Survival Wilderness Survival

Survival Skills: Find Natural Toilet Paper

It’s easy to laugh about this situation after the fact, but it’s not so funny while the events are unfolding. Here’s the scene. You get caught out in the wild somewhere — and you’ve got to go… As you rifle through your pockets, desperately hoping to find an old napkin, some tissues, or the toilet paper you meant to pack; you come up empty handed.

Sure, the best strategy is to go outdoors with a stash of toilet paper. But if you run out, or get caught with short supply, you can always improvise — instead of going home with your left sock missing.

Stack Of Leaves
A stack of dead, dry leaves with one green broadleaf in the middle has always been my best performer if I’m out of Charmin. The fact that the leaves are dead and dry makes them absorbent, with enough texture to be useful. And that all important green broadleaf is there for structural integrity. Trust me, you’ll be sorry if it’s not there. Even in winter, you can find green broadleaves like rhododendron, mountain laurel and other evergreen leaves.

The punch line is that just about anything will work, but some things work much better than others. Besides the leaves, one of the best toilet paper substitutes can be found in the winter or at high elevations, and that is snow. Wet, packable snow balls or snow chunks work best. Yes, it’s terribly brisk. But it’s the cleanest thing out there, and it works well. The next best things down from snow balls are bundles of dead grass, bundles of fibrous inner bark, or rounded stones or shells.

The Leaves You Don’t Want
Make sure you take the time to learn what Poison Oak, Poison Ivy and Poison Sumac look like. Obviously, these rash causing plants would not make for a quality bathroom tissue. Mullein leaves are sometimes referred to as “Hunter’s Toilet Paper”, but don’t dive in yet. Mullein grows coast to coast, and you can find the fuzzy green leaves of the first year plants throughout the seasons, even in the dead of winter. But these velvety soft leaves cause a rash on most people due to the vaso-dilating oils and irritating hairs. I doubt you’d want to risk a rash on the most tender skin that you own.


Mullein plant in winter

Leave us a tasteful comment to let us know about the strangest material you have ever improvised for toilet paper. I hope it wasn’t poison ivy.