Scavenging for essential items after a SHTF doomsday disaster should be a part of your weekly prepping routine and factored into the family’s self-reliance budget.

Most preppers stockpile to increase their family’s chances of survival, but that is only step 1 of the process. Tossing a bunch of seeds, powdered milk and long-term food storage buckets in the garage is NOT a survival plan.

Even with a well prepped stock, unless your prepping a self reliant homestead, eventually supplies are going to start running out. While we are not endorsing looting or theft from others, in a SHTF scenario you will need to be scavenge. For this article we can regard scavenging as any manner in which you can source or salvage for free or negligent cost.

Top Places To Score Free Or Nearly Free Survival Supplies
• The side of the road
• College campus rental neighborhoods at the change of the quarter or semester
• Craigslist Farm, Barter and Garden Sections
• Facebook local auction and online trading posts
• Flea Markets
• Junk Yards
• Yard Sales
• Farm Auctions
• Estate Auctions
• Local or Regional Freecycle Groups

Scavenging Tips
• List Making – Create a list of needs and wants and then prioritize them. Divide the list into categories: Food and Water, Medical, Transportation, Tools, Livestock, Clothing, etc. List scavenged items in each category by order of priority.
• Get Organized – Create an inventory so you know EXACTLY what you have and when it expires. Use the table at the end of this article to help you organize both you new and existing preps.
• Stages – Once you have a list of your wants and needs created, divide them up into disaster stages for both storage and usages purposes: Initial Disaster Stage, During Disaster Stage, Post-SHTF Stage.
• Non-Tangible – Think outside the box when scavenging and stockpiling. Don’t waste time on the skills vs. stuff debate, do the smart thing and “stockpile” both.
• Barter – Include bartering items in your scavenging of stockpiled goods so you can trade for needed items you cannot produce or run short of. The prepper who creates a trading post during the rebuilding phase just might wind up being the new king or queen of their region.

Multi-Purpose Items
So many folks have old tires tucked away around their property because there is a fee to get rid of them and they cannot be burned. Junk yards, as well as mechanics’ shops would probably give you as many as you want for free because they too have to pay a fee to be rid of them.

• Tires can be used as container gardens to enhance you growing your own groceries projects.
• The can be filled with sand, dirt, or concrete to help create a barrier to block entry to your road or driveway.
• Filled tires can also be used to form a barrier to keep livestock in place or to keep rabbits and deer (if you pile them high enough) out of a garden.
• Fill the tires with dirt or concrete and use them to make an LP/OP or emergency shelter.
• Cut the rubber into strips and use them as replacement soles for your boots and shoes – outerwear and footwear of all types will fall apart far more quickly during rugged SHTF use. Lay your shoe on top of a piece of tire rubber. Trace around the sole, leaving a 1 to 2 inch flap style piece on each side and the front and back so the flap of the makeshift sole can be sewn or tacked onto a pair of boots or shoes.
• Use the waterproof tires as a housing unit to hide valuables at the bottom of a pond or creek. Tightly wrap plastic sheeting, a tarp, or a plastic tub inside the opening, secure it in place with a mountain of duct tape, and you have an underwater safe.
• Build a barn to house livestock close to your home for their safekeeping from marauders.
• Build a barrier wall in front of your home, with covert openings to fire a rifle through, using tires filled with dirt, sand, or concrete.

Junk Mail and Cardboard
Save all your junk mail and start collecting it from everyone you know. Ask stores for their cardboard boxes and dumpster/roadside dive for any boxes put out as trash. Purchase or build a paper log maker and start making your own quick-starting logs. The paper logs are better than fire starters or kindling. Even though they will not burn as hot or as long as wood logs, you should be able to heat a room or boil water using them in your wood stove.

To make paper logs, soak the cardboard and junk mail in cold water for at least two days if you rip up the material in about 6 inch by 6 inch pieces. If you do not tear up the paper or cardboard anymore than is necessary to make it fit inside your soaker, the pulp-making process usually takes up to about 14 days. Next, you will squeeze the water from the material. Then, scoop up a handful and place it into a mold. It takes two or three handfuls to fill most paper log makers.

Turn A Junk Television Into A Solar Oven
There are several useful materials which can be found inside junk rear projection televisions, but the most exciting find will be its Fresnel lens. A Fresnel lens is essentially a massive magnifying glass. You can create 2,000 degree solar oven with the junk television part.

Glass Jars
Go junk hunting for glass jars. Snag as many unbroken jars you can find to use for making survival candles and lanterns. Cooking oil, coconut oil, olive oil, and other non-toxic types of oils can be poured into the jar and a homemade cotton wick sunken in the middle to make a nearly free survival light source.

Corrugated Steel
Corrugated steel – sheet metal, can be found in scrap yards, junk yards, and rusty but still usable full or partial sheets, tossed into a heap on rural farms.
Corrugated Metal Uses
• The corrugated metal can be used to build a temporary or permanent shelter for humans or livestock.
• As a garden barrier from rabbits, deer, and prying human eyes.
• To make a LP/OP.
• To make shields.
• To make house shutters.
• To build a barrier to protect the entrance of your house from marauders while providing firing cover.
• As patching material for a roof leak.

Metal or Plastic 55-Gallon Drums
Scour you local scrap and junk yards, as well as online auction and for sale social media pages, for free and cheap drums. Try to find food grade barrels, but plan on bleaching and cleaning the inside of each used barrel anyway, just in case some chemical was housed in it that could be harmful to the health of your family.
Use for Plastic or Metal Barrels
• Container Gardening
• Rainwater Collection
• Long Term Food Storage
• Livestock Food Storage
• As an underground hidden safe or cache for emergency survival supplies.
• If the 55-gallon drum is made out of metal, it could be used to make a BBQ grill, blacksmith forge, or crafted into a still.

Junk Cars
If you can buy or barter for an old car that is no longer running, you have struck gold – valuable prepper gold, that is. So many parts of a seemingly useless car can be converted into useful preps. Try to find a car or other vehicle that is the same as or similar as your own so you can pick it clean of still usable parts. Stockpiling repair parts for all vehicles and machinery could help keep your homemade biodiesel fuel powered vehicle running after nearly all others have stopped. Even if some of these following parts are no longer in good working order, they can be repurposed into other valuable preps, if you have a junk car at your disposal.

You’re own situation will dictate what items take a higher priority on your scavenge list. Keep an eye out for potential gold mines in a SHTF scenario and keep your supplies well stocked!


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