If I were to make a poll and ask a thousand preppers what their favorite survival item is, I have a feeling the vast majority of them will choose the survival knife to be their trustworthy companion. Flashlights will probably come in second, though.
Now, knives are a vast topic so let’s talk about them from a different perspective: the biggest mistakes you can make with them. I’ve made some of them myself, surely you have made them too, so let’s make sure they never happen again. Plus, if you have kids who are new to prepping, this article is a must read.
#1. Destroying the Tip of the Knife
This is by far the most common mistake. Who hasn’t used the tip as a screwdriver or to open a bottle or a jar? The problem is, there’re videos on YouTube showing how to loosen a jar using the most sensitive part of a knife. Bad idea.
#2. Not Sharpening it Correctly
I won’t go into the details of how to actually do it, but suffices to say there are certain mistakes you can make. Two of the biggest ones are sharpening at the wrong angle and putting too much pressure.
If you want to learn the right way to do it, I suggest you look over the plethora of YouTube videos. Hint: watch as many as you can to learn various ways of doing it. Plus, some of them also show the wrong ways.
#3. Not Cleaning It and Oiling It
Keeping your knife dry and rust-free is very important. It’s also very easy, you just have to remember to dry it after you clean it. If you make it a habit, you’ll never forget to do this.
Also, don’t forget the handle. If it’s a wooden handle you’ve got, know that it’s susceptible to rotting and splintering. Yes, the handle is usually treated to prevent these kinds of problems, but this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do your part to prolong its lifetime.
Once you’re done cleaning it, use olive oil, mineral oil or vegetable oil for the blade. Avoid applying it on the handle, though.
Also, keep in mind that mineral oil, although it has an expiration date, it should last years past it (for our purpose, at least). Just pour a little on a piece of cloth and then gently move it over both sides of the blade.
A good survival knife can withstand many tasks but this doesn’t mean you should use it with every chance that you get. You might want to look into getting a back-up one to handle some of them, there are plenty of budget knives out there. Also, for more delicate tasks such as peeling a fruit, consider a folding knife.
Overuse leads to a dull knife, which can lead to injuries.
There are numerous ways to use a knife in ways which can deteriorate the blade, such as:
- opening cans
- poking things (we already mentioned how sensitive the tip is)
- and even digging dirt
Now, I’m not saying you won’t have to dig for plant roots in a survival situation, just that there are other tools to help you do it.
#6. Hurting Yourself with It
Ok, so we’ve all cut ourselves with a knife at some point, and we might think we know how to use one, but a little reminder doesn’t hurt anyone. In a post-collapse environment, the bigger the cut, the harder it will be to care for it with limited supplies and no access to medical assistance.
Rules to live by:
- never run with a knife in your hand
- always cut on a surface that’s stable and never in your hand
- avoid picking up a knife by the blade
- avoid using dull knives
- never try to catch a knife that’s falling
- avoid using it as a can opener (there’ plenty of multi-tools that can do that)
#7. Storing Your Knife
Keeping the knife inside its sheath or in some other container that’s appropriate. Keep away from moisture and even light if you truly want it in tip-top shape. If stored for the long term, you should avoid keeping it in leather sheaths, they absorb moisture faster, which will affect the blade.
As far as which knives and types of knives to stockpile on, consider these:
- a folding knife for your everyday carry kit
- two survival knives for your bug out bag
- a third knife for your get home bag
- a couple more bushcraft knives at your bug out location
- plus kitchen knives to have inside your home and at your BOL (getting new knives post-collapse could be an adventure and you’ll have a lot of cutting to do if you’re going to live off-grid)
You should also stockpile on the items needed to sharpen those knives, such as a wet stone or sharpening steel.
Further reading? You bet. There’re lots of things to be learned about survival knives. From knowing which knife to get to cleaning them to sharpening them, there’s a wealth of knowledge out there. Good luck!