Survival Survival Skills

Survival Skills: 10 Uses for Aluminum Foil

We may earn revenue from the products available on this page and participate in affiliate programs. Learn More

Aluminum foil is good for more than just baking potatoes and blocking alien mind probes; it’s also pretty handy in real emergency situations. A carefully folded length of foil added to bug-out bags, survival kits, and emergency gear stockpiles will serve scores of uses. Here are my top ten uses for this common yet valuable commodity.

1. Cooking: If roasted squirrel and wild herbs in a foil pouch sounds like an appetizing survival meal, then plan ahead by bringing some extra foil for backcountry cooking and emergency meal prep. Foil can be used multiple times, and it creates an oven-like environment for roasting, braising, steaming, and frying.

2. Water Boiling: Practice a little origami with a piece of paper first to learn how to fold a square pot out of flat material. Once you have the idea, fold the foil into a square or rectangular “pot” to boil water. Set the boxy foil container on a stable rack with close-set bars over a campfire. This will allow you to boil water as a means of disinfection or even do a little cooking. Be very careful when you fold it to keep holes from forming in the corners.

3. Signal strips: Tear off strips and dangle them on branches and shrubs to make eye-catching, reflective signage to mark a path or signal for help.

4. Solar Oven: Line the interior of a cardboard box with foil, place a dark-colored pot in an oven bag, then set the bag inside the foil box. Aim the open side of the box into the sun and you’ll have an improvised solar oven. Temperatures over 180 degrees can be attained in this makeshift heat trap, which is plenty hot enough to pasteurize water and slow-cook food.

5. Faraday Cage: Threat of EMPs got you down? Wrap your electronics in insulating material and place them in a foil-wrapped box to simulate a Faraday cage. There are no guarantees that this technique will be effective, but this rudimentary insulation is certainly better than nothing.

6. Fishing Lures: Use a little malleable foil wrapped around a bare fish hook to replicate to shape of small baitfish. The movement and flash of this homemade lure might catch you some fish—which you can then cook in bigger pieces of foil.

7. Container: Fold the foil into envelopes or packets to act as a container for small items, or use it as a protective layer for larger items.

8. Mirror: A shiny piece of foil can provide a slightly reflective surface and used as an improvised signal mirror.

9. Repairs: Some sticky pine sap and a strip of foil can act as a temporary patch for pierced hydration bladders and cracked water bottles. It won’t hold a lot of water pressure, but it will hold up against drips and seeps for
a short time.

10. Long Match: Fill a piece of aluminum foil with shredded cedar or juniper bark. Place a coal from your fire into the bark fiber, and roll up the foil like a cigar. Leave one end open for air flow, and you’ll have a safe way to transport a coal from your last fire to a new location. Just make sure the hot foil doesn’t touch your skin or any gear that can melt.

What are your most clever uses of aluminum foil? Let us know in the comments.