Coffee filters are ubiquitous. They are inexpensive, light weight and readily available. Heck, you can purchase coffee filters at the Dollar store, Amazon, Costco, the corner grocery and even on EBay.
Now I will be first to admit that there are a lot of lists floating around with suggested uses for coffee filters but most include all kinds of uses that are nice, but irrelevant to the prepper. After all, if you are in experiencing hard times, or a survival situation, do you really care about preventing your fine china from chipping?
Today I list 29 reasons why you should include coffee filters in your survival kit and preparedness pantry.
29 Uses of Coffee Filters For Survival
Use a coffee filter as a makeshift rag. Unlike paper towels, coffee filters are lint free and take up very little space. They are also dirt cheap.
2. Keeping insects away from food
When cooking or dining outdoors, cover your plates and bowls of food with coffee filters to keep the flying insects at bay.
3. Pre-filter collected water
When collecting water, you will likely find some sediment, leaves, twigs or other undesirable matter in the water. Pre-filter collected water using a water filter then process as you normally would, typically by boiling or by the use of a filtering system.
4. Make a disposable plate or bowl
If you are bugging out or on the run, plates and bowls, even disposables, may be scarce. Dry foods can be eaten directly from a coffee filter bowl held in your hands. Heavier foods, even those that are moist, can be supported by a paper of plastic plate or bowl. When done, throw out the filter and your plate or bowl is still clean enough to use for the next meal. Saves cleanup and even more important, saves water.
5. Keep small hardware items organized
Nails, screws and all manner of fix-it items are good to have on hand in your survival kit. Secure them in little bundles made of coffee filters. Tie off the bundles with some paracord since that will be useful too.
You don’t need fancy liquid products to clean your glasses and, as a matter of fact, some products can also damage the coatings on specialized lenses. (I know – it happened to me.) The next time you need to clean your glasses, try using a coffee filter with a bit of plain water. Your glasses will come clean and will be lint-free. You can also use a coffee filter to safely clean cell phone. E-reader and computer screens.
7. Protect your cast iron skillets from rust
Nothing can be more discouraging to the cast iron maven than to find a bit of rust on your well-seasoned cast iron skillet. You can help prevent this by putting some coffee filters in the skillet when it’s not in use. The filter will absorb moisture and prevent rusting.
8. Emergency toilet paper
No TP? No worries. A coffee filter will work just fine – just don’t flush it down a toilet – remember, this is for emergency use.
9. Pet pooper scoopers
Ditto for pet pooper scoopers. Coffee filters work like a little glove for taking care of your pet’s business. Great on the hiking trails or even indoors when Fido has a little accident. You can also use a coffee filter to wipe a messy tush – if you have to.
10. Keep potting soil where it belongs – in the pot
Before placing soil in a pot, cover the hole in the bottom with a coffee filter. This will prevent the soil from leaking out and yet will allow the excess water to drain properly.
11. Make an air freshener
To make an air freshener, fill a coffee filter with baking soda, twist-tie it shut (again, use a bit of paracord) and you are all set. The baking soda will absorb all kinds of nasty odors. Make several and tuck them into your backpack, shoes, ice chest, vehicle or tent and anyplace else that tends to get stinky smelly.
12. Make a cold compress
Soak filters in brewed tea or even just plain water and chill. Fold them up to fashion a cold compress when you have a headache or slight fever or even just to tame puffy eyes.
13. Make a bandage
If you have a small cut or even a razor nick, grab a piece off of a coffee filter and slap it on with pressure to stop the bleeding. Your coffee filter will work similar to a styptic pencil but without the stinging. Note: this is not a replacement for a decent first aid kit.
When cooking greasy foods – especially meats – you can soak up the extra grease by placing a coffee filter both under the cooked food and on top. Pat your food down well with the coffee filter and you will be good to go.
15. Make an instant funnel
Cut the end off of a cone-style coffee filter to make an instant funnel.
16. Make an herbal tea
Gather up some fresh herbs, crush them a bit, them make a little sack out of your coffee filter. Tie off the top with a bit of twine from your survival kit (or some strands of paracord). Boil some water, add it to a cup, and then let your packet of herbal tea steep to the desired strength. If you have a cold or sore throat, be sure to add a bit of honey or honey powder.
17. Flavor your sun tea
When making a sun tea, add dried orange peels, mint leaves or other herbs for flavor. Take a filter and center the contents in the middle. Gather the edges, twist and tie with string. Drop your little flavor packet into the jar along with the tea bags and let it brew as usual.
18. Use as a filter for fresh juices
If you have found a citrus tree and are scavenging fruit for juice, you can use a coffee filter to filter the juice, leaving seeds and pulp behind.
19. Spot clean clothing
Spots and spills are a fact of life. Use a coffee filter to spot clean your clothing. If you have some, use some white vinegar or hydrogen peroxide and the spot will be greatly reduced if not disappear completely.
20. Sprout seeds for consuming
To sprout seeds, dampen the coffee filter then place seeds inside. Fold it up then place the filter and seed packet into a plastic baggie until they sprout. If you can, keep your little sprout packet in a dark spot for a few days then move them into the light so chlorophyll develops. Some good seeds to use are mung beans, bean sprouts, and mixed broccoli and radish seeds.
21. Sprout garden seeds
You can also sprout garden seeds in coffee filters to give them a head start before putting them into the ground or pots.
22. Store garden seeds between seasons
Even without a desiccant, a coffee filter can be stored with seeds to keep them moisture free between growing seasons.
23. Keep glass surfaces clean
Coffee filters are lint-free so your glass surfaces will sparkle after they are cleaned. If you have some – and you should – add a little vinegar to water and use this combo as a cleaning solution. (But use only water and soap on eye glasses – no vinegar please. See above.)
24. Keep fresh produce crisp and dry in your cooler
Wrap fresh picked produce – especially greens – in coffee filters before putting them in your cooler. The coffee filter will help absorb any moisture and keep your produce fresh and crisp longer.
While fending for yourself, you may not have aluminum foil, plastic wrap or other containers for storing your food. Instead, use a coffee filter as a food wrapper or storage container. You may need to split the filter and combine two or more to surround your food but after securing your food wrapper with a bit of string, you will be all set.
26. Strain soup stock and broths
In a survival situation, you will not want to waste anything food wise. After boiling up food scraps, strain the broth for a nice rich soup stock that can be consumed as-is or used as a base for another meal.
27. Make a Bouquet Garni
Bundle herbs and spices into a coffee filter, tie it off, and add to your soups and broths as a nifty way of seasoning your homemade creation.
28. Make coffee!
Lest I forget, don’t forget to use your filters for making coffee. If all you have is a pot, some ground coffee and water, boil it up and filter the resulting brew into your cup. Not exactly a Starbucks experience, but if you are a coffee addict, it will be delicious nonetheless.
29. Bonus item: Make dryer sheets
Okay, this is not a survival necessity but it works so well, I just had to include it. First of all, I do not use nor do I endorse the use of commercial dryer sheets. Sometimes, though, I will dampen a coffee filter with some white vinegar and a few drops of my favorite essential oil (lavender). When it is raining and cold and I cannot hang my sheets outdoors to dry, I will pop one of these scented filters into the dryer and my sheets will smell heavenly.
The Final Word
My inspiration for this article was finding myself without a bowl for Tucker the Dog’s food while traveling home from my recent visit to the Seattle area. I just happened to have a coffee filter in my glove box – the perfect makeshift bowl.
I had a long drive so that go me thinking – what a great pooper scooper!
When I got home, I started thinking of other uses – some I found on the Internet and just sort of came to me. What about you? Do you have some unique uses of coffee filters in a survival situation?
Read other articles by Gaye Levy here.
Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!