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Bear Grylls

How Bear Makes a Toothbrush in the Wild

Hygiene is important in the wild – you don’t want to get any infections or infestations when you’re far from help – and keeping your teeth, mouth (and body!) clean is an important part of this.

So what if you forgot or lost your toothbrush? If you don’t have one, you’ll need to find other ways to keep your teeth clean. This is where a “chewing stick” comes into play, says Bear. “[Make one] from a twig by chewing on one end to break up the fibers, which can then be rubbed along your teeth and gums,” says Bear in Born Survivor.

Make a Chewing Stick From Cat’s Tail

Image by Edmund Lowe Photography

If you are near a river, find a cat’s tail plant – these usually grow near river banks, lakes, or streams. Pull the small stems apart. This leaves a ‘tooth-shaped’ end that will fit over your teeth.

Bear also suggests bending the same stem in two, and using the abrasive bent point to scrape any plaque off your teeth.

“After five minutes of this, your teeth will feel fresher than ever before. It is amazing,” says Bear, adding that rinsing your mouth out with salt water or bark tea will help keep throat infections at bay.

Cleaning Your Body

Image by Casarsa Guru

Of course, you’ll also want to keep your body clean while showers aren’t an option. If you don’t have soap, try using white ashes, sand or loamy soil as abrasives to scrub dirt off your body. You can also lay dirty clothing out in the sun, as sunlight kills bacteria. If you don’t have access to water to help the cleaning process, Bear says taking an ‘air bath’ is also beneficial. “Take off as much clothing as possible that makes sense, and let fresh air wash over you for an hour. It’ll do a world of good,” he says.

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