“There is no real ending. It’s just the place where you stop the story.”

― Frank Herbert

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Salt

There are a lot of things that need to be stored away in your basement, store room or whatever you use for long term storage.  Basic foods come at the head of the list, I suppose, but things like medicines, medical supplies, cooking supplies, extra clothing, et al go there too. There are books that are essentially lists for self sufficiency planning, and there are lots of pdf. format files on the internet with the same information.

One of the items that usually shows up somewhere near the bottom is common salt.  We tend not to think much about that, but it's really a critical commodity for a number of reasons.  We need it to stay healthy, so much so that part of a Roman soldiers pay included salt. We get the word "salary" from the practice of issuing Roman troops with small bags of salt for cooking, then the cost was deducted from their pay by the legion paymaster.  The Romans didn't waste time on non essential practices.


People need small amounts of iodine in their diet, and the way most of us get it is by using iodized salt. Failure to do so, over a long period of time, can lead to several health issues, the most well known being goiters.  There are people, like me, who can't ingest iodized salt because we're allergic to iodine. If you have someone like that in the family or the group, you need to provide salt that has no iodine for their use.

Salt is dirt cheap, quite literally. I originally bought it by the case when I started out in the mid eighties. But over time, the case and the cardboard containers it held tended to turn into bricks. You could still cut away the cardboard and break the salt up, with no adverse impact on the salt itself, but it was tedious.

I found that if I waited til winter, when the humidity here is usually about 20% or lower, I could take the salt out to the barn, pour it into plastic bottles, seal them tightly, and that alleviated the issue of hardening.

There are salt blocks of different size, with or without iodine, that you can buy at farmers depots, and sometimes at big box stores.


This is one of the large salt blocks intended for animal use.  If you are keeping livestock, you will need a few of these to put out for the animals to lick on from time to time.

However, the same blocks make good long term storage salt for people as well. You can put ten large salt blocks down in the basement, and if the times call for it, you just chip off what you need with a chisel, and break it up with a morter and pestel,  If you don't have one of those, improvise one,  You can buy these large blocks, roughly the size of half a cinder block, either wrapped in plastic or as plain blocks you need to wrap yourself.

There are also small salt blocks, about the size of a brick, if that's easier for you to move or store.








There are a huge number of uses for salt besides flavoring and preserving food.  It's cheap (now), but it doesn't exist in quantity naturally anywhere near most of the places people live.  People who have read "Alas Babylon" will recall that the community where the story is based had to send a party to an old salt lick when the town ran out of the commodity.

 If you do live near a salt lick or by the beach, you might be able to get your own, but for most of us, what we have on "the day" is going to be what we have to get through.

I'd say lay it in while it's cheap.


Univ. of Pennsylvania: Canning and Pickling Salt

University of Missouri: Canning

Morton Salt: Frequently Asked Questions

Morton Salt Meat Curing Frequently Asked Questions.

The Modern Survivalist: 101 uses for : Salt

The Good Survivalist: Preserving Meat with Salt

The Happy Prepper: Uses for Salt

The Survivalist Blog: Top Ten Mistakes of Prepping Newbs











34 comments:

  1. Couldn't agree more Harry. Senior and I have lots of salt stored. another thing that when prepping folks tend to forget about is Toiletries. especially lady products.

    How is the weather over your way? Supposed to get down right cold this weekend with snow in the mountains. Stay warm

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    1. It's easy, when you are trying to get your logistics squared away, to overlook something so simple but so important. I think salt gets low priority with a lot of planners because most people don't anticipate any kind of disruption that would last long enough for lack of salt to be an issue. Way back when, the Mormon food/supply list I used back in the 1980's recommended 72 rolls of tp for the time frame and number of people I was planning on. Over the years I've actually quadrupled that level. Since I plan on my kids coming and my daughter is 28, my wife makes sure that feminine supplies include our daughters needs. Yet, for all this effort over all these years, I'm sure something will turn up we forgot if the need to actually utilize all this ever arises.

      Cold here today, 34 at sunrise and up to about 47 now just before noon. Rain last night, but clear today.

      I had a fire most of last night, but today I'm running the propane heaters.

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  2. I'm glad to know my instincts were correct. I store table salt and canning salt, both in canning jars. Been doing this for years without any problems with caking. I think the glass jars must protect it from moisture.

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    1. Glass would work, Vicki. Originally, I just left my salt in the round cardboard containers, in the cardboard case. But even in the places I stored it, all climate controlled, it got moisture in it because the cardboard let the water vapor in the air in. In summer, I keep the house at about 55 percent (the ferrets can't tolerate much lower), so it's still got water in the air. My plastic bottles and jugs seem to work well, too.

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  3. I don't use that much salt- just a pinch here and there in cooking. You seem to have a lot of salt- is it all for eating? I wish we didn't use so much salt in the winter on roads- it's so so bad for the environment yet it's the cheapest and quickest solution for clearing ice. I hope soon 'they' will come up with something more eco friendly and sustainable.
    Miss Tulip x
    The Thrifty Magpies Nest

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    1. Miss Tulip, we try to prepare for any situation here that might result in long term disruption of the normal supply chain. Unfortunately, in the states we have adopted the "just in time" system for our grocery stores, which means there is no great supply of any commodity in the stores, no "back room" stacked with supplies. If something happens and the trucks don't run, most stores have a three day supply of goods, and that doesn't take into account panic buying. Salt is good for curing meat, for seasoning food, for cleaning items, and a host of other practical applications. Mainly, though, it's the fact that human beings have to have some salt periodically to stay healthy that I have in mind.

      We don't really salt our roads here in the county, because our county commissioner likes to spend all the money on grandiose buildings and projects, so there is nothing for more mundane things like snow clearance. We have two 1950 era dump trucks with plows, and sometimes a little gravel but they never use it on the back roads where most of us live. Snow clearance is only a priority for the county at the lake where the rich have their MacMansions.

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  4. And more importantly, the shelf life, if stored properly.

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    1. Salt should store indefinitely if properly attended to, so you have a good point.

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  5. Hey Harry,

    (captaincrunch)

    When I say your latest post, I had to laugh' Harry.

    I got salt on my trucks, house, front yard. I get salt spray coming up off the Gulf of Mexico in strong winds out of the south, south east and east. That salt spray gets all over everything and I think you remember from your days at sea about salt getting on everything' Harry.

    The salt spray can get so bad that I can use my truck's windows as salt licks.

    I still got some salt stored up anyway. Down in South Texas, I can't think of anything that we don't have that we would need except for vegetables. I have a neighbor that has lemon trees and some fruit trees grow down here. Also we have deer, feral hogs, Javelina, and lots of other critters and varmints to eat.

    Speaking of varmints and critters, we do have an abundance of illegal Mexicans down here, so if anyone wants a few million in their state we will be glad to have the feds bus them up north (free shipping)

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    1. Hey Harry,

      (captaincrunch)

      Yeah' I read your response about the flare guns you have and the idea of setting them off in the lake. That would attract attention.

      Down here with all the boating stuff, flair guns are everywhere and there are a great many EPIRBS or GPS emergency transmitters. If you lite off flares or mess the EPIRB, it had better be a real emergency, because the coast guard helo's will be airborne in minutes.

      I get the Coast Guard 'Dolphin helo's over my house every week or so on their way for training for the guy that drops out the hatch with the snorkel. Those Dolphin's are some real nice helo's.

      Hey Harry, whats your opinion on the V-22 tilt rotor???

      I think that's the future unless its so plague by bugs or its an aerodynamic nightmare. I heard lots of horror stories and it was getting called a 'Widowmaker'

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    2. CC, the V 22 was being tested when I was still in, it had one of the longest gestation periods of any modern aircraft. I've never even seen one for real, but I guess they must work ok, they haven't lost many of them yet.

      If you live near the sea, you won't have any problems with salt. There are numerous way to harvest it from salt water.

      Right now, Georgia is in the midst of a "hoof and mouth" disease problem , which sprang up at the same time we were inundated with more central american illegals. Of course, drawing any conclusions from the juxtapostion of their arrival and the arrival of the new disease is not permissible. The last time we had hoof and mouth disease break out here, it was 1988 and it was when Fieldale, Conagra, Perdue, and other agricultural companies brought Mexicans from Guadalajara up here to break strikes in the processing plants.

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  6. The first paying job I had as a teenager in Caracas was working weekends at a salt refinery owned by the father of a friend. They would bring in the bulk salt in on open top 18 wheelers. A rolling platform with a bobcat tractor would be chained to the back of the trailer and we would unload it as the truck moved along the line of solution tanks. There it would be dissolved in water and processed. As the salt came from sea water flats it contained all sorts of garbage and flotsam including dead fish, flamingos, pelicans and seagulls. Put me off salt for a while.

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    1. I think Morton salt comes from a mine, and by the time it's sold it's been purified. At least all the dead fish and stuff were well preserved there where you worked. :-)

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  7. Salt I store. Also concentrated sugar in the form of honey, which I allow to crystallize. All one needs to do to reconstitute it is to put the jar into a pan of hot water and the crystalized honey goes right back to viscous form, perfectly usable.

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    1. I had some ten year old honey in jugs down in the basement. Tried to decrystallize it in hot water and it went all lumpy. Not that this presented a problem, we ate it anyway. It had turned very dark over the years, but was still as nutritious and sweet as the day we bought it.

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  8. Our day to day salt is the Pink Himalayan Salt. I heard it's healthier for you. I haven't researched the topic enough to say it's better. I have regular salt to for baking.

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    1. I have heard of that, but I don't think there is anywhere here you can buy it. I haven't seen any at the stores or the depot. Maybe I will find some on line and give it a try. It sounds exotic and I'm drawn to things like that!

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  9. Thsnks for the links, Harry - I'll check 'em out when I'm back online tomorrow.

    To help prevent your salt from absorbing moisture, take a piece of net curtain (or muslin preferably) place a tablespoonof uncooked rice in the centre, pull together the corners and tie together with string. Place that bundle in your salt container / jar to absorb moisture and ensure your salt always flows freely :)

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    1. I could put one of those in my bottles where I store salt. I gather muslin is a fabric, I'll have to ask my wife if they sell it at the fabric store she likes. She'll know.

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  10. Dani beat me to the rice/nylon thing, but then Dani is one of my heroes so all is good!

    Harry - here is a link for the 22 foods that have the highest iodine content. cranberries is number one on the list (based on the micrograms of iodine they contain). and in your foresty environment - go look for a bog, swampy area and you can find fresh cranberries. they are best picked after a couple of light frosts. you can either freeze them for use throughout the year, can them or dehydrate them. cranberries are full of anti-oxidants too. anyway, here is the link:

    http://bembu.com/iodine-rich-foods

    and guess who has already practiced harvesting salt from the ocean? you guessed it! me and jam. we tried it when we first got here and all you do is line the truck with tarps or whatever, go to the beach, use buckets or whatever to fill the back of the truck with saltwater, take the saltwater home, put some on some tarps, in buckets or any kind of container and wait for the water to evaporate. pretty crazy eh?

    we. like you, have a ton of pure sea salt in our preps....but when shtf and we all start bartering and buying with salt again - i will be a kajillionairre as will anybody who lives by the ocean. like captain crunch!

    much love Harry! your friend,
    kymber

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    1. Hey Kymber,

      (captaincrunch)

      I tell you what Kymber, we need ice down here in South Texas.


      You send the ice down in the spring, summer and fall and I will send you guys salt and Mexicans.

      That's one reason why Texas has been talking about buying Canada. We want snow, mountains and a place to relocate a billion Mexican nationals that done 'hopped the border'

      We will make sure you Canadians are well compensated and as part a Texas, you will have no state income tax and you can own guns of all types. Provinces like Alberta, etc. will become Texas counties and the Royal Canadian Mounties will be absorbed and ran by Texas Rangers. Hell' we will send 'Chuck Norris' himself to help oversee the transition.

      Every Canadian will receive a Cowboy hat and a case of Shiner Bock Beer.

      Welcome to the Republic of Texas.....

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    2. Captain - on behalf of all canadians, we accept your offer on Texas buying Canada - it's a win-win deal for all of you and all of us! we'll bring salt, seaweed and ice - keep your sad american beer and we will bring canadian beer -7.5 % buddy....oh as for Chuck - we love him! but have you met Don Cherry??? he's been a canadian hockey announcer for 9 million years, he's loud and crude and Texans would love him...but the latest internet pic/thingy that's been going around up here is a pic of Don Cherry saying "Chuck Norris. hmmm. never heard of her!!!!"

      oh ya captain - he's THAT bad!

      but yes, most canadians would love to be a part of texas and the ones who don't - we can donate to new york and californistan...deal??? much love. as always buddy! xoxo

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    3. Hey Kymber,

      (captaincrunch)

      You really made me crack up kymber:)

      You really rock Kymber. You really rock!

      You got the Texas attitude and you and your husband would fit in great down here. I love it when someone can through bull around as well as I can, if not better.
      I will petition the 'Canuck Congress' or Polar Bear Parliament in Ottawa, Brisbane, North Pole or where ever your government is for
      'National Kymber Day" in Canada.

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    4. Kymber, I know Shrimp has iodine, I found that out the hard way. I used to stuff on shrimp, and then get sick, and I always thought it was the cocktail sauce or the batter until I went to the doctor.

      I know you and J can make salt as you live right by the water, so you are lucky there. No source here that I am aware of closer than the coast, and that's six hours drive.

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  11. I usually vacuum-seal each 4-5# bag of salt into its own bag. Keeps moisture out and does a good job of protecting the salt from corroding things around it.

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    1. I suppose because I have so many food grade storage pails with locking lids, from the 1999 purchase I made, that I've gotten used to storing everything in the empty ones. I don't have a vacuum sealer but people seem to like them for long term storage projects.

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  12. Great post - I've been looking at trying to find somewhere to buy sea salt in bulk as I want to learn to cure my own meats as well.I think having a store of salt and sugar are two of the main things for being prepared. These are two things that have a shelf life of forever if stored correctly.

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    1. That's a good way to prepare meat. We have hams here, some are smoked, some are brine cured, and some are both!

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  13. Hey Harry,

    (captaincrunch)

    Heres a blog called 'The Defensive Training Group" with an interesting article on "Stoicism"

    http://defensivetraininggroup.wordpress.com/2014/10/22/stoicism-necessary-development-for-the-npt-leader-and-member/

    I've always kinda adhered to the Greek 'Stoicism" philosophy. I can not understand living a way of life that involves success through materialism. I could be worth $20 million dollars and as long as I live in South Texas, I would stay in the same house. I'm comfortable and I have everything I need so what's the point of 'living large' and living to impress others by showing off the toys I own.

    In the military at the low rank I was, I was told to 'do' and not think so my military library consisted of science fiction books I picked up off base. I was never exposed to philosophy until college in which I almost majored in philosophy and at one point I also almost majored in economics.
    Over the years I have made decisions that confused others. Things that may not seem logical at the moment, were logical two or three steps down the road.

    Years ago, I started to see our society disintegrating socially and financially and so I choose a new path based on the 'deductive reasoning' that all paths lead to financial destruction in this country. Again' I chose a 'road less traveled' and I am trying to insulate myself from the chaos that looms ahead.

    This goes back to 'stoicism' and the idea of existing with less and being happy with what I have already.

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    1. The Stoics tried to live an existence of the mind and spirit, and to minimize the impact of the living world on their daily lives. They suppressed emotions of all kinds, good and bad. I suppose people today admire stoicism because the practitioners are not melodramatic, and remain calm under stress.

      Minimizing contact with society minimizes your worries and problems. If you think back over your life, most of the times you had serious worries they were usually associated with other people, I'd be willing to bet.

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    2. Hey Harry,

      (captaincrunch)

      You hit the nail right on the head 'Harry.

      Its dealing with other peoples chaos of whatever sort that drives me nuts.
      I shut myself off and then I realize. I have no problems.

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  14. Strange thing, I was canning and pulled out a new box of pickling salt, and it was full of dead bugs. I have always thought that was strange of all the things in the cupboard the bugs could get into and they picked cheap salt.
    I've never heard of someone being allergic to iodine, but I suppose people can be allergic to anything, and the iodine they put in salt is a very cheap form that's not very good for you. How do you react to kelp? We have started getting Thorvin kelp in a 50# bag for our livestock, they love it! And it gives them the minerals they need. They sell human grade also, but I would really like to know what the difference is in there grades because the animal stuff is extremely clean and smells wonderful.
    Kimberly

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    1. Kim, the only time I have ever eaten kelp was in a Japanse "binto" box lunch. The Japanese seem to like it, and it didn't taste bad though it was a bit rubbery.

      Alas, I can't eat shrimp because they iodine in them, and the salt I use can't have it in the mix.

      I wonder why the bugs got into the salt. Seems like the last thing they would want to get into since it would desiccate them But maybe they need salt just like mammals do.

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  15. Forgot to mention on my previous comment, a couple of fabulous reads on the subject are Mark Kurlanski's book, Salt, a world history
    http://www.amazon.com/Salt-World-History-Mark-Kurlansky/dp/0142001619
    and closely related is Cod,The fish that changed the world.
    http://www.amazon.com/Cod-Biography-Fish-Changed-World/dp/0140275010

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