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Home Freeze Drying – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Home freeze drying - All the information (including the messy bits) you need to decide if a home freeze fryer is right for your food preservation needs.

I’ve been curious about home freeze drying ever since a did an interview with Dr. Prepper back in 2015. The doc raved about his home freeze dryer. He loved the quality of the food, how much money it saved him, and what a great addition it was to his preps.

Fast forward to earlier this year. Harvest Right home freeze dryers contacted me to do a review of their product. I could purchase it at a discount, as long as I did a review. My other option was to get it for free, if I committed to a series of endorsements. (I know other bloggers who have chosen the second option.) Being the stubborn individual that I am, I didn’t want to commit to selling you something that was such a big investment without thoroughly testing it myself.

Those of you who follow me on Instagram know that I’ve freeze dried plenty of fruits and veggies, but I also tried some more interesting items like sausage patties an fajita filling. There are many foods I still want to try, but I feel that I’m now comfortable enough with the machine that I can give you an experienced review. We’ll do a quick overview of how home freeze drying works, followed up with specifics on the Harvest Right freeze dryer.

What is Home Freeze Drying AKA Lyophilization?

Here’s the official definition of freeze drying from the FDA:

Lyophilization or freeze drying is a process in which water is removed from a product after it is frozen and placed under a vacuum, allowing the ice to change directly from solid to vapor without passing through a liquid phase. The process consists of three separate, unique, and interdependent processes; freezing, primary drying (sublimation), and secondary drying (desorption).

So, how do we do that at home? First, you get a heavy duty freezer (the Harvest Right unit drops to at least -30°F (-34°C)). Second, you pair this up with a completely airtight chamber that can hold a vacuum (no oxygen) every single time you use it. Third, you tie in a high end vacuum pump strong enough to suck the stripes off a zebra. Fourth, you add a heater and thermostat, so you can cycle the temps up and down, repeating the sublimation process for hours on end. Fifth, tie in a humidity sensor to make sure the water is out, triggering the cycle completion.

There’s a reason the big commercial freeze drying units are priced from $5000 to over $100,000 – the freeze drying process is significantly more complicated than other home food preservation options.

Harvest Right Home Freeze Dryer Basic Information

Here’s some basic information everyone should know before purchasing one of the Harvest Right freeze dryer units. Although they come in different colors, sizing is the same on all units. They do have a larger unit under development due to customer requests. No joke, some folks are in love with their freeze dryers and keep them running day and night, day in, day out. It may be an obsession, but at least it’s a useful one!

Freeze dryer dimensions: 30” Tall, 20” Wide, and 25” deep

Freeze dryer weight: Just over 100 pounds. Moving this unit is a two person job, unless you put it on a rolling cart, which many owners do.

Warranty length: 1 year Limited Warranty

How much does it cost? Around three thousand dollars. A little under for colors, a little over for stainless steel finish.

Power requirements: Standard 110 volt, but it’s best to have it on it’s own circuit if possible. If you try to pair it with another heavy load appliance, you’re likely to trip a breaker.

How much food can you freeze dry at one time? The unit can hold 6-10 pounds of food at one time, which dries to about 4 quarts volume (1 quart per tray), or 1.5 to 2 #10 cans.

Why can’t I stuff more food in, and stack those trays fuller? During the freeze drying process, ice builds up on the walls of the freeze drying chamber. Above 10 pounds of food, and the ice build up will get too thick for the unit to work properly.

What foods can you freeze dry? Fruits, vegetables, meats, dairy products, meals, desserts, and more. Freeze drying is safe for preserving cooked pasta and grains, unlike canning.

What foods can’t you freeze dry? Anything that’s mostly fat or mostly sugar. Fat won’t dry – but it can heat up and melt in the unit and coat every surface. (Yuck. More on this in a bit.) Sugar binds to water, trapping it in the food. This is great for inhibiting bacteria growth, but it means you can’t freeze dry jams and jellies that are mostly sugar. Fruit on its own and most desserts are just fine.

Can you mix foods in the freeze dryer? Yes, but watch placement. The website claims that flavors don’t mix, but we have found that they do. We ended up with freeze dried kiwis with a hint of green beans. Advice from the freeze drying groups suggests placing stronger flavored items on the upper shelves, milder items on the lower shelves.

How do I store the freeze dried food? (THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT!) Once the freeze dry cycle is complete, package the food in containers that moisture and oxygen proof, such as mylar, mason jars or cans. Adding an oxygen absorber is also recommended to ensure freshness.

How’s the customer service? Obviously, I was contacted directly by Harvest Right, so you would think I’ve had a good experience with them – and you would be correct. Paging through posts in the online groups that I’m in, my experience is not unique. Harvest Right seems to be one of those rare businesses that still strives to do right by their customers – answering questions, shipping replacement parts, offering no interest layaway and even accepting returns without a hassle.

Home freeze drying - All the information (including the messy bits) you need to decide if a home freeze fryer is right for your food preservation needs.

Things I Love About the Harvest Right Freeze Dryer – The Good

Hands down, my favorite thing about the Harvest Right freeze dryer is the quality of the food. The commercial freeze dried food I’ve tried has been okay, but our home freeze dried products are amazing. I mailed some to a friend recently as part of a gift exchange, and she wrote back, “Okay, Laurie, spill the beans on how you freeze dried the fruits. My kids are absolutely in love with them!”

The texture of freeze dried food is light and crisp – more like chips than jerky – even freeze dried meat. We freeze dried fajita meat strips, and they tasted like crunchy little meat flavored Cheetos. When we prepped some for dinner, all we did was add a little water to the pan with the food, cover and heat through. Dinner was ready in under 5 minutes. (If you happen to have a Sun Oven, they work very well for rehydrating freeze dried meals.)

The fruit is so good – absolutely, intensely fruity, light and crisp. You can also powder your freeze dried fruits and veggies and use them as natural food colors (and flavors).

Filling the unit is easy. For meals or other prepared food items, simply cook your food, let it cool, load it on the trays, load the unit and press Start. For fruits and veggies, I prep them as I would for freezing or dehydrating. Blanching is recommended for vegetables, especially for cabbage family crops like broccoli. Without blanching, they are likely to outgas during storage, potentially bursting the storage seal. If you want to freeze dry soup or liquids (like milk), you can do that, too. It helps if you make your soup a little less watery than normal to cut drying time, but you can freeze dry “as is”.

The shelf life of properly stored freeze dried foods is amazing. Low fat content foods like fruits, vegetables, lean meat, rice, noodles, ect. have a shelf life of 20+ years when packaged properly. Higher fat foods have a 10-15 year shelf life. When fat reacts with oxygen it can cause the food to spoil – hence the importance of proper packaging.

Why bother with food storage that lasts so long? Because life happens. One year I might have an amazing crop of a particular item, then crop failures for several years. If there’s a job loss or an emergency, with my freeze dried food I know we’ll have a stash of food we actually like to eat. I have another friend whose daughter has EoE (an allegic swallowing disorder) that found out freeze dried foods didn’t trigger her gag reflex. She was finally able to eat more of a variety of foods.

One member of an online forum said he was having his aging grandmother cook her favorite meals and then freeze drying them to share with the family after she was gone. What an amazing gift to be able to taste a loved one’s cooking one more time. Another couple was freeze drying some of their wedding cake and the bride’s bouquet. Still another took meal pouches to work and just added hot water to have a real meal while her co-workers were gnawing on granola bars as they worked through lunch. Get creative!

Things I Don’t Like About the Harvest Right Freeze Dryer – The Bad and The Ugly

Before you panic, I’d like to say up front that none of these things would be a deal breaker for me if I was thinking of buying a unit. As I mentioned earlier, the freeze dryer does a complicated job, so there’s a little more to it than just flipping a switch.

First up – it’s a big investment. If you know you’re only going to use it a couple times per year (or not at all), spend the money on an ATV, paying down debt or something else you know that you will use. If you want more food security and food preservation options, read on.

Second, the unit eats up a fair amount of real estate. This is not a toaster oven or blender. You need space. The freezing unit is about the size of a dorm fridge, plus it has a hose and vacuum pump. Many owners buy a rolling table from a hardware store to hold the unit. I currently have mine on a counter in the garage.

Third, it makes noise. During the first part of the cycle, the refrigeration unit is running. During the second part of the cycle, the vacuum pump is running. The noise isn’t super loud – think vacuum cleaner, not jackhammer – but it is noticeable. I’d highly recommend planning to have it in an area where the door can be closed.

Fourth, it requires maintenance. Think lawn mower, not kitchen mixer. If you regularly abuse your power tools and don’t do basic maintenance, don’t get a freeze dryer. I know many of my readers fix and maintain not only their own things, but other’s people’s equipment, too, so I’m not too concerned about this. At minimum, you should drain off some oil after each use to remove the water that gets in it from using the unit. Then top off with fresh oil. (This is covered in the instruction manual.) The pump also needs to be power flushed periodically, which my boys do for me.

Like many owners, we drain all the oil after each use, filter it, and refill the unit with clean oil. This ensures we get all the water and food particles out. I keep enough oil on hand that we can freeze the oil before filtering. After freezing, we pour the oil off the top of the container into the filter. The water (as ice) sits in the bottom of the container.

This is where we have run into “the ugly”. Getting the oil level in the pump exactly right has required a fair amount of trial and error. There’s a site glass on the front of the pump, but it’s not entirely accurate. It can read that it’s properly filled when the pump is off, but once the pump kicks on, the oil level increases (due to turbulence and/or trapped oil in the pump). This leads to a fine mist of oil spraying all over the place from the pump vent. The oil spraying also happens if the pump can’t pull a vacuum for some other reason. It’s a hot mess – literally. The pump overheats, and you have to push the button to reset, then it waits an hour before it cools down enough to try again.

We’ve never had a batch fail, but we have had several oil sprays and resets. I was advised by support at Harvest Right to put a sock over the vent to contain the spray. This helps, but it’s still messy. I’m sure other people would probably develop a system to refill just right faster than we did, but I can also tell that it’s not an uncommon problem from watching the forums.

Again, hanging out in the forums, folks share all sorts of different maintenance options. Some we use (like the oil filtering), others we haven’t tried. I anticipate many years of experimentation ahead.

Home freeze drying - All the information (including the messy bits) you need to decide if a home freeze fryer is right for your food preservation needs.

Is Home Freeze Drying Right for You?

Do you:

  • Want more options for long term, healthy food storage that your family will enjoy eating?
  • Have someone with allergies who needs safe food options?
  • Need ready made meals to go?
  • Try to store abundant produce for when harvests aren’t so good?
  • Get excited about trying new food options and preserving special memories?

If any of these sounds like a fit, take a closer look at freeze drying. I’m happy to answer any questions you may have. If I can’t answer them, I’ll find someone who can. If there’s enough interest, I may be able to get a special discount for Common Sense Homesteading readers. Leave a comment and let me know your thoughts!

I’ll continue posting what we’re drying on Instagram, and sharing addition posts to address questions show off the yumminess. If you choose to purchase a Harvest Right freeze dryer through my site, I receive an affiliate payment at no extra cost to you. (Thank you.)

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You can watch the video below to see how I freeze dry strawberries. (These are the berries that had my friend’s kids raving about them.)

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The post Home Freeze Drying – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly appeared first on Common Sense Homesteading.

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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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