Introduction: Make a Tongue Scraper

About: I miss the days when magazines like Popular Mechanics had all sorts of DIY projects for making and repairing just about everything. I am enjoying posting things I have learned and done since I got my first to…
I needed a second tongue scraper like the one I began using a few months ago. Two well-stocked stores in my area had these until recently. Now they do not have tongue scrapers in any style. I decided to make my own similar to the one I have been using, rather than spend a lot of time going from one store to another looking for them.

On several occasions in recent months my wife has begun telling me my breath is bad. I had flossed, brushed, and used mouthwash. My dental hygienist suggested I begin using a tongue scraper. (According to what I read, brushing the tongue with a toothbrush does not do an adequate job.) My wife no longer complains about my breath if I use the scraper. Some really nasty stuff flushes off of the scraper when I rinse it under the sink faucet. Not only does such stuff generate bad smells, but such bacteria can sometimes migrate to other parts of the body and create additional problems. The suggestion is that one's tongue should be scraped once a day. 

Step 1: Materials and Tools

I decided to use 12 gauge copper wire like that used in wiring a home. 12 gauge copper wire bent into a "U" gives an adequate amount of strength so the scraper does not bend in use. And, copper is again coming to be recognized as a germ killing medium when in contact with human skin.* Remove the outer sheath from about a foot of 12-2 with Ground cable. Cut about ten inches of one wire. Strip it to bare wire.

  • 12 gauge copper wire
  • Dowel rod handle
  • Hot glue
  • Knife for stripping wire
  • Wire cutter
  • Hammer
  • Vise
  • Pliers 
  • Drill
  • Wire brush or steel wool
  • Hot glue gun
*I heard a Podcast about a hospital in Germany that is studying the germ killing properties of copper when human skin contacts it. The Podcast mentioned that the Romans knew they were ill less often when they regularly touched copper or its alloys. The Podcast also mentioned that too much contact with copper kills good microbes on the skin. 

Step 2: Flatten a Portion of the Wire

Flatten a portion of the wire halfway from each end. Use a hammer on a flat steel surface like that on a vise. The flattened area should be about 1 1/4 inches long.

Step 3: Bend the Wire

Bend the wire at each end of the flattened portion. Make the bend a bit more than 90 degrees so the rest of the wire crosses in an "X." (The crossover point of the "X" is under my thumb.)

Step 4: Twist the Wire to Make a Handle Stem

I placed the flattened portion of the wire below the jaws of a vise and tightened the vise. The crossover point that makes an "X" is just above the jaws of the vise. I used a pair of pliers to twist the ends of the wire together. Snip the ends of the wire if one end is longer than the other.

Step 5: Drill a Dowel for a Handle

I drilled a hole in the center of a dowel's end to make a mount for the twisted wire. The dowel is about 1/2 inch in diameter. I cleaned the wire a bit. Use a fine wire brush or steel wool. Fit the twisted wire ends into the hole. There should be a snug fit. 

Step 6: Sharpen the Scraper Edge

Even after flattening the wire with a hammer on flat steel, the edges of the wire are too round and smooth to remove debris from the surface of my tongue. I held a metal file at an angle a little less severe than shown in the photo and filed a sharper corner onto the copper wire. I did both the top and the bottom so I can use the tongue scraper with either side of the scraper against my tongue. The edge should not be sharp enough to scratch or cut the surface of one's tongue, merely sharp enough to scrape the tongue.

Step 7: Give Bacteria Less of a Chance

The twists and crevices in the wire provide plenty of places for bacteria to hide and grow. I also wanted the wire to be more securely fastened to the wooden handle. I removed the wire scraper from the handle and pumped a little hot glue into the hole. Then I quickly pushed the twisted wire back into the hole. Then I covered the twists with hot glue to give bacteria fewer places to hide. I plan to clean the tongue scraper regularly with mouthwash or with hydrogen peroxide.

A tongue scraper causes a gag reflex in the back of the throat. I have already noticed my homemade tongue scraper causes less of a gag reflex than the thicker plastic version I bought in a store recently. My homemade scraper also seems to do a very good job and removes quite a bit of nasty stuff from my tongue.