In this article I will explore one of the skills I think will be useful in the post apocalypse. Immediately after our survival needs are met; what becomes useful?
I think chemistry is an often overlooked field that will become more useful with time. We are a a chemically dependent society and chemicals appear in areas we will fail to consider. Every manufacturing process uses one chemical or another.
Let’s take water treatment as an example (because it’s something I know well). Even just the sodium hypochlorite (or bleach as it is also known) will run out and expire. Iodine, and water tablets, the gas in uv lightbulbs all will need to be replaced. Almost every step of water treatment involves one chemical or another. Long term water security depends on having an ongoing supply of these chemicals.
Then there is sanitation. May self-reliant people can make bar soap. Bar soap is good for cleaning people and some objects but it is less effective for cleaning buildings especially food preparation areas. Or the food preparation utensils. Liquid soap while not that different from bar soap it much easier to use for cleaning.
Degreasers make mechanical equipment maintenance significantly easier. Just being able to see the parts cleanly after they are removed will save hours of time spent to keep machines running. Not to mention clean up afterwards.
I’m not too knowledgeable on pharmaceutical production. But when I think about it. All medicine does is act in some way on the body’s internal chemistry. Think of all the ailments that can only be managed with medication? Will they become fatal? Or will they just make life impossible that How will they be manufactured without chemistry and chemical engineering?
Food production levels won’t need to be as high due to a decline in the population. However, fertilizers that enable you to grow more on less land may be exactly what you need. Or a pesticide to combat a pest infestation eating your crops. Or once you have your food storing it is easier with oxygen absorbers.
Stockpiling supplies properly can get you through the collapse and into the rebuilding phase. But eventually supplies will run out. Basic chemistry knowledge will allow you minimize waste. You can calculate the correct amount needed to do the job. For example while disinfection with potassium permanganate most instructions tell you to keep adding until the water turns pink. Now that is good advice, the water will be disinfected when it turns pink. However it will also be disinfected well before that point. But you need to perform a test to determine the concentration to know.
During other collapses of human civilization there have always been pockets that have held onto good ideas and useful knowledge. The ones that keep knowledge (like chemistry) tend to rise to power a lot quicker. In this sense chemistry can be tied to your ongoing security and stability. Maybe I am stretching it a bit. But I don’t think so. What do you think?