How To Build An Off Grid Gravity Fed Water System (link)

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This is an easy way to get water flowing for small uses, such as washing hands or doing the dishes, and if you include an in-line water filter such as the Sawyer mini water filters then you’ll be well on your way to ditching your indoor plumbing, lol…

“An off grid Gravity Fed Water System is a great  option for  running water. Since many of us off grid dwellers and tiny house owners do not have running water.  Yes, you can live without running water. Indoor plumbing has been around a long time but mostly for the wealthy. Your average 16th century English Farmer would have to carry in water. The same still holds true for many parts of the world today.

The system I’m going to show you how to build is not a whole house solution. The principles will scale up, though. This is a cheap and easy solution to get a gravity fed water system for a sink. So this is perfect for doing a few loads of dishes, brushing teeth or hand washing.

Best of all this build is both easy and cheap. I built the system in just a few minutes. I spent the next few days tinkering with it to try to optimize it…”

Read the full article here

Oven Canning Crackers for Long Term Storage (video)

Warning: I’m told this may be both unsafe and dangerous. Attempt at your own risk! See comments below.

I’ve never tried to can crackers for long term storage but if you don’t have kids who consume all snack foods as soon as you buy them, then this may be a good idea. I think I’ll give it a shot soon just for grins.

I did notice that at the end she used the vacuum foodsaver to remove excess oxygen from the jars after she cooked them in the over; I’m wondering if it wouldn’t have been better to remove the oxygen first and then cook them in the oven? I really don’t know the answer to that one.

You can skip roughly the first half of the video as that’s mostly just her adding crackers to the jars…

Cooking With The “Solar Death Ray”

If you’ve been following my blog for years now you may remember when I used to post about my sun oven cooking experiments… I miss those days. 🙂 Sadly, all of the large trees around my house tend to block out most of the sunshine and so my lack of willingness to work around that problem has caused me to find other uses for my time.

Fortunately, other folks carry the torch so-to-speak. Today, Wranglerstar does so and he does it with flare using the One Earth Designs Sol Source Solar Cooker. I found it funny that his kid calls it a “Solar Death Ray” about twenty seconds in which I thought may seem to be a great way to describe this type of solar cooker to a young boy, lol. Henceforth is shall be named the “Solar Death Ray.”

Since it’s a huge parabolic solar mirror you could, of course, use this for more than just cooking. It could be a great way to start tinder for a fire, perhaps as a signaling device, to extend or amplify a light source, and much more.

Most of the video is of assembly and setup–which was a bit too tedious for me–but you can skip to about the 15:30 mark to see the solar oven in action…


Survival Tabs 15 Day Food Supply, Really Only 3600 Calories for $40 – Worth It? (video)

Sometimes my math gets all wonky and I get things wrong but I don’t think so this time. While I definitely like the idea of these survival tabs for a variety of reasons–including their longevity and assorted vitamin and protein yield–I do question some claims, specifically the “15 day food supply” claim from their website.

For instance, glancing at the back of the package when he shows it to you in the video below at about the 1:00 mark (this info can also be found here) states that 12 survival tabs provides 240 calories. When I go to their website I can buy a bottle of 180 tabs for $40. Doing the math, therefore, suggests that there are 3600 calories in the entire bottle which equates to roughly 1.5 days of food for the average adult male (assumed 2500 calories per day).

I do find it interesting that he briefly mentions a study (at the 2:10 mark) of people living off of these survival tabs but I don’t see this being viable either for the calories or the cost.

Am I missing something here?

Personally, I wouldn’t consider this a food supply to live off of but, rather, a stop-gap solution to add to my bug out bags at best.

What about you? Have you tried these survival tabs? Are they worth the cost?

Cassareep Preseves Meat Indefinitely? (link)

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This sounds almost too good to be true and, to some extent, it is. The good news is that you can purchase Cassareep, it seems, in the U.S. which means you can then use this idea to preserve meat but it appears that it’s a continual process of adding more Cassareep (and more meat) to the mix time and time again.

Doing so does make this an “indefinite” preservation process but I am calling FOUL here because my feeling is that this should be something which you can do once and you’re good, not something you have to do over and over again. Buy a good book on meat preservation from Amazon and you’ll find better ideas, in my opinion.

That said, it may still be worthwhile to understand how another culture preserves meat and maybe you’ll even find a new recipe to try:

“Native Indians of South America used this root to make a black juice called Cassareep that preserves meat for long periods of time.

What is sure is that the PepperPot was their freezer. The PepperPot was was the pot where the meat was preserved, and also the preserved dish.

Nowadays, most Cassareep is exported from Guyana, South America and is available in bottled form. It can be bought in many stores in the USA, Canada, UK,  Australia or on Amazon.

Cassareep purpose is twofold…”

Read the full article here

Why I Stopped Using Gamma Seal Lids And Food Storage Buckets

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I’ve used these gamma seal lids and food grade buckets for years now without trouble. We’ve used them to store rice, beans, oats, and wheat.

In fact, they’re rather easy to use and make accessing my food storage buckets convenient. But, alas, I’m not going to be using them any longer.


Well, remember when I had the trouble with bugs in my oats? I had it happen yet again, this time with my brown rice.

I know this is just the way it is when it comes to using bulk foods but since it’s not SHTF and my family wouldn’t think of eating bugs unless they have to, the last bit of rice I had in my bucket got tossed… which brings me to the problem:

It’s all about usage.

You simply can’t let food sit opened (even though it’s in a “sealed” bucket) for years and that’s by and large what we’ve been doing.

Sure, we get into these foods on occasion but I don’t think I’ve had to add any rice or oats or beans to any of these buckets in years which is a clear sign we’re not using our bulk foods very much anymore.

Fortunately, we haven’t had any food spoil for any reason other than bugs–such as the rice going rancid–but I think I’m just going to store enough of these bulk foods in #10 cans since I have plenty of those.

If, however, you use your bulk foods regularly then the gamma seal lids and buckets work great.

How about you? Do you have this trouble with food in buckets or do you use it fast enough?

Will You Chase That Last Grain Of Rice?

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The other day my kids heated up two cans of chicken with rice soup and because I was in a hurry that day instead of having them dish up their own rice I did it while they were still doing school. And, while I was dishing it up, I found myself chasing a few last pieces of rice around the bottom of the pot which is something I probably never do if I really stopped to think about it.

It then briefly crossed my mind that if this were SHTF then of course I would ensure my family and I ate literally ever last piece of rice, drank every last drop of broth, and maybe even licked the bowl clean for good measure. 😉

That just seems like the prudent thing to do, right? I would have thought so.

But then I wondered if this was actually a good idea purely from an efficiency standpoint. After all, a single grain of rice can’t have very many calories per grain. Sadly, the answer isn’t that easy to nail down as it depends on a variety of factors including the type of rice, whether it’s cooked or not, manufacturer statements, and other claims.

For instance, this site states that one ounce of cooked long-grain brown rice has 31 calories. (Note: enriched white rice has 36 calories per ounce which is basically a negligible difference for this exercise.)

Now, according to this site there are six teaspoons per dry ounce. I counted out the number of grains per one teaspoon and found it rather tedious to do, actually. Ultimately, I came up with very roughly 150 grains of brown rice in a single teaspoon which multiplies out to 900 grains per ounce.

This calculates out to 0.03 calories per grain or 3/100 of one calorie per grain! That ain’t much, folks.

The question is this…

Is it worth your effort to literally chase that last grain of rice around the bottom of the bowl from a calories standpoint?

I found the answer to this question even more difficult to pin down as it also depends on a variety of factors including your size, weight, metabolism, and I can’t find anything that says “if you move your arm this is how many calories you’re burning”… I guess Google hasn’t got it all figured out yet.

Instead I found data for some of the least strenuous activities we can do and I settled on brushing your teeth because it’s a basic arm movement. As such, it appears that brushing your teeth for one minute expends roughly 3 calories or a bit less depending on where I looked.

So, if I were to assume that it would take me a mere three or four seconds to scoop up that last grain of rice in the bowl (and assuming the calories burned are very similar to brushing your teeth) I would have expended 0.15 to 0.2 calories doing so. If, however, I were super fast and could scoop up that last grain and get it into my mouth–and put the spoon back down–in less than a second then I’d be close to the mark at about 0.05 calories burned.

Granted, all of this is based off of many assumptions, one of which being: would I really be chasing one grain of rice around a bowl or several at once? If this were SHTF I may actually be intent on scooping up that last grain of rice.

Why does any of this even matter?

Well, at the very least it goes to show that you need to:

  1. Realize how important calories actually are to your long-term STHF survival, and
  2. Consider your actions in order to maximize energy efficiency if/when calories are scarce.

Yes, calories are important (as are nutrients) but so is making the best use of those calories. Something as seemingly trivial as whether or not you lick the bowl clean may actually matter when SHTF. If it does, however, things are going VERY badly for you. 😉

On the other hand, you may choose to deliberately consider your other actions during hard times with the intent to conserve energy. Exercising for health comes to mind. Sure it’s good to stay fit–perhaps even critical–but maybe exercise becomes far less important post-SHTF if food is scarce.

In fact, there may be a whole host of activities you would want to forego in hard times, including cutting and splitting firewood, gardening, digging holes for outhouses and latrines, grinding wheat into flour, and hauling water for a wide variety of purposes.

Now, I can hear you saying “What!? That’s like everything there is to survival!!”

Yeah, I know.

You may certainly have no choice but to do these activities when times are tough and if things go on long enough then you definitely will.

The thing is that you may well be able to have a lot of this stuff done beforehand (and/or while food and calories are plentiful). For instance, you can have holes pre-dug for outhouses, you can have plenty of food stored so gardening is less necessary, you can have flour already purchased and properly stored (rather than having to grind it from wheat), you can have cords of firewood already cut and stacked, and so on.

You get the idea.

Ultimately, I’m not here to say NOT to chase that last grain of rice. I am, however, saying “think about the calories” first.

Can You Really Boil Water in a Plastic Soda Bottle?

I had to burn some papers today and it dawned on me if I could actually boil water in a plastic soda bottle like I’d seen in various videos?

As luck would have it, I had an empty soda bottle and so I gave it a shot.

I strung up the bottle about two-thirds full of cold water like this with the cap removed:


I didn’t want to get the bottle too close to the fire (the fire was just getting going in the photo above) because I worried that the bottom of the bottle would melt. As it turns out, I should have got the bottle a lot closer.

Only several minutes in it was obvious that some bubbles were forming on the sides of the bottle which was encouraging:


I decided to pour out a little bit and test for hotness. It was slightly warm but nothing to get excited about. Several minutes later I noticed the neck of the bottle was beginning to deform quite a bit:


After a good thirty minutes hanging over a decent, albeit relatively small, fire I decided to call it quits because it was starting to sprinkle and I didn’t want to spend all day messing with this.

So, I checked the temperature with a candy thermometer and saw it reached about 135 degrees Fahrenheit (it shows a bit lower by the time I snapped the photo). I know it’s hard to see but the red bar reaches just above the difference between 100 and 150:


Though encouraging, this wasn’t quite as easy as I’d hoped for or expected. I’m afraid I would have to give this quite a long time over a good fire and maybe even to lower the soda bottle even closer to the fire.

The good news is that the bottom of the bottle was still well formed but the bottle overall was a bit deformed to say the least:


If this is something I had to rely upon to ensure my water was pasteurized I would have been hard-pressed to make it a reality. I’d say that if I really HAD to get it done I could have but to actually bring the water to a boil? Well, according to the following video it’s possible:

Which brings me back to the point where my design wasn’t going to work well at all… I should have actually placed the bottle on embers instead. Perhaps I’ll try that next time.

Of course, I wouldn’t absolutely need to boil the water; I’d simply need to get the water to reach a high enough temperature to kill pathogens and for long enough and that would have sufficed.

According to this reference I was close:

63ºC (145ºF) 30 minutes Vat Pasteurization
72ºC (161ºF) 15 seconds High temperature short time Pasteurization (HTST)
89ºC (191ºF) 1.0 second Higher-Heat Shorter Time (HHST)
90ºC (194ºF) 0.5 seconds Higher-Heat Shorter Time (HHST)
94ºC (201ºF) 0.1 seconds Higher-Heat Shorter Time (HHST)
96ºC (204ºF) 0.05 seconds Higher-Heat Shorter Time (HHST)
100ºC (212ºF) 0.01 seconds Higher-Heat Shorter Time (HHST)
138ºC (280ºF) 2.0 seconds Ultra Pasteurization (UP)

Another ten degrees and I was in business.

The moral of the story?

Watch somebody else do it first… then do what they did. 😉

Water. How Much Do You Really Need? (link)

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Water. It’s without a doubt THE most under-appreciated resource we Americans (and really any first-world nation) take for granted on a daily basis.

It’s so critical and vital to our daily lives we use it everywhere, from obvious needs like drinking, cooking, and bathing, to cleaning, gardening, re-hydrating survival foods, for pets, and more. Even unexpected circumstances will require you to store more water than you might realize, including the loss of already stored water for reasons like contamination from sewage, spillage, unannounced “guests” and so on… one simply cannot store and/or have access to enough water during an emergency.

The below referenced article offers several suggestions as to how much water you’ll need and, to be honest, opinions across the Net vary widely. My personal opinion is that a single person would need, at minimum, roughly five gallons per day for their own basic needs. A family of four, therefore, would require roughly one 55-gallon water barrel for a single three day period. That’s both a lot of water to store and not very much when we consider how much water a family actually uses each day (some estimates are of hundreds of gallons per day).

Now, when you factor in those unexpected needs even after disaster a family could easily double their water storage minimums and not be worse off for doing so. And, of course, planning for longer term scenarios of weeks and months now makes water storage a much bigger ordeal.

Water truly is THE resource to start your prepping focus on! It’s THAT important, you won’t realize HOW important until you’re without and desperate for a drink…

“…It is vital to have water storage to sustain life and ultimately survive. Many times in natural disasters the electricity goes down and we are unable to access water via our hoses, taps, etc. because the local water utility, or even home well systems no longer work. Sometimes the water is contaminated from flooding and cross-contamination from sewage. You will need water for a minimum of three days. If we don’t have water, we will not be able to use many of the freeze dried or dehydrated food we plan to to eat every day when challenges come our way. Some hoses have lead in them; use a lead-free hose to fill containers…”

Read the full article here

20 Extra Food Storage Spots Around The Home (link)

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Food storage space getting you down? Don’t fret, the following offers twenty ideas for maximizing the unused space around your home. The only problem, of course, is remembering what went where. 🙂 In this case, consider keeping a running list and remember to rotate your stockpiles.

I should also point out that places like an attic or other very hot (non-climate controlled) spots are VERY bad for food storage and should not be used, even if you’re just storing long term foods like rice or beans; places that may freeze are slightly less problematic but should still be avoided.

“There’s only one bad thing about stockpiling food: It takes up a lot of space. This isn’t a problem for people who live in large homes. They can just stuff their food storage in an extra bedroom or closet. But for those of us who live in small houses or apartments, it can be a big problem. Where are we supposed to put a year’s supply of food when our closets and cabinets are already overflowing?

Fortunately, there are several answers to this question. Once you read this list, you’ll realize you have a lot more space than you thought you did. All you have to do is de-clutter your home and start thinking outside the box. Here are 20 places you can store your food, even if you live in a small home.

1. Under the Beds – This is an excellent place to stash your food. But before you start rolling canned beans under there, get some totes designed to fit under beds. They have wheels on them, making it very easy to access your food…”

Read the full article here