Probably the most well known TEOTWAWKI of all time is the story of Noah’s Ark. A devastating flood wiping out everything and everyone you know, and relocating you to some foreign land, is definitely the end of the world as you know it. When thinking about this story, we usually think about the 40 days and nights on the ark, and how Noah and his family had to survive that. But in reality that was not the real survival situation. The real survival situation started when the waters receded and Mr. and Mrs. Noah had to start over. Building, planting, raising animals – all had to be handled from square one. (more…)
I have to admit that I have been a little obsessed with finding a decent option for burying, sinking or otherwise hiding a firearm and other preps since I first saw Mossberg’s Just In Case line of products a number of years ago.
When starting a flint and steel or striker type of fire, char cloth makes all the difference in being able to actually get the fire started or just making a bunch of sparks that never catch anything on fire. Char cloth (sometimes also called charred cloth) is one of those amazing mountain man items that is still very useful today. Char cloth is pieces of blackened fabric that easily catch a spark and burn similarly to the way steel wool burns–no big flame, but a nice ember burn that doesn’t blow out once it’s lit. The spark lights the char cloth and the char cloth is used to light the other tinder. I’ve been wanting to add char cloth to my fire kits and having used all my char cloth made by others, I decided to make a batch of my own.
I had some basic directions to go off of, but had never made it myself, so here’s how the first round went. I got some 100% cotton fabric–I used jersey fabric (an old T shirt) and cut it into approximately 2″ squares. Mine was kind of a natural color, but you could probably use any color you have, just avoid screen-printed designs, etc. I cut the ribbing off from the neck and sleeve ends as well as the seams. You just want the fabric.
Next, I got a metal can–I used an old cookie tin. I punched a vent hole in the can lid with a hammer and nail. You can use whatever metal can you have–I’ve seen it done with smaller tins as well as cleaned out food cans with foil for a lid.
I put the cut up fabric squares in the tin, put the lid on, and put the can on my grill on low and let it cook. You definitely want to do this outside–burning fabric doesn’t smell all that good. My instructions said to cook it until it stopped smoking. I had the tin fairly full, and cooked it close to 3 hours before I decided to turn it off. It never smoked a lot. When it cooled, I opened the can and only the bottom 3-4 layers were black, the rest of the fabric was brown.
I turned the pile over and put it back on the grill on Medium this time and cooked it another close to 3 hours. This time it was all black when it was finished. However, it didn’t catch a spark very well. I could light it with a flame, or an occasional large spark, but it was very frustrating to work with. Nothing like the char cloth I’d had before that a friend of ours made from terry cloth (old towel).
So I put it back on the grill again, this time I only filled the can about 1/3 full and cooked it on high another 3 hours or so. Now it was a little more fragile and easy to tear (as char cloth generally is), but it still didn’t catch spark well. I had no more ideas to make it better, so I decided to start over.
The second and far better batch of char cloth I made started with 100% cotton monk’s cloth I got at Walmart. Notice the loose weave and air holes. Those made a huge difference. I cut it a little smaller this time–about 1 1/2 inch square as 2″ was a little larger than necessary. There is some shrinkage as it cooks, but not that much. I wanted to see if it would work straight from the store without washing the fabric first, so I only cut 5 squares of it.
I put it in a smaller tin which also got the hammer/nail air vent in the lid.
Feeling like I’d spent enough of my grill gas on this project, I opted to do this round real mountain man style and build a fire and toss the tin in the fire. I pretty well buried it–it’s in there somewhere.
It did not cook long in the fire–maybe 15 minutes (of course it was in a smaller tin than the first round, but I’m guessing even a large tin wouldn’t take 9 hours in the fire). I couldn’t tell when it stopped smoking since it was in a fire with all the rest of the smoke, so I just guessed at when to pull it out. It wouldn’t matter if it stayed in there until the fire burned out as long as no sparks got in the airhole and caught all the fabric on fire in the meantime.
I fished it out, let it cool, and opened it to nicely blackened monk’s cloth.
This second round of char cloth lights up with minimal spark from a firestarter or flint/steel. It is more fragile than the jersey char cloth, but works much better. I’ll have to post on flint/steel firestarting another time :)
So, to recap, to make better char cloth, start with a 100% cotton fabric with texture and a fairly loose weave. Use a fire pit if you can to save on gas. Cooking on higher heat and cooking a smaller batch help speed up cooking time. Happy firestarting!
Our physical needs prioritized – The Rule of 3’s:
But, you won’t be bleeding or without air in every emergency situation so this list is not perfectly prioritized and it is lacking some priorities.
In case you aren’t familiar with the show, here is a brief description of this reality show. Michele and Jim Bob Duggar are the parents of a traditional Christian family. After 20 years of marriage, they have had 18 children with only one set of twins. They manage to afford this large family by being frugal, wisely investing the money they do have in money making properties and businesses and always paying cash for all their purchases. If they don’t have enough money to buy something, they save and buy it later or do without. All of their children are also home schooled.
What does this have to do with prepping? (more…)
I’m not a big TV fan myself, as I expect many of the readers of this blog. But last year I did stumble on a show I really liked, called “The Alaska Experiment“. The show took a couple small groups (2-4 people) of “regular people”, and dropped them in backcountry Alaska, to survive into the winter. Now, not only was this TV, but it was reality-tv, which by nature I detest. And yet it drew me in like no other. Why? Because it showed just how little people knew, and just how difficult it was to survive, even with the large amount of help these people received. They had minimal food supplies given, they had shelter, and constant checkups to make sure they weren’t in real harm. And yet it was still *very* difficult. Sure, at many points I would scream at people for what I saw as dumb decisions, but I have a better camping background than they. I was also sitting in my nice chair at home, instead of in the middle of Winter in Alaska.
Well, season 2 is coming, albeit with a slightly different name. “Out of the Wild: The Alaska Experiment”. Go check out the preview on the Discovery Channel page. This season changes things a bit by dropping folks off in the wild, and letting themselves find their way out. I’m sure we’ll all see the dangers in that.
I realized the other day that I hadn’t done an EDC post yet, so here it is! I do split EDC, meaning that some stuff I carry on my person but most of it I carry in my bag. There are two reasons for this, one I sit at a computer all day and do not like to have my pockets filled with stuff. I only wear cargo style pants so I always have plenty of pockets to drop things into as needed, but I don’t like to sit at my desk with anything in them. Secondly, as a geek I carry my computer EVERYWHERE I go and I carry it in my EDC bag. If you ever see the bag pictured on the right, it is probably following me like a monkey on my back.
Your Car Emergency Kit should be designed to accommodate a wide variety of potential Emergency Situations that may occur while you are in or near your vehicle. There are several categories that you should carefully consider when you are assembling your kit. The most important thing to remember is to not forget about it – an Emergency Kit is never something you just throw in the back and never think about again. You’ll want to maintain it and adapt it regularly for the season.
As most everyone should be aware, the last week has provided a harrowing survival experience for Kentucky and surrounding states with a major Ice Storm cutting off power to over 1.5 million homes and killing 55 people.
For those of us here in Utah, we’re more likely to see catastrophic events from a major snowstorm than an icestorm (in searching, I cannot find records of an icestorm like this hitting Utah). Our winter storms, especially in heavy snowfall years, can leave many icey problems. While we may not be likely to have an ice storm, there are still many lessons we can learn from those who have just experienced it. Let’s look at some reports from the Mid-South Ice Storm of 2009.
Yesterday’s incident of a crash landing on the Hudson River where there was a 100% survival rate got me thinking about airplane crash survival and prep. Apparently several others were thinking about it too, there are several articles out in the last (less than) 24 hours about surviving a plane crash. Hopefully I can provide a useful summary and some fresh thought on this topic.
The NTSB released a study of plane crash statistics and survivability in 2001 they analyzed data for crashes from 1983 to 2000. I’ll be summarizing and referring to it frequently, the entire report can be found here. I was surprised to find that, overall, plane crashes are indeed survivable. Just as with surviving a nuclear war, I had assumed or thought I knew (without any research at all) that if a plane crashes you’re pretty much dead. With that foregone conclusion, I had not really looked into it at all. Here’s a quick shot of data from the NTSB study regarding crashes in a year and the number of survivors from those crashes: (more…)
I ordered a Solar Oven Society Sportster Oven with optional reflectors on a Monday and it arrived on my door step a precisely one week later. My neighbor has a Global Sun Oven, but hasn’t used it. Not having any experience with this subject, and not knowing anyone who had used one, I performed some research online.
One of the best reviews I read was by Cook’s Illustrated based on the number of models, the breadth of tests and overall quality of the written review. My wife swears by their advice and their reviews are generally spot on, so I ended up going with the model they recommended most highly. I’ll freely admit that it didn’t hurt that the oven was similarly priced with its closest competitors but also included two pots, a water pasteurization indicator and a cookbook.
A post reviewing the performance of this model (SOS Sportster Solar Oven) as well as a comparison with the Global Sun Oven is on my list of projects. If all goes well, I will be able to perform those tests this coming Saturday.
So without further ado, Unboxing the Solar Oven Society Sportster Solar Oven:
Recently I took some time to rotate a few items in my ‘Get Home Bag’ that I keep in my car. The seasons were changing here, and they require different items to fill the bags purpose. As I was changing, I realized I should take a few pictures to post on here (and satisfy the requests of a few friends wanting to know what I have). With that in mind here’s a basic breakdown of my winter Get Home Bag.
I live a fair distance from my work now (oh how I long to telecommute again!). Around 25 miles one way, around a lake, across a river, through several places that have limited road options. How do I know this? Well, I would say everybody should be very familiar with every alternate route between their home and most common destinations, because you never know when you will need them. I have needed mine. Beyond a natural curiosity and desire to optimize my commute, my neighborhood often requires it because it has a population that overwhelms the local road infrastructure on a good day. Add in an accident, or bad weather and it becomes horrid. Get worse weather, and you can actually shut down access to our town. It’s happened before, it will happen again. Throw in an earthquake, and there will be *no* cars heading home. Whatever your locally preferred disaster, would you be able to get home to your wonderful food storage?