Tuesday, March 29, 2016

How to make decorative oil candles.

In just a few easy steps, you can have yourself a decorate oil candle that will burn for hours or even days (depending on volume of oil and burning length of wick).  These types of candles can be scented by a few drops of whatever essential oil you might like to add; or they can be naturally scented with organic flowers or plants (e.g. roses, lilacs, pine cones/needles...etc).

WATCH the video below to see Leisha demonstrate. 

Items needed: 

- clean vegetable oil
- glass jar
- floating wicks (we picked up a 50-pack for about $3)
- essential oil drops for scent (optional)
- optional scented organic matter (pine cones, flower petals..etc)


1. Add optional organic or decorative material (like glass rocks).
2. Fill the jar or glass container 6/8 way with oil.
3. Adjust the floating wick so that 1/4 of it is above the floating disc (or a much or little wick as you want).
4. Place the floating wick in the oil and then light.

A safer version of this candle can be made by filling the jar most of the way with water and then adding a little oil on top. The wick will extinguish itself once the oil burns off. You should always ensure a safe margin of oil space above any organic material - to prevent it from catching fire as the wick burns.

NEVER leave an oil candle unattended or unsupervised!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

How to make Maple Syrup

Just a brief little video from start to finish on finding a sugar or red maple for tapping, what I collect the sap in, and how I boil it down. Here in Pennsylvania, the red maples make a more golden coloured syrup than our neighbors up north in Vermont.

1 quart Sugar & Red maple syrup mix
Sugar Maple ratio = 40:1
Red Maple    ratio = 60:1

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

GRAYL Ultralight : "Holy Grail" of portable water purifiers!

Exactly one year ago to this day, I was being offered a humble (yet dignified) glass of water from the head of a rural household in the literal middle of Pakistan. While I had gone prepared with a small portable UV type water sterilizer, I opted to not disrespect the honorary gesture and leave my magic wand hidden in my backpack and straight-up drink the beverage that was offered me. I did this … knowing what was sure to be in the water (as it contained the same odor as the raw sewage water which flowed in open trenches around the modest brick & mud houses).


Fortunately for me and my wife, that small prayer we prayed right before drinking this beverage seemed to suffice in our not taking ill to whatever microscopic forces infested the water.
Unfortunately, this is a lesson that all too many learn in a most painstaking way when traveling abroad – or even when drinking from a seemingly “crystal clear” mountain stream.

While there have long been many options available for the adventuring traveler, finding the “holy grail” of portable water purifiers has certainly proven a quest. I'm not one for chemical treatments or other ways of adulterating a drink to make it “acceptable”; and survival straws are great & all – but still just don't quite give one that full bout of confidence. Portable UV purifiers like the SteriPen are what I've used most frequently in my overseas journeys; but they only sterilize the water - without filtering it of contaminants such as heavy metals, dangerous particles, sediment and other potentially hazardous contaminants. They also rely on the need for a power source for recharging, and contain fragile lamps that -if broken- can leave you defenseless. 

And that's why there's the GRAYL. <<< (appropriately named)

GRAYL Ultralight

Quick Specs:
- purifies & filters
- 16 oz capacity
- 300 uses per filter (40Gal / 150L)
- weight: 10.9 oz (empty)

Purification AND Filtration: 

-Removes: 99.9999% of viruses (e.g. rotavirus, norovirus, hepatitis A)
-Removes: 99.9999% of bacteria (e.g. e.coli, salmonella, cholera)
-Removes: 99.999% of protozoan cysts (e.g. giardia, cryptosporidium)
-Filters particulates (e.g. sand, silt, sediment), chemicals (e.g. chlorine, iodine), and heavy metals (e.g. lead, arsenic).
-Improves water flavor, odor and clarity.


In my experience with survival straws, uv wands, make-shift solar stills, and filtering water through my own sock – it doesn't get any easier than the Grayl. The Ultralight is used in a quick 3-step process: FILL :: PRESS :: DRINK

That's it. No complicated nonsense. Just one press, and drink.
I thought it too good to be true myself... so I gave it a try on some spring water that flowed through 200 acres of appalachia mountain forest, through a pond, and down a waterfall before entering my GRAYL.

Final thoughts:
After repetitive use of the Ultralight for drinking our pond and creek water – I can firmly attest that despite all the foreign matter of animal droppings and contaminants, that this Grayl provided a clean drink every time. Furthermore, it's light weight construction and size makes it ideal for fitting in or clipping onto my backpack.

What I'm really looking forward to is it's use in upcoming travels, both domestically and abroad. Without any fragile parts, batteries, or chemicals involved, it's certainly a save for passing through airport security as well as other checkpoints; and it'll survive a tumble or two when things get sketchy. Additionally, there's no comparison for the peace of mind that comes with not having to debate between dehydration or filtering your drinking water through an old dirty sock!

Learn more about this product direct from the inventors! http://www.thegrayl.com/

Disclosure: Work'n Man's Life received a sample Grayl Ultralight from Grayl for this review. The opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of author and have in no way been influenced by or reflect those of Grayl. 

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Human-powered Electricity with the Power Socket 2.

Off-grid power has long been a subject of interest for myself and other likeminded individuals who prefer to best prepare for worst-case-scenarios. In my researching of power alternatives for both off-grid living and off-grid traveling, I gained a fascination for the concept of human-powered generators.

Years ago, I tried a few hand crank power models that were available at the time – and found all of them to be relatively useless, cheap, and outright impractical for a real life application. I was however intrigued at the concept of a DIY bicycle powered generator, but never invested the time or $ into building one myself. // Well here it is almost a decade later, and I've finally tried and tested a human-powered generator worth writing home (or blogging) about ::

Quick Specs:

-size: 2.5'' x 2.25'' x 6.875''
-weight: 15 oz
-output: 10watts at 120volts


The Pocket Socket 2 provides an experience that can be expected when using a “human-powered” generator. You will work for your electrical gain; however, unlike other inferior models out there – you will be able to reap the fruits of your labor with K-Tor. I found that keeping a good momentum is very important in utilizing this product for the desired efficiency. You don't want to be starting and stopping a lot (but you don't want to kill yourself either). Speaking as a physically fit person, 5 continuous minutes of cranking the Pocket Socket 2 did cause me to break a slight sweat and take some deeper breathes.

VIDEO CORRECTION:   I mistakingly was calling this device a "Power Socket" instead of it's true name: POCKET SOCKET.  Please forgive my mishap as you watch the following video review! 

Items I've Tested:

-iPhone 5c
(note: this phone charges at 1% per 2.75min when plugged into a wall outlet)
(charged 1% per 3.25min at my cranking momentum plugged into Pocket Socket 2)

-RCA Cambio Netbook Tablet
-SteriPen Ultra
-USB Battery Power Bank
-Handheld Spotlight (I hold the light, the wife cranks ;)
-BaoFeng uv3-mark ii dual band transceiver
-Cobra 2-way radios
-Cobra 19DX IV CB radio

Off-Grid & Survival uses:

The main appeal of this product for me is it's usefulness in places (and times) where power might now be readily available. My wife and I travel frequently to places around the world where we can't always access electricity; and while we do carry some portable solar USB battery banks with us, even those can deplete and not be ready when needed. The Pocket Socket 2 affords one the option to turn your own calories into electricity when you need it most. Whether it's at home during a lengthy power outage or storm, or while backpacking for a week in the wilderness, or while traveling oversees, or even to keep in the emergency kit in the trunk of the car – this product is worth its weight (15 oz) in investment.

Use off-grid anywhere in the world. 

Disclosure: Work'n Man's Life received a sample PocketSocket 2 from K-Tor for this review. The opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of author and have in no way been influenced by or reflect those of K-Tor.