How to Heat Your Home in an Emergency Situation

The weather may be warming up, but that doesn’t mean you can stop thinking about preparing for next winter. Whether you’re dealing with a blizzard, floor or the zombie apocalypse, you’ll need to be able to heat your home during an emergency. Here are some ways to heat your home if the world ends or the power goes out next winter.

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1. Controlling Heat Loss

Before you choose a way to heat your home, you need to make sure the building isn’t bleeding hot air. A lack of insulation, degraded weatherstripping around your doors and windows, and the windows themselves can all allow heat to radiate out of your home, making it harder to keep things warm.

Start by checking your attic for insulation. If you don’t have any insulation or it has been years since its installation, consider upgrading or replacing it. This won’t just help you keep the home warm in the winter time — it can also help you reduce cooling costs in the summer by maintaining the interior temperature.

Weatherstripping around your doors and windows also work to keep out cold air and prevent your heated air from escaping. If yours has deteriorated, it can’t do its job. You can line the edges of your windows and doors with draft stoppers, but this is only a stop-gap measure. The best thing you can do is to replace the weatherstripping entirely. This is easy, even for DIYers who aren’t terribly handy, and you can do it in an afternoon.

Ideally, you’ll want to replace your windows with double-paned options, but if that isn’t in the budget, you won’t be left out in the cold. You can insulate your windows with things you have around the house, like blankets, pillows and tinfoil. Instead of using your thin summer curtains that let in natural light, swap them out with heavy insulated ones. You’ll want to be able to let sunlight in during the day — if there is any — but you don’t want to let all your hard-earned heat escape at night when the temperature drops again.

2. Propane or Kerosene Heaters

Your first thought might be to pick up a couple of space heaters you can plug into the wall, but those won’t do you a lot of good if the power is out or the infrastructure has collapsed. You’re going to need something capable of generating heat that has its own refillable or replaceable fuel source. That’s where kerosene and propane heaters come in.

These free-standing heaters generate hundreds of thousands of BTUs of energy per gallon of fuel. Kerosene costs a little more and may be harder to find — you can find propane anywhere because so many people like to use it for their barbeque grills — but you get more bang for your buck.

Whichever fuel source you choose, you’re going to want to buy it in bulk. Sure you can buy propane cans and kerosene cans in the camping section of your local hardware or department store, but if the power is going to be out for a while, this isn’t a cost-effective way to heat your home. Instead, consider having a propane or kerosene tank installed and buying fuel by the gallon.

3. Candle Heaters

If you don’t have the means or the space to install a fuel tank in your home, you’re not without options. If you’re trying to heat a small space, all you need is a couple of bricks, a couple of terra cotta pots, a long steel bolt and some candles or Sterno cans.

Now, candles and fuel cans don’t generate a lot of heat on their own unless it’s concentrated, such as under a food dish at a buffet, but they do generate heat. The problem is that with any sort of flame or small heat source, it’s not going to radiate heat you can feel unless you’re standing directly over it. Hot air is less dense than cold air, so it will rise to the ceiling where it isn’t doing you any good.

By using a nested pair of terra cotta pots, as well as a steel bolt, you can create a sort of heat battery. The heat from the candles or fuel cans accumulates inside the pot, raising the temperature of both the steel and the terra cotta. Over time, this build up reaches critical mass and starts to radiate heat out into the surrounding area. By keeping the candles lit, you can heat a whole room with one of these simple contraptions. You probably already have most of the pieces scattered around your house.

4. Wood Stoves

You don’t have to remodel your house to use a wood stove to heat the interior. Small portable wood stoves are available. You’ll just need to place them near a window and use a pipe chimney to vent the smoke and ash outside so it doesn’t cause issues indoors.

If you’re planning on using a wood stove to heat your home, you will need to have a generous supply of wood either ready to split or already cut to use as fuel. Spend the cool fall months restocking your fuel supply so that you will have everything you need in case the power goes out. Of course, if you run out of wood, you can always pick up an ax and head out into the forest to find more fuel, so this becomes an incredibly viable option as long as you live near some trees.

5. Fuel Oil Heaters

You don’t have to rely on electricity to heat your home. In fact, more than six million homeowners use fuel oil to power their furnaces. Fuel oil furnaces have a reputation for being dirty or bad for the environment, but while that was true in the past, it isn’t anymore. Fuel oil today contains 93% less sulfur than it did in the 1980s and is between 90 and 95% cleaner than it was in the 1970s.

If you’re considering switching to heating oil as your primary home heating source, make sure you complete the conversion early and refill your tank before the temperature starts to drop. Getting someone to come out for a refill in the middle of a blizzard will be nearly impossible — and if they are willing to make the drive, it will cost you a lot more than it would have in off-peak season.

6. Fireplaces

If you have a gas or wood fireplace in your home, you’re already one step closer to heating your home in the event of a power outage or another emergency. There are a few things you should do before you light that first blaze, though, including:

  • Have the Chimney Cleaned — For a wood fireplace, a clogged chimney isn’t just a fire hazard. It could also leave you choking on smoke and carbon monoxide because these byproducts have no other way to get out of your home. Before you light a fire for the first time, call a chimney sweep and have the whole system cleaned.
  • Clean out the Firebox — If you haven’t cleaned out your fireplace since last winter, now the is perfect time to get rid of all those old ashes and get it ready for the new cold season. Make sure you keep the damper closed while you’re cleaning, though, or an errant gust of wind could send ash all over your living room.
  • Stock up on Fuel — Being ready for anything means you need to have enough fuel to see you through the entire winter if need be. If you have a wood fireplace, start chopping wood before the weather gets cold. If you have a gas fireplace, top off your tank before a blizzard comes through. Unfortunately, if you opted for an electric fireplace, you’re going to be out of luck if the power goes out.

We’ve been using fireplaces to heat our homes for as long as we’ve had homes. It can be a great tool if the power goes out, so make sure they’re ready for the cold winter months.

7. Purchase or Maintain a Generator

Losing power doesn’t just mean you won’t be able to heat your home. It also means you can’t charge your phone, turn on the lights or cook on an electric range. Having a backup generator can help you do all of these things and more.

Make sure your generator is outdoors or in a well-ventilated area. Generators run on gasoline or diesel, which means they produce carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide, both of which can kill you in high concentrations. Don’t run a generator in the house, no matter how much you don’t want to go out in the cold to plug stuff in and refuel it.

[Editor’s note: Even in a partially-ventilated garage, such as with the garage door half open, toxic CO can build up which can be deadly! ONLY ever use a generator and similar outdoor gear OUTSIDE to stay safe.]

Pay close attention to the power rating of your generator as well. If you overload it, it will shut down or even fail, and you’ll be out of luck for electric heat, charging your phone or keeping your refrigerator running.

8. Choose One Room to Heat

In an emergency, you aren’t going to want to try to heat every room in your house. In the long run, it ends up being a waste of fuel. Instead of trying to heat all 2,000+ square feet, choose one room that is big enough to hold everyone in your house, and designate that as the “warm room.” Close the doors, insulate the windows, cover the vents and plan on spending most of your time in there. Keep the doors and windows closed as much as possible to keep in the warm air and conserve your fuel.

If you keep those doors closed, you can theoretically heat an entire room just with your body heat, too — but it will take a while, and you’ll be cold while you do it.

9. Layers, Layers and More Layers

The last thing you should stock up on is warm winter clothing. Even if the heater is working, keeping your thermostat set lower and layering up can help reduce your winter utility costs. If the power goes out, layering up — including hats, scarves and gloves — can keep you warm and prevent frostbite while you get your heaters set up.

Also, move your winter clothing stash to your designated warm room, so you don’t have to worry about pulling on cold pants, shirts and other items while it’s below freezing outside. After all, pretty much the only thing worse than cold underwear is a cold shower.

Don’t start by putting on your heaviest coat, though. Add multiple thin layers you can easily remove if you warm up or move into a warm area. Heavy coats aren’t always necessary as long as you have enough layers. If you get too warm or start sweating, change your bottom layers. Wet clothing draws heat away from your body and makes it harder for you to stay warm.

Stay inside as much as possible, and layer up.

Stay Warm

If the power goes out during a floor or the world ends and the entire infrastructure collapses, you’ll need to figure out how to heat your home. These ideas are all things you can prepare and have ready before the temperature starts to drop. This is one case where it’s better to have all of these things and not need them, rather than to not have them and potentially freeze to death or burn your house down trying to stay warm.

It is important to remember that many of these solutions can present or create a fire hazard if they are misused. Take the time to maintain your equipment, so you’ll always be ready once Old Man Winter shows his face. No one wants to spend all their time in one room playing board games while the power is out, but if it takes the utility companies a while to restore the system, this could keep you warm throughout even the coldest winter.

No matter what you choose to do, be ready for falling temperatures, and stay warm this winter!

Note: This was a guest post.

DIY Solar Tracking System Inspired by NASA

I just love DIY ideas like this, don’t you? After all, I wrote an entire book about DIY survival projects, so it only stands to reason that I would, lol.

In any case, the neat thing about this solar tracker is that it doesn’t need any GPS signal or computers to work but, instead, simply “follows” the movement of the sun using small light sensors throughout the day!

Apparently, he got the original idea from this video which includes more details about the build, if interested…

9 Best Campfire Foods

Microwaves, toaster ovens, stovetops and air fryers are all wonderful amenities that we enjoy thanks to the wonder of technology. Sometimes, though, you have to take it old-school. For the right meal, there’s nothing better than cooking over an open flame.

Image Credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cooking_on_a_campfire_in_Sweden_01.jpg

You’ve probably been to a restaurant that specializes in wood-fired pizza or other dishes cooked using this method. Even though new methods have made for fast and efficient cooking regimes, there’s still plenty to know about cooking over a fire.

You can cook over a fire at a campsite using a simple stove or spit, or get fancy and use an oven made of brick or clay. Small changes in the type of fuel used, the heat of the fire and cooking apparatus can impact how the final product tastes. Try cooking these meals over an open flame to experiment with smoky flavors.

1. Kebabs

When you think about cooking things over a fire, meats often come to mind — hot dogs, steaks, jerk chicken. But you can one-up the occasional New York steak or dry chicken breast you accustomed yourself to. Kebabs combine the flavor of fresh veggies with your protein of choice, and you receive the added fun of skewering them up.

Equally as tasty when cooked over a backyard barbecue or with friends over an open campfire, you can customize kebabs to your liking. You can easily cook them with steak, chicken, pork or seafood. Add extra flavor by marinating your protein ahead of time, or use recipes for pre-planned fruits and veggies to achieve a nice harmony of flavors to compliment your meat. Remember to consider cooking time — less dense protein like shrimp and salmon will pair well with softer, fast-cooking company.

When you achieve true kebab mastery, you’ll find you can get creative with different veggies and proteins, even when making a quick-cooking protein like fish. The trick is to slice your denser kebab components more thinly. This will allow them to cook at the same rate as thicker cuts of less dense fruits, veggies and protein. So for example, you could do a Polynesian-inspired kebab with thinly cut steak, bell pepper slices, shrimp and thick-cut pineapple.

2. Meats of All Kinds

While we started with kebabs, you naturally can’t talk about cooking things over an open flame without talking about cooking all the meats. Steak, chicken, pork, lamb and fish also taste great when cooked effectively over an open flame. If you’re reading this, you’re probably no stranger to the delicious flavor of a rib-eye or filet cooked over a charcoal grill. Making meat over a fire is a part of any basic cooking repertoire for many, but you can get more creative.

Bacon cooked on a skewer over an open flame tastes amazing, and since it comes neatly packed in plastic, you can carry your bacon with you to a camping cookout or bonfire on the beach. There are many ways to plan a red-meat meal that diverts from the oh-so-traditional steak cooked on a barbecue. A camp stove is just a grated metal separator that you can place over an open flame to make beautifully charred meats.

3. Hot Dogs, Sausages and More

We can’t go on without discussing hot dogs. While some people look down on these tube-shaped protein-pops, hot dogs and their upper-class cousins, sausages, are wonderful when cooked over an open fire. For a more authentic flavor, avoid the health-conscious stuff like turkey dogs and go for all-beef dogs with a little more fat. Of course, toppings are a very personal decision — ketchup, mustard and sour relish comprise America’s three most popular toppings. It’s likely you’ve seen more creative toppings such as chili, mayonnaise and cheese.

If you enjoy the easy-to-eat nature of hot dogs but want a bolder flavor and a little more provenance, it’s time to go with some sausage. Artisan-made sausage can be found everywhere from your organic grocer to the butcher shop to the local farmer’s market. Flavors run the gamut from spicy Italian to classic Andouille to sweeter flavors like chicken apple. Serve ’em up on their own, sliced with vegetables and rice, or on a bun.

Don’t forget that whenever a bun is involved, you’ll enjoy your meal more by brushing it with some butter or oil and allowing it to crisp up on the grill for a couple of minutes. For extra credit, get out the pastry rolls and make some flame-grilled pigs-in-a-blanket.

4. Baked (er, Grilled) Potatoes

Cooked over an open flame, these easy-to-make spuds are a wonderful side dish for all sorts of meals. Plus, they’re easy to package and keep for a few days in foil, which means you can take pre-wrapped potatoes with you on the trail for a campfire meal that’s a lot more authentic than eating something freeze-dried out of a bag. Here’s what to do.

Prepare your potatoes ahead of time by slicing them most of the way in half. Add your seasonings — salt, pepper and any dried seasoning will keep, as will butter in all but the warmest climates. However, don’t add fresh vegetables or bacon bits unless you’ll cook these the same day. Poke holes in the potatoes for steam to escape, and then wrap in two layers of tin foil. Cook for about 10 minutes and then flip and cook for another 10 minutes before allowing them to cool.

You’ll need a small camp stove to cook them on, but otherwise these spuds are a snap. As an easy alternative to seasoning ahead of time, feel free to pack your potato toppings in separately if you don’t need to be weight-conscious.

The pre-made tinfoil pouch method is effective for a number of campfire foods and backpacking meals. Those who frequently spend nights on the trail will often use this method to avoid the weirdness and salt-heavy flavors of freeze-dried rations. Camp food doesn’t have to be boring.

5. Corn On the Cob

Here’s another easy vegetable side dish that takes on wonderful flavor when cooked over an open flame. Making corn on the cob this way is probably easier than boiling it, and much more flavorful!

Begin by removing the husks and silks from your corn. Rinse the corn and allow a little of the moisture to remain on it to steam the corn slightly while cooking. Add salt, pepper, butter and wrap in two layers of tinfoil. You can then set the wrapped ears of corn in the hot coals of the fire. You’ll want to arrange some embers so you’re not reaching right into the open flame to retrieve your corn, and we recommend using tongs not your bare hands. Don’t burn yourself and remember to use safety measures.

Once it cools, you’ll have a sweet, crunchy camp treat that goes well with all sorts of other dishes. That was easy, wasn’t it!

6. Marshmallows

Another camping classic here. Yes, the natural tendency is to think of s’mores when you talk about making marshmallows over a fire but you can find other uses for them too. Come to think of it, they’re pretty darn good just toasted off of a stick, or a more sanitary, food-grade steel skewer. Unless you’re one of those twisted people who enjoy “blackened mallow.” To each their own.

Toasted ‘mallows are of course the critical ingredient in a quality s’more, and you can find square marshmallows that are made specifically for use in this type of applications. Many variations on the standard s’more make it fun to experiment. For example, you might use an exotic type of chocolate, add peanut butter, or get truly gourmet and break out the bacon. Because who doesn’t like bacon with, well, everything?

Don’t forget to use your ‘mallows as topping for hot cocoa as well, or even as topping for a campfire berry cobbler or another dessert. They’re not just a one-trick pony!

7. Muffins

Yes, you can make muffins over an open flame. No, they won’t taste like wood fire pizza as long as you pay attention to the type of wood you use to create your fire — different woods allude to different flavorings.

Unless car camping, this recipe would be difficult to pull off when backpacking, but these muffins can still make a great treat for a backyard barbecue and put a new spin on a classic dessert or breakfast food depending on the time of day.

Starting with whole oranges, you’ll use the peels as your Muffin molds. Slice the oranges in half and scoop out the flesh. Prepare your muffin mix according to the instructions on the package and then add the mix into the orange peel muffin molds. Wrap the filled orange peels with heavy-duty foil wrapping, leaving a little space for your mix to expand on the top side of the molds.

Set the wrapped molds into a hot section of coals and allow them to bake for 6-10 minutes, occasionally checking to see how they rise. After allowing another 10 minutes or so to cool, unwrap and enjoy hot, fresh campfire muffins!

8. Pizza

For a wood-fired pizza experience that saves money and offers a much more authentic setting, skip the restaurant. You can do it with a shallow Dutch oven type stove or a pizza stone. Begin by preparing the dough or bring your dough pre-made. Note that it’s easy enough to make the dough in about 20 minutes using a pot, flour, water and rapid yeast.

To achieve the right combination of crispy and doughy texture, you need to shape your pizza dough into your cast iron skillet before putting it on heat. Add some flour so you can flip the dough when the time comes and then press the ball of dough into the shape of the skillet. Once you have a nice even coverage you can place the skillet over the heat and allow it to begin to cook.

The bottom of the dough will become the top of your pizza, so it only needs to cook a few minutes to where it is lightly browned and won’t stick to the skillet. Using a broad spatula, flip the dough and add your sauce and toppings. You should have a way to cover your pizza to cook the toppings thoroughly, but if your recipe calls for cheese it’s best to only cook the pizza part way through with the top on, otherwise you could end up with a soggy mess instead of the crisp, browned cheesy top you want.

You can remove the pizza from the heat, slice it and serve it right from the skillet. You’ll never look at overpriced wood fire pizza the same again now, will you?

9. Canned Pasta

We’re not afraid to go there. Sometimes, when you’ve been on the trail all day and don’t want to cook, it’s time to get out the beef-a-roni. Similar to other recipes we’ve covered, cooking over an open flame involves potential safety hazards. In this case, contents under extreme pressure. Do yourself a favor and use a can opener to poke some ventilation holes. Make sure they’re located at the top of the can, or your dinner will end up in the fire. Failure to do this can result in pasta explosion and potential third-degree burns.

Okay so making canned ravioli over a fire isn’t super complicated but get yourself a grill plate or a least a good stick to move your meal out of the coals when the label has burnt most of the way off. And again, please use safety measures.

Time to Get Cooking

With so many meal options for cooking over an open fire, how can you narrow the list? After you cruise through this list, seek out other open fire cooking recipes as well. You should be pleasantly surprised at how easy it is to cook each of these dishes on the trail or in the backyard.

What’s your favorite open-fire dish? Leave a note in the comments!

Note: This was a guest post.

57 Scientifically-Proven Survival Foods to Stockpile Book Now On Amazon

Hi there. I wanted to briefly let you know that a book I’d been working on for quite a while (and which I expected to release last year) is now available for purchase on Amazon. It’s a book that all preppers really need to read in order to get their survival food pantry correct: 57 Scientifically-Proven Survival Foods to Stockpile.

It actually turned out to be a good thing that I took my time with the book because, not only did I include my original idea of detailing precisely which grocery store foods you should have to maximize your nutrition during an emergency, but I also included details on nearly a dozen bulk foods to add to your pantry as well, each one of which will ensure your most nutritious grocery store foods stretch for as long as possible. (I also explain where to get your bulk foods for the cheapest price and how to easily store them for decades.)

Plus, I choose to add nearly twenty “superfoods” to the list of survival foods as well. These are supplements that will boost nutrition, aid with digestion, support your immune system, and more… all when times are the most stressful. I keep and use all of them in my own home for various reasons and I always ensure I have plenty on-hand for “just in case” scenarios; I suggest you do the same.

Here’s What’s Covered Inside

  • What a healthy diet should include (miss any of these and you’re asking for trouble);
  • The 27 best everyday grocery store foods to stockpile to maximize your intake of fiber, protein, fat, carbs, calories, vitamins and minerals;
  • What 11 bulk foods you should focus on above all others, including where to get them for less and how to properly store your bulk foods for decades;
  • Plus 19 additional “superfoods” to boost nutrition, aid with digestion, and support your immune system when you needed the most;
  • How to make use of everything discussed within once you have it all purchased and properly stockpiled.

Now’s the time to get your survival pantry correct. Grab your copy of the book now to ensure your family is ready for whatever comes your way… and getting your survival food pantry right is a great way to do just that.

How To Utilize Trees For Survival: The Ultimate Guide To Surviving Off Of Trees

Image Credit: https://www.nps.gov/mora/learn/nature/trees.htm

Earth Day always gives us a little time to think about the trees. Planting a tree on Earth Day is a tradition in many places, namely because these life-giving plants help provide clean air and natural resources like wood, as well as habitat for other living creatures.

But trees aren’t just worthy of our appreciation on Earth Day. In fact, you can make use of them so many ways that you’ll be a generally better survivalist just by understanding their many applications. With the right knowledge, trees can provide food and water, shelter and even basic construction materials.

A Long History of Utility

Today, the construction industry is probably the first thing that comes to mind when we consider how important trees are. Lumber from all types of trees is harvested every day around the world to be used as building material, fuel for fires and pulp for paper products. But even before we were building things from trees, hunter/gatherer tribes were collecting nutritious tree nuts as a source of food. They later discovered the value of trees as one component of a farming system.

Prominent historical figures like Thomas Jefferson and George Washington revered these important crops and understood well the value they lent to the North American continent. Before the founding of the United States, indigenous peoples made use of tree-based products like nuts and sap for use in daily life. Nearly every part of a tree can be put to good use, and no one knew it better.

Knowledge of how to get the most from American icons like oak, maple and pine has been handed down for generations. You might be surprised how much there is to know!

Tree-Based Foods

You’ve probably consumed a great many tree-based foods in your life without ever even thinking about it. Tree nuts are the most obvious, with popular and time-honored examples including acorns, walnuts and pine nuts. Almonds, popular edible tree nuts revered for their health benefits, are actually not safe to eat raw in the wild because they contain natural toxins. Stick to the first three if you’re looking for a tree-based snack in the American wild.

In addition to tree nuts, many fruit-bearing trees form the backbone of the exceptional variety of fruits we enjoy nearly year-round in the United States. Apples, peaches and citrus fruit like oranges and tangerines all come from trees, although some are more common in the wilderness than others.

Mulberry trees, while lesser-known to those seeking fruit in the market, can offer a snack while you’re exploring open spaces. Cherry trees are both farmed and naturally occurring. The bright yellow honey locust tree and rare hackberry are native varieties that produce edible fruits and seeds and are less commonly farmed.

Not surprisingly, many types of food-producing trees have been put into large-scale farming operations in places like California, Florida and New York. If you’re a fan of fresh orange juice, you might know how sensitive these farming operations can be. To enjoy the great selection of exotic fruits available to us — a luxury almost no other country enjoys as well as the USA — we have to take care to keep our tree farms healthy and adapt to shifting weather patterns.

Some tree farming operations have even created new forms of hybrid fruit. Examples like the grapple and tangelo take characteristics of naturally occurring fruit and leverage genomics technology to offer an entirely new experience. This genetic experimentation has recently given us the SnapDragon and RubyFrost apples, products of work done at Cornell University. Trees are continuing to provide new sources of food today!

Water, Sap and Resin

In addition to delicious fruits and nuts, trees can provide life-sustaining water and other liquid products, including the popular sap, used for making syrup. In addition to sap, the thick, amber liquid you might think of as sap is in fact a different substance altogether called resin. Pine, fir and ceder trees, along with their relatives in the Pinaceae family, produce resin, which is typically thick and tar-like and makes a much better adhesive than thinner, watery sap.

To collect sap, whether it be for use in making syrup or just to have a drink of the high water-content liquid, bore a hole in the side of a tree and insert a tube for the sap to flow through. You can drink raw sap right from the tree as a source of water. To make the maple syrup or other sweet products requires processing. Called “sugaring,” the process of making syrup involves first setting a tap in place and then allowing enough liquid to pool in your bucket or other collection device so that you can boil off the extra water.

Sugaring rigs vary in their size and design, but a “stereotypical” rig consists of a wood-fired stove with a broad pot or pan at the top. Sap is poured into the pan and kept at a low boil for hours on end. Removing the right amount of water to make syrup and not hard candy takes a little finesse and a lot of practice. However, once it’s ready, maple syrup can be kept for many months as a stable food. It’s a great way to have a treat around and prepare some sugar for a survival situation. Not a bad gift come holiday time either!

Unlike maple syrup, pine tree resin won’t help your breakfast taste better. However, it does have some good-to-know survival uses. It can be collected around a damaged area of the tree, and it will harden when it’s exposed to sunlight. Native Americans have been known to use pine tree resin to close wounds — it’s a natural antiseptic because it keeps moisture from entering the wound, and it can be peeled from the skin once healing is far enough along. It’s also helpful treating rashes and can be made into a tea to treat a sore throat.

Aside from its medicinal uses, resin can be used to help with starting fires, as a sealant to waterproof clothes and shoes and even as glue when it’s combined with crumbled charcoal. To make your glue, heat resin until it’s thin and mix it with the charcoal powder in a ratio that’s two parts resin to one part ash. Use a stick to collect the dark-colored mixture as it cools. The cool glue won’t be good for bonding things, but you can reheat it to apply to a surface when needed.

Additional Medicinal Uses

Many survivalists find tree-based products to be useful for curing ailments along with their nutritional value. Similar to the pine resin tea we mentioned earlier, nature provides us with a slew of natural medicine available just by processing basic tree-derived items. Pine nettle tea, for example, is a famous cure for vitamin C deficiency that early frontiersmen relied on because of the prevalence of scurvy.

Many outdoorsmen still enjoy making pine nettle tea for its woody flavor, and while boiling for too long can remove some of the vitamin C from the brew, you can decide how strong to make it if you’re not in need of saving from scurvy.

Willow tree bark contains salicin, a naturally occurring compound that’s similar in makeup to aspirin. If you’re far from home and in need of pain relief, peel a hunk of bark from a nearby willow and chew it to unlock the tree’s natural anti-inflammatory properties. We’ve listed some additional herbal remedies derived from trees below:

  • The sap of the alder tree can be used to calm itching and wash wounds. Alder leaves and bark can be boiled to make a tea that will reduce a fever.
  • Apple trees provide a number of digestive remedies. Peeled apple tree root can be consumed to cure diarrhea, while stewed unpeeled apples can be used as a laxative. Apple cider with garlic and horseradish can be used to treat skin conditions.
  • Ash tree leaves can be made into a tea to reduce gout, jaundice and rheumatism, and the tea is also a laxative.
  • Tea made from the flowers and berries of the Hawthorne tree can have positive affects for cardiac health and lower blood pressure.
  • Linden and closely related basswood products can calm nerves and are effective remedies for headaches, spasms and pain.
  • Green walnut husks can be slit to produce a sap that’s effective for treating ringworm.
  • Witch hazel is a famous remedy for many conditions. It is anti-inflammatory, hemostatic and antiseptic.

Using Trees for Shelter

Up until now, we’ve been mainly focused on the ways you can use tree-based products by ingesting them. However, trees make an effective survival tool as a form of shelter too. Perhaps you’ve noticed the way a healthy redwood offers shade on a hot day. Maybe you’ve enjoyed climbing the trees in a nearby orchard as a child. Being large and stationary, trees can provide these basic benefits of coverage and a high vantage point, but they can also do a lot more in a survival situation.

If you’re in need of a calm place to set up camp while in the wilderness, a thicket of trees might be just the thing to provide shade and knock down wind that could otherwise interfere with your tent or other camp shelter. Don’t have a tent? Why not just use the trees themselves? Assuming the trees in your area provide suitably hard wood, you can collect large, fallen branches and arrange them in a lean-to to shield yourself and your belongings from animals and elements.

If you can find a large enough dead tree, you can even hunker down inside the hollowed-out trunk itself. Doing so sounds rather idyllic because it is. Finding just such a tree is rare, and if you do plan to use one as shelter, be sure to check its structural integrity. A dead tree with a hollow trunk may not endure a bout of strong wind, and you won’t want to be in it when the upper regions come crashing down. Maybe take a picture and move on.

Of course, wood is an excellent building material, and if time is on your side, you can use tree products to construct your own shelter. You can do so by planting and growing a protective shelter belt to keep wind and elements off your encampment or crops or by harvesting existing wood and constructing a small structure. Using basic tongue-in-groove construction, it’s possible to stand up a simple log building using a good set of trees, a sharp ax and perhaps a few other basic tools. Keep in mind that this undertaking is not a beginner-level project.

An Alaskan mill, a lumber-processing tool that can be built using a fallen log and metal brackets, is a handy way to produce real, right-sized cuts of lumber in the backcountry, but it takes a skilled saw-man to run. Still, in a situation that requires you to fabricate a sturdy wooden structure without help from the kinds of tools you’d find in a larger-scale construction setting, the Alaskan mill is the perennial go-to. If you’re going to look into using one of these, find someone who’s done it, and practice safely getting to know the ins and outs of this tool, as it can be very dangerous.

Man’s Other “Best Friend”

Your dog is probably a lot more fun than a tree, that’s not asking much. But when you consider all the wonderful things trees do for us — providing fresh air, healthy snacks and sustenance for wilderness adventures, handy sap and resin products, medicines and lodging and more — trees are absolutely amazing.

This guide gives you a good overview of the many ways you can benefit from trees in wilderness settings. Hopefully, what you’ve read here will prove useful. There’s so much you can do with the numerous tree-based products covered here and elsewhere. What plans do you have to make use of this new knowledge — are you going to begin brewing pine-nettle tea or harvesting maple sap for use in syrup? Let us know in the comments below!

Note: This was a guest post.

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