Ten More Unusual but Useful Preps

Bar and chain oil are just one of may items someone counting on using small engines after the collapse should keep on hand.
Bar and chain oil are just one of may items someone counting on using small engines after the collapse should keep on hand.

More than a year ago, I posted ten unusual and unexpected things you will want after the SHTF. The list included scissors, a barometer, and manual (hand crank) drills. These are things you would need at your retreat or when you bug in rather than items you want in your bugout bag. Since writing this, I have found a few more things I use and will continue to need after the SHTF. Some of them I may use even more after the SHTF than I do now. I have since made them part of my preps.

1. Light Bulbs

I just bought 18 dimmable 60-watt equivalent LED lightbulbs. Kind of a strange prep if we expect a grid-down scenario, but not every disaster includes a power outage. For example, supply chain problems or a war with China could disrupt lightbulb supplies. In our case, we expect to have solar power any month now, so lightbulbs will be needed.

Yeah, I know. LEDs are supposed to last 50,000 hours. That’s 5.7 years if you burn them 24-hours a day. In my experience, that’s either a lie or it only happens in carefully controlled laboratory situations.

When we bought this house four years ago, we replaced every single lightbulb with LED bulbs. Of the 36 bulbs, we’ve since replaced almost half, and none of them were on 24 hours a day. Worst of all, when our LEDs fail, they often flicker for a while. Then they turn on, or not. We have several ceiling fixtures with two bulbs in them, and when we flip the switch, we never know if we will get one bulb, two bulbs, or a disco strobe effect. First thing in the morning, you really don’t want a strobe.

So lightbulbs made it onto my prepping list. Instead of four or six spare bulbs we now have at least two dozen.

2. Lava Soap

This soap gets its name from the pumice in it from volcanic rocks. The pumice is gritty and provides extra scrubbing power to get the dirt off your hands. I can attest to its effectiveness, if not its ingredients. We keep a bar in our basement bathroom so I can scrub up after heavy work. In this era of antibiotic soaps and liquid body washes, Lava Soap may not leave you smelling as pretty, but it will darn well get your dirty hands cleaner than anything else I’ve found.

After the SHTF, chances are good you will be doing more manual labor and more working in the dirt and earth. You’ll get dirty. Lava Soap will help you get clean.

3. Mess Kits

I have several Army surplus mess kits, including a green one that is from what we used to call the “Eastern Bloc.” I keep one in my truck emergency kit, one in my cache, and one in my bugout bag. The best thing about them is that they won’t break like china or glass dishware.

I can foresee a scenario in which every member of a prepper group is assigned their very own mess kit, set of silverware, and a mug of cup. They are then responsible for cleaning and maintain their gear. If you have to clean yours in a stream with rocks, metal is going to beat china every day. And if you are dealing with children, you already know the value of indestructible plates.

You can buy consumer-grade mess kits that are lightweight and made from aluminum, but most of the military surplus models are heavy duty. That means either thicker aluminum or steel, often stainless steel. I prefer these because of their better durability. (There have been some questions about long-term effects of using aluminum for cooking and eating. Do your own research.)

The nicest mess kits include not just plates, but a small pot in which to heat an entrée or boil water. That’s the kind I have in the truck and in the cache. What good is having a freeze-dried meal pouch, oatmeal, or rice if you can’t boil water?

4. Bar and Chain Oil

If you have a chainsaw, I expect you have some of this on hand, but is it a quart or a gallon? I now buy it by the gallon. I estimate a gallon will allow me to cut ten to twelve cords, which is two years’ worth of wood. (We may use more if we have to burn wood for cooking as well as heat.)

I have spare chains, bars, air filters and spark plugs, so it makes sense to have plenty of oil. If you expect to be doing any sawing after the fall, make sure you have spare bar and chain oil.

For now, two gallons of bar and chain oil are on a shelf in my garage . I also have plenty of 2-stroke oil to mix with my gas.

If you don’t have a chain saw and plan to use wood as a fuel source, what are you waiting for?

5. Specialty Fuels

While you are at it, you could buy some of the specialty fuels offered in gallon cans for two-stroke engines by Stihl and the other major brands and some of the big box stores. I don’t use these, but the funny can and the two-stroke warning might mean no one will pour it into their car or generator. That will allow you to keep using it in your saw after the regular gas is gone. I’m not doing this because it is far more expensive than gasoline, but it could be a good idea in some scenarios.

Speaking of specialty fuels, I have two or three gallons of Coleman fuel, what is generically known as “white gas.” These are also good to keep on hand for your Coleman and other white gas or mutli-fuel stoves and lanterns. Again, it is unlikely someone looking for “gas” for a vehicle during a SHTF event will pour Coleman fuel in the tank, thereby ensuring you have a supply of fuel for your stove or lantern available.

6. Hydraulic Fluid

The log splitter is the only mechanical device we have that uses hydraulic fluid, and it is supposed to be changed every 100 hours. We can produce many cords of firewood in 100 hours of machine time, but I keep two gallons of hydraulic fluid on hand. This allows me to top off the tank now or refill it when the day comes. I expect it’s going to be difficult to find after the SHTF. It may also be useful as a trade good after a collapse, as it is critical to heavy equipment and farming equipment.

For the log splitter, the gallon jugs should be fine. If you expect to be running heavy equipment after the SHTF, then buy it by the 5-gallon bucket. If you have lots of heavy equipment and farm equipment and your own tank of diesel, you could buy it in 55-gallon drums or 275-gallon totes. Just be sure to get the grade your equipment needs.

7. Filters for Your Equipment

It should go without saying that if you store hydraulic fluid and motor oil, you should also have a stash of filters, but let me also suggest you have a few fuel filters on hand. These can sit in the fuel tank or and inline in the fuel hose.

Don’t overlook air filters, and consider getting pre-filters and washable, re-usable filters. And then do yourself a favor and wash them out at the beginning of the season. Changing the air filter should be part of your regular small engine maintenance plan.

Remember, your small engines need three things to work: fuel, spark and oxygen. If you aren’t getting fuel or oxygen, check the appropriate filter. Sure, it could be carburetor or other more complex issue, but the filter is an easy fix.

8. Diesel Exhaust Fluid

I don’t have any diesel equipment, but if you do, and if it requires DEF fluid, then you should sock some. It would be a shame to have diesel, but your engine refuses to run because of a lack of DEF.

It is notable that DEF was in short supply during and after the COVID supply chain crisis.

9. Adhesives

OK, enough about oils and other lubricants. Let’s look at the other side of the equation—sticky stuff.

I keep multiple adhesives on hand, from super glue to shoe goo, epoxy to roofing cement, and plenty of wood glue for building my beehives. Each has their uses, but keep in mind that they may go bad over time, especially if you have opened the container. It’s no fun grabbing your tube of glue to find it has gone from liquid to semi-solid rubbery substance and won’t come out when you squeeze it.

So not only should you have glues and epoxies, you should check them regularly or buy new ones every couple of years.

Something that is very much like a tube of glue is liquid gasket. You can make your own gaskets or O-rings with this stuff, putting an end to a leaky seal. McGyver would have loved it.

10. Black Electric Tape

Is tape an adhesive? Well, in the sense that you can use it to hold two things together it may be, but I’m giving tap its own entry. I think most preppers know duct tape is useful, but so is black electrical tape. I like to wrap tool handles with it. It’s strong stuff, too, with a bit of stretch. I’ve heard of people making emergency shoe laces out of a twisted piece of black electrical tape. In a tactical scenario, you can also use it to quiet items in your pack that jingle or clank.

After The Big Three

Let me stress that you shouldn’t be buying gallons of chain and bar oil before you stock some water filters and lots of food. The above items are “unusual” because they are not on most prepping lists. They aren’t listed because most preppers are at the early stages of their prepping journey. These items should only be stocked when you’ve got the basics covered.

For those that have not been following this blog, the big three are food, water, and shelter. These are your priorities. (Shelter is more than a coat, a tent, or a tarp; it is a place to live. It can be a location you live in now or somewhere you plan to head to when you bug out.) I you think you have enough food, read our recent post on the hungry hordes.

Then we have the next three: self-defense, medical/first aid, and communications. You will need to have at least these six basics covered before you worry about our unusual prepping supplies.


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