Monday, April 9, 2012

3 recipes for homemade toothpaste (a review)

about a year ago, after learning about all of the harmful chemical ingredients in conventional toothpaste (especially flouride and sodium lauryl sulfate), we switched to using tom's of maine toothpaste, which was a little more natural.  however, even tom's contained a few ingredients that i am nervous about, so about 6 months ago, i started making our own toothpaste at home.

'Bollywood toothpaste' photo (c) 2010, Juan Delgado - license:

there are two main reasons that i started making homemade toothpaste: cost and quality of ingredients.  when it comes to health and beauty products, i prefer to mostly only use products that i would be comfortable eating, since the chemicals in health/beauty products are absorbed into the skin and into the bloodstream (think nicotine and birth control patch: both contain chemicals meant to be absorbed through our skin.  our skin is porous and chemicals can go right through, though we usually don't think about it). when making toothpaste at home, i know exactly what is in it, and they are all ingredients from my kitchen.

furthermore, the cost of making it at home is much lower.  there are brands that are safer than toms of maine, but they are expensive.  natural toothpaste rarely goes on sale, and can easily cost $4-$7 for a tube much smaller than conventional.  i can make the equivalent amount of homemade for less than $1.

and now that i have tried it, there is one main reason that i will continue to make homemade toothpaste: it works so much better than conventional.  in college my roommates used to laugh at me because i would brush my teeth for 4-5 minutes.  "you are going to brush the enamel off of your teeth!" they would say.  the problem was, even after 4-5 minutes, my teeth still never really felt clean.  so, when i tried these homemade toothpastes, i was blown away... i now brush my teeth for just a minute, two minutes tops and my teeth feel way cleaner than they have ever felt before.

some people say this is because the ADA and toothpaste manufactures are in cahoots to make and market crappy toothpaste so that people ultimately have to spend more on dental work.  i dont know if i believe this particular conspiracy theory (though i wouldn't be utterly surprised if its true), all i know is that toothpaste ads aren't going to fool me any more: i know that homemade toothpaste is MUCH more effective.

all of these recipes are really easy to make.  you can throw together a jar of toothpaste, enough to last you for a few months in about 5 minutes (or less).  this includes the time it takes you to gather all the ingredients from around the house: its just that simple.

recipe #1 (i got this recipe from christian personal finance)

1/2 cup of baking soda
a dash of sea salt
1/4 cup hydrogen peroxide
stevia and peppermint essential oil (optional- these are to give it better flavor.  i used about 20-30 drops of stevia and 10 drops of essential oil)

directions: mix everything together in a small jar.

results:  my first time using this i was like WHOA.  and not in a good way.  this recipe is WAAAAY salty.  i couldn't brush my teeth for more than a minute because of the taste (which lead to my above discovery, that i don't even need to brush for more than a minute to get outstanding results!).

because this cleaned so well, i continued to use it, and got more used to the taste, though i still don't love it.  after a few months (where i thought i was testing my husband's patience with nasty tasting toothpaste) i decided to try two other recipes (below).  however, i just found out that my husband actually doesn't even mind the taste, and says that this one is his favorite of the three!  he said it took him a few days to get used to the taste, but that he loves the texture and the clean feeling from this toothpaste recipe.  good thing i decided to write this review or i would never have known he actually likes this one! :P

note that this toothpaste doesn't lather like store-bought toothpaste, so it might weird you out at first (another reason i falsely assumed my hubby didn't like it!).  it will take some time to get used to, but once you realize that it still works without a lather, you will be fine.  one of the reasons that companies use SLS in so many health and beauty products is because consumers like the lather it produces: psychologically it makes them feel like the product is working better (all the while the SLS is poisoning their body!).

i also made this one time with a mixture of orange essential oil and peppermint.  i liked it better but my husband thought it was weird.

recipe #2  (i got this recipe from naturally knocked up)

2 teaspoons of dr. bronners liquid castile soap (i used peppermint)
5 tablespoons of melted coconut oil
1/2 tablespoon baking soda
10-20 drop of essential oil (optional: i used just peppermint, but you could add some orange or whatever else suits your taste)
stevia to taste(optional)
1 tablespoon of water

directions: mix the soap and coconut oil together first, and then add the rest of the ingredients.

note that this recipe contains a little bit of glycerin (in the castile soap), which some people think coats your teeth in a way that prevents them from remineralizing.  in my opinion, this is just a small amount of gylcerin, so i'm not too concerned about it, but its something to keep in mind.

results: the first thing i noticed about this toothpaste is that it actually does lather quite a bit.  i kind of like the lather, but i can easily do without it at this point after having used recipe #1 for so many months.  my husband says that he actually really doesn't like the lather in this one!

the taste is much less overwhelming... it mostly tastes like peppermint, with a little hint of soap-y flavor.

it has a bit of a slippery texture, which my husband doesn't really like.  also, it might be purely psychological, but i do feel like my teeth have some kind of thin coating after i brush with it.  however, my teeth do feel really clean from this toothpaste (as with all of these recipes), much cleaner than with conventional toothpaste.

recipe #3 (i wish i could remember where i got this recipe so that i could give credit where credit is due!  its from one of the blogs i read, but i can't remember which one.)

3 tablespoons melted coconut oil (refined oil will have a neutral taste, unrefined oil will have a pleasantly subtle coconut-y taste)
3 tablespoons of baking soda
25 drops of peppermint essential oil (optional)
stevia to taste (optional)

results:  this one is probably my favorite of the three, though its is a bit strange to brush your teeth with oil (but better oil than chemicals!).  i really like the taste and feel of coconut oil, so this was a big plus to me.  my husband didn't really have strong feelings one way or the other about this one.

the taste is slightly salty, but mostly pleasant (i used unrefined coconut oil, which i would recommend unless you don't like coconut taste) .  the oil/baking soda makes a bit of a lather, but certainly not like conventional toothpaste (or recipe #2).  as i mentioned with the other two, this toothpaste cleans really great, MUCH better than any store-bought toothpaste i have tried.

on the downside, the oil is hard at room temp (unless your house is really hot, like in the summer with no AC), so you have to kind of dig into the jar to get some out.

want an even easier way to brush your teeth?  just wet your toothbrush and dip it into some baking soda and brush!  this is what many of our grandparents did before toothpaste was widely marketed.

are you wondering about the chemicals in your toothpaste?  see how it measures up here at skin deep's database.

what kind of toothpaste do you use?  what do you like, and what don't you like about it?

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