• "Spreading the ideas of freedom loving people on matters regarding high finance, politics, constructionist Constitution, and mental masturbation of all types"

24 Lost Survival Tips from 100 Years Ago – with Illustrations


Gold Member
Gold Chaser
Sr Site Supporter
Apr 2, 2010

When we’ll have no running water, no hyperactive emergency services, no electricity… we are going to turn back to what people did 100 years ago. Here you’ll find some “little” survival tricks popular in the early 1900’s and (some of them) useful even today.
100 years ago Gallaher Ltd printed a short “How-To” series, with clever hints for emergency situations. The cards were distributed with packs of cigarettes. All the pictures bellow are part of the George Arents Collection, The New York Public Library. Please enjoy the article.
1. How to Extract a Splinter

Take a wide mouthed bottle and fill it with hot water nearly to the brim. Now press the affected hand or foot tightly against the mouth of the bottle.
This will then cause a suction and pull the flesh down. The suction plus the steam will help pull out the splinter.
2. How to Make an Emergency Water Filter

A handy and efficient water filter can be made out of an ordinary bucket.
First make a hole at the bottom of the bucket.
Instructions: “The water percolates through the layers of fine and coarse sand, and clean picked gravel and stones, with which the pail is filled, filtering through to the bottom in a clear state.”
One of the best layers you should add to this bucket is one made of charcoal. Here is an 100-Year-Old Way to Filter Rainwater Directly in a Barrel
3. How to Engrave on a Knife

This method was widely used during the Middle Ages and all the engravings in swords or armors. Here are some armors engraved using this traditional way.
Instructions: “The steel to be worked upon should be covered completely with a coating of beeswax. The lettering or design to be engraved can then be drawn with the point of a clean quill pen. This lays bare the metal. A strong solution of sulphate of iron should then be repeatedly poured over the exposed surface for about ten minutes. The more prolonged the action of the sulphate the deeper will the steel be engraved.”
4. How to Make a Fire Extinguisher

Although is good to know, probably none of us will make these old fashion extinguishers since is much easier to buy one. And because the new ones are more effective (I guess) and definitely safer.
Dissolve one pound of salt and half a pound of salt-ammoniac into two quarts of water. Then bottle the liquid in thin glass bottles holding about a quart each.
Should a fire break out, dash one or more bottles into the flames, and any serious outbreak will probably be averted.
5. How to Purify Water in a Cistern
Easy! Stir in a tablespoon of powdered alum.
After 30 minutes the alum cause the particles and the bacteria to bound together and cause them to drop to the bottom leaving a clear purified water.
A tablespoon or half an ounce of alum will purify from sixteen to twenty gallons of water.

6. How to Treat an Animal Bite

First tight a ligature round the limb above the wound. This will stop a little bit the bleeding and it will give you a better visibility to evaluate the wound.
The next advice given back then was: “Thoroughly cleanse the wound and if there is any suspicion of madness in the attacking animal the place should be well sucked and cauterized with luna caustic, or a white hot iron, after cutting away the surrounding flesh with a sharp clean knife.”
The advice was really good for that time, when there were no vaccines. And even today doctors recommend thoroughly washing the wound as soon as possible with soap and water for approximately five minutes (to reduce the number of rabies particles). Povidone iodine or alcohol is then recommended to reduce the virus further. When SHTF and we’ll no longer be able to access vaccines this is your only option available.

7. How to Detect Escaping Gas

Gas leaks can be caused by faulty appliances, or by those that have been incorrectly installed or poorly maintained.
Some of us don’t even use gas anymore (like me) or some may have gas detectors, but either way, after an earthquake, or a hurricane or a tornado there will always be gas leaks.
This 100 years old method is risk free and quite reliable.
“Paint strong soap solution on the suspected length of pipe and the gas will then cause bubbles at the escaping point, which can be dealt with at once.”
8. How to Light a Match in the Wind

Instructions: “The familiar difficulty of lighting a match in the wind can be to a great extent overcome if thin shavings are first cut on the match towards its striking end, as shown in the picture.
On lighting the match, the curled strips catch fire at once; the flame is stronger and has a better chance.”
9. How to Find a Lost Trail

If a trail is lost, there isn’t much to do but to search for it.
A very good way to do that is to mark the last foot-print or sign you notice as the center of the circle and go round it at a distance of anything from 30 to 100 yards.
The trail should be discovered somewhere crossing the circular track you are following.

10. How to Cure Chilblains

“A simple and homely remedy, which immediately relieves the irritation and pain caused by chilblains, is salt and fresh apple juice.
The affected parts are rubbed gently with a slice of apple dipped in common salt. A good juicy apple should be used.”
11. How to Secure Loose Hammers and Axe Heads
After wedging the handle of hammer as tight as possible, drill two holes at the end of wood and drive in two large screws.
An axe-head can be secured by boring a hole through the haft just bellow head and wiring through the hole and over top.
The wire should be twisted and staple driven into a hold position.
12. How to Tell the Points of the Compass with a Watch

Take the watch of your hand. Point the hour hand at the sun and then lay a piece of wire or a blade of grass crosswise between the hour hand and the figure twelve.
The end of the wire between the twelve and the hour hand points south.
13. A Simple Cure for Catarrh

Treatment for catarrh may not be necessary because it often disappears within a few days, after your body has fought off the infection. But in some cases it doesn’t go away and it can be a health problem, especially for the underfed. In food crisis when people are poorly fed, these low-risk diseases kill more people than starvation itself. (Read more about this: Ingenious Foods People Made During Famines)
Instructions: “Take a pinch of ordinary table salt up the nostrils, just as you would a pinch of snuff.
Then gargle the mouth and throat with warm water, being careful not to swallow it.
Do this each morning before breakfast.”
Related: SHTF Antibiotics (True Story) (Video)
14. Three Useful Knots
No. 1 is the Timber Hitch, which is especially useful in lifting all kinds of heavy work, such as huge beams.
No. 2, the Fisherman’s Knot, shows a good method of joining two ropes tightly together.
No. 3 is the famous Clove Hitch, which becomes tighter the harder it is pulled.
15. How to Bandage a Foot

A traditional method used to make the inflammation heal faster (especially for sprain ankles) was to place a leaf of cabbage between the bandage and the ankle.
In the picture: “Rest injured foot on operator’s knee on a clear towel.
Commence bandaging in manner shown by the lower diagram, the bandage being bound over and round the back of foot in spiral fashion, and eventually fixed by means of a safety pin, just beneath ankle, as shown in upper illustration.”
16. How to Make Roller Bandages
Instructions: “A roller bandage must be rolled evenly and tightly, so in the absence of a machine a chair will serve this purpose.
The picture illustrates procedure. Whilst one person carefully rolls another pulls tight opposite end of the bandage, and at the same time sees that no folds or creases are allowed to form.”

17. How to Fell a Tree

Having decided which side you wish the tree to fall, cut alternatively a downward and inward cut as you can see in the picture – in this order.
When about half through, proceed to cut the other side a few inches higher, and finally pull tree down with the help of a rope.
In a survival situation (and not only) you can use trees for their nutritious sap. Here are the Trees That Can Be Tapped For Sap And Syrup.
18. How to Build a Simple Shelter
Instructions: “A simple shelter can be made by driving two forked sticks into the ground and connecting these by a pole resting on them.
Branches are then laid resting on the pole. The right angle should be around 45 degrees, and the screen fitted up with smaller branches, ferns, etc.”
19. How to Make a Water Fountain for Chickens

Instructions: “A simple water fountain, ensuring a supply of fresh water for the chickens, can be made from a pint wine bottle, supported by wire loops to a wooden upright as shown.
The bottle is inverted over an earthenware pan, with the mouth of the bottle about half an inch above the bottom of pan.”
I see that now there are even some “rodent resistant chicken feeders” which can be used together with the water fountain if you leave for 2-3 days.
20. How to Remove Foreign Particles from the Eye

Few things are more irritating than having something in the eye.
“Drop sweet or castor oil into the corner of the eye. Picture shows a ready method of allowing drop of oil to fall into eye from the poim of a paint brush.”
If the particle is of mortar or lime, bathe eye with weak vinegar and water.
21. How to Make a Chair to Cross a Stream

If your group has one or more people who cannot (maybe there are wounded) or don’t know how to swim, you might want to find a simple solution to help him cross a river. If there are nearby trees – and usually near rivers there are – all you need is a rope.
Fasten a strong rope to a tree and let somebody (who can swim) go across the stream and fasten the other end to a tree on an opposite bank.
Use another rope to improvise a chair fastening it into a running loop. “By means of a light rope fastened to the middle of (the) chair and held by someone at each end, those unable to swim are safely passed over.”
22. Keeping Plants Watered While Away on Holiday

There are many simple and cheap DIY tricks to keep your green friends properly hydrated so that you don’t return home to a house full of wilting and yellowing plants.
A traditional method is to fill a large bucket with water, and place it a little above the level of the plants.
You can group round or near as many plants as you want. Place one end of a strand of wool in the bucket and the other one to the plant.
You can place as many yarns as you want.

23. Rescue from Fire
If it is necessary to enter a burning house in a search of unconscious persons, or to save a family member, first place a wet bandage over your nose and mouth and crawl in on all fours. You do this because the only Oxigen you may find is on close to the floor. (and the visibility is better)
Place a rope around his ankles. The other end of the rope around your chest or shoulders.
Then turn your back on him and drag him out. (you’re going on all fours with rope underneath)
24. How to Preserve Eggs

Preserve only eggs that are newly laid. Bury them in a box of salt.
This traditional way of keeping eggs has been almost forgotten. The eggs last about an year when they are totally buried in the salt. No air whatever must be allowed to get at the shells.
This way you’ll have eggs and salt for survival.
Related: How to Make Survival Powdered Eggs
25. How to Treat Sprains

Elevate the injured joint and wrap in cloths wrung out in cold water. The picture shows how to keep the cloths constantly wet without having to change them.
Place a jug of water higher than the injured limb and a strip of linen with one end in the jug and the other end resting upon the wrapping of sprained joint.
The water will pass from the jug to compress keeping it constantly wet and cold.

The SHTF we all prep for is what folks 150 years ago called daily life. A hundred years ago people knew how to do a lot of things – that we now take for granted. Learning how to do stuff on your own is one of the most important things that one can do to prepare… And in time of crisis you need to be able to support and sustain your family without much outside aid.


Gold Member
Gold Chaser
Sr Site Supporter
Apr 2, 2010
Another 21 Lost Tips from 100 Years Ago – with Illustrations

Today you’ll find some “little” survival tricks popular in the early 1900’s.
100 years ago Gallaher Ltd printed a short “How-To” series, with clever hints for emergency situations. The cards were distributed with packs of cigarettes. All the pictures bellow are part of the George Arents Collection, The New York Public Library.
This is the second part the article.
26. How to Adapt Noisy Boots for Stealth Walking
We all have a pair of boots that squeaks every time we take a step. This makes it impossible to walk undetected. Here is a great, easy fix as it war written 100 years ago on the back of this card (image)
“When boots make a squeaking noise, a good remedy is to drive several brads into the center of the sole. Another method is to place the sole in a dish or a plate containing oil with the heel propped up in order to immerse the whole of the sole and the boot left until the oil has thoroughly soaked into the leather.”​
27. How to Make a Spirit Level
You can’t call yourself a builder or a woodworker if you don’t have a level.
100 years ago people used to build their own, and it might be simpler than you ever thought. You will need a glass tube, corked at each end, filled with water or spirit with just enough to leave a bubble of air.
The ends of the tube are fixed in the box using sealing wax, which should cover them to prevent any loss of liquid by evaporation. Here are another 31 Cool DIY Projects for Preppers.
28. How to Make Briquettes from Coal
This is an economical way to treat coal dust and to make it into bricks of fuel.
Mix the dust with salt (about a handful of salt to each shovelful of coal dust), add water, and stir it until you get a stiff paste. You could also use wallpaper paste instead of salt. Mix a quantity of the paste sufficiently to fully dampen the amount of coal dust. Mix thoroughly to achieve a thick consistency.
Mold the bricks in an old tin box, and afterwards, place them on a board or a shelf to dry. You can also use plastic plant pots. Don’t forget to press them into the box firmly.
Damp coal will burn, but it’s still best to wait a couple of days. You will get a much better result if you wait until they are fully dried. Afterwards, just place them on the fire.

How to Measure with Coins

Here are the instructions written on the back of the card: “It is sometimes useful to know that half-a-crown equals half an ounce in weight, and three pennies weigh one ounce. A half-penny measures one inch in diameter; half-crown an inch and a quarter and a sixpence three-quarters of an inch in diameter.”​
As coins have changed sizes and dimensions over the years, it’s good to know that 5 pennies half will add to half an ounce in weight, and 5 quarters will make an ounce. A penny measures 0.75 inches in diameter and a quarter is just under an inch at .955 inches.
30. How to Kill a Tree Stump
Instructions: “If a tree stump is not removed from the ground, it often starts sprouting, and strong undergrowth results. To prevent this, holes should be bored in the top of stump and a patch of bark cut from the side and more holes bored there. A mixture of solignum and salt filled into these holes will soak through the tree stump and kill it.”​
If either Epsom or rock salt are used, there is no need for solignum. Light a candle and put some wax over the holes so the salt won’t fall out. Cover the stump with a plastic tarp, a trash bag, or another nonporous item. The stump will die faster without sunlight and water. It will take between six weeks and several months for the stump to die, but afterwards, it will begin to fall apart on its own.

31. How to Repair a Faulty Screw
Sometimes as the screw is almost in place, the head breaks away, leaving no grip for the screwdriver.
Grate the stem of the screw square, and fit it into a clock key.
A cycle spanner can then be used to withdraw the screw, as shown in the illustration. This is a good method as it will not damage the wood.

32. How to Make Corks Fit
If you have a cork that is slightly too large for a bottle, here is a quick fix.
Do not trim down the cork with a knife; a better method is shown in the picture. Roll the cork under your shoe, exerting a steady pressure. This will reduce the size of the cork without ruining the smooth surface.
33. How to Fix a Burst Pipe
This is a temporary fix. Here are the instructions:
“First cut off the water supply; then empty the pipe and dry thoroughly. Use a hot iron to close the burst, and remove any moisture.
Prepare a cement of one part shellac to three parts methylated spirit, stirring till it becomes a thick paste.
Spread this on a long piece of canvas that is wide enough to cover the break in the pipe; afterwards, put the paste on the opening, and bind around the pipe and secure it with string. Thin down the remainder of the paste with spirit, and soak it into canvas.”​
Let it dry before you turn on the water again.
How to Make Corks Watertight

Put a couple of ounces or more of paraffin wax in a pot. When it’s boiling, immerse the corks completely in the wax.
This will make them not only watertight but airtight as well.

35. How to Test Butter

This is still a good way to test if commercial butter is butter or margarine.
Rub a little of the suspected compound on a piece of paper, and set the paper on fire.
If it is pure butter, the odor will be light and agreeable, while the presence of margarine is made known by an unpleasant, tallow-like smell.
If you want to be sure, it’s better to make your own butter; it’s really easy, healthy, and actually pretty fun.

36. How to Preserve Paint Brushes
After you finish painting, you’ll have to take care of your brush; otherwise, you’ll have to throw it away just after a couple of uses.
Scrape the brush and clear it of paint; then squeeze it with a cloth.
Keep it in a jar with just enough water to cover the hairs.
38. How to Fix a Leaky Kettle
The tools used were an old soldering iron like in the picture, a piece of soft solder, and Fluxite. If you don’t have a soldering iron, you could use a piece of metal.
Clean the hole by scraping it with a knife and an emery cloth. Put Fluxite, and dip the point of the hot iron in the flux. Apply to the solder, a small piece of which should adhere to it; apply this to the hole, which it will instantly cover.
When the hole is too big and can’t be repaired anymore, cut a piece of tin that is slightly larger than the hole, put the solder around it, and adhere it using heat.
38. How to Boil Cracked Eggs
If you want to boil an egg that is already cracked, just add a little vinegar to the water.
It’s as simple as that!
When you take it out of the pot, you will notice that none of the contents spilled out.
Related: How to Keeps Eggs Fresh for Months with Mineral Oil
39. How to Adjust a Door

If you have a rattling door, you’ll only need two corks and some glue to fix it.
Glue the corks between the door and the beading of the doorway, exactly as shown in the illustration (A.A).
The corks must be slightly thicker than the crack. The door should be shut until the glue sets. The elasticity of the corks holds the door and stops the rattling noise.

40. How to Mend Broken China
To mend broken china so that the mended article will stand washing in hot or cold water, some common alum should be heated in an old iron spoon until it melts and then applied to the broken pieces.
The pieces should be retained in position with string and allowed to thoroughly set.
How to Increase Lung Power

Stand straight with your head held well back like in the illustration.
Inhale deeply until your lungs are fully inflated, and then gradually exhale.
Repeat this exercise several times in both the morning and evening.

42. How to Repair Your Boots
Nowadays we just buy new ones, but 100 years ago, this was a commodity not a lot of people could afford. When SHTF, this is a great skill to have.
Instructions: “Start with the heels, remove the top layer, and if the heel is worn down at the back, build it up with small pieces (skived thin at the edge) until you level it.
Nail on a new top piece, and trim it up with a knife and a rasp.
Remove the worn sole, and cut a new sole that is slightly larger. Trim the part that comes under the instep, and fix the sole in position with nails. In the center, drive nails around the sole three-eighths of an inch from the edge at regular distances, not straight but pointing inward.”​
Another tip is to soak the leather before starting this project because the leather will expand. After nailing, finish off with a rasp and sand paper, rub with a polishing iron and heelball, and finish the heel in the same way
43. How to Repair a Broken Chair
First you have to remove all the upholstery and clean up the tenon and mortise of old glue.
Instructions: “Blind the wedge of the tenon by making a saw cut a quarter of an inch from each corner, and make two small wedges the same depth as the mortise holes and the same width as the tenon. Make sure to taper from one-eighth of an inch to a point, and leave about three-eighths of an inch standing out.”​
Apply hot glue to the mortise, to the tenon, and to the shoulder.
Knock them together with a mallet and then hold them together using a loop of cord around the legs, twisting it up with a piece of wood to draw the joint together; then renew the broken webbing and reupholster it.

44. How to Make a Dibbler
You can use the dibbler to create holes to plant seeds with exact spacing and depth. This simple item can be made from two pieces of wood using a saw or even a knife.
Take a pointed stake, and make holes at different distances. Take a piece of wood that will fit in the grooves, as shown. The dimensions and method are illustrated in the picture.
Related: A Simple Solution to Grow Vegetables Year Round (Video Ad)
45. How to Make a Good Polish
This is a great economical way to make a chemical-free polish for pictures, mirrors, pianos, floors, etc.
Mix equal parts vinegar and paraffin in a bottle. You can store this for a long time, so there is no need to make it every time. Just put a cork on it, and keep it in your pantry.
Add a few drops of lavender oil to give it a pleasant smell, and this will also help to keep the flies away.


Midas Member
Midas Member
Midas Supporter ++
Jan 7, 2011
My chilblains have not flared in years, but my lumbago is acting up. I need a mustard plaster.


Site Supporter
Site Supporter
Platinum Bling
Mar 30, 2010
Stir in a tablespoon of powdered alum.
ALUM a colorless astringent compound that is a hydrated double sulfate of aluminum and potassium

No thanks.


Midas Member
Midas Supporter
Feb 22, 2012
On a speck of dust
After you finish painting, you’ll have to take care of your brush; otherwise, you’ll have to throw it away just after a couple of uses.
Scrape the brush and clear it of paint; then squeeze it with a cloth.
Keep it in a jar with just enough water to cover the hairs.
Brought to you by Gallaher's Cigarettes. .Lot of useful info. Will try making a level some day. Some things I have no clue of what the ailments are.

But I have found leaving a brush submerged in a pail makes the bristles curve. Better to just clean the damn thing when completely done. With in between coats, I wrap the brush in plastic bag and lay it flat.


Platinum Bling
Platinum Bling
Apr 9, 2010
Where can I get some Gallaher's Cigarettes? haha


Gold Member
Gold Chaser
Sr Site Supporter
Apr 2, 2010
6 Highly Dangerous Lifehacks From 100 Years Ago
Ashley Feinberg
7/19/13 9:07AM


People these days love shortcuts. The world moves at a terrifying pace, and you can either cheat your way to the top or get left behind with the "it's not the destination, it's the journey" crowd. No one wants that. Even a century ago, our ancestors were struggling with the very same problem. And their trusty neighborhood cigarette supplier—Gallaher's Cigarettes—was ready to answer the call.

Mental Floss recently collected ten of Gallaher's little tricks and tips, which were tucked inside packs for several years during the 1910s. Each card touted its own hack for a highly modern, highly dangerous life. Because if everyone dies from electrocution and wild dogs, who's left to keep smoking? We picked our six favorite below, but you can see the full list here. [Mental Floss via Design Taxi]

Before refrigerators, nothing kept your eggs fresh quite like a tasty salt bath. Want to spice things up? Replace the salt bath with bath salts. Last one to cannibalize their neighbor is on dish duty!

Wild dog attack? Just grab the nearest ten-foot bamboo pole. The dog in front will be distracted by the disguise while the dog in back will be distracted by your vulnerable, delicious friend. Run fast! Dogs eat quickly.

The ol' palm hickey trick. Great for getting out splinters, even better for making sure that your lady or gentleman caller knows you hold good hand.

Need to light a match in the wind? blocking with your hand is only mildly effective; it's best to increase surface area and make sure the whole thing catches fire. Bonus life hack: third degree burns are great for garnering sympathy.

Whenever you pass by a middle-aged man-about-town grabbing onto rogue telephone wires just so he can feel alive again, make sure to sneak up on him with your blanket/burlap sack from behind. Everyone loves surprises.

Make sure you filter any questionable drinking water thoroughly. Wouldn't want anything to contaminate that pure, Ogden's Cigarettes-flavored mouth we've worked so very hard to create.


Пальто Crude
Midas Member
Nov 11, 2011
You guys expect to live through this, purifying water through old cigarette filters?

You better live it up right now, while the plumbing still works.