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ICF Construction – What You Need to Know About an ICF Home

ICF Construction (Insulated Concrete Form) - building with ICF, ICF energy efficiency, ICF cost, living in an ICF home and ICF durability. #ICF #greenhome
Back when we were researching our “forever home”, we chose ICF construction for a number of reasons. It's tough, energy efficient and should last a lifetime with minimal upkeep. In this post, I'll discuss:

  • what ICF construction is
  • how it differs from conventional construction
  • why we chose Insulated Concrete Forms
  • how much energy is saved (for heating and cooling) by using ICF construction
  • how an ICF home performs during emergencies
  • ICF costs
  • whether it's suitable for the do-it-yourselfer
  • what it's like living in the house
  • recommendations for potential ICF problem areas

Let's get started!

What is ICF (Insulated Concrete Forms)?

ICF (Insulated Concrete Forms) are premade forms that fit together like legos or large interlocking blocks. The outside of the form is flat sheets of foam insulation. These sheets are connected with plastic framework. During construction, the ICF blocks are fitted together, laced with rebar, and filled with concrete. The forms are insulated on the inside and the outside, providing high level of wall insulation uncommon in standard home construction. Because the ICF blocks fit together virtually seamlessly, there is very little air infiltration, increasing the effective insulation value.

Placing ICF blocks in home construction

The forms we used to build our house consisted of two layers of insulating foam approximately 2 inches thick, inside and out. The rigid insulation sandwiches a 6 inch thick layer of concrete. The Insulated Concrete Blocks measure roughly 16 inches tall by four feet long by 12 inches wide. They have an inner and outer plastic framework in the forms that stabilizes the form and provides strips that can be drilled into to mount drywall, cabinets, wood trim, and siding on the outside.

ICF can be used for basements, underground homes or entire multi-story homes. They can start at the foundation and go all the way to the roofline, as in our construction. Some builders use only insulated concrete foundation forms and combine them with other building methods above ground.

ICF foundation wall

ICF Energy Efficiency

One of the primary reasons we chose Insulated Concrete Form construction was for its energy efficiency. Because the walls are uniformly insulated with a solid sheet of foam inside and out, there are no channels for air to seep through. You will not find hot and cold spots on an ICF wall. In stick built construction, your effective r-value is greatly diminished by air infiltration and heat transfer along wooden studs and around outlets and other wall penetrations where the fiberglass insulation does not fill the area completely (spray foam insulation is better, but you still have heat transfer along the studs).

infrared photo comparison ICF home @ Common Sense Home

Infrared Photo of an ICF Home – note the only hot spot (red orange) is where the light is mounted on the front of the home

infrared photo of stick built (conventional) home @Common Sense Home

Infrared photo of stick built (conventional) home – note the bright orange indicating heat loss all over the front of the home

Thermal images courtesy of Reward Wall Systems.

The amount of concrete used in the structure gives the home high thermal mass. This means that is holds temperature very well. Heat it up, and it stays warm – you don’t lose heat to the surroundings. Fill the house with cool night air in the summer and close it up during the day, and it stays cool. Windows at the east and west ends of the home allow us to take advantage of winds off Lake Michigan to flush warm air out of the home. states, “Homes built with ICF walls require about 44% less energy to heat and 32% less energy to cool than a comparable wood-frame house, based on a study of 58 single-family homes located throughout the U.S. and Canada.”

Our Experience with Heating and Cooling

When I ran the numbers on our home, our energy use rates (heating, AC and electricity) placed us in the top 5% of homes in the US is terms of efficiency for square footage. These are my own rough estimates based on utility bills and wood use. My best estimate is that in an average year we get 10% of our heat from passive solar, 40% from wood and 50% from propane via our in floor radiant heating system.

We were able to provide all our hot water and heat over 3000 sq.ft. of living space with a 46 gallon Combi-Cor water heater. (Combi-Cor heater is a water heater with built in heat exchanger for space heating.) In 2013 our Combi-Cor died. We replaced the Combi-Cor water heater with a boiler system because it has a longer estimated lifespan.

Windows are placed to maximize cross ventilation when weather permits. The house is exceptionally airtight, so we also installed a Fantech HRV (Heat Recovery Ventilator). An HRV brings outdoor air inside and preheats it with stale indoor air before it enters the home – fresh air in, stale air out. The HRV could also be fitted with specialized filters to address toxic air problems outside the home. During extremely humid weather, we do have some minor condensation/mildew in the basement if I don’t keep the air moving. In floor radiant heating eliminates this in cooler weather.

ICF construction - Insulated concrete form home under construction

ICF Durability

Another reason we chose ICF construction is the durability. When we were building, I read a story about a Florida couple who had built an ICF home for hurricane protection. One night while they were sleeping, they heard a thud outside their bedroom. When they went outside to have a look, they found a truck had run into their home. The truck was a complete loss; the home only had a few hundred dollars of minor damage. With six to eight inches of concrete, most standard ammunition will be stopped. Insulated concrete forms also offer protection from many other concerns, such as:

Storms, Tornadoes and Hurricanes

A quick google search of “ICF hurricane proof” or “ICF tornado resistant” will yield dozens of images of ICF homes left intact in area where the surrounding homes have been leveled. Note: Around 1 am on August 7, 2013, a tornado touched down within 5 miles of our home. Inside our ICF home, the storm sounded very much the same as a typical thunderstorm, although I did note that the thunder had an odd tone to it – that low “freight train” rumble you hear people talk about. The warning sirens never went off, and we stayed in bed. I had no idea there was a tornado nearby until the next day. There was no damage to the house at all, but it's a disconcerting feeling to know that the funnel hit so close without us realizing it. I think the weather radio needs to live in the master bedroom.


While the contents of the home are still flammable, concrete itself is not. You have no chance of an electrical fire being concealed inside a concrete wall.


Concrete can stop all kinds of radiation, including alpha, beta and gamma rays. There’s a reason that nuclear containment vessels are built out of concrete.

Pest Protection

ICF construction is also much more pest resistant – nothing eats or can chew its way in through concrete. (Termites can use the foam for nest material, so in termite prone areas, pre-treated forms should be used.)

Seismic activity

With additional reinforcement appropriate to the level of seismic activity in your area, ICF construction is highly resistant to earthquakes and other shifts.

ICF Home under construction with roof on

ICF Cost

At the time that we built, our builder estimated that ICF homes cost about 6% more than stick built. Part of this is the cost of the materials themselves, part of the cost is additional labor involved in working with some aspects of ICF. This is likely to vary over time as material costs fluctuate. Some ICF manufacturers offer discounts on forms to those who are rebuilding homes destroyed by storms in officially declared Federal disaster areas.

As for finding a builder who was familiar with ICF, that was a little tough. At the time that we built, it was a newer technology. Now that its benefits become better known, it’s becoming more widely used, especially in areas that are prone to tornadoes or hurricanes (more on that in a bit). There was no difficulty in obtaining financing or special permitting required, as the use of ICFs is an approved building method.

ICF Construction

As mentioned at the start of the post, the concrete forms are assembled, Lego-style, laced with rebar, and then filled with concrete. Because the concrete and rebar provide the strength of the wall – not the form – temporary framing is used during the pour. Our home uses these forms from the foundation to the roofline. Other options are basement/foundation only, or for building/retrofitting a safe room within the shell of a home.

ICF foundation/basement

Looking down into the basement from above. Note the stacks of ICF forms and extensive bracing against the walls.

A wall is framed out with the ICF forms, V-buck openings, and bracing, and then poured in “lifts”. Rebar is set inside the forms and tied. Windows and doors are framed using “bucks” (box outs that create a frame for a window to fit inside.

ICF foundation/basement wall in progress

Here we see the south facing wall of the basement with windows framed and braced.

A “lift” is about three forms high. They fill a wall about three forms high with concrete, let it set, and then fill another three forms in height, and so on. If you attempted to pour the full height of the wall in one pour a blowout would be likely. Because of the need to use lifts, the concrete pumper truck must visit multiple times (once per lift). The multiple concrete pump truck visits are a big part of the cost, along with the rebar labor. (It's a lot tougher to lace rebar through walls than to just lay it in a flat slab.)

Door opening in ICF home

Door and window openings in an ICF home under construction. Note blobs of spray foam insulation in bottom of window frames.

Layers are added until a “floor” height is reached and a header/hanger is added to support inside trusses. In the case of the roofline, hurricane ties are added for the roof trusses.

Plumbing and Electrical in ICF Construction

Plumbing and electrical must be done a little differently than with a stick built home. It's much easier to plan any wall perforations in advance than to cut them after the fact. Electrical wiring on exterior walls is done by cutting into the insulation, laying the wire, and then sealing the cut with spray foam insulation and trimming flush. Plumbing on the exterior walls can be done in the same way, but is generally avoided. Inside, the framing, trusses, etc, are the same as in a conventional home, although we did use open trusses to facilitate the installation of ductwork and radiant heating coils under the floor.

ICF Home under construction

Here you can see the crew working in the kitchen, adding framing in the attic area. If you look closely, you can see the channels cut to the electrical boxes.

Finishing an ICF Home

Drywall is screwed into plastic strips in the ICF forms, allowing the home to be plastered and finished like a conventional home. There are no ugly, bare concrete walls. The only indication you have from inside that the house is not standard construction are the deep window wells and doorways.

ICF Home kitchen nearing completion

Here's another view of the kitchen, later in construction with the cabinet frames, flooring and lighting in place.

The look and functionality of the home is similar to a standard home, only better. (I may be biased. ;-)) The interior and exterior can be finished in the same way as a conventional home – siding, brick, drywall, paint, carpets, etc. In our case, we chose to use all hard surface flooring on the main floor and acid stained concrete in the basement to maximize the heat transfer from the in floor radiant heating and improve indoor air quality. Our home is certified Wisconsin Green Built and Energy Star compliant.

We utilized no and low-VOC materials and finishes within the home; sustainably harvested hickory and wheat board for our cabinets and shelving; green flooring such as tile, cork and linoleum – I could go on, but you get the idea. About the only thing that is a little tricky is hanging things on the exterior walls, because there are no studs and the stripping is hard to find under the paint and drywall. I use removable adhesive tabs instead.

Do it Yourself ICF Construction

I would not recommend do it yourself ICF construction for the average handy person. It can be done, but you need special equipment and you don't want to screw up. Walls and openings must be well braced to maintain structural integrity. You only get one chance to pour it right and it can’t be adjusted after the fact. Dedicated ICF builders have specialized braces for this purpose, and know how to work with the forms to avoid problems. Also, the cement mix must have just the right consistency. Too loose, and you risk blowing out a wall. Too thick, and you’ll end up with air pockets in the wall because the cement has trouble filling the forms completely.

If you are on an extremely tight budget, and ICF safe room is probably a better choice. A safe room is a small, windowless room built inside the shell of the home or garage or nearby, that is used primarily for emergency shelter.

Basement of ICF home

View inside the basement with windows, framing, plumbing and electrical in place.

Our Experience Living in an ICF Home

The home is very quiet. The noise reduction from the ICF is noticeable to anyone who visits. We've been in the house over 12 years now, and it's holding up extremely well. Several people who came to last year's open house noted that the home didn't look 12 years old.

Our heating and cooling bills are still low, and I would definitely recommend ICF construction.

boys playing in sand pile

Our assistant construction crew, playing on the job site while the house was being built.

ICF Recommendations

Our first home was a stick built, our second is ICF. After going through the building process with both, there are a few issues unique to ICF. (These may also apply to other specialized building options.)

Plan for Ventilation

You need plenty of ventilation because the home will be so tight. Don’t count on natural convection (normal heat/cold airflow) to move air around the house. You will need point source ventilation and an HRV or ERV with ICF construction.

Use an ICF Builder

Make sure you get a builder who has worked with ICF before. It is not the same as a stick built home. Windows and doors must be exact – you can't cut a wall and add a stud like you can with stick built.

Get Durable Windows & Sills

Windows and sills must tolerate wider temperature swings and condensation if you use insulating window covers. Make all window sills tile or other water resistant material. Since our home uses passive solar design, large windows are needed. These must be covered at night to avoid excess heat loss. Covered windows + tight home = condensation.

I’ve taken to applying a layer of insulating window plastic on the inside of the north windows at the beginning of the heating season. (In retrospect, we should have probably upgraded to the triple pane windows with argon fill on the north side of the house, instead of a good quality double pane.) Our window frames are vinyl to reduce heat loss from the home and prevent rot.

Stacks of window frames for an ICF home

Here are two stacks of the v-buck window frames used with the ICF forms. Note the thickness of the frames to match the thickness of the ICF walls.

More on Green Building

Learn more about green home building and sustainable living on the Green Home page. My husband and I are also working on a book detailing our building experience and offering guidance for building a “lifetime home”. If you'd like to receive information on when the book is available or have any questions/concerns you'd like addressed, leave a comment below.

You may also find useful:

Originally published in 2012, updated in 2018.

The post ICF Construction – What You Need to Know About an ICF Home appeared first on Common Sense Home.

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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.

This Article Was First Found at 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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