The Disgusting, Unexpected Things You Can Eat From All Around Your House

It’s finally happened. The zombies have taken over, and you’re left stranded in your own home with only the items in your house for survival. You didn’t prepare for the apocalypse — so now what? Once you empty your fridge and pantry, what’s left to eat? Your surroundings might contain more edible materials than you realize.

You really shouldn’t eat any of these things unless you’re desperate. But in a worst-case scenario, they might keep you alive.


This may be more edible than you think. |

Sidewalk and blackboard chalk are made from a compound called calcium sulfate. It’s water-soluble (which is why rain washed away all your beautiful sidewalk art as a kid) and probably won’t hurt you, unless you eat it by the box.

Technically, it’s found in very small amounts in foods like nut butters, processed cheeses, and hot dogs. Once you get past the texture, it probably isn’t too bad.

Next: You’ve probably accidentally eaten this at least once already.


A toothbrush with toothpaste sits on a sink in Arlington

Sometimes, you may swallow just a little bit! | Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

We’ve all accidentally swallowed a mouthful of toothpaste after brushing our teeth at least once. Somehow, we lived through it. Small amounts won’t hurt — just don’t eat the entire tube for breakfast and expect a minor stomachache to be the worst side effect.

Next: Here’s how your favorite pair of shoes might save the day.


man working on leather with tools

It may not be your first option, but it’s edible! |

Would you willingly eat your shoes in order to survive? Leather is technically an edible substance, containing animal proteins that might keep you alive a little longer. Heating up your belts, boots, and handbags, though unpleasant, might save your life.

Next: Smoking these won’t help you survive, but eating them might.


A campaigner holds a pack of cigarettes in front of a stand of tobacco boxes

Yes. Cigarettes are edible too. | Jung Yeon-Je/AFP/GettyImages

Smoking destroys your health¬†over a long period of time, but could you eat a cigarette and survive? Maybe. Your chances of survival might increase if you burn it and eat the ashes, though. Sometimes, anemia drives people to eat strange things — in the short-term, it might keep you alive.

Next: This might be the closest thing to real food you’ll find on this list.


House plants in white pots on the bedroom background

Choose what you plant carefully. | Ulianna/iStock/Getty Images

Some indoor plants can add beauty as well as nourishment to a home. Herbs like thyme and basil obviously make the list, but if you aren’t already growing those, a few others will do. You can grow lettuce, kale, garlic, and even tomatoes and peas inside under the right conditions.

Next: While you’re at it, you might as well eat this, too.


Wheel tire mess up with mud and dirt

Head outside and grab a handful of this. | LiptonCNX/ Getty Images

If you’re going to munch on a few potted plants, you might as well go for the dirt. It may not be the most appetizing option, but it actually might have some health benefits.

Making a meal out of mud could actually protect your body from harmful microorganisms — everything from toxins to parasites, all the disease-causing bugs that make you sick. Introducing your body to the bacteria and other organisms found in dirt might make you less likely to get sick from them.

Next: This is probably the only cleaning product you could eat that won’t immediately kill you.


Soap dispensers, Cotton swabs and other toiletries

Your body may need the oil found in soap. |

As a last resort, the bar of soap in your shower might be able to provide a decent serving of fat, which your body needs to continue functioning properly.

Making soap — a process called saponification — requires only three ingredients: vegetable oil, water, and lye, a chemical compound that probably won’t hurt you in small amounts. Adding a little toothpaste to it might help improve the taste.

Next: It tastes like cardboard, but you might be able to stomach it anyway.


Empty Cardboard Egg Carton

Egg cartons, old boxes, any cardboard you can find! | smartstock/Getty Images

Eating literal cardboard isn’t totally unheard of. People with pica, a condition in which patients crave and eat inedible substances like paper, do it impulsively.

However, if you were getting desperate and had a bunch of cardboard lying around the house, you might be able to have it for lunch. It’s just paper mixed with chemicals, so you’re definitely taking a risk, but at least you’ll get some fiber back into your diet.

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