I’ve been thinking a lot lately about making more and more of my own supplies. While I’ve made things like toothpaste, deodorant, laundry detergent, and a few other cleaning products in the past, I’ve been contemplating going “all in” if you will, and attempting to make as much as I can. My reasoning is for cost savings, healthier products, and maybe just because I can.
The question here today is: does this make sense from a preparedness stand point? As an example, should I be stockpiling a year or two worth soap or the ingredients to make the soap? And, of course, all of the other supplies we might use such as toothpaste, lotion, deodorant, cleaning products, and so on.
I would imagine the obvious and immediate answer is “yes” because being able to make your own supplies means less and less dependence on others… and I would tend to agree with that assessment. The problem, however, is the fact that you would then need to make your own supplies. And, in an emergency scenario, the last thing you need to be doing is spending time making deodorant.
So, here’s how I see it…
Advantages and disadvantages of stockpiling supplies
Everything you would need to rely on is already on hand and ready to use, which is a huge benefit when you’re already stressed and likely very busy doing other things such as pulling guard duty, tending the garden, chopping wood, and who knows what else needs to be done. But, this also means a finite amount of whatever we’re talking about. That is, if you only have ten bars of soap on hand to see you through the next year or two then that’s what you’ve got and then you’re in the same boat as everyone else. But, like I said, you don’t have any work to do here.
The disadvantages would be that you (1) have no ability to make more of what you need and (2) probably have no knowledge of how to make supplies. For example, if you know that you can make toothpaste using baking soda as a primary ingredient and you can get your hands on a bag of it but not toothpaste, then you’ll understand that it’s worth your time and effort to procure the bag of baking soda. Make sense?
Advantages and disadvantages of stockpiling ingredients
Here you have the supplies to make what you need. There’s no wondering if you’ll have more soap since you’ll have the base ingredients to make it. Of course, it’s expected that you’ll have a finite amount of base ingredients too (just as if you were stockpiling supplies) but the assumption is that you’ll be able to stock more of the base ingredients (at less cost) so that you can then make more supplies. Another benefit is that oftentimes base ingredients are used in a variety of recipes so you can make many supplies from just a handful of base ingredients (e.g., baking soda, vinegar, etc).
The disadvantages are that you would need to make supplies as needed. Obviously, you’re not going to make a single bar of soap at a time but I doubt you’re going to make enough for a year or two at a time, so there is the need to do the work. And, when multiplied by the many hygiene and cleaning needs that a typical household needs over the course of a year, the work needed to make supplies from scratch will become serious work.
There is some common ground
Certainly, I’m presenting you with an “either/or” situation. In reality, it makes sense that you’re not going to be presented with one option or the other. In fact, it makes sense that you can and should do both. If you have both the supplies you need to see you through a year, for example, and the base ingredients to make more of what you need then you’re in the best position possible to see you and your family through hard times. That, in my opinion, is the best strategy of all.
…but, if you HAD to choose, which would it be?