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.



Some thoughts on the Ebola Virus and the Enterovirus

Ebola virusEarlier this month I posted some information from a friend of mine entitled Ebola Virus can Go Airborne According to the US Army  This morning World Net Daily (WND) confirmed this information in an article of theirs entitled  U.S. Army warns of potential ‘airborne’ Ebola

At the same time WND published an article CDC denies enterovirus link to illegal-alien kids.  According to WND the EV-D68 epidemic occurred only after the surge this year of unaccompanied alien children illegally crossing the border from Latin America, a region where the virus is prevalent among young children.  Until this year, the virus has been relatively rare in the US.  The CDC denies that there is any connection.

Marine Corp General John Kelly, head of the Southern Command states that if the Ebola virus spreads to South and Central America, we are in danger of a domestic outbreak  that could come sweeping across the southern border.  In a quote from his statement, he said “and if infected people flee those countries and spread the disease to Central and South America, it could cause “mass migration into the United States” of those seeking treatment.”  “If it breaks out, it’s literally, ‘Katie bar the door.”

With the mistakes that the CDC has already made in dealing with the Ebola virus and our open border polices I do not believe that the government will provide us the necessary protection from Ebola or any other pandemic.  It very likely will fall on us to protect ourselves.  This may include voluntary self-quarantine for up to several months.

You may want to double check your preps and see if you are ready.  If not you should stock up now while you are able.  Yesterday I checked with friends that sell prepping supplies and was told that many items are in short supply.  Some items in particular were water filters like the Big Berkey, facemasks and goggles.  If you are having trouble finding facemasks, goggles and other protective gear, check with a local industrial safety supply company.  They normally stock these items.

I don’t want to panic anyone, because none of us know what is going to happen with the Ebola virus, however I would encourage you to do what you can, just in case.


Why Some Individuals and Groups will fail to survive.

surviveWhy Some Individuals and Groups will fail to survive.When confronted with survival situations people have the potential to overcome challenges, beat incredible odds, and come out a survivor.  However, in survival situations, many people fail to survive not from lack of physical ability or resources, but because of lack of will. Survival is taking any situation, accepting it, and trying to improve it, while sustaining your life until you can get out of the situation.  Survival is a state of mind.

Here is a list of 12 things that can contribute to the loss of will to survive.

  1. Failure to plan – you need to survey the situation and make a plan and then follow it.
  2. Panic – Avoid becoming irrational, frantic and disorganized.
  3. Inaction – You do nothing; you fail to take action because of fear, carelessness or laziness.
  4. Loneliness – You are overwhelmed by a feeling of helplessness and loneliness, resulting in panic, fear and inaction.
  5. Low self-esteem – you lack confidence
  6. Lack of teamwork – you fail to work together and let rivalry affect your group.
  7. Lack of training – you don’t know what to do, so you do nothing or you do the wrong thing.
  8. Prolonged exposure or fatigue – you lose your will to survive from lack of food, water, sleep or exposure to weather, heat or cold.
  9. Inability to endure – you lack the physical stamina, due to lack of conditioning or poor health.
  10. Lack of faith – you need to have faith in something beyond yourself.  In my case that is a strong believe in God and the power of prayer.
  11. A poor attitude – your attitude will affect your own ability to survive plus that of others in your group.
  12. Fear – Don’t let your imagination run wild.  Expect fear and learn to recognize it. Don’t be ashamed of any fears you may have.  Control your fears don’t let them control you.  

All of the above can affect you in a negative way, but there are ways to overcome them.  One of the best is training and knowledge.  Having the confidence to know what needs to be done and doing it is a great way to overcome the negatives on the above list.


Children’s Games for After TEOTWAWKI

After TEOTWAWKI it will be interesting to see how children function without their electronic toys and the one eyed monster the TV.  The following is a list of some children’s games with instructions children's gamesthat  you might find useful.  These came from the New York Folk Law Society

Sack Race. Each participant steps into a burlap bag (purchased from a farm store), then hops from the starting line to a line forty feet away, then hops back as fast as possible.

Three-Legged Race. Ties (used men’s neckties, for example) are fastened around the opposite ankles or knees of participants, giving each pair of children three legs to run the race.

Wheelbarrow Race. One contestant picks up the ankles of another, who walks on her hands to the line. The contestants change places and race back to the starting line.

Hoop Trundling. The child propels a wooden hoop using a one-foot dowel or stick by stroking it along the top.

Run around the Hoop. The child sets the hoop spinning, then tries to see how many times he can run around the hoop before it falls down. Another hoop game is to use the hoop as a hula hoop, rotating it around the waist.

Hoop Races. A chalk trail passes through narrow spaces, such as two stones. Rolling hoops, contestants follow the trail between the gates all around the course back to the starting point.

Potato Race. Potatoes are placed in buckets at the starting line, and children work in teams of two. Each child grabs a potato from her bucket and runs eight feet to a marked spot, deposits the potato, runs back for another potato, leaves it at a marked spot farther on, and so forth. Her partner runs to the first potato and brings it back to the bucket, then returns for another until all the potatoes are gathered.

Potato Spoon Race. Each child balances a potato on the bowl of a long iced-tea spoon, then runs to a line and back without dropping it. Variation: The children place the potatoes at designated spots and then retrieve them, as in a potato race.

Statue. One child grasps the hands of another and gently swings him around before depositing him gently on the grass. The contestant tries to assume a ridiculous posture as he falls—limbs askew, head cocked, tongue hanging out. After all the players are “statues,” the swinger decides the winner, who then serves as the person who swings the players in the next round.

Rock Tag. Players choose a rock or stone to touch or stand on; one child, “It,” has no base. At a given signal, all children leave their bases and go to another—one child to a base. If “It” can catch a runner between bases, that child becomes “It.”

Shadow Tag. For small children: On a sunny day children try to step on each other’s shadows.

Fox and Geese, single rim. A wagonwheel design is tramped in the snow or drawn in chalk. The Fox stands at the center and the other children, the Geese, around the edge. At a signal, the Fox tries to catch the Geese, who can run only along the spokes or the rim of the wheel. The one who is caught then becomes the Fox.

Fox and Geese, double rim. The version of Fox and Geese involves an additional rim halfway up the spokes.

Hunt the Fox. The wagonwheel is set up as in Fox and Geese, but in this game the roles are reversed: The Fox at the center is chased by the others, the Hunters.

Leapfrog. Children form a line, with each child leaning over on hands and knees. The child at one end leaps over the next child’s back, legs spread apart, then over all the others. At the other end she becomes an additional Frog, to be leapt over by the next player.

Leap and Crawl. The leapfrog line is formed as above. Players leap over one Frog, then crawl between the legs of the next, leap over the third, etc.

Duck on the Rock. This game was originally played with rocks in a dirt road. An object several inches high is placed at a distance. On this is balanced one player’s beanbag, the Duck. Players stand back of the line and toss their beanbags at the Duck to knock it off. When it falls, all the players who have tossed run to retrieve their beanbags before the Duck’s owner can replace her beanbag on the Rock and tag another player.

Beanbag Toss. Players toss beanbags at a distance through a hole in a wood panel. The game can be played using several holes, each with a numerical value; players compete to reach the score of 21.

Game of Graces. Two players with two-foot wands toss a beribboned ten-inch wooden hoop back and forth, trying to catch it in the X of their crossed wands. The wands are drawn rapidly apart to propel the hoop back to the other player.

Jump Rope. A familiar game even today—for a single child or, with a longer rope, three or more.

Quoits. Make quoit rings from half-inch manila rope, fastening the ends with masking tape, and construct a box with upright dowels of various lengths, or hammer the dowels into the ground for a quoit field. Players stand at a distance and try to throw the rings over the dowels.

Hopscotch. The player throws a marker onto a numbered square, hops to retrieve it, then throws it to the next square in the sequence. Many variations are available on the Internet. A prepared mat can be used, or a hopscotch field can be drawn in chalk.

Spinning Top. Tops come in many varieties: to be twirled with the fingers, for example, or to be wound with string, the string pulled, and the top thrown on the ground, still spinning. Other tops can be set in motion with the fingers, then kept going by whipping the sides with a leather thong attached to a short stick.

Stilts. This age-old balancing act can be done with stilts to suit the child. Wooden blocks are fastened ten to twenty inches from the ground on long poles. For young children, use pairs of No. 10 cans: Punch holes in the ends of the can and run a length of rope through it for the child to hold on to.

Jacob’s Ladder. Six small blocks are fastened together with sets of ribbon so that the blocks can appear to tumble as a child tilts the top block back and forth. This illusion can be bought ready-made.

Jacks. A dozen metal jacks are dropped on the floor. A ball is bounced and the child tries to pick up as many jacks as possible before the ball hits the floor again.

Marbles. Clay or glass marbles are propelled by the thumb toward other marbles in a circle or pit. The player keeps the marbles she can knock out of the ring. There are many variations—ask your grandfather!

Hummers. Take a four-hole button and run a string or carpet-weight thread through two opposite holes; fasten the ends together. Holding the string so that the button is in the middle, swing the button around and around, then pull the string loops so that the button revolves first one way, then the other. After a rhythm has been established, pulling the string harder each time will make some buttons hum.

Tower Puzzle. The Tower of Hanoi is a relative newcomer. Six or more graduated disks are placed over one of three spindles fixed to a strip of wood. The object is to move all the disks to another spindle, moving one at a time, without ever placing a larger disk over a smaller one. There is much about the Tower of Hanoi on the Internet.

Ball and Cup. In this centuries-old game, a small ball is affixed to a string on a short stick, at the top of which is a cup. The player tosses the ball up and attempts catch it in the cup. A variation on this is the bilbo stick: The stick is pointed and the ball has a small hole.

Mumblety-Peg. The point of a penknife is flipped up and into the ground with the front, then the back of the hand. The point is next placed on the wrist, elbow, shoulder, and head, then back down to the hand. If a player can flip the knife successfully each time, so that it always sticks in the ground, he then makes the knife “jump the fence” of the palm and stick in the ground. (We did not play this game.)

Gee-Haw Whimmy-Diddle. This southern game derives its name from oxen-driving terms: “Gee” is left and “haw” is right. Using a file, cut a series of notches in a short stick, and insert a small propeller in the end of the stick so that it moves freely. Vigorously rubbing a squared stick along the notches makes the propeller spin. Rubbing the thumb along the stick helps make the propeller reverse direction.

Feather Game. Sit small children in a circle and release a small chicken feather (check your bedroom pillows). The object is to keep the feather in the air by blowing up on it.

Horseshoes. Two stakes and rubber or metal horseshoes are needed. Consult rulebooks or the Internet for scoring of leaners and ringers.

Bob for Apples (wet). Fill a dishpan close to the top with warm water, add a dozen washed, small apples, and place it on a bench. Players try to bite an apple—no hands! Once a player bites an apple, it’s his. Have towels handy to dry off the children!

Bob for Apples (dry). Suspend small apples by string from a branch or pole so that the apples hang at varying heights. Rules are as for wet bobbing: No hands, and the apple a player bites is hers.

Balance Game. Take a round piece of wood four to six inches in diameter and about twenty-four inches long. Place an eight- or ten-inch board across this pole and try to balance on it, like a lumberjack.

I can remember playing some of these children’s games as a child.  Most of the items needed to play these children’s games can be improvised.  You may want to show them some of these games now and get them outside.