We recently send out the following first newsletter to our customers who opted in to emails. In it we urged everyone to keep an eye on emergency and contingency preparedness, and promised to expand on details in a blog post.
We hope this newsletter finds you all very well.
Deb and I are not really into advertising, marketing, or social media. Instead we have always preferred word-of-mouth and serendipity. Both have worked out exactly to our expectations.
Although everyone on this list ticked the box to accept newsletters, we never really saw the need to use it until recently.
As many of you know, soap making isn’t a full-time gig for us. For over 10 years Deb has been making the soap out of love for the craft, and I’ve been supporting the business out of the love for small businesses.
Despite being part-time, that doesn’t mean we don’t take things very serious. We’re dedicated to providing the best soap and shopping experience to our loyal customers, and making sure operations are smooth and well oiled.
As such, one of our duties has always been keen attention to international supply chains and everything that can possibly affect them, in order to keep our ingredient inventory well stocked.
Even before the pandemic, natural and geopolitical changes easily affected the supply of key ingredients. Obviously these last few years we’ve all seen an increase in dramatic fluctuations in supplies for all industries. We’ve been able to stay ahead of any shortages and avoid any issues.
That said, we’re of the strong opinion that things are going to get a little rough for all of us in the upcoming months, with supply chain issues going well beyond soap making materials. A lot of things are coming to a head at once (economy, Diesel and DEF shortages, fuel and energy costs, and other geopolitical factors).
This is why, in our first newsletter to our customers, we want to reach out to everyone. We want to assure you that in the upcoming months, we are well stocked and here for all your soapy needs (provided the postal service is in operation of course).
We’d also like to take this opportunity to encourage everyone who hasn’t addressed this already: please, ensure you’re prepared for any possible emergency and scarcity.
Broadly speaking, stock up with what you reasonably can. Non-perishables are easy to acquire, watch your water supply, start a garden if you can, and stock up on necessities that might be difficult to buy in the upcoming months.
We have a blog post here that goes into more ideas and resources to hedge against some scary possibilities. To some of you it may seem excessive. On paper it does, but in practice it’s just smart home inventory and contingency management.
Deb and I have always enjoyed putting a fun spin on soap, so it feels strange and out of character to get serious, but serious times call for serious messages. Nearly 10 years ago we were living in a large New England city caught in a freak snowstorm. For seven miserable days we had no power, heat, coffee, very little communications, no stores open, and trees down that prevented us from escaping. It left a mark.
We care about everyone, including our customers, and don’t want anyone to suffer in any similar circumstance.
Here are some ideas and resources to help. These are just broad strokes, high level areas that you can pay attention to, and dig in deeper where and when you can.
- Go-bag. What if a major disaster hit your house (fire, earthquake, tornado, hurricane…) and you had to leave your house even for a short period. At the very least get a backpack with some essentials - a first aid kit, copy of important information in a waterproof pouch, flashlight, a change of socks, some non-perishable protein bars, some waterproof matches, and some water purifiers. All of these are easily found around your home or at the camping supply department of your local big box store. To go beyond that, google go bags - there are tons of resources available online.
- Car emergency bags. I’ll admit that in my entire New England life I never did this until recently, and I probably should have. Weather and other factors can easily cut you off while away from home. It’s essentially a go-bag in your car, with the addition of things such as road flares and an emergency shovel. As with go-bags, there are plenty of online resources. Amazon also has pre-made road emergency kits (guess what our adult children got for a bonus Christmas present last year).
- Water. You can survive three days without drinkable water. The general rule of thumb (and actual CDC recommendation) is, 1 gallon of water per person per day. We’ve had a Berkey filter for many years and love it. Water availability itself might be an issue. We recently bought an industrial IBC (”Intermediate Bulk Container”) 275 gallon water tote. Many other options exist, and like other areas, the internet has many more resources and ideas than I can present here.
- Food. This is a huge area of course, and could easily fill a book. Again many resources online exist, but just a few pointers that have helped us:
- Protein Bars. These are a decent short-term emergency food.
- Rice. I buy 10lb bags of rice from an Indian store. Kept sealed they last forever and easy to cook. Worst-case, even without power, we can all boil a pot on a fire.
- Flour. A local Italian food import distributor is open to the public. A 55 lb bag of flour can be decanted into Mylar bags with oxygen absorbers then stored for a long time. (Mylar Bag resources are listed below). It’s very easy to make bread with flour, a little yeast or sourdough starter, clean water, and salt, provided you have a heat source. (On that note, you can create a new sourdough starter with a little flour. Links provided below.)
- Wheat. Despite the fact that Deb and I avoid flour and wheat, it’s there as a backup. Whole wheat berries are very versatile - they can be sprouted and eaten as a nutritious salad. They can be cooked similar to rice. They can be ground up and turned into whole wheat flour, then turned into bread. Electric and hand crank grain mills are available online, but it’s also worth checking out your local Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, or flea markets. The prices on Amazon have increased to double or triple recently, so watch out.
- Dried Beans. It goes without saying that dried beans are worth having. They are nutritious, versatile, and last for a long time. Local ethnic stores can be a great source for these.
- Bouillon. Cubes, powders are great to have on hand to add some flavor and nutrition to a meal. My favorite is Better than Bouillon, which you can find in bulk at places like Costco.
- Meat. This is tricky. Long term meat supply assumes you have a freezer, which of course is subject to even temporary power outages. Making or buying a good Beef Jerky is one way around this. Hikers have been making dehydrated meals that include meat, and can be rehydrated with boiling water. Canning can also be used to preserve meats, although I don’t have personal experience with that. Links for all this are provided below.
- Gardens are an obvious backup plan for food, but for many, it's not feasible depending because of climate, urban life, or like me, lack of green thumb. If that's the case, growing bean sprouts or microgreens are a great alternative.
- Spices and seasoning. Don’t neglect these.
- Chocolate and sweets. While sugar shouldn’t be a high priority, it’s a great benefit to keep your spirits up during a dire emergency.
- Pets. PLEASE. Be sure that you have a decent supply of pet food.
- Communications. At the very least, a set of decent handheld GMRS walkie talkies are a must, to communicate with family members around your property, and potentially neighbors as well. Going beyond that, Ham Radio is a fun hobby to get in to, and easily accessible thanks to inexpensive imported radios. Links below.
- Electricity. There are many options out there, and a lot depends on what your needs are. Small, inexpensive solar chargers can slowly charge small devices, while larger ones can easily power critical devices such as a fridge or freezer. Gas and/or Propane generators are an option, but it’s worth keeping in mind very dire situations in which you may not have access to those fuels.
- Tools and parts. Once assured that your basic human necessities are taken care of, you should make sure that you have anything you might need for home and auto repair that you may not have access to. I bought 2 years worth of regular maintenance supplies (filters, oil, spark plugs) for our Volvo. I also made sure that I have any hand tool I may need over the next few years, and that they are well maintained.
- Toiletries and sundries. Some are obvious, like paper towels, toilet paper, soap (of course). Beyond that, look around your house. What would you possibly buy in the next year? New toothbrush? Band-aids? Air conditioner filters?
- Entertainment and information. Board games, books, notebooks, pens, paper. Be sure and have these.
Like so many other subjects, TV has turned prepping into a cultural joke. But it’s undeniable that it can reduce suffering and even saved lives, especially these days. For those who are new to it, it doesn’t take much, and can be done incrementally with little effort.
Be safe, be well, and take care everyone.
edit June 15 - here’s an example of what we’re up against.
Note: none of these are affiliate links. They're provided just for your benefit.
Discount Mylar Bags - Good source for Mylar bags and oxygen absorbers.
JM Bullion A reliable place to buy precious metal coins - silver, gold, and more.
Monex - A reliable place to buy larger quantities of precious metals such as silver (ask for Art Levine, extension 2854).
Berkey Water Filters - Much better than faucet filters. Once you start drinking it you won't go back.
Appalachia's Homestead with Patara - A long running YouTube channel with great tips on self-sufficiency.
Best Solar Generators for 2022 - A good video evaluating the top solar generators.
Rule The Wasteland Survival Fishing Kit - Perfect for a go-bag.
LifeStraw - Another item for your go-bag as well as your car emergency kit.
STDY Car Roadside Emergency Kit - Essentials for your car.
14-In-1 Multitool - More essentials for your go-bag or car emergency kit.
LIFELINE Aluminum Sport Utility Shovel - It doesn't take up space in your car trunk or even back seat floor.
Solar Powered LED Car Flashlight - Yet another essential for your car.