10 Survival Items I Got Free

It has been many years since teenage me walked to town and handed $105 of my savings to the local gun shop for my first firearm, a Charter Arms AR-7 survival rifle. That same model is now manufactured by Henry and sells for more than twice what I paid. Metal ammo boxes that we're $5 each not so long after the Vietnam War are selling for $20 today. The dehydrated sliced potatoes I bought in 2010 have increased in price 44% and instant nonfat milk has almost doubled. Part of this is due to inflation, but also rising demand has dramatically increased the cost of survival-related items.

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Looking back on three decades there have been times of plenty and want. Sometimes I had lots of time and money to spend becoming more self-sufficient, but there we're also times like now where I stay home with a special needs daughter making little progress. I've made some expensive mistakes, some profitable decisions, and have accumulated a lot of free stuff along the way. It has been said there is no such thing as a free piano, but everything I'm listing here was either truly free or paid for itself within a year.

1. Wood Pallets Pallets are small platforms built so merchandise can be lifted using either a pallet jack or forklift during transport. They can often been seen laying around businesses that receive heavy packages. Many things can be made from pallets and there are also wood stoves built especially to burn them without tearing them apart.

2. Propane Tanks It's been a few years since gas grill tanks switched over to the Type 1 (QCC1) valve, but a lot of the old P.O.L. ones are still lying around sometimes literally. Although these can no longer be refilled for use with gas grills, most exchange stations will accept them saving you about $30 for each tank.

3. Firewood The city where I grew up used to leave the large limbs from tree trimming on the easement for people to pickup. I see free firewood listings on Craigslist & Freecycle, but the best way is to drive by and see someone cutting down a tree and ask. They may even cut it into manageable sizes for you.

4. Chimney Brush One of the first things I got from Freecycle which is organized differently depending upon location. Here it is a Yahoo Group. Most often people post things they are willing to give away and make arrangements for pickup with the first person to respond.

5. Pressure Cooker/Canner I've seen canning jars on the free section of Craigslist from time to time, but the ones I got free came with the pressure cooker/canner that I posted a WANTED advertisement for on Freecycle. Sometimes you have to post the same ad repeatedly, but when you post a WANTED ad, you are not competing with others responders to a giveaway.

6. Canning Jars Despite the recent resurgence of interest in canning, I still see free canning jars listed on both Freecycle & Craigslist. There are lots of reasons for this; our aging population, people move around more often, and used canning jars don't sell for much considering their bulk. People you know probably have old canning jars that have been sitting in their basements for years.

7. Intel Intelligence in this instance is information about your area and those within it. Information that may be important are the addresses of local Ham radio operators which you can find here and the addresses of health care professionals which you can derive by cross-referencing state professional licenses &/or lists from hospital web sites with property tax records. Local and internet directories will tell you where wholesale food distributors and out of the way specialty food stores are located. Relationships make lives better.

8. Genhead A generator head is the part of a gasoline, diesel, natural gas, propane, wind, hydro, or other generator that actually turns physical power into electricity. I got a 12 volt permanent magnet motor/generator head free by posting a WANTED ad on Freecycle for an electric treadmill. I stripped the motor out, recycled the metal, and the garbage collector got the rest.

9. Barn Shed This is probably the single biggest thing I've ever gotten for free and it was from someone I didn't know. In most states portable sheds are personal property and not part of the real estate on which they sit. I saw in the local newspaper someone was being foreclosed upon, drove by and saw one such shed, and stopped to ask if they we're taking it with them. They were not, but didn't want the bank to get a free shed so I called up a buddy who worked for a towing company and he came over during a lull and winched it up on the roll-back.

10. Backup Heater While technically free because I used the money I saved from our food budget by getting a free gift card, I included it on the list because it paid for itself in just a few months. Using this 99.9% efficient heater in tandem with my existing 60% efficient furnace it has saved us over $800 on heating bills so far and automatically maintains our home's temperature when the power goes out. Details are in my previous article 10 Ways to Heat My Home.

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Posted in Home Improvement Post Date 12/18/2015


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