Survival Buzz: Septic System Maintenance as the Forgotten Prep

Gaye LevyGaye Levy | Jul 2, 2019

Right now, as I am writing this, two close friends are having major issues with their septic systems.  A combination of heavy, unseasonable rains, and deferred maintenance have resulted in nightmare situations.

What happens when the septic tank is full and the leach field is fully saturated?  No showers and no flushing!

Septic System Maintenance is the Forgotten Prep | Backdoor Survival

Last month, Cindy sent me the following note, again having to do with the failure of an aged septic system. Please, if you are on a septic system, consider routine maintenance to be a must-do prep.

I consider myself moderately well-prepared for a lengthy “bug-in” session, but my neglect of one critical infrastructure has really opened my eyes.

Recently, the drain field for my aged septic system failed, in part because I had procrastinated on getting the tank pumped.  This should be routine maintenance for rural homeowners, and I had neglected it–something I will never do again!!

Getting the required health department permit, then getting on the schedule of a reliable excavator, took six weeks–and it’s December, so if one of our Michigan snowstorms had hit, the project would have had to wait until spring.  I had running water aplenty, I just couldn’t allow very much of it to go down the drain!!!!

It is not important to me that you publish this, but I hope that you can at least make a brief note to folks that a fully functioning septic system goes hand-in-hand with fresh running water in your home.  You do not want to have to deal with a failed sewage system once the S* has already Hit the Fan!!

While I am at it, I thought I would go ahead and share a number of other items from the mail bag.

Backdoor Survival Mail Bag & Reader Tips

I write a lot about herbal and other natural remedies.  April reminds us this time-proven remedy for sore throats. It uses a staple that is in everyone’s panty.

To go along with your “other remedies” section, gargling with salt water always helps a sore throat. We always did this as kids and I do the same for my family now too.

Practically free and not time consuming since you just add a bit of salt to enough water to gargle three times a day or so.


Speaking of herbal remedies, this came in from Eva.

Gaye I grow sage, thyme and oregano along with a few others you mentioned.  These three are anti bacterials and some anti-fungal.

I always have my “tonic” where I fill a fruit jar with equal amounts of these and cover with vodka….let sit in the dark a few weeks then when not up to par take a spoonful. no flu for 2 years.


Here is a tip from Kelly regarding making your own foaming liquid hand soap from commercially available soft soap.

I have been doing this with just generic bulk liquid soap for a couple of years but was having trouble with my pumps failing. What I found was the “creamy, satiny” looking soaps messed with the pump for some reason and made the pumps “fail”.

The soaps I found consistently made beautiful, thick foam are the clear, jelly like liquid soaps. I fill about 1″ of the pump bottle with soap, add essential oils and water to the top, cap and swirl to incorporate. Works like a charm and like Gaye says feels thick and luxurious!

PS don’t throw away the pumps that fail until you run water through them and try them with a different soap mixture

You can also make your own foaming hand soap using the instructions here: DIY Foaming Hand Soap.


Bob asked about my DIY salves (and I get at least one similar request a week):

Gaye,  do you sell or, or know where I can purchase your healing salve rather than making it ?

This question comes up so often, that I want to share my response:

Although I do not sell it myself, I do not sell it but honestly, I get so many requests that perhaps I should.

Would you be willing to purchase the base salve (without oils) then add the oils yourself?  Spark Naturals recently started offering a 1.4 ounce jar of base salve for $8.99 less 10% using my discount code (BACKDOORSURVIVAL).

You would then need to gently heat the jar of base salve (which I call Simple Salve) until it is liquefied,,and add 4 drops each of Lavender, Rosemary, and Peppermint.

Here is a link to the base salve on the SN website: Base Foundation Salve

If you try it and like it, why not make it yourself?  Here is a link to making your own Simple Salve.  It really is quite easy! DIY Simple Salve: An All Purpose, All Natural Ointment and Carrier Oil


David sent the following complaint about BDS Giveaways:

Why is it that I only receive contest info after the contest has ended? This is not the first time!!! This is very annoying.

He was referring to the email that weekly subscribers receive on Monday morning.  Here was my response:

The weekly email always goes out on Mondays at 4AM Pacific. All giveaways end at 6PM Pacific on Tuesdays. I do this so the weekly subscribers have almost two full days to enter. I also list the giveaways in the weekly Survival Buzz on Saturdays.

I am sorry you are annoyed but I really do try to hold things up on my end. One option is to change your email options to “update as new articles are published”.

If you are interested in subscribing, you can do so here.  If you would like to change from weekly to “as new articles are posted” or the other way around, you will find a link at the bottom of your newsletter email to “change your profile settings”.  Easy peasy.

News Flash!  Articles from Around the Web

Could this thousand-year-old Anglo-Saxon recipe that was discovered by researchers at the University of Nottingham be the answer to today’s superbugs? Tests have shown that this concoction has been astonishingly effective against deadly MSRA, an antibiotic-resistant staph bacteria frequently found in hospitals.

If you needed another reason to prep, look at the empty shelves in grocery stores on the East Coast. A frantic run on grocery items has preceded what promises to be an epic snowstorm this weekend. Of course, I know none of you had to go to the store and battle it out with the unprepared for the last case of bottled water.

Several months after last year’s scare died down, Sierra Leone finally declared itself Ebola-free. Unfortunately, less than a week later, two more cases of the deadly Ebola virus have appeared. Do you think we are gearing up for Round 2?

Here is something I found and just for fun of it, am sharing it with you.  Both Shelly and I took this little test and oh my gosh, it nailed us!  This Color Test Will Reveal Your True Nature

Social Shares for this Coming Week

For your discernment, here are the best prepping, survival, and homesteading articles from my colleagues in the Professional Prepared Bloggers Group.  I hope you enjoy and learn from them.

No one really wants to think about this, but have you considered what you will do when the toilet paper runs out?  This article has some answers for you. I think the first one is probably the best option for most people.  What Will You Do When the Toilet Paper Runs Out?

Do you want to learn a new skill, but the cost of classes seems too high? Turn to YouTube, where you can find a video to teach yourself to do just about anything. Here are some ways you can save money using free videos. Money Mondays: How to Save Money with You Tube

I talk a lot about prepping wherever you happen to live instead of waiting to buy a homestead out in the country. Some might think that an urban dweller would find  little in the way of food to forage, but this list of 19 wild edibles you can find in the city would prove them wrong.  19 Wild Edibles You Can Find In The City

Did you know that you can use solar cookers even in cold, dark Northern climates? I had no idea they would work there. This article has some tips for cooking with the power of the sun even if you live in an area where you didn’t think it was possible. Cooking With Help From the Sun

When you pair all of the toxic chemicals that are put in the products we buy along with misleading labels, it can be difficult to make the healthiest choices. This article discusses the 10 safest laundry detergents on the market, as well as some products to avoid. Which list did your favorite detergent end up on? The 10 Safest Laundry Detergents (And Brands to Avoid)

Prepare Your Family for Survival: Tip #2

Here are this week’s prep tips from Linda Loosli’s recently published a book, Prepare Your Family For Survival.

These tips come from Chapter 2, “Simple Food, Simple Storage”

Tip: You can use excess liquid in canned foods to reconstitute freeze-dried foods. And it is essential that you have a good can opener or even two in case you misplace one or want to lend one to a neighbor in need.

Tip: When shopping for dehydrated or freeze-dried foods, a D on the package label indicates dehydrated; FD means freeze-dried. Not all packages are labeled, however, so ask the salesperson for help if you don’t see a mark.

For more about the book, visit the article 11 Ways to Prepare Your Family for Survival.

Current Backdoor Survival Giveaways

All-New AquaPod Emergency Water Kit and Filter + Giveaway


Prepper Book Festival 10: Complete Survival Shelters Handbook + Giveaway

With all giveaways, winners are notified by email and have 48 hours to claim their prize or an alternate will be selected.  Once selected, the names of winners are also displayed in the Rafflecopter on the original giveaway article.  This usually happens on the Thursday or Friday following the end of the giveaway. 

Prepping Gear That I Love

I am so totally obsessed with coloring that every night, I spend at least an hour making a beautiful creation using my pencils and coloring book.  If you are new to coloring, or think it is just a fad, think again.

When things get tough, whether a disaster, disruptive event, or a real SHTF situation, pass out the pre-printed coloring book pages (that you got for free) along with pencils and crayons for instant boredom and stress relief.

Yes, I said free. You can often pick up free coloring books in an eBook format.  There will be a link in these free eBooks that you can go to online to print out the pages.

Here is one I picked up for free.  Although this one may not be free right now, you can enter “free adult coloring books” in the Kindle search box to find others.  Note that prices change at a moment’s notice so if you see something you like, snag it while you can.

As far as pencils, I started with these cheapies but have now graduated to these (a guilty pleasure).  That is how much I love the sense of peace that coloring brings to me personally.

From the Shameless Promotion Department

The big news from Spark Naturals this week is that they have brought back FREE Shipping on all orders of $55 or more.

Plus, this week only you will get a free bag for storing your oils with the purchase of my favorite Health & Wellness kit for $84.99 less 10% using my discount code (BACKDOORSURVIVAL).  The value of the 10-oil carry bag is $14.99.

Let me break this down:  that is $7.64 per oil, a free carry bag, and free shipping.  This is a great deal!.

Free Shipping Over $55

The Final Word

Something I may not have mentioned is that both Shelly and I are involved with the local community theater group.  We are currently in rehearsal for our performances the first week of February.  What I am finding is that this has become a wonderful way to meet friends when you move to a new location.  I still have not determined who is like-minded prepper wise, but that will come.

I may be calling upon some of my blogging pals to help me out over the coming two weeks so that I am not totally missing in action.  Please be as nice to them as you are to me!

In the meantime, keep on prepping!!

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!

If you enjoyed this article, consider subscribing to email updates.  When you do, you will receive a free, downloadable copy of my e-Book, The Emergency Food Buyer’s Guide.

You can also vote for Backdoor Survival daily at Top Prepper Websites!

 Here are items related to todays Survival Buzz:

Colored Pencils 36-color Art Drawing Pencils: This is the first set of pencils I purchased and they are serving me well.  My latest guilty pleasure, however, is this set of 72 colors from Prismacolor.

Balance (Angie’s Extreme Stress Menders Volume 1): This is the latest print book to feed my thirst for coloring books.  I must have spent an hour looking at various coloring books before settling on this one.  I am almost done with the first book I ordered and it was nice because it had a wide variety of designs that gave me a good opportunity to decide what I liked, and what I didn’t.  For me, it is the floral design and mandalas that keep my mind focused to the point that stress just melts away!

Below you will find links to everything you need to make your own Simple Salve, an all-natural alternative to petroleum jelly.  Want to learn more?  Read DIY Simple Salve: An All Purpose, All Natural Ointment and Carrier Oil.

Beeswax Organic Pastilles, Yellow, 100% Pure 16 Oz:  I ordered the white pastilles but have since learned that the natural yellow pastilles are better.  That said, the difference may not be discernable – just be sure that what you purchase is cosmetic grade.

Coconut Oil:  Coconut Oil from Tropical Traditions is my preferred coconut oil.  I love it so much I purchased a 5 gallon tub.  Really, I did!  I find it very silky to work with and love the taste when used in cooking.  Note that no refrigeration is required and although it solid at room temperature, it melts at 76 degrees.  The Nutiva brand from Costco works well too.

Kirkland Brand “Pure” Olive Oil:  This is the brand I use.  When I can, I purchased it at Costco.

White Plastic Jar with Dome Lid 2 Oz (12 Per Bag):  I chose to use these small ointment jars rather than Mason jars for my salve.  I also have similar jars in the 1 ounce size and 1/4 ounce size (my favorite for mixing up various salve and essential oil concoctions).

Ball Jar Crystal Jelly Jars: Used with the optional plastic lids, these are perfect for your DIY Simple Salve.

Mason Jar Storage Caps Set of 8: These are fantastic!  These plastic lids screw onto a mason jar and are perfect in the pantry or to cap you salves.  There is both a regular and a wide mouth version.  I can’t believe I have not mentioned these before!

Spark Naturals Essential Oils:  One of my favorite SN products is the “Health and Wellness Kit” which includes all of my favorites plus everything you need to make my custom salves.   Be sure to use the discount code BACKDOORSURVIVAL to receive a 10% discount.

NOW Foods Essential Oils:  I use essential oils from Spark Naturals.  For healing purposes, I feel they are superior.  On the other hand, NOW Foods has decent essential oils at a budget price.  Here are a few to get you started:  NOW Foods Rosemary Oil, NOW Foods Peppermint Oil and Now Foods Lavender Oil.

Glass Droppers, Pack of 6: I bought a package of these and loved them.  When I went to re-order, I accidentally ordered plastic instead glass droppers.  Learn from my mistake.  The price is the same so get the glass ones.

Help support Backdoor Survival. Purchases earn a small commission and for that I thank you!



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9 Responses to “Survival Buzz: Septic System Maintenance as the Forgotten Prep”

  1. I haven’t touched my septic system in 15 years. It has never given me a moments trouble other than the field drain pump going out. Never put soap that containes phosfates in it. Better yet, don’t connect your washing machine at all, I didn’t. (I can do that, I live in the sticks.) if you use natural soaps, limit what goes in (in Latin American countries they don’t even put TP in them) it can last decades.

  2. When I had a wife and 4 children at home, I had the tank pumped out every 3 or 4 years. Now with all the children gone, I have it pumped out every, wait a minute, I have not had it pumped out in 30 years.

  3. We have a newer system, under 6 years old. We are dedicated at the first of each month using Rid X or cheap yogurt. No problems and our system works just fine.

  4. Re Eva’s homemade tonic recipe: Does she use fresh or dried herbs?

    Love this newsletter, Gaye!

    • I am drawing a blank. Are you referring to Dee’s recipe in the comments of this article?

      She uses dried herbs.

    • Perfect. Thank you!

  5. We have for 25 years put a pack of yeast in our septic tank every 3 months. Called for a clean-out, they came and said it did not need it. That was after 9 years!!!

  6. It is true that failure with this type of thing can be very inconvenient, so I appreciate all of your helpful information. I always forget that problems with a septic system can be due to something as simple as using the wrong soap. What is a good rule of thumb for the substances that can go into your septic system? Thank you for all of your helpful and applicable information about maintaining this type of thing.

    • In a grid down situation, you want NOTHING but human waste and water. NO TP. Otherwise, just stay away from soaps with phosfates, garbage, cooking waste etc. you must also inform anyone else that uses it. Someone flushed condoms down mine once. It jammed the sump motor and burned it up. (They float).

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