25 Uses for Duct Tape

Read on for more genius ways to tap into duct tape’s potential.

Duct Tape to the Rescue

If it’s good enough for wars and space travel, it’s good enough for all sorts of hacks for your next camping trip. When times are rough, here are some ways duct tape may help get you out of the woods.

Shelter

After a long day outside, there is nothing worse than getting to a campsite and realizing something is wrong with the night’s cover. Here are some ways duct tape may be able to step in to help you get a good night’s sleep.

  • Mend a fabric tear: Tear off a piece of duct tape long enough to cover the rip in the tent. Adhere the tape on both the outside and inside of the tent. This should help keep water, dirt, and bugs out of your shelter.
  • Fix a broken zipper: Rather than let the tent door flap in the wind and let in the chill, apply a strip of duct tape along the break in the zipper.
  • Remedy a broken pole: If a pole snaps in half, put it back together by wrapping duct tape around the two parts. For a sturdier fix, tape a stick alongside the broken pole for reinforcement.
  • Fashion guylines: Guylines protect tents from rough winds by increasing stability. If the air is howling and your tent isn’t equipped with guylines (or they’re too tangled to use), fashion some out of duct tape. Make the cord by twisting several lengths of duct tape together. Tie and/or stick the cord to the sides of the tent, and then tie the other ends to rocks or trees, keeping the guylines taught.
  • Whip up an unplanned bivvy: No tent? No problem! With some duct tape and a couple of trash bags (which can also serve plenty of survival/camping purposes) you’ll be able to build a tent in no time. First, run a cord (a duct tape one, if needed – see guyline instructions) between two trees, allowing enough space for you to fit in between. Tape two trash bags together and drape them over the cord. To hold the shelter in place, place rocks where the trash bag meets the ground to hold it in place.

Duct Tape Guide - Using Duct Tape for Shelter

Footwear

Solid footwear is one of the most important pieces of equipment for a quality camping trip. But if treads fail or your feet are in need when out in the elements, here are several ways duct tape can step in.

  • Make a basic repair: You aren’t going to be able to hike very far if the soles of your boots are literally falling off, but keeping them strapped on with duct tape will allow you to regain basic function for at least a few more miles.
  • Waterproof: Soaking wet socks are no fun. When the rain’s coming down, wrap duct tape around shoes to help keep the water out.
  • Construct gaiters: Even if boots do a fine job keeping out moisture, a day of winter tromping can mean wet feet when the snow creeps in around your ankles. Stay dry with makeshift gaiters by wrapping the tops of the boots in duct tape, and continue wrapping the tape about halfway up your calves.
  • Fashion snowshoes: This one is going to take a little longer – something you’ll likely want to do at home, rather than when you’re actually in the snow. You’ll need two rolls of duct tape, hot glue, a sharp knife, several sturdy sticks, string, scissors, and a large bowl. Find more detailed instructions here.

Duct Tape Guide - Using Duct Tape for Shelter

First Aid

Just as the WWII soldiers discovered, duct tape is a great addition to a medical kit.

Note: The following is not a substitute for basic wilderness first aid. Please brush up on your skills with a class before a big trip, and be sure to bring more than just duct tape in your first aid kit.

  • Make or enforce a bandage: Place sterile gauze over a cut and hold it in place with duct tape. This is also a good quick fix for blisters (just be sure the duct tape itself is not touching the wound). Alternatively, wrap an existing bandage with duct tape to hold it in place more securely and protect against dirt.
  • Wrap a sprain: In lieu of an Ace bandage, wrap your ankle or wrist in duct tape to provide support.
  • Stabilize with a splint: Stabilize a possibly broken limb with sticks and duct tape. First, lay sticks on either side of the injured bone. Then hold it all together by wrapping duct tape around the sticks.
  • Create a serviceable sling: Fold a length of duct tape down the middle so there’s no longer a sticky side. Tie the tape around your body as a strap to hold an injured arm in place.
  • Make a tourniquet: In the event of unstoppable blood, tightly wrap the affected area above the wound in order to stop blood flow.
  • Ward off bugs: For walks through grassy fields that may be home to ticks or chiggers, wrap some duct tape around the hem of your pants to keep the bugs from sticking onto you.
  • Protect your eyes: You may not always think to bring sunglasses on a winter camping trip. If the sun is beaming—especially at high altitudes—it can intensely reflect against the snow and cause painful and possibly permanent damage to your eyes, called snow blindness. Prevent eye damage with some super makeshift sunglasses. Tape two pieces of duct tape together, then cut horizontal slights over each eye to let in just enough light to see, but not enough to seriously impair corneas.
  • Prevent frostbite: Alaskan dogsledders swear by this frigid practice: If it is really cold out, stick duct tape directly to your face (especially around the eyes) to keep sensitive skin from freezing over. Just be careful when removing the tape so as not to take some skin with it.

Duct Tape Guide - Using Duct Tape for First Aid

Forgotten Goods

Did you leave an oh-so-important item at home? Duct tape can be molded into all sorts of basic necessities.

  • Craft a cup or bowl: Don’t let a forgotten bowl keep you from enjoying dinner. With several strips of duct tape, you can quickly craft a nifty alternative. Thanks to duct tape’s waterproof attributes, it should be able to hold liquids as well.
  • Use as a fire starter: Duct tape is surprisingly flammable. In a pinch, it could be the secret tool to get a campfire going. For an even more reliable fire starter, wrap duct tape around a bundle of dryer lint, and then cover the outside with char cloth.
  • Build a makeshift torch: Don’t have a flashlight? Light up a wad of duct tape to provide a bit more illumination – even if short-lived.
  • Create a handy hat: When the sun beats down, stick several pieces of duct tape together to form a visor, then use another strip to strap it on. (Be sure to take some selfies showcasing the fashionable new headpiece.)

Duct Tape Guide - Using Duct Tape For Forgotten Goods

The Rest of the Roll

  • Make an all-purpose cord or rope: A duct tape cord can have a lot of uses beyond just guylines, such as a clothesline, a gear sling, or a way to tie food in the trees to keep it safe from hungry critters. You can also make a heavier duty rope by braiding three pieces of duct tape cord together.
  • Repair clothing: If you have a tear or hole in a down jacket or even sleeping bag, place a strip of duct tape over it to help keep the feathers where they are.
  • Mend leaky bottles: If your water vessel – be it a plastic water bottle or a flexible water bladder – has sprung a leak, stop it (or at least slow it down) with a piece of duct tape over the puncture.
  • Soften sharp edges: There is nothing more annoying than the constant jabbing of a pointy object in your pack. Apply a layer of duct tape to buffer sharp edges.

Duct Tape Guide - Using Up the Rest of the Roll
This list should give you plenty of ideas for duct tape survival, but there are many more ways to salvage your outdoor adventure with this wonder tool. Throw a roll or two into your pack, or wrap several layers around a water bottle or trekking poles for later use, and you’ll be equipped with the tools you need to unstick yourself from all sorts of binds.
Source: Fix.com Blog


Essential Items for Your Black-Out Kit

One of the scenarios most likely to occur that has nothing to do with extreme, Doomsday scenarios is the black out. Power outages are on the rise (source) due to aging infrastructure as well as the rising demand from consumers. As we’re using more and more devices to make our lives easier, we’re pushing it thin. Besides this, there are a number of external risk factors, such as EMP attacks (natural or man-made) and hacker attacks.

Blackouts, EMPs, Brownouts, No Power, Off The Grid

What to do to prepare for Blackouts.

Prepping for a lights out situation isn’t just for preppers, it’s for anyone worried about small-scale emergencies. The idea is to have a box or a pouch where you keep a few inexpensive yet critical items to assist you in power outages. Some preppers use plastic boxes to keep them items but you can also have a pouch that you can take with you in case you have to bug out.

Flashlights

You can never have enough flashlights! Small or big, battery-powered or hand-crank, you should have at least a few of them inside your lights out kit. Surefire, Ultrafire and Maglite are all good brands that you can find on Amazon with a quick search. To make sure you pick something of quality, all you have to do is read the star reviews.

There’s also the debate between LED and incandescent light bulbs on flashlights. LEDs take less battery but incandescent shine brighter, very useful if you’re dealing with fog. But for bug in situations such as this one, that’s not important. Just keep in mind that LEDs are costlier to replace.

A Small AM/FM Emergency Radio

With the power gone, knowing what’s happening is going to be critical. What if things go from bad to worse and you need to bug out? A company named iRonsnow is selling such a radio for $20 on Amazon that’s hand-crank, has solar panels on it, has a built-in flashlight and even a cell-phone charger; it’s probably the best seller in the category.

A Lantern. Or Two

Lanterns are great because they light up the whole space around them, useful if you want to read a good book until the storm passes or play board games with your family.

You can find battery-powered lanterns online and some of them even have solar panels at the top, so you can recharge them during the day (if the power outage lasts for days or if you’re hiking or if you take them with you hiking or camping).

Candles…

…and a lighter or matches to light them. The only problem are, they’re a fire hazard. You’re not going to believe this but between 2009 and 2013, an average of 9,300 house fires per year were caused by candles. 86 people died and over 800 were injured (source). If you have small children or pets that live inside your home, you may want to keep the above statistics in mind.

Chemlights

They are brighter than you’d think, they don’t need a lighter or matches to be lit and, best of all, the fire hazard is zero. Chemlights glow through a process called chemiluminescence, which is, in essence, a chemical reaction. They’re a safe alternative to candles and the best part is, they work under windy as well as wet conditions.

A Battery Charger

No that you’ll be able to use it when your town or city descends into darkness but at least you’ll know where to find it when you need it.

Spare Batteries

The more flashlight you have, the more batteries you’ll need. Even if you don’t, you’ll still use them to power your emergency radio or your other electronic devices.

Anything Else?

You can add as much gear as you’d like but keep in mind the volume and the weight. Think about the scenarios you’re preparing for. You should stockpile things that will make your life easier during a power outage that won’t go directly into the kit. Things like:

  • a first aid kit
  • a water bladder (fill it with water from your sink before that runs out as well)
  • a whistle (since phone lines may be dead)
  • board games and a deck of cards
  • food and water
  • a Kindle
  • an MP3 player
  • a propane stove and a canister of fuel (for cooking purposes)
  • maybe even a DVD player
  • a first aid booklet
  • blankets to keep yourself warm

Final Word

Blackout kits are one way of preparing yourself and your family for this common small-scale disaster, which is why it’s easier to convince them to do it (if they’re not into prepping). Keep in mind that the supplies you’ll get won’t just be helpful during blackouts. They can assist you in any kind of disaster situation. Your money will be well spent.

However, if you want to do something today that won’t cost you anything, how about you do a little planning for these power outages? You can start with a list of items you will need for your kit or you can look for a convenient place to keep the box. You may even start reading on topics such as first aid, cooking on a propane stove or taking care of hygiene with minimal water.

Good luck!

Dan Sullivan


Storing Your Survival Supplies

Prepping involves gathering and storing many things. As you start spending more money you will inevitably start worrying about keeping your stores safe from theft, the elements and other issues. Also you will find that keeping them all sorted and organized becomes quite the endeavor. This is where purchasing secure weapon, food and/or tool storage can kill two birds with one stone, so to speak. For the serious prepper who wants heavy-duty, extra secure storage you may want to consider purchasing secure weapon storage and use it for other things as well.

TA 50 Storage Locker

Materials Matter
Buying secure storage solutions is much smarter than buying regular shelf storage units because of the most important thing: durability. As a prepper you are acutely aware of the shelf life of various things, so it makes sense that everything you choose should have built in longevity. The materials used in secure storage units and lockers are usually built to withstand much more abuse than wooden shelves bought from a general store.

weapon-locker-with-drawer

Organization
As you acquire more food, water and survival gear it becomes paramount that you organize everything. After all, what good is owning something if you don’t know where it is when you need it? Buying containers, shelves and having a dedicated storage room are all good ways to keep your supplies together and organized. Looking at secure lockers and shelf units is a good idea if you have a lot of supplies, as these products are typically larger than traditional boxes and offer more options to suit your needs.

multiple-drawer-storage

Security Options
If you not only need durability and organization built into your supply storage but security as well, there are two major categories offered from secure storage solution companies for this. Open and closed storage lockers.

If you are not too concerned about breaking and entering, then having open lockers, or wall units, may be right for you since they allow easy access to your supplies. They will still have shelves and be extra durable so you do not have to think about them too much after you have put them up. They will stand the test of time.

Closed lockers on the other hand mean lockers that have some sort of locking mechanism. These are not as easily accessible but you can always simply leave them unlocked. These lockers are great for anyone who needs secure storage for weapons or other valuables they do not want stolen.

So essentially we are saying that while your supplies for any sort of survival, whether it is a room for a disaster, or a spot for a week away, the space you store those supplies in is also important. The best supplies can be lost if not stored correctly.

Wilderness First Aid

Be Prepared Before Venturing to the Backcountry

One of the scariest things that can happen when you’re in the backcountry is an injury. Even a small blister can upend a backpacking trip, but imagine facing something more serious, like a broken leg, an allergic reaction, or a burn from the campfire, and not knowing where to start. Suddenly it’s abundantly obvious that getting to a hospital isn’t as simple as calling 911, and you wonder where you packed the first-aid kit – you did pack a first-aid kit, right? Having a first-aid kit and knowing how to use it are important parts of making any trip to the backcountry. Here are some tips to get you started.

Take a Course

If you plan on spending time in the backcountry, it’s important to take a course in wilderness medicine. You have three options when choosing a course.

Wilderness First Aid (2–3 days)

This course provides an overview of wilderness medicine, and it is designed for people who plan on taking mostly weekend trips. You’ll learn how to check for threats to life, how to care for wounds and fractures, and how to deal with an emergency in a deliberate way.

Wilderness First Responder (~10 days)

This course is usually required for people who want to work in the outdoors. The material is presented more thoroughly than the material in the short course, and the course covers a wider range of common wilderness injuries.

Wilderness EMT (one month)

If you want to be a ski instructor or expect to bounce between EMT work and time in the backcountry, this is a great option. In addition to the national EMT curriculum, the Wilderness EMT includes a component designed for providing remote care.

Don’t be intimidated by the fact that these are all classes; most wilderness medicine courses involve a lot of hands-on learning and scenarios, which provide plenty of chances to practice your skills. Be sure to take a class from a reputable program and keep your certification up to date. Most certifications have to be renewed every two to three years, and most of them include a CPR component. Renewing your certification may seem like a hassle, but it’s a great way to brush up on rusty skills and learn changes to the curriculum or protocols.

First-aid Kit

  • Gloves (2–3 pairs Latex or nitrile gloves are essential for anyone treating a patient; pack a few pairs so you won’t run out.
  • Band-Aids (10–20): These are great for small cuts and scrapes.
  • Ibuprofen and acetaminophen: Sometimes referred to as “Vitamin I,” ibuprofen is great for treating everything from headaches to aching feet.
  • Antihistamine and an EpiPen: Allergic reactions happen fast, so make sure you know where the EpiPen and Benadryl are located so you can retrieve them quickly.
  • Tweezers: Tweezers are great for removing splinters and ticks.
  • Moleskin (2 sheets): These are great for preventing and treating blisters.
  • Molefoam (1 sheet): Molefoam provides a fast way to pad a blister.
  • Athletic tape (1 roll): Athletic tape can be used for a number of injuries, including twisted ankles and blisters, and it can be used to tape gauze over larger wounds.
  • Duct tape: Instead of packing a roll, unwind some tape and wrap it around itself so you can remove pieces.
  • Gauze pads (2–3): These are perfect for burns and big cuts.
  • Gauze roll: Having two types of gauze may seem redundant, but the roll can be handy for wrapping any number of injuries.
  • Antibiotic ointment (3–5 packets): These come in small packets, which are a nice, lightweight option.
  • Ace bandage: These are bulky, but they are great for wrapping around splints if you’re dealing with a fracture or simply supporting a rolled ankle.
  • Trauma shears or a pocket knife: Scissors aren’t lightweight, but they are indispensible if you need to cut molefoam or remove clothing around an injury. If you opt to leave them behind, be sure to carry a pocket knife.
  • CPR face shield: This is a lightweight version of a CPR mask.
  • Paper and pencil: These are vital for recording information and taking notes on your patient.
  • Plastic bag: These are always useful, but if you’re disposing of biohazardous material, it’s especially important to have one in your kit.

One of the first things you learn in first-aid training is how to assess a situation to ensure your own safety and that of potential victims. When someone gets injured, your instinct will be to rush to help, but it’s important to take a minute to size up the situation first. These five steps will help you quickly gather important information about the situation before you approach the injured party.

1. Make sure the area around the patient is safe for you, the rescuer. This may be a quick decision if the patient simply fell, but consider the scene after an avalanche, a lightning strike, or a bear attack. If the thing that caused the injury is still a danger to others, keep yourself safe by waiting to approach the patient. There’s no sense in creating more patients.

2. Make a quick determination about what happened to the patient. This isn’t a diagnosis but an observation based on what the scene looks like.

3. Put on gloves! It’s crucial to ensure that none of the patient’s fluids (like blood) get on your skin. Gloves are the easiest solution for protecting your hands, and you should wear them at all times while treating a patient.

4. Make a quick scan of the area to count how many patients you’ll be treating. Maybe you’ve stumbled upon a boating accident with a raft full of people, or maybe you’re hiking with a friend who stumbled and fell to the ground.

5. Is the person alive or dead? This may seem basic, but it will give you a lot of information about what your next steps will be and how fast to make them. Sometimes you have to get closer to the patient to see if they are alive, which is why this step is last.

First-aid 101: Blister Prevention

Blisters are a much more likely to occur on a hiking or camping trip than are some of the other incidental injuries a person may incur. Learning how to treat them is a valuable skill that will pay off in dividends. Blisters are essentially burns caused by friction, and they are incredibly common on backpacking trips, especially if you’re wearing brand-new boots. The pre-cursor to a blister is known as a “hot spot.” It’s best to catch blisters at this stage, when they’re easily treated.

If you or your hiking partner discovers a hot spot, stop and take a look at the foot. Hot spots are usually red, and they will be slightly painful to the touch. They’re caused by the foot rubbing against either the boot or the sock, so to treat them, you need to relieve the friction. This is easy to do with moleskin. Simply cut out a circular piece about the size of the hot spot and tape it in place (athletic tape works well for this).

Have the person remove their boot and sock. Take out a square of Molefoam and cut a circle that covers the entire blister, plus a little extra. Round pieces are best because they don’t have any corners, which will peel.

Once you have a circular piece cut, fold the piece in half and cut out the middle, creating a foam donut. The inside hole should be large enough that it covers the entire blister.

Place the foam donut over the blister. If the extends out further than the foam, make a second donut and place it on top of the first. The goal is to create a ring around the blister that will protect it from rubbing against the boot.

If the blister has popped, apply some antibiotic cream inside the donut. If it hasn’t popped, leave it intact. A popped blister is no longer protected by the cushion of the fluid, and it’s an easy access point for infection-causing bacteria. Once the blister is surrounded by the donut of foam, wrap the area with athletic tape to keep the bandage in place.

Now that you know some of the basics, sign up for a wilderness medicine class in your area. Start by checking these three schools that offer nationally recognized certifications: SOLO, WMA, and NOLS WMI.
Source: Fix.com Blog


7 Must Have Items for Wilderness Survival

By Jack Neely 

Surviving in the wilderness, no matter the time of year or location, does not only depend on human will and wit, but also on the type of gear you have got in your pack. If you are injured or lost, the right type of gear can mean all the difference between a comfortable and easy night outdoors, and a grueling ordeal. In this article, we have compiled 7 must have items for wilderness survival.

Matches

A means to make fire is very essential when you are out in the vast wilderness. Your survival might completely depend on whether you have the ability to create a fire. For instance, you might want a fire when it is cold and snowing/raining, or after you have just waded across a river and now you are completely soaked, and at the verge of hypothermia.

Rubbing 2 sticks together in order to create fire is much more difficult than it seems in the movies. It is best to carry matches when going out into the wilderness, particularly the waterproof matches.

Fire is important to your survival.

Even for those who like starting fires the old fashioned way, carrying matches in case of emergency is the smart move. You should consider carrying the magnesium starter matches which have white phosphorus tip; you can strike almost anywhere for fire. These types of matches are advantageous when out in the wilderness since they don’t need the box striker in order to light up.

Stainless Steel Water Container

When going out into the wilderness, you should bring with you plenty of water, and the best way to carry it is in a stainless steel container. This type of container is not only durable and strong, but it can also be put over a fire to boil water. You should consider taking a stainless steel water container that’s big and sturdy enough to carry adequate water for the long treks.

Survival Knife

A knife is a rather essential item and has many uses not only in the wilderness, but also in everyday life. Look for a reliable knife which you can easily keep on your person when you’re out wandering in the vast wilderness.

You should consider bringing with you a fixed blade knife. It is durable, sturdy, resilient, and great for cutting all kinds of objects. This type of knife can also be used to perform various different tasks including, opening packages, clearing bushes, among many other things.

Cordage or Rope

Having a rope can be very useful, especially when in a survival situation. Some uses of rope can include, but not limited to; climbing, making a splint for a broken bone, building an emergency shelter, attaching your gear to your back, hoisting your food so as to keep it safely away from the wildlife, lashing poles, repairing the tent, and much more. You should consider carrying a 550 parachute cord which is light and strong.

A Map and Compass

A map and a compass are very essential survival items which you must have when out in the wilderness. This is particularly crucial, in case the location you are in has low cell coverage, or if you have damaged or lost your phone.

Even if you get lost, as long as you have a good working compass and an accurate map, you will eventually be able to find your way back to civilization. A compass will not only help guide your directions, but it will also help you find the various signs that are on the map, like road signs which might help you find the right routes. Pro tip: you also want to make sure you have a good flashlight with you to read the map in the dark, and also find your way around. You can read more about that here.

Duct Tape

Duct tape is another must have item which is often overlooked. Duct tape can actually save the day in a number of ways. For instance, if your sleeping bag, tent, or clothing happens to get torn or damaged, duct tape may be used to quickly patch it up. Duct tape can also be utilized to wrap up bandages, and can aid in various other medical situations.

First Aid Kit

It is very important to make sure that you’re well prepared for the situation you are putting yourself in. Whenever you are going out in the wilderness, make sure you carry a First Aid Kit. Carrying a First Aid Kit with the appropriate supplies greatly enhances your chances of survival when out in the wilderness.

You do not need to carry the entire first aid kit; you simply need to have the basic items like band aids, gloves, sterile gauze, burn cream, scissors, personal medication, bandages, and such other essentials. It’s wise to build your very own first aid kit instead of purchasing the pre-packaged kits. Building your very own First Aid Kit gives you knowledge of what’s in the kit, and even more importantly, exactly how to use what’s in it.

 

About the Author

Jack Neely is a fitness expert, survivalist, and world traveler. He’s been in several life or death situations, and he’s making an effort to spread his knowledge around the web to help others survive these situations as well. He’s also on the content team at The Tactical Guru.

Cast Iron Skillet – A Guide to Everything You Need to Know

Written by Marc Morgan

I love to cook on a cast iron skillet. My daily cooking skillets are all “vintage” cast iron — some as much as 100 years old — and will last forever if properly maintained. I prefer the older skillets (those made before 1950) because modern skillets are heavy and inferior in comparison. This article will teach you everything you need to know about buying, cleaning, cooking and maintaining old skillets.

My wife and I are not cast iron collectors (honest, really..), we only buy what we plan to cook with. Plus we want to have enough on hand so that when our three kids move out they don’t take our working set. So we’ve been amassing enough iron to have a set for each of them. But that’s not collecting, right? That’s just good planning. Preparing for the future. Oh, and then there’s bartering. In the future, when cast iron isn’t so easy to find, we’ll have plenty for trade. We’re preppers. Not collectors. Right? Yes. Right.

stoveWe have a variety of skillets (and a couple of round griddles) beside our stove that we cook with everyday, in sizes ranging from #5 – #10.

The #5 skillet is the perfect size for scrambled eggs, fried eggs, or warming up leftovers for 1 or 2 people.

The #8 skillet is our go-to skillet for meal preparation. It’s great for sauteing vegetables, browning meat, or baking bread. Cinnamon rolls, biscuits, cornbread. There’s nothing that doesn’t taste better when cooked in cast iron.

The #10 skillet is our favorite piece for oven-cooking bacon, burgers, or steaks.

The flat skillets are griddles and they make amazing tortillas or pancakes.

You’ll notice that a couple of the skillets on the rack are deeper than the others. Those are called chicken fryers and they are really handy when you’re wanting to fry fish or chicken or anything else that you want to deep fry.
wall02
We have some of our favorite pieces hanging on the wall just outside of the kitchen. Cast iron skillets (and trivets) make great decoration, but be sure that your wall can handle the addition of so much weight. I’ve heard stories of wallboard pulling away from wall studs when too much cast iron is hung for display. We like to say that these our bartering items for the future, but the truth is we have them hanging there just because they look pretty.
rack
And then there’s the overflow shelving. A few of the pieces on these shelves are ones that we use, but don’t have room for on the kitchen rack. My wife’s grandmother’s gumbo pot, and a really cool (admittedly modern) cast iron wok. But most of the cast iron here is skillets waiting for the day when our kids move out and take them with them. Our hope is that, after many years watching us cook on cast iron, seeing how easy and durable and nonstick it can be, and enjoying the food we cook on it that they will start out their new lives with an already-established appreciation for the usefulness and craftsmanship of old iron.

Why buy “vintage” cast iron?

Cast Iron SkilletCast iron used to be milled in the final stages of production, after being sand cast. This milling provided a very smooth, non-stick surface. As teflon came into vogue in the 1950s, lighter nonstick pans became available and the old fashioned cast iron cookware was abandoned to the point where most of the old manufacturers went out of business.

Modern manufacturing (pretty much limited to Lodge products) does not take this extra step of milling to a smooth finish after sand casting their pans. That leaves a rough, sand-cast surface that food will stick to. We’ve yet to find a modern pan that will stand up to the scrambled egg test; cooking a scrambled egg in it with nonstick results where the only clean up necessary is a quick wipe with a towel. No scraping necessary. The old, well maintained cast iron will perform that way every time.

What to buy

Prior to the 1950s nearly every kitchen used cast iron cookware. Because it is almost indestructible, there’s a lot of the vintage iron still around. Ask your parents if they have any that was passed down through the family. Look in antique stores, flea markets, garage sales, and estate sales. Ebay is an option too. Look for that vintage very smooth cooking surface, and avoid any pans with little chunks out of the cooking surface known as “pitting.”

Here are the vintage brands to look for: Griswold, Wagner Ware (NOT Wagner 1849 – this is cheap China stuff), Lodge (more on that later), Martin Stove and Range, Wapak Hollow Ware, Birmingham Stove & Range Co.

What is the best cast iron skillet? Who makes the best cast iron skillet? In my opinion it is Griswold. They do everything right. The size, thickness and the shape of their skillets are perfect. Even their “bargain brand” Victor, which is a little shorter in height with a thinner wall, is spectacular. Wagner is my second favorite. A little thicker than Griswold and not quite as comfortable. But with a smooth surface and cooks great. Both of these manufacturers produced a lot of cast iron skillets between 1880 and 1950, so you should be able to find them.

On the bottom of the pan is where the logo is. Griswold and Wagner used different logos over the years. Here is an image guide for each, so that you know the approximate date of a skillet.

Griswold:
ErieErie SpiderArtistic ErieGriswold slant logoGriswold double circleGriswold small block logoGriswold Medium block logoGriswold no ErieVictorVictor Fully Marked
Wagner:
Wagner BlockWagner ArcWagner Sidney O ArcWagner straight centeredWagner Sidney straight lowWagner sidney arc straight highWagner Ware StraightWagner Ware stylized logo centeredWagner Ware stylized logo

Each skillet will have a number on it. This number is not the size in inches, but rather the “standardized” size of the openings in the tops of wood burning stoves. The oldest pans will have a heat ring or a rim that protrudes from the bottom of the skillet to provide a tighter fit to the stove. Each foundry used slightly different measurements for the size, but here is a general size guideline.

Sizes:
#2 – 4-7/8″ #3 – 5-1/2″ #4 – 5-7/8″ #5 – 6-3/4″
#6 – 7-1/2″ #7 – 8-1/4″ #8 – 8-7/8″ #9 – 9-3/4″
#10 – 10-1/4″ #11 – 10-7/8″ #12 – 11-3/4″ #13 – 12″
#14 – 13″

I think that everyone should have a #5, #8 and a #10.

Cast iron skillet
Another skillet to look for is an unmarked (no logo) one that has three notches in the heat ring. These are old Lodge skillets. You will notice that they are a little thicker than the Griswold and Wagner. But they still have the super smooth cooking surface. The won’t be as expensive as the others and they are great for baking. Think cornbread or Chicago style deep dish pizza.

Twenty five dollars is a good price for a #5. Forty dollars or less is what I like to pay for a #8 skillet. I’ve paid as much as seventy on Ebay for a really nice one. You don’t find many #10s “out in the wild,” as in a garage sale, or antique store. Expect to pay as much as a hundred dollars on Ebay for a #10. Remember these skillets will last forever if you take care of them. So don’t think about them the same way as you would a modern skillet.

How to Restore a Vintage Cast Iron Skillet

When you buy cast iron at an antique store or on Ebay, it will probably be cleaned already, and ready to cook on. But if you find a bargain at a garage sale, estate sale or other place, you will typically have to clean it yourself. It sounds intimidating, and if you have seen some of the scary skillets that I have found at flea markets, you probably would not have bought them. But under the crud and rust, there is GOLD! Well not really gold. But a smooth cooking surface that will make you happy to cook on it every day.

So before I outline the right way of doing it, let me tell you how NOT to do it.

  • Oven Cleaner – you spray extra strength oven cleaner on a cast iron skillet and wrap it in a plastic trash bag. Seal it. Wait a day or two, and then (using rubber gloves) clean it from there. Don’t bother! This method is messy. It never gets everything off in one try. So you will have to do it as many as 4-5 times to get a clean skillet.
  • Fire Bake – make a large wood fire and put the skillet into it. Let it heat up really hot. Then let it fully cool, and then clean it. This method is not advised either. The only time you really want to heat up metal really hot, is when you want to shape it. Unless you are a blacksmith, don’t do this. You might warp the skillet, and it will not be as clean as you want it.
  • Drill and a Wire Brush – Don’t do this. If you use a wire that is hard enough to clean it, it is also hard enough to ruin the cast iron too.
  • Dish Washer – Ahhh no. If you want to cook on cast iron, understand that you will always have to manually clean it. Never use dish soap on cast iron.

The best way to clean a cast iron skillet is with electrolysis. Rust and gunk just comes right off and you’re left with a very clean surface. This method works well, but honestly, if you don’t plan to clean a lot of cast iron, it is not worth the investment.

For your average cast iron skillet buyer, vinegar and lye are the way to clean your new finds.

Vinegar gets rid of rust. Get a five gallon bucket and put fifty percent vinegar and fifty percent water in it. Soak the complete skillet for an hour or two, depending on how much rust is on it. Vinegar is a strong acid and will eat away at the iron if you leave it in too long. Set a timer to remind you. Do not leave it in vinegar longer than necessary.

Lye is how you clean all of the gunk off a skillet. Get another five gallon bucket and put twenty percent lye, and eighty percent water in it. Soak the complete skillet in there for one to two days. Lye is a extremely strong base. It will not hurt the iron at all. You can leave a skillet in for over a year (I have) and it will not harm the metal. But lye WILL severally damage your skin if you get it on you. Use rubber gloves and eye protection at all times when using lye. Be very careful not to splash.

After using vinegar or lye, rinse off your skillet really well with water. Then take it to a sink and turn your water to as hot as you can stand it with your rubber gloves still on. Rinse with the hot water, and apply a very gentle soap like Bar Keepers Friend. Then use a brass scrub brush (brass is a much softer metal than iron) and scrub off any residual gunk or rust from your skillet. Rinse well; iron is slightly porous and you want to make sure you get the cleaner out. Then while it is still hot with the water, wipe dry and heat on a burner on your stove top to fully dry it.

Next, apply a high temperature oil (like grape seed oil, peanut oil or just vegetable oil) generously all over the cast iron skillet. Put the oiled into a pre-heated 400 degree oven for fifteen minutes. Then you are done. You will have a nicely seasoned skillet that will cook like a modern non-stick skillet.

How to Cook With a Cast Iron Skillet

A great benefit of using a cast iron skillet is that you are not limited to the stove top. Since there are no plastic handles you can put it into the oven, also. This is my favorite way to cook steaks. My wife and I prefer a nice, thick, filet mignon cut. I rinse, and then dry steaks with a paper towel 30 minutes before I plan to cook, setting them out so that the meat warms up to room temperature. Go ahead and preheat the oven now to 375 degrees.
steak01 - heat the skillet upsteak02 - sear on one sidesteak03 - ready to flipsteak04 - perfectly searedsteak05 - put in ovensteak06 - perfectly cooked

Put a #8 on the stove top and add a little olive oil to the pan. Set the temperature to high. Now I will lightly cover the steaks with the olive oil so that the seasonings will stick to the meat. I usually just do a little salt, and a lot of pepper, making sure to cover on all sides. Now that the skillet is nice and hot, take the pan out of the oven and put it on the stove top burner at medium-high temp. It’s time to put your steaks on. You want to sear on one side for five to six minutes. Do not touch the meat as it is cooking. Be patient. You will see the rest of the steak close to the cooking surface is starting to change color too. It should be beautifully seared on one side now.

Now it is time to flip the steak, then take the whole skillet and put it onto the middle rack inside your oven. Set a timer for fifteen minutes. Now you need to be patient again. Do not open the oven to check on it. Let it cook.

After the timer goes off, go ahead and remove the skillet from the oven. Take the thickest steak and put it onto a cutting board. Go ahead and slice into it to check if it is cooked enough for you. At fifteen minutes of cooking in my oven it is a perfect medium-rare steak. Add another 5 minutes of cooking for each level of steak level you prefer. Next will be Medium. Then Medium-Well. After that you really shouldn’t cook it anymore because it starts to resemble a burger at that point. 😐

Once your steak is cooked to where you like it. Remove it from the skillet and let it rest on a cutting board for five minutes. If you leave it on the skillet, it will continue to cook. Now your steak is ready to serve. That is how to cook a delicious cast iron skillet steak!

A favorite side at our house is cast iron skillet corn. Which is really easy to make. I also use the #8 for this. Melt half a stick of butter in the pan. Then add half of an onion that you have chopped up pretty small. Cook the onions till they start to turn translucent. Then poor in a 16oz bag of frozen sweet corn. Stir occasionally till the corn is fully cooked and starting to caramelize. That is it. Serve with anything.

Additional cast iron skillet recipes:

  1. Cast Iron Skillet Cornbread
  2. Fried Chicken
  3. Burgers
  4. Chicken Fried Steak and Gravy
  5. Cast Iron Skillet Pizza
  6. Caramel Pecan Skillet Brownie
  7. Brown Sugar Cinnamon Apple Skillet Cake
  8. Dark Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookie
  9. Skillet Blackberry Cobbler

How to Clean a Cast Iron Skillet After Cooking

Most of the time after cooking something simple like an egg, you can literally take a paper towel and just wipe the skillet clean while it is still hot. I like to add a little EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) to the seasoning on the skillet and just set it on the rack beside my stove for cooling.

Sometimes, especially when natural sugar in the food has caramelized (like in corn, or onions) there is food residue left on the pan after cooking. That requires a different cleaning method. For example, the thick-cut bacon that we like contains a lot of sugar. After cooking a batch of bacon, a quick wipe with a paper towel won’t do. Than I set it aside to cool off. I will fill the skillet with water (which you never do when the pan is hot. This will crack cast iron) and I will set it on a burner to heat up. While the water is heating I use a metal spatula or a specifically designed scraper to remove the food that is stuck on the cooking surface. Once the water boils, carefully poor out and wipe down with a paper towel. Then add a generous amount of EVOO to the surface to re-season the skillet and let it cool before putting up.

Recommended Reading

If you are interested in the history of the foundrys or would like to see all of the cooking cast iron that was produced in the past. I recommend these two books: The Book of Wagner & Griswold: Martin, Lodge, Vollrath, Excelsior and The Book of Griswold and Wagner: Favorite Wapak, Sidney Hollow Ware. These are known as the Blue Book and the Red book in the cast iron world. Everyone owns them. Well, collectors do. But we aren’t collectors. Right? Right. We just happen to own them because we like books.
There is also a Brown book, Griswold Muffin Pans, which focuses more on muffin pan information.

If you found this article helpful/interesting, please Share it by clicking on the social media links. Thank you for helping us grow!

 

Marc Morgan is a computer geek in Houston, TX. He is an Army veteran and lived through hurricane Ike in a house with no power for five weeks. He created SurvivingPrepper.com to share his knowledge and to have a place where several of his friends can share their knowledge too. When he isn’t adding new information to his site, Marc enjoys hiking, fishing and anything else he can do with his wife.

5 Prep Tips to Keep Your Family Safe from a Wildfire

Wildfires

Image from Skeeze via Pixabay

It doesn’t matter how small the likelihood of a wildfire is for your area–when it hits, you want to be ready. So even if you think the chances of a wildfire in your area are moderate to low, know that it’s better to spend a bit of extra time now preparing yourself and your family than to be thrown into a state of panic should a wildfire ever hit.

 

  1. Keep Up with Regular Home Maintenance

 

There are a few chores you can do regularly to help lessen the effects of a wildfire on your home. Minimize the amount of debris around your property by cleaning the roof and gutters, raking away leaves and dead limbs, mowing your grass, and making sure your trees and shrubs are pruned regularly.

 

  1. Stay Informed

 

Educate yourself on the fire conditions in your area and stay in the know on breaking weather news. Watch the news regularly, check the weather online, or download a weather app for your phone. Turn on notifications for your weather app so you’ll know of any risk of a wildfire in an instant. Ask your child’s caretaker or school about their disaster plans so you can rest assured that your child will be in good hands if disaster ever strikes.

 

  1. Compile Your Emergency Supply Kit

 

Build your family’s emergency supply kit and include items like a compass, clean drinking water, nonperishable foods, a flashlight, a battery-powered radio, and copies of important documents.

 

It’s also wise to document all of your belongings and keep a copy of this list in your kit. This will come in handy for insurance claims or for receiving aid from charitable organizations. Include descriptions and photos of furniture, appliances, electronics, and other valuable belongings. Collect any relevant serial numbers or receipts.

 

  1. Create a Plan

 

In a time of crisis, clear communication can be the best tool in your toolkit. That’s why you should make it a priority to talk to your family about what you’ll do in case of a wildfire. Practice designated evacuation routes. Discuss what actions should be taken if a family member is separated from the group. Make sure children (and adults!) have necessary emergency numbers memorized.

 

  1. Know Where You Stand with Insurance

 

Fire damage can be a tricky topic when it comes to insurance coverage, so it’s better to know your plan’s limitations ahead of time. Insurance may not cover certain landscaping costs following a fire, or may only cover a certain percentage of damaged personal items. You may even want to increase your coverage depending on your area’s level of risk for wildfires. Check with your agent to see what your coverage entails.

 

It may sound like a bit of a hassle to prepare yourself and your family for a wildfire even when one may never hit, but don’t underestimate the power of having a plan of action during a moment of crisis. It’s better to make plans now and never have to use them than to come up short should disaster strike. Prepare now and you’ll be glad you kept your family’s safety in mind.

 

Bradley Davis is a retired firefighter and SoCal resident. He has seen is fair share of natural disasters and knows all too well the damage they can cause when people in their paths aren’t prepared. He created DisasterWeb.net to share his emergency preparedness knowledge and to offer the many emergency planning and natural disaster-related resources he has compiled from his online research. When he isn’t adding new information to his site, Bradley enjoys relaxing on the beach with his wife.


Hurricane Preparation Tips For Families And Homeowners

Huricane-Season

Image via Pixabay by WikiImages

A hurricane is a scary ordeal. There’s no two ways about it. If you live in an area where there’s a chance of experiencing one, however, there are things you need to know to ensure the safety of yourself and your family and to protect your home and possessions.

 

Know How To Survive

 

Hurricanes are incredibly dangerous, but there are things you can do to greatly increase your chances of survival. These include:

 

  • Keep plenty of water on hand for drinking and cleaning in case you’re left without running water when the storm is over.
  • Keep plenty of gas in your vehicle so you can get away if evacuation is necessary.
  • Keep cash on hand in case of power outages.
  • Keep up with the storm through the web, TV and/or radio as much as possible.
  • Close your doors and stay away from windows. Keep shades and curtains closed.
  • Stay on the lowest level of your home and get under a table if possible.
  • Secure items outside of your home as best as possible to avoid having them become dangerous when picked up by the wind.
  • Follow evacuation instructions from authorities.

 

Use A Storage Facility

 

If you live in an area where there is a chance of being impacted by a hurricane, it’s a good idea to rent a storage unit somewhere out of the danger zone for storing your most important items that you don’t need in your home at all times.

 

“The golden rule of disaster preparation is to pretend a storm is coming tomorrow,” says  ClosetBox. “Don’t wait to start preparing. Again, the first step is often to designate and prepare a space to hold your survival supplies. Consider, too, the beach-style bungalow is on the short list of many people’s dream homes. Yet, these floor designs rarely allow for excess storage. For this reason alone, convenient and cost-effective storage solutions are often crucial for those who live near the beach.”

 

Prepare Your Pool

 

If you have a swimming pool in your backyard, there are several things you should consider before a hurricane comes. In the Swim touches on these, calling draining the pool a “major no-no” because a strong enough storm could actually cause an empty pool to pop out of the ground. The water helps to hold in in place. It also recommends adding extra chlorine to combat potential pollutants that could contaminate the water during the storm and leaving the pool cover off because it could fly up/away and cause its own damage.

 

“Turn off the electric breaker system to your pool to avoid electrical surge damage,” it says. “This includes all the mechanical systems in your pool as well as any lighting. Filter damage is the most common pool damage that occurs during hurricanes, so it’s important to protect it. If the filter is going to be at risk for complete water submersion, remove the pump and secure it in a safe, dry location inside. Some also opt to merely cover the pump with watertight plastic and rope to prevent water damage.”

 

It’s hard to avoid experiencing some amount of damage when a hurricane rolls through, but if you prepare, you can minimize that damage and keep yourself and your family safe as Mother Nature otherwise wreaks havoc.

 

Bradley Davis is a retired firefighter and SoCal resident. He has seen is fair share of natural disasters and knows all too well the damage they can cause when people in their paths aren’t prepared. He created DisasterWeb.net to share his emergency preparedness knowledge and to offer the many emergency planning and natural disaster-related resources he has compiled from his online research. When he isn’t adding new information to his site, Bradley enjoys relaxing on the beach with his wife.


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