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Survival Uses for Alcohol: Vodka, Whiskey, and Rum

When writing articles about potential survival situations like SHTF or TEOTWAWKI, we need to consider the many uses of the items we will have on hand. So many things have a multitude of uses. It’s a good idea to get acquainted with them, so we can prep our stockpile accordingly.

Liquor, potent alcohols, sweet wines, spicy whiskies, smoky bourbons, and flavored rums have been around a long time. From Prohibition to wine clubs, the different forms of alcohol will always have its fans and will always be around. Laws or not, it will be sought after. Aside from the use as relaxants, alcohol in its many forms has many uses and health benefits.

Barter, Barter, Barter

As to its high versatility, like medicinal qualities, survival uses, and as a household disinfectant, any type of alcohol will be worth its weight many times over as a highly desired commodity and sought after bartering tool. Consider stocking as much as you can in any prepping stockpile.

Remember that the higher the alcohol content, the longer it can last. Wines and lower alcohol percentage based liquor can go bad after being exposed to air, or when the contents get low in the bottle.

General Uses with Any Alcoholic Spirits

  • Use alcohol to start a fire- Fire is crucial for life. Warmth, cook fires, food preparation, or even when burning sanitation, you need fire for many survival, self-sufficient living, or SHTF situations. An easy way to start a fire is by using any liquor, as it can be ignited rather easily. Just dab some fabric in your alcohol, and light. The higher the alcohol content, the easier it will ignite, proofs of 80 or higher should do very well with even the toughest conditions.

Here is a video showing how to start a fire with whiskey:

  • Use liquor as a medical disinfectant- in a pinch when you need to disinfect a wound, or sterilize medical supplies, alcohol will kill bacteria and you can even use it to flush an area before stitches, removing debris, after an animal bite, etc.
  • Relaxation tonic- when using it for any medical needs as above, well, you can relax the muscles and anxiety a bit by using it for its original purpose: a few drinks can do wonders to ease tension.
  • Cold medicine mix- any alcohol with a few teaspoons of honey or molasses, and you will have a nice sore throat reliever. The liquor will burn away any phlegm, so it is a nice soothing way to breathe free when you are congested. It is a proven vasodilator, so it can open the lungs up and allow for some much needed oxygen. This can be invaluable in the bush, or in a survival situation, as a simple cold can turn into congestion and then pneumonia in a matter of days. Especially when you are stressed and your immune system is paying the price, there can be something to be said for it as a general anxiety reducer as it’s a natural anxiolytic.
  • Ice pack- as alcohol doesn’t freeze; you can fill a Ziploc with it and chill it for a soothing ice pack. This will help reduce inflammation, provide headache relief, and ease tired and cramped muscles back into top shape.
  • Use alcohol as a deodorant- as alcohol kills the bacteria that causes unpleasant smells, it can be used as a mouth wash, killer of jock itch, deodorant and destroyer of athletes foot.
  • Liquor kills odors- speaking of killing bacteria, use liquor to kill household mold and kitchen fungi, and mist it on carpets or in shoes to freshen the smell. As mold can be dangerous and cause many respiratory problems, this can be very beneficial when getting camping materials like tents and sleeping bags ready to use.
  • Sleepy time drink- the deep sleep induced by alcohol typically skips the first stage (REM) and goes straight into the deeper sleep. Use any liquor to lessen sleeplessness and get a good night’s rest. Many times, when you are too fatigued, too anxious from stress, or when you have gone too long without sleeping period for more than a few hours (say you are on the move), it is ironic as its very hard to fall asleep. Alcohol can help in this situation. It is safe for occasional use, as that is how it was intended to be consumed. Administer it as a remedy when needed; just be mindful it doesn’t develop into a habit that the liquor is needed to get any sleep.
  • Alcohol is a great solvent too– If you have an engine that needs cleaned, electronic components, or if you need to dissolve rust and wipe it away, liquor is good for this. Any liquor that has sugar in it, like whiskey, I would avoid using for this purpose as it may leave sticky residue behind.

Whiskey also has a smoky color, so the clear liquids would be best for this. Pure grain or Everclear would be good for a solvent. They are pretty strong and could be substituted for anything turpentine could be used for.

  • Treating swimmer’s ear- with excellent drying properties and a high antiseptic concentration, alcohol can take the place of running alcohol when treating ears after swimming to keep them water free. You may want to do this after swimming in, or being exposed to, any natural water sources or freestanding water. It will dry out the ear while killing any bacteria or microorganisms that hitched a ride hoping for a new home.

Here is a good video showing a multitude of liquor for prepping:

Vodka

  • Gun cleaner vodka can take the place of rubbing alcohol when cleaning firearms and you need to strip gunk and oil from them.
  • Bushcraft Oral Care- vodka can be used to clean mouth infections, lacerations, or disinfect abscesses. If you have an aching tooth, you can apply vodka soaked cotton balls and it should ease up.
  • Spray vodka to repel insects– use a spray bottle with vodka and 15% of any essential oil to make a bug repelling spritz. With all the diseases carried by mosquitoes, this is a quick fix if you forgot your can of bug spray. This can be a lifesaver, literally, if a bio-attack, pandemic, or epidemic creates super strains of “bugs” that insects can carry by air and pass on to you.
  • Apply vodka to soothe insect bites– vodka will dry up the venom and fix the weeping from swollen bites with a few applications
  • Use vodka to dry up seeping poison ivy rashes– just a few dabs with a Q-tip, and the open sores will start shriveling up overnight! Repeat hourly if you can.

Whiskey, Bourbon, and Rum

Whiskey and bourbon whiskey have sugar and colorings in them, as do many types of rum. They WILL do all of the above, but I would only use them or colored liquors, if it’s all you have available, or an absolute must. The darker the liquid, the more tannins and natural colorings, and usually sugar, will be in it. It can stain much like a tea color, leave a dark residue behind, or leave a tacky substance that can attract dirt and grit.

I wouldn’t use colored and sweet liquors for topical medical uses either, unless it’s a last resort. If you add sugar and starch to wounds or rashes, the microbes can feed on it and the growth of existing bacterial colonies can explode. The yeast can be introduced and then you have added a topical yeast infection. Adding yeast into lacerations or punctures can be deadly, as it would cause and feed an infection. If you must use this type of alcohol, pick the highest proof you have access too.

You can make due with colored and sweet liquors in a survival situation. If you have no alternatives, it’s better than dying. You will just need to use them as a temporary fix until you can get to adequate care and treatment.

With all that being said, whiskey does have uses besides drinking and fun times in survival situations.

Whiskey and bourbon can act as a blood thinner and with its natural tannins, has a few medical benefits that are scientifically proven to have merit.

  • They promote healthy cholesterol
  • Reduce the development of dementia
  • They can help prevent a stroke by vasodilation
  • They can help lessen the forming of DVT (deep vein thrombosis) and blood clots
  • They have antioxidants from the tannins and vanillin from the barrels they are aged in, so they can help reduce the growth of cancerous cells

Wrapping It Up

As you can see, there is much to be said for stockpiling a variety of alcohols. When you are preparing a space for them in your stockpile, keep them out of the sun and in a cooler place if you can. It would be better to purchase any alcohol in glass bottles over the plastic ones, when thinking of long term storage, and store them upright.

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About Dyann Joyce

Dyann Joyce

Growing up in the Bluegrass State, it was a point of familial pride to be able to shoot, trap, identify plants and track animals. Summer camps helped us be well versed in camping, weapons, and survival skills from a young age. We were surrounded by such a lush environment and we used the resources we had.

I met my soulmate in my happiest place to be- a seemingly enchanted winding trail next to a beautiful wooded glen- where I spent as much time exploring as I could during daylight hours with my trusty four-legged friends. I thought I would be a natural scientist like Audubon and travel the world NatGeo style painting and recording the fantastical. I love to create and paint in many mediums.

After 3 years following the nursing track, I switched to natural and holistic medicine as that is where my passion lies. I am hoping to finish my doctorate in homeopathic and botanical medicine to achieve my nMD in Naturopathic Medicine by late 2018 (hopefully).

The bucket list includes living the days painting and writing on a fully self-sufficient homestead, off-grid with our animals and family and plenty of land for the significant other (who I think is a true artist at weapons and living that way) to shoot to his heart’s content. Naturally organic living for us and the animals is a goal.

4 comments

  1. Any drinkable alcohol (40% or greater) can be used to tincture medicinal plants, such as calendula, comfrey, plantain, echinacea, blackberry or red raspberry leaves, and almost all of the thousands of other medicinal plants used for centuries for health reasons.
    Stored in amber glass bottles at normal room temperatures, these tinctures have an almost unlimited shelf life. Vodka is probably the least expensive alcohol to use. If we run out of antibiotics, some plants work great as substitutes, and may even be better because micro organisms generally do not develop resistance to them.

  2. Some good information here. My only question is, how many of these things has the author done or is this just theory?

    • Thanks, actually about 90% of them. With most of the Nation’s bourbon and whiskey produced here, with distillerys at almost every exit where I live- free tours and samples- you grew up with ita round and many people work there, so they know a lot about it, and you hear. Many moms gav eit to their kids to sleep or soothe toothaches, I didnt do that.
      I have not dressed a wound with it, but actually I wrote this as many many articles had you interchanging whiskey and rum with anything you can do with clear alcohol and it work just as well, and you should not unless you have too. Thats why I wrote this, as it can be dangerous. the sugar based ones do not work as well with motors, guns, electronics, etc as to the sugar and tannins.
      But yep, deodorant, gun cleaner, insects, ice pack- I have done them all at one time or another. We even tried the firestarters, and it worked.
      But yes,

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