Note from JWR:

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Today we present the last entry for Round 37 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. (We had a few too many entries to post in this round. The extras will be posted and judged in the next round.) The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner’s choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and B.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $300 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), D.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo, and E.)A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value).

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) A “grab bag” of preparedness gear and books from Jim’s Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, C.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and D.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, C.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and D.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 37 ends on November 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

How to Make Lye Soap, by Masquita

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WARNING: Lye is highly caustic and will degrade organic tissue. Do not allow lye to touch your skin, breathe in the fumes or be taken internally in any way. It will cause chemical burns, permanent scarring or blindness. Do not ever combine lye with aluminum, magnesium, zinc, tin, chromium, brass or bronze. When using or making lye, always wear protective equipment including safety glasses and chemical resistant gloves, and have adequate ventilation.
Basic homemade lye soap is useful for so much more than cleaning up the language of wayward children. Grandma used to rub it on dirty stains before washing. It is very soothing to sensitive skin, since the glycerin contained in homemade soap helps to clear acne, eczema and psoriasis. It eliminates the “human scent” on hunters. When rubbed on a poison oak, ivy or sumac reaction it will cool the itching when allowed to dry. Grandma used to tie a bar in an old sock and hang it on the porch as a bug repellent, and spread the scrapings around the base of the house to repel ants, termites, snakes, spiders and roaches. It was often used as a lubricant on machinery, drawers, and hinges.
Soap was discovered in Ancient Babylon as early as 2800 BC. It is thought to have been made for the first time when grease from the cooking pot boiled over and combined with the ashes from the camp fire. Our forefathers picked up the resulting soap and found that it was a good tool to keep themselves clean. Modern soap was made in regular practice as early as 300 AD in Germany .
The Saponification process
In its simplest form, soap is made from oil or fat, water and lye. Now, we buy concentrated lye and dissolve it in water before combining it with oil, but before modern lye could be bought at the store, people would take the hardwood ashes from their cookstove, store it in an old carved out tree or wooden barrel, and then pour rainwater through it to make the lye. They would test the strength of the lye by floating an egg in it. Then they would pour the lye into the warmed fat and stir it. When the fat and lye are combined, a chemical reaction takes place. There is no lye or fat left—they are combined to make something called soap.
Store bought lye is known as Sodium Hydroxide since it has more salt than does homemade lye, which is called Potassium Hydroxide. Sodium Hydroxide makes a much harder soap than Potassium Hydroxide. To make a harder soap out of homemade lye, add ½ tsp. of table salt for each pound of fat.
Tallow (beef fat), lard (pork fat) or vegetable oils can be used as the base for soap. These fats are called triglycerides. When the triglyceride is treated with lye, it rapidly forms the ester bond and releases glycerol (glycerin), the natural byproduct of saponification. Most homemade soap contains glycerin, which is why it’s so good for the skin; many commercial operations remove it for other applications.
Making the Lye
Lye making requires hardwood ash. Hardwoods include any fruit or nut trees and any of the following:  Alder, Apple, Ash, Aspen , Beech, Birch, Cherry, Cottonwood, Dogwood, Elm, Gum, Hickory , Locust, Maple, Oak, Olive, Pear, Poplar, Rosewood, Walnut, or Willow . Softwoods are to be avoided for this function: Cedar, Spruce, Pine, Fir, Hemlock, or Cypress .
In a wooden barrel or hollow tree, drill some holes in the very bottom, then set it up on a stand to allow room below for a pot to catch the lye water. Some people make a barrel with a removable plug which they remove after letting the water sit in the ash.  Under the stand, set a wooden or glass pot to catch the drip.
In the barrel, put first a layer of gravel, then a layer of straw or dried grass. Fill up the barrel with hardwood ash. When you are ready to make the lye, pour rainwater or other soft water through the ash. The minerals in hard water will interfere with the chemical reaction between the lye and the fat. The water may take up to a few days to drain through. The spent ashes can be composted or added to the garden.
In a specified purpose soap-making pot such as cast iron, boil the lye until a fresh, in-shell egg will float on top, with about half of the egg still above the surface of the lye. If it’s too high, add more water, if it won’t float, it needs to cook down a lot more or else be poured through a new batch of ashes. The egg will need to be destroyed after use. Another test of the lye strength is to dip a bird feather in it, and if it dissolves, the lye is strong enough. Don’t test it with your finger; if it’s strong enough, it will eat off the skin.
Rendering The Fat
After the animal (beef or pork) is butchered, take the fat and skin that you set aside and fill a heavy bottomed pot. Pork is the preferred fat for soapmaking. It’s best to render it outside so as to not stink up the house. We have used a homemade propane burner on legs, with a funnel to channel the air to make the flame hotter. Something similar could be made to use with wood heat. Simmer the fat in the pot, then ladle the liquid fat out of the cooking pot. We killed a 400 lb. hog and got about 10 gallons of rendered fat.
Making Soap—The Cold Process
If using commercially produced lye, it’s possible to use a cold process, where you warm the fat and dissolve the lye in water, then add the lye water to the fat and put in a blender and mix it, then pour into a mold. The emulsification starts when it “traces” with a spoon dragged over the rippled mixture.  It has to set for 6 weeks in the mold to be properly mixed.
1 lb. Commercial Lye soap recipe
¼ c. commercially produced lye
¾ c. soft water
2 c. (1 lb.) fat
6 lb. Commercial Lye soap recipe
13 oz commercially produced lye
1 ½ pt. soft water
12 c. (6 lb.) fat
Instructions: Suit up in safety goggles, gloves and long sleeves. Start with room temperature or cooler water. [Correction by JWR.] Add the lye to the water. This will warm the water substantially. Stir well, making sure you don’t breathe in the fumes. Set the mixture aside to cool, preferably outside or in a well ventilated area.
Melt all the oils together in a lye-tolerant pan. Allow them to cool to approximately 110°F or within 5° of the lye water.
Add the lye water to the melted oils, never the oil to the lye water. Stir vigorously until “trace” occurs. This can be done in a blender if you so desire. If you are stirring by hand, it may take an hour or more for it to trace.
Pour the traced soap mixture into your molds. Cover. Cut after 3-7 days. Allow to sit for a full 6 weeks to cure and finish the saponification process.
Making Soap—The Cooked Process
It isn’t recommended to use homemade lye with the cold process. The cooked-down lye water is added to the fat and then mixed as it cooks. The reactive time is shorter, since the mixing is done in the pot instead of setting in the mold. It still needs to set for four weeks or so to harden.
1 lb. Homemade Lye soap recipe
¾ c. lye water
½ tsp. salt
2 c. fat
6 lb. Homemade Lye soap recipe
4 ½ c. lye water
1 Tbsp. salt
12 c. (6 lb.) fat
The amount of lye will vary, depending on its strength. This is a starting measurement. The old timers would mix it up and see how well it set. If it was still watery, they’d add more lye and cook it some more. If it set up too hard, they’d add more water, because they didn’t want the soap to crack.
Mix the lye water, salt and fat in the pot. They need to be about the same temperature. The mixture is then heated and stirred until the emulsification (trace) happens. The heating and stirring enables adjustment of the amount of fat or lye, but nothing should be added until it is well heated. Pour into the mold. Cover. Cut after 3-7 days. Allow to harden 4-6 weeks.
Essential oils can be added to the fats before the lye is added. You can choose your own combination. The amount of essential oils needs to be part of the total amount of fat, so the soap isn’t made soft from too much oil. Botanicals, herbs, oatmeal, citrus peels, or any other desired additives can be added after the soap traces, and then it can be poured into the mold.
No metal should be used as a soap mold. It’s best to use a flexible material such as plastic, for ease of removal. I mostly search thrift stores for old plastic storage boxes. The old-timers made wooden molds with removable bottoms. Or you can line a glass mold with plastic wrap before pouring in the soap.  
Once you’ve used homemade lye soap, you’ll never go back to the store bought stuff. It sounds like a lot of work, but it’s so much better than anything found on a store shelf.

The SPLC’s Demonization of SurvivalBlog and “Montana Extremists”

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I’ve heard from several readers about the absolute hatchet job that was recently inflicted upon me. The statist Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) issued a wholesale smear against me, Pastor Chuck Baldwin, and Stewart Rhodes of Oath Keepers. This was well-documented here: Brandon Smith: SPLC Labels Montana Patriots as “Extremist”.

The SPLC is is famous for interspersing legitimate conservative public figures amidst lists of assorted racists, neo-Nazis, xenophobes, anti-Semites, criminals, and Grade A Whackamos. This is the classic “Guilt By Association” smear technique. In my case, it could better be called “Guilt By Non-Association”, since I have no connection with them, whatsoever. The SPLC even tried to label me as some sort of anti-government malcontent, simply because I use a Common Law presentation of my given name and my family’s surname. (With a comma betwixt, to distinguish between the two forms of appellation.)

Just read my Precepts page, any of my published books, or even my Wikipedia biography page. You will soon see that I am an anti-racist and pro-Israel. (And see for example, my American Redoubt page, where I posted: ” I can also forthrightly state that I have more in common with Orthodox Jews and Messianic Jews than I do with atheist Libertarians. I’m a white guy, but I have much more in common with black Baptists or Chinese Lutherans than I do with white Buddhists or white New Age crystal channelers.”

The bottom line: Please take purported “intelligence” reports published by the SPLC (and parroted by their fellow travelers) for what they are: none-too-subtle gray propaganda.

Seven Letters Re: Type 1 Diabetes–There Has to Be a Way to Prepare

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Dear Editor:
Regarding primitive means of extracting insulin, I direct your readers to this article (PDF and images available here.)
Note that the term ‘spirit’ in the paper means pure ethyl alcohol, and modern ethyl rubbing alcohol is not suitable as it contains denaturing poisons.
It’s known that the mixtures must be kept at ice water temperatures or the insulin will be degraded. This is not intended for a kitchen chemist, some knowledge of chemistry and lab technique is preferred.
Referencing this article is not intended to give medical advice. – A.N. Onymieux


Hey Jim,
I read the call for an insulin producing procedure so I spent some time searching and came across a useful thread over at The Survivalist Boards. I am sure they are looking for more detail but thought I would send it just in case it could help them.

Thanks  – Tim


Mr Rawles,
I do not want to make it sound like I know anything about type 1 Diabetes. I know my mother has it or she has Type 2 and uses insulin for that. She used to control it with a pills but now has to inject. I never gave it much thought until my step-father recently passed away.

I also try not to buy into conspiracy theory’s. I do believe in many ways that money changes the out come of many decisions and this could be one of them. Let’s face it, insulin is big money.

A prepper fiend told me that he was type I and that he had a very good supply of insulin. He was working on saving up to buy a solar refrigerator and with that he might be able to live for two years after a complete lose of supply. I did not like the sound of it. Putting a time on it just did not site right with me so I did some research.

What I found was a patent applied for in 1970 titled: FREEZE STABILIZED INSULIN, United States Patent 3683635.

Basically, the the concept is to flash freeze insulin in liquid nitrogen. By doing this the liquid freeze within seconds and the water does not get to separate and form crystals.

My fiend found this very interesting and decide to try it for himself. He now rotates some of his supply through this process and he is still alive after over a full year. The reason I say some is that according to the information the shelf life expiration date is delayed. If the expiration is 1 year and you use this process at the 6 month mark, then you still have 6 months left when you thaw it. If this part is true then you really do not need to rotate or even use what you freeze. You just have to be able to keep it frozen. A really good solar freezer might be in order.

Your first question after reading this is going to be about obtaining liquid nitrogen. Most compressed gas suppliers sell it for medical use. You first have to buy a special thermos from them for about $25. Just tell them you are a chef and need it for some crazy dish your are making or to make something you saw on food network.

Good luck, and I pray no one will ever need to use the foregoing. – John M.


Mr Rawles,
I did a bit of searching and found a formula. It is pretty complicated but there are some practical bits of advice that are more realistic.

The plan was posted by a doctor and his wife who is a nurse and are both preppers and host a radio show on the subject. – Tricia

Dear JWR:
Israel Pharma Company has developed  ORAMED – Oral insulin.  this may be the long term solution, making it through studies, looking hopeful.

Thanks for what you do!  God Bless You. – Elizabeth B.


James Wesley:
The Doom and Bloom Blog has covered how to make insulin and penicillin, but you will need some chemistry knowledge and the equipment listed.To keep stored insulin cool in summer a roman evaporative cooler would work best as it only uses water and can be made out of 2 [unglazed] vases or [unglazed terra cotta] planter pots (with duct tape), a sheet and sand. Even though these where used by the ancient romans most videos showing how to make it are for charities in Africa [falsely] claiming that a Muslim invented it–long after Cleopatra was drinking iced drinks made by using these overnight in a dry area. How well they function depends on humidity. A warning about these coolers is that they can hit freezing temps which would be bad for insulin. It shouldn’t be a problem in the summertime especially if you use 2 wide mouth planters, but Egyptians and Romans could make small amounts of ice overnight. Duct tape would be effective to use with the holes on the bottom of planter pots:
Roman pottery cooler.

Making Penicillin at home

Making Insulin.

I have a diabetic friend who I printed out instructions for but past the 6 months that insulin can be stored,he would probably have to take the recipe to the nearest teaching hospital, along with a live pig or bull. – Steve M.


Dear Mr. Rawles:
In regard to the letter from the father of a diabetic, on needing a recipe for Insulin.   Below is the recipe.
Not sound to gloomy, but I feel that in a survival situation, the requirements for making insulin are essentially impossible for anything less than a well equipped lab with one or more well
trained technicians.    The chemical requirements are daunting, the equipment extensive, the infrastructure (electricity, de-ionized water, etc. )  make it unlikely that a single person
could make insulin of sufficient purity and quantity to keep a Type 1 diabetic alive.  
In Jerry Pournelle and Larry Niven’s novel, Lucifer’s Hammer,  one of the characters is a  Type 1 diabetic. He dies a few weeks / months after the meteorite impact, of Diabetic Coma.   I have to confess, I have thought about this before, and it appears that it is the inescapable conclusion. 
Preparation of Insulin:
Best and Scott who are responsible for the preparation of Insulin in the Insulin Division of the Connaught Laboratories have tested all the available methods and have appropriated certain details from many of these, several new procedures have been found advantageous have been introduced by them. The yield of Insulin obtained by Best and Scott at the Connaught Laboratories, by a preliminary extraction with dilute sulphuric acid followed by alcohol is 1,800 to 2,220 units per kg. of pancreas. [Here is a quote from Best and Scott:]

The [fairly modern] method of preparation is as follows. The beef or pork pancreas is finely minced in a larger grinder and the minced material is then treated with 5 c.c. of concentrated sulphuric acid, appropriately diluted, per pound of glands. The mixture is stirred for a period of three or four hours and 95% alcohol is added until the concentration of alcohol is 60% to 70%. Two extractions of the glands are made. The solid material is then partially removed by centrifuging the mixture and the solution is further clarified by filtering through paper. The filtrate is practically neutralized with NaOH. The clear filtrate is concentrated in vacuo to about 1/15 of its original volume. The concentrate is then heated to 50oC which results in the separation of lipoid and other materials, which are removed by filtration. Ammonium sulphate (37 grams. per 100 c.c.) is then added to the concentrate and a protein material containing all the Insulin floats to the top of the liquid. The precipitate is skimmed off and dissolved in hot acid alcohol. When the precipitate has completely dissolved, 10 volumes of warm alcohol are added. The solution is then neutralized with NaOH and cooled to room temperature, and kept in a refrigerator at 5oC for two days. At the end of this time the dark coloured supernatant alcohol is decanted off. The alcohol contains practically no potency. The precipitate is dried in vacuo to remove all trace of the alcohol. It is then dissolved in acid water, in which it is readily soluble. The solution is made alkaline with NaOH to PH 7.3 to 7.5. At this alkalinity a dark coloured precipitate settles out, and is immediately centrifuged off. This precipitate is washed once or twice with alkaline water of PH 9.0 and the washings are added to the main liquid. It is important that this process be carried out fairly quickly as Insulin is destroyed in alkaline solution. The acidity is adjusted to PH 5.0 and a white precipitate readily settles out. Tricresol is added to a concentration of 0.3% in order to assist in the isoelectric precipitation and to act as a preservative. After standing one week in the ice chest the supernatant liquid is decanted off and the resultant liquid is removed by centrifuging. The precipitate is then dissolved in a small quantity of acid water. A second isoelectric precipitation is carried out by adjusting the acidity to a PH of approximately 5.0. After standing over night the resultant precipitate is removed by centrifuging. The precipitate, which contains the active principle in a comparatively pure form, is dissolved in acid water and the hydrogen ion concentration adjusted to PH 2.5. The material is carefully tested to determine the potency and is then diluted to the desired strength of 10, 20, 40 or 80 units per c.c. Tricresol is added to secure a concentration of 0.1 percent. Sufficient sodium chloride is added to make the solution isotonic. The Insulin solution is passed through a Mandler filter. After passing through the filter the Insulin is retested carefully to determine its potency. There is practically no loss in berkefelding. The tested Insulin is poured into sterile glass vials with aseptic precautions and the sterility of the final product thoroughly tested by approved methods.

The method of estimating the potency of Insulin solutions is based on the effect that Insulin produces upon the blood sugar of normal animals. Rabbits serve as the test animal. They are starved for twenty four hours before the administration of Insulin. Their weight should be approximately 2 kg. Insulin is distributed in strengths of 10, 20, 40 and 80 units per c.c. The unit is one third of the amount of material required to lower the blood sugar of a 2 kg. rabbit which has fasted twenty four hours from the normal level (0.118 percent) to 0.045 percent over a period of five hours. In a moderately severe case of diabetes one unit causes about 2.5 grammes of carbohydrate to be utilized. In earlier and milder cases, as a rule, one unit has a greater effect, accounting for three to five grammes of carbohydrate.

Regards, – P.W.

Two Letters Re: No-Name AR-15s

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Dear JWR:
I first became involved with the AR-15 platform in around 1990. My first two ARs were what I refer to as “garage builds”– someone’s amassed parts or parts kits and threw them together
These guns had both used and new parts, including at that time used M16 parts, and neither gun worked correctly or were very accurate.
It was due to these two poorly performing guns that I learned to work on the AR design.
Since then I’ve built and repaired around 150 guns.

In the past 20 years I’ve seen Colts, Bushmasters along with about every brand crash and burn, and I’ve seen the lesser known one do the same. But as pointed out in the article most of the makers of AR-15 type rifles do not make their own parts.

Like a chain, an AR is no stronger than its weakest part, I had a factory Bushmaster fail out of the box, when the buffer retainer plunger sheered within the first 5 rounds, and I have had Kit guns that have run over 5,000 rounds without a hiccup. Also proper assembly is paramount, and that is why sometimes the lower cost guns do not perform.
I have also seen no name kit guns hold sub MOA, and top end factory guns that wouldn’t go under an inch off a rest.

Preppers need to learn how their gun works, and do some research on what are possible problems, that they may need to address.
For the AR platform I’d recommend the following spare parts: 2 complete sets of springs, Spare extractor and pin, add a couple of additional extractor springs (make sure they have the rubber insert), 2-Spare buffer retainers and springs, 3 to 5 sets of gas rings, 1-Bolt carrier key and bolt set, 1 spare gas tube, 2 spare disconnectors (sear).
It pays to have both a set of drift punches and a set of roll pin punches, and while not cheap a set of roll pin starter punches especially for the really tiny pins, and a military armorer’s manual for the M16.s

When an AR fails to function the first thing I check is if the carrier key is loose on the bolt carrier, even the smallest amount of looseness can cause problems, if the bolts are not damaged I just re-tighten them, some say to replace them, but as I said if they are not damaged I re-tighten and re-stake, some prefer Lock-Tite to staking and both work, but do not use permanent [clear] type Lock-Tite, as you may one day need to replace that key. But that has fixed close to 90% of the ailing ARs that I have attended to.  Next would be the gas rings, then the gas tube. If your AR wants to sometimes double or triple fire you likely have a worn disconnector. Make sure to also replace disconnect spring when you do the repair.

While you have the hammer and trigger out inspect the back of the hammer where it engages the trigger nose, and inspect the nose of the trigger for wear, there was a rash of poorly hardened Chinese parts on the market for awhile. Also, do not attempt a “trigger job”, as only the surface area of the trigger is hardened. (NO Files or Dremel tools allowed) if you must, then use a fine india square stone.

Keep your AR clean and keep it lubed, I use bore cleaner and a bore snake on the barrel, everything else I hose down with carburetor cleaner, wipe off and dry, then lube with DuPont Silicone with Teflon. One important point with lubrication: What works in Florida, may not work in northern Alaska. – J.D.F.


While I agree with the majority of Pat’s Product Review, there are a few things to consider when purchasing a new rifle. I have tried out a number of different ARs over the years, and consider myself pretty well versed on the subject. When it comes down to it, sometimes you get what you pay for. On the flip side of that coin, sometimes you pay extra for a name. Personally, I love my Colt. There are a ton of other great ones out there for a lot less money. I like the Colt because it is what I carried in the military and still carry as a full time LEO.

Whether you build a rifle from the receiver up or purchase a complete rifle, buy it right the first time or it will cost you more money in the long run. Also, if you decide to build the rifle yourself, be aware of differing sizes in parts kits for the [hammer and trigger] pin sizes. There are a lot of very affordable kits on the market right now that are a size .173″. Beware, these don’t fit most receivers. Get the right parts, as they are often not returnable. Most will take a .154″ sized pin kit. I have had really good luck with Colt parts, as well as Rock River. I have heard of problems with a few less expensive parts kits, so do your research before you buy. If you simply can’t pass up a great deal on a less expensive parts kit, then you’d better buy two to keep Murphy at bay.

Bells and whistles and accessories for AR rifle platforms can be debated forever. As a last item to consider for first time AR Rifle buyer: Don’t be misled by the term” chrome moly”. The chrome-moly versus chrome lined barrels are about $100 difference. When you buy one for the long haul, go for the chrome lined barrel. When it comes right down to it, the chrome is harder, will last longer, and will take the abuse of being heated up by extended rapid fire far better than the chrome-moly. Buy right the first time, save yourself problems and hassle.

Thanks for all you do. – Chip S.

Economics and Investing:

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B.B. mentioned this: Jim Cramer: ‘We Are in DEFCON 3, Two Stages Away from a Financial Collapse So Huge …’

Some charming news, by way of SurvivalBlog’s G.G.: Bond Dealers See Fed Buying $545 Billion of Home-Loan Debt in Third Easing

Also from G.G.: John Williams: Hyperinflation Warning, Preserve Value with Gold

And another: 10 reasons the crisis isn’t over

Yet another: States face bleak economic forecast, report says

Items from The Economatrix:

Stocks Soar On Big Shopping Weekend, Europe

Sales Of New Homes Up In October, But Prices Fall

Oil Prices Rise On Holiday Sales, Europe Hopes

Note from JWR:

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Today we present another two entries for Round 37 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner’s choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and B.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $300 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), D.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo, and E.)A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value).

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) A “grab bag” of preparedness gear and books from Jim’s Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, C.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and D.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, C.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and D.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 37 ends on November 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Gauze and Water: A Combat Medic’s Guide to Preparedness Medicine, by Walker

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First a little background: I am an Army Medic with combat experience. I have been a prepper since before I knew what prepping was. I teach wilderness survival and self reliance to the youth in my community as well as hunt, smith and homebrew. This is my personal take on the medical supply situation on a thirty six to seventy two hour bag basis. I have noticed that there have been several articles not just on this site but just about every other site I frequent about first aid kits and the ideal supply list. First off I have to say that many Americans may not be able to afford, let alone use 90% of some of the things I have seen listed. Now, granted, a band aid is a band aid and Neosporin is a cultural must in most American homes, but the addition of a c-collar or a NPA can be downright dangerous in the hands of a mall ninja. Secondly, some of these items are mostly hard to get and expensive. A collapsible liter is an item that I have seen recently, they can run you more than $100 apiece. C collars that are high quality can be $45-$50 dollars or more, and Lidocaine is something that you have to have a prescription for in most places. My third and final point is that a well stocked first aid kit is going to weigh in at upwards to 45-to-55 pounds… trust me I know. (I carried one for a total of 26 months in the desert.)

Now that I have gotten the rant out of my system, I will get down to brass tacks. Statistics show that in a disaster situation the three most common injuries are orthopedic injuries to long bone and small joints, lacerations to face, head and hands, and hypothermia. Once you get out beyond thirty six hours there will be infections, dehydration and stomach illness to worry about. So, in a nutshell I have eliminated most of the supplies that you would think to put into your gargantuan bugout bag.

The title of this article is “Gauze and Water.” This is an old medic’s [half-joking] guideline when packing for short jaunts into hostile fire territory. It eliminates the need to carry all the superfluous gear that we would normally take with us and it helps movement by lightening the medic’s load into something that is tolerable. For example, my jump bag has very few things that would be considered “advanced” first aid gear. My list is as follows:

  • One IV kit with 1000 ml normal saline
  • Four roller bandages (Kerlix)
  • Two medium Israeli combat dressings
  • One abdominal dressing
  • Two S.A.M. splints
  • One roll of three inch silk tape
  • One Combitube airway
  • Two rolled Mylar blankets
  • Three triangular bandages
  • Two C.A.T. tourniquets

With this kit I can treat up to five seriously injured patients to include airway and C-spine consideration. As most statistics show, combat wounds these days are primarily gunshot and shrapnel type wounds that cause severe blood loss. This method of injury causes the body to go into Hypovolemic shock and can kill in a matter of minutes if not seconds. Secondary injuries are long bone and digital injuries from blasts and vehicular damage that translates into bodily injury. Hypothermia comes in the later stages of shock and also as we all know is a big killer. Mostly we can treat any bugout situation as a combat situation in that your life is more than likely on the line.

For the seventy two hour period we can add in some Neosporin, Tylenol, Ibuprofen, Vagisil, and some Loperamide to treat about ninety nine percent of the small injuries and illnesses that may occur. Tylenol and Ibuprofen can be taken together as they are processed through different organs in the body but do the same thing, they alleviate pain and ease damaging inflammation. Ranger cocktails are 625 mg Tylenol and 800 mg ibuprofen every 6-8 hours. This combo can bring pain relief to most injuries that may occur. Neosporin or Bacitracin can be used to prevent and to treat some minor wound infections. The Vagisil is for fungal infections, such as athletes foot, jock itch and yes, vaginal yeast infection. Loperamide is a medication that is used to treat diarrhea. Again, please keep in mind that I am a medic and not a doctor so please do not let this serve as medical advice, this is just to inform you of treatments that are used for minor upsets and illnesses.
Off all the equipment in the list so far, the most challenging things to acquire and utilize will be the IV kit, and the Combitube airway. These are advanced interventions and as such , it would be best if you took a course to teach you the proper methods and indications for use. As for everything else there is nothing there that does not belong in a basic first aid class. With it you can stabilize most any patient, whether it be yourself or a loved one in a bugout situation. Special consideration must also be taken for anyone in your family or group that may take sustainment medications, such as High Blood Pressure meds, Diabetes meds, Neurological disorder medications or even contraceptives. Most of these medications can lead to a serious health issue or even death if the patient does not take them. Also consider that if you are taking anti anxiety medication or anti depressants and you aren’t taking them during this high stress bugout situation then you may experience a nervous breakdown at the wrong time or perhaps a psychotic break. Either way it will not be pretty or beneficial to the situation.

Now that I have outlined a more practical…. let’s say, concise, first aid kit. I want to relate a story about some of the injuries that have been treated with this very same “Jump Kit”. On patrol in Iraq, my unit was hit with RPG fire and a small arms ambush from about two hundred meters away. As you would expect, there was more than enough chaos without hearing “Doc!” coming from three different directions. As I made my way around our position I noticed that there were a total of four men hit. Two were serious head and facial trauma from the RPG blast, one was a bullet wound to the leg and the other had impaled his right forearm on a piece of rebar. Because I was more concerned with the soldiers with head and facial wounds I threw my tourniquets at the soldiers tending the bullet wound and the impalement so that they could perform the task of stopping serious blood loss from occurring.

Upon reaching the two soldiers that were injured in the blast I saw that one was conscious and the other, not. Since the one that was conscious could still talk, one must assume that his airway was fine so I moved on to the unconscious soldier. He had severe lacerations to his head with some bruising around his left temple as well as a large chunk of flesh from his lower jaw was missing. I immediately secured his airway with the combitube and applied a Kerlix to stop the bleeding from the jaw wound. With a little help from a ventilation bag, we kept the patient alive while I dressed his wounds and the other head trauma patient. Once that was done I assessed the other injured soldiers and used the S.A.M. splints to secure and pad the impalement and used one of my Israeli dressings and my last Kerlix to dress the gunshot wound. Once the dust had settled and we were ready to evac, I used one of my Mylar blankets to ensure that the soldier that was intubated was covered and warm. I still had not used up a few of my supplies and I didn’t have to drain the evac crews supply when they resupplied me.

Hopefully I have shown you that there is no need to go out and buy everything and the kitchen sink to stock a great first aid kit. Don’t concern yourself with band aids, the uses of kerlix are amazing and with the silk tape with the kerlix you can make miles of band aids of any size and configuration. The minor upsets that may plague you can be no greater than what you have prepared for with the few meds you will have to carry. And with all that space saved you can carry extra water and socks, and perhaps a small flask of scotch to sit back and relax with… or sterilize a wound with. So now, go out and prepare for your personal disaster and be prosperous. Think logically, and do not let prepping become all consuming, you still have a life to live.

How to Find Helpful People Around You, by K.W.

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I have lived in the UK for the last 25 years, but the first 25 years of my life I spent in what is now called an ex-Soviet block country, so I have a view from both sides.
In the Eastern Europe people would generally be more interdependent, for the simple reason that the society was less commercialized. In the West you can usually buy anything you need, so the biggest issue is to have money to purchase goods and services. In the East there was more reliance on the informal means, especially when times got tougher. Younger people, who have less money, by necessity would use these methods more.  If the society were to simplify itself and our relationships became more local and reciprocal, then those interpersonal skills would become more important than they are now.
Over the years I found that it is useful to know WHO to help. Helping others should be a two-way street. Unfortunately some people will use your help without appreciating your effort and they would not help you back if or when you need it. This note is about how to identify those who are not like that.

. I need to mention that there will be people you would always want to help without asking for anything in return – either because they are important to you or you know that they are in absolute need. Alternatively you are helping because you think that an idea or an organisation needs supporting. Or you are interested in the work itself and want to gain experience. This essay is not about those cases.

.  This essay is purely on how to test your acquaintances to find people who are perceptive to sharing and helping. It also saves time and is fun to do. You want to identify those who appreciate the effort others expanded for their benefit and who are willing to pay back in a way they can.

The fastest and easiest method is to ask somebody for help. It should be something small, that is well within their capability to do, but not something they think they have to do for you. You want them to exercise their judgment. If they do it – you thank them, reciprocate at a later date and they get onto your mental list of helpful people.
Unfortunately  I found it quite hard, as I am not good at asking for help, so I haven’t developed the techniques in this area.


This step is of limited use, but it still can give you an insight into how people operate. It is to set-up an disguised experiment, testing if people reciprocate. You set up a common resource and tell people that they are free to use it, but they should replenish what they have used. Then you discretely observe it over a prolonged time and make a mental note who replenished the used resource. You might find (as I did) that very few people will. While they would always pay back the money they borrowed, they don’t think of a common good the same way.
Example – some months ago I set up an informal scheme at work, where I put some chocolate on one of the cupboards and invited people to help themselves. I told them that if they think they have eaten a whole slab, they should buy a new one and replace it. This was running for several months. Many ate the chocolate, few replaced it, so you could be forgiven in thinking that the experiment was a failure. But it had some other benefits: it provided a nice atmosphere, nobody (but me) would take the last piece (which shows some appreciation) and if I identified some people who would have a communal spirit, that would be a bonus.
Another method would be to notice who buys drinks in a pub and if people buy their share. This is less likely to be meaningful, because there are relatively strict social rules about it (at least in the UK), and you want to test peoples’ hearts, not their adherence to the rules.
NB. This experiment is not worth doing unless the participants are all local – if they live far away, their helpfulness is of limited use if conditions deteriorate.

The following steps are dealing with what to do when somebody you know asks you for help and you are in a position to exercise choice; you are not obliged to help them. If your acquaintances know you as a practical person, you probably will be asked to help them quite often. When you are – this opens an opportunity for a new experiment.


When you are asked for help, say that you will help them, but first that person has to do something small to facilitate it. Usually there are some things that have to be done in preparation for the main work. Note that the person’s effort you are asking for can be small in comparison to the bulk of work required.
There are two reasons for this approach: first is to weed-out people who ask you to help them because they can’t be bothered to do it themselves and are too stingy to pay somebody else to do it as a part of their job. Secondly, if it is important to them, you want to help them.
You will be surprised how many people give up at this stage. If they do give up, it shows that they just wanted to use you as a source of free labour; you gain this new information and save yourself time and effort. Also people in this frame of mind don’t appreciate the efforts of others, so helping them would not be an investment either.
If they jump through this hoop, you know that the project is important to them (because they were prepared to invest some effort in it), so your work is more likely to be noticed.
Example 1:
Q: Could I borrow your wallpaper stripper, please?
A: Sure, but would you ring me tonight and remind me to put it in the boot of my car? Otherwise I will forget. My memory is pretty bad.
Example 2:
Q: Could you come to my house and put-up some shelves, please?
A: Sure, can you write which tools of (xxx type) you have? Also you will need to buy (screws, ….. –list here). Let me know when you are ready.
Example 3:
Q: Could you set-up my web-site, please?
A: Sure, I think the best approach would be if you designed it on a piece of paper, together with its functionality. If you need any patterns or pictures, would you collect those in one folder too? Let me know when you are ready.
Example 4:
(At a campsite)
Q: Would you be so kind and darn my socks, please?
A: Sure, but only if they are clean.
Note that in each of those cases you come out as a really helpful guy, even if that person doesn’t take you up on the offer. This is a ‘magic question’.
The beauty of the ‘magic question’ approach is that it doesn’t only apply to voluntary arrangements – it can also be used at work or in any other interpersonal exchanges: (Does the client really need this project to be done so quickly? Does my child really want that toy so badly? Does my wife really want that wall painted?).
The ‘magic question’ technique should be practiced whenever the opportunity arises, then it becomes a second nature. Children are perfect test subjects for practising the skill, because they ask for help a lot. They will also enjoy helping with the execution.


 Once that person jumped through the first hoop, it is time to do some work. This becomes more job-specific, but the general rules are:

  • make sure that you are helping the person, not doing the job for them. So if there is any part of the job they can do – they should.
  • If possible, they should stay with you while you are doing the work. There are four reasons for this:  First – they learn how to do the tasks, so it improves the practical skills of the people you know. Second – they may be able to do smaller tasks, which are helpful (like bringing tools or making cups of tea). Third – they see how much effort you expanded; people who are not practical have no idea how long tasks take, so they are likely to underestimate your effort. Fourth: It is more fun (and safer in many cases) to do work, when there are helpers around.
  • If it is not possible for the person to help (for example in some highly technical computer work), then they still should be around, perhaps doing something else. For example they could cook dinner for you or paint a wall while you are working for them. This is not ideal, but at least they see how long things take.

You want to avoid the situation that you work on your own over several week-ends and the recipient complains that the project took so long, they would be better off going to a professional and pay for it. This may well be the case – why didn’t they?


 For some time after the work is done (some weeks) tune into some signs of appreciation – a nice chat, a ‘Thank you’ note, or a mention of the results of the project and how well it works. A thoughtful and appreciative person would make a gesture showing that. If you lent something to somebody, the equipment should come back promptly in a state not worse than it was lent. It should be brought to your house, rather than you having to go somewhere to collect it.


Some time after the project is finished (weeks or months), ask the person for some (small) help. This should be something that is well within their capabilities. This could be running a small errand for you, or picking your children from school one day. Infirm people could be keepers of spare keys to your house or have a parcel delivered to their address when you are at work. Most helpful people would be delighted to reciprocate.
 Perhaps they can’t help you for good reasons – then they would normally say why they can’t help; it would be very specific and followed by an offer to do something else. But if they give you a feeble excuse (like ‘I don’t have time’ coming from a person with no children and no job), then you know they are just parasites and don’t help them again.

The techniques described above lead to more knowledge of the people around you, which you may have to rely on in hard circumstances. The usefulness of this approach is that it gives you the information about how helpful your neighbours and friends are, while building better relationships with the ones you want to keep. It also saves you a lot of time and effort, as vast majority of people are not willing to help themselves. If executed well it builds good will and the people around you don’t notice that you are testing them.
The technique (especially the ‘magic question’) should be practiced as often as possible, in as many unrelated environments and relationships as you can. Eventually it becomes a second nature. It allows you to concentrate your efforts on the tasks that are really wanted, rather than dissipate your energy, because the person you are helping can’t be bothered to do it for themselves.
This better focus and knowledge about the people around you should help you choose a stronger group of friends who have helped you in the past.

Two Letters Re: Places Where SurvivalBlog is Blocked From Viewing

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They are now blocking SurvivalBlog along with Zero Hedge and I Hate The Media from work where I work. Yes I’m on a government network. I assume that more of the alternative media sites are going to be blocked, shortly. I’ll send you updates as they are blocked.  Thanks for your time. – C. in Northern Virginia.

I am a full-time National Guardsman. (Sorta a rarity.)   I just discovered a change when I tried to look at SurvivalBlog, as usual, on my lunch hour. It is now a blocked [by name] on our or computer network . I suspect that is because it has “blog” in its [domain] name. I was glad to read that your announcement that you are setting up a server offshore, and that you will also have a number of mirror sites with “dotted quad” addresses, available for alternatives.

I fear that some sort of crackdown on non-mainstream web sites is coming soon, in America. (You probably heard that there were another 150 sites blocked on Monday.) Thanks for setting up multiple ways to access [your blog]. My advice to fellow readers: Bookmark the dotted quad addresses of all your favorite news outlets and discussion forums, ASAP. Be vigilant. – The Non-Captain Kirk

Letter From Mike Williamson Re: No-Name AR-15s

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Dear Jim,
To add to Pat Cascio’s comments on AR rifle construction, I thought I’d share the following:

This document explains the criteria.

This chart puts them all together

One of the very critical components is the buffer tube on carbines.  The aftermarket tubes are of 6061 aluminum, versus 7075, and are milled, rather than being hammer-extruded.  They are about half as strong as mil-spec, and have less gripping surface on the threads.  This is probably one of the most critical areas of failure on the rifle.

Please note that Knight’s Armament is not mentioned on this chart, but they will happily detail the internal redesign they’ve made that from all tests and reports is superior to the standard design and materials. However, it is also much more expensive.

The AR bolt carrier group is easily replaceable, but it’s worth the extra money for the stronger components of tougher alloys to increase operating life. In addition, I differ from most and always recommend the hard chrome finish on the bolt carrier group.  While on active duty in the 1980s, I got to handle both parkerized and chromed groups side by side, and there was no comparison.  The Army went away from the chrome for several reasons, one of which was cost, but I believe this was a huge error on their part.  The chrome finish is tougher, more durable, has greater natural lubricity.  Heat treated and parkerized steel has a static coefficient of friction of about .8 (1.0 is the baseline).  Hard chrome has a coefficient of .05.  It actually performs better with minimal lube, as the surface tension of the liquid increases drag.

I will disagree with Pat on one point:  It is certainly possible to get a very accurate and functionally reliable AR in the $600 range, but it cannot be as durable in the long term as one built with better materials, which will always raise the price.  I would advocate an inexpensive rifle over none, but when opportunity presents, it should be assigned practice, range and backup duties, with better rifles taking the SHTF role. – SurvivalBlog Editor At Large Michael Z. Williamson

Economics and Investing:

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John R. suggested a piece by Paul Craig Roberts: Bankers have seized Europe: Goldman Sachs Has Taken Over

Euro Meltdown: This One European Country Can Bring Down The Entire EU

Courtesy of J.B.G.: Italy Is Closer To Collapse Than Anyone Realized, And So Is The World

Also from J.B.G.: Should the Fed save Europe from disaster?

Items from The Economatrix:

Occupy Wall Street’s Latest Plan: Refuse To Repay Student Debt

Hungary’s Debt Downgraded By Moody’s To Junk

Europe Bond Yields To Keep Stocks Spellbound

Why 2011 May Be A Jolly Year For Holiday Retailers

Odds ‘n Sods:

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J.K. in Colorado mentioned: Another Family Lost In The Woods.

   o o o

Time to Stock Up on Lightbulbs. (Thanks to B.B. for the link.)

   o o o

G.G. flagged this: Guns Better Investment Than Gold?

   o o o

News from The American Redoubt: Historic Eastern Oregon hotel going to auction. (A hat tip to loyal content contributor R.B.S. for the link. His comments: “Union is cattle and natural resource area.  Yes, it would not be an easy go but if you don’t bring a Hollywood mentality with you to this part of the world, and are resourceful, someone with the right attitude might just make a go of it. It is probably a much better investment than Bruce Willis’ house that is for sale in Sun Valley for a mere $15 million.”