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Friday, May 29, 2009

Basic Soap Making

This thread is part 2 of my basic soap making post. If you haven’t already read it, go to my last post “Rendering tallow”. In this post I will introduce you to basic soap making. I will touch upon some finer points I have picked up since I started making my own soap. I won’t be able to teach you everything I know, but this will be a good starter for you. By the end of this, you’ll have a better idea of what is involved in soap making (you can also wash clothes with this in a SHTF situation)print it out and add it to your notebook for later.

You are going to need to gather some items. You will need a stainless steel stockpot, some wooden spoons, a Pyrex measuring cup (at least one that will hold 2 cups, maybe more if you have it,) a thermometer, some bowls, towels for cleanup and have your table top cleaned off! Saponification is the chemical reaction that takes places while soap making. It’s a continuous action that occurs from the time you add the lye to the fats to the aging of the soap. It’s really not that hard when you get into it. This recipe is a basic one that you can add "scents" or keep it basic for a good overall cleaning soap, for bath, home and laundry.

First things first, safety! Wear safety glasses and wear latex gloves during this part of the process. Absolutely! Even the slightest amount of lye splashed onto your face or in your eyes can be hazardous. Into a glass Pyrex bowl, pour 5 cups of COLD water . Be sure it’s cold, once you add the lye, you’ll notice the water gets real hot. Weigh out 13 ounces of lye. (Aside-Lye can be tricky to find, I now get it at my old hardware store in town. They can get me most anything I want. Lye is now sold as drain cleaner. BE SURE it is 100% lye, no other dyes or chemicals added. Do not substitute anything else for lye, I cannot state this enough. One hundred percent lye. Keep looking if you can’t find it, it’s still sold. The actual chemical name is Sodium Hydroxide. Okay…weight out exactly 13 ounces of lye. Slowly add the lye to the water, not the other way around. You could have a huge mess on your hands (and face.) As you add the lye to the water, stir, stir, stir. Be sure you keep stirring until all the crystals are dissolved into the water. At this point, you should notice the water being very hot. This is normal, don’t worry.

Now let the lye come down in temperature to 90-95 degrees F. While this is cooling, melt your tallow that you have rendered and bring to 120-130 degree F.Once you have both the lye and fat at the correct temperature, add the lye to the fat slowly while stirring. Add all the lye and continue to stir. Now, you will probably stir for about 20-30 minutes. Try to make soap in warmer temperatures. What you are looking for is the mixture to come to a “trace” where you can draw a line across the top of the mixture. It’s at this point you can add any essential oil you might want to try and maybe some finely ground oatmeal or dried flower blossoms. Keep stirring until you notice the top is getting dull and you have a ring forming around the inside of your pot. Now your soap is ready to pour.

You can use soap molds, old plastic butter dishes, etc. (I use a regular bake pan 4" deep) just watch what color they are because they can stain your soap. Prepare your mold ahead of time as the soap will “seize” in the pan if it doesn’t get poured right away. Once you have poured the soap, I top off the mold with a large piece of cardboard and cover with a folded towel and put it in the oven with the light on. I add a tray of hot water below it on the lowest shelf and shut the door, no peeking. I take out the soap the next morning and uncover and take out of the mold, cut and stack to age. I set each piece of soap on it’s widest edge and let set undisturbed for 3-4 weeks before using. The longer soap ages, the better it gets. This sounds a little complicated but don’t let that scare you. This is a lot of fun! Good luck and feel free to ask questions! I'm sure I may have left out some things so if you spot it, point it out.

Again, BE CAREFUL. Here are 2 links. #1: Making lye from woodash http://www.wikihow.com/Make-Lye and #2: a youtube video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gqe_LVp1iUY

I hope if SHTF you find this useful to help keep clean, not many People think of putting up soap as a prep.

Original: http://georgiapreppersnetwork.blogspot.com/2009/02/basic-soap-making.html

Dehydrated Foods

Dehydrated-Freeze Dried foods have a longer shelf life than foods that are canned with liquid.
While I feel there is some wiggle room with "use by dates" on canned items unless you are rotating and going through stock rather quickly you might have some dust covered canned beets from 2003 that you may not feel are still safe to eat.

A way to avoid this altogether is to purchase freeze dried food. Freeze dried food has an incredible shelf life of up to 25 years. You will not get that with traditionally canned goods no matter how careful you are in rotation of cans. Freeze dried foods with a 25 year shelf life can take a lot of worry out of your preps as you do not have to worry if something has gone bad. Having opened a few cans of nasty smelling and lumpy looking canned goods this could become a life or death situation if a person isn't careful.

I also think that because of weight issues, freeze dried foods are easier to transport in a "bug out" situation if the need arises. Mountain House offers several different options for preppers who want to add freeze dried food to their larder. If you have never ate freeze dried food I would suggest you get a 72 hour emergency kit and eat it. For the price of a dinner out($52.00) you could sample the food and see if it would fit with your preparedness plans.

Freeze dried food is also a good choice for BOBs (bug out bags) again because of the weight. Do not forget that hot water is needed to rehydrate the food so where ever you have it stored, do not forget that you will need a means of heating water to prepare it. A mess kit and magnesium fire starter should also be in your BOB so no need to fret.

To learn more about freeze dried food and for ordering info from Mountain House check the link- you will be suprised with the amount of choices there are.

Original: http://mainepreppersnetwork.blogspot.com/2009/04/dehydrated-foods.html

A most astounding Rhubarb Jelly

By Joseph Parish

Rhubarb is one of those interesting plants which you do not generally chance upon a lot of information on. You will certainly encounter difficulty locating it in your local supermarket. I would like to take you on a gardening journey from growing your own rhubarb to harvesting it and finally to creating some tasty Rhubarb – Lime jelly.

In most parts of America you would not encounter any problems growing this perennial vegetable. It is well worth your efforts to cultivate it in the home garden as it is readily enjoyed in jellies, pies and sauces. Rhubarb is usually planted off by itself at the far end of your family garden and is best left alone. It will be productive for at least five years. Six plants will produce sufficient rhubarb to satisfy a family of four with possibly a little left over for the neighbor.

Plant your rhubarb in the early spring while your plant roots are still in their dormant stage. Use plants or divisions as seeds are extremely difficult to grow in most places other then the deep southern portion of the United States.

The crown bud of the plant should be about 2 inches below the soil with 36 inches spacing between each root planted. Rhubarb rows should be approximately 3 feet apart. Make certain that draining is good in the area where you intend to plant the rhubarb as they do not like wet feet. Prior to planting your roots work the soil well with compost to increase the rhubarbs production.

If you already have several rhubarb plants you can dig up the roots and divide them to make additional plants. Simply cut the root into four sections. Ensure that each of these sections has at least a single strong bud. This process should be accomplished at least every five years to ensure healthy and vigorous plants. Plants older then five years tend to become very crowded and their production decreases drastically. Use only your healthiest plants for this spring thinning and discard the rest.

Maintain the rhubarb area free of weeds inspecting it on a weekly basis. Apply fertilizer generously at the start of the growing season and continue to side dress the plants as the year rolls on. Irrigate the crop during periods of dryness and do not permit it to dry out excessively.

Since the newly established plants need abundant foliage to create a strong root system do not attempt to harvest any plants during the first season. During the second season you may harvest the stalks for one or two weeks, but after that you can safely harvest for the full eight to ten weeks.

To harvest the plants pull the plants stalks and proceed to trim the leaf blades from each. Do not use the leaf blades as they contain oxalic acid. Remove only 1/3rd of the leaves so the plant will remain healthy and continue to produce.

Should your plant develop seed stalks and flowers quickly remove and discard them. The petioles or leafstalks should be of high quality with bright color, tenderness and flavor. The stalk should be thick and crisp when you break it off.

The major pest for your new rhubarbs will be the Rhubarb curculio which is a beetle which bores holes into the stalks and roots of your plants. Should you encounter badly infected plants with a vast number of beetle eggs simply burn them in July.

And now for the fun part. You have already grown your rhubarb so now let’s make some tasty Rhubarb Lime Jelly.

You will need enough Rhubarb stalks to create five cups of juice
2 1/2 cups sugar
5 Tbsp of lime juice
5 tsp of Pomona pectin
5 tsp of calcium water

Wash your rhubarb stalks well and cut them into small chunks. Puree these chunks in a food processor using a cheesecloth for extracting your five cups of juice. Mix the rhubarb and lime juice with the calcium water in a pot. Mix the pectin with the sugar in a bowl. Bring the mixture in the pot to a boil and then add the sugar/pectin to it bringing it once again to a boil. Remove the pot from the heat and then ladle the mixture into pre-sterilized jars making certain to leave a 1/4" headspace. Process the jars in a boiling water bath for a period of 10 minutes. Be certain to adjust your time according to your altitude.

Your family is certain to enjoy this treat.

Copyright @2008 Joseph Parish

Original: http://survival-training.info/articles11/AmostastoundingRhubarbJelly.htm

Get Some Survival Gardening Basics, Then Get Started!

Gardening is one of those subjects where there’s no lack of information and advice. I understand gardening and homesteading books are really hot sellers at bookstores this year. A lot of people are apparently thinking of survival as they’ve never thought before. For example, the swine flu outbreak makes us more aware of the possibility of disruption to availability of food through normal channels. It also reminds us of the importance of wholesome, healthful food. You can read all you want about gardening–and you should—but there’s nothing like doing it.

If you’re still sitting on the fence, so to speak, about whether you should take up gardening, it’s time to get started. It’s not too late to plant crops, such as beans, corn, squash or watermelon. You can plant tomato plants from a local nursery, too. However, time’s slipping away quickly.

Jackie Clay can help if you need to know some basics. She’s gardened for many years in several places around the country. The article excerpt below is from the May/June 2009 “Backwoods Home Magazine,” and will answer several questions about composting, mulching, raised beds, what to plant for your area, and more.

Jackie's garden primer

By Jackie Clay

Is it complicated? You know: mulch, compost, pH, organic, chemicals, biologic insect controls? No. It isn't a bit complicated. As you progress, you may want to expand your gardening skills for an even more productive garden. But gardening definitely is not complicated.

Well, isn't it expensive then? Again, no. Like anything else, you can spend a lot of money gardening. But you don't have to. In the old days, folks grew tons of food by saving their own seed from year to year, trading seeds with neighbors, and occasionally buying a few packets of seed to grow other crops they didn't have seed for. In fact, by growing even a modest home garden, you can save up to one third of your grocery bill each week all summer and fall, and even more if you home can your extra vegetables.

Read the whole article here: www.backwoodshome.com/articles2/clay117.html

Excerpt used with permission of Backwoods Home Magazine. www.backwoodshome.com 1-800-835-2418

By the way, you can read more from Jackie Clay on her “Ask Jackie” blog, linked on this blog’s sidebar.

If you’re limited on space and want practical info from another gardening pro, get Mel Bartholomew’s All New Square Foot Gardening. On the other hand, if you’ve got lots of room, you can get tips from his book on how to use your space more efficiently. Order your copy by clicking on the picture of the book below. That takes you to the Amazon.com page featuring the book.

Now, Get started on that survival garden!

Click here for info on simple, high yield, organic gardening.

Original: http://destinysurvival.com/2009/05/01/get-some-survival-gardening-basics-then-get-started/

Make your own lip balm for cold sores

1 oz. Emu Oil
1 oz. Almond Oil
1 oz. Avocado Oil
1/2 oz. Shaved Beeswax or Beeswax Pellets
1/4 oz. Aloe Vera Gel
6 Drops Lavender Essential Oil
2 Drops Tea Tree Essential Oil
3 Drops Lime Essential Oil

Mix the almond, avocado, emu oil and beeswax together in a microwave-safe bowl.

Microwave for a couple of minutes or until the mixture is completely melted.
(Bowl may also be heated in a pan of water on a stovetop).

Stir the mixture often until the wax is melted.

Add the aloe vera gel.

Remove from heat and stir in the essential oils.

Stir again and set aside to cool completely.

When cool, transfer into small portable plastic containers or tins.

I generally find my ingredients at our local health food store but if you cannot find them near you, I'm sure you can find them on eBay.

Original: http://vermontpreppersnetwork.blogspot.com/2009/03/make-your-own-lip-balm-for-cold-sores.html

Homemade Mouthwash Recipe

2 ounces of water
1/4 teaspoon of baking soda or sea salt
1 drop of pure peppermint essential oil
1 drop of pure tea tree essential oil

Mix ingredients together well. It leaves a refreshing minty taste in your mouth and prevents bad breath.

Essential oils can be purchased at your health food store.

Original: http://vermontpreppersnetwork.blogspot.com/2009/03/homemade-mouthwash-recipe.html