Let’s get one thing straight right off the bat. Cheesecloth is not a cloth you can eat. Not even up in Wisconsin where cheese reigns supreme.
But you can use it for a variety of purposes, including during a crisis. The original usage for this thin, woven cloth of cotton was making and wrapping cheese.
When you purchase cheesecloth, usually for a low price, you can choose between grades, which are determined by the number of threads in each direction. A #10 grade (20 vertical and 12 horizontal threads per inch) is loosely woven, while a #90 grade (44 vertical and 36 horizontal threads per inch) is tightly woven.
Let’s take a look at some emergency uses for cheesecloth when you might find yourself without other items you would normally use for these purposes.
Cheesecloth can be wrapped around wounds or other injuries as an emergency bandage, thanks to its gauze-like texture. It’s not sterile, of course, but it could help limit the amount of bacteria and debris that gets into a wound. Depending on how much you want the wound to “breathe,” you can determine which grade you want to use and how tightly you want to wrap the cheesecloth.
This item can also be used to form a sling for an arm or shoulder injury, as well as to tie off splints in order to keep injured limbs from moving around too much.
Food and Drinks
If you’re outdoors and wish to sun-dry meat or other foods, wrapping them first in cheesecloth will help keep insects, dust and other contaminants off. The same would be true with herbs. A loose covering is best in order to allow those foods to dry more completely.
Another food suggestion is using cheesecloth as a filter when making hot drinks. You can pour some ground coffee or tealeaves onto the cheesecloth, then form the cloth into a sack and tie it off. Let it simmer in hot water for a nice cup of coffee or tea.
If you are out in the wild following a disaster, you’re going to want to protect yourself from mosquitos and other biting insects. Keep bugs away from your face with netting made of cheesecloth. A lighter weave, which will help you see better, is appropriate while you’re on the move. A heavier weave would be better for when you’re sleeping outdoors.
Some of your outdoor movements may be in areas where there is considerable dust in the air. You can avoid breathing in at least some of those contaminants by using cheesecloth as a mask. A high-grade cloth may keep out more dust, but it also could make it more difficult to breathe. Too low of a grade may not keep out enough dust. Trail and error is the way to go here.
Any grade of cheesecloth will work to filter some contaminants out of water, but the higher the grade, the more effective it will be. Place the cloth and any other filtering items you have in a container with a hole at the bottom, with the finer material going in first. Coarser filtering materials will handle larger debris, while finer materials will work better against micro particles.
Fill a small pouch of cheesecloth with sand to make a ball-shaped abrasive you can use for cleaning and polishing metal objects including your silverware, survival knife, bows, arrows, etc.
The particular weave grade you choose for this needs to be high (tight) enough so that the sand doesn’t fall through, yet low (loose) enough so that the sand can come into contact with whatever you are cleaning or polishing. You can also clean lenses with your cheesecloth, including eyeglasses and binoculars.
You can actually make light, breathable shirts out of cheesecloth to wear during summer months, not to mention curtains. You could also use cheesecloth to form a fishing net if you have enough of it.