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10 Hacks for Homesteading with Almost No Money

Coke can latern

Coke can lanterns

Editor’s note: is happy to welcome Jack Neely to the site. Jack has a lot of experience as a homesteader and “life hack” guru. Jack is a fitness expert, survivalist, and world traveler.

Homesteading is about being self-sufficient and self-reliant. To do this, you need to figure out some hacks to make it easy and simple. This involves adopting better gardening methods, conserving electricity, minimizing wastage, and consuming locally grown food. You can also go a step further and produce your own clothing, craft-work, and other home accessories.

The following are some simple hacks you can adopt:

Leave your Clothes Out to Dry

Forget the dryer. You can still dry your clothes in the outdoors, balcony or rooftop. Light clothes dry within a few hours even in the chilly weather while heavier garments will take longer. Besides saving you high monthly energy bills, this hack leaves your clothes smelling fresh and natural.

Grow Tomatoes Vertically

Having a small space doesn’t mean you can’t farm your own tomatoes. There are some breeds that grow vertically rather than horizontally. Besides taking little space, most of the plant is off the ground and is less-likely to be affected by parasites and diseases. You also use fewer pesticides to take care of it.

Build a Lantern from a Can

Find an empty can such as a coke or beer can. Fill it halfway or three-quarter way with lantern or olive oil. Insert a piece of cotton material (a strip from a worn-out shirt, t-shirt, skirt, short, etc). This lantern will come handy at night or when the lights go out. You can also experiment with other oils such as palm, coconut, or cooking oil.

You can also use little tea candles in a coke can that you cut open.  Simply cut out a section of the coke can, leaving the top and bottom of the can intact. (See top pic.) Makes a great lantern that will last for hours.

Also, it’s good to keep a tactical flashlight around. This way you save yourself from having to use power or burning a candle just for a quick use.

Recycle the Candle Wax

Avoid spending lots of money of candles by recycling the used candles. Begin by gathering the used candles and storing them. Get a wick or a cord/thread made from cotton and a glass tumbler or jar. Slowly melt the candles in a large pot or double boiler. Vertically insert the wick inside the glass and pour the melted candle.

Get Rid of the Skunk Smells

When the skunk is around, it may leave you, your dog or the home smelling awful. You can however get rid of the smell easily and cheaply by using common ingredients. Mix 1/2 a cup of baking soda with 1 quart of hydrogen peroxide (3%). Spray the solution on yourself, the dog or your home.

Leave your Toilet Clean and Smelling Fresh

Instead of buying the expensive toilet cleaners and fresheners, you can make your own freshener. Find a container or bucket and add a gallon of clean water. Add several drops of your favorite scent, lime or lemon essential oil, or even dish-washing soup. Mix the three ingredients and use this solution to clean your toilet.

Crayons for Candlescrayolacrayoncandle

When your kid is not using the crayons, you can turn them into candles. Simply light one end of the crayon and enjoy some quality lighting that will last for a bit. You can always pack a few when out on a camping or hiking adventure.

Just be careful, because some crayons have a metallic coloring and could be a bit toxic. But in a true disaster situation, these could come in handy.

Defrost the Soil for Planting

Planting during the winter season can be quite tricky. The frozen water may damage the seedlings and also makes tilling the soil a challenge. You can however thaw the soil by placing black polythene/plastic over the soil. The covering will warm the soil allowing the ice to freeze and also moistening the soil.

Hand-wash your Clothes and Utensils

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Though it seems convenient and saves time, using the dish washing or laundry machine consumes a substantial amount of energy. It also emits compounds that are damaging to the environment. Make your utensils and clothes clean and sparkly by soaking them in water for some minutes. Thereafter wash gently and rinse with clean water and bleach solution. (4-6 drops unscented bleach per gallon.)

You can also use a non-electric clothing washer. This one requires no electricity. It is a simple hand crank.

Live off the Grid

Energy costs are ever-increasing. However, you can still enjoy quality electricity while living off the grid. All you need is to make your own photo-voltaic (PV) cells or solar panels and wind turbines. Use the right 12 -volt DC motors that can be found in the many electronics in the home to create a roof mounted wind electricity generator.

The above hacks are simple and suitable for both experienced and inexperienced homesteaders. The goal of the hacks is to make life simple, easy but still comfortable. In the long run, you are able to live with what you have, reduce unnecessary spending or wastage, and also use your skills and creativity to improvise. Besides improving your life, you also improve that of the community and environment.


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