Before tossing an item away stop and think about what other uses that item may have. So-called junk can be a lifesaver in a survival situation. Additionally, there are items that can be used for other than the intended purpose, items that can be used in a survival situation for example.
1.) Cardboard tubes from toilet paper, wrapping paper or paper towel.
The tubes make ideal molds for emergency candles when using petroleum-based paraffin wax, which is very common and is typically used for candle making. You would simply melt the wax and pour into the supported tube so it stands up while the wax hardens.
Cut the tubing to whatever size you want. One to two inch candles are ideal for placing under tin cans for heating foods or placed inside of tin cans to make small heaters. Support the tin cans so a candle can be placed underneath when heating water or food in the cans.
Wicks can be made using cotton string or any plant based cordage such as jute or even from twisted strips of cotton material. Dip the end of the wick that will protrude from the candle in the hot wax and suspend it centered in the tube as you pour in the melted wax.
The tubing can be removed or left in place until ready to use, but do not discard the tubing because it will be saturated with wax. It will make an ideal fire starting material. Cut up and store in a waterproof pill bottle or other container.
The cardboard tubing can also be used as seed starters indoors if it is imperative that you begin raising your own food. Cut the tubing into 2-4 inch sections, and tape off one end with duct tape and fill with seed starting soil. The tubing will absorb water helping to slow moisture evaporation.
When ready to transplant simply remove the tape from the bottom, but do this carefully so as not to lose the soil through the bottom. Have the hole dug and ready to drop the container in the ground as you remove the tape.
2.) Pill Bottles
Pill bottles make obvious storage containers for strike anywhere matches, or any item that needs protection from moisture. Place the striker board however, from the package inside with the matches, even though they are strike anywhere matches.
Keep in mind that wooden safety matches will need the striker board that is on the outside of the package to ignite, so make sure you always keep the striker board with the matches when you remove them from the box.
You can store thumb/flash drives in pill bottles to protect them if you have to evacuate. Carry cotton twine saturated in paraffin wax, dry tinder, and shaved magnesium in pill bottles as well, which are all used for fire starting.
There are dozens of uses for pill bottles just use your imagination and start filling them with survival items instead of tossing in the trash.
To water proof the container after it is full dip the cap end in melted paraffin wax. The wax will fill any gaps between the cap threads making the bottle essentially waterproof, and the bottle will float by the way.
Earrings can be re-purposed and used for fishing hooks or lures or used to connect tarps and ponchos together for shelter. Use the file blade on your multi-tool, sandpaper or even an emery board to sharpen the ends. Use the pliers on your tool to shape the earrings into hooks or use them to crimp the metal to hold tarps together.
4.) Emery Boards
Emery boards are inexpensive and there is no reason why you should not have a few or even a dozen in your survival kit. They do more than just file your nails. They can be used with strike anywhere matches for example.
Even though the matches can be ignited on any rough surface, it may be difficult to find a dry abrasive surface in some situations. The emery boards can be cut to fit inside a pill bottle with the matches so you always have a dry abrasive surface for your matches.
The boards can be used to sharpen earrings into fishhooks, used as an emergency knife sharpener, used to sharpen needles or to sharpen sewing needles made from snare wire or any thin copper wire.
Use the boards to create fine sawdust for fire starting by sanding small dry twigs. Once you have the sawdust in a small pile drip, some alcohol based hand sanitizer on the pile, use an alcohol wipe, or mix in some petroleum jelly. Typically, the saturated sawdust can be started with a flint and steel or Ferro rod. You can also collect and store the sawdust in a pill bottle for fire starting later on.
5.) Paraffin Wax
We talked about making candles using paraffin wax but there are other uses for candle wax as well. Wax can be used to help make items water-resistant, especially footwear. Carry the wax in a Zip Loc bag to keep it from coating other items in your pack.
To soften before use, carry it close to the body in cold weather. Cold paraffin will flake off when you try to rub it on clothing or leather so it needs to be softened somewhat.
Rub the wax on shoe/boot stitching and shoelaces after you lace up the boots or shoes to repel moisture. You can even rub the wax on the leather to repel moisture as well.
Fingertips or knuckles cracking and bleeding in cold weather then dip the finger(s) or knuckles in warmed wax so it coats the cuts and then slip on your gloves. The cracked skin will soften when wax is applied and allowed to remain on the cuts overnight.
Use warm wax to treat other cuts and abrasions to prevent dirt and debris from getting in the wound, but only use on abrasions or small cuts. Do not put wax in puncture wounds or deep cuts.
The wax is only used to protect the wound from dirt and other contaminates until medical help is available.
Dip cotton string or any plant based twine or cordage in wax to help create a fire in wet conditions. You can store a supply of wax-coated string in an Altoids tin, pill bottle or even inside of a water bottle.
When filling a dried water bottle with wax-coated string keep the end draped out of the bottle so it can be wrapped around the bottom one or two cap threads as you tighten the cap. Simply thread the cap until it is snug against the string. This always ensures you can grab the twine without having to cut up the bottle to get to it.
Use wax coated string to waterproof the caps on other containers as well by wrapping some of the waxed string around the last few threads and then snug the cap up against the string. This only works when there are enough cap threads to start the cap when the string is wrapped around the bottom one or two.
Dental floss can also be used to help waterproof the cap threads on any container as well.
You can use wax to waterproof matches. This method does work but testing shows that the wax must be carefully removed before striking the matches on the striker strip and even then the strip becomes clogged with wax and this reduces the effectiveness of the strike board. Carefully consider all this before waterproofing matches using wax. There are various ways of protecting matches from moisture without using wax.
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