While the average hiker may walk right past valuable natural resources, any experienced outdoorsman or survival instructor can tell you that just about every natural material has potential uses. A single tree might yield fatwood or tinder fungus for fire-starting, pitch for glue or improvised chewing gum, needles for tea, edible mushrooms, or grubs for baiting traps. Even items we normally dispose of, such as food waste, can be repurposed or used for composting. Understanding the value of each resource and using them to their fullest will improve your ability to survive.
In his latest video, the Aussie survivalist behind Primitive Technology makes use of an item most of us would overlook: snail shells. Knowing that these shells are rich in calcium, he processes them into lime mortar. This material can be applied to seal gaps between stones or bricks, or it can be used on its own to construct shelters.
Lime mortar has been in use for more than 6,000 years, and was seen extensively in Ancient Egyptian, Roman, and Greek buildings. The durability of these structures has been attributed partially to the strength and weather-resistance of this substance. So if you're looking to build a long-term shelter from natural materials, lime mortar is a great choice.
Check out the video below to see Primitive Technology process snail shells into water-resistant mortar:
Although snail shells will suffice for creating small quantities of lime mortar, gathering and processing these shells is painstaking — the video description states as much. If you're not interested in gathering hundreds of snail shells, you can also use egg shells, seashells, or coral. However, the easiest way to make lime is to find a natural source of limestone in your area.