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Survivalists should be advocates of recycling, but that doesn’t just mean taking your bottles and cans to the local drop-off facility to exchange for some cash. Recycling is all about turning discarded items into something that’s useful once more — an essential skill for any scenario where resources may be limited. We’ve previously written about turning plastic bottles into cordage, and turning aluminum cans into alcohol stoves, but what about glass?
Anyone who has dropped a glass jar or bottle on the hard ground will recall how it instantly splinters into dozens of razor-sharp fragments. This brittle property of glass may be annoying when it’s your job to clean up the shards, but it can also be used to your advantage in a survival situation. Through careful application of a technique called knapping, bottles can be turned into sharp and effective glass arrowheads.
Knapping typically uses stones, antler or bone, and a leather pad to carefully chip tiny fragments off a piece of brittle material such as flint, ceramic, or glass. This has been used by primitive cultures for centuries to produce knives, axes, arrowheads, and other bladed tools. Many of these implements have survived and remain on display in museums — some have been preserved for more than 5,000 years.
In the following video, Primitive Pathways shows how to make a simple glass arrowhead from a discarded 24-ounce growler beer bottle. Nails are used to separate the thick concave base from the rest of the thinner glass, and then knapping is applied to shape the arrowhead. Despite breaking the arrow once, host Billy Berger is able to recover and produce a finished arrow.