A couple of weeks ago one of my prepper friends stopped by and said: “Check this out” he hands me a small spool of green wire. I was intrigued, what is it? Trip wire? Snare wire? “It’s both and much more,” he said. After he told me a few of the ways it could be used, it became clear to me that Paddle Wire was the one missing component in my survival gear. If you don’t have a good supply of Paddle wire or never even heard of it, you wouldn’t be alone. Paddle wire is a low-cost 22 to 24 gauge green enamel coated florist’s wire. It’s used in the making of floral arrangements. Typically it comes on 100′ rolls and it is commonly available at any Dollar General store, almost all craft stores and even your local Wal-Mart. If you just simply can’t find the energy drag yourself out of the house, then Amazon along with hundreds of online retailers sell it online. Do yourself a huge favor and pick up a few rolls of it. At a cost of about $2.00 per 100′ it will be money well spent in a SHTF disaster. I now keep at least 10 spools of it around and I am always discovering new ways to use the stuff. It’s at least as versatile as duct tape or paracord, maybe even more! Easily bent, twisted and formed for almost any purpose it reminds me of the wooden spools of trip wire used by soldiers in Vietnam. Personally I am big on multipurpose items in all of my survival kits,I evaluate the usefulness of an item versus the weight and size. It’s a grading system of sorts and Paddle certainly gets high marks for its versatility and size.
Obviously the first thought that comes to mind is a snare or noose trap for small game. Traps are beneficial especially if you are going to be in one place for a while, at least overnight. They are easy to make, silent, and they work very well. There are a number of simple ways to make noose traps for small game. A single strand with a twisted loop and one end, feed the wire through the loop to form a noose and attach it to a tree or limb, this is a simple squirrel snare. Placed on the ground along the known path of small game or baited, this same configuration will even trap larger game especially when you use several strands twisted together and anchored to a nearby tree.
Since a 100′ spool can easily be carried in your pocket and a small section can be used to lash a knife to a long stick to make an improvised spear as a defensive weapon or hunting tool. Tying up a muffler or making emergency vehicle repairs under the hood or in hot areas where duct tape won’t work.
If you have ever needed to lash something that is in a high heat or even direct flame contact? Paddle wire will take care of business where duct tape or paracord would fail miserably. Using the wire to tie up a pyramid style potholder for a camp fire or even wrapping and attaching meat for a camp fire rotisserie, paddle wire is up to the task. If you have ever tried to cook apiece of wild game over an open fire only to have your meat fall into the fire you can understand how convenient this wire can be.
Drying or Cooking Rack
Keeping your clothes dry is very important to prevent hypothermia when you have been exposed to the elements. Several strands of wire wrapped across a large “Y” shaped tree branch and you’ve got yourself a fast drying rack when held near the heat of a camp fire. You can even toast bread and cook or dry meats on it as well. The enamel coating will quickly burn off leaving a clean and safe cooking surface. Paracord and duct tape have their purposes in life but high heat or open flame are certainly not one among them.
My first aid and trauma kits are well supplied with traditional medical supplies and a few tactical battle dressings. Now a roll of Paddle wire can now be found in all my medical kits. Used as an improvised splint either folded and formed into a flat support then taped on two sides of a broken finger for support until better medical attention can be found, Paddle wire is again to the rescue.
In a very unscientific tensile strength test I used a single strand of Paddle wire to lift a set of 350 pound athletic weights without failure repeatedly. Increasing the weight to 400 pounds caused consistent breakage in a series of about 10 test samples, I realize this is back yard testing and I’m sure industrial engineers would cringe at my primitive tests but I had to know the tensile strength of the wire. Now I know at least approximately how strong it is and realizing that different brands of wire may have varying results I can at least estimate that a single strand should hold up to 300 pounds or more which is quite impressive for a product originally designed to hold up a flower stem.
As a TEOTWAWKI disaster becomes reality, security around your home or camp is of utmost importance. Again, Paddle wire to the rescue! You can easily setup perimeter warning devices [such as suspended warning bells or empty cans with pebbles inside] and even snares to snag and warn you of trespassers, if necessary. Using the same techniques and design for small game Paddle wire can be twisted together in two or three strand pieces on a larger scale to be used as “tanglefoot”–a way to snag and trip up the trespasser, the loop would be larger than the average foot with a slight bend upward and the top of the loop so as to catch the foot in a normal walking gate snagging the ankle, a human trap. Humans unlike animals, can easily release themselves without injury from such a trap. The advantage here is purely a warning device, maybe a psychological intimidation or perhaps a warning to give you the time needed to react to the situation and take the appropriate action.
A single strand of paddle wire extended [with insulators] between trees can make an excellent improvised antenna for radio, television, ham radio, CB, and AM/FM bands. Using nylon rope as insulating or “strain” anchor points and coaxial cable, you can construct a simple antenna. Known as a “random wire”antenna a long stretch of straight paddle wire strung as high as possible between trees or buildings. This configuration was one of the most commonly used forms of antenna in the early days of radio. I’m no radio expert but my back yard tests using various lengths of wire drastically improved the reception on everything connected to it.
Using 4 strands of paddle wire about 12 feet long, I clamped the ends in a vise and then with a steady pull and help from my cordless drill to accomplish the twist, I quickly made a strong cable. This could be done by hand if necessary, the drill made it quick and being impatient, worked for me. It was amazingly easy and strong enough to handle heavy duty jobs. The need to secure a gate or using braided cable for repairing fences or even making improvised barbed wire using finishing nails sharpened on both ends and bent into a“V” randomly into the braid at various intervals. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination and the amount of wire you have on hand.
Using an cotton rag at the end of a stick wrapped tightly with paddle wire,saturate with kerosene or lamp oil, light it and you’ve got yourself a good old fashioned torch. Don’t make the mistake of using polyester cloth as it will melt and drip flaming hot molten lava on your hand. (I learned this the hard way.)
Some Important Provisos:
Many of the techniques and traps described in this article may be regulated by state or local law and require a hunting or trapping license. I would never advocate doing anything illegal so first and foremost: obey the law! If you are going to use or practice any of the traps or snares be sure to know the laws that apply to you. The last thing you want to do is cause injury or harm to an innocent person or cause unnecessary suffering to a wild animal,injure or kill someone’s pet, or get thrown in jail. I realize that you may be a little less concerned with the law during actual TEOTWAWKI times, but you should always be responsible under any circumstances.
With literally thousands of other uses that I continue to discover everyday. Paddle wire is the perfect low cost addition to your survival and prepper gear. Be sure to have a small pair of pliers and wire cutters or a multi-tool. Oh, and last but not least.. It’s also great for floral arrangements too! -Prepper Ray in Lexington, S.C.