Vinegar As An Essential Multi-Purpose Tool for TEOTWAWKI- Part 1, by J.R.

During TEOTWAWKI, long-term survivability will depend upon more than adequate caloric intake and the ability to defend oneself and one’s family.  Historically, the leading cause of death during times of prolonged war, conflict, or natural disasters has not been violence or the direct impact of disasters, rather, most people perished due to rampant disease and infections caused by the interruption of access to medical treatment, clean water, and adequate hygiene.  In dire times, access to medicinal agents and the ability to both prevent food and water-borne illness and to maintain hygienic living quarters may make the difference between life and death.  Although various options abound to address one or more of those concerns, for the budget-minded prepper, tackling each of those categories can prove costly and confusing.  But what if we could utilize one affordable and easily obtainable substance to treat many medical conditions, preserve food, and provide for a hygienic environment?  Many people may be surprised to learn that such a substance does exist and has been known since ancient times.  That incredible substance is vinegar.  

Even before the rise of civilization more than 6,000 years ago, vinegar was known among many cultures for its medicinal, preservative, and cleaning properties.  Along with alcohol, vinegar was discovered independently and used heavily by almost every culture of the ancient world for many of the same uses we think of today.  In ancient China, Korea, Babylon, and Egypt vinegar was used widely by all classes, from slaves to sovereigns, as a means to treat the ill and infirm, to ensure food preservation for lean times, and clean domiciles.  Hippocrates, the father of medicine, wrote about using vinegar.  Vinegar is also mentioned numerous times in the Bible, both the New and Old Testament. This is all because vinegar has such a variety of uses in food, medicine, non-toxic cleaning, and even removing rust and corrosion from metallic objects.  

Vinegar was so widely known due primarily to its simple and sometimes spontaneous nature. Vinegar is so incredibly easy to make that it was most likely discovered by accident, much the same way that alcohol probably was. In fact, the process of producing vinegar is nearly identical to that of alcohol.  That procedure, known as fermentation, is a biological process wherein microbes of the genus Acetobacter metabolize simple sugar, starch, or alcohol into acetic acid.   Acetobacter is so prevalent in the environment that nearly any hydrated sugar or alcohol can seemingly spontaneously convert into vinegar given time. If you have ever left an open bottle of wine on the counter for too long, you have likely already inadvertently made your own vinegar.  Some more commonly known vinegars include apple cider vinegar, red wine vinegar, rice vinegar, distilled white vinegar, coconut vinegar, balsamic vinegar, and malt vinegar.  Though the process of making vinegar is very simple, there are keys to exploiting its full potential if a TEOTWAWKI scenario comes to pass.  For whatever vinegar you use, it is important to make sure to use the raw, unfiltered form to reap the maximum benefits from all the qualities vinegar has to offer.  This is especially important when used as a medicinal measure. 

In this essay, we will examine some of the uses of two types of vinegar, but in particular, raw, unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar (hereafter referred to as ACV).  Perhaps the most beneficial type of vinegar, raw, unfiltered ACV has literally dozens of applications. Let us first explore the medicinal properties of ACV.    

Health Benefits

We all know that prevention is the best medicine, and this is especially the case during TEOTWAWKI.  ACV contains minerals, vitamins, essential acids, and enzymes.  Catching a cold or having the flu is a relativity simple fix presently because we can easily make an appointment with our primary care doctor or go to the emergency room if need be, but we know both of those options will be off the table when the grid goes down.  ACV has the medicinal knockout punch to help the immune system fight many common viruses and ailments.  With a recommended dose often ranging from one tablespoon to one ounce, individuals need not be concerned with consuming large quantities in their diet.  Taking it straight, in its undiluted form, may be tough for some unaccustomed to the unique, strong flavor of ACV, while others may enjoy it.  Diluting it, or chasing it with water will help lighten the taste and alleviate potential damage to teeth due to the acidity.  Many prefer to dilute ACV in a glass of water and add some honey to make it more palatable.  

Historically, ACV held a place of high regard in the medicinal cabinets of doctors, healers, and elders.  Hippocrates used vinegar as a medicinal treatment to tackle various aliments, including pleurisy and pneumonia.  In modern times ACV has been shown to be an effective treatment against intestinal infections caused by E. coli and salmonella.  During the American Civil War, ACV was given to soldiers on both sides to help prevent scurvy on the front lines.  Modern science has indicated through a number of studies that ACV may be beneficial to a wide range of biological functions in our bodies.  Many of us take vitamins and supplements everyday in hopes of adding some extra nutrition to our daily diet that may be lacking in various nutrients.  Unfortunately, many of these supplements are expensive and not available around the common man’s household.  ACV is regarded as a superfood by many nutritionists and is an affordable supplement that anyone can add to their daily routine.  Medical studies have demonstrated how ACV can slow or even halt the growth of various forms of cancer cells, shrink tumors, lower blood pressure levels, and assist in insulin regulation in people with diabetes. Those are just a few of the documented medicinal benefits, but traditional medicine expands the potential uses of ACV far beyond the scope of this essay.

These benefits are especially important during TEOTWAWKI because our minds and bodies will be under a considerable amount of ongoing stress, causing us to be more exposed to possible health complications.  Consuming ACV is a great way to boost one’s immune system in the present and an essential preventative measure if the grid goes down. Additionally, ACV and other vinegars are great tools to use for purposes outside the body.


During TEOTWAWKI, cuts and scraps from working hard around the house will no longer be a minor issue.  Even with access to antibiotics, infection is a serious threat. Proper hygiene and prompt cleaning prevents many small wounds from festering, but what about when antibiotics and cleaning products aren’t readily available?   How will we prevent or treat infection? We will be exposed to increased risk of physical injury in a grid-down scenario when the machines of modern age can no longer do the work for us. That risk of injury factors directly to an elevated risk of infection.  Thorough cleaning of abrasions is essential. Distilled white vinegar, which has a higher acetic acid content of 6% is a natural antiseptic and can be used to successfully disinfect a wound that has been exposed to possible germs.  To disinfect with vinegar, merely mix a 50/50 solution of sterile water and vinegar then lightly scrub and irrigate the wound with the solution.  This solution is particularly valuable when a medicinal iodine solution is not available. This technique was used during World War I on soldiers when medical supplies were in limited supply.

Anti-Bacterial/Topical Pain Reliever

ACV can also be used to treat sunburns by applying a cloth soaked with both water and vinegar directly on the sunburn or by using a spray bottle filled with a 50/50 solution of water and vinegar that is then sprayed over the sunburned area which will help alleviate tenderness and prevent blisters.  ACV is also a remedy for diarrhea because diarrhea is primary caused by a bacteria or virus in the intestinal track and ACV is great at killing those germs.  A scratchy, sore throat can also benefit from ACV.  Bacteria often stay in the throat and cause excess mucus when you’re sick with a cold.  Drinking or gargling some ACV will help eliminate excess mucus in the throat while also killing pain causing bacteria.  On top of all that, ACV and white distilled vinegar can be applied to itchy bug bites, poison ivy rash, and jelly fish stings to help minimize itching, irritation, and swelling.  

Vinegar’s Acetic Acid

Along with disinfecting wounds on the body, vinegar can be used to thoroughly disinfect your environment.  The primary active agent in all vinegars is acetic acid, which kills bacteria and viruses on household surfaces. There may be a situation during TEOTWAWKI where there is danger of contagion; keeping a clean sterile environment means the difference between getting sick or not. Even multi-drug resistant tuberculosis can be eliminated with vinegar given appropriate application. Distilled white vinegar, again because of the 6% acidity, can be used to disinfect all commonly touched surfaces in your home.  If bleach supplies have been exhausted, vinegar can be used for nearly all household cleaning purposes.  Distilled white vinegar is commonly used in homes where an individual may suffer from a chemical sensitivity and using harsh chemicals in your home is not an option.  It can also be used as a degreaser in place of other harsh, flammable, or reactive solvents. In addition, ACV can be used to remove rust and corrosion from metallic objects or tools.  Archaeologists even use ACV to substitute for electrolysis when removing corrosion from delicate artifacts.  For the scientifically inclined, both ACV and distilled white vinegar can even be used to make battery cells!  Keeping several gallons of distilled white vinegar and ACV on hand with a few ***spray bottles*** gives one the ability to always disinfect the home when needed without causing an unwanted allergic reaction from harsh chemical cleaners.  

Acetic acid has the capacity to kill tough bacteria and viruses, but having even a few more extra gallons of vinegar on hand will help out greatly when it comes to preserving food as well. Vinegar is safe and effective food preserver.  The ability to preserve food to eat at a later date is a traditional practice that took place in just about every country homestead and across many cultures.  Pickling and fermenting in vinegar is a safe, delicious, and nutritious way to ensure food security.  This practice will have to take place in every home in a TEOTWAWKI situation, if people expect to keep their families fed.  Buying distilled white vinegar for canning may be the easiest solution for canning needs, but ACV works too, as long as the acidic acid levels are 4.5% or higher.  With an inexpensive acid titration kit, vinegar can be tested to measure acetic acid levels to make sure the correct acidity is present.  Certain foods do require the use of vinegar when canning, so if you want those foods on your long-term menu during a grid down situation, keeping a supply of vinegar would be a necessity. Of course you could always learn to make your own.