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Vermicomposting – How to Start an Earthworm Bin for Composting

Vermicomposting (Worm Composting) - Which earthworm species work best for composting and how to keep them healthy and making great garden fertilizer.
Vermiculture composting (vermicomposting, worm composting) is the act of creating rich, organic humus for your garden or lawn by allowing earthworms to help in the decomposition process. Earthworms eat food scraps and poop fertilizer (worm castings). The resulting castings enrich soil by improving texture, increasing nitrogen, trace minerals, and natural growth hormones from the worms themselves.

In this article I will discuss how to get the most out of small scale, indoor vermicomposting without expensive or complicated equipment. You probably already have most of the tools you'll need to get started.

Suggested Materials and Tools for Vermicomposting

Earthworm Species for Vermicomposting

  • Red Wiggler – Eisenia fetida
  • African Night Crawler – Eudrilus eugeniae

The most popular species for composting are Eisenia fetida, or simply the “red worm” or “red wiggler” although their coloring is considered brown with buff bands. They are often mistaken for and even found with Eisenia andrei whose coloring is more red, but is of about the same size. Both worms perform best at 77°F and will tolerate temperatures from 32-95°F, with moisture levels at about 80-85%. Red worms are the most commonly used species for vermiculture.

Click here to buy red worms online.

Eudrilus eugeniae (African Night crawler) is my personal favorite for indoor vermicomposting. It is the fastest compost turner and reproducer of all three species. For optimum performance it needs to stay between 60-86°F, moisture 80%. It can tolerate temperatures down to 40°F or so.

No matter which worm you choose, you'll want one pound of worms for each square foot of compost/bedding. A 3.5 gallon bucket is about 1 square foot.

What You Need for an Earthworm Compost Bin

“Flow through” bins are popular and there are a multitude of commercial bins and do-it-yourself instructions available. Personally I prefer simpler bins, for a couple of reasons.

Flow through bins create conditions where it is easier for anaerobic bacteria to get a foot-hold and proliferate. If anaerobic bacteria take over the bin it will stink and your worms will be sickly if not dead. At this point your bin will have to be cleaned thoroughly, and it can be a real pain, depending on the size and extravagance of the bin.

The secret to happy and healthy worms is simple:

  • Fresh bedding
  • Aeration
  • Correct amount of food
  • Frequent casting harvests
  • Thorough, frequent bin cleaning

Although worms do not seem to mind living in close proximity with one another, eventually when kept in the same dirty bin for too long, their castings and other waste materials start to add up. That's not healthy–no one wants to live in their own waste material. That's why I advocate frequent casting harvests and bin cleanings.

The Earthworm Bins I Use

I recommend 3.5 (pictured below), 5 or 6 gallon plastic buckets or at largest, 10 gallon rubber totes. Several small bins are preferable to one large bin because of maneuverability. A 3.5 gallon bucket filled with compost and one pound of worms will weigh between 15 and 20 pounds.

Vermicomposting (Worm Composting) - Which earthworm species work best for composting and how to keep them healthy and making great garden fertilizer.

Note the rows of holes below the bin's rim. Ventilation is very important to your worms so only fill the bin to the bottom row of ventilation holes. I like to use lids on my bins to prevent escapees, making the ventilation holes even more important.

Bedding for Your Earthworm Bins

If you can get it, my favorite worm bedding is “fine screened leaf compost”. It can be found at your local wood and leaf recycling center. Towards spring they usually run out, so in the autumn, I take our truck down and get couple yards, then shovel it onto a tarp outside and cover with more tarps. It's important to cover your leaf compost if you live in a climate with a lot of precipitation, or it will get too wet and rot.

If you make your own leaf/lawn compost, it should work great as long as the compost is past the thermophilic stage when you use it for your worms. (You don't want your worms to get too hot.)

To make leaf compost go further, mix it about 1:2 or even 1:1 with coconut coir. Coconut coir is sometimes processed in salt water so look for garden grade coir. Coir is a great carbon source, absorbs and retains moisture really well, and helps fluff your compost, making the bins lighter and easier to handle.

Other Worm Bin Bedding Options

  • Shredded news/office paper (black ink only, no glossy paper) – very commonly recommended
  • Cardboard
  • Napkins
  • Paper towels
  • Fast food cups
  • Paper plates
  • Coffee/coffee filters
  • Used loose tea/teabags

Make sure these are all chopped or shredded really well as some of them take longer to decompose than leaf litter.

What I Don't Use For Worm Bin Bedding

  • Manure
    • has to be aged properly to be safe for your worms–fresh manure is too “hot” and will kill the worms
    • might contain de-worming medications which will kill your worms
    • has an odor, even after aging, and I don't want that in my basement
    • often contains E-coli and other bacteria which disqualify the worm castings for organic certification
    • creates worm castings that may retain odor of the manure
  • Peat Moss is

Vermicomposting (Worm Composting) - Which earthworm species work best for composting and how to keep them healthy and making great garden fertilizer.

Four Things Your Composting Earthworms Need to be Healthy

Healthy composting earthworms need the right balance of four main parameters: Moisture, Temperature, Food and pH.


Hydrate both your leaf compost and coconut coir to a moisture level of about 80-85%. To check moisture levels in your earthworm bin, use:

  • The squeeze test – Squeeze a handful of the compost as hard as you can, it should just begin to want to drip, but not quite.
  • A soil moisture meter, widely available online or at nurseries.


  • Bring the compost you intend to use for bedding inside the night before to warm up if temperatures are cool.
  • Use a thermometer to monitor temperature in the bins until you get a feel for what external temperature is ideal for your particular set up. For our set up, the room temperature is kept at about 65ᵒ in the winter and 72ᵒ in the summer.

Feeding Your Composting Worms

Worms have no teeth, so they need food mushy and in small bites. Chop the food very small, or even puree it in a blender. Freezing and thawing also helps to soften the food.

For a Single Worm Bin with Red Worms and Bedding

Red wiggler worms eat roughly 1/4 to 1/2 their weight in food scraps each day. For a single bin, bury food scraps or slurry just below the surface of the worm bedding once or twice a week. So for 1 pound of worms, you would need roughly 1.25 to 3.5 pounds of food scraps per week.

For Setting Up Several Worms Bins at Once with Leaf Compost

To mix worm chow in volume, for each 3 to 4 gallons of compost add about 1-1.5 cups of chopped or blended vegetable/fruit matter, and a couple tablespoons of ground grains. Mix compost and food together really well in your 18 gallon rubber tub. Using a drill and paint mixer for this will speed up the mixing process. Divide this leaf compost/worm chow slurry mix between your worm bins.

Recommended Foods for Worm Composting

  • Fruit waste; peels, cores leftovers
  • Vegetable waste; peels, cores, leftovers
  • Limited grains are not only okay, but good for them for the protein content

Foods Not Recommended for Worm Composting

  • Meat
  • Dairy
  • Too many grains
  • Pet feces
  • Fresh manure
  • Dead bodies
  • Zombies

The late Mary Appelhof wrote in her book Worms Eat My Garbage about burying small amounts of leftover meat on the bone with no ill effects.


The pH in your worm bin needs to be between 5.6 and 7.0, the closer to 7.0 the better.

To raise the pH:

  • Add 1 tablespoon of agricultural lime per 3-4 gallons of food/compost
  • Mix well (If you can still see the lime after mixing, add some water)
  • Let sit for 15 minutes
  • Take the pH again
  • Continue adding lime at that rate until the desired pH is reached

In the unlikely event that you need to lower your pH use:

  • Peat moss
  • Coffee grounds
  • Whole wheat flour
  • Cornmeal

If those don't work, mince or puree citrus fruit and add about a tablespoon per 5 gallons compost, incorporate really well into the compost, and add a bit of water. Check the pH and continue adjusting accordingly.

Vermicomposting – Filling Your Worm Beds

For a Single Worm Bin with Red Wigglers

  • Shred newspaper or other bedding material.
  • Wet down bedding until it passes the squeeze test (see above).
  • Fill worm bed at least half full with damp bedding.
  • Add a handful of dirt or compost for grit for the worm's gizzards.
  • Add your red wigglers.
  • Cover and place in a well lighted room for two days. The light encourages the worms to stay in the bin and explore safely.
  • Feed the worms by pulling back some bedding and adding some food scraps. Cover the scraps with bedding.
  • Feed again in a few days, when the first food scraps are almost gone.
  • Feed once or twice a week, being careful not to overfeed.
  • Harvest worm castings in about six months.

For Several Worm Bins with Leaf Compost and Worm Chow Mix

  • Fill bins with compost/worm chow slurry mix to ventilation holes – do not to tamp it down.
  • Add 1 pound of worms for each 3.5 gallons compost.
  • Put the water proof thermometer in one of the bins.
  • Put the lids on the bins.
  • Set fan on low and aim it for best circulation.
  • After 24 hours, check the worms.

You will always have a few escapees, but if most or all of them are trying to escape, you know you have a problem. Double check:

  • pH
  • Inside bucket temperature
  • Moisture levels

Adjust parameters accordingly. Note: If inside bucket temp is too high, often your pH is too low.

Vermicomposting (Worm Composting) - Which earthworm species work best for composting and how to keep them healthy and making great garden fertilizer.

Harvesting the Earthworm Compost

If using newspaper or other bedding and regular addition of scraps, your compost will be ready in about six months. With the leaf compost/worm chow slurry combination, in 1.5-2 weeks, the worms will be out of food and your bin should be about 1/4 – 1/3 full of castings. (The leaf compost that is left can also go straight into the garden.)

There are a couple of ways to go about harvesting, depending on how pure you want your castings.

Collecting Worm Castings – Method 1:

  • Dump entire contents of bin onto a well lit surface.
  • While waiting for the worms to move to the bottom of the pile, hose down and scrub bins with a cleaning brush, taking special care to clean the vent holes.
  • Separate castings/compost from worms by hand–add product to your finished compost stash or your garden.
  • Re-bed your worms into their clean bins.

Collecting Worm Castings – Method 2:

Use 1/8″ screen (hardware cloth) to harvest a purer product. I really like the instructions for the harvester referenced above, but if you find something you like better, by all means try it and let us know how it goes. Remember to clean bins before re-bedding worms.

If you need a small amount of worm compost before the whole worm bin is ready to harvest, you can gently push the bedding aside and reach down into the bottom of the container to scoop up a handful or two. (Worm compost makes great food for houseplants and is a gentle plant food for seedlings, too.)

Whichever method you choose, after a few harvests, you will need to weigh your worms. More than likely you will have gained some worms, but if there are less than what you put in to begin with, you'll need to do some trouble shooting.

Vermicomposting (Worm Composting) - Which earthworm species work best for composting and how to keep them healthy and making great garden fertilizer.

How to Start a Worm Bin – Your Guide to Getting Started with Worm Composting

For more detailed information on worm composting, including a comparison of commercial worm bins, worm bin troubleshooting, other critters that may show up in your worm and more, check out “How to Start a Worm Bin – Your Guide to Getting Started with Worm Composting” by Henry Owen. Henry is the Executive Director of the Nature Discovery Center in Bellaire, Texas and loves connecting kids with nature.

Some of the things I like best about “How to Start a Worm Bin“:

  • Easy to follow Q&A format
  • Basic worm anatomy and reproduction information (great for kids as well as adults)
  • Tips for Sizing your Worm Farm
  • Ideas for Upcycling a Variety of Containers into Worm Bins
  • Troubleshooting Reference Chart and Worm Composting Q&A
  • Instructions for making worm compost tea and using worm compost in seed starter mix

The book is free with Kindle Unlimited, and the print version is under $10. It's a great little guide for the beginning worm wrangler.

This is a guest post by Corinna Fritz. Corinna and her husband Dustin share a passion for family, homeschooling, homesteading/self-reliance, nature and small businesses. Corinna's understanding, love and respect for livestock, gardening, worms, and natural flora and fauna began when she was a young girl living on a ranch in Wyoming. These days the Fritz family are small business owners and novice homesteaders on 6 acres of land in the temperate rain forest of Washington state. You can read more about their adventures at:

More Common Sense Gardening Posts

Originally post in 2013, updated in 2017.

The post Vermicomposting – How to Start an Earthworm Bin for Composting 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:

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

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

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5 Home Remedies For Chigger Bites

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

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

In this article:

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

Home Remedies For Chigger Bites

What Is a Chigger, Exactly?

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

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

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

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

Where Do Chiggers Live?

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

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

Identifying Chiggers Bites

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Home Remedies for Chigger Bites

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

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

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

1. Vicks Vapor Rub

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


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

2. Cold Compress

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


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

3. Baking Soda

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


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

Another remedy using baking soda:

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

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

4. Oatmeal

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

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


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

5. Olive Oil

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


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

Another option using olive oil:

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

Tips to Avoid Chigger Bites and Chigger Bites Infection

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

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

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

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

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

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

Up Next:

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

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

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

Home Remedies For Chigger Bites |

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

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9 Good Reasons To Carry A “Survival Stick”

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

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

In this article:

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

Survival Stick: An Underrated Multipurpose Tool?

The Survival Stick in History

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

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

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

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

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

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

Practical and Survival Uses for a Survival Stick

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

1. Survival Hiking Stick

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

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

2. Survival Stick for Support

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

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

3. Fetching/Reaching Things

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

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

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

4. Walking Staff Weapon for Self-Defense

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

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

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

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

5. Balance

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

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

6. Gauging Depth

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

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

7. Carrying Gear and Supplies

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

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

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

8. Club

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

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

9. Fishing Rod

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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