As with diatomaceous earth, lots of items belong in your SHTF stockpile but do not make the most popular lists. Here are three more such items that you should add to your pile.
These will not make your TEOTWAWKI collection complete, of course. I present them to help you think through solutions to problems that may arise if markets are disrupted for a considerable period of time. Thinking through problems today will go a long way toward you dealing with them successfully tomorrow.
Pickling (slaked) Lime
So you’ve set aside buckets of dent corn, bought a grinder, and even practiced a little. The resulting pile of ground corn will not hold together no matter what you do with it. No tacos for you!
If you were to try to live largely on that corn, the result would likely be pellagra, a painful niacin deficiency that results in symptoms ranging from flaky skin to dementia. Pellagra was endemic in rural Europe after Columbus brought corn back from the New World. But Central and South Americans have survived on a corn-based diet for millennia. The difference between these results is not genetic but chemical, and the chemical is calcium hydroxide, known in your kitchen as pickling lime.
Applying calcium hydroxide to dried corn before grinding (a process called nixtamalization) frees up vitamins like niacin. It revs up proteins in the corn, transforming it into a nutritious staple food. Nixtamalization also releases natural pectin which allows the corn to be formed into a dough for the creation of tortillas or taco shells.
If you’re including dried corn in your post-SHTF meal plan, learn to nixtamalize it and put aside some pickling lime. It’s a lot easier to buy it now than to powder limestone or experiment with wood ash to get the same nutritional effect later.
A box or three of old screwdrivers
A piece of metal with a plastic handle is a wonderful thing. With a few cuts and grinds you can make an unlimited assortment of tools, from leather punches to paint can openers to simple lock picks. If you screw one up or wear it down, you can just often cut the end off and make something else from it.
Having enough “worthless” old screwdrivers lying around will save you from the temptation of using your good screwdrivers in a way that might harm them. If you need to build, transform, or even abuse a tool, grab one that you can get today by the pound on ebay. Your best tools need to be preserved.
Metal Molds and a bucket of wheel weights.
Reloaders have for years cast handgun bullets from repurposed wheel weights. So if you plan on loading your own ammunition, you may already have a set or two of bullet molds in popular calibers on hand. If not, consider this a ground-floor opportunity to be part of keeping America well-armed.
But lead and lead alloys can be cast into far more than bullets. Fishing weights, jig heads, and pliable sinkers can also be cast easily with melted wheel weights. You’ll need plenty if you intend to do much fishing.
Molds are available that will put heads on hooks both small and large, and for sinkers that can range for 1/10 ounce to a pound or more*. All you then need is an iron pot, a small ladle, and heat.
A 5-gallon bucket of used wheel weights can often be purchased from your friendly neighborhood independent tire shop for less than $50. They’re dirty and smelly and nasty, to be sure. But once you get used to fluxing and melting and pouring, they can be a heck of a lot of fun. And if you get tired of waiting for it all to hit the fan, you can always melt them into ingots and double your money on ebay.
What other prepping ideas do you find get overlooked by the freeze-dried green bean salesmen?
*If you want to get really creative, you can still find molds for toy soldiers and other small toys. Grab an assortment of model paints and your grandkids will have plenty to keep them busy following the end of the Happy Meal economy. One caveat, though: use tin, not lead, for anything kids will be touching. Lead + kids = bad.