Insta Natural Lavender and Peppermint Essential Oil Review

Natural Products Inc Lavender OilI received review samples of Insta Natural Lavender Essential Oil and Peppermint Essential oil.

The first thing I noticed when I received the packages was the fragrance emanating from the boxes.  At first I thought the bottles may have leaked but upon close inspection, I found they were tightly packaged in plastic bubble wrap and there were no leaks at all.  These oils are just very concentrated and pure.

I tried the Lavender essential oil for making a sea salt scrub.  I mixed a cup of sea salt, coconut oil and __ drops of the lavender oil.  It smelled lovely!  The scent is very clean and relaxing.  I should point out this oil is for external use only.

Peppermint Essential Oil

I then tried the Insta Natural Peppermint Essential Oil for making my deodorant spray.  The scent is very potent therefore you only need to use very little.  At 4 oz., this bottle will go a long way.  Again, this is for external use only.  I would use these oils for making personal care products such as salves, sprays or scrubs.  All in all these oils are a good value for the cost.

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Monday Musings: 3/30/2014 Spam Teriyaki Review

Spam Teriyaki Review

This post is by Bernie Carr,

Welcome to another Monday Musings, where we share interesting links about all things preparedness, as well as updates on the blog.

First the blog updates…

Can you believe March is almost over?  I’m already planning the April reviews and giveaways for the blog.

Spam Teriyaki Review  Spam is a great addition to the survival pantry, and I am quite fond of it for regular use.  I like the plain one the best, but also enjoy the other flavors as well – Bacon and Jalapeno.  I recently picked up a couple of new flavors:  Teriyaki and Chorizo.  We tried the Teriyaki one recently.  The short review…  not a fan.  It had a really dark color, which looked burnt by the time I cooked it thin sliced and crisp the way the family likes; it also had an artificial aftertaste which was a bit too much.  I still like Spam overall, just not the Teriyaki flavored ones.   I will let you know how the Chorizo one turns out.

Making my own sprays and moisturizers This week I’ll be whipping up my batches of personal care items instead of buying them:  moisturizer, deodorizing spray and may try making a scrub as well.   I have these two new bottles of peppermint and lavender from Insta Natural that I am going to try out.  As always, I will let you know how they turn out.  Having essential oils on hand gives you to freedom to make so many things that were previously store bought.

Now for the links…

The Price of Hyper-Cleanliness

37 Prepper Uses for Trash Bags

Does Cough CPR Work?

How to Plan Meals When Money is Tight

The Day and the Hour Are Unknown…But…

7 Survival Ideas You Never Thought About

12 Ways to Treat Indigestion – Naturally

Take care and have a great week everyone!

© Apartment Prepper 2015

ALTAI Tactical Boot – Review and Giveaway

This post is by Bernie Carr,

We got an opportunity to try out the new ALTAI MF Tactical Boot.

What are ALTAI MF Tactical Boots?

They are lightweight boots that are built to be sturdy and comfortable at the same time.  They are water resistant and have non-slip soles.

Here is the box they came in.

ALTAI BOXALTAI Open BoxConstruction

The upper portion of the boot is made with “Superfabric” which is a breathable material that is sturdy and durable at the same time.

Here is a closer look:

ALTAI Boot closeupThe out soles are made from Vibram, a long lasting material that prevents slipping in rough terrains.


Here is Mr Apt Prepper’s review:

When I first saw the boots, they appeared really different from any hiking boots I’ve owned.  I am used to the leather uppers and I felt unused to the fabric.  But they look well constructed and I was interested in testing them out.


I hiked around in these boots for several hours and found them to be comfortable and light-weight.   My feet felt a bit warm after a while but the material was breathable so they did not feel overheated.

Water Resistant

I walked around while it was raining, through puddles and mud, and water did not penetrate the boots.  I hosed it down to get rid of the mud, and the boots continued to keep my feet dry inside.

ALTAI BOOTS IN the rainTraction

The soles have a good tread and you can tell with each step that the boots have traction with surfaces, whether wet or dry, even or uneven.


These boots are quite flexible and do not pinch or hurt while giving some good foot support.  I did not get any blisters or chaffing, even when “breaking them in.”

ALTAI FLEXIBILITYWhat can be improved?

If I had to be picky about something, it would be that the boots only comes in one style and one color.  They have a look of police or military type footwear, that I normally would only wear for hiking or outdoor work.  However, I did find out that the company will soon be adding more styles in a few months.

Overall, the boot itself is well-made and the price is reasonable as compared to other similar boots.  It’s a great pair to have in case you ever need to walk out of the city, or for if you just need some sturdy, comfortable boots for everyday use.

ALTAI Tactical boots are available through the ALTAI Gear website or through Amazon

Notes about Sizing

For men:  The sizes run large, so if you normally wear a size 10, choose half a size smaller and buy the 9 1/2.  Even with thick wool socks, the smaller half size fit well.

For women, it is suggested that the size ordered should be a full size smaller than the stated boot size.  So if you normally wear a size 8, order the ALTAI Tactical boot in a size 7.

Now for the Giveaway!

ALTAI MF Tactical Boots giving away one pair of boots to a lucky winner.  To enter, please post a comment below regarding:

Do you feel there is a possibility you may have to walk out of the city in a disaster?  How are you preparing for this?

The winner* will be chosen at a random “Pick a Giveaway Winner” drawing on Friday,  April 25th at 8 pm Central.  *Winner will be notified via email.  Winner must reply to email notification within 48 hours or another winner will be drawn.

© Apartment Prepper 2014



A Review of No Rinse Personal Care Products

No Rinse Personal Care ProductsI received an assortment of No Rinse personal care products for review.  No Rinse is a line of “waterless” personal care products, hair care, body wash, bathing wipes etc. It is made by CleanLife Products LLC, which has been in business since 1948.  No Rinse has been used by NASA, military personnel, hospitals, home health agencies, and for disaster relief.

The Test

To properly test No Rinse, I skipped taking a shower on a Saturday, then again on Sunday.  I also went on a 45 minute run on both days.  It was not a super hot day, but it was muggy.  After the Sunday run, I got very sweaty and really needed a shower.

I tried the No Rinse shampoo first, on sweaty, slightly matted hair. If you’ve ever colored your hair, using hair dye on dry hair, you will know what this feels like.  Not quite soaked but wet and very slightly sudsy.  It does not lather up like shampoo.   I have straight, course hair and I worked the No Suds through the scalp to the ends of my hair.  Then I towel dried.   After the hair dried it still felt just a tad heavier and not as clean as water rinsed hair, but it was fresh smelling and better than unwashed hair.   If I water was scarce, I am sure I would appreciate being able to clean my hair this way.

Next, I tried the body wash.  According to the instructions, you can apply the wash directly to your skin or use a washcloth.  I did not really want to be spilling liquid so I did the wash cloth method.

No Rinse2

I used the No Rinse in the wash cloth and wiped the entire right side of my body.  The body wash had a pleasant smell, like a “powder fresh” type scent, but not overly strong.  I have a sensitive nose and tend to get allergies from strong smells but this scent did not bother me.  After I finished my right side, I did a self check.  My skin felt clean and there was no sweaty smell.

I tried the wipes on the left side.  Again, the result was good.  The scent was fresh and the wipes cleaned the skin very well.

I had the kids try the antibacterial foam and they liked it a lot.   Kids of all ages get germy, and the foaminess encourages them to clean their hands.

All in all I consider the No Rinse test a success.  Being able to stay clean in an emergency protects your health as well as helps maintain morale.  Consider keeping a supply of No Rinse in the car for long drives, in the emergency kit and the bug out bag.  No Rinse products can be purchased from distributors or from the No Rinse Amazon Store.



An Ideal Stove for Outdoor Cooking: Solo Stove

This post is by Bernie Carr,


Sole Stove box

What is the Solo Stove?

It is a small, portable stove that uses biomass (twigs, dried leaves, etc) for fuel.  Not needing to bring special fuel is a big advantage:  since you can easily find branches and twigs, you are not adding weight to your bug-out bag.


The stove is very easy to assemble:  just set the cooking ring on top of the stove so that the prongs are on top.  That is what your pot will rest on.

Starting the Fire

1.   First, collect your fuel:  in our case, Mr. Apt Prepper gathered up twigs, dried leaves and a few acorns out in the back of our building.  Place the twigs in the stove chamber.  The twigs or wood pieces should be roughly two to three inches in length.

Sizing Sticks for kindling for Solo Stove2.  Make sure the stove is on a level area, away from the wind.  We just set it on a  paving stone.  The Solo Stove’s instructions can be found here.

3.  Start the fire.   It would have been easier to use firestarter, but we wanted to see how it would perform by just lighting the fuel using matches.  The dried leaves caught fire instantly and in a couple of minutes, the rest of the twigs were burning nicely.

Burning leaves in Solo Stove  4.  We set a pan containing two cups of water on the stove.  We continued to add twigs to the fire.  The water started to boil in about 10 minutes, which is a lot faster than I’ve experienced with a regular campfire.

Pan on Solo StoveCleaning

Once the fire has died down and stove has cooled completely,  all you need to do is empty out the ash.  Since the fuel is all organic, you don’t need to worry about polluting the area.

Ash inside Solo StoveA bit of soot may cling to the stove but it is easily wiped off.

We put the stove through the paces and it performed well.  Mr Apt Prepper kept an objective eye over the test.  If we had to come up with an area of improvement it would be to provide more detailed instructions for the inexperienced portable stove user.  One thing that is not obvious to a new user is gauging the amount of fuel that is needed.  Using dried twigs, the stove did not give off much smoke at all, which is great for a bug-out stove, when you don’t want to attract a lot of attention with your cooking fire.

Long time readers know I am always on the look-out for lightweight portable stoves to test out, having had less than stellar results in the past. Living in an apartment in the city, we cannot deny the possibility we may have to bug out if there were an extended emergency.  In addition, the Solo Stove is ideal for camping and backpacking as well.

© Apartment Prepper 2012


Solo Stove



For beginning preppers

BioLite CampStove Review

BioLite StoveThis post is by Bernie Carr,

I received a sample of the BioLite Stove for testing and review.  The BioLite Stove is a portable stove that allows you to cook with wood, and charge small electronic gadgets at the same time.  As many long time readers know, I am always on the lookout for good portable chargers for emergencies as well as a good backpacking stove.

This is what came in the box:

Contents of BioLite Stove box

BioLite ContentsThe box contained the stove within a pouch, USB cable and the firestarter sticks.  Inside the pouch was the actual stove, the charging unit (battery) and instructions.

The instructions indicated you have to condition the battery before first using the stove by plugging it into your computer’s USB port or wall plug.  In my case, I plugged it into the wall charger for six hours per the instructions.  The light on the unit flashes at first then glows a steady orange while charging.   It is recommended you charge it every six months if unused.

The next step is to attach the battery to the stove and it is ready to use.

BioLite CampStoveI added a firestarter stick and some tinder (small twigs, wood pieces, acorns etc) to the stove and lit the firestarter with a match.

BioLite Campstove testThe fire started up fairly quickly.  You turn on the fan on the battery charger, first low, then high.  It is the same effect as blowing on the tinder to get it to catch fire.  In no time at all, the fire was going nicely.

BioLite Campstove lightedTo keep the fire going I continued to add sticks, twigs, dried leaves and small acorns.  There was small amount of smoke generated because some of the twigs were not completely dried out.  I placed a small pot with an egg on top of the stove.  The water started boiling fully after about 10-15 minutes.

Boiling egg in BioLite CampStove

You can start charging  on the battery once the light glows green.  You will need a good amount of twigs to keep the fire going.  The website indicated it should be ready in 10-15 minutes before you can charge, but it took mine a bit longer.   However it did work as described.  You can charge small devices such as cell or smart phones, GPS units, etc.  You just plug the phone via the USB cable into the unit and it will charge.

The BioLite Stove has a very efficient design, is lightweight, weighing only about two pounds.  Being a dual purpose item, it saves space as well.  It is good to have in your emergency kit in case of a power outage, and would make a good backpacking stove.  The instructions are easy to follow and the website has a FAQ section that addresses most concerns.   The BioLite Stove worked very well and I highly recommend it.

For more information, visit the BioLite website

© Apartment Prepper 2012

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Product Review: E-Foods Creamy Potato Soup

This post is by Bernie Carr,
I’ve had a few Hits and Misses with long term storage foods, so I am always wary when anticipating a new product tryout.  I never know how it will turn out.  I received a sample of E-Foods meals.  (Note: Apartment Prepper is not affiliated with E-foods; just providing an independent review.
The package contained three entrees:  Creamy Potato Soup, Chicken Tortilla Soup, and Chicken and Rice Soup, with each packet containing about four servings.
E-foods pouch
 The sample for Creamy Potato Soup was the one I opened for this review.
eFoods Potato SoupPreparation was easy:
1.  Boil 4 1/2 cups of water.  Add the soup mix.  The soup mix looked a bit like instant mashed potatoes so I wasn’t sure how it would turn out
2.  Stir well and lower heat.
3.  Let it simmer for 15-20 minutes.  I wanted the soup to be soft and creamy so I left it for 25 minutes.
4.  Stir and serve.
The instructions mentioned you can add other ingredients such as bacon, chicken clams, or corn for variety.  I did not add any other ingredients as I wanted to try it plain.
Cooked eFoods Potato Soup
The resulting soup had chunks of potato, was creamy and flavorful.  I would say a packet that includes four servings would be enough to feed two adults for a hearty dinner.
 © Apartment Prepper 2012



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Product Review: Legacy Premium Beans and Rice Enchilada

Legacy Premium Beans and Rice EnchiladaThis post is by Bernie Carr,

I received a sample of Legacy Premium’s Beans and Rice Enchilada entree.

Legacy Premium Beans and Rice Enchilada contents

Here is what is looks like in the package.

The instructions look easy enough:  Boil water, stir in the product, lower the heat and let it simmer for 12-15 minutes, stirring every few minutes.

I followed the instructions and tested it after 15 minutes.  I prefer a softer texture so I left it simmering for five more minutes.  Then I let it stand for 10 minutes, as the sauce thickens a bit more as it cools.

Cooked Legacy Premium Beans and Rice Enchilada

Here is what the prepared dish looked like in a bowl.

Now for the taste test…  It’s good!  The family, who by now is very skeptical of my taste tests, tried it as well.  Everyone liked it.   The sauce is very flavorful, slightly spicy but not overly hot.  The texture is excellent.  The beans softened up nicely, and the corn added just a hint of sweetness.  We had the dish by itself, but I would think it would taste good accompanied by tortillas or tortilla chips.  You can also add ground beef or chicken if you like, but it is good on its own.  More good stuff about this entree:  it has no MSG, no trans fats, uses sea salt and for those concerned, it’s gluten free.

© Apartment Prepper 2012

If You are Looking for a CCW Holster, this one is Worth a Look

This post is by Bernie Carr,

I received a review sample of ULTRA Model Concealed Carry Holster for Firearms from Deep Conceal, LLC.  While I personally do not have a CCW license currently, I intend to obtain one.  Mr. Apt. Prepper does have his license and I have seen him try out a lot of different holsters.   It is not easy to find out that is both comfortable and easy to reach.  There are many options:  ankle, front or back waist band, shoulder.

First, we’ll cover a few details:  Selection includes right hand or left hand draw, available colors are white or black, and then you get to choose the size, from Xtra Small to 4XL and everything in between.  An FAQ section in the website shows how to measure for the correct size:  Take a tape measure around the chest at the Sternum. Inhale and then exhale – take the measurement when you are done exhaling. Note the measurement on the tape and order the corresponding holster size.  The holster is made in the USA and Deep Conceal offers free shipping in the U.S.

Now for the result:  This holster is easy to adjust and therefore very comfortable.  It also provides for easy accessibility of the weapon.  It stays in place where you want it too, without a lot of pulling or chaffing.

Mr Apt Prepper tried it out and I could not even tell he had his firearm on him.  This proves that the holster does stay concealed as it’s supposed to.  He found it well-made and he recommended it to his friends who have CCW licenses.  He now prefers it more than his in the waist-band holster.

If you are looking for concealed carry holsters, visit Deep Conceal.

Disclaimer:  This review is for the concealed holster only, and does not recommend you to purchase one if you are not licensed to carry a concealed weapon.  You must be licensed in your state to carry a concealed weapon.  State laws vary, so check the laws in your state.


© Apartment Prepper 2012




Taste Test: THRIVE Freeze Dried Ground Beef

Thrive Freeze dried ground beef

Thrive Freeze dried ground beef

Today I am going to review a popular Thrive freeze dried item, the ground beef.   Misty Marsh over at Your Own Home Store kindly sent me a sample a while back, but I had not gotten around to posting the result due to work schedules getting in the way.

I use a lot of ground beef chuck in my everyday cooking, as it is less expensive than steak and can be used in a variety of menu items: tacos, burritos, spaghetti, lasagna, soups etc.   For this taste test, I originally planned to make spaghetti but Mr. Apt. Prepper suggested ground beef and potato hash, so we can really know the taste of the freeze dried ground beef.  The sauciness of spaghetti would have covered up the flavor.   This made sense to me so I went ahead and cooked Freeze Dried Ground Beef Hash.

Here is what I did for the taste test:

Cup of Freeze dried ground beef

Cup of Freeze dried ground beef

1.  Measure a cup of freeze dried ground beef.

2.  Add 1 1/2 cups of hot water.  I just warmed up the water for a minute and a half in the microwave, then added it to the ground beef.

Rehydrating freeze dried ground beef

Rehydrating freeze dried ground beef

3.  Leave the mixture alone for 20 minutes.  While the meat was rehydrating, I cut up one medium potato into cubes.

4.  After 20 minutes, the ground beef looked properly hydrated so I drained out the water.

Rehydrated freeze dried ground beef

Rehydrated freeze dried ground beef

5.  Heat the skillet and add a teaspoon of oil (I used olive but other oils should be fine).  Add the ground beef.  Season with garlic powder, onion salt and pepper.  Brown the ground beef.  I also added about a tablespoon of ketchup (a leftover ketchup packet would also work) for some flavor and moisture.

6.  Add the diced potatoes and mix well.  I added about 2 tbsp of water and covered it up.  Heat on low for 15 minutes.  Mix it around a bit so the potatoes don’t stick to the skillet.

7.  It is now ready to eat.

Freeze dried ground beef and potatoes

Freeze dried ground beef and potatoes

8.  Serve with white rice or tortillas.

Now for the result… This ground beef hash made from Thrive Freeze Dried Ground Beef was very tasty.  The beef had a good texture.  The kids said they look like baby meatballs.  If I were to make spaghetti or lasagna I would break up the ground beef even smaller so it will spread evenly in the sauce.  It has an excellent flavor and tasted just like freshly cooked ground beef.

I have reviewed other Thrive meats in previous posts:  Freeze Dried Chicken and Roast Beef .  The Ground Beef is now the family favorite, and I highly recommend it.

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