5 Items you probably should NOT stock long term
For many preppers on a budget, the ability to stockpile goods and supplies might be limited. They may have to stock just a little at a time. And in that case, I hope that they are not stockpiling items which maybe they shouldn’t.
I wanted to take a look at some items that you may NOT want to stock pile long-term and the reasons why. I also try to have some alternatives available as well.
Many of the items listed below are items you SHOULD have in a disaster, so do NOT think I’m saying not to have these items. Instead, I’m saying that in your long-term planning (i.e. the grid goes down for an extended time) these are items you should think about having alternative plans and options for.
Now hear me out. NO ONE out there understands the importance of good, quality toilet paper more than I do. I always have several weeks’ supply on hand. But there is a big draw back to trying to hoard toilet paper long-term.
The problem is that large amounts of toilet paper are bulky and take up a lot of room. For me, in an urban setting, I have trouble storing more than a month’s supply for my family. So if a true long-term disaster struck, beyond 3 to 4 weeks I’ll be in a crappy situation.
The average person uses over 100 rolls of TP per year. Now multiple that times the number of your family members/group. That’s a lot of room for a hoard of TP! And yes, my family goes through AT LEAST that much TP.
If you have the room to store mass quantities of toilet paper, then by all means go for it! Someday I might be very envious of you. But if you are like me, and you have limited storage space, then you might look at other methods of handling a potential dirty situation in a long SHTF event.
One alternative is using wash rags or flannel strips to clean with. (Flannel does not tend to fray as bad as other cotton materials.) If you go this route, first be sure to use CLEAN cloth. Also, keep these strips away from other laundry and wash them separately. You might keep a 5 gallon bucket with a lid by the toilet to throw the strips into.
You can use this manual washer to hand wash the strips in the 5 gallon bucket. I would suggest a water and vinegar solution. I would also let the strips boil in hot water for at least 20 minutes.
The ancient Romans used sponges on a stick to handle their “cleanup”. They would then use vinegar to clean the sponges. In a worst case scenario, you could do this. I would recommend using a smaller sponge as it will be easier to clean. You do this by using a water/vinegar solution and then boil it for at least 20 minutes.
The average shelf life of bleach is about 6 to 9 months or so, if kept at optimum conditions. After that point, bleach will begin to degrade. And chances are, if the grid is down a long time, you WON’T have optimum conditions.
Instead, I recommend calcium hypochlorite (CaCl2O2). It has a LONG shelf life (up to 10 years if kept air tight and in dark place). You can use this to “make bleach” and to treat clear water for drinking. Just be sure to get as close to 100% pure calcium hypochlorite as possible. Do NOT have any CaCl2O2 that contains algaecides or fungicides. Ingredients should read calcium hypochlorite and INERT ingredients. Use a brand with at least 78% CaCl2O2. The higher the CaCl2O2 amount, the better!
To treat clear water with calcium hypochlorite there are a couple of ways to do it. If you want to directly treat the water with calcium hypochlorite use the following formula:
- 1 Gallon: add one grain, about the size of the period at the end of this sentence.
- 55 Gallons: add 1/8 teaspoon for a 5ppm solution.
- 400 Gallons: add 1 level teaspoon for a 5ppm solution.
My recommendation is to make a 5% chlorine solution to be able to use the drop method for disinfecting water. You do this by adding and dissolving ½ teaspoon of calcium hypochlorite into ¾ cup of clean water. This solution will decay at the same rate of regular 5.25% bleach, so don’t make more than you will use in a short time. Then use this mixture to treat clear water as you would regular bleach. (4-6 drops per gallon.)
Please keep in mind that CaCl2O2 should be handled with care. Eye protection and gloves should be worn when handling, and you should be in a well-ventilated area. Inhaling it could irritate the lungs and over time may cause a build-up of fluid on the lungs, ie. pulmonary edema.
In addition, you should keep it away from other chemicals, ESPECIALLY any form of acids. CaCl2O2 is chemically reactive with many substances, and any contamination with other substances by spill or otherwise could cause a chemical reaction and/or fire. And because CaCl2O2 is a strong oxidizer, it is capable of intensifying a fire once started.
As for cleaning/disinfecting purposes, vinegar also works well if you do not have any more bleach. And the shelf life of vinegar can last for decades if stored properly! (In fact, I include vinegar on my list of 10 items you SHOULD stock pile long-term!)
As I talk about in 10 items you should stock long-term, (see above link) if you have any medications with a discard date, then absolutely you should toss them once that date is reached. Things like insulin should NOT be used past their date. Liquid meds, such as eye drops, are included in this category as well.
Drugs that need refrigeration, such as amoxicillin suspension, should also be tossed if the date has passed, OR if it is no longer refrigerated.
To make matters worse, these drugs can “go bad” before their expiration date if they are not stored properly. And maintaining optimum storage conditions for these meds in a “grid down” scenario is going to be extremely difficult.
Most of these type drugs have a very limited shelf life, and can cause you all sorts of problems and issues if used past their expiration date. So trying to store these drugs long-term may not be a wise plan.
In a long-term SHTF situation, you might have to make some hard choices with some of these medications. Just be aware of all the risks involved.
Most folks I know have a few gallons stored in their garage for their lawnmower and chain saw. But storing large amounts of gas for long-term is not a good idea for many reasons.
The first is that gas does not have a long shelf life. Maybe 6 months to a year under optimum conditions and with the right treatment in place. Gas that’s been sitting around will begin to undergo several chemical processes that degrade the fuel. This includes evaporation and oxidation. Oxidation occurs when hydrocarbons react with oxygen, producing new compounds that eventually change the fuel’s chemical composition to “muck” and will gum up your engine.
That means you would need to rotate your stock of gas regularly. Trying to rotate large amounts of gas can be a pain in the ass I’m sure. And if it goes bad then what? You can’t get rid of it by simply pouring it down the drain. Well, I guess you can, but you will be violating all sorts of state and federal laws by illegally disposing of toxic substances.
Next, in many areas it is illegal to store large amounts of gasoline. This will vary from place to place. For example, in NYC you cannot store more than 2.5 gallons legally without a permit. I’ll let you guess all the bureaucratic hoopla you have to go through to get that permit!
Third, not only is gas highly flammable, it emits vapors which can cause you all sorts of problems as they get out. The results will NOT be good as this couple can attest.
A lot of preppers turn to propane over gas because you can buy it everywhere and the shelf-life of propane is almost indefinite. But there are some things to consider if you go this route.
First, propane, like gas, is flammable. So NEVER store it in your house. Store it some place away from heat sources or where there might be sparks. Propane is also heavier than air, so if it leaks it stays along the bottom of the floor…there it is good at seeking out pilot lights!
Propane is also toxic. So exercise caution when using it.
And finally, propane is a finite resource. Eventually, it will run out. That’s why my plans involve gear/supplies that use solar energy and/or are kinetic.
Gold and Silver
There will be those of you who disagree with me. If you are one of those of you who buy gold and silver as a financial investment, skip this part. This is geared for those people who buy gold and silver simply to have something to barter with after it all goes to hell.
Gold and silver will always have an intrinsic value. History has proven that. But if we have a TEOTWAWKI event, and the global economy collapses, your gold and silver will be basically worthless for at least the first several years of the event.
God forbid the grid goes down for good, there will be a time when the focus will be on merely surviving. Food, water, shelter, etc will be what is important. Having the tools and abilities to survive will be king. Those times will be the most taxing, the most trying. And it is THOSE times we are preparing for. Not until society has had time to “reset itself” and stabilize will that gold and silver have any real value on the market.
With gold/silver, you cannot eat it. You cannot grow anything with it. You cannot start a fire with it or purify water with it. You can’t wipe your ass with it. It has no worth beyond its intrinsic value.
Ask yourself this….in a TRUE SHTF event, what out of your supplies, preps, and gear would you trade away for gold or silver? If you say not a thing, don’t you think that would be everyone else’s answer as well? Especially if they do not have the expertise to tell the difference between real and fake gold or silver. Can you tell the difference?
If barter is something that you absolutely want to include in your prepping plans, then instead of purchasing precious metals, I would urge you to look for other things with which you could trade. Things which have a purpose greater than just barter.
For example, certain skills would be in high demand. Those in the medical profession, skilled mechanics, carpenters, and gun smiths would have skill sets that they could parlay into equitable commodities. And you can use those skills over and over. They don’t disappear like coins do.
So in that regard, it makes more sense to me to use the money you would buy gold or silver with and instead invest in yourself by enrolling in skill courses or programs. Your local vo-tech should offer multiple classes on things like first aid, small engine repair, etc. Sure, it requires time and commitment on your part. But those skills could save you and/or your family’s life some day! (And they weigh nothing in your bug out bag!)
In addition, you might consider other stockable items for barter, like alcohol. Not only does alcohol have value, it also has other utilities, such as a disinfectant and pain suppressant.
If you are looking for alcohol and spirits to store for long-term use, I’d stay away from beers and wines. Yes, some wines get better with age. But many turn to vinegar over time. And most wines do not have an alcohol percentage high enough to have much medicinal value. The same goes for beer.
Instead, I’d look for booze that is at least 40% alcohol (or 80 proof). Those work well as disinfectants.
That being said, if you are looking at alcohol to stock long-term (as opposed to using for personal consumption) I would stay away from things like liqueurs, which usually have sugar in them. This typically shortens their shelf life.
I’d stockpile things like spirits that are plain and not flavored. Distilled alcohols like vodka or grain alcohol have a VERY long shelf life. Whiskey is another option to consider, although I personally am not a whiskey drinker.
There are other items you can stockpile to use and possibly trade. The shelf life of freeze-dried coffee is decades when left unopened, and several years once opened. And trust me, what you don’t use would be a valuable trade good.
Salt also has several different uses (food flavoring, preserving meat, etc) and can last forever if stored correctly. Honey can also last indefinitely if stored correctly. Both of these will have value on a barter economy. And both can be used by you every day during a SHTF event.
Extra gear can always be bartered as well. Having an extra axe, knife, rope, or some extra candles could come in handy at the “barter table”. And they are still useful to you should you need them.
Also, be sure to check out my 10 items you SHOULD stock long term!
Stay safe out there!
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