Egg Storage Experiment – Week 2 Results

My second week of egg storage with mineral oil is here already. Can’t say I’ll keep up with the posting of pictures but here’s where it stands:

This is the mineral oil egg, no floating (which is good) and no off smell:

egg1-wk2

And here’s the control egg, also no floating and no off smell:

egg2-wk2

Last, I choose to cook and eat the mineral oil egg:

eggs-wk2

Fortunately, it tasted good and I didn’t die (my two criteria for a good day) and even though the control egg appeared to be fine I wasn’t going to risk it. We’ll see how brave I’ll continue to be as the weeks press on. Like I mentioned in previous posts on the subject, it just seems so foreign to me to eat eggs that haven’t been refrigerated. Anyway, happy egg storing!

How to Make Homemade Remineralizing Toothpaste

I’ve had bad luck with my dental health for… well, forever! Must be bad genes (no offense, mom and dad!). My kids have problems too. Even weird ones like losing teeth too early and, yes, we know our dentist and orthodontist quite well. We’ve tried an assortment of toothbrushes, natural toothpastes (including ones without fluoride), various mouthwashes, and so on. And, I would like to think our diet is descent. So, we’re going to try something I had only recently encountered: remineralizing toothpaste.

What in the world is that, you say?

Well, it turns out that it may be possible for your teeth to re-grow (actually, remineralize) and heal themselves! I don’t know if the claims are true or not but I have read some interesting anecdotal evidence online and figured why not give it a shot.

I began scouring the WWW for the “best” recipe. Actually, I was looking for something that included very basic ingredients, especially those I already had around the house, but not much luck.

Here’s what I came up with (original article here):

Calcium Carbonate Powder

I’m not entirely sure why this is important, but I would suspect it has something to do with the fact that your teeth are, in part, made up of calcium (as well as phosphorous and mineral salts… whatever those are).

APPROX. COST: $8

AMOUNT TO USE: 5 parts

Diatomaceous Earth [Optional]

First, ensure it’s food grade. Second, apparently diatomaceous earth is not entirely necessary because the baking soda shown below should act as an abrasive, so it’s up to you whether you get some. I choose not to buy any, but diatomaceous earth has plenty of other uses, such as for food storage and even pest control.

APPROX. COST: $12

AMOUNT TO USE: 1 part

Baking Soda

This we did have at home, and plenty of it! Apparently, it acts as an abrasive and is found in nearly all natural toothpaste recipes known to mankind.

APPROX. COST: $9

AMOUNT TO USE: 2 parts

Xylitol Powder [Optional… sort of]

Used to keep the toothpaste from tasting bitter. They say it isn’t necessary but who wants to brush with bitter-tasting toothpaste? I sure don’t!

APPROX. COST: $10

AMOUNT TO USE: 3 parts

Coconut Oil

Used to get desired texture. We already had some of this as well.

APPROX. COST: $9

AMOUNT TO USE: 3-5 parts

Other Ingredients [Optional… not really]

Any number of essential oils can be used for flavor, including peppermint, cinnamon, lemon, orange, etc. Again, it may not be necessary but I prefer to have a little enjoyment while I’m brushing. 🙂

APPROX. COST: $7

AMOUNT TO USE: several drops

The above product list includes everything that can go into this remineralizing recipe. And if you bought it all then the total bill would run around $55, and that doesn’t include shipping… yikes!

Before you go jump off a bridge, realize that these ingredients would be enough to make toothpaste for the entire family for years on end (with the possible exception of the calcium carbonate). Now, considering that we spend several dollars per tube of toothpaste for the “natural” stuff, I was willing to give this a shot, especially since we already had a few of the ingredients at home.

Preparation and Storage

  1. Simply mix the dry ingredients together (calcium carbonate, diatomaceous earth, baking soda, xylitol powder) into a clean bowl.
  2. Add the coconut oil until you get a toothpaste-like consistency.
  3. Add a few to several drops of your favorite essential oil for flavoring.
  4. Store in a container with a tight-fitting lid and keep out of sunlight.

To use, dip a clean toothbrush in or, better yet, apply the toothpaste to your toothbrush using a popsicle stick, spoon, clean finger… ok, probably not your finger; you get the idea.

My Experience (and a problem)

Here’s what my mixed toothpaste looked like (click to enlarge):

remineralizing-toothpaste

I used teaspoons in place of parts for the ingredients and ended up with something that sort of resembled toothpaste when I was done:

  • 5 tsp calcium carbonate
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 3 tsp xylitol powder
  • 3 tsp coconut oil (I had to melt it before use because it had solidified)
  • several drops Lemon essential oil

Before adding the essential oil I tasted it… yuck! I guess I would have used it if I had no other choice but in my opinion: ADD FLAVORING! We wound up using lemon (I would have preferred peppermint but we didn’t have any around) and briefly considered cinnamon as well, which might have been better than lemon. There is also a gritty feeling at first but that seems to vanish when actually brushing. Anyway, I can’t say the recipe is awesome but it is serviceable and will take some time to get accustomed to. By the way, teaspoons didn’t make a lot of toothpaste, so in the future I think I’ll use tablespoons.

The Problem

One thing I ran into was that the toothpaste had solidified again later that night–I assume because the coconut oil had solidified–and aside from breaking off chunks it simply was not usable. So, rather than throwing it out I took a cheese grater to it and turned it into something similar to Dr. Bronner’s toothpaste (soap) that we had used years ago. Shredding it seems to work out ok but I find it difficult to keep the shavings on my toothbrush as I seem to lose half of it into the sink. I’ve tried putting the shavings on my tongue first and like a baseball player would dip tobacco but I haven’t found a “style” that I really like yet. Will keep trying though.

How about you? Have you tried this recipe or anything similar? Any luck or disappointments?

The Probability Spectrum of Disasters

rainbowThe probability spectrum of disasters isn’t anything new but it does bear being reminded of from time to time. In fact, I did not come up with the idea on my own. I’m sure I’ve seen it elsewhere before but the first time I remember hearing of it was from Jack Spirko of TheSurvivalPodcast.com and more recently in this SurvivalistBoards thread.

What is it?

It is simply the act of thinking and planning about emergency situations given the likelihood of them occurring to you. This makes perfect sense to me. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read on forums or other blogs posts where somebody–usually a prepping newcomer but it could be anyone–talk about a singular threat that they’re sure is going to happen and that everything they want to know is how to prepare for that one event. The threat of an EMP is a prime example.

While I understand how this can happen to someone, it’s completely illogical to think this way. For one, if you’re prepared for life in general then you will most likely be prepared for any disaster that you can deal with and two, preparing for a singular threat is probably not the disaster that’s going to happen to you… it’s just math.

Instead, the best way to prepare yourself and your family is to use the probability matrix, sphere, hierarchy, or whatever you prefer to call it. The thinking is that you should prepare yourself for personal disasters first, local disasters second, regional third, and nationwide (or even worldwide) last. At least, that’s the way I see it.

Still not convinced?

Ask yourself this: does it make more sense to prepare yourself for a job loss (a personal disaster) or pandemic (national disaster)? If you look at the likelihood of these two very distinct scenarios happening to you, I think it’s safe to assume that a job loss is more likely and, therefore, should be prepared for first. Well, that’s the idea, anyway.

Fortunately, many disasters have very common needs, such as water, food, shelter, heating, etc. Sure, some have very specific needs such as an EMP needing appropriate shielding for your gear or a pandemic maybe requiring quality face masks or sheltering in place. But, if you prepare for life in general then you should be fairly well prepared for most anything and, equally important, if you choose to focus on more likely disasters first then you’ll have given yourself the best possible chance for overcoming it.

Here’s the spectrum as I see it and some examples…

  • Personal disasters are the most likely statistically and affect nobody besides you and your family (not even the neighbors). Examples include job loss, injury (requiring serious medical attention or inability to work), home fire, robbery, chronic illness. Prepare for these possibilities first because they’re most likely.
  • Local disasters could be anything that affects your neighborhood or maybe even a city. Perhaps it’s a boil water order or maybe a tornado that wipes out a town (e.g., tornado that hit Greensburg, Kansas a few years ago).
  • Regional disasters are what most people think of when we discuss disasters. These could affect a wide range of people and often result in the declaration of a Presidential Disaster Order. Examples include a hurricane (e.g., Hurricane Sandy) or the winter blizzard that affected the northeast for weeks on end several years ago. They affect a wide range of people.
  • National disasters (or worldwide) are statistically least likely to occur to YOU (in your lifetime) but that doesn’t mean they can’t happen. Examples include a pandemic (e.g., 1918 Spanish flu or the Bubonic Plague that devastated Europe in the Middle Ages) or even the possibility of an EMP from a rouge nation or perhaps the sun. These are the least likely events to occur.

I’m not saying you can’t or should not prepare for a pandemic or EMP, not at all. Just don’t choose to start there if you’re not ready for the more likely scenarios. And, like I said earlier, many of your needs will overlap. Food storage will always be useful if you can’t buy groceries for a few weeks due to a job loss or an EMP wipes out the grid and semi-trucks aren’t hauling goods for months on end.

Hope that helps you get your priorities in order!

Review of RazorPit Men’s Razor Blade Sharpener

A reader comment in my So, I’ve Been Saving My Disposable Razors Lately post pointed out that I could extend the life of the razor blades I’ve been saving using a product I hadn’t heard of before: the RazorPit. This sounded like something I NEEDED to try so I bought one immediately, even without reading reviews!

According to the Amazon product description:

  • RazorPit Saves You Money up to 90% on Razor Blades
  • RazorPit Increases Shaves per Blade from 10 Shaves to 100 Shaves
  • RazorPit features a Patented Friction Razor Sharpening and Cleaning Technology
  • RazorPit Sharpener Works on All Razors and Razors Blades
  • RazorPit is Made from Recyclable Materials and Reduces the Waste of Disposable Blades

Those are some bold claims. So, I tried it myself and what I found was encouraging. First, the RazorPit seems to be a very smooth piece of molded rubber and honestly nothing more. To use, apply shaving cream to the disposable razor head and then, with firm pressure, push the blade along the RazorPit in the opposite direction of normal use four times, rinse, dry. That’s it.

I thought, it couldn’t be THAT easy, could it?

Well, I choose to use the RazorPit on all of the disposable blades that I had been saving and then randomly selected one blade from the baggie I keep them in. I choose to wait four or five days before shaving for very good reason: it’s just long enough for a dull blade to pull whiskers quite a bit yet not long enough for a brand new razor to not work good; if I had waited a week, for example, even a brand new blade would pull a bit.

What did I find?

Well, it’s better than I honestly expected but not quite what the manufacturer claims. The “cleaned” yet dull blade worked much better than it would have if I had not used the RazorPit but wasn’t quite like it was brand new because I could tell that it pulled whiskers a bit. That said, I was still pleased with the results.

Why does it work?

Apparently, this simple cleaning action removes microscopic hairs and skin cells that cause the blades to “feel” dull. I would say that the blades still dull a bit from use and over time this cleaning won’t do much good. That said, if I can extend the use of even a single blade to double it’s normal use that’s awesome.

Am I happy with the purchase?

Considering that I spend seven or eight dollars on a set of just five Mach 3 razor blades, the RazorPit could well pay for itself in just a few months. So, yes, I’m generally happy with my purchase.

Two Neat Videos to Share Today (not YouTube videos)

I ran acrosss two links to videos that I thought were neat to share but not the typical YouTube videos… enjoy!

Video 1: Secret Hidden Exterior Door Entrance (very cool hidden door idea)

Video 2: How to Chop Wood Without Messing Around (I would think this only works well with very dry soft woods but it’s still neat to see in action)

High Yield Low Cost Barter Items

fish-hookBarter items are often discussed as a necessary prep. Generally, I discourage people from stockpiling barter items because you really should be focusing on what you and your family can use and will need to survive… it seems there’s always something that you haven’t bought yet–I know I always have this problem–or that you can buy more of. Only when these needs have been sufficiently met should you really consider barter items because, whether I like it or not, you really can’t expect to have everything one needs to live (and do so comfortably) and so it never hurts to have a few things on hand.

That said, if you’re going to stockpile items for barter then it can’t hurt to get the most “bang for the buck” if-you-will and purchase items that may have  a high desirability and relatively low cost. Precious metals would be the antithesis of what I’m talking about. Just to be clear, I’m not saying you shouldn’t include precious metals in your preps if you can afford to do so as they are the ultimate wealth preserver, but consider about how desirable a gold bar would be to someone who just wants their next meal.

I might also point out that weapons and ammo are not great barter items for the simple fact that you never want to barter anything that could later be used against you! Or, perhaps, don’t barter with people you don’t generally trust.

I’ve also see people recommend bartering skills and/or information rather than finite goods which is a great idea but not what this post is about either. The criteria for this post is that the barter item should be relatively inexpensive to purchase today but potentially have significant use or desirability if that item is no longer available. Granted, this list could get very large and you’re welcome to add your own thoughts in the comments. Here’s a start:

  • Salt (especially for those living inland) – there’s a reason why Roman soldiers were paid in salt! It’s necessary for life and makes a great seasoning.
  • Inexpensive alcohol (such as cheap vodka) – some will do anything for a good drink during hard times and if it’s high enough proof (such as Everclear) it can be used to sterilize wounds and start things on fire.
  • Disposable lighters (and matches too) – the easiest way to start a fire guaranteed.
  • Fishing gear (small hooks, line, etc) – these things get lost, break, etc. An alternative would be netting but that’s not very cheap.
  • Feminine pads – useful for the obvious reason as well as for trauma dressing or gauze pad and plenty more.
  • Disposable razors – personal hygiene will still be appreciated.
  • Spices (anything and everything but especially consider pepper) – there’s a reason why Columbus sailed the seas looking for spices as they turn bland meals into culinary delights.
  • Vegetable seeds – everyone needs to eat and small packets of vegetable seeds could be worth their weight in your favorite precious metal.
  • Sewing needles and thread – clothes may need to be kept in good repair for a lot longer than we’re accustomed to.
  • Fasteners and adhesives (nails, screws, glue, epoxies, etc) – settlers used to burn down their houses just so they could retrieve the nails used to build it before they moved on. Adhesive could prove similarly useful.
  • Coffee singles – it’s a similar need/desire to alcohol for some people. Vacuum sealed they could last quite a while but it’s probably better to store green coffee beans if your interest is for barter.
  • Nail clippers – I thought I would throw one in there you didn’t expect! Again, nail clippers or chew them off… you choose.
  • Chocolate – while not a great item for long term storage, I consider it the third “addiction” most people have (me included).
  • Cooking oils – these could be worth their weight in gold considering that we need fats to survive. Besides, they could be used as makeshift lighting and even as a lubricant in some cases.

Now, there are plenty of other items that could be included as useful barter items but didn’t quite make my criteria of low cost, such as antibiotics, fuel (per gallon, anyway), alkaline batteries, sterile gauze pads,  etc.

What items would you include that I did not?

Egg Storage Experiment – Week 1 Results

Last Monday I posted about my interest in storing eggs with mineral oil for long term storage. FYI, I have one carton of eggs stored with mineral oil and one carton as a control group (no mineral oil) both of which are setting out on my countertop. Well, week one is over (I actually started this experiment a week ago on Friday night) and here are the results…

This is the control egg (no mineral oil):

egg1-wk1

And this is the mineral oil egg:

egg2-wk1

As you can see, neither egg floated (floating is bad) so that suggests they are still good. Just to be sure, I cracked both open, sniffed, and laid them out on a plate:

eggs-wk1

So, which one is which? I would have known the difference but for the record, the egg on the left is the mineral oil egg. Had I not already eaten eggs that morning I might have given it a shot eating them… will have to try again next week.

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