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Survival Skills: 10 Ways to Use Bamboo

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September 17, 2012
Survival Skills: 10 Ways to Use Bamboo - 6

Bamboo is just one of those things, like rope or duct tape, that can be adapted to create an infinite number of material items. From survival gear to homesteader equipment, bamboo’s uses seem to only be limited by the imagination of the user.

So what are the 10 best ways to use bamboo for survival?  

1. First, you’ll want to get a survival shelter built in the event of an emergency. Bamboo poles are both strong and lightweight, which makes them a great choice for building shelter elements.

2. Your water needs can be satisfied from different species of bamboo. Some bamboo grows large enough to make containers inside which you can boil water. Other bamboo can actually contain drinkable water between the joints.  

3. Speaking of boiling water, bamboo can help you with your fire building when split into kindling and firewood. Bamboo also shows up in several different traditional fire building methods like the fire piston and the bamboo fire saw.

4. Consider bamboo as a torch for low-tech lighting. Split one end so that it splinters into several pieces. Insert some tinder and drip a little oil on the tinder, if you can spare the oil. This will give you a bright torch that should last for 15 or 20 minutes.

5. Bring home the bacon (so to speak) by using a bamboo pole as a fish spear or frog gig.

6. Bamboo can be a sturdy yet flexible fishing pole for some old-fashioned worm dunking.

7. The hollow sections of bamboo make great containers for dry goods and wet stuff, even a water canteen.

8. Build food steamers and cook pots from bamboo.

9. You can eat the bamboo. Not the whole thing, mind you, but the tender shoots of edible bamboo species can be cooked and eaten. But do your homework before you chow down, some bamboo species can contain cyanide. Consult a bamboo book to find out which species that grow in your area are safe to eat, and also how to keep from harming the plant too much during the harvesting process.

10. Get out of trouble Huck Finn-style on a bamboo raft.

Tell us what you have crafted from bamboo in the comments.

Photo: Fir0002

Comments (6)

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from Delphina 10/2/2012 at 07:56am

We used bamboo as curtain rods. My husband's brother has it growing on the edge of his property and it is very invasive. They have to keep up on cutting down the shoots so it won't over grow the lawn.

My husband used a butane torch to heat treat it and it turned a gorgeous dark, chocolate brown color.

All of the other uses sound great, and we would love to grow some to use, but the problem of it taking over is too risky for the amount of maintenance required. For now we'll just go help his brother by taking some when we need it.

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from philip43 9/21/2012 at 09:23am

Japanese knotweed is growing along all of the eastern NY streams that I visited the past couple of years. It is an ornmental plant that has invaded the US

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from peteyraymond 9/20/2012 at 07:06pm

I lived in northern Virginia and bamboo was basically an invasive species there. Good point about the exploding bamboo, jcarlin.

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from jcarlin 9/19/2012 at 09:56am

It's around in PA as an escaped garden import. One caution though, you might want to consider piercing each chamber before burning as firewood. Each chamber is sealed and has the capability of exploding, and I mean exploding, when the water and air trapped inside boils and expands. When this happens, bamboo shrapnel flies at suprising speeds and for suprising distance. First time I saw this my neighbor was burning culled plants. I at first thought there was a multi-caliber firefight occurring.

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from randall 9/18/2012 at 02:38pm

Bamboo grows in Georgia and several other states. Bamboo should be fire polished to prevent insects eating the soft areas of the joints and to harden the shaft. It can be heat ed over a bar-b-que grill until the resin comes to the surface. It will be a lot stronger and last a lot longer for any use. Fire polishing makes it strong enough to be used for wooden knives that can be handy to clean game or protect oneself. It also makes a great digging tool to dig up roots to eat. I also use it in my garden for long lasting plant supports.

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from DaBears 9/17/2012 at 10:09am

I haven't seen much bamboo in North America. Maybe if you are shipwrecked in SE asia, this would be helpful.

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from DaBears 9/17/2012 at 10:09am

I haven't seen much bamboo in North America. Maybe if you are shipwrecked in SE asia, this would be helpful.

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from randall 9/18/2012 at 02:38pm

Bamboo grows in Georgia and several other states. Bamboo should be fire polished to prevent insects eating the soft areas of the joints and to harden the shaft. It can be heat ed over a bar-b-que grill until the resin comes to the surface. It will be a lot stronger and last a lot longer for any use. Fire polishing makes it strong enough to be used for wooden knives that can be handy to clean game or protect oneself. It also makes a great digging tool to dig up roots to eat. I also use it in my garden for long lasting plant supports.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from jcarlin 9/19/2012 at 09:56am

It's around in PA as an escaped garden import. One caution though, you might want to consider piercing each chamber before burning as firewood. Each chamber is sealed and has the capability of exploding, and I mean exploding, when the water and air trapped inside boils and expands. When this happens, bamboo shrapnel flies at suprising speeds and for suprising distance. First time I saw this my neighbor was burning culled plants. I at first thought there was a multi-caliber firefight occurring.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from peteyraymond 9/20/2012 at 07:06pm

I lived in northern Virginia and bamboo was basically an invasive species there. Good point about the exploding bamboo, jcarlin.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from philip43 9/21/2012 at 09:23am

Japanese knotweed is growing along all of the eastern NY streams that I visited the past couple of years. It is an ornmental plant that has invaded the US

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Delphina 10/2/2012 at 07:56am

We used bamboo as curtain rods. My husband's brother has it growing on the edge of his property and it is very invasive. They have to keep up on cutting down the shoots so it won't over grow the lawn.

My husband used a butane torch to heat treat it and it turned a gorgeous dark, chocolate brown color.

All of the other uses sound great, and we would love to grow some to use, but the problem of it taking over is too risky for the amount of maintenance required. For now we'll just go help his brother by taking some when we need it.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Write a Comment Your comment (200 characters or less):