Most preppers and survivalists have a waste-not, want-not philosophy, and tossing or throwing away a pair of jeans with some wear left in them just goes against the grain! Here’s how to make the best use of these materials in your survival gear.
by Leon Pantenburg
What can you use worn-out jeans for? You know, the kind that are just used up because they were worn constantly. We’re talking about plain, 100 percent cotton denim, probably dyed blue or black, jeans. The idea, here, is to make the best use of this worn-out pair and not waste anything!
Here are some suggestions:
Hand them down: If the jeans are just outgrown, the best choice is to give them to somebody. (Some expensive, new designer jeans look like beat-up, worm, ragged hand-me-downs anyway!)
Don’t forget your local thrift or charity shop – they can use the donations!
Quilting: The original idea of sewing quilts was to use up scrapes of cloth. Cut up the useable denim in the legs and seat and give it to the local quilting club, senior center or crafters group. Or, you can cut up larger pieces of denim and save them until you come up with a suitable project.
Save the pockets: The cargo pockets with buttons or snaps make great little bags for miscellaneous small items. I save such pockets and store strikers and rocks for flint-and-steel firemaking. If you think about it, there are all sorts of things that can be stored in these cut-out pockets.
Recycle the zippers, snaps and buttons: Cut around the hardware, leaving about an inch of material around each one. These can be used in other projects, and/or donated to someone who sews.
Make charcloth: Charcloth is charred material that has been specially “cooked” to catch a spark, and it’s very easy to make. Charcloth is a must-have article in your wilderness or urban survival kit. If you can make a spark with something, it can be caught with charcloth, and it will create a hot ember. Learn the skills to make a tinder bundle and blow this ember into a fire.
The local Boy Scout troop makes charcloth out of 100 percent cotton jeans, generally Levi or Wrangler brand. Some of the designer jeans apparently have an additive that inhibits flammability, so you want to check that out first.
In a survival situation, if you can make a spark with something, it can be caught with charcloth. The spark will grow on the charcloth, and create a hot ember. You should have the skills to make a tinder bundle and blow this ember into a fire. (Click to learn how to make charcloth,)
Make waxed firestarter: Here’s where we use up the seams, waistband and any leftover, odd-sized thick pieces. This project also uses up those tacky old Christmas and decorative candles. Melt the candles together until it is liquidized and very hot, then SHUT OFF THE HEAT, and dip the seams into it. Once the wax is infused into the material, pull out the seams and let dry.
Presto! You have created a waterproof, virtually fool-proof survival firestarter. This firestarter lasts indefinitely and is so cheap (as in Free!) that it can be kept in all your survival kits. (Before you rely on anything in a survival kit, make sure you have tested it. All wax is not created equal! Some of the dripless waxes may be hard to light. )
If you have a wood stove, you’ll use a lot of this firestarter, and it makes a great gift for camper friends, people who cook with charcoal or who have fireplaces or wood heat!
If you look at those worn-out jeans as a survival resource, you can think up new ways to use them. Let me know what you come up with!