Egg Storage Experiment – Week 6 Results (and what should be my next experiment?)

Not much has changed from last week. Here’s the mineral oil egg (it didn’t float, smelled fine, tasted fine):


…and here’s it cooking on the stove:


This is the control egg (it floated, didn’t really smell funny at all either before or after being cracked):


What should be my next experiment?

I feel like Saturday’s would be a good day for experiments like this one. I’m not looking to do anything really labor-intensive or costly but if you have any interesting ideas, I would be grateful to hear them.

Lackluster Top Blogs, Retort Canning, and Some Vindication for Me

I figured I would share a few things that have been on my mind lately…

Lackluster top blogs…

If it isn’t obvious to long time readers by now, I spend a lot of my time following MANY blogs in order to bring you the most interesting and useful content each day. Of these blogs, I certainly follow the “big dogs” including,, and to name what I consider the biggest out there (at least the biggest blogs with POSITIVE content)… there are other very large “negative” sites out there that you really need to stop paying attention to because they’re just bringing you down.

Anyway, the problem I’m running into is that I just don’t seem to find much content of interest or of use from these “top dog” blogs lately. Granted, I have entire pages dedicated to both the SurvivalBlog and TheSurvivalPodcast so obviously they have provided a ton of awesome content over the years, but lately it seems like it’s been lackluster at best. Instead, I seem to find a majority of the information that I consider useful and worthy of mention from second-tier websites and even plenty of “no-name” sites too.

What do you think? Has something changed with these top sites, such as their philosophies and interests… or is it just me? Maybe I’m moving on? Are you still following them as intently as you might have been?

Retort canning (using mylar bags)…

This is something I’ve never heard of before; that is, using mylar bags to “can” foods. I’ve always assumed that you can only successfully can using mason jars, but this SurvivalistBoards thread on retort canning at home linked to an eBay page that talks about retort canning and includes several videos about it. I can’t say it’s a great way to “can” but I would like to learn a bit more about the idea. If you know anything about it I would like to hear what you have to say.

As for my vindication…

A few weeks ago I posted an article titled There’s More to Proper Food Storage Than You Think where I suggested that vacuum sealing isn’t all it’s cracked up to be with regards to proper food storage. Then I recently read this post at on Vacuum Sealing Can Be Hazardous to Your Health which tends to agree with my original statements… yeah me. 🙂

Likewise, a few months ago I posted an article titled Think Twice Before Bringing Your Gun to Bed that got a few comments suggesting I may have been wrong in my assumptions. Just this week I happened upon a SurvivalistBoards thread with the title Cant believe I am even admitting this where a guy details his early morning accidental discharge event; seems like he wasn’t quite with it as he was functioning his firearm.

So, that’s what’s been on my mind this week with regards to the world of prepping. Have a great weekend!

You Really Need a Different Outlook on Laundry During and After a Disaster

laundryThe washing machine and dryer seem to always have a load of something going, from clothes to bath towels and bedsheets. And, with the recent experience of the washing machine breaking while many people were in town, the laundry really did pile up. Even if it were just us, going a week or two without doing any laundry would turn into a minor annoyance.

Granted, we could go a week or two and get through it but what if it turns out that we had to go months without resumption of water or electricity? There were some people affected by various disasters (hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes) that have had this problem. Not doing laundry for this long could then turn into a health risk.

I’d like to think I would be ready since I have a sturdy family-sized washboard, I’ve made the 5-gallon bucket washing system , I have both a traditional clothesline and the umbrella style, I want to buy a Wonderwash soon, but all of these solutions are very limited in what can be washed at any one time; moreover, I’m not even going to consider the water required to do laundry. In my opinion, there’s a very small likelihood that we would be willing to keep up with the laundry as usual if we had to rely solely on our emergency gear.

So, what’s the solution?

Rethink your laundry habits! Most of us are accustomed to wearing clothing once during the day and then tossing it in the hamper without a second thought. My kids are notorious–though getting better–for wanting to change their clothes more than once a day (usually upon returning home from school) and I can’t imagine the laundry if we had a teenage daughter. 😉

When you’re faced with a significant emergency, especially a longer-term one, then you really need to reconsider all of your habits and laundry is a bigger one than you might think. You may very well find yourself purposely wearing the same clothes for days on end or even re-wearing shirts and pants that you would have otherwise tossed in the hamper. In fact, it might be a good rule that if your clothing is obviously dirty or very smelly then they get worn until they’re obviously grungy.

The only exception I would make to the above rule is for underclothes; these should be washed and rotated out more regularly for the obvious reason that they’re in constant contact with your body. The good news is that you can easily wash several pairs of undergarments at one time with most of the aforementioned gear thereby saving time and water.

In fact, this might be a good time to designate one or two pairs of clothes that would be considered the “outside” or “work” clothes for times where you may need to get dirty fixing things, working the garden, and so on. These clothes would purposely be left dirty (within reason) and only donned when you need to go outside and get dirty. In so doing, you would cut down on laundry needs dramatically.

I would also like to mention one other thing, and that’s bath towels. Around our house we take bath towels and fold them over a few times before hanging on the towel rack (like most people do) after bathing. Normally, this is rarely a problem in an air conditioned house but I would suspect that we could be in for a potential mold problem if we did this in a home that was not adequately air conditioned, such as after a summertime disaster in the south or midwest. So, instead hang towels over either a clothesline or maybe the back of a chair when not being used so they have the best chance of drying out. This could be said about any clothing, not just bath towels.

The point here is to think about little things like this. Sure, you could get by and make do but small tweaks like this could keep the aftermath of a disaster from being even worse. Hope that helps!

Review of Columbus Family Size Washboard

The very first thing I noticed about this Columbus Family Size Washboard is that it was much smaller than I had anticipated. It stands at most two feet tall and includes a rubbing surface area of roughly 11″ x 11″. I guess I didn’t bother to pay much attention to the dimensions when I bought it since I assumed a family-sized washboard would be, well… bigger!

Of course, you’re only working on one article of clothing at a time, rubbing different sections of the clothes each time, so maybe it doesn’t have to be that big. While I don’t have a lot of experience with it (I used our recent washing machine problem to test it out a bit) many people swear that it’s large enough to clean towels, yet small enough to work well on socks.

I can say that I feel the unit is sturdy enough to put up with some abuse. Before using it, I tried to see how well-built it might be (by twisting and pulling at various angles) and without trying REALLY hard it didn’t seem to budge at all. Anyway, it’s made with a wood frame (I’m guessing pine) which is sanded very smoothly without any splinters or rough edges. It also includes a metal rubbing surface which also seems to be without any imperfections that could cause snags or otherwise harm delicate clothes. That said, I would suspect the metal would probably dent if I dropped it from a significant distance, though, it didn’t seem to have any noticeable give while using it to wash clothes.

Cost from Amazon is right at $25, which isn’t bad for something that could last for many years if cared for properly. Maybe you could build one yourself but I would suspect that properly re-creating the metal rubbing surface could be a bit challenging, especially for those that don’t have any metal working experience like me.

The real question is: how well does it work? Well, it starts with knowing how to use a washboard . It’s obviously manual labor and may not be the best option for those people with back problems (because you’re bending over a lot) or those with joint problems. Regardless, I would assume that once you get the hang of it then you can wash a single article of clothing in just a minute or two without much problem. I feel like I spent at least a few minutes on each item I washed (a pair of jeans, shirt, and a few socks) mostly because I wasn’t entirely sure I was doing anything productive.

You also need to pay attention to how you wash clothes with a washboard. Instead of wetting (or working with) an entire pair of jeans, for example, I think it works better to wet and wash parts of it at a time in order to make repeated lifting a bit less strenuous. I found that washing a t-shirt wasn’t too bad but a full, wet pair of jeans could get tiresome. I can see that I also need a better plan for where I’m going to use my washboard (a bathtub is an obvious location) as I didn’t have a bin that I thought would work well. I’m thinking a bus boy style bin might suffice but still need to try it.

In my opinion, I would suggest that a washboard is a tried-and-true method for washing clothes; however, I think I will save the washboard for those clothes that were significantly soiled and use other methods (such as a Wonderwash or 5-gallon bucket system) for more normal washing needs.

What if The Shoe Were on The Other Foot and You Were The Safe Haven?

safe-havenWith a ton of family in town this past week (especially over the weekend) I got to thinking what if the shoe were on the other foot? That is, what if we had to be the safe haven for family and friends who had to evacuate? Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy are prime examples. In this case, it’s not that the disaster has hit you specifically so it’s not like your electricity, food, or water resources have been affected but housing could very well be. Of course we would help out as much as we could, but with so many people in town and at our house I got to thinking about how much of a logistical problem this could turn into if things were a bit different.

Obviously, these people came with their own clothes, toiletries, money, and so on. But, what if they hadn’t, and all they had were the clothes on their back? That would be a significant burden for sure. Since they’re family and likely close friends you would do everything you could to care for them within a bit of reason, but you can’t do it all. Surely some of your preps would come in handy, from stored food to extra toothbrushes and, no doubt, the 400+ rolls of toilet paper in the garage. 🙂

Anyway, a problem I can see cropping up is what happens if not only family and close friends show up but maybe they unexpectedly bring their friends or even some neighbors? You know, the people they bar-b-que with every Sunday for the past 20 years. Now we’re talking about a LOT of people, some of which you may not even know and now you may be expected to care for them for an indefinite amount of time. That would get old very fast… even if it were just family and friends.

I can hear you saying they should get a hotel, stay in the local FEMA camp, or whatever. But, what if so many people have evacuated to your area and there simply isn’t anywhere else to go? I think places like Houston had this problem during Katrina. The point ist hat you may very well be stuck with them, like it or not. I can tell you that even after just a few days I was ready for everyone to go back from where they came and these were all of my wife’s family and close friends!

Regardless of where they should stay or for how long, there’s also another problem once you’ve taken everybody in, and that’s how do you logistically deal with all of them? Instead of just your normal family you may now have four or five times that many people at your home. We had dozens of people here for days on end and, fortunately, quite a few of them had other places to go. Still, it was a mad house. We had people staying everywhere, from in bedrooms and on couches to blow-up mattresses (a few of which were borrowed). We used every blanket and comforter in the house, not to mention towels I didn’t even know we had.

And you know the best part?…

The washing machine went belly-up just as most people arrived!! So, off to the local laundromat and the laundry keeps piling up along with dishes, dishes, and more dishes… and that’s even with using a ton of paper plates, cups, utensils and so on. The water heater never stopped and I’m pretty sure we started our own soup kitchen. Well, it wasn’t that bad. 🙂 Many friends and neighbors did bring meals, which was a blessing.

So, the moral of the story is to contemplate what you would do if you had to be the safe haven for literally dozens of people? Where would they sleep? What about privacy? How would you feed them? What about bathroom and shower schedules (yeah, it could get that bad)? If they stay for longer than a day or two, how would others be expected to help out? What if they don’t? How about quiet time when the kids need to go to sleep because they have school the next day?

Perhaps the biggest questions are: would you be open to allowing this situation? Would your spouse? How many people could you house if you had to? And, what would you do if you had to turn people away (maybe even friends or family)? Could you?

And the most important question of all…

When have they officially overstayed their welcome and now it’s time for them to move on?

COMMUNICATIONS: A Different Side Of The Story by MorrisB

We all recognize the importance of communications in an emergency and hopefully most of us have taken steps to address that need. Many articles, in fact have been written stressing the importance of being able to communicate for families trying to locate whereabouts of family members when a disaster hits; group link-ups, caravan coordination and tactical teams out on exploratory missions are examples. Further, effective communications are critical to determine the extent of the disaster or threat and whether buggin’ in or evacuation might be required.

CB, FRS, GMRS and Ham radios have been suggested. And to compliment that two-way capability it is necessary to monitor news and government announcements about the crisis. Emergency services scanners provide on-time responses and reports by police and other services. As important as this is in your planning and incorporation into your preparedness capability, allow me to share a different perspective. First of all, the comments above and all of the related articles focus on immediate, post-disaster needs (and do not take into consideration training and equipment capability efforts) and I need to emphasize that short of an EMP attack or regional earthquake sort of emergency, most serious threats will likely be somewhat slow in occurring. It is critical that we read the “tea leaves” to properly respond.

Now, how do we know what is really going on out in that great big world? We realize that the main stream media–TV, such as the NBC, CBS and CNN types, or the print media such as the New York Times provide a slanted view of what’s current news. Even the Fox News focus’s on the big national events or human interest stories. We preppers get most of our information from various blogs and websites on the internet as you are doing now. Okay so what, you ask? Well, let’s make believe we’re a little paranoid for a minute. What have we been reading or seeing on TV? Current coverage is about the threat of cyber warfare tapping into the computers on the major news sources, big business corporations and even government agencies,

possibly by sources in China. The government has even suggested that terrorists might utilize the internet for nefarious purposes.

Are we being de-sensitized to the government planning on taking over control of the internet? It certainly could be interpreted that way. And what might be the result of government regulation of the internet? Control! Any website that promotes independence from the scrutiny of a government agency, be committed to the U.S. Constitution or who questions governmental policies or even be affiliated with the NRA or Tea Party may be put “off line” or be required to take a more politically correct policy.

Might that happen? We’ve read of president’s having some kind of a “hit list.” The current president has untold “czar’s” regulating our federal agencies resulting in monstrous paperwork requirements or impossible objectives. Just ask some of the coal companies for an example. Yeah, but what’s that got to do with me and my preparedness efforts you may ask?

Well, you can’t adequately prepare or have enough info (spelled intelligence) to decide to bug out of the city before everyone else unless you read honest, forthright and current thoughts and information from an open internet. And an oppressive government may not be the only thing to limit meaningful information. An EMP attack may knock out our whole information-sharing system.

What can we do? Locally, we can contact our local paper and see if they can, and will share preparedness information and advise to your hometown community. The overall health of your community affects your personal ability to successfully survive the threat. Or you can approach the editor and emphasize all of the natural disasters that seem to be occurring all over the country recently and ask him if you can write a weekly column in the paper on preparedness tips. And if you’re speaking in behalf of the Red Cross or your local CERT team, you’ll have more credibility to the editor and community.

For longer range information input get in contact with your local ham radio club and arrange for a system of general information sharing to the community by sharing reports they receive. Attempting to make contact via CB radio with the long-haul truck drivers might be another source of more distant information if the regular media sources are somehow shut down. When TSHTF, I’m sure they’ll be more than happy to talk about what they’ve seen or heard. And finally, if an EMP attack or major solar flare shuts the grid down, the only means of information in the community might be regular messages posted in the town square or local super market. And finally, in the
unlikely circumstance that we see an overly oppressive government implement martial law and shut down or control all media (it is one of the current, but stand-by executive orders) you might want to utilize that means of communication used by the patriots before the Revolutionary War–Committees of Correspondence. But remember, you have to know what is going on and have a way to share that
information and it’s called communications.


Egg Storage Experiment – Week 5 Results

Real quick, here are the results from week 5 of the experiment…

This is the mineral oil egg. It didn’t float, smelled fine, looked good:


This is the control egg. It floated (just like last week), the yolk is broken down, and I thought it might have smelled a bit funny but I was in a rush with everyone in town:


Here are the eggs together. The mineral oil egg is on the left, control on the right:


List of No-Cook, Ready to Eat Foods

candyAs much as we like to live well as preppers and maybe even cook the occasional gourmet food storage meal, there’s also plenty of room for making your life as easy as possible when times are tough. In this case, it’s about food that can be eaten without much–if any–work whatsoever.

This list of no-cook foods may be obvious to most but it never hurts to have a reminder as to what can be eaten without any additional effort. After all, if you’re truly trying to survive the immediate aftermath of an emergency then I’m sure the last thing you want to do is to cook a meal. Sometimes the best we can do is grab something quick to fill our tummies.

Hopefully this list helps you more easily prepare yourself and your family for even the smallest of disruptions in your life. Note that this list is in no particular order:

  • canned meats (tuna, chicken, spam, etc)
  • canned soups (beef stew, clam chowder, chili, pork and beans, etc)
  • canned fruits (mixed fruit, pineapple, etc)
  • canned veggies (anything is edible)
  • most anything packaged (except for foods that require boiling water, for example)
  • emergency bars (Mainstay, Datrex, etc)
  • trail mix (a great snack food)
  • granola bars
  • beef jerky
  • fresh fruit and veggies
  • popcorn (pre-popped, of course)
  • snack foods (chips, pretzels, crackers, etc)
  • sweet foods (cookies, graham crackers, pastries, etc)
  • breakfast grab-and-go foods (poptarts)
  • sports drinks (Gatorade)
  • juice drinks
  • applesauce
  • baby food (for the baby!)
  • mres
  • shelf stable milks (almond milk or dry milk powder)
  • peanut butter
  • cereal (you name it, you can eat it)
  • freeze dried foods (will need water)
  • nuts, seeds
  • dried fruits
  • candy
  • bread, rolls
  • oatmeal (yes, you can eat it dry but even hydrated in cold water is better)
  • gum (not exactly something to eat but it keeps your mouth busy)
  • pudding and jello (shelf stable, of course)
  • ramen noodles (same considerations as for oatmeal)
  • fruit leather
  • various ethnic foods (Indian food)

So, what did I miss?

5 Skills Every Prepper Should Learn

fiveI happened upon a link to a post at with a very similar title (I “borrowed heavily” for this post) and began reading because, after all, who doesn’t like lists?

To summarize, the list included 10 skills: stick welding, small engine repair, how to fish, how to butcher animals, learn to trap, gunsmithing, basic carpentry, auto repair, ham radio, hunting, advanced first aid.

I looked at the list and thought, “ok, I understand, sort of” but it’s not what I would consider skills that everyone should learn. After all, I can’t think of a time I’ve ever needed to stick weld anything, after all, I’m pretty sure that’s why they invented duct tape. 😉 Most of the rest of the list is understandable and would also be good skills to have.

For this post I’m thinking about 5 skills that preppers should learn. Of course, this is just my humble opinion. Take from it what you will…

  1. Basic wound care – I think we tend to underestimate how critical proper wound care is to our health given that we not only have the proper supplies to care for wounds but the knowledgeable personnel to help us we we need more than just a bandage. The same can be said for the fact that we live in fairly sanitary conditions with proper waste disposal and clean water. When these things either disappear or become compromised then the possibility for disease from a simple cut increase substantially. Just knowing how to properly clean and dress a wound is good knowledge. Likewise, supplementing that with knowing how to pack a deep wound, understanding when (and when not to) close a wound, what an infected would looks like, and more could mean the difference between life and death. These are important “basic” skills to have and should not be underestimated. There are any number of ways to learn these skills, including watching various videos I have in the Video Vault, buy some first aid books, read medical references I keep in my Guide to the Net pages, etc.
  2. The ability to shoot a firearm – Your ability to protect not only yourself but your family as well cannot be emphasized enough. We can talk all we want about alternatives to firearms and home security precautions but nothing beats a firearm in the hands of a well-trained and confident individual when it comes to stopping bad guys from doing bad things. The keys to firearms are many, including the experience that only comes from training (repetition is what it’s all about), familiarity (with your weapon, how to operate it without looking, how to load it, clear jams, etc), and confidence (to do what needs to be done should the need ever arise). Of course, firearms provide for more than just protection. Look for local training resources; the NRA is a good starting point.
  3. How to make a fire – I was never a boyscout and I never had interest in learning survival basics such as these (which I now regret) but I can’t think of anything more basic yet so crucial to general human survival than fire. I know it doesn’t tend to play much of an obvious role in our lives in modern society but I would suspect that it will be front-and-center in any significant emergency situation. Remember that fire fulfills many critical functions, including making food safe to eat, water safe to drink, and warding off predators to name a few. In fact, I consider it so critical that I’m going to see Jerry Ward of in March to learn firecraft skills for a day. Come join me if you’re anywhere near Arkansas. If not, watch videos and start practicing while you have the the opportunity to do so without a true NEED for fire. And, of course, do it safely.
  4. Food preservation techniques – Considering that refrigeration may be a thing of the past in any significant emergency situation, then a basic root cellar may be all we can muster with regards to extending the longevity of foods in their natural state; we need to do better. Fortunately, we’ve known how to make foods last a long time and that’s utilizing various food preservation methods, including canning, drying, pickling, smoking, and fermenting to name the most recognized options. If you haven’t tried any yet, pick one and run with it! Get a few books on the subject and try it. I thoroughly enjoy dehydrating. Maybe canning or smoking meats is what gets you hooked. I don’t know. But I do know that these skills will last a lifetime.
  5. How to cook with basic ingredients – I grew up in what I would consider the “microwave” generation. If you needed to know how long something should cooking in the microwave I could tell you down to a few seconds! Yeah, I’m no longer proud of it and I’m beginning to realize how important it is to be able to make foods from scratch. After all, there could quickly come a time when you have to make any number of foods from just what you have stored in your pantry or that which you can procure from the wild. For example, there’s a reason why wheat is suggested to be stored in such large quantities and that’s because it is used as the basis to make many foods. Rice could be used in a similar way. There are plenty of other examples, such as if you had no idea that refried beans are made from pinto beans simply by pureeing them then maybe you would be enjoying your tenth bowl of pinto bean soup instead of burritos. Or, if you didn’t know that you can make evaporated milk from powdered milk simply by reducing the water used to reconstitute it then you may be enjoying really watered-down potato soup. 😉

I hope these few examples make it clear why a bit of knowledge and skill will prove invaluable. I’m not saying I have any of the aforementioned down pat whatsoever, far from it. But I do recognize how crucial these skills can be to survival and are something that our ancestors just knew how to do.

So, what would you add that I did not? What’s so important to you and your survival?

Review of Tenergy T-2299 Universal Smart Battery Charger With AC/DC Plugs

A while back I purchased this Tenergy Universal Smart Battery Charger as my primary battery charger. I did so for two main reasons: it has the capability to plug directly into a car’s auxiliary outlet using a provided DC plug and it can charge all manner of rechargeable batteries, from the common AAA- and AA-cells to C- and D-cell batteries and even 9-volt batteries as well. Though I currently do not have any rechargeable batteries besides AAA- and AA-cells, I do eventually intend to purchase several D-cell and maybe even some 9-volt rechargeable batteries in the near future.

My first impression after unpacking was that the unit was BIG or, at least, bigger than I had anticipated; in fact, it is two or three times the physical size of my previous battery charger. I’m not sure what I was honestly expecting because it does need to fit up to four D-cell batteries so it has to be much larger. Anyway, it’s now a permanent fixture on my countertop. 😉

Obviously, the first thing I wanted to do was to test it out. As I only had one battery that needed to be charged I had to scrounge up another one to test the unit because, unbeknownst to me, you need to charge batteries in pairs. Normally this isn’t a problem but there are some devices I own that use an odd number of batteries (my recent headlamp purchase that uses 3 AAA-cell batteries comes to mind) so this could be a slight annoyance at times. Since the initial test I’ve used it a handful of times without any trouble and quickly adjusted my “charging behavior” to charge pairs so it’s no big deal to me any longer.

A much larger annoyance is that the unit expects batteries to be the same capacity. As I have and use at least three or four different rechargeable batteries at any one time, this is a problem for me. While I usually use the same batteries in any one device, that’s not always the case such as with the batteries that end up in my kids’ Wii remotes. As such, if you use an assortment of batteries like I do then this is a huge detractor. If not, then no need to worry… just note this for the future.

Like I mentioned in the beginning, a major reason for buying this unit is that it can plug directly into a vehicle’s auxiliary outlet (or my small solar setup with a female DC adapter connected). So, assuming I can keep the car running, am on the move, or can use my solar system, then I can easily recharge batteries without any loss or need for an inverter. This ability isn’t critical but it more versatile than only having a wall plug, which means I have more options open to me should I need them.

How about charge time? Well, it all depends on what’s being charged (AAA, D, 9-volt, etc) as well as the battery capacity. I’ve found that a typical rechargeable AA-cell battery that I use takes about two hours to charge. This is actually quite a bit slower than my previous charger but it’s my understanding that a slower charge is supposed to be to better for battery life. That said, there is such a thing as way too slow of a charging time and having to wait several hours to charge a pair of AA-cell batteries is likely too long to wait. So, no more than a few hours seems to be the recommendation for a typical AA-cell battery (note that something like a D-cell battery will take a lot longer because it has a much larger capacity).

Overall, if I had to purchase this charger again I probably would not do so for the simple reason that it’s not as “smart” as I would like it to be. While I like the fact that it can connect directly to a DC adapter and I like that it can charge D-cell and even 9-volt batteries, I really don’t like the fact that requires me to always charge the same size batteries in pairs. Though I can deal with the requirement I just don’t like it. Of course, there are benefits to Tenergy Universal Smart Battery Charger that could make it useful as an good emergency charger but as my primary, I think I’ll eventually find something better.