Vodka is one of the highest concentrated alcoholic drinks available. It’s relative tastlessness makes it a favorite for combining into mixed drinks, and it’s possible to find relatively inexpensively in almost every grocery store in America. Vodka, if used and stored correctly, is also a very important supply to have for prepping, because it has a wide range of possible uses and it never goes bad.
Vodka as a Bartering Supply
When the SHTF scenario finally occurs, one of the surest things that will happen is that alcohol’s value will skyrocket. People crave their vices, even if the vice is not one that causes a physical dependence, and they are usually willing to give up quite a lot to get even a drop of what they know and love.
It’s also a fairly sure thing that, as much as we prep for the future, we cannot possibly deal with every eventuality. You may think you’ve got enough to keep you and your family fed, until you suddenly realize that you have ten boxes of noodles, but no pasta sauce to make a meal with.
Since vodka stores indefinitely, and since it has such a high concentration of alcohol, it’s possible to get a buzz with a very limited quantity of alcohol, and in an SHTF situation, where dependents have been without for so long, it will take very little for them to get drunk. Therefore, you should have little trouble trading a bottle, or even a few sips, for something very valuable when that time comes.
Vodka as a Medical Supply
Like all alcohol, vodka can be used in place of ethyl or isopropyl alcohol in medical applications. Obviously, as a designed food item, the vodka is not quite as good of an alternative as the real thing, but in a pinch, you can certainly use it to disinfect wounds, or rub it on the body over an area you may wish to cut into or sew to reduce the risk of infection.
You could use it to clean your knife or other supplies as well, paricularly needles, or tweezers. Vodka won’t be as effective as other forms of made-to-use medical supplies like hand sanitizer or medicinal alcohol, but it will work well enough.
Alcohol is also useful as an analgesic for tooth pain, and can be rubbed on your skin to treat itches or poison ivy.
Vodka to Make Tinctures
If you grow herbs, or use herbal medicine in any way, then vodka should already be part of your fall purchase list so that you can use it in creating tinctures to preserve herbaceous medicines. The process is simple – in a small, dark and opaque bottle or jar, fill the bottle or jar with herbs (leaves, flowers, roots, or whatever piece you’d normally use). Top off the bottle with vodka, and let it sit for a week or so in order to have the medicine steep into the liquid. After you’ve allowed the mixture to steep, you can strain out the liquid tincture, and store it in dropper bottles, which take up less area and have an adequate measuring system included.
A few tips: you must ensure that your alcohol is at least 80 proof (40% ABV – alcohol by volume) so that the alcohol content can successfully break down the essential plant matter. You must make sure that your storage solution is opaque, as sunlight can damage the medicinal qualities of the tincture. Making a tincture is a method of storing herbal medicines nearly indefinitely if you preserve the bottles in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight.
To take a tincture, you simply add one full dropper to a beverage, or apply underneath your tongue. Because the tincture is an alcoholic product, it will allow the medicine to be absorbed quickly in to your bloodstream, and work quickly and powerfully to fix your ailment. Some herbalists recommend rubbing tinctures into your skin, although this is probably less effective.
Sage leaves, chamomile flowers, and willow bark are easy-to-grow plants that are common in many areas, and have a variety of useful effects. They make great starter tinctures.
Vodka as an Accelerant
Vodka is very high in alcohol content, and as anyone who experimented in chemistry can tell you, alcohol burns hot and quick. You can use vodka as an accelerant for fires (similar to lighter fluid). It does not create a steady, long burn, but it could help you catch a few twigs on fire, and is especially useful if you’re not all that skilled with bushcraft.
Vodka as a Gun Cleaner
If you’ve got a rag and a bottle of vodka, you have all the materials necessary to clean your gun. The alcohol in vodka can break down most of the buildup and gunk that accumulates inside gun barrels and can get all the moving parts cleaned and shined up well.
Vodka as a Weapon
With a rag, a bottle of alcohol and a fire, you have an effective Molotov cocktail, an exploding fire grenade that can deal massive damage to crowds, a vehicle or a building. If you’re in a one-on-one fight, a broken bottle is a very menacing weapon. But beware, glass bottles either do not break easily or shatter completely, depending on a lot of factors. Once again, the movie and TV stereotypes are a myth. On the upside, anyone you injure with this will appreciated that you were kind enough to use a weapon that will fight infection.
Vodka to Keep Warm?
Alcohol in general can make you feel like you’ve increased your body temperature, and therefore, it is often thought of as a way to keep your internal body temperature high. In fact, alcohol does the opposite. You feel warm when you drink alcohol because it actually lowers your internal temperature, causing you to feel like you just walked out on a warm summer day wearing a winter coat. Drinking in cold temperatures can be very hazardous to your health. However, that false feeling, along with the numbing effect, can be an effective method for calming agitated people.
NOTE: Almost any of the applications here use vodka in unconventional ways, and in almost all circumstances, it is not the primary or ideal way to perform the action. Also, any high proof alcohol will do the job, but vodka is the most accessible and least expensive in my experience. Brandy, Ever-clear or moonshine will all work quite well. When buying vodka, it’s probably best to buy it in glass, not plastic, bottles, and you may wish to choose an organic brand. The higher the concentration of alcohol, the more effective it will be in almost every circumstance listed above.