5 Ways to Build a Cheap Emergency Shelter

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When your roof is leaking and your feet go through the floor boards, it may seem clear enough that your home won’t stand up to a hurricane or some other large scale disaster. On the other side of the equation, even if your home is newer, or you rent an apartment, that doesn’t mean you should rely exclusively on your current home during a major crisis.

Regardless of your current living situation, there are many times and places where an external shelter located on your property or near your home will be of more use than expected. Here are some ways you can build an emergency shelter on a limited budget.

Understand the Building Needs for Different Crisis Scenarios

Before you decide to try and build the cheapest emergency shelter possible, it is important to know which kind of emergencies you expect to get through while residing in the shelter. Have a look at some of the most common scenarios and how they may or may not change your building plans:

  • The best shelter for surviving a nuclear crisis will be one located underground. Just make sure that earth covers the top of the shelter as well as all around it. Underground shelters will also be the best for tornadoes.
  • Since water from hurricanes can sink deep into the ground, you may be in more danger underground than above. A shelter that will survive a hurricane must be able to withstand heavy winds and rain. Look into shelters that have rounded or dome like shapes as they will offer less resistance to the wind. This, in turn, means that it will be harder for the wind to pick up the shelter and destroy it.
  • Gas, disease, and similar attacks require a shelter that is as waterproof and air proof as possible. While it does not matter if the shelter is above ground or below, you will need to be able to filter the air and enrich it with oxygen. Ideally, shelters for these kinds of emergencies plus nuclear crisis should also include a decontamination area. If you go outside, it will be very important to have a place where you can remove your clothes and remove debris and other possible pollutants from your skin before entering the shelter.

Cheap Materials For Building Shelters Near Your Home

Chances are, you will be surprised how natural materials or ones you consider to be “junk” can be repurposed into making a durable emergency shelter. Here are some materials that you more than likely have on hand right now, can find abandoned with little effort, or can build up in a fairly short amount of time.

As you consider these items, remember that building a viable shelter isn’t just about the materials, it is about how you assemble and support them.

  • Old tires – old tires can be cut into any number of shapes that can be used to cover holes or build a waterproof layer. They can also provide flexibility to the shelter that may be of use during earthquakes, or when building an unusual design.
  • Plastic water bottles – of all the possible materials for building an emergency shelter, this one is the most overlooked, yet the most valuable. In fact, today, people are building full scale homes using plastic water bottles filled with dirt, sand, or water. They have excellent insulative properties and lend just enough support to other materials that would be difficult, if not impossible to turn into a permanent shelter.
  • Metal food cans – as with tires, you can use tin cans for covering different areas, as well as for strength. Do not forget that you can always cut these cans open, lay the flat, and then fold them into strips. This can make them useful for supporting different parts of the shelter as well as holding parts together. Metal food cans are also very useful for making solar heaters that can provide warmth for your shelter and hot water.
  • Canvas bags – when filled with sand or soil, the canvas bags are some of the most useful things you can use for building an emergency shelter. They are easy to stack up, and can provide a good bit of protection from the elements. They are also the best building material to shield from bullets.

Cost Cutting Without Losing Quality

When you are on a very tight budget, even a few extra dollars can be hard to eke out of your budget. For example, even though smaller sized water bottles may work well for an emergency shelter, there is no getting around the fact that buying water by the gallon is cheaper.

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

It does not pay to buy larger bottles in order to try and save money because your emergency shelter will not be as sturdy or reliable. This is just one area where cost cutting would create more problems than it solves.

On the other hand, there are some other places where you can safely cut costs without losing the benefits you want most from the shelter:

  • Try to build a smaller shelter or break it up into smaller modules. If you build the shelter in add-on modules, you may also improve the overall strength of the shelter, plus extend the cost of building the shelter over a longer period of time.
  • Canvass the local area to see if others have useful trash that they are willing to give you. You can also check out sites where high volumes of tires and other waste tend to collect with little or no attention from others. Abandoned lots, and other areas may be a good place to find items that can be repurposed for your shelter at no cost.
  • Look in second hand and thrift stores for canvas items that you can sew into bags for making sand bags.
  • Take a careful survey of natural materials. Even if you can’t find a beach or plenty of sand, do not overlook the soil in your back yard for filling plastic bottles or canvas bags.
  • Keep an eye on local public auctions. You never know when useful building materials may become available from one or more locations.

Where to Hide the Shelter

Hiding your shelter can be difficult for any number of reasons. To begin, people are bound to notice that you are doing something unusual. While keeping your building tasks out of plain sight will help with this problem, there are some others to consider.

Never overlook the possibility of electronic surveillance means during the building process and after the shelter is built and stocked with supplies. In fact, before you even buy or begin saving materials to make the shelter, you should make sure you know what kind of methods may be used to locate the shelter.

From there you can amend the design and then figure out the best location for hiding it. Here are some basic rules for making your shelter easier to hide:

  • Keep the shelter small or have a series of small shelters spread out so that no single site gains attention.
  • Make sure the shelter is properly disguised based on the surrounding terrain
  • Study how time of day, lighting effects, and weather patterns may reveal the existence of the shelter
  • Have multiple access points so that you can get from any area on the property to the shelter without being seen or observed
  • Use “hiding in plain view” with caution. You can use different shapes or several other methods to ensure people see the structure, but either don’t recognize what it is, or place no importance on it. As with any other kind of disguise, the shelter should blend in and look so normal it is forgotten. If you decide to go in the opposite direction, the shelter should look so strange it will be ignored as a point of blocking out irrelevant information.

Best Ways to Get to the Shelter in an Emergency

When disaster strikes, there is nothing worse than knowing safety is just a few feet away, yet you have no way to get there. In this case, if your house is no longer safe, you must still have a way to get to your emergency shelter and the supplies that will get you through the disaster. Here are some possible ways you can use to get to the shelter:

  • Make use of underground tunnels. Even if you have only a crawlway under your house, it will be worth your while to dig an underground tunnel that comes up in your emergency bunker. It does not matter if the shelter is above ground or below. If possible, you should make it your business to have access to the crawlway in each room on the downstairs level of your home. You should tunnel access points throughout the yard. At the very least, if you find a way to get outside, you can still use these entry and exit points to get to your shelter.
  • If your shelter is above ground, you may want to try accessing it directly instead of using an underground tunnel. This must be done so with caution so that no one sees where you are going or notices any kind of foot traffic leading to the shelter. When using above ground travel methods, do not forget to take advantage of trees or other objects that create blind spots. There are many ways to get from Point A to Point B without being seen if you know how to place objects around your yard, and then use them for cover in a time of need.
  • Tall trees in your yard and rope can also be used to move from limb to limb until you reach an appropriate access point.

Dugout Shelters

When it comes to saving money on an emergency effort, dugout shelters offer some of your best options. That being said, underground bunkers or shelters can be extremely dangerous if they aren’t built correctly or something else causes you to become trapped below ground.

You should have at least one underground shelter on your property so that you can use it if the situation calls for it.

Today, there are many different designs of dugout shelters to choose from. You can build something simple as a one room underground cavity braced with wooden beams. Alternatively, you can tunnel and go to different depths to create multiple rooms and structures.

As long as the soil in this area perks well and is solid, you should be able to build a fairly good shelter.

During the process of planning to build a dugout shelter, do not overlook digging deeper into bedrock. This is very important if the soil is very shallow and there is no other way to dig down deep enough. While it may cost a bit more to dig through the bedrock, reaching this level can open up opportunities to increase the stability of the shelter.

Dugout shelters can also be useful when it comes to saving on other parts of stocking and maintaining the shelter. For example, while you are choosing a location for the shelter, you should make sure you know about how underground water moves around and through your property.

Depending on the area, you may be fortunate enough to find an underground stream with clean water nearby, or some point where you can easily access the water table. Since clean water is necessary for both short and long term survival, being able to harness an underground source in your emergency shelter will be a huge advantage.

Fortified Living Brush Shelter

When combined with a secondary underground shelter, you will find that most of your emergency needs will be met more easily than if you built just one emergency shelter from some other material.

Typically, you will find that making shelters covered with still living trees, or bushes will also cost less than using other kinds of materials. These shelters have a number of other advantages that you might want to consider:

  • As you may be aware, homeless people are often drawn to derelict buildings or ones that seem to be abandoned. These very same people, however, aren’t likely to dig into a bunch of bushes covered in poison ivy or something else that looks equally unpleasant. By the time you factor in people that fear contact with insects in shrubs, you can have some peace of mind knowing that a living brush shelter will be overlooked.
  • Today, some preppers believe our society is likely to collapse at any moment. Others may think we have some time yet. Regardless of where you are on this continuum, there is a good chance that, as a homeowner, you are also paying property tax. Unlike recognizable shelter, you are likely to find that the tax assessor isn’t going to recognize a bunch of shrubs as living space let alone a building. Therefore, you won’t have to worry about a tax hike, securing permits, or other problems that can come up when building a more conventional bunker.
  • Living brush shelters can also hide plants that can be consumed for food and medicinal needs.

Sandbag and Concrete Shelters

As noted earlier, sandbag shelters are remarkably durable and can withstand many different kinds of attacks. No matter whether you are concerned about bullets or keeping out rioters, the walls of a sandbag shelter can keep just about anything out. In fact, even if you decide to build some other kind of shelter, fortifying it with sandbags will be to your advantage.

Insofar as cost, if you live near beach or have some other access point to free sand, it will cost you almost nothing to build this shelter type.

Using Plastic Bottles and Other Recyclable Materials

There is no question that a growing number of people believe some kind of major disaster is looming. At the same time, actively engaging in prepper activities and taking concrete steps can be both expensive and time consuming.

From this perspective, it is more than likely many people know they need to put building an emergency shelter as a top priority. However, like being trapped in a nightmare, it may be impossible to start working towards this goal.

Once you find yourself in a catastrophic situation, it is a good idea to make sure you know how to build a shelter from what others see as junk. While others are busy fighting and killing over more obviously useful resources, you can obtain things like used plastic bottles and turn them into a viable shelter.

In their simplest form, all you need to do is fill the bottles with dirt or water, and then use mud to seal the bottles together to form walls and ceilings.

At the very least, if you don’t feel drawn to building some other kind of shelter you can try this one as the basis for a greenhouse or part of a gazebo. The important thing is to know how to build walls using this construction material so that you can make use of it in a time of need when you have no choice but to make building an emergency shelter your top priority.

Sustainable Mobile or Knock Down Shelters

Aside from buying a tent that you can put in your yard for emergency shelter, it is also possible to build wall units that are collapsible and can be moved around with relative ease. For these shelters, look at different kinds of polymers or other lightweight materials.

If you need a larger shelter with a bit more substance than a tent, designing a knock down shelter may be a good option for you. When combined with brush piles or other natural disguises, the mobile nature of this shelter can provide some unexpected advantages.

That being said, do not forget that your supplies and stockpile will most likely need to be housed somewhere else. No matter how fast you can disassemble, pack, and move the main shelter, it is never a good idea to have to waste time on items inside can cannot simply be folded up and put away.

If you own a car, this is one of the easiest and cheapest things to turn into a place that you can turn to for emergency shelter. Just make sure that you give some thought to maintaining your privacy and preventing people from realizing that you are living in the vehicle.

Emergency shelters that will last form months to years can be built at a low cost if you focus on some creative or unusual options. You can also go with more conventional underground bunker designs and add fortifications as your budget allows.

Regardless of the first shelter type that you choose, it is also important to be ready to build a second one so that you can address as many emergency needs as possible without spending a fortune on just one design.

This article has been written by Carmela Tyrell for Survivopedia.

Survival Lessons To Learn From The Hawaii Missile Alert

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For the last year, tensions have been running high between the United States and North Korea. Increased missile testing by North Korea, with each generation of missiles being more capable than the last, has turned the age-old North Korean threats of nuclear war into a reality that can’t be ignored. Government officials at all levels are renewing emergency plans for nuclear war.

In this, we have returned to the Cold War with the now-defunct Soviet Union. The threat of thermonuclear war, between what were then the world’s two superpowers, caused emergency agencies to stay on their toes, ever watchful for a missile launch that could indicate the end of the world. That sort of watchfulness has once again become real in organizations like NORAD and the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency.

Reinstating Cold War policies means reinstating the necessary systems, as well as testing those systems. It was a simple error in such a test which triggered panic in the Hawaiian Islands on Saturday the 13th. An employee coming on shift ran a test drill of the Emergency Missile Warning System, a normal part of his duties since last November.

But this time, the test went awry. A simple operator error, making the wrong selection off of a drop-down menu on a computer screen, sent the citizens of that state into panic. Rather than selecting “Test missile alert” the operator selected “Missile alert” the type of mistake we all make on our computers on a nearly daily basis.

Of course, when you and I make that sort of mistake, all we usually need to do is click on undo on whatever computer program we are using, in order to rectify the problem. But in this case, there was no undo. The warning went out across the state, informing everyone of a non-existent inbound missile.

One would think that it would be hard to make such a mistake, but in today’s computerized world, it is actually much easier than ever before. While the computer program had one of those infamous “Are you sure” dialog boxes for the operator checked that as well, quite possibly without even reading it.

Since there was no second person in the loop as a fail-safe, the alert went out, creating panic.

Sadly, but predictably, those on the political left are following their mantra of “never let a good crisis go to waste” and blaming President Trump. But Trump had nothing to do with this; nor did the federal government.

The only way the federal government was involved, was that FEMA had authorized use of their emergency notification system. But even that had nothing to do with the present administration, but rather, the past one.

That’s not to say that FEMA didn’t get involved. One of the problems that this false alarm brought to light was that there was no easy means in place to post a retraction. State officials, working with representatives of FEMA had to come up with a quick fix system to post that retraction, which delayed notifying the population of the error by 38 minutes (actually, very fast by government standards).

So there was no real emergency and no real danger at any point in the process, other than that caused by panicking people. Nevertheless, it was a unique situation and one that we can learn from. So, what sorts of lessons can we find in this blunder?

First of All, Missile Threat Warnings

The task of notifying the population of an inbound nuclear missile is a huge one. There are over 320 million people in our country that would need to be notified. About the only good thing that can be said is that the federal government has had decades to develop, implement and test the necessary systems.

Even so, I’m sure that there are parts of the country, where people would not be informed.

The entire process starts with a worldwide network of sensors, including satellites. These monitor the surface of the earth, looking for missile launches, nuclear explosions and other events that could pose a threat to the United States.

All this information goes to NORAD, which is once-again housed in their bunker under Cheyenne Mountain.

NORAD’s job is to inform the military and the executive branch of the government, specifically the president, of any launches. They then monitor the launch, projecting the course of the missile and determining where it will land.

But this takes time. The mathematics of ballistic flight are well known, but they have to have enough of a course track to make that determination. So, the first notice that goes out is just a preliminary warning. At that point, they usually don’t even know if it is aimed at the United States.

As the minutes pass, NORAD is able to refine their information and projections. But it can be 10 to 15 minutes before they can identify the exact city that a missile will hit, assuming that it is fused for an airburst in the lower atmosphere. If it is fused for the necessary high-altitude burst to cause an EMP that would blanket the country, they might not know until the bomb goes off.

Missile flight time from North Korea to the central United States is roughly 38 minutes. If you shave 10 to 15 minutes off of that, by the time that the exact point of impact is known, and another few minutes to make the decision to inform the public and get the orders out, by the time the FCC’s Emergency Alert System is put into action, you and I will receive only 15 to 20 minutes of notice, before the nuclear bombs on those missiles go off. That’s it.

The Emergency Alert System uses radio and television to get the word out about pending nuclear strikes and other emergencies. In addition, FEMA’s Integrated Public Alert & Warning system (IPAWS) sends out alerts via text message, the internet, through landline phones and digital highway signs. This ensures the maximum number of people are informed as quickly as possible.

This same system allows emergency information to be sent out for other types of emergencies as well, but those are not our concern at this time.

How to React to a Missile Warning

Missile alerts are general. In other words, we will have no way of knowing how large the warhead is or how it is fused for detonation. So we have to assume the worst and take action based upon that. As the government’s emergency notification systems are geographically specific, receiving a notification means that it is coming towards you, not heading somewhere halfway across the country.

There are two parts to surviving conventional nuclear war: surviving the blast and surviving the fallout. Either one can kill you, even though one will kill you much quicker than the other.

A nuclear blast emits several different types of energy, but for our purposes the important ones are heat, radiation and blast (wind). The farther you are from the point of impact, the lesser any of these will be, but severe damage and injury can still happen as much as 20 miles from the point of impact, depending on the size of the nuclear device and the altitude that it is detonated at.

You should be able to make a guess on how close you are going to be to the blast, based upon the potential targets in your area and where you live. If there are military targets in your city, then you would measure your distance from those targets.

If your city is being attacked as an attack against the civilian population, then the explosion would probably take place downtown, so the farther you are from downtown, the better.

In any case, your best protection is to be underground, in a prepared shelter or bunker. If you don’t have a bunker available, the basement of your home is a good second choice. Likewise, the basement of an apartment or office building will offer more protection than being above-ground. Even an underpass or tunnel offers some protection from a nuclear explosion.

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

So the key thing to do, when you receive notification of a ballistic inbound, is to get underground. If you can’t, then seek shelter behind a stout barrier (like a concrete retaining wall), putting the barrier between you and the likely point of impact.

You’ll want to stay in your shelter until after the blast, the wind following the blast and the return wind, as air collapses back to the point of impact. Like a wave approaching and receding from the shore, the windstorm that the detonation causes, radiating outwards from the blast, will return back to the original point of impact.

This is what causes the characteristic mushroom cloud of a nuclear blast.

That same shelter might serve well as a fallout shelter over the next days or even weeks. If you ended up sheltering outdoors, because there was no building nearby, you’ll want to find your way to indoor shelter as quickly as possible, so that you can wait out the fallout. Stay in that shelter until you receive the “all clear” order from the military or government officials.

The only exception would be if you come down with radiation sickness, in which case you should seek medical attention as quickly as possible.

Preparing for Conventional Nuclear War

With the short amount of notice that any of us would receive to an inbound nuclear attack, there really won’t be time to prepare. You’ve got to prepare a safe place to retreat to before such a warning were issued, or it will be too late.

As I already mentioned, the safest place you can be is underground, if at all possible. If you live in a part of the country where the homes don’t have basements, you’ll need to shelter in your home. That’s not ideal, but it’s still better than being out in the open.

You may end up staying inside that shelter for as much as 21 days, without coming out. So you will have to prepare everything you’ll need for surviving that 21 days and have it stored in the shelter. This includes, food, water, sanitary products, some means of disposing of human waste and whatever you will need to meet your family’s medical needs.

It would be a good idea to have a supply of potassium iodine in your shelter as well, along with dosage information for every member of your family. As with many medications, this varies by the individual’s weight. A good hand-crank radio to receive news and notifications over would also be useful.

Train your family of what to do, as well, especially your children. You won’t have time to go to their school and bring them home, unless you happen to live across the street from the school. Rather, you’re going to have to take care of yourself and expect them to take care of themselves.

Otherwise, if you try and rescue them, you might not survive to take care of them.

But if it’s an EMP Attack

While a conventional nuclear strike would be devastating, killing millions of people, that’s nothing compared to the devastation that a high-altitude EMP could cause. In such a case, there won’t be any huge boom, no flashing light in the sky, and no wind or heat to deal with.

All that will appear to happen is that the power will go out and every electronic device will stop working suddenly, even many that are battery powered.

The problem with an EMP isn’t surviving the attack, but surviving the aftermath. Without electricity, most of what we depend on to survive will no longer function. We won’t have heat and cooling in our homes, our refrigerators won’t work, city water service will come to a standstill, sewage lines will stop up and the stores will be empty.

This is probably one of the worst survival situations we can face. It would require becoming totally self-sufficient, harvesting and purifying our own water, growing our own food and heating our homes with wood fires. Preparing for such a scenario is a massive undertaking, one which several entire books have been written about.

One Final Word

As we can see from the false alarm that happened in Hawaii, our government officials aren’t perfect. They can and do make mistakes, just like the rest of us. The difference is, when they make those mistakes, it affects the lives of many more people.

The opposite can happen too. Before Hurricane Harvey reached Houston, city officials contemplated evacuating the city. They ultimately decided not to, because of the problems associated with the evacuation for Hurricane Rita, 12 years earlier.

That threat never manifested, which made the evacuation a greater danger to those who followed the evacuation order, than staying at home would have been.

So don’t just depend on the government to tell you what to do. Develop your own sources of information and make your own decisions. Yes, you will make errors too, but you might not make the same errors that the government is making.


This article has been written by Bill White 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.

Make Your Survival Shelter Invisible With These 10 Tips

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We are living in times when people believe that a growing economy and an increase in job opportunities equates to some strange kind of mayhem, destruction, and chaos. Also foreign adversaries are just as eager to cause problems no matter what we do to advance ourselves and our allies.

Combined with all the natural disasters that are increasing in rate and severity, prepping and complex survival scenario planning become more important than ever. Having a survival shelter helps you survive, and so is ensuring that others cannot find it.

Keep reading to find out how to keep your survival shelter our of sight!

1. Build the Shelter Underground

One of the easiest ways to make a survival shelter invisible is to build it underground. People that are looking for food, supplies, or other resources will usually look for buildings that may house what they are looking for.

If you build your shelter underground, there are some other advantages when it comes to keeping its location as secret as possible.

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

Underground shelters are some of the best when it comes to noise dampening, which is especially important if operating machinery underground, or having children living with you in the shelter. Remember, even one stray sound, no matter how faint, can reveal the presence of a shelter and people taking refuge in it. Minimizing this risk with an underground shelter will be an advantage.

Once you start tunneling underground, you can build the shelter a good distance away from the entry point, giving you plenty of room and options for making it harder to locate the shelter from above ground.

For example, you can use decoys as well as other methods to make people think they found your hiding place, even though you are still in a safe place with all of your supplies. Unfortunately, if you have only a small amount of land, creating decoys and distractions can be very difficult for above-ground shelters.

2. Choose Materials for Avoiding Radar and Other Sensors

Not so long ago, metal detectors and other devices were fairly expensive. Also, various kinds of radar devices and thermal heat signature detecting devices were either extremely expensive or unavailable to the public.

But today it isn’t impossible to build or get a hold of this equipment on your own, which means that protecting your shelter from electronic detection means may be more complicated than expected.

One of the most important things to do is make sure that thermal signatures such as bodies, heating systems, and other heat generating devices remain undetected while in operation. Also make sure that metals and other signatures are not easy to pick up in shapes that might interest those looking for supplies or anything else that can be used.

Underground shelters can shield from a lot of different devices, but there are others that can pick up cavities, metal signatures, and many other things that may reveal the location of your shelter or any decoys connected to it.

So if you decide on an underground shelter, make sure that you know how to break up the appearance of key signatures or find other ways to hide them, using paints that block or absorb certain frequencies, or other materials used to make the entire area look like an old debris field.

3. Choose Unusual Shapes

If you are building a shelter from scratch, unusual shapes that fit the landscape will offer the best insofar as invisibility. For example:

  • Terrain with a lot of boulders or outcroppings would be a good place to build something that looks like a natural cave. You can use stones from the local area for more of an effect. Just remember to avoid setting the rocks into an unnatural building pattern. It is also important to avoid squares, rectangles, circles, or anything else that doesn’t look like a random pile of rocks.
  • In a forest, build your shelter to look tall and narrow. If you are cutting down trees to clear a small area, you can build the house in a tall, cylinder shape, and then put bark around the outside of the shelter for a more realistic effect. Put vines along the outside of the structure or other plants that will grow and cover what should look like a dead tree trunk. This may be a fairly small shelter, and you can also build more than one to hide caches of good and supplies.
  • Underground shelters on grasslands will be best if they are as even as possible with the ground. Unless you enter and exit the shelter too much near the cavity, it should remain well hidden once the grass grows over it. Ground penetrating radars can still be a problem, so try building the shelter in odd shapes that look like an underground cave or something else that would be of no interest to people looking for you or your stockpile.
  • If you live near a waterfall or other area with running water, explore the possibility of building a shelter behind the waterfall, and research on underground mining and tunneling carried out by Cornish miners. When it comes to building an invisible shelter, very few people will even think to look under a pond or some other area deep below the surface of the running water.

4. Make the Shelter Amenable to Different Coverings

In any environment, brush, dust, and many other things will build up around items where people don’t clean up or move things around. When it comes to keeping your shelter invisible, making it look like no one is there is very important.

If you are using a conventional wood or brick structure for your shelter, make the walls, roof, and other surfaces amenable to different coverings, using vines, dust, and even garbage that may blow into your yard from time to time.

If you think of shelter coverings as being like a ghillie suit for buildings and shelters, then it may give you some good ideas about how best to hide your shelter from prying eyes. You want the shelter to blend into the landscape so that people don’t see it or recognize it for what it is.

Even breaking up the impression of straight lines in a shadow can make the difference. No matter how you look at it, coverings that break up light and shadows are bound to be as important as they are when you need to hide your physical presence in various settings.

5. Pros and Cons of Making the Shelter Look Abandoned and Unliveable

Making your shelter look derelict on the outside can have advantages and disadvantages.

On the positive side, people looking for expensive things to steal, food, weapons, or other valuables will more than likely look for buildings that are in better repair. If your home looks rich and expensive, then there must also be something worth stealing inside, so better looking buildings and their occupants will be looted and invaded first during a riot.

On the other side, in the later stages of a major crisis, most rioters and others will be homeless and looking for any place to stay. So homeless and desperate people will look for shelters that are the most run down to inhabit.

If they think the building is abandoned, the homeless will crawl into just about anything and build a fire or do something else to make the shelter more comfortable. Under these circumstances, homeless people passing through your area even now may decide to try and inhabit your survival shelter.

6. Disguise it To Look Like Something Else

Unless those searching for you have advanced radar or other detection systems, appearances can be your best weapon for making a shelter invisible. Aside from terrain specific shapes, there are some other ways to disguise the shelter to look like something else:

  • Never allow the outer walls of the structure to look like man-made formations. This means the shelter should have an irregular appearance with crooked outcroppings or plenty of areas that look like they will fall down at any moment.
  • Large enough cement sculptures or ones made from other materials can be used for very small external panic rooms or other shelters. They can also make a good place to hide trap doors to underground shelters. You can even use plastic bottles filled with sand, or many other materials that will simply look like a garden ornament or something else that isn’t related to a survival shelter. Even if you only build something that is 10’ x 10’, it may be enough to hide a trap door or a cache that you can live on for several days.
  • Building a shelter that looks like something else may be as simple as getting an old car frame from the junk yard. You can take this exterior and make it look like an ornate flower planter, or an unusual sculpture. While this “artwork” may be in plain view, people may not realize that the entire inside has been hollowed out and that there is enough space for you to sleep, cook, and even store away some supplies underground.
  • When it comes to disguising your shelter, creativity must also be balanced by effectiveness of the design. Depending on the neighborhood and the area, you may want something that will blend in and look normal. In other situations, you may want something novel that makes people think of anything but a shelter.

7. Use Smaller Modules Across the Property

When looters and thieves are looking for viable targets, they focus mainly on larger buildings that promise enough material to make it worth breaking in. This is just one of many reasons why you should always break up your stockpile into smaller groups of materials even if you aren’t interested in making your shelter invisible.

In some cases, if thieves find small items “hidden”, they may leave the rest of your stockpile alone.

When building a survival shelter, do not put all your focus on fitting everything into one location, but have two or three different shelters scattered throughout your property.

For example, you might make one small underground bunker, one above ground hidden in brush and brambles, and one in some other location. Even if people spot one, it is not likely they will look for a second and third shelter.

8. Avoid Telltale Signs Like Utility Pipes and Meters

Even if you have lived through a catastrophic hurricane, it can still be hard to believe that a bigger crisis will occur, or that extreme prepping is a matter of paranoia.

There may also be a level of prepping that you won’t go simply because you think the odds of a social collapse that spans decades is a matter of “if” as opposed to “when”. It also means that you may overlook critical things when it comes to concealing your survival shelter.

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

You might think that running water in the shelter, electricity, gas, and phone service are very important. While digging a well and placing the pipes underground would be suitable for concealment purposes, you might choose to simply hook up some pipes from your home and extend them into the secondary shelter. If anyone comes to your home, those pipes will be easy to spot and can lead other people right to your hiding place.

Burying those pipes underground may work better, but remember that the water meter outside your house will continue to run. All anyone has to do is see that meter moving to know that someone is living close by.

Power lines with meters attached and other utility wires can also make it easy to track the location of your shelter. Rather than take these chances, find a way to live without power as much as possible, and use communication means that don’t rely on cable or internet access.

Foxhole radios, bullroarers, and many other devices can be used for communications in a time of need. In fact, it would be better to have these systems on hand if more complicated equipment is wiped out as it was in Puerto Rico.

9. Avoid Obvious Pathways To or From the Shelter

As with power lines, obvious pathways worn into the grass or the surrounding area can alert others to the location of your shelter. Even trampling sand or soil can leave signs of packing that will make other people curious enough to investigate. If you are still adding provisions to the shelter, or need to access it on a routine basis, there are some things you can do to avoid the signs of pathways to and from the shelter:

  • use vines or ivies across paths instead of grass. The vines can be pushed out of the way easily enough with your foot, and then back into place after you are done working in the shelter.
  • For dirt or sand paths, carry a rake with you. Use the rake to loosen up the compaction created by your feet. Do not forget to use the back of the rake to smooth out the lines made by the rake.
  • You can also set up stepping stones all over the yard. When you need to get to and from the shelter, step only on the stones. Just make sure that the stones are set randomly enough that a trail isn’t easily visible.

10. Avoid the Shelter When Others are Watching

It’s obvious that you should never enter or exit your shelter when other people are watching. No matter whether you created a liveable “lawn ornament” using an old car frame or some other object, disappearing into it or exiting it will alert anyone watching that something is hidden in the structure.

If your shelter is hidden in the woods, ensure you haven’t been followed to the site. If you can do so without alerting others to your hideaway, install trail cameras around the area. This will help you find out if other people followed you, or if they are nosing around. Conceal the cameras as high off the ground as possible so that they escape detection.

When it comes to concealing your entrance and exit times, don’t rely on night time to cover your activities. Given the availability of night vision gear and cameras, you never really know what kind of surveillance is going on all around you. Visit the shelter in daylight hours, or at times when electronic surveillance devices may have the hardest time picking up on your presence. Experiment with night vision enabled cameras to see when they convert from color to black and white as well as lighting patterns that they may not easily work well in.

Concealing your survival shelter isn’t something you may be able to do as an afterthought. Instead, if you are making plans to build a new shelter, figure out how to build in features that will make it hard to spot by humans, tracking animals, and various kinds of surveillance and detection devices.

Stay up to date on all emerging technologies or tracking methods that might be used to find your survival shelter. Once you know what you are up against, you have a better chance to revise your shelter and ensure that it will stay invisible and safe!

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.

What Makes A House A Shelter?

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Of all our survival needs, shelter is high up on the list. It is shelter, along with clothing and heating, which helps us to maintain our body heat, regardless of how frightening the weather outside might get.

This explains why we all collectively spend roughly one-third of our income on housing, whether that is buying a home, renting one, renting an apartment, or even paying for a trailer to live in.

But what makes a house, or any of those other things I mentioned, work as a shelter?

Basically, it’s three things:

  • The ability to keep the rain off our heads
  • The ability to block the wind
  • The ability to hold in or hold out heat

While there are a lot of other factors that go into home design, it is those three things that have dictated the basic design concepts of homes since the beginning of time. It doesn’t matter if you’re talking about living in a cave, a Mongolian Yurt, or a modern home, the walls and roof are there to accomplish those three basic tasks.

Everything else about home design is about making the space more comfortable to live in.

This is Why Conventional Preparedness Wisdom is Deadly!

Homes Under Attack

But as the recent spate of hurricanes has proven, not all homes are created equal. Sadly, many of the homes in Houston, Florida, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and other Caribbean Islands were severely damaged or even destroyed by the winds and flooding that those hurricanes wrought.

Granted, many of the homes destroyed in those hurricanes were not built to American standards, or even to the International Building Code standards. That’s because most of the homes that were destroyed belonged to the poorer people living in the islands, who build their homes however they can, out of whatever materials they can and with no attention to the building code.

But to be honest, American homes are hard pressed to survive such an onslaught, and many of those didn’t fare all that well either. The basic problem in those cases is usually flooding, which American home building techniques and the materials we use, can’t handle.

By comparison, I’ve spent a fair amount of time south of the border, in Mexico. Rather than being built out of wood, like our homes are, most of theirs are built out of cement block, with tile floors. While that may not make for as attractive a house, and it definitely doesn’t make for as well insulated a home, it does make a home that is much more water resistant. When those homes flood, it’s a mess to clean up, but that’s about it. They don’t have to tear out drywall, insulation, carpeting and underlayment.

If we were to adopt their building techniques, we would have homes that were much more resilient to hurricanes and other natural disasters. But there are tradeoffs as well, especially in the area of keeping our homes cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

The only problem with that idea, is that most of us already have our homes built. So it would be impractical to build ourselves new homes and abandon our old ones.

With that in mind, what we really need to do is find a way to improve our existing homes ability to withstand the forces that nature can bring against them.

How Does Nature Damage Homes?

There are actually quite a number of different ways in which nature can damage our homes. Each natural disaster has its own damage it can produce. Even normal storms can cause damage. Allow me to briefly summarize this damage:

  • Hurricanes: High winds can tear off roofs, blow out windows, and even flatten walls. Flooding can weaken foundations and damage the materials the home is made of, especially on the interior of the home.
  • Tornados: Even higher winds than hurricanes produce can tear off roofs, drive loose objects through windows and some walls, and generally tear things apart.
  • Flooding: As with hurricanes, flooding can damage the materials the home is made of, requiring major rebuilding, as well as undermining the foundation.
  • Earthquake: Literally shakes the house to pieces.
  • Hail: Damage to roof shingles.
  • Wildfire: Burning the home down; many of the materials our homes are built from are flammable.

Of course, it’s unlikely that your home is in a place where you are subject to all of these possibilities. It seems that some parts of the country are more susceptible to some, while other parts of the country are more susceptible to others.

Nevertheless, while some of these forces of nature are so severe that there is nothing we can do about them, there are others which we can effectively combat, protecting our homes from damage and destruction.

Protecting Your Home from the Ravages of Nature

With all this potential for damage and destruction, it only makes sense to ensure that our homes are as well protected as possible. After all, for most of us, our home is our biggest investment. With that in mind, it only makes sense to take good care of it.

While there are specific actions that we can take to ensure the soundness of various parts of our homes and their ability to withstand damage, it should be noted that the overall maintenance and condition of your home is important. The better condition that your home is in, the more likely it will be to sustain rough weather, without damage.

Much of the damage which can happen to our homes starts with one loose board, shingle or brick. Wind or rain gets in there and the damage can spread. This can take minutes or years, depending on the nature of the damage and the severity of the weather.

But if we can deny the weather that first opening, we can avoid a lot of damage.


As we all know, glass is fragile, easy to break. Yet we still use glass windows for our homes, mostly because there really is nothing better to replace them with.

Oh, I suppose you could replace your glass window with a polycarbonate material, like Lexan, which is considerably stronger than glass, as well as more expensive, but even Lexan can be broken by objects driven by the wind.

Nevertheless, this is one option to consider.

Some people recommend taping windows with masking tape or packing tape to keep them from breaking, but that doesn’t work.

There are two basic problems with that. The first is that the tape only makes contact with a small amount of the window’s surface area, so the rest of the window can still bust out. The second is that the sun bakes the adhesive from the tape onto the window, making it hard to remove it.

The best way of protecting windows is probably the oldest, shutters. People have been using shutters to protect their windows since before glass was used in them. They aren’t all that popular today, but if you have shutters on your home; real shutters that is, you’re ready to protect it.

If you don’t have shutters, you can simulate them by cutting pieces of plywood and putting them over your windows. That’s quite effective in the face of a hurricane; but there usually isn’t enough time to even bother when there’s a chance of tornadoes.

Even thin plywood will offer a lot of protection to the glass, helping prevent it from being broken.

The other option is to add security window film on the inside of the windows. This is something like window tinting film, but it is clear and thicker than tint. What it does, in addition to making the glass stronger, is keep the glass in place, should it get broken, much like a car’s windshield is designed to stay intact, even when it is shattered.


After windows, the roof is the most vulnerable parts of your home. Hail can fall upon it, causing damage and high winds from hurricanes or tornadoes can lift it right off the home, more or less intact, depositing it some distance away. It can also be damaged by tree limbs falling on it, as they break off of trees.

The typical asphalt or fiberglass tiles we use for roofs today are not the best roofing material you can buy. Nor is a typical two-sloped roof the best design. Roofs made with two opposing slopes leave vertical walls at the gable ends. In contrast, a hip roof, with four or more sloped surfaces, eliminates this problem. Eliminating the gable ends eliminates the large sail area for the wind to push against.

Standard two-sloped roofs can be converted to hip roofs by removing the trusses at the ends and framing in the hip roof portion. Any framing contractor can do this work. While it might be expensive, it wouldn’t be anywhere near as expensive as replacing the roof.

The biggest wind force working on a roof is updrafts. This is caused by wind hitting the wall of the home and looking for the easiest direction it can travel. Those updrafts catch on the roof overhang, pushing up on it and sometimes even tearing the roof off, lifting it right off the house. A smaller amount of overhang, with narrower soffits reduces this risk.

The other thing that should be done with roofs is to have the trusses installed with hurricane clips. These are metal straps, which attach the trusses more firmly to the wall structure, fighting against the propensity for the updraft to lift the roof off the home.

Another thing to consider is changing your roof shingles, replacing them with another material, which is less susceptible to damage. Of all the common roofing materials used, metal roofs are the best for this. Even if they become pock damaged by hail, it will not affect the ability of the roof to protect the home.

Finally, if you have any trees, whose branches overhang your home’s roof, you should cut off those limbs. This is especially true of old or diseased trees, where the branches might be weak and susceptible to breaking in high winds. A tree limb falling on your roof can do a lot of damage.

Exterior Walls

The exterior walls of your home are much less likely to become damaged than any other part. However, there are some things that can happen, especially if your home is not properly maintained.

High winds can peel off wood, aluminum or vinyl siding. All they need is a loose corner or edge. The corner trim on your home is intended to protect against this, so you want to check that your corner trim is firmly attached, that the siding does not extend out past the corner trim and that the siding is attached firmly to the home.

It’s also a good idea to caulk the seam between the siding and the corner trim. A good painter will do this when the home is painted. If you paint your home yourself, be sure to include this in your prep work.


Of all possible damage that can happen to a home, flooding is the hardest to prevent and the hardest to repair.

Our homes are not designed to be boats or dams, withstanding the rising waters. Even so, there are some things that we can do.

Brick homes withstand flooding better than wood-sided ones do, as the brick is not as badly affected by the water. It also makes a better barrier against water, if it is properly sealed.

However, most brick homes will have spaces between bricks, near the bottom of the wall, which are not filled with mortar. This is done to allow vents for equalizing air pressure, as well as places for water to drain out of the wall. For the wall to be waterproof, these must be filled.

Even with this done, water can get into your home, simply by flowing under the doors. This is why most people who live in hurricane zones will put sandbags in front of their doors, anytime a hurricane is on the way. If you don’t have sandbags, the same thing can be done by filling kitchen trash bags 1/3 full of water, and attaching the drawstrings for those bags to the door frame, holding the bags up. The water in the bags turns the bags themselves into very effective barriers against minor flooding.

Of course, that’s only going to work for low-level flooding, say a foot or less. For more than that, you’d need to have either a sandbag wall running all the way around your home, an earthen berm, or one of the inflatable water dams (inflate with water), which have been designed to replace sandbag walls.

There are farmhouses and whole towns in North Dakota, which have been built with an earthen berm all the way around them. This was done to combat the annual spring flooding that happens there. It floods a lot because the nearby river dips south, and then turns north again, before going back south. So, that point where it turns back north stays frozen, while the farther south parts thaw, effectively putting a dam across the river and causing flooding.

Regardless of whether sandbags, inflatable dams or an earthen berm is used, the barrier must be out away from your home, leaving at least a three foot gap for you to walk through, checking for leaks. Some leaks are likely to happen, so you should have transfer pumps, which you can use to pump that water back out over the barrier.

While adding this sort of barrier is a expensive, as well as a lot of work, it’s the only sure way of protecting your home from flooding. So, if you are living in an area which is prone to having problems with floods, this is something that you might want to consider.

Overall, having a shelter is one survival need you have to start with. Now check your home and see if you can call it a safe shelter.

If it’s not, what do you expect to turn it into one?

This article has been written by Bill White for Survivopedia.

What You Need To Know About Waterproofing Your Stockpile

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The recent spate of hurricanes hitting Houston, the Western part of the Florida peninsula and Puerto Rico have given many of us an opportunity to rethink our prepping plans.

That’s as it should be, as we should always be looking to improve, and one of the best tools we have for that is to analyze the disasters that happen, looking for lessons to be learned.

I’ve lived through hurricanes before, as my home is in a hurricane zone, but never as severe as these three have been. More than anything, the big difference that I noticed from these three hurricanes, was the amount of flooding they caused. That made the ones I lived through seem rather minor indeed.

What these hurricanes made me rethink was, not surprisingly, my stockpile. But not what’s in it, rather how protected is it from damage.

Major flooding was not part of my thinking, when I was working out what to store and where to store it. Considering that I live in a hurricane zone, I decided that maybe I need to rethink it.

I have to wonder is any preppers living in Puerto Rico, Florida and the part of Houston that got flooded are really much better off than their neighbors, especially the people of Puerto Rico. While many homes in Puerto Rico are made of cement block, which is pretty much impervious to flooding, the poorer people make their homes of whatever they can. So many of those homes might be made of much less substantive material.

Of course, the people who own those homes probably aren’t preppers anyway.

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The reason that I bring this point up, is that the average American home doesn’t stand up well to flooding either. The people who live in the parts of Houston which flooded are left with the need to largely rebuild their homes, as well as replace just about everything that was on the ground floor.

For most of us, this would probably also mean replacing most of our prepping stockpile, especially if we stored it in the basement. Anything left there would certainly be waterlogged after the home flooded.

Not All Waterproofing is the Same

When I first started thinking about this, one of the first things I realized is that not all waterproofing is the same. Let me explain.

Our homes are waterproofed or maybe I should say water resistant, at least from rain. But they are not waterproofed from flooding. They are only water resistant to water falling from the sky. So, when we talk waterproofing, we need to make sure that we understand what we’re talking about.

Basically, there are two different types of water we need to concern ourselves with, both of which can come from a hurricane or storm. One is water falling down, or rain, and the other is water coming up, or flooding. That one has to include the storm surge that a hurricane can cause too.

I’m not sure if there are actual stated levels of waterproofing that apply to a stockpile, but I haven’t seen any. However, I can easily see four different levels of protection that we should consider:

  • Waterproof – You can submerge it in water and it won’t be damaged. Think a sealed can of food.
  • Water resistant – Water can fall on it and it won’t be damaged, as long as the water flows off of it. But, if it is submerged in water, even partially, it will be damaged. Think a roll of TP, wrapped tightly in a plastic bag.
  • Floating – The item itself isn’t waterproof or water resistant, nor is its container, but it will float, without the water being able to soak in. Think supplies in a plastic storage bin.
  • Out of the water’s reach – The item is stored inside a building, so the rain can’t get to it, but high enough off the ground that the flood waters can’t get to it either. Think something sitting in the attic of a two-story home, but only the first story floods.

Our efforts to protect our stockpiles from the water can consist of a combination of these different strategies, depending on the particular item and where we are going to store it in our home. Items stored in the attic might only need to be water resistant or in floating containers, especially since they are probably out of the water’s reach. But items stored in the basement probably have to be waterproof, as any flooding will flood the basement first, so even if it is water resistant or in floating containers, it won’t do any good.

Waterproofing Your Food Stockpile

Now that we’ve established our ground rules, let’s start looking at some specific items. We’ll start with food, because that is the biggest part of any of our stockpiles. Fortunately, the way we package food for long-term storage gives us a great head start.

Much of the food that we buy at the local supermarket is not packed in a way that makes it waterproof, so we repack it for our stockpiles. One of the few things that is truly waterproof is canned goods. Other than the risk of the can rusting through, there is little that can happen to a can to allow water into it.

The problem comes in with dry foods, which make up the bulk of our food stockpiles. Since these foods do not typically come in airproof and insect proof packaging, we typically repack them in five gallon buckets, lined with aluminized Mylar bags. In this process of trying to protect it from bacteria, insects, rodents and oxygen. In the process, we also make it waterproof.

The bigger problem with our food is that these waterproof containers could actually float off, if our home becomes damaged severely enough to allow it.

That may not seem like much of an issue to you, but if you look at photos taken of the results of floods, you’ll see a lot of stuff scattered around, some of that stuff is a whole lot bigger than buckets of food. I distinctly remember seeing video of cars and whole buildings floating away during the tsunami that hit Japan.

So, how can we solve this?

Simply by anchoring our buckets of food in a way that won’t allow them to float off. That can be done by running a chain through their handles and anchoring it to the walls of your basement, or by making your storage room into a cage that will remain intact, even if your home becomes destroyed.

Another way of protecting your food from floating off is to bury some of it.

Five gallon buckets are ideal for burying food, as there’s nothing that will decompose or become damaged by contact with dirt and water, other than the wire handle. But plastic handled buckets won’t even have this problem.

Making Practical Decisions About Waterproofing

The bigger problem isn’t waterproofing your food stockpile, but everything else that you have stockpiled. While some of that might also be in five gallon buckets, which would make it waterproof, most probably isn’t, leaving it vulnerable to damage.

Solving this problem can be extremely challenging, mostly due to the vast volume of other supplies that you might have. In many cases, rather than actually waterproofing the items, you may be able to give it adequate protection, by utilizing one of the other levels.

Take a wood pile, for example. Buying enough waterproof containers to keep your firewood safe from flooding is a big unrealistic. There are few containers that are large enough for more than a few pieces of wood, so it would take an awful lot of container to fully protect your entire stock of firewood. However, chances are that it wouldn’t really need that level of protection.

Before waterproofing anything, you need to determine what level of flooding you are going to protect yourself from. That depends on a combination of the types of floods your area is potentially subject to, and where in your home any particular item in your stockpile will be stored.

If you live near the ocean, where you might have to deal with the storm surge from a hurricane or a tsunami, then you need to consider the highest level that could reach. If you live inland, any flooding you are likely to encounter would be by an overflowing lake or river. How high the water level would be from that depends on the amount of rain falling and the terrain.

Actually, terrain is a very important factor, no matter where you live and what sort of flooding you might be subject to. So as part of your prepping, you need to get topographical maps of your area, including any bodies of water which might cause flooding. From those maps, you can see how high the water would have to rise, before it could get to your home, how much lower-lying land would have to flood first, and hopefully make some determination of some signs that would give you warning about potential flooding.

Technically, your home is flooded if any water running across the ground can get into it. One inch of water is still flooding, just like 20 feet of it is. It’s just that 20 feet of flooding can do more damage.

The other factor to consider, as I mentioned, is where the item is to be stored in your home. Items that are stored in the attic may not need to be waterproofed, simply water resistant, because they won’t be submerged in water. If your roof becomes damaged, those items may get rained on, but chances are they won’t be submerged. If they are, it would mean that your home was totally destroyed and you probably wouldn’t be able to find those items anyway.

Basement Storage

People who have a basement tend to put their stockpiles there. I agree from the viewpoint of food, as food is already going to be packed in waterproof containers. Therefore, it will survive any level of flooding you are likely to encounter.

But not all your food should be stored in your basement, simply because it will also be the part of your home which retains water the longest. So, you might be in your home and needing to make repairs, but unable to get to your food supply. A few buckets of food, stored in a closet or laundry room could make all the difference in that situation.

Second Floor Storage

If you own a two-story home, you have an advantage over those who only have a one-story home.

I have seen many flood situations where the first story of the homes is flooded almost up to the ceiling, but the second story is dry.

If there is enough advance notice of the pending flood, furniture and other items can be moved from the first floor to the second, in order to protect them from damage.

This advantage also works for your prepping stockpile. The buckets of food that I was just talking about keeping out of the basement can most effectively be stored on the second floor of the home, protecting them from flooding, while keeping them accessible.

Attic Storage

I store a fair number of supplies in my attic, although I do not store food there. Anything stored in the attic has to be more of less impervious to heat, and food isn’t. However, many other supplies are. In this case, the supplies can be made water resistant, rather than waterproofed.

My wife has put in a good stock of toilet paper, enough to last us over a year, even if our kids come back home. That is left in its original plastic packaging and then placed in large plastic trash bags (55 gallon bags), which are sealed with packing tape. While this is not fully waterproofed, it is highly water resistant and will float. Until the water attacked the tape for long enough to destroy the adhesive, it is essentially waterproof.

Most of the other items we have stored in the attic are stored in plastic storage bins. These also have the lids held on by packing tape, but not to make them waterproof, but rather to keep the kids from coming off.

As these bins will float (we get rid of ones that are cracked or have holes in them), everything stored in them is fairly water resistant, unless the house is totally underwater, preventing the bins from floating.

There Are Limits

Keep in mind that there are limits to what you are going to be able to do. One of my big concerns is my workshop, which is in my garage. There is no realistic way of keeping my tools in waterproof containers, as I use them regularly.

All I can hope is that the doors of the garage aren’t breached and that my tools will all be there when everything is said and done.

Another area that is limited is bulk storage of things like firewood. There is just no practical way of storing large amounts of firewood in a way that is waterproof. The best that you can hope for is that the flooding isn’t so bad that it floats the wood out of the storage racks.

As long as the wood stays there, it can be dried out and used, after the flooding is over. Hopefully, the top of the wood pile won’t get wet, so will be usable.

Now you should be able to fix the way you keep your stockpile so you and your family would stay safe. But if you lose it, would be able to survive without it?

This article has been written by Bill White 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.


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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.

How Many Ways Can You Use Duct Tape For Survival?

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If you’re a serious survivalist and most of all a DIY aficionado, you probably know that saying: if it doesn’t work nice and proper, bring the duct tape, Sally!

Duct tape is that kind of a “jack of all trades” piece of survival gear that can be found in any respectable prepper’s paraphernalia, along with paracord, tarp, a Toblerone candy bar (just kidding) and all that jazz.

Joking aside, duct tape can be described as the quintessential multipurpose survival-item and even if you don’t have it in your EDC survival bag (though you should) or in your bug out bag or whatever, you probably have some at home.

Now, if disaster strikes, or who knows, maybe you just like to play with duct tape, it would be nice to learn a trick or two about duct tape projects for your survival.

I mean, in the worst case scenario, having a few rolls of “duck tape” it won’t hurt you a bit and, on top of that, you’ll be that uber-fun guy (or gal) at the party who can make origami using duct tape.

Now, let me state an axiom (duct tape rules!) by asking you a simple question: is duct tape the ultimate survival tool? That was a rhetorical question, i.e. I already know the answer. But, to tell you the truth, I really can’t tell for sure if the humble duct tape deserves such a glorious definition. However, duct tape can be used in so many survival scenarios that it will make your head spin.

I can safely proclaim that if you twist my arm hard enough, I’d be able to build you a (small) pyramid using super glue and large amounts of that glorious duct tape.

Hence, even if it doesn’t necessarily qualify as the ultimate survival tool, “duck tape” is pretty close to it. To begin with, if you don’t already have a few crates of duct tape, don’t worry; you can buy it from Amazon before SHTF and the internet goes missing.

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

Now, let’s talk about a little bit of ancient history: duct tape, just like many other marvelous inventions (read A-Bomb) was created during WW2, as necessity is the mother of invention. The US military required some miraculous stuff in order to be able to easily perform repairs in the field of battle.

The first duct tape (a strong version) was thus created by a division of Johnson & Johnson and Permacell respectively for this purpose.

And if you were wondering about the “duck tape” thingy, well, duct tape comes from “duck tape”, which is what the GIs called the miracle tape, because it’s waterproof, just like ducks, see?

A Few Survival Uses for Duct Tape

Now, boring details aside, let’s take a look at some uses and projects involving duct tape, shall we?

Let’s suppose you’ve just arrived at the campsite and you notice a little tear in your tent. Obviously, this is hardly a problem if you have a roll of duct tape in your bag. All you have to do is to cover the hole using a patch of duct tape and to make it extra-safe, mirror the patch on the inside. Weather and pesky insects will be secluded outside, where they belong in the first place.

You can make a rope using duct tape, did you know that? And if you wonder how, well, you’ll just have to twist one or more lengths of “duck tape” into a rope/cord of sorts. The same procedure can be utilized for DIY-ing an emergency clothesline from twisting a long piece of duct tape.

As per its initial moniker, “duck tape” is excellent for waterproofing your gear in a survival situation, hence pretty much anything (food, money, survival gear) can be waterproofed using duct tape, including leaving a (waterproofed) note for rescue teams/family members in the aftermath of a disaster.

In a very harsh winter survival scenario, you can use duct tape to cold-proof your boots. By applying duct tape on the insoles of your boots (silver side up) you’ll basically perform an insulating job, as the duct tape will reflect the body-heat from your feet into your boots (it really works!).

It is not uncommon for people to lose their minds in a crisis situation and here duct tape restraints come into play. You can always use duct tape for immobilizing the threat of that odd person in your group who is either incredibly stupid or openly hostile. To prevent the rogue element from endangering the safety of everyone around, just duct tape (yes, it’s a verb) his/her hands around a strong pole or tree and let nature take its calming course.

Are there any other uses for duct tape? Of course there are:

  • Duct tape can be used for keeping the feathers inside a punctured sleeping bag by patching the hole, and voila—no more feather loss, no more body-heat loss.
  • You can reseal partially opened food containers (yes, it works for cans too) with duct tape.
  • If you have a tent with a damaged zipper, its door will flap in the wind, making you cold and miserable. But with duct tape, you can stick the door shut in a jiffy, keeping the cold and the bugs out.
  • Duct tape is excellent for sealing leaks, as in stopping leakage from a pierced container, like a cracked bottle or a hydration ladder. To do the sealing job nice and proper, you’ll have to make sure that the surface of the bottle/bag/whatever is completely dry before applying the patch.
  • You can also stabilize a broken limb using duct tape. When the going gets tough, you’ll have to improvise utilizing very basic available stuff, so using duct tape and padding, together with splint material, you can DIY a rope or a holder for keeping your broken arm into place until the cavalry arrives.
  • You can use it for repairing a broken fishing pole or tent pole with a little bit of duct tape.
  • You can use duct tape for catching pesky insects (while fishing for example) by hanging a couple of foot-long strips of “duck tape” from a branch. Of course, the same trick works inside of your tent or cabin or whatever.
  • You can improvise a medium-range weapon from a tent pole (or something similar) and a knife by strapping the latter to the former using—guess what!
  • Shelter can also be improvised with a little help from your trustworthy duct tape and a couple of trash bags. Putting the two together, (duct tape + trash bags) you’ll end up with a wind-break, a survival shelter-roof or a sleeping bag cover; the possibilities are endless.

DIY Projects to Try

If you’re bored at home and want to give purpose to your life, you can always try to build a kayak using wood glue, cedar strips and the always awesome “duck tape”. I’ve also heard stories about boats built entirely out of duck tape and cardboard. And that’s because duct tape makes for an awesome waterproofing material (applied over cardboard that is).

During rainy days, you can always wear duct-tape pants, especially if you’re out of rain gear. Here’s a video about how to make a duct tape suit.

Video first seen on umthuggee.

Also, you can DIY duct tape pouches, which are fairly easy to manufacture and, most importantly, they’re also waterproof. You’ll not have to worry about your gear getting wet. Here’s how to DIY a knife-sheath with duct tape.

And here’s a survival belt pouch made from you-know-what.

Video first seen on JJR SURVIVAL.

Obviously, you can make a duct tape wallet too.

Video first seen on MonkeySee.

Speaking of improving one’s life, duct tape is excellent for building hammocks. If you think I’m kidding, well, click here and you’ll learn how to make your own hammock for camping trips and what not. Shoes made using duct tape are every bum’s dream, but joking aside, having proper footwear in a survival scenario may save your life some day. Click  here and see how it’s done using just cardboard and “duck tape”.

And since we’re in the survival racket, you can DIY a duct tape fish net, just like Jesus said: give a man a fish and you’ll feed him for a day. Teach a man how to fish using a duct tape fish net … you know the rest; just click here.

Duct tape also works great for bandaging wounds or to affix bandages and even for blister care. The blistered area should be covered with some cotton glaze, then duct-taped.


Video first seen on Survival Common Sense.

For homestead use, you can improvise a temporary roof shingle by wrapping plywood (cut to size) in duct tape. It’s nothing fancy, but it will close the gap and keep you dry until you can properly fix your roof. Also, you can duct-tape a broken window (crisscross the broken pane) before removing all the broken glass, thus making sure shards will stay into place.

If you wrap “duck tape” around your broken (eye) glasses, you’ll definitely look like a nerd and a weirdo. But in an outdoors survival situation, being able to repair your damaged glasses so that you can see properly is more important than fashion issues, isn’t it?

This concludes today’s crash course into duct-tape uses. Now, take a moment and think: are you ready to use this knowledge for survival?

This article has been written by Chris Black 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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Leaky Cellar 101: What You Need To Know

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Leaky Cellar

Cellars can be an ideal location for storing your emergency supplies, and especially your food. Located underground, cellars take advantage of insulation from the Earth. This helps prevent your supplies from freezing in the winter.

Your survival cellar is also out of sight for your household visitors, so you won’t be advertising your stores for everyone. Whether you’re building a cellar, or using a crawlspace or cellar that’s already under your house, they’re very useful.

But, cellars can have a humidity problem. Because leaks can spring up, it’s easy to get too much moisture inside. That’s what we need to solve.

Problems with a Leaky Cellar

Too much water in your cellar can cause a variety of problems. The humidity can easily cause your food and paper goods to develop mold. It’ll make your cans rust. Both issues will severely impact the shelf life of your stores.

If your cellar is under your house, water damage can eventually lead to structural issues. This can lead to your house’s integrity being compromised. The wood your house is built from isn’t meant to be continually wet.

Additionally, unpleasant odors are common in damp cellars. If your cellar lacks ventilation, these odors will become more noticeable and can lead to allergic reactions and health problems.

Signs of a Water Leakage

Since signs of water damage can be subtle, you may not realize at first that there’s a problem in your cellar. You probably won’t find standing water across the floor. Instead, you’ll notice signs like these:

  • A musty odor
  • Mold
  • A white, chalk-like powder on the walls
  • Cracks in the walls or floor
  • Condensation on windows
  • Water stains on the walls or floor

Once you discover signs of moisture, it’s important to investigate further. If you are unsure if the water is seeping into your cellar from the outside, or condensing from the inside, you can perform a simple test.

Take a piece of aluminum foil and cut it to a 2-foot by 2-foot square. Using duct tape around the edges, tape the foil to your wall.

The next day, examine the foil. Is there water on the side facing out? If so, it’s a sign that your water is coming from inside.

If not, take down the foil and feel the side that was facing out. Water on this side indicates you have a seepage problem.

Where Is the Water Coming From?

Cellar leaks from internal and external sources can come from a variety of places. It’s important to give the entire space an inspection. Here are some common causes of a leaky cellar:

  • Ground Water

If you’ve had an unusually amount of precipitation, your cellar could be the collection point for the excess groundwater. Ground water can also be a problem during spring runoff times.

The water will have to find its way into your cellar, so be on the lookout for cracks in the walls or on the floor.

  • Leaking Water Pipes

Check your water pipes for leaks. This can include outdoor spigots. One year ours sprung a leak underground and the only reason we knew was because of the water leaking into our basement.

  • Sprinklers

Are you watering too close to your cellar? A misaimed sprinkler can send unwanted water into your cellar.

  • Gutters

If you have gutters meant to bring the water away from your home, check and make sure they’re working properly. A clogged gutter can lead to water in the cellar.

A lack of gutters can cause a similar problem. It’s important to have a way for the excess water to be channeled away from your cellar.

  • Trees or Bushes Too Close

Is there vegetation growing right next to your cellar? If so, the root systems can allow water to work its way inside.

  • Drainage Conditions Around the Cellar

What’s the ground like around your cellar? Does the soil absorb water, or let it run freely? Is the grade of the land forcing water away from the area?

Taking a few minutes to inspect your cellar and the land around it can help you pinpoint the source of your leak.

8 Steps to Prevent a Leaky Cellar

There are a few simple ways to prevent leaks in your cellar. If you don’t yet have a moisture issue, these steps will help reduce the risk.

1. Gutter Maintenance

Make sure to take time to clean out your gutters regularly and ensure they haven’t fallen. While you’re working with your gutters, it’s a great time to evaluate your rainwater collection system.

2. Fix the Grade

Check the level of the soil around your cellar. You want it to be at its highest around the perimeter. That way water runs away from your cellar instead of down into it.

If you need to, you can add additional soil around your cellar. Then, use a rake and shovel to slope it away from your structure.

For a more permanent solution, you can make a retaining wall and then regrade around it.

Video first seen on This Old House.

3. Remove Overgrown Greenery

The roots of trees can reach a long way. If you have any planted too close to your cellar, their roots can cause problems. Bushes, shrubs, and other plants that send down massive root structures can cause similar problems.

Be sure to remove any greenery that threatens your cellar space. You don’t want roots to allow water inside.

4. Patch Cracks

Use caulking to fill any small cracks you see in your cellar walls. Even if they aren’t yet letting in moisture, they’re a weak spot that could start leaking in the future.

Larger cracks will need a little more attention. They may require the insertion of a rubber membrane, additional reinforcement with cement, or a special epoxy. Your exact repair will depend on the location, the material of the wall, and the size of the crack. You might need to bring in an expert to evaluate.

If your cellar has a cement floor, you can use epoxy to seal small cracks in it. Larger floor cracks may need a cement patch. You can mix up a small amount in a wheelbarrow and use a trowel to pack in the crack and smooth over the top.

5. Insulate Your Pipes

Do you have water pipes running through your cellar? If you do, make sure they’re insulated to avoid condensation.

If your pipes are leaking and you don’t have the material on hand to fix them the proper way, you can make a makeshift patch out of a plastic bottle.

6. Apply Waterproof Sealant

You can purchase special sealant at home improvement stores designed to keep the water away. Many varieties go on just like paint, though you’ll need a sturdy brush to apply it to cement. A coat of this will help keep your cellar dry.

Video first seen on Today’s Homeowner.

7. Put Plastic Down

Is your unfinished cellar’s floor made of dirt or gravel? Moisture can easily seep up through these materials. Consider lining your floor with thick plastic vapor barrier.

8. Insulate

Insulation will help produce interior condensation. If your walls aren’t insulated, the temperature change between inside and out can cause water droplets to form.

Be sure your insulation is designed for foundation walls. Foil-backed or foam based insulation materials are common in cellars.

Depending on building regulations in your area, you may need to cover the insulation with a fire barrier. Thin drywall is acceptable in many areas.

Removing Moisture from a Wet Cellar

If excess moisture has already reached your cellar, the above steps can help prevent future problems. By keeping future water from getting in, you’ll help improve the conditions in your cellar. However, you will also have to address the moisture problem. To get rid of excess moisture you can:

  • Air Out the Space

Open the windows and use a fan to help circulate the air. A dehumidifier will also help suck the moisture out.

  • Remove Mold or Mildew Damaged Items

If your cellar has mold or mildew, you need to get rid of the items effected if they can’t be properly cleaned. This will help remove the odor and built up moisture from your space as well.

  • Install a French Drain and a Sump Pump

If your cellar continues to have water problems even after taking corrective measures, it might be time to install a French drain and a sump pump. This interior drainage system will help channel the water where you want it to go.

This involves digging a trench as close to the wall as possible around the inside perimeter of your cellar. You’ll then put down connected pipe that slopes to your water collection pit. Inside this pit is a sump pump.

The sump pump will then pump the water out of your cellar and out to a spot away from your foundation. When the pipes are all connected, you’ll cover it with gravel and then pour more concrete on top. You’ll leave the sump pump accessible, with an air-tight lid, in case it needs repair in the future.

This is a more involved DIY project, but it’s possible to do without calling in a professional.

Video first seen on gregkieslich

Have you ever dealt with a leaky cellar? What other tips can you share for preventing the problem or taking care of moisture in your cellar? Were you successful in drying it out, or are you still dealing with moisture?

Click the banner below to find out how our ancestors use to deal with the challenge of storing the food safely for long term survival!


This article has been written by Lisa Tanner for Survivopedia.

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This Is How To Fireproof Your Home

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Survivopedia how to fireproof your home

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5 Steps to Fire Safety at Home

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

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

fire extinguisher

Fireproofing Made at Home

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

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

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

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

DIY Fire Retardant Recipe

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


This article has been written by Chris Black for Survivopedia.

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Old Skills Revived: How To Fire Pottery Outdoors

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12569057 - old pottery kiln and pot. pottery theme

12569057 – old pottery kiln and pot. pottery theme

In previous articles, we’ve discussed how to extract clay locally, how to throw clay on a potter’s wheel, and how to build your own potter’s wheel.

The next and final step is firing your clay so that it’s durable and, in the case of stoneware, usable for storing food.

Why Fire Clay?

Greenware, which is what clay is called before it’s fired, can’t be used for storing much of anything because it’s extremely delicate and porous. The process of firing clay pulls the remaining moisture out of the clay and actually melts the clay so that the particles meld together and make the clay as strong as it can possibly be.

This process is called vitrifying, and it means that you’re converting something into a glass-like substance, typically by using heat.

Fun fact – glass is actually made by melting sand particles together! I threw that in to help you understand what happens during the firing process. This isn’t a process that you can do in a home oven because you need temperatures of at least 1100 degrees F to vitrify clay.

Different clays vitrify at different temperatures. For example, earthenware clays contain impurities such as iron and other minerals which somewhat degrade the durability of the clay. Therefore, it typically vitrifies at temperatures between 1300- 1900 degrees F depending upon the type of clay. This translates to about cone 018 to cone 3, which I’ll explain in a bit. It’s also about the temperature of a bonfire, so you can vitrify your earthenware in that manner.

The downside of earthenware is that, because of the impurities, it’s difficult to get it to vitrify enough to make it waterproof, even with glazes. Earthenware I porous and much softer than stoneware once it’s fired. It’s great for making such items as tiles, bricks, decorative pottery, and planters.

Stoneware doesn’t have the level of impurities that earthenware does, so it vitrifies at higher temperatures and melts more thoroughly. You’ve surely heard of (and probably used) stoneware crocks, plates, mugs, and decorative items. Stoneware can be made waterproof with the use of glazes and can therefore be used to hold water and food.

Stoneware vitrifies at temperatures of 2100-2372 degrees F (cone 3 – cone 10). Because of how well it vitrifies, it bonds well with glazes and can be completely waterproof assuming it was fired properly. It’s also extremely durable compared to earthenware.

Note of warning: If you fire clay beyond its vitrification point, it will first slump, then bloat, then melt all over your kiln, making a royal mess. If you think about it logically, this makes sense; you’re melting the clay particles, right?

If you’re working with clay that you’ve sourced yourself, test it starting at lower temperatures and work your way up so that you don’t ruin a whole firing, or make a huge mess in your kiln from firing it too high.

I cannot stress the importance of letting your piece dry to bone-dry enough – if there’s too much moisture when you fire it, it will explode.

What are Glazes

You use glazes to make your pottery waterproof, food safe, and/or pretty. They’re made from many different materials, depending on what you want it to look like and why you’re using them. Some glazes can be put on greenware and some can only go on bisque and thus requires a second firing.

The absolute best site that I found about making and using natural glazes, especially for earthenware and pit firing, is this one. Packed with good info, based on the concept that you’ll be doing this in a post SHTF situation.

How to Fire Your Pottery Outdoors

I’ve used this method several times and absolutely love it. It nets some of the most beautiful designs I’ve ever made, and the best thing, at least to me, is that there are so many design options.

You can sprinkle different minerals onto the greenware to make some awesome colors. For example, copper oxide turns anywhere from blue to green, and I’ve even had friends tell me that they got purple hues. It depends on the composition of your clay, too.

You can also add textured items such as leaves or netting. Press them into the clay when it’s still impressionable, and when you fire it, the leaves or netting or whatever burns off and the design is left behind. You can wrap it in newspaper, or t-shirts soaked in salt or other minerals for different effects – it’s just a matter of what you can imagine.

Pit Firing

This method dates back tens of thousands of years. It’s exactly what it sounds like – you dig a pit and fire your pottery in it. Here are the exact steps:

  • Dig a pit at least a few feet deep and wide, depending upon how much pottery you’re firing at once.
  • Place a layer of sawdust, woodchips and small pieces of kindling a few inches deep on the bottom of the pit. You can even throw in leaves or grass to add color and texture.
  • Sprinkle your colorants on top of the sawdust. Copper oxide, copper carbonate, cobalt carbonate, steel wool – you research or experiment and decide.
  • Place your pottery in the pit.
  • Sprinkle more colorants over the pottery.
  • Add a layer of newspaper (this adds color AND protection).
  • Add a significant pile of wood on top to fill the pit. You want a hot, intense fire to begin with, so add enough dry wood that your fire will burn hot for at least 20 minutes and leave enough ash and coals to mostly cover the pottery so that it stays hot for several more hours.
  • Leave overnight and remove. Clean it up and you’re done!

There are a few other methods that you can try, too. Check out Up in Smoke Pottery’s website – they have great info and pics there for different ways to fire your pottery outdoors.

Also, Simon Leach, one of my favorite potters that we discussed in the article about how to build a potter’s wheel, creates a really cool little kiln/pit cross that only needs a few cinder blocks, some chicken wire, and saw dust. Check his video below:

Video first seen on Simon Leach.

Eduardo Lazo shares some cool techniques for color and texture, too.

The art of pottery has been around for millennia and will continue to be an integral part of our world, pretty much regardless of what happens. As long as we’re here, we’ll need vessels to carry water and to hold food and medicine. Pottery is great for all of that and now that you know that the clay can be locally sourced, there’s no reason why you aren’t already doing it if you’re so inclined!

If you’ve pit-fired pottery, please tell us about it in the comments section below.

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This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.

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How To Throw Pottery On A Potter’s Wheel

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potterNow that you’ve made your pottery wheel, it’s time to try it out. I can tell you right off the bat that you’re not going to make anything but a mess the first few times that you try this because it takes a little bit of trial and error.

Don’t worry though; it won’t take you long.

You can have a rough piece made after probably 10 or 15 attempts as long as you start small. Note that I said a “rough piece” and that’s exactly what I mean. Unless you’re either really lucky or really adept, the first few pieces that you make are going to be pretty crude and ugly.

That’s OK though – you have to start somewhere. It won’t be long before you’re making pottery that you’re not embarrassed to claim as your own.

Choosing the Clay

The first choice that you need to make is what type of clay to use. In another article, I’ve told you how to make your own clay regardless of where you live, so now, we’re going to go with the store-bought variety that you can get from local pottery shops or craft stores. You can also order online, which is handy if you don’t have a local shop.

There are two basic types of clay – stoneware and earthenware. You want to go with stoneware if you can because it’s much more durable than earthenware. Stoneware clay is also often finer, which makes it a better medium to learn with, at least in my opinion.

Glossary of Pottery Terms

And here are some basic terms in case you still need them.

  • Slip is clay that’s been watered down to a thin, glue-like consistency. You make it by letting clay soak in water until it breaks down. You use slip just like you use glue, or to cover cracks or smooth the surface of a piece.
  • Throwing is the actual process of making a piece of pottery on the wheel.
  • Firing is the process of drying and hardening your pot. This is usually done using a kiln but you can do it in a fire, too. I talk about that in another article. Pottery can be single-fired or double-fired for a variety of reasons.
  • Greenware is unfired pottery.
  • Bone dry is when your unfired pottery is dry and ready to fire. At this point, it’s extremely fragile but it’s non-pliant. This is a good time to clean off any errors or rough spots.
  • Glaze is used to seal the pottery so that it’s non-porous. Some glazes are for decoration and some are to make a container safe to hold food. Glaze starts as a liquid that’s applied to either the greenware or the pottery and requires firing.
  • Bisque is pottery that’s been fired but not glazed. It’s not uncommon for the artist to choose to paint the bisque rather than glaze it – the pottery is functional at this point as long as you don’t want to use it for food purposes or as outdoor ornamentation.
  • Grog is basically ground ceramic material. It can be super fine, or grainier than sand. It’s often added to clay to add “tooth” or a rustic texture. It also helps maintain the structure of the clay while it’s being thrown. Grog aids in even drying which helps prevent cracking.
  • Bat is the wheel that you put the clay on.

Make your Pot

OK, that should be enough to get us started. Let me give you some forewarning – throwing pottery is physical work, especially if you’re using a manual potter’s wheel.

Tips: Keep a sponge and a bucket of water handy because you’ll need them both. Also, be gentle until you get the hang of this – a little pressure goes a long way!

  1. Start with a smaller ball of clay – 1 pound, or 2 pounds at the most. Shape it into a cone and use the tip as a guide to place the clay in the center of the bat.
  2. With dry hands, center the clay as well as you can and shape it into more of a ball while turning the wheel slowly.
  3. Wet your hands and place your palms together, then place your palms against the ball of clay. Turn the wheel a bit faster while holding your hands steady against the clay, helping to center it perfectly.
  4. Brace your elbows tightly against your body and wrap your hands a bit more around the clay while it’s spinning faster now.
  5. Once the clay feels stable, start to apply some pressure evenly to the sides so that it starts to build into a cone shape.
  6. Keep your hands wet. Use your thumbs to flatten the top of the cone. Now your clay should be just a bit wider at the bottom than it is at the top, and it should be flat on top.
  7. Put one hand back on the side as you’ve been doing, and place your other hand flat on top of the clay.
  8. Keep spinning, and apply steady pressure with both your bracing hand and your top hand. Allow your bracing hand to move out as the clay flattens. This is to push the clay down and get it perfectly centered. When it’s at roughly the same height as it was when you started, repeat the process so that you’re sure that the clay is perfectly centered.
  9. Once the clay is spinning perfectly between your palms, bring it back up as you did at first, but this time, make the walls vertical instead of conical. You want the clay to be about as big around as it is tall.
  10. Now it’s time to open the clay. You do this by running your finger across the top of the clay to find the exact center. If you don’t start the hole in the exact center, your pot will collapse and you’ll have to start over. Chances are good that this will happen at least once, so don’t get discouraged!
  11. Some people use a forefinger to open the hole and some people use their thumb. Personally, I prefer my thumb, but do what seems comfortable to you. Start applying gentle pressure in the center. A hole will begin to form.
  12. Slowly push your finger down to make the hole bigger until you’re an inch or so from the bottom, using your other hand on the outside to act as a stabilizer. Once you have the hole made, slowly remove your finger with the wheel still turning.
  13. To enlarge the hole, put your finger back in the hole while the wheel is quickly spinning and start pulling gently towards you. Again, use your other hand on the outside as a brace. It’s important during this step to keep the walls fairly vertical.
  14. When you’ve reached the diameter that you want your pot to be, stop pulling.
  15. If the bottom seems a bit thick or uneven, you need to thin and even it out. Do this by placing your thumbs at the bottom at the edge of the wall. With the wheel spinning, gradually and gently push down while bringing your thumbs in toward the center. You’ll end up with a cup-like figure once you reach the center. Keep going until the “cup” detaches in the center and remove the clay. Put it aside – this is still perfectly usable clay.
  16. At this point, the wall should be a bit thick, because you’ve got to stretch the clay taller to make it the height that you want it to be.
  17. Again, make sure that you pull your hands away slowly as the wheel slows if you’re going to stop for a minute. As I’ve said, this can be tough on your back, shoulders, hands and fingers.
  18. The pot should still be perfectly centered with no wobbles. Now it’s time to compress and shape the bottom, refining what you just did. If you ski this step, you can end up with cracks. Using your wet sponge, start in the center of the bottom of the pot and as the wheel spins, apply gentle downward pressure, working your way out.
  19. Now it’s time to raise the walls. This is actually a few steps because you want to do it slowly. Place your index finger and middle finger of one hand against the inside of the pot at the bottom, and the middle and index fingers of the other hand on the outside of the wall in the same spot, placing the wet sponge against the outside wall.
  20. Start the wheel turning and GENTLY apply pressure with your inside fingers, using your outside fingers and wet sponge to help the process along. This helps to thin the sides and stabilize the pot. Your clay should be fairly wet at this point.
  21. If you want the pot to be vertical, then pull it straight up. If you want the top to be wider, pull a bit more towards the outside as you work your way up. In the beginning, you may want to make a cylinder to begin, then shape it after you have a solid, stable base to work with.
  22. Repeat this step a few times until you have the pot the height and thickness that you want. Always work your way all the way to the top, smoothing the rim, or else your clay will collapse or sling right off the wheel.
  23. Once you get the hang of this, you’ll be able to do this all in one step, but to learn, it’s easier to do it a bit at a time.
  24. If you choose to build it straight up, this is considered a base cylinder and can be your finished product or can be taken further and shaped into whatever shape you’d like to make it.
  25. If you didn’t shape it as you went up, you can now go back and pull the cylinder out from the bottom. A simple flower pot shape with straight walls angling out is a good project to start with rather than trying to make a piece that’s rounded in the middle. Do this by starting at the base like you did when you were making the cone and pulling gently and gradually out as you move toward the top.
  26. If you’d like to make the top a bit wider than the body so that it has the wider lip like a flower pot does, apply less pressure to the outside as you reach within an inch and a half or so of the top.
  27. Using a damp sponge, smooth out the top by touching the sponge to the top of the piece, and putting your palm against the outside so that it’s cupping the pot and touching the sponge. Spin gently to smooth.
  28. Now it’s time to trim the bottom. You’ll surely have a bit of flat clay around the bottom and it needs to be separated from the pot. Using a sharp, pointed wooden tool. Start the wheel going again and touch the tool to the spot on the bottom where the bottom of the pot should start. Push the tool at a 45 degree angle until you reach the bat.
  29. Stop the wheel and clean away the extra clay and put it back on your pile.
  30. To remove your pot from the bat, use a cutting wire and run it underneath the pot, keeping it tight against the bat. Your pot is now ready to cure! It will need to sit until it’s bone dry before you fire it.

Throwing pottery is a fun, useful skill to have and if you already have a wheel when SHTF, you’ll be a step ahead of most people. Once you read about how to make your own clay, build a kiln, and fire your own pottery, you’ll be good to go.

If you’re like me, pictures are really helpful. I found some great ones on this site. And here is also a video that might help you:

Video first seen on Ingleton Pottery.

If you have any questions or are an experienced potter with advice, please feel free to share them in the comments section below.

the lost ways coverThis article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.

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5 DIY Cooling Devices For Your Off-grid Survival

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Survivopedia DIY cooling devices

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

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

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

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

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

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

Project 1: The Dirt Cheap Cooler

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

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

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

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

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

Video first seen on desertsun02.

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

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

Project 2: Another Ice Cooler

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

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

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

Video first seen on desertsun02.

Project 3: The Bucket Air Cooler

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

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

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

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

Video first seen on desertsun02.

Project 4: The Geo-thermal Air Cooler

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

Video first seen on luke Fugate.

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

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

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

Project 5: The Vortex Cooling Gizmo

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

Video first seen on Otto Belden.

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

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

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

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


This article has been written by Chris Black for Survivopedia.

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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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How To Make Outdoor Paint The Old Way

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Survivopedia homemade paint

Bright red barns setting in the middle of a pasture are beautiful, but paint does more than just make a house or building look good. Paint also protects your wood from the weather. If you want to live sustainably, it’s easy to make your own outdoor paint that will look great and last for years!

Now in the old days, it was common to paint wood with motor oil or tar to waterproof it. Both methods were effective but extremely hazardous and definitely not environmentally friendly.

There are other homemade outdoor paints, including whitewash and milk paint, that have been used for centuries that are both effective and safe.

You probably haven’t given much thought to what exactly goes into making paint because it’s much easier to grab a can or a bucket of it from your local superstore or home supply store. It’s OK. We looked for you, and you probably have just about everything that you need to make your own indoor or outdoor paint already in your cabinets.

To make paint, you need three primary components: a binder, a thinner (solvent), and a pigment. The last is, of course, optional but it’s not that hard to make your own pigments out of berries, roots, or clay. Clay is often used as the binder too, so you can kill two birds with one stone. If you don’t think you live in an area with clay, think again! You can extract clay from just about any soil using just water.

A fourth component, a filler, is often used to add texture and bulk. Common natural fillers are hydrated lime powder (pickling lime), clay (great to use with flour) and powdered chalk (called whiting).

Binders are what makes the paint stick to the surface. Common binders are clay, flour, milk, linseed oil, and even beeswax (it’s a great waterproofer). Common thinners are water, citrus thinner, turpentine, and mineral spirits (the last two serve as drying catalysts as well). Pigments, of course, can come from anything from clays and minerals to flowers and berries. If you’re using clay as a binder or filler, you may want to keep that color in place of adding pigment.

How to Make Whitewash

Up through the ‘50’s or so, most picket fences and even white buildings and houses were often painted with whitewash. This is a simple paint to make and can last for several years. The catch is that you need to add several layers because it’s extremely thin. It’s made with hydrated lime powder and water, which is why it’s chalky.

You can also add fillers such as salt, flour, clay, or milk to make it thicker or more durable. Whitewash as is, with just lime and water, has almost zero sticking power until it cures, which can take a few days. It’s really only good for porous surfaces.

You may have noticed that old whitewashed surfaces chip off but still have color underneath – that’s because there are so many layers, and they’re doing exactly as intended! Making whitewash isn’t an exact science. Add enough water to the lime to make it fairly watery – thus the name. Add fillers to give it more substance if you want.

Paint on in layers, adding a new layer as the previous one dries.

How to Make Flour Paint

This is a paint that’s easy to make and will last for as long as 5-10 years, even outside. Though most of the time, it seems like flour recipes are designed for indoor use, this one incorporates linseed oil. That makes it good for outdoor use.

 Video first seen on TheGridTO.

How to Make Milk Paint

The recipe for this paint sounds almost like a cheese recipe! Milk works for paint because the protein in it, casein, gives it sticking power. As you may suspect, it will have a milk smell until it dries and cures.

As with whitewash, milk paint is fairly translucent so you’ll need to add several coats. You can also add fillers to give it more substance.

To make one gallon of milk paint:

  • Juice from 4 lemons or 2 cups vinegar
  • 1 gallon skim milk (this part is important – it MUST be skim!)
  • Pigment of your choice, if you’d like
  • Cheesecloth or towel

Mix the lemon juice or vinegar with the water in a bucket and let it sit to curdle at room temperature overnight. Strain it using the cheesecloth or towel. Add the pigment. If you’re using a powdered pigment, add a bit of the milk mixture at a time to make a paste, thinning it until you can mix it into the batch without lumps.

Milk paint is going to be super thin, so if you’d like to add fillers or other binders, then you can and still have paint that’s the consistency of, well, paint.

As you can imagine, milk paint will spoil quickly so you need to use it immediately. It’s great to use on porous surfaces, so just brush it on. .

How to Make Oil Paint

Oil paint seems to take forever to dry but is probably the best paint to use on outdoor surfaces. Some may never harden completely. Instead, it remains a bit plastic, which is a good thing because it allows for natural expansion and shrinkage of the underlying wood. Oil paint also adds waterproofing, and it lasts longer than other paints that we’ve discussed.

It’s best if the wood you’re painting is sanded down so that the paint can cover it well. Priming it is preferable, but if you’re doing large surfaces such as a barn, you probably won’t want to take the time to paint it twice, or maybe you will.

The one problem that I’ve found with making outdoor oil paints is that you will need A LOT of oil for large projects, which may be in short supply if SHTF. It would be great for small projects that you only need a gallon or so to complete, though. At any rate, here are a few recipes.

Oil Primer

Primer helps to seal the wood and prepare it to hold the paint better. You can apply 2 coats, 48 hours apart, if you’d like. It’s simple to make a primer. Just combine equal parts of linseed oil and solvent. Paint it on with the grain, wipe off excess, and let it dry for 48 hours.

Oil Paint

There isn’t an exact recipe for oil paint because it depends on what fillers and pigments you use. Those components make a difference because they absorb the oil differently. Combine the fillers (clay or flower are probably best), pigment, and oil until you get a paste that’s the color that you want. Add more oil until it turns into a thick liquid that flows, then thin with solvent until it’s the consistency that you want.

It will keep for quite a while in a sealed 5-gallon bucket but it is, of course, best if you use it immediately. Just paint it on with a brush – you probably won’t need more than one coat.

Oil Glaze

Oil glaze is great to add waterproofing to flour and milk paints. They’re also great to use as stains. You can add pigment, or just use it to protect and waterproof the natural color of the surface that you’re glazing.

To make a quart of glaze, dissolve 3 tablespoons of filler into 1 cup of linseed oil by adding oil to the filler a bit at a time to avoid lumps. If you want to add pigment, do that now, to the color that you want. Once you get it combined, add another cup of oil, then add 1 1/3 cup solvent. Stir until there are no lumps and strain through cloth if necessary.  It’s ready to use immediately. Remember that since it’s an oil, it will take a couple of days to dry completely.

These are just a few tried-and-true ways to make outdoor paint at home. Some are more durable than others, but each has its advantages and disadvantages. One advantage that they all have, though, is that you can make them yourself from ingredients that are readily available to you.

If you’ve made any of these paints or have suggestions for others, please share with us in the comments section below. And click on the banner below to find out more secrets of our ancestor survival!

the lost ways cover

This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.

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10 Ways You Can Recycle Plastic Food Bottles

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Survivopedia plastic bottles

Have you ever noticed that you seem to buy, and then throw out endless numbers of plastic food and beverage bottles?

From ketchup and mayonnaise to soda and water, plastic bottles are truly one of the most common sources of rubbish. Did you know the plastic bottle are also some of the most versatile things you can have for managing all kinds of prepping needs?

Have a look at just a few simple things you can do with plastic bottles to make your life easier now and navigate through a major crisis. You’ll start stockpiling plastic bottles when you’ll see these projects, so that you have a large reserve of them in time of need.

Tools to Have On Hand

Even though plastic bottles are exceptionally easy to work with, a few basic tools are very important to have onhand.

  • Scissors
  • Pointed objects such as knitting needles, awls, nails, etc
  • Knife
  • Paper punch
  • Stapler
  • Ruler, Paper, Compass, Protractor – for designing items that you will be making from the bottles.  A paper pattern is especially useful because you can always use it to make new items as old ones wear out.
  • Candle – for some projects, you will need to melt the plastic in order to create a perfect fit or to make a new form altogether.   When used with care, a candle can provide enough heat to soften or melt the plastic.
  • Non-flammable work surface –  molten, and even very soft plastic can stick to all kinds of surfaces and be difficult to remove.  Aluminum foil or other non-flammable materials can help you reduce the risk of starting an unwanted fire and also make clean up much easier.  Don’t forget that plastic can also generate sparks that can easily land on curtains or other flammable material.  Work in an area where you do not have to worry about sparks starting fires hours or even days after you completed your task.
  • Source of readily available water or fire extinguisher – if you are planning to heat plastic for any reason, keep water or a fire extinguisher on hand in case the fire gets out of control.

And here are the DIY projects to develop using plastic bottles:

1. Sieve/Strainer

Removing debris from water, cooking, and even watering houseplants all require some kind of sieve or strainer. Despite that, when your life turns upside down because of a short term or long term disaster, sieves and strainers may be the last things on your mind. Fortunately, you can make a good strainer by poking a few holes in a plastic bottle.

To make strainers with the most precise patterns and holes, start off by adding water to the bottle and letting it freeze. Do not put the cap back on the bottle or overfill it as this can cause the bottle to split from the expansion that occurs as water converts to ice.

Once you have a solidly frozen bottle to work with, use clamps or a vice to secure the bottle to your work table.  Now all you have to do is punch holes in the bottle with a nail or awl and then let the ice melt. After you empty the water out, you will have a perfectly good strainer for food, water, and anything else that will not interact with the plastic.

2. Water Purification and Filtration

There are at least three ways you can use plastic drinking bottles for water purification:

  • First, if you have a clear bottle, simply fill it with water and set it in the sun for a few hours. The UV rays from the sun will go right through the plastic and kill off any bacteria in the water. Just make sure that you do not let the water get too hot because this will cause the water to take on a plastic taste.  In addition, if the water gets hot enough to make steam, it can cause the bottle to burst.
  • Second – you can cut the bottle open and use it to layer various kinds of filtration medium. Charcoal, sand, and just about anything else can be layered in the bottle. Be sure to have a clean cup or some container ready and in position to catch the water after it drains through the filtration media.
  • Third – if you plan on using hydroponics for growing food and raising fish, it is very important to keep the water well filtered. You can make an aquarium filter of just about any size using old plastic drinking bottles. Even if you use simple media like charcoal and fiber floss, your aquaponics system will work better than if you have no form of filtration and aeration.

Video first seen on desertsun02.

3. Bug Catcher

Have you ever noticed that mosquitoes, horse flies and other noxious flying insects seem to show up when you have the least amount of time or energy to deal with them? If so, then you probably already know that these insects will probably appear in droves during a crisis situation.

To make matters even worse, the Zika virus and many other dangerous diseases can be transmitted by these insects. In times when sanitation and waste removal systems will be either overtaxed or unavailable, it is more important than ever to know how to get rid of flying insects using non-chemical means.

You can use plastic bottles to make inexpensive, easy to maintain bug catchers that will work no matter where you put them. In fact, if you have a problem with insects right now, you can use these bug catchers to solve your problems. Click on the picture below to read our article on how to build this bug catcher!


4. Build Shelters

Surprisingly enough, there are dozens, if not more ways to use plastic bottles to build shelters.  You can fill them with sand or other materials that would normally be of little use, and then make a mud cement to form walls.

Some people also fill the bottles with water or other materials that make it easier to use passive heating or cooling methods. You can also use plastic bottles filled with water and bleach to create a basic light that will brighten up an interior room.

Plastic bottles can also be cut apart for roof materials and siding, or you can melt the plastic down and form it into more suitable tiles.

Video first seen on Florence Naluyimba.

5. Leak Sealant

If you think insects are going to be a nuisance in the post crisis world, then you may be caught off guard by how many problems can be caused by leaks. When it comes to overlooked areas of prepping, you may not even be thinking about storing away extra PVC pipe or other items that may spring a leak at just the wrong moment.

As long as the pipes in question will not reach high temperatures, then you can fix these leaks easily enough with plastic bottles.  All you need to do is:

  • Cut a large enough patch from the plastic bottle to cover the area that is leaking.
  • Use a candle to presoften the patch as much as possible.
  • Wear heat protecting while you fit the plastic patch to the area that is leaking.
  • Carefully use the candle to heat the plastic patch until it fully adheres to the item that needs to be patched.  Be careful not to melt or burn the item that is being patched.
  • If you have any kind of crazy glue or other sealant that will bond the plastic to the leaking object, you can use that instead of heating up the plastic.

6. Container Garden Planters

As with building a shelter, there are endless ways to use plastic bottles for growing plants.  Here are just a few that every prepper should know about:

  • Vertical garden planters – use bottles in combination with walls and ladders to create gardens in just about any area.
  • Vertical garden wall planters – if you are already building a shelter out of plastic bottles, then you might just want to incorporate these solutions for creating a garden and also disguising your home. Who would think that a house lurks beneath a mess of wild grape vines, raspberry stickers, or even poison ivy?  Even better, you can combine these vertical plant walls with an internal layer of sand bags to make your carefully hidden home bullet proof.
  • Vertical Garden Towers – one of the best ways to grow herbs, onions, and garlic revolves around having many plants arranged in layers.  This is easy to achieve when you make some large holes in a soda bottle to that the plants can grow from holes at different levels in the container. If you have very limited space for growing indoors, a vertical garden tower may be the best way to go.
  • Self – Watering Planters – for carefree gardens indoors and outdoors.
  • Plastic Bottle Greenhouse – If you are more interested in conventional growing methods and need a greenhouse, you can use this design.  For improved temperature control, seal some of the  bottle pairs with heat from a candle so that the bottles will hold water.  Since water absorbs more heat than air, and lets it go more slowly, you can extend the growing season quite a bit using this design.

7. Drawer and Counter Organizers

Since plastic bottles come in all shapes and sizes, it is very easy to cut them down and use them as drawer and counter organizers.  If you want something a bit fancier, you can also make vertical storage trays for lightweight items.

For example, the tray system featured in the link below is perfect for storing paper clips, thumb tacks, and a number of other desktop items. This includes sticky notes and other reminders that need to be in a prominent place without taking covering up other important things.

If you need to store heavier items in each tray, it may help to use heavier washers at the bottom of each bottle.  For improved durability, it may also help to use cement in the base to reduce the risk of the stand tipping over.

Or, better yet, you can turn the base into something of a coin bank and let the weight of the coins act as an anchor for the stand.

Video first seen on MORENA DIY.

8. Life Jacket

Life jackets and other important swimming gear are the kinds of “leisure” items that you may also forget during a crisis. Since plastic bottles float well, they also make excellent life vests.  Just make sure that you leave the caps on and do not poke holes in them.

There are many ways to join the bottles together to make a suitable vest.  In general, the more bottles you can join together, the more weight they will be able to float.  If you do not have rope available, you can use vines or anything else that will not fall apart in the water.

Video first seen on Joshua Guinto.

9. Boats and Rafts

Unless you have a large homestead with a private pond large enough for boating, chances are you do not have access to a boat that can be launched easily.

No matter whether you pay for docking at a local marina, or you must transport the boat on a trailer, it will be very difficult to manage all of this during a major disaster. Nevertheless, if you must travel across water, you won’t get very far without a boat or raft. You can build a boat or raft with plastic bottles and glue.

There are also many other materials you can incorporate into the frame in order to take advantage of the best of the materials you have on hand.

When making a boat or raft, you should be very careful about the kind of glue that you use. While many waterproof glues and epoxies will work fine in freshwater, they may not work well at all in marine or brackish water. It will also be to your advantage to use a rope or net system as part of the boat’s form so that the bottles have a better chance of staying together even if the glue fails.

Video first seen on Gabriel Dubois.


Video first seen on Ezequiel Oliveira.

This fascinating version can even be driven with a motor and oars!

Video first seen on eroneus1.

10. Air Blowers and Vacuum Cleaners

In a world where electricity will be at a premium, you may still need air blowers or suction to accomplish some basic tasks. While you can still sweep the floor and get rid of cobwebs with a broom, there may still be times when a vacuum cleaner or air blower will be of immense benefit.

Here are some simple guides for making vacuum cleaners. The amount of suction produced will depend largely on the strength of the motor.

Video first seen on Yuri Ostr.

Video first seen on GOODTECH – Creativity and Science.

Or build a 90 psi air tank:

Video first seen on johnnyq90.

And here’s an air blower

Video first seen on Navin Khambhala # crazyNK.

Before you throw out an empty beverage or food plastic bottle, take a look at your survival goals and the kinds of things you would like toe have onhand. From boats and vacuum cleaners to organizing tools, you can do far more than expected with plastic bottles.

Never underestimate the power of these simple “rubbish” items in situations where your life, and the lives of your loved ones depend on successfully innovating with whatever items you may have onhand. Give some of these ideas a try and you are sure to find plenty of cost efficient, effective ways to pursue prepping goals and perhaps even make your life in the pre-crisis world a bit easier.

And if you want more DIY ideas, here’s something that will boost your creativity. Click on the banner below to find out more!


This article has been written by Carmela Tyrell for Survivopedia.

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How To Make A Potter’s Wheel For Off-grid Survival

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Survivopedia make pottery wheel

Pottery has been an on-and-off passion of mine since I was in high school. I’m a fair hand at it and have made some pieces that I’m pretty proud of. I’ve explained in another article how to make pots using other methods but today we’re going to talk about how to make and use a potter’s wheel.

The benefit of using a potter’s wheel is that you can create more refined, beautiful, functional pieces that you can use for yourself or for trade. The other methods are perfectly acceptable for creating functional and even beautiful pottery but there’s just something about using a wheel.

Throwing pottery (what it’s called when you use a wheel), is an art that allows you to make virtually any size or shape of pottery once you get the hang of it. It’s also extremely therapeutic. It takes all of your concentration to throw pottery, so your concerns tend to melt away, and the end result gives you a real sense of accomplishment.

There are two basic types of potter’s wheels: electric and manual wheels. In this article, the focus will be on the manual types because you can use them even if you don’t have power. Plus, I prefer a manual wheel because, at least for me, an electric wheel tends to be more jerky when starting and stopping, and the speed isn’t as easy to control.

There are two primary types of manual potter’s wheels: kick wheels and treadle wheels.

How to Build a Kick Wheel Potter’s Wheel

There are several different ways that you can build a kick wheel but the primary components are a flat plate (bat) to actually work on, and a weighted flywheel attached to the plate so that you can turn it and control the speed. To speed it up, you just kick faster. To slow it down, you just drag your foot on the wheel.

I also highly recommend using a splash pan around the throwing wheel to avoid a tremendous mess on you, the floor, and the walls. This will also save clay waste because you can catch it in the pan and throw the excess back in with your clay or slip.

You can get fancy and build a potter’s wheel with an attached bench, such as the one shown in this instructable, but you can pull up a chair just as easily. The advantage of building one without a bench is that people of different heights can comfortably use it. Of course, if you’re going to be the only one using it, feel free to add a bench!

Another feature that some potters like to have is an arm rest. This helps keep your hands steady as you throw. I found a fabulous, detailed, step-by-step design for a kick wheel that has no bench and an adjustable-height, removable arm rest here. It lists exactly what you’ll need, then it explains with both text and pictures, how to build it.

If you decide to build an arm rest into your potter’s wheel, it should be nearly level with the throwing wheel (called the bat). This is critical because you need to ensure that the clay is perfectly centered on the bat and if your arms aren’t level, it will put unnecessary strain on your shoulders, wrists, and elbows. It will also make it difficult to work the clay properly and get it centered. If it’s not, your piece will end up collapsing on you as you build it up.

I’m currently  without a wheel and think that I’m going to build this one myself because the instructions are great and it only costs about $60 total. Just a suggestion though – it’s best to keep this in a garage or a separate craft room because pottery is a super messy endeavor, just like most good projects!

Building a Treadle Wheel

The other type of wheel, a treadle wheel, is still more stable than an electric wheel because you have more control of the speed, stopping, and starting; it’s less jerky. That being said, it’s much more complicated, and probably more expensive, to build that a kick wheel.

You may often see a treadle wheel referred to as a Leach treadle wheel. This is because the most popular treadle design was created by the sons of Bernard Leach, a famous British potter. His grandson, Simon Leach, has posted a series of detailed pictures of each part of the Leach treadle wheel.

I’ve never thrown on one, so I can’t offer an opinion one way or the other on functionality but the design is interesting. I have read that many potters prefer a kick wheel because the bottom wheel is weighted and thus easier to manage because the weight builds momentum and doesn’t need as much energy to keep it going.

Instead of using a pole that directly attaches to the bat, a treadle potter’s wheel operates by adding a reciprocating pedal and a crank for greater control. The bottom isn’t weighted as much as a kick wheel, though potters who use them seem to love them.

The one site that I found with both pictures and plans is great. It actually looks pretty amazing, and the picture is close-up, so those of you who are handy can probably look at it and duplicate it. There’s also a picture of an old set of blueprints that may help. If any of you try this, I’d love to see some pics and a review of how it works.

Video first seen on Nate Cummings.

Regardless of which type of pottery wheel you decide to use, be aware that there’s a learning curve. The first few times that you attempt a pot or a mug, or even a plate, it’s probably going to look like something a kid may bring home from grade school, assuming you actually accomplish and end product.

Don’t worry, though. It doesn’t take long to become proficient using a pottery wheel and I’d honestly recommend learning on a manual wheel instead of an electric one because it doesn’t require the coordination that an electric one does. I’m not saying that you’re going to be a master potter in a week, but you should certainly be able to manage a coffee cup or small pot in that amount of time.

If you do some searching on the internet, you’ll find several different ways to make potter’s wheels from simple household items such as mop buckets. There are also a wide array of instructions for making simple electric pottery wheels out there too, but like I said, I prefer to use the manual wheels. Call me old school, I guess.

Manual devices won’t ever let you down in a case of an EMP, so be prepared and get all the knowledge you can get on off-grid survival. Click on the picture below to find our more about surviving this type of disaster!


If you have any suggestions about how to build a potter’s wheel, please share your thoughts with us in the suggestions box below.

This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.




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Prepper Story: 78-Year-Old Vet Builds $1000 Cave Fortress

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Good survival skills come from practicing for years, but age and practice means nothing unless you have a good survival plan, then have the power to stick to it when needed.

This 78-year-old ‘Nam vet could easily prove it right. Meet Bruce, a Survivopedia reader who built his own off-grid cave fortress for less than $1000.

Read the following article and discover a great story of survival from a man who definitely deserves our respect!

I am what you might call a survivalist but the big drawbacks are my age (78) and my health. I live in a mobile home park and I do have a small garden in which I grow basic vegetables and some herbs.

My health problems cause me take 700 MG of morphine for pain control and there is no way a doctor who prescribes my meds will give me more than 28 days at a time even though I have asked many times. I have about a 90-day reserve that I have put aside just in case, and the only way I was able to do this was by cutting myself short. Instead of three a day I was only taking two. Some days I suffered because of this, but I got through it.

Do you wander what makes a man like me strong enough to fight for survival despite the age and health issues? I’m going to tell you.

I started building my cabin back in ‘88 when I was a lot younger and more physically fit. My neighbors jumped into the picture when I found I couldn’t do everything myself. He’s an EMT and somewhat of a prepper himself.

I told him about the cave I found and the rock cabin I had started to build and asked if he and his wife wanted to join in on the project. The next weekend was the first time they went to see the beginnings of the cabin and they couldn’t believe what I had already done. The work parties started.

I do have several fire arms in my home and if it comes down to it I won’t be afraid to use them. Fact is, I just assembled my own AR15 pistol in 5.56X44 caliber. I have four 42-round magazines and one 30-round. Three are loaded with armor piercing rounds, and the other holds silver tips.

I built it from scratch and it’s considered a pistol because it only has a 10 inch barrel. Because my eyesight isn’t all that great, it’s equipped with a 4 to 16 power day/night scope with a green laser sight for point and shoot, as well as a red laser sight.

I have practiced with this gun in a few gravel pits and I must say that I have a great group of 15 rounds in a 2-inch circle at 500 yards in a prone position, and a five in circle at 200 yards free-standing. The short barrel length allows me to get around with it in my home or even out in the bush with ease but it doesn’t affect the accuracy one damn bit. I also pack a 9mm Beretta fixed with a green laser for point and shoot. Standing, I have a good 3-inch group at 30 yards.

I served 3 tours in ‘Nam and spent time in a POW camp, and survived. I was wounded twice but again I survived. I’ve eaten grubs, common garden snails, and slugs which you can virtually find anywhere. All are high in protein. I’ve also eaten all sorts of roots and leaves; even moss. I even have a vest that I got from a fellow in the Army. It will stop a .308 round but I don’t want to try it out. It’s in my bug out bag.

I have that well-hidden, small 8X10 heavily constructed log cabin and only two other people know about it, and they are with me just in case SHTF. The back is open and butted up to a cave, which allows us to grow mushrooms of all kinds. There’s an underground water supply and maybe a years’ food supply. All items have a 25-year shelf life and will be enough for up to 7 people.

About every three months, the three of us spend a weekend there, keeping it well hidden and just making it more comfortable to live in for a long time; as long as a year or more. Last year it survived a wild fire that destroyed several homes in the neighboring area. The slate roof protected it.

From a quarter-mile away it looks just like the rock slate that it is built of, and it’s built at the base of the hill. The walls are 3 feet thick and made of stone and mortar. It only has small windows made of 2-inch Lexan.  I salvaged that from an old dismantled bank and cut it down to size.

I feel safe there in case SHTF and the three of us can survive there for a year or more. The only way you can get there is by walking because there are no roads within half a mile. We also have a stash site to hide our vehicles in.

Read also: Top 10 Vehicles For Your EMP Survival

We do have a quad that we keep in the cave along with two 55-gallon drums of gas treated Stay Bril to preserve it. The only thing that the gas is for is the quad, and that’s only for hunting and for providing electricity for lighting in the cave and cabin; all wired for 12 volts.

We don’t hunt near our cabin and there is plenty of game in the area: deer, moose, elk, bear, rabbits and all kinds of birds. I could go on and on. If it really gets bad where I live, my neighbors, whom I trust with my life, will bug out with me to the cabin and be comfortable in our surroundings long-term.

Oh, I forgot to add that the only door leading into the cabin/ cave is made of white oak and is 8 inches thick. It took me four weekends to make it and is held together with 6 1/2-inch ready rod. I made the hinges myself because you can’t buy them. They are made from 3/8 steel plate with 1-inch pins – I think it could protect Fort Knox. LOL.

Heat is provided by three wood stoves and we have 38 cords of stacked wood inside the cave, all nice and dry, so there won’t be much smoke at all. We usually only burn it at night, so no one can see it anyway. Believe it or not, it will usually keep the cabin and the first chamber of the cave warm with just 6 hours of burning using only 2 of the stoves when it’s -10 degrees outside.

Here’s the good part.

All that I have invested in the whole thing is less than $1,000, not counting the sealed survival food or the quad which we found in the woods, wrecked and abandoned. However, the parts to repair it is included in the total cost. The slate for covering the roof came from an old quarry about three miles away. We got lucky with the mortar to build the cabin; all we had to buy was the cement and lime because on one side of the rockslide, there is a sand pit from which we collected sand.

We washed it and dried it before using it to make our mortar. Some of the stones in the walls weighed well over 600 lbs. so we made a 30-foot A-frame to place them with and it worked well. When we were done with it, we cut if up for firewood.

Read also: How to Heat Your House without Electricity

We have a short wave radio, a CB, and yes, we even have a TV. We get 4 stations for news and such. We even have a 2000-watt inverter that will give us 110 volts for a hot plate if needed. Presently, we are working on a digestive septic system because our one toilet is in the cave. The 200-gallon holding tank is made of fiberglass, and the only drawback is that we need to the vent the smell but we’re working on that.

The Challenges I Took and the Lesson I’ve Learned

The biggest challenge we faced when building the little cabin was building the A frame. It took three trees 60 feet long and they had to be dragged for nearly a mile and. It was done with just the three of us using cane falls and hand-cable winches. It took nearly two weeks working 12-hour days and a lot of will power to get this done.

You’ll find you have a lot of muscles you haven’t used before because they will get sore. We did take a few breaks from the dragging just to get healed up a bit, but we never stopped completely. I think if we had, we still wouldn’t have it finished.

The biggest survival lesson that I’ve learned after 3 tours in ‘Nam and a fire that took out houses around me?

In ‘Nam I wanted to die about 20 times and I refused to smoke weed like about 80% of the guys did, even on patrols. 

In the POW camp, about the only protein we got was from the rats we caught and ate, grubs, slugs and a few other unmentionables because all the Charlies fed us was rice and that was a small bowl at that. I learned what you could eat and what you couldn’t by trial and error; I got sick so many times because of that.

The cabin survived the fire just because it’s got the slate roof laid over 2-inch planks, which we cut with our Alaskan sawmill using a chain saw. The wood was treated with a fire preventive made of Borax and water. We added about 8 coats, letting it soak into the wood for days on end.

When it got dry, we gave it another heavy coat, then the slate was laid over that. We used cement-coated galvanized nails to hold the slate down and every time you wanted to put a nail in you had to drill a hole to start. We went with cement-coated nails because you can’t pull them out at all, making it fire-proof. It can withstand the heavy snow-loads in the winter.

Our cabin is on state land so you have to be careful to cover your tracks. Concealment is essential, for if they find it they will probably tear it down. We found out that by placing a claim on the property, we could build a cabin to live in. The catch is that we have to mine a mineral and produce an income of X amount yearly to keep the claim.

Our mineral is lead, which isn’t much but it’s enough to keep the claim. Study what is the laws are in your area. Most can be found in BLM (bureau of land management); they can tell you what you can do and not.

Funny thing is that a lot of the state maps per county (Metsker maps) don’t even show the rockslide where my cabin is. That’s telling me it is un-surveyed, or at least it hasn’t been for a good many years. All the better for me.

If you ask me what is the survival advice for younger preppers and survivalists, I’d say oh, God help me here. I guess the biggest thing is not to try and do everything at once, for nothing will get done. Make up a flow chart and keep with it. Take it one step at a time and when you get that done, move onto the next phase and stay with it. Even though you may be tempted to skip a step, don’t. We were tempted to change things several times but didn’t and it payed off in the long run. It took us two years to build the little cabin and in the meantime we lived in the cave.

In the meantime, learn many skills which you can use: herbal remedies for ailments is essential, hunting techniques and trapping, what game is available during the different times of the year and how to preserve it. Water bath canning is by far the best method. You can salt it down, but then you have to soak it to get rid of the salt.

One thing that’s really important: don’t do any shooting around where you live. The one thing you don’t want is to attract attention to you because gun shots can carry a long way in the mountains. Also, you don’t want to scare the game away from you until the time comes when you really need it.

Knowledge is essential for survival and in the event SHTF, knowledge can be a tool to barter with. 2 miles away someone else is now building a cabin maybe 300 square feet in size. I haven’t met them yet and I don’t even know if they know we’re there and have been for 28 years.

They’re building a log cabin and it is gonna be something if they don’t fire proof it. I started out with a log cabin but added 3 feet of stone walls on the outside to blend it into the rockslide. Mine is hidden, stocked, and fireproofed. If they’re smart, they’ll do the same.”

Could you build your own bug out shelter the way Bruce did? Do you have the knowledge and skills to do it? Share your thoughts with other Survivopedia readers!

And click on the banner below to discover another ancient way to build your survival shelter!


This article has been written by Alec Deacon for Survivopedia.

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Offgrid Survival: 12  Ways To Move Heavy Weights

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archimedes-148273_640From ancient times to now, people have always been looking for ways to lift heavy objects. While we may not know how structures like Stonehenge and the menhirs were built, there are still a number of simple devices that can make life as a prepper much easier.

Have you ever tried to move furniture around your home, or during a move from one place to another? If so, then you may also be very familiar with what can happen if you use poor form while lifting, or you do not use the proper equipment.

As a prepper, avoiding sprains, muscle tears, and other injuries will be very important. In addition, if it is not feasible for you to lift heavy items without help, and you cannot build up to a suitable level, you need to know about devices that can make lifting heavy loads easier. Throughout time, scholars, historians, and scientists have labored with these questions and have come up with a number of useful, and simple devices.

The following devices work on the most simple laws of physics and can be used by anyone that needs to lift heavy objects. If you learn how to build these devices and keep them in your stockpile, you will find it much easier to manage your stores and move faster from one area to another if needed.

Friction Reducing Slides

When you want to move a couch from one side of a room to another, aside from being very heavy, the legs of the couch may either dig into a solid floor or catch on the surface of the carpet. When rough surfaces encounter each other while in motion, drag or “friction”, it takes more energy to move the objects.

Friction reducing slides have two basic parts. The upper part sticks to the bottom of the object while the bottom part facing the floor is very smooth. No matter whether the objects is being moved across linoleum, a deep pile carpet, or some other surface, the slider will reduce friction and make it much easier to move the object. Even though friction reducing slides will not reduce drag as much as wheels, they help moving furniture or other heavy items around a smaller area.

For example, if you place several food buckets on a wooden palette in your store room or cellar, placing casters underneath the palette will make it much easier to move around. You will find these coasters much cheaper than heavy wheeled utility carts or other wheeled systems that can also be used for moving items around a single room.

Friction reducing slides are also very useful for furniture that you may want to move in a hurry in order to get to a hidden trap door or supplies hidden within a wall. Since the coasters are usually not very high off the ground, no one would realize that the furniture is very easy to move or that there might be something hidden behind it. In addition, these coasters are also very common in many homes, so they may also escape attention because it is not unusual to move furniture around from time to time.

Wheel and Axle

From automobiles and wheelbarrows to bicycles, wheel and axle systems are some of the most popular simple machines used to move heavy objects from one place to another.

When building your own wheel and axle system, consider the following:

  • The axle material must be durable enough to support the load placed on it, yet lightweight enough to reduce the load on the wheels. Metal and wood can be used to make axles, but also study some of the newer polymer compounds on the market. Some of those are extremely lightweight, yet they are more durable than wooden axles.
  • When choosing wheel size, bear in mind that larger wheels will be harder to push, but they will travel further for each revolution of the axle.
  • Always know the ratio between the radius of the axle and the radius of the wheel. The smaller the ratio is between these two sizes, the less efficient the wheel and axle will be.
  • Be careful about the material used and the construction of the wheel. Since you are looking to reduce friction and drag, you need the smoothest wheels possible.  Preventing skidding, stopping the wheels from moving forward, and being able to make curves are also very important, and all these require at least some drag on the wheels. As you will note from automobile and bicycle tires, tread design and depth are very important for generating just enough friction to keep the vehicle under control as it moves forward. Even if you make wooden wheels or spoked wheels from metal, make sure that you can fit some kind of rubber or other material with treads over the wheels. This surface protects the rest of the wheel from damage, and will be easier to replace than the part of the wheel that attaches to the axle.

To get the most out of wheel and axle systems, I recommend having a number of different wheel sizes that can all fit on one axle. If you need to use less force for a heavier load, use the smaller wheels on the axle. If the load is lighter, put on the larger wheels so that more ground is covered for each rotation of the axle.

If you build a two axle cart or some other system (small model Pinewood Derby Cars are excellent to experiment with), load the vehicle with heavier items towards the back of the cart. Make the front axle narrower than the back one so that the front of the vehicle is narrower. This will reduce surface area in the front and make the vehicle less resistant to forward  motion.

Making the front end lower and keeping all edges as rounded as possible will also reduce air friction and drag while the vehicle is in motion. Anyone that has ever driven a Volkswagen Beetle vs. more conventionally designed vehicles can certainly relate to how the difference in weight positioning and aerodynamics affect the way the vehicle handles!  Use those same principles when building a wheel and axle system for moving heavy items from one place to another.


Pulleys are used to lift heavy weights vertically.  A basic pulley system requires rope, a wheel with a groove in it for the rope to sit in, and an area to suspend the pulley wheel from. The raised area must be higher up than the total height the object must be raised. Depending on the weight of the object, you can use multiple wheels and ropes.

The basic rules for creating a pulley system are:

  • The raised area must be strong enough so that it will not crash when the object relies fully on it for support. For example, if you attach a pulley wheel to a weak old wooden beam, it will probably crash to the ground if you try to hoist 2 ton object. Even if the pulley wheel and ropes are strong enough to bear the weight, the suspension frame must also be strong enough.
  • If you use multiple ropes and wheels, less weight will be applied to each rope. You still cannot exceed the capacity of the ropes and wheels and expect the system to work safely.
  • For each wheel and rope that you add, you will have to pull double the amount of rope to raise the object the same height as you would with one rope.  As a trade-off, you will need half the amount of energy to hoist the object. If you want to hoist 100 pounds with one rope and wheel, for every foot of rope that you pull, the object will raise 1 foot off the ground. Now let’s say you add two wheels and two ropes: you will find it much easier to pull the rope however for each foot of rope that you pull, the object will only move ½ foot off the ground. Depending on the weight of the object and the amount of strength you can apply to the job, you may have to try different numbers of wheels and ropes to get the best outcome.

In physics, many things come down to the size ratios between one object and another. You’ve already seen this in action in wheel and axle systems. With regard to pulleys, you may want to explore using double rope systems in conjunction with larger and smaller wheels. For example, you can try using a smaller wheel at the top of the system that turns faster in comparison to a larger wheel located near the object to be lifted. This may reduce the amount of energy you need to expend while pulling on the rope and also require less rope to raise the object to the desired height.

There are many times when you might need to raise an object or pull it along an incline. You can try arranging the wheels horizontally in relation to each other and also make use of belts within the system to increase the ratio between larger and smaller wheels.

When you attach a pulley to an axle, there is nothing to stop you from using the shaft of a motor as the “axle”. As long as the amount of force required to lift the object does not exceed the motor’s capacity, you can lift all kinds of objects. If you have a weaker  motor, then you can still use more wheels in the system to reduce the amount of energy required at any given moment.


330px-Helical_GearsAs far as building blocks for simple machines that can be used in many weight lifting applications, gears are truly my favorite because they are incredibly versatile and can be easily integrated into other systems.

Even though pulleys are much easier to make, gears have a distinct advantage because they will not slip while you are pulling on the rope.

On the other hand, if the wheel in a pulley system is very worn, gets stuck, or does not turn as freely as it should, you will wind up exerting much more effort than needed.

Essentially a gear is a flat round object (cog) with teeth on it. As long as the teeth of the gear match the  same pattern as the teeth on another gear, the rest of the gear can be any diameter or thickness.

As in pulley systems and wheel and axle systems, the radius of each gear in relation to other gears it is meshed with determine how much force is delivered by the system.  In the case of gears, larger ones spin slower than smaller ones in the system.

In order to use gears, each one used in the system must be attached to a shaft.  Even if you only turn one gear or apply a motor to one gear, they must all still be able to turn on a shaft in order to build force. You can use a single shaft for multiple gears, however you will still need a separate shaft for each gear that must mesh with another gear.

If you’ve ever overloaded a paper shredder or some other gear driven system, then you may already know how frustrating it is when the teeth break on a gear. In a survival situation, there are bound to be times when you make a decision to overload weight lifting equipment or fail to take proper care of it. As versatile is gears are, once they break, there is simply no way to replace the teeth and expect them to mesh properly.

During the process of building simple devices to lift weights using gears, you should focus on using “cage gears” because you will be able to make them as needed, and may also be able to repair them. Basically, a cage gear has two flat disks with spokes between them that function as the teeth.  If you make a cage gear from wood, metal,or plastic, you can try replacing the spokes that broke.  Even though these gears will take up more space, they offer an important advantage in the sense that they can be repaired to some extent.

It should also be noted that most cage gears on the market mimic spur gear designs.  Look into fiberglass and other polymers that may be useful in constructing curved spokes that will replicate other gear types.  If you happen to be able to forge metal, there is also a chance that you can still use metal for the gears and fit them into the cage design.


Levers are some of the most simple lifting aides that you can devise.  You can use anything from a branch and a rock to a metal rod and a part of a cinder block.

In order to use the lever, all you have to do is place the fulcrum (a rock or some other object) under the branch or rod, and then make sure the end of the rod is sitting directly under what needs to be pushed out of the way.  To move the heavier object, simply push down on the opposite end of the rod.

In the modern world, there are many examples of levers and ways that they can be used. When constructing lever, the position of the weight in relation to the fulcrum and the length of the rod determines how much work will be required to lift the load.  There are three “classes” of levers that you should know about. Depending on the weight of the object, you can use different tools based on each class of lever to lift loads.


Historically and in modern times, ramps are some of the most common devices used to move heavy objects from a lower point to a higher one. In fact, it is speculated that even the Great Pyramid of Egypt was constructed in about 20 years using little more than ramps and rollers to lift blocks that weigh thousands of pounds.

Today, we also see ramps used to push heavy objects onto trucks, or even make it easier for the disabled to access any number of facilities. Aside from making it easier to lift objects from one level to another, ramps can also be used to move objects more easily down a decline.

For example, if you have to move items down a marrow staircase, you can cover part of the staircase with a board and let the objects slide down the board. Just make sure that no one is standing in the area where the object may land, and you can control the speed of descent so that damage does not occur to the object.

As with other simple machines, ramps are easy to construct, however they must still fall within certain laws of physics. In this case:

  • The material used for the ramp must still be strong enough to bear the weight of the object moving over it. For example, if you are trying to move a 500 pound barrel over a ramp, that ramp must be able to hold that amount of weight. If the support beams for the ramp or the boards that make up the surface cannot bear 500 pounds, then the ramp will collapse.
  • When you build a ramp on land, several points are likely to be resting on the ground.  As with a house or any other building, a ramp needs to have a firm foundation. Even if you only put a ramp up for temporary purposes, the foundation needs to be solid enough to bear the combined weight of the ramp and the load being pushed across it.  If you need to build a foundation, do not forget that it may need to extend beyond the size of the visible portions of the ramp so that the ground beneath the the foundation does not give way beneath ramp.
  • As you may be aware, gangplanks and other ramps used on ships do not have solid anchor points on the ground for support. When constructing and using these ramps, you may need to tie the ramp to areas deeper in the ship or use as many solid areas along the start and finish points to make sure the ramp is secure.
  • The greater the distance between the starting height and finishing height, the longer the ramp needs to be. A gentler incline will be easier to push objects along than a steeper one.
  • You can reduce resistance of objects moving along a ramp by choosing materials that produce less friction.
  • When pushing an object up a ramp, you must apply constant force on the object. If you get tired or slip, the object will roll backwards and can crush you.
  • If you are going to move a lot of stuff from one area to another, it makes sense to have at least one ramp that you can use to move objects from the ground into a vehicle.   Even if your vehicle is not already fitted with one of these ramps, you may be able to find a portable, commercial model that will meet your needs.


The screw is one of the most fascinating machines because it is the only one that can be used to raise liquids from one area to another without enclosing them in a separate container. While an “Archimedes Screw” is traditionally used to generate electricity, it can also be used to lift water from a lower level to a higher one.

To construct an Archimedes Screw, you only need to take a core with a spiral on it, and then enclose that in a column large enough to let water into the apparatus.  Next, attach a crank or some other means to turn the screw so that the water will lift as you turn the crank.

In some ways, you can think of a screw as little more than a ramp that has been curled around a core so that the threads are aligned at an angle in relation to the core.  In order to lit an object, simply twist the core and the ridges on the screw will either raise or lower the object.   You can use pulleys, motors, and  gears to turn the screw.  When deciding what angle to use for the threads of the screw bear in mind that:

  • Gentler angles (thread angles with a  lesser incline when viewed from the top to bottom of the screw) will require less effort on each turn to lift the object.
  • The larger the crank used to turn the screw, the faster it will turn, and the faster the object will raise. Just bear in mind that it takes more work to produce a large circular motion than a small one.

Gas Springs

Have you ever had to lift a heavy objects several feet off the ground and found yourself wishing that the object could just bounce from the ground to where it needed to go? If so, then you may have also thought about using springs or coils for lifting heavy objects. Even though it is true that you can get a good bit of power from compressed metal springs, gas springs are easier to work with and more reliable for lifting heavy weights.

Basically, a gas spring uses a piston and a cylinder filled with compressed gas (nitrogen) and oil to provide upward lift. You cannot make this type of spring using DIY methods, you can still scavenge gas springs from a number of locations. For example, most office chairs that have an adjustable height use gas springs. If the chair is rated for 200 or 300 pounds of weight, there is a chance that the spring can also be used to lift and support that weight. Gas pistons are also used in automobile struts, car doors, and on each side of the trunk door. 

Here are some advantages and disadvantages associated with using gas springs:

  • Depending on what the springs were used in, they may not be able to lift a load very high. For example, most office chairs will only lift 18 – 24 inches before the end of the piston is reached. On the other hand, if you are fortunate enough to find gas pistons used to raise automobile hatch backs, they may extend a bit longer and also be able to lift heavier weights.
  • Gas springs usually lock in place as soon as you stop putting pressure on them.  For example, when you raise or lower an office chair, it stay at the same height as long as the weight placed on the chair does not exceed the capacity of the gas spring.
  • Gas springs are ideal for applications where the items must be lifted gently and slowly.  They also make good shock absorbers for boxes filled with fragile objects such as glassware.
  • Gas springs can be used on vertical alignments as well as horizontal ones.
  • You can create a number of “power assist” devices for very short ranges for people who are disabled.  These power assist devices may help you do everything from lift plates or heavy buckets to carry out other household tasks.

The Chinese Windlass

When you pull on a rope to turn a pulley, that motion will work, but it is far less efficient than using a circular motion. The windlass is basically a crank that you can attach to a pulley system that makes it even easier to lift heavy objects. Wishing wells, fishing reels, and many other devices use a windlass to lift heavy objects.

Video first seen on mrpete222.

The most basic windlass utilizes a crank attached to a shaft that is mounted on posts or some other form of support. As the crank is turned, rope winds around the shaft so that the object can be raised. While this system is far more efficient when combined with pulleys or even gears, the object will drop unless you lock the rope into place. If you are going to use a windlass system for lifting objects, you are best served by adapting it to a Chinese Windlass or Differential Windlass:

  • Instead of a shaft that has the same thickness across the entire length, the Chinese Windlass is thicker on the side located further away from the crank.
  • The rope used to lift the object is wound onto the shaft in such a way that it winds onto the thicker area as it is feeding off the narrower part of the shaft.  If you turn the crank in the opposite direction, the rope will wind back onto the narrower part of the shaft as the object is lowered.
  • In most cases the difference in size between the two ends of the shaft is very small. Nevertheless, the power required to turn the crank is much less even for the tiny difference in ratios.

Conveyor Belt Ramps

There are bound to be many times when you aren’t going to be interested in lifting objects vertically as much as you will transporting them over somewhat short distances vertically. When you do not have a a vehicle or cart, you will still need some way to push or pull the object from one place to another. If you have ever used a manual treadmill for exercise, then you will already have a good idea about how to make and use a conveyor belt ramp system.

Let’s say you want to move an 800 pound object a distance of several yards. Here are just a few things you will need to consider for the sake of safety and practicality:

  • You must be able to control the speed of the load as it moves along from Point A to Point B. This includes making sure that you can stop the forward motion of the load and also prevent backwards motion.
  • The object must remain in proper alignment with the mechanism

Now let’s say you originally planned to simply left the object with a pulley system and then use something like a crane arm to pull the suspended object to a location where you want to set it down.  While this method may be efficient and relatively safe, it may not be feasible in a situation where you do not have metal, motors, and other resources to build a proper crane.

By contrast, a conveyor belt ramp system may take longer to build and require more work, it will still get the job done using simple resources such as wooden logs and plastic sheeting.

Unlike a traditional ramp, a conveyor belt ramp will have a belt with two distinctly different surfaces on it.  The lower surface should produce as little friction as possible as the belt is dragged over the ramp and logs (that act more or less as pulleys) at each end of the conveyor.  The upper surface of the belt should adhere firmly to the object being moved so that it does not slip or fall off.

Depending on how you build the incline, you may also want to add a windlass system so that it takes less effort to move the belt and the object along from one position to the other.  If you have to go over longer distances, you will also benefit from making a series of mobile ramps so that you can fit them together as you go along.

Twisted Strings or Ropes

If you take two pieces of rope and continue to twist them around each other, they will get shorter. If you tie one end of the ropes to a crank, and the other end to a heavy object, the object will be pulled forward when you turn the crank in a way that causes the ropes to twist tightly. You can easily see this in action if you have ever used a yo-yo. As the string becomes more tightly wound around the axle of the yo-yo, the distance for the yo-yo to travel is also much shorter.

At first glance, simply taking two ropes and twisting them around each other may not seem like a very glamorous or useful way to move heavy objects.   Here are some advantages to consider:

  • Twisting ropes can be much longer and are much easier to assemble than conveyor belts and ramp systems.
  • You can use twisting ropes to lift objects vertically or drag them along a horizontal surface.
  • Newer materials such as fishing line give you far more power and shortening capacity than older materials.

As useful and low tech as twisting ropes may be, they have one very critical drawback. You must be very careful about the materials you use for twisting. Most, if not all ropes will degrade and lose their strength very quickly if they are twisted in a way that causes excess friction on the inner core of the rope.

If you do decide to store away rope for this purpose, make sure that you choose rope that is braided and has a suitable core. If you choose to use nylon line or other synthetic materials, make sure they will be able to bear heavy weight loads even if they are twisted to half or less of their original size.

Magnetic Levitron

Every machine or tool used to lift and move heavy objects must overcome the Earth’s gravity and inertia (essentially a body at rest tends to stay at rest) before anything useful can happen. With the exception of magnetic rails, just about every other device featured in this article requires mechanical force to overcome gravity and inertia.

Magnetic rails take a vastly different approach. Instead of using physical force to move objects, these systems use the capacity of magnets to attract and repel each other.  For example, magnetic levitation trains weighing thousands of tons glide effortlessly over tracks at speeds faster than obtained by trains that utilize conventional engines.

At the current time, “magnetic levitation” is in its infancy insofar as consumers being able to use the power of magnetic levitation to lift heavy objects. The Levitron is one of the best studied devices that may be modified to lift heavy objects. This particular devices basically has a base that generates vibrations (oscillating field) and a copper plate sandwiched between a non-moving magnet and a floating “top” magnet. The upper magnet spins as the vibrations from the base create changes in the magnetic fields of the system.

You can also purchase kits that allow you to build small levitation device models, or you can build your own using a few basic ideas:

  • Use magnets oriented in such a way that like poles are always pointed towards each other.
  • Since magnetism can be induced by passing electric current through a wire, try combining that with magnets to push and pull a floating object within the generated fields. You can use opposing as well as attracting orientations just by adjusting the flow of electricity at different locations.
  • Orient the magnets in such a way that opposite poles are facing each other. This will cause the magnets to move closer together, and drag any object connected to them along as well.

As you study these devices, consider keeping the raw materials to build them in your stockpile. You can also build smaller models and test them on lighter loads before committing yourself to building or using these machines for lifting heavier objects. Since heavy objects are dangerous to be around while in motion, look for ways to include backup systems that will prevent serious injury if ropes fail or something else breaks at just the wrong moment.  

When it comes to the most successful survival tactics – practice and hands on experience will always do more for you than simply reading and trying to file information away hoping that it will be of use later on.


This article has been written by Carmela Tyrell for Survivopedia.











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10 Ways Preppers Can Reuse Old Light Bulbs

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Survivopedia repurpose light bulbs

Even though many countries are looking to end production of incandescent light bulbs, they are very useful to preppers. They act as ideal sources of heat, light, and can even function as resistors in an electronic circuit.

If you have light bulbs in your stockpile, or still use them around the house, you may be wondering if they are of any value when they burn out. Here are easy ways to repurpose light bulbs and advance your prepping goals at the same time.

Preparing the Light Bulb for Reuse

Most of the things you can make with light bulbs require getting into the bulb itself and pulling out the parts that used to glow. If you have frosted or white light bulbs, you will also have to remove the coating in order to get the most from some of these ideas.

In order to take out the insides of a light bulb, follow these steps. Be sure to wear heavy work gloves and goggles. Cover your work area with newspaper or something else that can be easily discarded once you are done.

Never forget that light bulbs are made of thin glass, and as such can be very fragile. The last thing you will need now or in a survival situation is to wind up with slivers of glass in your hands, or worse yet your eyes. While these steps are very easy to follow, never underestimate the need for safety precautions.

  • Use a pair of pliers to twist the solder contact in the bottom center of the bulb. Once the contact is loose enough, pull it out of the bulb. While you are pulling and twisting on the contacts, do not put pressure on the glass parts of the bulb. You can grip the metal part of the bulb, or better yet, put it in a vice. Just don’t clamp the vice too hard or you might break the glass part of the bulb that seals to them metal.
  • Use a screwdriver to break the glass insulator and other parts inside the bulb. You will have to remove them in small pieces. Everything should come out of the bulb, including the tungsten element.
  • Fill the bulb with water and empty it several times in order to remove any white powder from inside the bulb.
  • Either let the inside of the bulb air dry, or use a screwdriver covered with a paper towel to dry it out.


Light Diffuser

Aside from housing gas that keeps the tungsten element from burning up, light bulbs are also designed to diffuse light so that larger areas can be illuminated. You can use old, hollowed out light bulbs as light diffusers in chandeliers, or even as a means to increase illumination from LED arrays.

No matter how you arrange the light bulbs, they will provide a steady glow that works better than just the original light source by itself. For example, you can take one bulb that actually works, and then surround it with five or six bulbs that are burned out and cleaned.

You can also use the light diffuser properties of burned out bulbs to increase illumination from candles, oil lamps, and many other sources. Just make sure that when you join the light bulbs together, you do not use flammable materials. Stick to metal wire or anything else that will not start an unwanted fire.

Candles, oil lamps, and any other flame will always carry with it the risk of making sparks. It is not worth the risk to use rope or other more “visually attractive” accents for the diffuser.

Build an Electroscope

An electroscope is used to detect static electricity, and can also be used to detect the presence of nuclear, or ionized radiation. Even though the most optimized Kearny Fallout Meters are made from other simple materials, you can still use a light bulb in an emergency.

There are two ways to construct the inner part of the electroscope:

  • You can use the traditional design which calls for two gold foil (or aluminum) attached to an electrical conductor. The insulative properties of the glass will help maintain the static charge, which serves to keep the thin metal leaves separated. (If ionizing radiation is present, the leaves will droop or come closer together.) Since UV light can also act as ionizing radiation, you may want to keep the meter in a dark place, or put a black coating on the bulb. Just make sure you leave a peek hole so that you can see in and observe the metal leaves.

Video first seen on RimstarOrg.

  • A spinning electroscope tends to be more sensitive than a metal leaf design. This type of electroscope may not need charging as often, and it may also detect more subtle levels of radiation.

When operating a nuclear fallout electroscope, remember that you will have to “charge up” the device periodically with static electricity. This does not necessarily mean that ionizing radiation is, or was present. That being said, if you charge the device up and the leaves droop very quickly in a darkened room, then you may tentatively conclude that high levels of ionic radiation are present

Spice Dispensers

Salt, pepper, sugar, flour, and other spice shakers may seem to last forever. On the other hand if you are bugging out, must evacuate, or these dispensers get broken, you may have a harder time than expected replacing them. Simply make a new cap with holes in it for the light bulb, and you will have an ideal spice shaker. If you want the shaker to stand upright, just put it on a platform or suspend from a wire hanger system.

You can also use light bulbs to store herbs on a longer term basis. They can also be easily assembled to sit on spice racks or even on counter stands. If you do decide to use light bulbs to store herbs, remember that they will not be completely air tight, and that you should always make sure the spices are stored in a cool, dry location for optimal shelf life.

Video first seen on HomesGuides.

Housing for Edible Insects

If you are successful in surviving a major crisis, there is every chance that one of your primary food sources will wind up being edible insects. You may also wind up in in a situation where you have to evacuate quickly, and there will neither be time nor room to move larger insect farms.

Rather than lose all of your hard work, you can keep a miniature bug farm for each insect stocked with enough reproducing insects so that you can start over again in a new location. Light bulbs are ideal because they are easy to keep clean and you can put several of them in a small box for transport.

Molds for Cement

Light bulbs that fit in a conventional lamp tend to be very easy to grip and hold onto. As such, the bulb itself makes an excellent mold for cement and other materials that can be used to make a number of useful objects. This includes:

  • Nail and screw type wall hooks. While the cement is wet, just leave some of the sharp end of the nail or screw sticking out of the cement. Once the cement is dry, you can leave the glass in place or break it away from the cement. These hooks can be used as clothes pegs, hanging container gardens, and many other purposes. Just make sure that they are nailed or screwed into wall studs so that there is enough support for the hook and anything you may decide to suspend from it.

Video first seen on American Hacker.

  • Doorknobs and other items can also be made from cement or other materials that can be poured into molds. Just make sure that you add the appropriate hardware before the item dries out.
  • Try filling two empty light bulbs with cement, and then stick the ends of rope or chain into the cement while it is still wet. You can create everything from hobbles to weapons using this construction method.
  • For simple, lightweight anchors, you can use one or many cement filled bulbs to anchor rope or other items into the water or into the ground.


When it comes to hunting gear, there are more than a few places where decoys can be used to draw a predatory animal to a desired location, or even encourage it to move into a waiting trap. There may also be times when you want to ensure that an animal will avoid a predator and move into your territory instead.

Even though it may take some work to add feathers and other materials to light bulbs, they cans still act as excellent decoys. If you look into crafty ways to decorate light bulbs, you are sure to find many useful ideas.

Fishing Flotation Devices

If you do not have plastic bobs or other flotation devices, a sealed up light bulb may suit your needs. You can use light bulbs on individual fishing lines, fish nets, and any other area where buoyance is needed. Just remember that a glass bulb is not as sturdy as a plastic bottle, so try to limit the weight load as much as possible.

Infusora Hatchery

Well prepared survivors will more than likely look to cultivate animal, plant, and fish resources. No matter whether you grow your own fish in an aquaponics system or start with pairs captured in the wild, it is very important to make sure that you can raise successive generations of fish. In most cases, egg laying fish will eat their own eggs after fertilization, or they will do nothing whatsoever to take care of the fry after they hatch.

Typically, newly hatched fry feed on infusora (tiny micro organisms that grow on rotting organic matter suspended in water). A light bulb can be used in an emergency to house infusorans and also get them to propagate. If you must use a larger container to get them started, the smaller light bulb can still be used as an emergency vessel that can be transported from one location to another.

Video first seen on Kailey Francis.

Fish Egg Hatchery

Contrary to popular belief, a light bulb will never meet the water quality and space needs of a fish. Even if you have to transport fish during a bug out or evacuation proceeding, use some other container that has a wide mouth and will also allow for the operation of an air stone.

Remember that when fish are stressed, they will release huge amounts of ammonia. Even a single fish will be dead in a matter of hours if you try to house or transport it in a clean, hollowed out light bulb.

Light bulbs can, however, can be used as temporary nurseries for newly fertilize fish eggs. If you happen to be dealing with a species of fish that consume the eggs after spawning, simply remove the eggs and let them hatch in a light bulb nursery. Just remember that the fry will need to stay in the nursery for at least 2 or 3 days while they consume the yolk sack after hatching. Once they are ready to eat infusora, you can move them into a bigger container and start feeding them.

A light bulb makes in ideal hatching container because it is much easier to keep track of the eggs and watch them hatch. If you are not sure if the fry are alive, do not tap the bulb or make loud noises. Even newly hatched fry will respond to light from a flashlight and will move around immediately if they can.

Vases and Micro Planters

light planterDuring the process of expanding on your survival skills, it is likely that you will develop an interest in wild herbs and their cultivation.

Empty light bulbs can be used for cutting vases, and also as covers that will increase humidity for small plants.

This is especially important if you need to root cuttings in soil, and need to preserve a good bit of moisture so that the plant can take it in through the leaves.

Light bulbs offer a perfect reusable solution that will last for years on end.

If you have very limited amounts of space to work with, light bulb vases can easily be suspended from wire tree frames, from walls, and even overhead ceiling hangers.

While you can also use simple stands to keep the bulbs from tipping over, the hanging options can help you take advantage of window lighting with ease.

Many people view burned out light bulbs as completely useless. It should come as no surprise that they make up a significant portion of landfill waste, and are often viewed as useless even in those industries. On the other hand, as a prepper, there are many ways that you can use burned out light bulbs to your advantage in an emergency situation.

Learn how to hollow them out, clean them, and work with them safely. No doubt, once you start using burned out light bulbs in prepper applications, you will come up with all kinds of useful and creative options.


This article has been written by Carmela Tyrell for Survivopedia.

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How To Make Clay Pots For Survival

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There are almost as many uses for clay pots as there are ways to make them. They’re decorative, functional, and multi-purpose.

You can make them in any size that you need, and clay pots are used for everything from making sauerkraut to planting herbs, but many other prepper projects can be based on using clay pots.

Learning how to make clay pots for survival can be a fun, rewarding experience that even the kids will enjoy.

Materials to Make Clay for Pots

You probably won’t be able to run to your local craft shop and pick up clay if SHTF, so it’s a good idea to know what clay is made of and how to blend it so that it makes a product that will cure properly. Since clay is sourced from the earth, you’re stuck with what you have right underneath your feet.

Fortunately, you can make clay using many different types of soil, but there are most definitely parts of the country that offer much higher quality clay than others. For example, Georgia clay and clay found in the American Southwest are probably two of the most famous clays, but there’s a good chance that you’re standing on soil, or live near some, that can be used for making clay pots.

There are two basic types of clay that you can use to make clay pots: earthenware and stoneware. They have some significant differences, so let’s touch on that for a minute.


Earthenware clay was probably the clay first used by our ancestors. It has a lot of impurities such as limestone that make it less durable. This type of clay can be made from just about any type of dirt as long as you process it correctly.

The problem with earthenware is that it reaches optimum hardness at lower temperatures, and that makes it less durable and more likely to crack and chip.

Earthenware is fine for many projects but not for fermenting foods, eating or drinking out of, or making items that need extreme durability such as tiles.


This type of clay is relatively pure and thus has a higher firing temperature. Firing is the process used to remove water from the clay at the molecular level, which brings it to optimum hardness. The good side is that you can remove many of the impurities from your clay; not all of them, but many of them. The process is fairly simple and involves letting the soil sit in water so that the sediment settles.

Of course, there are many variations of earthenware and stoneware. They range from clays that are soft and suitable for plants to clays that are durable enough to hold up to hard farm work. Stoneware is best because it’s strong and much more versatile.

Now that you have a general idea of what types of clay you have to work with, let’s talk about some methods to make clay pots for survival.

Pinch Pots

This method sounds simple and it is, once you get  the hang of it. Before that, though, you’re going to make some pretty lopsided pieces, so start small until you get the hang of it.

Start with a ball of clay about half the size of a tennis ball; that’s a workable size for a beginner. Roll it to get it nice and round, then poke a hole halfway through or so with your finger. Put your thumbs in the hole, supporting the outside of the ball with your fingers and palms.

Gently, in little pushes, open up the hole around the sides and bottom, spinning the ball in your hands as your go. The goal with this method is to evenly build the walls and bottom of your pot. As the hole starts to open up, use your fingers on the outside and your thumbs on the inside (or vice versa) to pinch your pot into the shape that you desire.

Once you have it in the general shape and thickness that you want, go around with your fingers and feel for spots that are too thick or thin and level them out. If a spot gets too thin, you can smooth in a bit of extra clay.

Video first seen on suetube466.

Once you’re happy with your pot, thunk it gently onto the table to create a flat spot that will be the bottom. Make sure you have the pot as centered as possible when you do this.

If your pot starts to dry out, mist it with a bit of water and rub it in with your fingers. Don’t use much or you’ll have a puddle of mud instead of a pot!

Once you have your pot shaped and a bottom formed, smooth it out using your fingers or a small piece of smooth wood or metal. If you have any cracks, mist a bit of water on and smooth it with your finger. Smooth out the lip of your pot, too. You can use a bit of slip (clay thinned with water) to smooth out the sides of your clay pot.

Now your pinch pot is ready to fire!

Using the Coil Method to Make a Clay Pot

This method is pretty cool and beginner-friendly, too. You’re going to roll out coils of clay about the size of your pinky. Make them a foot long or so in the beginning. That way it’s manageable and your clay won’t dry out too quickly.

Start the bottom of your pot by laying the coils flat and spiral them around each other so that they’re touching. Now use your fingers or a small wooden tool to smooth the coils together.

Once you get the bottom formed, add a coil on top of the outer coil of your base. Smooth the bottom of the coil into the bottom on both the inside and outside. Continue doing this as you build the height of your pot.

Shape your pot by gradually adding longer or shorter coils as you build – if you want a pot that’s completely vertical, use the same size coils all the way up. If you want it larger around in the center, use longer coils as you build up, then shorten the coils as you get toward the top.

Once you’ve got your clay pot built, go through with your fingers and feel for thick or thin spots like you did with the pinch pot, smoothing them out with your fingers or with the wooden tool. You can use a bit of slip to smooth the sides.

Smooth out the lip with your fingers and your pot is ready to fire.

Video first seen on ArtistEducation.

Use the Slab Method to Make a Clay Pot

This method is sort of like making a pie! Roll out your clay so that it’s an even thickness of about 1/2-1 inch. Start simple. Cut out a square for the bottom, then cut 4 slabs that are an inch wider than the base. Make them as long as you want your pot to be high. Start low in the beginning until you get the hang of it.

There are a few different ways to merge the pieces but both require two steps. First, you need to score the connecting edges. Use a knife to make some shallow cuts (crisscrosses are good) on each part that will be connected. Second, you’ll use slip as the glue.

Once you have the sides cut, they may be too wet to build the box without collapsing. If this is the case, put them in a plastic bag with some newspaper for 24 hours or so until they’re firm enough to hold up without collapsing.

Method 1

Decide whether you want to attach the sides so that they sit on the base or around the outside of the base. I prefer to set the sides on top of the base, but that’s just me. Now that the sides are dry enough to work with, measure the sides to the exact width that you need them to be and trim appropriately.

Score all edges that will be touching. Start by smearing a small amount of thick (glue consistency) slip on the edges of one side of the bottom and the bottom of one of the sides. (Sounds confusing, but think of it this way – you’re attaching the first side to the base).

Now put the edges together and hold them together for a minute, smearing the slip on the inside sort of like you would grout. Now you’re going to add the second side. It’s the same exact process as attaching the first side, except you merge the sides to each other as well as to the bottom. Smear the slip into the corners and off of the sides so that it’s smooth.

Allow your new box to sit for a couple of days so that the slip dries a bit. Your new box is now ready to fire!

Method 2

The only difference between this method and the last is that you’re going to trim the edges of the sides and bottoms at an angle similar to the way that you’d cut a doorframe so that the angles line up. It gives it a bit of a cleaner look and also makes it hold up a bit better.

Oh, if you want to make a lid, you can do that, too. Just cut a top that’s the same size as the bottom, then trim a lip around the outside so that it sets inside the sides. Let the box dry with the lid on it so that it dries equally and will fit when it’s fired.

Now you know three main ways to make a clay pot for survival! If you have any suggestions or ideas, please share them in the comments section below.

the lost ways cover

This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.

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Quick Guide For A Comfortable Shelter

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Do you remember when people were stuck in the Superdome during Hurricane Katrina?

Aside from problems with waste disposal, there were also many people that developed severe psychological problems because too many people were packed in together.

This is one very good example of what shelter means for your survival, right? But this is not enough: clothing and bedding meet the most personal needs for shelter from the climate, so we have to take them into account as well while prepping.

Do You Have Enough Space?

No matter whether you are claustrophobic or not, you need to determine how much room each person in your survival group needs in order to remain healthy at all levels. Since a disaster can lead to years of social disruption, do not be misled into thinking that you can pack everyone into a small space and hope for the best.

As with food and water ratios, you can use online calculators and estimators to find out much room each person will need. And remember that almost all situations will require increased living space in order to deal with a different range of stresses.

There is no question that mp3 players, tablets, and cell phones can ease some of the stress caused by living in extremely close quarters. When all of these devices become inoperable, there may be people in your survival group that will require more living space than they do now. As a result, when you are planning out your homestead, it makes sense to create multiple shelters as well as look for other ways to help people have more space.

If you are paying for room in a survival community, it is very important to find out how much shelter space is allocated for each person. You should also find out if people will be crammed together in emergencies as well as what kind of support system is in place to help people adjust to the post crisis world. Never forget that the images we have of social collapse survivors are largely ones painted by movies and TV.

There is no telling precisely who will survive or why. No matter how each person may try to prepare, the elements of luck and chance may still allow someone who will break under pressure into a survival community. Under those situations, shelter arrangements can easily become a serious problem.

In order to prepare for this issue, you should at least know how to build your own temporary and permanent shelters away from the main group. There should also be clear understandings between you and community leaders about your capacity to move into a different region based on your own needs and preferences.

Today, many people will tell you that their home or apartment is way too small for comfort. These people will escape to stores, supermarkets, or the woods just to get away from those stifling walls, hated furniture, and other knaggy issues.

While you may find yourself thankful for what you have during and after a crisis, that does not change the fact that being cut off from the world in terms of communications and electronics devices can make the situation much worse.

If possible, try to find some way to increase your living space now, getting rid of unwanted furniture and reducing clutter. Invariably, the more comfortable you are living in your bug in location, the better chance you will have of making good use of the available space. For example, if you have an entire room cleaned out and empty, you can use it for purifying water or engaging in other activities related to survival needs.


What About Clothing?

No matter whether you are bugging out or bugging in, you will need to have some different kinds of garments on hand. While the clothes you are wearing or have stored in your closet won’t be damaged by an EMP, you will still need a range of garments and protective gear in order to survive with as little injury as possible.

Here are some critical things that you should have on hand if you are planning to survive a major social collapse.

Hiking Boots

Hiking boots that will keep your feet cool in hot weather and warm in cold weather. If you cannot find one pair of boots to achieve both objectives, then purchase two different pair of boots. Do not try to compromise and purchase a “mid-range” boot. Typically, this will only create a situation where you aren’t prepared for either extreme.

Even though you may feel that you know your geographic region and its temperatures, never forget that you may be forced to move a fairly large distance or face severe weather conditions that weren’t accounted for in your original plans.

Thinsulate and Heavy Socks

You can use thermal and cooling Thinsulate socks to help regulate the temperature of your feet. It is also very important to keep heavier socks available in case you need additional padding.

When choosing the best socks, do not forget to take into account how much circulation the socks will cut off around the ankles and calves. If you choose long socks, always bear in mind that they can become very restrictive and troublesome. At the very least, keep a few pairs of ankle and even heel length socks available.

Nylon Based Overshirts and Pants

You can find good quality, durable nylon garments in most sporting goods stores. These clothes will help you stay warm in cold weather or help move heat away from your body faster during summer months or other conditions where it will be harder to cool off.

Sufficient clothing to create layers. If you cannot afford good quality nylon garments, then use layers to help stay warmer or cooler. Just remember that black garments will absorb heat while white and light colors will reflect it away from you.

Protective Eyewear

No matter whether you have to move through the streets or plan to stay in one building, a massive EMP can generate all kinds of fires and other hazards. These in turn, will emit all kinds of smoke, silt, and dust that can easily get into your eyes. In addition, if a window breaks, a tree falls, or some other debris comes your way, protective eyewear can help save your eyes.

You should choose good quality goggles as opposed to glasses. While goggles may not be very attractive, they will still protect your eyes from a range of injuries.

You can purchase high quality goggles at just about any hardware store. Make sure you choose a pair that will protect your eyes from dust as well as objects flying at your face.

Together with goggles, you may also want to consider purchasing a welding helmet. This type of helmet comes with a shield that will protect your eyes from excessive heat and light. While they may not be very useful during night hours, they can reduce the chances of you being driven blind by any number of light and heat sources during the day hours.

Since night vision goggles rely on IC chips, it does not make much sense to keep them on hand. Rather, you are better off honing your natural eyesight and learning how to preserve it during dark hours.

For example, instead of relying on a flashlight, learn how to use the ambient light to meet your needs. While you may not be aware of it, even looking at a bright light for less than second can rob you of vital night vision for at least 10 – 15 minutes.

Protective Ear Muffs

Chances are you have no idea what it sounds like when a transformer explodes. By the time you take into account these noises, sounds from riots, percussion grenades, LRADS, and other percussion equipment, failure to have protective ear muffs on hand can spell severe injury or even death.

It should be noted that simply wearing ear plugs can be just as dangerous as not wearing ear protection at all. In some cases, shock or percussion blasts can easily push these plugs deeper into the ear canal and even rupture your ear drums. Anyone that wears hearing aids should seriously consider opting for devices that do not lodge in the ear canal.

Heavy Gloves and Hardhats

After an initial EMP, there are bound to be all kinds of explosions and fires that will result in all kinds of debris flying around. Never assume that you will be safe in your apartment or any other place just because you survived the initial blast.

As hours and days go by, debris will continue to build up and may well endanger your life if you do not have a hardhat and gloves to protect your hands as you try to move heavy objects from one place to another.

Waterproof and Chemical Proof Suit

No matter whether you need to get out of a city or a small town, chances are you will encounter raw sewage and many other toxins. If you cannot afford a basic contamination suit, you can try to make your own using vinyl tarp or heavy plastic.

As may be expected, you will need to use epoxy glues instead of a needle and thread to join parts of the suit together. Always be mindful of the fact that even a small hole can let dangerous toxins into the suit.

Overall, most preppers know that a post crisis world is going to be filled with trauma and chaos. In many cases, these people tend to try and hold onto the idea that if they have enough tangible resources to meet daily and long term needs, then they get through the crisis with far less difficulty.

Ease your survival by prepping properly, and finding ways to make your shelter safe and comfortable at the same time.




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Prepper Project: 5 Ways To Build An Oven

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SVP big ovenI remember that when I was a kid, I used to play cops and robbers, cowboys and Indians and stuff like that, but the girls were busy baking mud pies like crazy. You know what I’m talking about, right? Mud pies and earth ovens, these are the memories of my childhood; well, among many others I can’t write about here, because we have a family audience.

Mud pies are just a childhood memory, but wood-fired ovens are maybe the best things invented by humans, since…I don’t know, the biped posture? I mean, the best pizza in the world is made in wood-fired ovens, and so are many other foods.

Cooking in wood-fired ovens definitely improves the flavor of almost any type of food, not to mention that, if properly insulated, an earth oven will maintain its internal heat for days, making it quite efficient at cooking lots of food with minimal fuel spent.

So, today’s article is about how to build your own wood-fired, or earth oven, a skill which has the potential to save your life in a survival situation. And since we’re talking about SHTF scenarios, we will focus on oven designs that are dirt-cheap and easy to build using simple and readily available materials and tools.

1. The DIY Barrel Stove

Let’s begin today’s journey with the DIY barrel stove, also known as a wood-heater oven, which is any hobo’s dream.

In case you did not know because of today’s political correctness, the hobo stove is actually a specific design, representing a model of an improvised cooking/heat producing device, which is often used in various survival scenarios. After all, who knows more about how to survive a crisis than homeless people?

Why a barrel stove/hobo stove, you may ask? To put it bluntly, because the design is pure genius, due to its simplicity and efficiency. You can use a barrel stove for various purposes, ranging from outdoor cooking to boiling water for purification during power outages or what not. This type of stove can be improvised using readily available materials, such as basically any type of tin can or barrel, regardless of the size.

In the following video tutorial, the “hero” uses a recycled steel barrel for building a hobo stove, but you can also use a trash can, an old oil drum (make sure it’s clean or else you’ll have a bigger fire than you bargained for!), a gas canister or something similar; even a large can of ravioli/veggies will allow you to build a small stove and cook your diner.

Video first seen on RealWorldReport.

The advantages of the barrel stove/hobo stove are that it’s very easy to manufacture and it’s incredibly light, versatile and efficient. You can also transport it easily if required, and you don’t need high tech tools, nor skills, for manufacturing it.

Another advantage is the price tag, because there are many places where you can acquire an old oil drum basically free of charge; for example just pay a visit to your local garage and ask your mechanic. Demolition yards and scrap yards are also viable options.

The DIY job is very straight-forward and it consists of removing the top of the barrel first, and then punching a dozen or so small holes near the upper edge. You’ll also have to cut a larger opening on the side of the barrel near the bottom for air and fuel, and that’s basically it.

The wood is placed inside the barrel and ignited, while the bottom and the side orifices draw air inside through convection, keeping the fire alive as heat gets out through the top. You can use anything for combustion; not only wood, but even animal dung or wax. If it burns and isn’t toxic, you can use it.

2. The Ground / Earth Oven

Moving on with the article, let’s see about the ground/earth oven, your best friend when it comes to outdoor cooking, survival or just plain fun. You will find below a clip featuring a dude (pun intended) who builds his own ground oven while out in the woods, doing who knows what. He looks like he’s up to no good; however, don’t judge the guy from his looks, because he does an excellent job in the end with that roast (just kidding, here.)

Earth ovens, also known as cooking pits or ground ovens, are the simplest and oldest methods of cooking, and they’ve been around for thousands of years. They’ve been used all over the world, by almost all cultures and peoples. Earth ovens are an excellent choice in a survival scenario, being the best tool for cooking your food when you’re out there in the wild with next to zero equipment available.

This primitive yet highly efficient cooking method consists of digging a hole/pit in the ground, which is then cobbled with rocks. You’ll have to go find fairly flat rocks for lining both the pit’s sides and the bottom; that’s the hardest part of the job. Stay away from stream bed stones, as they tend to explode when exposed to heat due to the water which is trapped inside.

Just enjoy the video for getting the fine details (you’ll have to build a fire presumably) and remember, practice makes perfect folks!

Video first seen on NativeSurvival.

3. The Clay Cob Oven

Here’s a video tutorial which depicts the DIYing of the ultimate clay cob oven. Be aware that this is a complex job that requires medium to high skill levels and some elbow grease in the process.

But the end result is absolutely outstanding, as you can see from the YouTube video. Owning a backyard clay cob oven is a delight, especially when it comes to making your own wood fired pizza, garlic bread or jacket potatoes. Remember, nothing tastes better than food cooked in a wood fire, thanks to its wonderful smoky flavor.

Video first seen on Gavin Webber.

For building a cheaper/more basic cob oven, you can use recycled materials and cheap local resources (let your kids for help you with making the cob, which is a simple mixture of sand, clay, water and straw).

The materials for DIYing a clay cob oven are pretty basic: clay, sand, straw, gravel, rocks, tarp and water, together with a little bit of hard work and skill, but I bet in the end you’ll find that it was worth the stretch!

4. The Earthen Oven

The earthen oven, another great and relatively straight-forward DIY job for making your own food using wood fire and dirt-cheap materials. Earthen ovens are thoroughly documented way back to the ancient Romans and they were widely used in the US until the 18th century.

You can find them even today in various places, due to their excellent characteristics, the ease of use and the simplistic build. The design is relatively rudimentary; hence building your own earthen oven is by no means complicated, meaning that you don’t need previous building experience.

Needless to say, this project is a great confidence booster upon completion! You’ll require dry clay, sand, straw/dry grass, fire bricks, canvas tarp and plenty of water. The work itself is a child’s play, literally, as it resembles playing with sand, like on the beach when you were a kid.

You just follow the instructions in the video tutorial and later on, you’ll enjoy baking your own bread and pies using your own earthen oven!

Video first seen on Jas. Townsend and Son, Inc. 

5. The 24 Hours DIY Earth Oven

Our last project is another version of the earthen oven, made even simpler than the previous design. It’s a project that it can be finished in just under 24 hours.

Based on an 18th century design, this earthen oven will require minimal quantities of dirt-cheap materials and the least amount of time, going from bare ground to a baked pie in under 24 hours. Basically, the previous idea has been taken to its simplest and most primitive form.

Video first seen on Jas. Townsend and Son, Inc. 

As for materials required, it doesn’t get any simpler and cheaper than this: 2 bags of cat litter, play sand (from the hardware store, about 4 bags), water, straw/dried grass, sticks, bending sticks, a shovel, scrap fabric (not synthetic), a mixing tarp, firewood and a sacrificial board (a plank of wood basically).

That about sums it up for today. Think about your DIY oven project, and if you have questions or comments, don’t hesitate to use the dedicated section below. Good luck, have fun folks!

usf1newThis article has been written by Chris Black for Survivopedia.

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31 Spring Cleaning Hacks Any Homesteader Should Know

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SVP cleaningCleaning…ugh! For most of us, spring cleaning is right up there with a root canal, though the results are admittedly gratifying – after you’re done.

Even then, there may be still be some stains that you can’t seem to get completely out. Today, we’re going to give you some tips to help your back and kick those stubborn stains.

  1. Use lemons to remove water stains

You know all those little spots on water spigots and shower handles that just won’t go away no matter what you do? Use slices of lemon on them. The citric acid in the lemon will have your fixtures gleaming in no time!

  1. Use dryer sheets to clean buildup off of shower doors

This is a great way to get a second use out of something, and as preppers, multi-use items are king! Just wet them with water and wipe your doors with them. Also good for removing mineral deposits from fixtures.

  1. Use a dustpan to fill your mop bucket

Those tiny bathroom sinks are a bummer when you’re trying to fill a bucket. Just prop the “floor” end of your dustpan on the rim under the faucet and rest the handle on the edge of the sink. Fill the dustpan, and the water will run up the handle and out into the bucket on the floor, turning the handle into an extended faucet.

  1. Scrub your iron skillets with sea salt

Sometimes your skillets get really dirty, or they get a sticky residue but you don’t want to “unseason” it or use harsh cleansers on the iron. Coarse salt and a sponge will have it clean in no time.

  1. Remove pilling or lint from jeans or sweatshirts using a razor

Don’t throw away those pants or shirts that have built up fabric or lint pills. Just use a disposable razor to “shave” them off. It’s quick, easy, and effective and removes stuff that a lint roller leaves behind. Your sweatshirts and jeans will look new again.

  1. De-funk a sponge in the microwave

Sponges start to smell funky after a couple of days due to bacteria and mildew. Get it damp then toss it in the microwave for a minute. Be careful because it will be hot, but it won’t smell funky anymore because the heat kills the odor-causing bugs.

  1. Clean your shower head with vinegar

Do this first, then when you’re finished cleaning the rest of the house, the shower head will be clean. Pour a cup or so of white vinegar into a bag, place it over your showerhead, then rubber band it to hold it in place. It’ll clean all of the deposits out so that the water flows freely again.

  1. Scent your house with a few drops of extract or oil

This is an old real estate agent trick. If you don’t have a wax burner or oil diffuser, place a few teaspoons of vanilla extract or a teaspoon of your favorite essential oil in an oven-proof mug and bake for an hour. The whole house will smell great.

  1. Steam clean your microwave

Spaghetti pops sauce all over your microwave, meats spew grease and beans explode, making cleaning the microwave seem harder than carving a sculpture. Warm a cup of water in there for 2 minutes, then wipe clean – the steam loosens it right up.

  1. Clean the toilet with coke

Don’t scrub that crazy ring and the orange drip stains in your toilet – pour some coke in there, let it sit for a bit, then flush. Shiny and clean!

  1. Line fridge shelves with plastic wrap

This one never seems to work for me because everything seems to stick to the plastic and pull it loose, but it works like a charm for my sister. Just line your fridge shelves with plastic wrap and then remove the plastic when spills occur.

  1. Keep sheets matched by storing in pillow case

This one is a sanity saver for me. When you wash the sheet set, fold them all up and store the whole set in a pillow case, then when you need a fresh set, they’ll all be right there together. I tuck a dryer sheet in between the sheets to keep them smelling fresh.

  1. Use newspaper and baking soda to freshen your trash can

Absorb leakage and odor from your can by just lining the bottom with newspaper and sprinkling some baking soda over it. If you get spillage, just remove the newspaper and start over.

  1. Clean your food storage area

Remember that you need to keep your food storage area clean, and also to check your food supply regularly.

  1. Clean the toaster with a pastry brush

Those crumbs are tough to get out but if you use a pastry brush, the job will be much easier. Just unplug the toaster first.

  1. Clean windows with a microfiber rag and water

There’s no need for breathing in chemicals. A microfiber cloth and water is all that you need. Wipe one direction then the other and they’ll be clean and streak-free. Want to add a great smell? Add a couple drops of lemon or orange essential oil.

  1. Clean your garbage disposal naturally

Garbage disposals are great, but they’re also a steam bath for germs and will smell bad because of it. Instead of reaching down in there to clean it (gross!) toss your citrus fruit peels down there when you’re done with them and grind them up.

  1. Make your own degreaser

This is a trick that I use all the time, as my fiancé is retired military and now spends his time getting greasy working on motorcycles and I frequently help. As a result, I had to find a degreaser that works, and I did. Baking soda, dish soap and WD-40. Mix them in about equal parts and rub it onto the stain as a pre-soak. For smaller food stains, just use dish soap.

  1. Clean wine with wine

Yay – you’re celebrating completing your spring cleaning and you spill red wine on your shirt or carpet. Ugh. That’s OK – cover the red wine with white wine, then baking soda. Scrub with a toothbrush and rinse/dab dry.

  1. Get paint out of carpet with nail polish remover

If you think about it, it makes sense. Just drizzle a few drops of nail polish remover, aka acetone, to the spot and dab it up with a rag.

  1. Clean your coffeepot with vinegar water

If your coffeepot slows down, the lines are probably clogged with mineral deposits. Put a cup of vinegar in the pot and fill with water, then pour in the well. Run a cycle through, then run a couple of cycles of clean water just to get the vinegar out. Problem solved.

  1. Remove wax from carpet with an iron

Crayons and candles – two staples in many of our lives, but a nightmare if you spill it in the carpet. No worries. Just place 2 pieces of paper over it, then iron it. The wax will stick to the paper. Repeat if necessary.

  1. Clean stainless steel with citrus and baking soda

Slice a lemon or lime into thick slices then dip it into baking soda and scrub your stainless steel sink or grill with it to make it shine! Oh yeah, don’t forget to rinse.

  1. Clean the dishwasher with vinegar and baking soda

Sprinkle the bottom of the machine with baking soda and run it through a cycle. Then spray the inside with a vinegar/water mixture. Run a rinse cycle and you’re good to go.

  1. Make your own carpet cleaner

Last time I cleaned my carpets, the cleaning solution was almost $30! No way was I paying that for a jug of chemicals so I looked for a natural alternative. 1 cup peroxide, 1/2 cup vinegar, 2 tablespoons of dish soap, 10 drops of lemon essential oils, and 2 tablespoons fabric softener.

  1. Clean your mattresses with a martini

Well, not really, but sorta. Pour vodka or rubbing alcohol into a spray bottle and add a few drops of lemon essential oil (or oil of your choice). Spritz it onto your mattress and allow to air dry. The alcohol kills bacteria that causes odor.

  1. Organize your cleaning storage space

This is a big deal for me because I don’t have a ton of space for storing cleaning supplies. Use a tension bar (curtain, shower, or closet rod depending on length you need) to hang your bottles from.

  1. Clean your vase with rice and water

Just sprinkle a couple of tablespoons of rice into the vase, then add an inch or so of water. Shake and swirl until it’s clean. Sea salt and ice works well, too. Oh, and the salt and ice is great for a burnt coffee pot, too.

  1. Use vinegar to remove film from glasses

Dishwashers leave behind a film that builds up after some time. To remove this film, just wipe them with a paper towel soaked in vinegar.

  1. Clean fans with a pillowcase

Slide an old pillowcase over the blade of your ceiling fan, then wipe it clean, pulling the case off as you do. The dirt will fall inside the case.

  1. Clean microfiber furniture with rubbing alcohol

Pretty self-explanatory. Spritz the alcohol onto the spot and then use a brush and sponge to clean it. Use white sponges and brushes because colors may transfer onto your furniture.

Hopefully these hacks have offered you some quick and easy DIY cleaning hacks that will make spring cleaning easier! If you have any that you’d like to add, please share them with us in the comments section below. And remember to subscribe to our newsletter for more spring hacks for your homestead!

the lost ways cover

This article has been written by Theresa Crouse 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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