15 Best Old Time Living Skills You Need To Learn

You need to learn old-time living skills to make your life easier, save money, and keep your home clean and safe.

If you have children, empowering them with these skills is a good idea. It will boost their self-esteem, reasoning, and survivability during hard times.

Many old skills do not take much time to learn. They are not challenging to master, and they will form the focus of this article. We unveil 15 life skills that were used centuries ago but are still vital today.

If you want an off-grid lifestyle away from cities and social amenities, these are must-have skills. Read on for everything you need to know about them to improve your wilderness survivability.

Why Should We Learn Old-Time Living Skills?

Why Should We Learn Old-Time Living Skills?

Learning old skills comes with many benefits. These are tied to the specific skill you intend to know.

For example, survival skills equip you with the knowledge you need to survive during hard times. You can still eat and live safely, even if you have nothing in the store.

Building skills will make you have a safe shelter for you and your family and livestock. You can make it safer by installing some security systems and energy-efficient by improving its insulation property.

In general, mastering these old skills will make life cheaper, easier, and more bearable. With them, you can survive any situation.

You can get protection, medication, food, and shelter off the grid with these skills. Simply put, you become self-reliant.

15 Old-Time Living Skills You Need to Learn

15 Old-Time Living Skills You Need to Learn

There are many ancient skills, but we will only focus on the 15-best ones in this article. They include the following:

  • Survival Skills When You Have Nothing
  • DIY Building
  • Grow a Garden
  • Hunting
  • Livestock Skill
  • First Aid and Emergency Medical Care Skills
  • Midwifery
  • Compost Toilet
  • Composting
  • Cooking skills
  • Canning and Preserving
  • Tool/Furniture Making Skills
  • Skills for Making Everyday Items
  • Hand Wash Clothes(With a Washboard)
  • Learn to Sew

As you can see, these are all you need to live a comfortable and fulfilling life off the grid. We will expand each section and provide details of each skill, stating why it is beneficial. Stay on board for more information.

Survival Skills When You Have Nothing

This not only benefits off-gridders but anyone in such a desperate situation.

You might be lost in the jungle or find yourself on a lonely island after an accident. Life does not stop there, you have to survive from scratch.

The skills you should learn to help you survive when you have nothing include foraging for food, lighting a fire without lighters, and purifying water for drinking.

Lighting Fire Without Matches

Imagine yourself lost in the jungle and the night temperature falls below a bearable level.

Lighting a fire can make the difference between life and freezing to death. Learn how to light a fire without matches. Fortunately, there are different ways to do it, and what you adopt depends on your situation.

Purifying Water

Purifying Water

Whether you are lost in the jungle or at sea, you need water to survive. Most water sources you may come across do not have clean water for drinking.

That is why you need to learn a few techniques for purifying salty water and/or muddy water.

Foraging for Food

You need food to stay alive. If you live off the grid or are lost in the wilderness, your fruit-gathering skills can save you.

Nature provides many types of food. But if you lack these old skills, you can starve to death. You can forage for mushrooms, edible plants, and many other things. Read this foraging guide for more information.

DIY Building

Without shelter, your life off the grid can be miserable. A building not only keeps you safe from harsh weather conditions but also provides security against wild animals.

What old skills do you need to learn about DIY building? Equip yourself with the following:

  • Home Maintenance: This can be as simple as cleaning your gutters, inspecting and repairing a roof, fixing any leaky faucets, caulking windows, and many others. Remember, you will not access professionals to do them for you when living off-grid.
  • Home Improvement/Fortify: You can learn simple things such as painting, enhancing molding, improving lighting, and other renovation projects. It is just a way of making your home look better and safer for the occupants.
  • Plumbing: This is a crucial skill that any homeowner should learn. You should know how to work with PVC pipes and metal pipes to improve the plumbing system of your home.
  • Well Building: Well-building is an old skill you should learn to help you construct a water source for domestic use. The wells can also provide water for irrigation and watering your livestock.  

Grow a Garden

Grow a Garden

A garden is not only to grow flowers to enhance home aesthetics but also for fruits and vegetables.

You need to learn seed harvesting and storage, pest control techniques, and grinding wheat and other grains into flour. Milling your flour at home comes with many benefits.

Know the fruits and vegetables that perform well in specific seasons. It will help you reduce the efforts needed to grow, harvest, use, and store the produce.



Hunting skills are the best approach to supplement your diet with protein-rich, wild meat. You should know how to set traps, fish, and use bows, as well as guns to hunt.

Hunting and foraging involve looking for wild food, whether fruits and vegetables, wild animals, or mushrooms.

The best knowledge you should have is what is edible and what is not. Some mushrooms, wild animals, and plants are poisonous. They can cause stomach upset and death in just a few days.

There are over 50 wild plants you can forage on. Learn all about them to improve your survival skills.

Livestock Skill

Apart from hunting, you can keep livestock for meat, milk, egg, and honey. For you to do that, you need to know the breeds that perform well in your location.

It may not be significant when keeping bees for honey but has an impact if you consider poultry, cattle, rabbit, and goats.

When keeping livestock, determine the products you need. For example, if you need milk, then you need dairy cows and goats.

And if you need wool, then sheep are the best choice. Similarly, there are specific poultry breeds for eggs and meat.

If you keep livestock for meat, learn butchering skills. Know ways of slaughtering chicken, rabbit, goats, and cattle, depending on the livestock you have.

Under livestock skills, learn the following:


Poultry Keeping

Cattle Rearing

Goat Rearing

Rabbit Keeping

First Aid and Emergency Medical Care Skills

You may require a medical emergency when you least expected it.

It can be caused by a wild animal attack, natural disasters, eating poisonous food, or any other cause. Your expertise or preparation for such can help save a life.

Learn the following emergency medical care skills:

Make Your Own Medicine

Take your time to go through lessons on herbal medicine. You will learn to respond to emergency situations such as snake bites, food poisoning, and many others.

Bear in mind that the closest medical facility can be many miles away. Anything fatal can result before you get there.

Herbal Pain Relief Salve

Most emergency situations are associated with severe pain that can be fatal in some cases.

Fortunately, you can learn how to make effective pain relief herbal medicine to help you or the victim in such situations.

Grow Medicinal and Culinary Herbs

Instead of depending on herbal medicine from wild plants, it is better to grow them in your garden.

You may not have all the time required to move through the thicket searching for a medicinal herb. There are many medicinal plants you can consider for this purpose.

Learn How to Make Tinctures

Tinctures are a concentrated mixture of liquid herbs. These can treat sleep disorders, hormonal imbalance, digestion problems, allergic reactions, and other medical conditions.

You need to make them and have them ready for you in an emergency situation.


Midwives possess skills of helping women during labor, child delivery, and after delivery.

These are essential skills since procreation does not stop when you change to an off-grid lifestyle. Mothers understand better that labor can knock on the door at any time and anywhere.

Learn the midwifery skills remotely to prepare yourself for the unpredictable child delivery process. They can help save the child and the mother.

Compost Toilet

Compost Toilet

This is a DIY type of toilet that turns human waste into compost through the actions of microorganisms under aerobic conditions.

The process removes the odor and any undesirable characteristics of human waste.

Instead of having to flush your toilets with gallons of water every day, you can limit the amount of water you use at home by switching to a compost toilet.

The trick with it is to keep favorable conditions for the aerobic bacteria, which aids in the decomposition, to thrive.

Learn how to make a composting toilet for your family to detach yourself from the utility sewage line. It is also cheaper than the septic tank solution if you live off the grid.


Buying inorganic fertilizers can be expensive and time-consuming, considering the miles you cover to reach an agro vet.

Also, they are discouraged because they can alter the soil pH and destroy soil structure. That is why you need to make your own compost manure.

When living off-grid, you might want to plant some serial crops and vegetables. If the soil does not have enough nutrients to support the healthy growth of these plants, then you will have to make organic manure.

Composting is the recycling of organic matter, including leaves and waste food, into a fertilizer that can replenish nutrients in the soil.

Learn how to make compost manure to get better yields from your crops and vegetables.

Alternatively, you can use the livestock waste if you keep poultry and cattle. These can enrich the soil with the vital minerals that plants require to grow.

Cooking skills

You do not plan to eat raw food when you cannot use food delivery services or walk to a restaurant for a takeaway, do you?

Adopting an off-grid lifestyle comes with many changes, including recipe changes. Most of the dishes you enjoy in the cities are not available in the wilderness.

Learning recipes for off-grid living will go a long way in ensuring your comfort.

You will not feel like you miss your former life if you can equally fill your belly with home-cooked, delicious meals. The following are some of the cooking skills you need to learn:

  • Cook from Scratch /Baking Bread from Scratch
  • Make Cheese
  • Cook With a Woodstove
  • Cooking on an Open Fire
  • Make Yogurt
  • Render Your Own Cooking Fats
  • Home Brewing
  • Sugar Making
  • Wine and Liquor Making
  • Make Jam
  • Make Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Make Your Own Maple Syrup

Canning and Preserving

Foods are plentiful in some seasons and become scarce when the season changes.

To ensure a constant food supply throughout the year, you need to know how to can or preserve food. Canning extends the shelf life of many different types of foods.

There are other skills about food preservation that are equally important. They include the following:

  • Can/Pickling Food
  • Dehydrated Food
  • Practice Life Without a Fridge
  • Ferment Food

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Tool/Furniture Making Skills

Among the top skills, you should master tool and/or furniture making skills. You need chairs, tables, doors, windows, beds, and many other things.

To make them, you need some tools, and you should learn how to craft the tools and use them.

Make an effort to learn the following old skills:

  • Tan a Hide
  • Carpentry
  • Masonry
  • Welding
  • Blacksmithing
  • Knife Sharpening
  • Woodworking
  • Leatherwork

Skills For Making Everyday Items

Items we use daily or frequently should ever be available in our homes. Restocking from the market may not be the best choice for an off-gridder. Instead, you can master the art of making them yourself.

Here is the list of some of the items you can make:

  • Make Soap/Making Hand and Body Soap
  • Candle Making
  • Tooth Powder
  • Body Butter
  • Bee Balm
  • Use Essential Oils
  • Ditch the Shampoo
  • Line Drying
  • Laundry Soap
  • Making Cleaning Products

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Hand Wash Clothes With a Washboard

Electric power is usually limited when you live off the grid. The little you can produce through solar and other means is barely enough for lighting and running other light loads.

That means the use of washing machines will be limited even if you own one.

Learning how to hand wash clothes will ensure that you have clean attires on your body, even when the washing machine cannot be used.

Learn to Sew

If you like, you can buy a sewing machine and learn to tailor. But as a survivor, you should know how to get the same results through hand sewing.

There are many skills under this topic. If possible, learn all of them to be self-reliant. They include the following:

  • Clothes
  • Crocheting
  • Knitting and Crocheting
  • Sewing On a Button
  • Darning Holes in Socks
  • Weaving and Spinning
  • Embroidery
  • Basket Weaving

3 Pieces of Advice For Success When You Learn Skills

Learning any skill is a process, and you only succeed if you use the best approach. Use the following tips:

Set Reasonable Goals. Know Your Limits

It all begins by knowing your potential and setting your goals or objectives to exploit it. Being overly ambitious can be a recipe for failure.

Learn only the skills you can and take one step at a time. Do not strain yourself to complete a course even if you don’t gain any substantial skill from it. Take your time and try to master it even if it is tough. It will help you get through the different lifestyles you seek when living off the grid.

Seek Out Those You Can Learn From

Most of these old skills are best learned through apprenticeship. Search through your network to find an expert who is willing to share with you the knowledge at a fee or free.

Your success is dependent on the master you choose or the learning method your plan to use.

Try To Help Others to Learn When You Can

You learn better when you share your knowledge with others. Once you master the art, feel free to help others to also know the skill. Knowledge is wealth worth sharing.


Learning old life skills is for your own benefit. They will make your life complete and can be the difference between life and death.

We focused on the 15 old-time living skills you need to learn in this article. We hope that you found the information beneficial and you feel more inspired to master the skills.

We thank you for your time reading this article at the Em Offgrid. We encourage you to share the information and explore our other posts on off-grid survival.