How to Live Off the Grid: a Guide to Freedom

We live such hectic lives, filled with absolute non-sense that we forget what it is we’re actually living for. Most of us have 60 hours’ work weeks so we can pay rent, taxes and buy food. We don’t even have time for our loved ones, and we seem too busy or too tired even when we take a day off. That’s when leaving it all behind and starting a new life in the middle of nowhere starts to sound like an awesome idea.

Give it all up

The first thing is renouncing your old life and habits. That sounds pretty terrifying, but it’s liberating at the same time. Ask yourself this: if a tornado were to take you to Oz, what would you miss the most about your life now?

Giving up your life starts by prioritizing the essential things and relationships. After that, you’ll find there are plenty of things you would gladly let go of, if, in exchange, you could have peace, tranquility, and love.

Find a place

Cabin-in-the-woods

After deciding you really need to take off, you can’t simply do it without a plan. That’s why you should find somewhere to stay first. Maybe you have a cabin in the woods or a property in an isolated territory, and that could be your starting point.

But if you have to find your own place, things can get complicated. For instance, you can either buy or rent a piece of land. You should make sure the place is isolated enough so you won’t have any nosy Nellies around, but still, have some neighbors at convenient distances. You should also check that a nearby town doesn’t have future plans to extend closer to your property if you want to live a more solitary life.

After that, you can set up a camp, maybe even move in your trailer and start building your own home. If you have some money saved, you can commission the work to a professional, but you also have the option of turning this into your first DIY project.

Learn survival skills

You can’t move off in the wilderness without learning some survival skills first. The first one would be how to find water if there are limited water sources near your property. If you have very hot summer days when springs peter out, you might need to use other techniques like placing plastic bags on tree branches or digging for water.

making-fire

You should also learn how to build a fire, but that’s the easy part. After all, you can leave home equipped with 20 pounds of waterproof matches. The hardest part is to learn which trees you can cut down, how to chop them and how to store the wood properly. If you cut green trees and the wood gets too wet, you’ll have fewer chances of building a lasting fire.

Grow your own food

This can mean different things depending on where your property is. If you’ve moved off to a deep, damp forest in the mountains, your only options might be hunting, fishing and eating wild fruits. Of course, learning some hunting and fishing skills, along with buying proper equipment is useful no matter where you might end up. And you need to recognize which plants are edible, and which aren’t.

If you’re moving to a friendlier environment, you can always build a greenhouse with basic equipment. So you might need nothing more than some sturdy cellophane and a few pallets, along with plenty of water and the right seeds.

Apart from that, you can farm certain animals, depending on how large your property is. Chicken is the easiest when you take into account all the logistics, like space and food, plus they give you nutritious meat and eggs. Otherwise, you can consider raising cows for their milk, maybe buy a couple of horses if you own a bigger farmstead.

Arrange your amenities

You also need some degree of comfort, especially for keeping a clean environment. So you’ll want a toilet and some sort of washing facilities, and you have plenty of options here too. The easiest would be to buy a camp toilet and a camp shower, which can easily be transported and used no matter where you are.

Or, you can build your own bath, and improvise if you don’t have any running water. For instance, your toilet can be an outhouse, but you have to place it at some distance from your house and greenhouse.

Your shower can be a barrel of warm water with a valve attached to it and a hose with a showerhead for the warmer summer days. Or you can get a bathtub for indoor use, and that would help you relax after a long day’s work.

Earn the money you need

You might still need some money even if you’re living in a remote location for paying the rent or for buying the things you can’t produce on your own, but that doesn’t mean you should get a day job in the city.

One idea is to sell or trade the things you produce in surplus. So if you have lots of eggs or meat, you can sell that to your neighbors, or trade with them for clothes or different tools.

Another idea is to focus on a skill you already have, and sell the results of your work on the Internet. For instance, you might be into crafting and learn how to make interesting sculptures. Or decorate axes. Or make origami. The world is your oyster.

Learn to enjoy solitude

prepare-to-be-alone

This might prove to be difficult enough, especially if you’re all alone. We’re so accustomed to noise (even white noise) that eating a meal by ourselves without constantly checking our social media accounts seems impossible. But if you’ve chosen to live off the grid, you can find pleasure in loneliness.

So after all that, what seems like the most difficult to do? What plan do you have? Tell us all about that in the comments.

 

About the author: Mike is a passionate hunter and his favorite grounds are Alaska and British Columbia. He’s also an expert in hunting gear and he is one of the most reliable resources when it comes to choosing the right tools for the job. He also writes for OpitcGearLab.com

7 Ways to Prep for an Economic Collapse

With Trump becoming president, many believe he’ll be able to pull the United States out of its financial difficulties, that everything will finally be ok. However, it doesn’t take a genius to see that things are not necessarily going to get better, especially if you look at the first moves he has made since he came into office.

Trump doesn’t have an alternative to Obamacare, and the almost $20 trillion debt is not going to vanish. In addition, Trump himself said on more than one occasion that we’re in a bubble and, if that bubble were to burst, we’re all in trouble.

No one man, not even the president, is capable of fixing all of the country’s problems. An economic collapse could be triggered by a number of things; let’s not forget that Venezuela descended into chaos after a series of socialist measures followed by the drop in oil prices.

Fortunately, the prepper movement can teach us a thing or two about surviving a dollar collapse. Now, I’m not going to talk about gold, silver, hedge funds or any of the topics you guys know much more about than me. Instead, I’m going to stick to what I know and offer you other ways to prepare, ways that won’t make you look like a crazy Doomsday prepper.

#1. Get Out of Debt

Trivial, I know, but it’s worth repeating a thousand times. Why else are 80% of Americans in debt? There are various theories of what would happen to debt post-collapse and none of them are pretty. The most likely scenario is that you’ll still owe money to the banks, and with an inflation spinning out of control, anything can happen.

#2. Stock Up On Basic Foods

Beans, rice, water… you’ll needs lots of if you’re going to survive a long-term disaster. Many non-preppers think that stockpiling is all about MREs and freeze-dried foods. Quite the opposite; you should be storing foods you already eat, and have a variety of them in your pantry.

#3 Stock Up On Barter Items

Before money, there was bartering, and each economic collapse or recession sees people going back to this form of trading to avoid cash. You probably heard about preppers stocking up on toilet paper, right? This cheap item is going to be one of the most sought-after item when store shelves are empty… but you don’t have to fill your attic with it, you know.

There are other items you can add to your stockpile for dark days: tooth paste, floss, gardening tools, clothes, books and so on.  Add to these food, water and medical supplies, of course, most people living in cities will be desperate for them.

#4. Always Have Cash on Hand

Unless you want your money trapped in banks and your cards locked (like people in Greece experienced during their economic collapsed), you’re going to need cash to pay for things. No, I’m not saying money will be useless; that’s not what prepping is about.

#5. Think About the Other Disasters and Emergencies That Could Affect You

An economic collapse will bring with a huge amount of problems: riots, gun fights and an increase in looting, burglaries, home invasions and so on. I’m not saying they will affect you, but you have to think about your safety and security.

#6. Become Partially Self-Sufficient

You don’t have to move out to the wilderness and live in a wooden cabin with no Internet. Starting a garden, installing a few solar panels and setting up a rainwater harvesting system are few things you can do to ensure you have food, water and energy, when the others won’t.

#7. Focus on Your Skills

No, I’m not going to suggest you should learn how to milk a cow or how to forage for wild edibles. Unless you’re interested in learning them, of course. The thing about skills is that, once you learn one, you can barter with it again and again because everyone will want you to help them.

So which skills will be useful in an economic collapse? Things like first aid, plumbing, woodworking, fixing cars, fixing computers and other electronic devices come to mind… but the reality is that any skill could come in handy.

I’m willing to bet almost everyone knows how to do something that could be useful post-collapse. The “trick” is to improve on that skill so you’re able to help as many people as possible. In addition, how about you take on a hobby you were meaning to, but never got to? Gardening, fishing, woodworking – these are just a few of the skills that could come in handy post-collapse.

Final Words

Regardless of whether or not you believe an economic collapse is coming, one thing is clear: there is a chance it will happen. So why not take a few simple steps to prep for it?

Dan F. Sullivan

 

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.

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.

12 Survival Hygiene Tips for when SHTF

How will you stay clean post-collapse? It’s an issue people don’t give much thought about, yet of crucial importance. Disease is one enemy that can take you down without realizing it, and no amount of tools, gear or survival skills can help.

The people who found refuge on the Louisiana Superdome during Katrina know very well what it’s like. Rotten food, lack of showers and functional toilets, no electricity was hard to endure for the thousands who were crammed into that open space. We need to be prepared, so let’s see some common sense hygiene tips…

#1. Water, water and more water.

Having the means to procure water is the cornerstone of any good hygiene plan. Not just for keeping you hydrated, but also for things like:

  • showering (or, at the very least, to use a damp cloth to wash your body if you don’t have enough of)
  • doing the dishes (though you could stockpile plastic plates and plastic eating utensils to save water)
  • washing clothes
  • cleaning wounds (yes, you could get hurt!)
  • and other things unrelated to hygiene such as watering your garden

Let’s face it, the moment we run out of water, our lives become 10 times more complicated. I’ll even go as far as to say that not having it is way worse than having no electricity.

Ways to ensure you’ve got plenty of water post-collapse:

  • get large, 55-gallon barrels and, if you have a back yard, large water tanks
  • install a rainwater harvesting system
  • have means to filter and purify water in your bug out bag as well as the trunk of your bug out vehicle
  • split your water stockpile between your home and your bug out location, because you never know where you’ll end up
  • keep extra room in the trunk of your bug out vehicle so you can carry extra water with you to your BOL (if there’s time to load it)
  • re-use water from the kitchen sink and shower to water your garden

#2. “If it’s yellow, let it mellow”.

You don’t have to flush the toilet every time. This may not be something you want to do right now but definitely something to keep in mind post-collapse. Follow the “if it’s yellow, let it mellow” rule.

#3. Keep contact with other people to a minimum.

This doesn’t mean you have to stop seeing other people, because you might need information or help. Just remember to avoid touching them, including shaking hands. It may not be polite but manners won’t be as important after the big one hits.

#4. Out of soap or shampoo? Use soapwort!

No, this isn’t some brand of organic soap I’m advertising. Soapwort (lat. saponaria oficinalis) is a perennial plant with beautiful pinkish-violet flowers that can make a great substitute for soap and shampoo. One thing to keep in mind is that it’s “mildly poisonous” if you eat it so only use it externally. There’re plenty of recipes on other sites and the list of ingredients is very short.

#5. Keep dirty clothes contained.

This is especially true if you’re camping somewhere in the woods or if you’re bugging out. All dirty clothes should be stored in plastic bags until you have a chance to wash and dry them.

#6. Show some skin.

The best way to avoid dirty clothes is to avoid wearing them! Now, I’m not sure if the temperature will allow it but if you can, go ahead and do it. One way of getting yourself used to wearing less clothing is to do what I started doing 6 months ago: I stopped wearing pajamas. If you’re older, you should check with your doctor before doing it, but I can tell you it’s working for me.

The benefits? Better immune system, less sweating, your body gets accustomed with lower temperatures (which you might have to face if you’re going to sleep outside) and, best of all, less laundry!

#7. Comb

Combing requires no shampoo and no water, you just have to you remember to add one to your bug out bag. Benefits of combing include removing dandruff, uric acid crystal deposits and other waste. There’s also a side benefit in that you stimulate the blood vessels to bring more blood to your hair, making it stronger and shinier.

#8. No toilet paper? No problem.

There’re plenty of other options that our ancestors used before TP was invented. Things like cloths, newspapers, the leaves of some plants and more.

#9. Remove facial hair.

Though this is an ongoing debate among preppers, you will be less likely to host parasites if you shave your beard and mustache and keep your hair short.

#10. Get a travel sports towel.

If you thought the only way to pack a towel is to sacrifice a good amount of space, I have the solution. There are so-called camp towels that are not only compact but also very absorbent. You can find them on Amazon for around 15 bucks a piece.

#11. Keep your fingernails and toenails neat.

This is very important, as all sorts of bacteria will gather underneath. All you need is nail clippers that you can throw in your bug out bag as part of your hygiene kit.

#12. Take care of your teeth.

Brushing, flossing and using mouthwash should be done DAILY, regardless of whether or not you’re in a disaster situation. Cavities are one of the last things you want to deal with when there’s chaos all around you.

#12. Keep your hands clean.

If you’re doing a lot of office work, you probably don’t feel the need to wash that often. But when you’re working the field and the garden all they, when you’re feeding the animals, fixing your home and doing your own cooking, you’re going to have to wash A LOT more often. You’re also going to need soap (or the means to produce it) and/or hand sanitizer. It’s always a good idea to keep some sanitizer in your BOB and BOV.

Final Word

The thing I hope for the most is that you act on the advice I’ve given you. The tips are easy to put into practice and, some of them should be done on a daily basis, anyway. Post-collapse, you need to be a little more rigorous, so why not start today?


Can You Knit Your Way To Survival?

Can you knit your way to survival? It could come in handy in a SHTF world.

Make clothes for yourself or barter for trade.

Certain basic skills may seem useless today with all of our modern machines, but you’d be surprised how good they will be post apocalypse. Gather as much knowledge and skills now. The more you learn, the more likely you are to survive.

Here are some basic instructions:

Knit-for-Survival-1m Knit-for-Survival-2m

 

Knit-for-Survival-3m

 

You can also teach yourself to knit or crochet by watching youtube videos.

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