Trimming Weight with Toothpaste Dots for Lightweight Backpacking

by January 25, 2013 01/25/13
DIY Toothpaste Dots

Making your toothpaste lighter? Yep, today I’ll be showing you how you can even trim weight on your toothpaste. I’ll admit this technique sounded silly to me when I first heard about it, but if you’re serious about trimming ounces for lightweight backpacking, then toothpaste dots might be for you.

In my ongoing quest to make my backpacking dopp kit even lighter, I decided to test out a technique that Mike used on the GORUCK Ascent we both attended. Between Mike’s experience and reading about toothpaste dots in Ultralight Backpackin’ Tips by Mike Clelland, I set out to make my own.

Toothpaste Dots

The gist of creating toothpaste dots is to first select a toothpaste that isn’t a gel. As you can see from the photo below, if you try to use a gel, you’ll get globs not dots. Plus, gel toothpaste never fully cures like the paste will.

DIY Toothpaste Dots

For my experiments, I used Sensodyne Pronamel (Paste) and Crest 3D White (Gel). I wanted to demonstrate what a paste vs. gel looked like on a paper plate. Rather than just say “don’t use paper products to dry out your dots,” I thought I’d show you why.

DIY Toothpaste Dots
DIY Toothpaste Dots

To create toothpaste dots, you want to squeeze out a tiny dot the size of a chocolate chip. Next, use tin foil to squeeze your toothpaste on to while it’s drying out. The dots will be very easy to remove from the tin foil and I let mine sit for about a week before removing them. A hint is to write the date you started with a sharpie, just in case the days blend together for you, like they do for me.

DIY Toothpaste Dots

The last step is to remove the dots from the tin foil and drop them into a small ziploc, or my preference, ez-dose pill pouches. The ez-dose pill pouches are great to have around for a variety of reasons. I also use them to store Asprin and Advil within my backpacking dopp kit.

DIY Toothpaste Dots

Before closing up the bag with your new toothpaste dots, sprinkle a little baking soda in so they don’t stick together. That’s all there is to it! You can now simply take out a toothpaste dot, toss it in your mouth, chew it a little bit and start brushing. You have already cut down your toothbrush to save weight, right?

DIY Toothpaste Dots

Just so you have a general idea, the ez-dose pill pouch shown here with 10 toothpaste dots, weighs just .2 ounces. Much lighter than the 1/2 ounce plus weight of a well used tube of travel toothpaste. Another benefit with toothpaste dots is that you know exactly how much toothpaste you have.

What do you think of toothpaste dots? Overkill or something you’ll be trying out?


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max3000
max3000

Don't mean any disrespect... you DO have some good ideas here. But is a tube of travel toothpaste so gosh awful heavy as to warrant all that effort? I mean I think you could put all that work into something for ACTUALLY surviving... I'm just sayin' is all...

Ian
Ian

And sorry for the grammar mistake. Just noticed I should have put their instead of there.

Ian
Ian

Just curious as to how long the dots last? Should I make them only for a multi-day hike or can I make enough for several multi-day trips over the three season window? Is there shelf life good is basically what I am asking.

PilotMike
PilotMike

There are some good powdered toothpastes available these days.  Much better than using nasty old baking soda.  Google "tooth powder" or "Dentifrice" for commercial brands or if you're a hippy from Kalifornia, you can probably find a recipe to make your own hormone free, vegan, free range tooth powder.

Dusty
Dusty

Super useful fine tuning advice. Also, I did the same type thing with soap. I cut it into thin chunks, just the right size for a full bath. It takes some experimentation to get the right size. Saves weight. No slimy bar to dry out.

Nathanael
Nathanael

After 10 days my dots still seem not solid enough. When I remove them from the tin foil they still squish quite easily. What do you think I might have done wrong?

W. Asher
W. Asher

First I thought your were making Kisses candy..haha.. real dope DIY!

Kevin
Kevin

Really great idea! Just curious though will high temperatures cause them the stick together? I am sure that is a stupid question but just wondering...

Rand Strauss
Rand Strauss

Tin foil? Heck, I'm 50 and I don't remember tin foil. Let me jump into the Wayback machine and do some research.

Just messing with you.

I like the idea of a dehydrator and I would probably use Tom's. ...and for FOGs like me, natural mint is a good stomach settler.

Rand Strauss
Rand Strauss

Tin foil? Heck, I'm 50 and I don't remember tin foil. Let me jump into the Wayback machine and do some research. Just messing with you. I like the idea of a dehydrator and I would probably use Tom's. ...and for FOGs like me, natural mint is a good stomach settler.

Josh
Josh

These work great! I've been using them for backpacking and travel for over a year- much less weight and potential mess than a travel tube of toothpaste or baking soda. I've never had any problem getting them through TSA checkpoints whatsoever.

jcrist
jcrist

So much win. Freshen your mouth while making it think it's getting white chocolate chips!

Brian Green
Brian Green

I've never had a problem taking these through airport security.

Brian Green
Brian Green

I use my food dehydrator to save a little time making these. I can usually make a batch overnight that way.

Keith Mohn-Tubaugh
Keith Mohn-Tubaugh

I LOVE this idea. I will definitely be trying this soon! Just wanted to say that the DIYs you put up are awesome. Thanks for doing such a good job!

Sherry
Sherry

I dried my toothpaste drops in my food dehydrator on sheets of wax paper! Works great and you don't have to leave it sitting out for days :)

jason
jason

Make sure you bag it just like a gram of your favorite blow. Keep the digital scale with your gear too so if you happen to get stopped by the police or checked by the TSA hilarity may ensue.

gaijintendo
gaijintendo

If you are going to make these things, give yourself a few extra hours for passing through Airport Security. I can imagine they might need to run a few tests.

JB2
JB2

Just a note, these work great. I put a little baking soda on a glass plate then put down the dots. Once dried they popped right up.

Random Reader
Random Reader

When backpacking, I simply use baking soda, without any paste. Not something one should do every day, but it works well for a week or so ~ and it takes much less water to rinse out of the mouth. Liquid castile-soap mixed (or unmixed for bathing) with baking-soda makes a great paste too, but certainly wont form into dots. It's also biodegradable.

Raven
Raven

Excellent DIY, Bryan! Keep the tips comin!

Sjarrel The Dutch
Sjarrel The Dutch

@Ian Well technically you should have said: Sorry for spelling mistake. 

Grammar, by definition, only defines sets of rules for using verbs and constructing of sentences. That said... What is the shelf life of a dot?

Nathanael
Nathanael

I'm using paste. Its semi-solid. But its not dry enough to take off the foil and not slightly squish of my finger.

Dusty
Dusty

What's the humidity like? Perhaps put them in front of a dehumidifier.

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