Friday, September 16, 2011


Tinder is essential to get a fire started in the wilderness. The idea here is to gather DRY materials that will light very easily. A few sparks will get good tinder to catch fire. Here are some suggestions for material to use as tinder:

  • Birch bark, dried grasses, fine wood shavings, cotton fluff, bird down and waxed paper.
  • Pine needles, pulverized fir cones and the inner bark from cedar trees
  • Dried fungi, scorched or charred linen/cotton.
  • Dry nests of mice or birds.
The easiest way to light timber is obviously going to be a device or tool designed to create fire such as a lighter or matches. In a pinch though you can use other methods such as using a lens (to focus sunlight), flint and steel, a fire bow, a hand drill, or a fire plough. In future articles I'll go over how to use these fire starting methods in more detail.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Rope Making

Vines, grasses, rushes, barks, palms, and animal hairs can all be used to make rope or line. The stems of nettles make first-class ropes and those of honeysuckle can be twisted together to make tight lashings. The stronger the fiber, the stronger the rope. Some stiff fibers can be made flexible by steaming or warming. While pliable vines and other long plant stems can be used for short term purposes, they may become brittle as they dry out. A rope made from plant fibers that are twisted or plaited together will be more durable. The tendons from animal's legs also make good strings, but they tend to dry hard. Be creative! Keep your eyes open and do the best with what you can find.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Finding Water

  • Look in valley bottoms where water naturally drains. If there is no stream or pool look for patches of green vegetation and dig there.
  • Dig in gullies and dry stream beds.
  • In mountains look for water trapped in crevices.
  • On the coast dig above the high water line, or look for lush vegetation in faults in cliffs: you may find a sping.
On a side note, be suspicious of any pool with no green vegetation growing around it, or animal bones present. It is likely to be polluted. Check edges for minerals which might indicate alkaline conditions. Always boil water from pools. In the desert, lakes with no outlets become salt lakes and water from them must be distilled before drinking.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Pickling and Salting Meat and Vegetables

Fish and meat can be pickled using the citric acid from limes and lemons. Dilute juice and water 2:1, mix well and soak the flesh for at least 12 hours. Transfer it to an airtight container with enough solution to cover meat. Vegetables can be preserved by boiling and then keeping in saltwater. To make sure brine solution is strong enough, add salt until a potato or root vegetable will float in it. Another method of using salt is to tightly pack layers of salt and vegetables. Wash of the salt when you need to use them.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

How to Ration Water

In a survival situation you should begin rationing your water immediately even if you have a good supply. You have no idea how long it will be until rescue or until you find civilization. The general guideline is to drink no water day one. Your bodies reservoir will replenish this. Days two through four drink 14fl oz and days five onward drink 2 - 8fl oz daily depending on climate and water availability. Moisten lips and tongue while drinking, before swallowing. To avoid vomiting, sip slowly.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Peventing disease

One of the many concerns one might face while braving the wilderness is the threat of disease. It's much easier to prevent a disease than it is to cure one with limited resources so here are some tips you can use to your advantage:
  • Protect food and drink from flies and vermin
  • Bury excreta
  • Wash yourself often and avoid swallowing water when you do
  • Wash and smoke louse-ridden clothes
  • Cover body to reduce risk of insect bites
  • Sterilize eating utensils
  • Wash and peel fruit
  • Clean hands often, especially when eating or preparing food.
  • Purify drinking water
  • Get all suitable immunization before traveling
Most of these are common sense but they are important to keep in mind either way so stay vigilant!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Knowing Which Plants to Avoid Eating

In a survival situation plants are most likely going to be the most common source of food. Therefore it is important to know which plants to avoid eating as many are poisonous (such as the Cherry Laurel, pictured above) and dangerous to ingest. Here are some general guidelines when it comes to identifying plants that should be avoided.

  • Avoid old or wilted leaves - The leaves of some plants (raspberry, blackberry, peach, plum, cherry) devolop deadly toxins when they wilt so stick to fresh green leaves.
  • Avoid plants with barbs on stems or leaves - Even tiny barbs can irritate the mouth and digestive tract.
  • Avoid fruit which is divided into five segments unless you know it is safe - Nature has a way with patterns and many five segment fruits are harmful to ingest.
  • Avoid Red plants unless again, you know they are safe - Another pattern you see is that most red plants are dangerous to eat.
  • Avoid plants with milky sap - there are a few safe ones such as the dandelion (every part of a dandelion can be eaten EXCEPT for the stem which of course, contains white milky sap) but for the most part steer clear.