Oh, the wonderful things you can do with ordinary stuff.


Whether your survival situation is short term, like an earthquake, or long term, like an economic downturn, you won't be able to buy the stuff you need. Here are a multitude of tips on how to make do with what  you already have.

Dental Floss
Super strong, skinny string.
Great item to stockpile or keep in a bugout bag.
Cheap, small and lightweight.


  • Thread a needle (a large one) and floss becomes unbreakable thread to mend just about anything that is ripped, or you can sew on buttons.

  • Replace shoelaces

  • Makeshift clothesline to dry your clothes.

  • Fix a broken umbrella spoke.

  • Tie a tarp down.

  • Fishing line. No pole? Use a stick for a pole and a dangly earring or safety pin for a hook. Use the floss container to store worms for bait.

  • Lose a screw from your eyeglasses? Floss will hold it together. Not elegant, but keeps you from being blind.

  • Tie plants together to make them easier to carry if you are foraging in your survival situation.

  • Use floss like a knife to cut through soft foods like cheese, fruits, and cake.

  • Waxed floss burns. Wrap it around a dry stick and light it like a candle.

  • Some foods, like meat, need to be tied together for cooking. Unwaxed, unflavored floss works great.

  • If you have a rope that is fraying, tightly wrap dental floss around and around the end to tighten up the fray.

  • Of course, floss your teeth. Keep your mouth healthy.

Surprising uses that don't involve a sandwich
  • Have you noticed that eating something spicy can make you sweaty and make your  nose drip? Mustard's heat can be put to a good use if you are sick. Try rubbing some mustard on your chest. Place a warm damp cloth on top of the mustard. This is great grandma's type of health care. (This is not a substitute for medical care if you need it and can get it!)

  • Sore muscles from working too hard? Mustard plastered on the sore areas for 20-30 minutes will help. Of course in a survival situation, you need to have the ability to wash it off afterward.

  • Surprisingly mustard makes an awesome burn cream. Rub it on the burn and it instantly cools the pain and often prevents blisters from forming. This works for the typical, 1st and 2nd-degree burns, like touching a hot pan. Don't use this for large or deep, 3rd-degree burns.

  • Even more surprisingly, it helps with a sore throat. Stir one tablespoon each of ground mustard seed, honey, salt and lemon juice. Mix with a cup of boiling water. Cool it and gargle. Tastes disgusting, but works.

  • Obviously, it is awesome when mixed with many kinds of foods besides sandwiches. Yum!

  • BTW, mustard may lose flavor out of the fridge, but it won't spoil or hurt you if not kept cold. Great to know in a survival situation.



Baking soda
Sodium bicarbonate.
Usually used in cooking.
Cheap, mildy alkaline, mildly abrasive. 


  • Neutralizes odors. Use it with water to wipe anything smelly. Sprinkle it on smelly pets and brush it through their coats.

  • Sprinkle it in your shoes as a natural deodorizer.

  • A pinch of soda mixed with water and rubbed in your smelly armpits will make everyone else in your life a bit happier.

  • Use it as a cleanser to clean most things. It's nontoxic and won't hurt surfaces.

  • Use as an antacid for an upset stomach - 1/4 tsp in 1/4 cup water. But don't drink large amounts of it.

  • Make a paste of soda and water and put in on bug bites or poison ivy rash to help stop itching and help neutralize toxins.

  • Mix with water and use to relieve sunburn.

  • Tastes icky, but it is effective to use to brush your teeth.

  • Throw it on a fire to put it out. 

  • 1 c. soda mixed with 1 c. sugar is supposed to kill bugs. Cockroaches or ants eat it, and it kills them. (Never tried this)

  • Mix it with vinegar to entertain the kids. Makes a fun bubbly, boily concoction. 

Aluminum Foil
It's in your cupboard right now, and it's not just for cooking.
  • In your survival situation, if you don't have much water for washing, line your pans with foil. Then after you cook, you can just throw out the foil instead of washing. Of course, you might not want to make lots of trash if the garbage collectors aren't working. This will work short term.

  • Use the foil to form bowls and plates.

  • Wrap food in foil to cook in the fire. You can wrap potatoes and bury them in the ground near the coals to cook them slowly.

  • Crumple a bit of foil to use to scrub baked-on food off pans. This might scratch some pans, so be aware.

  • To scare birds away from your garden, cut pieces of foil and hang in the tree. Draw scary eyes on the foil with permanent marker for greater effectiveness. Dental floss makes a strong, lightweight string to hang the foil pieces.

  • Use it to make a solar cooker. Line the inside of a box with foil, showing the shiny side. Cover the box with a sheet of glass or clear plastic. Make sure all the cracks and holes are sealed. Place it in the sun, and it will get nice and hot inside the box. We tried this once as an experiment and decided it's not the best way to cook food on the cool, rainy coast. If you live inland, it should work much better.

  • Make a sun box to get more light for your plants. Line a shoe box with tinfoil and place it behind a plant to get more sunlight to help the plant grow.

  • If you are holding a candle and don't want hot wax dripping on you, protect your fingers by cutting a small hole in the foil and slipping the candle through it, and shape the foil into a bowl to catch the wax.

  • Wrap matches or other small things in foil to keep things dry.

  • After cooking food on the grill, put some heavy foil over the grill and shut the lid. This works like a self-cleaning oven to clean drips off the grill. Then ball up the foil and use it to scrub the grill to clean it even better.

  • Fashion it into a large pan and put it outside to collect rainwater.

  • Crumple it up and scrub rust off metal tools.

  • If lost in the wilderness, use the shiny side to signal for help from a plane or faraway car.

  • In the summer, put foil on windows to reflect the heat away. In the winter, put foil behind your heat source to reflect the warmth toward you.

  • Find your way at night by placing pieces of foil on your path that you plan to follow at night. Your flashlight will shine on the pieces.

  • Have the kids make fun hats or mold it into small toys. Entertainment for the kids can be priceless!


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