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The EDC Toiletry Kit

Over the years I’ve developed a small toiletry kit that satisfies the needs for my every day ablutions. I carry it in a small Mountain Laurel Designs Cuben Fiber Packing Cube (the same model pouch I use for my EDC tool kit). There’s some crossover between this kit and my first aid kit, but that is to be expected. Health and cleanliness are closely related.

If I know I’m going to be gone overnight, I’ll grab another MLD cube that I keep packed with a toothbrush, a small bottle of toothpowder, and floss. If I know I’m going to be gone multiple days, I’ll add a bar of soap and shaving supplies. The following is just what I find it worthwhile to carry in my backpack everyday.

EDC Toiletry Kit

Hand Sanitizer

I use hand sanitizer infrequently, always preferring soap and water, but it is still a critical tool to carry.

I carry hand sanitizer in a 15 mL Mini Dropper Bottle with a Streaming Dropper Tip. I don’t have a specific product recommendation here. My all time favorite hand sanitizer was the All Terrain Hand Sanz Gel. It was effective, did not dry out my hands, and did not stink. But I went through the last of my stash last year, and the product has been discontinued. Next I went with Elyptol, which has an EWG rating of 1, but the eucalyptus scent is too overpowering. If they made an unscented version I’d buy it. Currently I use Pipette, which has an EWG rating of 1. It leaves a bit of sticky residue behind, but otherwise seems fine.

Soap

These days it seems like everybody carries hand sanitizer, but few carry soap. I don’t get it. Soap is pretty useful stuff to have when out and about in the world. A good, versatile soap will clean tools, clothes, and body.

I carry Dr. Bronner’s Unscented Pure-Castile Liquid Soap, repackaged in a 10 mL Mini Dropper Bottle. It has an EWG rating of 1.

Sunblock

Protecting the meatsuit from ambient radiation is important. For much of the year my sunblock goes untouched, but if I take it out I’ll forget to put it back in when the seasons change. Or I’ll find myself on a snow field and think “Gee, it sure would be nice to have some sunblock right now.” It’s easier to just leave it in the kit year-round.

I use Thinksport SPF 50, repackaged in a 15 mL Mini Dropper Bottle with a Streaming Dropper Tip. I have also carried it in screw-top capsules, but I’ve found that the plastic containers can be cracked and the tin containers can be dented such that they become difficult to open. So I’m back to using dropper bottles, despite them being impossible to clean out. Thinksport has an EWG rating of 2.

Lip Balm

I rarely have a problem with chapped lips, and thus rarely use lip balm as a moisturizer. My only interest in lip balm is as sunblock.

I use All Terrain Lip Armor SPF 28. All Terrain has been steadily discontinuing all their best products, including this one. I recommend stocking up. This product used to have a high EWG rating, but it seems to no longer be listed.

Skin Balm

Before I started dosing myself with omega, a good skin balm was critical to keeping my hands operational in the dryer months. Now its criticality is diminished, but I think it is still important tool to address small cuts, scrapes, burns, and bites. Balm is best thought of as an artificial scab: it encourages healing, and provides a protective barrier. A good skin balm coupled with some soap, clean water, and bandaging material is going to take care of the vast majority of minor first aid issues. (Throw in a syringe and some steri-strips, benzoin tincture, and a semi-permeable dressing and the world is your oyster.)

climbOn is my favorite skin balm. I find it to be highly effective. It is available in two scents, both of which I find unoffensive. Most important for something that is to be used on the hands, it does not feel greasy. I hate applying a balm on a finger and then feeling like I’m leaving residue on everything I touch. climbOn does not have an EWG rating, but its ingredients are few, easy to understand, and food-grade.

I carry the 0.5 oz climbOn Lotion Bar. I generally find that my happiness is inversely proportional to the amount of cardboard in my life, but I make an exception here. The tube is a more convenient carry format than the old tins.

I have tried using (non-SPF) lip balm as skin balm, since the form-factor of lip balm tends to be great for EDC, but I’ve not found any lip balm that I like as much as the climbOn skin balm. (I have tried the climbOn lip balm and do not like it for this application.) The stuff made for lips tends to have a softer consistency and be too greasy for me to want to use on hands. A good skin balm, however, is perfectly serviceable as a lip balm if you’re not looking for sun protection.

Scissors

As previously discussed, I carry 2.5” Westcott Titanium Scissors.

Tweezers

I carry the titanium version of Uncle Bill’s Sliver Grippers. Tweezers are something I almost never use, but when I need them there is no substitute. The titanium offers no functional advantage over the stainless steel variant, but titanium is cool.

EDC Toiletry Kit

On Toothpowder

After posting about my toothpaste capsules last year, Ze Stuart wrote to ask if I had ever considered toothpowder. He recommended Eco-Dent DailyCare.

I had not brushed with a commercial toothpowder product before, though had tried carrying baking soda on some backpacking trips for this application. I was never happy with the result. Mostly I think it was just that the lack of foaming and mint flavor, both of which I’ve been psychologically conditioned to associate with “clean”.

Eco-Dent was available locally, so I bought a bottle and started using it. Application is easy: wet the brush, squirt out a bit of the powder from the bottle’s flip top lid, and brush like normal. After brushing for a second the powder froths up, and the experience is more or less the same as brushing with toothpaste.

The label claims that the 2 oz bottle can provide “up to 200 brushings”, which I find to be inaccurate. My first bottle lasted me 350 days. I brush twice a day, so that is 700 brushings. That works out to be about $0.01 per use, which is better than any toothpaste can offer. (Perhaps they expect you to use more of the powder per brushing than I do, but I always use enough to generate the same frothy lather I’d expect from toothpaste.)

When travelling, I repackage the powder into a 0.25 oz bottle. That is plenty for a week or two, takes up no space in a toiletry kit, and weighs approximately nothing.

There are plenty of other toothpowders on the market, but I’ve bought another couple bottles of Eco-Dent. Between those, my collection of toothbrush heads, and a stash of floss, I’ll be out of the dental care market for a few years.

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YubiKey Cleaning

I’ve carried the same YubiKey NEO on my keychain for five years. On average it gets used dozens of times per day, via USB, as an OpenPGP card. The YubiKey looks a little worse for wear, but it almost always works flawlessly.

Occasionally, it requires a few insertions to be read. When this happens I clean the contacts by rubbing them gently with a Pentel Clic Eraser, wiping off the dust, spraying them with isopropyl alcohol, and then wiping them dry. Afterwards, the YubiKey is registered immediately on the first insert. I perform this procedure about once or twice per year.

YubiKey Cleaning

Using the eraser is potentially dangerous, but I’ve had good luck with it over the years. The white vinyl in the Pentel Clic feels very smooth compared to the abrasiveness of the rubber found on the tops of most pencils.

Oster Classic 76 Maintenance

Last year I mentioned my happiness with the Oster Classic 76 clippers. One of the attributes I called out was its serviceability. Today, after five years of personal use, I decided it was time to remove the faceplate, clean the innards, and replace the grease. I followed the instructions in Oster’s maintenance video (which appears to be straight out of 1998). It’s a simple process. I only cut my hair once every 4-8 weeks, so I suspect performing the deep cleaning every five years is about the right schedule. I lubricate the blade every 3 or 4 uses.

Oster Classic 76 Maintenance

No special tools were needed. Something pokey and scrapey is helpful for cleaning out the small crevices. I used a titanium Norton Universal Cleaning Stick because I had it close to hand, but a flathead screwdriver would work just as well. All parts appear to be in excellent condition, and when reassembled the clippers pur like an angry kitten.

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Baking soda has approximately 37,000 uses around the home.

I use it to occasionally supplement my all-purpose cleaner when washing dishes, use it to clean produce, and sometimes dump some in with my laundry.

I store baking soda by the kitchen sink in a Progressive Prepworks Mini Prokeeper. This had a good, tight seal that keeps the baking soda fresh and dry, and has a little dusting insert for easy shaking. The 1.5 cup capacity is meant to hold the contents of a standard sized cardboard box of baking soda, but I don’t buy those.

For the past three years I have purchased 13.5 pound resealable bags of baking soda. I bought my first bag in January 2018 and found it lasted me exactly one year. I have purchased another bag each subsequent January. The bags are cheap (I pay an average of $8) and keep the bulk baking soda fresh and dry for the year. I fill the Prokeeper container from this, and otherwise keep the bag sealed.

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Bleach has a shelf life of 6 to 12 months.

After one year the sodium hypochlorite will have broken down into salt and water, which will not be helpful in your battle against the Black Death. According to the University of Nebraska’s guidelines on chemical disinfectants for biohazardous materials, “bleach loses 20-50% of its sodium hypochlorite concentration after 6 months”.

Bottles of Clorox bleach are stamped with a date code which when properly decoded will indicate the date of manufacture. The first 7 characters in the label on one of my bottles are A819275, indicating that it was manufactured in plant A8 on the 275th day of 2019, or October 2nd. The previously mentioned dateutils proves its usefulness here.

$ datediff 2019-275 now
169
$ datediff 2019-275 now -f "%m months, %d days"
5 months, 17 days

A simple shell function may be used to decode the date.

jul () {
    date -d "$1-01-01 +$2 days -1 day" "+%Y-%m-%d";
}

$ jul 2019 275
2019-10-02

Pandemic Omega

So far my only recent purchase directly related to pandemic is another bottle of Omega-3 supplements.

A few years ago I accidentally discovered that Omega-3 supplements are an effective remedy for the cracked skin I experience on my hands due to dry winter air. Usually I pop my last pills sometime in February and don’t bother re-upping until the following November. This year I ran out in December and didn’t experience any issues – it must have been a more humid winter than usual – so I didn’t restock. But toward the end of February my hands were starting to feel dry due to the increased frequency of hand washing, use of alcohol-based hand sanitizer, and surface cleaning.

I restocked the pills, started dosing twice a day, and about a week later the skin on my hands felt healthy and smooth. I can wash my hands as frequently as I want, with whatever soap is available, and not worry about my skin cracking and creating a new vector for attack. The skin suit is fully operational.

Purchasing another bottle of Omega-3 supplements seems a much more rational purchasing response to COVID-19 than the newly popular pass time of nonsensical hoarding of bottled water and toilet paper.

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The Toothbrush and Its Maintenance

I like RADIUS toothbrushes. I use the Source at home and the Tour elsewhere. Both utilize the same replaceable brush head. Anytime you’re dealing with tools that have replaceable, consumable parts – whether those parts are batteries, magazines, or toothbrush heads – the compatibility of those parts across the different tools is critical to user sanity. Replaceable toothbrush heads are convenient in that they decrease waste and allow you to stock up on multiple years worth of tooth cleaning supplies in a smaller space than would be required by the same number of toothbrushes.

I find the RADIUS heads to be effective at cleaning, and my dentist seems to approve of the results. I use both the “soft” and “flossing” heads, with no real preference between them. My experience is that bristles of both last an unusually long period of time when compared to other toothbrushes. To fully take advantage of the potential service live, the bristles must be periodically cleaned. I do this by soaking the head in a solution of 3% hydrogen peroxide for 20 minutes, which has been proven effective by multiple studies. I do this every other week or so.

I have a few travel toothbrush cases similar to these left over from before I found RADIUS (the Source handle is too chunky to fit in these). Each case consists of two parts. One half has a small hole for ventilation. The other half has no hole. I fill this hole-free half with 1/2 oz of hydrogen peroxide, shove the toothbrush in head first (the fat part of the Source handle that doesn’t fit in the case sits above this half, so it isn’t a problem), and then place it in a mason jar to hold it upright on my counter. Of the random assortment of containers around my home, this half of a travel toothbrush case is what I found allowed me to completely soak the head using the least amount of hydrogen peroxide.

After soaking, the Source toothbrush is stored in a covered holder on my wall, which allows it to air dry while keeping it protected from assault by airborne turd particles.

The Source handle can be sterilized in my kitchen autoclave, but the replaceable heads and the body of the Tour become deformed if exposed to these high pressures. I usually just wash the Source handle by hand with my normal dish soap when I think of it. Mold can grow in the socket of the handle that the head is shoved into, so this does need occasional cleaning. I clean the body of the Tour the same way when I return home from a trip.

The Tour toothbrush (complete with head) tips my scale at 20 grams (0.7 oz). It is neither the lightest nor the most compact travel option, but the convenience of the form factor combined with having the functionality of a full-sized toothbrush when deployed and the commonality of the replaceable head with my home solution makes me uninterested in lighter and smaller options that invariably sacrifice convenience.

I’ve found that when purchasing 16 oz or 32 oz bottles of hydrogen peroxide the necks always have 28-400 threading, regardless of brand. This allows me to replace the lid with one of the sprayers I use for my all-purpose cleaner, turning the hydrogen peroxide bottle into a convenient tool for disinfecting things like counter tops and my toilet cleaning brush.