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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Solar Landscaping Lights

Re-post courtesy of MatthiasJ from Kentucky Preppers Network

At the KPN Meetup Bullseye brought up a great point about the Solar Landscaping Lights that you can purchase. These are great for cheap lighting at night for your sidewalks, gardens, placed around your property for a little night light or added security. They are basically maintenance free and require no cables or cords to power them.

The cool thing about them is that they have small solar cells on top of them that draw their power from the sun during the day. For night use the power is stored in a standard rechargeable AA battery. Some of these lights have two batteries in them and those are the bigger ones. If you have a stock of rechargeable batteries (which you should) you can purchase solar chargers for pretty cheap. But the landscaping lights can be dual purpose. Light at night, and charged batteries when you need them.

These lights are pretty cheap and you could make a "garden" of solar lights just for charging your batteries. You can get a 10-pack from Amazon for around $30.00. That's not bad considering you could charge at least 1 battery per light (I'm not sure if these will do 1 or 2). This would eliminate the need for an at home solar charging option. It would still be a good idea to have a portable solar charging unit for your batteries but for home use these are perfect.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A guide to pressure canning

Re-post courtesy of MatthiasJ from Kentucky Preppers Network

I have never done any pressure canning myself, but if you have a garden it's a great way to preserve and store your own homegrown food for later use. Pressure canning is fairly simple and can be used to can just about anything. With a little studying and practice you can be canning the food from your garden in no time. Below is a guide to pressure canning written by the Utah State University Extension. A PDF version of the guide can be viewed here.

Why Choose Pressure Canning to Preserve Food?

Pressure canning is a safe and economical method of preserving low acid foods which has been used for decades, especially by home gardeners and others interested in providing food storage for their families where quality control of the food is in one's own hands. Home food preservation also promotes a sense of personal satisfaction and accomplishment. Further, the guess-work is taken out of being able to provide a safe food supply at home when guidelines for operating a pressure canner are followed exactly, scientifically tested/approved recipes are utilized, and high quality equipment, supplies and produce are used.

What Foods Are Typically Processed/Preserved Using a Pressure Canner and Why?

Low acid foods require a higher temperature when processing than can be reached by placing them in jars immersed by boiling water. To kill harmful bacteria (such as those associated with botulism) use of pressure canning ensures the safety of the preserved produce. Foods such as red meats, sea food, poultry, milk, and all fresh vegetables, with the exception of most tomatoes, fit into the low acid group since they have an acidity, or pH level, of 4.6 or higher. The temperature which must be reached and maintained (for a specified amount of time) to kill the bacteria is 240 F. This temperature can be reached only by creating steam under pressure.

Becoming Familiar with the Parts of a Pressure Canner


Older model pressure canners (made before 1970) were heavy-walled kettles with clamp-on or turn-on lids fitted with a dial-type gauges. A vent port, in the form of a petcock or counterweight, and a safety fuse were also present. Modern pressure canners are lightweight, thin-walled kettles and most have turn-on lids. They usually have a perforated metal rack or basket with handles, rubber gasket, a dial or weighted gauge, an automatic vent/cover lock, a vent port (steam vent) to be closed with a counterweight or weighted gauge, and a safety fuse.

Note: When purchasing a used pressure canner, make certain all parts are accounted for and in good condition. It is nearly impossible to find replacement parts for older models.

Selecting The Correct Processing Time and Pressure

To ensure the safety of food processed in the pressure canner, use processing times listed for scientifically-tested recipes (dated 1988 or later) and adjust for altitude using the chart below. Keep in mind that failing to follow proper processing times and pressure recommendations may result in spoiled food (mold, bacteria, and other microorganisms) and possibly fatal food poisoning.

Steam-Pressure Canner Altitude Chart

The steam-pressure method is used for low-acid foods. Normally, the pressure given for low acid foods in canning guides is for weighted-gauge canners at altitudes at or below 1,000 feet above sea level. At altitudes of 1,001 feet of above, adjust the processing pressure according to the Steam-Pressure Canner chart for the type of steam-pressure canner being used.
Altitude (feet) Weighted Gauge Dial Gauge
0 - 1,000 10 11
1,001 - 2,000 15 11
2,001 - 4,000 15 12
4,001 - 6,000 15 13
6,001 - 8,000 15 14
8,001 - 10,000 15 15

Steps for Successful Steam-Pressure Canning

1. Put 2-3 inches of hot water in canner. Place filled jars on the rack, using a jar lifter. Fasten canner lid securely.

2. Leave weight off vent port or open petcock. Heat at the highest setting until steam flows from the petcock or vent port.

3. Maintain high heat setting, exhaust steam 10 minutes, and then place weight on vent port or close petcock. The canner will pressurize during the next 3 to 5 minutes.

4. Start timing the process when the pressure reading on the dial gauge indicates that the recommended pressure has been reached, or when the weighted gauge begins to jiggle/ rock.

5. Regulate heat under the canner to maintain a steady pressure at or slightly above the correct gauge pressure. If the pressure reading goes below the recommended pressure, you must bring the pressure back up and start the timing process over again from the beginning.

6. When timed processing is completed, turn off the heat, remove canner from heat (if electric range), and let the canner "depressurize" at room temperature. (dial needle moves back to "0" or no steam sounds when weight is gently nudged). Do not force-cool the canner. Releasing pressure from a partially opened vent or placing the canner under cool water will result in under-processing. It may also cause unsealed jars and loss of liquid from the jars. Quick-cooling can also warp the canner lid of older model canners.

7. After the canner is depressurized, remove the weight from the vent port or open the petcock. Wait 2 minutes, unfasten the lid, and remove it carefully. Lift the lid away from you so that the steam does not burn your face.

8. Remove jars with a lifter, and place on towel or cooling rack, if desired. Do not set on a cold surface or expose to breezy conditions.

Additional Safety/Operating Tips

Gauges: Check dial gauges for accuracy before use each year and replace if they read high by more than 1-2 pound pressure. Gauges may be checked at most county Cooperative Extension offices. Replacement gauges and other parts for canners are often available at stores offering canning equipment or from canner manufacturers. When ordering parts, it will be helpful to know the model number of your canner.

Gaskets: Handle canner lid gaskets carefully and clean them according to the manufacturer's directions. Nicked or dried gaskets will allow steam leaks during pressurization of canners and should be replaced. Keep gaskets clean between uses. A lid which is difficult to remove after cooling may indicate a gummy, or dry gasket and is reason to replace it.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Gear Review: Katadyn Combi Water Filter

Re-post courtesy of MatthiasJ from Kentucky Preppers Network

Katadyn makes some of the best backpacking filters on the market. They have a lot of different models that would fit nearly anyone's hiking or backpacking needs. These filters are well made, durable, and hold up while on the trail. With a Katadyn hiking filter, all you need is a decent water source and you can have all the clean drinking water that you can pump out. These are perfect for your Get Home Bag, Bug Out Bag, or Get Out Of Dodge Bag. They're small, lightweight, and remove the need to carry water, which is very heavy.

Out of all the models of filters Katadyn makes I wanted to choose a filter that was within my budget range and also had a filter that would last a long time. There are a lot of filters on the market that you can get for fairly cheap but most will only filter a couple hundred gallons at the most. If you're using a filter for your Get Home Bag, you want something that has a filter that will filter enough water as long as you're out with your bag. The Katadyn Combi was the filter I settled on.

The Katadyn Combi is part of Katadyn's Endurance Series of filters. The endurance series of filters are designed for 1 - 4 people to use, have an extremely long life and are for extremely dirty water. It's filter combines a silver impregnated ceramic element and a refillable, activated carbon cartridge. It is effective against bacteria and protozoa and also reduces chemicals and bad taste. The ceramic element filters down to 0.2 microns which will remove 99.9% of all bacteria. The ceramic element is washable which will prolong the life of the filter. The activated carbon isn't required for the filter to work but will make the taste and smell of the water a lot better.

The ceramic element will filter around 13,000 gallons (depending on water quality) and the activated carbon will last for 100 gallons before needing to be replaced. The unit itself is only 12" long and less than 3" in diameter. It will will filter around 1 liter of water per minute (hand pumping it) and weighing in at less than 21 ounces it is the perfect backpack filter. The housing is made of durable plastic and is built to last.

The unit comes with a quality carrying bag, 1 ceramic element, 2 packs of activated carbon, and a bottle adapter to attach the filter on top of any standard water bottle (Nalgene). There is a optional water faucet adapter that allows the Combi to be used in a camper, cottage, or a boat. This filter would also be great for a pop-up camper or a small camping setup without a filter in the camper.

The Combi comes with a 1 year warranty and the list price is $159.99 without the faucet adapter. The cheapest place to get the Combi is eBay for around $135.00. The faucet adapter is around $40.00 from Amazon, which is the cheapest. I don't have the faucet adapter but I did purchase an extra filter so I have the ability to filter around 26,000 gallons of water. I do need to get a few more packs of the activated carbon, but as stated above you can use the filter without the carbon.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Get your dentist trip in before SHTF

Re-post courtesy of Matthiasj from Kentucky Preppers Network

One thing that's always important is taking care of yourself. Prepping is a mindset that can be used on a daily basis in nearly all your activities. Whether you're just going to the post office or going on a overnight trip, you always want to be prepared. You're body is no exception to this rule. In the uncertain times we live in, who knows if you're job will be there tomorrow, or if the economy will still be standing tomorrow. Never put anything off to tomorrow that you can do today. This includes your teeth.

Just as stocking up on eyeglasses is important, keeping your teeth healthy is equally important. After SHTF you won't be able to rely on a dentist to work on your teeth, so if you have any pending issues you should get them fixed NOW. Everytime I go to the dentist I have them check all my fillings in case they need repair. There are some "field manuals" on how to do emergency dentist work but I would rather avoid having to pull a tooth by fixing what's wrong while you still can.

Along with dentist trips you want to have a good stock of toothbrushes, toothpaste, and floss. Regular maintenance on your teeth will prevent most tooth issues. Our teeth are meant to last a lifetime with little or no maintenance, but floss and brushing will prolong the life of your teeth even more. If you're looking for a fluoride free toothpaste that you can make yourself, check out my post; homemade toothpaste recipe.

Some tooth/mouth problems can start out minor but turn into serious issues. Prevent the minor issues and you will never have any major issues. Another good tip for healthy teeth is STAY AWAY FROM SWEETS. Everytime you eat something sweet your mouth produces an acid that eats away at the enamel of your teeth. This will last up to 30 min. after you've eaten the sweets. If you do eat sweets, try to eat them all at one time of the day. Don't spread out your snack (munch on candy for hours) that will keep that acid in your mouth and do harm to your teeth. Eat all your sweets at one time to keep the acid levels in your mouth to a minimum.
West Virginia Preppers Network Est. Jan 17, 2009 All contributed articles owned and protected by their respective authors and protected by their copyright. West Virginia Preppers Network is a trademark protected by American Preppers Network Inc. All rights reserved. No content or articles may be reproduced without explicit written permission.