Saturday, 23 July 2016

Using Your Smart Phone as a Survival Tool

Almost everyone carries a smart phone with them at nearly all times. These handy little pocket computers are a survival tool in themselves in modern society given their ability to connect instantly to others, connect to a wealth of information via the internet, and give you precise location and navigation to anywhere vis GPS services.

Survival Features not Requiring Services

Smart phones come with a variety of built-in sensors, transceivers and applications that help us get around. Perhaps the most obvious is the phone itself but we're going to assume that's not an option. GPS navigation is also a great tool for getting to where you want to go, but that may not be an option either. You might be in a suburban area, but what if communications are down and you can't connect to online maps?

So let's see what you can do with these marvels of miniaturization...


One of the most obviously useful built-in tools in a survival situation is the compass. This is used by navigation programs, but you can have direct access to the compass itself through applications functioning just like a conventional compass, but perhaps a little better.

Smart Compass from Smart Tools co is a popular and versatile compass application that is free, or free from ads if you sling them a couple of bucks. It has many display modes, including night mode which can help with your night vision if you are travelling in the dark.

It also has a camera option which lets you take a picture with the compass heading overlaid. This can be useful for navigating by landmarks.

Note that some phone cases have metal parts and magnetic clasps that will quite understandably interfere with the compass function - remove your phone from such cases.

One side benefit of the digital compass sensor is that it can also function as a ...

Metal Detector

Smart Compass mentioned above has a secondary function as a metal detector. This might not seem immediately useful, but what if you drop your knife in thick scrub? It's nice to have the option at any rate.

In practice I've found that it's not very useful at finding smaller objects such as nuts or bolts, due to ground moisture affecting the magnetic field, but it will certainly help to find a hatchet or knife.


A camera may not seem immediately useful, but you can use it for navigation purposes again, documenting landmarks for reference later. There's probably other uses too.

Off-Line GPS

Not having access to the internet does not have to mean that the navigation services are useless. Google Maps won't do you any favors but there are excellent navigation programs such as Maverick that let you download maps and use them later when you have no service.

Maverick allows you to plot your tracks and place waypoints, letting you stray from your camp and still find your way back. This makes maverick useful in areas where there are no maps downloaded at all.

If you do have the map for the area you are in, it is a snap to find your way back to a main road (or avoid them, depending on what is appropriate for your survival strategy).

Maverick comes with a large choice of map sources to use. It is worth noting that the default (mapquest) is no longer available, but there are plenty of other choices. Microsoft maps seem decent for general road maps and National Geographic maps are good for terrain as well as main roads. You can select an area in which to pre-download map data quite easily.

Reference Applications

There are many reference applications you can install on your phone, not to mention ebooks and pdf readers - which open up a world of opportunities for reference material, including being able to carry the Doom Survival Guide with you in your pocket.

Three applications I find particularly useful are -

  • Useful Knots - Simply a knot tying guide. This application contains pretty much all the knots you'll need to know each with clear diagrams on how to tie them and notes on their uses and strengths and weaknesses.
  • Wild Edibles - This handy reference contains information on over 200 wild plants including high resolution images and cultivation information. To download all of the information, you must first access it, so do this while you have internet access. Unfortunately there is no free version.
  • SAS Survival Guide - Lite - This is a stripped down version of the SAS Survival Guide, with an option to buy the full version. There's not a great deal of information, but it does cover some essentials. Worth a free download.


Most phones comes with a notepad widget which is useful for, well, keeping notes. Although a physical notepad would be better, the phone version will suffice.

Conserving Battery Power

This is quite important as running your phone at maximum capacity can drain it in a matter of hours. Like anything in a survival situation, battery power must be rationed carefully. There are a number of things you can do to help reduce the amount of power used in your device and thus extend the time it remains useful to you.

Screen Brightness

A large consumer of energy is the screen itself, especially for the larger mini-tablet style pocket bricks. Choosing a smaller phone in the first place with less processor power and a smaller screen is a a good pre-emptive measure for an increased up-time.

No matter what device you have however, simply turning the brightness of the screen down will immediately draw less power.

Flight Mode

Another huge consumer of the battery is the actual phone part of the phone. This is especially true in areas where there is little to no reception, as the phone will put out a huge signal trying to connect. When the phone is closer to a tower it only needs to emit a relatively small signal in order to stay in communication, travel out to the sticks and you'll find your battery life reduced considerably.

If you have no reception, then there is little reason for having this part of the phone turned on. Switch your phone to Flight Mode and it will stay on much longer.

Widgets and Other Crap

Most phones unfortunately come out-of-the box with a whole bunch of bullshit installed. 90% of which you probably never use. A lot of these things are widgets that run constantly displaying things on your screen such as photo slideshows and Friendface notifications and other things. Do your phone and yourself a favour and uninstall the things that you don't need.

This will reduce the processor load and therefore battery drain. Note that it might not do any good to uninstall these things when you are already in the wilderness and need to conserve your precious battery, as the process of removing them can eat up the battery power due to the many writes necessary to the flash memory, so do it ahead of time.

Note: Some applications simply refuse to be uninstalled, only giving you the option of "uninstall updates", which simply reinstall themselves soon after. Here is an excellent guide from HowToGeek on how to tell such stubborn applications who's boss.

Portable Chargers

There are many portable phone chargers on the market that vary in size and therefore battery power. The one pictured is the model I use and can charge my phone from dead to full nearly 4 times. I carry this in my everyday carry kit which will be discussed at a later date. Couple this with a portable solar charger, and you will never have problems with battery power again (until it dies completely, that is).

In conclusion, there are many survival related applications around, but I have listed only ones that will be useful without service. If you can think of any more, drop a comment.

Sunday, 15 November 2015

How To Prep Without Raising Eyebrows

        - By Dan Sullivan from Survival Sullivan

Now that the prepping movement has gone mainstream, a lot of people would like to do it without looking insane. They’ve got relatives to worry about, co-workers, neighbors and, even though I would gladly advise them not to care what anyone else thinks about them, that’s not always the way.
If this is you, if you’re looking to prep without anyone knowing you’re doing it and avoid endless arguments, let me share with you a few tips on how to do it.

The first thing you can do is take self-defense lessons. These are very common and they’re a great way to increase your chances of survival particularly if you live in Europe where guns and knives laws are very strict.

Speaking of self-defense items, how about a stun-gun or pepper spray? Some of these pepper spray cases are really small and some are even disguised as everyday items (such as keychain lipsticks, for instance).

Hobbies. There are plenty of hobbies that help you prepare, either directly or indirectly. For example:
  • You can start cooking or improve your cooking skills. This will allow you to become good at some of the ways to preserve food (canning, smoking etc.).
  • You can start your own garden even if you have very little space. Concepts like vertical gardening might help.
  • You can start a hobby around your bug out vehicle. If it’s a car, you can become a better driver and learn how to take care of it. If it’s a bike, the same thing. No one will ever know the real reason you’re doing.
  • You can start working out, jogging, sprinting or even yoga. In fact, you should do all of them because they’ll help you improve your strength, your speed, your stamina and your flexibility (the 4 pillars of survival fitness as I like to call them).
Now, if you’re looking for a more serious hobby, you might consider homesteading. This encompasses a large number of activities besides gardening and, in the aftermath of total collapse, you’ll be doing most of them, anyway. Some of the things you can do around the house include:
  • sewing
  • knitting
  • plumbing
  • making candles
  • stockpiling seeds! (very important to ensure you have survival food post-SHTF)
  • beekeeping
  • starting an herb garden (because doctors will be scarce post-collapse)
  • fixing your own clothes and even shoes (this should save you some money)
  • installing a rainwater harvesting system (rainwater is safe to drink but if that’s not something you want to do, you can still use it for things like washing your car, showering or watering your garden)
  • renovating your home (which will give you an excuse to prepare it for burglaries and home invasions)
Speaking of your home, are you using your attic space? If you are, it’s probably full of junk gathered along the years, right? Well, many of those things might be needed in a post-apocalyptic society. If you think the stuff in your attic is junk, let me prove otherwise. Old clothes will be needed in a world were getting new ones will be difficult, toys, board games and books will make time more enjoyable, and who knows what else you’ll find up there that’s worth keeping.

Before you throw anything out, ask yourself these:

Would this item be of any use to me after it hits? Will I at least be able to trade it for something else? Would anyone else find it valuable?

How well do you know your town or city?  In case you have to bug out, it’s important to know every route, every dead end, every way out on foot, by car or any other bug out vehicle you may have. Walking around on foot is healthy and will allow you to get to know the less circulated streets, one of which might be your way out when SHTF.

What’s in your everyday carry kit? Some of the items that won’t raise eyebrows if you have them with you at all times include:
  • a mini-flashlight keychain,
  • chapstick,
  • cash,
  • a lighter,
  • a bandana
  • ...and even some items that are small and can be safely concealed so no one will ever know you have them, such as Band-Aids, paper clips or a button compass.
Can you think of more ways to prepare that won’t get people to wonder why you’re doing them? Leave a comment below.

Thursday, 29 October 2015

How To Buy Crappy Gear

What's a great way to make sure your equipment is rubbish?

Order from TV, that's how.

Yeah, I know I know. I really wasn't expecting too much from this thing. It certainly wasn't destined for my BOB or anything, but I expected at least a minimum amount of functionality. Boy was I wrong.

Here is the bucket of ass in question:

First up...

Why I Thought This Was a Good Idea

This was intended for quick and dirty sharpening of kitchen knives. Normally I use a pull-through sharpener for that, which works just fine.

You wouldn't use a pull-through sharpener to hone your tools or survival knives/machettes/axes ect -- they rip along the grain making a mess of it at the microscopic level, but for a kitchen knife this tends to be a benefit. The harsh ripping that occurs creates micro-serrations that work great for carving up meat, slicing tomatoes, chopping garlic etc. A knife with such an edge will often feel sharper than one with a perfectly polished edge.

The only problem with these tiny serrations is that they are weak and tear off or fold over in fairly short time, dulling the edge and requiring re-sharpening.

Now I could create a finely honed edge but there's scarcely any point due to how kitchen knives are treated in our household (and most others I suspect). My knives aren't $400 master chef Italian designed works of art. I bought them from Woolworths for something like $12 each. They are not precious. Nor are they treated as such. They get thrown in with all the other dishes clanging about with all the other steelware. They are used to chop things on often less than ideal surfaces (such as glass) and sometimes to open cat food tins. A beautiful edge would last half as long as it would take to create.

Quick-and-dirty sharpeners like a pull-through type restore a dulled edge to the nasty but effective edge they created in the first place. This is quick and only needs to be done about once a week but since both of our pull through sharpeners took a walk and our knives started getting dull, I spotted an ad on TV and thought yeah that looks reasonable, which brings me to my ....

Review of the "Swifty Sharp" Barely Motorized Destroyer of Knives

When this anal polyp of a product arrived I was pretty excited. Not because I expected it to be awesome or anything, I just like getting packages.

The first thing I tried to do after un-boxing was put in batteries. Notice that I said "tried".

Those are the batteries just hanging there. Chilling if you will. The battery compartment was actually too tight to hold the AA's it called for and I had to push them in there pretty tight to get the lid on. The batteries were jammed in so tight that the springs could not push them against the connectors, effectively leaving an open circuit.

In short, it would not even power up unless you pressed the On button, and pressed tightly on the battery cap on the bottom. Clearly not ideal.

Now, I had trouble trying to figure out how such an elementary error would occur so I spent 3 seconds on google to find out that the diameter of a AA battery is between 13.5 to 14.5 mm diameter. Then I measured my AA batteries which were indeed 14.5mm, then measured across the battery compartment which was precisely 29mm (ie 14.5 times 2).

It seems that our esteemed designer spent the same 3 seconds on google that I did, and plugged 29mm into their CAD program thinking they'd covered all contingencies, and called it a day.

Making It Work (Somewhat)

Clearly batteries weren't an option.

I disconnected the battery connector wires and powered it up directly with a 6V power supply (as 4 AA batteries would have provided). This wasn't enough. The motor was running too slow and stalled easily when I put the knife in the "precision" guide.

I ramped up the power supply to 9V. This worked a little better and I actually managed to run the knife through without stalling too much. This time I could feel steel being removed from the blade, along with the incessant shuddering. My wife yelled something at me about it being really loud but I couldn't hear her over the volume of this thing, so I persisted.

For the knife setting, there are 2 guides. One for each side of the blade. You can see the precise alignment of the stone here:

I guess that the idea here is that you run the blade through one of the guides, taking care not to jam it because the precise alignment is a little too precise and it tends to jam, and then you run the blade through the other guide, taking care not to expect it to touch the stone at all because it's too precisely aligned to the other side.

Here's what happened:

After a lot more screwing around than I've detailed here, it actually created somewhat of a decent edge. By decent I mean I managed to chop an onion with it. Sort of. If you look closely you can see where the stone bounced off the blade (that's the shuddering I mentioned before).

The stone is held on with a simple screw, which was loose out of the box. I tightened it before I produced the awesome edge that you can see above but it came loose again after, as you can see:


The website says this:

The guide holds the blade at the perfect angle while the professional grade high speed sapphire stone rotates to sharpen and hone the blade, restoring its razor sharp edge.

Now there are a lot of things wrong with that sentence (every second word) but I won't pick it apart becuase that's just mean. Instead I will show you what an actual sapphire stone looks like compared to whatever that is:

Good thing it came with 3 of them.

In Conclusion

I got burned with this thing. It is an absolute bucket of ass. I had low expectations to begin with, but I was absolutely appauled. This is the first, and only time ever that I will order something from TV. No matter how good it looks.

Most of the problems with this tool could have been solved by the engineers paying a little attention to detail, but the biggest problem is that the people that are pimping it cared less for the actual product and more for the production of selling it.

In Short

We have between now and the apocalypse to gather our gear, and the gear we gather will have to last a lifetime.

Choose wisely my friend,

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Having Several Bug Out Locations Is Cool. Here's Why...

        - By Dan Sullivan from Survival Sullivan

In case you don’t know what a bug out location (or BOL, for short) is, it’s a place you can run to, hide in or even live on for an undetermined amount of time in case of an emergency. War, chemical attacks, EMP, hurricanes, Martial Law, these can all force you to abandon your home and find shelter and safety somewhere else.

Though many preppers see themselves bugging in in case of an emergency, bug out scenarios are just as important and should never be disregarded. Many need to put more thought into what they’ll be doing when they’re out there on the run. The migrant crisis in Europe, the biggest mass bug out in recent history has taught us valuable lessons.

Now, most preppers have a bug out location somewhere 30 to 100 miles away. They purchased some land or maybe they inherited it from their parents and grandparents. Maybe they went ahead and build a cabin or even a house and started to store gear and supplies inside.

The only problem is, them safely getting there is not 100% guaranteed. The only certainty in emergency situations is uncertainty, that’s why we should always follow the old saying: two is one, one is none.

Here’s a crazy thought: how about having multiple bug out locations? As you’re about to see, you don’t have to pay dozens of thousands of dollars for each and then build a cabin. Not all bug out locations need to be permanent; the main requirement is that they offer you shelter until you’re ready to move to a more permanent place.

BOL Requirements

The bug out location basics are straightforward: you need a place that’s low key to protect you from the elements as well as uninvited guests. It has to:

  • be low key,
  • have good visibility so you have plenty of time to prepare in case someone or something is getting close,
  • have one or several ways out in case someone finds you and comes after you
  • ...and ideally be located in a mountain area, although that’s not a requirement for all BOLs, as you’re about to see.

Of course, a more permanent retreat is going to need a few “extras”, such as:

  • a water source (a river, a well, a rainwater harvesting system etc.),
  • the possibility to grow food,
  • offering a permanent shelter (that you’ve built in advance),
  • offer means of protecting it, yourself and your supplies (you might have to fight a group of people, not just one)
  • and to be fully stocked with supplies for at least a few months (a few years, maybe)

The List...

OK, now that we talked about the importance of having more than one location, let’s see some ideas of where to find them. I bet you haven’t thought about some of them and, even if you did, you probably didn’t see them as BOLs. Here we go!

A Friend’s House

Having a place within walking distance from your house could be a lifesaver. Maybe your building catches fire or there’s an explosion inside. Maybe you wake up with a burglar or a rapist and you need a place to run to and stay there for a few nights to calm down.

If you have a friend you can count on, that’d be great. In fact, in personal emergencies such as the ones mentioned above, any friend’s house can be seen a bug out location.

Your Workplace

If you have a job, I bet you have keys or an access card to get inside. If you’re not able to get home or evacuate, this could be a good temporary location. The big benefit is that if you have a desk or a locker, you can keep a small survival bag with some food, water, a water filter and a mini first aid kit.

Places You Used to Play as a Kid

Abandoned houses or warehouses, narrow spaces between apartment buildings, I bet you can remember playing in a lot of such places. As children, our natural curiosity drove us to find them while playing hide-and-seek. Can you remember what they were?

One other thing you can do as you run errands across town is to look for places that would make good bug out locations. You never know what part of town you’ll be forced to spend a few hours or even the night when it hits.

Caveat: it’s very likely that some of those places already have people inside. Remember you won’t be the only one looking for shelter so you must proceed with caution as you get near. If you think someone else might be in there, you might as well keep walking than risk getting into a face-to-face confrontation.

Places You Went Hiking or Camping

It’s not enough just to know about them and say:

Oh yeah, I guess I could hide there for a little while.

You have to inspect them to make sure they’re a good fit. The most important thing is to be able to make shelter or set up your tent. If you’re on the trail and you see such a place, remember others will see you if you camp there. You have to find a hidden spot that’s as low key as possible.

Buying More Land

Well, if you have the money, maybe you can use that land for more than just SHTF emergencies. It’s a lot better than buying a bunker or more of the things you already have too much of.

If you decide to start a business related to survival and preparedness such as raising bees or growing veggies, you might actually recover your initial investment (in time, that is).

If you’re gonna buy a second property or even a third, you need to make sure it’s in a strategic location. If the first piece of land (your main bug out location) is north of your town or city, you don’t want your second one to be in the same direction. Start looking in other places because you never know which bug out route you’re going to use to evacuate.

Your Relatives’ Land

It doesn’t matter whether they are preppers or not, you should probably mark it on your map just in case you have no better options. Remember these would be temporary locations.

Shared Bug-Out Locations

I didn’t want to end this list without mentioning this. What would you say to the idea of sharing a bug out location with other preppers?

I know many fear that, the more people know about their BOL, the riskier it gets but not in this particular case. Sure, people (preppers included) could do irrational things to keep themselves and their families alive but hear me out...

You already have one or more bug out locations that only you know about, right? So you already have options. A shared BOL is extra and whether or not you will use it is something to be decided when the time comes. (Who knows, maybe the others won’t show up so you’ll have the whole place to yourself.)

The big benefit of having them is that you:
  • split the cost of the land with everyone else,
  • can make a bigger better house or cabin (also by splitting the costs)
  • and get to share resources such as gear, weapons and food.

Now what?

There’re a few things you can do to make all of these locations a part of your survival plan...

  • You should mark all of them on your maps...
  • You need to find all the possible ways to get from your house to each of them and, after that, out of town (both on foot and by car). Even better, you can mark these routes on your maps as well.
  • If possible, you should hide some supplies there (maybe bury them underground).
  • Keep phone numbers of the people whose homes are on your map to be able to contact them in an emergency and see if you can stay there. Store them in places such as your bug out bag, your get home bag and your car.

Can you think of such locations that would fit the bill? Leave a comment below.

Doom Blog welcomes Dan Sullivan

Doom Survival Guide Blog is proud to welcome Dan Sullivan. Dan runs the excellent site Survival Sullivan and will be contributing articles to this blog from time to time.

Dan offers some of the best survival advice I've come across, presenting realistic and sensible strategies for dealing with almost anything. It's highly recommended that you check out his work.

His first article will be posted shortly.

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Amazing Plants (pt 3) Incarvillea sinensis

It took me six attempts to germinate this particular plant. It is a little bit tricky to start, but as you will see it is more than worthwhile. In fact I consider it essential.

Incarvillea Sinensis

Aka: Fern-leaved Trumpet Flower, Cheron, Jiao Hao

Incarvillea sinensis has been used in Chinese medicine to treat conditions such as arthritis and for pain management in general.

It can be used topically as a poultice for wounds or bites, or taken internally when made as an infusion (tea) or decoction of the fresh leaves.

The main alkaloid incarvillateine shows an analgesic and anti-inflammatory action similar to conventional analgesics such as morphine, as well as a second stage action similar to aspirin.

It is not just comparable to the effectiveness of morphine, it's actually better.

The analgesic index of incarvillateine is is between 6 to 33% higher. As well as this, it has a lesser ceiling effect than morphine.

Ceiling effect refers to a phenomenon best described as a system of diminishing returns. As you take more of the drug, it has less and less of an effect on pain and eventually no matter how much more you take, your pain level will not be reduced.

The value of this plant in a survival or basic living situation is obvious.


Young Foliage

Incarvillea is native to mountains in China, which presents challenges in warmer climates. Their natural environment is cool dry air. They prefer full sun if the temperatures are cold enough, but intense heat will kill them. That means nearly full shade in warm areas.

A good approximation of their natural environment may be to grow the plant near an equator-facing window indoors in a cool room. An air-conditioned room will help the air stay dry. This might be an ideal plant for a well-lit office.

It likes (but does not need) constant watering but should not be allowed to drown. Well drained soil is essential. If growing in a pot, use a sandy cactus mix with gravel or rocks at the bottom of the pot.

Propagation by Seed

This is where it gets tricky if you are in a warm climate, but there is always a way.

The plant needs a period of cold to break its dormancy. It does not need temperatures below freezing, but it won't hurt. To simulate this it is a simple matter of putting the seeds in the fridge for a few weeks to a couple of months.

We don't have a freezer at the nursery so the seeds went in the bar fridge. I'm guessing the temperature is around 2-5 degrees celsius.

I tried both sowing the seeds and placing the seed tray in the fridge, and keeping the seeds in their packet and then sowing. I found a better germination rate when the seeds were left in the packet. However, the tray of seeds was in the fridge for 2 weeks, and the packet of seeds was in there for a month.

A cool and sheltered place
Next I found a shady protected spot at the base of some tiger grass. The seeds get no direct sunlight at all, but still plenty of light. To further help keep the temperature down, I sprayed the tiger grass periodically throughout the day hoping to create evaporative cooling as the breeze whipped through.

This seems to work as I picked up the pot today at around noon and it was cool to the touch.

The sprouts are very delicate at birth. I killed the first batch of seedlings because I used a shower setting on the hose (we water using this setting almost exclusively, even on very young sprouts with no issue). The rain-sized droplets knocked the sprouts to the ground, and they never recovered.

After 2 days I was down from 17 sprouts to 2, and shortly after, none. They rotted as they laid along the ground.

Because of this I am very careful to water only with mist and I avoid the seedlings like the plague when I wet the tiger grass to make sure no heavy droplets fall off the foliage onto my delicate seedlings.


Apart from heat, incarvillea is also sensitive to root disturbance. If you need to transplant a seedling or small plant, it is important to get the entire root structure intact. It does not like its feet being torn.


A typical internal dose is around 2 to 15 grams of the fresh leaf daily. Make a decoction by steeping the fresh herb in water that is almost boiling. Be careful not to let the water boil, but rather keep it to a point of the gentlest simmer you can muster. Steep for around 10 to 20 minutes, let cool and consume.

The effects are said to be opioid but obviously at this stage I am yet to test it.


Although this plant is rather tricky at its early stage, it is well worth the effort to add this to your survival crop. Keeping the temperature low in a climate that does not experience the frost that is needed for germination is the most difficult part but improvising a refridgerator in a survival situation may very well be do-able.

I bought my seeds from Chilterns, based in the UK

Monday, 29 June 2015

Amazing Plants (pt 2) Toothace Plant

The Toothache plant is an ideal companion to Iboza for dealing with cold and flu symptoms. It is a local anesthetic and also has antiseptic properties making it useful against a wide variety of ailments.

Toothache Plant

Aka: Eyeball Plant, Paracress, Jambu (in Brazil)

Latin name: Spilanthes acmella or Acmella oleracea

Flowers - About 1cm Round
Toothache plant is a tender annual growing up to 40cm high. It can be grown as a perennial in warmer climates but will suffer from frost, although it is often the last plant to ail in cold conditions. It has small yellow flower clusters that can develop a central red spot, somewhat resembling an eyeball.

It is a rather pretty plant and is often grown as an ornamental, but its true value lies in its medicinal properties.


Toothache Plant is not a fussy plant and unless you live on Mercury or Mars, you should have no trouble cultivating this little wonder.

They like rich soil and will tolerate full sun if given plenty of water. Growing in part shade conditions will reduce the amount of water required without impacting growth.

Toothache Plant Bush
If you are growing in areas that are subject to frost or near-freezng conditons, either grow them as an annual or take them inside during the winter.


Propagation by seeds is very easy. Pull the pods off the plant when they are dry and about to fall off, or pull them off before this and allow to dry in a paper bag or ventilated container.

Shake the seeds out or break the dried pods out by hand onto a seed tray prepared with loose rich soil, or seed compost. Start the seeds indoors or in a greenhouse in early spring. They may be started directly in the garden, but cold and damp conditions need to be avoided.

They need direct sunlight to germinate, so cover only with a paper-thin layer of sifted soil, or not at all. Germination will take from 7-14 days in moderate temperatures.

Food Uses

The fresh leaves are occasionally used (sparingly) in salads for some reason. They can also be used in chili dishes to offset the burn somewhat.

Medicinal Uses

This is where this plant really shines.

As hinted at by its name, this plant is effective at numbing the pain of tooth or gum ailments. This does not mean it will prevent a trip to the dentist, but the local anesthic action (due to the spilanthol contained) will immediately and effectively dull the pain.

The fresh leaf is rubbed near the area of the pain, and held in the mouth for continuing relief. Reapply as needed. It is safe to use when babies start teething.

It is also effective against mouth ulcers. Not only will it relieve the pain but due to its anti-bacterial, antifungal and antibiotic properties, can help to clear it up completely.

For sore throat, steep about 0.5 gram of the fresh leaf (or 1-2 flowers) in a small amount of boiled water for about 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, and then gargle thoroughly. You can discard or swallow the mixture at your discretion. However if repeated applications are necessary, it's probably best not to swallow every time.

When little Doomlet starts teething, this plant will be very handy.

External Sores

Rubbing the fresh leaf on a painful sore or rash will numb the pain immediately.

Other Ailments

Toothache Plant is effective against problems such as thrush, fungal issues, viruses, candida, stomach issues and auto-immune problems.

When eaten daily in salads and other foods, it's tangy flavour is hardly noticable, especially when cooked.

Harvesting and Storage

The plant can be harvested throughout the year as needed, or if grown as an annual may be harvested fully and dried, or made into a tincture. The whole plant is medically active - roots, leaves, stems and flowers, and when dried still retain their 'zing' for up to a year, especially the flowers.


An ethanol extraction of the flower has been shown to induce erectile function in rats. If there's ever a situation where you need a bunch of horny rats, this plant is for you.