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Home Food Drying – 6 Things You Need to Know to Dehydrate Food at Home

Learn home food drying basics with this quick guide to food dehydrators, plus tips for food drying and safe storage. Includes printable fruit drying guide.
Are you considering home food drying? Want an easy way to store and preserve food? Need a food storage method that doesn't take up much space and requires very little equipment? Want to make healthier snacks for your family to enjoy at home or on the go? Looking for portable food for camping or backpacking? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you should learn about home food drying.

What Equipment Do I Need for Home Food Drying?

For home food drying, you will need:

  • Dehydrator or Drying Rack
  • Sharp knife and cutting board
  • Large, heavy duty pot
  • Blender or food processor (for “leathers”)
  • Salad spinner (optional)

Specialty items such as cherry pitters and apples corers speed up processing, if you dehydrate a lot of those fruits.

Learn home food drying basics with this quick guide to food dehydrators, plus tips for food drying and safe storage. Includes printable fruit drying guide.

This is my original Snackmaster food dehydrator. The new units have an improved design with the fan and heater at the top of the unit.

Food Dehydrator or Drying Rack

Commercial dehydrators give more consistent results and are easier to work with, giving you a better quality end product. Quick and uniform drying preserves color, flavor and texture. Most commercial units also allow you to set your temperature, which is very helpful for optimal drying of different foods. For instance, herbs dry best at lower temperatures so that you don't drive off volatile oils, while meats are typically dried at higher temps.

If you purchase a commercial dehydrator, I highly recommend including the accessory sheets for fruits leather and fine mesh sheets in your purchase. They are so much easier to work with than improvised homemade options. I have a Nesco Snackmaster Dehydrator that I use for small jobs , and a nine tray Excalibur that's my real workhorse for large volume dehydrating.

Some popular food dehydrators include:

Oven DryingNot recommended for households with small children. An oven can be used if you can set the temperature low enough (down to 140°F), but it will use more energy than a commercial dehydrator or other home constructed options. (Use an oven thermometer to check the temp.) To dehydrate food in an oven, set temp to warm and prop door open 2-6 inches. Place a fan near the oven door to improve air circulation. Use cooling racks on cookie sheets and space racks 2-3 inches apart.

Air Drying – As long as your humidity isn't too high, you may be able to air dry. (Think herb bundles hung from rafters.) Some folks rig up trays with covers (see an example of a non electric dehydrator) and hang them near a heat sources such as a wood stove.

Solar Drying – The Sun Oven can be used as a food dehydrator as well as an oven. You can also build your own solar food dryer. (See additional links below.)

Sharp Knife and Cutting Board

A sharp knife and cutting board is helpful for cutting fruits and vegetables into thinner pieces that will dry more quickly and evenly. A mandolin or food processor for cutting can speed up slicing, but isn't absolutely necessary.

Large, Heavy Duty Pot

A good sized, heavy duty pot is helpful for cooking down sauces and blanching fruits and veggies. A pot with a thick bottom allows you to simmer sauces slowly without burning. Blanching (pretreating food by dipping them in boiling water) is recommended for many vegetables and some fruits.

Blender or Food Processor

For purees and “leathers”, you'll need a blender or food processor. You can use just about any type of fruit to make fruit leather, but it should be pureed until smooth. (See How to Make Homemade Fruit Leather for more information.)

Salad Spinner

I like using my salad spinner to clean and dry herbs before loading them into the dehydrator.

Learn home food drying basics with this quick guide to food dehydrators, plus tips for food drying and safe storage. Includes printable fruit drying guide.

What Types of Food Can You Dehydrate?

Just about anything can be dried, from vegetables and fruit to meat and fish. Home dried herbs are a fraction of the cost of store bought herbs. Natural fruit leathers are also quite expensive in the store, and are one of the simplest things to make in your dehydrator. You can use your dehydrator to make snacks for people and pets. You can also use it to dehydrate excess kefir grains or sourdough starter.

Home food drying works to preserve food by reducing the water content in food, making that food inhospitable to mold and bacteria. High fat foods don't tend to dry well and are more prone to spoilage. Always use extra care when dehydrating any meat products. It's best to store dried meats in the fridge or freezer.

How do I Prepare Food for Dehydrating?

Generally, you want to slice or chop uniform pieces of food between 1/8 and 1/2 inch thick. Food that is too thick or irregularly shaped leads to non-uniform drying, which may cause spoilage.

Pretreating Foods for Home Food Drying

Blanching in water or steam helps slow down enzyme action and softens skins. This makes it easier for moisture to be driven out, and makes the product tastier when rehydrated. Many vegetables (but not all) are best blanched before dehydrating.

See Vegetable Dehydrating 101 for a printable list of vegetable blanching and drying times. Click here or on the image below to download a pdf of dried food prep and drying times guide.

Fruit Drying Guide from Common Sense Homesteading

Checking Fruit Skins – Skins naturally protect fruit to keep it from drying out, so they need to be “checked” (broken in some way) to speed drying. You can blanch, poke holes, cook in syrup, slice or freeze and thaw to break the skin. Most of the time I slice and dip.

Some foods are pre-treated before drying to help to preserve color and flavor.

Fruit Dip – Fruits can be dipped in saltwater, and acidic liquid or something sweet to reduce oxidation. This keeps them from turning brown. My favorite method is to use a couple of tablespoons of lemon juice in a bowl of water. Inexpensive, easy and doesn't dramatically change the flavor of the fruit. Many people also enjoy dipping sliced fruit in other acidic fruit juices, such as apple or banana slices in pineapple or orange juice.

Marinades are commonly used for meats such as jerky to enhance flavor and improve shelf life. (Check our our favorite jerky recipe here.)

Preserve peaches to enjoy year round through canning, dehydrating, freezing, freeze drying or jam. Simple step-by-step instructions make it easy!

How Long Does it Take to Dry Food?

Home food drying time depends on the food and the drying conditions. Dehydration takes anywhere from a few hours to days, depending on what you are drying and how you are drying it.

  • Thinner items dry faster than thick items.
  • Higher sugar content increases drying time.
  • Fat increases drying time (and risk of spoilage).
  • High humidity increases drying time.
  • Units with fans dry faster than units without fans.
  • Air drying can go pretty slowly, but still works well in some situations.

Most of the time I load my dehydrator in the evening and let it dry overnight. A friend in South Carolina with a simple on/off dehydrator (no temp control) found that she couldn't dry thicker items before they grew mold due to the high humidity.

How Can I Tell if Home Dehydrated Food is Dry Enough?

Most foods will have a moisture content of around 20% when dried. Different foods will have different textures when dried, from brittle to leather-like to gummy. As you work with dehydrating, you'll get a feeling for appropriate dryness. The texture of home dried foods may be different than commercially dried foods. Remember, you're making your products without strange additives or deep frying or other commercial processes. Allow food to cool before packaging to prevent sweating in storage.

Conditioning Your Dehydrated Food

A good rule of thumb to test dryness is to lightly pack the product into a tightly sealed jar, and check for condensation on the lid. If you have condensation, you need to dry it more – it won't keep – or put it in the freezer or refrigerator. There is also a product called the HYGROLID hygrometer, which is placed on top of a mason jar like a lid to read the relative humidity inside the jar. (I invested in one last season. It's pretty cool. ? )

To condition your dried food (and evenly distribute any remaining moisture), shake the jar daily for about a week. Watch for moisture. If any moisture shows up, dehydrate the food more. At the end of the week, repack food as desired for long term food storage or short term munching.

How do I Store Dehydrated Food and How Long Will it Keep?

I prefer to store dehydrated food in standard or wide mouthed mason jars. If I have a lot of a product (enough to fill multiple jars), I use the vacuum sealer attachment for my Foodsaver to seal the jars and extend shelf life even further. I keep fruit, veggies and herbs in jars out of direct light (in the pantry), and/or cover them with sock cozies. You can also use plastic bags or plastic jars, glass jars from other commercial products or Mylar bags. Store dehydrated meat products in refrigerator or freezer.

Storage life depends on conditions. Dried food found on archaeological digs was still technically “edible”, but definitely not a yummy. Dehydrated produce and herbs should last around a year (from one season to the next) if properly stored. Dried meats are best used within 3-6 months. I've kept items longer, but flavor, color and nutrients diminish over time.

Below is an assortment of links from my blog and other other online resources to help you with home food drying.

Home Food Drying Recipes

25+ Asparagus Recipes Plus 4 Ways to Store Asparagus

5 Ways to Preserve Peaches, Plus the Easiest Way to Peel Peaches

Preserving Strawberries 12 Ways – Plus Tips to Keep Berries Fresh Longer

Making Applesauce, Apple leather and Dried Apple Slices

Homemade Fruit Leather – Works with a Variety of Fruits

Pumpkin Leather

Ground Beef Jerky

Crispy Nuts and Maple Candied Walnuts

Easy Dehydrator Granola Cookies

Drying Herbs

Online Resources for Home Food Dehydrating

National Center for Home Food Preservation – How Do I Dry Foods?

Dehydrate2Store.com – Instructional videos, delicious recipes using dehydrated foods, pantry stocking with home food drying and more.

NESCO/American Harvest How To Dehydrate Guides

Learn home food drying basics with this quick guide to food dehydrators, plus tips for food drying and safe storage. Includes printable fruit drying guide.

Home Food Dehydrators You Can Make Yourself

DIY Electric Dehydrators

Living Foods Dehydrators – Wooden dehydrators made in the USA, or buy the kit and make your own.

Box fan dehydrator – Alton Brown's box fan dehydrator made with a box fan, cellulose furnace filters and a bungie cord or two.

DIY Solar Dehydrators

Build It Solar – Solar Cooking and Food Drying – 10 different solar food dehydrator designs

Solar Fruit Dryer – PDF plans for a large solar fruit dryer

A note on sun dried fruits: Because they are dried outdoors, there's a greater risk that sun dried fruits might have insect infestations. There are two ways to kill off insects and their eggs – freeze them or heat them. To cold kill, place the dried food in a freeze safe container and put it in the freezer at 0°F or below for at least 48 hours. To heat kill, place food in a single layer on a shallow pan. Heat at 160°F for 30 minutes.

Is Home Food Drying Right for You?

Home food drying is one of the simplest methods of home food preservation. You can purchase a basic dehydrator for under $100 and you're ready to rock and roll. Prep time and difficulty is minimal. The biggest concern is making sure that your food is dry enough that it won't spoil. You also want to follow basic food safety guidelines to avoid potential contamination, since the food is not sterilized during drying.

For longer storage (up to 25 years or more), home freeze drying is a better choice. See “Dehydrator Versus Freeze Dryer – What's the Difference” for a comparison of dehydrating and freeze drying.

Do you dry food at home? What technique/equipment do you use?

Related posts you may find useful:

Learn home food drying basics with this quick guide to food dehydrators, plus tips for food drying and safe storage. Includes printable fruit drying guide.

Originally published in 2012, updated in 2014 and 2017.

The post Home Food Drying – 6 Things You Need to Know to Dehydrate Food at Home appeared first on Common Sense Homesteading.

This Article Was Originally Posted at commonsensehome.com Read The Original Article Here

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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.

This Article Was First Found at survivallife.com Read The Original Article Here

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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

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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.

Steps:

  • 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

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

Steps:

  • 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

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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.

Steps:

  • 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

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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.)

Steps:

  • 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

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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.

Steps:

  • 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 | https://survivallife.com/5-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.

This Article Was First Found at survivallife.com Read The Original Article Here

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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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