The Disaster Guy: Toilet Paper in a Can
“Hey, Disaster Guy, I’ve got a really delicate question to ask you,” Red said. “It’s about – um! – toilet paper!”
“I use it, I assure you!” the Disaster Guy said.
“No! No!” Red said. “We all use it! What I wanted to ask is, how do you keep it dry in rainy weather?”
“Mostly, Red, I keep it indoors,” the Disaster Guy said. “Toilet paper just doesn’t work very well when it’s wet.”
“Okay, I can see I’ll have to ask this differently,” Red said. “Let’s say it’s going to rain. You’re going to be driving in your pickup truck, or camping out. There are no bathrooms anywhere that are available to you. What do you do to keep your toilet paper dry?”
“I’ve gotten a gallon-sized plastic bag and put a roll of toilet paper in that,” the Disaster Guy said. “Trouble is, a plastic bag isn’t that sturdy.”
“So what did you do instead?” Red asked.
“Plastic bags can’t handle rough treatment, so I looked for something stronger that was about the size of a roll of toilet paper,” the Disaster Guy said. “I tried a cardboard box, but when it got rained on, the toilet paper inside was soggy. The container has to be waterproof.”
“Eventually I got an 18 oz. can of Ovaltine, drank all the Ovaltine, and put a roll of toilet paper in the can,” he said. “The Ovaltine can has a metal bottom, metalized cardboard sides, and a plastic snap top. Add it all together, and I have a more or less waterproof container to fill with toilet paper.”
“’More or less waterproof?’” Red asked.
“Sure! A little rain won’t hurt it, but I don’t plan to put the can underwater in a tank and put a rock on it to hold it down,” the Disaster Guy said. “It’s waterproof enough to toss behind the seat of my pickup truck, and that’s all I need.”
“So you take an Ovaltine can, clean it out, and drop a roll of toilet paper in it,” Red said. “I see how you get the toilet paper into the can, but how do you get it out?” Red asked. “Got you there, I think!”
“The Ovaltine can is 4-1/2 inches wide, inside, so a roll of toilet paper 4-1/2 inches wide just fits,” the Disaster Guy said. “Once you put the toilet paper roll in, you never have to take the roll out again.”
“Huh? Then how do you get the toilet paper off the roll?” Red asked.
“From the inside,” the Disaster Guy said.
“You’ve got me there!” Red said. “All right, how?”
“I cut the cardboard roll in half and take it out,” the Disaster guy said. “When I take the cardboard roll out, toilet paper sticks to it. Then I can use the toilet paper from the inside of the roll instead of the outside.”
“Oh, so sneaky!” Red said.
“Yes,” said the Disaster Guy. “The toilet paper spirals out of the center of the roll, and you can take as much as you want.”
“As you use up the toilet paper, the hole in the middle of the roll gets bigger. Eventually all you have left is a thin roll of toilet paper with a big center,” he said.
“Does the toilet paper make it difficult to snap on the plastic cap?” Red asked.
“Nope!” the Disaster Guy said. “Just snap the plastic cap on, and you’ve made your toilet paper waterproof.”
“Do you paint or cover the Ovaltine can?” Red asked.
“Nope again!” the Disaster Guy said. “I just toss it into the truck. Who’s going to think twice about an Ovaltine can? I know what’s in it, and that’s all that matters.”
“By the way, you can use a coffee can, or any other can that’s 4-1/2 inches wide and at least 4 inches tall, with a snap lid,” he said. “I saw a red plastic coffee can in the grocery store that should work.”
“You know, that’s such a simple idea,” Red said. “Anybody could do it.”
“That’s the point, Red,” the Disaster Guy said. “An idea doesn’t have to be expensive to be good. There’s nothing wrong with re-purposing what we have instead of buying something new.”
“Yeah!” Red said. “You know it’s going to be a tough campout when your toilet paper is soggy! I think I’ll steal your idea and make one of these.”
“Do it!” the Disaster Guy said. “It looks like you’re on a roll now!”
You’ll find the Disaster Guy carrying Ovaltine cans in both his trucks. You can also find almost 160 emergency preparedness and disaster survival tips on his website. He’d welcome your comments on this article by e-mail.