Three Letters Re: Beans, Bullets, Band-Aids and Hygiene

I was just rereading the original posting about “beans, bullets and hygiene”. The author wrote to be sure to check out the discount bins for after season sales on holiday soaps. He wrote that while the soaps may be strongly scented “nobody will care after TEOTWAWKI what they smell like”. But actually, it may matter. 

We live in the country. We’re not daily assaulted by the highly aromatic city folks wearing their cologne, perfume and scented body washes. So when we do happen to come in contact with them, we can smell them coming from quite a distance.
Its sorta’ the same as noise. Today’s world is so full of the noise of cars passing by, planes overhead, radios and television playing (not to mention those things people stick in their ears) that you don’t even notice some neighbor pounding a nail or running a chainsaw.
But after all goes quiet, and after daily showers become much less common, folks’ hearing and smelling will become much more sensitive. You’ll hear saws running and know “someone” has heat and gas. If a neighbor appears cleaner than anyone else, and especially if they smell “fresher” (that is, perfumey/smelly/soapy) than the usual, you’ll guess that they have more water, more soap, and therefore maybe more “other stuff”. This is not good OPSEC.
We believe that when going out to community meetings, or on other occasions of contact outside your immediate group, it may be well to wear older, dirtier clothes so you don’t attract notice. It may also be well to keep in mind that the person who smells 21st Century will be extraordinarily noticeable when everyone else is living 19th Century.
Our suggestion is that in a dark world, don’t show your lights. In a world of no gas, don’t be the only one to advertise having fuel for generators and saws. And in a world without instant hot and cold water, don’t smell like Paris Hilton. – Jim in N. Ohio

Mr. Rawles,

I wanted to call to your reader’s attention to the use of soap nuts in place of traditional laundry soap.  We first discovered them when looking for a chemical and fragrance free alternative for cloth diapers and baby clothes.  We now use them for all of our laundry and for many other cleaning jobs around the house.  They are all natural, economical, versatile, and easy to store – taking up much less room than traditional laundry detergent.   They can be reused several times and then composted.  They also work as a natural fabric softener. which is great for line drying.  Soap nuts are fine for septic and gray water systems. 

Other uses include:

  • Hand soap
  • Dishwasher soap
  • Window cleaner
  • All purpose cleaner
  • Shampoo
  • Pest and mosquito repellant
  • Carpet cleaner
  • Pet shampoo
  • Jewelry cleaner

Soap nuts are already very economical.  To get even more for your money, I recommend:

  • Buy in bulk and split the order with friends and family 
  • Don’t buy the “whole” soap nuts.  I prefer breaking them anyway to better release the cleaning agent –  The suppliers don’t always list the pieces on their web site, but if you call them they often times will sell the “broken” soap nuts at a largely discounted price, especially if you are buying in bulk. 
  • Grind your own powder and make your own liquid.  It’s easy to learn and there are many instructions and recipes to be found on the Internet. 

There are various ways to can and preserve the soap nuts liquid, so you can store it in quantity and have it readily available.  We store our soap nuts in a five gallon bucket with a lid, and this lasts our family of four a very long time.   Soap nuts make a great barter item to keep on hand, since they store easily, take up so little space, and have multiple uses. – WoodsyMama


I wanted to add something to the recent hygiene article and responses that I have read and that is dental floss.  Dental floss is one of the single best tools for not only healthy teeth but, just as importantly, healthy gums.  Gum disease and tooth decay has been shown to affect overall health and contributes to heart disease and possible brain trauma due to infection.  Dental floss is compact and easy to store and it lasts forever (you might need to check that regarding the ‘flavored’ varieties), there is no reason not to pick up a couple extra packs every time you replace toothbrushes and toothpaste because it could be the difference between saving your teeth and having to learn to survive on broth.
  I also wanted to add a hearty endorsement for using a safety razor, as per the article posted on learning to shave like grandpa.  I started using a safety razor a year ago and I will never go back.  The shave is smoother and easier on the skin, the razor is cleaner because there is less tendency for a single blade to get ‘clogged’, and the blades are indeed cheaper as well as lasting longer since they are double sided.  I don’t have an abundance of facial hair so I have only gone through one pack of double sided razors since started shaving this way.  Its better for your face, less expensive, and more durable – the perfect set of features for a prepper\-friendly shaving kit. Regards, – Doug W.