Restoring a Cast Iron Treasure: How to clean and season the old time cooking utensils

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A little elbow grease, and some steel wool, can help you salvage a badly rusted cast iron cooking implement. Somebody’s rusty, dust-covered survivor of a failed camping trip may end up becoming a valuable addition to your cooking tools.

Upcycling: Keep the old & turn it into something new

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Off-grid, Upcycling, reusing, green,

Upcycling refashions the old into something new!

We live in a throw-away society. A culture based on how much “stuff” we have. The media gears our life towards replacing things because it’s fashionable rather than because we actually need to. It is also causing us to rush headlong into a lack of natural resources.

Recycling is of course an option to help combat the use of natural resources. But that requires more energy and water to break down a product into its base materials before remaking it into something else, normally of lower quality.

Upcycling however is completely green.

It’s not about breaking things down, but simply refashioning it into something new and of the same or perhaps even better quality. The conversion process means nothing gets sent to land fill, requires no extra energy (other than a little elbow grease on your part) and allows you to be creative. By reusing and upcycling products to perform different purposes to what they were intended, you are also saving money. Instead of going out and buying a brand new product, find something you are not using and use your creativity. Voila! Upcycling magic has occurred!

The complete opposite of consumer culture, more or less anything can be upcycled, from furniture to clothing to electronics – the only thing stopping you is your imagination. The same thing doesn’t have to be upcycled in the same way. Take a plastic bottle for instance; this could become a planter for the garden, a bird feeder, a lamp or anything else you can think of.

Old electronics, something that often gives us grief when trying to dispose of, can also be upcycled. Old smartphones can become alarm clocks, or if you’re tech savvy a smartwatch! An old school computer monitor can be cleared of internal wiring and become a fish tank! Or if you remove the screen itself, how about a cat bed? The fan in your old computer can be converted into a regular desk fan with a bit of know-how. Plus, if you’re a fashion fanatic how about some quirky keyboard letter cufflinks or earrings?

Upcycling also encompasses larger projects too.

How about wood pallets becoming a stylish piece of decking or front porch? Or how about going for the ultimate upcycle – a whole home!

Shipping containers are becoming a popular option to upcycle into a tiny home. Although you’re unlikely to come across these 8ft wide by 8ft tall containers for free (expect to pay around the $3000 mark for each one), they offer a good opportunity for an upcycle project! Rylan and Brook Naylor, took two of these containers and have converted them into a home. Although not completely off-grid they are hoping that in the coming years they will be.

Canadian Joseph Dupuis bought three shipping containers and did succeed in turning them into a 355 square foot off-grid home. Located 35 miles west of Ottawa Canada, Joseph’s off-grid container cabin is powered by a two kilowatt solar system and heated by a wood fire stove. The space is completely open plan and is designed to be dismantled, so it can be moved and erected in a new location. The whole project (excluding the solar system) cost Joseph $20,000. Having lived in his container cabin for two years, Joseph is looking to sell to give someone else a taste of upcycled off-grid living.

To have a guided tour by Joseph himself, visit:

The post Upcycling: Keep the old & turn it into something new appeared first on Living Off the Grid: Free Yourself.

How To Easily Collect Rainwater To Water Your Garden, Flowers and Landscape!

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Creating A Simple, Inexpensive Way To Collect Rainwater When we first started our little “farm” back in 2010, we had little to work with. No house, no electricity, and no on-site well for water. So when it came to planting our

The post How To Easily Collect Rainwater To Water Your Garden, Flowers and Landscape! appeared first on Old World Garden Farms.

Off-Grid School Gets Top Marks

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Recycling, Eco-desks, Off-grid, school, South Africa

Waste for desks? Deal!

A cash-strapped performing arts school has traded a year’s worth of waste for 30 desks.

The off-grid school collected its community’s recycling, as well as its own, and bartered this for the recycled desks.

Set up in 2005, the grid wasn’t working for 65 pupil school Chistlehurst, Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa so they devised a plan. Stick with their eco-friendly ethos and remain off the grid.  Unlike an on-grid school, there is no sprinkler system, no heating in the winter and strictly no technology in the classroom. So things are done a little differently, students carry buckets of water from the rain water tanks to the gardens and huddle by a bonfire to keep warm on cold mornings.

“Our kids have had to learn how to get along without certain ‘luxuries’, which is something they take a little time to adjust to, but end up loving the ‘quietness’ of it all,” said Jacyn Fanner, Headteacher.

When they moved into their current building, there were no roofs, doors or windows. Let alone functioning taps and toilets! But after a lot of hard work, the school reached their off-grid goal. Rain water tanks fill the toilet cisterns, solar lighting illuminates the classrooms and batteries, gas and a small generator provide extra energy.

The school is also home to a frog pond, vegetable garden and a recycling village with 12 bins for different materials. This allows the school to recycle a range of materials from mixed paper and cans to plastic and styrofoam. The majority of cleaning products and equipment are sourced from the local community and are as eco-friendly as possible.

Off-grid, School, Recycling, South Africa, Eco-desks, Water Tanks,

Drama Free! Water tanks & solar panels mean Chistlehurst doesn’t have to rely on the grid.

The school partnered up with the Wildlands Conservancy Trust 6 years ago, through their desire to recycle. The NGO, which operates in 6 provinces, provided the school with the recycling bins which are filled every week – even during the holidays!

Students have taken their eco-friendly lessons from school to home, encouraging their families to reduce re-use and recycle. So now recycling from the local community is brought to the school for collection. Each year the school get a rebate from Wildlands for the recycling they collect. However at the end of 2016 this rebate was traded for the eco-desks. The staff and students are very pleased with how they look in their eco-school setting and Headteacher Jacyn Fanner wants to see them fill all of the classrooms in time.

So what’s next?

“We have so many ideas and plans – which include a fully solar powered media centre – and we are so excited for what the future holds for Chistlehurst,” Jacyn Fanner said.

The desks are made from 100% previously unrecycled materials, are hard wearing and can be used both indoors and outdoors. Chistlehurst are so pleased with the outcome, they are encouraging other schools to get involved with green initiatives such as Sustainable Schools and Recycling for Life programs.


Images courtesy of Roger Fanner.

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A Classic DIY Farm Table – Made Entirely From 2 x 4’s!

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This 2 x 4 farm table is the perfect weekend DIY project for those looking to make their own kitchen or harvest table. It’s simple to build, durable, and best of all, it’s made entirely of inexpensive 2 x 4’s! Although we often

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The 6 Power Tools Needed To Build And Create Anything!

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When it comes right down to it, the majority of our farm has been built from scratch with the aid of 6 main power tools.  During past 5 and a half years of creating Old World Garden Farms, we have had more than

The post The 6 Power Tools Needed To Build And Create Anything! appeared first on Old World Garden Farms.

10 Ways Preppers Can Easily Reuse Glass Bottles

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glass bottles

Even though plastic bottles are far more common that glass ones, being able to reuse the latter is also an important skill to learn. Even if plastic bottles become rare quickly in the post crisis world, the permanent and more durable nature of glass bottles means you may have better access to them.

No matter whether you dig around in a smaller junk pile or turn up glass bottles while plowing a field, these bottles can still be cleaned and reused for  many purposes.

By contrast, a plastic bottle in the same condition may not be of use at all.  As you learn more about the ways glass bottles can be reused, consider adding them to your stockpile, and using them now for your prepping needs.

Here are a few tools to have on hand when working with glass bottles:

  • Heavy work gloves – when scoring and breaking glass, heavy work gloves are extremely important.  Even one shard of glass can cut deep enough to sever smaller nerves in your fingers or leave an open wound that will get infected easily. Never forget that cutting glass can be both fun and productive, however it can also be very dangerous if you don’t use the proper safety precautions.
  • Goggles – if you though the risk to your fingers and hands was high, the damage to your eyes can be much worse.  As with a number of materials that you might need to work with as a prepper, glass is valuable but it can also cause many injuries that you weren’t planning or thinking about.
  • Glass bottle cutter – you can purchase a stationary cutter that will keep the bottle in place as it is being scored, or you can make one on your own.  If you decide to make one, be sure to choose a good quality cutter so that you can avoid replacing it as much as possible.
  • Handheld glass cutter – as you become better at cutting glass, there may be different shapes that you will want to cut into the glass.  A hand held glass cutter does take some practice to master, however it is well worth the effort.
  • Sanding blocks – glass is always going to have sharp, uneven edges along the scoring track.  Use a sanding block to smooth out these rough areas and other dangerous edges. Do not use sandpaper without a good sturdy block behind it because glass can splinter easily and find its way through the paper backing.
  • Wood for making scoring guides – even if you are an experienced glass cutter, a wooden guide can help  keep the score marks on a precise track and enable you to work faster.
  • Ruler ,paper, compass, protractor
  • Lightweight oil – in order to get the most out of the cutting wheels, use a little bit of oil on the glass so that the cutter does not wear as quickly.
  • A clean, perfectly smooth work surface – this is absolutely essential while you are cutting. Even a small bump or bit of debris can cause the glass to crack. Remember that glass is extremely brittle, and the scoring process will increase that problem.

Skills You Need to Master 

Creating Score Lines

Good score lines aren’t necessarily deep, but they must be consistent. You should hear a crackling sound as the glass cutter moves over the glass. If you see white dust building up along the sides of the cut, then you are putting too much pressure on the cutter.

Snapping the Glass

Breaking glass after creating the score line is truly a fine art. If you don’t it with just the right amount of pressure on both sides of the cut, then the glass may break in places other than on the score lines.

You can try tapping the glass along the score more mark prior to snapping the glass, however that will not make up for poor snapping technique. In some cases, if you tap too hard in order to get a break through the the thickness of the glass, it will go off track worse than if you just snapped the glass without trying to create even breaks along the score line.

When snapping glass, do not forget  to wear heavy gloves and goggles. As someone that has been cutting glass for many years, I can tell you that even the best will wind up with glass that breaks at or near the fingers or have shards fly into the air.

Video first seen on Shake the Future.

How to Reuse Glass Bottles

Here are a few ides for reusing glass bottles in the easiest way:

Fermentation Vessels

Not all reuses involving glass bottles involve cutting the bottle. In this case, you can ferment new wine easily enough in old wine bottles (gallon bottles work well). Just wash out the bottle, let it air dry, and then fill it up with the liquid when you are ready to separate it from the mash.

When you cap the bottle, leave it a bit loose so that air can escape. As the wine continues to ferment, white debris from the yeast will accumulate in the bottom of the bottle. This “debris” is Cream of Tartar, which is used as a leavening agent. It is especially useful in recipes that use eggs as a leavening agent because it stabilizes them better than flour (in cheesecakes, etc).

Video first seen on The One Minute Brewer.

Food Storage

Wide and narrow mouth glass bottles can be used for storing foods. You can store away dried herbs, soups, or just about anything else that can be poured out of the vessel. As with fermentation, you do not need to cut bottles in order to use them for food storage.

If the cap/lid is worn or does not seal well, just add a plastic bag over the mouth of the bottle and then put the cap on.

Smaller bottles can also be used as herb, salt, and pepper shakers. You can drill holes in the cap, and then use the bottle like any other shaker. Remember that if you are not going to use the herbs for some time, either replace the cap with holes with one that is solid, or place some plastic between the cap of the mouth of the bottle.

Plant Cutting Starters

There are several ways to use bottles as plant cutting starters. If the plant will  root in water, simply clean the bottle thoroughly and let it air dry. Next, just put some water in the bottle and place the cutting so that the cut end sits in the water.

Depending on the species of plant, the cuttings may start showing roots in a matter of days, or it can take a few weeks. Just make sure that you put the plants in soil before the root system gets too big to pull from the bottle without causing breakage.

Remember that when it comes to plant root systems, it is the fine hairs at the end of the roots that are vital for pulling water and nutrients into the plant. If you damage those or cause breakages up the line, it will increase the risk of root rot, transplant shock, and poor growth.

Soap Dispensers

Depending on the size and shape of the bottle, you may not need to cut it down in order to use it as a soap dispenser. All you need is a soap pump that has a tube long enough to reach to the bottom of the bottle.

You can cut a hole in the cap to fit the pump in, or make one from some other material. If you have to cut the bottle down in order to create a large enough open area for the pump, then you will need material other than the cap to make a platform.

Video first seen on Craft Innovations.

Candle Holders

If the bottle mouth is small enough, it can be used as is for tapers. For other candles, such as votives, tea lights, and pillars, you may need to cut the neck off the bottle so that there is enough room to place the candle in the bottom of the bottle.  If you are very good at cutting glass, you may also want to cut designs into the sides of the glass to create beautiful lighting effects.

Chimney style candle holders can also be constructed by cutting the bottom off the bottle. Put a fireproof tray under the candle, and then set the “chimney” over the tray and the candle.  Unfortunately, if soot develops on the sides of the “chimney” you may wind up disposing of the bottle if you are unable to remove these deposits.

Video first seen on Saeid Momtahan.

Lamp Bases

To use a glass bottle as an electric lamp base, you will need to cut a hole on the wall of the bottle near the bottom so that the wire can go through. Since incandescent lamp sockets can get quite hot, it is best to build a platform from wood that will cover the mouth of the bottle, and then use a metal riser to accommodate the wire.

The riser will add some space between the socket and the body of the lamp, which will help reduce problems with excess heat.

Video first seen on HouseholdHacker.

Alcohol and Oil Lamps

Many glass bottles can be used “as is” for alcohol and oil burning lamps. Cut the cap of the bottle so that the wick fits through it (but will not fall down into the bottle), and make sure there is enough wick to reach the bottom of the bottle. You can also add an alcohol or oil burner top to he lamp so that you have an easier time adjusting the wick.

Video first seen on jiujitsu2000.

Upside Down Planters

One of the most productive forms of gardening involves hanging plants upside down to grow. In particular, strawberries, tomatoes and vine plants can be grown in much smaller spaces if you use hanging baskets, or upside down planters. Narrow mouth glass bottles are perfect because they are sturdy enough to take the weight of the soil in the bottle and they will not deform in the way thin plastic bottles would.

To use glass bottles as upside down planters, it is best to cut the bottom off the bottle so that you can water the plants easily from the larger opening. I do not recommend drilling holes in the glass for hanging hooks. Instead, you can use anything form yarn to wire to create a suitable harness.

Make sure that the harness will not stretch or corrode/weaken  enough to allow the bottle to slip through as time goes by. When choosing a place to hang up these planters, remember that the water will drain through the mouth of the bottle. Keep a tray under the planter, but far enough away from the leaves so that you do not wind up with spilled water all over the place.

Bird Feeder

No matter whether you are feeding young chicks or want to attract other birds to your homestead, it can be very hard to prevent the seed from being wasted. There are several versions of the glass bottle bird feeder. You can choose from models that invert the bottle, or ones where you simply cut some holes near the bottom of the bottle for the food to escape through.

If you choose the latter versions, it will take some effort to get the knack of cutting holes in the bottle. You are better served by making DIY versions of a platform that will fit over the mouth of the bottle and then use the bottle in its upside down orientation.

Video first seen on UpcycledStuff.


When using glass bottles as greenhouses, you will use one bottle per plant.  Basically, all you need to do is cut the bottom of the bottle, and then place the bottle over the plant. These mini greenhouses are perfect for plants that require a bit of extra humidity.

In particular, glass bottle greenhouses are useful for rooting cuttings from woody stem plants that must be placed in soil. The glass bottle covering gives you an easy way to control moisture and temperature. As the cuttings begin to generate new leaves, you can slowly allow more air in through the top of the bottle, and then allow more air in through the bottom.

Glass bottles offer many advantages to preppers that want a versatile vessel that will remain durable for years on end. Unlike plastic, if a glass bottle becomes contaminated, you can easily disinfect it by boiling or adding other cleaners that would destroy plastic. Plastic is best used for short term, disposable applications, but glass bottles are the ones that will withstand the test of time.

Adding a few glass bottles to your stockpile is as easy as buying different foods stored in glass, and then making sure that you don’t throw the bottles out. While glass bottles may need a little extra care when being transported from one place to another, they are well worth the effort.


This article has been written by Carmela Tyrell 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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10 Ways Preppers Can Reuse Plastic Shopping Bags

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44975318 - disposable plastic bags

Do you already reuse plastic shopping bags as trash liners?  If you don’t use them for much else, than chances are  you have hundreds of these bags laying around and relatively few ideas about how to use them for prepping.

As with many other forms of packaging that we “throw away” in our society, plastic bags have many purposes that make them very useful in an emergency. 

When caught in a riot, a major natural disaster, or some other scenario, plastic bags can make surviving a bit easier. Instead of throwing all those bags away, or trying to give them away to friends and neighbors, start using plastic shopping bags in other ways.

Tools/Materials to Have On Hand

  • Scissors
  • Source of Heat – a steady, controllable source of heat can be used to shrink the plastic or make it easier to form fit over just about any surface.  Hairdryers set on high, candles, and irons each have a purpose when reusing plastic bags.  Ideally, you should have at least one of each onhand.
  • Needle and Thread –  use primarily if you decide to build up plastic bags into thicker layers, or you don’t have glue or duct tape onhand.  A needle and thread are also some of the most versatile multi-purpose tools you can find.
  • Duct Tape
  • Crazy Glue – some glues that adhere to plastic may not work with plastic shopping bags. Be sure to test the glue out before using it in a project.
  • Permanent Marker
  • Ruler

How to Reuse Plastic Bags


Even though you may know that rope is a staple survival tool, there may be times when you don’t have enough on hand. If you do not have access to vines or plants with suitable fibers, you can make rope from plastic bags. Aside  from being durable, plastic bag rope is also waterproof.

When making plastic bag rope, make sure that you know how to join the bags together, and also how to braid for the maximum amount of strength. As with other kinds of rope, remember that it friction will cause it to wear each time you use it. These ropes can also break unexpectedly because the plastic itself will wear and become weaker with each usage.

Video first seen on Kate Guray.

Braided Mats for Shelters

There are at least four ways to bake braided mats from plastic bags that can be turned into shelters.

  • Take plastic bags and weave them into a flat surface much as you would a wide friendship bracelet
  • Braid the plastic bags into rope, and then glue, tape, or use heat to hold the rope in a mat form.
  • Use basic weaving techniques to create a mat.  For added strength, you can also braid the plastic bags into rope, and the weave with the ropes.

Video first seen on Thomas Dambo.

  • Use a crochet hook or knitting needles much as you would for regular yarn. You will need fairly thick knitting needles, or a crochet hook with a large enough hook on the end.  Bone, wood, and other natural materials can be used for these tools,or you can try to buy jumbo sized tools at a craft store.

Video first seen on David Jones.

Waterproofing Important Items

Have you ever had to carry paperwork around, only to find yourself in the middle of a rainstorm? Chances are, you used a plastic bag to cover your papers and prevent them from being ruined.  Plastic bags can be used as all kinds of liners from trash pails, to drawers, to just about any other place where you need to keep moisture out or prevent it from escaping.

When heat is applied to plastic bags, it will soften the plastic and also cause some shrinkage. Consider a situation where you make a wooden rack, but do not have polyurethane or other sealants to protect the wood from moisture. As long as the wood will not be near a source of heat, you can use plastic bags to make a watertight sealant. Just lay the bags flat over the surface of the wood and use a hair dryer to melt the plastic.

If you do not have airtight and water tight containers for emergency supplies, you can also use this method to seal them in. Even though the plastic wrapping will be ruined when you open the supplies, it will still prevent moisture related damage before the items are opened.

To get the most out of using plastic bags this way, try to seal items in such a way that you only seal up enough in each packet for one time use.

Body and Building Insulation

It takes very little in the way of effort to use plastic bags for insulation.  If you are stuck in a blizzard or freezing weather, you can just ball up the bags and place them between your body and an outer jacket.  Plastic bags also work well a shoe liners if the shoes have holes in the soles or you are in especially cold weather. In the latter scenario, do not forget to let your feet breathe from time to time in order to get rid of the moisture buildup.

You can also insulate tents, building walls, and other shelters with plastic bags.  When using plastic bags for insulation, always remember to allow adequate ventilation.   Moisture can build up faster than you realize because the plastic will cut off all airflow.

Condensation from all that water can easily rot wood or collect in other places where it can cause all kinds of problems.  For example, if you decide to insulate the walls of your house with plastic bags, they will do a fine job of reducing the effects of hot and cold temperatures. On the other hand, as condensation builds up in the walls, it can easily build up on electric cables and cause them to corrode.

Make Plastic “Fabric”

There are bound to be many times and places in the pre and post crisis world where you will find plastic “fabric” very useful. While plastic bags can make a good temporary covering, plastic fabric can go much further because the the layers create a thicker material that will be more durable.  In addition, when you make plastic “fabric” you will no longer be limited by the size of an individual bag.

Here are a few things you can do with plastic fabric:

  • If you build up enough layers, you will have a material thick enough to use in the formation of a frame for a gas mask. Even though most people use plastic bottles, you can still use bags and create a perfect fitting mask. Custom masks can make it easier to use DIY masks with different cartridge types, and also make it much easier to create a custom fit for children or others that are difficult to get good quality gas masks for.
  • Plastic fabric can be used for blankets and tents.
  • If you are planning to start a new garden, use thicker plastic fabric to choke out weeds before turning the soil over.
  • You can also use plastic fabric for making clothes, but bear in mind that moisture from sweat will build up and cause problems unless you account for ventilation.

Video first seen on Needlepointers.

Plastic Bricks

Many people that have homes now may suddenly find them burned to the ground or rendered unlivable  for some other reason. At the same time, getting wood from other parts of the country, or preparing it for building a new home will either be impossible or take a lot of time.

If you have plenty of plastic bags around and some sand, you can melt the plastic and make durable bricks. These bricks can also be used to create all kinds of platforms, walkways, or other structures.

Video first seen on New China TV.

Plastic can also be melted down and poured into molds for many other purposes. Basically, you would cast with plastic in much the same way that you would cast metal. For example, you can create a wax model for the object you wish to make, and then place it in wet sand. Next, simply pour the hot plastic into the sand.

As the wax melts and burns off, the plastic will fill in the cavity left behind.  The wet sand will keep the form left by the model until the plastic dries.  You can also use plaster molds for more intricate pieces.

Packing Material

From mason jars to eggs, plastic bags make excellent packing material.  You can use them to absorb shock and also use them to prevent objects from rattling around in a box.

Aside from simply crumpling up plastic bags for packing material, you can also cut off the handles, blow some air into them, and then use duct tape to seal the bag so no air will escape. This is an ideal way to take up a good bit of space and still get the most protection from the bags.


You can make a greenhouse of just about any shape or size using plastic bags.  The simplest way to use plastic bags for this purpose is to start off by making plastic fabric.  Once you have enough fabric on hand, create a frame and then affix the fabric to the frame.  Do not forget to leave areas of clear plastic so that plenty of light gets into to the greenhouse.

Smaller, table sized “greenhouses” are also ideal for indoor settings where you need to provide extra humidity for specific plant types.  Unlike glass or plastic bottle greenhouses, you can make the greenhouse as large as you need and house multiple plants together.

If you are planting in the early spring,  late fall, or started other crops too late, plastic bags can also be used as temporary covers to prevent frost from getting onto the plants.

Bag Planters

When you have to bug out, there is a chance that you may wind up leaving a good bit of  your stockpile behind. In these instances, containers suitable for plants and seedlings can easily be left behind in favor of food stores or other supplies.

If you have even one plastic bag on hand, you can still plant in it and start a “bag garden”.  No matter whether you are in the woods, or even an inner city apartment building, just get some soil, put it in the bag, plant the seeds, and water as needed.

It should be noted that some plants will respond better to bag planters than others.  In particular, plants that require good drainage may not do as well because water will tend to build up in the bag and drown the roots.  If you have the bag planters in an outdoor setting, then go ahead and poke holes in the bottom of the bag to allow for good drainage.  This can eliminate the need to turn over soil for a garden and cut back on the amount of time and effort required for pulling weeds and tending to other gardening matters.

Water Gathering Aide

No matter where you are or what is going on, plastic bags can be used to gather water.  The easiest method entails simply digging a hole in the soil and putting a cup or other vessel in the hole.  Place the plastic bag over the hole and put a rock or some other heavy object in the center of the plastic so that the bag bows down in the center.  This water gathering aide will collect condensation as the temperature of the soil changes and releases water particles.

To get more water during daylight hours, take green leaves (from edible plant or tree sources) and add them to the hole.  As the leaves wither, they will also release water which will then be trapped by the plastic.

If you happen to be in a rainstorm, plastic bags can be used directly to capture water.  You can also unfold plastic fabric and suspend it high enough off the ground so that you can fit a larger container under the center.

Similar to collecting condensation from the ground, make sure that the center of the plastic is caved in.  Add a few holes near the very center so that water can drain into the container.  In this instance, the plastic fabric will act as a funnel and gather up any water that hits the area covered by it.

The next time you become annoyed because you have so many plastic shopping bags laying around, think about how useful they are for prepping and long term survival goals.

Start from now to learn how to fashion these bags into different tools and materials and you will be one cheap, and very useful step closer to being ready to survive just about any crisis scenario.

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This article has been written by Carmela Tyrell for Survivopedia.

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The Plastic Bottle Cutter – The Smart Way to Recycle Plastic Bottles

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The Plastic Bottle Cutter – The Smart Way to Recycle Plastic Bottles You like to recycle, and sometimes you need rope. These two things seem unrelated, don’t they? They do seem that way, at first, but really, they’re not. With the Plastic Bottle Cutter, you can recycle your plastic bottles and forego that trip to …

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The post The Plastic Bottle Cutter – The Smart Way to Recycle Plastic Bottles appeared first on SHTF & Prepping Central.

6 Clever Off-Grid Ways To Conserve Resources (And Become More Self-Reliant)

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6 Clever Off-Grid Ways To Conserve Resources (And Become More Self-Reliant)

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It isn’t recycling. It isn’t upcycling or reusing, either. Not even buying local. The number one way to conserve resources, both yours and the planets, is so simple and obvious that it might startle you.

The way to conserve resources is to avoid using them in the first place.

That’s right. It is just that easy. The amount of products people think they cannot live without has burgeoned to such an enormous list that it’s difficult to envision where it will stop. The truth is we just do not need all that stuff. And by learning how to “do without,” we in turn become more self-sufficient.

I have seen more than one post on social media about how those leftover plastic containers from single-use coffees can be used to make cute crafty items. That’s nice, but being able to convert trash to trinkets doesn’t justify creating all that trash. First of all, only a tiny fraction of those little cups are going to be upcycled. And is the end creation really worth using up petroleum and water to make, ship, process, ship again, discard, and ship yet another time?

Wastefulness is by no means limited to coffee containers. Our culture uses disposable and single-use items at every turn. Paper towel, plastic grocery bags, milk jars, soda cans, aluminum foil — it all contributes to a mountain of unnecessary garbage.

I am a big fan of recycling, reusing, upcycling and buying local. But none of those are my first choice. My go-to option is doing without. It has many off-grid benefits.

New 4-Ounce Solar Survival Lantern Never Needs Batteries!

If you would like to try it my way but do not know where to start, here are some tips to help you begin... (click link above to see the whole story)

History all around me

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Going off grid for us meant moving some 500 miles west of the place where I grew up, but I am fortunate to still have a piece of my childhood nearby. I sleep a few inches from it every night, and it’s right above my head across the room, it’s also out on my deck. This little piece of history started out life as a wooden fence, dog eared (the style of cut on the top). My dad wanted more privacy in our back yard so he went to the local lumberyard, purchased a stack of fencing and all the necessary hardware & parts to put up a 6 foot wooden fence.

I still remember him working on the fence after he had come home from work and on the weekends, digging holes for the fence posts, using a long piece of twine to keep the fence line straight… Within a few weeks, our backyard was enclosed and private. Years passed and that wood weathered to a silvery tan color, Dad didn’t stain it but preferred the natural color.

Eventually my dad replaced the fence with new wood, being a child of the depression, he couldn’t bring himself to throw out the old fencing boards that were still good so he stacked them behind the shed. PB was able to use some of them in his business over the years, he did restaurant repair and one of his customer’s decor used lots of weathered wood, that is something you can’t buy from the hardware store.

When we were about to move to our off grid home, I remembered that old wood stacked behind the shed, there weren’t many pieces left, my dad was happy enough for us to take them. These old pieces of history have been used in various places in the SkyCastle, the headboard of the bed, as trim over the windows in the bedroom, as trim around windows on the deck. The wood is worn smooth, the nail holes remind me of my father’s hands pounding the nails through the boards.

My father is long gone, he passed away in 2012 and was instrumental in making a smooth transition to our life off grid. I am happy to have a piece of my history so close by. How about you? Do you have a piece of your history in your life? If so, tell me about it below, I’d love to hear your story.


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Recycling And Repurposing To Redecorate – On The Cheap!

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Whether you want to redecorate your room or your whole house – you don’t have to break the bank to do it. With a little leg work, you can salvage, recycle and build almost anything you need to fill any room for pennies on the dollar – or in some cases – for free! No matter if its building with pallet wood, recycled lumber or a repurposing a salvaged item found at the curb or a garage sale – the sky is the limit for what you can create to fill your home with a custom vintage look. Over the past four years – we have built and created over 50 items from recycled materials that have helped to decorate and fill our home and farm for a fraction of what new would cost – not only saving big money – but saving the items from ending up in the landfill. The re-use and re-purposing of materials has become not just a way to live more responsibly while cutting costs, but evolved into a hobby and a form of art for us. It also gives the added benefit of creating our own history and stories that accompany the things found in our home. For today’s DIY […]