As maddening as it is to see litter and other castoff remains of modern civilization in the wild, certain items can be can be a welcome find in a survival situation. One of the most enduring and useful trash items is the beer bottle, which has the potential to last for centuries -- and the potential to help us survive an emergency. Here are my top five uses of an empty glass bottle.
Knives, arrowheads, scrapers, and many other tools can be chipped from broken glass. Pick up a book on flint knapping and you'll start to get the idea. Hard, sharp items like antler tines and metal nails can be used as a chipping tool to turn broken glass bits into razor-sharp instruments.
Boiling water to disinfect it can be quite a challenge without a fireproof container. Luckily, a glass bottle can handle the heat if you guard it from quick temperature shocks. Fill your bottle from the nearest stream, and place it on the edge of your campfire. Get it right in the ashes, and in just a few minutes it will start to boil. Though the bubbles will jump on only one side of the bottle, there is no need to turn the bottle. The water will be plenty hot throughout to kill any pathogens. Allow the water to boil for ten minutes, let the container cool, and enjoy your drink.
After you have boiled your water, carve a stick to act as a cork for your bottle. This will keep the water from spilling as you transport your safe water to another site. Make sure your wooden cork tapers, and it will fit snuggly in the bottle mouth. Carry it upright for good measure.
The same cork you whittled to keep water in, can also be used to keep water out. Items that must stay dry (like salt, sugar, char cloth, and other supplies) can be protected inside the confines of a bottle. Survive any wilderness situation with these critical tips.
With a little bit of the char cloth I just mentioned, some direct sunlight, and a clear glass beer bottle full of clear water, you can light a fire via optical fire making. Lay your char cloth (or a similar high-quality tinder) on a flat rock. Place your clear, water-filled bottle on its side, next to the tinder. The sun should be shining through the rounded bottle shoulder, down onto the tinder. Pick the bottle up slightly, keeping it close to the tinder. When all of the angles are right, the hot spot of light should cause the tinder to smoke immediately. Patience is a virtue with this skill, but as any fire fighter can attest, clear bottles start brushfires all the time in sunny weather. For this picture, I am using a water-filled bottle, capped with duct tape, and aimed at the dust from birch fungus. Once the angles were right, it lit in seconds.
Got a survival skill, craft, or hobby that utilizes beer bottles? Please tell us all about it in the comments.