You never know when you’re going to find yourself in a “Man vs. Wild” type situation. (Without the producers and camera crew.) And the more you know about surviving by your wits and the stuff you find around the house (and in your pockets), the better your chances of coming out of it alive.
So our friends over at Survival-Goods.com came up with these 7 essential MacGyver-esque techniques, to save your ass with common household items. It’s enough to make Bear Grylls weep. (For 3 bonus survival items, click the link.)
1. Pocket Lint
You’ll be happy to know that you carry around highly flammable materials every time you wear your favorite jeans. Well, maybe not particularly happy in normal circumstances, but when you need to light a fire pretty quickly and need to get your hands on some tinder, just reach into your pocket and use the lint. It ignites very quickly, and you’ll be glad you wore those favorite jeans on your hiking-trip-gone-wrong.
2. A Drop of Bleach
Of course we all know that water is crucial to our survival. However, many an adventurer has uncovered they have finished their last drop on a 4 day mountain trek, and the only alternative is some dodgy looking lake water. What can be done?
Well the answer lies in the bathroom: Bleach. With a few drops you can actually purify water and kill off any microorganisms.
This interesting method lets you see (or smell) how well the bleach has killed the little critters, and lets you know when the water is ready for consumption. (Please be aware, you may be even more thirsty after waiting for it to be right, but hold on.)
Typical fresh household chlorine bleach has about 5.35% chlorine content (be sure to read the label).
To use household bleach for disinfecting water:
1. Add two drops of bleach per quart/litre of water.
2. Stir it well.
3. Let the mixture stand for a half hour before drinking.
If the water is cloudy with suspended particles:
4. First filter the water as best you can.
5. Double the amount of bleach you add to the water.
Before drinking the water, it is important to smell it. As bleach is an oxidant, it will kill pretty much all cellular life it comes into contact with. When this reaction happens, the bleach is actually consumed in the process.
So, if you can’t smell any bleach, it means that the bleach has been working hard to destroy everything in sight. However because there is no smell, all the bleach has been used up and there could still be some lurking microorganisms.
What we really need to smell is a hint of bleach, that is still there after half an hour. The bleach has killed them all and there’s some to spare. But not too much. Simple? Yes.
3. Thompson’s Water Seal
The last thing you want to find is how that bargain/cheap poncho you bought last minute isn’t actually waterproof. And now it’s raining. And you are very, very far from home. This water seal is a great way of avoiding the problem, and is really easy to get hold of.
And you can use it on loads of things before your big trip: tents, tarps, whatever fabrics you can think of. Just test it on a small area and then just dip or coat the item.
4. Pet Food Can Stove
As Ray Mears once said, “If you begin to panic when lost in the wilderness, the best thing to do is pull up a log, and make yourself a nice cup of tea.” He makes it sounds so easy, doesn’t he? What if you don’t have a kettle, Ray?
We have found the perfect solution: a very easy to make, home built stove. The ‘Super Cat’ stove, as its known, is made from a single 3 ounce aluminium pet food can that serves as both the stove and the pot stand. Once you’ve gathered your materials, it takes only a few minutes to complete. It has a reputation of being able to boil 2 cups of water in under 4 minutes. Problem solved, Ray would be impressed.
Click here to download a copy of the Super Cat build instructions.
5. Cotton Ball Fire Starters
If you ever mocked a female companion for packing up her makeup bag for the mountaineering trip, you could’ve been risking your life.
With just a few simple cotton balls and some Vaseline/petroleum jelly, you can make a homemade fire starter. Here are the instructions:
1. Get a bag of cotton balls.
2. Get some petroleum jelly.
3. Get a plastic bag, empty 35mm film canister, or similar container. The cotton balls are kind of messy, and you don’t want these rolling around in your preparedness kit.
4. Lightly compress one cotton ball with your fingers. Dip the cotton ball in the jelly, enough to cover most of one side.
5. Use your fingers to work the jelly around the entire exterior of the cotton ball while compressing the cotton ball as much as you can. Use the jelly to “seal” stray fibers in place.
6. Repeat until you’ve had enough.
6. Creating Water Proof Matches
It’s been pouring for hours, your feet are sopping and you haven’t found shelter for miles and miles. The rain seems to be seeping into all your pores and you’ve gone past the stage of being so wet you’re warm. Finally you reach some shelter. You quickly pull out your box of matches to start up a fire and begin to strike… and not a single flame. Nothing. Thinking back, you still resent the price of those waterproof matches, despite the rain.
Has this ever happened to you? Or, at least, the resentment of paying a fortune part? Well how about making your own waterproof matches…
The BEST & SAFEST method is to use turpentine. (Turpentine has a higher “flash point” relative to Acetone, which commonly used in nail polish. Nor does it involve the use of flame as is needed in the wax or paraffin methods.)
1. Pour 2 to 3 large tablespoons of turpentine into a small (Ttumbler sized) glass.
2. Place the matches, (head down) into the turpentine and allow the matches to soak for 5 minutes. During that time the turpentine will soak into the head as well as the stem. All the water will be driven off by the turpentine.
3. Remove the matches and spread them out to dry out on a sheet of newspaper. Generally, 20 minutes for excess turpentine to be evaporated is recommended. Matches treated in this way remain waterproof for several months or longer. Cheap and Easy!
7. Candle/Cardboard Stove
The buddy burner is a nice little stove made from the simplest of materials. Just remember to put some paper under before you pour the wax – view the video and see what we mean.
It’s especially nice because it is pretty immune to moisture and, unlike propane, will light at fairly low temperatures. Plus, they should burn for about 2-3 hours, which isn’t bad considering its size and weight.
All you need are:
A tin Can
A small amount of Tin Foil
Just shove it in your back pack and go.
For more homemade survival items, head over to Survival-Goods.com