Let's face it: no celebration would be complete without booze.
From the regal temples of ancient Rome to present-day college dorms, alcohol has been universally used in just about any festivity. These fermented beverages come in many different names, each varying in shape, size, and strength. Whatever you call them, alcohol is bound to give you that characteristic buzz that kills your inhibitions. And often, lost inhibitions lead to tons of fun.
So, when disaster strikes and celebrations come in short supply, will alcohol still have a place in your shelf? Or are they just a waste of space?
Don’t throw those bottles out just yet. Thankfully, alcohol’s functions go beyond merry-making and getting wasted. Here are 9 ways to use alcohol in a survival situation:
In a SHTF situation, booze can be used as an antiseptic to clean wounds. The compounds in alcohol presumably kill bacteria by destroying their cell walls. The higher alcohol concentration, the better. 40-60% alcohol content can deter the growth of bacteria, while stronger varieties of around 60-90% have been known to kill it altogether.
That said, you’d want to stock up on hard liquor to achieve this antiseptic effect.
Vodka and whiskey hit an average of 40-70% alcohol content, so they’re ideal for emergency wound dressing. If you’ve got a bottle of Everclear, which clocks in at a whopping 90%...even better. The 5% alcohol content of beer, on the other hand, won’t do much against those nasty germs. That being said, it’s not a good idea to stock anything under 40%.
If you’re wondering what the difference between antiseptic and disinfectant is, here’s the answer: a substance is considered an antiseptic when it’s used on living tissues. When it’s used on non-living things or inanimate objects, it becomes a “disinfectant”. Some substances are only efficient when they’re used one way, but not the other.
Alcohol thankfully can be used to kill germs both ways.
Alcohol can be used to disinfect tools and objects, especially those that you use to prepare food or those that come in direct contact with your body. These include eating utensils, knives used for preparing game, needles for emergency suturing and the like.
Related: Building the Ultimate First Aid Kit
Fuel For Fire
Fire is essential for survival. It allows you to keep warm, cook food, purify your water, ward off bad guys and even signal for help. The ethanol found in most alcoholic beverages is highly flammable, so you can actually use booze to start a fire. You don’t even need a huge amount. You can simply dab some alcohol on a piece of cloth before lighting it up. When used the right way, a bottle of vodka can serve as a bottle of fuel, too. You’ll have a crackling fire to keep you warm in no time.
Alcoholic beverages have been used as sedatives since the earliest days of civilization. Ever seen a period drama? They usually let a person take a swig of whiskey or rum right before doing a nasty but necessary bit of field surgery. Back in those days, alcohol was the closest thing to anesthesia and it was usually enough to get the job done. For centuries, it was also the drug of choice for people suffering from toothaches. If you need to use it for anesthetic purposes, a serving or two can help relax the person and dull their sensory neurons, if only for a bit.
However, not all incidents warrant the use of alcohol as a numbing agent. You have to take necessary precautions in using alcohol for this purpose. First, you’d need a higher-than-normal dose for the sedative effect to kick in. This can cause dependency in the long run. For this reason, it’s not advisable to use alcohol for chronic pain. Second, alcohol can interact with other drugs. When mixed with pain medicines, alcohol can prove to be fatal, thus it must only be used as a pain reliever sparingly and only if there isn’t any other alternative.
Some people would think twice about dousing stinky surfaces with alcohol, but booze actually does a great job of eliminating foul odors. The germ-killing properties of alcohol kill the microorganisms that cause funky smells, so it can be used to deodorize places in the house or articles of clothing. You can even use high-proof alcohol as a mouthwash or as an ingredient to make your own deodorant.
Mold and other fungi grow in dark, damp places. They wreak havoc on food stores and on the house itself. Most of the time they're just a huge nuisance but some varieties of mold are actually dangerous. These toxic molds emit mycotoxins that cause a bunch of problems like headaches, allergies, and respiratory ailments when inhaled.
Lucky for you, you can easily get rid of molds with some high-proof alcohol, fresh air and lots of sunshine. Simply apply the alcohol over the affected area and try to work out the mold until it’s completely gone. Alcohol is ideal to use because it evaporates quickly, so it won’t cause further damage to the affected area. If you can’t find hard liquor or ethyl alcohol, you can use isopropyl or rubbing alcohol instead.
Natural Bug Repellent
Insect bites are not uncommon, especially if you’re camping out. They’re inconvenient and itchy, but more than that, insect bites can also harbor serious medical conditions like Lyme disease. If you’re running low on bug spray or topical insect repellents, you can use alcohol to make some. Mix a portion of hard liquor or rubbing alcohol with olive oil or lemongrass oil and spray it to keep those bugs away. Combining alcohol with some dried herbs like peppermint, lemongrass or lavender works, too. Check out the full instructions here.
Related: Mosquito Trap DIY
Treatment For Poison Ivy Rashes
Poison ivy is a huge pain in the behind...or any other body part that it touches, for that matter. What makes this plant itchy is the substance called urushiol, which induces allergic reactions and dermatitis. Hot water does nothing to help with poison ivy rashes. If anything, it only dilates the pores and lets more of that urushiol into the system. Instead, you can use some alcohol--- vodka would do nicely--- to get rid of the irritating substance.
In the wake of a major disaster, money would cease to be a currency. Instead of cash, people would want to get their hands on valuable supplies like fuel, water or food. With its multiple uses, it really shouldn’t come as a surprise that alcohol would also be considered as a prime commodity.
If you’ve got a bottle or two of hard liquor, you can barter it for other survival items. The higher the proof, the more useful and shelf-stable the alcohol, so stock up on vodka or whiskey. Beers, as mentioned earlier, won’t be worth much in a survival situation.
Related: Make Bartering Part of Your SHTF
Alcohol is a fixture in many celebrations around the world. A party is simply not complete without it. However, its role is not limited to festivities. In a dire survival situation, a bottle or two of quality booze can save your neck. You can use it to make fire or clean nasty wounds, among other things. Most of all, you can use it to barter for other survival items.
Keep one or two bottles of hard liquor in your survival pantry and these might just see you through some tough times.