13 Survival Uses for PVC

Survival Uses PVC

PVC or Polyvinyl Chloride is one of the most, if not the most, widely used plastic piping today. It is relatively inexpensive, comes in various diameters, and can be joined together with solvent and PVC cement.

Because of the various diameters, and the fact it is impervious to water and decay, PVC pipe is ideal for storing items, survival items, for example, in the ground. PVC pipe can be made into survival gear as well, and what it can be used for or made into is only limited by your imagination.

PVC pipe and end caps are joined by using solvent that softens/cleans the material and then by applying PVC cement and twisting the pieces together to ensure the cement is applied evenly. This is sometimes called a solvent weld because the plastic essentially melts together creating a permanent and waterproof seal. White schedule 40 PVC pipe is one of the most common.

Supply Storage

PVC pipe is ideal for storage caches because it can be stored in the ground for decades without any obvious effects on the plastic. You can cement end caps or attach fittings that allow you to unscrew the end caps. Keep in mind that the threaded caps would not be as waterproof as caps that were glued to the pipe using solvent and cement. You can dip the cap end (s) in melted wax to improve the water resistance. The pipe can be painted any color to camouflage it.

If you cement both ends together you will need a way to cut one end off to get to the supplies. Using a knife would not be ideal. You would need a hacksaw or some type of plastic pipe cutting tool. Additionally, if you use cement on both ends and have to cut one end then the pipe cannot be used for storage unless you have another cap along with solvent and pipe cement.

Quiver for Arrows or Bolts

Decide how long you want the quiver and cut to size using a hacksaw blade or you can use a wire wood saw that is common in many survival kits. The wire saws, while they do work to some extent, are not ideal for any heavy duty wood sawing but keep one in your kit for cutting PVC pipe. The pipe can be painted to camouflage it, or use camouflage duct tape.

You can cut a hacksaw blade in half and duct tape or use ranger bands to attach to a knife sheath or pack, so you always have a blade handy to cut the pipe. Attach cordage so the quiver can be carried across the back. Drill drain holes in the bottom to prevent water from collecting in the bottom.

Is PVC Safe for Carrying Drinking Water

White schedule 40 PVC is rated safe for drinking water. There are concerns that the plastic can leach chemicals into the water but PVC has been used since the 1950’s for drinking water, and any pipe manufactured after 1977 is considered safe. Schedule 40 PVC is rated for cold water while CPVC is rated for hot water. White schedule 40 will not withstand hot water temperatures and can cause leaks around seals if used (NSF, 2015).

Therefore PVC pipe schedule 40 can be used to carry drinking water. Cap and solvent weld one of the ends and attach a removable screw cap on the other end. Attach cordage for carrying the water tube, but do not of course, make any holes in the pipe while doing so. Use whatever diameter pipe you feel you can carry once filled with water.

Water Collection

Cut a two or three inch section from half of the pipe leaving a small trough that can be used to channel water dripping down from a corner of your shelter or to collect water from dripping vegetation and then into a collection vessel.

You can make a water bucket from larger diameter pipe for water storage and transport around camp.

Everyday Carry

Take smaller diameter pipe and cut to lengths that can be carried in a pocket, around the neck on a breakaway chain, put in a briefcase or purse, and carried the glove compartment of your vehicle.

Cap one end permanently and put a temporary cap on the other to carry matches, fishhooks, fishing line, fire tinder, magnesium shavings, and other emergency survival gear. Use dental floss or cotton twine dipped in wax to waterproof the threads. Wrap the twine or floss around the threads and screw the cap on. Dipping the end in wax could work, but if carrying close to the body the wax will soften and may work away from the threads over time.

Weapon

A section of PVC pipe can be filled with sand or concrete and capped off to create a club. Keep in mind it will be heavy, so do not make so long so it cannot be swung effectively, and do not use a large diameter pipe. The pipe must be sized so the hand can grip it well.   

You could conceivably attach a spear point to one end of the pipe to use for hunting, spear fishing or for self defense. If you want to use it as a spear you would need to add some weight to put some force behind the thrust and to balance the spear. You can do this by inserting plugs and weight. Drive a wooden plug or cork down the pipe, fill with sand or weight of some sort to give some mass to the spear end, and then drive another plug in further back and repeat with the weight to help balance the spear.

Dart Gun

In theory you could use a small diameter piece of PVC for a dart gun, but because of the length required, the pipe would not be ridged enough without some modifications. You would likely have to tape some stout pieces of slender wood, an arrow shaft, for example, to the pipe to prevent it from flexing/bending down as you raised it to use.

Launch Arrows or Darts by Creating an Atlatl

You could launch a spear by placing a smaller diameter shaft inside the PVC pipe and thrust by gaining some momentum and then launching. You may want to consider adding a handle to the pipe to help with the grip and thrusting motion.

You can also cut half the pipe away on one end to create what is called a bearing surface. You would have to create a plug so the shaft rests against it without going into the pipe. The spear or shaft would rest on the surface and then the pipe is drawn back and using the upper arm and wrists the shaft is thrust forward off the bearing surface. There are various designs, so you have to figure out what would work best for you. Cordage can be implemented to help with the thrust.

Boat Anchor

Use a larger diameter piece of pipe, four inches for example, and fill with concrete. You can extend some chain into the pipe while filling with concrete so the chain is attached securely once the concrete cures or drill holes and place “U-bolts” through the pipe and then fill, so rope or chain can be attached or removed when needed to transport the anchor to other watercraft.

Tool

Cut a small section away at one end to create a crude shovel or digging device. File to sharpen and shape the cut end to create a tool for digging up edible plants, roots, or bulbs.

Well Casing

Large diameter PVC pipe that has holes drilled in it can be used as a well casing. Center the pipe in the well and fill in around the sides with gravel and soil. Once the pipe is inserted and you have filled around it, you can insert an electric water pump and cap off or cap the top leaving room to add a manual pump.

Survival Bow

PVC is flexible to a certain point, so it can be made into a longbow. You can heat the pipe to flatten certain areas and/or to create a recurve bow or in a true survival situation you can use just a section of pipe along with some cordage. The pipe will crimp in the middle if drawn back too far however. You can use fiberglass rods to reinforce the bow by taping them together and inserting into the pipe. There are literally hundreds of videos online demonstrating how to make a bow out of PVC pipe.

Fishing

Make a fishing rod out of small diameter pipe. You can force a plug (cork or wood) seven or eight inches into the pipe at the handle end to create a storage compartment for hooks, line, lead weights and so on. Put a screw cap on to keep water out. On the other end cut holes or grooves to attach line and when not in use you can wrap the line around the pipe.

Some of you are already thinking that PVC piping would not be available in most survival situations. This is true of course, but what gear and material is available in a survival situation, hence why it is called a survival situation. Gear and material must be on your person, or made on the spot from material found in your environment. In an urban survival situation however, PVC pipe would be available virtually anywhere.

Create survival gear now before you need it that can be carried with you. You would always need waterproof containers to store matches, medical supplies and so on, so make some now that can be used later. You can carry small pipe cut into sections that can be used in any situation, but you need the material in your pack so it can be used.

Think about other uses for PVC in a survival situation and start gathering up the materials that can be carried with you, because you simply do not know what it can be used for until you need it.