We had a house fire a few years ago, and as I continue to pack for the move to the farm (96 days to go), I am amazed at the amount of junk we have managed to gather since then. Prepping is all about being prepared for disaster, that includes personal disasters such as a house fire. Making sure you have fire alarms, and fire extinguishing equipment that meets safety standards is vital to being prepared. But, if your like me, there are two things that occur to me in being prepared against a house fire. First, knowing how to make your stuff, and second, fire proof the hell out of everything.
So, the most common form of fighting a fire is either water and/or baking soda. It is important to remember, and to teach your children, that you never put water on a grease or oil fire, it will make it worse! Baking Soda should be placed beside the stove in the kitchen at all times, enough to not only put out a fire, but also more then is needed on top of that for baking, because you know that someone is going to use it for that.
Fire can be put out by removing one of three things. Either the fuel the fire is using to spread, Oxygen it is using for combustion, or heat it uses to maintain the reaction. Mason Sand mixed with Sodium Bicarbonate (ratio 3:1) will remove oxygen and cover any fuel, good for the horses’ stables.
Did you know that you can fire proof paper? It’s a simple recipe. Take one cup of Ammonium Sulfate (Mascagnite for you rock hounds out there), six tablespoons of Boric Acid (the same stuff you use to kill insects), 4 tablespoons of Borax (that’s your grandmothers laundry soap), and three cups of water. Mix the ingredients, and then either dip the paper into the mix, or brush it on. It needs several coats, so let each layer dry out first.
If your thinking of doing the same to your raincoat or something else made out of synthetic fabrics all you need is Boric Acid. By the way, for you preppers down in Nevada, Boric Acid can be found in it’s natural state (colemanite), and might be something to stock up on for long distance bartering. For the rest of us, we’ll have to figure out a way of distilling it from fruit. As for fire proofing synthetic fabrics just mix one cup of Boric Acid (1 US cup = 236.588238 ml) into one gallon of water (1 gallon = 3.785 liters). Soak the fabric, and wring out, then hang up to dry. Redo after washing. If you know how many gallons is in your washing machine during the rinse cycle this might work as well.
I’m a total classic camper, I use the old fashion Coleman lamps and stoves, and still have one of those old canvass tents, something I am likely not going to be packing for the farm. But I will likely keep my eye out for another one, or better yet, make one myself. The cotton canvass is a classic textile, it’s been used for almost a hundred years for those world famous 1950’s tents. Sleeping in a tent made of that thick fabric is better then staying at a holiday inn in my book. If you want to fire proof classic textiles like this you should get your hands on some Ammonium Phosphate (phosphoric acid with ammonia, do not try to make at home) and Ammonium Chloride (KEEP AWAY FROM ZINC!). Get a plastic bucket, not a zinc coated one, and put in 48 fluid ounces of water, and mix in half a cup of Ammonium Phosphate, and one cup of Ammonium Chloride. Soak your tent in the buck for at least ten minutes, then wring it out and hang up to dry. Retreat after it rains.
Every year, houses burn down during the Christmas season. Part of the tradition of Christmas in our family is getting a real Christmas Tree, part of the hazard of that is the risk of a house fire from the tree. Non-LED lights get hot, to many lights on the same circuit can cause the electrical wires to over heat, and then there is the fireplace giving off sparks, and maybe you have to use a candle or two if the power goes out during an snow storm. You give yourself a little more safety by fire proofing your Christmas tree with some basic mixing in the water you use to keep it green. Get your hands on some Ammonium Sulfate, more of your grandmother’s laundry soap (Borax), and Boric Acid. Mix up a batch in four liters of water (about a jug of milk), two tablespoons of Borax, half cup of Boric Acid, and a full cup of Ammonium Sulfate. Mix, and then spray the tree down with the mix, and the rest to the water reservoir under the tree in the stand.
If your looking for land like my family, there is always the option to build your own home. No home is 100% protected from all things that can happen, not even your dream fallout or bomb shelter, but a little extra added protection is always welcome. You can add some fire proofing qualities to the beams of your house yourself by mixing up a batch of chemicals you can get at any industrial supply. What you will need is Zinc Cloride (same stuff we used to make smoke bombs as kids), Ferric Cholride (check electronic supply stores, it’s used for etching circuit boards), Boric Acid (can be bought at some home improvement stores), Borax (check your local grocery store). Mix in these chemicals directly into 2 quarts of water, about half a cup of Zinc Cholride, a quarter cup of Ferris Chloride, 3 tablespoons of Boric Acid, and 3 tablespoons of Ammonium Phosphate. Use the mix like you are painting the beams, do four coats for best results. Be careful with the Ferris Cholride, it’s slightly toxic so use rubber gloves.
Lastly what would a post about DIY fire proofing be without home made fire extinguishing liquid? Your going to need Sodium Carbonate (try to get ‘washing soda’ rather then ‘baking soda’ if you can there exactly the same, but the washing soda is cheaper), Alum (Yes the same stuff your wife gets for cooking that you steal to trap bugs in), Borax, Potassium Carbonate (commanly known as Potash), Sodium Silicate (also known as waterglass, you can make this by baking soda ash and sand in a kiln if your a ceramic artist). It is important to start with the Sodium Silicate (waterglass), mix two cups of sodium carbonate into the waterglass, then add one cup of Alum, three quarter of a cup of Borax, and one quarter of potash. Mix it evenly, then three cups of the result into one gallon of water. Pour this into a hand sprayer, like the ones used for spraying crops with insecticides. It needs a coarse nozzle. WARNING: Potash is toxic (internally). Waterglass is an irritant, avoid skin contact.
If you liked this post on DIY Fire Proofing, you’d love the book I used to discover all these and more.
Dan is a Linux geek who still writes in BASH for fun, a scripting language used by UNIX & Linux to run back end processes. He has spent the last 20+ years actively learning and writing, about the self-reliance lifestyle.
Dan grew up in Toronto, Ontario and met his wife Carol of 25 years. They moved to the outskirts of Vancouver, British Columbia in the early ‘90’s where they raised four sons. Now a new grandfather, he is more than ever inspired to help educate people to properly prepare for emergencies.