Eyedropper Bottles: An Ultralighter's Friend
One of the easiest and quickest ways to shave some weight off your pack is by reducing the quantity of a given item that you carry. For most items that's relatively easy, you just carry less, this works for most things including toiletries, but for liquids like soap, toothpaste, or water purification drops it requires a slightly different approach.
My absolute favorite technique is to use tiny eyedropper bottles. The reason for this is that the opening is very small, letting you control exactly how much liquid you dispense at a time. The combination of small opening and a separate twist cap also means it's highly unlikely that they will leak.
Let's use toothpaste as an example. A full tube of regular toothpaste weighs 7oz, a travel size tube of toothpaste weighs 3oz, and a bottle of liquid gel toothpaste weight 5.25oz. I mention liquid gel toothpaste because trying to squeeze regular toothpaste into a tiny container is close to impossible. I also happen to really like liquid get toothpaste. Any way you slice it that's quite a few ounces for just one toiletry item, multiply that across several items in your sundries bag and your beginning to get a significant weight saving when you reduce the amount you carry.
Ultralight Toothpaste Bottle
You can either reuse eyedropper bottles that you have in your medicine cabinet, or purchase brand new pharmaceutical-grade empty ones (eBay has them available in bulk for low prices). Typically the ones you purchase empty are transparent making it easy to see how much liquid you have left or how much you have when you are filling it up. Recycled eyedropper bottles are usually opaque which makes them a better option for photosensitive items like face creams and serums. If you do reuse bottles that previously had medicine in them, be sure to thoroughly clean them before you follow the instructions below. For this mini project you will need the following items:
- An empty (clean) eyedropper bottle - I am using the 3ml size
- A bottle of liquid gel toothpaste, flavor/brand of your choosing
- A Sharpie or other method for labeling the finished bottle
Start by removing the screw-on lid from the eyedropper bottle and then pulling out the tiny inner dispensing tip. Be careful, the inner dispenser tip is the secret to these tiny bottles, make sure you don’t lose it.
Carefully start squeezing the liquid from your main toothpaste bottle into the smaller eye dropper bottle. I've found that it helps if you slightly squeeze the empty eyedropper bottle to expel as much air as possible before you start filling it with toothpaste. If you squeeze the eyedropper beforehand, it will feel as though it is almost sucking up the toothpaste as you are filling it.
Fill up the eyedropper bottle leaving a small gap at the top. You want to leave just enough room for the dispensing tip to fit back into place without spilling toothpaste everywhere. Press the tip back onto the neck of the eyedropper bottle until it snaps firmly into place, then twist the lid back on.
I think it's very important to quickly label the bottle so you know exactly what it contains. If you decide to do this for several other items it can very quickly become confusing to tell what is in each bottle - be sure to label it! I just happened to have a geeky labeling machine, so I printed one out for the bottle, but a Sharpie or waterproof label will work just fine (office supply weather-proof mailing labels are excellent for this - made of our favorite Tyvek).
That's it! You now have your very own eyedropper bottle full of toothpaste. Here are the weight details. An empty half-ounce eyedropper bottle weighs 0.125oz. Based on a few of these that I have made, the final eyedropper bottle containing toothpaste weighs approximately 0.625oz. That's a pretty big weight saving even from a travel size tube of toothpaste (3oz). Before you wonder if a half-ounce bottle of toothpaste is enough, let me say that the chances are it will last you at least a couple of days if not a full week. If you need more, make two!
One of the best advantages of using eyedropper bottles is that you don’t have to hunt around to find travel-size bottles of your favorite toiletries, or settle for some weird-smelling shampoo just because it was the only thing you could find. You can take exactly what you want.
Have you already made the switch to using eyedropper bottles? Do you have any tips or advice?
Making Toothpaste Dots
Another super convenient way to repackage toothpaste so that you only have to carry just the right amount is by making toothpaste "dots".
To make these you will need a dehydrator, some wax paper and of course your toothpaste of choice. Protip: regular toothpaste works better for these rather than the liquid type shown in the bottle trick above. Here's how you make toothpaste dots.
- Place a sheet of wax paper inside one of the trays of your dehydrator
- Squeeze out small drops of toothpaste onto the wax paper making sure to leave plenty of room between each drop
- Put the lid on your dehydrator and set to a low warm setting
- Check back in 2-3 hours to see how they are doing. You're looking for a completely dry and firm consistency
- When done, pick them off the wax paper sheet and store in a ziploc baggy or small container of choice
- Add a pinch of baking soda to the container to stop the dots sticking together during storage
To use the dots, simply pop one in your mouth, chew on it for a few seconds until it is back to a paste-like consistency, and then use your tooth brush as normal. Easy!