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Composting 101 – Easy Compost Making and Troubleshooting Tips

Home compost bin made with pallets

What is composting?

Composting breaks down organic material to rich, dark soil. If it rots, it can compost, although some materials require special handling, which we'll cover later in the post. The simplest way to compost is to stack everything in a pile and leave it for a couple of years, but there are methods you can use to keep things tidier and make compost faster. Composting does not have to be messy or stinky or too much work. In this article we'll cover how to compost, what to compost, compost bins and troubleshooting tips for common compost problems.

Why Compost?

We generate 26 million tons of food scraps each year. Our landfills are overloaded, and 20-30% of what goes into landfills is food scraps and yard waste. Meanwhile, food growers often fork out serious cash for fertilizer and other soil improvements. Composting reduces the load on landfills and turns garbage into awesome, deep rich soil. If you pay extra for yard waste pickup, you could save money on fertilizer and hauling fees. Composting also reduces transport costs (less waste hauling), reduces methane emissions (properly built compost piles don't outgas like landfills) and lowers your carbon footprint.

Compost is like black gold for your soil. The worms, bacteria and fungi break down your composting materials to create humus. Adding humus to regular soil enriches its ability to retain moisture. Humus also adds nutrients, which reduce or eliminate the need for other fertilizers. Humus rich soil makes your crops more resilient and productive. If you aren’t composting, you should be.

Simple Compost Pile Ingredients

Whether you are in town, in the suburbs or in the country, you can compost. To make a home compost pile, you only need three things: browns, greens and moisture.

  1. Browns = High carbon ingredients, such as: Leaves, branches, sawdust. Your browns are the base that absorbs the ooze (and odors) as the green squishy bits breakdown. Think of it like bedding in an animal stall. Browns also add bulk to the pile, and make a good chow for helpful fungi.
  2. Greens – High nitrogen ingredients, such as: grass clippings, vegetable waste, fruit scraps and coffee grounds. These are the jam in your jelly roll, the catalyst that gets your pile hot and steamy. Too much, and your pile can get slimy or moldy. (Think mounded grass clippings.) Get the right amount and it will keep your compost pile rotting at high speed.
  3. Moisture (just the right amount) – You're aiming for damp sponge consistency to the pile. Too much water, and it can get anaerobic and stinky, too little, and the material won't break down.

Turning your compost pile gets oxygen into the whole pile and ensures your browns and greens are well mixed. If you want compost fast, turning helps. If composting speed is not an issue, don't worry about it.

Note: If you set up a system of three bins (like ours shown below), you can stockpile browns in one of the bins. Use another bin as your “active” bin, filling it with greens as they become available and browns from your stash. The third bin can be left to age.

Planet Natural has a handy chart that list the carbon to nitrogen ratio of many common compost ingredients here.

home compost bins made with pallets

What do I need to start composting?

The simplest compost pile you can make is just a pile. All you need is a container to gather kitchen scraps for composting inside, and a fork and rake to keep your pile turned and tidy outside. Heep some leaves or other dry yard waste, and bury your scraps in the pile. Add water with a garden hose or bucket if it seems too dry. (Remember, we're looking for damp sponge consistency.) Shoot for roughly equal amounts of browns and greens, and use your fork to turn it every 1-2 weeks. Aim to get your pile at least 3ft x 3ft x 3ft, so there's enough material for it to heat up in the middle and not dry out right away.

You can cover your compost bin with a tarp to keep it moist in dry areas or keep a bit more dry if it rains too much. Making finished compost takes anywhere between two months to two years. Two months is possible with frequent turning and the right mix of material. Two years is more likely if you simply build your pile and let it sit.

10 Easy Steps to Making Compost at Home

  1. Pick a dry, shady spot outside that's big enough for your compost bin. If you live in colder regions, full sun is fine, but in warmer areas it may cause your pile to dry out too fast. If you can reach your pile with a garden hose, so much the better, since you may need to add water.
  2. Get a good shovel and garden fork for turning.
  3. Build a compost bin using old pallets or scrap lumber, or purchase a ready-made compost bin and place it outside.
  4. Purchase or repurpose an indoor compost container to gather food waste. We keep an old yogurt container in a corner of the kitchen sink, and dump that into a 5 gallon bucket on the porch. We place shredded newspaper, dry leaves, or other browns in the bottom of the big bucket to soak up the liquid from the greens.
  5. Outside – put a layer of browns in the bottom of your bins. Inside – start gathering kitchen scraps for greens.
  6. When your inside bin gets full, carry your scraps out and put them in your compost bin/pile. Bury your greens 10 inches into your browns to avoid odors, or layer your greens and brown, finishing with a brown layer.
  7. Fork or mix the pile periodically. Continue adding to the pile. If possible, add in layers (green/brown).
  8. Add water to keep the pile moist if needed.
  9. When the compost is black and looks mostly like soil, it's ready to be used in your garden!

Building a Pallet Compost bin

For a single bin, use 4 pallets to make the sides, and screw them into pieces of 2×4 or 4×4 to stabilize the corners. If you like, you can attach the pallet designated as the “front” so that it is removable. If you plan on regularly turning the pile, drive a sturdy fence post in at each front corner of your bin, leaving just enough room between the fence post and the bin for your front cover pallet. With this setup, you can slide the front pallet out of the way to turn the pile instead of unscrewing it.

If you have more waste and lots of room, you can create 3 bins with 10 pallets. As mentioned above, this give you the option to keep one bin for browns storage, one active bin, and one aging bin.

Premade Compost Bins or Barrels

You can also purchase bins and tanks for residential backyards where an open compost bin would be a problem. These ensure the materials mix well and hides the mess. Some of the top rated composters on are:

The Cutest Composter in the World Mini Composting Tumbler Bin

50-Gallon Wheeled Compost Tumbler

Dual Body Tumbling Composter by HOTFROG

Yimby Tumbler Composter

Can I Compost Indoors?

Yes, you can compost inside. There are specialized products such as the Food Cycler Platinum Indoor Food Recycleer that help speed composting and control odors, but one of the easiest ways to compost inside is with vermicomposting. Vermicomposting (composting with a worm bin) is well suited to indoor composting because the worms need controlled temperatures to stay active. They chow down on the same types of food that are safe to put in regular compost. See “Vermicomposting – How to Start an Earthworm Bin for Composting” for more information.

What is Safe to Compost?


  • Vegetable and fruit leftovers, scraps and peelings
  • Tea leaves and coffee grounds, including tea bags and coffee filters
  • Crushed egg shells
  • Grass cuttings and weeds (avoid weed seeds unless you know your compost pile will get hot enough to make them sterile (120-170°F, 49-77°C) for at least three days
  • Houseplants
  • Hair and fur
  • Manure* (see below)


  • Paper, including paper towels and newspaper
  • Cardboard
  • Leaves from maples, oak and other trees (not evergreens)
  • Woody prunings
  • Straw, hay, wool, sawdust and pets' bedding
  • Wood ash (not too much as it can mess up the PH of the compost)


  • Greywater – waste water from non-toilet use may be added to a compost pile, provided non-toxic, biodegradable cleaners are used (No bleach!)
  • Urine (also acts as a Green to stimulate your compost)

Don’t Compost

  • Any metals- steel, iron, aluminum, etc
  • Plastics (Even if they are fully biodegradable, we don’t recommend them for compost that will be used in your food garden.)
  • Dust and debris from vacuums
  • Medications of any kind
  • Any chemicals or fuel
  • Pet wastes, such as dog and cat poop, which may contain parasites or pathogens that could transfer to humans
  • Meat, dairy, fats and oil, fish – may smell and attract unwanted pests
  • Coal or charcoal ash – may have residues that are harmful to plants
  • Yard trimmings, hay or other agricultural products contaminated with herbicides or pesticides
  • Black walnut leaves and twigs, which contain a chemical that suppresses plant growth
  • Diseases or insect infested plants

Note that some of these items may be safely composted in small amounts in a hot compost pile (such as meat or pet wastes), but are best avoided by the beginning composter.

Compost with Caution

Compost these organic materials with caution.

  • Evergreen needles – Because of their acidity, evergreen needles can throw off the pH of your compost pile. It's better to leave them as mulch under the trees, or use them as mulch around acid loving plants like blueberries.
  • Animal manure – Animal manures can harbor pathogenic bacteria like e coli, so hot composting with a two bin composting system is best. One bin is active, the other is curing. See “Using manure and compost as nutrient sources for fruit and vegetable crops” and “Composting Chicken Manure” for more information. Use deep bedding methods to begin composting manure in the animal shelter.
  • Human waste – Like animal manures, human wastes can harbor pathogens. The Humanure Handbook is an excellent resource for those who wish to capture and reuse this waste stream.
  • Dead animals and/or animal parts, bones – Hot composting of carcasses is now the recommended disposal methods for animal mortalities, as proper hot composting poses less risk to water supplies than burying. See “Composting Animal Mortalities” for detailed information on this disposal method. Dead animals attract maggots and other scavenging animals, and will smell horrible if not properly composted, so please make sure to follow recommended procedures.
  • Blackwater (toilet waste water) – Like other human waste, blackwater requires hot composting or more extensive natural filtration, as viruses, bacteria and medications go through our systems and could be present in the water.

Composting Questions and Answers

How long does it take to make compost?

A compost pile or bin could be ready to use is as little as 4-6 weeks with regular turning and the right mix of greens and browns. Layered piles that are left without turning may take up to two years or more.

How do I know my compost is done?

The compost is done when the compost material at the bottom (the “humus”) is a dark rich color. (In a tumbling composter or well turned pile, all or most of the material may be humus.) The unfinished top layers can be put back in the pile or added to another bin as the bottom layer. Note the black layers in the bottom of the compost in the picture below.

Finished compost in compost bin

Watch out for steam! If your compost is still steaming and actively heating, the compost can burn your plants. It's best to wait until compost has aged enough to stop steaming before applying it to your garden, even if the color is dark and most of the material is broken down. This is where a two or three bin system is handy. We keep one bin active, and allow the other(s) to age.

The compost smells. Is that normal?

It is normal for compost to have some odor. After all, it is decomposing. The odor of a healthy compost pile should be earthy, like the damp musty odor of a pile of rotting leaves. If your compost pile stinks, you need an intervention. First, make sure you have enough browns to soak up excess moisture and balance out your greens. Lack of browns is the number one reason for stinky compost. Next, do some turning, to make sure your greens and browns are well mixed and you don't have pockets of rotting ooze. Check your moisture levels. Too dry (unlikely if it's stinky, but possible) – add water. Too wet – turn more frequently and add dry browns if needed.

There is some mold in my compost. Is that ok?

Mold is completely normal in compost bin, and is especially helpful in the breakdown of woody materials like wood chips and tough plant stalks. The less you turn your compost, the more likely you are to see large spans of spreading mold. If you are sensitive to mold, wear a mask when turning your compost, or enlist a friend to turn it for you. To reduce the mold bloom, turn your pile more frequently, and make sure the moisture levels don't get too high. Don't forget to aim for a good balance of greens and browns.

Can I keep adding things to the same compost barrel?

Yes. It even has a name. It's called layering. Ideally, we want to build up alternating layers of greens and browns as we build our pile. If you don't turn your pile, the bottom layers will finish first. At that point you can peel back the top layers, remove the finished compost (humus) from the bottom, and then return the rest of the pile to continue composting.

In a compost tumbler, you'll probably want to rake or sift out the less finished pieces when you harvest your compost. The same goes for a pile that is frequently turned. If something isn't broken down, put it back in the pile for another round of composting.

Ideally, it's best to have a system of two or more bins, so you can let one pile age while the other one is active.

There are a lot of ants or other insects in the compost. Is that ok?

A healthy compost pile is teaming with life, including bugs of various types such as sowbugs, pillbugs, millipedes, slugs, earwigs, beetles, centipedes and more. It's like a high rise bug hotel. When you dig in to turn your compost, you should see a wide variety of small critters running for cover.

If your pile gets dominated by one species, such as ants taking over and turning the pile into a giant farm, odds are that something is out of balance. For instance, an abundance of ants means your pile is too dry. Try turning your pile more frequently to disrupt their nesting habits, and keep a closer watch on moisture levels and your balance of greens and browns. If you have chickens, allowing your chickens access to your compost pile will take down the bug population and provide some great high-protein chicken chow.

Assembling a home compost bin

Are you ready to get composting?

I hope this guide helps you to understand the basics of home composting. It's time for more people to start using the resources at hand to build better soil and grow healthier crops. If you have any composting tips you'd like to share or questions you'd like to ask, please leave a comment and let us know.

You may also find useful:

Free Gardening Journal Templates and Other Garden Record Keeping Tips

How to Start a Garden – 10 Steps to Gardening for Beginners

The Ultimate Guide to Natural Pest Control in the Garden

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Homemade Weapons You Can DIY To Awaken Your Inner Caveman

Learn to make your own homemade weapons so you’ll have a fighting chance in a survival situation where all you have is nature.

 [You Get One FREE] Weird Little Knife Drives TSA Crazy!

How to Make Homemade Weapons

Why Should You Learn to Make Homemade Weapons?

Let’s say you got lost in the wild, and you somehow forgot or lost your Cold Steel Leatherneck Tanto 39LSFT (or whichever is the best survival knife for you). What do you do?

While your situation is most likely not quite as bad as Tom Hanks had it in Castaway, let’s face it. The only way you’re gonna get out of this situation in good shape is to let out your inner caveman.

Let me explain. Our very primitive ancestors lived in a time when every day was a survival situation. Any tools or weapons they needed had to be made from scratch.

So, should you be unlucky enough to have only the shirt on your back while you’re lost in the wilderness, you’ll have to follow suit. Let the training of your inner caveman begin.

Today’s lesson: how to make DIY weapons in the wild with only the resources nature provided you.

How to Make a Knife | Homemade Weapons

Having a knife, any kind of knife is probably one of the best things to happen should you suddenly find yourself in a survival situation. You can use it to help you find food, build a shelter, and defend yourself against wild animals.

So it’s highly fortunate nature is waiting like a momma at a craft table with lots of materials you can use to create one.

1. Stone Knives

Bone, shell, bamboo, wood, or even an old aluminum beer can may work to perform the puncturing function of a blade. You know you’ve seen these a million times when you’re out hiking.

They’re easy to crack or break or shape into a fairly sharp point which will do in a pinch. Unfortunately, you’re not going to be able to use a chicken bone or an expertly-shaped aluminum can point to skin, chop, baton, or any of the other necessary functions of a survival knife.

This is where the stone comes into play. I’ll start by saying making a knife out of stone isn’t easy, but it can be done.

You’ll need three things: a core rock, a hammerstone, and a pressure flaker. Remember, you’re going to be smashing these together in true caveman fashion.

So, having stones you can reasonably grip in each hand is going to make your life a lot easier. Although, it’s definitely an option to stand poised over one rock smashing down on it.

You, with a two-hand grip, pounding until you’ve chipped away at it a bit. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

2. The Core Rock

rock formation background | Homemade Weapons You Can DIY To Awaken Your Inner Caveman | homemade weapons | deadliest ancient weapons

The core rock is what you’ll be making into a blade. Find any large stone, preferably made from obsidian, slate, chert, or flint with a relatively flat side.

In case you weren’t a rock collector in any of your previous lives, here’s another way to decide if a rock meets the requirements for good knife-making material. Tap or click a rock together with another rock and listen for a ringing sound (like glass).

The more rock sounds like glass, the better it is as a material for your core rock. If you can, choose a rock which is already a bit sharp to reduce the amount of time you’ll need to shape it.

3. The Hammerstone

The hammerstone is a medium-sized, spherical rock, preferably made of granite. It will be used to smash, chisel, chip and shape the core rock.

You’ll be using it to chip off pieces of the core stone and to narrow the edges to a blade shape.

RELATED: How To Keep Your Edge | Knife Sharpener

4. The Pressure Flaker

The pressure flaker, or flaking tool, is a rock with a sharp point to help you refine the blade’s edges. You’ll use your flaking tool after you’ve thinned the edges of the stone with the hammer stone to make the “blade” sharper.

When you start making your knife, you’ll want to be sure to wet the core stone to shorten the time it takes to shape it into a blade. Begin by striking glancing blows near the edge of the core rock with the hammerstone.

Chip away at the core rock until you get the general shape of a blade. Then, use the flaking tool to refine the edges you need to sharpen.

You can also use a stone with a rough surface such as a sandstone to sharpen the edge. Use some rope, cloth, or leather to lash the base and create a handle.

If you are having troubling shaping the rock into a knife, you can opt to create stone blades instead. Check out the videos below to learn how:

Part One:

Part Two:

How to Make a Spear | Homemade Weapons

south african zulu spear | Homemade Weapons You Can DIY To Awaken Your Inner Caveman | homemade weapons | deadliest ancient weapons

We’ve talked about how to make a spear using your best survival knife in a previous article. The same principle applies here.

Even without your Cold Steel Leatherneck Tanto 39LSFT or whichever survival knife you normally bring with you, you can still make a spear using your newly made stone knife. To make a spear, you’ll need to find a five-foot-long stick tough enough to endure repeated short or long-distance throws.

  1. First, pick the end of the stick which has a more rounded tip and use your stone knife to start shaving to create a spear. Once you’re done, be sure to heat the spear over some hot coals to make your spear sharper.
  2. As an alternative, you can also make a spear by tying your knife onto a stick. Find a stick which is about an inch wide.
  3. Measure about 2 inches from one end of the stick. Mark the point, then split the stick into two until you reach the 2-inch mark, creating a sort of Y shape.
  4. This will create a space where you can stick your stone knife before you lash it on with some twine, cord, or rope. To lock the blade in place, put some moss or lichen in the remaining space.
  5. If you haven’t had time to fashion your knife out of stone yet, you can also use broken pieces of shell or glass or splintered bamboo or bone and secure it to the end of your stick.
  6. If you find a way to split your stick without a knife, you can insert the splintered bone or bamboo into the wedge and tie it off like you would when turning a knife into a spear.

How to Make a Weighted Club | Homemade Weapons

While sharp pointy tools are all well and good, you can never go wrong with a blunt homemade weapon. You can use it for hammering or bludgeoning something such as a weighted club.

The weighted club could be one of the deadliest ancient weapons. To make one, you’ll need the following: a piece of wood around 14-16 inches, a medium-sized rock, and some rope.

  1. Once you have all the materials, you’ll need to wrap some lashing 6-8 inches from the end of the stick.
  2. Split the same end until you reach the lashing in order to create a V-shaped notch. The rock you picked out should be shorter than the length of the split.
  3. Insert the stone then lash it securely (above, below, and across the stone). The lashing on the stick above the stone clamps both sides of the split together providing the first point of security, so it’s especially important to create a good, tight lashing above the stone.
  4. You’ll want to make sure you bind the split ends securely so the stone won’t fall off whenever you use it to hammer or pound on something.

This video from Wannabe Bushcrafter will show you how to make a bamboo knife:

Now, hopefully, you never find yourself in a situation where making homemade weapons is going to be a necessity for survival. But, if you do find yourself in such a quagmire, this little bit of information and inner caveman training may be what saves your life.

Which of these homemade weapons do you want to make? Tell us your progress in the comments section below!

Up Next:

Go to our Survival Life Store to shop some of our favorites self-defense tools and gear!

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***Disclaimer: The contents of this article are for informational purposes only. Please read our full disclaimer.***

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on April 11, 2014, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.

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5 Home Remedies For Chigger Bites

Know these home remedies for chigger bites, or better yet, avoid the bug's bites in the first place with helpful tips included here!

RELATED: Top Ways to Deal with Insects [Especially Mosquitos]

In this article:

  1. What Is a Chigger, Exactly?
  2. Where Do Chiggers Live?
  3. Identifying Chiggers Bites
  4. Home Remedies for Chigger Bites
  5. Tips to Avoid Chigger Bites and Chigger Bites Infection

Home Remedies For Chigger Bites

What Is a Chigger, Exactly?

Chiggers are members of the arachnid family. They are extremely tiny, and my guess is you won’t even see them as they jump from the tall grass onto your skin and/or clothing.

Adult chiggers are about 1/60 of an inch and have eight legs. The larvae are red, wingless, six-legged creatures which measure less than 1/150 of an inch.

Because of their red color, you might be able to spot the larvae when they cluster together, especially on white clothing.

What Is the Arachnid Family? It is a large group or class of invertebrate animals where the spiders and scorpions belong.

Where Do Chiggers Live?

Chiggers reside in tall weeds and grass, berry patches, and wooded areas. They could be in your backyard, by the lake, or your favorite hiking trail.

They are most active in summer and fall afternoons – the warmest part of the day.

Identifying Chiggers Bites

Only the larvae bite humans and they tend to choose warm, moist areas of the body.

Chiggers also have claws which help them grab onto your skin. The chigger then attaches its mouth to the skin and injects saliva.

The saliva contains an enzyme which breaks skin cells down to liquid form. Your body responds by hardening skin cells around the saliva, creating a tube (cyclostome) through which the chigger sucks the dissolved skin cells.

Chiggers can stay attached and feeding for several days before falling off.

When the chigger falls off, you are left with reddish bumps. You may notice a bright red dot in the center—this is a remnant of the tube your skin formed in response to the chigger's saliva.

The bumps may look like welts, blisters, pimples, or hives. Bites generally appear in groups and get larger for several days to a week.

While many insects bite exposed skin which is easy to get to, chiggers like to bite in folds of skin as well as places where clothing fits tightly on the skin. Most chigger bites occur around the ankles, waist, armpits, crotch, or behind the knees.

Home Remedies for Chigger Bites

Just remember, no matter what, DO NOT SCRATCH THE BITES! I know, easier said than done. But, breaking the skin on a chigger bite can lead to infection.

Here are 5 home remedies to help with the itching and swelling.

RELATED: Spider Bite? Here’s How To Treat It

1. Vicks Vapor Rub

Vicks Vapor Rub can put an end to itchy chigger bites immediately and will even reduce the risk of blisters. It’s the cooling menthol in it which relieves itching by affecting itch receptors in the skin.


  • Take a hot shower (use antibacterial soap.) Pat dry your skin with a soft towel.
  • Take a small amount of the vapor rub and add some table salt to it.
  • Mix well and apply to the affected area.
  • Repeat if the swelling continues (otherwise, there is no need to repeat the process)

2. Cold Compress

A cold compress can help reduce the itching associated with chigger bites. Its numbing effect helps reduce the sensation of itchiness.


  • Wrap some ice cubes in a thin cloth.
  • Apply the compress to the bites for 10 minutes. Repeat if needed to relieve itching.

3. Baking Soda

Baking soda is another effective remedy to reduce rashes as well as itchiness. It acts as a natural acid neutralizer which helps relieve itching and reduces the risk of infection.


  • Add 1 cup of baking soda to a bathtub filled with cool water.
  • Stir well and soak in this water for 15 minutes and pat your skin with a soft towel. (Do this once daily)

Another remedy using baking soda:

  • Prepare a thin paste of 2 teaspoons of baking soda and a little water.
  • Apply the paste on the affected areas and leave it on for about 10 minutes.
  • Rinse it off with cool water.

Note: Do not use this remedy more than once or twice a day. Never use baking soda on broken skin or open wounds.

4. Oatmeal

Oatmeal contains anti-irritating, anti-inflammatory and soothing properties providing instant relief from itching–one of the common symptoms of chigger bites. It is recommended to use colloidal oatmeal, meaning oats which are ground into an extremely fine powder.

(You can accomplish this yourself by grinding regular oats in a sealed Ziploc bag, using the backside of a spoon to crush the oatmeal.)


  • Add 1 cup of colloidal oatmeal to a bathtub filled with warm water
  • Stir thoroughly
  • Soak in this mixture for at least 15-20 minutes
  • Repeat 2-3 times a day

5. Olive Oil

Olive oil can also be used to get relief from the irritation and inflammation. It is rich in vitamin E and antioxidants which reduce itching and facilitate healing.


  • After rinsing the affected area with water, apply olive oil to the chigger bite.
  • Reapply several times a day.

Another option using olive oil:

  • Mix a few drops of tea tree oil in 1 tablespoon of olive oil and apply on the affected area.
  • Repeat a few times a day.

Tips to Avoid Chigger Bites and Chigger Bites Infection

As summer and fall are prime time for chigger bites, it is best to take the following precautions:

  1. When hiking, stay in the center of the trail and avoid brushing up against vegetation.
  2. Wear long sleeves and long pants when going into the woods.
  3. Apply mosquito repellent on your hands, feet, and exposed skin on your arms before going outside.
  4. Shower immediately after being outdoors and use antibacterial soap.
  5. Wash your clothes in hot water.
  6. Resist the urge to scratch because breaking the skin on chigger bites can lead to a possible infection.

This video from Online Pest Control will show you tips to avoid chiggers and ways to get rid of chiggers:

Chigger bites much like other insect bites aren't only discomforting, they can be dangerous too. Many of these insects including chiggers carry diseases in some cases.

The best way to deal with these bugs is to avoid them or control them with our tips here. But, if you're so unlucky, you also now know the best home remedies to chigger bites!

Have you had to deal with chigger bites before? Tell us how, including more useful tips which worked for you in the comments section below!

Up Next:

Go to our Survival Life Store to shop some of our favorites self-defense tools and gear!

Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and Tumblr!

***Disclaimer: The contents of this article are for informational purposes only. Please read our full disclaimer.***

Home Remedies For Chigger Bites |

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on June 28, 2016, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.

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9 Good Reasons To Carry A “Survival Stick”

Arm yourself with a survival stick, get savvy with it, but first, find out why as you read on!

RELATED: Deadly Parasols | Umbrella As A Self-Defense Weapon

In this article:

  1. Survival Hiking Stick
  2. Survival Stick for Support
  3. Fetching/Reaching Things
  4. Walking Staff Weapon for Self-Defense
  5. Balance
  6. Gauging Depth
  7. Carrying Gear and Supplies
  8. Club
  9. Fishing Rod

Survival Stick: An Underrated Multipurpose Tool?

The Survival Stick in History

A walking stick or a survival cane were popular in the 17th and 18th centuries as a decorative show of power and a defensive replacement for a sword. Yet, the truth is our ancestors have been using them for thousands of years, and for good reason…

…They work! Even the animal kingdom is smart enough to know just how useful these are:

(It may be hard to see, but this gorilla is holding a walking stick to gauge the depth of the water as she sloshes along)

A walking stick is not a new or revolutionary idea. In fact, the use of a walking stick predates history and its use continued on for generations including this present time.

Yet, it is one which is more often than not overlooked. When most people think of a walking stick, it is usually paired with a top hat or seen as a crutch for someone with a walking disability.

Far too few people even realize how important a walking stick can be, especially to someone in the outdoors. We will dig a little deeper into the many uses of a survival stick and maybe safely say, it could be the first multi-purpose survival tool.

Practical and Survival Uses for a Survival Stick

Walking sticks are also known as trekking poles, pilgrim's staffs, hiking poles and hiking staff have quite a few different uses:

1. Survival Hiking Stick

Hold the survival stick in front of you and you can use it to clear your way by parting brushes and branches or leaves and thick tall grasses. You can also use it to clear spiderwebs, especially if you're not too fond of spiders.

Other insects, animals, poisonous plants, and even animal dung can get in the way. Use a survival stick to inspect or poke at those things if you are unsure, and never ever your hands or your feet.

2. Survival Stick for Support

Hiker in Caucasus mountains is crossing mountain river | Good Reasons To Carry A "Survival Stick" | hiking staff
Making your way through an uneven terrain will be more manageable with a walking stick for support. Whether you're going up or down, use the walking stick to either slow you down or hold you up.

You can use your walking stick like breaks to keep you from speeding down or use it to latch on to a rock or crevice when you're climbing up. Besides for yourself, you can also use your multipurpose stick as a support for your tarp emergency shelter.

3. Fetching/Reaching Things

It happens–a supply or gear falling on water, mud, puddle or in an area you dare not walk into. You can fetch or reach for those items with a stick.

It also happens where you need an item over a physical barrier and only a stick can fetch the item for you. You can also reach for fruits, nest, or other food sources up a tree or high structure with a stick.

RELATED: Unusual Weapons From Around The World And How To Use Them

4. Walking Staff Weapon for Self-Defense

To use a survival stick as a weapon, make sure it's a sturdy stick with a finished look and not just any stick you found along the way. You can use it to defend yourself from an attacker whether it's human or animals.

I would suggest to train yourself in some form of martial arts using a stick like a baton as a weapon to have a better handle at it.

You can also fashion a spear with your stick by tying a survival knife on one end. Don't throw this spear though or you risk damaging or losing your knife and stick.

Hold on to your homemade spear and only use it to thrust at your target.

5. Balance

Hiker is crossing the river in Sweden | Hiker in Caucasus mountain | Good Reasons To Carry A "Survival Stick" | survival hiking stickWhen you're crossing a log bridge over a stream or you're going through the stream itself or other bodies of water, a walking stick can help you balance so you don't fall over. If you're walking through a muddy or rocky waterbed, a walking stick will help you up.

If you're up for it and if the body of water isn't too wide across, you can also use a long stick like a pole vault to cross over so you don't get yourself wet.

6. Gauging Depth

Relative to crossing bodies of water, a survival stick is handy in identifying dips beneath the waters which could cause you to stumble. You can also use the stick to identify where it's safe to take the next step.

You can also use this simple trick with the stick when you're traveling in deep snow, marshland, and even the dessert.

7. Carrying Gear and Supplies

Use your survival stick to help you carry gear and supplies. Pack your supplies with a shemagh, tie it tight to one end of your stick then place the stick over your shoulders in hobo fashion.

You can also carry more supplies with your survival stick. Even today, a carrying pole is used by indigenous people all over the world to carry heavy supplies you never thought possible.

Hang bags of supplies or jars of water on either side of the pole or stick, putting a stopper like a notch or tie on both ends so they don't fall off. Place the center of the stick over your shoulders and balance your load to your destination.

8. Club

Man carrying blue backpack | Good Reasons To Carry A "Survival Stick" | walking staff weapon
Use your survival stick like a club to knock obstacle down. A pillar of rocks or other objects may be on your way and a sturdy stick can help you safely knock those.

If you are in a building with glass doors or windows or inside a car, you can break the glass with a stick. Make to knock over pieces around your entrance or exit with the stick, too.

9. Fishing Rod

You only need to bring a fishing kit and your survival stick will make a good fishing rod. Tie a line on one end of your walking stick and fish away.

A DIY fishing pole is actually effective and many a fish has been caught this way.

As you guys and gals already know, I am a stickler for carrying things only if they have multiple uses. This guy managed to fit almost an entire survival kit into a walking stick he built from scratch, for under $20.00.

Check out this video from SOS 2054 I found, and find out for yourself, too:

A humble walking stick will indeed surprise you with what it can do for your defense, convenience, safety, and survival. Since you know now the practical and survival uses of this primitive multi-purpose tool, it won't surprise me if it lands a top spot on your list of survival tools for camping, hiking, or SHTF.

What other uses can you think of for carrying a “survival stick”? Let us know in the comments section below!

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**Disclaimer: The contents of this article are for informational purposes only. Please read our full disclaimer.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on October 11, 2013, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.

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