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Saturday, July 18, 2009

Homemade Toothpaste Recipe

Author: Mathiasj

After realizing that fluoride is bad for you, and that using conventional toothpaste which is made from fluoride is bad, I started making my own homemade toothpaste. I have been using this toothpaste recipe for a few months now and it works great. It makes your mouth feel fresh, tastes good, it's cheap, and makes me feel better knowing I'm taking better care of my teeth. Traditionally toothpaste was made from mainly baking soda. It has only been the last few decades that toothpaste has fully switched over to fluoride based. Now when you're shopping for a new bottle of toothpaste, you would be hard pressed to find a toothpaste without fluoride. There is a company that makes a fluoride free toothpaste that is sold at some Wal-Marts. Tom's of Maine sells toothpaste without fluoride added that can be purchased from Wal-Mart for less than $5 a bottle.

The Tom's toothpaste is great, but somewhat expensive. Making your own toothpaste will help your teeth, your wallet, and give you the knowledge to make your own toothpaste if you were unable to purchase any from the store, due to a disaster. The homemade toothpaste recipe is below:

-6 teaspoons baking soda
-1/3 teaspoon salt
-4 teaspoons glycerin
-15 drops peppermint or wintergreen extract

Mix thoroughly. Should be a toothpaste consistency. Store in an airtight container.

The baking soda, salt, and peppermint flavor can all be purchased at your local Wal-Mart. Baking soda is around $1 a box, most should already have plenty of salt, and the wintergreen flavoring is in the arts and crafts section of Wal-Mart; 2 small bottles for $2. I was unable to find glycerin at Wal-Mart and ended up finding some at Rite-Aid. It was around $4 for a bottle, which brings the total price up to around $7. For $7 worth of ingredients and a couple minutes of your time to mix it up, the ingredients will last you months. I have been making it for around 3 months now and I'm still using the $7 worth of ingredients I purchased when I started.

I got this recipe from PioneerThinking.com. There are a lot of other great recipes for homemade products on their site including a good mouthwash recipe.

Here is a picture of my ingredients, and what the toothpaste looks like. For best results, use a butter knife to spread it on your toothbrush and keep it sealed in an airtight container.


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Free Water Storage

Author: Mathiasj


Preparedness is all about ingenuity and gumption. You have to look at everything like it's a potential prep and evaluate if it would be worth saving; this includes your plastic juice jugs. Sometimes best preps are ones that you don't have to pay a lot for and your spare juice jugs are an example. Water barrels, the Reliance jugs from Wal-Mart, or the water machine jugs from Sam's Club are great ways to store water, but you can supplement your main water storage with your old bottles.

I drink a lot of juice, mainly Simply Orange orange juice, and grape juice. The bottles that the juice come in are made from good plastic and are pretty thick. Once I'm done drinking all the juice I rinse the bottles out with hot water and dish soap. Once the bottles are cleaned and the soap is gone, just fill with cool tap water and store. I have some I stored from the first of January and the water still tastes great. I have accumulated over 14 gallons of water over the past few months which would be a whole two weeks worth of water for one person. If you're already throwing away your bottles, the only cost is the water from the tap, which would be minimal. I might put back one a week but it really adds up.

Note: Don't use milk jugs, they're near impossible to get clean enough to use, and if any milk residue is left over in the jug it will ruin the water when you try to store it.

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Gear Review: LED Flashlights and Batteries

Author: Mathiasj

Light is very important for humans. Our vision at night is limited, so we have to rely electricity and light bulbs to light up the darkness. Over the last few years we have seen LEDs or Light Emitting Diodes, come onto the scene. LEDs are far superior to traditional light bulbs that use a piece of resistive wire inside a glass bulb. When a current is applied to the wire, it gets hot and begins to glow; this creates the light. LEDs require no resistive wire, and are simply diodes that produce light when a current is passed through it. LEDs are far superior to traditional light bulbs in that they consume less energy, last longer, are stronger, smaller and faster switching.

Now that LEDs are more mainstream, you can purchase LED flashlights for the same price as regular flashlights. It's a no brainier that LEDs are the only way to go if you're purchasing flashlights for your emergency kit. You can purchase battery powered LEDs, or some companies are now making hand-crank LED flashlights that are powered by a dynamo motor which uses your hand to generate the electricity. A lot of the Chinese made hand-crank lights are cheap and won't last very long, but there is one company that makes quality hand crank lights and that is Freeplay Energy. I have never had any personal experience with Freeplay lights, but I have read good reviews and they're suppose to be quality lights that will last for years. They are somewhat expensive so I opted to just go for battery powered lights.

I purchased my LED flashlights and headlamp from Meritline. Meritline offers great prices on lots of different styles of LED flashlights. They even have some that have 100 LEDs in one flashlight! I have (2) 20 LED flashlights from Meritline, a 21 LED headlamp, and a 24 LED tent light. All of these do take batteries and although they have extremely long battery life, in a SHTF scenario you can't rely on the local store to supply you with batteries. This is why it's important to stock up now on the batteries you need. I have around 400 batteries; 200 AA and 200 AAA. I purchased them in bulk from Meritline for very cheap, around $.25 a piece. This is the only way to purchase batteries because buying them in the store is a lot more expensive, and the cheap alkaline batteries are just as good as the expensive ones.

I choose to go with alkaline batteries over rechargeable ones for economical reasons mainly. Rechargeable batteries can be recharged but without electricity you would have to have a solar charger for them. Even at that, they only have so many charge cycles until they go bad. I figured for starters a few hundred alkaline batteries were good, and in the future I will probably invest in a solar charger and some rechargeable batteries.

LED Flashlight
-20 LEDs
-Use 3 x AAA Battery
-Chrome Metal
-Water Resistant
-1-1/4" diameter x 5" length
-Extensive lifetime of LED (100,000 hours)

The LED flashlight is really a great light for the price. It's super bright, very long battery life, and small enough to fit in your pocket. I keep one in my car and one in the hosue and regularly check them to make sure the batteries are still good.

LED Headlamp
-Silver plastic housing
-Water resistant
-Ultra bright LED light
-Beam projects up to 50-foot
-Extensive lifetime of LED (100,000 hours)
-Alternate between 1 LED, 7 LEDs, 21 LEDs and Flashing Mode
-Adjustable straps
-Tilting lamp
-Use 3 x AAA Battery

The headlamp is another great product for the money. It's made of plastic, and feels a little cheap, but as long as you take care if it it's going to last. I don't keep batteries in it while in storage to keep them from going bad or corroding. It's important to keep batteries out of your electronics when not in use. The beam is super bright, and you can alternate how many LEDs are turned on to keep the light down or save battery life.

LED Tent Light
-24 White LEDs brings perfect illumination indoor and outdoor
-Comes with a hanger, magnet and hanging hole
-Alternate between 15 LEDs, 6 LEDs, & 3 LEDs
-Use 4 x AA Battery
-Extensive lifetime of LED (100,000 hours)
-Battery last for up to 50 hours

The tent light is not only good for outdoor use, but great for indoor use. In a power outage a tent light could light up a whole room; you would need multiple candles to do the job of the tent light. It also has the ability to set the number of LEDs that are on to save battery, and at full power it lasts 50 hours. It has a hook to be hung on the wall, or hung from the ceiling or top of a tent.

Lighting is very important and with today's technology advances, there's no reason to be using conventional bulbs. LEDs are 10x better and when looking for flashlights for your emergency preps, only purchase a quality LED flashlight. And don't forget, flashlights are useless without batteries, so whether you like rechargeables or alkaline, make sure you have plenty of them and the means to charge them!

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How To: Hydration Bladder in ALICE Pack

Author: Mathiasj

The ALICE pack isn't pretty and it isn't fancy, but it's tough, rugged, and it gets the job done. It's big enough to carry all your get home bag, or your bug out bag gear and its big enough for camping and hiking needs. It's proven to hold up to even the roughest conditions and was used by the Army for decades. I purchased my ALICE pack used from Ebay and even though it is used it's still in great shape and ready for years of use.

There are many different companies and people on the web that modify and upgrade the ALICE packs. One useful and inexpensive upgrade you can do yourself is adding a hydration bladder to the pack. The radio pouch inside the main compartment of the pack is a perfect place to add your bladder.


Step 1:
You will need to purchase a hydration bladder to go inside your pack. Wal-Mart sells a 2L hydration bladder for $9.99. It comes with the bladder and hose for drinking from. You will also need a couple of (black preferably) zip ties.

Step 2:
Make sure you clean the bladder and hose thoroughly with a vinegar and water solution and let it dry completely. (It might take a couple days for it to completely dry out, but you don't want it getting moldy or stinky!)

Step 3:
Once dried, add the bladder into the radio compartment. Lay it down horizontally with the hose on the side you want to drink from. (I took some electrical tape and blacked out the hose to give it a more camouflaged look, this is not required.)

Step 4:
Route the hose out from under the flap, and along your left or right shoulder strap; whichever you prefer. Add a zip tie to the top buckle of the shoulder strap and slide the hose through it. *Don't tighten it yet!

Step 5:
Now you want to try on the pack and get the length of the hose right. You want enough to be able to get it in your mouth for a drink, but not anymore than that. Keep as little length of hose on the strap as possible so it doesn't get snagged on something.

Step 6:
Tighten up the top zip tie to keep the hose snug, but not so much that you still can't adjust it or that it pinches the hose any. Then you can add a zip tie to the bottom buckle on the strap, but keep this one open to about the size of a half dollar piece. This gives you a place to keep the mouthpiece when not in use. It will keep it from flopping around when walking or hiking, and make it easily accessible if you needed a drink. Once your hose is in the right place, stuff the remaining hose into the radio pouch with the bladder to give it a clean finished look.

And that's it! For around $10 and 30 minutes of your time, now you have a hydration bladder equipped ALICE PACK. This modification is cheap, easy, and useful. There are lots of other great packs out there but for the price and toughness, you can't beat an Army surplus ALICE pack.

*Click the thumbnails for a full size view

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Test Your Gear Before You Need It

Author: Mathiasj

Having a closet full of survival and camping gear is a great insurance policy facing the current economic collapse. I have accumulated a good supply of assorted supplies, as well as the needed items to go camping. So I decided to take a couple nights and camp out in the field behind my house to give my gear a good field test. I got the chance to test out my new tent, sleeping bag, flashlights, and a lot of stuff in my get home bag. It was a great learning experience and was a lot of fun getting to somewhat "rough it" with my pack. It's important to be familiar with your gear, including how to pack it into your ruck and how to set up and take down your tent, so if the day comes that you actually need the stuff, you will be familiar with it.

I went out on a Friday afternoon and cut plenty of firewood with my folding Sierra Saw. These saws work great and will cut through branches like you wouldn't believe. I cut a large pile of wood with only the saw and it worked great. I started my fire with my fire steel and cotton balls soaked hand sanitizer. It quickly created a flame which lit the small branches that got the fire going.

I went out with my pack, and set up my tent a few hours before dark so I could take my time and get familiar with how to set it up. My tent is a High Peak South Col, 4 season/3 person tent. It comes with the tent itself, and a full rain fly. It had plenty of room for 3 people to sleep in, and fit myself and my gear with no problems. I have an all purpose tarp that I put underneath the tent for extra protection from the ground It did not provide much insulation but kept the wind out and is a good quality tent.

I have a High Peak Summit 0 degree sleeping bag that I used on both nights along with a foam sleeping pad underneath me. The bag kept me completely warm even when the temperature dropped into the mid 30's. It was pretty cold in my tent but my sleeping bag and the sleeping pad kept me warm and comfortable. It's important to know what the temperature is going to be when going out for a camping trip. This ensures that you bring the correct sleeping bag, and the right clothes that you need. When outside at night around the fire I had on my 3-layer Army ECWS and never got cold sitting outside.

A few things I have purchased and took with me really made things a lot easier. They aren't necessary but are cheap and will really come in handy. The first item came in handy is a LED Headlamp. I purchased a 21 LED Headlamp from Meritline.com. It is extemly bright with a long battery life and makes doing things at night so much easier because you have both hands. I also got a 33 LED Tent Light from Meritline, it might seem like a waste but it really comes in handy if you wanted to read or when your doing things in the tent at night, one of those will light up the whole tent and they have extremely long battery life.

For food I took a couple MRE's with me to eat for dinner along with my cheapo Mess Kit and Hobo Utensil Tool. I cooked the meals over my Alcohol Stove with the mess kit and also was able to make coffee and tea.

All in all it was a great learning experience and I got a chance to test out my gear and everything went surprisingly well. Most would call my supplies "cheap" but if you know how to use what you have then it works just as well as the expensive gear. It's essential to know how to use your gear in the field and testing out what's in your bug out bag or your camping gear is the best way to learn. You don't want to head into the woods never having set up your tent or getting a chance to try out your supplies. Part of having the prepardness gear is actually knowing how to use the stuff you have. This will make it a lot easier to make decisions if the situation came where you had to use the supplies.

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