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    13 Surprising Uses for Dental Floss

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    13 Surprising Uses for Dental Floss

    If you’ve only ever used dental floss to clean your teeth, then you’ve been missing out on a world of pocket-sized utility. Generally made out of Teflon or nylon (although sometimes spun out of natural waxed fibers), dental floss is designed to endure squeezing through tight spaces in our mouths. You may have noticed how hard it is to break.

    This list of applications for dental floss would make MacGyver proud—and may even help you out one of these days. Read on to become someone who never leaves home without a trusty roll of dental floss tucked away.

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    1. Knife Substitute

    If you need to cut food and don’t have a knife on hand, floss is thin and strong enough to cut meat or fruit easily. Just loop the floss around the object to be cut, and pull tightly until it goes through. In a non-survival setting, it’s also considered perfect for cutting cakes.

    Using toothpicks or your eye to guide the cut, pull the floss tight over the top of the cake and then push down to achieve a perfect cut. You can use this technique for cheesecakes, sponge cakes, and even other foods such as hard boiled eggs or wheels of brie. 

    2. Temporary Drying Line

    In a survival setting, having wet clothes or socks on for long can become a serious liability, either through chafing or hypothermia. A length of floss run between a couple of trees makes a great clothes line—perfect for short term drying when you need it.

    3. Emergency Mending

    Because dental floss is so strong and durable, it works well for stitching up rips in clothing or sewing buttons back on. In the field, it can also be used to stitch on backpack straps that have torn or frayed away from the body of a bag. 

    4. Shoelace Replacement

    Breaking a shoelace when you’re on the move can feel like a serious catastrophe, but a simple length of dental floss can get you through to the other side of disaster. Floss works well as a temporary shoelace and can be doubled up if you don’t trust it to go the distance. 

    5. Fishing Hook and Line

    It’s an obvious one, but dental floss makes an excellent fishing line. In a survival scenario, all you need is a strong stick, a hook, and a length of floss to create a makeshift fishing pole. You can fashion a hook out of a safety pin, a can tab, a bone,, or a thorn, but another popular method is to use two pieces of wood with one carved to a point and then lashed together with…dental floss!

    6. Protecting Food by Hanging

    Whether you’re camping, hiking, or lost in the wilderness, protecting your food from animals and moisture is a critical task. Dental floss is strong enough to be used to hang food from tree branches, out of reach of animals and off the ground away from moisture and ants.

    7. Repairing Eyeglasses

    If you depend on your glasses to see clearly, losing a screw when you’re out and about can actually be dangerous—especially if you have to drive. Fortunately, they can be temporarily repaired by stringing floss through the holes where the screw would normally go and then tying the ends into a secure knot. 

    8. Makeshift Gaiters

    Treading through tall grass and heavy brush can invite a host of nasty insects into your clothes, from ticks to chiggers. One way to add a measure of protection is to fashion some DIY gaiters.

    Just tie off the bottom of each pants leg using dental floss—assuming your socks aren’t long enough to tuck them into. It’s not perfect, but your legs will thank you later.

    9. Emergency Splints

    Injured fingers, arms, and legs often have to be immobilized to prevent further injury. First, bandage the injured limb, then use sticks or some sort of rigid object on either side of the limb, finally securing the mechanism in place with dental floss.

    10. Bow Drill (Fire Starter)

    Any seasoned survivalist knows how to use a bow drill to start a fire. It essentially uses the friction of a hardwood spindle rotating quickly on softwood base plank to generate enough heat to build a fire.

    To make a bow drill, you first need to find a piece of softwood, preferably one that is flat and wide. Towards the middle, make a V-shaped notch on the edge. The crotch of the V is where the spindle will go.

    For the spindle, find a straight hardwood stick and whittle it with a knife until it is fairly uniform in diameter. Locate a flat rock or object to hold in your hand and apply pressure to the top of the spindle while it rotates.

    Finally, find a flexible branch, cut it to a little over a foot long, and tie a length of floss onto both ends of it so that there is a little tension on the branch, bending it slightly.

    To use this bow drill, loop the bow string around the spindle, press the spindle base into the notch, hold the top with the object you’ve selected, and use a bowing motion (like playing a violin) to rotate the spindle. A word of advice: starting a fire in this way takes so much practice—don’t expect to get it the first time.

    11. Making a Snare

    Snare building is its own art form, but if you already know how to build a snare with found objects in nature, then know that a length of dental floss is suitable for catching small to medium sized game.  

    12. Garden Fastening

    When it comes to tying tomatoes and other vines to trellises, dental floss is as good as most of the twine on the market, and generally a lot cheaper and easier to fit in your pocket. Remember to tie stems loosely so as to avoid damaging them as they grow. 

    13. Emergency Rope

    No, dental floss alone is not rope-strength, but braiding a few strands together will give you a stronger rope with the utility you need for lashing heavier items together. 

    So, in addition to keeping your teeth and gums healthy, dental floss is a must-have in almost any situation. In closing, it is worth adding that the best utility floss will be waxed or unwaxed nylon, not the ultra-thin Teflon variety. However, any floss is better than no floss.

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