The current situation in Venezuela, with the present induced scarcity, made me analyze what could be done by a prepper to provide a proper DIY supply of those goodies that suddenly disappear from the shelves.
Venezuela had industries that produced a lot of goods: toothpaste, shampoo, all kind of hygiene products, food, drinks, fuel. Just like every country. The raw materials needed for some stuff, if not produced in the country, were bulk imported, much cheaper. Items in a wide range of prices were available. If someone could not afford the toilet paper with perfume, no problem, there was a cheaper brand available, nationally produced. Everyone could enjoy a decent life quality. That was one of the main attractions of the country. Until the commies arrived, of course.
Under this light, I realized we had, until the mid-nineties at least, a similar economy to those of the most developed countries. As a matter of fact, our industry was one of the strongest in all of Latin America: the free market allowed a wonderful (perhaps not always so healthy because of the occasional mafia) competition. I remember some exercises in college about choosing the company with the best performance in the Caracas stock exchange, in a financial engineering work course I took for optional credits.
You need to learn to make these 5 items
After a careful study I could detect that these five items could be significant to be stockpiled, or even better, homemade:
- Vegetable oil
- Soap and toothpaste
Let´s see why I have identified these as important.
Vegetable oil can be extracted by the proper processing of the corn and other seeds of your choice. It is useful . This was one of the first staples that disappeared from the market. Most of the oil producing companies were seized and nationalized. Now their production is a small fraction of what it was when they were private, and the military controls the supply and sales in the black market.
You can prepare mayonnaise with it and some eggs. You can use it for canning. One of my aunts had sardines preserved in large glass jars with salt and cooking oil. Even in the heat of the tropics, they lasted for months. Well, without a gang of hungry teens running loose at home. (NOTE: Meat of any type is low-acid and MUST be pressure canned. ~ Daisy) We ate this with “arepas” (corn pancakes) and some drops of lime juice, and they were really great and filled with nutrients.
There are a lot of uses for vegetable oil. Once it has been used for cooking, it could be used as fuel, to improve the heat output of wood stoves, or even as a makeshift a water heater that runs with WVO (waste vegetable oil).
Vinegar can be made with apple fermentation, or potatoes, beet, rice, and others. This is another staple that disappeared, and we had stockpiled at least 5 gallons that, used wisely, lasted a long time. It can be found again now, but the price is way too high. There are lots of useful recipes around. If you can find it cheap, it is better to stockpile. However, it’s a good idea to prepare a test batch so you know how it is done before you need it, would be a good prepping skill.
It is good as a disinfectant, and has lots of other uses. You can use vinegar to preserve and pickle food so it doesn’t spoil.
I mentioned this already, but I found this so meaninfgul, that I have to go into more detail.
Our refineries are going to face a technical halt. There are no contractors for the maintenance; operators are leaving their control panels empty, because the salaries won´t allow them to feed their families anymore. Jeez, I heard about one guy that having sold his audio equipment, took his kids for pizza and the next day he was under investigation to check where he could get the money for that, because they knew that with that joke of a salary, even buying a pizza was not feasible. This is not an exaggeration. The working shifts were changed from 8 hours to 12 hours, and there is no lunch provided, something that never happened before. This means that the last employers remaining will just migrate without looking back (just like me).
The derivatives production will see their minimum levels soon. Gasoline and engine oil supply is already experiencing shortages. Some imports of gasoline from Russia are damaging the engines because it has been proven that their anti-freezing compounds are not suited for being used in the tropical heat of Venezuela. I never thought that diesel would be my choice for an engine, but this is the fuel that will be the future of the preppers.
A small facility to produce biodiesel, for those with enough skills should not be very dificult. The time to find a blueprint, assemble a pilot device, and buy the needed parts to escalate it in the future, is now. In that future, this could be a great side business and generate lots of income.
Soap and Toothpaste
There were a LOT of different soaps once upon a time in Venezuela. The most popular, used since generations ago by even the most wealthy people was one popularly called “blue” soap. It is so good that the doctors recommend it to clean flesh wounds from surgeries and such. With parfum, with oats, glycerine soap, all kinds could be found at fair enough prices.
This stopped when the Procter and Gamble facility was seized. Shampoos and like 10 other different products including toothpaste disappeared from the market. Now, Chinese copies of famous brands, without any sanitary registration are almost the only option. I have used blue soap as toothpaste, with salt and some charcoal powder. Despite the initial taste, they truly work together as a cleaning agent.
If you don´t have any other option, manufacturing your own soap will provide you with an awesome edge under an economical collapse situation. Keeping yourself well fed and clean will provide the necessary mindset to improve your resistance to stressful situations. Good personal higyene is paramount, as we all know, but keeping some of our daily routines is even better for our psyche.
The lack of soap has unchained a scabies plague among our children, just for you to know. This is something that needs some special medications. No problems in other countries. But in Venezuela, my wife had to go to a lot of pharmacies, and pay for it at an inflated price.
My suggestion? Try to find a good, simple recipe, cook a barbecue, and afterwards, use the ashes to try to make a batch of homemade soap. It will be fun, and you will find yourself with something that will be a highly valued item, if the need arises. I would bath the dog first, before using it for the children, though…Just in case.
We are going to need alcohol, regardless if you intend to use it in a wound, for lamps, or for cooking. If you have raw materials enough for producing large batches, you can relax and enjoy yourslef drinking an adequate portion of the distillate that is obtained specially for that purpose.
This should be done carefully, though. There have been lots of explosions in homemade distillers, enough to understand that this has to be done with a good amount of care and the necessary safety measures. With some anecdotical data, in Venezuela, there were a lot of poisoned people when the factories, in the general strike in 2001, stopped producing beer and the trucks stopped delivering rum. How Uncle Hugo survived this, knowing how my people love a good Rum and soda, still remains a mystery to me.
Anyway, Venezuelans drank like fishes all the kinds of alcohol they could get their hands on…resulting in several deaths because of the experiments. We do have something like the moonshine you have in the USA. It is made from sugar cane and not suggested for the weak. They are mostly product of small, unknown factories, scattered all over the country. That production disappeared just like liquid gold.
Thirsty guys, those Venezuelans of mine (I still remember some of the funny situations with some people not used to drinking that liver-killing stuff)…
If some of you believe that you have the skills, or perhaps are able to get a distillation system, after going through that part of the collapse, I can assure that it is a good idea to have some means to produce alcohol…even if it is just for rubbing it in a wound. Properly done, a bottle of alcohol for disinfection would be a great bartering item. This medical item was never scarce, as far as I know. But we don’t truly know what the future will hold.
This is one of my projects for the far future, just in case my son decides to have children, and my predicted pandemics happens to blow out once I am not here with them any longer. If this happens, they will have to remember that their old grampa provided them with some of the needed apparatus to generate some health items…and relaxation means.
Stay safe people! And God bless you all.
Thanks for the info. Just learned of website
Your list is very good and accurate. However, I would add one more thing Yeast. You will need yeast for bread making. Most bakers realize and understand that when making bread, such as sour dough bread, if you leave some of the bread dough behind in the bowl and cover that bowl; you can create more yeast for the next batch of bread. All you have to do is refrigerate it, allow it to warm up to room temperature, add more sugar and flour to allow the yeast to multiply to make more bread. This way you will be using the same yeast to make your bread.
You can make your own vinegar much the same way as the yeast. If you take old wine or other fermentation fruits, grains, and/or vegetables all you have to do is add one tablespoon of vinegar to the fermentation process and you will end up with vinegar. If done in wooden barrels, the vinegar in the wood will create a vinegar product. This is why wine is stored in wine casks and vinegar is stored in vinegar casks. If the wine turns to vinegar then the cast is either burned out or given over to the production of vinegar.
Making vegetable oil will require a lot of seeds to make and a seed press to squeeze out the oil. Check YouTube to see how it can be done properly. The same goes for biodiesel; check YouTube to see how it can be done properly.
There are various ways to make soap so I would also check YouTube to see how it can be done properly and get the necessary supplies while you can. Otherwise, you will have to make it the old fashion way – with wood ashes.
To make tooth paste you can use baking soda or check out YouTube for the paste method.
Alcohol is easy enough to make once you understand how to do it. All is required is the proper equipment, a good water source, and some know how. Just remember to toss away the first makings because it will contain the wrong type of alcohol – (The kind that will make you blind or kill you!) If you are making it by the gallon say 20 or 40 gallons throw out the first gallon to be safe.
I can tell you folks how to make it on Daisy’s blog but it would be best if you folks research it out for yourselves. This way you get to see what works for you before you invest your own time and efforts.
Seems like if it was a apocalyptic time, you would want to keep the “head” from distillation for other purposes – alcohol lamp, topical cleanser, solvent…
Here is a 2020 report on Venezuelans modifying their vehicles to run on propane so they can go to work, get groceries, etc — while paying off the police not to enforce the law that prohibits such survival necessities:
Venezuelans [illegally] revamp cars to run on cooking gas [propane] amid fuel shortages, 28 May 2020
In addition, there is another use for alcohol. In the decade of so leading up to Prohibition in the US, Henry Ford’s Model-T vehicles were all flex-fuel capable. Only the major cities had Rockefeller-owned gasoline stations, so much of rural America made their own alcohol (or bought it locally from those who made it) so they could run their Model-Ts. There is a strong argument to support the history that the Rockefeller’s $4 million donation to the WCTU (Women’s Christian Temperance Union) to kick off the “morals” drive that led to the Prohibition Amendment was in fact cover to shut down the alcohol production for running vehicles so their planned expansion of gas stations into rural America would face zero competition — which John D Rockefeller absolutely despised. By 1933, the flex-fuel option had long since been abandoned by Henry Ford since alcohol was no longer legal to produce, so it’s little wonder that in mid-summer of 1933, it was a Rockefeller heir who announced to the New York media that “Prohibition isn’t needed any more” and by December the Prohibition Amendment was gone at the federal level.
Finally, there is the wood-gas solution. During World War II when Germany was running very short on petroleum fuels, some civilians converted their vehicles to run on wood gas. The energy density is much less than petroleum, but for people who had access to enough forestry materials, it was a partial solution for the desperate.
There is another use for alcohol not mentioned above.. In older pre-electric times it has also been used as money. It’s easily divisible, reasonably portable, etc, etc to meet most of the practical uses that money serves. In today’s era with threats of cyber attacks to shut down the power grids (of which there are three in the US), and threats of hyper-inflation (where the government-protected private money-counterfeiting monopoly steals your purchasing power for the benefit of high-dollar insiders), having an alternate tradeable source of value (that honest money served long ago) could mean the difference between eating and not eating.
Up until about 1919 when the Prohibition Amendment shut down legal alcohol production, it was a major source of revenue to the federal government via an excise tax. Knowing that Prohibition would kill that revenue source to the government, the 16th Amendment to allow a federal income tax was key to the government’s allowing Prohibition to proceed. Of course once Prohibition was ended, and alcohol production was resumed, the government also resumed collecting its alcohol excise tax along with its new forever-addiction to the income tax.
The point of that history is to highlight the government’s ever-greedy addiction to excise taxes from whatever source possible. Since alcohol probably hasn’t been used as a money substitute since perhaps the Whiskey Rebellion of the 1790s, it may be a mystery what tax rate the government might slap on alcohol production intended for the use as money.
One good resource in the US for all things related to the production and uses of alcohol is David Blume’s 2007 book “Alcohol can be a Gas….”, here;
The illustration for the Pot Still is incorrect. The cold water goes in the bottom and drains out the top. Think!
The odds of The U.S. experiencing an Inflation rate that high are extremely unlikely. The U.S. Economy is more diversified. Do you know where I can find me an Amer. Bookie who’d cover that bet?
Given the economy of the US has never experienced anything similar, I hardly can provide some guidance.
However, as the consequences are very much alike in substance, no matter what currency you use, our experiences should be useful to shield yourself against inflation.
Thanks for your comment!