From animal intestines to rubber and now latex, the condom has been on quite a journey in its history.
A condoms reputation for surprising strength, along with their general versatility, has seen them used for other purposes.
Including condoms in survival kits is not a new idea, so here is ten ways a condom can save your life.
Step 1: Supplies
Unlubricated condoms are best for survival kits; however if you cannot find unlubricated condoms, the lubricant rinses off easily with water.
Tying the mouth of the condom off works best if you tie the mouth of the condom around a stick; use a stick, about the diameter of your finger so you can untie it fairly easily for reuse.
For this Instructable I used twigs, wooden dowels, a pen, I even used two carbon fiber arrow shafts.
Step 2: #1 Water Jug
In the wilderness you never know when or how long of a time you will find yourself between sources of potable water. The average modern condom can hold approximately one gallon of liquid, however in the wild it is a lot harder to fill a condom without a pressurized tap.
The average condom holds about one litre of potable water when placed under falling water. A Condom is easier to fill when water is falling into it versus just sweeping it through the water. In the wild if you can find a little water fall or a fast moving stream it will make filling the condom a lot easier. Once the condom is full, tie the mouth of the condom off. This works best if you tie the mouth of the condom around a stick about the diameter of your finger so you can untie it fairly easily. Just tying it off without a stick can make it difficult to open or reuse the condom for water. And depending on your situation you may need to use the condom repeatedly to hold water until you are out of danger.
Step 3: Carrying Condom Canteens
There are two challenges with condom canteens; they are very unruly and puncture easily. While condoms excel in elasticity they lack in durability, the thin latex walls are very susceptible to sharp objects and puncture. When filled with water, the slightest prick, even from a blade of grass will puncture a condom and cause it to burst. Holding a condom of water in your hand, is harder than holding a live fish and easy to drop, and then you’ve lost your water and your container.
There is a means of carrying water in a condom in relative safety; the best method I found is to carry the water filled condoms in an article of clothing like a shirt sleeve or a pants leg. Tie off the shirt sleeves or pants legs and place the water filled condoms in the sleeve. Then just drape the article of clothing over your shoulders like a shawl.
Remember just because you have water doesn’t mean it’s fit to drink; so once your condom is full, you now consider purification options. Boiling is an option if you have a fireproof container or metal pot, and you’re just using the condom to transport water from point A to point B. If you do not have a fireproof container you can purify the water chemically with Iodine, a couple drops of Chlorine Bleach, or store bought water purification tablets.
Step 4: #2 Condom Lifesaver
Keeping with the water theme; just as a condom can hold water it can also hold air and keep water out. A single condom filled with air can add 10 lb buoyancy to you out in the middle of a lake or the ocean.
Just like carrying water in a condom, inflate the condoms with air like a balloon. Inflate the condoms inside the article of clothing like a shirt sleeve or a pants leg. Tie the ends of the shirt sleeves or pants legs together. A long sleeved shirt with buttons on the cuff can be buttoned to each other. Next drape the article of clothing around your back, under your arms, with the air filled condom sleeves or legs out in front of you. Then put the tied cuffs around your neck behind your head.
This is important; make sure the inflated condoms are in front of you, rescue may be a long time in coming, and if you fall asleep on the water with the condoms behind you they can push your face in the water and you will drown.
Step 5: #3 Protecting Your Electronics
In a dark zones; cellphones won’t work, but you might want your cellphone once you are out of the dark zone. From cellphones to small radios and pocket GPS, condoms make a good water barrier protecting them from rain to being submersed in lakes and rivers.
Step 6: #4 Protecting Your Tinder
The easiest way to use a condom to aid in survival fire is protecting dry tinder. Just because the weather is nice now doesn’t mean it’s going to remain that way. Finding dry fire tinder in wet and rainy conditions can be next to impossible. Simply stuff the condom with your best tinder and tuck it away for a rainy day. Just make sure the tinder is soft without sharp edges or pointed ends that will puncture the condom.
My favorite tinder is Chaga Mushroom or true tinder fungus; Chaga is a survivalist or bushman’s multi tool fungus. The dried light brown inside of chaga is used to start fires as the smallest spark can ignite it. The smoke from burning chaga is a mosquito repellent and a medicinal tea is made from chaga.
Condoms burn so they also make a good fire tinder; they light easily with an open flame such as a match, or a lighter. A latex condom will burn very well for several minutes giving you plenty of time to build your fire.
Step 7: #5 Protecting Your Fire Starter
Ok I’m lazy; my preference for a fire starter is a Bic lighter or matches, but if you don’t have matches, or a Ferro rod, you can fill a clear condom with water and use it as a magnifying glass on a sunny day or you can try using the condom as a thumb loop hand drill.
Step 8: #6 First Aid
I read an article where a survivalist used a condom as a surgical glove; it didn’t work for me, in fact every time I tried to use a condom as a glove, the condom broke. They do make a good bandage if you place them over a piece of cloth covering an injury.
Step 9: #7 Pressure Bandage
I make a very good pressure bandage for hemorrhaging wounds with a wad of gauze and an elastic bandage; but unless you have a fully equipped first aid kit this works. Simply wad up a piece of cloth or leaves and wrap it with condoms. Look I found a use for the broken condoms, although the condoms broke when I tried to use them as a glove, the rim of the condoms expand enough to fit over my arm.
Step 10: #8 Splints
Making a finger splint with a condom is quite easy all you need is a twig to immobilize the finger and roll the condom over two fingers and the twig.
Working onehanded you can make an arm splint quite easily with a couple twigs or arrow shafts. I found another use for the broken condoms.
I used two carbon fiber arrow shafts to make an arm splint, place the arrows along the broken limb, push the arrow tip through the rolled up condom and slip the condom into place. Continue adding condoms until the limb is immobilized.
Step 11: #9 Protect Your Muzzle
There is a long relationship between guns and condoms starting with the saying, “I’d rather have one and not need it than, need one and not have it.”
A friend of mine was hunting rabbit and grouse with a 20 gage shotgun when he spotted a grouse in a tree. He raised his gun and fired at the grouse in the tree blowing 4 inches off the end of his barrel. The muzzle hand been plugged by snow without his knowing.
There are reports of soldiers using condoms to protect their rifles from water damage during war time. Able to fit everything from a 22 to a 12 gage shotgun, a condom can keep your muzzle clear of obstructions. If the condom is too loose for your liking, just figure eight the rim of the condom like a loose elastic band and flip it over the muzzle a second time.
Step 12: #10 Keep Your Powder Dry
Modern ammunition isn’t as susceptible to moisture as antique arms; but if you are into antique fire arms like this 1895 32 caliber Defender revolver, or this 41 caliber pocket pistol from the 1830s, you will want to keep your ammo dry. Primers, powder, frizzen, and flint, as well as the action can fail when wet or frozen.
Remember; if you are going to put the gun in a condom cover the hammer with a piece of cloth so it won’t puncture the condom.
And there you have it ten ways a condom can save your life.