On this blog I strongly believe in sharing failures as well as the successes, like my homemade mascara or homemade dish soap or experience with soap nuts. This time it’s the turn of homemade toothpaste. I’m being a bit harsh by calling this a failure. I actually like the toothpaste I created but my husband doesn’t and I don’t think my kids are going to take to it either.
I also trialling another new idea with this blog post – an audio version of my blog posts. If you’d like to listen to my dulcet tones instead of reading my witty writings then click here. It’s just over 7 minutes long. I uploaded one for last weeks blog post on Sustainable Ethical Bathrooms, which is just over 14 minutes long. It’ll take me a while to get the hang of this voice recording thing, but hopefully the first two recordings aren’t too grating!
I’m interested in making my own toothpaste for a number of reasons. Firstly most toothpaste tubes are made from plastic – Euthymol toothpaste does come in a metal tube but I found the taste horrendous. Secondly toothpaste tubes are not recyclable in Ireland, neither metal nor plastic – there is a Terracycle scheme for the collection and collection of toothpaste tubes etc in America but not in Ireland. Thirdly, I’m trying to limit the amount of synthetic chemicals I put in my family’s bodies.
As mentioned in a previous post I have tried toothpaste tablets but my mouth didn’t feel clean afterwards. Some people believe that toothpaste made from certain natural ingredients can help teeth to remineralise, i.e. fix existing cavities. I’m usually a big sceptic when it comes to stuff like this but in the past I’ve had personal experience of a hole in my teeth remineralising, which my dentist confirmed for me. It wasn’t as a result of using homemade toothpaste but it was proof that teeth can remineralise.
I’ve tried about 4 recipes for homemade toothpaste over the past few years, all of which left me gagging or created blockages in our pipes (household not bodily!). Most recipes call for bicarbonate of soda but this ingredient left an awful after-taste in my mouth and upset my stomach. They also tend to call for coconut oil, but in Ireland’s generally cold climate we found that this caused our pipes to start smelling. I have read that you can prevent this problem by spitting into a compost after washing your teeth instead of the sink, but being honest this just wouldn’t be a runner in our house. I would imagine that a less solid oil base like olive or almond might work better in Ireland but I wanted to find a recipe that needed as few ingredients as possible and found one that I think doesn’t need any oil to work.
My toothpaste recipe is a reduced tweak of Wellness Mama’s Reminerlizing Toothpowder recipe. In my recipe I’ve omitted the bicarbonate of soda, peppermint essential oil and ground cloves and cinnamon. The bicarbonate of soda was left out for the reason mentioned above. I left out the essential oil because I’ve read a few times that we should only take essential oils internally on rare occasions so I didn’t want a recipe that included it. The ground cinnamon or cloves were omitted after the results of trialling dried mint instead of mint essential oil.
I like the taste of the recipe without mint but my husband likes that fresh minty taste you get with conventional toothpaste so I sourced some dried mint in a local Asian store and ground it down in a pestle and mortar to a fine powder, which I added to the recipe below. Unfortunately adding this changed the texture of the toothpaste completely, making it grittier and requiring the mouth to be rinsed out thoroughly after washing. Maybe you wouldn’t mind the texture or maybe a spice grinder would make a finer powder that wouldn’t alter the texture so much. Just to be sure I made up a batch with ground cinnamon instead of ground mint and had the same experience.
My recipe is actually for a tooth powder first and foremost but in powder form I found it impossible to get enough on the toothbrush to give a decent clean. So by mixing the powder with water to make a paste you can load the brush and achieve that silky clean feel on your teeth.
The recipe below is only for a very small amount of toothpaste but once you’ve tested it and decided you like it you can double or quadruple the recipe.
- 1 tsp of calcium carbonate, which you can buy or make from dried white eggshells
- 1 tsp of bentonite clay
- 2 tsp xylitol (this is optional but it makes the toothpaste far nicer)
- Mix ingredients together.
- When you’re ready to wash your teeth take a tsp of the mixture, add a drop of tap water and blend to form a paste. Put on your toothbrush and brush away.
I am lucky to be able to buy all three ingredients package-free relatively near to me. The calcium carbonate and xylitol I bought from Noms in D7 and the bentonite clay from Bomar in Co Wicklow. If you can’t source package free options locally maybe bookmark this till the next Zero Waste Festival. Alternatively I know you can buy xylitol in some supermarkets and calcium carbonate in some chemists.
Toothfaerie is an Irish made brand of toothpaste that uses 100% food grade ingredients, 90% of which are organic. It also uses olive oil instead of coconut oil. It does include bicarbonate of soda along with other ingredients, which you can see by clicking on the link given. It also includes Borax, a naturally occurring mineral that is essential to good health and can offer protection from disease in the right dose. I’ve read that borax and was aware that the Government of Canada have advised citizen to avoid borax in products for fear of over-exposure to the mineral. But others argue that the tests into the toxicity of borax is flawed because they conflate boric acid and borax, which are very different chemically (apparantly) and that the doses given to animals in the test are ridiculous high. So it seems that boron is essential for good health and can even help protect against some cancers but it can be toxic if over consumed, no more so than salt or coffee. My concern would be that it’s (relatively) easy to monitor the amount of salt and coffee you consume but not necessarily boron. The product comes packaged in glass jars and some of the profits go to planting native trees here in Ireland as part of Forest of Ireland – a non profit organisation / group.