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These 12 non-food essentials (though a few can double as food) to always have on hand are my starting point to keeping our homestead and home running as smoothly as possible. These are items we always try to keep on hand but are even more cognizant of now.
After talking to you about what I planned to do to increase my food production self-sufficiency in COVID19 Food Production Plan & How to Plan for Livestock and reviewing the 13 Pantry Items to Always Have on Hand I thought it would only be fair to talk to you about the non-food items I make sure I have on hand at all times.
While I’m sharing items that I like to have on hand at all times, this may not be comprehensive to what you need to have depending on how much if these items you make yourself and where you’re at in your homesteading journey. I do hope though that this will get you thinking about those items that you might consider stocking up on a little bit more.
Listen in below to the full podcast, Episode #254 12 Non-Food Essentials to Always Have on Hand of the Pioneering Today Podcast, where we don’t just inspire you, but give you the clear steps to create the homegrown garden, pantry, kitchen, and life you want for your family and homestead.
Let’s dive right into it.
How much and what type depends on the resources you have at your house. All of us have a vehicle. A good rule of thumb for preparedness is to never let your vehicle get below half a tank. So when the tank is half full fill it back up instead of letting it get down to empty. The reason for this is in an emergency situation if the gas stations go down, you can go quite a ways with that half a tank.
The other reason is for your generator or farm equipment such as:
If you have any of these you want to be sure to have the bare minimum of fuel to run them. You might not be concerned about keeping your lawn mowed in an emergency situation. However, if you’re limiting your trips or might have a situation where you can’t get gas, you want to make sure to have a back-up supply on hand. We use our 4-wheeler the most on a daily basis to move the chicken coop onto new pasture every couple days and for feeding hay to the cattle so we definitely need to make sure to have some on hand.
Moving on from equipment type items we’re going to move onto items you’ll need inside the house.
We’re all gonna need to wash our clothes, although some of us may choose to let them get a little dirtier since we’re not going anywhere. No judgment! But you want to make sure you have enough laundry soap on hand.
Or you want to have the ingredients on hand to make homemade laundry soap. I have a recipe in my first traditionally published book, The Made From Scratch Life, that makes quite a bit and lasts quite a long time. You want to make sure you have enough ingredients on hand to make up a couple of batches so that you never run out. I have to be honest, I ran out of washing soda. I had a box sitting out as a reminder to replenish it, but because the box was there I thought I actually had some…it never made it to my shopping list.
Full disclosure, I don’t always make homemade laundry detergent. Sometimes we just get really busy. I have other brands that I can get that don’t have the phthalates, fragrances, and dye’s or other chemicals or items in there that I don’t want to be using. Fortunately, I did make sure I had a back-up large bottle of laundry detergent (this is the brand I use).
I don’t use chlorine bleach. I know many people feel strongly one way or the other about it, but I don’t use it. The bleach that I use is a hydrogen peroxide-based from 7th Generation. Which is a great product that I’m not worried about using.
Hydrogen peroxide is a great thing to use not just for laundry. I use it to disinfect my pruning tools. The tools should be disinfected in between each fruit tree or berry bush when pruning so that you don’t transfer an infection or disease, whether bacterial or fungal, from one tree to another. You don’t want to go from plant to plant without disinfecting the tools you are using first.
But, you don’t want to overstock your bleach, especially the hydrogen peroxide-based, because it starts to lose its strength and effectiveness after about six months or so. I stock around three of the standard size bottles because I know approximately how much I’ll go through. Once you open a bottle, it won’t last as long as an unopened bottle because of the exposure to air.
I use white vinegar for cleaning. I don’t use it as a food source because I have a hard time finding organic white vinegar, so for that, I prefer to use my raw apple cider vinegar for cooking. Most white vinegar is made from grains…the typical GMO crops or highly likely GMO crops or ones that pesticides are commonly used. I’m usually using it in a spray bottle and my hands aren’t usually coming in contact with it so I feel differently about using it as a cleaner.
I like to use white vinegar to make an all-purpose Natural Vinegar Cleaner using citrus peels because the citrus oils help to cut through grease and give it more cleaning power. Now, I’m not claiming that it’s actually going to viruses or bacteria as well as a hydrogen-based bleach because I don’t have a way of measuring that in a lab. But, I use it to wipe down my counters and clean my windows, essentially an all-purpose cleaner. So I want to make sure I have enough vinegar on hand to make that.
I want to make sure I have enough oils on hand to make soaps, herbal salves, ointments, and bath & beauty products. The majority of those items that we use are homemade so I have to make sure my supplies are sufficiently stocked to make those items. Below are the oils I keep on hand:
My course, Natural Homemade Bath and Beauty, walks you through how I make soap, herbal creams, lip balm, and candles. I share all of my favorite recipes and show you how to do herbal oils and herbal salves.
For soap I also need to make sure I have enough lye to make up a couple of batches of soap. No matter what the misconceptions are, lye is a necessary ingredient to make soap. For more information on making soap check out How to Make Soap at Home – Beginner’s Guide to Soap Making.
I don’t use beeswax in soaps but I definitely use it to make candles along with lard. It’s also used in a lot of balms, creams and hard lotion bar recipes. I’m fortunate that I can get it locally in a big bar. If you order it online I recommend getting the pellets. I’ve tried grating it or cut it but it’s pretty hard to do.
Beeswax is amazing because it’s a humectant because it draws moisture into your skin. It also traps the moisture in your skin.
If you are going to be doing candle making or soap making, you’re going to need containers and/or molds. I like to use mason jars for candles and salves, usually the four to six-ounce mason jars. For infused herbal oils I use pints and/or quarts, depending on how much I need to make.
So you want to make sure you have extra mason jars on hand if you plan on using some of them for these homemade bath and body products so that you’re not dipping into your supply for your food preservation.
For soap making, you can purchase soap molds, depending on the size of the recipe you’re making. I go into detail in my Bath and Beauty course of things that you can use around the house, but you are going to need to line it. So you’ll want to make sure to have freezer paper (or wax paper) on hand to do so. That works really well to line homemade molds so that the soap doesn’t stick to the mold. You can also purchase silicone soap molds (this is mine, not expensive but works great!). They work really well and can be used over and over and over again.
If you’re going to do candle making you need to make sure you have enough candle wicks on hand to make up several batches. I buy mine in bulk so I have enough to make many, many batches, but always look at your stock to make sure that you actually have what you need. There’s nothing worse than not being able to get supplies and having to wait for it to ship, which many of us are discovering right now. Shipping times aren’t what they used to be. Some things are taking a lot longer to get so if you can plan ahead then you’ll have everything there when you need it.
Some herbs are obviously a culinary food item, but not all. Lavender for example. I don’t eat lavender because I don’t like the taste of it. You need to make sure you have the herbs you need one way or the other. Hopefully, you’re growing them.
The top herbs that I use for making salves, soap, infused oils (all edible unless specified):
Since we’re at the beginning of the growing season you have time to grow your herbs. Mint likes to spread a lot so I highly recommend growing it in a container.
You’ll have better luck growing lavender if you start it from a live plant rather than seed. Growing from seed can be done but it’s difficult.
Calendula is really easy to grow from seed and is relatively cold hardy. An additional benefit to calendula is that it’s a natural dye so I like to use it in my soap making as a natural colorant.
Those are the top herbs I recommend growing. They’re easy to grow, they grow in almost any climate, it’s not to late to get them in and you’ll still get a harvest at mid to end of summer.
If you can’t grow them or you’re not going to grow them then I recommend you purchase them dried. Get that order in so that you can start your herbal oils now. I prefer to get them started now if I have the dried herbs on hand. The longer dried herbs sit on the shelf they start to lose potency.
Be sure to watch How to Make Herbal Infused Oils with Dried Herbs to learn more. Also, check out the Herbal Wound Healing Salve recipe.
Herbal oils don’t actually take on a strong scent of the herbs, meaning my lavender-infused oil and my peppermint infused oil doesn’t smell that strong, however, they have all the wonderful herb properties. So this means that when it’s made into the final recipe it’s not really going to have that scent. Very little if at all, to be honest.
If you want that smell then you’ll want to use essential oils. I don’t sell them, but I use Plant Therapy for essential oils. I only use essential oils topically. I explain why in my YouTube video The Truth About Essential Oils.
I make sure I follow a safe dilution rate for my soaps, salves, balms, and lotion bars. I do the calculation to make sure it falls within safe guidelines to be used on the skin. A couple of reasons I use Plant Therapy:
That’s everything that I like to have on hand. If you haven’t some of these homemade items before I think you’ll really love them. I feel they work better for my skin and body. A lot of them can be done with the kids as a homeschooling project.
Is there anything else that you think is important to stock up on and have on hand?
Melissa K. Norris inspires people's faith and pioneer roots with her books, podcast, and blog. Melissa lives with her husband and two children in their own little house in the big woods in the foothills of the North Cascade Mountains. When she's not wrangling chickens and cattle, you can find her stuffing Mason jars with homegrown food and playing with flour and sugar in the kitchen.