Been a long time it seems since I wrote up anything in the old Survival forum
and this post
on how to make ink kinda put a little inspiration to me.
For those that recall the old Survival Radio shows I would ask the silly questions like I really didn’t know a whole lot. It was a role I took upon
myself to ask for those that could not simply would not. I also would do a little tool/gear review that originally I wanted to laugh at like how Jack
had found an electric powered rice cooker at a “must have” item for a BOB. And trust me, that was an inside joke with the studio for a long time.
You may still hear (or see) rice cooker included here and there on a list to see if people are reading.
I guess the best way is to throw out a few things and then open it up to people to ask for how to do something. And since the above link explains how
to do ink, in a general way let’s look around that a little bit more. Liquid gum arabic can be bought for around $30/gal if you look online. This
can be mixed with various powdered pigments to form paint. Or use glair as a substitute. The point is a liquid binding agent.
So how about a pencil? Since actual graphic is not as commonly found in the US as in the UK. Charcoal is always an optional substitute. You can go as
simple as a sharpened stick that has been burnt in a fire or make your own charcoal lead which is very involved and explains why inkwells were very
common in schools for years to come versus pencils. Grinding charcoal rescued from campfires to an abundant pile of powder with a mortar and pestle is
only part. You will also need to locate clay, reduce that to slip or further to strain tiny pebbles and fossils. Dry that back out by evaporation to
usable clay, which will take several days. Now for your purposes you will only need a small ball or two about the size of a walnut. But since you have
come this far straining clean clay make yourself a whole batch for other tasks of ceramics you may want to do with a homemade kiln. Plates, bowls and
cups are typical favorites. So are ceramic sharpening stones for your knives.
Grind your ball of very hard sun dried clay into a fine powder with the mortar and pestle (another fine ceramic project—just not for this save it
for flour). The amount of charcoal to clay powder is 4 parts to 1, mixing well, then add just enough water to be easily manipulated. Pack well into a
hollow stick, I have used thin Japanese Honeysuckle also called Asian Honeysuckle. White and yellow flowers, red berries in the fall that you cannot
eat and a rather invasive species. Set next to a fire as it requires about 2000 F to cook them. Now you can sandwich the lead into a wooden
traditional pencil or roll into paper coated in a glue.
Glue: pine resin is my favorite so let’s start there. Gather from the trunks of pine trees into a metal can. If you have to, cut the bark and come
back later. Pro tip: do not use you favorite nor most expensive knife here. Still have plenty of charcoal powder? You need a fire to melt the resin so
you can make more if you need. Field expedient mortar and pestle is called a couple rocks that will get the job done. 1 to 1 ratio on the charcoal and
melted resin and some well ground fiber such as grass leaves and stems or pine needles. Word of caution, just melt the resin no need to over do it as
it just weakens the enzymes that make the tackiness of the pine pitch. Mix all ingredients well to make a shiny black lollipop on a stick when it
cools. Just melt a bit to have a sticky drop or two when needed. Want it to be pliable when cool? Mix beeswax or tallow when you make it. Flour and
water still make paste. And while I can give you alternatives to wheat to be ground into a serviceable flour for cooking breads...I don’t actually
know if acorns, grass seeds or cattail pollen has enough gluten to be used as a paste. But remember that gum arabic? Buy some powdered gum arabic
because that and some glycerin and a little water makes some magic. 3 tbsp gum arabic, 1 tbsp glycerine, and 1/2 teaspoon water in a bowl, mix well
and you have a homemade super glue that takes and hour to cure. Or use some baking soda and actual commercial super glue to make an almost home epoxy.
But best used filling in a gouge of sorts and sanding down.
Paper: I glossed over paper making (pun unintended) so let’s cover that. I am a big fan of cattails so let’s use that for our cellulose. Gather
the leaves however works best for you. Some like to cut them down to pack easy in a bag. Others might be gathering for other uses at the same time
like cordage making, weaving, etc. and want to keep them long. You will need a solid outdoor beating surface for pulping. But you will also need your
box which is a removable screen in a frame to hold the pulp that becomes the paper. Some good heavy canvas a bit larger than your sheet of soon to be
paper. To properly break it down cut your leaves into one to one and half inch lengths. And add to pot of alkali water to be boiled for two hours or
so. Alkali water and be made by adding well sifted white ash to you water. The smell with let you know, but don’t go crazy a cup or two will do. The
boiled fibers will feel as slimy as seaweed or moss from a lake and break down in your hands. Pile up on your table and do some beat downs with a good
stick. You will be on this part for a while.
In a tub of plain clean water load your pulp to the screen box and spread thin, but completely. This is your paper, almost. Remove from tub and place
upside down on canvas, cover and use a roller to carefully squeeze out the excess water. Sit off to dry while making more. Sure it is a bit textured
but if you have the means to make a roller system to be a press to proper thickness (even better if you can cold roll metal sheet with it as well) it
will give a uniform thickness and smoothness.
Any requests on other items to make off grid? I probably either know it, have a good idea or can look up how it is made and convert it to primitive