Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Alternative Heating Sources For Survival

While not every home has air conditioning, every home does have heat. However, most every one of those heating sources is completely dependent on electricity. Some homes have fireplaces, but a lot of those are only for decorative purposes only.

In a situation like this, what would one do in an emergency situation? If the power goes off in the dead of winter, you will have to go into survival mode. Can you readily do that? If not, then you might need to consider an alternative heating source to what you already have. Because the electric often goes out, especially in the winter time. One severe snow storm or ice storm can render you without a valid source of heat. And furthermore, put your life in danger.

The Wood Burning Stove

One option for an alternate heat source is the wood burning stove. Even a temporary one is better than nothing. They are fairly easy to install in almost any home and require just a few special specifications. If you are a handy person, you can even do the job yourself with a little help.

One thing you should keep in mind is that you should choose a stove that burns real wood instead of wood pellets. While wood pellets do burn more efficiently and produce more heat than regular wood, they can't be burned with wood. So when you run out of pellets, you run the risk of freezing. 

Making the investment in a regular wood burning stove is something you won't regret and it WILL be used at some point. You've heard the term, "better safe than sorry", and it has never been more true than in a situation that involves survival heating.

The Kerosene Heater

Another good option for heat, should the electricity go out, is the kerosene heater. They are a very clean burning and they produce a great deal of heat for their size. They radiate heat from all sides, but since they have no need of a chimney, they lose no heat in that way. This sometimes makes them more effective and easier to use than a wood burning stove.

Kerosene heaters are easier to use than wood burning stoves because they require no special installation and they cost quite a bit less as well. They can simply be purchased, filled with fuel and you can  immediately start using them. However, they are completely dependent upon a constant fuel source. While you can forage for wood, you have to actually purchase kerosene which means that in a serious emergency, you'll have to find a place to buy it.

If you decide to go with a kerosene heater, you can begin to stockpile kerosene. It stores well and will keep for long periods of time, so stockpiling large amounts should not be a problem. However, you must know you're going to be staying in the same place for an extended period of time as well, to make this option work.

The Gas Catalytic Heater

Another option is the gas catalytic heater. With this heater, you don't have to stockpile fuel, as it runs on natural gas. It burns very efficiently and clean as well. There is a "bed" for the fuel to burn in that heats the ceramic and that, in turn, radiates out to heat the entire room. 

You can purchase these heaters in different sizes for heating rooms of different sizes, as they are specifically for room heating. One of the greatest advantages of utilizing this heater is the fact that it uses natural gas. Since natural gas pumping stations have their own power sources for emergency situations, they are more likely to still be operational should the electric grid be shut down.

Other Things To Consider

In the event of an electrical outage, the first and most important thing is to have a secondary heat source. However, there are other things you can do in preparation for cold weather. You always know when it's coming, so you have an advantage already in that alone.

You can start by making sure your home is adequately insulated. This allows you to hold on to the heat you create for longer periods of time. Interior walls are not usually insulated, since they are inside the home. However, if you are building your own home, you can add this as a precaution for any survival situation that might arise. You can also cover doorways with blankets if they do not have a door installed in them, which will act as a temporary door and hold in heat in an emergency.

In severe cases, you can coat the walls of one room with rescue blankets. These are made of aluminized Mylar and do a very good job of reflecting heat back into the room, losing very little. If you don't have that, make sure to use aluminum or plastic on your windows. Also make it a point to seal around and underneath any doors that lead outside as well. A few drafts can let in as much cold air as large hole in the wall. Every little bit counts!

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Preparing for Fire – Tools for Firefighting

By Forest Puha


Wildfires are scary, furious and incredibly destructive. As of this writing, the effort to control wildfires in Northern California and around the United States are pushing local, state and federal firefighters to their limit. For people living on farms and other rural areas, adopting firefighting techniques to keep their homes same can often mean the difference between losing everything and staying alive. Although I’m not a firefighter, every year I gather and burn tumbleweeds, pull clumps of plants away from the house, trim low-hanging tree branches, create some firebreaks and other routine fire maintenance expected of me as a rural homeowner. This helps my local fire department and my neighbors so they don’t have to automatically divert resources to defend my home, and it helps me for concentrating on other important aspects of my fire preparedness, like planning for evacuation.

In this article, I’ll examine some tools I have to remove debris and burn weeds that everyone should have. All of these tools can be purchased brand new or found at local garage sales and thrift shops for pennies. Everything I discuss was based on my experience using them.

For widespread convenience, I've posted images are of products that can be bought at Wal-Mart, Amazon or Harbor Freight. As of this writing, the prices I've listed for everything were what I paid at the time for the items. You don’t have to buy all of these at once; what is important is that you work up a collection of tools that works for you and your needs, so that you can be prepared for fire.



A Bottle of Water

A refillable bottle for drinking water. I own several, so this was "free".


It sounds funny, but this really is one of the most important tools you can have. You’ll want this at all times, whether in a canteen you carry or a bottle you stash at your feet. Stay hydrated, soak your clothes, and reduce your fatigue.



Safety Glasses
Impact-rated safety glasses from Harbor Freight. $1.79 at most stores.

Fires generate lots of smoke that gets into my eyes. They’ll also pop and crackle, sending up sparks that land on my face. Eye protection is an absolute must. These impact glasses are slightly wider than normal safety sunglasses, with more of a rectangular shape and clear side panels that cover more of my eyes and cheeks. They also have adjustable earpieces, so you can shorten them for children or lengthen them while wearing a mask. I prefer clear versions; they also come in various tints to act as sunglasses.




N95 Respirator Masks
3M's N95 respirator with valve. Available at most stores for under $15.

Fires generate a lot of smoke, and sometimes the smoke blows back on you. Like the water bottle, keep these on you at all times. They won’t completely eliminate the smoke and the smell, but the mask will filter out enough to let you breathe and get away. 




OSHA-rated Hardhat

The Occunomix “Vulcan” Cowboy Style Hard Hat. Available at Amazon for $18.50.


I didn’t use to believe that these were necessary for fire prevention around my house, until one day I was cutting off some very small tree limbs around my house and a branch fell on my head. Four hours later, as I held an icepack to my throbbing head while lying down on my living room floor, I came to a realization: hard hats ARE necessary. Go figure.

As the above picture shows, they come in multiple styles nowadays and for pretty cheap. Protective gear pays for itself over time, and with the Cowboy and Construction hardhats I’m two-fifths of the way toward making my own personal Village People collection. Win-win!



Leather Gloves 
Leather gloves with cotton backing. $7.99 for a 5-pack at Harbor Freight.

You need gloves when working around fire; things get hot to the touch. Avoid non-leather gloves as they’ll get hot enough to melt and stick to your skin, causing severe burns and worse. Leather gloves also come in arm-length and full-wrap styles, so you can cover as much of your hands and arms as you like.



100% Cotton Pants and Shirt

“Dickies” double-layer carpenter pants from Wal-Mart. $35.99 at most stores.
I prefer double-layer carpenter pants from Dickies and Carhatt. While they don’t offer as much protection as leather and firefighter pants would, these carpenter pants do protect my legs and feet from burning embers and scratches, can be found anywhere and they’re pretty cheap. Always remember to wear 100% cotton clothing when fighting fire; polyester, nylon and other synthetic material will burn, melt and stick to your skin in horrible ways.



Leather Boots
Brahma unisex “Owden” leather boots. $19.97 at most stores.

Footwear is absolutely important when fighting fires. Because your feet will be stepping on, stepping over and touching fire, extremely hot ground and other dangerous material, you’ll need footwear that can handle abuse. 

These Owden boots are made entirely of leather with metal grommets and a semi-rubber sole which will hold up to most small fires around your home and keep your feet and ankles protected from contact burns and scratches. They don’t have a steel toe or steel shank, which means they don’t weigh much and are very comfortable to move around in, but they also lack the protection you’d get from more expensive boots.
Danner Men’s Wildland Tactical Firefighter Work Boot. Starting at $237.65 at Amazon.com.

If you want to do serious firefighting—assisting your neighbors, becoming a volunteer firefighter, controlled burns in national forest—here's a sample of specialized boots for the task. These come with a metal shank down the sole of your foot that can block nails and glass you step on. Prices go up as features are added, but quality tools repeatedly pay for themselves over time.


A Reliable Shovel 


56-inch Fiberglass Shovel from Harbor Freight. $9.99 at most stores.

One of the most useful tools for fighting a fire. You can shovel burning brush, shovel dirt upon fire, cut and split bushes, dig trenches, dig fire pits, use as a hiking stick, balance across your shoulders and tie things on the back, use as a visible marker, use as a camera monopod… the list goes on. 

Like all the tools in this list, fiberglass or metal handles are preferable to wood, which lessens the chances of the tool catching on fire or breaking in the middle of a project. Fiberglass shovels also weight a bit less than their wooden version of equal length.



A Reliable Rake

14-tin Fiberglass Rake from Harbor Freight. $19.99 at most stores.

The rake is one of the most ubiquitous tools in a homeowner’s firefighting arsenal. It can pull together burning weeds, pull down burning branches, and push ashes into a pile for easy watering. As with the shovel, spend the extra money on a fiberglass or metal handle rake; they’re more fire resistant than the regular wooden ones and can be recovered if dropped into hot embers.





A Pulaski Axe
34-inch Pulaski Axe from Harbor Freight. $24.99 at most stores.

The Pulaski Axe, also known as as the cutter mattock, is one of the more unusual firefighting tools in your arsenal. It consists of a sharpened vertical axe head on one end, with a curved and sharpened horizontal mattock blade on the other end. This allows the user to chop and split tree branches, trunks and roots at various angles, and in firefighting the mattock end can also be used as a makeshift rake and hoe to pull apart and push away burning embers and brush. 

I've found that the wooden versions are too heavy for my practical use; the one I bought from Harbor Freight comes with a fiberglass handle and weighs around 5 to 6 pounds altogether, which makes it relatively lightweight and handy. I can pick it up and use it all day long. 




A Chainsaw


The Husqvarna 445 16-inch chainsaw. Around $250 at most hardware stores and Amazon.

Finally, a chainsaw is a basic tool every rural homestead should own. The above model happens to be one I own, but Stihl also makes reliable saws. For chainsaws, bigger engines mean more reliable power, although the bigger the chainsaw, the more expensive it becomes. I recommend a 16-inch bar chainsaw for the absolute minimum in cutting wood, but others will recommend an 18 or 20-inch bar for a beginner. Keep in mind that bars on chainsaws can be switched to be a few sizes larger or smaller than the original, so you have some discretion in what you need for your purposes. It’s no coincidence that the safety gear for firefighters work perfectly when operating a chainsaw, and you’ll also want to purchase a good pair of ear protectors so you don’t lose your hearing while using it.

In addition to the chainsaw, you’ll want storage containers for gasoline, two-cycle oil to mix with the gasoline, and 30-weight bar oil to lubricate the chain blades with, as well as spare parts, an owner’s manual and tools to fix and adjust the chainsaw. Your local hardware store will carry most or all of the things you need, and the rest can be ordered by them or you from Amazon. Again, be careful and practice with your chainsaw in normal and safe conditions, so that you can rely on it and your own ability during a fire.

That covers the basics for tools. In the next article, we’ll be discussing some tactics and strategies to make your home and your land more fireproof. Thanks for reading and stay safe!


Thursday, October 12, 2017

Foods You Can Regrow and Eat Over More Than Once




By Karen Roguski


Fresh foods, as we all know, lead to a healthy lifestyle. These healthy foods, however, are often some of the more expensive items on one's grocery list.


Today, we offer options and solutions to homesteading, survival, frugal living, and so much more. The following tricks will change the way you shop, cook, and even plan your next garden.

Herbs And Spices



Re-growing fresh herbs and spices are much easier than many might think and takes minimal supplies.


All that is needed is a medium sized container, fresh water, sunlight, and a fresh cutting of the herb or spice wanted or needed for your favorite recipes.


Trim all but the top two sets of leaves. Place in a few inches of fresh water. Now watch them grow. Once they have a nice new root base transfer them to a bit of soil. Soon you will have an all-new set of herbs and spices awaiting your use.




Below are some examples of herbs and spices that grow easily and are used frequently.
  1. Rosemary

  2. Chives

  3. Peppermint

  4. Sage

  5. Lemon Balm

  6. Oregano

  7. Thyme

  8. Basil

  9. Cilantro

  10. Garlic

Vegetables


Image result for Vegetable


Vegetables, much like the herbs and spices, can be grown again using the same materials. Some might also need toothpicks or dowels for best results. Below are some examples of the multitude of vegetables awaiting regrowth.

The primary difference, however, is the manner in which each vegetable must be prepped. Some require pruning, some just cut, and others yet deseeded. No matter which prep needed the outcome will be just as deliciously enjoyed.
  1. Carrot

  2. Bok Choy

  3. Turnips

  4. Onions

  5. Sweet Potato

  6. Celery

  7. Pepper

  8. Romaine Lettuce

  9. Potatoe

  10. Tomato

  11. Avocado

  12. Green Onion

  13. Leeks

  14. Pineapple

  15. Ginger

  16. Pumpkin

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Mass Casualty Incidents and Triage

By: Sebastian Berry

Friends of Family Survival Farm: It is with a heavy heart and after much pondering that I make this posting. I make a pretty good effort to make my posts timely and relevant. Like posting about fireworks and burns around the 4th of July. I feel this one will be more difficult due to the tender nature of recent events in Las Vegas.

On October 1, 2017 a man opened fire on unsuspecting concert goers in an adjacent location across the road from the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino. He killed at least 58 and injured almost another 500. Fox News Timeline of Events. I have neither the inclination to mention the shooters name or to delve into a second amendment argument. This act was senseless and seemingly unprovoked and the loss of life saddens me deeply.

DISCLAIMER: Instructions and information here is not a substitute for professional medical care and treatment. If you are having an emergency call 911 or your local emergency number for assistance.

I do not claim credit to any of the images used unless specifically indicated. All rights and credits remain with the original owners

Let me be very clear from the start, people die. This is an unfortunate fact of life. All of us have or will lose people that we love, care for, or are close to. Sometimes, bad things happen to very good people. Many times there is just simply nothing we can do about it.


Good people died in Las Vegas last Sunday. Other good people did all they could to save them. It is not a very difficult Google search to find the stories of heroism that took place. People covering people to shield them from fire. We've all heard the story of the man that commandeered a truck to take people to the hospital. And then there's this...


Mass Casualty Incidents or MCI, overwhelm medical systems and emergency responders. I work at a hospital under a company called HCA. The company CEO, Milton Johnson, sent an email to all employees about the shooting. Here's a little glimpse.
"...As the horrific details of the Route 91 shooting in Las Vegas became evident, we also learned of the incredible impact it had on our colleagues at Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center and its sister hospitals, Southern Hills Hospital and Mountain View Hospital.  Even though our hospitals regularly plan for mass casualties, no one could have anticipated the magnitude of this tragic event. 
As the closest trauma center to the concert site, Sunrise immediately started receiving patients that arrived by all modes of transportation.  Ultimately, they would care for approximately two hundred victims.  For the entirety of the event, one hundred twenty patients with gunshot wounds received care.  All 30 operating rooms were immediately activated and operated throughout the night and following day.  In all, more than 80 operations were performed..."
People and equipment from those sister hospitals was transferred to help effect the care of the injured. It is no small feat to go from normal operations to bursting at the seams and still handling more.

Dr. James Sebesta is a retired Army Colonel and surgeon who was in attendance at the concert.


 He recalls in a newspaper interview with The Seattle Times:
...He recalls one man, assisted by his son, who had a bullet wound in his back. He helped to carry the man off the field but doesn’t know if he survived.
Another woman he came upon was grievously wounded, and he knew she could not be saved. So he moved on.
“We went from person to person trying to get the people who were still alive out of there, and then went back after that and got some of the people who had expired, “ Sebesta recalled.
Eventually, he reunited with his wife, Janelle, at their hotel after 3 a.m. Monday. He could not sleep as his wife’s phone kept “blowing up” with messages from family and friends.
“I’ve been in the Army a long time. I’ve been to war four or five times … I’ve been in a lot of bad places during my career and seen lots of mass cal (casualty) things. But in the Army, we were ready for ’em. And the other thing is, there was a reason for it — I mean, it was war,”...
Herein lies the hard part of MCI and triage. We must determine quickly those who our help can help the most. We must make a decision on the fly if people stand a reasonable chance of being saved. In one of my previous articles on first aid (you can read it here) I wrote:
"There are two questions a person must ask themselves before rendering aid...
    1. Do I have the skills to render proper aid?
    2. Do I have the equipment to render proper aid?
If either question is answered no, then you must seriously reconsider rendering aid."
In MCI's this traditional thinking goes out the window. In MCI's if you have hands and are able to function you can be put to work. Like Colonel Sebesta recalled in being able to get people out of the danger area and to treatment. YOU might be the one to have to move people or to put your fingers into the bleeding hole in order to stop the bleeding. In another article I wrote about tourniquets (here), that might be the only thing that keeps a person from bleeding to death and you might be the only person available to apply one.

Triage, typically, functions with the following labels for groups.

  • GREEN: Uninjured or very lightly injured (think band-aids and bruises)
    • These are the people that can be put to work.
  • YELLOW: Walking wounded or folks to be considered for URGENT care.
    • These people typically are able to follow simple one step commands and need assistance in moving.
  • RED: These are your gunshot wounds, stab wounds, or long bone fractures like the legs or upper arms. URGENT SURGICAL.
    • These injuries require immediate and possibly life saving interventions.
  • BLACK: Also known as EXPECTANT or dead or actively dying.
    • These are people who are not breathing or responsive on initial encounter, the airway is opened and if they do not breathe spontaneously are to be considered dead and no further aid rendered.
    • Extensive burns, especially those that involve the respiratory tract.
    • Obvious wounds not compatible with life, like open skull fractures with visible gray matter.
In the world that we live in now. Anyone might be called on to perform triage. Like I have told my friends and family- Head on a swivel. As our government has told us- If you see something, say something. It only takes a moment for our world to change.

We must be prepared. Do you have specific plans for MCI? Talk to us in the comments. Please don't forget to check out our giveaway section here.



Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Foods Specifically Designed for Prepping and Survival Situations

Getting Started

There are a lot of guides to be found online about how to prep food for survival and emergency situations. There are also guides to tell you which canned foods will last the longest and what will work best for a bug out bag or prepper's pantry. These are all very handy and should certainly be consulted if you are considering either one.

However, there are also several companies who specialize in foods that are meant to really go the distance. Some companies prepare and package food that will have as much as a twenty-five year shelf life. Certain foods are packaged so that they can easily be carried while others are meant to be used if you are "bugging in" instead of "bugging out".

Let's take an in-depth look at some of these food companies and what they offer. Follow the links provided to check out each company for yourself.

Meals Ready to Eat

Meals Ready to Eat, also known as MRE's, are one of the first foods that come to mind when thinking of survival situations. They were originally created by the United States military for our service people and they were made to provide the perfect nutrient-rich meals, while also being very easy and light to carry.

One of the best things about MRE's is the ability to eat them in a variety of ways. First, you can eat them cold, right from the package. While this isn't very pleasing to the taste, in most cases, it will certainly provide you with the needed nutrients to keep you going if need be. They can also be heated through using a camp stove, an MRE heater, or some other quick method.

When purchasing an MRE, you can choose to buy the complete meal, certain entrees, snacks, desserts, and even drinks. You can also purchase the MRE heaters separately, as well as buying complete cases for a bigger stockpile.

Following, are a few places where MRE's can be purchased. Of course, there are many more, but this should at least give you a place to get started.
The Wise Company has long been known as a trusted supplier of freeze dried and dehydrated foods that can easily be stored for long periods of time. Most of their foods can be prepared simply by adding water, so they are compact and easy to prepare. Campers have been using their products for years already, and many preppers are more than familiar with Wise.

These foods also come with a satisfactory twenty-five year shelf life, are premium quality and offer an affordable option to prepping per serving or per person. Make sure to read the packages carefully though, to make sure the serving size offered will be sufficient. Some have mentioned that a serving size isn't really that large, but we think it might be a personal taste choice. Either way, it never hurts to stay on top of things like this.

You can purchase food kits for 72-hours and one week, as well as increments of 1, 3, 6 and 12 month periods. You might be surprised at the variety of foods and entrees available from Wise, so make sure you check them out. While you're there, it might interest you to take a peek at their other supplies. They include:
  • Survival Kits
  • Water Storage
  • Water Filters
  • Fuel Sources
  • Stoves
  • Non-Hybrid Seeds
  • First Aid and Medical Kits
You can even request a free sample, here.


Mountain House

Mountain House is a company, much like The Wise Company, that provides meals for a variety of situations. Their endeavor into this business started by creating meals for the United States Military back in the Vietnam era. 

Some of the categories you will find when you visit their website are:
  • Breakfasts
  • Entrees
  • Meats
  • Sides
  • Desserts
  • Military Rations
  • Single Serving
  • Emergency Prep
If your order comes to more than $99, your shipping will be free if your product is defective in some way, they even offer returns. Their shelf life of thirty years comes with a taste guarantee as well, though you might note a change in the texture of the food after that amount of time.

Food kits that contain enough food for 2 to 14 days of supplies can be purchased quickly and easily and there's even a handy food supply calculator you can use if you need help figuring out how much to buy. With meal kits, pouches, buckets and cans, you're sure to be able to put together a kit that is as unique as you are.


Augason Farms

Augason Farms began over forty years ago with one single product, a milk alternative called Morning Moo. Now they serve emergency food rations and supplies that cover the entire food pyramid and have a shelf life of twenty-five years. Augason Farms offers packages for 72 hours all the way up to a year and offer some great food options, including:
  • Diary products including milk and butter
  • Bread mixes
  • Fruits and veggies
  • Oats, flour, meal, sugar, etc.
  • Pasta
  • Meat
  • Options that include vegetarian, gluten free and organic
Furthermore, you can order complete entrees as well as variety packs, suiting your needs perfectly. You can also order some handy supplies too. They offer a stainless steel water filtration system, a variety of grain grinders, emergency water storage kits and more. Orders of more than $200 get free shipping.


A Good Start

These are just a few of the options you have for emergency food supplies. While it is certainly not extensive, I hope that it has given you a good place to start. You can always shop around at various dealers, your local emergency preparedness stores or use online digital savings like Honey

Remember, in the event of a disaster or emergency, the grocery store is most likely to be the first place looters will hit. Especially those who have never considered prepping for such a thing. Even those who are only scavenging for life-saving food and water will be in the middle of all of this and will be putting themselves in great danger.

Don't be one of those who risk life and limb simply to eat. With a simple mouse-click, you can have just what you need to ride out the first few days, weeks, or even a year. Please plan ahead!





Monday, October 2, 2017

The Importance Of Water Storage



By Forest Puha

As of this writing, I’m watching the residents of Puerto Rico recover from Hurricane Maria and search around their areas for fresh water to drink. Federal aid workers and rescue squads of all types are gradually coming into the island, but with electrical power lines broken and roadways cluttered with debris, help is slow in coming. This article will cover some points about storing water that I think can be useful in your home.

Analyze how many people you have in your immediate family. You should have at least one gallon of water per person, more in hot weather or depending on personal needs. FEMA emergency guidelines say to have enough for three days at minimum, for both drinking and basic sanitation. I have a couple of clear five-gallon plastic jugs that supplies my family with the minimum amount of water. These jugs are available in your local grocery or retail store for relatively cheap, and to refill them in-store can be done for a couple of dollars.



These are common and found everywhere. Get ones with screw on caps.



It’s also a good idea to buy a pallet of commercially bottled water and store it in a cool and dark place.






These pallets are good for both storing in your car and at home, but not as reusable as a larger jug.



If you have your own containers to store water in, make sure you completely wash them out with regular dish washing soap, hot water, and a teaspoon of unscented chlorine bleach. Seal and shake them up before emptying and rinsing out. This will help kill any bacteria growing inside the bottles and caps and keep you from getting sick.



When you run out of stored water, there are also a number of ways you can purify water around you. Make sure any water you intend to drink comes from a reasonably clean source. Sealed water heaters are your best bet for potable water with minimal treatment. Once that’s done, you can treat your water in the following ways:

Boiling: usually the safest and most common method of making drinking water. In a large stove pot or tea kettle (even better if it’s copper for additional antibacterial properties) cover the pot or kettle with a lid and bring the water to a boil for at least a minute. Let it cool to the touch before drinking or storing, as excess heat will burn skin and melt plastic.





A watched pot never creates Cryptosporidiosis.





Chlorinating: only unscented household liquid bleach with a minimum of 5.25 percent sodium hypochlorite will kill organisms inside the water and make it safe to drink. The rule of thumb is to add 16 drops, or about 1/8 of a teaspoon of bleach, per gallon of water. Shake well and let it work for half an hour. The water will smell slightly of bleach, and that’s perfectly normal. If it doesn’t, repeat the dosage and let it stand for another 30 minutes. If you still don’t smell the bleach, it’s beyond the ability of bleach to sterilize it. And remember: ONLY unscented household liquid bleach will work for drinking. Don’t use scented bleach, sprays or any other substance that may harm you when ingested.



Chlorine tablets also work well too. Use as directed.



Distillation: this process involves collecting the water vapor that condenses from boiling. The condensed vapor is usually rid of bacteria through the process. A quick way to distill is to angle a metal or glass baking sheet above the spout of a tea kettle, so that the rising steam will collect and drip down the inside of the baking sheet into a bowl or cup below as the kettle whistles. There are many ways to distill water with a boiling method, and all are useable in a situation with no electricity.




 From the National Self Reliance Association. How to build a small water still. Salt water can be substituted with the cleanest water you can find for distilling.



In an emergency, water is life and the key to survival. Make sure you have enough on hand to last you for as long as the emergency lasts, and you’ll be able to think straight and tackle any other problems that come your way.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

SHARPENING KNIVES BY HAND

SHARPENING KNIVES BY HAND

Photos by Craig Woods
Article by Heather and Kevin Harvey, Master Bladesmiths with the American Bladesmith Society and members of the Knifemakers’ Guild of Southern Africa
Hardworking hands in the photos – Kevin Harvey – fulltime bladesmith
As a child you may have watched your granddad restore the edge on a knife, seemingly by magic.  His old oil stone with its swayback from years of use, the smell of the oil and his leather strop are the props you remember from his magic performance.  Years later you dug out the props and tried his magic, but it didn’t work.  You had seen it being done, it wasn’t magic, but a lost art.

Anyone with the most basic tools can sharpen any edged item easily when shown how.  There are many good gadgets out there that you can buy to help “set up the correct angle” for sharpening, but you can just as easily learn to sharpen by hand.  Sharpening gadgets limit what you can sharpen, whereas sharpening by hand has no limitations.  You can sharpen an axe or a cut-throat razor using the same basic tools.

The equipment we use to sharpen by hand are Arkansas stones which you can buy in different “hardness’s”, soft, medium and hard.  “Soft” will remove a lot of material where as “hard” will be used to just touch up an edge.  Diamond hones are wonderful and also come in different “grits”, if you only buy one, buy a medium grit.  We like to use water on the diamond hones and olive oil on the stones for kitchen knives, otherwise light oil or paraffin.  Remember to wash the stones/hones  after use with a little bit of dishwashing liquid and water to remove the steel grit that is left after sharpening.  A leather strop is important as the last step in sharpening is to remove the burr that you create during sharpening.  A makeshift strop can be an item as simple as a piece of firewood, your leather belt or the rubber sole of your boot, after all only you only need to flex the burr backwards and forwards, until it breaks off.

Other useful sharpening tools are tapered diamond rods for sharpening serrated edges and fold-up portable small diamond hones that you can carry with you on camping/hunting trips. 

Useful hints are to use a damp dishcloth to secure your stone to your kitchen table and protect the counter surface.  Carry a portable sharpener on your excursions and don’t be afraid to sharpen by hand.  Practise on a few of your cheaper kitchen knives until you master the skill, then you won’t be nervous about sharpening your custom made hunting knife.

People are obsessed with “keeping the correct angle” when sharpening, but it is not critical, so long as you are consistant with the angle you have chosen.  Sharpening angles differ depending on the type of knife and the work it is expected to do.  You should not put a razor edge on an axe, just as you wouldn’t put a chisel edge on a filleting knife.  You want your edge to match the purpose of the knife. 

Lubricate the stone/hone with water or olive oil (tastes nicer than paraffin!) and cut into the stone as if trying to shave off a slice of the stone.  Keep your angle constant and sharpen all areas of the cutting edge, from where it starts near the handle all the way to the point.  Repeat on the other side of the cutting edge.  Keep sharpening until you can see a “burr” (bright shiny ribbon of steel) on the entire cutting edge.  It is now time to strop off the burr on the back of a leather belt.  Your knife is only truly sharp once the burr has been removed otherwise the burr just folds over your sharpened cutting edge, making the knife feel blunt.  Stropping is done by dragging the cutting edge over the strop, (opposite to cutting into the stone) swapping sides, at a slightly steeper angle than you sharpened at.  You will only need to strop a couple of times before you see the burr break off. 

To test for sharpness, see if the edge will bite into your nail when gently pushed onto it at an angle.  Test the entire cutting edge and if any part of it “slides” off the nail and does not “bite”, you will need to re-sharpen that area of the blade.

CAPTIONS TO THE PHOTOS

Variety

Shows various different sharpening stones and diamond hones.

Showing the angle

This would be a good angle (15˚ to 20˚ ) to use for a general purpose knife.

Pushing into the stone

Sharpen by pushing into the stone as if trying to lift a postage stamp off the stone.  A diamond hone is used in this photo with water as lubrication.

Arkansas stone

A natural sharpening stone (not carborundum) is used with olive oil as lubrication.

Serrations

Serrations can easily be sharpened with a tapered diamond rod, one tooth at a time.

Portable diamond hones

Very handy to carry with you while camping or hunting to touch up knives.  Keep your angles the same as you would on the sharpening stone.  With these small sharpeners, the sharpener is moved over the cutting edge, as opposed to the edge moved over the stone as with the larger sharpeners.

The burr

After sharpening you will see the raised burr which needs to be removed by stropping to achieve a sharp edge.

Stropping

The most important part of achieving a sharp knife is the stropping after sharpening to remove the burr that you have created.

Testing sharpness


Carefully and gently push the entire blade, section by section, into your thumb nail at an angle.  Where it “bites” it is sharp, where it “slides” it needs to be re-sharpened.