Saturday, September 14, 2013

Survival stuff Tips

-cattail seed heads dipped in pine pitch to make a long-burning torch

-Milkweed, nettle, dogbane and yucca are some of the best cordage plants in my area--you want to look for a plant whose stem contains sturdy fibers which don't easily break when the stem is broken, Cording the inner bark of an aspen tree.

Q: (arctic cotton??)

-Balm of Gilead:"The buds of a number of varieties of cottonwood and poplar trees (Populus nigra, Populus balsamifera, Populus augustafolia and others) contain a sticky orange resin that has been used for centuries to make a soothing, healing salve commonly known as "Balm of Gilead." This salve has anti-inflammatory, antibiotic/antiseptic and pain relieving qualities, and has been effectively used to treat abrasions, minor burns, frostbite and to ease the pain of sore muscles and joints. It is also (sometimes known as Black Salve) a traditional skin cancer remedy.

 There are several ways to extract the resin from the buds for making Balm of Gilead salve. One is done by slowly simmering the buds in hot oil to release their resin, and the second, which takes longer but yields a slightly more potent finished product, involves placing the buds in a crock or jar, and covering them with oil, leaving them to "steep" for a period of several weeks to a year.

Ingredients: Bee's wax, grapefruit seed extract, cottonwood bud oil

I find that a ratio of 1/1 by volume of oil and wax shavings generally works well.
Heat the oil just to lukewarm, and add the wax. Do not boil. Stir with a wooden stick or, if you must use metal, with stainless steel.
Before pouring into the containers, put a bit of the salve on a spoon and refrigerate it for a few minutes (or just set it out on the counter, if your house is as cool as mine...) this sample hardened shortly after contacting the spoon) to make sure that the finished texture will be alright. It is much easier to add either wax or oil to the mix now, than it will be to later dig the salve out of containers and modify it.  
I added two drops of grapefruit seed extract to this batch, a preservative and to increase the antiseptic/antibacterial value of the salve. This step is optional."

versatile salve that can be used in place of antibiotic ointment on minor cuts, abrasions and burn, helps treat frostbite (have tried that...) and works wonders on dry, chapped hands and cracked fingers and toes.

-Fireweed (Epilobium angustifolium) is a common sight in the high mountains and on the subarctic tundra alike, its uniquely colorful blooms adding some spice to otherwise drab landscapes. The plant does especially well on areas which have recently been burned in wildfires, and is often one of the first to return.

Young shoots can be peeled and eaten much like asparagus, blooms are edible and the leaves are good both added to soups and made into a tea. Roots, also, can be eaten, and are sweetest when harvested in the spring.

This plant's seeds produce a fuzzy down similar to that of dandelions, and this can, somewhat ironically, be used as tinder for starting fires.