When it comes to wilderness survival, large scale disaster, or even just camping outdoors we often try to do things in the same manner as we are accustomed to doing them at home. However what works well enough in civilization does not necessarily translate smoothly to a wilderness or disaster scenario where familiar supplies of every sort are limited or non-existent.
Solutions are available to most outdoor and survival problems, if only we have the knowledge and inventiveness to use them. But because we usually spend most of our time in civilization where specialized tools and products are readily available, we loose some of the edge in our abilities to utilize the common items we find around us in the wilderness.
Often it is simply a matter of key pieces of information missing in our expertise, which once provided suddenly gives us a powerful new way to accomplish necessary tasks. Survival Topics maintains that the best survivalists are experts at repurposing what is available to them under field conditions.
|Wood Ash Soap
You can use wood ashes instead of soap to clean your mess kit and cooking gear
Shown here is a greasy pot with food residue that we want to clean, a bottle of water that has been treated to destroy disease causing organisms, a pile of wood ash, and a scouring pad
Important: do not wash your gear with 200 feet (60 meters) of any source of water
Consider the daily chore of cleaning your mess kit after a meal. There can be no doubt that the proper cleaning of your mess kit and cooking gear is an important wilderness or disaster survival task; when it comes to the food you eat and the cooking gear and utensils that come in contact with it, a lack of proper hygiene can lay you low in short order.
Easy Access to Soap is Limited
In a disaster or wilderness survival setting you will often lack soap with which to wash your camp cooking gear and mess kit. Soap takes up weight and space, which is a very important consideration when every ounce and every cubic inch of your gear must be measured against what is most important for your survival. Especially when you are on foot the less you carry the better off you are; hard decisions must be made on what you bring with you and what is left behind.
On extended stays in the wilderness or during a large scale disaster re-supply from outside sources is usually not available. You are likely to eventually run out of any soap you have so an alternative means for cleaning your cooking gear and mess kit is preferable.
When practicing survival skills in the field I usually do not bring soap to clean my mess kit and cooking gear. To save on bulk and weight, I would forgo using any soap I had in favor of rubbing and swirling a mixture of water, mud and sand on cooking utensils in order to scour off caked on grease and food particles. Although sanding down cooking gear certainly removes food residues, it often doesn’t eliminate all the grease. And the mess kit and cooking gear sure take a beating.
For many years I was content on using the sand and mud method to clean my cooking gear when in the wilderness. But one evening while sitting around the camp fire after having washed the remains of the evening meal from my mess kit with the usual mud, sand, and water mixture, the smoke sudden cleared from my eyes and the world seemed fresh and new. I had independently made a discovery that had already been known for centuries. Read the rest of this entry »