When doomsday hits, you are going to need some quick chemistry knowledge at your fingertips. The availability of sustenance and medical supplies might be an issue when SHTF, but chemical solutions could provide lifesaving life-hacks.
Heck, you might have to go full Walter White (but hopefully not) to make it through the end of the world.
Whether it is a pandemic, global war, or epic natural disaster, the economy is likely to suffer serious damage. This presents one serious problem…supply disruption.
To protect yourself, and your loved ones, you will need to be aware of what you need in a crisis. Chemicals and a bit of know-how are key aspects, as you will soon learn.
There is a limitless number of chemical supplies that could prove useful for survivalists. These chemicals serve several purposes including disinfection and preservation, among others. Different chemicals have different uses and, as a result, must be employed appropriately.
Chemical reactions preppers should know
A knowledge of survivalist chemistry could make life in the post-apocalyptic dystopia a little easier. Now, before we start, you should realize that chemistry is a lifelong journey of discovery with no limit on what you can learn. This article barely scratches the surface when it comes to chemical reactions you should know.
One of my favorites is the process of using wood ash to make soap. You will need a metal hydroxide known as lye and some animal fat. Lye is extracted from hardwood ashes by boiling them in soft water for 30 minutes. Ensure you do not do this in an aluminum pot because lye corrodes them.
Another interesting reaction has to do with ripening fruits…using fruits. When ripened, fruits like bananas and plums produce a gas known as ethylene. This chemical is commonly used by produce farmers and distributors to ensure the fruit is fresh and shelf-ready.
Preppers can also make use of it while bugging out by placing ripe ethylene producing fruits next to unripe fruits. Before you know it, the unripe fruits will be ready for consumption.
Sodium hydroxide, also known as "salt", can serve a wide range of purposes. Its greatest purpose is one that may be taken for granted but is chemically relevant all the same…improving taste.
We all know salt makes food taste better, but you might not know the full extent of the foodstuffs it can improve. Coffee, for example, can benefit tremendously from a little sugar and salt.
Using phosphoric acid
Phosphoric acid is another chemical agent that preppers can use to fight off the rust. Simply place the affected object into a solution and allow the acid to do its thing.
The acid can turn red iron oxide into rust-free ferric phosphate. Interestingly, you can even use cola for this because it contains phosphoric acid too.
Technically speaking, cooking is a process that brings about chemical change in the ingredients used. Enzymes are stimulated, or denatured, and ingredients mingle and form new compounds that are friendly to the tastebuds. It goes without saying that cooking is an essential skill in any survivalist’s repertoire.
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Useful survivalist chemistry skills
When SHTF, you are going to need to be as resourceful as possible. The best resource available to you is your knowledge base, so always strive to keep learning. Your knowledge (or lack thereof) could prove decisive in life and death situations.
As we all know from movies and real-world survivalists, one of the most important things in any disaster is your drinking water. Your body can go several days or even weeks without food, but not nearly that long without water.
Always try to keep a fresh supply handy. Of course, we preppers understand that is not always possible. Enter filtration. Chemical purification, to be more specific.
Because carrying large volumes of water is not entirely practical (especially on foot), survivalists may be forced to rely on natural water bodies or any other shady water sources.
Purifiers such as halazone, chlorine, potassium permanganate, and iodine are excellent for making suspicious water safe for drinking.
Starting a fire
If power and gas supplies fail, you would also need to know how to start a fire. There are several ways to start a fire without matches or lighters, but today we will focus on one that uses a bit of chemistry. You will need some magnesium and a steel tool.
First, scrape off bits of magnesium onto a tinder nest using a knife or some sharp tool. Next, use flint to strike the steel tool to create sparks that you will direct towards the (highly flammable) flecks of magnesium. Magnesium is great for this because it flames up rapidly and catches onto the tinder easily.
For more fire starting methods for preppers, check out our guide on how to start a fire with survival tools.
Best prepper chemicals to stockpile and their uses
While it is nearly impossible to anticipate and accommodate every single chemical and drug you will need if SHTF, there are still some things that really ought to be high priorities for your survival inventory.
We've already discussed some important prepper chemicals in the first part of the article. Further down, we discuss some more chemicals you should keep ready to add to your Bug Out Bag.
Here's a handy list of all 14 prepper chemicals we talk about:
- Sodium hydroxide
- Phosphoric acid
- Potassium permanganate
- Sodium bicarbonate
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Citric acid
- Hydrogen borate
We’ve already discussed the importance of chemical water purifiers. These can make any water you come across drinkable (although you should confirm this with manufacturers). The importance of hydration, especially in a disaster scenario, cannot be understated.
In the event of mass power outages, reliable refrigeration could become a problem. To navigate around this, you will need another approach to preserving food. Salt is one such approach, and it has been used as a natural preservative for centuries. Citric acid is another useful food preservative and brewing agent.
If you are handy around the house, there is a good chance you know of the wonders of baking soda. Commonly referred to as bicarbonate of soda, this compound has a wide range of uses.
You can use it to extinguish grease fires or you can make a homemade mouthwash with it. It is also a handy heartburn remedy and reliable surface cleaner. A truly wondrous chemical.
Cuts, scrapes, and other wounds are simply a part of a survivalist adventure, so you need to be ready to deal with them. An infected wound is a ticking time-bomb that needs to be handled quickly.
Hydrogen peroxide is one of the chemicals that serves that particular purpose better than most. It is classified as a mild antiseptic, and it will easily disinfect most minor wounds and burns. Hydrogen peroxide can also be used as a makeshift mouthwash that targets oral infections like gingivitis.
Iodine is also useful for the production of thyroid hormones, which are useful for controlling metabolism. For infants, iodine is crucial for the pre and post-natal development of the brain and bones.
Lighter fluid (butane) is another handy thing to have. Starting fires with magnesium flecks is clever and all, but it still lacks the convenience of setting a flammable liquid ablaze with matches.
Hydrogen borate, also known as boric acid is a highly versatile chemical. It can be used to make homemade insecticides, in addition to being used as an antiseptic.
At room temperature, the acid is in the form of crystals or powder, which makes its storage and transportation relatively safe. You can also use the acid for preserving timber and for curing animal hides.
Boric acid also has several medical uses. It has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties which make it ideal for targeting acne and athlete's foot. If SHTF, women's access to their gynecologists might be seriously impacted. The acid (in very dilute concentrations) can help with bacterial vaginosis and yeast infections.
If you are growing your own food, boric acid can help reduce boron deficiencies in your crops. At harvest time, the acid can also be used as a preservative.
As stated above, the list of useful prepper chemicals is endless. To have a concise idea of what you would really need, you should identify your needs and start from there.
If you plan on starting a crisis garden, for example, you will probably have to obtain fertilizers, soil nutrients, and pesticides. Listing your needs is a better avenue to identifying your essential chemicals than haphazard guesses.
How to safely store chemicals for prepping
Storing chemicals correctly is arguably just as important as picking them out in the first place. The last thing you want in a moment of crisis is to find out that your inventory has been compromised, or hurriedly expired, by poor (and avoidable) storage practices.
Luckily, most chemicals and medicines come with storage and preparation instructions. Usually, most require a dry and cool place. Some, like insulin and eye drops, require constant refrigeration.
A suitable cooler box and bug-out mini-fridge would surely come in handy. Also, no survivalist kit is complete without a rugged all-terrain bug out backpack to store at least some of the prepper chemicals we highlighted.
Last update on 2023-02-23 / Affiliate Links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
If your inventory contains strong corrosives like acids, you should think about getting safety gloves that are resistant to chemicals. Some acids are extremely harmful when they come into contact with the skin.
Always ensure that bottle lids and caps are secured tightly and that all lighting in your inventory storerooms is switched off when they are not in use.
Prepper Chemicals Conclusions
Chemistry and chemicals are a part of everyday life, and you better believe they will still be so when SHTF.
Keep feeding your chemistry knowledge base because you never know when it will come in handy. For the best chance of success, preppers should identify their everyday needs to understand how chemistry fits in.