Editor’s Note: This post is another entry in the Prepper Writing Contest from TC.
In the scenario where you and your family members would have to be able to rely on yourselves for a while or maybe even an indefinite time, first aid and home medical care should be among the skills you possess. That’s why making sure you acquire them should be among your key interests if you’re getting prepared for the worst that may come. No one is saying you should gain the skills of a neurosurgeon overnight, of course, but being able to craft up some home remedies and knowing a thing or two about what home care strategies to use for common ailments isn’t that hard. Luckily, the online community is ripe with advice and recipes for home remedies, so there are plenty of sources to learn from.
But while there’s an abundance of knowledge on what home remedies can be used for plenty of common health problems or injuries and such, not everyone learning about these things thinks about the needed tools too. If you read up on the various natural home remedies you can use for each type of common illness, you will see that some of them don’t really require much props besides a bandage, some massage and maybe a good night’s sleep.
We’re not going to go through all that here and now. Anyone can pretty much figure out how to massage a strained wrist or how to put a tight bandage over a light wound. The challenging part lies with crafting your own natural remedies out of plants and household ingredients. Most people only read up on this when they are already dealing with the issue. But since preppers always think things ahead and being ready for the down to earth practicalities of it all, you should also have a very clear image of the how-to involved, together with the tools and everyday household items needed for most of these natural cures. Here are our top picks, as well as the things you can use them for.
1. Mortar and pestle
This is the basic tool needed for crushing the plants or other medicine ingredients together into a form which is better absorbed by the human body. You will be able to use the mortar and pestle for a wide variety of cooking needs as well, not to mention the medical ones. If you make yourself a hefty supply of basic pills (like aspirin), you will be able to use the mortar and pestle for much more than natural remedies. For example, crushing some aspirin into a fine powder and applying it onto a bandage before putting it on a wound can greatly speed up the healing.
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2. Salt and Vinegar
Salt and vinegar are substances you’d better stock up on as well. You can use them as carriers for a wide variety of natural extracts (which you craft using the mortar and pestle mentioned above, together with alcohol and bottles, as we’ll explain below). Salt can also be used for disinfecting areas in your house, killing flea eggs and thus keeping infestation at bay, (or even disinfecting small infected areas of your skin, like a nasty itch or a flaky scalp, in the absence of fancy shampoos). Vinegar is also a good carrier for plant extracts, and can be used for good old fashion rubs (when dealing with a bad flu) as well. You can also help keep household items free of rust by treating them with vinegar (and oil).
After crushing the plant parts you need for crafting up a particular remedy, you need to put them to macerate in alcohol so that the liquid extracts and preserves the beneficial substances into a cure you can effectively use. Not to mention the other things alcohol is good for, from disinfecting wounds to sterilizing tools you will need for sewing up a medium cut and so on. As unpleasant as the thought may be now, you will be content to know everything there is to know if the situation should ever arise.
4. Brown glass bottles and vials
Those plant extracts you can use as natural remedies, crafted with the help of the mortar and pestle and alcohol, need to be stored somewhere. Glass vials and small glass bottles are your best bet, even if they tend to be fragile when hauled around. When preparing for any bad times which may come, choose recipients made out of brown glass (also called amber glass), since it protects the content from direct sunlight, which can damage the precious plant extracts inside and make them less effective.
Oils are also one of the best carriers for substances you extract for home remedies. Not only that they are able to preserve the active substance well, but they also are ideal for carrying them inside your body (through rubs). You can even add a few drops to your food whenever you feel sick and want to use the matching remedy if you previously crafted it (if the base oil you used is edible). So stock up on vials and some canola or olive oil before reading up on what remedies you can make like this.
Sugar has plenty of uses besides its culinary ones: it can be used for scrubbing away dirt and harmful substances, and if you add a few drops of a plant-based home remedy to it you can also use it as a cure. Sugar can be used either externally (as a scrub infused with natural medicine, especially effective for skin irritations or funguses), or internally, to make certain bitter remedies more palatable (especially if there are kids in your family too).
7. Pocket knife
You will need the knife for several kinds of survival tactics, as any prepper is already well-aware, but you will also need it to carefully cut away the parts of plants you will use for home remedies. A smaller knife brings more precision to this task, which is why a pocket knife is the best fit, as long as it’s properly sharpened up. You will also use the knife for cutting up bandages, gently scraping up some solid substances you may need for the remedies, and so on.
8. Two stove kettles (one smaller and a good fit on top of the bigger one)
Finally, if you really want to do a good job with improvising natural medical remedies, you should have two small-ish kettles that you can use over a campfire as well as a stove and the likes. One of them should be smaller than the other one, so it can be placed over the larger (medium-sized) one. The procedure is similar to a bain-marie from cooking. The idea is that in the smaller stove some delicate substances extracted from plants should be cooked together for a cure at a smaller temperature than by using direct heat. Hence, the medium kettle will be filled with simmering water to distribute a more delicate and constant heat to the smaller one. Quite ingenious. This last technique is pretty advanced, but don’t worry, most natural home remedies you can make and use don’t require anything that complicated.