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Friday, February 19, 2010

Start stocking up on your nickels - post from Survival Blog

Mass Inflation Ahead -- Save Your Nickels!

By James Wesley, Rawles -- Editor of www.SurvivalBlog.com

Updated, February, 2010

I've often mused about how fun it would be to have a time machine and travel back to the early 1960s, and go on a pre-inflation shopping spree. In that era, most used cars were less than $800, and a new-in-the box Colt .45 Automatic sold for $60. In particular, it would be great to go back and get a huge pile of rolls of then-circulating US silver dimes, quarters, and half dollars at face value. (With silver presently around $15.50 per ounce, the US 90% silver (1964 and earlier) coinage is selling wholesale at 11 times face value--that is $11,000 for a $1,000 face value bag.)

The disappearance of 90% silver coins from circulation in the US in the mid-1960s beautifully illustrated Gresham's Law: "Bad Money Drives Out Good." People quickly realized that the debased copper sandwich coins were bogus, so anyone with half a brain saved every pre-'65 (90% silver) coin that they could find. (This resulted in a coin shortage from 1965 to 1967, while the mint frantically played catch up, producing millions of cupronickel "clad" coins. This production was so hurried that they even skipped putting mint marks on coins from 1965 to 1967.)

Alas, there are no time machines. But what if I were to tell you that there is a similar,albeit smaller-scale opportunity? Consider the lowly US five cent piece--the "nickel."

Unlike US dimes and quarters, which stopped being made of 90% silver after 1964, the composition of a nickel has essentially been unchanged since the end of World War II. It is still a 5 gram coin that is an alloy of 75% copper and 25% nickel. (An aside: Some 1942 to 1945 five cent coins were made with 35% silver, because nickel was badly-needed for wartime industrial use. Those "War Nickels" have long since been culled from circulation, by collectors.)

According to www.Coinflation.com, the 1946-2008 Nickel (with a 5 cent face value) had a base metal value of $0.0677413 in 2008. That was 135.48% of its face value. (In recent months, with the recession, and a decline in industrial demand for copper, the base metal value of a nickel dropped below face value. But even at today's commodities prices, you will start out at "break even" by amassing a stockpile of nickels.) I predict that as inflation resumes--most likely beginning in 2011--the base metal value of nickels will rise substantially.

The Root of the Problem

It is inevitable that any country that issues a continually-inflated fiat paper currency will run into the problem of their coinage eventually having its base metal value exceed its face value. When this happens, it is one of those embarrassing "emperor's new clothes" moments. Unless a government takes the drastic step of lopping off a zero or two from their currency, this coinage problem is inevitable. In essence, we were robbed by our own government when silver coins were replaced with copper sandwich coins in the 1960s. I predict that essentially the same thing will soon to happen with nickels.

Helicopter Ben Bernanke will inflate his way out of the current liquidity crisis. through artificial lowering of interest rates, massive injections of liquidity, and monetization of the Federal debt. That can only spell one thing: inflation, and plenty of it. Mass inflation will mean much higher commodities prices (at least from the perspective of the US currency.)

I predict that until perhaps early 2011, the US Mint will continue to produce nickels with the current metals composition. In February, 2010 it was announced that the Obama administration had endorsed a change in the metal composition of pennies and nickels. Once this change is implemented, you will have to manually sort the "old" from the "new" debased nickels! But for now, there is still an open window of opportunity, during which time SurvivalBlog readers can salt away countless rolls and bags of nickels.

Within just a few years, the base metal value of a nickel is likely to exceed two times ("2X") its face value. (10 cents each.) The nickel will then begin to disappear from circulation. (Gresham's law is unavoidable.) Unlike the mid-1960s experience, the missing nickels will not cause a crisis, since pennies will suffice for making small change, and most vending machines now use dimes as their smallest purchase increment. Meanwhile, most bridge tolls and toll roads have inflated so that tolls are in 25 cent increments. The demise of the nickel will hardly cause a ripple in the news.

Unless the Treasury decides to drop the issuance of nickels entirely, the US Mint will within the next three years be forced to introduce a "new" nickel with a debased composition. It will possibly be zinc (flashed with silver) or possibly even aluminum.

Why Not Pennies?

You may ask, why not accumulate 95% copper (pre-1983 mint date) pennies? They already seen a spike in their base metal value to 2.2 cents each. But unfortunately, pennies have two problems: confusion and bulk. They are confusing, because 95% copper pennies are now circulating side-by-side with 97.5% zinc pennies. They are also about four times as bulky (per dollar of face value) as nickels.

With nickels you won't have to spend time sorting out pre-1983 varieties. At present, visually date sorting pennies simply isn't worth your time. Although I suppose that if someone were to invent an automated density-measuring penny sorting machine, he could make a fortune. As background: The pre-1983 pennies recently had a base metal value of about $0.0226 each.) Starting in 1983, the mint switched to 97.5% zinc pennies that are just flashed with copper. Those presently have a base metal value of only about $0.0071 each.

Pennies are absurdly bulky and heavy to store. Nickels are also quite bulky, but are at least more manageable than pennies for a small investor's storage. (Storing pennies would take a tremendous amount of space and constitute a huge weight per dollar invested.)

The biggest advantage of nickels over pennies is that there is no date/composition confusion. At least for now, a nickel is a nickel. Even the newly-minted "large portrait" nickels have the same 75/25 cupronickel composition. But that is likely to change within just a couple of years. The US Mint cannot go on minting nickels at a loss much longer. My advice: start filling military surplus ammo cans with $2 (40 coin) rolls of nickels.

The .30 caliber size can is the perfect width for rolls of nickels. Each can will hold 11 bank rolls of nickels per layer, and the can will hold eight layers. On the top layer there is room for one more roll. Thus, they'll hold a total of 89 rolls per ammo can, or $178. Any larger containers would be difficult to move easily. (Avoid back strain!) Cardboard boxes are fragile, and lack a carry handle. But ammo cans are very sturdy, have an integral handle, and they are relatively cheap and plentiful. They are available at military surplus stores and gun shows. The current difference between a nickel's base metal value and its face value is fairly small, but trust me, it will grow! Someday, when nickels are worth 4X to 8X their face value, your children will thank you for it. Consider it an investment in your children's future.

In December of 2006, the US congress passed a law making it illegal to bulk export or melt down pennies and nickels. But once the old composition pennies and nickels have been driven out of circulation, that is likely to change. In fact, a bill now before congress would remove pre-1983 pennies from the melting ban. In any case, once the base metal value exceeds face value by about 3X, an investor's market will develop, regardless of whether or not melting is re-legalized. Count on it.

What if Uncle Sam Decides to Drop a Zero?

As previously noted in SurvivalBlog, inflation of the US dollar has been chronic, cumulative, and insidious. So much so that turns of phrase from old movies like "penny candy" and "its your nickel" (to describe the cost of a call on a pay phone) now seem quaint and outdated. When inflation goes on long enough, the number of digits required to express a price grows too large. (As has been seen with the Italian lira, the Zimbabwean dollar, and countless other currencies. One whitewash solution to chronic inflation that several other nations have chosen is dropping one, two, or even three zeros from their currency, in an overnight revaluation, with a mandatory paper currency exchange. The history of the past century has shown that when doing so, most governments re-issue only new paper currency, but leave the old coinage in circulation, at the same face value. This is because the sheer logistics of a coinage swap would be daunting. Typically, this leaves the holders of coinage as the unexpected beneficiaries of a 10X, 100X.or even 1,000X gain of the value of their coins. Governments just assume that most citizens just have a couple of pocketfuls of coins at any given time. So if a currency swap were to happen while you are sitting on a big pile of nickels, you would make a handsome profit. To "cash in", you could merely spend your saved nickels in the new currency regime.

How To Build Your Pile of Nickels

How can you amass a big pile-o-nickels? Obviously just saving the few that you normally receive as pocket change is insufficient. Here are some possibilities:

1.) If you live in a state with nickel slot machine gambling (such as Nevada or New Jersey), or near an Indian tribal casino with nickel slots, go to a casino frequently and buy $50 in nickels at a time. Do your best to look like a gambler when doing so, by carrying a plastic change bucket with a few nickels in the bottom.

2.) Obtain nickels in rolls from your friendly local bank teller. Most "retail" banks are already accustomed to handing over rolls of coins to private depositors because of collector demand for statehood commemorative quarters and the new presidential dollar coins. Ask for $20 or $30 of nickels in rolls each time that you visit to do your normal banking deposits or withdrawals. It is best to ask for new "wrapped" (fresh Federal Reserve Bank issue) rolls. This way, you might have the chance of getting rolls with valuable minting errors--such as "double die" strikes. These are usually noticed and publicized a few months after the fact, and can be quite valuable. You will also be assured that you are getting full 40 coin rolls. (Getting shorted with 38 or 39 coin rolls is possible with hand-rolled coins.) If the tellers ask why you want so many, you can honestly tell them: "I'm working on a collection for my children." (You need not tell them how large a collection it is!)

3.) If you live in or near an urban area and you operate a business, you can effectively "buy" rolled coinage from your commercial bank. (They generally will not do any business with anyone unless they have an account.) It might be worth your while to on paper start a side business with "Vending Service" in its name, and have business cards and stationary printed up in that name. Have that "DBA" business entity name added to your commercial bank account. At a high-volume commercial bank you could conceivably buy hundreds or even thousands of dollars worth of nickels on the pretense of stocking change for a vending business. Depending on your relationship with the bank, they may waive any fees if you ask for a few rolls of coins. Be advised, however, that if you ask for any significant quantity at one time, they will probably charge you a premium. (Down in the small print of your account contract, there is probably wording something like this: "Coin Issued - Per Roll: .03 Currency Issued - Per $ 100: .08" Before you cry "foul", be aware that the Federal Reserve actually charges your bank a small premium when they obtain wrapped rolls of coins. (Most folks have held to the convenient fiction that a paper dollar was the same as a dollar in change. Obviously, it isn't.) In effect, your commercial banker will just be passing along this cost to you. Unless they charge you a heavy fee, don't worry about it. Ten years from now, when a $2 roll of nickel is worth $16, you'll be laughing about how you obtained $4,000 face value in nickels at just a small fraction over their face value.

4.) If you know someone that has a machine vending business, offer to buy all of their excess nickels once every month or two, by offering a small premium.

5.) If you operate a "mom and pop" retail business with a walk-in clientele, put up a small sign next to your cash register that reads: "WANTED: Rolls of nickels for my collection. I pay $2.25 per 40 coin ($2) roll, regardless of year!" Once the nickel shortage develops (as it inevitably will), you should raise you premium gradually, to keep a steady stream of coin rolls coming in.

After this is posted, I'm sure that I'm going to get plenty of ridicule, accusing me of "hoarding." So be it. Let me preemptively state that I realize that money tied up in coins will not benefit from the interest that a bank deposit would earn. But foregoing interest is not a major concern. Why? Because I think that it is a fairly safe bet that commodity price inflation will outstrip the prevailing interest rates for at least the next five years. In five years, the circulating nickel as we now know it, will be history, and it will be treated with nearly the same reverence that we now give to pre-'65 silver coinage.

We saw what happened when clad copper dimes, quarters and half dollars were introduced in 1965. We should learn from history. Something comparable will very likely soon to happen with nickels. You, as a SurvivalBlog.com reader, are now armed with that knowledge. You can and should benefit from it, before Uncle Sugar performs his next sleight of hand trick and starts passing off silver-plated zinc tokens as "nickels". - James Wesley, Rawles -- Editor of www.SurvivalBlog.com

Permission to forward, repost, or reprint this article is granted, but only in its entirely with attribution and links intact.

Copyright 2010. All Rights Reserved by James Wesley, Rawles - www.SurvivalBlog.com™ Permission to reprint, repost or forward this article in full is granted, but only if it is not edited or excerpted.

About the Author:

James Wesley, Rawles is a former U.S. Army Intelligence officer and a noted author and lecturer on survival and preparedness topics. He is the author of "Patriots: A Novel of Survival in the Coming Collapse" and is the editor of SurvivalBlog.com--the popular daily web journal for prepared individuals living in uncertain times.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Things to do this month - February

___1) Go to the library and check out a book on survival skills; read thoroughly.

___ 2) Buy a secondary hard drive for your computer and learn to switch them out.

___ 3) Get a cross cut shredder and use it to destroy all garbage with your info on it.

___ 4) Make a safe room. It should have a solid door, dead bolt lock, supplies and cell phone.

___ 5) Get a feel for what happens in your neighborhood during a typical weekday.

___ 6) Start investing (in an IRA, Roth IRA, 401k, 403b, employer matching plan, etc).

___ 7) Make a duplicate set of the keys you use and leave them in a secure place.

___ 8) Become a valuable employee at work or a valuable business owner to your clients.

___ 9) Install solid exterior doors and screen doors; include deadbolt locks and a peep holes.

___ 10) Take an EMT class; it’s great basic medical training.

___ 11) Gather all of your important documents and put them together in a safe place.

___ 12) Volunteer (Search and Rescue, HAM radio club, DEM, etc); they provide great training.

___ 13) Question your tax preparer about ways to lower your taxes for next year.

___ 14) Consider installing tracking devices on high end items (computers, Plasma TV, etc).

___ 15) Learn new physical skills (go dancing, rollerblading, skiing, etc.).

___ 16) Spend the weekend observing others (go to a hostel, a religious revival, a biker rally).

___ 17) Install an audio/video/motion sensitive security system in your home.

___ 18) Develop an emergency evacuation plan and practice it with your family (include info to all

participants about nearby and far away meeting places).

___ 19) Revamp your computer. Update software, use the disk cleanup and defrag features.

___ 20) Take your name off your mailbox and make your home look tidy but average outside.

___ 21) Make plans to travel to a foreign country this year—it’s an excellent learning experience.

___ 22) Clean your firearms, and make sure they are stored securely but are easily accessible.

___ 23) Start a small side business.

___ 24) Make a plan to pay off all of your consumer debt ASAP.

___ 25) Teach others security and survival skills.

___ 26) Read foreign newspapers to find out what the rest of the world thinks about the US.

___ 27) Plant an early spring garden.

___ 28) Develop and institute a security plan for your workplace.

The Road - very interesting read

While I was on my way back to Ass-crack-istan; I picked up the book "The Road". It changed my mind about prepping. It's a dark read...really depressing and enlightening as well. If you have time, schedule a few hours and take a read.

Most books I have read, which have inspired me to prep in the first place, all describe a similar scene...most people survive…The Road is just the opposite.

Give it a read...I liked it, you may too.

Hide your stuff or loose it

Take this time now, when there is no urgent need, to plan what you could do with your important stuff (food, water, cash, gold, tools, guns, etc) to hide it and protect it from the marauding masses in the event of a disaster. Right now, you probably couldn't even imagine that your friends, neighbors, and even strangers would see that you have something they desperately want (this could be something as simple as water or a can of Spam) and use force to take it from you. But then again, right now, these people are happily complacent with food and water of their own. Should the situation change, all bets are off.

You may think that you will protect yourself, your family, and your stuff with force if necessary. After all, you have a nice stockpile of firearms along with your prudently thought out supply of food and water, but there is only one of you, you will have a limited supply of ammo, and you will need to sleep sometime.

Here are some things to consider:

• Think about how you could make a buried cache. Obviously you will need to remember where you buried your stash of supplies and you will also have to consider its location (ie: you don't want to place it where development could inadvertently dig up your stuff). You need to make sure that the elements (water, vermin, etc) can not get to your stuff, and that it is easy enough to retrieve your stuff when you need to get it.

• How can you spread your stuff out so you don't have one huge stash of stuff that could be easily looted. Stores make great places to loot after a disaster because there are shelves and shelves of goods just sitting there. It would be a very different situation if people had to go from place to place to acquire only a can or two--it may not be worth their effort.

• Look around your house. After a disaster you don't want your place (home or BOL) to look like the Taj Mahal when everyone else has nothing. How can you make you place look, as a friend says, like a Romanian orphanage--very sparse and bleak--when you actually have all of the stuff you need to survive for quite a good long time? If no one has electricity and your house it lit up like a Christmas tree, this will bring people to your door. If people don't have heat and you have a nice bonfire going complete with lots of smoke signaling your location, how will you conceal this? If people break into your garage, will they see walls and walls of food? How about if you have false walls that can conceal your stuff and hidden space in the attic in which to store the stuff you want to keep away from others? The idea is to make your place to look like every other place so you don't draw unnecessary attention to yourself, even though you may have enough stuff to weather a nuclear winter. You want to look like you are in the same situation as everyone else.

• Some of the basics for hiding your stuff: you want hiding places that aren't very obvious. You want an easy way to store your stuff in these hiding places or you may get lazy and not use the places because of the difficulty of access. You want places that won't be inadvertently disturbed (if you hide gold in the lining of an old jacket and the spouse donates it to the Goodwill you're going to have a problem). You want a place where you can un-cache your stuff without bringing much attention to yourself. You want to practice caching and un-cashing your stuff; the more easily and inconspicuously you can do this, the better.

• Keep your caches secret, even from the kids. Hopefully you can trust your spouse and if anything ever happens to you at least the spouse will know where your caches are but your kids are a different story. They often talk with their friends, tell them secrets, and can inadvertently spill the info on your caches which could come back to haunt you. Don't tell your friends or family either. If and when you need to help them, you can, but bragging about your stash of food/firearms/cash will bring you nothing but trouble.

• Get creative. With some caveats. While it would be nice to post a list of locations that would make great places to stash your stuff, once this is done it becomes the looters handbook, which is why you will see articles about caching your stuff, but you won't see much specific info about where you should do this. So it is up to you to get creative and come up with your own cache locations. I would warn against caching your stuff in dangerous locations (ie: anywhere around water, electricity, extreme heights, etc) because while it may deter the looters, it could injure or kill you.

It is hard to think that all of your hard earned preps which you have taken care (and cash) to develop, could be taken away when you most need them. While I am not saying that you shouldn't use force to protect what is yours, using force should be your last resort for a variety of reasons. It is much better to blend in with everyone else, hide what you have, bring out what you need in small quantities so as not to bring attention to yourself, and save yourself the problems associated with defending large supplies of stuff that everyone else wants to get their hands on. After all, if people will take food from starving orphans, they would probably think nothing of doing this to you.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Store food for your family - so I don't have to

I want people to store food not only for their sake, but for mine as well. I don’t want to decide which of my kids have to go hungry when you and your unprepared kin come knocking on my door. Contrary to progressive-collectivist thinking, every individual who takes care of themselves and their families benefits society by not becoming a burden. So take responsibility now and start today. Don’t expect the Feds to come by to hand you your ration of government-issued cheese. You could be in for a long wait. Wait too long and you may end up with a green-stained mouth from eating grass, like the poor Irish during the potato famine in the mid 1800’s. Or seriously reevaluate your aversion to cannibalism. Compared to those desperate methods, dumpster diving comes off as luxury cuisine.

An adult needs a minimum 2500 calories a day. More if you are physically active. This translates to about two pounds of food, plus a gallon of potable ("drinkable") water. To get started, follow this cardinal rule; Store what you eat, and eat what you store. Do not expect to suddenly acquire a taste for powered eggs or a jalapeno-spiced chili MRE in a long-term disaster. If you have children, they will be even more reluctant to eat such stuff. The next rule is not go into debt by spending thousands of dollars for pre-packaged foodstuffs. It kind of defeats the purpose if you have to eat your food supply because you have no money left after buying it.

Begin building your food storage by buying 2–3 extra items every time you shop at the grocery store. A few cans here, some bags and boxes there, and it will begin to add up. Look for sales, two-for-one specials, and coupon items. Set aside some space, and put the oldest stuff in front, and the newest in back. Rotate from back to front as you use it. If you have food items that are going to expire soon that you don’t have time to eat, donate them to a local food pantry for Karma points. There. You now have established a simple but effective short-term food storage system. Everything from here on will expand upon it.

The next step is to create a larger, stable environment to preserve your food supply over the long haul. Regardless if you live in a country mansion or a studio apartment, you need the following conditions to preserve food:

• Keep it airtight
• Keep it cool
• Keep it dark
• Keep it dry
• Keep it protected


Exposure to oxygen degrades food. I’ll cover one method to deal with that later. Temperature is the next concern. The goal is to keep food at 70° or below. For every 10 degrees cooler, food life doubles. Every 10 degrees warmer, it halves it. But at the same time, you want to keep it from freezing. Maintaining a stable and consistent temperature environment is the key. Avoid temperature extremes, like storing food in an unheated, un-insulated garage in a four-season environment. Basements make good root cellars. Real root cellars are even better. For those in suburban homes and apartments, a closet designated as a food pantry will serve. Metal trash cans, plastic tub containers, or buckets all lined with a 4-mil black trash liners will help insulate food from temperature extremes. They will also protect food from sunlight, which destroys nutrients, from moisture, which creates mold, and rodents, who will grow in swarming numbers as modern society falls apart. Buckets can be obtained at bakeries and food delis for free or at little cost. Hard pressed for space in you domicile? Put a trash can full of food in your living room, throw a nice cloth over it, add a lamp, and it doubles as an end table. Make a media center of boards supported by food buckets. Who said food storage isn’t fashionable?

Now back to the oxygen problem. As long as the can does not have a tell-tale bulge, signaling spoiled contents, canned goods are viable for many years past their expiration dates, notwithstanding a loss in nutritional value. Dry food packed in paper, cardboard boxes, or plastic are subject to oxygen spoilage over time. One solution is to repackage dry food items using food grade Mylar bags. These bags are an inexpensive method for those on a budget to customize their food storage to their personal needs and taste. Mylar is an excellent air and moisture barrier. It is said one can jump on a filled sealed bag and it won’t pop. But they need protection against punctures and gnawing vermin—hence they need to be stored in a protective container, like those mentioned above.

The recommended base foods for long-term storage are wheat, oats, legumes, pasta, honey/sugar, and salt. These will easily last 20–30 years if packed and stored properly. Flour and dry milk are more finicky, and have a shelf life of only 5–10 years. If you or members of your family suffer from Celiac disease, and cannot consume gluten type foods such as wheat, substitute white rice instead. I do not recommend brown rice for long-term storage, as it contains oils that break down over time that causes it to spoil. Supplement your long term food with canned goods, MRE’s and others sundries. The eventual goal is to build a diverse storage of food for health, variety, and if necessary, portability.

Items needed for packaging food:

Food grade Mylar bags. I recommend minimum 4.5mil thick bags in one-gallon size. These will hold about 4–6 lbs, depending on the bulk of the food products. Besides commercial vendors, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints also sells them online, along with other preparedness supplies. Their bags are 7mil thick. However, they only sell them in bulk, so 250 bags for $94 is probably more bags than you need. The Church also has food canneries throughout the US that sells these in smaller quality. One can purchase pre-packaged food or bring their own food to seal at cost at these centers.

500cc Oxygen absorber packets. It takes two of these for each one gallon, 11" x 13" or similar sized Mylar bags full of food. These packets come in a sealed bag with all the oxygen sucked out. If the bag is not flat, but puffy with air, the oxygen packets have been compromised. You will need a glass jar with a metal (not plastic) lid to store them after you open the bag. Or you can seal them in a Mylar bag. Ordinary plastic bags are no good for storing oxygen packets – they provide a poor air barrier. Oxygen packets will start to feel warm when activated by exposure to air. Take them out only when you have everything else all set to bag and seal. Make sure to close the lid to preserve the others.

5-gram silica gel desiccant. These absorb any residue moisture that may reside in your food, to prevent mold. I’ve talked to the people at our local LDS cannery, and they and others who have stored food for years have experienced no problems not using desiccant packets. Everything I’ve read online suggest you should put them in. Your call. I purchase mine on eBay for around 25 cents each.

Sealer. This is a very expensive piece of equipment. I like to use the one at our local church. Contact the local Bishop or a Mormon friend to arrange a time to use one. It comes with a foot pedal, making it easier to seal bags. An alternative is using a hot iron set on wool or cotton (Not the wife’s!) with a 2 x 4 piece of wood. Some find they can use conventional food sealers. But do your homework well, as it is for good reason that Mylar bags require industrial strength sealers compared to off-the-shelf food sealers.

Directions for sealing bags:

1. If using the LDS Church sealer, check that the settings are at Sealing: 3, Congealing: 6, Recycle: 2. Turn on the sealer and let it warm up for two minutes.

2. (Optional) Place two 5-gram silica gel packets at the bottom of the Mylar bag.

3. Pour flour, rice, grain, etc. in bag. This can be done single-handedly, but from experience, it is so much easier to have someone help holding the Mylar bag, as it is very slick and does not have a flat bottom to keep it upright. Flour and dry milk can be a pain because it "poofs" everywhere when pored in the bag. When it does, use a damp paper towel to clean up the inside of the top of the bags where it will be sealed together. Then apply a dry towel to remove any moisture. At this point, firmly bang the bag several times against the table to help settle the contents and reduce airspace between the food elements.

4. Place two 500cc oxygen packets on top of food. Be sure to keep the unused oxy packets sealed in an airtight container, so they will stay fresh.

5. Hold and pull tight both ends of the open bag, place in the sealer. Let the filled part of the bag drop down, to prevent food from coming up to opening and preventing a perfect seal. Hit the foot pedal. The seal bar will come down for 2–3 seconds to set the seal. I like to add a second seal to each bag for good measure. Check the seal by attempting to peel the opening apart. If the seal is secure, you won’t be able too. Also push on the bag and watch if any air leaks out. None should. For using an iron, place the Mylar bag opening on the 2 x 4, and press down. Some prefer to put a towel between the iron and the Mylar, but I’ve never scorched a bag yet.

6. Use a permanent marker to write the on bag the date, the weight, and the description on the bagged food. I like to include the brand name of the food, in case I have any problems with it, or is recalled by the FDA. For some things like powdered milk, I tape the mixing instructions on the bag.

Mylar bags may be cut in half or smaller to store smaller portions. Filled Mylar bags are very stiff and rigid. The bagged food will be a bit awkward to store in round containers like buckets and trashcans. Stack fragile food like pasta on top of the heavier, bulkier bagged foods. Large Mylar bags from vendors are available to store quantities up to 30 lbs in 5-gallon plastic buckets. Put one in, and fill up with the dry food product of your choice. Some recommend using dry ice on top of the food before sealing to displace oxygen in the bucket. I could not find any dry ice in my area, so put ten oxygen packets on top instead. Seal with a hot iron by pressing the Mylar against a 2 x 4 piece. Trim any excess from the sealed top edge of the bag with scissors to secure the Mylar bag into the bucket. This YouTube video gives excellent demonstration. Cover with a lid. I prefer Gamma screw-top lids on my buckets. They cost from $7–10 each, but are so much easier than popping and hammering lids off and on every time.

Other food storage methods include canning, both traditional glass jars and #10 metal cans. The latter can be done at a local LDS cannery center. Dehydrating food is another valuable storage method.

A few more suggestions with building your food storage. Include fun foods to help break the monotony and uplift morale, such as hard candy, chocolate, powdered drinks, and dried fruit. Pick up some recipes on cooking the food you store, to add variety to your diet. When possible, supplement your food storage meals with garden vegetables, home grown sprouts, or ordinary dandelion leaves. Be careful of depending on a diet of MRE’s. While they are portable and convenient for traveling, they are short on fiber, and can be hard on the digestive system, especially with children and the elderly. They also negatively affect those who are gluten intolerant.

On storing water, bottled water is okay if you are going to bug out, but for hunkering down, you need to think much bigger. For the cost of two cartons of bottled water, you can purchase a five-gallon water container. These are more practical if you need to go out and get your water replenished. Add half teaspoon of bleach per five gallons to keep it safe. Be sure to use only regular bleach, and not those with special or extra additives. If in doubt, boil it.

Whether a global disaster strikes or one becomes unemployed, food storage is the best insurance one can have in uncertain times. You will garner a better dividend on your food storage than any other investment. There’s more to improve upon than mentioned here, such as progressing to the next level from food storage to food production. But you have enough info to get started. So no more excuses. Get working on your food storage today. And don’t forget the can opener.