Archive for January, 2010

Survival Car Heater – Carbon Monoxide Testing Results

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

For those who are just joining me now (just to give you some background), I had written an article and created a video on how to make a survival heater for your car if you were ever stranded somewhere in the winter and required heat.

Being someone who doesn’t like to give survival advice without first having tested it myself, I wanted to make sure to try out the stove as soon as I could and report back to you guys. This spawned another article called Testing out the Survival Stove.

In that article, I proved the effectiveness of the stove. It took a car from 16 degrees Fahrenheit to around 60 degrees in 20 minutes. However, toward the end of the 20 min test, I began feeling a headache and was concerned that it may be due to carbon monoxide poisoning. Unfortunately I didn’t have a carbon monoxide tester with me to be certain. Which brings me to this article…

This evening I took the stove out to the car again along with a carbon monoxide tester and instead of having two door windows open a crack, I only opened one. I also extended the test period from 20 minutes to a full half hour. My results?

No carbon monoxide alarms.

Also, I didn’t have a headache this time despite having less air circulation on top of being in the car longer. And the headaches I got last time — a fluke? I don’t know.

However, all in all I’m confident in saying that I feel the stove is indeed safe as an emergency car heater if you were ever stranded somewhere. Again, just be sure to open the window about an inch — preferably the window closest to the stove.

Despite these tests, I recommend packing in your car a carbon-monoxide tester along with your survival stove — just in case. I also would suggest that every-so-often you breath in some fresh air (by temporarily opening the driver-side window a crack and taking a few breaths) while operating the stove. There may be no dangerous levels of carbon monoxide, but there could be potentially harmful vapors being emitted by the burning alcohol. Just my 2 cents.

You can never be too safe!

How to Make a Paracord Bracelet

Monday, January 25th, 2010

Because of the article I’ve written on my every-day carry kit as well as the How to Put Together the Ultimate Survival Kit article, I’ve had a number of readers ask me for the instructions on how to make a paracord bracelet.

Like I’ve mentioned in both of those articles, paracord is such a useful tool in survival situations that you should always have some amount on hand — and there’s no better way to always have some with you than by wearing it! The design may look complicated but making your own paracord bracelet is actually quite simple. Here’s the process:

How to Make a Paracord Bracelet – Step by Step

  1. Get some paracord: You’ll want to have around 15 feet of paracord to ensure that you have enough.
  2. Fold the paracord in half:

    Take the full length of paracord and fold it exactly in the middle so you’re left with two 7 1/2 foot lengths on either side of the fold. For ease of maintaining the fold I usually wrap some tape at the end where the fold is.

  3. Make the left-sided knot:

    Take the single cord on the left side and pass it underneath the central strands.

  4. Complete the knot:

    Now take the right side cord and pass it underneath the cord from step 3, over the two central strands and through the left-side loop created in the previous step.

  5. Pull in the slack:

    Pulling both of the free ends on either side, tighten the knot to pull in the slack.

  6. Make the right-sided knot:

    Take the single cord on the right side, pass it under the central strands.

  7. Complete the knot:

    Now take the left side cord and pass it underneath the cord from step 6, over the two central strands and through the right-side loop created in the previous step.

  8. Pull in the slack:

    Pulling both of the free ends on either side, tighten the knot to pull in the slack.

  9. Create the slide holes:

    At this point I usually will take the two little loops at the top of the cobra-stitch pattern and open them up a bit with my fingers. These two little loops will be used as a sliding mechanism for tightening the bracelet when finished.

  10. Repeat steps 3 – 7 until desired length is reached:

    You’ll want to continue the alternating pattern until the cobra stitch is almost at the very end of the loop — leaving about a half an inch of the loop open.

    As a side note, be sure that you are alternating the left-right pattern. Otherwise the knots become twisted in which case you can simply undo the last knot and continue with the alternating pattern again.

  11. Insert the free ends into the slide holes:

    Depending on how much paracord you used in the “braiding” process, you will some amount left over (as you can see in the previous picture). You’ll want to take these free strands and put them through the slide holes you had made in step 9.

    If you originally cut the paracord to get your 15 feet, the cut ends will be frayed. At this point, it helps to burn them off to make a sharp tip. This will make putting the strands through the slide holes a lot easier.

  12. Tie off the end:

    Taking the two free strands, tie a knot at the point where the bracelet is just large enough to fit over your hand. I like tying a square knot followed by a granny knot. This makes a nice round knot ball that will be placed in the loop to secure the bracelet.

  13. Cut the extra pieces

  14. Burn off the frayed ends:

    Using a lighter, burn off the frayed ends and while still hot, flatten the melted ends against the knot ball made in step 12.

  15. Fit and secure the bracelet:

    Slide the bracelet on, pull the knot ball to tighten the bracelet, and insert the knot ball into the open loop to secure the bracelet. Viola! you have made your own paracord bracelet.

5% Off the StoveTec Rocket Stove

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

5_percent_offAs I test out and review various preparedness/self-sufficiency type products, from time to time I come across ones that I think are excellent. The StoveTec rocket stoves are definitely one of them.

Yesterday I spoke with a representative from StoveTec — the manufacturer of the rocket stove I recently reviewed — and they are willing to give tacticalintelligence readers a 5% discount.

At checkout time, just use the promo code tact-intel-summ10 and 5% will be deducted from your total. It’s not much but at least it’s something.

You can pick one up here: StoveTec Rocket Stove. As I mentioned before, if you do buy one I’d love to hear some feedback. I love this stove and highly recommend it.

Video Review of the Rocket Stove

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

If your interested in an economical but highly effective form of cooking off-grid (or in a grid-down situation), the rocket stove is a perfect choice. Just recently I purchased a rocket stove built by a company called StoveTec.

rocket-stoveInvented by Dr. Larry Winiarski, the rocket stove is a highly-efficient cooking stove that requires very little wood to cook an entire meal.

Due to its design that allows for complete combustion, with just a few twigs and sticks you can maintain a hot burning fire that’s super clean and produces practically no smoke.

Since I wanted to test it out myself, I decided to put together a video review of the stove. My results? I was able to boil 72 oz of water in 15 minutes outside in 29 degrees with just a few sticks! I was pretty impressed…check it out:


If you’re interested in purchasing a rocket stove for yourself, I worked out a deal with the manufacturer so that readers of this site will get a 5% discount. To qualify for this discount, enter the promo code tact-intel-summ10 during the checkout process. You can order here: StoveTec Rocket Stove

If you do end up ordering one, I’d love to hear your experience with it. So feel free to leave a comment!

How Much Food Storage Do You Really Have?

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

For those of you who have food storage, do you really know how long it would last if your family had to live off of it? You might be surprised when you find out you don’t have as much as you think you have. I sure was.

Well, just the other day, a friend of mine pointed out a great online resource that helps you to figure that out. The Food Storage Analyzer — provided by Emergency Essentials — helps to calculate just how long your food storage would last based on the caloric requirements that are given by USRDA guidelines (according to sex and age). It also calculates the current nutrition levels of your food supply helping you to understand what nutrients are lacking.

I decided to go through this exercise to determine how much I really had. Here’s the process:

Enter the Number of People and their Ages


Enter your Food Storage


What’s great about this process is that you can create custom foods that may not be on this list if required.

Calculate your Final Results


I was quite surprised to see that I had didn’t have a full years supply. With 235 days of storage for my family of three I am 4 months shy of one years worth. Fortunately this calculation doesn’t include my 3-month supply (if that is calculated correctly) so with that I have close to one year total.

Another eye-opening point taken from the nutrition chart was the low amount of protein in my stored food — I don’t have any meat stored away. While meats can be purchased freeze dried for long-term food storage it is very expensive so I hope to supplement this with hunting.

Looks like it’s time to purchase more food…:)

If you’d like to get started with your own food & water storage but don’t know where to begin, be sure to check out my Getting Started with Food Storage series. It gives you a step by step process to get you going. Check it out!

Testing out the Survival Stove

Monday, January 11th, 2010

stove2 Last night since it was down in the mid-teens, I decided to take the little car stove I made from the How to Make a Survival Stove (Car Heater) article out for a test drive.

I wanted to test how long it would take for the car to heat up to a comfortable temperature in below freezing temperatures.

I also was curious as to the quality of the air I would be breathing and whether it would have any adverse effects on me. Read more to find out the results…

How Long did it Take to Heat the Car Up?

temp1Based on this chart below it took about 20 min to take it from 16 degrees Fahrenheit to about 60 degrees. It probably could have heated up even hotter but I stopped at the 20 min mark due to a headache I was feeling (I’ll explain below).

Time Elapsed    Temperature
0 min 16 F
5 min 28 F
10 min 44 F
15 min 52 F
20 min 58 F

As a side note, the reason for the quick increase in temperature from the onset seemed to have been due to two factors: One, I had the stove on full output (uncovered) during the first 10 min which I then covered up three-quarters of the way for the last 10 min. And two, I cracked two windows open after the ten minute mark due to the poor quality of the air I was breathing.


Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?

After the 10-minute mark I began feeling a small headache and the air just didn’t “feel” right. It seemed worse if I sat upright and was better the lower I sat/reclined. I wonder if I was feeling the onset of carbon-monoxide poisoning or if it was other fumes coming from the burnt alcohol?

I’m going to have to bring my carbon-monoxide alarm with me in the car during a future test to see if that is what was going on. If that is the case, then it’s absolutely crucial that you keep a good crack open in your car window. I’ll have to post on my results soon.

Overall Thoughts

All in all the stove works quite well. In about 20 minutes I was sitting in a comfortable 60 degree car. However, like I mentioned earlier, I had to crack two of my windows open (about an inch open on each window) just to feel that the air was clean.

This ended up bringing in more cold air, which naturally sent all the cold air to the bottom of the car and the warm air above the seats — so I felt warm on top and cold on the bottom. Keeping my feet propped up on the dashboard helped to keep me warm for the most part though.

Most of all I’m pretty concerned about the levels of carbon monoxide. Or was it just a fluke that I was getting a headache? I think once I test it again with the CO alarm I’ll have my answer. Stay posted…

How to Make Butter with Nothing but Cream and a Jar

Saturday, January 9th, 2010

Just the other day as I was eating breakfast I was thinking about how I could have fresh butter in a post-collapse situation (yes I really do have strange thoughts like these). This got me looking into how butter was made and surprisingly it looked pretty easy. So yesterday I went to the task to try to make some on my own without the use of electricity.

What You’ll Need (no-electricity required version)


  • 1 Pint of Heavy Cream or Heavy Whipping Cream
  • A glass jar

How to Make Butter

  1. how_to_make_butter_7
    Turning heavy cream into butter is as simple as pouring the cream into the glass container, tightening the lid, and shaking. Here’s the transformation the cream goes through (I timed it for reference):
    After shaking for about 7 min. The cream turned into whipped cream. At this point you could add a bit of sugar and have a great addition for dessert. But if you want butter you need to continue on with the shaking process.
    At about the 10 min mark (3 min after the whipped cream was formed) of continuous shaking the whipped cream magically begins to separate into butter and buttermilk.
  2. how_to_make_butter_4At this point you’ll want to pour off the buttermilk into a separate container (which you can drink right there or save for a future recipe).
  3. how_to_make_butter_2Now pour some water into the jar containing the butter — covering the butter completely. Swish around the butter and water to wash the remainder of the buttermilk off the surface of the butter and drain.
  4. After the butter is washed, place it in another container (like a small bowl) and mix the butter around with a fork or knife, releasing any trapped buttermilk and pour it out
  5. how_to_make_butter_3Add salt to taste and viola! you got fresh, creamy, tasty butter.
  6. One pint of whipping cream made almost exactly 1 cup of butter which is equivalent to 2 sticks.

    As a test, I decided to see how long it took to make butter with a hand-held electric mixer and was pretty surprised at the results (again I timed it). Using the mixer, I was able to quickly go from heavy cream to whipped cream in about 1 minute. However it took about 14 more minutes (for a total of 15 min) of continuous mixing to turn the whipped cream into butter.

    I was shocked. I thought using a mixer would speed up the process significantly but surprisingly it took longer than simply shaking it in a jar!

    Obtaining Cream Post-Collapse

    Now for the other major problem. Where do you get the cream if the grid goes down (and with it the supermarkets)? Well, heavy cream is nothing more than the cream that floats to the top of milk from a freshly milked cow. This heavy cream is skimmed off the top and processed in the manner above. If you live close to a organic dairy farm like I do, then you could purchase milk from them. Better yet, if you have the space for your own dairy cow that would be ideal, however few of us have that available to us.

    pygmy_goatThe other option that does not require much space is goats (or for even less space try a pygmy goat :)). Goats give around 3 quarts of milk a day and are small enough to fit in a 1/4 acre lot. Goat milk doesn’t separate into cream and milk as easily as cow’s milk does but making butter is still possible. Check out this article in Mother Earth News on how to make butter from goats’ milk without a separator.

Survivalism to Go Mainstream in 2010

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

celenteGerald Celente, director of The Trends Research Institute and probably the most prominent and accurate trends forecaster for the last 3 decades, has recently stated that we will see survivalism go mainstream in 2010.

In a recent issue of The Trends Journal, he wrote:

“Back in the Cold War days, survivalism meant building a bomb shelter and stocking it with enough food to outlast nuclear fallout.

In the late 1970’s, with inflation soaring, Iran raging, and gold and oil prices skyrocketing, survival meant cashing out of paper money and heading for the hills with enough ammunition and pork & beans to wait out the economic and political storms.

In 2000, the Y2K crowd – the most recent breed of survivalists – expecting computer clocks to crash, infrastructure to break down and the world to go dark, were armed and barricaded with enough food to feed an army and enough ammunition to hold one off.

In 2010, survivalism will go mainstream. Unemployed or fearing it, foreclosed or nearing it, pensions lost and savings gone … all sorts of folk who once believed in the system, having witnessed its battering, have lost their faith.

The realities of failing financial institutions, degrading infrastructure, manipulated marketplaces, soaring energy costs, widening wars, and terror consequences have created a new breed of survivalist. Motivated not by worst-case scenario fears but by do-or-die necessity, the new non-believers, unwilling to go under or live on the streets, will devise ingenious stratagems to beat the system, get off the grid (as much as possible), and stay under the radar.”

I think Gerald is right on the money here. I’ve been seeing the growth of survival and preparedness-related blogs/websites explode within the last year. More and more ‘mainstream’ folks are getting concerned about the fate of the nation — especially the economy — and as a result they are seeing the wisdom in preparing for what may come.

Overall I feel that this is all very positive. The more of us that are prepared the better off this nation and our communities will be.

History Channel: After Armageddon

Tuesday, January 5th, 2010

history_channel Sorry this is so last minute but I just wanted to clue you guys in on the fact that the History channel will be broadcasting a show tonight called After Armageddon. It starts at 8:00pm EST and will also be on several times this week in case you can’t get to it tonight. A friend of mine, Kevin Reeve, who is the owner of the OnPoint Tactical school will be featured in it so look out for him and check out his school (I highly recommend it).

Here is the official description:

After Armageddon

What have past acts of destruction taught us about what will happen to mankind after the apocalypse? Is it inevitable that disaster will someday strike America on an unprecedented level? How has history prepared us? History’s most dramatic events – Hiroshima, 9/11, Hurricane Katrina and others – are examined and analyzed with hard data gathered from their massive aftereffects. The disappearance of water and food supplies, the effects of deteriorated sanitation and health care on the remaining population, and the increased use of violence as a means of survival – all illustrate how societies have responded and survived.

Here’s the current schedule (in EST):

Tuesday, January 05 08:00 PM
Wednesday, January 06 12 am
Saturday, January 09 8 pm
Sunday, January 10 12 am

Check it out!

Homemade Lamps from Everyday Objects

Monday, January 4th, 2010

oil-lampHaving the ability to create light without needing electricity should be part of everyone’s emergency essentials. While flashlights are certainly helpful, batteries quickly die out so having a store of candles on hand can provide the light and morale boost that one needs to make it through a dark night or two. But what if you didn’t have any candles available?

Fortunately there are very simple ways to make homemade lamps from everyday objects found around the house. In this article I’ll be teaching you the principles of how a simple lamp works and showing you a few examples so that if needed you can make your own.

How a Lamp Works

Both oil lamps and candles are able to continually burn their fuel (wax or oil) through a process called capillary action. You can easily see this process by dipping the corner of a paper towel in liquid. The liquid gets drawn up into the paper towel which is called capillary action.

Understanding this is the key to creating many different types of wicks for your homemade lamps. As long as the material is absorbent, it will be able to draw the fuel up into itself to be burned by the flame.

Making a Tuna Fish Can Oil Lamp

Here’s a simple example of how to make your own oil lamp using a tuna fish can. What you’ll need is the following:homemade-oil-lamp2

  1. Tuna Can
  2. Vegetable Oil, Olive Oil or any other cooking oil
  3. Old Cotton T-Shirt, Rag, or Sock
  4. Nail (or something sharp to poke a hole through the top of the tuna can)

What you’ll need to do is:

  1. Poke a nail-sized hole through the center of the can with a nail or other sharp object.
  2. Using a can opener, partially open the tuna can so that you can empty the ingredients.
  3. homemade-oil-lamp3Cut a 2 inch by 8 inch strip of material from an old cotton t-shirt, rag, or sock.
  4. homemade-oil-lamp4Roll the cotton strip into a long wick (you can optionally twist it as well).
  5. Feed a half-inch length of the wick through the poked hole in the top of the tuna can with the remainder of the wick coiled in the bottom of the can.
  6. Fill the can up 3/4 of the way with oil and let the wick soak up the oil. You can also pre-soak the top of the wick.
  7. homemade-oil-lamp5Light the wick.

As the oil soaked up in the wick burns off, it will continually draw up new oil from the bottom of the can and provide hours of light.

The great benefit of using cooking oil is that similar to a candle if the lit lamp were to fall it will not ignite (kerosine lamps are dangerous in this way). It’s a very safe form of light.

Also if you’re worried about the smell, it’s actually quite minimal (with Olive Oil being practically scentless).

Making a Bacon Grease Candle

Here’s another example of a homemade lamp/candle. In this example I’ll be demonstrating how to make a homemade candle using saved bacon grease.

Bacon grease when solidified is nothing other than rendered tallow (lard). When fat from an animal is heated it melts into a liquid and when filtered through a mesh and cooled until it solidifies you get tallow.

Tallow, similar to wax, provides a great source of fuel for a homemade candle. Again, any type of cooking grease (such as Crisco) can be used.

To make one, what you’ll need is the following:homemade-candle

  1. A glass container containing tallow (in this case bacon lard)
  2. A cotton swab (Q-tips)
  3. Old Cotton T-Shirt, Rag, or Sock

What you’ll need to do is:

  1. homemade-candle1Cut a 2 inch by 6 inch strip of material from an old cotton t-shirt, rag, or sock.
  2. homemade-candle2Wrap the cotton strip around the Q-tip, covering it completely.
  3. Stick the wrapped Q-tip in the bacon lard until only a half an inch is exposed.
  4. homemade-candle3Smear a little bacon lard on the exposed cotton wrapping.
  5. homemade-candle4Light the wick.

As you can imagine, burning bacon grease can give off a slight bacon smell. It’s not entirely bad and plus if it were the end of the world you could light it outside to attract the neighborhood dogs — providing a good source of meat for the family ;).


With these two examples I hope you get a better idea of how to make your own homemade lamp and candle using common every-day household items. Remember, all you need is a container, a wick, and some fuel. The rest is up to your imagination.

Here are some other resources I’ve found online to making your own oil lamps:

Judy of the Woods’ homemade oil lamp
Mother Earth News: Make Your Own Olive Oil Lamp