Ordinary items can be extraordinarily useful in a crisis

What do steel wool, a soda can, scissors, crayons and matches all have in common?

Each of these small, ordinary household items can play a big role in coping with a survival situation.

The time may come when you need to survive but you don’t have the ideal tools you’d like at your disposal.

With plenty of resourcefulness and a little creativity, you can use these common items – and plenty of others – to survive.

Water filter

If you had to bug out quickly without being able to grab water or a portable water purifier, this will be your first project.

Collect any water you can find in a mason jar or something similar. The water is likely to be dark and dirty.

Extend a washcloth strip from that jar to an empty jar or other container. Some of the water will migrate from the first container to the other through the cloth.

Now, boil the water in the second container to get rid of debris and dirt. As a reminder, boiling water will not get rid of some contaminants, including metals and chemicals.

Fire starter

Grab a nine-volt battery, some steel wool and lint from your dryer.

Fluff up the steel wool and touch it all over with the positive and negative terminals of the battery. When the terminals heat up, they’ll get the steel wool burning. Add the lint as tinder and blow on it softly.

If you’re outdoors and need a bigger fire, use a dead tree branch and hold the heated steel wool against it until it catches fire.

Unlike matches and tinder, steel wool can still catch fire even if it’s moist. That’s a big advantage when you have nothing dry to use as a fire starter or tinder.

Waterproof matches

Most matches are not waterproof. That’s not a big deal when you’re using them indoors or on a dry day outdoors.

But if it’s raining or snowing and the only fire starter you have is a match, it’s pretty darn important.

Fortunately, there’s a way to waterproof your matches. You just need some turpentine, a newspaper page and a small glass or bowl.

Pour several tablespoons of turpentine into the glass or bowl. Soak the tips of your matches in the turpentine for about five minutes.

Spread the matches out on a newspaper sheet to dry for about 20 minutes They should now be waterproofed.

Rocket stove

Even if your emergency rocket stove is small and light, you can use it to cook a simple meal.

Here’s what you need. A large, empty can, scissors, pliers, matches or a lighter, rubbing alcohol, a roll of toilet paper, and a fireproof surface. Oh, and don’t forget gloves.

After taking the lid off your can, cut slits into the top rim, a couple of inches apart. Bend the flaps with your pliers, with every other flap bending outward.

Insert the roll of TP after turning the can upside down. Saturate the toilet paper with rubbing alcohol. With your gloves on, light the TP roll. Only use this stove in a ventilated area.

Crayon candles

This one is easy. And the only supplies you need are an assortment of crayons, a hard, flat surface, and a lighter or other fire starter.

In order to bring some light to your dark situation, take a flame to the tip of a crayon, including the paper label that will help serve as tinder.

Once it’s burning, wedge it between a couple of hard objects such as rocks. Then repeat the process with as many crayons as you can.

The average crayon should stay lit for about a half-hour if the wind does not blow it out.

Fish hook

Items such as a soda can tab, paracord, a lighter, a pocket knife, scissors and diagonal cut pliers can help you land a fish.

With your knife, cut a hole in the bottom of a soda can. Then cut as much metal around the hook as you can.

Cut paracord to about five inches in length. Insert the hook into your paracord, then cut excess cord.

Light the top end of the paracord, leaving the bottom end frayed. Keep it in your tackle box.


I’d strongly suggest practicing some of these survival methods using household items. Don’t wait for an emergency to figure out whether they work for you.

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