Saturday, November 23, 2019

The Survivalist's Stockpile: Borax and Epsom Salt

By Timothy Gamble (October 26, 2019)

The Survivalist's Stockpile is a new occasional feature on this website. Each article will highlight items preppers and survivalists might want to include in their stockpile of supplies due to their usefulness. This week's edition feature two household chemicals, Borax and Epsom Salt, each with many multiple uses.
Borax - Borax is best known for its use as a laundry detergent, but there are a myriad of other uses, too.  An excellent disinfectant, Borax can be used for a large variety of cleaning tasks, including odor control, a very effective all-purpose cleaner, and removing mold, mildew, rust, and various types of stains. It can be used to unclog drains and toilets. Mixed with equal parts of sugar, it can be used as a bait to kill cockroaches, ants and other insect pests. Mixed with equal parts of salt, and a little elbow grease, it can be used to scrub clean cast iron cookware without leaving behind a soapy taste. Borax is also used in candle-making to treat wicks (makes them burn longer with less smoke and ash). 

In the Garden:  Borax is a natural weed-killer. Dissolve 10 ounces of Borax in 4 ounces of warm water. After the Borax dissolves, add 2.5 gallons of water and mix thoroughly. This mixture treats an area of about 1,000 square feet. Use a garden sprayer to apply evenly, adjusting the amount to fit the space you're treating.

Borax can also be used in small amounts to fertilize boron-deficient soil. Typically, use 1 tablespoon of Borax per 100 square feet of soil. You can sprinkle it on the soil, then till it in. Or you can mix 1 tablespoon of borax with 1 gallon of water and sprinkle 1 ounce of the solution around the soil of each plant. 

Note: Borax can be toxic to people and pets. Store safely, and do not consume borax.
Epsom Salt - Epsom Salt can be used to make a very relaxing soaking bath. It relieves pain, sprains, bruises, and muscle cramps (things we all may be suffering from in a long-term, grid-down scenario). It is used to soothe tired aching feet, and  fight foot and toe-nail fungus.  It also makes for an excellent facial scrub and body wash. Mix with water and spray on the skin to reduce the itching from mosquito bites and insect stings. It also provides sunburn relief. 

In the Garden:  Epsom salt can be used in the garden to control slugs, snails, and other pests. For slugs and snails, sprinkle the Epsom Salt in a narrow band around each plant. It also makes for a safe and natural insecticide spray. Mix 1 cup of Epsom Salt with 5 gallons of water (adjust for your needs: 1/2 cup for 2.5 gallons, 1/4 cup for 1.25 gallons, etc.), then spray on the plants.

Adding a tablespoon of Epsom salt to the soil around each tomato plant is a great boost to tomato production. Other vegetables will also benefit from the magnesium in Epsom salt. Roses and houseplants may also benefit from small doses of Epsom salt.

Note: Even though Epsom salt is a type of magnesium-based “salt,” it should not be consumed like regular salt since it acts as a powerful laxative. If you do use it as a laxative, follow the directions on the package closely to prevent over-use, and be sure to drink plenty of water.

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