discomfort or put the survivor at risk of hypothermia in cold weather.


  • Trees mean shelter from cold and heat alike, some species indicate the presence of surface water and any good camp site has an inexhaustible supply of firewood, so make for the trees.
  • Choose multipurpose hammock gear over the highly specialized stuff. Your expensive hammock may be comfy, but can’t catch dinner, secure an elk quarter to pack frame or be repurposed as a ghillie cloak.
  • In addition to many other survival uses, an autolocking carabiner doubles as a set of brass knuckles you can take almost anywhere, so clip one on your go bag. Add a length of 1” tubular webbing and you now have a lot more capability than if you only carry para cord.
  • Most hominid apes, including humans, build nests. Whether or not you believe in evolution, your ancestors have been building nests in trees for a long time, so you could say it is in your DNA.

Trees Provide Many Important Survival Resources

  • Fire – Trees can provide tools and tinder to start fires, fuel to keep them going, light to work into the night, coals to cook on and fire to work and cook with.
  • Shelter – Boughs provide insulation from the cold, hard ground. Branches and leaves provide a roof. Trunks and branches provide structural support, a windbreak and insulation.
  • Safety – Trees provide concealment and large trees can provide cover or a refuge from predators, snakes, thorns and biting insects. Branches from thorny trees or shrubs can also be used to create a barricade against predators.
  • Water – Some species of trees provide drinkable water, catch rainwater or provide support and shade for water-bearing vines. Other species indicate the likely presence of water or where water is likely to be near to the surface and accessible via shallow hand-dug wells. Trees also provide fire starting tools and materials to treat water by boiling.
  • Cordage – Bark is an important source of cordage material.
  • Food – Many species of trees produce edible nuts, fruits, leaves or layers of bark. Forests, trees and transition zones along the border of forests or stands of trees provide key habitat for many animal species that are useful for survival. Trees also provide engines to power snares and traps, can channel game to traps and provide secure anchor points for traps, nets and bank lines for fishing.

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  • Medicine – Many species of trees have medical uses.
  • Tanning – Branches are useful for frames to stretch hides and the bark of some species is useful for bark tanning hides.
  • Tools & Weapons – Trees provide materials for bows, arrows, spears, rodent skewers, rabbit sticks, atlatls and other important weapons.
  • Communications – Trees are useful for some methods of short-range communications, trail signs and for blazes.
  • Navigation – Trees can be useful in direction finding and ascertaining the direction of prevailing winds when choosing campsites.

While trees provide bountiful survival resources, they can also present certain dangers which should not be ignored. I will list dangers at the end of the article.

Ground-based Tree Shelters

Tree-based shelters can be built on the ground or up off the ground. The choice between the two is largely dictated by situation and availability.

Keep an open mind as you search for the beginnings of a suitable shelter site. I like to say that survival is a DIY proposition and all shelters are fixer-uppers to some degree. I do not recall ever having stumbled upon a truly readymade natural shelter that needed no improvements, but nature has been kind enough to save me a great deal of work on many occasions. 

Fallen Trees

Opportunity from fallen trees typically comes in forms of root balls and trunks. In areas with poor, shallow topsoil, trees often blow over.

A root ball can form walls or even a partial roof. Depending on how long ago the tree fell, roots can often be bent out of the way or broken to clear and area large enough to sleep. Build up the walls and roof as desired.

The trunks of fallen trees can serve as ridgepole, roof or wall depending on the size of the tree and terrain that it falls in.

Tree Wells

You could look in hundreds of tree wells and not find one that looks anything like the diagrams you will find in survival manuals. This is because the shape of tree wells is determined by interactions between the tree the well forms under, the terrain and the wind, snowfall and other weather-related factors.

What you are looking for is dryer ground, dryer fire starting materials, shallower snow, a barrier against the wind, some semblance of overhead protection from precipitation.

You may find one or two of the above or you may hit the lottery and find them all.


Species of trees with buttresses typically grow in coastal areas or rainforests and the space between two buttresses can form two or three walls and leafy branches can provide a degree of shelter from precipitation. Sometimes a windbreak on two sides is all that is needed.

Hollow Trees

Some species of trees can have large hollows among the roots, in the trunk or in large false cavities inside a circle of fused trunks in species such the baobab tree in Africa. You will not find hobbits or elves living inside hollow trees, but you may find that some other critter had the same idea that you did and beat you to it, so inspect hollow trees carefully before settling in.

Off the Ground

Most of the time, I sleep on the ground, but there are times when it is best to be up off the ground.

Reasons to Get off the Ground

  • Safety from Predators – Situation dependent, trees can offer shelter from large predators or even other human beings. Be sure you know what you are dealing with though as climbing a tree limits your mobility and some predators can climb just fine. Hanging bear bags is standard practice in bear country.
  • Creepy Crawlies – Hammocks and other suspended shelters can get you up and out of reach of snakes and venomous arthropods.
  • Swamp, Bog or Wetlands – You do not get to choose where, the weather or time of day your transportation breaks down or crashes. This, coupled with injuries, darkness or other factors that limit mobility
  • Deep Snow, Rocky or Uneven Ground – Forced to shelter on a steep, snowy and/or rocky mountainside trees or hammocks can provide welcome, time-saving alternatives.
  • Excessive Spiny or Poisonous Flora – Even in the Arizona desert, I have never had trouble finding spots to sleep on the ground free of spines or plants that produce irritants, but it is possible that you could find yourself in such a situation, especially if you are


For survival use, is generally more effective to steer clear of highly-specialized gear in favor of gear that is more modular and multipurpose. Instead of a high-end hammock, I carry gear that can serve as a hammock, but can also serve a multitude of other needs whether I am in the jungle in Brazil, a forest in the Rockies or in the desert.

Multi-purpose Hammock Gear

  • Cargo Net, General Purpose – In addition to serving as an able hammock, the GP cargo net can secure heavy/bulky materiel to a cargo frame, create a camouflage net or ghillie cape, create shade without stopping a breeze in the desert, catch fish, birds or small game for food.
  • 1” Tubular Webbing – Tubular webbing can be used to attach carabiners, lines or other equipment to trees without damaging them. It can also be used to fashion a rappelling harness or be used in combination with a carabiner to quickly rig an improvised seatbelt on a dangerous bus of train, rig a tourniquet, a ladder or a line to pull an injured comrade behind cover. The list just goes on and on. Short on space? Use it as the strap for your go bag.
  • Autolocking Carabiner & Mini Carabiners – I carry an autolocking carabiner on my go bag and two smaller, climbing-rated mini-carabiners on my go-bag. The autolocking carabiners serves double duty as a self-defense tool. Think of is brass knuckles that you can carry anywhere without looking like brass knuckles. Together with the mini-carabiners and cordage, I can hang a hammock, rig a backcountry block and tackle for heavy lifting, get down out of a third-floor window without breaking my legs and much more.
  • Para Cord – Para Cord and survival-specific composite, kernmantle-sheathed cordage are worth the weight and space they occupy in a go bag. I tie this type of cordage in rip cord hanks for compact storage and tangle-free deployment.
  • Military Poncho/Liner Combination or Equivalent – There are a lot of options that offer the same functionality as the poncho/liner combination and what I carry varies according to climate, environment, mission and so forth. Adaptations offer increased adaptability, modularity, insulation, sometimes superior materials and more but even the issue poncho and liner are an undeniably flexible bit of kit.
  • Insect Netting – I have suffered some nights of just indescribable discomfort for want of netting and repellent. With malaria, zika, west Nile and other serious arthropod-borne illnesses, it does not make sense to take chances. Add in that insect netting is lightweight and multi-use and it should find its way into your bag when you have room and headed anyplace you could find yourself in the middle of a hatch.

In a primitive setting, hammocks can sometimes be constructed of sufficiently strong natural materials. They can be woven from dried banana fronds (no banana hammock jokes please) or yucca fiber or green bamboo can be cut and split to make a hammock from natural materials.


A nest shelter is just what is sounds like. Imagine a bird’s nest, only large enough for one or more humans. Lemurs and hominid apes, including humans build nests. Gorillas build different nests for day and night with nighttime nests being more elaborate.

Day nests are typically on the ground, but night nests are sometimes in trees with building in trees being more common for juveniles, females and in high stress environments.

We humans often tend to ‘unlearn’ or bury our survival instincts, but no matter how much we suppress them, all the basics we need to survive are still in deeply imprinted in us. When I consider this, it is no surprise that we are drawn to natural settings.


A platform tree shelter is like a nest, only with a more engineered, flatter floor. Think “Robison Crusoe.” Platforms can be pegged, tied or notched together. Add some walls and a roof and you have a tree house or a hunting blind.

Tree Shelter Dangers

Survival requires a certain degree of risk management. Since there are a few dangers inherent to tree shelters, they should be weighed against other dangers before making the call to invest the energy and take the risk of building a shelter in a tree.

Widow Makers

Widow makers are dead branches or tree tops. They are so called because high and heavy-enough specimens sometimes inflict fatal wounds.


Trees should be inspected thoroughly for venomous arthropods, snakes and other potential threats/opportunities. Should you be so lucky as to find a half-dozen scorpions in your potential shelter, you just found some grub. Cut off their tails, roast them and pop the ‘land shrimp’ in your mouth. If you find a snake, then you will have a better meal.


It may or may not seem obvious, but falling even a couple of feet and hit your head on a sharp rock and no matter how bad your survival situation was, it just got worse. If the hardware holding your hammock gives way, you could just end up bruised and embarrassed, but you could also end up with skull fracture and a traumatic brain injury, depending on how you land. So, if you are thinking about saving a couple of bucks by purchasing carabiners stamped “Not for Climbing Use!”, you might want to rethink that and choose someplace else to economize.

Respiratory Dangers

Any tree that looks like it has the makings of a home for your, probably looked like a home to many animals that found it before you did. Unlike most humans, many species of animals urinate and defecate where they sleep.

This creates more of a danger than just foul smell, especially in dry climates and when bats are doing the defecating. Bat droppings are easily kicked up as dust and breathed into the lungs, where they can cause respiratory illness.


As with any debris shelter, fire is always a danger, but when you combine that with the fact that you are up a tree where your mobility is limited, and you are liable to fall, fire becomes even more dangerous. Outside a very narrow range of circumstances, keep your fire on the ground.


Survivalists clearly have a thing for camouflage, so how could it possibly be a danger? Only when you are trying to be found. Debris shelters are notoriously difficult to spot since they are basically hunting blinds that blend perfectly with the environment.

If you want to be found, be sure to construct signals where they can be seen before you hole up or your chance to be found may stroll right on past.

This article has been written by Cache Valley Prepper for Survivopedia.

10 Safe Ways To Waterproof Your Cellar

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If you are planning to set up your cellar as a survival shelter or only using it for storage, then make sure it is as waterproof as possible.

Taking care of aging foundations, shifting land under the home, and getting rid of water build up can all be expensive. Water will always go to the lowest level, which means your below-ground basement will always be where it wants to go.

Before you commit to converting your cellar into a survival shelter, be sure you can keep out water and moisture. Here are 120 safe ways to do it!

Managing Foundation Issues from the Outside

Even though there are many ways to address leaking cellar floors and walls from the inside, see what you can do to prevent water from getting through these barriers in the first place.

How To Build a Small Bunker in Your Backyard with $400

Here are some of the most popular ways to address foundation problems from the outer side of the foundation:

Test the soil to see how water is flowing through your property and around the building. If the water is flowing towards the building, or pooling in a specific area, those problems must be addressed first.

For example, if you find that water is flowing in from the street and pooling around one corner of the home, you’ll need a french drain or some other method to redirect the water away from that corner so it will not get into the basement. Your house and the land around it are settling and shifting even if your basement seems dry and solid right now. Previously dry areas may suddenly become points where damage can mount up can cause the cellar to become damp.

Pay attention to how rainwater and snow melt gather and move around on the surface of your property. If the gutters have formed a hollow at the base, fill that hollow in so that the water moves away from the basement and foundation. Actually, make sure that any water draining off the house doesn’t collect in depressions along the side of the house.

Examine the outer structure of the foundation carefully for signs of cracks, mold, or other indicators that the walls may be susceptible to water getting in. When water freezes, it will expand.

If there is mold or moss growing on the foundation, or you see visible cracks, that means water sitting in the pores of the foundation material can freeze and cause even more damage over time. While your basement may still be dry and not show any signs of major dampness, these outer problems need to be addressed by repairing the cracks and sealing up foundation material as much as possible.

Flexible Sealant Materials

Today, there are many different kinds of waterproofing materials and sealants that can be used to block off moisture and water from getting into your basement.

For example, you can buy relatively thin sealants in gallon cans that also include mold and mildew killing chemicals. These sealants are useful if you already have these kinds of infestations in the basement, however they may need something more robust as an undercoat.

Heavier sealants including flexible rubber or polymer mixtures are likely to offer the best protection from water, especially if they can be used to seal up cracks or are able to penetrate deeply into porous materials.

Don’t overlook fiberglass or other compounds that are used for underwater or other even marine applications. While these compounds may cost a little bit more than conventional basement sealers, they are also capable of providing some additional strength to the structure.

Whether you decide to use products such as Flex Seal, PC-7, Bondo products, or basement sealer with Kilz, pre-treat all surfaces that the sealant will be applied to. Start off with a clean surface, so the sealant will adhere properly, or it will lead to chipping, cracking, or worse yet, water seeping down between the sealant and the surface that you covered.

Remove all debris and growths from the surfaces to be coated, and use primers that may be recommended with each product.

DIY Plastic Bottle Sealant

Maybe you have always kept up with repairs and maintenance for your basement and the surrounding land. Let’s say the area around your home is hit with a hurricane, earthquake, or something else that disrupts the basement.

At the same time, there is also a sufficient breakdown in the social structure that prevents you from buying the sealants required to stop moisture from flowing into the basement.

As bad as these circumstances are, you may still salvage the basement and your home if you act quickly enough. Modern plastic bottles are very easy to melt and turn into a liquid that can be spread onto walls and other surfaces. Melt the plastic in workable amounts and smear it onto areas where moisture is getting in. Roughen up the surface so that the plastic has a better chance of adhering as well as possible to the foundation materials.

This method will also work in a situation where a large scale social collapse makes it impossible to obtain any kind of construction or building repair materials. Regardless of how quickly these materials will vanish, you can more than likely still find plenty of plastic bottles to use as a sealant. Wear a gas mask to ensure you do not inhale the fumes from the plastic as it melts.

Other Sealants You Can Make From Natural Materials

You would be amazed at what nature has to offer in terms of making viable waterproofing sealant for your basement. Here are some additional materials to consider:

  • Pine pitch – boiling pine resin and turning it into waterproof pitch is an absolutely essential skill. You can use pine pitch as a glue as well as a waterproofing agent for many different purposes. This includes building a new shelter as well making repairs to your basement.
  • Even though vinegar (which you can ferment from apples and many other plant based foods) cannot be used as a waterproofing sealant, it is well known for its ability to get rid of mold and mildew. If you are having problems with a mold infestation and can’t find anything else, try using vinegar before you apply the sealant.
  • Try making rubber or latex from dandelions or other plants that have milky sap in their stems. Even though it can take a good bit of plant material to make enough rubber, you can work on it a little bit at a time. Do not forget that you do not need to make rubber that is hard enough to use on tires or in other high stress applications. As long as the rubber dries to form a waterproof barrier, it should be enough for your needs.

Improving Air Flow in the Basement

When it comes to driving out moisture and preventing buildup, you will find that air flow is very important: if vents to the basement are clogged with leaves or other debris, cleaning them out may make a significant difference.

If you find stubborn areas where moisture collects along a wall or the ceiling, try installing another vent in that area. You can also use fans to increase the overall air circulation in the basement.

During the process of studying the impact of air circulation in the basement, you should also take note of anything that generates heat or releases vapor in the process of operating. For example, if you have a water tank in the basement, does condensation build up on it when the water within is cold?

Any surface that allows for a water buildup or a reduction in temperature can create all kinds of problems in conjunction with poor air flow. Use fans and increased ventilation to solve these problems, or direct heat into the area to force the moisture to evaporate faster so that it can be pushed out faster via the increased air flow.

Internal vs. External Drain Pipes

Along with pipes and grading for removing standing water outside and inside the basement, you may also need to install drains.

For example, if water is collecting near the center of the basement floor, it may make more sense to drop it through a drain before moving into a pipe. If you have a dirt floor in the basement,or it is fairly easy to break through, this will also give you a chance to build access tunnels to emergency shelters located elsewhere on the property.

What About Desiccants?

As you progress in your efforts to waterproof your basement, monitor the moisture levels in the air, the air moisture level should be no higher than around 50%, to provide a comfortable environment that reduces the risk of promoting mold and mildew.

While the moisture content of the air will fluctuate through the day and based on external weather patterns, all of your waterproofing efforts will go to waste if you cannot control the air moisture.

If you are trying to manage temporary moisture problems such as ones caused by unusually heavy rains, desiccants can be of use to you. On the other hand, they should not be used on a constant basis as they can mask an underlying problem that quickly gets out of control.

But if you are relying desiccants to control moisture levels in the basement, you may not be able to get a hold of useful materials in a time of need. When you must rely on the basement as a sole means of shelter and storage for your stockpile, you have to keep the basement dry.

Preventing Damage from Burrowing Animals

You may already be focusing on removing tree roots and keeping other plants from helping water erode the foundation, but don’t overlook problems caused by burrowing animals or ones that dig into the ground. Moles, rodents, and animal that can disrupt the soil can act as a potential source of water being able to get into your basement.

If you didn’t pay attention to where and how field mice get into your home, and if you spot them in the kitchen, they may actually be chewing through wooden beams or other structures that connect the house to the foundation and the cellar. Then it is only a matter of time before those mouse holes begin allowing water and ice to get in and cause leaks in the basement.

If you only seal up the basement, it isn’t likely that you will find the source of the leak let alone find a viable means to repair it. Therefore, while you are removing trees, brush, and other plants, see if there are signs of rodents or other burrowing animals that also need to be removed or deterred.

When it comes to keeping burrowing animals away from the foundation of your home, rely on plants to deter rodents and burrowing animals as much as possible. No matter whether you decide to grow spearmint, onions, or other natural repellents for various species of vermin, the plants themselves will increase moisture levels around the foundation. If the plants aren’t actually resting against the foundation and you take good care to keep them properly trimmed, they may deter the varmint without adding yet another source of water to your basement.

Getting Rid of Termites and Other Insects

If you thought trees and rodents spelled disaster when it comes to waterproofing your basement, then you will be amazed at just how many problems can come from insects. Termites and several other insects that consume wood can easily damage beams and other parts of the house that rest on the foundation.

As the wood rots from being broken down, it will also keep more moisture in hidden areas of the foundation. As a result, if you see any signs of termites or other wood boring insect infestations, it is important to get rid of them as quickly as possible.

It is important to note that a good layer of sealant will keep water out, but that doesn’t mean it can withstand constant attacks from insects. In addition, if the insects have been chewing on the boards in your basement for some time, they are also likely to have laid millions of eggs. Unless you specifically use some kind of insecticide, there is little, if any point to addressing other aspects of waterproofing your basement.

Once you got rid of an insect infestation, consider how to prevent new insects from finding their way in and starting the whole mess over again. If you are taking refuge in your basement during a crisis situation, you’ll need to get rid of any insects that find their way in. Unfortunately, when you are living in close quarters, insecticides are not safe let alone a reasonable option.

Learn how to trap various kinds of insects, and how to repel them in the first place. Similar to rodents and other vermin, you can use various herbs that are either poisonous to certain insects, as well as other that will repel them. Add these herbs to others used for repelling vermin and you should notice a reduction in insect problems elsewhere in the house as well as in the basement.

The Cellar Ceiling is Also a Part of Waterproofing Considerations

There is a natural tendency to focus on the most obvious symptoms of a problem. In this case, seeing water collecting on the floor of your basement may mean that you are looking only at places where the water can come in from: holes in an access window, places where the foundation is damaged, or even areas with poor water drainage. These are all important aspects, but also take into account changes in the ceiling structure.

Aside from vermin and insects causing damage to wood, there are other things the ceiling can reveal. As the house shifts and settles, beams are warping, or changing their position in relation to each other. Correlate this with information about water collecting in the basement, and you’ll discover that more extensive work needs to be done to brace parts of the foundation.

Even if you still wind up applying sealants and building drains, repairing the foundation and adjusting the way the house sets on it’s important, especially if you expect the basement to remain liveable during a major crisis.

Finding leaks in the basement can make any home owner cringe. In some cases, the answers to your problems may be relatively inexpensive, while other options may mask the real problem, which will only make the situation worse. It can easily derail any plans you have for using the basement as an emergency shelter.

Whether you have leaks, mold, mildew, or even an unusual odor or sounds in the basement, address these issues as a comprehensive waterproofing plan. You need to have these matters resolved so you can use the basement as a survival shelter!

This article has been written by Carmela Tyrell for Survivopedia.

Turn Your Cellar Into A Survival Shelter In 10 Steps

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Modern threats continue to evolve, so it isn’t enough to simply store some food in your basement and hope that it will be enough to get you through the worst days of a disaster.

From nuclear contamination to massive epidemics caused by biowarfare agents, having a safe place to hide should be your primary concern. You might already have the best spot for this purpose, so you’ll need to put in a good bit of effort to turn your cellar into a survival shelter.

While these below ground rooms have many advantages, they can make your survival worse if not prepared with modern threats in mind.

Keep reading to find our how to make it fit for your survival needs!

Make Sure the Cellar is Sound

Before moving anything into the cellar or preparing it for survival needs, make sure that the basic structure is sound: the foundation is secure, and the ceiling and overhead structures will not give way.

Also, make sure the cellar is as free of dampness as possible.

Simply using Damp Rid or other moisture controllers may work for routine needs, but will not be of much help in a survival situation. You might spend weeks, or even months in the cellar, so you constantly need to try and manage dampness.

The cellar should also be free of mold, mildew, algae, and other signs of unwanted microorganisms, as their presence show the cellar is not fit to live in on long term. Mold can release toxic spores into the air and create numerous health risks.

If the cellar is not sound, and costs too much to repair, you better start a new one by digging out an underground bunker, then consider adding a tunnel that goes from the basement to the bunker. Aside from being cheaper, an underground bunker system is also much easier to expand as you build up your stockpile and think of new things to be included in your survival plans.

How To Build a Small Bunker in Your Backyard with $400

Manage Air Quality

One of the most important, yet overlooked parts of preparing a basement for survival revolves around ensuring air quality. Make sure that the cellar is air tight, because any air leaks can pose a serious hazard from nuclear fallout as well as infectious diseases and toxic gasses.

Once you are sure that the cellar is airtight, make sure that you can purify the air and restore oxygen to it. Use certain houseplants as well as air purifiers that are designed to release oxygen into the air.

Remember, most medical oxygen concentrators will not actually produce oxygen. Instead, they take air in, and simply let out more oxygen than other elements. If there is not enough oxygen in the air to begin with, these concentrators will be virtually useless.

You can still try keeping a few oxygen cylinders in the cellar, however they will not last more than a few hours.

Managing air quality must also include removing other toxins from the air. This includes exhaust fumes and anything else that may come in from the outside.

Activated carbon filters will offer the best means for cleaning the air. Do not forget, however, these filters must be replaced often to ensure a clean air supply. You should know how to make your own activated carbon, or reuse spent carbon, and then develop your own air filters.

Check Incoming Water Resource

Next to clean air, a reliable source of water is necessary. Don’t rely only on municipal or well water access in your cellar if a major social collapse occurs.

If you have municipal water, see if you can dig even a shallow well in the basement or nearby, and use hand pumps to move the water into the cellar. These pumps can be made from PVC, or you can purchase a metal pump that can pull water from further depths.

Don’t overlook the moisture already in the air, or any that may become available during living in the cellar. For example, as you can use fans and desiccants to concentrate water into a bucket, and then collect the evaporated water into a clean container.

You can also use a similar method to retrieve water from urine and any leftover water from cooking and washing. This is especially important if you have a small cellar and limited amounts of room for storing water or equipment that could be used to purify it.

Stay Safe with Food Storage

Technically speaking, you can get by for several days without food, as long as you have safe water to drink. If you were contaminated with nuclear radiation or have some other injury to deal with, nutritious food is going to be very important, especially in the first few days after a major crisis occurs.

This is just one of many reasons why you should store at least 2 – 4 weeks of food in the cellar. If you are short on space, try to store away MREs or other meals that are nutrient dense and require very little in the way of preparation.

When it comes to food storage, think well ahead to a time when you’ll begin putting your life back together, because once you emerge out of the celler, there will be no food available.

Even if you are fortunate enough to find a safe place to hunt and fish, you’ll still need to grow edibles for medicinal and food purposes. Store away a cache of heirloom seeds from as many plants as possible as well as instructions on how to grow them in conventional gardens, hydroponics arrangements, and indoors.

Plan Your Food Production

Not so long ago, sheltering in place for about 2 weeks would get you through most disasters. Today, bioweapons, larger numbers of people, and other problems may mean that you will need to stay in the cellar much longer.

When room and funds are limited, your next best option is to secure the means of growing sufficient amounts of food in the basement itself.

Here are three ways to produce biomass:


Basically you will be letting seeds from certain plants germinate, and then eat the sprouts when they are just a few days old. Choose plants that produce large numbers of seeds from a single plant (such as mustard), or large plants from a single seed (beans).

You will also need to be able to grow some plants to full maturity to produce enough seeds to consume. Since sprouts can produce several pounds of biomass from less than ¼ pound of seeds, it is well worth your while to explore this option.

Insect farms

Hundreds of ants, crickets, grubs, and other insects can be raised easily in shoe boxes and other small habitats. They can also live on kitchen scraps, or just about anything else depending on the insect species.

If the thought of consuming insects is troublesome, bear in mind that you are probably consuming almost a pound of insects a year from conventional food sources without realizing it. Insects easily get caught up in food production and processing machinery and find their way into the food supply.

To get started with consuming insects, grind them up into flour or something else that removes the visual effects of the insect it came from.


These fungi easily grow in dark, cool, damp places. You can purchase mushroom kits with pre-seeded spores, as well as learn how to cultivate successive generations from those kits. You will need to practice mushroom growing skills, as it can be a bit dangerous to handle the spores.

Inexpensive, Easy to Build Cellar Will Protect Your Life and Supplies in the Next Crisis

Mind About Hygiene and Sanitation

One of the best additions you can make to your cellar is a composting toilet. This will make it possible to manage waste and recycle it for growing mushrooms or other edibles. Make sure that you research on the safety of these toilets, and how to manage them, because human waste carries many dangerous diseases and should be managed with care.

Make sure that you can wash clothes and keep your body as clean as possible while living in the cellar. Antibacterial wet wipes do not take up much room, so you should be able to store away enough of them to last for several months.

Insofar as washing clothes, you can use a 5-gallon bucket with a plunger agitator, or make a scrub bag with a washboard.

Insulate for Temperature Control

If you made the cellar airtight, then temperature control shouldn’t be very hard to do. Add extra insulation (sandbags work well and serve a second purpose of preventing bullet ricochets) to all the walls, floor, and ceiling, to help sound proof the cellar.

As the days and weeks go by, any people left above ground will be looking for food, water, and a safe shelter. If they hear sounds of life coming from your cellar, rest assured they will try to get in to see if there is anything of value. Never underestimate the determination or lack of integrity of panicking people that may form into loose bands of rioters or looters.

You will also need to prevent smoke or other signs of life from escaping out into the air around the cellar. Make sure that vents used for burning fuel are directed underground and in ways that they do not reach the surface near the cellar.

Unfortunately, this ventilation will be a necessary evil because you will already be in a closed space with a limited air supply. Even if you have carbon filters going around the clock to clean out toxins from the air, it may not be enough to keep up with fumes from burning various fuels. Try to see if you can use the heat from compost piles or other passive heating methods to heat the cellar.

Insofar as cooling, your quietest and safest options will revolve around 5-gallon bucket “air conditioners” and similar devices that require a minimal amount of electricity. You can also experiment with gravity fans or other devices that will run on mechanical energy instead of electricity.

Prepare Multiple Exits

Right now, you may not care much that there is only one way in and out of the cellar, but it could be a disaster in a time of need, especially if the cellar door is easily visible to others. If the cellar door is located inside the house, looters and others that break in can also find it and trap you where you are. These are just a few reasons why you need at least one secret exit out of the basement.

Cost wise, this may be one of the more expensive elements of converting your basement into a survival shelter. Among other things, you may need to drill through the floor to reach ground that can be dug out for a tunnel.

You’ll also need to fortify the tunnel so that the house doesn’t collapse. Ideally, the tunnel should come up somewhere along the boundary of your property, or some other area where you can come up to ground level without being seen. Disguise the entrance with shrubs, noxious plants such as poison ivy, or something else that others will avoid at all cost.

Defend Your Survival Cellar

No matter how hard you try, rioters or other bad people might discover your hiding place. You can use crossbows and develop zones of fire that will help you stave off attackers.

Depending on the size of the basement and the way it is set up, some guns types will be better than others. You’ll need a weapon that has suitable stopping power without tearing up the walls or other items stored in the cellar.

There are also ways to build trip wire alarm systems that will let you know if someone above ground has gotten too close to your shelter, or you can use your secret exit to get to ground level, and then do what is needed to solve the problem.

Don’t Skip Power and Communications

While taking up refuge in your cellar, finding out what is going on in the rest of the world is crucial. Crank radios can be of use, as can foxhole radios and small battery powered devices.

Limit power needs and devices to units that require the least amount of voltage and have rechargeable batteries. You won’t be able to use solar or wind power generation options, but don’t overlook bicycle generators, magnetic engines, and other devices that can be used to recharge batteries.

In fact, if there is one appliance that you should buy for your cellar, I would recommend a bicycle generator. Aside from producing a reasonable amount of electricity, it will help you stay in shape. Within just a few days of being in the basement, you will need the exercise if you expect to remain in any semblance of good condition.

Depending on the nature of the disaster, you may or may not want to reach out to others around you. It would still be a good idea to keep some basic tools nearby for this purpose. Banging on metal pipes will easily draw attention to your area, as will smoke signals.

Finally, if you can get above ground and want to reach a specific person, think about using a bullroarer. Make sure the person you are trying to contact knows to listen for your signal, and how to interpret the sounds.

Even as I write this, news is emerging that North Korea may be just as likely to use bioweapons as nuclear warheads. There are also many other disasters, both natural and manmade that may require retreating to a hardened shelter. In this case, your cellar is the perfect place to modify for this purpose! Be smart when planning your actions to survive disasters that are about to come!

This article has been written by Carmela Tyrell for Survivopedia.

Surviving Off-grid: Use Pipes And Ducts To Generate Electricity

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A prepper’s mind will always find ways to survive when others won’t see any way out of the crisis. When it comes to generating electricity, there are many unexplored options laying right around your own home.

If you have pipes with water flowing through them, there may be several ways to generate 12 volts or more of electricity with relatively little effort.

Even if the majority of pipes in your home are made of plastic, there are still ways to make use of them, as well as every tap and drain in your home. Depending on the optimizations that you choose, you might need running water to generate electricity.

Combine systems that require flowing water with ones that don’t, and you’ll always have electricity as long as your house is standing.


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What to Beware Around Metal Plumbing Pipes

No matter whether a house is brand new, or has been around for several decades, there are always going to be changes that may not always be obvious. Even though all of the appliances and electrical features in your house work perfectly, shorts can develop that prevent the electricity from completing its journey back to the power plant.

As a result, this electricity may start flowing through metal pipes and other fixtures in your home. Contrary to popular belief, this situation is actually very common.

Before touching and examining metal pipes and other fixtures that aren’t connected to the electrical system, take some precautions. If you aren’t sure how to set up grounding for plumbing pipes, ask a plumber. Since the amperage carried through plumbing pipes can be high enough to injure or kill, be sure you know how to work around any and all metal pipes safely.

Use the Power of Moving Water in Vertical Pipes

If you have hot water in bathroom and kitchen faucets, this water goes through vertical pipes at some point on its journey through your home. Locate the pipes where the water flows from a higher point to a lower one. Aside from any pumping pressure from the water source, you will also have the benefit of gravity speeding the water’s rate of flow.

No matter whether these pipes are made of plastic or metal, you can cut into the pipe and insert a device with some kind of spinning rotor, blade, or wheel that has magnets attached to it. As the water passes over the wheel, it will cause it to spin. From there all you need to do is set up a system of coils outside the pipe that will generate electricity for you.

Depending on the length of the pipe, you may even be able to insert one device at the highest point on the pipe, and the second one further down. You’ll have to monitor the water flow rate to make sure you don’t slow it up too much with too many devices.

Also, optimize the blade or rotor design for the device. Since it is likely you will be building the device yourself, have a look at shell blade designs that are emerging for optimizing wind turbines. If you must build your own system, see if you can use fiberglass or other lightweight materials.

Just avoid placing these devices in lines or taps used for drinking or food preparation unless you are sure the materials pose no threat to your health. You should also look for the smallest magnets that will generate the strongest field.

Aside from using indoor pipes, you can also use gutters or other outdoor installations where water will move from an upper elevation to a lower one. While the power from these systems may be transitory, you should be able to harvest from at least two or three points along the tubing, plus from the exhaust spout.

Remember that these tube systems can be expanded with umbrellas or other objects to increase the water capture area. Once the water has exited the spout, you may also want to see if you can store it for use in the garden or some other purpose.

Video first seen on JohnnyQ90.

Take Advantage of Drains

Once you master generating power from vertical water pipes, start exploring the same kind of system for sink drains. To make this kind of system work, you’ll need to open up the device fairly often to remove debris or anything else in the drain water that will catch on the blades. Use a pre-filter or some kind of other trap so that the blades stay as clean as possible.

As a way of getting started, create a blade system that simply sits in the bottom of your sink. If you already have a fairly deep sink basin, you may have more than enough room to work with. In these cases, you will be looking more for blade designs that have a flatter profile than a shell or some of the newer optimizations emerging in the wind power market.

Since some sink drain pipes are made of metal, find out if they are already capable of conducting electricity. If they are, keep reading, because there are some small changes you can make around the drain that may give you a reasonable amount of electricity at very low cost. If all of the pipes are made of plastic, you can still use the water flow to generate electricity.

Getting Electricity from Taps and Shower Heads

There are two possible locations that you can use to generate power from taps and faucets.


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First, you would have to cut into the pipe just below the valves that allow water into the faucet. Even though these areas are likely to have an upward water flow, they still have a good bit of pressure behind them.

In fact, if you have ever made the same mistake of trying to remove a faucet system without closing the water valves, you will find out just how much water pressure there is!

Chances are you already have regulators on your faucets that reduce the amount of water that you use. You can achieve the same goal, and spin a rotor if you change the regulator design.

While these devices may not yet exist on the market, you can still combine rubberized faucet attachments and fiberglass blades with magnets mounted on them to achieve your goal. Just make sure that the blade system is as light as possible, so that it spins as easily from any air in the pipes as well as from the moving water.

Securing Access to In-house Pipes

As a prepper, you already know the areas where you can store your stockpile in the walls of your home. While you are exploring these options, take note of the water pipes found in the walls. Whether they are made of plastic or metal, you could modify the pipes so that they are easy to see an access without having to get into the wall space. Alternatively, you can still leave access points in the wall and cover them with paintings for other items.

Overall, the device is used to generate electricity from water pipes do not require a great deal of maintenance as long as the water is clean. If there happens to be more debris than expected in the water, you will not want to have to take an entire wall apart every time a filter needs cleaning.

Also, be aware that mice, termites, and other vermin can live for decades in the walls of your home without being detected. Even if they don’t chew on parts of the device, they’re moving over or through the area may jar something loose.

These are just a few reasons why it is very important to have as much access to in-house pipes used for generating electricity as possible.

Set Up Workable Valve Systems

Indoor plumbing for free is a great deal of convenience and ease.

On the other hand, plumbing leaks can be some of the most aggravating and expensive problems to deal with. Any joint for cut in a pipe is a place where weaknesses can develop and evolve into leaks. There may also be other times when you need to close off the flow of water in a fairly small area to manage your electrical generating system.

All of these situations can be more easily managed when you have valves set up that will give you more control of the water flow. For example if you have a device lodged in the downward hot and cold pipes for your bathroom sink, it would be useful to have corresponding valves somewhere upwind from that point. If you do have a problem in that area, it will be very easy to close off all water flow from the sink without disrupting the toilet and the shower.

If the only valve in your home is sitting on the main water entrance, it can spell a great deal of trouble when you have to work in more localized areas. These valve systems can also be used to create alternate routes for the water flow.

This can be very helpful if you need to make modifications to your system, and don’t necessarily want to replace all of the pipes where you were inserting devices. In these cases all you would need to do is open one set of valves and close the other until you are ready to reverse them again.

Locating Metal Pipes and Avoiding Problems

Many people are surprised to find out just how many metal pipes exist beneath their yards and lawns. In order to find out more about pipes on your own property, you can use a metal detector. Try to purchase or rent a detector that also gives you some ideas about the kind of metal used to manufacture the pipes. This information will help you figure out the best way to get the most electricity from them.

Before using these pipes for generating electricity, know what is actually going through them. For example, if the pipe is for natural gas, don’t use it for any other purpose. These pipes can be very dangerous to disrupt, as well as to modify. On the other hand, if the water pipes flowing into your house are made of metal, there is no reason to avoid using them.

If your home has or previously had a septic tank and leach field system, the tank and leach field may have some metal fittings on it. Since these areas are likely to be saturated with debris from waste water, don’t disturb them let alone use them.

Insofar as locating metal pipes indoors, you are also likely to find gas pipes, as well as ones for transporting oil. Avoid using any pipe that carries any kind of fuel, as you never know when electrical devices will short out, build up heat, or generate sparks. This is also something you will need to be very careful about when building and placing your devices.

What You Need to Know About Grounded and Bonded Metals

Did you know that metal plumbing pipes are often grounded? Depending on the number of pipes in your home or underneath it, there are many ways to ground or bond all of the metals so that you don’t get a shock from them.

Some homes also use metal pipes in the plumbing system as a means to ground the electrical system. It is fair to say that as long as you have metal pipes anywhere in your home, there is a good chance that they are already conducting electricity. You may also find that steel cabinets or other large metal furnishings will also conduct electricity even if you aren’t aware of it.

Video first seen on Bryan Ropar.

Before you test to find out if metal pipes and furnishings are, in fact, conducting electricity, understand the differences between bonding, grounding, and earthing. It will help you recognize each of these methods for avoiding dangerous sharks. From there, there are two methods that you can use to determine if there is already some current flow in the pipes of your home:

  • First, you can drain the water from your pipes, and then use an OHM meter to see if there is any current flowing.
  • Second, you can use an EMF meter to see if there is a magnetic field around the pipes without draining the water from them. If you find a magnetic field, then there’s a viable means to receive electricity from the pipes. Regardless of the source of the magnetic field, you’ll be able to use it for your generating an electrical current.

Using Outdoor Buried Pipes

Once you locate underground pipes that are suitable for generating electricity, you may be surprised at just how easy it is to tap them for a viable amount of current. Just look at some of the designs for earth batteries in order to see how to make this work.

  • Start off by finding out what kind of metal the buried pipes are made from.
  • Next, locate a second type of metal that will create a difference in electrical potential. Do your best to choose a metal that will provide the largest amount of variance. Just about any kind of scrap metal will do, as long as it is the right kind.
  • Once the two metals and wires are in place, you should be able to get a steady amount of electricity from the system. Unlike many other electrical power generation systems, you will not need to be concerned about time of day, temperature, or other weather conditions.
  • Insofar as electrolyte, remember that moist soil itself can act in this capacity. You can still try using other electrolytes, or you can see if soil containing iron metabolizing bacteria can be used and require less maintenance.

When you are stressed about paying your utility bills, or concerned about the increasing risk of power loss, look for the answer to your problems in the walls of your home.

There are many ways to generate small amounts of electricity from both plastic and water pipes that can help you get on the path to energy independence.

Also explore the options and take advantage of safe metal pipes in your yard and under your lawn!

This article haa been written by Carmela Tyrell for Survivopedia.


Planning To Retire Off-grid? Here’s Where To Relocate

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One of the big challenges for retiring today is being able to afford retirement. Many of us are in the difficult position of not having company retirement benefits to fall back on. What that means is that all we have to retire on is our Social Security benefits. That’s not all that much.

Having money in savings doesn’t help all that much either. It used to be that if you have a million dollars in the bank, you had it made for retirement. Your million would net you $50,000 per year at 5% interest; but with today’s interest rates, you need five times as much in savings, to net the same amount of income. That’s more than most of us make in our entire life.

So, how are you going to survive?

There are two basic ways that people try to deal with this situation; either downsizing to reduce costs or trying to find a retirement business which can augment their retirement income. Both of those possibilities are workable, although neither is easy.

There is another option; that of going off-grid somewhere and becoming self-sufficient. If you’re not sure what I mean by that, it refers to a self-sufficient lifestyle, where you are not dependent on public utilities, but rather have an autonomous home, generating your own electricity and pumping your own water. For some people, it even includes growing their own food.

Not everyone views living off-grid the same way.

For some, producing your own electricity means that you would have to produce as much electricity as you use now, powering air conditioners, computers and massive entertainment centers.

But for others, living off-grid means changing their lifestyle, simplifying it to the point where they don’t need to produce as much electricity as what most of us currently produce. Financially, at least, this option is much easier.


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Living in such a way is extremely cheap, especially if you own the property you’re living on. While this would require a total change of lifestyle, retirement is a massive change anyway. Living off-grid would even give you something to do, tending your garden and feeding your chickens.

If you own a home now or have any savings, this is a real possibility. Selling your home would provide you with funds to buy property for an off-grid home and hopefully even to build the home. Whatever retirement savings you might have could be used for that as well, investing those funds in making it possible to retire in a comfortable, albeit different, way.

Basic Off-Grid Requirements

So, where are the best places to go, if you want to retire off-grid? That seems to be the question. Let’s lay out a few requirements for such a place, then we can discuss some likely locations.

  • It needs to be a remote enough area that you can buy a few acres at a reasonable price.
  • While being remote, it still needs to be accessible.
  • It needs to be close enough to a population center to allow the easy purchase of supplies.
  • It needs to have ample natural resources, especially water (which may require drilling a well).
  • It needs to be someplace where the law allows living off-grid (some states do not allow this).
  • It needs to be an area with a low cost of living.

Weather would probably be a factor as well for most people. Living in a hot climate, without air conditioning, may be fine for some, but others would really struggle with the heat. Likewise, living in a cold climate and heating with wood could cause serious problems for others. Ultimately, you have to find what works for you, not what works for someone else.

Weather can also affect your ability to produce your own electrical power. If you were to live in Washington State, you might have trouble with solar panels, as the constant rain would reduce the available sunlight. For that, you’d be better off in the Southwest, where it is dryer and there’s lots of sunlight.

Of course, there’s always a lot of tradeoffs when looking at different places. That location in the Southwest might give you ample sunlight, but it will also be a whole lot hotter. So, you’ll probably need more sunlight, so that your solar panels could produce enough electricity for your air conditioner.

Domestic Retirement Destinations

Most people will want to retire somewhere in the Continental United States, so that they can be close to family and friends. While this isn’t as cheap as living overseas, let’s face it, making a move that keeps you within the country is considerably easier than going outside the country.

Cumberland Mountains

The Beverly Hillbillies probably made one of the most expensive moves in history, moving from the Cumberland Mountains to Hollywood, California. Personally, I think that old Jed Clampett would have been better off building himself a nice house back home in Tennessee, but then, he wouldn’t have had his own television show if he had done that.

The Cumberland Mountains straddle Kentucky, Tennessee, and a bit of the western part of North Carolina and the Virginias. It’s beautiful mountain country, which really isn’t all that densely populated. That makes for rather low cost of living, as well as not a whole lot of government officials breathing down your neck about regulations.

But the real trick is to get yourself up in the backwoods, where nobody will be looking for you.

While I would personally prefer living in the Rocky Mountains myself, living in the Cumberlands would prove to be a whole lot cheaper. Land in the Rocky Mountains is high, pretty much anywhere you go.


Like the Cumberland Mountains, there are a lot of backwoods areas in the Ozarks, which includes the northern parts of Arkansas and the southern part of Missouri. There’s some beautiful hill country there, even though it really isn’t mountainous. People tend to be friendly and the cost of living is rather low.

One nice thing about this area is that the climate is rather temperate. You’ll have four full seasons, without winter coming so early that you can’t get a crop harvested from your vegetable garden. At the same time, you won’t have the really hot summers that are common in the Deep South.

The Northwest

I’m not sure that calling it the Northwest is the right term, but the area of Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and the Dakotas is one of the more sparsely populated parts of the country. As such, it’s a great place to go if you’re looking for a lot of wide open country. In fact, the state of Montana is nicknamed “Big Sky Country.”

These are fairly strong conservative states, so there’s not going to be as much government meddling in your life as there would be in the coastal areas.

That makes it much easier to establish an off-grid lifestyle, without having a bunch of bureaucrats telling you what’s wrong with that. It’s also great country for hunting, allowing you to augment your larder, without spending a fortune at the butcher shop.

Rio Grande Valley

The southern tip of Texas is known as the “Rio Grande Valley;” three lies for the price of one. That term was coined by real-estate developers who were trying to talk settlers from the east into buying farmland there. Invoking the image of a wide, green valley might have sold land, but it wasn’t very honest.

The problem with the Rio Grande Valley is that it’s hot and dry. If you like that, then it’s a great place for you. But I’ll warn you, hot there is really hot. They say that people who live there won’t have to go to hell, because they’ve already experienced the heat.

On the flip side of the coin, the Rio Grande Valley is one of the cheapest places there is in the country to live, with one of the lowest costs of living. Maybe that’s why it’s such a popular retirement destination, with mobile home parks all over the place, dedicated to retired people.

Land is also relatively cheap, allowing you to buy a couple of acres outside of town much lower than you can in many other parts of the country.

The hot temperature does provide one great advantage for those who live there; you can grow crops pretty much year round. So, if you’re planning on growing a lot of your own food as part of your off-grid strategy, the Rio Grande Valley is the destination for you.

Buy an Island

Ok, this one probably isn’t practical for most people, just because of the high price tag, but I like the idea anyway. That is, buy yourself a private island. Yes, there are islands for sale, mostly in the Northeast and Northwest.

While island living isn’t cheap, it’s a great way to get away from it all; and who is going to complain about you living off-grid, when there’s no easy way to get electricity and city water to you?

Islands, by their very nature, are easy to secure. So you probably wouldn’t have much of a problem with the neighborhood kids stealing your hubcaps. For that matter, you might not have any hubcaps anyway; more like a boat. Any car you owned would probably have to be stored on the mainland and would only be used for shopping trips.

Foreign Retirement Destinations

For those who are a little more adventurous, moving outside the United States can provide you with one major advantage, it’s cheap. As long as you stay out of Europe and places like Singapore, the cost of living in much of the world is much cheaper than it is here at home.

Nor is living off-grid considered to be strange. In fact, there are many millions of people in third-world and emerging countries who live off-grid, simply because they don’t have the option of living on-grid.

You can forget about the idea of laws that prevent you from living off-grid; even if you have electricity and water available, nobody is going to think anything of you, if you choose not to use them.


Our immediate neighbor to the south is probably the easiest destination to move to. The cost of living in Mexico is considerably less than the United States, even though some things are pretty much the same. That is, the cost is low if you stay out of the tourist destinations.

I live close to Mexico, and I’ve found that Mexican doctors and dentists are excellent, as well as being cheap by our standards. Mexican pharmaceuticals are much cheaper too. In fact, some retired Americans come to the border yearly, just to buy their medications.

There are a couple of potential problems with moving to Mexico though. First off, you really need to speak Spanish, at least enough to carry on a conversation. While there are some people in Mexico who speak English, you really can’t count on finding one when you need them.

Secondly, Mexican law doesn’t allow foreigners to buy property within 25 miles of the borders or large bodies of water. There is a way around this though, simply have a lawyer set up a trust and have the trust buy the land.


Speaking of Latin America, there’s an even better destination to think about than Mexico, that’s Belize. This small country, located just at the southern tip of Mexico, has a low population and not much else. But English is the predominant language there, making it much easier to move to Belize than to move to Mexico.

In fact, there are enough Americans moving to Belize to retire, that there are real estate companies which specialize in servicing them. But I’d avoid them if I were you, they make their money by selling Americans property for about three times what they pay. You’re much better off buying privately.

Bahamas and Caribbean Islands

While most of us think of the Bahamas and Caribbean Islands as nothing more than vacation destinations, someplace to go on a cruise, they’re actually wonderful retirement locations.

There are a number of the islands which are extremely cheap to live on, if you get away from the tourist traps, and most of the governments will be glad to leave you alone, thankful for the American Dollars you bring into their economy.

These islands also offer you the opportunity to establish a retirement business, serving other Americans who go there on vacation. If you really want to go off-grid, just buy yourself a sailboat and make the islands your home.

There are a lot of options to choose from! Whatever you do after retirement, plan it wisely and prepare for the worst!

This article has been written by Bill White for Survivopedia.

Urban Camping When The Power Is Out

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The emotions that accompany living through a disaster then surviving the aftermath are many and complex.

Those of us who are fortunate enough to have a few limbs down or maybe lose some screens or a few roof shingles breathe a sigh of relief, but then feel unnecessarily guilty because we got lucky while our neighbors a few streets over are without power or lost belongings due to flooding, or had a tree fall in their car.

Even if we’re without power, many of us would rather stay in our own homes rather than go stay with a friend, especially if it’s a long-term thing.

Part of that is because home is home. All of your stuff is there and it’s still your sanctuary, even if it’s dark and hot. Part of it is also to protect your property. Unfortunately, the vultures circle after disasters and if they know that a household has evacuated, then the home is fair game for looting.

So, the alternative to imposing on friends – even if they don’t feel that you’re imposing – and leaving your belongings unprotected is staying in your home.

We have a laugh-or-cry joke that our houses turn into giant tents or RVs after a storm and we’re camping in our homes.

And that’s seriously, literally what we’re doing. There’s no power, which means there’s no lights, no air conditioning, no technology, no hot showers, no refrigeration, and often no stove because most stoves here are electric.

The main difference is that we still have our beds, there aren’t as many bugs, and the toilet almost always works. That’s about it.

So, how do you live in a house that’s been turned into a large tent? You take a deep breath, be thankful you still have a house to camp in, find shortcuts and you need to know how to do it safely.

Be Prepared

I probably don’t have to stress the importance of preparation in general, but I will share some details that I’ve learned from experience.

First, don’t wait till the last minute. Ideally, you should have most, if not all, of everything that you need stockpiled. If you don’t, get your rear to the store as soon as you hear the first whisper of impending disaster. If you wait, you’ll be too late.

Now, you probably think that if you have water, canned soups, and maybe ice stocked back, you’ll be fine. Well, yeah, but you don’t need to live that rustically.

Stock up on regular items, too. Chips, juice, a pack or two of Oreos, and maybe a case of beer or a couple of bottles of wine if that’s your thing.

Those types of comfort items make a bad situation a little more comfortable—not that I’m suggesting you drink yourself silly during a hurricane when you’re going to need your wits about you, but you may want to have a beer with dinner after the hurricane, when you’re grilling the stuff from your freezer, and the stores may not have any.

Here are a few more items to stockpile:

  • Charcoal
  • Gasoline for generators and all vehicles
  • Propane for the grill
  • A generator will make your life a thousand times easier. You don’t appreciate a fridge and fan till you don’t have them
  • Comfort foods such as chips
  • Canned soups, canned fruits, and other foods that require minimal preparation and no refrigeration
  • Board games
  • Ice – frozen jugs full of water
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Batteries for your flashlights and games
  • Jar candles or tea light candles – they burn for a few hours and if you drop them in a heat-proof jar, you get quite a bit of light with minimal heat.
  • Matches and/or lighters
  • Cold/hot neck wraps
  • Baby wipes
  • Water, sports drinks, instant coffee/tea
  • Lighter fluid
  • A large cooler
  • Extension cord to run outside to the generator

You’ll be surprised how much the items on this list will come in handy and will mke your life easier if you have to essentially camp in your own house.

Don’t Mess with Power Lines

It never fails that at least one person dies after a storm because they don’t heed his warning. Power Lines carry more than enough juice to kill you. Even if they’re dead, if your chainsaw accidentally hits on one, it can kick back and kill you.


This smart device will help you slash an excess of 70% off your power bill overnight…


As a matter of fact, this just happened during hurricane Irma. A guy was on a ladder trimming limbs off the power line, and his chainsaw snagged, hit the wire, kicked back up, and hit him in the neck. Completely horrible, and needless, way to die.

If the wires are down, assume they’re hot and stay away from them. Move animals if you need to so that they won’t get hurt either by the wire or the downed limbs and debris.

Don’t Use Grills or Generators Inside

There were four fatalities in my area because people were running their generators inside the house and died from carbon monoxide poisoning.

Running a generator in the house, even if it’s well-ventilated, is akin to sitting in your car in the garage, with a tube running from the exhaust to the cracked window. Seriously. A generator should always be at least 15 feet away from the house – thus the extension cords on the list above.

Grills pose a double hazard if you use them in the house – you’re breathing the smoke and gas/lighter fluid fumes, and you’re also running the risk of burning your house down. That’s certainly an instance of going from bad to worse! Seriously though, keep the grills – whether they’re little camp grills or full-sized outdoor grills where they belong – outside!

Here are some alternative methods to cooking without power that may be better for you.

Keep Your Food Cold

Food poisoning would most certainly make urban camping life miserable, especially if it gets so bad that you need to go to a hospital that you can’t reach or that is likely already inundated with disaster-related illnesses and injuries in addition to its standard load. Keeping your food at a safe temperature will go a long way toward helping keep you well.

There’s a saying in the food industry – keep your hot food hot and your cold food cold. It’s pretty self-explanatory, except for one are that many people overlook, especially when camping, urban or otherwise. That’s what to do with food after you’ve already cooked it.

It’s tempting to leave food out for several hours, especially when you have limited cooler or fridge space, but in order to close that room-temperature window of time when illness-causing bacteria likes to grow, get it cold again within two hours of cooking, or one hour if it’s over 90 degrees where the food is sitting.

Here’s a cool way to make a refrigeration unit with clay pots.

Now, to reduce the chance of raw food spoiling and making you sick, here are some suggestions:

  • Keep meats separate from all other foods, and keep fowl away from red meat to prevent the spread of salmonella
  • Don’t let your food float in ice water in the cooler.
  • Once the ice has melted and the water in your cooler is no longer icy cold, dump it. It’s now a cesspool for bacteria. Use it to flush the commode.
  • Cook thawed meats within a couple hours after they’ve reached room temperature if you don’t have a source of refrigeration or within a few days if you’ve kept them cold. Watch for signs of spoilage such as smell, discoloration, or sliminess.
  • If your meat thaws, don’t just wait for it to go bad. Cook it up – that will buy you a couple of extra days if you can refrigerate it afterwards. If you have too much to eat by yourself, give it to a neighbor or somebody else that’s in need. I promise you that for many folks, a hamburger or a piece of real chicken will taste magnificent if they’ve been living on canned food for three days. Whatever you do, don’t waste it if you can avoid it.

Clean Up Flood Waters

Rule number one in staying healthy while you’re urban camping. If your place was flooded, clean it up. Seriously – flood waters are cesspools for disease.

Scrub everything that you can with hot, soapy water and disinfect with bleach. Especially if your power is off, mold and mildew that can damage everything from your respiratory system to your heart and nervous system will start to grow within just a couple of days. The first thing you need to do is clean up any flood waters. Afterward, wash your hands.

Be Careful with Open Fires

Cooking on an open fire or even having a burn pile to clean up the yard can turn catastrophic quickly. Within just a few days after falling, tree leaves and limbs are excellent tinder, regardless of whether it’s roasting outside or freezing, and a stray ash or spark can turn into an inferno in the blink of an eye.

Be even more careful with outdoor fires than you normally would because you may be existing in perfect-storm circumstances – plenty of dry fuel and a team of first responders that are stretched beyond their limits.

There are several different ways to cook when the power is out, so fire may not be your best option. If it is, be careful.

Maintain Personal Hygiene and a Clean Living Space

As with any SHTF scenario, hygiene is a must. If you have no restroom, make sure that your modified one is in an area that isn’t going to affect your food and water supply or stink up the area where you’re going to be living.

Also, wash your hands frequently (hand sanitizer is awesome in this situation) and keep counters and other areas where food may come into contact clean. Dispose of food waste far away from the house.

Urban camping isn’t going to be a walk in the park, but you can make it as comfortable as possible by avoiding sickness and making the best of things.

Maintaining a positive morale is every bit as critical as maintaining a healthy body – when you start to feel sorry for yourself, or angry, think about the family of the man who died in the chainsaw accident, the family who lost their home, and the small businesses that sustained catastrophic damage to inventory or storefront.

Things could always be worse; at least you have a house to “urban camp” in and friends and family who are healthy enough to be so cranky due to the circumstances that you want to smack them.

It may be tough, but you’ll get over it. And that’s all that matters in the end – everything else is just stuff.

If you’ve lived through a situation that required urban camping and have some hints and tips to share please do so in the comments section below.

This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.

Prep Blog Review: A DIY Break For Survival Projects!

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We should enjoy warm days while you still have them and try, test, build, practice whatever we can. There are a lot of DIY projects to develop for your homestead, and your probably have a long list on hold.

Here are a few more to add to your TO DO list! 

How to Make Your Own Rocket Stoves (Tin Can & Long Burner Rocket Stoves)

“As you might already know, a few weeks ago we published the first tutorial on how to make your own log rocket stove for free. You are now reading the second part of the tutorial on how to make two extremely cheap, yet extremely durable and portable rocket stoves.”

Read more on Ask a Prepper.

How To Harden Your Home Using the Cheapest Materials on the Market

“Purchasing sandbags have always been sold in late summer early fall as a preparedness product that is associated with the flooding attached to the fall rainy seasons and hurricanes.  The time to order and purchase your sandbags is now, but for a different reason: to harden your house if possible.  Those sandbags can be filled with more than just sand and can be used to stop more than just water.

Look at the world situation right now with North Korea, China, and Russia: need I say any more to encourage you to prepare and fortify your homes for a SHTF event?”

Read more on Ready Nutrition.

Survival Fishing: Making A Primitive Fish Trap

“If you ever find yourself in a survival situation, it is important to try and use as little energy as possible. It may happen that you get stranded in an area near a water body that has fish. Well, you can eat the edible fruits or plants and also top up your meal with some fish.

In survival fishing, there are many ways in which you can catch fish, be it by noodling, traps or improvisation. However, most of these activities require you to move around and consume energy. What if you have a lot to do and catching fish to make a meal out of it is one of them?”

Read more on The Prepper Journal.

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

60 Incredible Gardening Hacks

Nothing to see here, just lots of gardening tips, tricks, secrets and hacks!

1. Honey for rooting slips

Instead of buying hormone rooting powder use honey – when you cut your slip for planting, smear some honey on it. It will significantly increase the success rate of slips and give them a measure of protection from soil borne attacks. Just remember to keep all slips moist to encourage roots to form.”

Read more on Survival Sullivan.

17 Awesome DIY Woodworking Projects ANYONE Can Do- Even You!

“Woodworking is like riding a bike: once you get the hang of it you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it sooner! Trust me, I speak from experience; for the longest time, I refused to attempt making a simple wood shelf for fear of failure. Until I had no choice and needed a wood plaque for a client. Let me tell you, that project changed my life forever and now I’m going to pass that favor along to you.”

Read more on Top Reveal.

This article has been written by John Gilmore for Survivopedia.

Prep Blog Review: House Projects To Start In The Spring

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I love spring! Is the perfect time to start new projects around the house, in my garden, for my homestead, and take my prepping goals to the next level. Every new projects means learning a new survival skill or practicing an old one, and you can transform these activities into a fun family activity.

If you are having some extra time and you are looking for cool, fun and easy spring prepper projects, for this week’s Prep Blog Review I’ve gathered four articles on this topic.

Do you have other spring projects on the way? Share them in the comment section!

1. 50+ Things You Can Make Using Essential Oils 

“While essential oils have been used for aromatherapy for hundreds of years, these all-natural scents are seeing a spike in popularity as more people are learning about their de-stressing and energizing abilities.

Derived from plants or flowers, most often through steam distillation, essential oils can be used to make scented candles, oil diffusers, even pest repellants.

To show you all the possibilities a little bottle of essential oil holds, we rounded up some of our favorite things to make with essential oils—along with our guides to picking the right scent.”

Read more on Apartment Therapy.

2. Making Furniture and Other Structures With Sticks 

“If you’re living off the grid, chances are you are in a rustic setting and possibly/most likely have a rustic dwelling, maybe even a log cabin that you built by hand (that would be awesome).

Well, what would fit with that rustic theme better than rustic furniture?

Clearing the Land

When you make your homestead location, chances are there will be a lot of trees there that you will be cutting down to clear a spot for your home and garden areas.

Besides the heavier logs that come from cutting trees that can be used for making boards, beams, and split rails, you are also going to amass quite a pile of sticks.

No, seriously, there will be a huge pile of sticks. So why not put those sticks to good use? After all, waste not want not, right?”

Read more on Survival Sullivan.

3. The Prepared Home: 5 Prepper Project to Start in the Spring 

“ReadyNutrition Guys and Gals, as many of you know, planning is an important aspect of emergency preparedness.

Each year, you should make new plans and practice your new skills.

I wrote an article a little while back about planning (and possibly starting) an icehouse/root cellar during the wintertime.

As of this writing, spring is just around the corner (officially), and the cold weather is starting to retreat bit by bit.  We’re going to cover a few ideas for you to pursue during the spring months for building projects around your property.

Let’s jump right into it, with a description of the projects and the reason for building them.”

Read more on Ready Nutrition.

4. Smart Ways to Reuse Things 

“My grandparents never threw away a thing that could have been used later on.

They were the old time preppers: stockpiling and re-purposing almost everything.

Today we live in a throwaway society, where even our water comes in a disposable, single use bottle.

Electronics and other consumer goods are expected to last until the next, better model comes out.

Our landfills are filling up and this throwaway mentality benefits only the producer who can sell more.”

Read more on Ask A Prepper.



This article has been written by Drew Stratton for Survivopedia. 

Reinventing The Wheel: How To Get Perfectly Round Shapes

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From round tires to mirrors and wheels of cheese, round shapes are a major part of our society and culture. In fact, round shapes are so common, you may feel like there is no need whatsoever to “reinvent the wheel”.

What happens when society collapses and there are no means to run the computers and factories that generate all the round things we use today? Where will you get new tires, new steering wheels, and other round items?

If you do not know how to make perfectly round shaped templates and then fashion them into working items, it will be impossible to repair damaged devices and build new ones.

The Importance of a Durable and Reusable Template

Consider a situation where you need to make a new wheel for a wagon or some other device. At the beginning of your task, you may think that you are only going to make one wheel, and then not need to worry about producing another one for some time.

For the sake of speed and utility, you may think it is best to find some way to duplicate a round shape right on the material that you plan to work with.

To begin, if you do not have a template, you will not be able to start again as easily if the material in question falls apart or does not work for your application. At the very least, if you have a template, you can simply use it to mark another piece of material without having to go through the whole measurement process again.

If another round object of the same size breaks, you can simply use the template you have on hand and save yourself a few steps.

A good quality template can also expand your material choices and options for producing the wheel. Among other things, you can use it to help with making molds, or even creating round objects that are made from layers of different materials.

The template can also be used to guide tools and help ensure that the final product is the proper size for your application.

Don’t forget to add extra material in case you need to add treads. Worst comes to worst, if the wheel is too big with the treads, you can simply sand or file it down to the right size. Just make sure that you also have a slightly smaller template to go by so that you don’t wind up with an irregular shape.

During the process of choosing a template material, it is very important to know what kinds of materials and tools you will be working with. For example, if you are planning to cut a round object from wood, it may be best to have a metal template.

This is especially important if you are going to use the template as a guide for the tools. Just make sure that the metal in question will not be damaged by the tools you are planning to use.

If you are only going to use the template as a means to draw marking guides on the material, then you can use paper, cardboard, or hard plastic.

Remember, if you do not have enough hard plastic on hand, you can try ironing together plastic bags to make a durable sheet of thicker plastic.

The template should be easy to fold up or roll up so that it does not take up much space. Just make sure that when you open the template back up, it does not have folds or creases in it that will cause spots to be less round than needed. The template should also lay perfectly flat and be easy to hold in place while you are working.

Discover the secrets that helped our forefathers survive! 

Some Ways to Get a Perfectly Round Blueprint

When a wheel or another round object spins, any deviation on roundness or weight disbursement can cause wobbling, excess wear, and possible breakage of the item. While some of these problems can be compensated for with balancing weights, it is still very important to start off with the roundest shape possible.

Simply trying to trace a round object onto a piece of paper or other template material will never work because the object in question will have been worn down from being in use.

It is much better to use the following methods for creating a round template that can be used to shape other objects.

Use a Compass

Even though a drafting compass is not very large, it will give you a perfectly round circle. I tend to prefer all metal compasses that have one pointer leg and a second one to hold a pencil. There are also extendable drafting compasses that will work just as well.

Use a String and a Pencil

To use this form of makeshift compass, you will need to set the pencil (or other narrow cylindrical object) in the center of the material you are using for the template. It should not bend in any direction or wobble.

Next, place the string around the pencil and measure a length that corresponds to where you want the outer edge of the circle to be. Use a pencil or something else that will make marks so that you have a more precise measure.

Hold the marking tool in place while you take the two ends of the string and tie them together. The marking tool should fit within the loop. You can make the loop as big or as small as you need to make a large enough round shape.

To use the compass, keep the string tight against the marking tool as you move it around the central pencil. When using this makeshift compass, make sure the string does not jump up and down on the central pencil.

You will also have to be very careful to make sure that the marking tool does not bend inward or outward, as this will throw off the roundness of the circle.

Use a Stick and a Central Pin

This method is very similar to the string and pencil compass, but it eliminates the problems associated with the string jumping and marking tool wobbling.

Basically, this makeshift compass looks a lot like an old fashioned stereo arm. Instead of the arm reaching in from outside the record, the holding place is located in the center of the circle.

You can use a stick of wood, or just about anything else as an arm. Just make sure that it can spin as freely as possible on the central holding point without wobbling or jumping up and down.

Next, drill or cut a hole in the arm that matches location that matches the edge of the circle you are planning to draw.

Set a pencil or other marking device into the hole so that it does not wobble, lean inward, or lean outward. Now all you have to do is push the marking tool so that the arm moves with it. As the arm moves around the central point, the marking tool will create a circle.

Video first seen on Make Something

Basics of Wheel Design

In a time of need, you may not be able to get the exact same materials that were used to create the device you are trying to repair. While you may be thinking that plastic or metal might have to be replaced with wood, there are many other options.

Since different materials have different strength levels and tendencies, you may need to change the internal shapes found in the wheel as well as it size and thickness.

Keep the following wheel design elements in mind as you study different materials. If you are building something completely new, you will also need to evaluate these elements in relation to the materials on hand and the application.

Even though you may be thinking mostly about vehicle wheels, there are many other places where these elements must work together for optimal performance.

If you are going to lift heavy objects with a simple machine, you will need to figure out the best ratio for pulley wheels. If you decide to advance into making gears, these elements are also very important to consider.

No matter whether you decide to create a pulley, a water wheel, or an automobile wheel, you will need to know how the following elements affect the performance of the wheel, and how that, in turn, affects the entire machine you are building or repairing.

Wheel Size

Since a wheel is designed to move in relation to a central axis, the diameter of the wheel is very important. A larger wheel will turn fewer times to cover longer distances, however, the engine or source of power will have to do more work to make the wheel turn. Smaller wheels will turn more times when compared to larger ones to cover the same distance, but it takes less work to turn the wheel.

Wheel Width

Thinner wheels can be useful for applications where you want less traction and resistance to travel. Thicker wheels are better for places where you want to reduce the risk of skidding while moving forward or making turns. Since thicker wheels also weight more, they will also absorb bumps better and with less loss of control.

Wheel Weight

More than a few people think that wheels should be as light as possible so that it takes less work to move them. On the other side of the equation, wheels need to have enough weight so that they will create enough drag as they move over surfaces beneath them.

If the wheel does not grip the surface properly, skidding will occur. Minor skidding can also be a problem because locked wheels are harder to turn than ones that grip surfaces properly.

Spokes vs Solid Construction

When you start making wheels big enough for a wagon or other vehicle, the weight of a solid wheel can cause a number of problems. On the other hand, spokes or cutouts in the wheel can reduce the weight to acceptable levels. That being said, if you are working with a material that has very little durability, you may still need to revert back to more solid shaped wheels.

You can also try using fortifications such as an independent rim that will add strength while reducing the overall weight of the wheel.

Surfaces for Traction

Weight alone is not enough to ensure that a wheel will always maintain good traction. This is why patterns or “treads” are often cut into tires. When combined with the weight of the vehicle, these treads help to grip the road without adding to the weight of the tire.

If you are going to build a brand new wheel, do not forget to choose a tread pattern that matches your application. This includes making sure that you know which patterns will work best in the mud, snow, ice, or anything else that you might be driving on.

How to Cut Round Surfaces

Once you know how big and thick the wheel is going to be, the next step will be shaping it from the base material. Here are the basic steps for a situation where you are cutting the material from a block of solid wood, plastic, metal or some other material.

  • Start off by making sure that the block is the right thickness or width for the wheel. Try to make the surface as smooth and even as possible.
  • Next, use the template to draw the round object. Be sure to note where the axis will go as well as how big it will be.
  • Use your cutting tools to take away the bulk of material from the edge of the wheel. Do not cut all the way down to the template lines. Leave at least 1/8” to ¼” so that you have enough room to sand the edges as well to create the roundest shape possible.
  • Once you have the basic wheel shape in place, go back and try to make it as even as possible all the way around before sanding. Do not cut to the point where you are at the template lines. At this stage, try to leave at least 1/16” all the way around the wheel.
  • Get rid of any excess material by sanding it away.
  • If needed, add any treads that you may need to complete the outer surface of the wheel.
  • Go ahead and drill out the area where the axle will go.
  • Complete the wheel by hollowing out any areas required to reduce overall weight.

Video first seen on bobdutica

Shaping Wood and Other Semi-Pliable Materials

Have you ever looked at wooden arched doorways and wondered how they could be made from just a single piece of wood. Surprisingly enough, this task isn’t as hard as it looks. By the same token, you can also bend metal and other materials into wheel shapes with relative ease. In order to do so you will need a solid wheel form that can be used to support the new form.

If you are planning to shape wood into a wheel, start off with a thin board that has the same width as what you need for the finished wheel. Next, you will have to soak the wood to soften it a bit.

Apply weights to the wood so that it “warps”a little, and then it it slowly dry up again. You will need to repeat this process several times to complete the wheel shape.

Once you complete a wooden wheel, do not forget that thin wood will require some form of support. You can use metal or plastic rims, as long as they are durable enough and can easily be bolted to the wood.

After you complete the outer rim of the wheel, you will need to complete the spokes and the hub. These can be fairly involved processes. As you put the spokes and hub into place, do not forget that the wheel must balance properly while in motion. If you notice that it wobbles you can attach weights on the inner surface of the wheel rim to improve balance.

In some ways, shaping metal can be a good bit easier. You can heat and hammer wood into thin enough strips that can be bent with relative ease with your hands or pliers. Just make sure that the underlying form can withstand the heat from hot metal if you decide to work with metal when is softer and more pliable.

Overall, you will find plastic one of the easiest materials to make wheels from. If you are working with a hard plastic, just apply some heat and let the plastic rest on the underlying form. Make sure that you also have the form covered with something that the plastic will not adhere to. Make sure that you can break the underlying form apart if needed.

Casting Wheels

Throughout time, many people have found out it is easier to produce consistent wheels by making a reusable mold first. Molds also open up the number of materials that you can use to make wheels.

For example, if the wheel isn’t going to be used in heavy stress and strain applications, you may even be able to get away with using glass. Wheels made from plastic, metal, or even clay are easily made when you cast them using a mold. Here is the basic process:

  • You will need to start off with an exact model of the round shape. It should match your needs in terms of width, circumference, hub design, and spokes. You can use any material that you want as long as it won’t collapse or warp while you care making the mold.
  • Next, choose the material that you will use to create the mold. The material should be heavy enough to withstand pulling and pushing without warping. It should also be strong enough so that it won’t break or be damaged by the material used to make the final shape.
  • When creating the mold, you will need to account for a place to pour in the material used to make the wheel. You will also need to decide how and in what places the mold will be opened in order to remove the finished wheel. Depending on the wheel design, you may be able to get away with a 2 part mold. If the spokes or internal shapes are more complicated, you may need a 4 part mold.
  • After you remove the model (it’s OK if it is destroyed as you won’t need it any further), go ahead and clean up the mold.
  • Put the mold back together and secure it with rope or something else that will keep the pieces all together. Try to make sure the pieces fit together as tightly and as perfectly as possible so that the material used to make the wheel won’t leak through.
  • Next, go ahead and fill the mold.
  • Once the material used to fill the mold is fully cured, go ahead and open the mold up. If you did everything right, you should have a fairly close duplicate of the original model wheel. You may need to remove mold seams and other imperfections, but the basic round shape should be just fine.

Right now, it is fair to say that most people take wheels for granted. At the same time, if we lose factories during a major social collapse, wheels, gears, pulleys, and other round objects will be very hard to produce.

Knowing how to “reinvent” a wheel may not seem very useful until you are in a situation where you must do so or face serious problems.

From bugging out to keeping your homestead running in good order, being able to make new wheels and design them from scratch is a very important, but overlooked skill.

More valuable secrets form our forefathers are still to be discovered.

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This article has been written by Carmela Tyrell for Survivopedia. 

Winter Survival: How To Build A Snow Shelter

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

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

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

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

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

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

CLICK HERE to subscribe to Survivopedia’s newsletter and get this month’s Free Report about how to practice your survival skills during winter.

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

How To Build a Snow Shelter

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Step 1. Find a proper location

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

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

Step 2: Find an are with deep snow 

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

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

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

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

Video first seen on OutsideFun1.

Step 3: Pile up the snow 

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

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

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

Step 4: Dig a tunnel into the snow pile 

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

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

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

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

How To Build a Snow Trench Survival Shelter 

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

Video first seen on Snowy Range Survival.

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

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

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

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


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

This article has been written by Chris Black for Survivopedia. 

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DIY Basic Project: How To Build A Ladder

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DIY Ladder

Who doesn’t need a ladder?

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to Make a Rustic Ladder for $20 or Less

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

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

Supply list:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Video first seen on Home Hardware

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This article has been written by Chris Black for Survivopedia. 

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15 Survival Projects For Preppers Before The Winter Comes

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Summer is almost over, but we still expect to enjoy some warm and sunny days! It’s time to get out of the house, do some barbequing, and stretch your legs. Time to enjoy the weather and go swimming, weed the garden and fix all the stuff that fell apart over the winter.

While the weather’s still nice, there are plenty of survival projects that you can work on, too. Just click on the links in the article below to check these projects.

  1. Take the Kids Camping

starting fireEverybody (well, nearly everybody like us) loves to go camping, but in between the ghost stories and the s’mores, take the time to teach the kids some wilderness skills.

I’ve found some great articles and projects that offer some awesome ideas.

Learning how to tie knots is a skill that can come in handy in a survival situation. Knowing which knot to use can mean the difference between holding a raft together and floating down the river on one piece of Styrofoam.

Also, many knots are meant to hold strong if pulled from one end, but come loose easily if pulled from the other. That means that you can reuse the rope without cutting knots out of it. Check out this instructable: How to tie various knots

Building lean-tos and shelters can be made into a fun “build a fort” type of project now but may save lives later. Here are a couple of good ideas for different types of lean-tos. How to build a lean to in a deciduous forest and Nice DIY shelter and hunting camp.

Knowing how to start fires without matches or a lighter is a great skill to practice when camping, too. Here are a couple of cool methods: 5 ways to start a fire using water, and the good old fashioned bow drill method.

Finally, navigating without a compass is possibly one of the most important survival skills you and your kids can have. Here’s a good instructable that shows 3 different, easy ways to find north. You can also make a duct-tape compass.

  1. Make Fire Starters

Stocking up on fire starters is a great idea, regardless of whether you’re doing it to build a fire during the winter, or to add to your stockpile and your bug out bags.

There are dozens of ways to make them, but here are a couple of ways that are free (or nearly free), light, and simple. The first is a waterproof dryer lint fire starter and the second is a nifty little project made with straws and cotton.

  1. Learn to Cook without a Stove or a Box

Cooking over a fire is a great survival skill but it’s not as simple as it sounds, at least until you get the hang of it. I’m a firm believer in iron skillets but that may not be possible if you’re packing light. Practice cooking on the grill and over an open fire.

Even if you have a ton of boxed mixes stored, you can only live so long before you run out of cake and biscuit mix. You’ll eventually need to know how to do it yourself, so why not learn now? It will taste much better too, once you get the hang of it!

Here’s a good article to get you started on your journey to cooking from scratch. Redflycreations also shares some great baking mixes that you can make yourself so that if you want to stockpile some baking mixes and dry-can them, you can. You can use the fire starters that you made from the instructables above, or practice starting a fire without a lighter.

  1. Stockpile Wood

Now’s the time to get your wood seasoning for next year. Remember that it’s best to let wood season for at least a year before you use it so that it’s dry and easy to burn.

Check out our own article on every aspect of choosing, cutting, splitting, and burning wood.

  1. Build a Solar Panel

This is a really cool project that the kids can help you with. I like it because it recycles cans that you’re going to use anyway and it actually works to heat up air. That may just be the difference between freezing or not, or at least washing in warm water.

Check out this instructable for DIY solar panels from soda cans.

  1. Learn about Edibles around Your Location

The weather’s beautiful and the kids are going to be stir-crazy. Take them outside and show them what they can eat and what they can’t around where you live. If you don’t have kids, (and especially if you do!), pick up a book on local edibles and go for a hike.


  1. Scout Bug Out Locations

Summer is the perfect time to scout potential bug-out locations both around you and far away. If you’re considering buying a homestead somewhere, this is the ideal time to look.

Be sure to do your homework before you start looking. Read these Survivopedia articles about how to choose your land when buying and the problems you might have when relocating in rural areas to get the knowledge that you need.

Of course, what you should look for depends on whether or not you’re just looking for a local place to hole up or an entirely different home or bug out place with all the amenities. Do your research and make up a list before you go on the hunt so that you don’t forget anything.

  1. Set up a Rain Water Collection System

You can only survive 3 days without water, so it’s critical that you have a  way to capture water even if your well goes, or the grid goes down and you don’t have any city water.

Even if you just want to save some money on your water bill or water your plants with rain water, building a rain water collection system is easy with this guide.

  1. Build a Backyard Fire Pit

I love sitting around a fire at night, listening to the sounds of the crickets and owls and watching the fire pop. Having a backyard fire pit has also served me well several times when the power was out and I was out of charcoal.

A little bit of wood and a grate and you’ve got yourself a great outdoor cooking source. Here are a couple great ideas for building a fire pit for next to nothing. I’ve actually built one similar to each.

For the first one, I used a broken grill that I’d picked up at a yard sale so it only cost me about $5 and it looked great. The second one is dirt cheap assuming you have cinder blocks laying around, or can get some recycled ones.

And here’s also a nice infographic on building fire pits:

fire pit

  1. Build a Spiral Herb Garden

Fresh herbs are great, and if you have limited space, this is spiral herb garden is definitely the project for you. My only advice is to do some research before planting because some herbs will merge flavors if you plant them near each other.

  1. Go Fishing

They say a bad day of fishing is better than a good day at work, and it’s the truth. This DIY prepper project is necessary and fun – your homework is to go catch fish! Do you know how to clean your own fish, though? I also found some cool tips about making fish hooks from soda can tops and ways to make fish hooks out of what you can find around outside. Oh yeah – and you’re going to need bait so catch some with this pickle jar minnow trap.

  1. Build a Triple Compost Bin

Are you tired of waiting for your compost pile to mature before you can use it, then starting over? Well here’s a great idea for having compost in 3 different stages so that you always have compost ready to use.

  1. Build a Simple Water Filtration System

You have all of that rain water collected, and now you need to be able to drink it as well as water your plants with it. Filtering water is a great DIY preppers project that’s useful. This fairly simple water filtration system uses gravel, sand, and charcoal and is actually 3 different systems that can be used individually or altogether for a total treatment. There’s another water filtration that uses a plastic barrel system that’s fairly easy to make as well.

  1. Learn How to Use a Gun

Just because you own one doesn’t mean that you know how to use it properly. I’m not trying to be offensive, but even if you’re experienced and capable with your weapon, ask yourself this – can your other family members break down your gun, clean it, tell when it’s loaded, shoot it, and reload it? If not, don’t you think they should learn? After all, what if something happens to you?

Make yourself and your family an appointment for a firearms class. Also, if you’re interested in learning how to make reloads, here is the first in a series of articles about learning to reload on the cheap.

  1. Hit the Flea Markets and Farmers Markets

Some of the best things about summer, as far as I’m concerned, are the flea markets, farmers markets, and yard sales. They’re great places to find fresh foods, reusable items to make stuff on the cheap. These places are also great places to make connections – for food shares, prepping and homesteading resources and partners, and just all around good people.

I hope that at least some of these DIY prepper projects sound appealing to you, and that you find the links fun and useful. I know that some of them are simple and some are more complicated, but I tried to find a balance that would be within everybody’s ability.

If you have any good summer prepping projects to add, please tell us about them in the comments section below.


This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.

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Prep Blog Review: Getting Back To DIY Projects

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What DIY projects have you tried lately?

I’m getting more interested in woodworking. Two reasons: seems like every piece of furniture I buy gets easily broken nowadays, plus you need to be prepared to make your own stuff, if you truly want to be self-sufficient.

Now that summer is about to end, I’m looking for more exciting ideas (woodworking or not) to try. Here’s what I found.

1. 18 Simple Do-It-Yourself Projects For Preppers


“To some, planning for the unthinkable is a silly notion. But to others, it is simply following the Boy Scout motto at its finest. In the event of a catastrophe, nobody will think you’re strange for being the only person on the block with enough food and equipment to live comfortably for years. You’re a prepper: If you wake up tomorrow and have no gas, electricity, or running water, you’ll still have a plan.

If your situation becomes more permanent, you’ll also have some brilliant solutions to get you farther than any bug out bag could. Why? Because you’ve been working on simple do-it-yourself projects like the ones below every weekend in preparation for such an occasion. Next time you have a few hours to kill, try one of these DIY prepper projects.”

Read more on Urban Survival Site.

2. Ancient Atlatls: How to Make a Down-N-Dirty Spear-Thrower


“Somewhere down your family tree a spear-thrower used a simple, two-piece weapon to bring home the bacon… or wooly mammoth… or mastodon. Ancient atlatls have been discovered on every continent except Antarctica. What’s an atlatl? A simple dart-throwing stick with a handle on one end and spur (male end) or socket (female end) on the other end. The dart, a flexible spear, mates with the spur/socket when thrown. Typically about two feet long, an atlatl employs leverage to extend the arm’s length to propel a dart further and with more velocity than when thrown using only the arm.”

Read more on Survival Sherpa.

3. VID: DIY Solar Water Heater!

Go to Desert Sun 02 youtube channel to see how it’s done.

4. Make This! DIY Wooden Rocket Stove


“Here’s another project that will go perfect with a long summer night at the beach. Make a portable campfire you can bring with you to light off wherever you need.   This variation of a swedish flame (make one of those here) is a bit different, as it produces a more compact flame. With a side hole that lets in oxygen, the light and heat are directed out the centralized hole at the top. This means less smoke but also a bit less “campfire” ambiance. But with a stable top, it’s great for heating up an evening toddy, or hot chocolate, and the licking flames make quick work of those s’more ingredients. Adding a simple rope handle and it’s easy to bring alone anywhere.”

Read more on Man Made DIY.

5. 31 Cool DIY Projects for Preppers


“Want a cool preparedness project for this weekend?

Let’s get started:

#1 How to Make Homemade Bread in a Can

#2 Using Mineral Oil to Keep Eggs Fresh For Up to One Year

#3 How to Make a Keyhole Garden

Read more on Ask a Prepper.


This article has been written by Brenda E. Walsh for Survivopedia

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7 DIY Safe House Projects To Hide Your Valuables

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Survivopedia hidden safebox

You know that old saying that everyone’s got something to hide except for me and my monkey? Well, nowadays even my monkey has something to hide, so we put up today’s article about DIY safe house projects.

When speaking of things to hide, I am not referring to your dirty past, but valuables, stuff like jewelry, cash, sensitive information/documents or even gold which may very well be subject to confiscation.

It was in the past, if you remember the good old pre-World War 2 days and 1933’s Executive Order 6102. If you don’t remember, well, it’s time for a reality check, because history has a bad habit of repeating itself, whether you’re a scholar or just the average Joe Public.

Now, regular folk tends to keep their valuables in a bank safe box or at home, under a cipher lock or something similar, in case they can afford such luxuries.

However, keeping your stash in a bank safe deposit box is not the best idea in the world, if you’re familiar with the notion of bank runs or the aforementioned confiscation policies, in which case your valuables will disappear like fresh driven snow in the Kalahari Desert.

The other option is to keep your valuables at home, in a classic safe box, but these things tend to be really expensive and also they draw attention, if you know what I mean.

Another thing to contemplate if you’re a proud safe-owner is that a burglar who was tipped that you have such an abomination on your premises will be perfectly able to force you at gun point to open it; you know what I’m talking about, right?

Basically, could be pretty hard to maintain OPSEC when you have installed a safe-box in your house. I’m not trying to downplay the notion of safe-boxes, they sure as Hell have their uses, but a smart prepper (especially a prepper on a budget) should look at alternative means to hide his/hers valuables.

Now, from what I’ve learned about the psychology of a home invader, whether he’s a police officer or a burglar, I discovered a modus operandi which can be summarized in three basic rules: home invaders first look for openly displayed valuables, after that they look for juicy-looking (as in appealing) storage spaces (like classic safe boxes) and after that they’ll look at any other type of place which may be harboring valuable things like cash and jewelry.

Basically, all home invaders follow this simple algorithm for maximizing their chances of success, given the fact they only have a limited amount of time to spend in your home.

And here our DIY safe projects thingy comes into play, as they look inconspicuous generally speaking, making them the ideal choice for storing your valuables, sometimes even in plain view. And you know, stuffing money inside your mattress is getting old, get over it and keep reading.

The Lego Safe Box

My first project is about how to build a safe box (yes, you got that right) using your old/left-over Legos, thus turning them into a hidden/secret/magnetized/whatchamacallit safe. It sounds pretty darn’ interesting, doesn’t it?

The beauty of this project is its “in your face” simplicity. I mean, who would think that you’re hiding cash or jewelry inside a Lego block? All kids have Legos and that means you’ll draw next to zero suspicion hiding your valuables inside a Lego-made safe box, right?

Another cool thing about this project is the fact that you’ll not require spending lots of money on materials and tools and you probably already own a Lego set. It doesn’t get any better than that, believe me folks.

Now, just take a look at this video and learn how to turn your left over Legos into a magnetized safe. By magnetized I refer to attaching a bunch of magnets to your safe, making the secret drawer accessible only if you already know where the internal magnet is located.

The general idea is that you’ll be creating a Lego structure which features a hidden drawer inside, the perfect place to hide some cash or your engagement ring (use your imagination, ok?). The magnet gizmo makes the secret drawer to open only when using another magnet.

Video first seen on HouseholdHacker.

Pretty cool concept, don’t you think?

Hidden Wall Safe

Moving along with the article, the next DIY project is a secret/hidden wall safe. You may be familiar with the concept or not, but just take a look at this cool instructable video below and you’ll learn how to securely hide your cash/other valuables almost in plain sight via an easy to make wall-safe box which comes handy for storing even things like guns and ammo.

This particular project uses a fake wall-socket which masks a relatively small safe-deposit box behind, the perfect spot to hide some money and jewelry, but the limit is your imagination when it comes to hidden wall safes.

You can make them as big as you want, for example building a secret (and very big) compartment behind your TV using the same principle.

Video first seen on PostmasterPrepper.

The Fake Air Vent Safe Box

Another idea is to build a secret compartment/safe box using a fake air vent as a cover. The idea is basically the same, making for a clever and inexpensive way to hide your valuables in plain sight.

Obviously, you can use all these different ideas for keeping your stash safe, as in “don’t put all your eggs in the same basket”. Redundancy is the name of the game.

Check out the video and you’ll learn how to install your fake air vent securely using just a hot glue gun, screws, a jig saw and sheet rock saw, it’s a fairly easy project which may be completed in a couple of hours.

Video first seen on DIYeasycrafts.

The Floating Shelf Safe Box

How about a floating shelf featuring a secret compartment? I know, the idea is not new, I’ve already seen dozens of movies in which the hero draws a gun from a secret compartment inside a shelf and stuff like that, but that’s hardly a problem.

Video first seen on Moy perez woodshop.

I mean, can you think of a house where there are no shelves around? Shelves are ubiquitous, they’re an intrinsic part of the American culture and way of life sort to speak. And that makes them the perfect place to secretly store your valuables, don’t you think?

The Hollow Book Safe Box

Another idea for secret compartments to stash your valuables/guns or whatever is also borrowed from the movies: a hollow book (usually a Bible) and this one is a true classic. And the best thing is that you can find a hollow book for sale almost anywhere, they’re that popular.

However, here’s a video about the DIYing just in case.

Video first seen on Von Malegowski.

The Keyboard Safe Box

Now, if you’re a PC owner, you can create a small secret compartment in the unused portion of your keyboard, the Number Keypad respectively, as per this video. This is as cool as it gets, the bummer is the space is relatively small.

Video first seen on kipkay.

The CD Safe Box

Last but not least, this is one of my all-time favorites: how to build a secret safe using old CDs. Provided you’re old school, just like yours truly and you’re still using CDs, you can easily make a  secret-safe-hidden-in-plain-sight by using a cake box full with DVDs or CDs, whatever you have lying around the house.

The idea is to cut their inner hole and then glue them together, thus creating a secret hiding space inside where you can keep diamonds, rubies or some cash.

Video first seen on Shake the Future.

Try one (or more) of these clever methods to protect your cash or your valuables, use your creativity and get back to us with a comment in the dedicated section below.


This article has been written by Chris Black for Survivopedia.

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Off-Grid Mechanics: 8 Steps That You Need To Know

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Survivopedia Off-grid Mechanics

What kind of vehicles and equipment do you use every day? What would you use instead in a SHTF world without the power grid?

When modern equipment won’t work anymore, the prepared have a plan in place. They know that with a little ingenuity and some elbow grease, they can get the job done. But a willingness to work won’t get you very far if you don’t have a pile of materials to work with.

Using What You Have

Modern-day preppers can learn a lot from the Depression era mentality of saving. I know that I have!

My Grandpa never threw anything away. When we first moved back to the family property, I thought his old junk pile was an eyesore. Tires. Old tractors. Tons of screws, bolts, and who knows what else. It was a huge pile of junk.

In today’s use it and toss it society, I simply couldn’t fathom why in the world my Grandpa kept this junk. I was embarrassed by it. I wanted to scoop it all up and take it to the dump. Thankfully, we couldn’t afford to do that.

Because over the years since we’ve been back, I’ve realized the true value of that junk pile. We’ve taken parts from equipment of old to fix what is broken. We’ve used scrap metal and junk to fill a need and solve problems around the homestead. And we’ve saved a lot of money.

That junk pile? I no longer view it as junk. I think of it as our insurance. You see—when the day comes that we can’t just go buy something, we’ll have a leg-up. We’ll have stuff to work with.

So if you don’t have a junk pile of your own, I’d recommend you start one. If you have property, just gather your junk in a remote corner. If you don’t, you’ll have to think creatively.

Can you save extra nuts and bolts in a drawer in the garage? Can you partner with a country friend to create a joint pile? Can you devote a closet to accumulating odds and ends?

As odd as it may seem to save junk, recycling and reusing becomes crucial when the modern economy is gone. You simply won’t be able to go buy what you need. You’ll have to use what you have.

1. Make a List!

What kind of automated systems are you running right now? Since each of us have a different lifestyle and processes, we won’t all need the exact same things.

To figure out what you need, you have to make a list. Grab a piece of paper and write down all of the systems you’re currently using that run on electricity and modern machinery. Here’s some common ones to get you thinking:

  • Milking machines
  • Automated sprinklers for the garden
  • Tractor for plowing the field
  • Rototillers for the garden
  • Irrigation systems
  • Lights
  • Food storage (fridge and freezer)
  • Laundry care
  • Cooking
  • Personal vehicles to get from place to place
  • Heating a greenhouse to grow food year round

You’ll probably have more to add. Most of us are very dependent on modern innovations in today’s life. Now that you have your list, it’s time to start thinking through SHTF scenarios. Let’s work through a couple together:

Milking the Animals

How would you milk your cows if you had no power?

If you only have a couple of cows, you’ll probably be able to switch to hand milking. You might even get away with switching to once a day milking depending on how much milk your ladies are giving.


But, what if you have a whole herd and depended on a milker? What powers your machine milker? Do you know how your vacuum pump works? How will you clean the pieces if you don’t have running water?

Learn everything you can about the mechanics behind the automated systems you use every day. Read the manual. Study how the pieces work together. The more familiar you are with the parts and pieces, the more likely you’ll be able to repair it when the time comes. You’ll also know what sorts of extra parts to start stock piling.


When vehicles first came out, they were fairly simple machines. Most people could handle their own repairs. With today’s chips, computers, and complexity, that’s no longer the case.

These detailed systems often require specialized tools and scanning software to repair. There isn’t much you can do yourself without a large amount of mechanical knowledge. You might want to consider having an older vehicle around, just because it’s easier to work on.

They’re also more likely to run after an EMP. Here’s a great Survivopedia post on the best vehicles for an EMP event.

No matter what you’re driving, it’s essential that you start learning to repair it. If your car is broken, do some basic troubleshooting yourself. Every time you do this, you’re improving your mechanical ability.

If you take your car to the mechanic, learn all you can. Ask to see the broken part and where it was in your vehicle. You’ll learn more about your car, and start building a relationship with someone local with a mechanically minded skill-set. Or you can chose to grow animals for transportation.

Growing Food

You can’t just plop a variety of seeds in the ground and expect to magically grow enough food to feed yourself and your family for the entire year.  There’s a lot of work between planting and harvesting. Many people rely on automated systems to do a portion of this work. From tractors to electricity or automatic watering systems, food production hasn’t escaped modern marvels.

Take a look at what you’re currently doing for food production. Do you run a rototiller over the ground each year? If so, it’s time to think about switching to a no-till method of gardening.

In this method, you prepare your soil initially before planting. Then you cover it with a thick layer of mulch.  When it’s time to plant, you gently remove some of the mulch, and bury your seeds.

As your plants grow, the mulch holds in water, which is essential in a crisis situation. You continue to add compost and mulch to your garden. But, instead of digging the new stuff in, you just top-dress it by adding layer upon layer up on top.

This same method works in the field as well, though on a larger scale. Instead of a plow to prep the field for planting, you’d use a harrow. The impact on the land is a lot less, as harrows pierce the ground instead of turning it over.

Harrows are also more energy efficient since you can plant at the same time. That means only one trip around the field is needed instead of multiple.

Large Equipment

If your farm equipment fails, do you have a backup plan? Some people keep horses around, but horses aren’t the only animal that can work a field. Dexter cattle have been called a tri-purpose cow because they’re good for meat, milk, and work.

You’ll probably need to do some innovating to get your equipment to pull by animal instead of machine. Harnesses will be essential to keep your animal safe while working.

You can look for older equipment now, while you still have the benefit of used marketplaces. Horse drawn machinery are often cheaper than their modern counterparts, and  they’re also easier to work on.

Video first seen on jamminjamy.


It’s not only the planting of the field that you should think about, it’s also the watering. Water typically runs on a pump. If you don’t have power, you’ll lose the accessibility of water. Gravity fed systems are one solution.

Look for an elevated area on your property where you can collect rainwater.

If you prepare a large container with a hose connector and a plug down low, you’ll be set to use the water. When it’s time to water, hook a hose up to the container. Gravity will force the water through the hose to where you need it. Just be sure to put the plug back on your system when you’re finished.

You can also build a series of wooden troughs to carry water from a waterfall or creek if you have one on your property. This one requires a little more mechanical know-how, as you’ll have to ensure your angles are correct. Otherwise the water won’t flow.

Harvest Time

To harvest your plants without machinery, you’ll need to learn how it was done in the past. If you’re growing your own wheat, instead of a combine you’ll need a scythe to cut it. You’ll also need to think through the threshing.

Only you know exactly what you’ll need to switch your automated systems over to manual ones. You’ll definitely need to have raw materials and tools on hand to keep your systems in good repair. But what can you do right now to start this process?

2. Stock Up on Printed Resources

There are plenty of books and details online that walk you through the systems you need. Now is the perfect time to stock up on printed research materials. After all, you won’t be able to do a whole lot of surfing the internet after the SHTF.

You won’t be able to learn everything in one sitting. That’s why having printed material is so beneficial. When you need it, you’ll be able to pull it out and learn on the go.

3. Develop a Repair or Reuse Mindset

When something breaks, it’s so easy to throw it away and buy another one. But, that attitude won’t get you very far in a crisis. Starting today, take time to learn about what’s broken.

If it’s something you were going to throw away anyways, you have nothing to lose. Examine the parts. See if you can pinpoint what failed. Then take it apart and see how everything fits together.

You might discover it was something simple that you can fix. If not, you gained valuable experience in troubleshooting and disassembly. Those skills will be crucial in the future.

Instead of throwing away things that break, see if you can come up with a more innovative solution. Can you pull the components and save them for an upcoming project? Can you hang onto the gears?

You might not have the space to save everything. That’s why it’s essential to have your list. What items will you use the most to keep your needed systems up and running?

4. Develop Your Creativity and Innovation

Instead of going out and buying something new, think creatively. Is there any other way to do what you need to do? Can you reuse something, or build a DIY model?

This will put your creative thinking skills to work. You’ll start thinking outside of the box. But just coming up with ideas isn’t enough. Innovation is the ability to put those skills to use to solve a problem.

5. Improve Your Mechanical Mind

Some people are naturally gifted in the area of mechanics. They’re tinkerers, always working on something. Others don’t have this natural ability.  But, everyone can learn. If you’re not mechanically inclined, start asking questions. Watch what others do. Learn from them.

6. Carry Tools

You never know when you might need a screwdriver or a knife. If you aren’t currently carrying a multi-tool, start.

Put a basic repair kit in your car, and know how to use the tools in it. If you leave your vehicle in an emergency, you’ll be able to grab a couple of tools. Those may make the difference between you making it home or not.


7. Invest in Hand Tools

You’ll also want to build a solid supply of hand tools around your homestead. Think beyond the screwdriver and hammer. How would you cut firewood without a chainsaw? Pick up a hand saw that you can use if you need to.

8. Learn the Basics

While you can’t learn everything there is to know, you can learn a little about a lot of things. Here are some things to study that’ll help you be better prepared:

Every bit of knowledge and hands on mechanical experience you gain will help make you stronger in the future.

What’s your biggest struggle when it comes to off-grid mechanics? What systems would you have to replace? Could you survive off-grid, living the life our ancestors lived? Click on the banner below to find out more about their way of living and use their secrets for your survival.

the lost ways cover

This article has been written by Lisa Tanner for Survivopedia.

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Survival Projects: DIY Small Cabin

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big diy cabin

What’s so special about cabins? Well, maybe a better question is what’s NOT so special about cabins! They’re quaint, functional, sturdy and can be built so that they’re easy to defend.

Which brings us to the current subject – building your own small cabin. It’s pretty awesome to build something using your own hands and skills, especially when you can scale it up later to build a full-scale one, don’t you think?

Also, knowing how to build a cabin would be a very good trade to barter in a post-apocalyptic world, and it would come handy in a SHTF scenario. I mean, being capable of building your own shelter is a pretty big deal from a prepper’s point of view, and being able to build something beside a hut will also make life more bearable, at least that’s my opinion.

Another thing about cabins is that they look really nice on your property, even if you don’t live in it on a regular basis.

You can use it as an additional storage space, like a shed, or as your own “quiet time” retreat. Or you can build it in the middle of nowhere and turn it into your bug out location.

Kids love to play in them, too. Finally, any quality extra building adds to the value of your real-estate.

With all these things established, let’s go deeper into the rabbit hole.

Kit Log or Butt-and-pass?

Now, the DIY part may seem like a lot of trouble for some folks. Why bother with doing it yourself, when you can buy log cabin kits from virtually anywhere? The short answer is money. A log cabin kit will cost you significantly more than a DIY project. Thousands of dollars more, plus you’re probably not going to be able to mail-order your cabin kit after SHTF.

But wait, there’s more to it. The reality is that a log cabin kit means that the cabin is typically built on a construction yard (that’s the industry norm), then disassembled, loaded, shipped, hauled to your real estate and then re-built on your spot, by you or a contractor.

That’s a horrible idea, because a “shake and bake” log cabin requires keyways, screw jacks, slip joints, and other assembly components while a DIY project needs zero notch work. That  means that you’ll be able to avoid the hardest, and probably the most expensive, part when it comes to building a log cabin because you’ll be using a different method if you DIY.

If you correctly use the butt-and-pass method when building your log cabin (more on that later in the article), there will be no issue with the “settling” for you to be concerned with, as many will warn you of.

You’ll hear lots of rants about settling when it comes to log cabins, all of them coming from cabin builders, because they are people too and they need money to make ends meet. If every homesteader was aware of the butt-and-pass method of log cabin building, the log kit dealers would cease to exist, and I am not kidding.

When built correctly, a butt-and-pass log home is virtually indestructible. That’s the reason why you can’t build that type of structure in a factory, then disassemble it and ship it; it just can’t be done because it’s so strong. Hence, companies specialized in log cabin kits are choosing the next best thing (for them), i.e. that type of cabin that can be easily built on their premises, then taken apart and shipped to your property to be reassembled.

Why isn’t the shake and bake log cabin kit a good idea, you ask? Well, the answer is logical, and you’ll understand once we explain how to properly build a log cabin yourself. It’s about the aforementioned settling, which tends to occur especially in those types of log structures that have the ability to come apart easily.

More precisely, about a year and a half after you put it together, after re-assembling your dearest log-cabin kit, you’ll begin noticing an appreciable settling because the logs have finished their drying process. It may be the stairs (you’ll see they’re not aligned perfectly anymore) or you’ll notice gaps between the roof and the log wall, or maybe a window will be shattered under the weight of the logs; who knows?

However, the DIY method of butt-and-pass in a log-home construction requires absolutely zero settling space, hence that’s the way to go. Say no to kit log cabins! Since butt-and-pass log cabins must be built on the site (and in this case by you, the homeowner), you’ll incur no transportation costs or other hidden bills. And while the industry focuses on inferior (cheaper) methods to maximize their profits, the quality and endurance of the respective kit is put aside.

Here are a few benefits of butt-and-pass log cabins:

  • They are the least expensive, and I’ve heard about stories of a finished house (not a small cabin) costing just $7500.
  • They are the most durable in terms of wood-built homes.
  • They last longer than other timber-made homes, being more resistant to humidity and water damage.
  • If properly designed and built, they will require minimal amounts of maintenance than, let’s say, your regular stick-frame home.
  • You don’t have to hire a professional contractor, it’s a straight forward DIY thing for the average homesteader.
  • The butt-and-pass building method doesn’t require log seasoning or air drying the logs, because the settling issue is non-existent if built correctly.

The “HOW TO”

Now, before proceeding further, you must check with your local authorities and see if you require a building permit. If you go for a small cabin, on a budget, it would be very probable that you don’t, but you never know these days. With that thing taken care of, the permit that is, let’s see what’s with the butt-and-pass method, shall we?

Let me quote the experts on that: “Butt-and-pass involves having the logs around the structure all at the same level, i.e., the seam in a north wall will match up to a seam in a west wall. Where two logs come together at a corner, one butts up against the side of the other one which “passes” and sticks out in the familiar log house style.”

Here’s a video which depicts the butt-and-pass method; it’s way easier to understand:

Video first seen on The Woodworkers Shoppe

When built correctly with the butt-and-pass method, the respective structure will definitely outlive any other kind of log-cabin, and additionally, it doesn’t require the same maintenance, i.e. sealants, coats of stain and what not to protect it from decay.

Clicking on the photo below will take you to a website that will provide you with lots of technical details and pictures about the actual construction job.

Cabin DIY

The same story goes with the website linked in the photo below, which explains in minute detail how to build a small 12×20 cabin on a budget for about $2200, which is way less than the cost for a similar “shake and bake” kit.

DIY Cabin

10 Tips for Building Your Cabin Log

Finally, I will give you a few tips and some common sense advice if you want to build your dream log-cabin yourself while keeping the costs way down low:

  1. Try to do all the work yourself, or with a little help from a friend or your family members, or even neighbors (you’d be surprised by the natural kindness of the common folk in rural areas).
  2. It would be awesome if you could cut your house logs/lumber/timber from your own property (this will keep the costs WAY down).
  3. It would be great if you could gain access to a local sawmill; if not, you should try to purchase a portable sawmill and after the job is done, resell it.
  4. Try to use recycled materials for as much as possible.
  5. Buy the cement for the foundation in bulk and use a big barrel for storing it (a 55 gallon drum would suffice).
  6. Keep in mind that you’ll require a pick-up truck, quality tools (like a chainsaw, a big electric drill, a sledge hammer, draw knives, adze, a cant hook, a broad axe) and some skills (like welding). As you can see, besides being economical, durable and fast, the butt-and-pass method of log building doesn’t require a lot of tools! Also, even if you go for building a relatively big home, which translates into big logs that are heavy, you don’t need a crane to lift them up into place. You can use a block and tackle pulley gizmo, mounted at every corner of the house on a lifting pole.
  7. Socialize with your neighbors and talk to people, especially the personnel at supply houses; they can help you with your building project if you ask them for explanations or technical help.
  8. Read a lot. Do your own research if you don’t understand something.
  9. Don’t borrow money. Be patient because it may take a while until the job is done. Nothing just happens miraculously.
  10. Keep your sense of humor at all times!

If you have new ideas or questions, feel free to comment in the dedicated section below. Good luck, have fun!


This article has been written by Chris Black for Survivopedia.

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