During a long-term disaster situation, you're going to need more than just a 72-hour bug out bag or a three day supply of emergency food. These provisions are incredibly important and should be the foundation of any Prepper stockpile. In addition to the basics, every Prepper should consider a supply of alcohol to add to their emergency stash!
Even if you don’t drink, a sizable stash of alcohol can make a huge difference during a long-term survival situation. Although alcohol might seem like a bit of a frivolous and superfluous item to stockpile, its wide array of uses and high value make it an excellent resource for any Prepper.
Why Every Prepper Needs an Alcohol Stockpile
1. Alcohol is a disinfectant.
When you disinfect an item, you kill many of the small microorganisms and pathogens that could make you sick. Although this is different from sterilization (in which you eliminate all microbes), it is an incredibly useful thing to be able to do when dealing with dirty wounds or unclean medical supplies. You can also use alcohol to wash your hands or to clean surfaces.
Generally, you can use alcohol that is more than 35% ABV (alcohol by volume) or 70 proof to disinfect wounds and tools. To do so, you’ll want a supply of vodka, brandy, rum, gin, or pure vanilla extract as other alcohols often do not have a high enough ABV.
2. Alcohol has medicinal uses.
In addition to its disinfecting abilities, alcohol has a wide array of medicinal uses. Before the advent of modern medicine, alcohol was used as everything from a painkiller to a cough syrup.
While alcohol can be a useful medicinal substance on its own, it can also be used to create a wide array of “tinctures,” that is, herbal remedies where the herbs are concentrated in a mixture of alcohol and water. Traditionally, tinctures were used in the absence of pharmaceuticals as they can be used to suppress coughs and alleviate blisters, along with other things.
3. Alcohol is valuable.
While gold and steel prices might fluctuate, it’s unlikely that we’ll ever see alcohol prices go down in our lifetimes. Alcohol is a prized commodity whose value is well accepted in many communities.
Even if you don’t drink, you can understand that there are many people who would barter some pretty useful supplies for a bottle of alcohol in an emergency situation. If you’ve stockpiled alcohol, you might have a huge upper hand in trading negotiations when it comes to acquiring food or other important items.
4. Alcohol is a distraction.
During an emergency situation, we certainly want to be alert and capable of handling anything that might happen. But what if that emergency turns into a weeks- or months-long disaster scenario?
All of the stress and worry that comes with living in a long-term emergency situation can take a serious toll on even the most dedicated of preppers, their families, and their friends. Although there are quite a few ways to relieve stress, a simple, yet enjoyable method for a group of adults can be to have a nice evening drink to relax and unwind.
Having a stash of alcohol might be a huge morale booster when you need it most!
5. Alcohol can start a fire.
Perhaps one of the most useful characteristics of alcohol is its flammability. Of course, as with using it as a disinfectant, alcohol shouldn’t be your first choice for starting or sustaining a fire, but it certainly does work in a pinch.
One should take care with this method, as it can be extremely dangerous if performed incorrectly. To start a fire with alcohol, you can soak a small item, like toilet paper, cereal boxes, or the like in your alcohol of choice (keeping in mind that higher proof alcohols work better). Then, place the soaked item amongst the kindling or coals before lighting the fire.
Although we certainly do not recommend pouring alcohol on an active fire, using it before the fire starts can be a great way to light wet wood in an emergency when done properly.
What to Consider for Your Alcohol Stockpile
Now let’s discuss what kinds of alcohol you should have.
Not all alcohol is made equal, as you likely already know. Thus, in an emergency scenario, it’s important that you have the right kinds on hand for whatever you might face. There are a number of factors that will determine what kinds of alcohol are the most useful to a prepper. The main characteristics we’re interested in when it comes to deciding what alcohol is worth stockpiling are:
Alcohol by volume (ABV), proof, and alcohol percentage are all fancy ways of discussing how much alcohol is in a given container. Roughly speaking, wines, beers, and liquors tend to have the lowest ABV counts while spirits and moonshine have the most.
The ABV of the alcohol you stockpile is important for a number of reasons. Perhaps the most important reason to consider an alcohol’s ABV is that only alcohol with an ABV percentage of more than 35% can be used for first aid wound cleaning. Anything lower will just make your wound dirty. Thus, if you do choose to stockpile lower ABV booze, be sure to have at least a bottle or two of the stronger stuff.
2. Longevity / Expiration
We've all heard tales about someone finding a 100-year-old bottle of fine French wine in their basement and about how amazing it is to drink. Fine wine only gets better with age, right?
While this might be true of some of the nicest and best-preserved wines, for the most part, lower ABV alcohols don't tend to last very long before spoiling. This is important to consider when stockpiling alcohol as you don't want to find yourself in a situation where you're trying to barter expired Baileys for food or emergency supplies. Plus, you don't want to have to continuously buy more alcohol for your stockpile as it expires.
Beer generally lasts only a year or two maximum, when unopened and red wine can last anywhere from 1 year to decades, if of high quality and stored properly. Coolers and liquors (particularly those that contain cream) have expiration dates on the bottle that need to be adhered to.
Roughly speaking, higher ABV alcohols, such as spirits and moonshine can last indefinitely, even when opened. This is why we would recommend stockpiling only hard alcohol with ABV greater than 35, but ideally 40!
Let’s be honest here - alcohol can be expensive. Particularly when it comes to spirits, a quality Scotch single malt can be significantly more expensive than a domestically available blend like Jack Daniels.
For many preppers, it’s important to consider the ‘bang for your buck’ factor of whatever alcohol you buy. Lower quality spirits and moonshine will often be the best price per unit of alcohol, so a few crates of those are definitely worth acquiring. That being said, it’s also worth investing in at least a bottle or two of something nice as it could become a very useful bartering tool, down the line.
With these three factors in mind, let’s move into an assessment of the various types of alcohol by their overall prepper stockpile value.
Prepper alcohol type assessment
Beer is perhaps one of the least useful stockpiling alcohols. While it may seem cheap, it actually has a relatively high cost per unit of alcohol. Moreover, since it is so low in ABV (3-9%, on average), it has few uses besides as a beverage.
Plus, beer doesn’t last very long (6 months - 2 years) so it’s not great for stockpiling in the event of an emergency. While a cold beer is certainly a nice drink at the end of a long day, it has little value as a prepper commodity.
Similar to beer, wine is not the best stockpiling alcohol. It might have a slightly higher ABV (9-18%), but even that’s not enough to be a disinfectant for wounds. Wine can also be quite expensive per unit of alcohol and unless it’s a nice red wine, it doesn’t last terribly long.
That being said, if you wanted to invest in a few bottles of very nice wine, it could be worth it as a bartering tool. Some bottles do consistently increase in value, but you’ll have to spend a pretty penny to acquire one in the first place.
Liquors are similar to spirits in a lot of ways, but they have some very important differences. The most important difference between a spirit and a liquor is that liquors have added sugar and often added cream. This means that most of them have shelf lives of up to two years and generally have lower ABVs (15-45%).
They tend not to be useful for medical purposes, either, so they’re not really a great option. However, if you like them, it is possible to find higher ABV, longer life-span liquors out there - but you probably have to forgo the Baileys.
We’ve been hinting at it throughout this article, but spirits are generally your best bet when it comes to stockpiling alcohol.
Spirits tend to have high alcohol percentages (35-55%) and they can last indefinitely when unopened or when opened and kept in ideal conditions in an airtight container. Plus, their higher ABV often makes them great for first aid purposes.
When it comes to spirits, however, it can be difficult to choose a particular type. Whiskey, vodka, and rum tend to be the go-to options for most preppers as they are well known and appreciated by most of the general public.
If you’re limited in what you can stockpile, consider acquiring a good amount of cheap vodka (which tends to be high in ABV) and a few bottles of nice whiskey. This will ensure that you have some alcohol for practical uses and some for bartering.
The final category of alcohol we’ll look at is moonshine. Typically 70-90% ABV, moonshine is a great disinfectant. That being said, your body treats anything above 90% alcohol as basically poison, so it’s not the most drinkable of beverages. It also tends to be quite cheap per unit, so it’s got some great bang-for-your-buck quality to it.
However, most people can’t drink moonshine, so don’t think that it has any real bartering value. It might be worth keeping a bottle, though, as it lasts indefinitely and is great for medicinal purposes.
At the end of the day, an alcohol stockpile can be incredibly useful in a long-term emergency scenario. With its many uses, alcohol is certainly worth having on hand, so really you just need to decide what kinds you’re going to acquire.
Regardless of what you choose, be sure to consider the ABV, longevity, and price of any alcohol you might stockpile. It could certainly make a difference down the line.