Blog Archives

Car Kits

Its that time of year again and several people are hitting the roads to visit friends and family for the holidays.

While the holidays can be hectic, this is also the time the weather can get nasty. Its no time to forget about emergency preparedness. About two years ago, several cars were stuck on a local highway here for about three days due to the excessive snow. The people were cold, hungry and unfortunately some people did pass away.

I recommend keeping a kit in the car just in case. Some simple items can save your life.

spread kit

In the kit I have:

basic first aid supplies (gloves, bandages, alcohol swabs, etc)

a wind up radio with extra batteries so I don’t kill the car battery

some easy foods(granola bars, tuna, fruit salad for the kids)

manual can opener

hand warmers (these can be put in your sweater if needed)

a survival blanket (easy, compact way to keep warm, can also be used to signal for help due to shine)

a mini camp stove to cook with (please don’t use inside the car!!)

hand sanitizer (both for hygiene and as a de-icer)

light sticks (comfort item for children, can be used to signal)

book for entertainment

garbage bags (hygiene… when there’s no toilet…. )

a zip bag of cat litter – for a few reasons. Cat litter can help your tires to gain traction if stuck on ice, but I keep my car kit in a cat litter bucket. This is because my car keeps getting broken into and everything gets stolen. No one has stolen my “cat litter”. They did once open the lid and this is what they saw:

covert kit

a bucket of cat litter… not really worth stealing. But underneath that sneaky cat litter, lays the real prize.

packed kit

This kit is light weight (about 7 lbs) so can be carried if you have to leave your vehicle.

Some additional things to keep in your car at all times are: basic tools (tire iron, jack and jumper cables and KNOW HOW TO USE THEM!), a case of bottled water (do not eat snow, it will lower your body temperature, let it melt first if you have no water) and a weapon that you are comfortable using.

All that aside, please take your time going where you need to go, don’t drink and drive and be safe!!

Reusing your own soap

A lot of us have soap in our stocks, its a great thing to have around. In a SHTF situation, hygiene is paramount. Soap is generally cheap, but here’s a way you can save a bit of money.

I personally owned a soap business so I have a lot of soap scraps around but you can do this using the little slivers that are left at the end of the bar.

Grate or break down your soap into smaller pieces and place them in a bowl.

soap scraps in bowl ready for our next step

Put your bowl over a pot of warm water (double boiler). Do not let the water boil, as this gets your soap too hot. If you are using all bar soap (not glycerine soap) you may have to add a little bit of water to your bowl.

Be careful, the bowl and the soap will get hot. Melt the soap down and mix it together.  When it is all melted, its time to take it off the heat.

Bowl of melted soap

Carefully pour your soap into molds. I have professional molds but this isn’t necessary at all. You can use milk cartons, silicone muffin tins, just about anything. (tip: if you want to make soap for barter or giving away PSHTF, pour your soap into ice cube trays.)

Once your soap is hardened (this can take anywhere from a couple hours to a couple of days), take it out of your mold and cut it into desired shapes and sizes. If you’re having trouble getting the soap out, you can pop it into the freezer for ten minutes and let it get cold, it should come out easily after that.

“poc” soap, ready to be wrapped.

It may not be pretty and it may be a blend of a lot of scents, but its soap, its functional and it was free.

To keep your soap for long periods, consider using shrink wrap or putting it into zipper plastic bags. If you used glycerin soap, it may develop a ‘dew’ or ‘sweat’, this is normal and does not affect the function of the soap.

 

Dehydrating Your Own Milk

Let me just say, this isn’t necessarily a recommended practice, do your research (as always) and decide if its for you.

I recently got 6 litres of milk for $1 each and decided to dehydrate them to make my own powdered milk. Most preppers order their powdered milk in #10 cans from various food suppliers in the US, however this is out of my price range and the tariffs Canadians have to pay on dairy are ridiculous.

To dehydrate my milk, first I had to make parchment paper containers to cover the screens in my Excalibur. I did this by cutting a square and folding up all the edges so they folded over themselves and then I stapled it just to be sure. Put the parchment on your screen and pour a small thin layer of 1% milk onto it. (I used 1% aka non fat milk because the more fat, the more likely it is to go rancid.

I cranked my dehydrator to 135′ F and left it over night. About 10 hours later it was ready. The milk turns into a crackly sheet in a sort of yellow color. At this point all you have to do it toss it in a blender or food processor and buzz it up until its a fine powder. Store it in a jar or mylar bag with an oxygen absorber.

To rehydrate, mix it with cold water and shake it until you get all the chunks out.

 

The Ugly Side of Prepping

Prepping isn’t just about gear, food, water or ammo. It’s not even about knowledge (which of course is vital). You have to be mentally prepared.  A lot of people think they are. I’m not so sure of that though.

In New York after Sandy, people were eating out of dumpsters. Gross? Get used to the idea. Even if you’re prepped with years and years of food, it could still happen that you might need to eat garbage. If you accept that possibility now, it won’t be so hard when it comes down to it.

What about self-defense? Most preppers have guns or other various weapons that they would use for self-defense. But most people have never killed someone. It’s a lot more than point a gun and shoot. Could you look someone in the eye and kill them? Can you handle the after effects? Even if you kill in self-defense, there is that lingering guilt. PTSD is not just a soldiers disease and it is not just from being in danger. Taking another human’s life is a big deal and takes a long time to get over. If it comes down to it, you need to be prepared to make that decision and defend yourself and your family. (A good book about this is On Killing, recommended to me by a veteran.)

Sooner or later, you may have to come to terms with the fact that even though you’ve spent hundreds of dollars and thousands of hours prepping, stocking, reading etc, it may not be there when you need it. Sh-t happens. You may have to unexpectedly bug out, leaving your stuff behind, someone may steal it, it may run out. Be sure to have more than one or two plans. You should have plans A through Z.

Bad people will be out there when the SHTF. Good people will turn desperate and do bad things. You need to be able to deal with them and avoid them when you can. Are you ready to loot a store to feed your family? Would you steal for them? Would you kill the guy down the street whose basement is full of MREs? These are things we need to consider. The ugly side of prepping.

Last Minute Preps

So the storm is knocking at our doors and a lot of people have been asking me what they should buy TODAY because they have nothing stored.

Here’s a short list to get you started::

Bottled water – you can also fill your bath tub and any containers in case the water gets shut off or contaminated. You need 4 L per person per day. Don’t forget your animals!!

Easy food – get stuff that doesn’t need to be cooked or requires minimal preparation. Crackers, peanut butter, ready to serve soups. Try and keep away from anything that needs to be refrigerated since we never know if the power is going to go out. Again, don’t forget your pets.

Flashlights – most people have one stuck somewhere in a drawer. Get it out and get extra batteries. Keep in mind candles are not safe if there is a gas leak.

Make sure you have on hand: first aid supplies, warm clothes, basic hygiene needs, books and entertainment (especially those with children).

 

Tea Tree Oil

Tea Tree oil is a great addition to your preps. The plant is native to Australia and is related to eucalyptus. It has been used for centuries as an antibacterial, anti-fungal and infection healing oil. This is the tea tree oil I buy (tea tree oil)
It can be used on almost any skin ailment including blemishes, wounds, dandruff, head lice, chicken pox and blisters. It is fairly effective at killing Candida, which causes yeast infections.
It has similar healing properties to lavender oil (which I wrote about here).
You can grow your own tea tree plant indoors in containers and potentially distill your own essential oils from it but it requires a significant amount of the plant to make a small amount of oil.
It should not be ingested without supervision of a doctor as it can be toxic internally. Some people are sensitive to tea tree, so make sure you check for allergies before using. A simple skin allergy test is to put a drop or two on the inside of the elbow and wait for at least 24 hours to see if there is a reaction (ie: rash, hives or blisters). If there is no reaction, it may be safe to use it in greater quantities. If there IS a reaction, discontinue use.

Some essential oils are not safe for children, animals or pregnant/nursing women. Do your research!

Coffee for Preppers

I don’t know about you, but for me its hard to function without at least one cup of coffee in my system. If I don’t get that first cup…well, its just better that I do. This is technically an addiction to caffeine and going through a SHTF scenario at the same time as going through withdrawal, no thanks.

So I looked around for the best way to store coffee for the long term and found some contradicting information. I contacted a family friend, Dave Cook, who owns the Fire Roasted Coffee Company in London Ontario (Canada) for some answers.

In regards to the storing green (unroasted) beans versus roasted beans, Dave had this to say:
“Green coffee is a neutral grain which does not generally deteriorate at all in the first year but slowly degrades after that but most people would not notice especially if it is the only option. Coffee is very easy to roast over open fire…”

I have always been of the opinion that freshly ground coffee tastes much better than when it has been pre-ground and stored that way. Dave agreed: “For grinding there is a variety of hand crank compact grinders and yes, fresh grind is much better as whole bean retains much better flavour as it is one big particle as opposed to many small ones” (Check out this hand grinder I found on Amazon!! https://amzn.to/2xcrf4T )

I asked Dave if storing in Mylar bags with oxygen absorbers (like most of us preppers would be doing) is best.
“It is possible to store roasted coffee and in an oxygen deprived environment it will keep reasonable flavour but will degrade rapidly when opened. Heat is actually the biggest enemy to coffee as it oxidizes the naturally present oils and turns them rancid. If cost of inventory is a factor green unroasted coffee is half the price of roasted.”

What would Dave, an expert, store for himself?: “In a perfect world I would store both green and roasted coffee with the roasted filling short term need or if it is unsafe to go outside,  with the green coffee offering long term supply and the ability to enjoy world class coffee in potential world of chaos and social disorder.”

Dave closed by reminding us: “If your readers live in the area of the equator, there also is the opportunity of growing their own or harvesting wild crops.”

I love Dave’s coffees and fully recommend them to anyone! I’d like to thank Dave and the Fire Roasted Coffee Company for answering my questions.

To contact them:
http://www.fireroastedcoffee.com
online@fireroastedcoffee.com
Twitter: @fireroastedcafe
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/fireroastedcoffee

Drying Herbs

Whether you have them for mundane or medical reasons, properly drying your herbs is important.

Most herbs are easily dried by hanging them upside down in a cool area where they will get a bit of air flow. Before I had my dehydrator, I hung my herbs up in my closet. You can also dry them in the dehydrator at the lowest setting, by far the quickest method, or you can dry them in the oven on the lowest temperature with the door propped open by a wooden spoon to allow for airflow.

Herbs are properly dried when they are easily crumbled between your fingers.

Be sure to store your dried herbs in airtight containers in a cool dry place. A lot of people store theirs above the stove or close to it. This is one of the worst places because the heat will degrade your herbs, they will lose potency in flavor and go stale much quicker. To store large quantities for your preps, place your herbs in a food saver bag or a mylar bag and add an oxygen absorber. If you have to open the bags, quickly remove the amount you need and then reseal the bags as soon as possible to maintain quality.

 

Peppermint

Peppermint is a great herb that is easy to grow in most climates although it does best in shade with moist soil.
Homesteaders and preppers who keep bees are fond of this plant because it produces a lot of nectar that will attract the bees to the plant. For this reason, it is advised to grow peppermint away from the entrances of your home. It spreads easily and quickly so it is best to grow it in a container.
Dried peppermint leaves make an excellent tea that can help calm upset stomach, aid digestion and can treat flatulence. The essential oil of the peppermint plant can be used as a pest repellent. Mice, ants and squirrels do not like the scent and it can be sprinkled around your food storage or entrance points of the pests. For people, the scent can be used for migraines, stimulate the senses, and it has a cooling effect on the skin. It can be used for nausea and motion sickness but the oil should be avoided during pregnancy.

Make sure to buy peppermint plants as there as no seeds! They grow easily from cuttings if you have a friend with some.

Making Your Own Dehydrated Cat Food

Last week I covered how to make your own dehydrated dog food. This time, I’ll cover cats as it is bit more involved due to the differences in dietary needs.
This is assuming your cat isn’t a mouser, won’t be hunting or has no claws.

Cats require a difference ratio than dogs for their food.
A basic cat food recipe would be:
3 parts meat
1 part organs (my cats particularly like liver and hearts)
1 part grain
1/2 part vegetables

Dehydrate all your ingredients until fully dry to avoid rancidity. Times will vary on your location, dehydrator and humidity. (Here’s my dehydrator)
When making dehydrated animal food, I usually dehydrate everything then powder it. Once its powdered, I measure out the ratio using a measuring cup or tablespoon depending on the container I want to fill.
Vegetables for cats can include: carrots, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, and peas amongst several others, check with your vet if you are not sure.

When your mixture is complete, be sure to seal it in an airtight container (or include an oxygen absorber) and store in a cool, dry place.
When ready to serve, mix water in slowly to get the consistency your cats like.