30 Survival Uses for Dental Floss


Dental floss is one of the most important items to keep in your medicine cabinet. It is an essential dental hygiene tool and also has many survival uses.

Some of the most common survival uses for dental floss are:

  • Fishing line
  • Snares
  • Making spears
  • Bowstring
  • Building shelters
  • Shoe or boot laces
  • Tripwire
  • Tinder
  • Dental hygiene

Those uses and the others listed below make dental floss an important addition for your bug out bag. Below are 30 ways to use dental floss for survival.

Survival Uses for Dental Floss

Fishing Line

Perhaps the most popular way to use dental floss for survival is to use it as a fishing line. Although it is thin, it is strong enough to hold smaller fish. All you need is dental floss, bait, a hook, and a strong, flexible stick. 

You can also use dental floss as dropper lines on a trotline. Since a trotline is meant to catch multiple fish, I wouldn’t recommend using dental floss for the main line. It probably wouldn’t be strong enough to support multiple fish, unless several strands were braided together.

Attach 2-3 foot lengths of dental floss to the main trotline. Each one should be about 6 feet away from the next. Then attach a hook and bait to each dropper line.

Snares

Dental floss can also be used to make snares. Real snare wire is a much better alternative, but, in a pinch, you may be able to catch small animals with dental floss. 

Animals such as rabbits and squirrels would probably be the best targets for such a snare. They tend to run in predictable areas such as trails and branches and are small enough to (hopefully) not break the line.

To form the snare, take a length of dental floss and tie an overhand loop at one end. You can do this by doubling the floss at one end and tying an overhand knot. Run the other end of the floss through the loop to create a noose. 

Secure the snare to a small tree or stake. Since the floss is so flexible, you will probably need to support it so that the noose remains open. Position it somewhere that animals are going to travel, such as an animal trail. Make sure that the loop is high enough off of the ground that it will go around the animal’s neck as it runs into the noose.

Bow Drill

Dental floss can also help you make a bow drill to start a fire. The bow drill method of starting a fire involves a hardwood spindle that rotates against a softwood base. As the spindle rotates, the friction will begin to create heat, which will hopefully start a fire. The bow helps you move the spindle faster, making it easier to start a fire.

First, find a piece of softwood, such as pine. Use your knife to split it into a board and create a notch on the edge of the board. This notch is where your tinder will go. Find a hardwood stick, such as oak, and carve it so that it is evenly-shaped. Only use dry wood for both the board and spindle.

Now find a rock, piece of wood, or some other item that the top of the spindle can rotate evenly against. This “socket” is what you will hold in your hand to apply pressure to the spindle as it rotates.

Now form the bow. Find a flexible but strong branch, then attach a length of dental floss to it. There should be enough tension on it that it bows. Wind the string around the spindle once. 

Take some tinder, such as dried grass, and place it in the base’s notch. Press the spindle into the top of the notch and press down on it with the socket. Use a back and forth motion to allow the bow to rotate the spindle. This will generate heat and hopefully create a coal that you can use to create a fire.

*Note: This takes a lot of practice to master.

Creating a Spear

Dental Floss spear

If you are in a survival situation, you can create a spear if you have a knife and dental floss. You may want to do this to create a more efficient hunting or defense weapon. For instance, if you have to kill a wild boar with a knife, having some distance between yourself and the bad piggy could save your life. It could also help you use your knife to spear a fish.

Use dental floss to lash your knife’s handle to a sturdy stick. The lashing should go the entire length of the handle and be tight. After you get done, there should be no play between the stick and the knife.

Knife

Dental Floss is very strong but it is also very thin. This makes it suitable to cut soft food items such as meat, fruits, or vegetables. You can do this by looping it around whatever you are wanting to cut and pulling tight or by using a sawing motion.

Fire Tinder

Some types of dental floss are flammable, which can make them suitable as tinder to start a fire. However, many types of floss are not flammable. They will just shrivel up when exposed to a flame. If you plan on starting a fire with your dental floss, test it beforehand.

Attach Arrowheads

Dental floss can also be used to attach arrowheads as well as fletchings to shafts. Use the floss to tie the arrowhead or fletching so it is tight and secure. 

Bowstring

You can also use dental floss to create a bowstring. You will need to braid around 10-12 strands together to have the proper strength. It can be attached to a wooden bow or even a piece of PVC pipe. It should have enough power to kill small animals.

Dental floss can also be used to serve a bowstring. Serving a bowstring is when you wrap the bowstring with additional thread to reinforce where you nock the arrow. Not doing this will cause the string to wear down at the location much faster.

Creating Shelter

If you are in a survival situation, you can use dental floss to create many different types of shelters. It can be used to form simple shelters by securing tarps or other materials to branches. 

Dental floss can also be used to create more complex shelters. It would work very well to lash sticks together to form a shelter out of natural materials. A shelter such as this could be very small or could be quite large, depending on how much floss, materials, and time you had.

Tripwire or Alarm

You can also use dental floss to help secure your campsite. Tie it around a couple of small trees or well-secured stakes to form a tripwire. Placing these in strategic locations around the perimeter of your campsite could cause intruders to faceplant as they try to enter your space.

You can use a similar method to create an alarm to let you know if there is an intruder nearby. Tie several metal cans onto a length of dental floss and secure it so that it will rattle when someone runs into it. The noise will get your attention and could cause the intruder to flee when they realize they have lost the element of surprise. 

If you have a mousetrap and some primers (the kind you use to reload ammo), you can create a very loud alarm. Glue 1 or 2 primers onto the mousetrap’s board right where the bar slams down.

Secure the mousetrap to a tree and then attach the dental floss to it so that it will activate the trap when disturbed. When the metal arm hits the primers, it will ignite them. Be very careful to not activate this trap prematurely, especially if your hands or face are nearby.

Garrote

Dental floss can also be used defensively as a garrote. A garrote is a choking weapon that consists of a wire or cord with a handle at each end. Dental floss is no longer allowed in prisons because it has been used for this purpose.

The dental floss would need to be braided so that it will not break during use. Dry sticks about the width of your thumb can be used as handles.

Restraint

While you can use dental floss to escape from a restraint, you can also use it to restrain someone else. Wrap the floss around the bad guy’s hands several times. If the situation is dire enough that you have to tie someone up with dental floss it is probably best to tie their hands behind their back.

Note: Do not play around with this. Dental floss is very thin, meaning it could easily cut off circulation to someone’s hands and may even cause nerve damage. 

Waders

If you are in a marshy environment or need to go into shallow water, you can use dental floss and a couple of trash bags to form a set of crude waders. Place each leg into its own trash bag and use dental floss to tie them closed. 

You can then use another piece of floss to secure them to your belt or belt loops so they don’t fall down. This will work best with thicker mil trash bags since they will be more resistant to tears.

Gaiters

You can also use dental floss to prevent bugs, such as ticks, from climbing up your pants. Use the floss to tie off the bottom of each leg. This will create makeshift gaiters that will provide at least a small degree of protection.

Gear Attachment

Dental floss can also be used to attach gear to packs and create dummy cords. When attached to a pack, it can help you keep high-use items at hand so you don’t have to dig through your bag to get to them. A dummy cord can help prevent tools and gear from falling if you drop them.

Hanging Items

You can also use dental floss to help you hang items, such as lights and small lanterns. This would be useful if they didn’t have hanging hooks. It can also be used if the hooks were too small to fit over what you wanted to hang the light from.

You can also use this to help keep food items off of the ground. This will make it more difficult for animals and pests to get into your food and eat it before you have the chance to.

Snowshoes

If you are having to survive in a snowy environment, you can use dental floss to make snowshoes and secure them to your boots. Form the snowshoes by weaving natural materials together and securing them in place with the dental floss. The snowshoes should look sort of like tennis rackets. 

After you have created the snowshoes, use the dental floss to secure them to your shoes or boots. Once the snowshoes are attached, they will help keep your feet from sinking into the snow. This will make it easier to travel.

Shoe or Boot Laces

You can also use dental floss to create temporary shoe or boot laces. If you do this, tighten them as you pass the floss through each set of eyelets. It will be really hard on your hands and may snap if you try to tighten it all at once.

Clothesline

Having wet clothes could make you uncomfortable or even kill you in a survival situation. Use dental floss to create a clothesline to help you dry them out.

Sewing Thread

Dental floss is strong, thin, and many times, already waxed. These features make it a perfect sewing thread for making repairs. It can help you mend tears on bags, clothes, and other gear. It can also be used to repair shoes that are starting to come apart.

Hair Tie

Dental floss can also do a good job tying up your hair. This is helpful if you need to keep it out of your face as you are working on something. It can also help prevent your hair from getting caught in machinery.

Glasses Repair

If your glasses fall apart and you lose the screw or don’t have a screwdriver, dental floss can help you put your glasses back together. Use it to tie the pieces back together until you can fix it permanently.

Plumbing Tape

You can also use dental floss to help with small plumbing repairs. When wound around threads on a pipe, it can help seal them, just like plumbing tape. Just be sure to use enough to do a good job covering the threads.

Rope

Dental floss can also make fairly strong rope when several strands are braided together. It can be used to form heavier-duty lashings and serve other purposes as well.

Rope Lashing

You can also use dental floss to form lashings at the ends of other ropes. This will prevent them from unraveling.

Vine Keeper

If you have a garden, you can use dental floss to help control vines. Use it to secure vines to supports and lattices to help them grow upwards. It can also help you keep them off the ground.

Sealing Food

Dental floss bag tie

Dental floss also does a good job sealing up bags of food. It can help tie off everything from bread to a big bag of Cheetos. This will prevent it from drying out or getting spoiled by bugs.

Stitches

If you absolutely have to, dental floss can be used as stitches in an emergency situation. If you do this, be sure to thoroughly clean and sterilize the wound, the floss, and the suture needle. Failure to do so could result in a very bad infection.

*Note: Closing a wound while out in the field can be more dangerous than leaving it open and covering it with a clean dressing. If the wound isn’t properly cleaned, bacteria can grow inside of it when it is closed up. A friend of mine nearly lost an arm while on a mission trip because of an improperly closed wound.

Securing Splints

You can also use dental floss to secure splints around injured arms, legs, and fingers. This will help you keep them from moving and damaging them even more.

Start by bandaging the affected area. Then, place sticks or some other rigid object on each side of it. How large the sticks are will depend on the size of the injured limb. Use the dental floss to secure them in place.

Cleaning Your Teeth

It goes without saying that dental floss can also be used as, well, dental floss. Good hygiene is important now and will be even more so during a survival situation. Doing as much to take care of your teeth as you can help you stay comfortable and could even prevent heart problems. Even if you can’t brush your teeth, doing what you can by flossing would still be beneficial.

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