Rows of jars filled with spices in a kitchen cuboard.

When things get rough, you’ve got to be MORE than just prepared—you have to be resourceful, too.

Here's a preparedness trick we bet you've never thought of, and the best part is, it's hiding in plain sight in your very own kitchen cupboard!

It turns out that your humble spice rack holds more than just flavor enhancers for your culinary creations; it's also a secret weapon for disaster situations. Ready to unlock the potential of these everyday items? Let's dive into some unexpected and resourceful ways to use your spices when the going gets tough.*

1. Antiseptic Wound Care

Say hello to clove and cinnamon, your new best friends for wound care during a disaster. These spices contain natural antibacterial properties that can help clean wounds and prevent infection. They get their powers from compounds like eugenol and cinnamaldehyde.


  • Ground clove or cinnamon


  1. First, clean the wound with water.
  2. Next, apply a small amount of ground clove or cinnamon directly to the wound.
  3. Finally, cover the wound with a clean cloth or bandage.

Alternatives: If you don't have clove or cinnamon, ground thyme or oregano can also work. Look for yarrow or plantain leaves in your yard as potential substitutes.

[Related Read: 20 Ways Salt Can Come to the Rescue in Emergencies]

2. Natural Insect Repellent

When insects become a nuisance during a disaster, turn to crushed mint, basil, and rosemary. These herbs contain volatile oils that help keep insects at bay.


  • Crushed mint leaves
  • Crushed basil leaves
  • Crushed rosemary leaves


  1. Combine equal parts of crushed mint, basil, and rosemary leaves in a small container.
  2. Rub the mixture onto exposed skin or place it in a sachet to hang in the affected area.

Alternatives: Crushed lemon balm or catnip leaves are great options if you don't have mint, basil, or rosemary. You can also forage for wild garlic, citronella grass, or lemon eucalyptus leaves in your yard.

Person throwing a lit match on a campfire.

3. Firestarter

Believe it or not, dried spices like crushed red pepper flakes and ground cinnamon can help you start a fire in an emergency. They contain volatile oils and have a low ignition temperature, so be cautious when using them.


  • Crushed red pepper flakes
  • Ground cinnamon


  1. Gather small twigs, dry leaves, or other tinder to create a fire base.
  2. Sprinkle a small amount of crushed red pepper flakes or ground cinnamon onto the tinder.
  3. Carefully ignite the spice-covered tinder with a match or lighter.

Alternatives: If you don't have red pepper flakes or cinnamon, try using ground black pepper, cayenne pepper, or dried herbs like thyme or rosemary. Dry grasses, pine needles, or tree bark in your yard can also work as fire-starting materials.

4. Toothache Relief

Ground cloves can help you out when you're experiencing toothache pain during a disaster. The active compound in cloves, eugenol, has analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects.


  • Ground cloves


  1. Make sure your hands are clean.
  2. Using a clean finger or cotton swab, apply a small amount of ground cloves to the affected tooth and surrounding gum area.
  3. Reapply as needed for pain relief.

Alternatives: If you don't have ground cloves, try using ground cinnamon or ginger. Yarrow or plantain leaves from your yard can also help alleviate pain when chewed or applied as a poultice.

5. Respiratory Relief

Eucalyptus, peppermint, and thyme to the rescue! These spices can help alleviate respiratory discomfort by opening airways and reducing inflammation.


  • Eucalyptus leaves
  • Peppermint leaves
  • Thyme leaves


  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil.
  2. Add a small handful of eucalyptus, peppermint, and thyme leaves to the boiling water.
  3. Inhale the steam for several minutes or until you experience respiratory relief.

Alternatives: If you don't have eucalyptus, peppermint, or thyme leaves, try using ground cloves, cinnamon, or ginger. In your yard, you might find wild mint, sage, or mullein, which can be used as alternatives for respiratory relief.

[Related Read: 20+ Emergency Uses for White Vinegar]

Person grabbing their stomach in pain.

6. Digestive Aid

Ginger, fennel, and chamomile can be your go-to spices for soothing an upset stomach and reducing inflammation during a disaster.


  • Ground ginger
  • Ground fennel seeds
  • Dried chamomile flowers


  1. Add 1 teaspoon of ground ginger, ground fennel seeds, and dried chamomile flowers to a cup of hot water.
  2. Let the mixture steep for 5-10 minutes.
  3. Strain and drink the tea to help alleviate digestive discomfort.

Alternatives: If you don't have ginger, fennel, or chamomile, try using ground cinnamon, cardamom, or cumin. Dandelion, lemon balm, or mint from your yard can also be used as alternatives for digestive relief.

7. Sleep Aid

Lavender, chamomile, and valerian root are perfect for promoting sleep and relaxation during a disaster, thanks to their calming properties.


  • Dried lavender flowers
  • Dried chamomile flowers
  • Ground valerian root


  1. Add 1 teaspoon of dried lavender flowers, dried chamomile flowers, and ground valerian root to a cup of hot water.
  2. Let the mixture steep for 5-10 minutes.
  3. Strain and drink the tea before bedtime to promote sleep.

Alternatives: If you don't have lavender, chamomile, or valerian root, try using ground nutmeg. In your yard, you might find lemon balm, passionflower, or wild lettuce, which can also help with sleep.

[Related Read: Tips for Planting an Amazing Emergency Food Supply]

8. Natural Deodorizer

Cinnamon, cloves, and citrus peels can help eliminate unpleasant odors during a disaster. These spices contain compounds that have antimicrobial and odor-neutralizing properties.


  • Ground cinnamon
  • Ground cloves
  • Dried citrus peels (orange, lemon, or grapefruit)


  1. Combine equal parts of ground cinnamon, ground cloves, and dried citrus peels in a small container.
  2. Place the container in the area where you want to neutralize odors.
  3. Replace or refresh the mixture as needed to maintain its effectiveness.

Alternatives: If you don't have cinnamon, cloves, or citrus peels, try using ground allspice, nutmeg, or dried mint leaves. Rosemary, sage, or thyme from your yard can also work as natural deodorizers.

Man grabbing his shoulder that is aching.

9. Topical Pain Relief

Capsaicin, found in chili peppers, can help alleviate muscle and joint pain when applied topically. Use it with caution during a disaster when other pain relief options are limited.


  • Ground chili peppers (cayenne, jalapeño, or habanero)


  1. Mix a small amount of ground chili peppers with a carrier oil, such as coconut or olive oil, to create a paste.
  2. Apply the paste to the affected area, avoiding contact with eyes and mucous membranes.
  3. Wash your hands thoroughly after application and avoid touching sensitive areas.

Alternatives: If you don't have ground chili peppers, try using ground ginger or turmeric. Arnica or comfrey from your yard can be used as alternatives for topical pain relief.

10. Boosting Immunity

Turmeric, garlic, and ginger can be your best friends during a disaster when it comes to supporting your immune system. They provide antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial properties, which are essential for immune function.


  • Ground turmeric
  • Minced garlic
  • Ground ginger


  1. Add 1 teaspoon of ground turmeric, minced garlic, and ground ginger to a cup of hot water.
  2. Let the mixture steep for 5-10 minutes.
  3. Strain and drink the tea to help support immune function.

Alternatives: If you don't have turmeric, garlic, or ginger on hand, try using ground cinnamon, cloves, or rosemary. In your yard, you might find plants like echinacea, elderberry, or astragalus, which can also help support your immunity

In a nutshell, spices and herbs can come to the rescue in various disaster situations. Whether you're looking for pain relief, deodorizing, or immune support, these natural remedies can provide temporary relief when conventional options are limited. So, it's always a great idea to have some of these spices and herbs on hand, and don't forget to explore your yard for alternative options!

*Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice, treatment, or a substitute for professional medical attention. The suggestions and methods described here are not guaranteed to work in every situation and should not replace professional medical care when it is available. Always consult with a healthcare professional before trying any of these methods, especially if you have pre-existing medical conditions or allergies. The author and publisher disclaim any liability or responsibility for any adverse effects that may result from the use of the information provided in this article.

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