By April 10, 2012 Read More →

What NOT to Prep – 3 Common Misconceptions

That’s right, I said “what NOT to prep.”  If you have made the decision to start preparing, you are experiencing information overload.  When I first started to prepare, I was told and read so much advice on what to prep I came to the conclusion that I should just prep everything!  Well yes, and no.

Questioning information that you read about prepping on the internet – even mine, is a good thing! Incomplete information distracts people who are new to the concept of prepping from focusing on what will save their lives, doing your own research helps fill the gaps of these information holes.  These are some common items I have chose not to prep after doing a lot of reading and little testing, you may choose to do differently.  I will add more things in future articles.  If you have a question on anything I have listed here, disagree with, or think I have forgotten something, feel free to leave a comment.  I will get back to you as soon as I can.  Always base your preps on common sense, think things through, ask yourself; how will this work in a stressful situation where you will not have the luxury of time?


Three Items I do NOT Prep:



A Year’s Supply of Toilet Paper:  Although it is nice to have, millions of people live perfectly clean (some may even argue cleaner) and sanitary lives without it by simply using water and soap to clean themselves.  Stocking TP is bulky, not everyone has the room for a year’s supply.  I keep only three months supply of TP on hand for that reason, food and water is more important – then if we use it up, we will switch to plan B.  A “plan B” needs to be time effective.  It is not time effective to pulp the fiber and make toilet paper, chances are you will have far too many other things to do in a prolonged ‘grid down’ situation to even consider doing that. Have a “plan B” that you can quickly implement is what you need to be prepared.

Our “plan B” is taking squares of fabric that are cut from worn-out clothing approximately 4.5 inches by 4.5 inches and leaving a stack near the latrine. You clean up with the fabric, then deposit the used fabric in a #10 can filled with a strong bleach/water solution (not so strong as to eat the fabric but strong enough to kill anything on the fabric) that is sitting near your clean fabric and cover it with a lid.  Next time you do laundry, you empty the whole can of bleach, water and fabric directly in with the hot soapy water, with your whites, then wash, rinse, hang dry and you’re done.  This process is not so different from the use of the cloth diapers that every child used wear before the invention of modern disposable diapers.  This process is not unsanitary and does not put anyone at undue risk of disease as long as standard cleanliness procedures are followed (hand washing). 




Soap Making Supplies
:  Making soap takes a lot of time and resources, even cold pressed soap requires fuel for a stove to melt and render fat, and that oil and fat may need to be used for food. In a prolonged emergency you will want to have a ready supply of soap on hand to use that you don’t have to make.

Same goes with laundry soap and dish soap. Stock up on the store bought stuff  (click here for 5 Great Soaps to Prep) it has no known shelf life, and is still fairly cheap. It’s very easy to purchase a year supply or more of soap. If you want to make your own laundry soap to save money right now – it’s a great thing to do for your family and budget, but you may want to consider having some pre-made stuff prepped for emergencies. 

On the same thought, if you want to learn how to make soap as a hobby it’s a worthwhile skill to learn and you can stock up on homemade soap just like you would store bought soap as long as the soap is not highly ‘super fattened’  (also known as a ‘lye discount’: this means you’ve used more fat than the lye can convert to soap, this is done in almost all modern homemade soap recipes so the extra oil/fat will leave your skin feeling more moisturized. So if your handcrafted soap contains too much extra oil know that it will go rancid with time).  Being able to make soap from the materials you have available to you will be an invaluable skill when the emergency is over and people are thinking straight again.  We will always need soap.  In this case keep some lye on hand, it has many other uses and having some will be much easier than making your own lye.


Image: Public Domain


Gold and Silver for Emergency Preparedness: Now, before the flaming begins, let me explain.  In short-term emergency situations like Hurricane Katrina where we had a temporarily failed micro economy ; did people run around buying and selling with gold and silver? No they didn’t. But, if you had a tank of gas, you could get almost anything you wanted, bottled water become very valuable and clean dry clothing were a big deal.  In a prolonged emergency situation where the grid is down and people are going without food, it’s true the dollar may collapse, but people aren’t going to want a gold coin, they are going to want FOOD.

Food, fuel, and possibly ammunition or medicine via barter will become the new system of currency not Gold or Silver.  Precious metals are investments, and should be treated as such.  They are a way to diversify your money and guard against inflation.  If you already have a year of food and supplies stored for your whole family and you are debt free and you have a plan B bug out location ready, then consider investing in Gold and Silver.  Focus on the basics: water, food, and first aid, in that order.  Then do some real research about investing in Gold or Silver and see if it’s the right choice for your family.  Keep in mind the US Government once confiscated it during the depression and don’t listen to those who tell you “…it will never happen again” because it can always “happen again.”  Part of prepping is being prepared for even things that seem unlikely.


What NOT to Prep – Part 2

What NOT to Prep – Part 3


Visit my blog, The Home Front – by clicking here!

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About the Author:

Stephanie is a writer for the American Preppers Network, a small local paper and for her blog, The Home Front and was featured in Marie Claire UK in the October 2012 issue that featured women preppers. She is also the credited writer of "Emergency Bag Essentials (Swatchbook): Everything You Need to Bug Out" released in August 2014 and available on "I write articles based on my own experience with emergency preparedness, self-sufficiency, homesteading, food preservation and life around the farmstead. I grew up in a very rural area where I learned to garden, the art of canning, to hunt and fish, and to raise my own animals for food. I also spent 6 years volunteering for the local county Search and Rescue group where I learned a variety of survival skills and a little bit about law enforcement protocol. " "As a general rule of principle I do not write articles about information that I have only read - if I am writing about something it's because I have done it myself and gone to great lengths to provide you with the facts meshed with personal experience. My alter egos are as an full time mom, amateur photographer, and backpacker." Stephanie's past APN articles are featured below on several pages. To connect with her --> click on one of the many little square social media buttons below!

41 Comments on "What NOT to Prep – 3 Common Misconceptions"

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  1. I definitely agree with what you state. I would, however, choose to include a phone old phones books as my ‘plan b’ for TP. Thanks for sharing!

    • Ron Hurst says:

      Phone books ink comes off on you try to get large sales catalogs usually free from places like Granger lots of times these supply companies bombard companies at the beginning of each year over half get thrown out ask around.

  2. You I have to say when I first read that I thought that you said to include iPhones and old phones as your “Plan B” TP – LOL! I was think gosh! Tell us how you really feel about those gadgets! 

    Yes phone book pages work as well – I just hate keeping those bulky suckers around and personally I would prefer the softer alternative.

    • Don Tops says:

      First I admire you very much and appreciate what you give to the community.  I think your approach is spot on. The TP resolution is perfect, we used cloth diapers and the kids were better for it I think.  My problem is one you hit the nail on the head.  We don’t own our homestead and won’t be able to own it outright in our lifetime.  We are just starting our prep per journey and have very low strict income.  I believe you are right and that in a meltdown we would lose our home and land.  This gives me pause about prepping and how to do it.  I believe we should try and get some sort of old school bus or something to convert into mobile prepping home, but honestly we don’t have the means for that either.  It depresses me greatly that we would be at the total mercy of others.  In thinking about it I quickly understand why people would become lawless just trying to survive.  It is a terrible thought and very depressing.  I have lived thru several hurricanes and know that we are good people who help eachother survive.  But I have also seen the worst of us come out to prey on those weaker.  I know one thing from these experiences, it does no take long.  The power grid is the most vulnerable and without it there is no clean water.  Clean water is the most valuable thing you will possess, it is what people will ultimately kill for because we can only survive two to thee days without it.  You are very talented and I think you should do a guide for prepping for the poor and meal among us, like us lol…..

  3. Bob Jones says:

    TP is not a necessity, it is a luxury. We lived in a rural home as a kid and we didn’t have any. We used old catalogs and newspapers in our 2 seater outhouse – really. The great thing about all of this and other things is I now also have other basic skills for survival because we as a family growing up had to live off of what we grew in our garden plot and do what most people now consider survival skills. To us it was our way of life…I’ve been able to pass some of these skills on to my wife and daughter. although my daughter has a fondness for saying “ewe”, she is learning…

  4. Tabitha says:

    I loved reading this article. I’m a baby when it comes to prepping, but I can’t help wonder about some of these things people are suggesting. Say the economy comes crashing down and someone has stocked a tremendous amount of goods but is still in debt. Wouldn’t they have the now “starving” debtor knocking at their door for payment in…their stock? Not counting food and water, isn’t it more important to focus attention and energy into paying off all debts owed then to buy more prep gear? 

    • Katie says:

      Tabitha, If the economy comes crashing down, the banks and credit card owners are not going to come from one side of the country to the other side of the country to collect the $200 you owe them each month. It’s just not feasible. Secondly, how are they going to know that you have a stockpile? and Lastly, most preppers have weapons, no-one’s getting through that front door. In your scenario, lets say I work hard on paying off my $15,000 of debt instead of prepping and when something bad happens then I have NO FOOD or water… what am I going to do??? I’m certainly not going to be happy that I invested my money into someone elses well being instead of my own. Which would leave me to go forage for food, which would be extremely dangerous.

    • KatieTue May 01 at 7:46 amTabitha, If the economy comes crashing down, the banks and credit card owners are not going to come from one side of the country to the other side of the country to collect the $200 you owe them each month. It’s just not feasible. Secondly, how are they going to know that you have a stockpile? and Lastly, most preppers have weapons, no-one’s getting through that front door. In your scenario, lets say I work hard on paying off my $15,000 of debt instead of prepping and when something bad happens then I have NO FOOD or water… what am I going to do??? I’m certainly not going to be happy that I invested my money into someone elses well being instead of my own. Which would leave me to go forage for food, which would be extremely dangerous.

      Katie – I would like to refer you to my financial preparedness series starting with this article here: It is very important that you know that our economy may NOT collapse all at once. It may be a slow process where we fall into to a depression for a few years first. And if that happens YES, YOUR DEBTORS will come collect the money you owe them. If you don’t or can’t pay they will sue you and place a lien on your house and then they take it from you. In the Great Depression people were still evicted from their homes even though there was no one to buy it. There is also a good chance that if the financial system were to collapse records would survive and past debt would be acquired by someone most likely the whatever government we end up with and the debt will STILL be owed. That is has happened several times in other countries that have collapsed. What good is that stockpile of food going to do you when the bank evicts you from you home and turns you into a refugee?? Why put yourself at that risk? That is exactly why thrift and frugality is one of the FIRST principals of preparedness.

      Prepping should not be an excuse to run up debt – and TEOTWAWKI is not a ticket out of the debt you owe. Prepping is about self-reliance, and if you owe money, you are a slave to that debt. You are not self-reliant. 

  5. Great article and you hit the nail on the head with some of the things we dont need. Like soap making lol. I always felt it was easier, cheaper and less time consuming to purchase bar soap. Dial is cheap for a butt load of it and who wants to spend time making soap? lol I will admit, i looked into it for a while myself and then realized it was much easier to just buy and store it.

    I wanted to comment on using magazines and paper and such for toilet paper. I remember back in high school we would take a sheet of regular lined paper and see who could get it the softest by crinkling it up and un-crinkling it over and over and over. It really makes it soft so this is something to consider if you do have to use real paper for toilet paper.

    I also made the *mistake* of buying silver bars of all weights as a barter item. Then i thought to myself, seeds will be more valuable, and so will coffee. (we dont drink coffee) So i made that one of my extras in my food storage for barter. I buy a big can of it and break it down into 2 measuring cups each and vacuum seal it. I figure 2 cups is plenty if it only takes a few tablespoons for a whole pot. I even got filters which can be used to filter large debris out of water for purification. In the camping section you can get a coffee peculator to make the coffee in. Anyways, i got off topic lol. Those are just some of the things i do instead of silver and I think those items would go much further in a *barter* type scenerio.

    I am looking forward to your next article :)

  6. Well JG, if you are debt free, you can always save that silver, its still going up. There have been a few collapses where when the economy does start to recover precious metals do come into play. Also it could make a nice little family heirloom to pass down to your kids if you never use it. Some of the silver we have came to us this way from my grandmother who left us with the instructions if we are ever in a pinch to cash it in. 

    I do recall the varied techniques of making reg paper softer that we used to use as kids while camping and if we were faced with a prolonged emergency I can assure you before we switch over to our plan B most our of fairly useless magazines will meet their end this way. Books are safe at our place – but magazines, phone books and all of that are fair game.

    I still think that soap making is a GREAT skill to learn. Its a really nice easy hobby anyone can do and homemade soap is better for your skin than the store bought stuff. But really, unless you are completely out – its so impractical to think that in an emergency you will have the time and resources to make soap. IF you do try to store the fat and oils you need, you will have to use it all within 6-9 months or risk it going rancid on you. In my opinion, its best to have the skill, and maybe some lye so if things get REALLY bad you will have the ability to make more soap, where others will not.

  7. Matt Cole says:

    Very nice article. I love it. 

  8. Joe Guzman says:

    Pretty good article. I’m pretty new to the whole prepping thing. I like what you said about the gold and silver issue. I hate to refer to the movies but sometimes we can learn about human behavior through them. I think you hit the head on the nail when you said that food and water would be more inportant than precious metals. In most disaster movies you never see soemone trading for gold, it’s always water, food, meds or weapons. Besides, if you stock up on gold .. who’s to say when you go to trade for water the person with the water won’t want more than what you brought? They will set the price for the water not you. I think stocking up on precious metale would be useless. And the whole bugging in thing we’ve been seeing the preppers do on tv… That probably wont work either. What happens when the roving gangs come around and try and take what you have? you might keep them at bay for a little bit.. until a few of them sneak up from the back while you concentrate your fire at the front of your house and set your ome on fire forcing you out. Then what? Screwed.. thats what. I think the only tru way to survive would be to be included in a tight nit community of like mided people in an area that is self sustaining, can be well fortified and properly defended.

    • I agree mostly with what you say but – there IS merit to the “bugging in” approach. Your success will depend on your location and numbers. If you are in the midst of a large city your survival will depend on your neighborhood’s ability to come together as a micro community. There is a gentleman who posts on several different survival forums that survived a nearly 2 year long city blockade/attack in the Bosnian War. They had no food, no services, and were constantly shelled and shot at. Their survival depended on their numbers, and their neighborhood’s ability to defend themselves. People who tried to do it alone, died, but neighborhoods that banded together, and families that banded together, fought off attacks and lived. “Bugging in” can work but it requires numbers and cooperation. Preppers tend to want to keep to themselves and not share what they are doing, but by involving our neighbors we could be saving our own lives. In a prolonged grid down situation, no one will be able to “go it alone” not even people like me who are fortunate enough to be out in the country.

      If you wish to read more on the conflict in Bosnia and the man who survived it – he has a blog here: there is a lot to learn in his story.

  9. Dr. Prepper says:

    True. Toilet paper = luxury. Russia had no TP when their economy took a crap.(no pun intended) I have often believed the europeans got it right with the bidet. Soap and water and no paper to flush and waste. The japanese have designed a few high end toilet seats that are computer controlled that even have blow dryers and massagers and the like(very peculiar indeed) Now obviously in a grid collapse SHTF situation a computer controlled toilet seat is out and in any SHTF were water conservation is a priority, a bidet is not ideal as well. So what is the solution? Ideas?

  10. we store hypoallergenic wet wipes. It might not be ideal, but it takes up way less space, its disposable, and can be used for other things, like washing your face.

  11. Greennovator says:

    Cloth diapers — they’re made for the job, are durable, washable, cheap, and soft.

    Forget the gold and silver and don’t trade ammo, food, or tools unless it’s with someone you trust and know well. Liquor, soap, coffee, and basic medicine will work very well for barter.

    I would recommend stockpiling a bunch of lye (the pure kind like Red Devil brand) as it has a lot of uses beyond soap, and if we don’t rebound for a while, it’ll be hard to come by.

    Stock food reserves, ammo, seeds, tools, large medical kit, a solar power system, CB radio, high quality water filtration (I like the Berkey which give you potable water from a stagnant feedlot pond :), and couple water pumps. Learn how to build a solar cooker and get a few woodgas stoves which will burn anything from twigs to acorns. Have a decent sewing machine (you’ll need a small inverter to run it off of the solar power). Learn to hunt with a bow (better to not draw attention). Get into aquaponics so you can have fish and plenty of veggies in a protected space. Learn how to make a still and grow sugar-beets. Get some chickens and build a predator resistant chicken-tractor. Get some good bikes with spare parts and a small trailer. Plant a bunch of hybrid poplars which you can harvest for firewood every 3 to 5 years (then they grow back even faster). Learn basic plumbing so you can set up rainwater and greywater systems.

    Just my $.02 :)

  12. I never thought of cloth diapers, good idea.

  13. Greenovator – Great tip on the populars. We have some and you can cut them back, harvest the wood and they will grow like crazy the next season. 

    Also yes – totally agree with the lye, it has so many uses and no known shelf life. 

  14. Thomas Kemmett says:

    Great article. I never invested in gold or silver, I bought lead, lots of lead. Not to fight with but to trade. I enjoyed reading this.

    • Ron Hurst says:

      Same, + reloading may be worth looking into and making your own bullets from lead or another less poisonous soft metal if you want to pick up a skill and have the funds.. Cases can be reused as long as they don’t get too thin and you can learn to measure that (and do it for others for trade) The powder will have to be stored up..
      If you just plan on stockpiling ammo make sure to buy ammo that has been sealed on the back side usually with red lacquer to prevent oil or moisture from reaching the powder charge and priming explosive after all you don’t want to have ammo that fizzles when pulling the trigger. Going hungry or loosing a fight could be the end of you.
      See this to get a view of the lacquer and see the different primer types.

  15. Kevin says:

    The value of having gold and silver is not for trade or exchange during a crisis, its value lies solely as a means to preserve ones wealth when currency is unreliable. For example, during a hyperinflation situation. During hyper inflationary periods your preps will keep your family going, but once it stabilizes (or after a new currency is instituted that has some stability) then your gold/silver can be converted to currency as needed. It saves your wealth through a crisis, while your preps saves your families lives during a crisis. Important distinction. Even without gold/silver your preps will keep you going. If you don’t have significant wealth that you need to preserve then your best bet is to put spare funds into increasing your preps rather than buying gold/silver.

  16. Kevin, ss I stated in the article, I do somewhat agree with that statement. However there are a few things you NEED to keep in mind about investing in gold or silver. 

    From 1833 to 2001, the compound growth rate of gold was 1.54%. Since September 11th, gold has made record returns, averaging close to 16% a year. The gains that gold has made in the last 10 years can’t make up for nearly two centuries of poor performance. 

    Many people invest in gold and silver out of FEAR. Today, like most commodities, the price of gold is driven by supply and demand, as well as speculation. The ongoing high political drama over the nation’s debt and the media-driven spirit of fear have also encouraged this recent spike in gold and silver prices.

    When prices are driven to artificial lows or highs out of fear and greed, investors create a bubble. And bubbles will ALWAYS burst. “Investing” is not buying something based on fear or greed. Investing in ANYTHING at its all time high is an UNWISE financial move – this is true ALL other investments and there should be no exception for gold and silver.

  17. Tamara says:

    Liquid soap/detergent may not have a shelf life, but the containers they come in do. I have been able to store for about 2 yrs before the soap/detergent eats through and they leak. Good thing they were on the floor and not above any food. 😉 Any ideas on what I can store it in?

  18. JPat says:

    Tamara, use glass jars. They don’t get eaten through and leak. (Beware they can break.)

    Add to the list bleach. It decomposes in a few years. Instead store dry Calcium Hypochlorite (pool shock). Use it to make fresh bleach as you need it.

    As hybrids, such as fruit trees, don’t propagate reliably by seed, learn vegetative propagation through cuttings.

  19. Krime says:

    great artical!
    i picked up some useful information in what you’ve posted.
    However, i do believe gold and silver will be a useful idem for the simple fact that most people will think its a useful idem. and if post-shtf, the economy comes back into play, those with the most silver/gold will be set.

    lye will not be that hard to come by, as its not that hard to make.
    if you take hard wood, and burn it, take the white ashes (no big pieces just the ash) and compact it into a 5 gallon bucket, place a small hole at the bottom of the bucket, but make sure you can plug it. then pour boiling water into the bucket, throuh the ashes, and catch what comes out the small hole in the bottom in a steel bucket or large steel pan.
    what comes out is your lye. sometimes the lye isnt strong enough, so you take your lye and pour it through a fresh batch of ash. the greese/oil/animal fat you can get when you hunt animals and do a little cooking.
    although ill agree it might not be a suitable thing to do right after shtf, as it does take some time, and the smoke/smell can lead unwanted people to you, it will be useful once you start homesteading.

    • I agree with Gold and Silver during a recovery. But I don’t feel its anything to worry about UNTIL you have all your other preps done. If you are completely set up – yes then explore Gold and Silver, but as an investment! Which means you follow the rules of any other investments including: NEVER invest at an all time high. But if we are truly looking at a TEOTWAWKI event I would be will to bet my right arm that no one is gonna want gold or silver (with the exception of maybe preppers who are prepared and know how valuable it will be in the future) because you can eat it, drink it or cook with it. If you would like to see an example of a real life SHTF event and how gold and silver didn’t come into play – feel free to read this post written by a gentleman who survived the Bosnian War :

      And on lye – I am not accusing you of anything so don’t ready anything into this, but what I have noticed in the prepping community is that people tend to think making lye is easy…..until they actually try it themselves. It sounds easy on paper, in practice, its a time consuming pain in the rear. I have tried several times and the resulting lye ruined one batch of soap – the next was passable but not pretty, and finally the last time it seemed to work ok – not great, just ok. The other thing you have to consider is that hardwood is not available everywhere. Such as in the Northwest. We have pine trees and lots of them but hardwoods (maple, oak, etc…) do not grow naturally around here – you have to plant them. If I were at my BOL – I would be SOL for hardwood. 

      But say you have a tree – and don’t want to save for making syrup or anything, you will still have harvest the tree and season the wood (your looking at letting it dry for 4 months or better) before its appropriate for making lye – and it does actually take quite a bit of wood to do it – and a hot fire as you need the nice fine white ash not the grey and black stuff. So you can’t really do it without someone knowing you have a fire going. 

      Its a worth while skill to learn, and will come in handy when the emergency is over – but its not something I am going to want to do during an emergency. And maybe not even right after. Lye is CHEAP and lasts forever and has more uses than just soap. Its a worthwhile item to prep.

  20. Ron Hurst says:

    ammo can be used as change during swaps just like silver coins and it’s more useful when the shtf so would be more acceptable even by those not armed.

  21. Plantgeek Prepper says:

    Having lived off grid in a third world country for over a year. I totally disagree with your statement on toilet paper. Having lived for 5 month with out TP and doing almost the same thing you described ( not by choice ). My issue with it is there is allot more chances of getting sick when handling anything more then the one use. It can also stress people out when having to deal with the dirty stuff. Life is going to be stressful enough as it is in a SHTF.  It might not be a critical thing but having some comfort in a bad situation is huge for moral. Yes its bulky and takes up allot of space. But having a few comforts make it easier to deal with the really big issues and it would be a great barter item. This is just my perspective having lived through it.  

    • Thank you for this first-hand perspective.  This is what I’ve read in my research about survivors of all kinds of catastrophes.  TP is cheap to buy now and easy to store in any little niche (e.g. the rafters in the garage), so to not do it is nuts when it will be SO valuable in such a situation.

    • Plantgeek – the ‘thing’ I described is commonly called ‘family cloth’ and it is used by many families across america, not just those families living off grid. While my Hubby was laid off for 3 years we used family cloth to save money on TP.  No one got sick, no was stressed out for having to deal with it. Although it did unnerve some family and friends. It’s not really all that different from raising a child in cloth diapers – which also will not put anyone in undue risk of getting sick. Every child in the US was raised in cloth diapers until modern disposables were invented – this was a common thing and may be again someday. But to each his own, I am confident with our preps.

  22. Anonymous says:

    We have the room to store TP, so my wife and I have over a 1 year supply. It’s in an area that is safe and dry. We also prep bath soap that is purchased in bulk when we find it on sale as well as toothpaste. I agree these are luxury items but they will do well for the barter system. When all of that runs out we’ll go back to the old ways of our grandparents & great-grandparents. We live in hurricane country and prepping is second nature for us. We rotate our goods, rotate our water, we have a backup sanitation system, a working hand pump for our well and a very inexpensive solar lighting system for night time as well as short range communications. We can trap, hunt, fish and we have 3 relatively large garden areas. We can our vegetables as well as meat. And even though it is controversial, we can milk and butter. We have chickens for fresh eggs daily…..Yes we live in the country, way back in the woods so we have a big advantage. We have medical supplies enough to handle small emergencies, (I’m a field medic.) And means to defend and stand our ground for a little while. O…I forgot we have a smokehouse, tools for wood working that don’t have to have electric. Means to cook large meals outside and a means for natural refrigeration to keep eggs cool and milk cool when we can get it.

    All in all, Katrina & Rita taught us a lot about preparedness. We made our mistakes and learned from experience. But we learn from the old-timers that are still alive in our area. They have been there and done that as a way of life.

    • Wild Bill,nc says:

      Wow, kinda hit close to home with tha TP issue…..if anyone spend a nite or two at a motel, raid the chambermaids cart, of everything….I saw on a site where this guy made “barter kits”, mostly personal hygiene items, tooth paste, lotion, shampoo, coffee, sugar packs, lengths of TP, put into Ziplocs or vacuum sealed packs…..TP is bulky but not very heavy, so this becomes “top shelf” items, buy two packs when ya buy one, it doesn’t go bad unless a mouse finds it…….as for washing a rag, each person should be responsible for their butt-rag….in construction, water is not always on and shelves are never stocked, and porta potties can be foul, maintaining your own rag will teach you something….also four squares of Charmin, will do tha trick, unlike cheap TP… for Money? Coin…..single dollar bills, ,,,,if you use ammo for barter, make sure you don’t give too much, ten rounds vs a box of fifty, you do not want to arm your oppressor,,,,,,people aren’t ready for a square of gold that cannot be cashed in, the area must “agree” on a new system of commerce, adapting to the old way, with little change, will be most accepted……treat soap the same as TP, just buy more every time you buy, ,,,don’t use as much as you have been,, directions on a box is in place so you will use more, thus, buying more product, not necessary,,,,buy more socks and undies, do laundry in bigger loads, less often…….worse case scenario= no trips to Wal-Mart for a year

    • Ron Hurst says:

      Just quick thought on TP.. I remember watching a prepper type show (not really sure what show) however.

      1. TP is biodegradable so what is the max life of it’s usefulness for intended purpose before it becomes more of a mess maker than it is worth for that purpose?
      2. At what rate does your family go through it?
      after figuring out those questions and doing some math you should arrive at your maximum desired quantity to stock + more if you have another purpose for it that still is warranted vs cost.

  23. J.E. Ante says:

    I stock several hundred paper plates and use them about 50% of the time now to reduce hand washing of dishes. I compost the paper plates in my garden and they make great worm food. They are usually eaten up in 6mos or less. So I disagree on non-stocking of paper plates. The convenience of not handwashing dishes now and the time saved handwashing dishes is just too great. Note: I do not have an automatic dish washer. I stock about 1000 paper plates and buy them only when on sale. I stock no sterofoam or plastic items stocked.
    ONE TIP ON LAUNDRY DETERGENT. Don’t use products with BORAX in them because borax is toxic in gardens. Only an extremely tiny micro amount is needed in a garden as a soil nutrient but if more is added the ground quickly become poisoned. People will want to use their grey water in drought conditions and so only stockpile non-borax type cleansers, laundry detergents, handsoaps, dish detergents, etc. Boxax will very quickly build up in your garden soils from grey water with borax products and kill most vegetable plants. Eventually too much borax from grey water might be leached out of soils (after stopped) but then this might take years to occur depending on the rainfall and the amount overdosed in the soils. — J.E. Ante

    • J.E. Ante says:

      I read your make your own laundry detergent article and internet search on boron toxicity in your 2012 post. But I still maintain with increased use of greywater and lower rainfalls and drought conditions boron will likely become a BIG problem for small gardens that use greywater with boron detergents in them. A leach field with plants to detox the greywater with boron is probably a necessity or a wise choice. Soils of clay will hold boron as well as desert soils and clay soils will take years to leach away the boron. High rainfall areas like the Pacific Northwest might be abit less at risk but you have many soil mineral deficiencies due to this higher rainfall. I would not want to risk my garden soils and longterm food growing ability on using greywater with boron products in it. I currently use a plastic laundry ball that changes the viscosity of water in the tub and a very small amount of non-boron liquid deterent (1/8th) of recommended on bottle.
      It would be interesting to test grow many common garden vegetables with boron greywater and see at what concentrations of boron and what vegetables die or are deformed. But then this would also likely damage a garden soil for many years so I do not want to experiment with this. Strawberries require a very micro amount of boron and boron packaging has a strong statement of not applying too much or soil toxicity will easily occur. Also the use of some limes like dolomite (not quick lime) to detox the borax out will turn the clay soil rock hard from the excess magnesium. The new 2013 garden book “The Intelligent Gardener” by Steve Solomon mentioned this hardening of clay soils with dolomite use vs. quick lime.– J.E. Ante

  24. contraryoldwoman says:

    Not sure where bleach to clean the rag-wipes is gonna come from once the shft.

    • I stock them both. In my current location and in my BOL. It will come from my stocks. I also stock HTH (high test hypochlorite) – you can make bleach from HTH by mixing it with water. I have enough HTH to fill an olympic sized swimming pool with bleach – TWICE. So I think I am covered. 

  25. MotherLodeBeth says:

    We have used both a bidet set up as well as washable wipes and both work well. Being off grid and having a modern composting toilet the washable clothes are great. Interesting fact. If a person eats a whole healthy diet devoid of junk food, fast food, their solid waste will require less cleaning which is why a moist washable cloth works just fine.

    As for gold or silver, I simply have nice sterling silverware that we use a lot and should we realllllly need silver we can sell a spoon or fork as needed. What people will actually need is heirloom vegetable, grain seeds since folks have to eat. And if a person lives near a river, lake, ocean fishing line and hooks are something one should have on hand. Knowing how to set traps for small game is something a person should know how to do as well.

    While I make my own soap, I cannot say I have supplies on hand since wood ash, lard etc are items we would have ready access to and these along with goats milk are what I use most when making soap.

    Best advise my late Father gave me was never get hooked on anything you wont have ready access to. One reason not to get hooked on smoking, or eating lots of sweets etc.

  26. ken dean says:

    Been prepping a while. I do have a ton of ivory soap in seal-a-meal bags, ,enough for at least 5 years.TP maybe 2 years , we took out the center rolls and bagged them also. I have stored seeds for several years. At the end of each garden season I buy what’s on sale. I have a lot of seeds, these do not include my cached heritage seeds. No way would I barter ammo, We do make a little wine, beer and whiskey. We each have skills too trade and are competent in security measures. Barter should be for skills you don’t have not food you need.

  27. faithjoleen says:

    I wanted to thank you for sharing your extremely helpful & useful information.
    I guess you would consider me as a newbie, since I’ve only been prepping for 1 year. I’m somewhat confident that I have enough food stored for a family of 5. This consist of my 2 daughters, 2 grand children (1 boy & 1 girl) and myself. It’s stressful enough as it is without knowing whether to store barter items or if I even want to go there. But the prepper in me still manages to buy some bartering items, like body soap, coffee, toothpaste and other hygiene products. The liquor I buy will be used medical purposes only. BTW, I’d like to add that I only buy these when they are on sale. Being a single mom, that’s the only way to go.

    I hand made sanitary pads for my daughters out of flannel and old diapers. The inside of the pad is made up of cotton batting. I’m currently working on making more. They girls would use the same concept of dropping them bucket full of water with a little bleach. The bucket would have a top and it would be next to the latrine. I never thought about using the same concept for TP. Can you imagine storing for TP for 4 females, LOL! I will definitely start making our own toilet cloths. As a young lady, we would pick cotton and had to do our business out in the fields. As TP, We would have to use leaves, any kind, luckily we never had the misfortune of using poison ivy leaves. That would NOT have been good, LOL. Obviously I’m still alive and healthy without any long term effects, other than an everlasting memory and an appreciation of the luxuries we have now. The concept of using cloths suits me a lot better than leaves, trust me!!! If my girls ever complain about using cloth as TP, my response will be “There are plenty of leaves out there”!

    I also make my own soap and debated whether to store Lye or not. The olive oil I currently store will be use for my cooking purposes only. I wouldn’t want to use it for my soap making. I came to a decision that it would be too much work to do if the SHTF. First of all, it would take up too much valuable time, time I’ll be using to tend my garden, my chickens, rabbits and preparing food, etc. etc. So what I’m doing now is making as much as I can and storing it for the sole purpose of using it in the winter when our skin gets very dry, it is so much better for my skin during that time. I have stored enough Irish Spring for my family and for bartering. Everyone can agree that we will always need soap. Maybe I’ll store Lye for other reasons, but not soap making. I do have a bottle of Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint Soap and I like the idea that I can use it with olive oil and spray it on my plants to get rid of aphids. Never knew that. I’ll have to stock up on that (it is a little costly).

    I store powdered laundry soap, usually get that on sale too. Don’t know how long it takes for those plastic bags to deteriorate. The Hispanic (which I am) brand seems to be more cost efficient for me.

    As for Silver & gold, even though I have stored enough food is not an option for me. My finances don’t allow me to do so, besides, I’d rather buy some more ammo for my stockpile.

    On having a dog, I’ve always told my daughter it would be another mouth to feed but when I read your comments, I’ve decided to let her have a small dog because it will make HER and the grandkids feel calm and safe. Me, on the other hand prefer not to have another expense. I think storing some chick feed (for baby chicks only) and rabbit food is enough for me. Thank God my chickens are pretty good foragers.

    Although I have tried to join a group with a BOL, I haven’t had much success. Some have an extensive application process. It’s quite an ordeal while other groups don’t seem to get off the ground. Nevertheless, I more or less know that there is a possibility that we may have to do it on our own. The likelihood of us not making it without a BOL sometimes discourages me from prepping any further. (rest assure, this feeling doesn’t last very long!) My next step is to move to the country in hopes that it’ll give us a slightly higher chance of survival. But I wanted to let you know that you answered some questions that I’ve always questioned as far as bartering was concern. I, too, thought it would be a dangerous venture, knowing that the worst in people come out during any kind of disaster. It’s dog eat dog, unfortunately we as women will be one of the first to be eaten (or worst). We’ll be putting up a good fight though.
    Again, thanks for all your useful information, God Bless.

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