How to Harness the Sun’s Power for Preparedness

Written by Jonathan Dick

Preparation is all about being able to use the tools and knowledge that you have available. The sun can be a great tool because isn’t going anywhere!

You can use the sun for cooking, navigation, power, heating, cooling, cleaning and more. Provide your comments below.

Start a fire (with chocolate)
Who knew that you can polish with chocolate? Use chocolate to polish the bottom of an aluminum can. It should be reflective. (Don’t eat the chocolate after.) Now, use the concave bottom of the can to fragment the light to a point and light away!

use coke can to start firePasteurize water
Now be careful, you can pasteurize water with some help from the sun, but that’s different than sterilizing the water. Use glass jars and paint the outsides black. Make sure you have a thermometer to double check the temperature. Make sure the water gets to 150 degrees at the bottom of the jar – not just the top. Usually about 3 hours in direct sunlight should do it.

Many people use the sun to work solar cookers. They can harness the power of the sun to cook meats, boil water, and more. The great thing about a sun oven, is that they don’t burn food. They cook evenly and won’t burn things to a crisp.

GoalØ provides a lot of affordable solar panel power options. You can easily charge phones, emergency radios, portable sterios, lights and more in a matter of a few hours. Simply lay the solar panels out, go for a hike and by the time you come back, you’ll have the power you needed.

If you’re lost without a compass, map or GPS, you can simply use your watch to show you which way north is. Face the hour hand of your watch toward the sun. The line between the hour hand and 12 o’clock will direct you south. The opposite is north.

Whiten your clothes
Are you spending a ton of money on bleaches and whitening products? Well the sun might be the best way to naturally lighten your clothes. Get the clothes wet and lay them out in the sun as flatly as possible. Lay them for a few hours and repeat if necessary. If you need an extra boost, water down lemon juice in a spray bottle and squirt a few sprays on them.

What else?
So what have you used the sun for? Know of any neat tricks or tips? Share them below! If we think you have the best comment, we’ll give you a $10 gift card to The Ready Store.

Updated September 5, 2012


  1. Passerby wrote:

    Many have heard the saying “If you haven’t got your health, you haven’t got anything.” So go outside and let the Vitamin D from the sun go to work on your body. That’s killing two birds with one stone if you’ve got a garden, mow yards, build your bugout cabin, go hiking, etc. Definitely better than taking another pill.

    September 6th, 2012 at 4:20 am
  2. Cat Dancing wrote:

    Love the suggestions, especially the watch/compass one.
    I have an actual solar clothes dryer in my backyard, five lines with clothes pins. :)
    The sun is a natural “disinfectant” too. I wash my kitty litter boxes with a few drops of dish washing soap and a liberal amount of baking soda. Then I dry them in the sun for several hours. No odor and nice and clean for the kitties.
    We heat our hot tub with the sun. My husband built a box facing the southern sun with black garden hose tightly zigzagging back and forth in it and covered it with a reclaimed glass patio door. The water goes in one side and comes out into the tub, hot. As it recirculates it gets hotter.

    September 6th, 2012 at 6:44 am
  3. Raymond P. Narushof wrote:

    to tell how much time left before sundown put your hand betweem the sun & the horizon. The number of fingers between the sun & the horizon will determine approximately how many hours before sun down. Ray Narushof

    September 6th, 2012 at 5:00 pm
  4. Galen Chock wrote:

    You can also use the ultraviolet rays from the sun to purify water. It takes a little longer than pasteurization but still works. Leave the water in a clear container in the sun for 6-8 hrs and the ultraviolet light kills the pathogens.

    September 18th, 2012 at 8:50 am
  5. Northwoods Cheryl wrote:

    It pays to research out what does and doesn’t work as far as solar power goes, depending on the geographic location you are in for the time of year. There are only a few months of the year where things are practical, such as solar ovens, way up north like I am. You can run things like solar radios here, but cooking is another thing. Be sure and have a back up way to cook or heat water. In a previous entry, Galen wrote about purifying water in the sun. Here, that same water would have a green tinge after 6-8 hours. The sun isn’t warm enough to kill bacteria, but it starts a mighty hefty algae crop.

    July 21st, 2014 at 5:08 am
  6. fauna wrote:

    I have found that the sun is specifically great for getting out red stains….you might need to leave your stained item out for a few days not hours, but, it works great when nothing else seems to remove it….on the backsplash, don’t leave a red item out in the sun very long – it will bleach out!

    July 21st, 2014 at 5:13 am
  7. Scott wrote:

    The trick to tell how much time before sundown using your fingers is good, but what if it’s higher than that?

    Here’s some quick math… The earth is basically a sphere. (Not quite actually. Technically it’s an ‘oblate spheroid’ with bulges at the equator. But for what we’re doing that doesn’t matter much.) So if it’s basically round, it’s 360 degrees. And there’s roughly 24 hours in a day. 360 divided by 24 is 15. So that’s 15 degrees per hour.

    So you can look at where the sun is and estimate how high above the horizon in degrees. Every 15 degrees is an hour. In the winter, the sun, (in the northern hemisphere), tracks a little bit to the south so maybe this is off a bit, but it’s a good rough estimate. And of course, if there’s mountains, etc., what you’re looking at is how many degrees until you get to whatever that mountaintop is. That is your horizon, not necessarily where the curve of the earth would be if there was no hill there. You only care about when you’re going to lose light.

    July 21st, 2014 at 6:40 am

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