Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Survival Hygiene - Keeping It Clean

Most people think hygiene is not important when dealing with survival. However that scratch on your arm from walking through thickets and brush, or that bug bite has a chance for infection if not kept clean.

A hot shower everyday is ideal, but as we know in most survival situations, excluding that week long visit to the in-laws, do not include hot showers with lavender scented bars of soap. If you’re fortunate enough to have soap on hand use a cloth and soapy water to wash yourself. Give extra focus to your feet, crotch, armpits, and hair because these are the most likely areas for infestation and infection.

If you’re in an area without water, you can also take an “air” bath. Remove as much clothing as practical and expose your body to the sun and air for at least one hour. Be careful not to allow yourself to sunburn. The same can be done with clothing. Shake it out and set it in the sun.

If you find yourself without soap, don’t give up hope. Some alternatives are to use ashes or sand, or make soap from animal fat and wood ashes.

How to Make Soap:

  • Make grease from animal fat. Cut the fat from an animal into small pieces and cook the pieces in a pot. Cook it slowly and stir it often. After the fat is rendered pour the grease into a container and let it harden

Tip: Add enough water to the pot to keep the fat from sticking to your pot while you cook it.

  • Mix ash and water (this makes slurry) and strain it though a straining cloth. Collect the water in a separate container. The water you collect is called potash or lye.

  • In a cooking pot add two parts grease and one part potash; bring to a boil until it thickens.

Note: The grease will work to counter the acidic nature of the lye, and you will want to get the mixture as close as possible.

Allow the soap to cool. You can use it in the semi-liquid form or pour it into a pan, and allow it to harden, and then cut it into bars for later use.

You can use the soap to keep your hands, hair, and clothing clean. This will reduce germs on your hands and wounds. It will also cut back on the chance of lice or infections on your head, and reduce the chances of skin infection or parasitic infestations.


Note from RW:

Thanks Neanderthal for a great guest post!

Neanderthal is a good friend of RW, Jr. and hopefully he will be able to do some additional guest posts for Stealth Survival.


Anonymous said...

It is the lye that will counter the acidic nature of the fat.

Anonymous said...

Man, I remember that stuff. Grandma would have a cake of Don Maximo that came in a cake about 3" x 5", corragated face, correct?

Man, that stuff would peel skin and durn near meat off of your bleached bones, lol, that stuff was powerful. Used for clothes washing using a corrigated scrubbing board and wash tub, those whites came out WHITE! I guess sun drying helped with that as well.

Anonymous said...

I forgot to describe that Don Maximo. Snow white, with blue crystals embedded in it (maybe some type of pumice?), I'm sure lye was present in the mixture. You had to be careful when washing your skin, it squeaked when you came out.

Also, for another natural soap, look into using yucca leaves. I've never tried this, but it is claimed that removing leaf / sword skin and rubbing it with wet happens gets a lather. Or some such thing - I forget the particulars.

chib said...

Just visiting your blog,

greetings from Rwanda

Josh said...

I see someone beat me to it, but lye is an extremely strong base; it is not acidic.

This article makes me want to watch the scene in "Fight Club" where they steal the bags of fat from the liposuction clinic and use it to make soap... what a classic.

Shy Wolf said...

Also consider a leeching of pine needles as an astringent/soap.
PineSol gets its name from a very common ingredient: boiling crushed pine needles down in water to make a very strong detergent/soap.
Boil the mixture- a pound or so of needles to a gallon of H2O, scoop off the 'scum' and use it as your soap, the water itself is antiseptic and cleanser.

riverwalker said...

The main thing I remember is taking a bath in a #3 wash tub at grandma's house and how cold the water got before I was through.

lisa said...

Very cool post, hygiene is one of those areas where many forget how important it may be in a survival situation.

Neanderthal said...

Thanks for the corrections. I look forward to the opportunity of adding some new post in the future.

riverwalker said...

To: Neanderthal

I'm looking forward to another guest post to see what's next you'll come up with for my readers.

Thanks again Neanderthal!


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