Newspaper is a wonderful multi-purpose product that certainly has a place in your stockpile, which could be used within the house, and also for outdoor survival.
Let’s see some functionally valuable survival uses for newspaper if SHTF.
Insulation for Walls or Pipes
When building houses 100 years ago, newspaper was often used as insulation. It was cheap and effective.
Should you find yourself in a situation where you have to build an abode, or your home is damaged and you need to fix it in SHTF situation, newspaper is a great insulator.
You can also wrap your pipes in it at night to prevent them from freezing.
You can, of course, use newspaper as a fire starter as-is. Just wad it up and put it underneath your kindling. Or, you can roll it up or shred it and coat it in wax. Allow it to dry and cut or break into pieces if necessary. When you need to light a fire, just set it on the wood and light it. This is an awesome way to repurpose both old candle wax and newspapers.
Try stirring the shredded paper in wax and then stuffing it into toilet paper rolls. That works really well and gives you something to hold the whole, gloppy mess while it dries. If you’d like, dip the whole thing in wax and use whole or slice. We slice ours into 3 or 4 pieces before it’s completely hardened.
Just like the Sears and Roebuck catalog of old, newspaper will serve quite well as toilet paper in a pinch. Don’t use the glossy paper for this – just the print paper. To make it soft, just wad it up and rub it between your knuckles a little.
If you really need directions for this use beyond this bit of advice, please read our article on Homemade Substitutes for Toilet Paper.
This isn’t myth; it’s fact. Phone books or stacks of newspaper, if compressed together into a solid wall that’s a few inches thick, will stop most bullets.
You can either use this inside your walls or you can build barricades sort of like sandbags in designated areas that you’re planning to use ase defense areas.
Organic Weed Prevention
Instead of using black plastic, layer your garden beds with a layer of newspaper. It’s biodegradable and will stop the growth of weeds just as effectively as the black plastic that many people use. Place a few layers down and weight it by wetting it a bit or by placing some rocks on the corner. The added benefit here is that it actually helps fertilize the soil for the next season, too.
Blanket or Protection from Dampness Under Sleeping Bag
You’ve often seen bums, at least on TV, sleeping under newspapers. There’s a good reason for that: they’re warm! Just a couple of layers of newspaper serves to block the wind and hold in body heat. Of course, the more layers you have, the warmer you’ll be.
A few layers of newspaper will also help to insulate you from the cold or wet ground. Just place it under you before you lie down.
Draft-Proofing or Covering Windows
Just as it works well for insulating you and your walls, newspaper makes an excellent draft-stopper around your doors and windows. Just tuck it into the cracks and you’ll be amazed by how much cold air you’ll keep out (or in, as the case may be in the summer).
If you’re looking for a quick way to cover your windows in order to keep people from seeing in, or to camouflage your house so that it looks less appealing, newspaper works wonders. As a matter of fact, this is one of our favorite survival uses for newspaper. Just wet it with water, or even add a bit of flour to make it stickier, and stick it on the windows.
This has the added benefit of being easy to remove and if you only add one layer, you’ll still get plenty of light but people won’t be able to see in.
Homemade Seed Pots
Newspaper is so easy to work with that you can shape it into just about anything that you want to make out of it.
People wet it and wrap it around balloons to make pinatas and fold it into cute little baskets.
In the same vein, you can cut the newspaper into squares, wet it, and layer it over the end of a baseball bat or other object of similar size. Allow it to dry and voila!
You have biodegradable seed pots, perfectly sized! You can plant the seedling, cup and all, when it’s big enough to set outside.
Entertainment or Education
One of the things that we always stress is that it’s just as important to have entertainment items such as cards and books in your stockpile as it is to have weapons and food in order to alleviate boredom and maintain morale.
Old newspapers are great sources of reading material; there are almost always great articles, comics, and informational pieces as well as current news in there so that you’ll keep your mind occupied by reading it. Also, if you have kids who are learning to read, newspapers will be a good way to practice those skills.
There are a ton of uses for old newspapers if you just get creative. You can use them as lint-free ways to clean your windows, and to make papier mache decorative items. Toss them in the rack beside your fireplace to help you get your fire started or use the funny papers as an original, environmentally-friendly way to wrap gifts.
(Video first seen on Woman’s Day)
The list of potential uses goes on and on. But there are some things that you just wouldn’t realistically use it for.
When researching the topic of survival uses for newspaper in an attempt to find some great ideas on top of what we already knew, we came across some absolutely ridiculous ideas. One was using the newspaper as a weapon, that we just believed pushed the boundaries of common sense unless you have absolutely nothing else to throw at an enemy. Even then, we’d suggest running instead of trying to beat them to death with the comics section.
Just as with all survival decisions, use your head and be logical.
If you have some great ideas about survival uses for newspaper, please share them with us in the comments section below!
This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.
Deb | April 14, 2014
I have heard, that in a pinch, if a women is having a baby, delivery and wrapping a baby in newspaper is a very sterile environment for the newborn.
Karen Patrick | April 14, 2014
My mother, born in the 1920’s, got hand-me-down shoes from her brother, most of which had holes in the soles. She would fold newspapers and place them in the shoes to cover the holes.
Dorothy | April 14, 2014
Keep in mind that stacks of “stored” newspapers can ..and DO ..spontaneously combust. I personally know of three homes destroyed specifically caused by stacked newspapers. One had a porch full of papers stacked about three foot high. Another was a hoarder situation … barely room to walk a narrow area between the stacks. Small critters like mice also love to chew their way into newprint to nest. I keep a reasonable amount of newspaper, in boxes so it can be lugged outside if there is an issue, and never huge amounts. If you need large amounts quickly, the recycle dumpsters are full generally with tonnage.
Grace | April 15, 2014
Who has newspapers anymore? We even “lost” our pennysaver.
Ronald F. Bradford | April 15, 2014
I haven’t heard anyone say anything about post SHTF lack of plumbing for sewers except that it will back up if no pumps are running. In that case, I am from the era where the old-fashioned outhouse was only about 40-50 feet from the house. A good-sized hole covered by a wooden outhouse with a door latching from either side with an enclosed bench with a potty hole cut into the top of the bench. Not all that sanitary but if you stock a supply of lime to cover it periodically it helps. When the hole gets full…dig another hole , move the outhouse to the new location and cover up the old hole. Voila, hence the name portapotty. Better than having your bathroom full of sewer any day. Oh by the way, it would be wise to install a big gatevalve on the line to cut off possibilities of any backfeed during SHTF scenarios.
Ronald F. Bradford | April 15, 2014
I haven’t heard anyone say anything about post SHTF lack of plumbing for sewers except that it will back up if no pumps are running. In that case, I am from the era where the old-fashioned outhouse was only about 40-50 feet from the house. A good-sized hole covered by a wooden outhouse with a door latching from either side with an enclosed bench with a potty hole cut into the top of the bench. Not all that sanitary but if you stock a supply of lime to cover it periodically it helps. When the hole gets full…dig another hole , move the outhouse to the new location and cover up the old hole. Voila, hence the name portapotty. Better than having your bathroom full of sewer any day. Oh by the way, it would be wise to install a big gatevalve on the line to cut off possibilities of any backfeed during SHTF scenarios. Just sayin’
SMAHONEY | April 15, 2014
I saw a device in a catalog (Harriet Carter?) that has a crank handle on a shaft with a notch in it that will wrap newspapers into a “log”. Anyone ever tried this?
Great Grey | April 16, 2014
Such devices have be around for very long time. I’ve seen ads for them since the ’60s and sure they are older than that. It depends on how well made it is. The other thing is don’t use more newspaper then it is designed for. I’ve never used one but have read about them many years ago. The logs should burn for some time.
Doug | April 18, 2014
Yes, I tried it and it worked very poorly if at all. Don’t waste your money!
GUNNY bILL | May 25, 2014
We didn’t have a fancy crank device. Dad would have us cut the plastic carrier for 6 packs into individual circles. Then we would roll news paper as tight as possible and us the plastic rings to hold them together. You can burn them like that.
We went one step further and stood these rolled up papers on end in a bucket. Then after doing an oil change in the car we would pour the used oil into the bucket. I have actually had the entire top of our wood burning stone red hot using these logs.
Ellen Den Dulk | April 16, 2014
When your shoes are wet – they dry faster, if you stuff them with newspaper. They also keep the shape of your shoes better
Nashoba losa | April 18, 2014
We used to roll paper into logs to start fires. All it took was the roller device, water, dishwashing detergent and newspapers. We secured them with plastic zip ties or very thin wire so they would not unravel when dry. They worked quite well and they did burn much slower and longer than we ever thought they would.
Rixmom | April 25, 2014
Not exactly survival but frugal and fun, using the colored comics as wrapping paper.
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phinecia | April 30, 2014
You can make baskets. There’s a great how to video on YouTube 🙂
Alishan | August 3, 2015