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When in the great outdoors, nature is bound to come calling, so what are some good natural toilet paper substitutes when the real thing isn't available?

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Learn your poison ivy/oak/sumac and make damn sure there's none around where you gather anything. – Kevin Jan 31 '12 at 18:26
I once used a really bad book I was carrying. Can't say I can recommend it, but sometimes you just don't have a choice... – Noam Gal Jan 31 '12 at 21:13
It helps to know where in the world you are. – Jay Bazuzi Jan 31 '12 at 21:59
up vote 19 down vote accepted

The options:

  • Smooth oval rocks (from river beds if possible)
  • Snowball
  • Rounded sticks
  • Leaves (as said elsewhere, be careful of which kinds)
  • soft pine cones (relatively rare, but plentiful where they exist!)
  • handful of grass
  • Carry a piece of cloth specifically designed for this purpose and be sure to do two more things: 1 - Don't use the cloth for anything else, and 2 - Wash it clean as regularly as possible.
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I don't know about the snowball, that's going to be awfully cold. – Kevin Jan 31 '12 at 21:12
but very clean :) – Ryley Jan 31 '12 at 21:15
Moss, bark, shelf-fungi – David LeBauer Feb 1 '12 at 6:07
Oh moss! I'm having trouble imagining bark being any fun... and fungi actually that sounds fine, some of it anyways (sometimes it's pretty nasty!) – Ryley Feb 1 '12 at 6:20
The back of a chipmunk is also soft... – Lost Mar 22 '12 at 1:09

Species in the forest will vary by locale. Here in the Pacific Northwest, Thimbleberry aka Salmonberry leaves are thick and soft, so they make a good wiping implement.

The subtly-named How to Shit in the Woods is a good primer on this topic. One option described there is to use urine. Basically, you hold back the urine until you're done with the bowel movement, then use the pee to wash up.

To clean your hands afterwards, cedar can help. Take a bite of cedar scales (leaves) straight from a tree. Chew it up & mix with saliva. Spit it out on to your hands and rub all over.

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In short, leaves. But as per the comment, make sure it's nothing that's going to cause skin irritations!

Also worth mentioning along the same lines that when doing your business, be sensitive in where you do it - not near bodies of water people might drink from for instance.

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Water is also an option, especially if there are no leaves of desirable properties. Deeper puddles, streams, etc. (That you should think twice about consequences for other people goes without saying.)

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I'd recommend very strongly against water. Risking making other people (as well as animals) sick like this is a bad option. – Russell Steen Feb 29 '12 at 5:31

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