Sunday, December 1, 2013

Unusual Uses for Dental Floss - How to Save Your Character's Life


Dental floss
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
At the request of one of my readers, I am working on various blogs that will help you, the writer, develop a great EDC (every day carry) for your character. Since most people don't walk around prepared for the end of the world, it helps if your character has some basics on hand and a little out-of-the-box know how.

In our last EDC tutorial, we learned how to save your character's life with condoms LINK.

This week we're adding in dental floss.

Dental floss is handy dandy and can be used in a pinch in all kinds of situations:

It's fortunate that your character just happens to carry a travel toothbrush and floss in her purse. Even better, since she was a Girl Scout she has some preparedness training, and she sticks a darning needle into the box, just in case. Either way, having a spool of dental floss can save your character's life.

English: Dental floss Deutsch: Zahnseide
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Heart symbol, with border.
. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


* Hair tie-back
* Entertain your kids with a
  Cat's Cradle String
* Food in the teeth
* Cleaning between small
   cracks like on the keyboard
* If your heroine is out on a romantic picnic and
   forgot her knife, dental floss will cut her bread, cheeses, cake etc.
* Your heroine has an important meeting tomorrow, but the drip drip dripping in the hotels sink is making her
   buggy! She can run some dental floss around the faucet and let the string hang down into the drain. The
   water will conduct along the string, and it will be quiet.
* If she needs to remove the stuck picture or page from a surface, she can
   work carefully with the dental floss to separate one from the other.
* She can also use the floss to remove cookies stuck to her cookie sheet.
* She can support her office plant by tying it up with the floss
   Video Quick Study (1:48)

Ah, but let's get real here. These uses are pretty benign, and we all know you're just not that nice to your heroine. You throw her from one life-or-death emergency to another. Let's see how dental floss can help her escape with life and limb.


* Use as a tourniquet if a toe or finger is severed. (put the severed digit in a non-lubricated condom tie it off
   and put it on ice. Send her to the hospital immediately.
* Tie off an umbilical chord when she had to rescue-deliver that baby on the stuck elevator.
* If the hand is injured and swelling, threatening to cut off circulation in the finger because of a now-too-tight
   ring, starting at the far end of the finger by the nail wrap the floss around and around tightly to force fluids
   back up the finger into the hand and slide the ring over this. Release the floss immediately. 

Apartment Key
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


* What if your heroine's keys fell down a grate?
    Dental floss, a paper clip, and lots of patience.
    (Could also try freshly chewed gum tied to the floss.
     or duct tape made into an inverted loop)
    Video Quick Study (2:00) Fishing for keys
*  Replace shoe laces as she's running from Big
*  Sewing - repairing her clothes or gear or even
    suturing a wound (last ditch effort in the wilds).
*  Repairing a wet suit
    Video Quick Study (1:35)
*  Make a clothes line - if your character fell through the
    ice and is sopping wet, she has to get dry fast!
    Water wicks heat away from the body; she's better
    naked and dry than clothed and wet.
*  A hiding place for small objects. They might search
    your heroine/spy from head to toe and empty her
    purse out but much like the tampon box in her
    bathroom, a dental floss case will get very little attention,
    especially if she has it in a small bag with travel tooth brush, comb, and mirror. It looks so normal. She can
    store memory chips, hand cuff keys, or other get-out-of-jail-free items inside.

Video Quick Study (3:29) Brief demonstrations of some of the uses

English: zombie
English: zombie (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In a Zombie Apocalyptic Disaster, remember that there are four main components to survival: FOOD, WATER, SHELTER, FIRE.

Fire in Dumpster
(Photo credit: benwatts)


* Use for fire starter material (waxed works
   particularly well)
* Making a bow drill
   Video Quick Study (5:26)


*  Hanging things. If your character has food with her, she should not keep it on her or near her while she
    sleeps. She should walk a short distance and hang the food from a tree limb so as not to attract wild
    animals and keep everything safe. Remember that while dental floss is strong your character might want to
    braid the floss to increase the tensile strength if her food ways more than a couple of pounds.
 * Fishing line coupled with a safety pin or paper clip and a stick she finds in the woods (and a condom or
    tampon wrapper as a bobber).
 * Hunting
   - Bow string
      Video Quick Study (5:02) If this ten-year-old can do it, your heroine can. She remembers a
                                   neighbor kid doing this when she was little.
   - Traps
      Video Quick Study (1:55) catching a bird

English: Image 3 of 5 in Debris Hut Constructi...
English: Image 3 of 5 in Debris Hut Construction.. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


*  Tying sticks for a debris hut.
*  Makeshift shelter such as a poncho tent

CampMor Silnylon Poncho Tent
Poncho Tent (Photo credit: kc7fys)


* Tying the top of your condom water carrier.

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  1. I'm really tempted to try to hang a plant with floss now.

    1. Bahahahahaha! Let me know how that works for you! You aren't going to try for the key??? If you video the attempt, I'll post it (You can put some of you Gorilla tape into action.

  2. I'll never think of dental floss the same way again. Great post. Thanks.

  3. I tried out fishing for keys with dental floss. It was a rather simple test, as I just threw my keys on the floor and tried to pick them up. I wasn't about to throw them down a gutter and didn't have any longer drop to test out.

    I went with all the suggestions you gave for the "bait" and this is roughly what happened:

    Duct tape- Wrapped a small strip of duct tape in a loop and used that to pick up the keys. It works, but there's definitely some luck involved. I found it's actually easier if you focus on one key at a time and don't try to grab the whole thing. I had the most success going after the biggest key on the keychain. If you've got something like a multi-purpose tool on there (which I used to have but lost and haven't gotten around to replacing) it might be better to hit that with the duct tape.

    Gum- I took your advice and chewed 3 pieces and made a big glob with it. This just didn't work well. I could barely get the gum to stick to the keys at all.

    Paper clip- I just bent a paper clip so there was a bit of a hook at the end (like a fishing hook). As you could probably guess, your best bet is to aim for the key ring on this one. This one requires a lot of patience in hooking it, but if you get it hooked right, you can pull the keys right up.

    With all of them, make sure you tie a knot around whatever you're using to catch the keys with. I thought duct tape might stick to both the keys and the floss, but it doesn't. It'll just come off.

    All of these probably would've been harder if I'd been going more than a few feet, especially the duct tape one. You really have to get it stuck just right for the tape to work, but it's certainly possible. Having to go several feet makes it more likely the weight will pull the keys off and cause them to fall on the floor.

    It's not something I would've ever thought about, and it takes some patience, but it can work if you have the right materials available.

  4. In Yellow Vengeance, #3 in the Calli Barnow mystery series, my heroine, Calli Barnow, uses dental floss to re-lock a door, after breaking into a crooked lawyer's office. I actually tried it (not the breaking in part), and it works. For details check out Yellow Vengeance at:

    1. I saw that done on an Elementary episode. Sherlock Holmes solved the case that way.

  5. Great fun.

    I think the self-defense options here are a bit incomplete, though. For instance:

    Braid the floss a few times and tie it to a stick or other weight, and you have a "chain" weapon you can swing to crack heads. If there's a weight on the other end you can throw it as a bola too, probably to tangle someone's feet-- which just might work for hunting game if you're stranded somewhere. Another hunting weapon would be to sew floss through two sides of a cloth patch to make a sling, though that takes a lot of practice to use well.

    Or the simplest, darkest weapon: as a garotte.

    (Call it "A floss with death" maybe. Why should brushes have all the fun?)

    1. LOL! Awesomeness. You'd have to braid it a bunch of times - but if you had a spool of floss you'd def. have enough to make any of these weapons work.


  6. My sister-in-law cut wedding shower cake with dental floss for perfect slices. We have used it for about half of those suggested but will definitely add to our arsenal for heroic ideas or everyday life for a girl just never knows when she needs to save the day, Zombies or not. I love this blog, you are the bomb.