Just Questions

This is a guest post by Rex J

There has been a lot of good information put forth on this blog and others concerning food, water, shelter, and defense. There was recently a good article on mental preparedness and I do remember one on “Roach Control”. There are still subjects not overly discussed and I know this group has varied backgrounds, experience, knowledge, and even some true wisdom; therefore I know there is at least one person with at least one answer to at least one question. Let us once again share our knowledge with one another. I only ask one thing. Please do not belittle someone if you do not agree with his/her comment, but state what you believe to be a more correct answer/response/comment.

These are questions I hear quite often from members of my two groups and once-in-a-while from others that know I’m into disaster preparedness.

  1. What about pest? How do I prepare to handle such things as mice, roaches, fleas, mosquitoes and other possible infestation? For instance; this past summer mosquitoes were almost non-existent and fleas were the worst in over 30 years (due to drought).
  2. What about toilet paper? I know some folks stockpiling corncobs and I can tell you from experience (share-cropper son) that cobs are a last resort at best. Catalogs and magazines are not made from the same type paper they used to be and heard that due to the ink used, repeated use of newspaper can cause a health problem.
  3. What about washing dishes and clothes? What would be the best method and is there one detergent/soap that could be used for both?
  4. What about hot showers or just hot water period? What are some of the ways/things I could prep for this situation?
  5. What about storage? How can I maintain a 60 +- deg. storage for my food with limited space and/or facility without electricity in hot/cold weather?
  6. Does a smoke house really work for preserving meat long-term? If so, for how long and how well smoked does it need to be?
  7. What about an EMP? We’ve been told that if there is no power to it, an EMP will not hurt it. Is that true?

I’ll stop here, as these are the most asked questions. Some of these questions could spawn an entire article by someone. Look forward to your thoughts/ideas/opinions. If there is any other less discussed item you can think of, please make it known. He, who thinks he has thought of everything, definitely has a weak point in his perimeter and thus is in danger.

Till Next Time,


I Timothy 5:8

I’d rather be 7 years early than 1 day late!

About M.D. Creekmore

M.D. Creekmore is the owner and editor of TheSurvivalistBlog.net. He is the author of four prepper related books and is regarded as one of the nations top survival and emergency preparedness experts. Read more about him here.


  1. where is mama j when we need her…corncobs came up again…

    On a more serious note Rex, will need to give your suggested topics some thought…to do it justice…and by the way…good thought provoking article…cheers.

  2. Insadjuster says:


    You have posed some very good questions. Some of which I need answers to as well. I have some information regarding question #4. Regarding hot water, running water will most likely be out of the question unless you have done your homework to set up a pressurized system. That being said, hot water can always be obtained through boiling, obvious I know….. There are also camp shower systems available for reasonable prices. You basically fill a black colored rubberized container with water and then set or hang it in the sun, When the desired temperature is obtained, it can be hung above a persons height and the valve is opened to provide somewhat of a shower like experience. I’m not sure if Wallyworld carries them, but I have seen them at http://www.cheaperthandirt.com. I can not vouch for the quality of the product at this time as I have not purchased mine yet (key word being yet…). This could also be used to make hot water when using a fire would be detrimental to your security. If you are able to use a fire to heat or boil water, a steel drum that has been cleaned would make a good water heater. You could even get fancy and rig up a valve system to introduce cold water into the line after the hot water leaves the drum, it would work similar to a shower valve in your home.

    I also agree 7 years early is better than 1 day late.
    I also stand on 3rd John 2 and Malachi 3:10.
    Prospering does not mean money alone. It also does not say only in good times.
    When TEOTWAWKI or TSHTF (however you want to say it) happens, Malachi 3:10 will not be just an idle prayer as most people say it today when they give tithes and offerings.

    Keep up the faith and the good questions. I hope some of my info has been useful.

    • Pineslayer says:

      Solar showers; I have some different kinds that I have used and can give some insight. The bag style come in 2.5 and 5 gal sizes usually and they work great if kept out of the wind. I live at around 8575′ and was having problems getting them up to temp, so I built a box out of some scrap wood to hold them, move them and keep in the heat. The box was lined with black pond liner and then I stuck a piece of plexi on top and voila’, it was too hot to use. Probably around 150 plus, broke the thermometer that I put in the box. Winter time the box will be very useful. I have a 5gal plastic box style one and it works OK, does not heat as well, but good enough to rinse off the days grime. It beats nothing at all. This summer I will build my black drum model that will be up around 8′ to give it some pressure and have 30 gallons of water. 5 gallons goes quick, so get a couple.

      • SurvivorDan says:

        That’s sweet Pineslayer. You designed an insulated box for your water heater and made a solar oven. Love such ingenuity, you never know where it will lead. Good on ya.

    • A copper coil attached to a water source say a barrel at a high point and a low point will move water by convection when heated. Lay the coil in a fire and as it boils the heat moves to the high point from the center of the coil. Cold water refills the coil from the low side to the outter side of the coil. Weak points are the connections from coil to hose and hose to barrel. Do not allow coil to run dry. Filling the tubeing with sand during shaping will cut down on kinks.

  3. Sharoola says:

    1. I would stock up on cayenne pepper powder, garlic powder and borax. Borax spinkled around the perimeter of the house and inside the house prevents ants and other buggies from getting in. Cayenne pepper and garlic powder spinkled on/around gardens keeps rodents and some other pests away. Thats all I have on that one, would love to hear other ideas!
    2. Reusable TP! I just ordered 100 reusable flannel cloths to be used as TP. You keep a diaper pail with water, baking soda and perhaps borax next to the toilet, and place your soiled tp in there until wash day.
    3. Castile soap is great for just about anything. Its concentrated, so you dilute with water and it goes a very long way. Can be used for dishes, laundry, hair, skin, anything really. And its made from veggie oil, so i dont believe it harms plants or wildlife.

    Can;t wait to see the other responses!

    • Isn’t it easier to just use old shirts that have been cut up or would that be to thin?

      • wouldn’t it be easier to just stock toilet paper?

        • Kyle, anything you stock up on is going to run out.

          For the people who are long-prepping, whatever the stockpile is, that’s how long you have to find an alternative. (Sorry, can’t conceive of being able to get back to normal in a generation if something takes us down to that level for more than 2 years.)

        • the hell with toilet paper. It doesnt clean anythingand god forbit you cant take a shower everyday. wiping with toilet paper will make you smell 10x’s worse then if you use something like baby wipes, moist towelettes, a wet sponge, or anything like that. Dont belive me try it. If you cant smell yourself by day 2 something is wrong with your sniffer. Sources: Basic Training, AIT, Deployment, camping, and just being out in the field with my soldiers for weeks.

      • I think old t-shirts would work, but dress shirts would be too thin. Lots of ways to make these wipes for free–lots of thicker absorbent fabrics from old clothes or cast-offs. Flannelette would be perfect, even towels, maybe.

    • sw't tater says:

      #1 also you can make an insecticide that is effective with garlic, plug tobacco and dish soap. Mosquitoes and fleas and ticks about carried us off last year.Garlic taken internally is suposed to repel them, but neither of our stomachs will tolerate it…I’m gonna try aplying garlic oil this year., topically.and..avoiding any perfumes
      #2 I just read about the reusable Tp last week, my way has been to keep a small container of soapy water near the commode. I have cut my use of Tp by more than half.
      #3 I make my own laundry powder from borax, laundry soda, oxiclean and bar soap..I use Zest.It is a low sudsing formula, safe for the new washers and enviromentally friendly as well.I use i cup or bar of all ingredients with two of the oxiclean equivalent. One of those off brand buckets that is not suitable for food storage ..like a kitty litter bucket will hold enough to wash 900-1500 loads, depending on how much detergent you have to add over the standard one tablespoon…ie..if clothing is grimy or greasy it takes more. This has enabled me to be able to stock up more of the dish detergents, bath /body washes and shampoos that my family prefers.#4 already well addressed.#5coolest pleace we have come up consistently is the storm cellar…or could cache in barrels, given right conditions…ie a hill to bury it in..This is our biggest challenge since old trailers were scantly insulated.

  4. Dean in Michigan says:

    Thanks for this one Rex. These articles usually generate a lot of chatter, and you can always learn something.

    I got in the habit of buying 24 pack toilet paper, usually when I have 3-4 left. Those extras just keep going into storage tuperware. I also have a couple plastic grocery bags full of old t-shirts that could be cut up. After that I don’t know, find a grassy patch and do what dogs do when their butts itch.

    As for showers, I saw at a camping store a black plastic bag that held maybe 4-5 gallons that you could just lay out in the sun, or heat water up and fill. Hang and let gravity work for you. It is on my list, but it keeps getting bumped down.

    • Dean,

      We have one of those showers. Be careful when you use them; the water can get so hot it will burn you–at least here in the Florida heat.

    • Dean, I own one of those showers as well as a stand with cover and hooks for clothes (portable shower stall) its great, like Bam said in hot weather they heat quick, works like a Solar Oven in heating process. During the winter or fall just set it against something facing the clear side toward the sun and in 45 minutes to an hour its warm enough to take. Summer months as fast as 15 to 30 minutes.

      • Dean in Michigan says:

        Thanks for the feedback Jarhead & Bam Bam.

        I will now stop bumping it down the list and just get one so it’s done. THX.

  5. Tinfoil Hat says:


    All great questions, an I wish I had the answers to all of them, but I don’t. Only suggestions for one, of them. #1 I have stored boric acid for pests (roaches, ants, fleas bugs in general). A small thin line around the perimeter every 6 months or so will keep them away. Mosquitos I have covered by a stock of a product called Skin So Soft. I’ve never, ever, not in the store or even military outfitting, come across a better repellant. Mice are handled by the cat and careful storage practices. Great questions!

    • Alittle 2Late says:

      Skin So Soft is an Avon product. Just in case you were wondering.

    • Elizabeth says:

      I have been using AVONs SkinSoSoft for years mixed with a bit (sorry, I’ve never measured how much) of pure tea tree oil. I think something like 15-20 drops in 1.5 cups? used as an after shower before pat dry skin treatment. It is very rare for me to get bit, despite exposure to said insects.

  6. Old Hillbilly says:

    Well, I am no expert by any means but I was a “survivalist” back before I knew there was such a thing. I was raised on a farm and still live on that farm. We live in a very remote area and I grew up in a family that pretty much provided it’s own needs by what it could grow, make, or build. I still grind my own corn meal, sawmill my own lumber, grow my own corn, make my own soap, cure my own meat, etc. Fortunately I married a fine woman that grew up doing even more things “the old ways” than I did…so together we can pretty much take care of our own. With that little bit of background, I will offer the followning:
    #2: Rags…use them, put them in a container and then wash them. It won’t be a pleasant job but it works…and lots of jobs after SHTF won’t be pleasant. One suggestion I have read is to buy cotton diapers and cut them into smaller sections, use, then launder them for future use.
    #3: This is my wife’s field of expertise but based on what she has taught me, learn to make and use lye soap! It is pretty easy to make (plenty of recipes on the net) and you can use it as an all purpose cleaner. My wife said she remembers her mother making it using ashes saved from the wood cook stove to leach out the lye and then using it for hand washing, pot and pan washing and clothes washing. She said her mom would cut off a chunk, put it in the washer and the clothes came out clean and fresh smelling. We still make it but use commercial grade lye instead of ashes. Another use we have found for it is to prevent poison ivy and poison oak rash. We use to operate our own little country store and sold it there and folks would come and buy several bars at a time just for that purpose. It is great for the skin. Don’t let the “lye” part concern you because once it goes through the chemical conversion process of turning the fats into glycerine, the lye is gone. There was also an EXCELLENT post on here last week about making your own washing detergent. We have bought all the ingredients and are getting ready to make a batch.
    #4: Use the sun. Take a 55 gal. barrel, paint it black and mount it on a platform or somehow up on your house where it gets as much sun as possible. The sun will heat the water and gravity will carry it down into the house through a plumbed in line. This is assuming you have some way to get the water up into the barrel first. I am getting ready to put a system like this in a cabin we are building in a remote part of our property. There are several online sources for solar water heaters that should detail this method much better than I can. I am still learning on this one myself.
    #5: Don’t know about where you live and the lay of your land but if you have a hillside somewhere, a root cellar dug into a bank is an excellent way to store food in a year round temperature somewhere in the mid 50’s. That will be one of my upcoming projects. That is something old folks always had in this area and something I am slack on.
    #6: In a word, yes they do work based on hearing my wife tell of her dad smoking meats. Also the salt or sugar curing process without the use of smoke works great on pork. Plenty of recipes online for it.
    #7: I am no expert here but from what I read there is no real concensus as to what an EMP will or will not effect so anything you read is based on theory and the few recorded instances of effects from solar flares or after some of the nuclear bomb tests during the cold war. As best I can tell, anything that has an integrated chip in it or an electronic circuit board will be toast after an EMP plus anything with a “long wire” attached….hence the term “long wire effect” used by lots of experts in the field. I am sure there are plenty of folks here than can tell lots more about it than I can. I am getting ready to buy big metal trash cans to store chainsaws and radios in…just in case.

    Sorry for rambling….hope this helps.

    • charlie (NC) says:

      Following up on Old Hillbilly’s advice. If you start to store cured meats or cheese in a root celar don’t be afraid of mold. I grew up on a farm and we had “hog killin'” every year. The meat was salt cured, sugar cured, smoked or a combination of the three and hung in a “smoke house”. Ours was above ground but it was on the shaded N/E corner of a barn and was designed to pull a draft through it so that it stayed relatively cool even in the summer. Toward the end of the summer and early fall the meat would get a skim of green mold on it. This was primarily on smoke cured hams, shoulders and sausage. I was often sent to the smoke house to retrieve something to cook. We simply washed and wiped the mold away prior to cooking.

      The same applies to hard cheese. It will mold but that is normal for cheese. In fact mold is part of making cheese. Just trim the mold off with a knife and eat as you normally would.

      • Agreed, A good quality smoking/curing book goes into detail on the molds that are fine vs the molds that will give you a problem, there are some that you can indeed just wash away, trim the cover and use the meat under with no issues.

      • recoveringidiot says:

        charlie (NC), I come from eastern NC and my grandparents used salt, black pepper and smoke to cure hog. I seem to remember my grandfather on my mothers side using a cold smoke arrangement. A length of pipe (10ft?) buried with one end opening in the smoke house and the other in a fire pit that had a metal cover. I was too young to remember the details but I do remember he had some of the best ham I’ve ever eaten. At hog killing time there were about 4 or 5 families working together to get it done. It seemed like a big party to me as I was young (and probably in the way) but I realize now how much work was involved. Wish I could remember more of the details, that could come in handy one day.

        • charlie (NC) says:


          Yep that’s pretty much the way I remember it too. I think the last hog killing I attended was in the early 60’s. Our smoke house didn’t use a pipe like you mentioned but I know what you’re talking about. We just had a firebox built/cut through the outer masonry wall of the smoke house. A smoldering oak wood fire was built in the firebox. There was a roof vent in the smokehouse ceiling that vented the smoke
          up through the meat and out.

          I believe I could process and cure a hog if I had to but I don’t feel confident enough to start giving lessons or advice. There are plenty of books on the subject and I’ve collected a couple myself.

          What part of eastern NC are you from and where abouts are you now?

          • I started doing our own bacon and hams the first couples year. then moved over to processing half a pig at home and finally this year, I intend to do a whole hog this fall.

            Like any other skill is a good idea to work it if possable.

    • Old Hillbilly,

      I have been researching how to make bath soap from lye–what they are calling the “cold press” method. All the websites say you need to weigh the lye–that you can’t measure by volume. How did they make soap before everyone had access to a digital scale?

      • Bam Bam, I have been reading up on making castile soap as well, as it is a project I want to try soon. I read somewhere that the reason you want to measure by weight instead of by volume is because it is more accurate. It also mentioned that the reason why lye soap was considered so harsh is because the way it was measured.

      • My mother used to use a piece of wheat straw to test the lye with. Some times, depending on the wood that was burned in the laundry stove, we had to run the lye through the ashes again to get it strong enough for her. She could tell by the color of the straw how strong the lye was and she had a chart made by grandma to tell how much by volume to use according to the color. I do remember her using a glass ladle to measure the lye that she put in the mixture of hog fat, flower petals and some kind of root she always used. I was still quite young and my sole job was to keep the fire going under the kettle, a huge old witches cauldron hung on a chain from an iron tripod. She also used this kettle to can in and to blanch tomatoes so the skins could be removed for canning and beets the same way. You are starting to bring up the more unpleasant memories from childhood. All the shooters have brought up the more pleasant memories. Please don’t anyone start talking about digging outdoor toilet pits and building the cribs for same. Harold

        • Harold,

          If TV producers really wanted to make a show on prepping, they would show people like your mom making lye from ashes and then making the soap. IMO, these kinds of skills will make all the difference in the world. I fear that a lot of this knowledge has been lost or is in danger of becoming lost.

        • charlie (NC) says:

          Harold you should be thankful for that knowledge and glad you remember it. As unpleasant as it might seem the knowledge might come in handy again one day soon.

      • Bam Bam,
        All you need is a small set of calibrated weights, and a balance beam scale. You didn’t get 0.1 oz accuracy, but it isn’t really that important to be that accurate. Think of the scales held in the hand of lady justice; simple and inexpensive, and actually something you could easily make yourself.

    • Bandurasbox says:

      Thanks for the “ramblings” OH. Took me back to my childhood on the farm, root cellar, corn bin, farming, growing everything we ate, butchering, etc. I appreciate all of the info you provided as I am now “city-fied” and it helped me to remember the many ways we survived on our own as a family community. It’s one of the most best posts I’ve read.

      Keep ’em coming!

    • new prepper says:

      Read the article regarding washing detergent and used the product today for the first time. Very pleased, clothes clean and fresh..more money available to prep with. THANKS

      • New Prepper,

        Welcome to the Wolf Pack. I was so dumbfounded when I learned I could make my own laundry soap for a fraction of the cost. Now I am wondering what else I don’t know. Where else can we save money? What else can we make at home. Thus far I have learned to make bathroom cleaner and dishwasher detergent (really easy). I also cut down on a lot of spending my making my own salsa, relish, and other condiments (except mustard and catsup), and my own canned meats, beans and soups.

        I would like to learn to make bath soap at home. I looked at Walmart today and a scale costs $20. Yiikes.

        • Bam Bam,
          I’ve made catsup and although it’s tasty, it is a lot of work compared to just purchasing it. OTOH, if you have a recipe that requires any amount of catsup, try substituting tomato sauce, vinegar, brown sugar, and perhaps a bit of onion (powdered or minced). Experiment with the amount until you get the taste you want. I use this exclusively in my baked beans instead of catsup and no one can tell the difference.

          As for the scale, you can use a balance beam scale like we used before digital. Here are a couple example DIY projects to get you started.



    • Old Hillbilly,
      Growing up in Western PA I used to spend time on the farms of some of my great uncles, and your post sounds like something they could have written. Being self reliant today makes you a perpper, but back then it just meant you were normal, and taking responsibility for your own life. Good to see that those traditions are still alive and well in some places .

  7. Hunker-Down says:


    Thanks for starting such an interesting discussion. I hope to learn many things from the Wolf Pack.
    Here are the things we have learned from spending hours every week on M.D.’s great blog.

    1). Pests: Garbage will not be picked up and rats, mice, coons, possums etc. will thrive. We stock 6 rat traps and plan to tie them down so they won’t be carried away. They will also be used to trap squirrels and rabbits for food. For bugs we stock boric acid for roaches and vinegar for ants. At the moment we have neither, but when the grid is down, their population will explode. For bugs in the garden we use a solution of Dawn soap and water in a gallon sprayer. We have gallons of Dawn, but learning the skill of making soap is not near the top of our priority list, although we hope we get to it after more critical items are removed from the list.

    2). Toilet Paper: We save old phone books for use when the TP runs out (ours doesn’t expire like the government TP). We also have a bucket WITH TIGHT FITTING LID, rags for each individual and baking soda to layer between the used rags. Some say to wash the contents of the bucket daily; I hope we never have to find out if that is necessary.

    3). Washing dishes and clothes: We plan on using a 5 gallon bucket and a hand plunger purchased from Emergency Essentials. I did one test batch and it works OK. We use a second 5 gallon bucket for rinsing the clothes.

    4). Hot Showers & hot water: We have 2 camping shower bags from EE. Hang them in the sun; they are black to absorb the sun more efficiently than other colors. They will be used to heat water for washing dishes and for showers. We are still looking for a small kiddie pool to use as a floor for the shower, and to catch the water.

    5). Storage +-60 degrees: In our area the soil temperature about 18 inches below the surface is around 55 degrees all year. A box in a hole where the top is lower than 18 inches will keep thinks cold if it is kept covered. It would be great for vegetables but not so good for milk.

    6). Smoke house: There is an art to smoking meat and it takes years to learn. There are three problems. How to build the house so that it has proper ventilation so the fire will have enough oxygen to keep burning, but not too fast/hot? How to keep a fire going, producing the smoke without burning down the house? How to prepare the meat with salt or molasses? Each of these topics takes a lot of experience to cure meat that will not spoil in the summertime weather. We had a smoke house around 1955, it was built by a previous owner and my dad used it successfully but only because his father taught him the skill. I had no interest then, and would not attempt a smoke house project today. I’m sure there are books on the topic for those with the energy to build a house, cut firewood, shoot big game, drag it home, butcher and cure, then wait 60-90 days to eat.

    7). EMP: We subscribe to SpaceWeather.com for solar flare alerts and will unplug everything when a strong flare is predicted. We don’t yet have equipment that would deserve a Faraday cage and are studying the topic at http://www.endtimesreport.com/EMP.html and http://www.endtimesreport.com/faraday_cages.html .

    • Dean in Michigan says:

      I too follow spaceweather.com. It’s pretty interesting, for those who haven’t’ seen it. If your interested in solar activity, this is a decent way to track it.

      They also post all other planetary, meteor/comet, and aurora activity.

  8. Well written; however – re: STORAGE
    Keep in mind Martial Law situation, FEMA has the power to take control of all Storage Facilities…so storing stuff in a public storage unit is not a good idea, you’ll lose all your stuff.

    • SurvivorDan says:

      Maybe so. But I don’t see FEMA having the resources (they’d be busy with other more pressing matters) to seize the little storage facility near my home before I have a chance to extract my goods. A confiscation proclamation by itself will not keep me from my second stash. Not braggadocio, just a fact. By the same token, under martial law the FEDs could confiscate supplies from one’s private home in the name of the common good. Is our only course of action to cache everything out in the wilds? We takes our chances.

      • SurvivorDan says:

        I lost all my preps to fire a couple years ago and will never have them in one place again. Cindy does have a point, though. I have no local relatives but if you have close kin nearby, that you trust, your second stash of preps would be better stored in a private residence.

      • charlie (NC) says:

        Dan, FEMA won’t have to do it. Your well meaning friends at the local volunteer fire department, the county sheriffs deputies,
        and members of the local CERT teams will do it for them. FEMA has been training these well meaning folks for that purpose for several years. They’ll do it and think they are doing you a favor. Check the internet (local news won’t carry it) for the authorization our government put in place this past Friday afternoon. It’s the same language the government routinely puts in place before the start of a war but this time they added the authorization to declair martial law.

        • Charlie, Ive been in the fire/rescue service for about 16 years now, and i have NEVER even heard of FEMA training first responders for anything like that. Also have a ton of friends in law enforcement, and havent heard of them doing anything like that either. Just throwing that out there….

    • FEMA can have what I have in storage. Like FEMA Knows or cares what little old me has. Really? Lets say there are 150 million storage units. Do you really think FEMA is tracking all of them? They cant track trailers.

      • You tell it Ron. Also no Fema doesn’t train fire crews or cert to confiscate anything. That is ridiculous most people do not realise that fema isn’t a agency with any real staff it is a communication and organization agency. Basically a traffic cop for companies and agency’s with power and resources. Do me a favour and go ask your local fire fighter or cop or volunteer if they have been trained or even know about this stuff and they will stare at you like you have a growth on your forehead. If you think they are lying and covering stuff up then you are hopeless and probably think vampires exist.

        • Kyle,
          You are correct. I work (as a volunteer) with my local county EMA in support of volunteer fire and first responders, and our training does not include anything of the sort. We are much more interested in support of local Law Enforcement, Fire, and EMS during disaster situations, including things like distribution of antibiotics during a pandemic or bio attack. FEMA has a large budget and can much more easily bring in purchased and stored resources (food, water, and medicine) than break into storage units hoping to find what they need.

          • OhioPrepper, thank you for what you do. A few more volunteers would go a long way!

  9. Rather than respond to all of the questions (even if I could) I’ll comment on one — #4. Getting warm/hot water. For several years now many folks to conserve money, have taken large diameter “black” garden hoses and wrapped them side-by-side on the sunny side of the roof and the solar heat would warm up the water in no time. Then simply setting it up so they sprayed or drained into a little outside shower and you’ve got your shower capability. Not a new thought, but
    don’t remember seeing this mentioned on any of the prepper blog sites.

    • Morris, that reminded me of an article I read somewhere on the net…and that is to have many metres of black poly hose – plus the requisite hose connections etc – the wider it is the more hot water will be available – and then bury it, still coiled up under a large pile of compost – the heat generated will heat the water, whether sunny days or not – and can have more than one coil with the requisite hose connections in place…as not all hot water will be required for just showering.

      and can be made even more stealth by covering both ends with some leaves, small plants/grasses to the point where hose hooks up to close to house/earth home etc…

      situate the compost heap on a slight rise and will have enough of a gravity feed for a shower. The more people, the more coils/length of pipe you can bury. Can have more than one compost heap – others can be stealth.

      Re # 1 – mice control…backwoods home magazine has an article – never ending mouse trap, that comprises a 20 litre (5gal) bucket, with a plastic plate, and some wire from a coat hanger.

      Thread the wire through the plate at two opposite ends, provide a plank so the mice can walk up to plate – have one end of the plate just resting on the lip of the bucket – and as they walk across the plate to get at the smear of peanut butter on the end of the plate (both top and bottom sides), the plate will flip over from weight of mice – resulting in mice landing in bucket that is 2/3 filled with water – and drowns.

      The mouse trap is then immediately ready for more mice – walk over plate to get at p/butter – and same thing keeps happening – empty bucket each day – and top up peanut butter on both sides of plate when necessary…will see if I can find the article and link it here later today.

      Re mosquitoes – I always cover up – and head nets are cheap.

      Can probably make your own…fold some netting in four – cut like one would cut out a round tablecloth – thread some lightweight fishing line, crochet cotton, paracord or spare shoelace along the edge – and can tuck it in a pocket while out and about – and wear it under your hat when necessary.

      Have read that Eucalyptus oil repels mosquitoes better than citronella oil – can put a few drops in the melted wax of a burning candle. Or put a few dabs on collar/cuffs/hems of clothes.

      Also, have you seen where can add small pieces of cork attached to paracord to rim of hat – anywhere between 6-8 – attach them with safety pins – about 3-4 inches in length – depending on whether it’s an adult or child’s hat…

      and remove later in day when mosquitoes are gone…the females will feed early morning/evening…just the usual movements will keep the mosquitoes landing on your face – cheap/effective and long lasting…

      Also, in my area – I use my hatchet to break off some of the anthills and then break the chunk up back at camp and sprinkle it in my camp fire when I have one going – aborigines use this method. However, while we have the availability to buy plenty of bug repellants – I do.

      Re #2 – going in today to pick up the 10 boxes of 480 baby wipes $90 I ordered last week. Keep old cotton/linen clothes – don’t cut up yet…never know who may need them before we run out of TP. Old cotton towels/teatowels/bathrobes – store in garbage bags until needed for hygiene. If/when I have to will use phone books/newspapers – I know that banana leaves are non-toxic…if have to, and have any near me…can use that – however, not in that mind-frame yet…note to self: buy more TP today.

      Also paper towels – can be used for more than one purpose, and will not breakdown like TP does as soon as it is wet.

      Have used paper-towels in lieu of plates when camping –

      used them to make my own hand-wipes also – as am always cleaning my hands when camping – keep them in a tupperware container with lid – saves on carrying extra precious clean water.

      Recipes for making your own baby-wipes or body cleaning wipes are all over the net…cut a roll of paper-towels in half, place in tupperware container – add preferred mix of solutions – ranging from skin moisturizer, baby shampoo, essential oils – mix with some water and then pour over the paper-towel – let it all soak in – and can then have a bird-bath. Remove inner cardboard tube – and pull out papertowels from inside when required.

      Re #3 – washing dishes…I have on many occasions used sand/dirt on creek/river banks to scour my pots/pans – then a rinse with the creek/river water in one of my plastic buckets and then re-heat pot/s up again to kill any microbes – and it is then ready for next time.

      Re meat storage…hope to salt fish etc…and will leave it to others on the meat preservation ideas.

      Thanks again for this thought provoking article – cheers.

    • I did a Google search for “outdoor showers” and found this interesting page.


  10. Anonymous says:

    I’ll attempt to answer these to the best of my knowledge, ability, and creativity. I’ll admit that I consider myself more of a prepper than a survivalist, and that I don’t know all the answers.

    1: I can answer a lot to the mice part. Cats can fend for themselves quite well. During snowmegeddon of February 2010 around here, the stray cat that hangs around here was able to fend for himself quite well with a diet of mainly mice that was hanging out in old boxes in my outside tarp garage. The rest, I’ll admit, I’ve always went the exterminator route. Something I need to read up about.

    2: Whoever said you needed to resort to wiping with paper products? Many European countries are well known for their excellent hygiene by using bidets.

    3: Dish washing detergent is an all around excellent cleaner. I would prefer to stock up on it. Otherwise, I’ve heard from other people in my area that castile soap is excellent all-around soap, including for dishes. Add some baking soda for clothes.

    4: This is a hard convenience we’re just going to have to learn to use less of. I would suggest learning to deal with warm showers. Otherwise, there are other ways to get hot water if everything goes out. One is solar–it does a decent job on sunny days (excellent if you have a big set-up, but that can have some OPSEC issues.)

    Another way is the Jean Pain method of composting. This involves running your water through a huge wood chip compost pile. Along with this method, you can extract methane from the process. After the bacterial action has died down, I guess you can use the stored methane to heat water/cook/run a generator/etc.. I would suggest watching this, as working with methane can be very dangerous. Also, it would be pretty hard to conceal you making a huge woodchip (not to mention, getting the wood chips after SHTF!) pile.

    Then there’s also the old-fashioned method: a metal bucket over the stove. Might have to give up showers and just deal with scrubbing yourself with a rag.

    5: You don’t specifically have to store all your food in a cool, dark place. For the food that does, building a root cellar is efficient. Otherwise, the basic staples that are in a prepper’s diet (rice, beans, instant noodles, etc.) don’t need to be stored in any specific condition–provided they are packed properly. The only thing we need to worry about is access (thieves, rodents, Uncle Bummin, bugs, etc.)

    If you have very little space, I guess you’re going to have to look at your living situation and find some creative ways. Examples? If you live in an apartment, you could have plenty of stuff stored underneath your bed. Try hiding some food stock in your linen closet. Or even try tearing the bottom thing from your couch and try storing some small stuff (like ramen) in there. Be careful with where you store them, though. Example? Don’t store ramen in your desktop that will block airflow. This is will lessen the lifespan of your desktop. Or rather, why have a desktop at all unless you’re doing tons of video editing or cpu intensive gaming? Get a laptop!

    6: I’ve never tried smoking as a way to preserve, but I’ve heard that it’s only short term. Or maybe they are only short term because they’re so good? I’ll admit, I love smoked meat.

    Personally, I’ve always relied on canning to preserve meats.

    7: I’ll admit that I know nothing about this, and is thus one of my weak points. I can’t help with anything regarding EMP’s.

  11. Finn Mahone says:

    Several years ago I got back into camping with my young son. thought it would be a great way to strengthen or father/son relationship. Any way we limited or camping outtings to a state park where there is are public showers. To say that the showers were far from being very clean I looked into and bought an instant hot water hearter and a small tent from Wal Mart. The heater burns propane from a 1 lb canister bottle and comes with a bettery powered pump and cost about $100.00. We have used this a bunch of times and it works quite well. there are other hot showers on the market, some being solar heated but I’ve never tried one of these.

  12. Here is what we’ve done in regards to ?s 1, 2, and 3.
    1. Mosquitos – we bought netting to hang over the beds
    2. TP – a cup and a bucket of water – FYI (any kind of dry paper smeared through poop does not clean anything) Use baby wipes until the SHTF.
    3. Yes, liquid dish soap cleans both dishes and clothes. We stock up when it is on sale for a dollar a bottle. Each bottle can also be diluted in half with water and still works fine.

    • SurvivorDan says:

      Nice one Rex. Little article will generate big ideas from the WolfPack.

    • You can stretch the dish soap even further. Use one of the newer “foaming” dispensers by filling 1/3 with dish sop, 2/3 water. You use less, especially when washing dishes by hand. I bought a hand soap and dispenser for $1.57 at Wallyworld. When it’s empty I’ll refill with dishsoap and water.

    • Thanks Lynne!
      Quick question ~ My mom has/had a tremendous affinity for dish washing liquid and in the early stages of dementia bought A LOT. I’ve given many bottles away but still have plenty. I’ve never heard of using it in the washing machine though ~ how much do you use in a large load of laundry?
      I’ll try to answer a couple of questions myself later today. 🙂

      • Go VERY easy on dish soap in a washing machine (literally a couple of tablespoons is plenty) or you may have more bubbles than you want to deal with leaking out of the machine. Unless clothing is very dirty or oily, you can wash most clothing with only a tiny fraction of the detergent or soap that is “recommended” on the package labels. Lightly soiled items really need no detergent at all.

        Diluted dish soap makes a fine body wash or shampoo (don’t get it in eyes, so not great for kiddos). Dawn dish soap kills fleas and ticks on pets (again, be careful not to get it in their eyes).

        • Judy, I have used it for laundry and washing my self in a pinch. What I do is add water in equal parts in a bottle and once it settles use it.

        • charlie (NC) says:

          Dawn dish washing soap is what the animal rescue folks use to clean up oil soaked birds. They say it cuts the oil and grease off but doesn’t harm the birds skin. Also, it is a preferred method for cleaning up farm spray equipment to make sure all the old chemical residue is off before the equipment is used to apply a different and non compatable chemical.

      • Only Me,

        If you have a newer machine, be careful about what kind of soap you use. The new machines need low suds soaps. You can make laundry soap really, really cheap–like 20 gallons for $10. I am estimating. I got borax and washing soda, one was $1.99 and the other was $2.99. (I don’t remember which was which.) And the bar soap is something like $1.09 per bar. You can make several five gallon buckets out of one box of borax and one box of washing soda (not the same as baking soda, mind you).

        This also works well as bathroom cleaner–I just added a little oxy clean.

        • sw't tater says:

          Laundry powder..takes up,less space..with current prices $14 can make up enough to wash 400 loads minimum…stores in a gallon zip lock bag or a gallon ice cream bucket. 1 cup should wash 50-70 loads.(Use one tablespoon per load)ALSO you don’t have to shake or stir it but one time to mix it well. the liquid has to be shaken very hard each time you go to do laundry….so…just say’in.If you would like an exercise program that’s the way to go!

      • I use about a tablespoon (unless it’s a low quality dish soap). At the moment I use it for dark and bright clothes as it doesn’t have the enzymes that degrade the colours, that laundry detergent has.

    • We have a country salvage outlet near us that got a contract with the soap company when a lot of businesses failed like commercial laundries that used bulk soap. They furnished the plastic 1000 gallon tanks and come once a month with a tank truck to top of the tanks and they sell it in bulk in your own container or for a markup in their container. We buy concentrated Tide in a square five gallon soap jugs we got for free from the carwash for 29.95 which according to the last market survey was a 150 dollar saving over the shelf price at Wally world. We also buy Dawn in gallon bottles because it is easier to handle than the five gallon ones for 6.99 a gallon and Downy clothes softener for the same price in the gallon. I do not know the life of the soaps except they eventually start to thicken and we just add some more water since they all have to be diluted before use. Maybe you could see if your area has something like this since I doubt ours is the only one. These soap companies will do most anything to keep the bucks coming in and for a savings like this you could try storage and see how long it lasts. I have three of the five gallon ones that I keep rotated because when two of the daughters show up, they exchange their empty container for one of the full ones so I have no idea really how long it lasts. The one we had that had gotten a little thicker was sitting in the laundry room out of the light for eleven months when the last gallon or so started to get thick. Harold

      • sw't tater says:

        You can stretch that fabric softner to infinity.. with this trick, as long as you are using a regular clothes dryer… Wet a lint free cotton rag, ie..dishcloth with warm water, wring out. then put 1-2 tsp of fabric softner on it, and rub it in it. throw in with laundry to be dried. clothes come out static free using just a fraction of what is required to add it to the wash.

  13. Stay at Home Step Dad says:

    Fleas, roaches and some other insects have been vanished from our place deep in the woods by spreading baking soda and/or boric acid in the cracks, crevices and sprinkling on the carpet/cushions. My Dad used this technique for years on his boat, sometimes mixing the powder with peanut butter and dabbing it back up in hard to reach spaces.

  14. What does one have to do to get a comment to post on this site?

    • Judy,

      Ask a question or say something controversial.

    • SurvivorDan says:

      Just post again Judy. Only lunatic remarks are intentionally scrubbed. For instance the time I wrote about the moon based brain eating zombies that were coming to//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

  15. Howdy,

    Ok let’s talk about pest.  Mice and rats.  Traps, the old fashioned snap to kill type.  They are still effective, cheap, and reusable.  Peanut butter is about the best bait.  It last along time and sticks to the trap so it won’t roll away.  For out buildings you can add traps and cats.  Cats will need supplemental food and vet care though.  If you raise chickens, quail and rabbits they may be more problems than solutions.
    Mosquitoes,  drain any free standing water.  No place to breed, no place to live.  Keep the grass low around the house.  That’s the same for keeping down tick too.  Grow plants near your house like citronella that they don’t like to be near.  A little oil on the surface of non drinking water will kill  larva.  Barley straw floating on you ponds will keep the water clear too.  Lastly add mosquito eating fish like guppies.  In an end of our would mosquitoes will re-emerge as the killers that they are.  Malaria and yellow fever will return carried by these pest.  
    For ticks you can raise Guinea fowl.  They love ticks and will eat them off your property in no time.
    Fleas and all crawling pest, Diamiscus earth!  You can get it from your farm supply stores.  Tractor supply carries it in the horse section.  Dust your pets and stock with it.  The sharp edges from the diatoms cut through the insects exoskeletons and they die!  I dust my dawgs with it regularly.  My quail get a dust bath once a week.  The excess falls into their poop pans and kill pest there too.  Put it around your doors and windows to get the crawlers trying to seek in. 



    • Encourager says:

      Hi Ken, Is the website listed at the end of your comment okay? I went there and it went to a site called Hover.

      A comment about the diatomaceous earth – make sure it is food/human grade, not the stuff for a swimming pool.

      Judy, sometimes a post will disappear (just happened to me!) so you just have to repost.

      Rex, great questions you posted! I need the answers to these, too.

      On the no TP, you can use a squeeze bottle with a nozzle (old fashioned ketchup bottles work) with a touch of soap in it. Squirt what you need to clean. Blot dry with a cloth if necessary. If you use a bit of baby wash, you do not have to rinse yourself.

      On the mouse/rat killing? Don’t use DeCon. The mice will crawl into the walls to die, and boy, does your house stink bad for at least three weeks (1st hand experience here). Use the old fashioned snap kill traps. We use a bit of bacon on ours, works great. Cheese or peanut butter work too but the bacon works best.

  16. panhandleprepper says:

    Great questions Rex. Here are some of the things we are doing. Hope you and your groups find some of this information helpful.
    1) I regulary purchase borax at the “Everything’s A Dollar” store to control the roaches. I have rat and mouse traps (rat traps being dual use). I also stock up on bug spray when I catch it on sale or on clearance. Here in Florida, I also try to stockpile some of the red ant killer.
    2) Even though I do stock up TP, at some point it will run out. My plan B is a sponge on a stick with vinegar for each each person (like the Romans). Eventually, we will have to go with rags and washing them. The plan is for a pair of rubber gloves for each person, and a separate container for each person’s sponge or rag.
    3) Even though we stock up when we see a good sale, the one shtf approach is a very large store of ivory soap bars. You can shave some off a bar and put it in a container with water, shake it up until it disolves and you have instant liquid soap. Same thing for a laundry detergent. Great thing about Ivory soap bars is they float, and are relatively cheap. Laundry will be done with a 5-gallon bucket and a plunger (with holes in it). A separate bucket for rinsing, and I have a mop wringer and bucket for wringing out the clothes.
    4) I have a couple of the camping showers (Coleman brand) that you can purchase at any Walmart. These are basically a black plastic bag you set in the sun, hang it up, and let gravity take over. Plan B is your standard version garden sprayer, painted black (if you wish), then you can spary yourself. You could boil your water to put into the container rather than relying on solar power. As far as heating water, it really depends on quantity and the capacity of your emergency stoves. A Deadwood Stove would be an excellent addition to your emergency plans.
    5) Plan is to use the zeer / clay pot method. Here in hot northern Florida, I’m not sure there are many alternatives
    6) Can’t help you much on this
    7) I’ve taken aluminum foil and wrapped it around the boxes that hold my spare flashlights, batteries, crank radios, etc. This is kind of a poor man’s faraday cage.

    • Panhandle Prepper,

      I live in North Florida too and I’ve read that the zeer pot does not work well in places with high humidity, presumably because the humidity decreases evaporation. Has anyone tried using a zeer pot in the South during the summer months? I would be interested to here your results. (I do worry about Florida because before refrigeration and air conditioning, this place was considered inhabitable–that’s why Georgia started as a prison colony.

      • Evaporation is only part of the process for evaporative cooling. An abundant airflow is also a necessity for proper evaporation. I tried this idea last year and it is quite humid where I live. I eventually constructed a 20 foot chimney from downspout and used the reducers to build it up to a ten inch diameter where I sat the double pots on an open rack. You could actually fell the air flow and see it if you used smoke where it pulled it in from the bottom up the chimney and exhausted it out the top. This year I plan on using a couple of my old temperature recording units I used to use on air conditioning jobs and see just how much cooling effect I get overall and if time and laziness permits, I will experiment with different heights of the chimney. With the down spout I have, I can do then feet, twenty feet and thirty feet. Harold

  17. I love the idea for this post. Every one of these questions need to be addressed. What a great opportunity for the pack to share their areas of expertise with the rest.

    I can answer the question about laundry detergent and dish soap. Make the basic soap mix, and use for everything–that is what I am discovering.

    Here are the instructions. Get a 5 gallon bucket with a lid. Buy a box of borax, a box of washing soda and one or two bars of soap (I used Fels Naptha). Use cheese grater to grate bar soap. Put two quarts of water on stove and heat, add grated soap. Add hot water to the five gallon bucket while soap mixture is dissolving. When grated soap is fully dissolved, pour into five gallon bucket and stir. Add 1 cup borax and 1 cup washing soda. Fill bucket with warm water. Let sit overnight. The mixture will turn into a gel the next morning. Stir before using.

  18. Heres what I’m doing :
    1. Pests I’m buying up boxes of the Mouse sticky strips in stead of traps because I don’t have the strength or control to set reg. traps. For bugs get DE food grade it’s kid and pet safe and will kill off most bugs especially fleas. I also use it in my Buckets of flour, rice and grains to protect against bugs and drying agent.
    2. I’m storing all those phone books they give away and have several sponges that are color coded for each person to have one for wiping.
    3. Ivory Soap can be shaved and then dried for use as laundry Soap
    4. I’m getting a portable camp shower both Solar and propane.
    5. My basement provides the correct temp of 55-60 degrees F
    6 I’ve smoked and dried meat and yes you can get 6 months to a year via a cold smoke on meats
    7. I’m doing solar any way EMP is only one hazard and I feel going off the grid is worth doing solar. I’m buy hand tools whenever I find them.

  19. I love all these questions. Food for thought.

    I have a ton of boric acid and diatomaceous earth stored. It will help with roaches (as per personal experience). I am still trying to figure out how to get rid of ants, particularly fire ants.
    Last year was horrible for fleas. I took several approaches to it, but the meds from the vet was what finally got rid of them. I did spray my yard with beneficial nematodes. I think that helped until the drought dried out my soil. I did read something about fennel repelling fleas, so I bought some fennel essential oil and put it in a spray bottle with water. It did make the fleas jump off, but did not kill them, and when the spray dried they were right back.
    As for mosquitos, I am playing around with some ideas now. Last year I used essential oils, but what happens when they run out? So this year I am going to try infusing certain herbs with oils to make a “cream” to rub on and with water for a spray. We will see if that helps.
    As for the larger critters, well I am hoping mouse traps, dogs, (and possibly adopting a cat) helps.
    The dish soap issue… I was given a set of crystal wine glasses a couple of years ago. They were caked with grease and dust. I scrubbed and scrubbed and couldnt get them clean, so I threw them up in the cabinet and forgot about them. Well we are packing up and as space is at a premium in my new place, I was thinking about getting rid of them. But they are real crystal and free, so what the heck one more attempt and if it fails they are gone. I soaked them for about 10 minutes in some warm water with washing soda. I wiped them out and took a toothbrush to the tiny grooves. I didnt even have to scrub. When I finished up they look brand new. So playing around I found that washing soda will also make regular glass sparkle, pulling off all kinds of residue.
    I have also used baking soda, castile soap, and even the recipe for laundry soap. I just use vinegar in the rinse water. I have heard this saying “soap is soap” so with that in mind, I think as long as it is rinsed well (and mostly a little can go a long way) that any soap will work to get it clean, whether it is dishes, laundry, or us.

    • TG,

      I have used my homemade laundry soap which contains washing soda on my shower glass and the glass came out perfectly clean. And I have tried everything to get the water stains off the glass.

      About fire ants. I haven’t tried this myself but I’ve heard that it works. Take two ant piles (both fire ants). You and another person holding shovels take a shovel full of ants from one pile and put them on the other pile, and vise versa. They get into a war and kill each other. Then pour boiling water on the remaining ants. Like I said, however, I haven’t tried this myself. I would be interested to hear if it works.

      • Bam Bam, I may try that in my new place if there is a fire ant problem there. I think one of the colonies is under the foundation here.
        I will have to try the washing soda in the bathroom. I think I am going to get a spray bottle and see how it works as a general cleaner. I usually use vinegar, but I like having options. And another bonus…. washing soda is cheap.

        • recoveringidiot says:

          TG, fire ants can and will get into your house and run you out! My first wife’s mother (still my ma-inlaw) had them show up suddenly and ran her out for a couple days. She hired a professional to get them out of the house and I sprayed the yard for her. I think the stuff we used was bifenthrin. I have no idea what would control the fire ants if there are no pesticides available, I need to work on that. Looks like boric acid work? I really hate fire ants, they are fairly new here and they seem to be very prolific.

          • charlie (NC) says:

            Many years ago I rented a mobile home for a short period of time while in transition. The landlord was a friend of mine and had the best kept rental properties around. One morning I woke up and realized I had some bites on me. After looking around a bit I found fire ants in the bedroom. I called the owner. He came right over and started tearing into things. Unknown to him the ants had built a mound inside of the mobile homes underskirting reaching up to the bottom of the wall. They had infiltrated the wall and had built a huge nest inside. He ripped everything out and fixed it immediately and got rid of the ants. Other than a couple of bites it all came out fine but it could have been a tragedy. There were enough ants in that wall to kill me if they had all decended on me while I was sound asleep.

    • Dryer sheets will repel mosquitos. I tear one in half and put half in the back of my shirt collar and the other hanging from a front pockets. The mosquitos leave me alone. When I was a kid growing up in the woods, we would use a small branch of leaves from one of the oak trees in the same manner. Only the oak worked, I don’t know why. Dryer sheets are easier and much more comfortable. My mother used to use some kind of exotic potted plants in the house that were difficult to keep alive in our winters even in the house but I don’t remember what they were. Harold

  20. justincase says:

    I think that the compost water heating would work but water has to move through the black pipe. which means a pump of some kind(more power) the solar camp showers work good when the sun shines and the weather mild. winter sponge baths,bugs diatmacious earth (DE) not sure of the spelling use it on our chickens , tp rags work just fine boiling water in the wash pan dish soap( back to basics) tells how to get lye from wood ashes

    • As far as water movement goes, if the uphill distance is not too great and there is a ready supply of cold water available at the feed end, thermal siphon will do the job. The old two cylinder John Deere tractors did not have water pumps but the heated water would flow to the top of the radiator and be cooled as it ran down through the tubes by the air circulation and reenter the engine at the bottom. They did have a cooling fan but no water pump. Harold

  21. JP in MT says:

    I really like these type of threads. A lot get discussed. On the road today. I’ll most some of my precautions later.

  22. When we first bought our house (in MA in the woods), we had such a horrific mosquito problem that we could barely go outside. I bought one of those propane-powered mosquito machines (the brand I bought is called Mosquito Magnet) that supposedly lures in mosquitoes with a bait, traps them with a fan in a net basket and dehydrates them to death. A lot of people claim these machines don’t work, but I have stuck with and experimented with the technology and over 5 years I have drastically reduced our mosquito problem. First of all, these machines don’t cover the actual area they claim to, so I ended up buying 3 of them and triangulating them on my property. Secondly, this isn’t the type of product that you set up one morning, run it for 12 hours, and expect to have a mosquito-free garden party that night. I run them 24/7 for 4 months every summer, and what they REALLY do is interrupt the breeding cycle and over time, will drastically reduce the mosquito population in your immediate area. I don’t know how much good they would actually be in a long-term SHTF situation, but I’ve been using the same machines for 5 years with nothing purchased except for baits, CO2 refills for clearing the lines, and propane tanks. They do have a lot of technical difficulties, and I always have a lot of fun with at least one of them at the beginning of every season, but so far nothing that I couldn’t fix myself. I had them set up before the arrival of WNV, which is very prevalent around here now. If you have a different variety of mosquitoes in other parts of the country, different baits are available.

    I also like the portable bug zappers that you can carry around with you and fry bugs with. I take one with me every day on my 3 mile walk through the state park, and probably kill at least 50 horseflies a day. The run on AA batteries, and a lot of campers use them. They are also handy when wasps or mosquitoes get in the house, or when you are gardening and have may flies buzzing around your head. I’ve seen them all over the place for around $5, but here’s a link to Amazon just so you can see what they look like if you don’t know what they are:


    Setting up bat houses will also help, although bat populations in our part of the world are now drastically reduced due to an unknown disease outbreak that is killing all of them.

    I have a diary written by a long-ago female relative of a covered wagon trip from Manson, Iowa to Poplar Bluff, Missouri, taken in 1896. The family moved in an effort to escape a malaria outbreak. If civilization collapses, we can be sure that such diseases will plague us here in the US again.

    For a great bug read, check out “Parasite Rex: Inside the Bizarre World of Nature’s Most Dangerous Creatures” by Carl Zimmer.

    • The two things that will work against mosquitoes are bleach and mosquitoes nets. I read a book a while ago about the digging of Panama Canal. About half way through the project, the majority of workers were dying from malaria and other mosquito borne illnesses. They brought in an expert who drained all the standing water (they had pools of water for decorations) and who added bleach to all water. Disease ceased. Then folks got too cheap and stopped the bleach program because they felt it was too expensive and people began to die again.

      • Rich Muszynski says:

        greetings. mayhap just got my info from a different source. but the one i read says they sprayed oil on the standing water. mosquito larva have to breath air. so sticking what they breathe up above the surface of the water they end up in the thin film of oil on the surface and they end up strangling from lack of oxygen. the oil will not evaporate like bleach would and is not bothered by temperature either. a little goes a long way.

  23. I have experimented with a 2 gal garden sprayer for a shower. Get a black one and if it is above 60 degrees it will get up to about 95 -105 degrees which is pretty good for a shower. If colder you couild always heat up a bucket of water to put into it. One thing I added is another bucket with about a gal of hot water and one of those big yellow sponges they sell for washing off grout at home depot. I found this helped rinse out shampoo from hair better than trying to spray it out. I could get a decent shower with about a 1 gal in the sprayer and another half gal in th bucket, you could get a couple showers out of 2 gal of water it you are careful. I grew up with a dad that was ex navy and he made us take what he called navy showers where you wet down turn the water off and soap up and then rinse off . If we had the water in the shower on for more than 2 min he was banging on the door and yelling that we were wasting water. Who knew he was a prepper. Plus with the garden sprayer you have it for other uses where one of those camp showers is not really a multi use item.. Just make sure you only use the garden sprayer for non toxic uses and have another for those uses. I have clear ones for garden use and a couple of the back ones for water use. When I was at scout camp we had a big tank hooked up to the water pipes and it was over a fire pit. On the day parents would visit we would fire it up and after about half an hour it was hot enough to take showers with, and it was like a gas water heater that it would stay warm as you fed water through it, I think an tank out of and old water heater piped to the water system it you had running water would work the same way.

  24. i would like to add that my husband and i build houses and every client that has used boric powder before the sheetrock has gone in and we did it too on our two houses have never had problems with roaches. mice and snakes and gophers! are taken care of my a good cat- we lose ours a while back and hte gophers came back but a stray moved in under the deck and they are not around anymore- we dont feed her but give her water.
    as for washing clothes- i plan on using a bucket and a plunger but may get the washing machine offered by EE also- for wringing out the clothes i have an janitor type mop bucket that has a wringer built on it and then rinsing in another bucket then line drying- i am experimenting on this now- i am also making home made laundry soap soon to save money and to see how it does- i also plan on making lye soap as soon as i find a pot to cook it in
    meat tenderizer is also good for bug bites esp bee stings- so is bleach
    the suggestions for hot water are good ones and ones i plan on using- we lost water for a few days last winter and i learned how to take a bath and wash my hair in a bucket of water- i heated some on the stove- found out it doesnt take as much as i thought and the water can then be used to flush the toilet
    thanks everyone for the ideas and solutions

  25. Re the post about pests…traping rabbits and squirrels…
    The poster mentioned Coons and Possums, well they are two of the tastiest critters I ever ate. Same with Ground hogs or Woodchucks. If…push does come to shove…one can eat rats, really. Fact is, just about anything that has four legs in North America can be eaten. Snake is good also, rather bland though, imo.

  26. What about pest?, Farm cats/dogs for mice/rats, traps small critter control, ducks make a huge difference in regards to Mosquito control, I also keep a good supply of baking soda, metal garbage cans, metal box’s, old freezers for bug proof storage.

    What about toilet paper? -Been over this one before, use cloth, closed fitted lid and wash them with hot water/hand scubber (or bucket but it does not get them as clean as the scubber when I tried it).

    What about washing dishes and clothes? -Dishes, heat water in pot, use to pans, one wash, one rince, Cloths, wash, use ringer, hang to dry, wear cloths that today would be considered very dirty, more important to keep your under clothes and your sock’s clean.. I have lived in the bush cabin(only a wood stove for heat, no running water other then the creek etc) for a winter, and while the undies and socks got washed every night, I have jokely worn jeans that could stand on their own..

    What would be the best method – Bar soap, get the right kind and you can do it all with it, dishes, cloths, body and hair, still freak’s DH out, when I wash my hair with bar soap at times.

    What about hot showers or just hot water period? -Others have covered this in detail so I will only second that dark black hose will give you hot water for about three months of the year where I live, the rest of the time, I would recommend letting go of the idea of showers daily other then in summer, and get used to the idea of pan washing in fall/winter/early spring, for what its worth, I was always taught that there is a method to how its done. (hair gets wash once or twice a week at a different time), Put down hand towel, stand on it, hot pan of water, dish cloth, soap, wash face first, rince, then soap and lather, wash the rest of the body leaving the “parts” for last, then rince, put pan on the floor, step in and soak feet, dry the rest of body, at that point, scrub feet, then dry them well, throw out the grey water outside.. all done.

    What about storage? Cellars, and if you are very lucky a spring house, but for most of us, we need earthen cellars, and or you need to again give up the idea that you can have storage and food thoughtout the year like we do now, and go back to a very limited winter plate and eat with the seasons.

    Does a smoke house really work for preserving meat long-term? If so, for how long and how well smoked does it need to be? – I smoke meat, I hot smoke, and I cold smoke, I have built a small smoke house, and I have built a much larger winter cold smoke, lots of good books on this subject, and while smoke does help keep food, I have found salting to be the onet that will truly keep meats, the longest I have ever kept something as a test was a whole leg of salted, smoked lamb, it was fine at the year test point. I agree with someone else that commented, salting and smoking is a skill, start learning when you can afford to make learning mistakes.

  27. i forgot to add- on dishes- i am stocking up on paper plates and plastic utensils for the first few months of getting used to living the new lifestyle we will have to live after whatever happens but i have two small basins- think the beige or pink ones hospitals give you when you are in there- that fit in my sink or outside- one to wash dishes and one to rinse dishes- i will add a bit of bleach for the rinse water- i have done this before while camping- or if you cook in a large pot you can use it for the dishwater- i also have lots of bandanas- they are so useful for many things- dishclothes- sprains- cuts- small rope-slings- i cant think of all the things i use them for- when we go camping they are right up there with duct tape- everyone carries one with a whistle

    • Mama,

      I to have stocked up on the disposable stuff. For less than $200 I stocked up on the styrofoam stuf at sams . I got plates, cups bowls, plastic utensils, I even got some of the takout containers figure you can separate the lid for a big plate and the three comp side for another plate. Also bought the big commercial rolls of foil, plastic wrap , butcher paper and boxes of the trifold paper towels. I have 1000 12 ounce cups that can be used as cups and or bowls if need be. Most of the cases of stuff were between $10-15 each so you can pick and choose what you think you will need and spend even less. I figure if water is really scarce this will help out, and if for some reason have to feed a larger group some of the other stuff might not get broken or dissapear. I even stocked up on the foil pans for the chafing dish type of things , they came in packs of like 30 or so and figure there will be tons of uses for them. Good thing is all this stuff is packed in its own box and and will stay clean and not really take up a lot of space. Got a few cases of the big giant rolls of single ply tp also as my last resort back-up before I have to start on the cloths in the bucket method.

      • George,
        I don’t mean to be critical so this is just IMHO. Water is/should be one of the top priorities for prepping, even above food. In planning your storage, water needed for cooking and keeping you and all things clean should be added into the gallonage to store. As to stocking up on styrofoam and plastic cups, bowls, plates, utensils, whatever, have you thought about how you will dispose of all of this? Remember, weekly trash pickup and county/city operated dumps most likely will not be operating. If you chose, for whatever reason, not to wash dishes, glasses, cups, at least buy paper products that can be burned. (PLEASE don’t burn styrofoam and plastic – the long-lasting stench and black smoke will surely draw attention, not to mention health problems for some. And by simply disposing of this plastic and foam in trash bags, you are inviting pests and animals of all kinds and sizes because they will have food residue left on them. If you plan on burying everything, you better have a backhoe to dig a hole big enough to hold all of it! I have camped/backpacked for many years and could always tell if there was anyone in the vicinity burning their “trash.” It takes very little water to wash off and rinse a plate a cup and fork. This is all, of course, assuming you will be at your bug-in or bug-out locaton. When you’re on the move, I doubt you’ll be lugging around cases of styrofoam take-out containers so this point is moot. LOL

        • Conmaze,

          I have thought about the same issue. I can throw paper plates and other paper products in the compost pile. You can’t compost styrofoam.

        • Conmaze,
          I do agree on the styrofoam, it will only be used when there are a larger number of people and when water is scarce. With the extra people won’t be to worried about burning the trash. When just a few are around will use regular stuff and just wash. Plus I do have paper items to use and compost also, just got the styrofoam for last resort backups since it is pretty cheap for large volumes. Check the price of paper cups vs styrofoam and you get about twice the ammount for half the price.

  28. I just found a couple of recipes for dish soap. This is from http://www.diylife.com/2009/08/03/how-to-make-your-own-dish-soap/


    Recipe #1: Liquid Castile Soap
    This method is by far the easiest because the base is pre-made within the castile soap.

    1. Grab some liquid castile soap from your local health food store. Castile soap refers to any soap that is made entirely from vegetable oil.
    2. Mix 2 cups of castile soap with 1/2 cup of warm water in a recycled dish soap squeeze bottle.
    3. For scented dish soap, add a few drops of essential oils.
    4. Shake well before using
    Recipe #2: Soap Flakes
    Buy soap flakes where you usually purchase laundry detergent.

    1. Combine 2 cups of soap flakes with one gallon of warm water.
    2. Place the mixture in a large, non-reactive pan and warm over medium heat until the soap is completely dissolved.
    3. Add 2 tablespoons of glycerin and remove from heat.
    4. After letting the soap cool, add a 1/2 cup of lemon juice or 1/2 cup of white vinegar. Either of these 2 ingredients will help the soap to fight grease.
    5. For a scented soap, add a few drops of essential oils. Mix well.

    Recipe #3: Solid Soap Shavings
    You can save even more money by making dish soap from leftover pieces of bar soap! Just be sure to chop them into very fine pieces first.

    1. Place 2 cups of soap shavings into a large bowl.
    2. Add 2-3 cups of hot water and let it sit overnight to soften.
    3. Stir the mixture until it becomes smooth. Add more water to reach the desired consistency.
    4. Add 1/2 cup of lemon juice or white vinegar to help fight grease.
    5. Shake well before using.

    • Thanks for this Bam Bam. I bought the goods to make the dry laundry soap because it would be easier for me to store. I especially like your tip on the shower. My DD made a concoction of Boraxo, vinegar, a little drip of liquid dishsoap and grapefruit essential oil. Man, I’ll tell you that stuff works GREAT and smells so clean and fresh. I love it. You can use it in the kitchen and bath. I did the sinks and counters, but I didn’t try the shower. I’ll do that first before I try the laundry soap and let you know how it works. I will get her “recipe” when she gets back in town and post it for anyone who is interested.

      • Conmaze,

        I would definitely be interested in your dd’s recipe. I think what did most of the work for the shower cleaner is the oxy clean. I bought a small container at Walmart for less than $2.

  29. Martha P says:

    Regarding #3: I have used the laundry soap that you make with washing soda, borax and Fels Naptha, with great success. There are variations in the recipe, but all of them make a HUGE amount of product. If you have soft water, (i.e. with very little calcium and magnesium) you can use just a 1/4 c. of the gel for a load, even in the newer machines.With a few bars of Fels, and a few boxes of borax and washing soda, you can make a lifetime supply! For dishes, in a dishwasher, substitute baking soda for the washing soda, or just add some to the mix. Castile soap is good for body washing, but it’s expensive. I’m stocking up on bars of soap (any brand) when they are on sale, combined with coupons or store “rewards”. There’s no need to buy “liquid hand soap”…it’s mostly water. You can make your own with bar soap. You can use dish liquid or even shampoo for laundry. White vinegar is your (rinse) friend!

  30. Kelekona says:

    In reading about squat toilets, I learned that many areas use water to clean themselves instead of using anything to wipe. I also stumbled across a camper’s trick of smearing vasolene around the opening beforehand to make wiping easier.

    For the warm shower problem, I was thinking “redneck hot-tub” but solar options seem better. There don’t seem to be any links about how effective it is for a human to take a dust bath, but apparently there is something in wood ash that will irritate the mites in a chicken’s feathers.

    • Rich Muszynski says:

      greetings. in the old days on ships on the ocean they simply used a salt water spray to clean off the residue on their butts. water works fine and if one is not picky. one can simply use a finger on the left hand to put a drop of soap on and massage the problem away. then just rinse your finger to be all fresh and smell free. the vasolene idea strikes me as a very good one.

  31. In regard to number 4 you might want to consider a portable camping shower. There are many different options, some are solar and others are heated by propane. I like the Zodi Extreme SC Hot Shower, it has a stainless steel tank, is heated with propane and you pressurize it with an screw in hand pump. It resembles a garden sprayer you use to spray for weeds in your yard.
    For washing, we have a wonder washer which works okay, it’s not great but it does work. I think the hand plunger type washers work better. The person who mentioned this in another post indicated they used buckets to wash using one – sounds like a great idea.
    For number 6 on smoking meats you might consider a book by Ed Epstein, it’s older but highly recommended by some people. M.D. has a link to amazon from this website, click the link and look for a book titled “Build a Smokehouse: Storey Country Wisdom Bulletin A-81”
    Good luck in your quest.

  32. CountryGirl says:

    The answer is; it depends. Everyone is going to respond from their own view of the situation being discussed and no one has defined the situation being discussed. Is it a real SHTF or a turd HTF? Is it TEOTWAWKI or the end of your job. Is it a depression or an economic collapse or what, exactly? Are you still in your home, in your car or walking to your bugout loacation? Are you with an organized group of people who prepared, alone with your family or totally alone? Do you have 1, 10 or 100 caches or nothing but a candy bar? Are you old, in poor health, injured, need medicine or are you 18 and can run marathons with an 80 lb pack? Can you cook over an open fire and like rice and beans or are you more a McDonalds kind of survivalist? None of the questions can be answered meaningfully unless you know what the circumstances are or will be.

    • Rich Muszynski says:

      greetings. doesn’t strike me as possible to give advice on things that would be the same for all people. I live in the north woods up by the Canadian border and what would be good advice up here would be totally useless for someone in the south or out in the deserts of the west. for example in the north the American Natives used to use bear grease for insects and insulation, which is where the belief that American Natives, or as they are called, Indians, were dirty. they washed daily if any water was available. but wore the grease on their skin to ward off insects who cannot land on it. here black flies are a bigger pest then mosquito’s and need different repellants to work on them. but we, at least some of us, simply use a hard hat like they use on construction jobs, smear on some chainsaw oil and wear the hat in the woods. black flies land on the highest point of their target, the head, and then go down. land on the oil smeared hat and they get oil all over them and suffocate since they breath through their skin. at the end of the day will use a paper towel to wipe the new black fur coating on the hat that is black flies that landed there. insect repellants are toxic no matter what formula they have. use too much DEET on your skin and you are asking for big problems. Plus expensive. and most repellants can be smelled for quite a distance by someone not using them. Jungles of Vietnam proved that one pretty well.

    • Country Girl, it does depend on the situation as to what will be needed/used. The region you live in also has a lot to do with the answers. But by giving our thoughts on the questions, even if it is limited to our personal experience or ideas, gives others a chance to think of something that they hadnt previously thought of. So while my ideas may not work for everyone, and other ideas may not do me any good, they may help at least one person learn something that will really help them out one day, whether a SHTF situation or not.

  33. Rex,
    Good set of questions. I’m running behind and still haven’t read all of the WDYDTPTW responses yet. I’ll post my replies / opinions to your questions tomorrow, FWIW.

  34. General Delivery says:

    Thought I’d chime in about my experience with propane and battery power hot water on demand shower units. I have used both the Zodi propane model and the Coleman rechargeable model. Back in 2009 & 10 I had the chance to use both for several months on average 3-4 times per week for showers only (no dish washing, etc).

    Coleman rechargeable battery unit (water heated by propane cylinder):
    Don’t waste your time buying this junk. I returned 3 of them in a six month period. The batteries are garbage and I’ve been caught several times in “full lather” when what I thought was a full battery suddenly died in mid shower. If you want to practice your curse words buy one of these unreliable units. When the battery dies, so does the pump so you can’t even finish rinsing with cold water. Since they are such crap units I won’t even bother to list the other issues they have. The battery is bad enough. And you don’t just walk in to any store and get a new battery. You have to order one from Coleman.

    Zodi single burner propane unit (pump runs on 4 D cells):
    I used one of these for just over a year. There are things I like about this unit but unfortunately the negatives far outweigh the positives. The main problem being cheap materials.

    Within 3 weeks the battery case for the pump stopped working. No visible signs of broken wiring or anything else. It just stopped. You always have to make sure it is pumping water while the propane heater is running or you will literally burn it out, which isn’t exactly safe.

    Zodi won’t even respond to you about warranty issues unless you’ve filled out the warranty card and sent it to them within 14 days of purchase. Zodi is located in Utah, far from where I live, so dealing with warranty issues plus the cost of shipping parts back and forth was not worthwhile for me so I didn’t bother sending it in. I was hoping to get at least 4 months of use from this unit before something gave out on it. Little did I know it would only be 3 weeks before it had an issue, and these units are not cheap where I live! Luckily the local store where I bought it had SEVERAL other Zodi units returned to them for VARIOUS warranty issues and they were able to give me a used pump as a replacement at no charge since I’d only had it 3 weeks.

    The hinges on the used battery pump case they gave me cracked and loosened within 6 weeks. This is a water tight case but I was able to keep it sealed well enough using an elastic velcro strap around it so that water wouldn’t get in. Amazingly the pump lasted me about a year after that. Lastly, if you’re using a 5 gallon pail as a water container you’ll need to let the water circulate for at least 5-10 minutes before it gets warm enough to shower with. I had to use some very cold water sources and running a battery pump to circulate the water enough for showering temperature consumes a lot of batteries in a short time in cold climates.

    The Bottom Line:
    I will never again waste my money on these fancy propane/battery shower units. I haven’t even gone in-depth about their short comings. So this is what I do now, and it costs A LOT less than buying the fancy units and has lasted me a lot longer:

    – Two metal 5 gallon pails that can be heated directly in the coals of a fire, over a stove, etc. (one pail is enough but if you really want a luxurious hot shower get 2, lol).

    – Get one or two simple hand pumps (2 is 1, 1 is none) that they sell in automotive stores that are used for siphoning gas or other fluids. They cost on average around $20. The pumps come pre-packaged with flex hose for the in/out ports on the hand pump but you may need to buy longer lengths depending on your set up. Simply use the outflow port of the pump as your shower head and stick the other hose into the warm bucket of water. Manually pumping the water can be a bit of pain unless you mount the pump to something solid so you can use your other hand to help wash/rinse. You could even get fancy and mount a cheap shower head to the outflow hose.

    I also keep two 5 gallon solar shower bags. They pack up small and can also be used to carry and dispense drinking water if need be. They aren’t so practical in -40 weather but they have other uses as well.

    Sorry for the lengthy rant. I should note that I take very good care of my equipment because I rely on it in remote areas for long periods. When I buy something I test it first. But when failures happen in a short period from things like cheap materials or defects I can’t see it really makes me think about how to do things using basic materials. The K.I.S.S. rule will always be cheaper and more reliable in the end.

    • General Delivery,

      Thanks for this post. I think you may very well have saved a bunch of folks some money. I was in Home Depot killing time before a doctor’s appointment and looked at the galvanized metal tubs. I have been thinking about getting one, maybe two since I like to luxuriate.

    • General Delivery, did you have the opportunity to try the Zodi Extreme manual pump up system? I’m just curious.

      • General Delivery says:

        No, I simply stopped considering ANY Zodi products after paying such a high price for their basic single-burner unit. I haven’t bothered looking at their products since 2010. That’s my opinion only. Hope it helps you from being disappointed with whatever they are selling these days. Maybe they have improved in the last 2 years. Let me know if they did.

    • riverrider says:

      i used my coleman every weekend for two years with no problems. i keep a spare battery, and when i see bad weather coming i plug it in to recharge it. that said, i plan on using the garden sprayer method for longer term. one thing- catch the gray water to flush with.

  35. Bandurasbox says:

    Since one of the major concerns in this great post is about TP, this leads me to the next question, which is waste disposal. We don’t have the area to build an outhouse, and our group consists of 6 members. That’s a lot of waste to be rid of without attracting insects, etc. Perhaps someone in the wolf pack can give me a heads up where I can look on the site, or some info about how we do cheap and clean waste disposal.

    With much thanks!

    • Alittle 2Late says:

      I believe M.D. built a septic system using 2 55 gallon drums ….

    • sw't tater says:

      Grandma put LIME in her outhouse, changed the odor and killed the bugs… the Diamatecous (sp) earth would work as well. Girl scouts do it with a shovel, 5 gallon bucket and a toilet seat lid, with a sheet for privacy.

    • Rich Muszynski says:

      Greetings. you could look into the humanure systems. in it they use a 5 gallon pail with something that is nitrogen deficient like saw dust or peat moss. make a deposit in the bucket and toss in a hand full of the sawdust or crushed leaves and put down the toilet seat and no insect or odor problems. in the book titled humanure they describe how to build a simple composting toilet complete with a ordinary toilet seat for about $25. and the composted human waste, along with all your other organic wastes like vegetable peels and left overs can be composted along with the human waste and after aging for a couple of years can safely be used as fertilizer for growing food plants with. and you don’t end up with the outhouse problem of polluting your ground water either. might be worth your while to check the process out. I got my copy of Humanure on half . com for about $7 plus shipping. I’ve lived in the woods with a out house and this is a thousand times better. and note human manure is used by most of the worlds people for fertilizer, only they don’t even bother composting it. simply use it raw and you can smell a farm overseas for miles before you get to it. once it is composted all germs that might be in it are killed by the process, so no pathogenic organizems to carry disease. and composted humanure has no offensive odor either.

  36. Pineslayer says:

    GD is totally right on about the battery/propane units. I have a Zodi unit, junk. My friend bought a Coleman unit, it ended up being given away it was so bad. The bigger units look good, but I haven’t had the guts to pony up the $. I do have a Zodi unit that has a metal coil that goes into the fire or other source of heat, and heats up a bag of water through convection action. It works and the best part is as long as you have a fire going, the showers keep coming. It was designed for backcountry use, great for canoeing where weight is not as big a deal.

    • General Delivery says:

      Pineslayer – 2 metal buckets, which also act as storage when you’re not using them to heat water over a fire, and a simple hand pump cost about $30. Coleman and Zodi flew beyond functional and landed right in to crap.

      I’m almost embarrassed to try and sell the Zodi unit I still have and which I haven’t used since 2010. What do I tell the customer?… “Oh yes sir, this is the finest piece of useless junk you’ll ever buy”…

      Nah, I’m just going to drive over it with our forklift and put it out of its misery.

      • Pineslayer says:

        General Delivery, I agree, can’t bring myself to sell the unit to an unsuspecting fellow citizen. I have tried to work with it, but it was a HUGE waste of time. Might try and barter it away for a doughnut.

    • Pineslayer says:

      Finally found a link to this Zodi unit…


      As to the other Zodi POS, it was one of the basic ones, single burner, 6Volt pump. Worthless, do not buy.

  37. BarbeeBunch says:

    Hello all … I am a newbie. I have been following the posts here for several days and have become quite addicted. I know many of you think negatively about Doomsday Preppers but I have been watching it faithfully and it has really got me in a frenzy to start prepping. In the last 2 weeks I have already made bug-out-bags with a weeks supply of food for everyone in my family and we purchased a small bug-out trailor to hold everything we need to keep us alive for weeks. Reading all of your posts has really given me some good ideas also. I just wanted to share with everyone the recipe for homemade laundry detergent that I have been using for about 6 months now. I absolutely love it, and will never go back to store bought detergent again. I also use half apple cider vinegar and half fabric softner in the rinse cycle.

    Homemade Laundry Detergent Ingredients:

    1 box Borax (4 lbs 12oz or 76 oz)

    1 box Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda (55oz or 3 lbs 7oz)

    1 box Arm & Hammer Baking Soda (64oz or 4 lbs)

    2 bars Fels-Naptha Laundry Soap

    1 bar Pink Zote Laundry Soap

    Using a cheese grater or food processor, grate all 3 bars of soap. Mix the Borax, washing soda, baking soda, and grated soap together in a trash bag. It’s much easier to mix in a bag than in a bucket. When ingredients are mixed together well put soap in a container of your choice. I used 2 one-gallon plastic ice cream containers. Use 1 tablespoon of soap per load. If the clothes are extra soiled, use 2 tablespoons. This soap has no fillers so you do not have to use nearly as much to get the job done. It cleans well and it has a great, fresh scent.

    This recipe makes approximately 440 tablespoons and cost about $16.20 to make. That should be enough to last me atleast 9 months. 32 loads of Gain cost around $8.00. That means that 440 loads of Gain would cost around $110.00. That is a savings of $93.80.

    • Barbee Bunch,

      Welcome to the Wolf Pack. It’s good to know that Doomsday Preppers is not a total loss. It is helping to open eyes. The main fault with the show is that people are violating OPSEC. If you tell your neighbors what you have stored, when SHTF they are going to show up at your door asking or demanding food. As they said during WWII, loose lips sink ships. Keep your preps on the down low. And be mindful that you kids don’t blab to all their friends. It will be good to help out those who are less fortunate. It will be bad to be overrun by folks who chose not to prepare for themselves and their families.

      • BarbeeBunch says:

        Bam Bam … thanks for the welcome, and thanks for the tip. I completely agree. My fiance and I said that very same thing when we first started watching the show.

    • General Delivery says:

      G’day BarbeeBunch,

      Welcome to the world of testing your preps.

      Enjoy your new friends and education on this blog as you travel the road that keeps you and your family safer, and hopefully self-sufficient and out of debt. Your detergent recipe will certainly keep you clean (lol)!

      Cheers – General D.

    • welcome barbee bunch – and thank you for your recipe…good to see you are prepping and having fun with it…cheers.

    • I'm A Prep Kat says:

      I’ve been using this recipe for years! It was the only thing that would get the “skid marks” out of my son’s unders.

    • BarbeeBunch,
      Welcome aboard. My main problem with the Doomsday Preppers show is the way the material is edited and the way the people are portrayed, although I think it has been getting a little better with each episode. I watch the show along with Doomsday Bunkers, Dual Survival, and other shows in the genre, in part for the same reason I come here and visit several other sites, new ideas and perspectives. I’ve been a survivalist/prepper for more than 40 years and there generally isn’t a topic here or on the DP show where I don’t learn something new, or gain a different insight on a topic. Additionally, if it can get more people aware and involved in self reliance, then it has IMHO done what it needs to do.

  38. Pest Control

    1. Plant Marigolds (Tagetes genus) around the perimeter of your garden and next to anything potato, tomato, eggplant, and chili. The most common planting of Marigolds that I’ve seen as a form of pest control is to plant a ring around the entire garden 3 to 4 layers deep, next to plants I mentioned above, and in pots with tomatoes. You will mix African, American, French, and wild Marigolds of the Tagetes genus in these layers. The musty scent of the Marigold does a pretty good job of warding off the run-of-the-mill insect pests and nematodes. The nematode will avoid the roots of any plant located next to the Marigolds. Do not plant Marigolds near legumes (soybeans, peas, white clover, etc.) of any type as the Marigold roots give off an antibacterial substance that disrupts the symbiotic relationship that legumes have with the bacteria in the soil.
    2. Plant rows of pine trees on the perimeter of your property. My folks have three rows of pine trees on one side of their property that helps keep the insects down and bird population up.
    3. Hot pepper spray and plant covers have been known to deter deer and smaller pests from eating your plants.
    4. Strong smelling plants planted on the outer perimeter of your garden help deter deer from eating your plants. Look into Anise, anise hyssop, catmint, common tansy, garden sage, horehound, horseradish, lavender, lemon balm, marjoram, mint, monkshood, oregano, rosemary, and rue. These plants are strong enough to mess with the deer’s sense of smell.
    5. A 5 gallon bucket next to a brick wall works well for mice and chipmunks. Fill the 5 gallon bucket with 2 gallons of water. Pour sun flower seeds into the bucket until the water’s entire surface is covered by sunflower seeds. What looks like an easy meal turns into a permanent swimming lesson for these little critters.
    6. Raccoons can be trapped with a simple fiberglass box with a shiny object inside. On one side of the box is a small hole just large enough for a raccoon hand to fit through. Inside the box is a shiny object which the raccoon can pick up. You will hammer dozens of nails at an inward angle around the small hole of the box. As the raccoon grabs the shiny and tries to pull it from the box, its hand gets stuck on the nails since its hand with object is now too large to make it out of the hole. The raccoon’s greed prevents it from letting go of the shiny. The raccoon will spend hours trying to figure out how to get that shiny out.
    7. Get a cat or two. Those help with the four legged pests.
    8. To save the flowers of budding fruit trees and plants, I suggest that you start cage trapping squirrels about a month prior to the grow season starting. Those little buggers go after the fruit buds like a druggie looking for his next hit. We tend to give the squirrels swimming lessons while they are still in the cage trap.
    9. Other ways I’ve heard of keeping squirrels away from ground plants and fruit trees is to coat them with a solution containing Jamaican cayenne pepper.
    10. I read an account where coffee grounds protect plant bulbs from squirrels, but have not tried it myself.
    11. Baking soda and salt does a pretty good job of getting rid of fleas out of your carpet. Do a word search on Borax.

    • Another couple of items to look into is:

      1. Powdered blood spread around edges of your property or garden. Deer, rabbits, squirrels, mice, etc will avoid areas that that smell of blood.
      2. If you hunt, take the blood of your kill and do the same as #1.

  39. I have a idea. Although its great to know alternate uses for things why don’t you just buy the product that was made for the job? If you have pests buy the traps and poisons. If you want tp buy tp. clean dishes with dish soap (not dirt). There is a reason all these products where maid.

    • Kyle,
      I think the point here, is that you cannot purchase and store enough of anything (like TP) to last indefinitely. In a total collapse situation you will eventually run out and need alternatives. Lord willing and the creek don’t rise, we’ll never have to be concerned with the alternative, but it has been said that “Chance favors the prepared mind”. Contingencies are never a bad idea.

      • Very true OP, but we don’t have to store things indefinitely. We don’t now with full access to stores, maybe its my belief that no emergency will last past 6-8 months a year at the most. We as Americans don’t just sit around when things are bad and not try and fix it. people will do anything to get there comfort and safety back which usually equates to joining a group or something to fix the problem

  40. As far as the hot water thing…I remember taking showers in a shed with a Phantom jet wing tank on the roof that had been painted black, presumably after being traded for or stolen. I don’t know how they refilled it, but it lasted through a whole platoon of of hot showers…Might even be worth a trip to an airplane graveyard…

  41. This is a great article and brings up a lot of questions and answers. I’m sure we will all learn something important here no matter how long we’ve been prepping.

    1. I am using diatomaceous earth to control crawling insects – even works on bed bugs (so I’ve been told). It works for internal parasites as well. I have mouse and rat traps and D-Con as a last resort. (I lost a family cat that had caught a mouse who had eaten poison – remember that it takes days for rodents to die from the poisons) I have cage traps for squirrels and smaller animals and a larger cage for woodchuck, possums, armadillos. Still don’t have anything other than Deep Woods Off for mosquitos. I have chickens but don’t free-range them because of my dogs. Guinea hens are on my list. They are good for gardens and yards because they don’t scratch like chickens do and they are more likely to be able to get away from a dog.

    2. TP. Let me just say this…I WILL NOT RUN OUT OF TP! I don’t care if I have to have it stacked to the ceiling in my living room.

    3. I have a Rapid Washer (the plunger style washer) and two 5-gal. pails. I am thinking about purchasing those big plastic tubs with the rope handles that are so popular in the summer for kids things and ice/beverage tubs. They are lightweight and multi-functional. Could stand in it while showering to reserve gray water, wash the dogs or small kids.

    4. Hot showers, hot water. I have three bag-style solar showers as others have mentioned. I am also looking at black 5-gal buckets to set out in the sun to heat. I will use my water bath canner and Coleman single burner or my wood stove or outdoor fire for heating water if there is no sun. I’ve been planning a way to build a shelf in each shower strong enough to hold a bucket when full and drilling a hole on the side of the bucket down toward the bottom and mounting a hose with shower head. You can buy those shower/hose contraptions that will hook on the spout of a bathtub just about everywhere (even in the grocery store). Just cut off the big end that fits over the tub spout. Once installed, just keep the shower head above the water level in the bucket by hooking it to the top of the bucket.

  42. I thought I’d add what my family did for a year without running water…We heated water up on the wood stove, took it back to the bathroom and poured it into a dishpan. Filled the dishpan with cold water to get it to the right temperature, then used a large plastic glass to pour over ourselves for a shower. It worked great. We were using a gray water system at the time, so it went out the tub drain, but if you didn’t have a septic or gray water system, you could use a metal tub and haul the water out when you were done. My husband bought a Zodi Extreme for use if we need to (since he could!) but just pouring water over yourself works just fine.

  43. Rich Muszynski says:

    greetings. know this will not be of much use to those in the southern warm parts of the country. but in the north works well. heat our house with wood. so have a wood stove of course. when i lived in a cabin in the Thaquamenon wilderness area of Michigans U.P. i used to use a 50 gallon drum that i cleaned out, had a banded top to it. painted the inside of the drum with several coats of yellow enamel, which i had handy. set the barrel or drum up behind the wood stove and in winter when the surface water sources froze up. i would carry in and dump in the drum ice and snow, the heat from the stove would melt it back to water. which was a lot purer then the water coming out of the ground there. to use it to take a quick bath with i would simply dip out a stock pot of melted snow out of the barrel and place the stock pot on top of the oil drum stove to heat. found i could do a pretty through wash up with just a little over a gallon of water.

  44. Rich Muszynski says:

    greetings. on insect pests. here in the north we have trouble with carpenter ants. which are a lot like black ant termites. they bore into wood. eat it hollow. cure is to spray the wood, I live in a log cabin so it is all wood, with a mixture of dissolved boraxo and water. just soak the wood with it and it dries soaked right into the wood. any insect that then tries to eat or burrow through the wood dies from the boraxo residue. I pressure wash our house every couple of years to keep it looking like new and coat it with the boraxo for about 3 feet above ground level. then brush on a coat of linseed oil and the logs are good for a couple or better more years.

  45. AnnetteL says:

    Excellent post (I find myself suffering from comment envy)! I can contribute a few suggestions based on experience.
    #1 Rodents. Due to an issue with mice in the building I work in and my boss not wanting to use poison, I looked on line & found the following suggestion… Mint. I have some Wintergreen essential oil, put a few drops on a cotton ball & put it in the planter the critters kept digging in. It’s been 1 month & they have left it alone so it works. Suggestions for outdoor storage were same application inside & mint plants on the outside. Plants were also suggested for entry points for homes.
    Fleas. Suggestions range from lyme sprinkled on grass to control there, using Lemon Dawn dishwashing soap on pets. Also the Pennyroyal plant/essential oil, used like the mint.
    Mosquitos. Here I go with a product. Get ahold of Tech-Nu’s Super Deet. I can’t sing the praises on this enough. Got some for my brother who was in a high squito area, once he tried it he was sold! He said it worked so well that he was the only one that applied it and it kept the biters away from the other 3 people that sat near him. It also doesn’t take as much as the label states. As for my honey & I, we don’t get bitten as often as some people & I think it’s because we eat a lot of garlic.
    #2. TP. We have put aside some, but that one thing seems to be the one we can’t seem to keep stockpiled. I have many full bolts of fabric and patterns for future use & have made sure that we have cotton flannel in case we ever run out of paper.
    #3. Soap for Dishes/Clothes. The liquid soap was covered here in another post and my personal opinion is it will cover all cleaning needs depending on amount used. The key will be thorough rinsing.
    #4. Hot Showers. Purchased or made camping water bladder w/hose or just put up with sitz baths.
    #5. Cold storage. Loved the idea of sinking an old fridge in the ground.
    #6. Smoke house. We will have a smoke house but for the time being have a regular electric smoker & a wood fired. They both have worked well for jerky, haven’t done any larger cuts for storage, just dinner.
    #7 EMP. No clue.

    Revisiting #2 & #4. Could go with the smellier you are the fewer people will want to get near you! Of course all of your group would have to be willing to go that route.

    That’s what I got & I got to get back to work … shhhhhhh don’t tell my boss.


  46. When I was a young mother we used cloth diapers. We rinsed them out, soaked them, washed them and hung in the sun to dry. They were always white, smelled good and could be used and used. Mine lasted through 4 babies including a set of twins. So why not use them cut into smaller pieces for TP? I like that idea.

    I too have a small black Solar water heater for camping. It works well be careful they do get hot. Now at the farm we heat big pots of water on the wood stove in the winter (we have no hot water heater), pour a pot full in a camp cooler add cold water and it is pumped by RV pump to the shower. You do not need to shower forever and there is plenty for shower and hair washing. We have the RV pump plowered by battery, that is charged by a Solar charger. It only need charging rarely since the pump takes so little energy to work.
    If we just think about things we can always figure out several low tech ways to do them.

  47. #3 – CLEANING DISHES/LAUNDRY: as for dishes, learn the 3-step method for cleaning and sanitizing dishes: wash, rinse, sanitize with bleach. with regards to laundry, learn to make your own detergent and use the bucket washing system for small loads.
    #4 – HOT WATER: consider a typical camp shower for small needs. perhaps a solar batch water heater is better for larger uses.
    #5 – STORAGE: if you have a basement (even partially underground) consider building a small root cellar. I did this and it typically held around the mid 60’s but I choose to route cool air into the room during the summer months.

  48. riverrider says:

    okay, i’m going to say this once more and then shut up on the subject. EMP- quit worrying about it. yes it could kill the grid. it could trip the breaker or fuse on a ham radio left hooked to a sky crane antenae. cell towers, maybe low orbit satelites may go off line for a bit. other than that you’re fine. if its close enough and powerful enough for it to damage small electronics or fry your car , you won’t be worried about anything, ever again. i was part of two dif projects on emp. both times the only thing effected was one particular car cut off momentarily, but restarted easily. planes stayed in the air, cars and trucks kept running with that exception mentioned, radios radioed, computers computed etc. any larger pulse than we used for the experiment was deemed fatal, and it would have to be huge, like 200 megatons to get that effect. not very likely. so, unplug from the grid anything you want to keep, unplug any LARGE antenae. personally, i take the batts out too but thats just overkill on my part. besides if your car fries, so has the grid, traffic signals, and the gas pump and probably youself. you aren’t going very far by car either way. now prep away.

    • RR,
      Thank you, thank you, thank you! Finally, someone has said it!
      This is what I thought I remembered from way-back-when I was an Aircraft Electrician. With your permission I will forward your comment (with name) to all my folks, but not until I hear from you that it is ok.

      • riverrider says:

        rx, have at it. be prepared for nay-sayers though. some folks, once they see something on tv, won’t believe anything contrary even if steven hawking told them. there’s a new book out by one of the top scientists on the subject, pretty much saying the same thing. there is a link in one of jwr’s posts on his blog. i’m just too lazy to hunt for it right now.

    • RR,
      I will disagree with one piece of your post, “and probably yourself” generally only applies to someone with a pacemaker.
      As for most electronics not connected to a long antenna (like a real antenna or the power grid) EMP has been much overblown for personal devices.
      EMP or solar storms can however cause some catastrophic effects on the power grid, with the biggest problem being the destruction of power transformers that have a long lead time to replace. In this instance, there’s nothing any of us can do about it as individuals, except to have the skills and equipment to live off grid or without power for some amount of time.

  49. For Toilet Paper substitute, I have used old cotton rags like my grandma did before toilet paper was invented. Just ask an old timer. But instead of washing the rags, you gotta remember this is in a survival situation, no steaming hot water for the washing machine and no electricity to operate it… Grandma would scrub them on a washboard, then BOIL the rags to kill the bacteria.
    The old husked corn cobs in an outhouse was one thow away remedy, but newspaper was also used—read it and wipe it—you would get a black donkey or a colored one depending if it was the funnies or news.
    Native Americans used their hands I was told about as good as wiping on the ground like a dog when it itches (LOL)…uhhh, not a good way, but large leaves were used by pioneers in summer, snow in winter. I believe snow has to be used fast before a butt-freeze takes place.

    In a SHTF senario, lack of toilet paper would be the least of worry, never-the-less it is a comfort issue to use a tissue…..

    For food storage of dehydrated/freeze dried food in winter I move mine in the back room at 55 to 60 degrees, and in summer, I place them under my home in an airtight large plastic containers where the cement foundation assorbs the ground temp of 55 degrees, keeping it much cooler than the outside temp. A basement, a root cellar, even underground in permanent shade (sealed tight from moisture) will make it last longer if there is no electricity.

    Back in the days of ice boxes, people cut ice from the lake and put it in a bankbarn/dugout shed in shade with sawdust and the ice would last all summer long. If no lake or river was near, they froze buckets of ice in winter to store all summer long. Now that would be an ideal place to put your food storage, and have ice cold drinks, homemade icecream, and a storehouse as an icebox.

    • Donna H,
      There’s an old icehouse not too far from where I live that is still in use. From the outside it looks like a large barn, but is surprisingly a bit smaller when you enter it. It is essentially a building built within a building, with the 3-4 foot space between the inner and outer buildings packed with sawdust. They would either cut ice or fill forms with water in the winter, and have ice available all summer.

  50. Better late than never. Spring is getting busy and having my Internet down for almost 3 days didn’t help either.

    1. What about pest?

    For mice, there’s simply nothing better than a few good cats, and or some traps. Roaches like dark moist places, and especially corrugated cardboard, so keep everything cleaned up and use plastic or metal containers instead of boxes where you can. A supply of borax or diatomaceous earth sprinkled in areas where you see the critters can help. Insects outside can be kept at bay to some extent by keeping grass, weeds etc. cleared away from the living areas. Mosquitoes are perhaps the biggest problem and have been an issue throughout history. One of the best natural remedies for them is to install plenty of bat houses around the property and make sure there are watering stations for the bats. They are voracious consumers of mosquitoes and will each eat thousands per night.

    2. What about toilet paper?

    Corncobs are indeed not the first thing on the list. The ancient romans used sponges or soft cloths which were rinsed in water and kept in a vinegar solution. I don’t think use of newspapers has any toxic effect since I think most if not all printers switched to soy based (as compared to petroleum based) inks, decades ago. This is probably an area where more research is required for all of us, since toilet paper is a relatively new invention, but one that has been used exclusively by probably everyone reading this. There’s not only the “yuck” factor, but without proper planning there is also a sanitary issue.

    3. What about washing dishes and clothes?

    There have been numerous recipes for laundry and dishwashing soap around for years, with several classic recipes listed recently on this forum. They generally use Fels Naptha soap, Borax, and Washing Soda, and a little bit goes a long way. If you run out of these ingredients, you can always go back to making lye Soap, making the lye by percolating water through wood ashes and combining it with fat or oil, vegetable or animal. Recipes and instructions for making Lye Soap are available many places online.

    4. What about hot showers or just hot water period?

    Depending on how you plan to heat your residence in the winter, a classic way is to simply keep a kettle sitting on or near the stove., and in fact, many wood cook stoves have a water tank on the side for this explicit purpose. Prior to automatic hot water tanks in a home, water was simply heated in open kettles or pans and poured into the container where it is needed (like a bathtub). Depending on your climate, you can easily make a solar heater from hose or pipe. Just fill your garden hose with water and let it lay out for a while on a hot day, and see how hot the water gets, being careful, since it can reach scalding temperatures. And finally, something we used to use when winter camping with the Boy Scouts as a kid was a 50 gallon metal drum, with metal tubing coiled several times and inserted into the drum, and a several gallon metal container connected to the top of the tubing. You build a fire in the drum and when you need hot water, you place a bucket at the lower end of the tubing, and pour water into the container at the top of the tubing. The water gravity flows through the tubing and into the empty bucket, getting heated by the fire in the process. We kept a lot of boys in hot water this way, without a lot of work.

    5. What about storage?

    The only answer I know of here is a root cellar or if you’re lucky, a spring house. Many old farm houses were located specifically away from a flood plain and near to a spring, which provided both water and cooling.

    6. Does a smoke house really work for preserving meat long-term?

    The answer is yes, smoking does work for preservation and I have experimented with it a bit, but the actual process and preservation times is not something I personally know a lot about; however, I’d be surprised if someone here doesn’t.

    7. What about an EMP? We’ve been told that if there is no power to it, an EMP will not hurt it. Is that true?

    There have been some good discussions on this forum on EMP and Solar Storm activity. The second part of your question is generally true for solar storm activity, where high voltages are induced into the power lines and can transfer into your home and items that are plugged in to the power grid. Generally, an EMP generated from a high altitude nuclear event induces high voltages on any “antenna” in the path of the pulse wave. An antenna in this case can be an external antenna, a power cord (even when unplugged), cables for Ethernet or video, or in some cases, even a length of track connecting components inside a piece of equipment. Burying the antenna doesn’t help, since the pulse can penetrate the ground to a pretty good depth, depending on the conditions, so even a buried metal pipe can have a large amount of voltage and current induced. One of the best resources I’ve found that goes into enough detail, yet keeps things simple enough for the non-engineer is the article at the following site: http://www.futurescience.com/emp.html

    • Some additional pest controls:
      Chickens or Guinea hens either free range, or moved around the property in a chicken tractor can help keep down the general insect population. In the right climate, you could also purchase and release praying mantis egg cases.

    • Well, it’s about time OP. . .

  51. Pest Update!
    Found “Mosquito Shoo Geranium” at Farmer Seed and Nursery in Bloomington, IL 61704 (a division of Plantron, Inc., Faribault, MN 55021). They’re $5 each, can get 2′ tall, must be brought indoors in winter, hypo-allergenic, easy to grow, and a pleasant fragrance that keeps mosquitoes away.
    Worth checking out . . .

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