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These 45 Hundred-Year-Old Lifehacks Are Still Damn Useful

Last Updated: July 31, 2022


Table of Contents

We love life hacks. And applying them to prepping, survivalism, and rational preparedness for disasters and challenges, we really, really love these life hacks.

We’ve spent 8 hours and 13 minutes researching and fine-tuning the utility of these life hacks for you, our prepping reader to share priceless knowledge and skills.

“Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?”

What if they’re actually old tricks?

Human ingenuity has helped our ancestors survive and thrive throughout 40,000 years of centralized human domestication. We have used our wits and resourcefulness to improve our day-to-day lives and our surroundings for thousands of years in every single type of biome. To bring comfort to the ones around us, we take our lives into our own hands in self-reliance.

“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humour and some style.”

Maya Angelou

Over the past 100 years, these ancient life hacks have stood the test of time and given the need of the situation, are useful for you too. If you had been able to spend some time with your crafty grandfather, these are the tips he may have passed down to you.

These tips may be useful today, especially when it comes to survival situations. Use caution when trying and applying these skills as safety wasn’t as big a concern as it was a hundred years ago.

These 45 Hundred-Year-Old Lifehacks Are Still Damn Useful

1. Use Your Watch as a Compass


By positioning your watch in line with the rising or setting sun, you can use a wristwatch to determine the points of a compass. Note that the alignment will differ depending on if you’re in the Northern or Southern Hemisphere.

2. Make Your Own Fire Extinguisher Solution

Dissolve one lb. of salt and a half lb. of sal-ammoniac in a half-gallon of water.

Bottle the concoction in glass or plastic bottles.

If there’s a fire, use the solution to put out the flames by upending the contents from a safe distance from the fire.

3. Make a Homemade Water Filter in a Pail

Drill a hole in the bottom of a clean zinc water pail.

Fit a small pipe in the hole.

Fill the pail with fine and coarse sand, as well as clean gravel and stones, through which the water will filter through before reaching the bottom in a clean, filtered state. You got clean water.

4. Boil Cracked Eggs and Prevent Waste

Cracked boiled eggs

Add vinegar to the water before boiling cracked eggs. This will prevent the contents of the eggs from boiling out. You can even add a little to the water for uncracked eggs to prevent the same.

5. Preserve Eggs for a Long Time

Eggs in a basket

To preserve eggs for a long time, place newly laid eggs in a box or tin of dry salt.

Cover the eggs with salt to protect the shells from the air.

Place the box or tin in a cool, dry location.

6. Remove a Tight Ring from Your Finger with Soap

Remove a ring from the finger without pain by lathering the finger with soap. The ring should come off easily. An oldie, but a goodie.

7. Save Someone Else from Drowning

If the drowning person doesn’t struggle, turn them on their back and place your hand on either side of their face. Turn on your back, hold them in front of you, and swim with the backstroke.

The most important thing is to keep their face above water until you make it back to shore and can seek help.

8. Judge the Weather with Clouds


In the early morning, study and note a very small, faraway cloud.

If the cloud grows larger, then rainy weather is probably heading your way. If the cloud shrinks in size, however, the day should be a good one.

9. Light a Fire Without Wood


Light a fire without wood by using a piece of paper that you’ve screwed into twists.

Two to three sheets of newspaper are a good option for building a coal fire.

10. How to Cut Down a Small Tree

Determine what side you want the tree to fall on and cut a downward, inward cut into the bark on the opposite side.


Once you are about halfway through, cut a few inches higher on the other side of the tree to ensure the way your tree will fall — opposite from your direction.

Push the tree down in the intended direction. Congratulations, you have chopped down a small tree.

11. How to Kill a Dead Tree Stump

Dead stump

To prevent a tree stump from sprouting, place holes in the top of the stump. You should also cut a patch of bark from the side of the stump and place more holes in the side.

Fill the holes with a mixture of salt and solignum to destroy the stump.

12. Remove Long Nails Using Physics

To remove long nails from wood, place a small block of wood under the pincer (the other side of a hammer).

This will make the nail easier to draw out, rather than trying to remove the nail at a short distance. The six simple machines in action!

13. Remove a Splinter without Tweezers

To remove a splinter from your hand, fill a large bottle with hot water. Press the area with the splinter against the bottle.

The heat from the steam will draw out the splinter.

14. Light a Match in the Wind

Overcome the challenge of lighting a match in the wind by cutting thin shavings on the match towards its striking end.

When the match is lit, the shavings will catch fire and give the flame a better chance of forming. Don’t forget to protect your new flame from the wind.

15. Survive a Thunderstorm While Outdoors

If you get stuck outside during a thunderstorm, the safest option is to find or make a ditch on low ground.

Avoid finding shelter under a tree, which is the most dangerous scenario. The tree could attract lightning or fall on you.

16. Detect a Gas Leak with Bubbles

Paint a soap solution down the length of the gas you suspect may have a leak.

If there is a leak, bubbles will form in the area of the leak.

17. Save Gas on a Gas Stove with Heat Transfer

Cover the top of the stove with an iron sheet. Enough heat will transfer to the sheet to cook an entire dinner.

The pan that needs to be cooked most should be placed over the burner, which is where the sheet will be the hottest.

18. Clean Broken Glass Easily

broken glass

To clean up broken glass, use a soft damp cloth, which will pick up all of the small splinters. It’s best to choose an old rag that can be tossed out with the glass.

19. Prevent Eye Glasses from Steaming

To prevent eyeglasses from developing moisture, rub the lenses daily with soap and polish them after.

This causes a thin film of soap to remain on the lenses. You won’t be able to see the film, but it will prevent the lenses from steaming.

20. Make Your Own Polish

Mix equal parts of vinegar and paraffin in a bottle. Add lavender oil for scent, if desired. The polish can be used for pictures, floors, mirrors, and more.

21. Use Boiling Water To Kill Weeds

Weeds growing in driveway cracks

Don’t you hate those weeds growing in the cracks of your driveway? You can safely use boiling water to kill them.

You might even add some salt to make this method more effective, as long as it’s not close to any plants you want to keep.

22. Boil Potatoes Perfectly

Boiled potatoes

Add a small amount of sugar and salt to boiling water to make potatoes dry and floury.

Once the potatoes have cooked, pour the water out and place the pan back over the heat for a short period of time.

Shake the pan to make sure the potatoes are evenly dried.

23. Remove Foreign Particles from the Eye with Castor Oil

Reduce the risks of removing a foreign particle from the eye by placing a drop of castor oil into the corner of the eye.

24. Prevent a Dog Attack (or Dog Bite)

If a vicious dog threatens to bite, hold a walking stick, scout’s staff, or even a hat in front of you in defense.

If this doesn’t deter the dog from biting, you’ll be in a good position to kick him.

25. Prevent Colors from Running Together in Your Clothes

To prevent colors from running and staining other linens when they’re washed together, place colored items in a solution of one gallon of water with two handfuls of salt.

Allow the colored linens to soak for 24 hours.

26. Judge the Height of Something Using Simple Trigonometry

If you need to know how tall a tree, tower, or other tall object is, you can judge it with this old-fashioned tip.

Pace yourself about two yards from the object, point A, and place a staff at point B.

Then move out until the staff is in line with the object at point C.

Then you can do the math because the distance A to C is to A, E (the height of the object), as B to C is to B, D is the height of staff. (Pythageon’s Theorem).

Pythagorean’s Theorem

27. Remove the Painful Sting of a Bee Sting

Bee on finger

Got stung by a bee? If you have some fresh onion, just slice it up and place it on the sting. It will take the pain and poison out of it.

28. Make a Pillow Splint for a Broken Leg

If someone has a fractured leg, you can create a split from a pillow and wood sticks or poles.

Medical preparedness and being resourceful at their best.

29. Sling for a Broken Collar-Bone

Place a pad made from rolled-up material/cloth or grass in the armpit and apply a sling.

30. How to Treat Sprains

Elevate and ice, then wrap with cloths or cloth strips. Keep elevated until the swelling goes down.

31. Salt for a Sore Throat

Salt shaker with some salt on the table

It’s simpler and cheaper than anything you can buy on the cold store shelves — just gargle some salt water to help ease a sore throat. This one never goes out of style and it works for everyone.

32. Prunes for Constipation


When you get backed up and you just can’t go, it’s as simple as eating some prunes or drinking prune juice. No need for fancy medications. Mother nature has made something that does the trick.

33. Oatmeal Bath for Skin Issues

If you have severely dry skin, eczema, or psoriasis, you can try an oatmeal bath. These conditions are very uncomfortable in normal circumstances, but in a survival situation, they can lead to sores which lead to bacteria and that could even kill you if you don’t have access to proper treatment.

34. Honey for Cough

Honey jars

There’s nothing quite like honey for a cough or sore throat. It’s why many over-the-counter products today for cough contain honey. You can just go straight to the source.

35. Aloe for Burns

Sliced aloe, ready to soothe a burn
Google Images

If you have a fresh aloe plant, you can just break off a small part of the leaf and access the gel inside. This can be used for cuts, scrapes, and burns and it will help you heal faster, while also easing the pain.

36. Duct Tape for Wart Removal

Duct tape
Duct Tape

Duct tape really is magical! You probably already know it’s good for so many things, but did you know you can use it for removing warts?

The American Academy of Dermatology even endorses it.  A study by the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine showed that applying duct tape to a wart was 25% more effective than freezing them as a treatment.

37. Petroleum Jelly for Your Wounds

Petroleum jelly is not too good for the skin if you use it too much, but it can be great for helping to treat wounds. It has been used in post-surgery healing, and can also be used in a survival situation to help with wound healing.

38. Test Butter


Do you want to test your butter and be sure it’s real butter? Rub a little of it on a piece of paper and set it on fire. If it’s real butter, it will smell nice and dainty. If it’s margarine, it will have a bad smell.

Related: Learn how to rehydrate butter, it’s not as hard as you might think!

40. Remove Gum From Hair With Peanut Butter

Peanut butter can be used to remove gum from kids hair. Great life hack!
Peanut Butter

Who knew? You can get gum out of your kids’ hair with peanut butter (other nut butter might work as well). Just “massage” the peanut butter into your child’s hair and eventually the gum will slide out.

41. Clean Your Teeth with Apples

Young girl biting into a green apple
Google Images

If you can’t get to a toothbrush, an apple can truly help. It will keep the doctor away — and the dentist, too!

42. Water Your Plants While Away

If you need to self-water your plants, you can set up a system with a pail higher above the level of the plants and then use strands of wool to make a straw of sorts and put one end in the water (weighted down) and one end in the soil of the plants you need to water. A great life hack for gardeners!

43. Neti Pot for Congestion

The age-old Neti pot will help with cold and flu symptoms. You can still buy them today and that’s because they work so well.

44. Get Rid of Flies

Nothing is worse than having a bunch of disease-carrying flies on everything, especially in a survival situation. You can use some borax sprinkled into the dustbin or around other places they gather to keep them away. They won’t be able to breed and multiply.

45. Clean and Reuse Glass Bottles

You will use glass bottles for a lot of things, especially in a survival situation.  You can clean them with a little bit of sand and water, then wash and dry them as needed.

Final Word

If you have never tried any of these life hacks, let me assure you that they’re incredibly useful. Every handy person in history contributes to this wealth of experience; passed down through the ages for you to learn, adapt with your tools, and develop in your survivalist skills.

Email us at [email protected] and we’d be happy to continue building out this checklist of life hacks for the prepper, survivalist, and homesteader.

“Always Be Ready” Max

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