When it comes to desperate survival situations, it’s important to use everything at your disposal, and nothing is off-limits. Not even those nasty old pair of socks you’ve been wearing for the past week.
While socks are great for the obvious purpose of keeping your feet warm, there are more than a dozen nifty uses for old socks. In this article, we’ll look at each of them and walk you through how to implement those uses.
1. For Self-Defense
The first of our many survival uses for old socks is as a weapon for self-defense. No, we’re not saying that your old socks are so repulsive that you can wave them near an animal or attacker and scare them away.
Instead, if you want to use your socks as a weapon, you should fill them with coins or marbles and tie off the end. The longer your socks are, the more effective they will be because they offer more leverage and power.
If you’re in the woods and don’t have access to coins or marbles, filling the socks with rocks is just as effective. For an extra bang, you should choose sharp rocks that will cut your attacker or predator and deliver a big punch.
If you want to get extra creative with the idea of using your old socks as a weapon, you can tie two socks together and create makeshift nunchucks.
2. A Water Filter
The second of our survival uses for old socks is as a water filter. Once you get past the idea that you’re drinking sock water, this practice is very useful.
Keep in mind that unless your socks have a Brita filter inside of them or softening salts, they won’t be able to remove bacteria or minerals. They will, however, be able to remove rocks, larger pieces of dirt, and other debris.
Here’s how to use your old socks as a filtration device or strainer for water.
- Boil water to purify it by killing bacteria and other microscopic particles.
- Put the water in a cup or bowl.
- Place a second cup or bowl on the ground.
- Pour the boiled water out of cup number one and into the sock.
- Ensure that you’re holding the sock over bowl number two so the water goes through the sock and into the bowl.
As long as your socks aren’t too nasty, your water should taste just fine and be particle free.
3. Warm Other Parts of Your Body
In the same way that one of the most practical uses for old socks is to keep your feet warm, you can use them to warm other parts of your body. For instance, old socks are ideal for use as gloves or sleeves.
You can even cut holes in the ends of the socks so that your hands are free to use. However, unless you have the biggest socks on the planet, your feet and hands are the only appendages that can benefit from their warmth.
4. A Bandage or Sling
Depending on the type and size of socks you have, one of your many uses for old socks could be as a medical device. Smaller socks can replace bandages or band-aids as long as you have an adhesive or wrapping to hold them in place.
Longer socks can get wrapped around a wound and tied off as self-sustaining bandages. The longer and stronger they are, the more medical uses for old socks you can implement.
For instance, long tube socks can get used as slings for broken arms. Here’s how it works.
- Tie one end of the tube sock to the other and knot it to form a circle.
- Put the circular sock around your neck like a necklace.
- Rest the broken or strained arm in the middle of the sock so that it’s supported.
5. A Tourniquet
The third and final of our medical uses for old socks is as a tourniquet. Remember that this will only work with long socks such as tube socks.
Tourniquets are necessary if you accidentally cut an artery on an arm or leg. Simply placing a bandage on the wound won’t stop the bleeding.
Instead, you’ll have to tie off the area directly above the wound to cut off circulation and blood flow. If you have a sock long enough to wrap around the limb and knot tightly, you can use it as a tourniquet to stop the bleeding.
6. Carrying Pouch
If you’re stranded in the woods, there’s a good chance that you’ll have to carry multiple items at a time. There’s also a good chance that you’ll need to gather berries, nuts, and other small foods to eat.
Rather than sticking these small items in your pocket, you can pile them into your socks. Before using your old socks as a carrying sack, make sure they’re clean and don’t have holes in them.
Holy socks won’t do a whole lot of good if you’re using them as a carrying pouch.
7. A Diaper or Maxi-Pad
While one of the survival uses for old socks is as a diaper or maxi-pad, doing so will take a bit more work and creativity than many of our other uses for old socks. For instance, unless you have massive, flexible socks, there’s a good chance you won’t be able to fit them over your legs the way your pants do.
Instead, here’s how to use your old socks as a maxi-pad or diaper.
- Cut the sock lengthwise from the top side to the bottom.
- It should look like a rag rather than a sock.
- Put the sock between your legs so it’s as long in the front as in the back.
- Attachthe front and back of the socks together on either side of your body, just as you would a baby’s diaper.
Depending on how big your socks are, there might be size restrictions. If you can’t tie the ends together, use an adhesive to strap the ends of the sock to your body and hold it in place.
8. Hot or Cold Pack
One of the many uses for old socks that you can utilize anywhere in the world is as a hot or cold pack. Here’s how it works.
- Fill the sock to around three-quarters full with white or brown rice and tie off the top.
- If you want to use it as a hot pad, put the sock into the microwave or oven or over a fireplace until it’s hot.
- To use it as a cold pad, put the sock into the freezer or leave it out in the cold air until it’s nice and chilled.
- You can then press the sock against whatever part of your body needs the hot or cold compression.
The main thing to remember is that you can’t get the sock wet because it’s full of rice. This will cause the ingredients to expand and lose their ability to heat up and cool down adequately.
9. Starting Fires
While using them as fuel to start fires isn’t one of the more creative uses for old socks, it will do in a pinch. However, you want to be sure that you’ve expended all other possible uses for old socks before destroying them and using them as kindling.
10. Hair Tie
If you’re in a survival situation and have long hair, there’s a good chance you will be doing things where you need your hair to stay out of your face. If you don’t have the convenience of a hair tie or scrunchy, tying your hair up in a knot with a sock is an option.
11. A Pillow
Whether camping or stranded in the woods, it’s important to keep your morale up by staying as comfortable as possible. Unfortunately, there’s a good chance that your supplies will be limited, and you’ll have to use what’s on hand.
If that happens to be an old pair of socks that you don’t need for your feet, you can use them as a makeshift pillow. Here’s how to convert one of the many uses for old socks into a pillow.
- Find the softest things you can and fill your socks with them.
- Leaves, grass, sand, and soft dirt are the best options unless you can access something softer.
- Tie off the end of the sock, and you’ve got your pillow.
12. Eye Mask
During those bright times when you need a little shut-eye, you can easily use your old socks as an eye mask. Just make sure to give them a bit of a washing first, so the smell isn’t too bad.
13. Smoke Mask
Using your socks as a smoke mask is the final one of our many uses for old socks. It’s also one of the easier and most obvious uses for old socks and doesn’t involve any modifications.
Simply stretch the sock out enough to fit over your head and face until it covers your nose and mouth. Socks are breathable enough so that you won’t suffocate but dense enough that they’ll block most of the smoke.
Keep in mind, however, that socks don’t make a perfect smoke mask and won’t be able to block smoke completely from entering your lungs. Therefore, you should only use them in this respect for short periods of time because too much smoke inhalation could kill you.
Additionally, if the sock doesn’t stretch over your head, you can use a hand to hold it over your nose and mouth.
Wrapping Up the 13 Uses for Old Socks
Next time, before you throw them out, think about all these creative uses for old socks. Depending on the situation, your nasty old socks could be the difference between life and death.
If you like repurposing old items and using them for survival purposes, check out our other article about survival uses for pens.