Pooping in the woods: natural toilet paper

Discussion in 'Backpacking' started by Drewboy64, Jan 4, 2013.

  1. Drewboy64

    Drewboy64 Scout

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    Anyone else here have experience using natural materials as toilet paper?

    I used to use toilet paper but hated the idea of carrying out my soiled tp in my pack. So I started using natural toilet paper on my backpacking trips. It requires that you manipulate a few things in the environment, but I think overall it's much more environmentally friendly, since you aren't using something manufactured at a factory somewhere.

    I like using smooth, flat rocks most of the time, though i've used leaves and spruce branches (though you gotta be careful with those)
     
  2. Ahnkochee

    Ahnkochee Bushmaster

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    Don't ever use sugar cane leaves. :11:
     
  3. Papa Tac

    Papa Tac Scout

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    More than I care to mention...

    I once found myself on a barren mountain top with the only vegetation being inches high brambles, low growth like common juniper and blackberry (Empetrum spp), and a most pressing need.
    The Arctic Hare and Rock Ptarmigan looked on with humour as the silly human dragged his backside, crab-walk style, across the rough foliage and broken quartzite.
    I remember thinking how soft that Hare's fur would be...
    Since then I've stuck with 40 grit sandpaper - much smoother.

    Seriously, I will use leaves, stone, bark when available (with careful selection), but to me TP might just be one of the most difficult modern conveniences to give up.
    Then there's my brother, who always comes home from a round of Golf wearing only one sock...
     
  4. Jin

    Jin Scout

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    I'll stick to toilet paper...just burn it seperately if you don't wanna bury it or take it out with you.
     
  5. Sgt. Mac

    Sgt. Mac Elder Staff Member Administrator Supporter Bushclass I Bushclass II Bushclass Instructor

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    I just scoot around on the ground with my dog Denver
     
  6. madmax

    madmax Bushmaster

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    I can tell you one thing not to try. On a recent 3 day challenge we only had a pot, a piece of plastic, and a blade. I did fine (with my choices of material)until the last day. I was right by a palm tree and that furry stuff on it looked good to go. I spent the last day feeling like I had stuffed a box of shredded wheat where the sun don't shine.
     
  7. Kerri

    Kerri úlfheðnar Hobbyist Bushclass I

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    Mullien leaves work great and feels better then most toilet paper. When your on the trail grab it when you see it and keep it in your pockets or pack cause it seems when you need it you cant find it
     
  8. Two Bears

    Two Bears Banned Member Banned

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    Spanish moss works but here in Florida you have to get it hot or just to a boil in water first because of red bugs/chigers. I learned the hard way, and the ammonia bath was no fun at all.
     
  9. Prof

    Prof Guide Bushclass II

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    When I was only 4 or 5 years old, I'd walk with my dad down through the woods to find the old cows and drive them up to the barn to milk. On one such occasion, I heard the "call of nature." and I was introduced to the mullein leaf! I have used them many times since, but be careful: they're just as soft, but definitely not as strong as Charmin.

    Another standard of days gone by was the corn cob. After corn harvest, there are thousands of them lying in the field, just going to waste. Depending on corn variety, the cobs can be red or white. The well-stocked privy had both: red for rough work, and the softer, white ones for finishing up.
     
  10. Blaker55

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    My pops always said that first you used a red cob, then you used a white cob to see if you needed to use another red one!
     
  11. clanmaki

    clanmaki Guide

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    My thoughts too! Grows allover the place.
     
  12. snapper

    snapper Scout

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    Here in the northeast I've used the leaves of both striped maple (also called goosefoot maple due to its shape) and witch hobble. Both are large, soft, supple and strong. During the winter months I've also used snow. It's a bit brisk on the bum first thing in the morning but it really does clean you up pretty well.

    That's all for now. Take care and until next time...Be well.

    snapper
     
  13. AnthonySmithXR

    AnthonySmithXR Guide

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    ANOTHER POOP IN THE WOODS THREAD!!!


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  14. sbkittrell

    sbkittrell Guide

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    Your comment is funny, but the visual I got in my head was even funnier!
     
  15. MightyTygart

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    A smooth rock, really? I am all about leaving the woods cleaner than you found them. However, if my used toilet paper gets covered up (and it always does), how long before it rots away to nothing down in into the ground. Maybe I was being willfully ignorant but I never figured i was leaving much of a footprint when i was burying waste and toilet paper.
     
  16. sbkittrell

    sbkittrell Guide

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    I've used everything from my underwear to leaves to socks to water from a creek. In an emergency you have to adapt and overcome, or suffer the screaming itchies. Slightly off topic but related is this; The mystery of yellow poop. Why is it always yellow in the woods?
     
  17. EagleRiverDee

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    I'm another TP carrier. I pack it out, though. Always.

    But if you want ideas, check out Mike Clelland. He's an ultralighter that never carries TP and has some good ideas on how how to stay hygienic. "Liberate yourself from toilet paper".
     
  18. PineMartyn

    PineMartyn Scout

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    Toilet paper actually takes remarkably long to break down. Months, at a minimum, but it can last for years as a white clumpy bit of matter. Toilet paper, is made of wood, and once it's wet from wiping or water in the ground, it turns into a hard wad which, like wood, doesn't decompose quickly.

    You can see evidence of this if you camp in parks that allow backcountry camping but don't have thunderboxes or other latrine facilities. People bury their soiled toilet paper in the ground just a few inches down (which is optimal for fecal decomposition), but animals sometimes still smell it, dig it up, and then you get 'white roses' or 'paper roses' littered about and these accumulate until park volunteers do a cleanup. It's pretty unpleasant work.

    For this reason, I either use natural materials (a handful of folded up bracken ferns or large leafy plants work well for me). My wife prefers toilet paper, she puts her soiled paper in a little paper bag - the type you get when you buy a muffin or doughnut - and then discretely tosses the bag into the campfire. Tampons and pads should be disposed of like this too, never buried.

    I have also tried smooth rocks for wiping, but that doesn't always work because it can be hard to find enough of the correct size where I camp (it's mostly course and sharp-edged granite rock around here).

    And when winter camping, snowballs are what I use. Better than a bidet!

    Hope this helps,
    - Martin
     
  19. fuzzycraft

    fuzzycraft Tracker

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    A smooth rock? What's wrong with you
     
  20. hughewil

    hughewil Guide

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    In a pinch I have used oak leaves and washed off in a creek a few times, but as a general rule I just bring TP in my pack and burn it or bury it.
     
  21. cadyak

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    in winter snow works pretty well ....
     
  22. Akela

    Akela Scout

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    Yep. A nice chunk of sandstone is good for the Roids! :18:
     
  23. borego

    borego Scout

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    moss and banana leaves
     
  24. Aegis

    Aegis Tracker

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    With careful technique, you can use little to no TP. God help you if you have the runs though.
     
  25. edispilf27

    edispilf27 Tracker

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    Agreed with all.. heres one tho. Doug fir, pinion, and most short needled/clumped pine trees wioo work as good as good as a corn cob and they give you thaat fresh mtn feeling. I like snow too. Quicker at waking u up than coffee in the morning.
     
  26. wulfesinger67

    wulfesinger67 Guide

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    we have a lot of catalpa trees around here the leaves are massive. however as with any leaf you must be gental in its application or you will get intouch with your inner self!!!

    when i was about 4 or 5 i was across the road in the woods playing and had the call ...well next to these wood was a large corn field. I had heard of corn cobs but it was to early in the season for the cob approach but i figured those leafs were strong ang big! well i tried it ...and i didnt dig it! OMG i had cuts and itched for a week it was horrible.
     
  27. ineffableone

    ineffableone Guide

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    My go to TP in the woods is Mullen leaves. You can usually find it at the beginning of most trails, and or on gravel roads leading to the trail. It might be more difficult to find as you go up the trial, so I always stock up before starting out. Honestly I prefer Mullen leaves to TP, it works wonderfully.

    I do however carry options, including some TP. But typically before reaching for the TP I will opt for a wet bandana. I have a specific bandana I use for this, and then wash it out afterwards. Definitely a good way to go if your worried about packing out TP.
     
  28. Lichen

    Lichen Supporter Supporter

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    Yea, I'm still trying to picture this one also. I guess it's like using the three shells in Demolition Man.
     
  29. madmax

    madmax Bushmaster

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    lmao! Square peg in a round hole!
     
  30. Yellow Lab

    Yellow Lab Supporter Supporter Bushclass I

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    No TP? Then grab a squirrel. They may not like it but it is sure smooth on the tush! :4:
     
  31. madmax

    madmax Bushmaster

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    Hmmm. Considering a squirrel's penchant for nuts...:58:
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2013
  32. PineMartyn

    PineMartyn Scout

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    Smooth rocks and pebbles are what desert dwellers have always used for millennia, there being little plant material available, and what plant material there was tended to be thorny or prickly. Smooth rocks work very well. You don't need an absorbent surface for wiping material, just something that the waste will stick to.

    Hope this helps,
    - Martin
     
  33. Rider

    Rider Guide

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    Paper comes from trees, right? Hence, toilet paper comes from trees and therefore shall be personally classified as natural :D:thumbup: throw me into the forest with nothing more than pocket lint and a shoe lace, just gimme my tp...

    sent from my dumb phone.
     
  34. JRW87

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    If your ever in NZ this is bush toilet paper.
    Its got a nice velvet texture, haha.
     

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  35. Chopperlover

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    Thank you to everybody, I realize this is a very serious subject but I have to admit to laughing out loud. Maybe it's the kid in me that still thinks poo can be really funny!!!!
     
  36. Kerri

    Kerri úlfheðnar Hobbyist Bushclass I

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    Yep my afghan and iraqi buddies do it when they dont have water to use
     
  37. Terrier

    Terrier Supporter Supporter

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    I mostly winter camp and I have gotten used to using snowballs. Ancient Romans had a soft stick they used to use, I forget the name of it. Never tried that. You would really want to make sure it was sanded down well.
     
  38. Bearpaw

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    Change of diet. Most folks eat a largely dehydrated diet when they hit the backcountry, for the sake of saving weight. The lack of fresh fruits, vegetables, dairy, and meat leads to that yellow color. When I taught for NOLS, and we were out for a month at a time, we usually got our first ration of "NOLS gold" by late on the second day out. It stayed that way for pretty much the whole month.

    NOLS is also where I first learned about natural TP. There are spruce and fir cones out west that are downy soft. I was horrified at first, remembering the sharpness of eastern pine cones. But those western cones worked well. Snow is excellent. Cleans as it wipes, and wakes you UP! In the east, I have used strips of cedar (be dainty) and yes, I have found rocks to be an OK option. But most of the time, I simply carry TP and dig a cathole, at least on solo trips.
     
  39. Ahnkochee

    Ahnkochee Bushmaster

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    Has anyone here ever mistakenly used poison ivy or poison oak to wipe with? :56:
     
  40. Easterner

    Easterner Banned Member Banned

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    They called it a Spongia I think, and it was natural sea sponge on a stick. Greeks sometimes used stone and pieces of clay.
     
  41. Ranger John

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    Right on, I was about to recommend the same, but i'll add this , if you have very sensitive skin beware using any plant matter as TP. Caution also to individual that have hemorrhoids, don't get yourself an infection.
     
  42. Scratch4x4

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    I've done the wormy dog in the dirt a few times. not a lot of soft vegetation here. mostly mosquito trees and cactus. Just gotta hope no one walked by.
     
  43. diannamarsolek

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    we have nice soft moss

    Here In the great north wet. And it works great even in summer win it Fry's out.
     
  44. Worldwalker

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    When I was in my teens, I was in some woods where most of the branches with leaves were out of my reach, but the ground was covered with low, somewhat broad-leafed plants when nature called and I just had to answer. When I finished my business, I reached over to grab the nearest plant to finish things off, but realized my error just in time. The plant I almost used for TP was indeed poison ivy. So I reached for another nearby plant, but it too was poison ivy. At this point I looked around and realized that ALL the plants I had been squatting in were poison ivy. After some deliberation I decided to jump up with my pants around my ankles and grab some foliage off a nearby tree.

    Moral of the story: look really hard at a plant before using it for TP, or else.
     
  45. NGshooter17

    NGshooter17 Scout

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    Just use your hand and then pimp slap the least liked member of your party.

    Jk. I pack to and burn it. Although I have used a wide variet of other methods as well.
     
  46. Kingsnake

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    When I was a young lad in boy scouts, I read that the leaf of a tulip tree was the one safe leaf to use because it lacks most of the resins and saps you usually find in leaves. I've never used it, because I have a baggie full of baby wipes that I always hike and camp with because they are good for a variety of uses. All else fails, you could use a hankie.
     
  47. Panzer

    Panzer Prepared Wanderer Supporter Bushclass I

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    ROCKS???? You scrap your butt with rocks?? NO!
     
  48. Gulo gulo

    Gulo gulo Scout

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    That's how they do it in afghanistany!
     
  49. Panzer

    Panzer Prepared Wanderer Supporter Bushclass I

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    That confirms my NO.
     
  50. Tundra

    Tundra Scout

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    And don't forget the sticks/twigs!!

    I don't think it's asking too much to bring some napkins/a small tp roll/ or wet naps with you.
     

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