T. Smith

+ Follow
since Jul 04, 2021
Merit badge: bb list bbv list
My name is Tim Smith (but that name was already taken so it isn't my username). Since 1999 I have run my own business, a small outdoor school and guide service in Maine. I spend a lot of time off the grid, and am interested in low tech solutions to common problems.
For More
Masardis, Maine
Apples and Likes
Total received
In last 30 days
Total given
Total received
Received in last 30 days
Total given
Given in last 30 days
Forums and Threads
Scavenger Hunt
expand First Scavenger Hunt

Recent posts by T. Smith

[quote]I have also been a chocolatier (as a musketeer but better [/quote]

Now I know that a chocolatier is like a muskateer, but better. Seriously made me laugh, thank you for that.
1 month ago
What a fantastic article and resource! Thanks for writing it and posting about it.
6 months ago
Learning how to wash your clothing by hand with limited or no infrastructure, such as when on a long expedition or living off the grid for a length of time, is a useful skill to learn. It is one we are adding to our long-term programs because as the years go by, fewer and fewer people have done it, or even know how.  

The easiest way I know of to do this is what we did with lightly-soiled clothing when I was a kid; dunk it in water, swish it around, then hang it on a line in the sun to dry. To this day on long canoe trips, washing clothes is often as simple as wearing them and sitting in the river for 5 minutes, then hanging them up to dry. Sometimes when the weather is warm I just keep them on, allowing them to air dry on my body.

But when clothes start to develop obvious stains, or start to smell, then some sort of soap is needed. More on types of soap in a bit.

A simple way to accomplish washing clothes is with a cook pot, clean 5-gallon bucket, or similar container. Add the clothing, some water, and laundry soap to the container. Then, in the water, wring and agitate the clothing, focusing on rubbing the dirty or smelly parts. Let it soak for a bit in the soapy water when you’re done, then do it again. Repeat if needed. Then remove the clothing and wring out as much soapy water as you can. Put the wrung-out clothes into a second clean bucket or container. I specify that the buckets are clean because we use 5-gallon buckets in our composting toilet system, and you don’t want to mix up your clean containers with these.

In the second clean container that holds the washed clothes, add water until 2/3 full. Then agitate them, wringing and rubbing, until they no longer emit soap into the water. This will likely take a few rounds of rinsing.

From here, wring them out and hang them on a clothesline. You’re done.

There are all sorts of ways you can dress up this process,  from hand-held agitators to wash boards to mechanical wringers to computerized washing machines. But the basics endure. It is not a complicated process, although the modern world wants you to believe it is.

When living a bit rough, I like to wash the layers that are against my skin regularly. The outer insulation layers, if I keep them clean of sweat, grease and stains, not as often. So things like socks, underwear, long underwear, t-shirts, etc., get regular washing. It makes them more sanitary (ie. less gross) but also, with regard to living in the cold, allows them to insulate much better. It does this because clothing against your skin often contain dead skin cells, oils and salt from sweat, and other things that fill in the air spaces built into the fabric. The air spaces are what allow it to insulate you from the cold. So when they get full of gunk, it no longer insulates, or breathes. Have you ever worn a pair of wool socks for several days in cold weather? Ever notice how they are less warm with each passing day? This is why. So there are many good reasons to keep your stuff clean, while the only reason for not doing so is laziness.

With regards to soap, any soap that you use on your body or dishes will work. Some seem to work better than others, so pay attention and keep some notes on what has worked best for you.

Years ago we used to make our own soap for use when bathing. It worked well, but we got away from it although I don’t remember why. Another thing we made, which I learned in NH at a workshop with GALA (Global Awareness, Local Action), was our own laundry soap, useful for both laundry by hand and with modern laundry machines. It is all I have used for the past 8 years. It is concentrated, non-toxic, inexpensive, and works amazingly well. And you only use a tiny amount, so one container lasts a really long time. Scroll to the end of this post for how to make it.

Keep your clothing clean. It will keep you warmer in winter (especially socks and long underwear) and cooler in summer (clean cotton breathes better). If you spend more than a few days living rough, it is something that you not only should know how to do, but also should have done multiple times so there are no mysteries left about the process.

Laundry Detergent – Makes 64oz., 128 Loads Of Laundry

- 1 (5.5oz) bar of “Fels Naptha”
- 1 cup “20 Mule Team Borax”
- 4 cups boiling water
- 1 cup “Arm & Hammer Washing Soda”
- 4 cups warm water

Step 1: Put 4 cups of water in a heavy saucepan to boil. While that is heating, mix the borax and washing soda in a bowl, mixing well.

Step 2: Grate the Fels Naptha.

Step 3: Add the freshly-grated Fels Naptha to the water in the saucepan, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to medium. It will take 10-15 minutes for the soap to dissolve completely. Don’t let it boil over – gross.

Step 4: Remove the pan from the heat and add in the borax and washing soda. Stir until completely dissolved (3-5 minutes). Do not “under stir” or solution will be gritty. Pour liquid into a 2 quart container. Fill container the rest of the way with warm water. Mix.

Step 5: Store for 24 hours in a cool, dry place. Then mix.

Step 6: Add 1 tablespoon of mix to a load of laundry in any laundry machine. Add it directly with the dirty clothes, not in a “detergent compartment”.

Pro Tip: Add essential oils if you want your laundry to smell a certain way.

I cross-posted this from my blog. Hopefully someone finds it useful.

6 months ago
Not the greatest review, I agree, and the price is high. I posted it mostly because I found it interesting that such a product would be commercially available. A thing like this was a dream when my kids were little; a closed loop, tv/video game system. As solar pv's have gotten so cheap it is hard to justify, but I am still interested as a way to charge batteries in an off grid situation.

Have you guys seen pedal-power.com?  they have recumbent bikes that can power a bunch of different attachments. Never seen one in person, but find the concept very interesting.


7 months ago
I found this recently and thought others might be interested. It is an article about a commercially-available exercise bike that stores the power generated that can then be used to charge things.  Link: https://www.cyclingweekly.com/products/this-exercise-bike-can-store-your-pedalling-power-and-run-your-fridge-is-this-the-future-of-indoor-cycling
7 months ago
I run a small school focused on guide training and living on the land in Masardis, also in Aroostook county. We get students from all over the world, who are often interested in a work exchange to stay on in Maine after their course here. We should touch base, as it might benefit both you and our students.

Tim Smith
Jack Mountain Bushcraft School

8 months ago
Hello Jennifer, and welcome. I'm also in Aroostook County, in Masardis. Would be interested in following along with your rocket stove build as I have been considering different heating options for an outbuilding.

1 year ago
Photo didn't load. If it is Caltha palustrus (spelling might be bad, marsh marigold), a group I once worked with nicknamed it "spaghetti root". BUT, you need to boil it, just like spaghetti, or it won't be nice to eat. Dig the roots, boil them, and you should be good to go.
1 year ago
Just wanted to say I love your attitude. Burn the machine down. I'm across the border in Maine.
2 years ago
I'm thinking about hiring a CPO (Chief Permaculture Officer) for 2022 to look after our field school food production system while we are in the field guiding canoe trips and teaching. I'm considering different economic models over coffee this morning.

My idea is to have a base pay per week, say $150 for 10 hours of work (or whatever is fair). Above and beyond this, They would operate a market garden system, sort of like a private farm stand. They could put a price on things, and we (staff, students, etc) could buy them. If there was a surplus it wouldn't be a big deal to put up a small farm stand on the road.

I'm drawn to this as a system with a built-in incentive for the farmer. The more they produce, the more they would make. They would likely live on-site for free.

Has anyone seen such a system in practice? Is it worth exploring? Is there a more standard economic model for resident farmers? We haven't done this in the past so I'm trying to figure it out. I want it to be a win for everyone involved.

This isn't an ad for the job. I'm working on the details.
2 years ago