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Nature’s Best Toilet Paper Substitutes

Toilet paper (or the lack thereof) is going to go down as one of the symbols of the COVID-19 pandemic. You might have asked yourself lately, what did people use before toilet paper was invented? Or, are there any alternatives to using toilet paper?

Our guest author Bill Heavey has written a wonderfully amusing post on finding natural alternatives when you find yourself without any toilet paper.

Where is the toilet paper?

As I write this, Charmin, Cottonelle, and Downy Soft toilet paper, to name a few, are “currently unavailable” on Amazon. This verifies what you’ve always suspected: When things get scary in the US, the first thing most of us think about is pooping. The average American goes through 30 rolls of toilet paper a year, which is kind of impressive but still not a reason to stock an entire wall of your basement with them. Seventy percent of the world’s population doesn’t even use bathroom tissue. They use a variety of things, including, in some countries, the left hand. I have no intention of covering that technique here.

People have always devoted a lot of thought to cleaning their backsides.

As early as the 6th century, the Chinese scholar Yan Zhitui wrote that he preferred not to use paper containing quotations from the sages. The first task-specific toilet paper was invented in China in 1391. The sheets were initially intended for the royal family. They were big and perfumed. A 16th century French writer recommended “the neck of a goose that is well downed.” Doesn’t sound like a bad idea. On the other hand, it’s tough stockpiling goose necks.

The Romans pooped communally—just like they did most things—and used a sea sponge attached to a stick to clean themselves.

Between uses, the stick was plunged into sea water. This, incidentally, is where the phrase, “the sh*tty end of the stick” comes from. The Vikings used old sheep wool and smooth pottery shards. They were hardy people. The Eskimos used two of the better toilet paper substitutes: snow in the winter and tundra moss when it was available. Snow, incidentally, is often ranked both as one the best and one of the worst alternatives by natural-bathroom-tissue experts. On the plus side, it is fantastically effective, both smooth for comfort ,and mildly abrasive for effective cleaning. What’s more, it can be custom-shaped. On the minus side, it’s really cold. It’s also wet. A wet butt is not a good thing.

In this country, until the late 1800s, it was common to find a corncob hanging from a string in the outhouse.

I know, I don’t want to think about it either. Seems like it would start out too smooth and end up too rough. And, of course, it was communal. Really, I have no idea why it was so widely used.

The Sears catalog changed everything and was a quantum leap in bathroom technology. It was free, contained hundreds of soft, uncoated pages, and gave you something to read in the meantime. The sort of toilet paper we use today wasn’t commercially available until 1857. Gayett’s Medicated Paper for the Water Closet contained aloe and was marketed as being good for hemorrhoids, which were called “piles” back in the day. The patent for rolled toilet paper was granted in 1891. Fun fact for settling bar bets: The original patent drawing shows the paper unspooling from the top rather than the bottom. This is the only sensible way to do it, but some people like to quibble.

If you find yourself in a survival situation—or if you just can’t buy toilet paper anywhere right now—you’ve got options.

Believe it or not, smooth stones, like river rocks, of a fairly small size are considered one of the better choices for the task. Not particularly absorbent, but they’re better than a corn cob. The cones of Douglas fir trees are recommended because they are said to be comparatively soft. “Comparatively” is the key word here. A handful of grass stalks, all carefully and tightly bundled and then folded over to create a “brush” is another popular alternative on survivalist websites. It actually looks sort of doable.

But if my ass were on the line, I’d reach for one of these six options, at least one of which is available anytime and almost anywhere in the great outdoors.

Moss

A handful of soft moss is just the thing.
. Popular Science

The gold standard among natural toilet papers. Think of it as green Charmin. Moss is soft, absorbent, and full of iodine, a natural germ killer. It grows all over the country, and not just on the north side of trees. Don’t be particular about species. For one, it’s extremely difficult to identify. For another, it doesn’t matter. Go for it. Make sure you have more than you think you’ll need. (Note: This should probably go without saying, but the time to go look for wiping material is before you lower your trousers. It’s a lot harder to move around afterward.)

Old man’s beard

A bunch of old man’s beard or Spanish moss gathered from tree limb will do the job.
. Popular Science

There are 87 kinds of old man’s beard, including Spanish Moss (sort of, it’s complicated) and similar lichens. They all grow on trees and look like tangled fishing line (but make much better, softer wiping material). It also contains usnic acid, which is effective against Streptococcus and Staphylococcus bacteria. Dried, it also makes a great fire starter. Win-win.

Lamb’s ear

Lamb’s ear leaves are soft and absorbent.
. Popular Science

Another standout. It’s not native but grows throughout the US. The leaves are big, quite soft, and absorbent. They are said to feel like sitting on a cloud, which may be stretching things a bit. Lamb’s ear has natural antibiotic qualities that makes it nice on your backside. It also makes a great alternative to a band-aid if you don’t have any.

Mullein

Mullein leaves are much like lamb’s ears, but usually bigger.
. Popular Science

Similar to Lamb’s ear and found in all 50 states. You just can’t do better than those big, soft, absorbent leaves. It’s also fairly sturdy, which reduces the chance of poking through it. Throughout history, mullein has been used by just about everybody for just about everything. Tribes in the Southwest smoked it to treat mental illness. Eastern tribes used the leaves to treat colds, bronchitis, and asthma. Choctaws used a poultice of its leaves for headaches. Early European settlers used common mullein seeds to paralyze fish. The seeds were also crushed and put into diked areas of slow water. Today, mullein leaves are occasionally used to fashion insoles for weary hikers. You can’t do that with real toilet paper.

Slippery elm

Slipper elm leaves have a somewhat rough texture that help achieve that clean feeling.
. Popular Science

Okay, these leaves are not soft and absorbent. If anything, they’re kind of like sandpaper because the hairs on them contain silica crystals. On the plus side, that is the same property that makes them effective at cleaning. Just be gentle.

Osage orange

The crevices and bumps of the young Osage orange fruit aid in removal.
. Popular Science

It’s said to be one of the best butt wipes ever, but only during a small window of time. The mature fruit is too big to get into the relevant area; what you want is young fruit. The small crevices and bumps on its surface are said to be of the ideal texture for cleaning. You want to make sure to use undamaged fruit, because Osage orange contains a sticky sap that you really don’t want back there.

Finally, a couple words of caution. If you can’t find any of the six above and decide instead to just reach for whatever leaf is handy, give it at least a cursory glance before putting it into action. Most will be fine, but you’ll want to stay away from anything on this list.

Also, wash your hands. I know you are already doing a lot of that lately, but fecal bacteria is a major cause of backcountry nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting. There’s only one right way to do it, assuming you’ve got a companion. After you’re done, have someone squirt some water and some soap into your hands. Your contaminated hands shouldn’t touch anything. Wash thoroughly. Then, you can get back to scouring the internet for toilet paper.

Written by Bill Heavey/Field for Popular Science and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

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    歷史
    六七千年前的先民就開始釣魚。周文王曾和兒子們在靈沼釣魚取樂。戰國時范蠡也愛釣魚,常把所釣之魚供給越王勾踐食用。 二十世紀八十年代,中國大陸的各級釣魚協會成立,釣魚地點也從自然水域向養殖水域過度,所釣之魚則從粗養向細養過度。人數增多、水體污染及濫捕濫撈導致釣魚難度上升。釣魚協會開始與漁民和農民簽訂文件,使更多釣者能夠在養殖水域釣魚,達到了雙贏的目的。 二十世紀九十年代初,來自台灣的懸釣法走紅大陸,各地開始建造標準釣池。 二十世紀末,發達國家的釣者提倡回顧自然,引發新一輪野釣戰,而中國的釣者則更青睞精養魚池。1

    工具

    一种钓鱼竿机械部分示意图
    最基本的钓具包括:鱼竿、鱼线、鱼钩、沉坨(又名沉子)、浮标(又名鱼漂)、鱼饵。2:1其他辅助钓具包括:失手绳、钓箱、线轮、抄网、鱼篓、渔具盒、钓鱼服、钓鱼鞋等。2:1

    钓竿一般由玻璃纖維或碳纖維轻而有力的竿状物质製成,钓竿和鱼饵用丝线联接。一般的鱼饵可以是蚯蚓、米饭、蝦子、菜叶、苍蝇、蛆等,现代有专门制作好(多数由自己配置的半成品)的粉製鱼饵出售。鱼饵挂在鱼鉤上,不同的對象鱼有不同的釣組配置。在周围水面撒一些誘餌通常会有較好的集魚效果。

    钓具
    鱼竿
    主条目:鱼竿
    钓鱼的鱼竿按照材质包括:传统竹竿、玻璃纤维竿、碳素竿,按照钓法包括:手竿、矶竿、海竿(又名甩竿),按照所钓鱼类包括:溪流小继竿、日鲫竿(又名河内竿)、鲤竿、矶中小物竿。2:6-8

    鱼钩
    主条目:鱼钩
    鱼钩就是垂钓用的钩,主要分为:有倒钩、无倒钩、毛钩。2:14

    鱼线
    主条目:鱼线
    鱼线就是垂钓时绑接鱼竿和鱼钩的线,历史上曾使用蚕丝(远古日本)、发丝(江户时期日本)、马尾(西欧)、二枚贝(地中海)、蛛网丝(夏威夷)、琼麻(东南亚)、尼龙钓线(美国)。2:25

    鱼漂
    主条目:鱼漂
    鱼漂又名浮标,垂钓时栓在鱼线上的能漂浮的东西,主要用于搜集水底情报,查看鱼汛,观察鱼饵存留状态,以及水底水流起伏变化。2:36

    鱼饵
    主条目:鱼饵
    鱼饵分为诱饵和钓饵,是一种用来吸引鱼群和垂钓时使用的物品,钓饵分为荤饵、素饵、拟饵、拉饵。2:170

    沉子
    主条目:沉子
    沉子又名沉坨、铅锤,是一种调节鱼漂的工具。2:45

    卷线器
    主条目:卷线器
    卷线器主要安装在海竿和矶竿上的一种卷线的工具。2:63

    连结具
    主条目:连结具
    连结具是连结鱼线与钓竿、母线与子线的一种连结物,使用最广泛的是连结环。2:55

    识鱼
    鱼类的视力不如人类,距离、宽度均无法和人类的视力比较,鱼类对水色、绿色比较敏感,鱼类的嗅觉非常灵敏,鱼类的听觉也非常灵敏,钓鲤鱼时,不能在岸上大声谈笑、走动不停,鱼类的思考能力非常弱,鱼类应对周边环境随着气象、水温、水色、潮流、流速、水量的变化而变化,于是便出现了在同一个池塘、水库、湖泊,往日钓鱼收获大,今日少,上午收获大,下午少,晴天大,雨天少等情况。2:114-117淡水钓鱼,中国大陆经常垂钓的鱼类对象是本地鲫鱼、日本鲫、非洲鲫、鲤鱼、游鱼、罗非鱼、黄刺鱼(黄鸭叫)、黄尾、鳊鱼、青鱼、草鱼、鲢鱼、鳙鱼,台湾经常垂钓的鱼类对象是本地鲫鱼、日本鲫、吴郭鱼(罗非鱼)、溪哥仔和红猫(粗首马口鱲)、斗鱼、罗汉鱼、苦花、三角姑(河鮠)、竹蒿头(密鱼)。2:117

    影响鱼类的6大因素主要是:季节变更、气温高低、水的涨落、风的大小、水的清浊、天气阴晴

    ShawnSap

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