Want to Start a Homestead but Not Sure How?

Sign Up and Get Your FREE Book, "How To Homestead No Matter Where You Live."

    We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time.

    33 Old-School Life Hacks That Used to Be Common Knowledge

    This post may contain affiliate links.* As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Click here to read our affiliate policy.
    Print Friendly, PDF & Email

    Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

    33 Old-School Life Hacks That Used to Be Common Knowledge

    You’ve probably seen numerous blog articles that list the latest “life hacks .” According to the Urban Dictionary, the phrase “life hack” describes any “tips and tricks that get things done quickly by automating, increase productivity and organizing… Formerly known as “good ideas.”

    Long before the internet and social media, people were passing down life hacks. Some have become obsolete, but others still have relevance today. As you work to be more self-sufficient as a homesteader , it may be time to revisit these 35 century-old life hacks that used to be common knowledge.

    Want to save this post for later? Click Here to Pin It on Pinterest!

    1. How To Chop Down A Tree – Determine which way you want to the tree to fall. Then cut the trunk alternating with downward and inward cuts. After going about halfway through the trunk, switch to the other side a few inches higher. Then pull the tree down with ropes.

    2. How To Kill A Tree Stump – A tree stump can continue to produce strong undergrowth. To prevent this problem, bore holes in the top of the stump. Then place a mixture of salt and solignum into these holes to kill the stump.

    3. How To Remove A Splinter – Fill a jar with hot water and press the injured part of the hand (or foot) tightly against the mouth of the jar. The suction will pull the flesh, and the steam will draw out the splinter.

    4. How To Light A Match In Windy Conditions – Cut thin shavings towards the striking end of the match. When you light the match, these curled strips will catch fire at once, creating a strong flame.

    5. How To Determine The Weather – If you are setting off early in the morning, observe a small distant cloud. If it grows larger, unsettled rainy weather is likely on the way. If it decreases in size, the weather should be good.

    6. How To Stay Safe In A Thunderstorm – Do not shelter under a tree as tall objects attract lighting. Instead, look for a ditch on low ground that is covered by low growing bushes of similar height.

    7. How To Use Your Watch As A Compass – You can use your watch to determine the points of a compass. First, point your hand at the sun and then place a piece of wire or even a blade of grass between the hour hand and the number 12. The end of the wire or blade that is between the 12 and the hour hand will point due South.

    8. How To Detect A Gas Leak – Put a strong soap solution on the area of the pipe where there is a suspected leak. Gas will cause bubbles at the escaping point.

    9. How To Use Less Gas On A Gas Stove – Place a piece of sheet-iron that is large enough to cover the top of the stove. Heat will be dispersed throughout the sheet-iron. The pot or pan needing the most heat should be placed directly over the burner where the sheet-iron is the hottest.

    10. How To Pick Up Broken Glass – Use a damp old rag to pick up small splinters. Then throw it away with the glass.

    11. How To Prevent Glasses From Steaming – A thin invisible film of soap helps prevent the condensation of moisture on the lenses.

    12. How To Purify Water In A Cistern – Simply stir in one tablespoon of powdered alum to purify 16 to 20 gallons of water.

    13. How To Clean The Inside Of Bottles – Shake a mixture of sand and water inside the bottle. Then wash and dry the bottle.

    14. How To Make A Polishing Compound – You can create a polish for pictures, mirrors, pianos, and floors by mixing together equal parts of vinegar and paraffin in a bottle. Add a few drops of lavender oil for a pleasing smell and to keep away flies. Cork the bottle for later use.

    15. How To Clean Boots – Rub the boots with half of a lemon and allow them to dry. Next, apply polish.

    16. How To Keep Colors From Running – To prevent colors from running and staining other linens that are washed together, first soak colored things in a two-to-one solution of salt water for about 24 hours.

    17. How To Get Rid Of Flies – Sprinkle borax daily on the trash can or on other surfaces where flies tend to congregate.

    18. How To Keep Plants Watered – Fill a large bucket with water and place it a little above the level of the plants. Loosely braid several strands of wool together and immerse them in water. Now place one end in the bucket, weighing it down so that it touches the bottom. Place the other end on the soil. Use a separate braid for each pot.

    19. How To Preserve Eggs – Bury newly laid eggs in a box of dry salt and keep the box in a cool dry place.

    20. How To Boil Cracked Eggs – If you add a little vinegar to the water, none of the contents will boil out of a cracked egg.

    21. How To Test Butter For Purity – Rub a little butter on a piece of paper and set the paper on fire. If it is pure butter, the odor will be pleasant. If it is margarine, it will have an unpleasant tallow smell.

    22. How To Stop A Mad Dog – Hold a staff, a walking-stick, a handkerchief or a hat between you and the dog. The dog will try to paw down this defense before biting, giving you the opportunity to kick him.

    23. How To Remove Particles From The Eye – Gently rinse the eye with a weak saline solution until the particle is washed out.

    24. How To Remove A Tight Ring – Lather the hand with soap. Unless the joints of the finger are very swollen, the ring should come off easily. If it doesn't, don't force it off. Try submerging the hand in cold water. This reduces swelling and may make it easier to remove.

    25. How To Treat Sprains – Elevate the injured joint and wrap it in cloths that have been wrung in cold water. The cold water will help compress the bandages. Rub the area with oil or liniment and rewrap as needed.

    26. How To Rescue Someone From Drowning – Calm the person so that he or she does not struggle. Then turn the victim onto his back, placing your hand on either side of his face. Turn onto your back, holding the victim in front of you. Then use a backstroke to swim to the shore or to the side of the pool. Take care to keep the person’s face above the surface of the water the entire time.

    27. How To Make A Fire Extinguisher – Dissolve one pound of salt and a half-pound of sal-ammoniac into two quarts of water. Pour solution into quart-size glass bottles. If a fire breaks out, throw one or more of the bottles into the flames.

    28. How To Measure With Coins – You can do some rudimentary measuring with pennies. Sixteen pennies stacked on top of each other equal one inch and 16 pennies placed in a line equal one foot.

    29. How To Make A Scout's Tent – You can build a simple tent with six poles — two at the top lashed together and two at each end for support. Make a covering by joining together four squares of canvas – two on each side. You may spread other squares of canvas on the ground as a sheet.

    30. How To Repurpose Coal Dust – You can turn coal dust into bricks of fuel by mixing the dust with salt (about a handful of salt for each shovelful of dust), adding water and stirring the mixture into a stiff paste. Use a box to mold the bricks and place on a board or shelf to dry.

    31. How To Fix A Loose Hammer Or Axe Head – First, wedge the handle of the hammer as tightly as possible. Then, drill two holes into the end of the wood and drive in two large screws. Bore a hole through the shaft just below the head and place a wire through the hole and over the top. Twist the wire and drive in a staple to hold it in position.

    32. How To Pull Out Long Nails – To gain more leverage when removing a long nail, place a small block of wood under the pincer.

    33. How To Make A Water Filter – Drill a hole in the center of the bottom of a clean metal water pail and fit a small pipe through the hole. Fill the bucket from the bottom with a layer of large stones, smaller stones, coarse sand, and then fine sand. As water travels through the layers, it will filter through to the bottom and come out through the pipe in a clear state.

    Like this post? Don't Forget to Pin It on Pinterest!

    Want to Start a Homestead but Not Sure How?

    Sign Up and Get Your FREE Book, "How To Homestead No Matter Where You Live."

      We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time.

      Are You a Prepper in the City? Visit Urban Survival Site
      Are You Ready for The Collapse? Visit Collapse Survival Site

      11 thoughts on “33 Old-School Life Hacks That Used to Be Common Knowledge”

      1. #35 I think should be the other way with the filtering material. The larger at the top and the fine sand at the bottom for a graded filtration system.

        Reply
      2. An old mountain man taught me how to predict the coming winter. He said that if you find a fir tree with “new” pinecones, take notice of where they sit on the branch. If they are near the tips then it will be a mild winter, but if they are further down on the limb then get ready for a rough one. Obviously the ones further down means a worse winter while the ones out close to the tips means it will be colder but not as bad. Don’t forget, these have to be new or baby pinecones. Last years cones don’t count. I’ve remembered this for many years, and I have to say, it hasn’t failed me yet.

        Reply
      3. My husband is an optometrist. Vinegar is an acid, so dont use it in the eye even though small amount. Just flush with plain water. Dont know about the castor oil other than maybe soothing the eye.

        Reply
      4. Yo be honest, the advice given for 23, 24, 25, and 27 is wrong. As an RN my advice would be: number 23 – gently rinse the eye with a very weak saline (salt solution). Vinegar is acidic and should never be used to treat delicate areas of the body.
        Number 24 Soap may help, but trying to force the ring from the finger may cause more trauma and nerve damage, It is better to submerge the persons hand in cold water, This restricts blood flow and swelling which makes the ring easier to remove.
        Number 25 – If the foot is injured, many times a bandage is not required. By applying a bandage, when it is not needed, we run the risk of causing nerve damage and affecting blood circulation. For the same reason, tourniquets are not recommended to stop bleeding unless the person applying the tourniquet is fully trained and understands the criteria for applying a tourniquet.
        Number 27 – Fractures should never be splintered! Unless it is a finger or a toe, fractures must never be splintered. If you splinter a main bone i.e. humerus, ulna, radius, femur, tibia, or fibula, you risk causing nerve damage, circulatory problems, necrosis and compartment syndrome. Please, please, please do not post inaccurate information! This could cost someone their life!! Be responsible and take advice from a qualified health care provider!

        Reply
        • Also an RN – of course you splint a fractured limb! That’s the reason for splinting in the first place. For a spurting wound, a tourniquet is necessary. Release pressure at intervals to allow blood flow to the distal part of the limb. Better some tissue damage than to bleed out and be dead.

          Reply
      5. I disagree, as a former Paramedic and Trauma RN, immobilizing a fracture open or closed wound, remains a vital part of Basic, Intermediate and Advanced Field First Aid. The whole purpose of immobilizing a fracture is to prevent further tissue damage from the bone ends when moving the victim. CSM, (Circulation, Sensation, and Mobility distal to the suspected fracture) must be assessed before, after and during transport.
        Moving someone without a splint can cause severe pain to the victim as well.
        Attached is a current EMS Protocols regarding application of a splint/immobilization devise: ems1.com/ems-education/articles/7-reminders-for-prehospital-splinting-of-long-bone-and-joint-injuries-FxCMrbmNlVSCR69o/

        Reply

      Leave a Comment