5 Survival Uses for Tobacco
First, smoking and using tobacco products is detrimental to your health.
Nicotine is a potent parasympathomimetic alkaloid found in the nightshade family of plants (Solanaceae) and is considered a stimulant drug. Nicotine can be toxic to humans and to insects/parasites. Nicotine is found in the leaves of Nicotiana tabacum, the tobacco plant.
At one time the United States Military provided cigarettes in rations that were issued to members of the military. Typically three non-filtered cigarettes were provided, but they were not just for smoking. Some of you may remember “Smoke Em If You Got Em, Bum Em If Ya Don’t”.
Tobacco use today is discouraged of course, but there are some uses for tobacco in a survival situation that you should look at nonetheless.
The following is for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice, nor should you infer that this article condones the use of tobacco products for recreational purposes.
If you have ever studied a military survival manual you would have found under survival first aid a remedy for intestinal parasites. The remedy described in the manual brings us to our first survival use for tobacco. FM 21-76 pg. (s) 42/43
1.). Remove Intestinal Parasites
Eat 1 to 1.5 cigarettes to stun intestinal parasites so they can pass through your system. Nicotine will stun, or possibly even kill the parasites. Follow up treatment is 24 to 48 hours after the first treatment, and you would apply the same dosage.
In a survival situation intestinal parasites can enter your body from contaminated water or food, which could create a serious medical condition if not treated. The treatment described to rid your body of parasites has been used for decades, if not for centuries around the world.
2.) Fire Tinder
Obviously tobacco burns and when in cigarette or cigar form, the tightly packed tobacco will maintain an ember for a certain period. It will require that you draw on the cigarette/cigar to maintain the ember however.
The ember will not last long, but long enough for you to move your fire from one location to another. If you light a cigar and draw on it occasionally you could maintain an ember for several hours in some cases.
Cigarette paper is excellent tinder if kept dry, so if carrying cigarettes keep in the cellophane until ready to use to help keep the paper and tobacco dry.
3.) Insect Repellent/Insecticide
You can make your own insecticide/repellent by soaking tobacco in water overnight to leach out the nicotine and other chemicals in the tobacco. Some state that boiling a package of chewing tobacco in one gallon of water works the best, but you can put a single cigarette in a quart of water and let soak overnight for field expediency. After boiling and cooling or soaking overnight, strain the mixture well and then spray or pour around the area where control is needed. The mixture is extremely effective at controlling spiders.
Add dish soap to the solution to help it cling to surfaces.
Some people spray the mixture directly onto the plants to control aphids and other pests, but the solution can harm certain plants, in particular tomato plants, so be careful and experiment with just a few leaves at first.
In a survival situation you would use the insecticide/repellent to control pest in and around your shelter, around your food caches and to keep pest out of your gear or pack. The mixture can be applied to the walls of the shelter and around the outside of the shelter and even applied directly to certain pieces of equipment and gear.
Some articles have you applying the mixture to clothing and other material you would be handling often, but this means the solution could be absorbed through the skin. This is not recommended. Therefore, carefully consider what equipment or materials to treat.
4.) First Aid for Stings, Cuts, and Other Medicinal Uses
Wet the tobacco either by chewing or by mixing with water to create a poultice that can be applied to stings or minor cuts.
Native Americans believe that a poultice made from tobacco leaves will draw the poison from a snake bite. Tobacco also acts as a pain reliever when applied as a topical agent, and some believe it acts as a disinfectant as well.
A poultice made out of tobacco can be used to relieve toothache pain, but keep in mind when doing so you will be introducing nicotine into your body or into the body of your children or other people. Nicotine in certain forms can also be absorbed through the skin, nicotine patches are just one example.
As a Prepper you want to stockpile items that you need and want, but you have to consider the needs and wants of others, as well, so you can use items to bargain with others for goods and services they can provide. Bartering is when goods and services, and not money exchange hands.
Tobacco in all its forms can be used for bartering. Just because there is a crisis does not mean people are no longer addicted to tobacco products, so keep this in mind even if you do not use tobacco products yourself.
The above described are not the only survival uses for tobacco, but they are the most widely known and for the most part, there is some scientific evidence behind what has been noted.
Jacksonville State University. (n.d.). Retrieved 2015, from http://www.jsu.edu/news/july_dec2005/07282005a.html