If you read our article on 12 Tools for Survival, you may remember that we professed the importance of a good shovel for survival situations. Obviously, it’s great for digging shelters and fire pits, and if you’ve got one with a saw or serrated edge, you can even cut firewood with it. However, there’s one more use we mentioned for a shovel: cooking. A sturdy metal shovel provides an excellent surface for cooking or flat-top grilling meats and vegetables—just add heat.

This video from The Art of Manliness demonstrates the basic technique. Admittedly, the host appears to be doing it in a backyard as a novelty, and using steaks from the grocery store, but it proves the point. It’s certainly possible to do the same over a small campfire with a folding shovel and some freshly-caught game.

A word of caution: make sure your shovel is stripped to bare metal and thoroughly sanitized/disinfected before using it to cook. Any form of paint or powder coat remaining on the shovel’s metal could lead to toxic fumes or food that tastes downright disgusting. If you plan on using your shovel to cook in the future, consider cleaning it thoroughly with a wire brush or power sander ahead of time. A steel shovel is preferable to aluminum for durability and heat-resistance.

To take this technique to the next level, you might even add a small squeeze bottle of cooking oil or some spice packets to your bag. A beautifully cooked and seasoned piece of protein goes a long way to improve morale when you’re surviving… even if it’s cooked on a shovel over a campfire.

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