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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Audio Podcast: Preparedness 101: episode 1

Click onto the button above to listen to episode one of Preparedness 101!

This post is a new treat for those who have been listening to my Blogtalk radio recordings. Join me in listening to my first episode of Preparedness 101. In this episode I will introduce this new series of recordings, and I’ll talk about what preparedness and survival planning is and why it is so important for us today as we get ready to survive the coming times.
Consider these episodes as a distance learning tool if you will, but the goal is to help you all learn the what, why and how of preparedness planning


Audio Podcast: Episode 94 - Strategic Preparedness Plan

Modified Podcast Logo with My Headphones Photo...In a nutshell, here is the Strategic Preparedness Plan that I've been using to get ready for the dollar collapse and the coming depression:

• Be true to yourself. Know why you're prepping and what you're prepping for. Don't let anyone distract you from getting ready.
• Stock up on everything; especially food and sundries. The coming depression is going to be a long term event; there's little chance that you'll be able to stock up and store everything you will need for the duration. Instead, stocking up now will allow you to buy things while they are still cheap, and (hopefully) allow you to take advantage of periods when prices are lower (like sales, etc.) and avoid having to buy when prices are higher.
• Get out of debt. Your income will not go up at the same rate as inflation.
• Buy silver and gold. As the dollar collapses, precious metals will increase in value. Don't sit on too much cash.
• Acquire farmland and/or plant edible plants around your home. In all depression and hyperinflation events, food is the biggest concern. Having the ability to grow your own food is a big thing.
• Educate yourself. How to grow food; cook food from scratch; make and mend clothes, repair things, etc. Learn how to do things the way our grandparents used to do things.
• Form a prep community. Family or good friends, develop a group of people you can rely on to get together and help each other out.
• Think outside the box. Solutions are often found when you're not thinking like everyone else.

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Making Tallow Candles

TallowCandle 300x252 Making Tallow CandlesOne of the things that frustrates me in Preparedness is that many of the texts and resources out there don’t adequately cover “Pioneer Skills”.  That is to say, they present material lists and instructions that include things that are only available via modern-day manufacturing methods.  Often times what I’m looking for is how do I make something out of nothing – nothing being the great abundance that nature provides us with!  This is very true when it comes to activities like candle, cheese and soap making.  I want to know how to do it in a true collapse or long term survival scenario.
Most recently, this happened when I wanted to know how to make candles.  Pretty much everything I could find told me to get paraffin wax.  So, I researched paraffin wax to see if I could make it from scratch.  Nope, it’s  petroleum based.  Other options included making them from beeswax, but it doesn’t quite meet my requirements since I doubt I’ll be finding much beeswax in a TEOTWAWKI situation unless I become a beekeeper.  Soy candles sounded like a possible option but again, I don’t think I’ll have a supply of soybeans or be able to extract the oil with hexane.  There was one option however that met my requirements; rendered animal fat, also known as Tallow.
Making a candle out of animal fat is a perfect solution for what I was looking to do.  I fully expect to be hunting animals in a TEOTWAWKI situation for meat and I would not want anything to go to waste from the animals I take.  Being able to use the fat from those animals to make candles is just a huge added bonus!  I couldn’t find any definitive references for making tallow candles though so I cobbled together my own process from several web sites and youtube videos.  One of the key points I was looking for in this process was utter simplicity.  I found a couple sites that showed making tallow with water, salt and other ingredients in a huge pot.  But I also found other sites that talked about making it just by cooking the meat for a long period of time in a pan in the oven.  That sounded much simpler and less involved so that is the process I chose.
IMG 2271 300x225 Making Tallow Candles
For a fat source, I used the fat cuts from a fairly fatty pot roast we had for Sunday dinner.  I knew at the time I was going to be doing this so I saved all the trimmings for this project.  I started off with a full 13×9 pan of very fatty and already cooked beef.  Here are the directions I followed next (there is a video at the end of this article showing the entire process):
  1. Put meat in the oven at 370 degrees for 4 hours (the temperature came from averaging out different temps I had seen around the internet.  There might be a better temp to use).
  2. After 4 hours, strain the liquid fat from the meat through a cheesecloth (I used a strainer for this step but it could be done without one)
  3. Build a mold to pour the fat into (I used a peaches can and filled it with wet dirt then hollowed out a pouring hole with my fingers)
  4. Make a wick and secure it to stay in the center of the candle, touching the bottom (I cut a small strip out of an old T-Shirt but you could use any kind of cordage for this)
  5. Pour the fat into the mold making sure the wick stays in the center
  6. Let it sit for several hours (overnight would be good) until completely hardened
  7. Dig it out and trim it up
  8. Place the candle in some kind of container to hold it (I used part of an egg carton)
  9. Ready to burn
This was a fairly time consuming but very easy process to complete.  I lit my candle and it worked perfectly!  It does smell pretty nasty though so I keep it outside.  I’m pretty sure my wife will find a trash can for it.
During my research on old world candle making, I learned several things about candles.  Primarily, beeswax candles really are the way to go.  Tallow candles really don’t smell good, give off a lot of soot when they burn and are quite soft at room temperature.  During the middle ages, the wealthy used beeswax candles while the paupers used tallow.  This was because beeswax candles were more much more expensive but preferred because of their pleasant smell and lack of giving off soot.  All this tells me that in a TEOTWAWKI situation, beeswax candles will be the premium over tallow candles.  This is all the more reason to get into beekeeping and to have several hives when things collapse.  If you’re interested in being able to make beeswax candles now, or in the future, be sure to check out the excellent article we have on beekeeping!
This video shows the entire process in detail but opens with a series introduction into light and heat.  The candle making starts about 2 minutes in.

Storing up on sugar

By Joseph Parish

As a survivalist it is in our best interests to investigate the wide variety of products which are available to sweeten up our foods. The active ingredient fructose is the basic sugar found in various fruits as well as honey. Maltose which is another sugar is often found in malted grains. Another less common sugar is pimentose which you will find in olives and lastly we encounter sucrose which is abundant in our usual table sugar.

In this article we will be discussing sucrose only. Sucrose is a refined product created from sugar cane or sugar beets. In fact our modern sugar is of such refinement that it easily approaches the 100 percent pure sucrose limit. This sweetener is just about indestructible if it is protected from any sort of moisture exposure. The brown sugar and the powdered sugar which we find in the grocery store are other variations of our common granulated sugar.

All our usual sweeteners are prone to crystallization such as cane syrup and even the corn syrup, honey, molasses or maple syrup. All are subject to mold during periods of long storage.
If you decide to can your sugar for long term survival storage you do not need to use oxygen absorbers in the jar as they will often cause the sugar to become hard and difficult to work with. If you encounter a situation where your stored sugar has become hard simply let it sit overnight in a sealed container along with an apple slice. 

When selecting sugar at your grocery store make certain it is clean and dry and presents no indications of insect infestation. Granulated sugar will never spoil however under certain conditions it can become lumpy or solid. In such case it is a simple process to pulverize it into small pieces once again. You can purchase sugar in various types of textures ranging from extremely course to that of very fine.

The very fine white granulated sugar known as confectioner or icing sugar can also be found as a course or fine versions. Usually the housewife will purchase either a 6X which is a very fine blend or a 10X which is the equivalent of an ultra fine texture. These are excellent for pastry use. Often the processor of the sugar will add a portion of corn-starch to the master batch in order to prevent it from caking up. Powdered sugar is more critical to moisture damage than our regular sugar and is extremely difficult to reclaim if it should become hard. 

Brown sugar is nothing more than regular graduated sugar with a bit of molasses and camel flavor added. The darker the sugar is the more molasses that is included in its makeup. All the brown sugar varieties must be protected from moisture or risk becoming hard 

All sugars have the same requirements of air tight containers which are insect proof and moisture resistant in order to provide for effective long term storage. In fact, I have used brown sugar which was six years old and normal white sugar which was much older all with no adverse effects. 

This article provides you with a starting point on selecting which sugar would be best for you to stock up on in your food storage pantry. Merely match the type with your chosen purpose.

Copyright @2011 Joseph Parish