It’s great that everyone is trying to reduce their toxic load these days, but many don’t realize what’s hiding inside their toothpaste. So I’ve got a recipe that just uses 3 simple ingredients: aluminum-free baking soda, peppermint essential oil, and stevia.
Many toothpaste brands used to boast that their toothpaste had fluoride, but now some are boasting that they DON’T have fluoride. And of course there are things like SLS, parabens, and lots of other buzzwords that we’re supposed to be avoiding. Toothpaste companies know that their stuff is toxic enough that most companies put some sort of warning label on the package, advising the consumer to notify Poison Control if they swallow more than a pea-sized amount. Way to show confidence in your product! I’m going to give a run-down of some main toxins found in brand-name toothpastes and why they should be avoided.
- Fluoride: Fluoride has been touted as this fabulous ingredient that strengthens tooth enamel. The government is so convinced of its usefulness that they’ve added it to public drinking water in 2/3 of US cities (I don’t think this is a good idea, but that’s another post). But the flouride in toothpaste is a byproduct from aluminum manufacturing, and it is found in rat poison and industrial pesticides. Too much fluoride (just a gram or two) can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and other unpleasant problems. A nutrient-dense diet with good animal fats and fermented cod liver oil is a much better way to strengthen teeth than rat poison.
- Triclosan: This is in toothpaste to act as an antibiotic. But according to the EPA it is classified as a pesticide. No little critters to kill in my mouth thanks! I’d rather pull oil to use the natural antibacterial properties of, say, coconut oil or sunflower oil to kill the bacteria in my mouth.
- Sodium Lauryl Sulfate: a.k.a. SLS is a cleaning agent added to many “soaps” and detergents. Alone, it can damage skin, eyes, and cause breathing problems. It also tastes nasty, which is why toothpastes have to have…
- Artificial Sweeteeners: like sorbitol, saccharine and aspartame. These are connected to a long list of chronic illnesses, and I personally don’t see a reason to have them in my house.
- Propylene Glycol: this is used as a wetting agent in toothpaste (so it doesn’t repel water). It is also used in anti-freeze. The Material Safety Data Sheets for propylene glycol warn that the chemical can be rapidly absorbed through the skin, with prolonged contact leading to brain, liver and kidney abnormalities.The EPA won’t allow its workers to handle propylene glycol without wearing rubber gloves, yet it doesn’t stop the chemical from being used in common health care products.
There are plenty others I’m sure, but that’s enough to scare me away from any brand name toothpaste! So let me give you the recipe I use for toothpaste. I adapted it from a quirky little book called Make Your Place: Affordable, Sustainable Nesting Skills.
Bulk Tooth Powder Recipe
- 1.5 cups aluminum-free baking soda (can be found in health stores, and occasionally in bulk)
- 1 t stevia
- 1/4 tsp peppermint oil (optional, for freshness)
Combine ingredients in a large bowl. Sift through a clean flower sifter to make sure the stevia and peppermint clumps are evenly incorporated.
See! That was easy! Parmesan cheese containers (both shaker and the one shown here) are convenient containers for storing the powder. I put excess powder in glass jars for when we run out. You really don’t need to use much, just the amount shown on the spoon below.
It is definitely different than regular toothpaste. When we travel we use up our old tubes of travel toothpaste, and my mouth feels like it burns and like I just ate a cookie because the toothpaste is so menthol-ated and sweet. I think the original recipe calls for quite a bit of stevia, so if you’re nervous, try doubling this amount and see what you think.
And because I know you’ve been wondering about that chair reupholstery project, I’ve got a teaser picture for you:
See all that awesome horsehair! I know you envy me ;).
Have you ever tried to make your own toothpaste? What’s your favorite recipe, or what’s holding you back?