This Is How To Stay Clean In The Wilderness

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Do you know that saying, “cleanliness is next to godliness?” Well, it may be true, but how about staying clean in the wild? That’s a pretty interesting concept, especially for modern-day potential survivalists who never get their hands dirty in any real sense of the word.

Today’s article is about funk removal or camp sanitation practices or whatever you want to call it.

It’s all about health and less about the aesthetics of the wilderness. The name of the game is about keeping away viruses, bacteria and other nasties (like foul odors which may attract wild beasts), as efficiently and as humanly possible in a given situation.

Let’s take cats for example: those lovely critters who keep themselves squeaky clean by licking only. Other wild animals also have their own methods of staying clean in the absence of modern-day utilities or running water that’s right there at the flick of a wrist.

Deer, bears, and wolves have automated cleaning systems at their disposal, i.e. they shed skin and fur regularly via a natural process, thus eliminating insects that feed on their blood and skin.

Also, wild animals like to rub up against rocks or trees to scratch themselves, thus removing extra fur and skin and eliminating the dirt and the parasites. And it’s worth mentioning that wild animals take an occasional bath when they cross a lake or a river, too.

Now, think about medieval Europe, especially King Louis 4th of France’s court, when people only bathed maybe once a year. Instead, they used something along the lines of dry cleaning; i.e. they wiped themselves with pieces of cloth impregnated in perfume, vinegar, and mixtures that eliminated of covered odor, plus they changed their clothes relatively often.

When you think of that, our modern-day obsession for cleanliness and sterile food and clothes may seem like an obsessive/compulsive disorder.

However, staying clean as a whistle at all times comes with its own advantages, like vibrant health and a general sense of well-being. So, how can one reconcile the problem of going camping or being stranded in the wild with the need for cleanliness, as the two are basically opposite situations?

The very act of going on an outdoors adventure means you’re getting yourself out of our concrete-made world. You’re going off-grid for real, to dance with the wolves and howl at the moon.

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You’re subjecting yourself to the elements with no running water, nor a sanitary way to wash yourself. No plumbing, no toilet to speak of, and reliant on DIY cooking, sleeping and eating on the ground, and so forth and so on.

Even though a rustic camp-out is a must-master experience for any respectable prepper, staying clean throughout the entire endeavor will keep you occupied, provided you care about your physical/mental health and peace of mind.

Everything revolves around quality of life, whether you’re living in a modern city, surrounded by all the gadgets and amenities our 21st century lifestyle affords us, or living somewhere off the grid, with a tin foil hat on your head while reading subversive literature somewhere in a log-cabin in the woods.

I’m only kidding, of course, but in both situations, cleanliness is essential for preventing disease and infections. In a survival situation, things are even worse for folks with poor hygiene, as poor hygiene will reduce the chances of survival.

Now, some of my regular readers, if I have even one, may argue that it’s only natural to smell like a bucket of rotten eggs left out in the sun in 120-degree weather for two days, because after all, when in the woods, you do what the bear does, i.e. you stink; that’s the way it is.

The Sponge Bath

Well, the answer to that is: why don’t you take a sponge bath?

This is one of the main actions you can take in order to stay clean in an outdoors (survival) scenario. Yes, I wasn’t kidding; it’s very important to take a bath (well, sort of) each day, even when out in the wild. Remember my Louis 4th reference in the preamble of the article?

The thing is, you can use a camp towel and some water to wash your pits, your feet and groin properly. These are the main areas that will begin to stink up the place on an outdoors trip, and are also areas that are particularly susceptible to many harmful microbes, or even heat rash, jungle rot, or fungal infection.

Boil you water beforehand to kill all germs, if you’re obsessed with that kind of stuff, or depending on the nature of your water supply.

If you don’t have a towel, which would be weird, you can use a bandanna or something similar as an improvised sponge.

Whenever possible, don’t forget to dip your feet in running water.

If you’ll be able to do that at least twice a day for 5 minutes, then let them dry before you put your shoes back on and move on it will work wonders for mitigating potential blisters and eliminating bacteria and fungus.

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And while you’re at it, if you camp near a source of water, which is nearly always the ideal case with well-trained outdoors survivalists, wash your socks and let them to dry near the fire overnight on a daily basis.

The Air Bath

If water is scarce, you can take an “air” bath by removing all your clothes and exposing your naked body to the sun (read germ-killing UV light) and air for at least sixty minutes.

If you don’t have soap, you can use sand or ashes instead, for cleaning yourself thoroughly, provided you have a good water source nearby. Don’t do this if you don’t have a way to rinse thoroughly because the grit will cause irritation and sores that can lead to infection, or at least discomfort.

And don’t worry; you can always improvise soap from wood ashes and animal fat, provided you have the means.

To make “natural” soap, you’ll require some animal fat cut into small pieces then cooked in a pot for extracting the grease. You’ll have to add enough water to the pot to prevent the fat from sticking.

Remember to stir the mix frequently and cook the fat slowly until the fat is rendered. Then, the resulting grease must be poured in a separate container to harden.

The wood ashes (preferably from hardwood if you want your soap to harden) will be put in another container that has a spout near the bottom. Then, as you pour water over the ashes, you’ll collect the liquid dripping from the spout in another container.

That stuff is called lye or potash. Another method for collecting the lye is to pour the combo of ash and water through a filter made from a piece of cloth.

Both of these methods take a bit longer than if you just boil the ash in a bit of soft water – rainwater is best – for 30 minutes or so. Let the ash settle then skim the lye off the top and follow the directions below. Be careful because lye is caustic.

In the next step, mix 2 parts grease with 1 part lye and place the combo over a fire. Allow it to boil slowly until it thickens. After the (now liquid soap) cools, you pour it into a pan and allow it to harden, then cut it into soap bars and there you have it, DIY soap for emergencies.

You can now use a cloth and soapy water to wash your armpits, feet, and crotch daily now, not to mention being capable of washing your hands after going to the “bathroom” in the woods or before cooking food and all that.

Don’t Forget the Teeth!

Keeping your mouth clean is also very important. If you don’t have a toothbrush, you can DIY a chewing stick from a 4-inch-long/1-inch-wide twig. You’ll have to chew up at one end of the twig until you separate the fibers then brush your teeth with the resulting gizmo resembling a toothbrush.

Another method is to use a clean strip of cloth wrapped around your fingers for rubbing your teeth, thus wiping away food particles.

Willow bark tea makes for an excellent mouth wash, together with salt water. You can floss your teeth using fibers or a piece of string.

The campsite must also be kept clean at all times, i.e. do not soil the camp site area with feces or urine. Try to dig cat holes several yards away from the camp and cover the waste for best results.

We’re used to take everything for granted in our modern world, but only some of us would be able to face a major shift in our society. Interacting with nature and using its resources will provide you the means of survival.

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I hope the article helped. If you have other ideas or comments, feel free to use the dedicated section below.

This article has been written by Chris Black for Survivopedia. 

DIY Hot Tub For Your Off-grid Hygiene

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Survivopedia DIY Hot Tub For Your Off Grid Hygiene

When it comes to off-grid survival, personal hygiene is one of those delicate subjects preppers seldom talk about.

Ok, I know that women preppers consider personal hygiene a priority even after a plane crash, but generally speaking, surviving off-grid means that you must have a roof over your head and some chow in your belly, and eventually a cushioned place to sleep in. That about sums it up until cavalry arrives and gets you outta’ there.

However, living off-grid is slowly becoming a trend among outdoors enthusiasts and maybe student loan beneficiaries who cannot afford to pay both the rent and what’s owed to the good ol’ Feral Gummint.

Here is where the off-grid lifestyle comes into play. But living off-grid is not easy; not by a long shot. There are so many problems and challenges in a world without electricity that I don’t know where to begin.

One of them is the aforementioned issue, the personal hygiene thing – an issue that never occurred to you until now because you’re probably living the 21st century life style, with hot water pouring out of the faucet and the whole nine yards.

Basically, we all take modern hygiene conveniences for granted and that’s normal, because we’ve benefited from these cool things for almost 2 centuries now.

But, if you’re living off-grid together with your family, you’re probably aware of the fact that cleanliness is next to godliness, not to mention that keeping you and your family members squeaky clean is actually a matter of survival in its own rights.

The secret to a long and happy life is to live in a clean environment, and you can take that statement to the bank. The lack of proper personal hygiene may get you sick very easily and also you may pass the disease around and all that jazz; that’s how epidemics occur.

The good news is that there are ways to maintain adequate hygiene even if you’re living somewhere in the neck of the woods, as off-grid as it gets.

These ancient survival lessons teach you how to stay clean when there isn’t anything to buy!

There’s an old saying, about “Real men building their own [insert item here]”. In our particular case, real preppers built their own hot tubs.

Why hot tubs, you may ask? Well, the hot tub used to be regarded by many as a luxury if not a whim. Remember that old saying: that one needs only two baths in his/her lifetime – one when you’re born and the other one when you’re dead?

Especially back in the day, hot tubs were pretty rare not too long ago (circa 1700s), when  getting one was a rare experience, familiar just to kings and queens. Alright, and the rest of the infamous 1%, maybe.

One of the benefits of soaking yourself for hours in hot water is that such activity relieves pains and aches, beside getting you clean in the process.

But after reading this article, you’ll understand how hillbilly hot tubs changed the world for ever. And you’ll also understand that getting your fingers pruney is a God-given right for every American, even for those living in the back woods.

Also, let’s not forget that one of the most popular pieces of gear for outdoors survival after a hard and long day doing God-knows-what is a hot tub, right?

I am only kidding folks, but if you don’t know how to build your very own personal hot tub, well, that’s why I am here. I’ve scoured the depths of the Internet and I brought together some of the best tutorials in the world for helping you building your little piece of heaven.

Building the Tank

To begin with the basics, a DIY hot tub consists of two main things: a tank which makes for the bathtub itself and a device for heating the water inside of the tank. That’s all there is to it; it’s pretty straight forward.

As far as tanks go, you have two options: to use a prefabricated one, like an IBC container or a stock watering tank, or to build your own bathtub from scratch from wood; just imagine a big barrel of sorts.

Soaking in a wood-fired hot tub requires some planning, at least a couple of hours in advance, but the involvement in one’s bath is part of the attraction.

Here’s a video tutorial about how to build a cedar wood hot tub using planks of cedar and lots of skill and materials.

Video first seen on Heritage Craft.

The end result is a reminiscent of a big barrel, which looks pretty cool actually, but you’ll require some mad skills to get this done.

You’ll also require beaucoup gear, like cedar wood suitable for cutting and shaping, saws, chine joints, nails, a power drill, a carpenter’s level, screws and insane wood-working skills. But it’s doable, after all that guy did it and it looks pretty awesome.

However, there are other ways.

The hardest part of our first project is to build the tank itself, as it requires serious carpentry skills, but you can always go for a hillbilly hot tub that uses an IBC container using, for example, a prefabricated hot tub, then you just have to worry about the water heating device.

Here are two different projects, both involving a DIY wood-fired hot tub. The first one uses an IBC container, a steel cage, an old gas cylinder and pallets, plus some plumbing connectors. Except for the container, the rest of materials were free scrap.

Video first seen on Chris Jamieson.

The IBC container holds 1000 liters, which is more than enough for a hot tub, while the steel cage and the pallets are used for making the structure that will keep the water-filled container firmly in place. The pallet wood is used for decorating the steel frame; it makes it look better and all that.

The Heating Source

As for the heating device, here’s where the old gas cylinder comes into play. Basically, you’ll use a stove water heater. How does it work, you may ask? Well, it’s pretty straightforward: the stove water heater uses a heat exchanger for transferring heat from the stove to the water.

Water is circulated through the heat exchanger when the fire is burning (the gas cylinder makes for the stove in our case) whilst the heat exchanger is basically a copper serpentine made from copper pipe mounted inside the stove.

In this project, the hot tub is filled with water which is slowly flowing via a garden hose through the copper pipe and it’s getting hot as it fills. The process is relatively slow, but it produces very hot water.

The second DIY wood-fired hot tub system is very similar to the previous one, just that it uses a galvanized stock tank instead of an IBC container. Also, the heat exchanger system is the same serpentine made from copper pipe, but for heating the water, this project relies on the thermosiphon principle.

Video first seen on HomeMadeModern.

Think about our ancestors. They didn’t have the luxury of the modern industry but they were able to create their own hygiene products from simple, readily available stuff.

Do you wonder how our forefathers took care of their personal hygiene when they traveled for months? Click the banner below and uncover their long forgotten secrets!


This article has been written by Chris Black for Survivopedia.

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7 DIY Ways To Remove Odors From Your Pantry

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

Baking Soda

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

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

odor elim

Essential Oils

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

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


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

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

Mineral Oil and Alcohol

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


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

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

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

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

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This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia. 

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How To Make Soap On A Rope For Survival

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How To Make Soap On A Rope For Survival

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

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

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

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

Why would you want your soap on a rope?

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

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

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

But, how do you make it?

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

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

Can I make soap without lye?

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

And think about our ancestors. They didn’t have the luxury of the modern industry but they were able to create their own hygiene products from simple, readily available ingredients.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Making the Soap

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Soap on a rope ingredients


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.


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5 Things To Know About Bleach Storage

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Things To Know About Bleach Storage

We’ve recently had a question from a reader about bleach storage. She lives in a warm area of the US and had a problem with leakage that ruined some of her other preps.

Starting from this question, today we’re going to take a look at proper storage of bleach as well as discuss some viable options for it that will suit your needs at least as well as bleach.

Why is Bleach Important?

Though many people think short-term of looters and thieves, one of the biggest risks to your survival when SHTF will be disease.

Because there may no longer be public water sanitation systems, water supplies may become contaminated. People won’t understand the need to keep waste away from water.

Another reason disease will be an issue is because of poor sanitation. Somebody with cholera will leave the bacteria behind and you may touch whatever is contaminated.

If you become contaminated, you’ll then have cholera. Those of us in the know and prepared won’t have as much of a problem, but the largest portion of society may not fall into that category.

Bleach kills 99 percent of disease-causing germs and you only need to have it in a ratio of one part bleach to ten parts water to create a cleaning solution that will kill germs.

You can also use bleach to sanitize your drinking water. For that, you use 8 drops of bleach per gallon of clear water and 16 drops for cloudy water.

You’ll also need to learn how to bathe without using contaminated water too, because some germs can permeate your skin while others will get to you when you lick your lips or get some in your eyes. It’s not OK to bathe in bad water. It’s better to not use water at all if you don’t have clean water.

However, you have other alternatives for sanitizing water that we’ll get to in a bit.

5 Things to Know about How to Store Bleach

First, it’s important to understand that bleach expires. When you buy it, use a black sharpie to write the date.

It’s a good idea to also write 8 drops/1 gallon because in an emergency situation, your brain may not be able to pull up all of the numbers you need. If you really want to be prepared, tape a plastic eye dropper to the jug, then when the bleach comes up in your rotation, just remove the eye dropper and tape it to the next new jug of bleach that you buy.

The ideal storage temperature for bleach is between 50 and 70 degrees F. At those temperatures, bleach maintains its full strength and efficacy for between 3 and 6 months. After that, it loses about 20 percent of its strength per year. If it’s stored in hotter temperatures, it loses its strength even faster.

The best way to store bleach is in a cool, dry area away from direct sunlight. Because the containers can sometimes be a bit fragile, you may want to store them on a piece of old linoleum, and keep them out of the way so that the bottles aren’t inadvertently kicked or knocked off the shelves.

It’s my guess that this is what happened to our reader’s bottles because they don’t generally degrade.

Just as with all of your prepping supplies, use the first-in-first-out rotation so that you’re always using the oldest product, and when it reaches its 6-month date, you don’t necessarily have to throw it out. You can still use it in the laundry, and if SHTF, as long as it’s not more than a couple years old, you can still use it to fight odors and germs in waste areas or to kill bugs in the garden.

The reason that it stays good for that is because when bleach breaks down, it turns into salt and water. Even if it’s completely degraded, salt still inhibits many bugs and kills others.

Because of its short shelf life, bleach isn’t the ideal stockpiling item because it’s not like spaghetti sauce – you may only use a gallon every few months in everyday life.

Though it’s definitely good to keep around, there are other safer, space-saving options with almost indefinite shelf lives that you can stockpile for water purification.

Note: If you’re storing ammonia for any reason, keep it well away from the bleach. Should a spill happen, you’re looking at toxic gas formation, or even, if enough ammonia is present, an explosive product. It’s a bad idea to blow up your laundry room.

Using Bleach for Water Purification

Bleach can absolutely be used for water purification, but it’s not your best option. We’ve already discussed the issue of short shelf-life, but it’s also not good for you to drink bleach. Yes, if you’re drinking city water, it’s chlorinated, but the maximum amount of chlorine is 4 ppm. That’s a heck of a lot less than 8 drops per gallon. Make sure that your bleach is unscented!

Another reason why you should only use bleach to disinfect your water is that when sodium hypochlorite (bleach) mixes with the organic contaminants in the water, it causes them to oxidize, which create carcinogenic trihalomethanes.

Video first seen on MySurvivalGear.

Boiling is the best option, but if all you have is bleach, then using it is better than drinking contaminated water by a long shot.

Because you have no idea what may be in a pond or a stream after an event, it’s a good idea to have your own water collection and storage systems in place. There are even natural contaminants that can make you sick. That will give you a leg up on your water sanitization needs. We have a few good DIY water collection/filtration ideas here.

Bleach Alternatives

OK, so we’ve determined that bleach may not be the most viable option for long-term storage, so what DOES work? You have a couple of options.

Steramine tablets – are often used in restaurants, daycares and other places that need to sanitize hard surfaces. One tablet sterilizes 1 gallon of water and there’s 150 tablets in a bottle. A case of them on Amazon is about 30 dollars. So, that’s pretty cheap. You can’t use it for drinking water sanitization, though.

Portable filters – for portable water sanitization, there are several different types of portable filters that you can buy (LifeStraw is one example), and you can also carry drinking water sanitization tablets. They’re a bit pricey compared to some other options, but then again, anything “convenient” usually is. The cheapest ones I found on Amazon were about 17 bucks for 100 tablets.

Calcium hypochlorite aka pool shock – this is my favorite drinking water sanitization method. It comes in dry granules and has a shelf-life of 10+ years. The best part? It’s SUPER concentrated – one 1 lb. bag treats 10,000 gallons of water – and it’s just as effective as household bleach for both sanitizing drinking water and sanitization of surfaces.

I wrote an article awhile back that explains how to use pool shock. Oh, and did I mention that you can buy that 1 lb. bag for about 12 bucks? Doesn’t get any cheaper than that. I’m not much on math, but off the top of my head, that’s like 1/10 of a cent per gallon of drinking water. That’s about as close to free as you can get.

Well, we veered a bit away from the original question about how to store bleach in hot climates, but I think that the best answer is, “You don’t have to store bleach at all because there are better alternatives.”

I hope that this information was enough to solve the problem. If any of you have more or better ideas, please share them with us in the comments section below.

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This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia. 

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Killing Us Softly – How Just Breathing Is Deadly

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Killing agents air

You step outside. It’s a clear, beautiful day and you take a deep breath of what smells and tastes like fresh, clean air. But is it? Probably not.

Even though you may live in a place that’s relatively unpopulated and doesn’t have big cities or factories for miles, we live in a big bubble. At least certain air pollutants from Tokyo may eventually make their way to Montana.

Air pollution is a huge problem for all of us. It’s bad enough that we have to worry about other countries using chemical warfare on us; we’re already getting slowly poisoned just by breathing!

What is Air Pollution?

As with many health hazards, the Environmental Protection Agency has set minimum standards for controlling the air that we breathe. To be fair, there’s no way that even Big Brother can completely eliminate air pollution because some of it occurs naturally.

Air pollution is defined as any gas, liquid, or solid that is released into the air in a large enough quality to cause harm to people, plans, animals, or property.

In its completely natural state, Earth’s air is made almost entirely of oxygen (21%) and nitrogen (78%), with extremely small percentages of other gases such as carbon dioxide (.05%) and argon. The thing is, just a slight shift in these percentages can cause problems. For example, if the concentration of carbon dioxide would increase to even 5%, it would kill us in minutes.

What are the Leading Air Pollutants?

Air pollution can be broken into 2 categories – particulate and gas. Particulates are actual, physical contaminants that float in the air in either solid or liquid form. Sometimes you can see them, and sometimes you can’t. Some examples of particulates are dust, smoke, dirt, soot, and different –oxide gasses such as nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide that form particulates as they’re carried on the wind.

The EPA has identified and created guidelines for 6 different pollutants. Of course, since they’re a government entity, they have an acronym for the guidelines they set: NAAQS – National Ambient Air Quality Standards. It would be too hard, I guess, to just say “air quality standards”.

Anyway, these “criteria pollutants” are found everywhere in the US, though the concentrations are definitely different throughout the country, and include:

1. Ground-level Ozone

This is the type of pollution that’s created when chemical or volatile organic compounds such as gasoline vapors, car exhaust, oil on the streets, electric utilities and emissions from factories form a chemical reaction when exposed to sunlight.

Though they’re not emitted into the air, they’re close to the ground and can cause all sorts of health problems and lung diseases. It can also harm plants and affect ecosystems.

Air Pollution

2. Particulate Matter

We already talked about this a bit, but particulate pollution can cause lung damage and breathing issues that may be permanent or temporary. Some can actually pass into your bloodstream, so if the particulate is hazardous, it’s now in your system. Particulate matter is the leading cause of haze in the US.

3. Carbon Monoxide

This is a gas produced by burning something, particularly fossil fuels. You’ve likely heard of carbon monoxide testers for your house. Vehicles and machinery also emit it in exhaust outside. Inside, you have to worry about proper ventilation when you’re using your fireplace, gas stoves, or other fuel-burning appliances.

This isn’t anything to mess around with. It will cause dizziness, confusion, unconsciousness, and death within an extremely small amount of time. You’ll go to bed and not wake up.

4. Lead

We all know about lead paint and lead-paned glass. There’s speculation that Picasso actually had lead poisoning, which caused him to paint the halos in his pictures. It wasn’t his imagination – he was actually seeing them!

The EPA has restricted the use of lead in paint and most everything else. There are also regulations in place for houses that contain lead. They won’t pass inspection until the lead paint is removed and the lead-paned glass is replaced, and there are guidelines for safe removal.

Because it’s a mineral, lead is also a concern in water, and leaded fuel is still used in aircraft. Other sources of lead contamination are utilities plants, waste incinerators, and battery manufacturers. Since the EPA regulated the use of lead in automobile gas, lead levels in the air decreased by 98% in 25 years.

Lead accumulates in your bones and, depending upon your level of exposure, can harm your nervous system, kidneys, immune system, reproductive system, developmental stages, and your cardiovascular system. It also impacts the oxygen carrying capacity of your blood and can cause behavioral problems, learning disabilities, and decreased IQ in kids.

Finally, lead can decrease the growth and reproduction rates of many plants and animals. The thing with lead is that just touching it isn’t necessarily the problem; it’s when the dust turns into particulates that there’s a problem.

For instance, when a kid would chew on lead paint on crib bars, it broke up into small pieces and entered the bloodstream. On the flip side, people have lived with lead bullets in them for decades with never a hint of lead poisoning.


5. Sulfur Dioxide

This is another gas produced from burning fossil fuels. It’s also a byproduct of volcanoes. It gets in the air via power plants and other industrial factories that burn fossil fuels. Trains, ships and many types of heavy equipment also produce Sulfur Dioxide. The presence of sulfur dioxide is also an indicator of other Sulfur gases in the air and it’s a component of smog.

Brief exposure can cause respiratory issues, especially in people with asthma. The real problem comes when it reacts with other compounds and form small particulates. These can dig deep into your lungs and cause serious problems. It also causes harm to plants and animals.

Dealing with excess Sulfur Dioxide is tricky. We worked to reduce it, then found out that, just like the cooling effect it has in the cloud over a volcano, it also keeps a certain level of sunlight from penetrating. When we reduced levels, we went too far, and it contributed to global warming.

6. Nitrogen Dioxide

This is another gas that’s a byproduct of burning fuel. It gets in the air via car exhaust. Like Sulphur Dioxide, Nitrogen Dioxide is an indicator for a larger group of nitrogen oxides.

Health effects are the same as Sulfur Dioxide – respiratory issues including asthma and respiratory infections, visits to the ER, and admission to the hospital. It can form particulate matter and ozone. Both cause respiratory problems.

The big thing here is that Nitrogen Oxide and others in the group react with water and cause acid rain that damages plants and entire ecosystems such as lakes, ponds, and forests.

The EPA has strict regulations, but as you well know, that doesn’t stop big industry from sneaking around and doing what’s cheap instead of what’s right. We’re also to blame – we all get out there and start our cars every day. It’s a tough problem to solve.


Other Air Pollutants

Just because the EPA only regulates 6 pollutants doesn’t mean that there are only 6 that we have to worry about.

We discussed carbon dioxide as a harmless, natural component, and what can happen if it’s increased beyond the normal levels. On top of being toxic to us, it’s also the number one greenhouse gas that’s contributing to global warming. Since nearly every living creature emits carbon dioxide when we breathe and all of our vehicles emit it when we drive, it’s a tough problem to solve.

Guess what, though? Trees and other plants breathe carbon dioxide, and exhale oxygen. Sounds like planting things instead of making more parking lots may be a good start.

Volatile organic compounds, aka VOCs, are carbon-based chemicals that easily evaporate at natural heat levels and turn into gases. VOCs are used in household chemicals such as wax, varnishes, stains, and paints for exactly this reason. Unfortunately, they cause respiratory problems among other issues, and also harm the environment.


What Can You Do?

About AirNow is a government sight that offers daily air quality conditions for more than 400 cities. Now, you note that I said a government site, so do with that what you will. On days that pollutants are high, they recommend that you keep your windows closed and stay inside as much as possible. Also, change the air filters in your house regularly.

The best thing that you can do is be proactive, and everybody else needs to be, too. Though that sounds incredibly naïve, it’s the only real solution. Plant trees and plants, walk or bicycle more and drive less, and use environmentally-friendly paints, cosmetics and other products.

If you do that, you’ll not only help reduce things long-term, you’ll also be healthier now.


This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.

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Back to Basics: 5 Ways To Make Toothpaste At Home

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SVP big toothpaste

You grow your own food, you use coconut oil for moisturizer, and you clean your house with vinegar and maybe lemon oil. Why? You probably do it for a number of reasons. You want to be self-sufficient, you don’t want to eat or clean with toxic chemicals, and you want to save some money and preserve the environment.

Then why on Earth are you still brushing your teeth with a product that’s packed with so many questionable ingredients? Why not make your own toothpaste at home?

As preppers, another valuable reason to know how to make your own toothpaste is that it’s going to be a valuable trading commodity if SHTF and causes a major disruption in commerce for an extended period of time. Most people don’t have more than one backup tube of toothpaste, and it’s one of those items that most folks won’t think to include in a bug-out bag, so the demand will be there.

I personally have learned how to make several different hygiene products including soap and perfume, but toothpaste is by far one of the easiest. It doesn’t require any cooking and the ingredients are common and easy to come by; chances are good that you have the basics in your house right now.

In addition to self-sufficiency, making your own toothpaste is a good idea because commercial toothpaste has several ingredients that may not be so good for you.

4 Reasons to Avoid Commercial Toothpaste


Nearly all commercial toothpastes contain fluoride, a mineral that the government started putting in our water in the 60’s. Fluoride is purported to be good for the enamel on your teeth and is currently a topic of hot debate in the medical community because of links to cancer. Though there are studies that support both sides, I choose to avoid it.


Again, this is an ingredient that is purported to be benign but there is data to support that it may leave a film on your teeth that can prevent your teeth from absorbing the minerals they need to  stay healthy. Since removing that type of film is kind of the point of brushing your teeth, I’ll pass.

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate

This is a surfactant, which basically means that it’s a soap that’s added to toothpaste to clean your teeth and make the toothpaste foam. Though it’s been deemed safe by the FDA, it has been shown to aggravate existing canker sores and may actually cause them, though the research about that is unclear. Either way, it’s something that I just don’t want in my toothpaste, and you won’t find it in any of these recipes.

Artificial Colors and Flavors

In its natural state, toothpaste isn’t gleaming white or sparkly blue and it doesn’t taste sweet. Commercial toothpastes add artificial colors and flavors to their product to get these results. Since many artificial colors and sweeteners have been linked to cancer, many people have cut them out of their diets.

Sure, you don’t eat toothpaste, but you typically swallow at least a bit of it, and small kids swallow even more. None of these recipes have artificial colors or flavors. You can add a few drops of your favorite essential oil to add flavor, along with a few drops of liquid stevia to add sweetness if you’d like.

What You Need for Making Toothpaste

Finally, if SHTF, commercial toothpaste may not be an option and you’ll certainly want to be self-sufficient enough to be able to maintain dental hygiene. The most basic of these recipes requires household ingredients that you’ll likely have around anyway, as you’ll be using them for purposes other than just brushing your teeth.

As preppers, we all love multi-purpose items, and these fall distinctly into that category.

Baking Soda

Most of these recipes contain baking soda because that’s the traditional base for toothpastes. It’s long been known for its ability to destroy odors (thus why we use it in the refrigerator and in laundry) and it’s abrasive enough to scrub the plaque and stains off of your teeth.

It’s also alkaline so it neutralizes acids in your mouth that can cause bad breath, tooth decay, and gum disease. Many worry that this abrasive quality may also wear down the enamel on your teeth. The abrasive rating of baking soda on the Relative Dentin Abrasively scale is less than that of commercial toothpaste.

Sea Salt

Many people add sea salt to their toothpaste because it has trace minerals and it’s also an abrasive that will help scrub stains off of your teeth. Salt may also have some antibacterial properties that will help eliminate the bacteria that cause bad breath.

Bentonite Clay

This natural clay acts as a natural mild abrasive and also delivers trace minerals that can help re-mineralize your teeth. When using bentonite clay, don’t use metal containers or utensils because, when moistened, the clay builds an electrical charge and opens up like a sponge to absorb toxins. Metal disrupts this process.

There is some concern that bentonite contains trace amounts of lead, which is true, but according to the research that I found, the lead is already strongly bonded to the other minerals in the clay, and thus won’t stay in your body. Instead, it will be swept out of your body along with other toxins and waste.

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is being used more and more as a base for homemade toothpaste because of its antibacterial qualities. It comes either refined or unrefined. The unrefined tastes like coconut and the refined is flavorless.

Natural Sweeteners

We’re programmed to think that toothpaste is supposed to be sweet so many of us, especially kids, like to add some sweetener to the homemade versions. There are two good options and both come in liquid forms.

  • Stevia is derived from a plant and has been shown in some studies to inhibit the growth of bacteria that cause tooth decay and gum disease.
  • Xylitol is a sugar alcohol that helps prevent tooth decays and also helps re-mineralize enamel.

Since bacteria don’t feed on xylitol, it doesn’t cause tooth decay. If you’re going to use this, be sure to keep it away from pets because it can be toxic to them.

Essential oils

There are many different essential oils that you can use in your toothpaste to kill germs that can cause cavities and bad breath. Some of them taste great and some of them, not so much. However, some of the ones that taste the worst (tea tree oil, neem oil, eucalyptus oil) are some of the most powerful. It’s a tradeoff: taste for effectiveness. Still, there are good-tasting oils that are also extremely effective for day-to-day purposes.

Clove oil, in particular, has been used for centuries as a cure for toothaches by the old timers and is actually approved by the Dental Association for that purpose. Here are some essential oils and the benefits that push them to the top of the list. Remember that essential oils are extremely concentrated and too much of a good thing isn’t always a better thing. Oils often need to be diluted before use so educate yourself on the oil before you use it.

This list is just a guide to get you started; how much of each oil to use is outside the scope of this article. Most of the recipes below recommend adding a few drops of the essential oil to the toothpaste but some of them, such as clove oil, can be applied straight to a sore tooth. Others can be irritating if used at full strength.

  • Tea Tree, Neem, Eucalyptus, Ginger, Myrrh, Lemon, Orange, Clove, Cinnamon, Lemon, Rosemary, Oregano Oils – antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, analgesic
  • Peppermint – antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, analgesic and great tasting.


5 Ways to Make Toothpaste

You can use these in combination if you’d like in order to find a taste that you like. Peppermint and cinnamon are, of course, two favorites because those are standard flavors for commercial toothpaste. To use these toothpastes, just dip or apply a pea-sized amount to your toothbrush.

Recipe 1 – Basic Baking Soda Toothpaste

  • 1/4 cup baking soda
  • 1/8 cup sea salt (optional)
  • 10 drops peppermint or cinnamon oil (optional)
  • 1/4 cup filtered water

Combine baking soda and sea salt. Add essential oil then add enough water to reach a paste consistency. Store in an airtight container.

Recipe 2 – Coconut Oil/Bentonite Clay Toothpaste

This homemade toothpaste looks a bit funky but it has great ingredients that offer a diverse array of benefits for your mouth and teeth.

  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup bentonite clay
  • 3 tbsp. filtered water
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 10-20 drops peppermint oil or oil of your choice
  • 4 or 5 drops stevia or xylitol (optional)

Combine coconut oil, clay and salt. Add water until it reaches a paste consistency then stir in the oil and sweetener. Store in an airtight, non-metal container away from light.

Recipe 3 – Coconut Oil/Baking Soda Toothpaste

This version of homemade toothpaste is a bit less gritty than standard baking soda toothpaste. The coconut oil may take a bit of getting used to texturally but in the long run, it’s a good option.

  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup baking soda
  • 10-20 drops essential oils
  • 5 drops stevia or xylitol (optional)

Stir baking soda into coconut oil, then add essential oil and sweetener.

Recipe 4 – Whitening and Re-mineralizing Toothpaste

One of the reasons why your teeth decay is because the minerals in your enamel are depleted. Dentists don’t typically think that replacing these minerals was possible but there is research that suggests that it is. A big part of the process is diet but toothpaste may play a role, too.

  • 1/4 cup bentonite clay
  • 2 tbsp. calcium powder
  • 3 tbsp. coconut oil
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 10-20 drops essential oil
  • 5 drops of sweetener, or to taste
  • 1/2 cup filtered water

Stir together all of the dry ingredients. Add the coconut oil, the essential oil and the sweetener, then stir in just enough water to make the concoction a paste. Store in an airtight container. Opaque is best, or store it in a dark place to preserve the essential oil. If you’re worried about it being too salty, add the salt a bit at a time.

Recipe 5 – Squeezable Toothpaste

This is a cool combination because most of us think of toothpaste as coming in a tube. In addition, dipping into your toothpaste may be a bit messy, especially if you have kids. It can also be tough to travel with. This recipe makes a paste that goes right into BPA-free squeezable bottles and has the perfect consistency for squeezing out.

  • 3 tbsp. bentonite clay
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tbsp. coconut oil
  • 20 drops essential oil
  • 5 drops sweetener, or to taste
  • 3 tbsp. filtered water

Combine dry ingredients then add coconut oil, essential oil and sweetener. Stir in water 1 tbsp. at a time – it should be exactly enough to make it into a squeezable paste but if it gets to that consistency before you use all the water, stop adding.

There you have it – some great recipes for DIY homemade toothpaste that are free of chemicals and are easy to make. If your coconut oil is particularly hard, you may want to melt it a bit before you mix your paste. Since the melting point of coconut oil is 76 degrees F, mine tends to have a texture similar to room-temperature butter but I know that some are much more solid than that.

For containers, just do a search for BPA-free squeeze tubes.

Now that you have some recipes to start with, go crazy, try them, and tell us about it in the comments section below! And click on the banner below to discover more ancient ways of living!

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This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.

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