I haven’t purchased toothpaste in months, and yes – I brush my teeth! How is this possible? I make it myself.
When I decided to begin the transition to a Zero Waste lifestyle, toothpaste was the first product I stopped buying and started making. The ingredients are simple and easy to find at almost any store: baking soda, organic coconut oil, and organic essential oils. It takes no more than 2 minutes to combine these three ingredients, and the toothpaste leaves my mouth feeling so incredibly fresh— way fresher than store-bought toothpaste. I am hooked!!!
But let’s take a step back… why did I make the switch from “conventional” packaged toothpaste to one that I make myself?
For starters, I am attempting to live a Zero Waste lifestyle and toothpaste tubes are totally wasteful. They are typically sold with not just the tube, but a box as well. While the box is recyclable, the tube is very difficult or impossible to recycle and will most likely end up in a landfill. The benefit of making my own toothpaste is that I can put it in a glass jar or stainless steel container that I can wash and reuse infinitely. No plastic tubes, no trash, no landfill.
I like to have control of what I am putting on and in my body. There has been a lot of controversy around the ingredients that are in conventional toothpaste. Two that I will focus on are triclosan and sodium lauryl sulfate, but conventional toothpaste also contains fluoride, propylene glycol, and sodium hydroxide, all of which are controversial because they are linked to cancer and a long list of other ailments.
Triclosan: A chemical added to many products to reduce bacterial contamination which is also used in toothpaste to prevent gingivitis,according to the FDA and toothpaste manufacturers. In addition, it has been said to be potentially carcinogenic and have negative effects on the endocrine system in animals. It is banned in certain applications in Europe and in 2011, some of Colgate’s soap products were reformulated without the chemical, but not their toothpaste. The ecotoxicology of the ingredient is still under heavy scrutiny and EWG rates it to have a moderate/high health hazard. That’s all I needed to hear to make the decision to stay clear of it for good.
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS): Is a surfactant (a foaming agent that lowers the tension between two liquids or a liquid and a solid) used in toothpaste to evenly disperse the ingredients and help with effective rinsing and removal of mouth debris. It also promotes foaming. Many studies on SLS show that it is contaminated with 1,4 dioxane, a byproduct of the manufacturing process, which is also a possible carcinogen. SLS is also said to aggravate gums. No, thank you.
If something has a supposed risk, I will avoid it until I have concrete evidence that it is safe. This is why I choose to make my own toothpaste with just three ingredients that I trust and buy baking soda, organic coconut oil, and organic essential oils in recyclable or compostable packaging.
Toothpaste can cost anywhere between $1-$8 for a 6oz tube depending on the brand you are buying and where you are purchasing it from. In my experience with my DIY solution, I have spent at most $.60 for 6oz of toothpaste. All aside, the cost savings alone are worth it.
With so much to gain and not much to lose, making your own toothpaste makes sense! It’s cheaper to make, tastes better, feels better in your mouth, and is better for you.
Zero Waste Toothpaste Recipe:
- 3 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1 1/2 tablespoons baking soda
- 25-30 drops Organic food grade peppermint essential oil
Mix all three ingredients in a glass dish (I use a mason jar).
To use, scoop out a little bit with a spoon and put it onto your toothbrush. Add more or less peppermint or coconut oil depending on your textural preference.
I suggest using it for a few days. Give yourself some time to adjust, I had to. Initially, you have to get over the saltiness of the baking soda, get into using a spoon instead of a tube, and you might miss the frothing and bubbling of commercial toothpaste, but after just a few days I've come to love it so much more. It feels like teeth brushing and oil pulling at the same time. I'd love to hear what you think if you give it a try!