Every last drop

How to get all the toothpaste out of the tube

With a super-slippery surface

A GNARLED TOOTHPASTE tube, squeezed and twisted out of shape in a vain attempt to extract its remaining contents, haunts many a bathroom. But not, perhaps, for much longer. Colgate-Palmolive, an American consumer-goods giant, has taken up an invention by a pair of experts in super-slippery surfaces to produce toothpaste tubes that promise to deliver every last scrap of their contents.

In 2012 Kripa Varanasi, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Dave Smith, his PhD student, set up a company called LiquiGlide to commercialise their work on making liquids flow more easily through pipes and out of containers. What caught many people’s imaginations at the time was a demonstration of how this could be used to empty a ketchup bottle without shaking it vigorously.

So far, ketchup-makers have not embraced the idea. But the health and beauty industry, where products tend to be pricier than ketchup, is interested. Mibelle Group, a Swiss…