Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Making toothpaste

  I love being able to walk down entire aisles in the supermarket and not need anything. I’ve been able to do it with the soft drink aisle forever, I ditched the baby aisle midway through ‘needing’ it, bakery and butchery sections are completely irrelevant and I haven’t looked at disposable female sanitary products in years.
  It was high time I snubbed my nose at the entire toiletries aisle-it’s time to go, toothpaste. This has been the project that has definitely created the most interest among people I know. I’m always getting asked how it’s going, people have been sending me all sorts of links and information-it’s been interesting to see!

  First try, aloe vera gel. As we have an aloe vera plant, very local. All you do is crack the ‘leaf’, put the clear gel on your brush and brush. It tastes quite good, foams slightly and seems to work well. Sounds like a perfect option, except if you get the yellow part of the gel it’s very bitter, and it’s not very child-friendly-they can’t really help themselves. Plus the plant is downstairs and we’re upstairs, so we chalked this up as a very good substitute that we’ll use when we can plant it at the back door.

  Next, plain bicarb. Ugh. It worked OK, but tasted horrible. I never wanted to do it again, let alone twice a day. (note-now we use aluminium free bicarb, it's fine-see update below).

  Finally, a toothpaste recipe. It’s been the stayer because it’s cheap and quick to make, it stores on the bench, and can be independently used by the two year old (yes, we finish the brushing, but he starts it).

So, how to make it? Take 2 tbsp bicarb, 3 tbsp of glycerine and 1 tsp peppermint essence. Mix well…….and that’s it. It does separate slowly so needs the occasional extra stir. I make a double lot and it lasts about 2 weeks, with fourteen brushings a day. The taste is somewhat salty but you adjust quickly. The kids complained a bit at the start, but seeing as my attitude is along the lines of ‘too bad, that’s all you’ve got so suck it up’ it passed pretty quickly.

  Interestingly, the general agreement is that our teeth feel consistently cleaner. They certainly look whiter across the whole seven of us. Morning breath is a thing of the past, as is waking up with a terrible taste in my mouth. And I can eat an orange straight away without it tasting icky! Could the commercial toothpastes *gasp* be causing the very things they say they prevent? My cynical self says probably. After all, they don’t want it to work too well. Then people wouldn’t be continually tempted to spend more by upscaling to whitening/tartar control/bells’n’whistles toothpastes-not to mention whitening packs and professional treatments. Dentistry is a big business y’know. This is the same industry that used to put holes the size of a spaghetti strand in their tubes, until one brand enlarged them and usage, and therefore sales, soared. They are first and foremost businesses, aimed at selling as much as possible. We would do well to remember that.

***Update April 2012***
We're still on the homemade toothpaste, and we're pretty happy with it, but I have tweaked it recently. The most important thing was sourcing aluminium-free bicarb soda-who'd have thought there would be aluminium in bicarb?! Now the husband can't tell me i'm crazy when I complain about cakes tasting metallic, although I only ever use organic self-raising flour now so that doesn't happen. Dodgy, eh? The first two essential oils contain lots of antibacterial, plaque fighting components, and the peppermint masks them if you don't like their rather unique taste! The salt is to make it more abrasive, as I did get some stains on my teeth-but I suspect this was more to do with my copious black tea drinking than my brushing habits. Now my teeth have been professionally scrubbed and i've stopped drinking tea, they're staying white. No-one else in the family has had any problems whatsoever, and we've all been to the dentist in the last two months.

As an added bonus, my mouth ulcers have virtually cleared up, and when I do get one it's much smaller and heals quickly. When we were travelling we bought a tube of toothpaste and within four days I had two huge ulcers...........I won't make that mistake again.

4 tbsp aluminium-free bicarb soda
1 tsp natural salt (NOT evil manufactured table salt)
3 drops of clove essential oil
3 drops of myrrh essential oil
3-6 drops of peppermint essential oil, to taste
Vegetable glycerine, enough to make the consistency you prefer.

Mix together, brush. Done!

Update June 2013
  Well, we've changed it again! Rumour was going around that glycerine was bad for your teeth. I had a momentary guilt-induced panic attack, then realised that glycerine is in every commercial toothpaste there is. Now we use tooth powder.

Use 5 parts Salt Skip Baking Powder (lots of tooth-building minerals in this stuff)
1 part natural salt (celtic, himalayan etc)

Mix. Done. This is so simple, but it seems to be working the best. We've been using it for nearly a year now-and hopefully, that's the last change i'll have to make!



Kat said...

What a great idea, I'm going to try this recipe out, I might even give the aloe vera a go if I'm feeling brave!

Miss Practicality said...

The aloe will surprise you, it's actually really nice!

Tamara Kelly said...

I did the toothpaste test with highschoolers once (just once!) and I got a heap of those plaue disclosing tablets and a heap of standard toothbrushes and then we compared the expensive & cheap brands and then the home made versions (about 4 different recipes) and the BEST one (and most horrible) was 5% peroxide. WOW! It CLEANED FANTASTICALLY! It tasted tereible and the kid (one of the wilder ones) looked like he had advanced rabies. The bicarb came in 2nd...and all the commercial brands were much of a muchness.