Spider Webs can be Used to Treat Wounds

spider websThese last few days we have had an Aunt of my wife’s staying with us.  She was raised under what today would be considered fairly primitive conditions.  Her mother, my wife’s grandmother born in 1885 was an herbalist who helped people until her death.

Both my wife’s aunt and my wife remember how she would treat cuts with spider webs.  When they would get a cut or scrape, she would go out to the barn and gather spider webs and put them on the wound.  They both say that it worked well and they never were infected.  She did nothing to the spider web other than get the cleanest possible.

They both are strong believers in this type of wound treatment.  So this got me doing a bit of research on the subject.  It seems that in traditional European medicine, spider webs are often used on wounds and cuts to help healing and reduce bleeding.  The used them to treat wounds and even made a type of gauze pad out of them.

Today medical science is research spider webs to learn more about their medical properties.  They are even looking at using them to help rebuild ligaments.  Researchers at Tufts University in Medford, Mass., have found that spider webs could be used as scaffolds for regenerating ligaments damaged in one of the world’s most common knee injuries—ruptured anterior cruciate ligaments, or ACLs.

Scientists are also developing spider silk to make exceptionally fine sutures for stitching up surgeries or wounds to nerves or eyes, to potentially help them heal without scarring.

Some research indicates the spider webs are rich in vitamin K – the clotting vitamin.  The web itself is a biologically neutral material whose silk will not cause an infection as long as clean webs are used.

Some herbalist claim that  Spider webs have natural antiseptic and antifungal properties that help keep wounds clean and free of infection. But as of yet this has not been confirmed by medical science.

Remember I am not a medical expert, so if you decide to try this do so at your own risk.



Homemade Dehydrated Potatoes

dehydrated potaoes

The finished product

I have been seeing some great deals on Russet potatoes at the store, mainly at the discount stores.  A $1.99 for 10 pounds is a great price.  So I bought some bags and decide make dehydrated potatoes.  I will use them for scalloped potatoes, hash browns or with any casserole dish or add to soups and stew.

Dehydrated potatoes look just like the kind you find in packaged mixes.  You can seal them in jars and add the fixing for a meal in a jar. You can add products like for example, powered butter, powered cheese, powered milk, any dehydrated vegetable and some dehydrated meat, like hamburger, turkey, chicken or pork.  You have made a meal in a jar for your food storage or a quick meal when you are busy.  Dehydrated potatoes can be added to soups and stews for thickener along with your regular fresh potatoes.

dehydrated potaoes

Slicing potatoes

As the pictures show, you first have to peel all of your potatoes (or you can leave the peel on but wash them very well). Then you have to slice them very thin on a Vee Mandoline Slicer, (I sliced on medium).

I start by warming the water while I am peeling, so the water is ready when I am done.  Put the potatoes in boiling water and blanch them for 5-6 minutes, remove them from the water and place into them a large dish and let them cool until you can handle them.  Then put the potatoes on the drying trays. Instructions for the Excalibur Dehydrator is to dry at 125 degrees for 12 hours, (but I do 10 hours since they are sliced thin and they turn out crispy hard).

dehydrated potatoes

Sliced potatoes ready to be blanched

After drying, I put them in 1/2 gallon jars and sealed them.  I got five jars out of a 10-pound bag of potatoes.  Since drying these, I have ordered some red potatoes from a friend and will dry these also, but will leave the peel on this time.  Russet Potatoes are different.  Most of the time I use Russets for potato salad and baked potatoes and twice baked potato because they hold their shape better.

Vacuumed sealed in the half gallon jars with a Food Saver they should last for years

dehydrated potaotes

Sliced potatoes on drying rack

Well hopefully this will help you to dry and seal some meals of your own. Have fun experimenting with recipes of your own.

Preparedness Mom

Preserving Meat with Salt and Red Chili Peppers

preserving meatI have had the change to spend some more time with my wife’s aunt who is visiting us.  As I explained in an earlier post, she was raised under what would today be fairly primitive conditions.  One thing she and I have been talking about is preserving meat.

Because of a lack of refrigeration, her mother would dry most of the meat, when they would slaughter a cow on the ranch.  She says that her mother would cut the meat into chunks and remove all the fat.  She would then rub the meat with salt and crushed red chili peppers.  She would then beat the meat with a mallet until it was thin.  Sometimes she added more salt and peppers as she worked.

The meat would then be hung up in a covered porch.  It was enclosed with window screen to keep the flies away.  Since they lived in an area with hot summers and low humidity this worked well. When the meat was dried, it was wrapped and stored in a cool place, since they had no refrigeration. It would last until they used it up.  She would make stews and chili out of the dried meat.

I have not seen this method used before and I am not sure, if the peppers were only added for flavor or if they helped in preserving meat.  I have done some research on this and found that drying beef with chili’s and other native spices was developed by the ranchers and cowboys of northern Mexico

While doing some the research, I found an excellent article on preserving meat.  It is published by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific.  The title is “Simple Techniques for Production of dried meats”.  You can download it to your computer.  Even though it is from the UN it is a good article and lots of good information and ideas.

Hope this help you.


A Comparison of Four Different Fire Starters

fire startersToday one of my granddaughters and I were experimenting with different types of fire starting devices.  It ended with us making a video of Randy lighting Vaseline soaked cotton balls in a short video which we posted on you tube.  Now Randy is interested in prepping and has been studying it for some time.

What we are doing with her is having her do everything herself, so that she really learns how to survive.  So we spent this afternoon on fire starting.  One thing she has learned is how that there is a learning curve on almost everything.  None of us are born Daniel Boones.

Today we used four different fire starters, a cheap magnesium one from Harbor Freight which costs $2.99, The Sparky from Amazon which sells for around $15.00, a large good quality fire steel which sells for about $15.00 and the Lightning Strike from Holland Shooters Supply which cost about $50.

In the following video, you can see how they each function in the hands of someone with a minimum of training.

As you can see, they all do the job.  Some are a little easier to use than others.  To me the magnesium fire starter from Harbor Freight can be a bit hard to use.  The magnesium scrapes of easily enough, but the striker is pretty poor.  If I were to carry this, I would carry a backup striker.

The Sparky works well and it has the advantage that it can be used one handed.  The large fire steel works well and will do the job.  Now we come to the last the Lightning Strike from Holland Shooters Supply.  Like Randy says this is the Cadillac of fire starters which is a bit pricey.  It is not cheap but it puts out a large volume of sparks when used correctly.  When the strike wears out you can purchase spare and reuse the unit.  I like the fact that it lets you carry tinder in its base.  I have a Lightning Strike in my own kit.

All of these fire starters work and could save your life in an emergency.  From what I have observed when there is a failure, it is normal the fault of the operator not the device.  You need to practice.




Purifying Water with Chlorine Bleach and Pool Chlorine

purifying waterA lot of this information has been posted on this blog in the past, however I still get questions on it so I thought I would cover purifying water with chlorine again.

I see FEMA, the American Red Cross and others all recommending liquid Clorox, Purex or chlorine as a method for purifying water in an emergency.  Bleach can be a good method of water purification, except they don’t mention that liquid bleach has a shelve-life.

Clorox states on their website that bleach should be replaced every year.  This is for laundry use.  For purifying water, bleach has started to lose its strength at six months.  It takes about 4-8 weeks from the time chlorine bleach is made to reach your home.  This leaves you 3-5 months where the bleach is at the effectiveness level stated on its label.

Avoid using any bleaches that contain perfumes, dyes and other additives.  Use only regular household liquid bleach that contains 5.25 to 6.0 percent sodium hypochlorite.  Chlorox has recently come out with a new product “Clorox Ultra”.  They have changed the concentration of Sodium Hypochlorite (chlorine) from 5.25% concentration to 6%, and they have added Sodium Hydroxide.  They are doing this to reduce the size of the containers.  Chlorox has stated that this is safe to use for water purification.

Clorox Ultra, Chlorox, Purex or chlorine bleach may be used to disinfect water in the following amounts.  Four drops per quart gives 10 ppm in clear water.  This amount should be increased to eight drops in turbid (cloudy) water.  Sixteen drops will provide 10 ppm per gallon of clear water.  You should be able to get a slight odor of chlorine after the water sits for the 15 minutes.  If not, add more Clorox.

Warning – Chlorine will not reliably kill Giardia and Cryptosporidium.  SODIS, boiling, chlorine dioxide tablets and good water filters are more reliable.  While chlorine will not kill Giardia and Cryptosporidium reliably, it is effective against most other bacteria’s.

Don’t pour purified water into contaminated containers.  Sanitize your water jugs first and don’t forget the threads and caps.

Chlorine Bleach Sanitizing Solution.

To sanitize containers, mix 1-tablespoon chlorine bleach into one gallon of water. Always wash and rinse items first, and then let each item soak in the chlorine bleach sanitizing solution for 2 minutes then drain and air dry.

Now maybe a good time to check the dates on any bleach you have stored and rotate it if needed.

Now let’s talk about powdered chlorine which is calcium hypochlorite.  This can be used for purifying water and has no shelf life, which makes it sound perfect.  However, you do have to be careful how you store and use it.  Used incorrectly it can react violently and start fires.

See the following post for more information.  Calcium Hypochlorite for Treating Drinking Water, The Good and the Bad. 



Sheltering in Place can be Easy If You Plan

sheltering in placeWith all the talk about sheltering in place going round I want to offer a few suggestion in case you have too. The need to shelter in place could be caused by everything from pandemics to economic collapse.  The other day I posted a blog with some outside games that kids could play without any special equipment.

I noticed that some of the people who had to shelter in place because of being quarantined for Ebola were complaining about the hardship bugging in caused.  Now these were people who had access to TV, computers, other electronic toys and phones.  The government was even making sure that they had food.  Now staying in your home for three weeks without visitors would not be the greatest thing, but it should not be a real hardship.

With a little preparation and the power still on, to me sheltering in place would almost be like a vacation.  Now if the power is out it would be considerable harder.  Now I am assuming that you have preps and know how to use them.

However just to make life a bit easier there are a few things you should think about stocking, especially if you have children.

      • Board games
      • Paper
      • Craft supplies
      • Pencils and pens
      • Various glues
      • Books of all types

I know you are probably thinking; now I have to spend more money, which is hard to come by.  The good news is that every week I see most of these items in garage sales for pennies on the dollar. Now if you have children or grandchildren that may be around, you need to think about educational books and school supplies.

We have a small shelf that contains toys and games for our grandchildren in addition we keep some craft materials on hand.  For ourselves we keep some board and card games and lots of books.  I buy books in garage sales all the time.  Prepping and educational books are important to store, but don’t forget some good fiction or other books that you can read for pleasure.

Even after TEOTWAWKI we will still have to educate our children and have some fun once in a while.


How to Avoid Lightning Strikes.

lightningLightning is the third leading cause of weather-related deaths, right behind floods and tornadoes.  More people die or are injured by lightning more in the summer months than any other time of the year. This is caused by the increase in thunderstorm activity combined with more outdoor activates. 

What is lightning

Lightning is a powerful sudden flow of electricity (an electrostatic discharge) accompanied by thunder that occurs during an electric storm. The discharge will travel between the electrically charged regions within a thundercloud, or between a cloud and a cloud, or between a cloud and the surface of a planet.  The charged regions within the atmosphere temporarily equalize themselves through a lightning flash or strike.

If you can see or hear lightning, follow the 30-second rule. Count the seconds, between a lightning flash, and the sound of the thunder.  If the time between the lightning and thunder is less than 30 seconds, that means you are within the danger zone and need to find a safe spot.

So what do you do if you are caught outdoors in a thunderstorm.

The first thing you should do is get away from anything that can attract a lightning strike. This could include ridgelines, open fields, lone trees or isolated groves, tall, prominent outcroppings, telephone poles power lines and any other tall objects.  Surprisingly small sheds, picnic shelters, recesses in rock cliff faces and the mouths of caves are also dangerous choices.  Lighting can hit the tops of cliffs and travel down the faces, this can kill or injury people in recesses or the mouths of caves.

If you are caught in an open field with no shelter, go to a low-lying, open area away from trees, poles or other tall objects.  Pick a place that is not subject to flooding.  Squat low and have as little contact with the ground as possible; make yourself the smallest target possible.  Do not lie flat, as this makes you a bigger target.

If you’re boating or swimming, get on dry land, and find shelter immediately. Stay away from rivers, lakes and other bodies of water.

Whenever possible, take shelter in substantial, permanent, enclosed structures.  Avoid unprotected gazebos, picnic shelters, baseball dugouts and bleachers; these structures are often isolated and located in otherwise open areas, making them a target for lightning.

If there are no good buildings, you can take shelter in a car or truck.  Keep the windows closed. Although rubber tires provide little protection from lightning, the steel in the vehicle does increase protection, especially if you are not touching metal.

Don’t under estimate the dangers of a thunderstorm.  As well as lightning, you can have rain, hale high winds or even tornados.  If you possibly can, avoid them or find good shelter.



The 20 liter Collapsible Swiss Water Bladder.

water bladder

A full water bladder

For at least the last 15 years or so I have used the Swiss Military Issue 20 Liter (5.28 US Gallon) collapsible water bladder when I go camping.  It is my understanding that the Swiss Army used these flexible rubber water bladders instead of solid cans because of the cold Swiss winters.  Because the bladder is flexible, you can squeeze it to break up ice build-up, giving you access to the remaining water.  Ice will often block up the nozzles of traditional cans and jugs, making the water hard to access.

water bladder

The combination faucet and filler

The water bladders are made of  heavy rubber and have a combination cap and faucet on one end.  Over the years, I have used them for many things on camping trips.  Because they collapse flat, and take no room in your vehicle, I often travel with them empty.  On arriving at the campsite, I fill one with water and place it in the sun, usually on top of my vehicle.  Since they are black, they collect the heat and the water warms right up.  I then have warm water for washing.

I suggest that you mark any bladders that you use with none treat or filtered water.  I have some that I only use for potable water.  The bladders have a build in screen that will take out sand and bugs.  The bladders are quite strong and I have never had one fail.

water bladder

The build in screen is good for filtering out small debrie

The shape takes a little getting used to.  But it turns out to be an advantage for many uses.  You can hang them up in trees or use them as a shower.  I have even seen them used for a pillow.  Mine have not caused any problems with rubber odor or taste, but I have heard complaints about that from others.

Recently I have noticed that several internet companies have Swiss water bladders for sale.  The best prices seem to be on Amazon at under $20 each.  I recommend these bladders.


water bladder

The empty bladder


Propane-Powered Generators, are They the Best Choice?

generatorRecently I was asked the following question by someone who wants to install a 5000-watt generator to run their home in case of a power failure.  What is the best choice for fuel, propane, gasoline or diesel? They are leaning towards getting a propane-powered generator.

I have been doing some research on the subject and here are some of the advantages and disadvantages of all three fuels.

  • Advantages:
    •  Easily obtained
    •  Portable in small containers
  • Disadvantages:
    • Highly flammable
    • Short shelf life of fuel (approximately 12 months)
    • Storing large quantities of fuel is hazardous
    • May not be available during power outages
  • Advantages:
    • Least flammable fuel source
    • Fuel easily obtained (fuel is easier to obtain during a disaster because it is a necessary fuel for the military, trucking industry, and farming operations)
    • On site fuel delivery available
    • Designed for off-road applications and can operate on dyed or farm/construction diesel fuel which is sold without the road tax and thus is considerably cheaper to purchase.
    • Engines designed to work under a load for long periods of time and perform better when worked hard rather than operated under light loads.
    • In high use situations overall long term cost of operation is much lower than gaseous GenSets.
  • Disadvantages:
    • 18-24 month shelf life, without additives
    • Installing large storage tanks raises cost of system
    • May not be available during power outages.
    • Engine noise is higher on a diesel compared to a gaseous engine.
    • Requires clean moisture free fuel and a bit more maintenance than a comparable gaseous unit;


Propane:**See propane notes below.
  • Advantages:
    • Long shelf life
    • Clean burning
    • Easily stored in both large tanks or in smaller 5 – 10 gallon cylinders
    • Home delivery available for larger tanks
    • Quieter engine noise level
    • Less expensive units with air-cooled engines are budget priced.
    • Engine life for liquid-cooled 1800 RPM engines can approach 5,000 to 6,000 hours on industrial quality gaseous GenSets
  • Disadvantages:
    • Pressurized cylinder of flammable gas
    • Fuel system is more complicated (increased possibility of failure)
    • Somewhat expensive fuel, check your local prices
    • Propane can become very dangerous if lines are broken.
    • Initial cost of generator is somewhat higher, 15 to 20% especially in sizes larger than 30 kW.
    • More expensive to operate by as much as 3-times the fuel consumption compared to diesels;
    • Smaller air-cooled gaseous engines are less expensive than comparable diesels but have a short life expectancy as low as 500-hours depending on engine make and use

Propane produces 92,000 BTU’s per gallon, gasoline is capable of producing 114,000 BTU’s per gallon, and diesel is capable of producing 129,500 BTU’s per gallon.  This means that it will take more propane per hour that either gasoline or diesel to run a generator.

How much propane will my generator burn per hour?

    • It requires 2 horsepower to produce 1000 watts of energy per hour under load
    • Under load each horsepower consumes 10000 BTU per hour
    • Propane contains 92,000 BTU per gallon
    • Propane weights 4.2 pounds per gallon

Using these factors how long can a 5000-watt generator run on a 500 gallon propane tank at 50 capacity.

    • 10 horse power at 50% would use 5 HP to generate 2500 watts of electricity
    • 5HP X 10,000 BTU would consume 50,000 BTU per hour
    • 500 gallons X 92,000 = 46,000,000 BTU of energy in a full 500 gallon tank
    • 46,000,000 BTU divided by 50,000 BTU = 920
  • A 500-gallon tank that is full would run a 500-watt generator at ½ capacity for 920 hours.

After comparing the various fuels, I would probably go with propane for a large generator in a fixed setting.  I would want a minimum of a 1000 gallon tank.  For small generators I would go with a tri-fuel generator.  Tri-fuel generators burn propane, gasoline and natural gas.

If you choose to purchase a large generator you need to weight the cost versus the benefits.  Is running a generator worth the cost.