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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

How Glow In The Dark Survival Gear Mods Could Save Your Life!

Simply adding glow in the dark gear mods to your 
survival gear and tools helps you keep track of them
much after dark!
Everyone knows that a large part of being prepared for a survival situation means having the right tools on hand. But what if you made the necessary preparations and gathered all those necessary tools, but then you lose your knife, firesteel, or other critical survival tool in the dark? Or what if you simply need to find something quickly and easily in the dark after you have gone to bed?

Losing gear is so easy to do and most of us have done it. You can easily get your firesteel out, start your tinder or fire steel, cavalierly set your firesteel down somewhere while you attend to nurturing your fire... then once your fire has taken off realize you have no idea where you laid your firesteel!! So frustrating!! The same can happen with your knife, saw, machete, or any other piece of gear! Especially in the dark!

So what’s the answer? Well one really prudent precaution to take is to simply add a modification of some kind to your precious gear that makes it (or at least a small part of it) glow in the dark so it is much easier to find!

There are a number of ways for you do to this. You can actually buy gear that has GITD components already built into it like a knife with GITD scales or a firesteel with GITD grip. But many of these items, while they may glow in the dark, tend not to be of very good quality on other important fronts. 

You could put a strip of glow in the dark Duck Tape or a glow in the dark sticker of some kind on your gear, but those could potentially get wet and eventually come off.

Glow in the dark paracord is another possibility. You could put lanyards made of glow in the dark paracord on your knives and firesteels! You could put a turkshead knot wrap on your pack or gear handles. This is a nice solution in many ways, but much of the GITD “paracord” out there is not really 550 paracord at all, so you must be careful about treating it as such.

Glow in the dark paracord doing what it does
best... glowing in the dark!
While we are talking about paracord, another clever option is glow in the dark cord ends or even beads that you can put right on your paracord. These make great GITD zipper pulls for jackets and packs!

Another great solution is to get ahold of some high quality glow in the dark powder or paint. The nice thing about this stuff is if you get quality powder or paint, the glow “charge” can literally last HOURS!! It’s really impressive stuff!

You can then mix your GITD powder into a epoxy mixture or Sugru and use it as filler in divots and various other pockets or depressions in your gear. You can even add a dollop of the glowing epoxy mixture into a hole you drill into your kydex sheath or knife scales for this purpose, making a glow in the dark dot integrated right into your gear!

One more option that is popular with flashlight enthusiasts is glow in the dark rubber O-rings that you can put on your flashlights or even fire pistons. Signaling is yet another terrific use for GITD materials and mods. You could leave glow in the dark trail markers with strands of glow in the dark paracord or glow in the dark Duck Tape to assist search and rescue with locating you after dark! 

Check out this before and after shot of this paracord survival
grenade! Just one example of how glow in the dark survival 
gear items are so much easier to find in the dark!
Glow in the dark mods have a lot of practical survival uses and can help you keep your gear from getting lost. What other glow in the dark mods can you think of for survival gear? Have you added any GITD mods to your own gear already? Tell us about them with your comments below!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Why MEN Should Be Using Pinterest!

Why EVERY Man Should Be Using Pinterest!
Ever wonder why there isn’t a Pinterest for men? 

Well actually, there is. It’s called... Pinterest. Most men just don’t realize that Pinterest is for them too! And honestly… if you are a man and you are not using Pinterest, you are really missing out. There is so much cool “man stuff” on Pinterest and we are going to prove it to you!

While Pinterest continues to thrive as one of the top social media powerhouses (70 million users in 2014), it does have a serious PR problem. Pinterest seems to be neglecting an real opportunity to virtually double it’s users by simply attracting men. Currently, Pinterest use is overwhelmingly dominated by women (80%)! But why? There is so much terrific “man stuff” on Pinterest too!

So why not men? 
So why is Pinterest mostly hugely successful with women? We honestly have no idea. For some reason the whole visual/image approach to collecting ideas and inspiration in an easy to use web service just really resonated with women very early on. But one thing we do know is... men are really missing out by choosing to pass on Pinterest.

Very few men have any clue how crazy rich Pinterest is with “man stuff”. Sure, Pinterest can save you money, help you organize your life, help you learn how to do all kinds of DIY projects, and SO much more... but Pinterest offers so MUCH more than that.

What kind of “man stuff” you ask? Well… what kind are you into? Cars? Fishing? Grilling? Tattoos? Fitness? Camping? Woodworking? Motorcycles? Cigars? Poker? Sports? Guns? It’s all on Pinterest! And lots of it!

What is the big deal about Pinterest?? 
We all know by now what a great resource the internet is in all of our lives. We turn to sources like Google, YouTube and Facebook for all sorts of important information. What makes Pinterest so uniquely powerful is two fold: Pinterest is highly visual (which is incredibly powerful in helping us orient ourselves in this fast-paced world), and it is like a supercharged “bookmarking” system that makes it really easy for you to come back to and organize various articles, sites, photos, videos and more all in one place! Pinterest is frequently preferred by its users over even Google for finding all kinds of life solutions!

How Pinterest literally saved me $5000! 
Our air conditioner went out and the repair man told me exactly what was wrong with it: Our furnace blower motor went out. We’d just spent $1000 two months ago to get the furnace fixed and now it was going to cost us an additional $1000 to get this issue fixed. But the repair man told me that several other problems with our HVAC system were eminent and that we should get a whole new system for $5000. I was not pleased at this news or at the prospect of shelling out another $1000 to $5000… And I suspected that I was getting snowed.

So… I turned to Pinterest. I was amazed what I found. All kinds of pins that pointed me toward various web resources and DIY videos on YouTube that gave me all the information I needed to determine what parts I needed to replace my furnace blower motor and capacitor… for under $300!! I ordered the parts, carefully followed the instructions on the resources that I found via Pinterest and we were back up and running again after about a half day’s work!

Browser bookmarks suck. Pinterest doesn’t. 
Look, we all find all kinds of great info, pages, images, videos and more on the web that we want to come back to, right? Bookmarks and favorites in your browser just don’t cut it anymore. How about a visual, organized, convenient and information-rich resource to replace those old browser bookmarks and favorites? Yeah? Congratulations! You just became a huge fan of Pinterest.

Pinterest is WHAT YOU MAKE IT!!! 
Not interested in Crock Pot recipes, makeup tips and wedding dresses? No problem. Don’t repin anything about those topics. Don’t follow any pinners or boards that do. Don’t create any boards about those topics. Interested in vikings, motorcycles, tattoos, grilling, fly fishing, the Walking Dead… or whatever else you can think of? Make boards about those things and pin pins about those topics! It’s fun, relaxing, inspiring and such a great way to learn new things and collect all of your ideas and inspiration in one organized easy to use resource that you can access from all of your devices!!

Find something cool on the web and want to come back to it? Add it to one of your Pinterest boards right from your browser (typically with an easy to install browser add-on or plugin)!

And what’s cool is… Pinterest actually “learns” what you like too. The more you use Pinterest the “smarter” it gets. Once you start following a few boards and pinners that pin the kind of stuff that you are into, your Pinterest “home page” automatically populates more related pins about stuff you like!

Why would an article about Pinterest be on a blog about survival, preparedness and bushcraft?
Yes, admittedly this is a bit of a "topic detour" for us, but the answer is quite simple. Pinterest is an absolute WEALTH of information on these topics, and we are passionate about using it. It is such an amazing resource for us and we simply had to share this with other men out there. For example... Check out our Equip2Survive Pinterest profile with nearly 90,000 pins about all kinds of survival, preparedness and bushcraft ideas!

Not into survival or the outdoors? No problem. Just make your Pinterest profile and boards about what YOU are interested in. We just wanted to show you an example of one hell of a Pinterest profile (if we do say so ourselves) so you could see how Pinterest does not have to be about Twilight or Alanis Morissette.

Give Pinterest a try, men! What do you have to lose?

Check out the Equip2Survive Pinterest Profile here!:

Visit EQUIP2SURVIVE's profile on Pinterest.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Bug Out Vehicle SUPER Photo Gallery!!

If you love photos of seriously awesome bug 
out vehicles, you have cometo the right place! 
You have GOT to check out this amazing 
Pinterestboard with hundreds of killer photos 
of incredible bug out vehicle ideas!
Do you love looking at photos of BOVs (bug out vehicles) and adventure vehicles? Do you enjoy checking out pics of various bug out vehicle ideas and dreaming about your own ideal bug out vehicle? Need some inspiration for improving or upgrading your bug out vehicle to make it as crisis ready as it possibly can be? Well we have the resource for you! Check out our amazing Bug Out Vehicle Pinterest board where you can peruse HUNDREDS of photos of awesome bug out vehicles of all types! Whether you love Jeeps, Land Rover Defenders, Unimogs, Pinzgauers, Hummers, Toyota FJ Cruisers, we've got them all! Check out this amazing photo gallery below!

Follow EQUIP2SURVIVE's board Bug Out Vehicles (BOVs) on Pinterest.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

How Cooking (Especially Cooking Outdoors) Can Teach You Survival Skills!

How cooking can teach you critical survival skills well beyond just survival cooking!There are two topics that I am extremely passionate about: survival and cooking. These two topics may seem completely unrelated at first, but are they? As you are about to see, not nearly as much as you might think. For me personally, knowing how to cook really well has really informed my survival skills across the board, far beyond just knowing how to cook great food in a survival situation. 

One particular variable that is central to both of these topics is... heat. When you cook food, typically you are applying heat to your ingredients to fuse all of those individual ingredients into a singular delicious dish. In a survival situation, your core body temperature is one of the most crucial elements to staying alive. One of the key challenges in a survival situation is your ability to masterfully guide heat/cold toward or away from your body as needed to maintain your vital core body temperature. You might be surprised to discover that learning to cook (which by itself is a terrific survival skill) can actually help you develop an array of valuable survival skills... and learning how to maintain core body temperature in a survival situation can similarly help you learn to be a better cook! Keep reading if you would like to learn more about how!

To better set up our premise, let's take a closer look at some basics regarding how heat works. You are probably at least generally familiar with these concepts, but bear with us for a moment as we lay a solid foundation for our case for cooking as a great way to learn survival skills.

A great illustration of how conduction, 
radiation and convection work. 
How Heat "Works"

As most of us know from basic physics, heat plays by a few "ground rules" that we can always count on. For example, heat has three modes by which it uses to transfer its energy:
1) Conduction (thermal transfer via direct contact), 2) Radiation (thermal transfer via motion of charged particles) and 3) Convection (thermal transfer via heat rising, cold sinking and temperatures circulating). These three modes are going to be key components in our equation.

Another key variable in our understanding of heat is that... 4) heat is part of the electromagnetic spectrum just like visible light is. This is also key in understanding how to manipulate this energy to accomplish our goals. This is just a brief list of the basics of thermal energy, but it's enough to give us a lot of insight for the time being.

So let's review our very basic list of takeaways regarding heat:

Heat is transferred via three modes:

1) Conduction (thermal transfer via direct contact)
2) Radiation (thermal transfer via motion of charged particles)
3) Convection (thermal transfer via heat rising, cold sinking and temperatures circulating)


4) Heat (like visible light) is part of the electromagnetic spectrum

Pictured above is a typical Dutch oven
setup. Notice how there are many
more coals on the lid than there are
beneath the oven to produce an even 
heat. This is because of convection 
(heat rising).
Now let's take these rules and apply them to our two topics (survival and cooking) and see if we can find any significant crossover. In cooking, knowing that heat generally rises (convection) helps us understand that our food item will tend to cook more quickly with a heat source underneath it than it will with a heat source above it. That fact is illustrated by the simple fact that, when cooking with a Dutch oven for example, it takes roughly a third more charcoal briquettes on top of the Dutch oven as it does underneath the Dutch oven for even cooking. This is just one example of this dynamic (heat rising) via convection.

Conduction, radiation and convection all at work while  cooking.
Conduction, radiation and convection all at work while
cooking. See the Pinterest pin source for this image here!
Conduction (direct contact) is the most efficient of these modes and has the quickest impact on your cooking. Pan searing is a terrific example of cooking with direct heat. Your food item is placed in a searing hot skillet and starts to brown and crisp on it's surface almost instantly. The efficiency of conduction is further illustrated by the famous "grill marks" on your steak. Those brown grill marks are created when your steak makes direct contact with the surface of your metal grill grates. Despite the fact that those grill grates are heated up by the radiation of from your hot coals or gas flames and the rising convection from those gas flames or hot coals, where the grill grates touch your steak is where the extra charring occurs because the heat from the grates is hotter (and stays hotter) than the radiant heat or convection from your flames or coals. This demonstrates the efficiency of conduction over both radiation and convection.

Radiation is next on the list. While not quite as "efficient" as conduction in terms of heat transfer, radiation is a very effective means of heat transfer. Any time you cook something in your oven you are primarily using heat radiation to cook your food. While radiation is less efficient than conduction, it is a much more gentle way to cook your foods. This is preferred when you are cooking foods that have more mass. While cooking with radiant heat is slower, it allows foods with more mass or density to get to temperature more evenly. A medium-rare steak (seared on the outside but just warm on the inside) tends to do better with a conduction method of cooking (or high temperature radiant heat), but cakes, breads, casseroles etc. tend to require a gentler cooking method that promotes even cooking. Radiant heat is better for this.  And whenever you are grilling and remove a burger or brat from the grill grate surface and move it to the upper shelf on your grill... you just switched from conduction cooking to radiation (and convection) cooking. Why do you do that? Because you know your meats are charred enough on the outside and you just want to keep them warm now, right?

Last but not least is convection cooking. Convection in cooking is primarily factoring into your cooking methods the fact that heat rises. Convection ovens take convection bit further by adding circulation of the hot air in your oven and circulating that hot air around your food to create a more even cooking temperature and faster cooking times. Convection in these ovens basically compliments the radiation that your oven's heat coils have produced by circulating the heat around your food with a fan. Adding additional convection to an oven does make it more efficient, but convection is still not nearly as effective as a cooking method without an existing source of heat producing radiation.

You can see that heat (infrared light) is just to the right of visible light on the electromagnetic scale.
You can see that heat (infrared light) is just to the right
of visible light on the electromagnetic scale. 
Our last variable in this equation is the fact that heat, like light, is part of the electromagnetic spectrum. In fact... one could argue that heat actually IS light (heat is actually infrared light which is light that is just outside of the visible light spectrum). Understanding this dynamic and leveraging it can really help you amp up your cooking abilities.

The very best example that we can give you for this is the use of aluminum foil in your cooking. Why is aluminum foil such an effective cooking aid? Because it can actually REFLECT heat (or trap heat, depending on how it is used) much like a mirror can reflect light! So why does this matter? Whether you are baking a pizza, a casserole, a roast, meatloaf or prime rib, aluminum foil can allow you to control and isolate your heat almost like masking tape or a stencil can help you put paint where you want it and keep it away from where you don't!

For example, when cooking a casserole, frequently you cover the top of your casserole with foil until your casserole boils around the edges (indicating that it is hot all the way through) Then you remove the foil to allow the radiant heat from your top heating element (or broiler) to brown the top of your casserole perfectly! This is an example of cooking in two phases (phase one is cooking from the bottom to bring your casserole to an even heat and then phase two is removing the protection of the aluminum foil to allow you finish the casserole by browning the top). More on this multi-phase cooking process is going to featured in another upcoming article.

Now how does all of this cooking information help you in a survival situation exactly? 

So glad that you asked. The first and most obvious answer is that fully grasping these laws of thermal dynamics regarding heat and how to leverage them for better cooking in your home is that you can actually apply these same principles when cooking food during a crisis when you don't have a microwave, oven or stovetop. Understanding the principles behind how your conventional home oven and stove top work... these same principles apply when using a grill, backpacking stove, fireplace solar oven or campfire!

But let's take these principles several steps further! Understanding the principles behind how to harness heat to cook food can also be invaluable when it comes to how to keep yourself and your family warm!! That's right... these same principles are still hard at work even when it's cold outside and you need to safeguard your core body temperature.

This illustration of an ideal snow shelter shows how the 
entrance of the shelter keeps heat in the shelter because
it is lower than the living area because heat rises and cold air
Let's start with the fact that heat rises (convection). In a survival situation you can leverage this dynamic in many ways. One example of this would be creating a "bed" in your shelter that lifts you up and above the coldest air that falls to the floor of your shelter. A terrific example of this is when making a survival snow shelter. It is recommended that in your snow shelter you create a sort of "shelf" for you to bed on, and the area that is lower than your bed is where the cold air falls. This is referred to as a "cold air sink" and allows the coldest air to fall down below the level of your body keeping you warmer. There are many other examples of leveraging this principle in survival.

Next let's look again at our three modes of heat energy transfer... again, this time from a survival perspective. Conduction is once again a very powerful and effective mode of heat energy transfer. We have several examples of conduction as a variable that must be considered when trying to stay warm. Our first example is simply getting wet. Most of us know that moisture is enemy #1 when it comes to hypothermia. But why? Well, because when water comes in direct contact with your skin, it sucks the heat right out of your body (the thermal energy in your warm body and the cold water are trying to find that thermal equilibrium attempting to make the water warmer and your body colder). That's conduction at work, my friends. Your skin is making direct contact with that moisture and the moisture is sucking the heat right out of you bringing down your core temperature. This is why it is critical to stay dry in a survival situation or if you get wet to immediately find a way to get dry again.

Sleeping in a hammock allows you to sleep much cooler than sleeping in a tent because of convection.
Sleeping in a hammock allows you to sleep
much cooler than sleeping in a tent thanks 
Another example of conduction in a survival situation is sleeping directly on the ground. Even if you are sleeping in a sleeping bag but doing so right on the cold damp ground, the ground can and will suck the heat right out of you if you do not have a protective insulating or reflective barrier like a foam or reflective sleeping pad or other barrier.

Now the two examples that I have given you tend to make conduction sound like the enemy in a survival situation. Such is not always the case. You see, in a situation where your core body temperature has become elevated (hyperthermia), you can quickly cool down your core temperature by taking a dunk in a cool stream! You can also drink warm liquids like hot beverages or warm a bottle of water or even rocks to put in your sleeping bag to help raise your core body temperature via conduction! This is why it is helpful to understand how heat works and how to harness it.

Radiation is once again less efficient than conduction, but the principles of radiation apply in a survival situation in a fairly effective and straightforward manner as well. Any time you have warmed yourself next to a roaring campfire you have benefitted from radiating heat. Any time you have used an electric or fuel powered compact heater of any kind you have leveraged radiant heat. Using a mylar space blanket in the back of your shelter to reflect (once again, just like visible light) campfire light/heat down and onto your bed is utilizing radiant heat to keep warm! You can use this same principle to protect yourself from too much radiant heat as well! Placing a reflective mylar space blanket over your shelter to reflect sunlight away from it can actually help keep you cool! Utilizing a reflective windshield panel as a sleeping pad can reflect the cold from the ground away from your body and your body heat back toward you!

A DIY ceramic pot room heater uses just the convection of 
heat from a small tea light candle to warm a room. 
While convection is utilized a bit less effectively in cooking than conduction and radiation, convection is actually a very significant variable in survival. The best example of this would be... wind (which is actually at least partially caused by thermal transfer and thermal equilibrium itself). You can have a terrific shelter and a terrific fire but if neither is protected from the cold wind it won't matter much. That wind will suck the heat right out of you! Everything from the kinds of clothing that you are wearing to the location of your shelter to which side of your shelter you locate your entrance can be used to combat heat loss via convection.

On the flip side, convection can also be utilized to keep you cool in hot conditions. Examples of this would include utilizing a fan to help cool you (and assist with sweat evaporation... the body's natural air conditioning) to hanging up off the ground in a hammock instead of on the ground in a tent to help keep you cooler!

One last variable to consider here: Again... heat, like visible light, is part of the electromagnetic spectrum. This means that heat, much like light, can actually be reflected. We explained this in a bit more detail above, but now just replace that reflective aluminum foil that you used while cooking with a reflective survival blanket or even a black surface (black absorbs light) and... voila! To learn more about the significance of heat being part of the electromagnetic spectrum, visit our Campfire Electricity page to learn more about generating electricity after dark using a campfire and a solar panel! 

How a sleeping bag uses insulation to maintain your core body temperature
How a sleeping bag uses insulation to maintain your core
body temperature. See the Pinterest pin source for this
image here!
Now there's one dynamic in a survival equation that is a little bit different than what we see in cooking: unlike cooking, in a survival situation YOU are your primary source of heat. Your body creates it's own heat by burning calories and circulating your blood. You can absolutely supplement your body's innate internal heat source with external heat sources like a heater or fire to help you keep warm, but you can also just retain your body's default core temperature (combat hypothermia) by taking prudent steps just to safeguard your body's natural core temperature from environmental variables that threat it. You can do this in a number of ways like combating convection with wind proof clothing or shelter or utilizing reflective materials like a mylar space blanket or reflective fabric (just like letting that delicious prime rib rest on the stove top wrapped in aluminum foil so those delicious juices relax and stay in your meat where you want them)... or you can tap into yet another cool tool that we haven't mentioned yet known as INSULATION.

Insulation is awesome. It's so simple yet oh so effective. Insulation is simply the reduction of thermal transfer and is typically achieved using a barrier of some sort. This barrier can be comprised of a number of various materials that are not conducive to heat transfer or... simply just trapped air! Gases like air are very poor conductors (unlike solids and liquids) therefore are the opposite of conductors which means they are insulators!

Wonderbag cookers are amazing little "slow cookers" that use extremely effective insulation to cook your food slowly with no electricity!
Wonderbag cookers are amazing little "slow cookers" that 
use extremely effective insulation to cook your food slowly
Coolers are great examples of insulators that keep your cold drinks cold even on a hot day. Ever seen one of those really cool non-electric Wonderbag cookers? These are another great example of insulation used to cook like a Crock Pot without electricity simply by trapping the existing heat inside your cookware.

A thermos or double-walled bottle (with the trapped air between the two walls) is another terrific example of trapped air style insulation. So are double-paned windows in your home. Your down comforter, coat or sleeping bag are also designed to trap tiny pockets of air all around your body with the loft of the fluffy down to keep your body warm. Furs work the same way!

Insulation can keep a body warm or cool depending upon the circumstances and how you use them. If you leverage a good understanding of the principles behind insulation, it's amazing the almost limitless potential this knowledge can bring to you in a survival situation!

Can you think of any more examples of these principles of thermal dynamics and how they apply to cooking and/or survival? What are some tips or tricks that you plan to leverage in a survival situation? Let us know with your comments below!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Is Pedal Power As A Prep Really A Good Idea?

Why Including Pedal Power Generation In Your
Preps Is A Terrible Idea! (Pictured above is the
popular K-tor Power Box 20 Watt Power 
You see a lot of tips and tutorials these days on various websites and social media about how to create your very own bicycle or pedal-powered generators to generate electricity during an emergency power outage, but are these pedal-powered generators really a good idea for a prepper or survivalist? Should these pedal-powered generators be central or even a small part of your preparedness or survival plan? Well, we are about to lay out a case for why we think these are actually a terrible option for preppers and survivalists for their power generation preps.

Sure, in a pinch one of these pedal-powered power generators would be better than nothing at all, but isn't the point of being a prepper or survivalist to actually be prepared as well as you can be? Sure it is. And we would simply argue that preparing for your energy needs with a pedal-powered generator would not be nearly as effective as preparing to generate power with solar panels, wind turbines or hydro power (assuming you have a suitable water source/supply to sustain hydro power).

In a survival situation, your physical energy is going to prove a critical resource that you will need to leverage for all sorts of tasks, and this physical energy is going to be a finite resource. During a crisis, it is likely that you are going to demand a whole lot more from your body in ways that you are not normally accustomed to, and your caloric intake is quite possibly going to be significantly less than it normally is.

Time is another precious resource during a crisis. You need to spend your time, much like your physical energy, very wisely during a crisis. The last thing you need is to dedicate these two precious resources toward pedaling away on a stationary bicycle to generate power when you could be doing other far more important tasks.

Active Power Generation vs. Passive Power Generation

Here's the important distinction that we want to impart to you regarding the two categories of alternative energy production on this front: active power generation vs. passive power generation. Active power generation methods require direct involvement with the power generation by a user in terms of physical exertion and time. Passive power generation methods do not. Bicycle, pedal-powered and even hand-crank flashlights and radios fall into the active power generation category while solar panels, wind turbines and micro-hydro power fall into the passive power generation category. That means solar panels, wind turbines and hydro generators do all of the work for you while you are spending precious time and energy doing other things. Maybe even resting!!

So there you go. That is our case for why we think pedal-power generators are a terrible idea as a prep for your energy needs.

What do you think? Still think pedal generators are a good idea? Share your thoughts and comments!

Thursday, November 27, 2014


Hang on to those little pop-up turkey timers this holiday season
to throw in your survival kits and bug out bags to use as WAPIs!
This holiday season hang on to those little pop-up turkey timers that let you know your turkey is done to throw in your survival kits and bug out bags! In fact... go ahead and just pull them out of your turkey before you even cook it as they are actually terrible for cooking turkeys (they are the main culprit in overdone and dry turkeys all across America!!). 

Despite the fact that these little timers produce terrible turkeys, they aren't completely useless. These little plastic temperature indicators actually have a really terrific survival use that most are completely unaware of! Trust us... skip using them for turkeys, wash them off and throw them in your survival kits! 

Why you ask? Did you know that you can actually use these little pop-up turkey timers as water pasteurization indicators (WAPIs) to let you know when your water is hot enough to have killed all pathogens without actually bringing it to a boil (see this page to learn why you would want to do this)! These little guys are designed to go off at 185° F which is actually 15° hotter than your water needs to be to kill all micro organisms (160° F is the temperature typically used to pasteurize milk, but 149° F is all it takes to kill pathogens in water)! Just drop one of these little guys in your container of water and heat until the indicator pops out letting you know that your water has reached 185° F and your water has been pasteurized!

Why would you want to do this you ask? Why not just boil? Did you know that the amount of fuel it takes to bring your water to 200° F... it actually takes that much fuel again just to raise your water those additional unnecessary 12° it takes to bring water to its boiling point?? 149° F is all that is required to kill all waterborne pathogens! Why on earth would you use more than twice as much fuel just to bring your water to 212° F?? That is a colossal waste of fuel, not to mention the waste of time in additional heating and cooling down again so that your water is drinkable! For more on boiling vs. water pasteurization, check out our How Long Do You REALLY Have To Boil Water to Make It Safe To Drink page.


Did you know that these little pop-up turkey timers are actually reusable? Just reheat the tip, push the pop-up indicator back in and allow to cool so the button stays in and you are ready for your next water pasteurization session!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

How Long Do You REALLY Have to Boil Water Before It’s Safe to Drink?

How Long Do You REALLY Have to Boil Water Before It’s Safe to Drink?
How long do you really have to boil water before it's safe to drink? The answer
might surprise you!
So how long do you really have to boil water before it's safe to drink?

     5 minutes? 
     10 minutes? 
     20 minutes? 
     30 minutes?

The correct answer: If you actually saw through our trick question and guessed 0 minutes, you would be correct!!

Now you might be thinking “Wait a minute... how is that possible?? That’s not what I learned on Survivorman or Man vs. Wild!”  Well, as you are about to learn... it’s absolutely, positively & definitively 100% possible… with just a little knowledge!

There’s a lot of conflicting information out there regarding how to “purify” water to make it safe to drink, and it can get pretty confusing. There are chemical treatments, filters and of course the “old faithful” boiling of your water to make it safe to drink. Most of these treatments are completely viable for making water drinkable as long as you know the limitations of each method.

For this article we are going to stay away from the chemical and filtration methods of water purification and focus primarily on using heat to treat water and make it drinkable. Heat is an effective method for treating water because it eliminates (kills) the microscopic organisms that are living in that water that can make you very sick.

So how much heat? And for how long? 

Great questions! Depending on your source, “conventional wisdom” has told us for decades that bringing water to a rolling boil at the very minimum and holding it there for a period of time is what is required to kill these microscopic pathogens. 

For example, let’s take a look at what the Boy Scouts of America say about treating water:
The surest means of making your drinking water safe is to heat it to a rolling boil—when bubbles a half inch in diameter rise from the bottom of the pot. While this is a simple method, it does require time and fuel.”

Now let’s take a look at what the United States Marine Corp. recommends for treating water:

“Purify all water obtained from natural sources by using iodine tablets, bleach, or boiling for 5 minutes.” 

So are the Boy Scouts of America and the Marines wrong? No. Bringing your water to a full boil will absolutely kill all common pathogens that we have all learned to take so seriously because can make us sick with illnesses like Giardia, Cryptosporidium, E. coli and the rest. The problem with bringing your water to a boil, as you are about to learn, is that doing so is actually complete overkill when it comes to treating water for harmful microbes! Boiling your water, while completely safe and will absolutely kill those nasty pathogens, is actually a waste of precious fuel/firewood resources in a survival situation!

OK, so how much fuel are you wasting exactly? 

Did you know that heating your water from 200° F to 212° F… just that last extra 12° to get your water to it’s boiling point… actually uses TWICE as much fuel as it does just to get your water to that initial 200°?? Well... it does. TWICE as much fuel! That is nothing to scoff at!

So now that we know what the Boy Scouts of America and the Marines say about purifying water (and we love both of these organizations!), let’s see what science tells us about using heat to purify water.

Important Temperatures to Factor In to this Equation:

212° F = Temperature at which water boils
160° F = Temperature at which milk is generally pasteurized
149° F = Temperature at which Hepatitis A is quickly killed  
140° F = Temperature at which bacteria (V. cholerae, E. coli and Salmonella typhi) and Rotavirus are quickly killed
131° F = Temperature at which worms & protazoa cysts (Giardia, Cryptosporidium and Entamoeba) are quickly killed

As you can see from the temperatures listed above, the pathogens that we are primarily concerned about when it comes to safe drinking water are ALL killed (quickly) at temperatures much lower than 212°, the temperature at which water boils. That being the case... why would you unnecessarily waste any more fuel than you need to heating up your water those additional 63°? Great question, isn’t it?

Now let’s take another look at that milk pasteurization temperature above: 160° F.
Pasteurization is a process invented by French scientist Louis Pasteur during the early nineteenth century. Pasteur discovered that the pasteurization process made it possible to heat the milk to high enough temperature to kill all harmful microorganisms without “cooking” the milk causing it to curdle. 

Now of course you never have to worry about your water curdling, but an important lesson can be gleaned from this milk pasteurization process that can be extremely beneficial: Water, like milk, does not have to be boiled to be safe to drink!

Temperature + Time = Pasteurization

Pasteurization is a process that occurs based on two variables: temperature and time. You see... you can actually pasteurize water at lower temps if you do it for a longer duration. This is extremely helpful in situations where A) you aren’t able to effect fire for heating your water, or B) you can make fire but you do not have a suitable container for boiling that can withstand the intense heat of your fire. Lower temperature/longer duration pasteurization can actually be done with discarded plastic 2 liter bottles set in the sunlight for longer periods of time (typically 6 hours). This method of disinfecting water is known as the SODIS (Solar Water Disinfection) method. You can even put something black or reflective behind your bottle to speed up the process!

So Why Do So Many Advocate Boiling Your Water?

Great question with a very simple answer: When those bubbles start to roll in your container of water, that is nothing more than a clear VISUAL INDICATOR that your water has become hot enough (actually MORE than enough) to have killed all of those little nasties. It works. It’s effective. But is it ideal? Or can we do better?

A classic WAPI in the author's hand for sense of scale. Notice the bright 
green plug of wax in the clear tube? That's the stuff that melts and and 
falls to the other end of the clear tube to let you know that your water is 
pasteurized and ready for drinking!

Your Pasteurization Friend: the WAPI!

So if the bubbles from boiling water gives us that terrific visual indicator to let us know that our water has reached 212° F... but now we know that boiling our water to make it safe to drink is actually a waste of precious fuel resources (fuel, wood, candles, etc.)… how can we then determine if our water has gotten hot enough to have been properly pasteurized without those rolling bubbles? Great question again! We could certainly use a thermometer... but most of these are glass and very fragile. Too fragile to keep from breaking inside your kit. We need something small, light, compact, durable and can be used over and over again to let us know that our water has reached that effective pasteurization temperature. SOLUTION: A tiny inexpensive device known as a Water Pasteurization Indicator (WAPI)!

WAPI’s are incredibly simple little devices. They are nothing more than a tiny sealed clear tube with a special brightly colored (easy to see) green wax inside of them. This wax (known as Myverol 18-06) is formulated to melt at just the right temperature for pasteurization (156° F or 69° C.). In most WAPI designs the tube typically slides up and down a thin cable with a tiny weight on each end allowing you to flip the tube so that the wax inside can be easily positioned at the top of the tube again. 

To use your WAPI simply slide the little tube down to the bottom of the wire so that the wax-heavy end of the tube is oriented toward the top of the tube. Place your WAPI tube into your container of water draping the weight at the opposite end of your WAPI tube over the lip of your container so that it is easy to grab. Once your water has reached pasteurization temperature of 156°, the wax in your WAPI tube will start to melt allowing it to fall from the top of your clear tube to the bottom of your tube with a little help from gravity. This is your visual indicator that your water has been pasteurized!

While WAPI’s are extremely inexpensive to purchase (typically $5 to $8), it is possible to make your own WAPI! We have even seen versions made from drinking straws and glue sticks for hot glue guns. While you can make your own WAPI, they are so inexpensive that we recommend purchasing one. “Quality control” can be an issue with DIY WAPI’s causing inconsistent results… even when purchasing DIY kits made with genuine parts. Sometimes it’s just best to leave work like this to the experts… especially when a piece of kit like this is so inexpensive to begin with.

Get your own Water Pasteurization Indicators (WAPI) here!


When traveling to countries that are known to have a questionable water supply (due to harmful pathogens remaining in the water supply), one little known trick when you cannot access bottled water is to pour yourself a glass of HOT water from the tap instead of cold. Water from the hot water heater has actually been pasteurized! Water from hot water heaters is typically between 120° F and 140° which is slightly below ideal pasteurization temperatures… but remember that heat + time = pasteurization! 99.999% of water borne pathogens are killed instantly when water is brought to 149° F. The same result can be accomplished with lower temperatures if you simply allow the water to remain at that temperature for a longer period of time. For example, water can be pasteurized at 130° F if simply held at that temperature for 2 hours. 


As with anything else, use common sense when treating water. Your health and potentially your life are on the line. When in doubt, heat your water a little hotter or for a little longer. It can’t hurt unless fuel is at an absolute premium. 

Just like with boiling, pasteurizing is not a panacea for making any water drinkable. For example, pasteurizing sea water will not make it drinkable as pasteurization does not remove the salts from sea water. Just like boiling, pasteurization only kills microorganisms that can make you sick. It does not remove chemicals, metals, pollutants or other toxins that could harm you from your water for you. 

One example in particular that comes to mind where both boiling and pasteurizing water can make matters worse for you instead of better is in the case of the recent algae blooms in the Toledo area. Water of this type contains the toxin known as microcystis aeruginosa. Microcystis aeruginose is a species of freshwater cyanobacteria which can form harmful algae blooms (HABs) in fresh bodies of water. Boiling or pasteurizing water of this type actually INCREASES the presence of the toxins and makes your water more toxic to drink!

So when it comes to treating water to make it drinkable, be smart. Be careful. Play it safe. Use your noggin.

Happy pasteurizing and safe hydrating!

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