Toothpaste was the first thing I started making myself when I started Plastic Free July last year. It is ridiculously easy to make and you can make it to your preferences (without the nasty added chemicals). I’ve tried quite a few recipes and variations over the months, so thought I ought to share them.
- Coconut Oil – The ‘base’ this gives a paste nice consistency, it is also anti-bacterial & anti-fungal. It is commonly used in “oil pulling” which is essentially just sucking on oil for a while to whiten your teeth.
- Baking soda – a gentle abrasive that neutralizes bacteria that cause odors. This is a commonly used on just its own.
- Bentonite Clay – often called “healing clay” this works an even gentler abrasive that contains toxin removing minerals.
- Dr. Bronners Castile Soap – (peppermint flavour)- this makes the toothpaste foaming, it cleans teeth and removes plaque.
- Peppermint essential oil – Used for that minty flavour it is also anti-bacterial.
- Clove essential oil – Also another flavour and fresh kick, this is great for dental pain and also antibacterial
- Xylitol – This is a natural sweetner, it neutralises PH to help prevent tooth decay.
While I buy baking soda loose at the bulk bins, I still purchase coconut oil in a plastic container as I haven’t found this in bulk yet and this is currently the most cost effective option. Dr Bronners also comes in a plastic bottle, I happened to already have two bottles on hand, one was peppermint flavor, as I had been using this when I started making my own shampoo a few years back (not the mint one though!). I will reuse these bottles as well as the coconut oil container before ultimately recycling. The bentonite clay I had to purchase in a zip lock bag from Huckleberry Farms, I’ll reuse the bag and will see if I can find this package free in future. Bentonite clay isn’t the cheapest and is difficult to find, which is why I don’t use it often in my toothpaste.
Coconut Oil and Baking Soda:
This is the most common recipe used by the zero waste community, mainly because it’s the simplest, easiest and zero waste (if you can find coconut oil in bulk or glass).
- 6 Tbsp Coconut Oil
- 3 Tbsp Baking Soda
- ~ 20 drops peppermint essential oil
Simply mix it all together in a jar that you will use to store.
Variations I have tried:
Clove oil instead of peppermint, this was fantastic when I had my wisdom teeth coming through and the flavour packed a nice fresh punch.
Cinnamon, I used this with the clove oil for extra flavour but I found the ground cinammon ended up sticking to my teeth and needed a decent rinse after.
Bentonite Clay, I used this instead of baking soda, or as a 50/50 mix.
I like this recipe as it makes a simple base that you can add your own touch to. The lack of lather makes it kinda hard to brush your teeth without drooling everywhere. Check out No Harm No Waste for a more detailed review of this recipe.
Coconut Oil and Castile Soap:
Yes, you read that correctly! This one is great for sensitive teeth as there is no baking soda.
- 4 Tbsp Coconut Oil
- 1 Tbsp Dr Bronners Liquid Peppermint Castile Soap
- Essential oil of your choice or xylitol/stevia
Blend together using a stick blender, this makes it extra foamy.
The taste is a bit surprising at first as it does indeed taste like soap. I didn’t use a sweetener and instead added more essential peppermint oil. This recipe is not zero waste as the soap comes in a plastic bottle, and if you buy stevia that will likely come in packaging also.
Coconut Oil, Baking Soda and Castile Soap:
After not being 100% convinced with the two above recipes, I decided to experiment and merge the recipes. I recommend using this recipe loosely as it is really what works to your tastes and preferences.
- 6 Tbsp coconut oil
- 4 Tbsp baking soda (if you have sensitive teeth use bentonite clay instead, or do a mix)
- 1-2 tsp Dr. Bronners Liquid Peppermint Castile Soap
- ~10 drops essential oil of your choice (I use clove and/or peppermint)
Simply mix all the ingredients together in a jar. If you don’t have peppermint castile soap then just add more peppermint oil, or play with a different flavour variation such as clove and orange essential oils. I like using clove oil as it gives a fresh taste and also is great if you are experiencing toothache from pesky wisdom teeth. What I like about this recipe is that the soap acts a lathering agent, which means less drooling in summer when the oil is super soft!
And if you don’t like these blends and want something completely different, check out this great recipe by Gruenish- Make Brushing Teeth Fun For Your Toddler.
I now mostly use toothpowder as it’s easier to make and I don’t have to worry about the temperature/consistency with coconut oil. I am using a blend of The Rogue Ginger’s tooth powder and Going Zero Waste’s tooth powder. The combination of the two means less baking soda for my sensitive teeth and it’s super tasty! I also like to add turmeric to my toothpowder too, turmeric has some amazing health benefits and is also a natural teeth whitener, who would have thought? You can also use activated charcoal to whiten teeth too. Be warned, turmeric and charcoal will stain your white tooth brush bristles.
Using just plain baking soda is an option, or making your own variations. I use plain baking soda sometimes when I go tramping, due to weight and practicality. I’ve also used the Lush Toothy Tabs in the past, to much success.
I don’t really follow a recipe with this one, I usually mix a bit of baking soda and clove oil with some water and leave it in a jar, similar to Alternulltiv- Zero Waste Hamburg or I mix apple cider vinegar and water. I made a mouthwash a few months back using Mairehau (a native plant) it was quite tasty and only used baking soda, water & the Mairehau leaves. I will experiment again with this by soaking some leaves in some homemade vodka to dilute in water. Kawakawa could probably work well too, especially as this was traditionally used by Maori to ease toothache by chewing the leaves.
Check out Eco Love’s mouthwash recipe and toothpaste recipe’s, and this website here has some interesting recipes to try also.
Don’t forget to use a bamboo or recycled plastic toothbrush! Be aware, at this stage the bristles of these brushes are not biodegradable, they are advertised as recyclable however I’m not too sure how one recycles such small bristles. I am currently reusing my old bamboo toothbrushes for cleaning jobs anyway.
As for floss, I am currently still using up my container of floss and am in the process of finding a zero waste alternative. I options I know of are silk floss/thread, cotton sewing thread, Water Pik or Air Floss, brass gum stimulator or a stainless steel dentist pick.
Let me know if you have any other floss ideas or if you make your own toothpaste!