$5 Emergency Camp, Casting A Bronze Pan, and More with Corporals Corner

Ran into this very interesting Youtube channel. Corporals Corner. (While I think it needs an apostrophe in it, maybe he does mean for multiple corporals…)

It seems to be devoted to “emergency preparation” along with ancient technologies. Just up my alley.

First off, he has a demonstration of making Roman Cement. This differs from modern cement in that it uses volcanic ash as an important ingredient. As there are lots of volcanoes and volcanic deposits, this isn’t as hard to get as you might expect. He also uses either limestone OR sea shells to make his quicklime. My exploration of ancient Egyptian “liquid stone” methods lead me to believe that roasted limestone was a key component (likely blended with some lye and feldspar like rocks). I’ve yet to do that experiment, but it’s something I hope to do when the weather warms.

Here’s his demonstration of making Roman Cement as mortar or as bricks.

Then he did a show on how you can make a poor, but serviceable camp using $5 of items from the Dollar Store. Personally, I’d pop for the extra and use $10, but hey… ;-) Then again, I always have a space blanket (cover) and knife in my “car pack” (in fact, one in each of belt pack, back pack, and car pack…) along with cordage. So of his big 5 items (cordage, cutting, cover, container, combustion (fire)) I’m usually set for all of them with the occasional exception of ‘container’.

I found his use of an aluminum bottle and some found wood / cheap cordage to make a water boiler interesting as I’d not thought of using a toggle to hang a bottle over fire.

Finally, here’s a video on making a cast skillet from bronze. Not having a ready supply of bronze around the house this is unlikely to be high on my list of emergency skills, but… you never know. Post apocalypse there may be lots of copper wires down and add some tin solder, Bob’s Yer Uncle. Might be interesting to buy 20 lbs of bronze scrap and play with it. I think his sprue holes are way too big, but that might just be me. I’d be more inclined to put the sprue on the end of the handle and a small hole on the far edge to vent. I also note that the inner surface isn’t as smooth as I’d like for cooking (so note his fried eggs are never seen in the removing / flipping process, only in a sandwich…) so I’d put more effort into making that surface cast very smooth. Perhaps a clay surface on the sand.

There’s also a “way cool” ersatz rocket stove in the video. Made by drilling a hole in a log endwise to about 3/4 way, then a side hole into it to join. The stove IS the fuel! I’ll be adding a hand brace and a 1 inch or 1.5 inch bit to my emergency kit in the garage…

In Conclusion

I really like how this guy thinks. Minimalist. Old Tech. Orderly and with method over brute force or materials.

I’ll be watching a lot more of his videos. I’ve already seen two on casting (bronze axe and knife) and some more on emergency camps that look interesting. Also one on cooking with too much bacon ;-)

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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20 Responses to $5 Emergency Camp, Casting A Bronze Pan, and More with Corporals Corner

  1. E.M.Smith says:

    Yup, adding some clay makes what they call “greensand” and a better finish. Howto:

  2. Larry Ledwick says:

    A slightly different blend (more clay) for home made green sand. This probably results in a harder compacted sand pattern which might be easier to handle.


    Home made foundry that uses a steel crucible for melting soda cans for aluminum casting.


    And – – – the crucible


  3. H.R. says:

    Re, source of bronze.

    If things ever go that far south, there are tons of bronze statuary in almost every village, town, and city. Learning to cast bronze would be useful to make trade goods. Cemeteries have a decent supply, of bronze, too.

    Scrappers used to hit cemeteries for bronze to sell, but most states have now passed laws that require strict proof of ownership before the recyclers will take bronze grave plaques or flower vases. I haven’t heard of a cemetery being hit for quite a few years now.
    From Dollar Tree, I have bought a couple of sewing kits. There’s enough thread to stitch up Frankenstein or repair the odd rip and tear in clothing. I have one in my car in case I get a bad cut when I’m out in the middle of nowhere fishing. I keep a small 1st aid kit with my tackle, but there’s nothing in it to stop major blood loss if I ever get a bad gash.

    Nice find, E.M.

  4. Larry Ledwick says:

    Back to the $5 survival gear, I would prefer nylon surveyors twine and 550 cord for the cordage over the jute twine but other than that his gear mimics the basic gear packs I have built on several occasions.

    One of the things I like about the small nylon cordage like surveyors twine, is that if you pull it very tight while wrapping you can make amazingly strong bindings for things like attaching an expedient spear head to a broom stick. Nylon cord can, if wrapped on multiple layers at high tension create enough pressure to crush the mandrel it is being wound on if it is hollow. Big problem on board ship if wrapping a nylon hawser line under high tension it can crush the capstan drum or Gypsy Head it is wrapped on.

    You can use that to your advantage for things like binding any thing to a handle or splinting a broken handle.

  5. Larry Ledwick says:

    I keep a small 1st aid kit with my tackle, but there’s nothing in it to stop major blood loss if I ever get a bad gash.

    2 gram Celox


  6. jim2 says:

    I used to make quick lime when I was a kid. Just hold a bit of limestone in a gas flame. It makes CaO – a strong base. You can then add water to make slaked lime.

  7. jim2 says:

    Crazy glue will serve as blood stop. I’ve used it on a smooth cut before that wouldn’t stop bleeding otherwise.

  8. E.M.Smith says:

    Yes, crazy glue was originally invented as an alternative suture.

    I bought some 80 lb test Kevlar fish line that I keep in my kit for extraordinary binding… Huge number of feet in a small space.

    I also keep a spool of nylon cord in the kit. A bit stretchy though.

  9. E.M.Smith says:

    Oh, and for what it’s worth, I’ve melted aluminum on the kitchen stove in iron and steel pans. It was a gas stove, but an electric ought to work too; if slower. Aluminum melts at just below a red color temperature. Very easy to do.

    Maybe I’ll try making a cast aluminum frying pan… As copper conducts heat better than aluminum but iron much less than aluminum, it ought to be in a good range for cool enough handle. Less hot than the bronze. I’m a bit worried a bronze pan might be too hot for regular pot holders.

    Not as useful for campfire cooking (coals are above red heat) compared to iron, but good on stoves with low heat output. Much lighter weight for transport.

    You do need to watch the dross formation with Al when casting.

  10. Another Ian says:


    Old time cattle brand heaters here were a length of hollow log with vent holes and lit from the bottom. Notched at the top with an outrigger to hold the brand handles about horizontal and in the flame path.

  11. Larry Ledwick says:

    You can do almost the same thing as that wood stove, by splitting a log segment and using an ax to cut a V notch down the heart wood and a side channel to get it lit. Bit more work but does not depend on an auger or a brace. Likewise a rough version can be made by using fence wire to tie together 3 similar size log segments and using the natural triangular hole in the middle of the bundle.

    Of course having a folding saw or bow saw to cut off the ends square is also needed.

  12. John F. Hultquist says:

    The stove IS the fuel!

    A “Log & Go Bonfire” is on the market. Our local hardware/lumber place carried them last year. About 6 weeks ago I noticed the were on sale for about $11.
    I asked 2 questions;
    1. Had they seen this in action?; and
    2. Had they sold many?
    Got 2 NOs for answers.
    Not too surprising — we have lots of logs and chainsaws around the County.
    Maybe they should try near a southern CA beach.

    The log is the fire

  13. Larry Ledwick says:



    Swedish torch split log with wire tie

    You could easily make a simple fire proof tie for these swedish torch type fires by taking a light chain with a hook on one end.Just wrap it around the bundle one or two times and engage the hook in one of the links. To knock down the fire just take a stick and disengage the hook and the bundle falls open. It could be a really light weight chain.

    Some folks make a simple circular grill that sits on the top of the logs held in place with a couple nails through holes in the grill plate.

  14. Steve Crook says:

    > I’ve melted aluminum on the kitchen stove in iron and steel pans

    Yes, my partner did that when a ceramic hob ‘ran away’ while unattended. It got hot enough to melt the aluminium bottom off a stainless steel pan. Kitchen full of white smoke, she lifted the remains of the pan off the stove to save it, and some of the molten aluminium poured off and ran onto the floor splashing everywhere *except* her sandalled feet. Some managed to get as far as 6-8 feet away.

    The bulk of it cooled into an interesting ‘sculpture’ that I have hung on the wall.

    Nothing beats the excitement of Sunday lunch…

  15. E.M.Smith says:


    Your videos of a Swedish Candle and the idea of a chain and hook got me thinking…

    It doesn’t NEED to be cut wedges. Round would will make a nice hole in the center… so why not take 4 to 6 chunks of round wood of about 4 inches x 12 and make a bundle with 2 x chains + hooks? Heck, even three might work fine.

    Now you start your kindling in the center and it’s all set. So a simple hand saw and one down dry limb is all it takes. In a pinch, a chunk of bailing wire instead of chains.

    I need a dead tree limb and a place to make a fire ;-)

  16. Larry Ledwick says:

    Might be a great way to build a fire on the beach, dig a hole put your bundle in the hole and pack sand around it then light off the center hole. It should also be somewhat wind resistant as the inner facing hot coal faces of the log segments are naturally a bit protected.

  17. jim2 says:

    I made the CaO using sea shells. It only takes a few minutes over a nat gas flame on the kitchen stove. I guess the larger chunks of limestone rock might take longer.

  18. E.M.Smith says:


    Hmmm…. I have a very nice portable 1 burner gas camp stove. Shells are easy to buy ( “chicken grit”). I think you just gave me a lifetime supply of quicklime for testing things ;-)


    That sand idea generalizes. You’ve just solved one of my “Worst Scenario Ever!” problems.

    When trying to plan for stranding after an accident in a Very Bad Place, I figured “muddy bottom land and swamp” was the worst. Nowhere to lay down and can’t build a fire. Well, pack a string hammock (about the size of a coke can) and some 700 lb cordage, if there is ANY tree cover you can get off the ground and sleep. Muddy / swamp land usually has some kind of trees.

    But the fire…

    Well, make that 3 or 4 tall poles instead of log chunks, put some sticks crossways near the top to prevent the coals dropping to the water level, and sink them a foot or two into the muck. (Maybe string cordage guy wires if needed to stabilize it). Now you can make “camp fire on a stick” at about hammock height!

    OK, I need to add “a few feet of wire” to my kit. (Actually, one of the car bags already has it) and make sure I’ve got enough of an axe to chop a few inch thick limb. Add some waxed cotton cloth or paper as kindling that’s water proof and “good to go”… Any dead limbs above water height ought to be dry enough fuel.

    Once you are out of the water, have a tarp / cover to keep the wet off of you, and have a fire to dry your socks and cook whatever you catch / boil filtered water, it’s livable. (Well, + gallon of DEET).

    I’ve had that “how to get a fire” (without a camp stove) question niggling at me on and off for a few years now…

    Sidebar on why 700 lb hammock supports: A taught rope, pushed sideways, is a force amplifier like a pulley. The ratio of amplification is proportional to the ratio of length to side-ward displacement. At the far limit of two ends straight down, you get the load on the rope = the 1/2 the weight supported. At the other far limit, you get nearly infinite force to hold the load up with near zero displacement (for a flexible support cable). At some point your droop will balance against elasticity and strength of the poles and you will be in a drooping hammock or bridge ;-)


    …Safely… Hammocks can put hundreds of pounds of force on each support. It isn’t simply your weight divided by two…it’s a trigonometry function where the cord or webbing is the hypoteneus of a triangle. Using the angle of the support to true horizontal, the force on the support is: h = (.5 x user weight) / sin(support angle). This also brings a few requirements:

    The suspension must be strong enough. Be very careful using cord or webbing that doesn’t list a working load or breaking strength. The lowest acceptable range is generally 700 lbs, and some people will not use less than 1000lbs breaking strength. Do not use 550 cord (parachute cord). I’ve broken 550 cord twice using it on a hammock, and I cut it directly off a parachute so I know it’s the real thing.
    The correct knots/lashings must be used. Knots can significantly reduce the strength of cord and webbing. Some knots reduce the strength more than others, and certain knots are designed specifically for webbing. Additionally, some knots will bind when they’re weighted and you’ll have to cut the support to get the hammock down. So pick non-binding knots or lashings when you choose your system.
    The tree must be strong enough. Trees 6″ in diameter are usually strong enough to support a hammocker. Make sure the tree is alive and there are no widow-makers nearby. Some trail shelters are capable of supporting a hammocker…others are not. People have torn door frames out of their homes, pulled their walls out of square and ripped garage door supports from the ceiling by hanging their hammocks from them. Learn from their mistakes.

  19. Larry Ledwick says:

    Yep same problem appears in deep wet snow, how to keep your fire from burning down into a pit.

    Same method stick some poles in the deep snow,and wedge a bit of what every you can find like some soggy moss and leaves or green wood, down in the bottom to keep the coals from dropping down onto the snow and you have a nice little rocket stove a foot or so above the snow surface.

  20. jim2 says:

    The log rocket log is way cool. Bear Grills made a fire on an elevated mat in a swamp once. Put large leaves layered with wet mud on one end of the platform. Then built a fire on it. Seemed to work OK, but probably not good for a whole night.

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