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They’re cheap, easy to carry, and extremely useful. When it comes to practical utility, lip balm has as many surprising uses as tampons.

If you don’t have a tube of lip balm with you as a part of your everyday carry, here are several practical uses that should give you enough reasons to pack one.

It’s so good, lip balm is a part of the government-issued supplies of some armed forces around the world. Photo by Riggwelter.

1. Protect Your Skin

Everyone knows that lip balm can help prevent cracked and dried lips. What most people don’t know is it can also be applied elsewhere, like your face or hands.

Lip balm can help protect other parts of your body, like the tip of your nose or your hands, from the effects of wind and freezing temperatures and decrease the chances of windburn, frostbite or heat loss. Lip balm can also moisturize your skin and keep it from drying.

2. Treat a Wound

Small cuts and scrapes can be treated with a bit of plain lip balm. In a survival situation, big problems can start from small wounds. So, it’s important to treat them as soon as you can with what you have.

While it won’t be of much use to big and deeper wounds, applying a small amount of lip balm on minor injuries can help stop the bleeding and keep debris out of the wound until you can find better treatment.

Lip balm can come in many different scents and flavors, but it’s best to use plain and unscented ones for wounds. Photo by Jorge Barrios Riquelme.

3. Fire Aid

Being able to start a fire is important in many survival situations. With fire, you can cook your food and make it safe to eat, boil and sterilize water, keep yourself warm and more.

If you don’t have a fire starter with you and all you have is a stick of lip balm and a match, it’ll make starting a fire a bit easier.

Rub some lip balm on your kindling, cotton swap or any flammable material and light it up. What makes a material slathered in lip balm better isn’t really the ease of lighting it up, but with how long it can sustain the flame. With some lip balm, your fire will burn a bit longer.

You can even make a candle out of a tube of lip balm and a cotton swab. Cut your swab in half and rub the cotton wad in some lip balm. Stick the other end in the tube and light up the wad- voila, a lip balm candle.

4. Prevent Blisters

Aside from moisturizing your skin, lip balm can also form a protective layer on the skin’s surface and prevent blisters. If part of your skin is rubbing against another material (like your toe or heel against your footwear), put some lip balm on the area to prevent the blister from growing.

Blisters can be annoying at best and jeopardize your survival at worst. Keep them from getting too bad before it’s too late by adding another layer of protection with lip balm.

5. Lubricant

Is your backpack’s zipper giving you a hard time? Do you want to have an easier time driving that nail into wood? Rub some lip balm on them as a lubricant if you don’t have anything else in hand.

It also works well on screw-on metal threads like the ones found in canister caps and container seals. Aside from reducing friction, it also helps seal them from water by creating a thin surface coat to repel the liquid.

6. Reduces Fogging

If your eyewear keeps fogging up, dab a small amount of lip balm on the lens and buff it up with a clean cloth.

The lip balm will help put a nice polish on your glasses’ lenses and help keep them from fogging up, especially in humid or wet conditions.

Clearing fogged eyeglasses can be annoying if it happens frequently enough. Prevent condensation by applying a thin layer of lip balm on your glasses. Photo by Fiona Henderson.

7. Help You See / Keep You from Being Seen

If you’re in a desert or snowy landscape and it’s hard to see because of the glare of the sun reflecting off the ground, mix lip balm with some ash and rub it underneath your eyes like eye black. This will help reduce glare and help keep you from going snow-blind.

Using the same method, you can also use it to camouflage your face if needed.

8. Prevent Rust

A knife is one of the most useful tools that you can have in a survival situation, so you must always maintain it well to keep it functional.

However, rust is the biggest enemy of knives. Even most modern “stainless” knives will develop rust spots if left neglected for too long.

Fortunately, if you have some lip balm with you, maintenance is as easy as applying it on the knife’s blade. It will provide a protective layer on the steel that will keep moisture away and prevent rust from forming. It’s also food safe, so you don’t have to worry about using it for food preparation.

Rust will easily kill your blade. Prevent rust from turning your pocket knife into a museum piece by applying a protective layer of lip balm on the blade. Photo by the Auckland Museum.

9. Patch Holes

Small holes in your tent or bag can be temporarily fixed by putting a small amount of lip balm over the hole. This will seal it and keep water from getting inside until you can sew it up for good.

Aside from patching pin holes, you can also use it as a temporary leather conditioner and water-proofer for your gear, just like beeswax.

10. Carry Your Cash (Or Micro Survival Kit)

Once you’re done with your tube of lip balm, don’t throw it away!

Cut out the screw inside the tube and you now have a small, perfectly-pocketable container that you can carry with you every day.

You can use it to store some paper money, pills, fishing line, or anything else that you can think of that can fit the plastic cylinder in a compact and inconspicuous way.

The sky’s the limit when using empty lip balm tubes as containers. During the Watergate Scandal, they were even used to disguise microphones!

 

A tube of lip balm is unobtrusive and can easily fit your pants pocket. With its many uses, there’s really no reason not to carry one. Aside from keeping you away from annoying chapped lips, it might just save your life someday.