A Dollar Store Prepping Expedition, by T. Lee

Editor’s Note: Coincidentally, I received two very similar articles about dollar store shopping from writers in two states in the same week. But because they have different perspectives, I’ve decided to post both of them. The other one will be posted tomorrow.

I’m here visiting our oldest son in New York City, always an eye opening experience. After church, several of his friends have asked how to get started on building an everyday carry (EDC) bag after seeing our day bags. However, after seeing their respective apartments, we decided to start more basic (understanding we are teaching a few concepts that may be equally applicable to items within a starter level EDC bag or shelter-in-place plan). Think “just moved-into-their-first-apartment-out-of-college-basic” in terms of the problem we are trying to solve. They can build their full kit EDC bag after they prepare for the basics of shelter-in-place in the big city so to speak. To have some fun, we decided to host a grand tour of the dollar store to simply walk around with my oldest son and a few of his friends to point out items that would cost $1.00 at the Dollar Tree.

I was hoping to spark an interest in prepping with these city folks (ages 23-28) and get them thinking about how to prepare while understanding that you don’t have to spend a tremendous amount of money to make progress.   Not able to have a full game plan but the first few steps on that metaphorical long journey. On the actual physical walk over, my husband shared a 3×3 grid of probability and impact – probability marked as Low, Medium and High and then impact to you from the event happening as Low, Medium, High. We had one free afternoon – a few twenties in our wallet – and a desire to get organized for a power outage as a proxy for one of the “high probability/medium impact” events for our end users. No need to price check items at the Dollar Tree, everything is a dollar (just some humor).

These young folks just graduated from college and had literally just moved into the Big City. My husband commented that maybe instead of eight pairs of basketball sneakers, they could have bought a few cases of bottled water and I tried to sssshhhh him a bit.   We later dropped off four cases of water at their apartment and told them to stash those in the closet and put one case in their car trunk (car being kept at a local garage at some astronomical monthly fee). My son had already anticipated the “always keep your car with a full tank of gas” and we all shared a smile on that front.   We checked out their gas grill on their balcony along with propane tank and then took a good look in their freezer to gauge what type of food they cooked. Meat, check.  No soy milk, double check.

I reminded my son to keep his mini Sawyer water filter handy from camping and we took a look at their backpacking gear to ensure things were stowed in one spot.  I gently reminded him that the camping gear needs to get shoveled into the car if he needed to leave and he smiled wryly that he remembers me saying that a few times before.   We checked to make sure he had multiple choices for water storage (bottles, canteen, soft plastic and metal version that can be heated) and his Sawyer mini. They had a few leftover Mountain House breakfast packages from camping. I shared that the Mountain House meals (for example, breakfast skillet or egg varieties) work great in a tortilla wrap – and that the tortilla wraps hold up longer versus a loaf of bread in terms of shelf life). A bottle of hot sauce, tortilla wraps and Mountain House breakfast skillet inside and life is good, power outage or not.  We order our Mountain House foods from Ready Made Resources online. That works fine, and they have good prices.Continue reading“A Dollar Store Prepping Expedition, by T. Lee”

JWR’s Recommendations of the Week:

Here are JWR’s Recommendations of the Week for various media and tools of interest to SurvivalBlog readers. The focus is usually on emergency communications gear, bug out bag gear, books and movies–often with a tie-in to disaster preparedness, and links to “how to” self-sufficiency videos. There are also links to sources for both storage food and storage containers. You will also note an emphasis on history books and historical movies. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. This week the focus is on N95 face masks. (See the Gear and Grub section.)


The Ultimate Hiker’s Gear Guide, Second Edition: Tools and Techniques to Hit the Trail

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Ugly’s Electrical References, 2020 Edition

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The Impossible First: From Fire to Ice―Crossing Antarctica Alone

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The Filipino Instant Pot Cookbook: Classic and Modern Filipino Recipes for Your Electric Pressure Cooker

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Plants of the Inland Northwest and Southern Interior British Columbia

Continue reading“JWR’s Recommendations of the Week:”

The Editors’ Quote of the Day:

“It’s not as if socialism is a new idea. It was tried in the 20th century. It produced economic stagnation and despair. In its purest form, it extinguished more than one hundred million people.” – Lew Rockwell (pictured  second from left.)

Preparedness Notes for Tuesday — February 18, 2020

This is the birthday of Jack Palance (1919–2006), an actor known for his Tough Guy roles, such as the rebel leader Jesus Raza, in The Professionals

SurvivalBlog Writing Contest

Today we present another entry for Round 87 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The more than $10,000 worth of prizes for this round include:

First Prize:

  1. A gift certificate from Quantum Harvest LLC (up to a $2,200 value) good for 12% off the purchase of any of their sun-tracking models, and 10% off the purchase price of any of their other models.
  2. A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate. This can be used for any one, two, or three day course (a $1,095 value),
  3. A course certificate from onPoint Tactical 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,
  4. DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 NATO QD Billet upper. These have hammer forged, chrome-lined barrels and a hard case, to go with your own AR lower. It will allow any standard AR-type rifle to have a quick change barrel. This can be assembled in less than one minute without the use of any tools. It also provides a compact carry capability in a hard case or in 3-day pack (an $1,100 value),
  5. Two cases of Mountain House freeze-dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
  6. A $250 gift certificate good for any product from Sunflower Ammo,
  7. American Gunsmithing Institute (AGI) is providing a $300 certificate good towards any of their DVD training courses.

Second Prize:

  1. A Front Sight Lifetime Diamond Membership, providing lifetime free training at any Front Sight Nevada course, with no limit on repeating classes. This prize is courtesy of a SurvivalBlog reader who prefers to be anonymous.
  2. A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training, which have a combined retail value of $589,
  3. A $300 purchase credit for any of the products from EMPShield.com
  4. A Three-Day Deluxe Emergency Kit from Emergency Essentials (a $190 value),
  5. Two 1,000-foot spools of full mil-spec U.S.-made 750 paracord (in-stock colors only) from www.TOUGHGRID.com (a $240 value).
  6. An assortment of products along with a one hour consultation on health and wellness from Pruitt’s Tree Resin (a $265 value).

Third Prize:

  1. Good2GoCo.com is providing a $400 purchase credit at regular prices for the prize winner’s choice of either Wise Foods or Augason long term storage foods, in stackable buckets.
  2. Three sets each of made-in-USA regular and wide-mouth reusable canning lids. (This is a total of 300 lids and 600 gaskets.) This prize is courtesy of Harvest Guard (a $270 value)
  3. A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
  4. Naturally Cozy is donating a “Prepper Pack” Menstrual Kit.  This kit contains 18 pads and it comes vacuum sealed for long term storage or slips easily into a bugout bag.  The value of this kit is $220.
  5. Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security, LLC,
  6. A transferable $100 purchase credit from Elk Creek Company, toward the purchase of any pre-1899 antique gun. There is no paperwork required for delivery of pre-1899 guns into most states, making them the last bastion of firearms purchasing privacy!

Round 87 ends on March 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Smelting Scrap Lead For Bullet Casting, by A. in N.D.

Authors Introductory Note: This article describes my experience in obtaining, refining and casting scrap lead for later use in bullet casting. The safety precautions in this article are the actual ones I used in this process, and I believe them to be adequate to protect against contamination to yourself and the environment. However, I am neither a doctor nor a chemist, and if you attempt this yourself you should do your own research.

There are many articles on SurvivalBlog about the utility of bullet casting. This is true, especially for someone who has older cartridge guns and black powder guns, but there are also modern guns that can use lead bullets.

This article is not about casting lead bullets; however, it will be about one step back in the process. Where does the lead you want to use to cast with come from, and what do you do with it once you have it? I am going to tell you about my experience obtaining, refining, and casting scrap lead into ingots.

Obtaining Scrap

In my experience, there are two kinds of scrap lead that you are most likely to find in your search; wheel weights and soft lead. Wheel weights are an alloy of lead and antimony and are going to be harder than other lead that you may find. Soft lead is softer because it is purer, and without the antimony in it. Most of the soft lead that I have come across has been in the form of old roofing lead, but I have also seen lead weights. Of course, there are many other types of lead that can be found, such as medical lead, but in my experience are not as common.

So, where to get this lead? In my experience, there are a couple of good places. The first is to search local tire shops. Some of them will just give away the used wheel weights they have to save them the trouble of disposal. The place that I have had the best luck at is a couple of my local scrap yards. Yes, I had to pay for lead at a scrap yard, but its quite inexpensive, and they will usually have it in large quantities. Be aware that rules regarding the sale of lead may vary from state to state, but where I live its perfectly legal for the scrappers to sell to me.

There are other places to find lead. Auction sales, word-of-mouth, even posting an ad on Craigslist may lead to surprising finds. I even watched a video online of a gentleman who scored a great haul of lead at a boat auction. He bought a wrecked boat for next to nothing and was able to salvage the over 2,000 lb of ballast weight from it. The weight was pure lead. Now that’s a big score!Continue reading“Smelting Scrap Lead For Bullet Casting, by A. in N.D.”

SurvivalBlog’s News From The American Redoubt

This weekly column features news stories and event announcements from around the American Redoubt region. (Idaho, Montana, eastern Oregon, eastern Washington, and Wyoming.) Much of the region is also more commonly known as The Inland Northwest. We also mention companies of interest to preppers and survivalists that are located in the American Redoubt region. Today, we focus on a big dam controversy between Oregon’s leftist Governor and Washington’s Snake River dams.  (See the Eastern Washington  section.)


A Redoubt News video of state assembly debate: Idaho Rep. Mike Moyle Does Not Want a Grocery Tax Repeal

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From the liberal Inlander tabloid: As Kootenai County grows, can it preserve what makes it attractive in the first place? (A hat tip to Cathy N., for the link.)  Here is a snippet:

“Idaho is growing faster than any state in the nation, and Kootenai County is growing at an even higher rate than the state as a whole. The county added roughly 26,000 people from 2008 through 2018, according to the Idaho Department of Labor. That’s a 19.1 percent increase, more than double the national rate.”

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New booting bill passes the House

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WATCH: Kootenai County deputy helps with ‘car break-in’ marriage proposal


Year in Review: Chronic Wasting Disease: 2019 season in Montana

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Billings: Car full of teens on the run rams into a group of police officers, Montana cops say

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Behring Made Knives in Missoula, Montana makes some amazing hand-crafted knives. They take custom orders.

Continue reading“SurvivalBlog’s News From The American Redoubt”

Preparedness Notes for Monday — February 17, 2020

On this day in 1838, hundreds of Voortrekkers traveling along the Blaukraans River in the Natal region were massacred by Zulu tribesmen. This tragedy became known as the Weneen Massacre.

A reminder: Because I have some travel planned, a one-month shipping hiatus for Elk Creek Company will begin at 6 PM Thursday, February 27th, 2020. So if you want to order any antique guns, then get your order in soon!  Any orders received after February 27th will not be shipped until April 8th.

I just noticed that we are now down to less than 200 of the 2005-2019 waterproof SurvivalBlog archive USB sticks. This may be our last production run for the year, so order yours, pronto.

Today we present a review by our stalwart Field Gear Editor, Pat Cascio.


Kimber America Pro CDP II 1911, by Pat Cascio

It’s difficult to keep up with all the various 1911 handguns that Kimber America produces these days. However, they produce and sell more 1911 handguns than any other maker – or so I’m told. However, there are several 1911 makers in the Philippines that produce a lot of 1911s. For the sake of argument, we’ll say that Kimber is the largest producer of 1911 handguns in the USA.

I still remember when Kimber first came on the scene, and their very first 1911 was a full-sized Government Model. This pistol had all the bells and whistles than 1911 lovers wanted, and paid gunsmiths to perform on a stock-box 1911. You can check out the history of Kimber on the Internet for more information, or their web site. The only thing I didn’t care for, and everyone else wondered about, were the cheap rubber grips Kimber was putting on those guns – when everything else was first class in all respects. Most buyers of the first Kimber 1911s simply replaced the cheap rubber grips – I know I did. Otherwise, these were some of the finest, if not “the” finest production 1911s to come out of any 1911 factory, and you didn’t have to do anything to them. They were ready for combat right out of the box.

Long-time readers will know that I love the 1911, and even with all the new guns I test, or purchase for my own use, I still would grab a 1911 as my one and only handgun – if that’s all I could have – for the rest of my life. However, my thinking is starting to change. It is hard to teach an old dog new tricks – but there are several other handguns on my list, if I could only own one for the rest of my life. However, for the time being, a 1911 would still be my first choice – in .45 ACP – of course.

It didn’t take Kimber very long to realize that, they were really onto something, with a “custom”-featured 1911, right out of the box, and buyers wanted more than just one model. I can’t begin to keep count, but I think Kimber is probably producing around 100 different models. (The line-up changes all the time.) It is safe to say though, that they are producing full-sized models, Commander-sized models and Officers-sized models – so there is something for everyone and every need. If you can’t find what you want on the Kimber web site – then it is probably just a figment of your imagination and no one is producing it.Continue reading“Kimber America Pro CDP II 1911, by Pat Cascio”

Recipe of the Week: Susan’s Favorite Bread

Reader Susan M. kindly sent us her favorite bread recipe:

  • 2 1/2 tsp. dry yeast
  • 3 1/2 cup flour (or substitute 2 1/2 c. bread flour and 1 cup whole wheat flour or whatever flours you like; rye, wheat germ, plain AP)
  • 1 1/4 cup milk (reconstituted nonfat dry milk works)
  • 1/4 lb. butter (or shortening)
  • 1/4 c. sugar (or honey)
  • 1 T. molasses
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 egg
  1. Heat milk, honey, butter, salt until shortening begins to melt (115-120 degrees).
  2. In large bowl, comine 2 cups flours, with yeast. Mix well with wet ingredients.
  3. Stir in enough flour to make a soft dough. Kneed for approximately 10 min.
  4. Let rise until double. Punch down and shape into whatever you need. I often make smaller rolls and then make hamburger buns shape on the same baking pan.
  5. Let rise again until double in size.
  6. Brush tops with butter if you choose and bake at 400 degrees for approximately 12-15 minutes.

This dough can be used with more sweetener for sweet rolls, as is for crescent rolls, or with less sugar and more salt for a French type loaf, it can also be made in a loaf pan, but I find making sandwich buns easier than cutting a loaf. A favorite of my kids was putting bacon pieces, cooked with onions and dark mustard, and horseradish

Do you have a favorite recipe that would be of interest to SurvivalBlog readers? In this weekly recipe column we place emphasis on recipes that use long term storage foods, recipes for wild game, dutch oven and slow cooker recipes, and any that use home garden produce. If you have any favorite recipes, then please send them via e-mail. Thanks!

Economics & Investing For Preppers

Here are the latest news items and commentary on current economics news, market trends, stocks, investing opportunities, and the precious metals markets. We also cover hedges, derivatives, and obscura. Most of these items are from the “tangibles heavy” contrarian perspective of SurvivalBlog’s Founder and Senior Editor, JWR. Today, we look at Bitcoin volatility. (See the Forex & Cryptos section.)

Precious Metals:

For those of you who took my advice and bought rhodium: This current spike to $10,000 per ounce is a good time to sell. As always: Buy low, and sell high.

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Greyerz: The Crisis Will Sink Stocks And Propel Gold

Economy & Finance:

At Zero Hedge: Covid-19 Contagion – An “Unprecedented” Moment For Our Hyper-Connected Planet

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Reuters: Electric dream: Britain to ban new petrol and hybrid cars from 2035

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At Wolf Street: Median CPI Runs Hot, Fed Averts Eyes

Continue reading“Economics & Investing For Preppers”

The Editors’ Quote of the Day:

“The American military experience in World War I and the influenza pandemic were closely intertwined. The war fostered influenza in the crowded conditions of military camps in the United States and in the trenches of the Western Front in Europe. The virus traveled with military personnel from camp to camp and across the Atlantic, and at the height of the American military involvement in the war, September through November 1918, influenza and pneumonia sickened 20% to 40% of U.S. Army and Navy personnel. These high morbidity rates interfered with induction and training schedules in the United States and rendered hundreds of thousands of military personnel non-effective. During the American Expeditionary Forces’ campaign at Meuse-Argonne, the epidemic diverted urgently needed resources from combat support to transporting and caring for the sick and the dead. Influenza and pneumonia killed more American soldiers and sailors during the war than did enemy weapons.” – Carol R. Byerly, PhD., from the introduction to her paper The U.S. Military and the Influenza Pandemic of 1918–1919

Preparedness Notes for Sunday — February 16, 2020

February 16th is the anniversary of U.S. Lieutenant Stephen Decatur’s “Most daring act of the age” as British Admiral Horatio Nelson called it. The Muslim pirates from the Barbary states – Morocco, Algeria, Tunis, and Tripolitania, had been leading raids against U.S. flagged ships, stealing the cargo and ransoming the crew back to the U.S. at exorbitant price. After two years of minor raids, President Thomas Jefferson ordered U.S. navy vessels to the Mediterranean Sea to engage them. The U.S. frigate Philadelphia ran aground near Tripoli and was captured. On February 16th, 1804, Lt. Decatur led an expeditionary force into Tripoli harbor to destroy the captured American vessel before it could be used to the Tripolitan advantage. Seventy-four men, including nine U.S. Marines, sailed into the harbor, boarded the ship, attacked its crew, capturing or killing all but two, then set fire to the frigate and escaped without the loss of a single American. The Philadelphia subsequently exploded when its gunpowder reserve was lit by the spreading fire.

February 16th is also the birthday of Edgar John Bergen, (1903-1978) an American actor, comedian, and radio performer, best known for his proficiency in ventriloquism and his characters Charlie McCarthy and Mortimer Snerd. He is also the father of actress Candice Bergen.

Today, in lieu of a feature-length article I’m posting two letters from SurvivalBlog reader ShepherdFarmerGeek. I consider them both important reading. – JWR

Letter: Elderberry and Wuhan

Dear SurvivalBloggers:
Just a quick note concerning Elderberry syrup and the Wuhan coronavirus (now named “COVID-19”) that I didn’t want to get lost in the extensive comments about the virus at https://survivalblog.com/post-exposure-prevention-pep-protocol-jj-mi/ and https://survivalblog.com/letter-wuhan-virus-shepherdfarmergeek/ :

  1. Normally, with flu, elderberry syrup is a positive and helps fight the virus.https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/04/190423133644.htm“Sambucol Elderberry Extract and its formulations activate the healthy immune system by increasing inflammatory cytokine production.”


  1. However, “…elderberry also enhances cytokine response, which may not be so good when one of the complications of pandemic influenza is cytokine storm.”


  1. And here we have that immune dysfunction also showing up with COVID-19

“In most moribund [dying] patients, 2019-nCoV infection is also associated with a cytokine storm…”


See this video at 19:42 for a description of what a cytokine storm does:

“Zhou Zheng (周正), an expert in respiratory medicine at the Second Affiliated Hospital of Zhengzhou University in Hunan Province, said one feature of 2019-nCoV infection is that patients can develop moderate symptoms in the first two days of infection but can become seriously ill on the third day or later. Attributing this to the phenomenon of cytokine storm — a high level of circulating inflammatory cytokines — Zhou said the novel coronavirus can stimulate the body’s immune system, which can further damage the cells. “A normal immune system protects, but an over-active immune system can not only damage the lungs but also other organs, including the kidneys, liver and heart,” he said.”

JWR Adds: The cytokine storm syndrome explains why the Spanish Flu killed nearly as many young people as it did elderly ones. I’ve now come to the conclusion that there is now no way to stop the Wuhan Virus from becoming widespread in the U.S. Canada, and Mexico. There will probably be successive waves of it, in 2020, 2021, and possibly beyond. During the worst of those outbreaks, we must be prepared to hunker down in family isolation. And of course a good healthy diet, exercise, a regular sleep schedule, proper hydration, and consistent intake of vitamins C and D3 as well as Magnesium will be crucial. And for any of you readers who still smoke or vape: You must quit completely now, or your statistical chances of surviving a COVID-19 infection are quite low.


  1. Moral of the story: Elderberry syrup, a prime tool in the arsenal against seasonal flu, might not be helpful against this Wuhan coronavirus. Might even make it worse. It’s probably too soon to tell, so keep a watch out for news about a connection.
  2. Note that melatonin apparently has an influence on the immune system that might reduce the potential for a cytokine storm (if you’re a mouse at least), and other herbs and supplements may have the ability to rein in the immune system overreaction (in a worst-case scenario where professional medical care is unavailable):


Trust God. Be prepared. We can do both!

– ShepherdFarmerGeek


Letter: Acclimate to Wearing N95 Masks!

Dear Prepper Friends and Family,
As someone who sleeps with a CPAP machine running every night I’ve grown accustomed to the strangeness of having a mask on my face. Even more so, when I exhale the mask fills with hot breath and it feels as if I’m suffocating. When I inhale, however, I get clean, fresh air and it’s all okay. But I had to train myself to not struggle with it.

We’re all going to run into this situation with N-95 filter masks if and when the time comes to wear them whenever we go out in public, to protect ourselves from catching this COVID-19 virus. Wearing these masks gets uncomfortable p-r-e-t-t-y fast. The inside of the mask fills with hot / humid air, and then when you inhale you get fresh, cool air. (It’s worse with masks that don’t have an exhalation valve!)

My advice to you would be to pick one of your masks (hopefully you have a decent supply) and try wearing it. Start out for short periods of time, maybe just a minute while you’re watching television or reading a book (something not requiring physical exertion!). Then work your way up to wearing a mask for 15 -to- 20 minutes, the amount of time you might have to wear it to go into a store to make a purchase once the virus turns up in our communities.

You can’t be taking the mask off when the danger is high, just because you’re uncomfortable. Some of you might have a strong reaction to wearing a mask and having the suffocation feeling. You need to work through that, get used to it, train yourself that it’s okay.

You can’t be fiddling with the mask, or cheating by lifting it to get a breath of “fresh air.” If there’s really a virus danger the outside of the mask will have hundreds if not thousands of virus particles stuck to it and disturbing them will be a bad idea.

Don’t forget that this virus has proven itself to be extremely contagious (even contagious disease experts have gotten themselves infected!). And that the CDC has just recently agreed that asymptomatic carriers are a real thing. The people around you might have few mild symptoms or no symptoms at all, but still be able to spread the infection. You just won’t know.

The N-95 masks are simple, fairly foolproof (nothing is “foolproof” because fools are so clever), and effective. So when the time comes it’s a smart thing to use. Please don’t settle for anything less than a mask officially rated at N-95 or N-100.

Don’t wait until the last minute to have a mask supply, and don’t wait until the last minute to acclimate yourselves to the strangeness of wearing one!

Trust God. Be prepared. We can do both!