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You probably use toothpaste to brush your teeth–a perfectly reasonable use of the stuff. But did you know that it’s the answer to a number of backcountry first aid and personal hygiene challenges? Toothpaste can be used to treat any oozy skin irritations like bug bites, athlete’s foot and even blisters. It;s a disinfectant, antiseptic and fungicide. Toothpaste will stop itching and reduce swelling when applied topically. It dries up blisters if applied before bed, healing you while you sleep. It cools and soothes minor burns if applied immediately after they happen. Have a zit from too many days without a shower? A dot of toothpaste left on overnight will shrink it. Hands stinky from chopping garlic, rub them with a little toothpaste. Stepped in tar–rub it off with a little toothpaste. And when you’re stuck in the tent or taking a rest day, don’t forget how useful toothpaste is for a backcountry manicure. For clean, shiny, strong nails, brush them with you know what.
Many of the toothpaste benefits listed above are in fact the benefits of baking soda, sodium bicarbonate, a primary ingredient in toothpaste found in white non-gel toothpaste. But commercial toothpastes contain a lot of other chemicals and additives that fall somewhere in between ‘you don’t need them’ and ‘they’re bad for you.’ Homemade toothpaste is also way less expensive and takes up less space in your pack.
You can make your own chemical-free, all natural toothpaste by mixing baking soda with hydrogen peroxide and a few drops of peppermint essential oil. Use baking soda as dry or wet deodorant.