The Survival Buzz #149

Gaye LevyGaye Levy | Jul 4, 2019

Welcome to this week’s Survival Buzz with an update on my own preps and announcements from the Backdoor Survival blog.

Blogwise, this has been a busy week full of interesting projects.  As with last week’s soap re-batching, most are still a work in process.  That being said, this week I did the following:

I tried to kick pinto beans up a notch by soaking and cooking them in 2 tablespoons of good-for-you cayenne pepper infused water.  Not a good idea, trust me.  I had to dump the entire pot because they were inedible.  The beans did not bother me but wasting lamb roast and sausage was a heart-breaker.

How to Ruin a Perfectly Good Pot of Pinto Beans | Backdoor Surival

Researched the best way to store chocolate for the long term.  Hint:  DIY Cocoa Mix stored in mason jars with an O2 absorber.  I made one batch already but am trying a different type of cocoa (cheaper) for batch #2.  I also have a call in to the folks at Hershey.  Stay tuned.

Made a batch of DIY soft soap using a slightly modified technique.  No more snot-like texture which is a good thing but can I duplicate the results?

Did some additional research on the benefits of cayenne pepper for a future article. Pinto beans not-withstanding, this included a trip to the local library for credible research material.  To be honest, I am starting to be wary of some of the fluff I am reading these days on the internet.

Completed an inventory of stored essential oils in my Preparedness Planner.

And last, as reported in 10 Simple Strategies for Becoming A Prepper, I mapped out a series of new articles for the first part of 2015.

That about covers it for me this week.  Now for some announcements.


I have an all-hands-on deck request from a reader in Las Vegas:

If the grid goes down during summer months, it would be near impossible to stay here. This means leaving the area and all it entails, especially a bug out vehicle that runs. Is there an instructional packet on “turning your vehicle into a bug out vehicle” after EMP or CME?  I know next to nothing about vehicles and it would probably be easier to buy one….but cost is an issue.

Any suggestions you have for bugging in place (through desert conditions) or finding a proper bug out vehicle able to carry all supplies and probably 4 people, would be appreciated.

I couldn’t help with the bug-out-vehicle but I did suggest a small solar system for keeping things cool with fans during the daytime.  Since responding, I also brainstormed some other ideas for staying cool: closing all blinds during the day, planting shade trees near the windows, and opening the windows to bring in fresh cool air in the evening.

Now it is your turn. Any ideas?


The following article includes a giveaway for three copies of Scott Hunt’s book, The Practical Preppers Complete Guide to Disaster PreparednessBook Festival 7: Practical Preppers Complete Guide to Disaster Preparedness + Giveaway |Backdoor Survival|.  You might recognize Scott’s name as one of the experts that evaluates preppers on the Nat Geo Doomsday Preppers series.  Note that the deadline for giveaway entries is 6:00 PM Pacific next Tuesday.

Book Festival 7: Practical Preppers Complete Guide to Disaster Preparedness + Giveaway

As a reminder, all 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 is an important tip so take notice.

If you happen to get even the teeniest amount of a hot essential oil such as Oregano in your eye, it is going to sting and burn like crazy.  This happened to Shelly who, after applying the DIY Cold and Flu Bomb to my feet, touched his eye.

He grabbed some eye drops and started flushing his eye with water.  That is the wrong thing to do.  If this happens, grab some olive oil or coconut oil and apply it to the affected area.  Oil dissolves oil, right?  That brought immediate relief and all was well within minutes.


My pal George Ure over at had a great article about time management yesterday.  It is noteworthy because this time of year, we all need to take stock of what is important and what is not.  He gives me credit for being an expert at time-management.  To be honest, some days I feel I have lost my way.

Anyway, it is a good weekend read:  Coping: Managing Your Personal Profit & Loss.


Spark Naturals has announced their 2015 Oil of the Month lineup.  It is fantastic! Shipping is included.

This year, an exception will be made in January when the Essential 4-Pack in the 5ml size will be sent out.

Note:  The monthly cycle starts on the 25th of each month which means the bargain priced Essential 4 Pack is available now as the OOTM.

January – 5ml Essential 4 pack
February – Cedarwood
March – Peppermint
April – LLP
May – Birch
June – Rosemary
July – Lavender
August -Shield
September -Oregano
October – Melaleuca
November – Respire
December – Clove


If you subscribe to email updates (and if you don’t, you should), watch your email inbox for some options you may not be aware of.

As much as I want and prefer that you to be notified whenever a new article appears, there is also an option to receive a weekly update instead.  At present, the weekly update comes out on Mondays and includes a summary of each article published during the previous week.

In addition, I have started a subset list for those of you wanting extra information on essential oils.  I have been working on an email series that is educational in nature so if you are interested, be sure to check that option as well.

If you do not subscribe and want to, here is a link:  Sign Up for Email Updates.  If you are not sure, go ahead and enter your email address in the form and if you are already a subscriber, there will be a link you can click to update your profile.


It has been a crazy busy week here as I prepare to close out the year and begin 2015 with renewed focus and energy.  And with that, what about you?  What did you do to prep this week?

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!

If you enjoyed this article, consider voting for me daily at Top Prepper Websites!  In addition, SUBSCRIBE to email updates  and receive a free, downloadable copy of my e-book The Emergency Food Buyer’s Guide.

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Bargain Bin:  If you are planning to mix up some Dirt Cheap Soft Soap, check around your home.  Chances are you already have everything you need except, perhaps, the glycerin.  Plus, a couple of items from todays Survival Buzz.

AT-A-GLANCE Monthly Wall Calendar 2015:  This calendar has worked out great.  The boxes are large enough that I can populate them with post-it notes then move them around as I make schedule changes.  Great price, too.

Preparedness Planner:  Both Shelly and I are impressed with how easy this planner is making our inventory and organization process.  As with the wall calendar, a tool like this was long overdue.

NOW Solutions Glycerin 16-Fluid Ounces:  Compared to what I paid, this is a real bargain.  I have been purchasing the NOW brand of essential oils and have been very happy with them, even though they appear to be budget prices.

NOW Foods Lavender Oil:  I tend to use cheap essential oils in my soap products since their use is for smell only.  (Come on, really.  The soap goes right down the drain!)  Pick your scent.  I happen to like lavender but seems to me that peppermint, orange or rose would work wonderfully as well.

Yardley of London Naturally Moisturizing Bar Soap: The Yardley soap worked well and can be found at the dollar store but the available scents are limited. 

Box-style Hand Grater:  As easy as it was to use the Cuisinart, it just felt “better” to grate the bard soap by hand.

OXO Good Grips 3-Piece Funnel and Strainer Set:  This is the set I have in my kitchen.  OXO products are known for their quality and usability.  And here is a hint.  If you purchase an OXO product and don’t like it, send them an email or give them a call and they will refund your money.  I bet you did not know that!

Kirk’s Castile: Coco Castile Bar Soap: Kirk’s is a great alternative to Dr. Bronner’s. I use it to make my own liquid castile soap. See DIY Liquid Castile Soap “Wonderful”.

Soft ‘n Style 8 oz. Spray Bottles: I happen to like these smaller bottles and you can not beat the price for a set of 3.  Likewise for these Pump Dispensers.

Shop Emergency Essentials Sales for Fantastic Deals!

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OOTM is a great value and shipping is free!
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Updated Jul 4, 2019

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25 Responses to “The Survival Buzz #149”

  1. I would love to win-thanks!

  2. To the Nevada prepper, you need a swamp cooler. A pan of water, a screen and a fan. Visit YouTube there are several good videos on how to make one for whole house.

  3. You didn’t say why you couldn’t eat the pintos. Was it because they were to hot because of the cayenne? As far as using cayenne for medical purposes, I make capsules of cayenne and take them daily. Really helps the blood pressure.
    When I cook pintos, I always put in a heaping teaspoon of chipotle peppers in adobe sauce.This gives them a deep smoked flavor without being to hot with spices. Try it, you will love it.

    • I forgot to comment on the BOV. The easiest thing to do is buy an older car that doesn’t have a computer module. I’m not sure of the year, but that can be googled. I’m thinking in the late 70’s. Back in the good ole days when a person could work on his own car with a wrench and screwdriver, without having a computer degree.

    • There were exceptions, but the vast majority of auto makers began putting computers in cars in 1981, with pretty much total coverage by 1982.

    • You mean ADOBO sauce, because Adobe is mud, straw and water!

      I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with the pinto beans, either. ‘Cause two tablespoons of cayenne pepper is just the first stage of the heat profile! Some diced Jalapeños would work nicely in addition, and a Poblano or two for a nice, smoky flavor. Not to mention a few dashes of a nice Habañero Mango sauce!

    • Wee, I have been told my beans could be used to lay bricks. Maybe I read the recipe wrong. Maybe I am using adobe. No Wee, I jest. I cant spell, but I still wonder why Gaye had to throw out her beans.

  4. To the person in Nevada. Author Cody Lundeen has books about his survival in the Southwest. He is dedicated to survival skills for the Southwest and desert areas. While I agree that purchasing an older vehicle is a great way to get out of Dodge I think that learning about indigenous people and native survival skills can be tackled more cheaply and at your own pace.

  5. We have a ’78 Jeep Cherokee Chief, it’s all wheel drive and no computer controls. It is OLD and does have issues here and there, bugs we have to work out of the system, like a battery power drain somewhere, we’re thinking radio. Anything that is pre-computer controlled, think CARBORATED engine, will likely withstand an EMP. Be sure to store fuel for it with a fuel stabilizer, as gas does go bad after awhile, especially the crap with ethanol in it. If you can find premium without ethanol, that’s the BEST to store! You still need a stabilizer. There are many pre-fuel injection vehicles out there, you just have to get them before they become collectible. Our Jeep is now collectible, but we bought it before the price skyrocketed. Same with old Cameros, Firebirds, etc. The prices are still low now, but starting to rise. Pickup trucks rarely lose their values, so if that’s what you’re looking for, you may have a hard time finding one at a reasonable price. I think you may still be able to find some old Suburbans for a good deal, and if you’re looking for a diesel powered vehicle, you want an old one of those, too. There are some mods out there to put computerized vehicles back to a more reliable engine, but that only works for a reasonable price on SOME vehicles, not all. I am pretty sure my husband bought our last pickup in a diesel engine because he could easily modify it, depends on how early the year, that later, the harder it would be.

    We lived in AZ for many years, and our first home had no A/C, not even a swamp cooler. We kept the blinds closed during the day and didn’t open anything until after the sun went down. We planted trees (apple trees, they required a lot of water, but we got double our money…shade and fruit, and they THRIVED!)

    LOTS of water stored, as you can dab water on your pulse points and as it evaporates your body will cool slightly. Avoid physical activity in the heat of the day, early morning and late evening work best in the dessert. Also consider anything that can get you below ground, even a storm shelter/root cellar will keep you cool during the heat, and it doubles as storage space. Watch out for RADON gasses, we had a problem with that where we lived, do a test, and if you’re leaching radon, there are ways to correct it. You can live in the dessert without A/C, many people do so in the national forests, you just have to be wise about it, and you also probably need to get OUT of the city.

  6. I didn’t do much to prep this week. I have an order coming with bulk evaporated cane sugar, and we’ve been working on our house (we’re building), we built with the idea in mind of having to live there if the grid went down. We have thick insulation, windows and doors situated to let in the best breezes, no windows where the sun will beat down on the house, and a BIG roof area that will allow for a lot of water catchment, once we get everything else in place. you always have to think ahead, and when you don’t, mistakes happen and correcting them can cost a LOT of money.

  7. Whew 2 Tablespoons of cayenne would have killed me. I use a small sprinkle and they’re hot enough. I once made chowder, read the recipe wrong and added 1 can of peppers instead of 1 pepper from the can. I wondered why my chowder looked so much redder than the one in the picture LOL. Live and learn.

    On the BOV John has it right, after an EMP you’d need a good old fashion non-computer brain car. I guess an option would be turning your garage into a faraday cage but that would be an undertaking. I’m not sure if there are engine pieces you can keep in a smaller faraday cage and swap out after the EMP hits.

    • Now come on people. I’m old and cant take the spices like I did years ago BUT. Last month I was fixin a pot of chili. When I reached into the cupboard to get the chili mix, I grabbed the wrong container of red spices. When it was all ready to eat, at the first bite, I knew something was wrong. Yes, 2 tbs of cayenne instead of 2 tbs of chili powder. I tried cutting it by adding more beans, and I had to much invested in it to toss it out, so when I ate it, I wasn’t sure if the tears in my eyes were from crying or tears from the cayenne.

    • Sorry John I can’t do spices anymore. I used to love hot & spicy but due to health issues I can’t do them anymore. I’ve gotten to the point where I can taste the littlest bit of pepper in a dish. My dh however still gets to use Frank’s hot sauce on everything!

  8. Gaye, when you wrote: “I am starting to be wary of some of the fluff I am reading these days on the internet” I am with you for sure. That is one more reason that people should always be testing their preps frequently. If you read some tip or ‘how to’ from the internet and then just file it away, you don’t really know if it is fact or fluff. When you really need something is not the time to learn that it was fluff all along.
    To the reader in Vegas, you are definitely on the right track by looking for a BOV. I have it from a trusted mechanic that it would be too complicated for most people to ‘harden’ a modern vehicle, and the cost it would take to buy all of the replacement parts that would be knocked out during an EMP would be costly. Not to mention the skill level and TIME that it would take to swap out all the blown parts for the new ones you had tucked away in a faraday cage would be impractical. I would definitely start prioritizing funds to get an older vehicle tucked away. The good thing is that there are still a lot of ppl who aren’t preppers and don’t recognize the value of the old ‘jalopies.’ If the worst should happen before you are able to procure this BOV then some tips for coping would be to learn about evaporative cooling. One trick that I have used for years to help cool down my greenhouse during the hottest days of summer is this: make a frame of 1/2″ pvc pipe the same size as a window(preferable a window that faces the prevailing winds). Drill small holes about 2″ apart along the bottom of the top piece of pvc. Hang burlap from this pvc frame and mount the whole rig to the outside of your window a few inches away from the house. Lastly, you put a bucket of water underneath with a cheap submersible pump in the water and connect the pump to your pvc frame in a loop. The water in the bucket is pumped up to the top pvc and the holes allow it to drip down the burlap and the excess water continues down back to the bucket to be re pumped. The air flowing through the burlap is cooled down significantly. You would want a small solar charger to power the pump. This link will give you a better understanding of the concept: //
    You can take a little comfort in knowing that humanity has survived generations in hot desert climates. Nowadays our pampered bodies wilt when we step out of our AC into the heat, but if we had no AC at all we would acclimate and it wouldn’t bother us as much.

  9. The Boy Scout motto is “Always Be Prepared’. It’s not just for Boy Scouts.

  10. The best way to cook beans is to cook BEANS ONLY. Soak them over night, rinse them off cover with water add fatback or bacon and bring to a boil. Simmer for 2-21/2 hours. DO NOT ADD SALT YET! it turns the beans black. About an hour before they’re done add some chopped onion. You can add “charro” spices now if you wish (chopped tomato, tomato sauce, cilantro, garlic, jalapeño) and NOW add salt to taste.
    BTW, a Texas boy NEVER mixes beans into chilie, you can add beans to a bowl of chilie, but never mix them.


  11. Back in the mid-1970s I spent a couple years bumming around the world, and spent quite a few months in North Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia- all hot, dry countries, and all too often during the summer months.

    Key for me: lots and lots and lots of water, dress appropriately, and forget accomplishing anything in the mid-day sun.

    The rule of thumb about a gallon of water per day per person goes right out the window in the desert. I got picked up by some UN people while hitchhiking in Jordan, and they mentioned that they were told to drink at least 14 liters -more than 3 1/2 gallons- of water per day. I believe it.

    I spent three days hiking in Numeira Gorge in Jordan, down near the Dead Sea, and the only way I could survive was to drink multiple double handsful of water from the stream about every hundred yards. Even at that, I had to hole up in the shade for several hours during the hottest part of the day. Unless you have a stream to follow, I’d skip bugging out on foot: you can’t carry enough water.

    Las Vegas should be very similar the North African and Middle Eastern deserts: you have to accept that you cannot do much during mid day in summer, and you will need to store water by the barrel full. Work and travel in the early morning, evening, and night.

    Clothes: loose, light weight, light colored, long pants, long sleeves, and a broad brimmed hat (NO baseball type hat: you need to shade your whole head, and the broader the brim, the better. The Australian style hats are good. Dark glasses and high PF sun screen. A light sweater, windbreaker, and sleeping bag are also very important for night in the desert: it can get cold, even in summer.

    Still, sleeping on a flat roof may be infinitely preferable to sleeping inside. It will be cooler and you can get the breeze. I spent quite a few nights on the roofs of cheap hotels: they put beds on the roof, charge a small fraction of the price of a room, and it is much cooler up there.

    I also spent several summers doing archaeological field work, mostly in the upper Midwest, and found that far and away the best shirts for working in very hot weather are 100% cotton white pinpoint dress shirts. They are very thin, wick sweat away and let it evaporate quickly. I got lucky with a Lands End outlet store: they had a rack of them which had been monogrammed and returned, so they priced them very cheaply. You might be able to do as well by checking out Salvation Army and Goodwill, but Sam’s Club has a decently made light weight synthetic shirt called the Field & Stream Long Sleeve Guide Shirt, which I also like. Last I saw they were running around $18-19, but heavily discounted in stores at the end of the season. The white ones are excellent for hot weather work.

    The Arabs cool off by drinking hot tea or coffee. The drink provides water, and the heat makes you sweat. Sweating then cools you off. Also, boiling the water kills any bacteria.

    Whether you are bugging in or bugging out, you absolutely have to have shade and breeze. The easy-up sun tents work pretty well, but the cheap ones blow down pretty easily, and if they do, they generally break. You need to use the guy wires. You can also tilt them by putting up two adjoining legs at one length, the other two longer. Anything you can do to create shade and funnel any breeze will help you.

    Bugging in should be doable for at least several months in Las vegas, but the key is storing a lot of water. If you don’t already do any camping, I suggest you give it a try. A prepared campground is fine: no need to rough it. Just get an idea of what it is like, learn the basics, get the appropriate gear, and you will be much better prepared for a grid down situation under local conditions.

  12. Gaye,
    I hope getting your Amateur Radio License is one of your New Year’s Resolution.

  13. I would like to win the contest. 🙂 I’ve been reading about making wine at home. Perhaps you will do an article on it this year? I’d like to try a simple recipe with regular dry bread yeast. Thanks for all of your good information.

  14. Gaye, I can’t imagine 2 tablespoons of cayenne pepper in a pot of beans! Whew! Hot!!! Too bad you had to chuck them, they sure look yummy!

  15. I have been organizing my pantry, as I continued to can late into the fall. I have a lot of jam! Find I am short on canned veggies. I will need to work on that this year. I bought a chain saw and the fellow at the hardware store almost did not sell it to me, seems like my age (71) kind of threw him!

  16. Actually I can’t imagine 2 Tbls cayenne in a whole pot of anything being too hot, but that’s just me. And this Texas boy always cooks chili with beans.

    • Classic story of Texas Chili, an absolutely side splitting tale.

  17. So why the heck did I toss the beans in the trash?

    I don’t know how to describe it but the taste created by the cayenne was a spicy bitter taste. Very difficult to describe other than unpleasant, even when mixed into white rice. In the past I have always added bottled hot sauce of one type or another without any problem. Sometimes I would add too much and burn the heck out of my mouth with it but it was never the icky taste I experienced with the cayenne.

    Was it the cayenne? I just ordered some organic cayenne from Amazon; perhaps it will be better tasting. Or perhaps I should have waited until the beans were cooked and added it then. Regardless, adding after the fact will allow me to “add to taste”. If it were not due to the wasted lamb roast (about a pound), I would be laughing.

    Wait a minute. I am laughing anyway 🙂 🙂

  18. Hi there!

    I know that this post has nothing to do with cars that have no computer chips or ACIssues in the heat, but, I started thinking and one thought sort of led to another..and then..well, I digress..anyway..I am new to this prepper thing and besides being very overwhelmed..I start thinking things, so, I will ask. It couldn’t hurt..

    While escaping the heat is nothing I will worry about, I will deal with the opposite..the cold. Here in Wisconsin, I am concerned in keeping from freezing. I do not have the ability for a wood stove. How do I use propane in a enclosed space? Also, does anyone know where I can get a hand cranked decent radio? I don’t feel that I would be able to employ a ham radio, so, I am thinking about the next option.

    And yrs, adobo peppers would have been a good choice with the beans..or maybe even a LITTLE chipolte powder. The meds I take daily have affected my taste..and where I used to eat EVERYTHING with fresh peppers or tabasco..even poblanos bother me now!!

    Thank you in advance,


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