Search results for: 'diy'

  • DIY Solar Still

    |4 COMMENT(S)

    If you were lost in the wild without any clean water to drink, making your own solar still could be a great way to get clean water until you can get back to civilization.

    But what is a solar still?

    A Solar still is a method of distilling (cleaning) water, using the heat of the sun to evaporate water from soil. Functionally, you’re turning the water from the soil into vapor, and then you collect the condensation to drink. Solar stills can range solar ovens to using a simple tarp over a hole in the ground.

    DIY Solar Still

    Distillation does a good job of removing many contaminants and pathogens.  It removes dirt, bacteria, viruses, and protozoa. It also removes metals such as lead, copper, and sodium. Distilling removes many things you are likely to find in the water, but not all.

    If something vaporizes at a lower temperature than water e.g. alcohol or gasoline, it will come out in the distillate. This means that distillation is not going to be useful for chemical contamination, especially in a do it yourself situation.

    DIY Solar Still Instructions

    Here’s what I did and what I learned when I made my own solar still. I decided to try a couple techniques for making a solar still that could apply in two different situations. Both techniques use the same materials.


    The Sun

    Bowl (about 12 inches in diameter, preferably larger)

    Mug or Plastic container (think Tupperware)

    Plastic Wrap or Sheeting

    A Weight (a rock, brick, box—anything heavy you can find to hold down the plastic wrap down)

    Shovel (or a tool or rock that can dig a hole)

    Plant Material (shrubs, grass, leaves, etc.)


    Solar Still #1: Coffee-Mug Still

    For the first one, I assumed a situation such as an earthquake or flood that leaves you in your home (sheltering in place), but causes a disruption in utilities. While normally you would have safe drinking water stored, in the event that you don’t—or it somehow became contaminated, you may need to make a simple solar still.  

    What I did:

    1. I put salt water in a bowl that is about 12 inches in diameter. I then put a coffee mug in the center of the bowl.  I placed the bowl on a table, directly in the sunlight.
    2. I covered the bowl in plastic wrap and put a weight on the center above the mug to direct the condensation toward the mug.  All that was left was to put it in the sun and wait.
    3. The contaminated water went into the bowl, then the condensation on the plastic wrap drips into an empty mug in the center, filling it with clean water.

    This method worked, but there were a couple major shortcomings.  The first time I tried it, the sky clouded up and I was rewarded with only a few drops of water for a whole day of waiting. The next try was better, but a day of sunlight still only yielded about one quarter cup fresh water. This would require a lot of bowls if you were relying on it for drinking water. I think an increase in surface area would make a big difference in how much water is produced.


    Solar Still #2: Pit-Style Solar Still

    The second method I used was more of a survival technique. You might use this type of solar still if you have to evacuate your home in an emergency and live off the land.

    What I did:

    1. I dug a shallow hole in my garden about 3 feet in diameter.
    2. I then filled the hole with plant material and placed a water collection cup in the center.
    3. Similar to the set-up described above, I once again covered the collection cup in a plastic sheet.
    4. I then placed a rock in the center to cause the condensate to run to the middle and drip into my collector cup.


    DIY Solar Still

    I did this on a hot sunny day, for the entire day, and collected around one third of a cup of water.

    DIY Solar Still

    What I learned

    The second method is energy intensive, both in terms of physical labor and in terms of the energy required to vaporize the water.  If you’re in a survival situation, you may want to weigh the outcome: the work required may not be worth the water produced. If you’re on the brink of dehydration, any amount of water could help you, so making a pit-style solar still could be well-worth it to you then.

    The Solar Still is a little tricky to get right, as well.  The clouds completely ruined my first attempt. On my second attempt I managed to get water, but it was disappointingly full of dirt from the plants I was putting in the pit.

    Given the right situation, however, I can imagine this process being fairly useful.  In a beach, swamp, or marshy area, the pit-style still would continually recharge with water from the soil. It would work passively and could be fairly productive.

    Since there’s so little water produced from the solar still, it’s important to use more than one method of water collection to make sure you have enough water to keep yourself hydrated. Check out the post “Finding Water in the Wild” for more water collection techniques to try out.

    --Joe and Angela

    Posted In: Insight, Skills

  • DIY Bow and Arrow


    Once a weapon of myths and legends, the bow and arrow can now be found in any sporting goods or outdoors store for bow hunting enthusiasts . . . And while there is a large selection of bows and arrows to choose from, have you ever wondered what it’d be like to make your own handcrafted bow?

    In a survival situation, knowing how to make your own bow and arrow could help you get food to feed yourself and your family—if you run out of MREs and Mountain House pouches and have to hunt. Also, if you know how to make a bow and arrow, you’ll have a back-up if yours breaks or you can’t take it with you when you evacuate. Knowing how to make a bow and arrow will make you more self-sufficient.

    So let’s put another notch in your survival tool belt. Here’s a basic how-to that will help you make a hunt-worthy bow and arrow set.

    Survival Bow Instructions

    The folks at came up with, what they call a “quickie” bow tutorial for beginning bow crafters. The reason why it’s called a “quickie” is because it is “made at the time the wood is harvested instead of waiting a year plus for the wood to cure (as is typical for regular bow construction.)”  The advantage is that this is ready to use right away (for survival situations); the down side is that it  may crack or break as it dries out.

    1.      Choosing Wood

    Some of the best woods for making bows include osage orange, yew, ash, black locust, and hickory, though most hardwoods can work (oak, maple, beech). Find a relatively straight 5 foot long (1.5-2 inches in diameter) section of sapling or branch that is free of knots, side branches, and twists. Cut this carefully so not to crack or split the wood.

    2.     Finding the Belly, Back, Handhold, and Limbs

    Stand the stave (the limb you just cut) on the ground and hold loosely with one hand, then push outward lightly on the middle of the bow. The stave will swivel to show you which way it is slightly curved. The outside is the “back” and the inside is the “belly.” Do not touch the back, as it receives most of the tension and damage can cause the bow to break.

     DIY Bow and Arrow

    Photo Courtesy of

    Find the middle and mark out your handhold area (3 inches from the center in both directions). The area above the handhold is the upper limb; the area below is the lower limb.

    3.     Shaping

    Put the bottom tip on your foot and hold the top tip while pushing outward from the belly (only push a few inches). Look at how the limbs bend and observe the areas that do not. Remove wood from the belly of the limbs where they do not bend and leave material where the limb bends a lot (DO NOT REMOVE WOOD FROM THE BACK!). The goal is to get the limbs to bend evenly. Remove material slowly and recheck frequently. The handhold and tips should remain straight or have very little bend.


    4.     Notches for the Bow String

    Once you have achieved even flex throughout the length of the limbs, you can carve small notches on both sides of each tip, being careful not to carve into the back of the bow.  They don’t need to be very deep, only enough to keep a string in place. Tie the bow string on (nylon, sinew, or plant fiber) so there is about 5 to 6 inches between the string and the handhold when the bow is strung. Do not pull back on the string yet.

    DIY Bow and Arrow Photo Courtesy of

     5.     Tillering

    This is the most time intensive part. Hang the bow horizontally on a branch or piece of scrap wood by the handhold. Pull down on the string a few inches and observe how the limbs bend. The limbs should mirror each other. If they do not bend evenly, continue shaping until evenness is achieved. Continue pulling down on the string until you are able to pull it to your draw length with the limbs being even (Your draw length is determined by holding the bow and pulling the string to your upper jaw).

    DIY Bow and Arrow Photo Courtesy of

     You also need to have a draw weight. 25-35 pounds is for small game, 40-60 pounds is for larger animals. Test draw weight by placing a five foot 2x4 piece of lumber vertically on a scale, balance the how on it horizontally (forms a T shape with the handhold resting on the lumber) and pull down on the string to the full draw length. The scale registers the draw weight.


    DIY Bow and Arrow Photo Courtesy of

    6.     Finishing

    You can now use the bow as-is. Do not fire the bow without an arrow. If you want to finish your bow, you can sand the belly smooth and oil it to prevent it from drying out too quickly. You can continually adjust the tiller and oil as necessary.


    Arrow Instructions

    Finished arrows need to be lightweight, yet strong. They also need to be straight, well-fletched (has about 3-5 feathers or other materials at the end to help them “fly”), have the right spine (rigidity), and be the right length for your bow. This arrow tutorial was found at


    photo courtesy of

    Collect branches and straight saplings that are at least 30 inches long and have a diameter between 3/8 and ½ inch. Trim off side branches (or find some without side branches).

    Remember that the extra water of green wood will make the shaft heavier (unless you dry the wood for a couple months). Peel off the bark carefully and carve off any knots or branches. Straighten crooked spots by heating them for 30 seconds over an open flame, bend it a little beyond straight and hold until it cools.

    Cut a notch about ¼ inch deep into the end of the shaft (to attach to the bowstring while shooting). Be careful not to split the arrow. Cut a similar one in the head to receive a stone or metal arrowhead. Make a metal head by grinding and filing thin, flat steel pieces. Stone or glass can be chipped into an arrowhead. Add glue to the notch, insert the arrowhead, and wrap with twine or other fibers. Seal with more glue.

    DIY Bow and Arrow

    Photo courtesy of Sensible Survival Blog

    Fletch the arrow by gathering and splitting bird wing or tail feathers in half (they need to all be from the same side of the bird). Shorten to 4-5 inches and 1/2 inch wide. Space equally around the arrow and glue. Secure with the same cord used on the arrowhead (you can substitute duct tape for feathers in a bind).

    DIY Bow and Arrow

    Photo Courtesy of


    There you have it! Bow and arrows. Have you made some before? What are your tips for making or shooting?


    Additional Tips and Sources

    Survival Mastery: Bow and Arrow

    Field and Stream: Bow and Arrow

    Posted In: Insight, Skills

  • DIY Paracord Projects You'll Love

    |7 COMMENT(S)

    DIY Paracord Projects You'll Love

    Paracord is one of the most practical supplies you can have in an emergency. You can make tourniquets, slings, and splints using a pack of 50 foot Nylon Paracord. You can even use it as a fire starter, fishing line (simply pull out the white strands inside the larger green tube), or to tie off a makeshift shelter—the possibilities are endless. Having even a single yard of paracord could make all the difference in a survival situation when your supplies are limited.

    Here are 4 DIY paracord projects that our bloggers made to show you just how useful paracord can be in an emergency and in everyday life.


    Maglight Handle by Rick

    In this project, you do the same knot you’d use to make a paracord bracelet, but instead of closing it off to fit your wrist, you wrap it around a flashlight handle. Here’s what Rick has to say about it:

    I came up with this tutorial on my own, using a basic paracord knot traditionally used for paracord bracelets. I started by looping the paracord around the base of the flashlight a couple of times.


    DIY Paracord Projects You'll Love


    Next, I tied the basic paracord knot until it reached my desired length (you can keeping going to the top of the flashlight, if you’d like. It’s up to you how long you want it). At this point, I wrapped the paracord around the end of the flashlight in a similar fashion to what I’d done at the base. I tied it off by making two knots so it would stay.

    DIY Paracord Projects You'll Love

    DIY Paracord Projects You'll Love


    Dog Collar by Kim

    I made this 18” collar to fit an adult golden retriever using a great tutorial I found at It took me less than 2 hours. Check out their blog for an easy step-by-step tutorial.

    Paracord Dog Collar Tutorial

    Helpful Hints:

    1. To make it easier, try to keep each strand of your paracord untwisted from itself the moment you begin tying knots. If one (or both) of the strands twist with itself, then it’ll be harder to get a tight knot along the collar.
    1. Once you know how much paracord you need to work with, you can cut it with a few feet to spare, but make sure you know exactly how much you’re going to need so you don’t cut it too short. If you aren’t positive, sometimes it’s safer to keep all of your paracord attached to the project you’re working on—just to make sure you have enough of it.


    I left the entire 50’ Nylon Paracord intact while I made my dog’s collar. But almost immediately I realized the strands were inevitably going to tangle with each knot I tied. I found it helpful to fold up one of the strands I was working with and secure it with a hair elastic to keep it from tangling with the other strand. This got one strand of paracord out of the way while I worked at tying with the other side, but made it easy to pull out a little more paracord at a time as I needed it, and ultimately have enough to finish my project.

    Want more paracord?

    Check out this tutorial for making a paracord dog leash to go along with your dog collar.

    Water Bottle Sling by Angela

    I followed a step-by-step tutorial from (It has pictures of each step; it’s great!), but I modified a couple of the steps to give you some extra tips and tricks that I found helpful.


    Paracord Water Bottle Sling

    Helpful Hints:

    • Hint for Step 1Measuring your Paracord: I used a measuring tape to measure out 112 inch strands (you need 4 strands) and used sewing pins to mark off each 112 inch section of my 50’ Nylon Paracord pack. I then cut the strands by each pin. After cutting, burn the ends of your paracord right away so it doesn’t fray (I learned this the hard way). Trust me. It makes things easier in the long run.
    • Hint for Step 3Making a Chinese Good Luck Knot and Cross Knot: When I first did this step, I made my “S” too big. This caused my knots to be much further down from the Chinese good luck knot than they should have been. Make smaller “S” shapes to make your cross knots look even throughout the design.

    At first, it may be easier to mark off the “S” shape with pins for a clearer visual of where your left strand will weave through to make the cross knot. Once you get the hang of it, take the pins out and you should be able to make the knot like a pro.


    Easy Paracord Drawstring Pouch by Sharon

    Easy Paracord Drawstring Pouch

    I chose to make the “Easy Paracord Drawstring Pouch” from  It looked attractive, useful, and—well, easy! However, I found that the instructions assumed a few things about the user:

    1)      They knew how to make a Celtic drawstring knot

    2)      They knew what an overhand knot was and how to make one. shows good photographs with the instructions, but in step three it’s a little hard to tell which strand is supposed to go over and which strand is supposed to go under to create the knot.

    I ended up looking for other sources for each of those knots, and found both written instructions and videos. I found some good videos where they divide each step into separate segments, so you can stop the video and watch the instructions as often as you need to before you go on to the next step. Check out this Youtube Video with easy instructions for making a Celtic knot.

    I also learned that the experts really do mean it when they tell you to singe the ends of your paracord to keep them from fraying, as fray they will!

    My first—and second—attempts to get the project started ended in confusion and frustration. I had to start over several times because I kept losing track of where I was and which strand was being pulled through the knot. The third time, I downsized the project and attached a pen cap to the cord being pulled through to create the knot if I had to leave it for a bit. This method worked and I was able to finish the project.


    Have you ever made anything out of Paracord? If so, how has it helped you in an emergency or everyday life?


    Posted In: Insight, Skills

  • How to Shoot a Bow and Arrow

    Shooting bows and arrows at my great-grandpa’s house was one of my favorite pastimes as a child. There are few things as satisfying as seeing your arrow hit its mark! On the one hand, shooting a bow and arrow feels quite natural and can be somewhat self-explanatory. On the other hand, there are many things you can do to improve your accuracy. Here are the basics for proper form.


    How to Shoot a Bow and Arrow—the Basics

    Archery is a fun hobby and competitive sport, but it also has a much more practical side in terms of emergency preparedness: the ability to take game to feed yourself and your family. Your shooting form and accuracy play a large role in helping you get food, so it’s important to learn proper form and to practice it now before an emergency hits.


    How to Shoot a Bow and Arrow

    Stance: Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Angle yourself so that once you draw the bow, you will be able to aim comfortably at the target. If you are right handed and right eye dominant, you will be holding the bow in your left hand and the arrow/string with your right hand (and vice versa for lefties/left eye dominant; those who are cross dominant typically choose to use the hand that will allow their dominant eye to aim).

    Nock the arrow: Attach the arrow to the string by placing the indentation in the back of the arrow over the string. Hold the arrow on the string between your index finger and the 2 or 3 lower fingers of your hand according to preference.


     How to Shoot a Bow and Arrow


    Draw and Aim: Hold the bow at the handle and raise it to shoulder level, looking over your front shoulder at the target. Your bow arm should be straight, but don’t lock your elbow. Hold your forearm so that if you were to bend your elbow, it would bend to the side, rather than up or down. Holding the bow in this manner will help keep the string from zapping your forearm when you release the arrow (you may also want to invest in an arm guard, which will give you extra protection—even the pros use them).

    While lifting the bow, draw the string back fluidly. You should “anchor” your aim each time by touching the string to the same part of your face, usually the side of your chin, just before the corner of the mouth, on the same side of your face as your hand drawing the string (or draw hand). Aim the arrow at the target by focusing your eyes on the target as you look down the shaft of the arrow (most bows will come with devices that will help you aim).




    Release and follow through: Tighten your back muscles to pull back a bit more on the string and then relax the draw hand to release the string. Your elbow should pull backwards naturally as you do so. During this process, keep your bow arm up and your head looking at the target. Your draw hand will ultimately end up over your rear shoulder.

    And hopefully you’ve hit your target. Now go have some fun and get some practice!

    Check out our article “DIY Bow and Arrow” for tips and tricks for crafting a bow and arrow for a survival situation.


    Have you shot a bow and arrow? What was your first experience like?





    Archery: The Ultimate Resource for Recurve and Compound Archers, USA Archery, Editor, 2013.

    Archery-Second Edition: Steps to Success, by Kathleen M. Haywood and Catherine F. Lewis, 1997.

    Posted In: Insight, Skills

  • DIY Oil Lamp

    |2 COMMENT(S)

    When a power outage strikes, hopefully your emergency supplies are up to date, complete with emergency power and lighting gear/options. Keeping a variety of flashlights, headlamps, and lanterns (along with batteries or solar power options to keep them charged) is ideal, but if your batteries runs out before the power turns back on, try making this DIY Oil Lamp to light your adventure.

    The San Francisco Globe shows us how to make an oil lamp that can last for 6-8 hours, using two common household items: an orange and some olive oil. Check out the tutorial here.

    Oil Lamp 2Orange Oil Lamp

    For more DIY projects, check out these articles:


    Photo Courtesy of the San Francisco Globe

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: power outage, DIY, light

  • The Rain Barrel: SoCal's Hot New Backyard Accessory?

    The Rain Barrel: SoCal's Hot New Accessory

    If California’s (no) water situation seems to be taking up a lot of our attention, it’s because certain circumstances, while unfortunate, provide us opportunities to talk about good preparedness practices that may otherwise slip off our radar.

    Here’s a pretty cool example. In response to record low precipitation levels, some Southern California cities have implemented what they’re calling “no-brainer, low-hanging fruit solution[s]” for water independence—policies and projects geared to reclaiming and recycling local water.

    An ABC News story from earlier this month describes the rainwater collection system that waters the Santa Monica city library’s extensive gardens, as well as the water recycling plant near the famous pier that supplies irrigation to several local parks and schools.

    And individuals are catching on. The same article calls resident Josephine Miller’s 205 gallon rain barrel “fashionable,” as neighborhoods dive in to take advantage of local government rebates for home water conservation. While your city hall may not pay you for your efforts, rainwater storage makes efficient use of one of the few free resources at our disposal. Just make sure it’s legal to do so in your city or state, first.

    So, if you’re interested in harnessing some May showers for yourself, here are a handful of tips, tutorials, and helpful products.

    • Heard worrisome things about using roof-collected rainwater on edible plants? Educate yourself on the real and not-so-real risks, courtesy Rutgers’ cooperative extension.


    Here’s wishing you a happy and drippy spring!


    Photo Courtesy of Better Homes and Gardens

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: drought, water storage

  • 12 Dos and Don'ts of Food Storage

    |20 COMMENT(S)

    12 Dos and Don'ts of Food Storage

    When an emergency strikes, you’re often left to your own skills and preparation to provide for you and your family. Food is one of the major necessities of life that you want to have on hand when an emergency hits, whether a natural disaster, an economic crisis, or health issues. If you haven’t thought to prepare before a disaster yet, now is the time to start because once it strikes, the time to prepare is over.

    As you work to build your food storage supply, consider these 12 Dos and Don’ts of Food Storage:

    1. DO carefully plan your food storage supply. Keep a record of what you and your family like to eat and then build those items into your food storage supply. Budget carefully and buy food items when they’re on sale. It’s a good idea to build a short-term supply quickly, but one of the perks of building a long-term supply is that you can build over time, giving yourself time to plan and wait for all the good deals.

    2. DO build a menu. Building a two-week, one-month, or even three-month food storage supply can be pretty simple and stress free. To decide how much food you need, build a menu and then multiply it.

    For example, if you want to build a food supply to last your family for 3 months, then you'll need 12 weeks of food. Build a menu for one week, two weeks, or even a month.

    Food Storage Menu Planner Download Image Food Storage Menu

    Once you build your menu, build a list of the food you need, and then multiply it. For example, multiply a one-week menu by 12 (weeks), a two-week menu by six, or a one-month menu by three. Pretty easy, no?

    3. DO store basic ingredients first. Adding staple ingredients into your supply will help provide you with the necessary ingredients that help create a variety of homemade meals. Add food staples such as wheat, flour, grains/legumes, rice, cornmeal, oatmeal, honey, sugar, powdered milk, dried whole eggs, baking powder, salt, spices, pasta, etc.


    12 Dos and Don'ts of Food Storage

    The old saying goes, “You can’t live by bread alone,” but according to Peggy Layton, author of Emergency Food Storage & Survival Handbook, “you can live on bread and soup.” In her book, Peggy describes the endless combinations and variations you can make with bread and soup…which would not only be delicious but would also help you survive in an emergency.

    Another food item that can help you survive is storing the basic ingredients for bread. With these staples, you can bake quick breads (banana bread, zucchini bread, lemon poppy seed bread), yeast breads (white or wheat, bread sticks, and scones), dessert breads (cake, pie crusts, and cookies), and breakfast breads (pancakes, waffles, muffins, cornbread). [ii]

    Match those breads with variations of hearty soups and stews using different soup mixes and an addition of your favorite vegetables and meat, for endless possibilities.

     4. DO eat what you store and store what you eat. Make sure you only buy food to store that your family will actually eat. If they won’t eat lentils before an emergency, they won’t be happy about eating them during one, either. So get food that your family likes to eat on a regular basis…and then eat it.

    Rotating through your food storage will help your family get used to it and will minimize losing nutrition and flavor (which can happen when you wait too long for an emergency before you break it open). If you rotate through your food storage, then you’ll always have the freshest foods available to you.

    As you use your food, keep a food inventory list handy and mark the items off of the list as you use them so you know what you need to replace.

    Learn more with our Insight Articles, “Eat What You Store” and “Rotating Your Food Storage

    5. DO store food based on special needs for family members. Make sure that you have a variety of food stored to satisfy each member of your family and that’s appropriate for all ages. Include baby foods and consider any food allergies family members may have when planning what to store.

    6. DO store your food storage in a cool (70° or lower), dry, and dark place—like a basement. There are four factors that contribute to how long your food storage items will last: light, temperature, moisture, and oxygen. The less interaction your food has with these four factors, the longer it will last.

    Learn more about proper storage conditions with our Insight Article, “Shelf Life

    7. DON’T let yourself get overwhelmed. Often when building a food storage supply, the task can seem daunting from a distance. All you have to do, though, is start small.

    Begin adding items to your emergency supply to help your family survive for three days, then a week, then a month, and so on. You can also include food storage items into your weekly grocery shopping. By doing this, you’ll gradually build your supply (which is easier on your pocketbook) and before you know it you’ll have enough to help you survive for your chosen amount of time.

    8. DON’T think you have too little space to store food. Whether you live in a 3-story home or the tiniest apartment in the world, you can find a place for your food storage. It may not meet the ideal storage conditions, but it’s better than no storage at all! Check out some of these tips for where you can store your food if you’re tight on space:

      • Under the bed (you can even hide your storage with a dust ruffle)
      • Use them to create bookcases/shelving to hold more cans by laying a wooden board across four cans (two on each end) and stacking more cans and boards until your shelf is the size you’d like.
      • Build your own food storage shelf that slides into the wasted space between your refrigerator and wall.
      • Use larger bins, such as SuperPails, as end tables or coffee tables. Simply disguise it as furniture by covering them with tablecloths.
      • Stack them behind your couch where there is wasted space between the couch and wall.
      • Fill the dead space in your coat closet. Typically there is quite a bit of vertical space underneath your coats in the closet. It’s a great, accessible place to store your food.

    9. DON’T store your food near chemicals or cleaning products. You don’t want to risk contaminating your food storage supply if any dangerous products were to leak—especially if you don’t find the contamination until you need your food in an emergency.
    10. DON’T use non-food-grade plastic containers to store food. If you plan to dehydrate, can, or store your own food, make sure to keep it in a non-toxic, food-grade container such as glass, ceramic, or stainless steel. Non-food-grade plastic containers are not good for long-term storage as they can leach chemicals into your food. Keep your food in double-enameled, stainless steel cans (or metallized bags) with an oxygen absorber to help them last longer. You can also store large quantities of food in Superpails lined with metallized bags, which use food-grade plastic, making them safe for long-term storage.

    11. DON’T wait until an emergency to learn to cook with freeze-dried and dehydrated foods. Although cooking with food storage ingredients isn’t difficult, it is a little different than cooking with fresh ingredients. As you rotate through your food storage, try out different [recipes] that can help you make home-cooked meals so delicious that your family would never guess they’re from food storage.


    Check out some of our favorites:

    12. DON’T forget to store food for your pets. If you are a pet owner, make sure you include enough pet food for them to be able to survive during an emergency, too.

    Make all the prepping and planning involved in building your supply, just a little easier by using our pre-made worksheets, menu calendars, and inventory sheets to help you stay organized.

    For more tips, check out some of our Insight Articles:






    [i] Food Storage For the Health of It by Azrcka Bedgood

    [ii] Emergency Food Storage & Survival Handbook by Peggy Layton. Pg. 59-64; 75-77; 88;


    Posted In: Food Storage, Insight Tagged With: food storage supply, food storage

  • How to Build your Own All-in-Four Portable Shelter Kit

    |13 COMMENT(S)

    UPDATE: You asked, and we listened. The All-in-Four 4-Person Emergency Supply is now available!

    A little while ago we learned about the Life Cube—an all-inclusive, inflatable shelter stocked with the necessary food, water, and gear to help a person survive the few days after a natural disaster occurs. The Life Cube, which weighs between 950-1100 lbs., is ideal to be airdropped into areas suffering from catastrophic events. However, although it is a great idea for mass emergencies and agency use, the Life Cube currently costs anywhere from $5,000 to $15,000. For many looking to add an all-inclusive, portable shelter to their emergency gear, this may be a little out of their price range.

    We were inspired by the Life Cube to create our own all-in-one portable shelter kit. Rather than focusing on agency use, however, our portable shelter kit focuses more on a personal/family level, only weighing about 71 lbs. and costing approximately $762. Here at Emergency Essentials, we have configured a list of items that would work as a basic all-in-one (or in our case, all-in-four) portable shelter. The all-in-four portable shelter consists of four bags with essential supplies divided among them. These items not only give you shelter, food, and water, but other basic supplies to help a family of four survive for three days after an emergency.

    DIY All-in-Four Portable Shelter

    First things first: Collect your gear. The following list describes what gear is needed to help four people survive for three days in an emergency.

    Each pack gives you more than 2,800 cubic inches of space to hold all of your emergency supplies and gear while providing durability and expandable comfort to stick with you on all your travels.

    Trail Hiker Backpack for a Portable Shelter

    This pack is a great way to include versatility to fit the needs of the owner. Wear the pack on your back, carry it by the handle, or roll it along the ground behind you. This is a great pack for people unable to carry a lot of weight on their back.

    Good hygiene will help keep you healthy and safe during an emergency. This kit provides basic bathing, dental, and toilet hygiene needs for a family of four.

    Family Sanitation Kit Part of our DIY Portable shelter solution

    These simple-to-setup and waterproof tents give you 49-square feet each to spread out and enjoy a good night’s rest.

    Just-add-water breakfasts, lunches, and dinners (plus sides and drinks) give you enough food to feed a family of four for 3.5 days.

    We typically recommend a two-tier approach for treating your water: have a microfilter and purifier. Adding the Katadyn Hiker Pro and Micropur tablets will help provide you and your family with filtered, purified water while remaining compact and lightweight.

    Katadyn Hiker Pro for a  DIY Portable Shelter

    Made from Tritan™ plastic, these bottles give you get extra durability in a BPA-free bottle. These are perfect to take on outdoor adventures or to use along with a microfilter in an emergency.

    This kit includes 397 pieces of first aid gear to help you survive every scrape, cut, burn, or bruise that you or a family member may get.

    These lightweight, pocket-sized sleeping bags unfold to wrap you in a covering that will reflect 80% of your body heat, keeping you warm on cool nights.

    Emergency Sleeping Bags for a DIY Portable Shelter

    These lightsticks are safe, reliable, and easy to use making them fantastic for families with children. Just bend, snap, and shake for a light source that will last up to 12 hours.

    Keeps you up-to-date with communication services, provides 30 minutes of light (with one minute of hand-cranking), and charges your cell phone (including many smart phones).

    Lightweight and reusable, an emergency poncho is a must-have to keep you dry from sudden storms.

    Easily alert rescuers to your location with an emergency whistle.

    This high-quality, BPA-free water container can store 2.5 gallons of water and collapses to easily fit in your pack. It even remains flexible in cold temperatures.

     Reliance Fold N Filter for a DIY Portable Shelter

    Use Sierra cups as bowls, plates, drinking cups, or as cooking and warming pans. Their versatility lets you get more done with less stuff to carry in your pack.

    BPA-free, washable, heavy-duty plastic spoons can be used for every meal you eat during an emergency.

    This kit includes over 172 hours of total warmth. It includes 6 Hand and Body Warmers, 4 Adhesive Body Warmers, and 2 Hand Warmer 2-packs.

    This super-compact stove is simple to use, fully flame adjustable, and stores easily. You don’t even need matches to light it. Requires a canister of Iso-Butane/Propane fuel, which can be purchased locally.

    Volcano Lite Stove for a DIY Portable Shelter

    Stormproof Matches will help you weather any storm. Blow them out, bury them, submerge them in water, do it all over again, and these Stormproof Matches will keep relighting themselves for up to 15 seconds.

    How to Build It

    Once you’ve gathered all of your supplies, you just need to pack them.

    Pack #1: Trail Hiker Backpack

    • 1 Twin Peaks Mountain Trails Tent
    • Katadyn Hiker Pro Microfilter
    • 4 (6 inch) Green Lightsticks
    • 24 Packets of food from the Gourmet 14 Day Supply
    • 1 Tritan Emergency Essentials Water Bottle
    • 4 Emergency Whistles
    • 397 Piece First Aid Kit

    To make your pack more compact, fit the lightsticks into the outside pockets along with the Wavelength Radio Charger Flashlight, the 4 Emergency Whistles, and the water bottle. The other items will fit in the main compartment of the pack.


    Pack #2: Trail Hiker Backpack

    • 1 Twin Peaks Mountain Trails Tent
    • 20 Packets of food from the Gourmet 14 Day Supply
    • 4 Emergency Sleeping Bags
    • 2 Tritan Emergency Essentials Water Bottles
    • 4 Emergency Ponchos

    Fit the water bottles into the outside pockets. The rest of the materials should fit within the main compartment of the pack.


    Pack #3: Olympia 18” Rolling Backpack

    • 4 Packets of food from the Gourmet 14 Day Supply
    • Reliance 2.5 Gallon Collapsible Fold-A-Carrier
    • 3 Sheets (or 30 tablets) of Micropur
    • 1 Tritan Emergency Essentials Water Bottle
    • 2 large Sierra cups
    • 2 small Sierra cups
    • 4 GSI Spoons
    • Warmth Emergency Kit
    • Volcano Lite Stove
    • Stormproof Matches


    Pack #4: Family Sanitation Kit

    The last “pack” is the Family Sanitation Kit which comes full of sanitation items for you and your family. About 1/3 of the bucket will still be empty for you to add additional or personal items too. The kit includes:

    • 1 – 6-Gallon Bucket
    • 1 – Bar of Soap
    • 1 – Tote-able Toilet Seat and Lid
    • 4 – Toilet Paper Rolls
    • 1 – Box Double Doodie Waste Bags
    • 1 – Epi-Clenz Plus Hand Antiseptic
    • 4 – Fresh & Go Toothbrush
    • 3 – ReadyBath Packets

    Each pack is manageable to carry and there’s extra room in most of them for personal items.


    Although the basic items will help you survive during an emergency, some people prefer to have items that may make their time in a crisis a little more comfortable. If you’d like to upgrade some of the items in your kit consider adding the following:

    • Headlamps or flashlights instead of the lightsticks.
    • SOL Escape Bivvy in addition to the emergency sleeping bags.
    • One Month Supply of Water in addition to the filter. Instead of just adding a microfilter and purification tablets to your portable kit, try adding a one month supply of water. Water is priceless in an emergency and this item gives a family of four enough stored water to last for a week (drinking 64 ounces a day) in case a water source to filter from is unavailable.

    *NOTE: Upgrading items in the kit will change the price and weight of the pack. It also may require you to rearrange and reassemble how the all-in-four portable shelter kit is packed.  You can, of course, change the way items are distributed among the packs for redundancy in case you get separated.

    To make carrying your all-in-four kit a bit more comfortable, or to add even more space, replace the Family Sanitation Kit (pack #4) with another Trail Hiker backpack, put the kit items in the pack, and lash the bucket to the outside of the pack using [paracord] or another rope.

    Now that you’ve prepped yourself with all the supplies you need to help you and your family survive the days immediately after a disaster, try developing your survival skills with some of our Insight Articles:




    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: emergency preparedness, shelter

  • Aquaponics Part Two: Materials

    |4 COMMENT(S)

    Media Filled Growbeds

    Aquaponics is the practice of raising fish and vegetables together in a symbiotic relationship by using the fish waste to fertilize the plants. In early April, I posted about my beginning adventures in making my own Aquaponics system. To learn more about Aquaponics and my plan for building a system, check out the article here.

    If you’re curious about Aquaponics, you may be wondering what materials you’d need to set up your own system.  As I build my own, I’ll keep you up to date on what you need to have and how to build your own.

    Materials to grow vegetables:

    • Fish Tank
    • Grow Beds
    • Growing Media
    • Water Pump(s)
    • Supply of piping, valves, & fittings
    • An Aquarium Water Test Kit
    • Proper type & number of fish

    Most of the materials I am using have been salvaged for free or close to it. I am building my system inside a greenhouse that I am constructing to allow for four-season growing and to keep predators away from the fish.


    Fish tank:

    The tank must be large enough to fill all of your grow beds and still have plenty of water for the fish. The water will return from the grow beds into this tank so make sure it has the capacity to not overflow. You can try using a repurposed, above ground, soft side swimming pool with a filter/pump to filter out the solid waste and supply water to the grow beds. Or, what I’m planning to do, use three Intermediate Bulk Containers (IBC) holding 300 gallons of water each.

    Grow beds:

    I am using salvaged (free) plastic 55-gallon barrels that are cut in half lengthwise. Make sure you cut them so that each half will have a bung or filler hole at the bottom of the radius in the center. This will allow the water to drain out of the grow bed on the off cycle.

    DIY Aquaponics Grow BedsDIY Aquaponics Grow Bed

    Growing media:

    You can use commercial clay ball media (such as Hydrocorn or other clay pebbles), pea gravel (this is what I will use), or one of the many other types of grow media. There is a lot of information about the different types on the internet. Learn more about grow media from Backyard Aquaponics, Aquaponic Gardening, and Home Aquaponics System.


    You will need a water pump, or pumps, depending on the design of your system. There are many inexpensive types out there in either 12-volt DC or 120-volt AC house current. You want enough water flow to be able to fill your grow beds in a short amount of time but not flood them out.

    Plumbing fixtures and piping:

    You will need enough PVC pipe and fittings to connect the grow beds together, carry the water to all of them and also drain it back to the fish tank. This amount is dependent on how your system is designed. I will list what it takes for mine as the construction progresses.

    Aquarium Water Test Kit:

    You will need this to determine the amount of ammonia and PH levels in the water to make sure it is at a tolerable level for both the fish and the plants.


    This has to be a choice based on your climate conditions. For instance, Tilapia is a favorable choice as they are prolific breeders, but they are very intolerant of cool water temperatures. Catfish, on the other hand, tolerate almost any temperature and are able to survive in low-oxygen environments; however, they will not breed in a tank unless it is large and has some type of nesting box to use. I will be using both Bullhead Catfish and Hybrid Bluegill as stocked fish in my system. The thing to remember is that the ratio of fish to water is critical. The ratio I will be using is 1 pound of fish to 10 gallons of water. This means 1 pound of fish at MATURITY to 10 gallons of water. You may get away with 100 fingerling fish to begin with, but they will have to be thinned out as they grow or they will die of oxygen depletion.


    I will stop here for now, and pick up next time with design and construction of an Aquaponics system.

    See ya'll next time!


    Kevin, OK

    Check out the rest of our Aquaponics Series:

    "Aquaponic Gardening: What is it? (Part One)"


    Additional Info:

    Photo of Media Filled Beds Courtesy of Backyard Aquaponics

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: gardening tips, gardening, food storage

  • DIY Project: Food Storage Shelf

    |7 COMMENT(S)

    Do you feel like you’ve run out of room to store all your food storage?

    If so, we’ve got another Do It Yourself solution for you. For your next DIY project, consider making a canned food organizer. Now, I know you’ve probably seen a lot b of different DIY shelf organizers on the web that range from flipping wire shelves upside down in a closet to putting Lazy Susan shelves into a traditional pantry.

    So what makes this canned food organizer different than all the rest? It’s a shelf that slides out from the space between your fridge and the wall. It makes great use of wasted space.

    Instead of taking up extra space in your cabinets and cupboards, this shelf creates a totally new space to store your food and other supplies in. We found a tutorial from Mallory at that shows you a step-by-step process for making a canned food organizer.

    DIY Food Storage Organizer

    Photo courtesy of


    Here’s what you’ll need:

    9 – 1×4s cut to 29 1/2″ (top board, shelves, bottom board)

    2 – 1×4s, cut to 64″ (Side boards)

    1 – Thin board, cut to 31 1/2 x 64″ (Mallory used bead board/wainscoting board from Home Depot)

    4 – 1 ½-2″ Metal Casters that hold 50+ lbs (Mallory used 2″, 80lbs)

    7 – 7/16 dowels cut to 30″ long (lumber section of Home Depot)

    Handle or knob

    Paint and Brush, Roller, or Sprayer (if needed)


    Tools and Supplies:


    7/16″ drill bit for drilling dowel holes

    Several wood screws (purchase a bulk-size bag or box to make sure you have enough)

    Several 2″ nails (purchase a bulk-size bag or box to make sure you have enough)

    Several finishing nails (purchase a bulk-size bag or box to make sure you have enough)




    Essentially you’re going to build a ladder-like structure and then put a back panel onto it so that all your food stays in place. Put the completed structure on wheels and put a handle on the side so that you can easily roll the shelving unit out.

    For step-by-step instructions and pictures, check out the article, “DIY Canned Food Organizer Tutorial—Build Your Own.” Or check out this “imgr” food storage shelf tutorial as an alternative technique for building this awesome shelf.


    Want more DIYs?

    Check out this list of 60+ DIY Kitchen Shelf projects from that can help you organize your cabinets, pots and pans, spices, and much more.

    If you’re looking for more “unconventional” places to store your emergency supplies, check out our “No Room for Supplies?” Pinterest Board and read our article, “Baby Steps: Make Room for your Food and Supply Storage.”


    Where do you store your store your food storage and emergency supplies?


    Sources (Tutorial) (Tutorial)

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: DIY, food storage

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