Blog Update!
For those of you not following me on Facebook, as of the Summer of 2019 I've moved to Central WA, to a tiny mountain town of less than 1,000 people.

I will be covering my exploits here in the Cascades, as I try to further reduce my impact on the environment. With the same attitude, just at a higher altitude!

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Make your own toothpaste

I'm sick to death of my toothpaste. Well, not literally, but I don't like all the plastic involved in the tubes of toothpaste we use. Not to mention the crap that goes into the toothpaste.

I've tried various "green" toothpastes and am still not impressed. Plus, I still have the tube to deal with.

Have any of you had success in making your own toothpaste? I've found several recipes online and they all seem to follow the basic ingredients of:

3 parts baking soda
1 part salt

To each half cup of above tooth powder, add:
3 teaspoons glycerin
10-20 drops of flavoring (peppermint, wintergreen, anise, cinnamon)

Mix and add enough water or hydrogen peroxide to reach your desired consistency. Squeeze the mixture into a small refillable plastic squeeze bottle or any container of your choosing that won't leak. Here are some other recipes to try.

Does anyone have a favorite recipe?

[By the by, if you missed yesterday's giveaway, don't forget to check it out. You have until Saturday evening to enter.]


Anonymous said...

My mother used to use just baking soda and salt. From what I remember she only used 1-2 TBSP of salt to a small jelly jar (Smuckers) of baking soda. To use you simply dampened the toothbrush and dipped it in some of the baking soda mixture that you had shaken into your hand.


Anonymous said...

This recipe minus the citrus peel looks like the one my mother used.

Old Fashioned Tooth Powder
2 Tbsp dried lemon or orange rind
1/4 cup baking soda
2 Tsp salt
Place rinds in food processor, grind until peel becomes a fine powder. Add baking soda and salt then process a few seconds more until you have a fine powder. Store in an airtight tin or jar. Dip moistened toothbrush into mixture, brush as usual.


Genuine Lustre said...

A wet toothbrush and baking soda is good enough. I have mixed a few drops of peppermint oil with the soda on occassion.

Anonymous said...

I make it 3 parts baking soda, 1 part fine salt and then the 10 drops of peppermint oil. I then keep adding glycerin slowly until it is a paste. This really gets your teeth clean, like you have been to the dentist.

Anonymous said...

Hi Crunchy,

We've been using homemade toothpaste since Nov 7, 2007. I have made two batches and they have worked out really well.

Our final recipe:

* 9 TBSN baking soda
* 1 1/2 tsp salt
* 6 oz glycerin
* 1/4 tsp tea tree oil
* 1/4 tsp peppermint oil
* Mix well.

I can't decide if I like the squeeze bottle or the jelly jar better. I almost think the jelly jar. I use a baby spoon to put a dollop on my toothbrush, add a drop or two of hydrogen peroxide and scrub away.

4 adults have gone through 1 batch and started on the second. I admit we used way too much the first go-round! We were quite frothy. We've since learned it doesn't take quite as much to the job well.

Good luck.

Anonymous said...

I'm with the wet toothbrush dipped in plain baking soda crowd! That's what I've been doing since july, and while I haven't actually cleared it with my dentist, it's super easy, and regular toothpaste now tastes really gross.

Lisa said...

I tried it a couple of times (the recipe you posted). It's not too bad, but I ended up being the only one in my family who would use it so eventually gave up since I had to buy other toothpaste anyway. It does work well, though it's quite salty-tasting.

Anonymous said...

I use baking soda, salt, and wintergreen oil for taste. My post about it is here, although at this point I'm using less salt:

I've wanted to try adding glycerin, but I can't find it packaged in other than a plastic bottle, and since I gave up toothpaste to avoid the plastic container, it doesn't make sense for me to make my own using an ingredient that comes in a plastic bottle.

Has anyone else found vegetable glycerin in glass or in bulk?

Oh, others add vodka to it instead of glycerin. I haven't tried that yet, although I do make my own vodka-based mouth rinse:

Jennifer said...

I've thought about doing this... it's what I do when backpacking already! (Excpet, I just use the baking soda plain then).

My worry is that the baking soda is too harsh for everyday use. I have already been called out by my dentist for brushing too hard... must be somewhat soft enamel. I'm worried that the extra abrasiveness of the baking soda will NOT be good for my teeth. Anyone have any experience one way or another with this? Or, conversely, is the bakingsoda MIXED with glycerine, et al, NOT as abrassive (for some reason)?

Has anyone tried adding calcium flouride to their toothpaste? (That's NOT the one in normal toothpaste... it's the one your teeth can actually use, per a natural health book I forgot the name of).

DC said...

For those of you who are concerned about animal testing, you should know that Arm & Hammer does test its products on animals. Bob’s Red Mill baking soda is not tested on animals (none of its products are). I can sort of understand the argument for doing animal testing to try to find a cure for cancer or AIDS, but it makes absolutely no sense to me to torture and kill animals for the sake of "new and improved" consumer products. Please consider buying baking soda and other household products from companies that don't participate in animal testing.


Lisa Zahn said...

I would like to try some of these recipes. I didn't like using plain baking soda--my gums got irritated and my teeth didn't feel as clean.

My co-op used to sell Glycerin in glass bottles from a Minneapolis company called Wyndmere. I'm the body care buyer for that co-op now so will do some research into whether Wyndmere still sells it and if it's still in a glass bottle. I bet there's somewhere that has it...Hmmm...something to research.


Unknown said...

I've been using baking soda for toothpaste, deodorant, cleaning supplies, etc., on and off for about 10 years now. What usually gets me back to the normal bought variety is my husband buying something and then me picking up the habit again.

Or travel. Does anyone have suggestions for travel-sized containers that are not plastic and easily cleaned?

Anonymous said...

dc, thanks for the heads up about Arm & Hammer!

Right now, I'm trying to use up what toothpaste we have in stock before making our own...or maybe use just water.

In the video link below, a hygienist explained that baking soda is too abrasive for our teeth and toothpaste is not even necessary at all. Just use water and brush-it's the plague that you need to clean off from your teeth. The toothpaste just gives you fresh breath which you can easily do by chewing on fresh mint.
(scroll down a bit until you see the video title: "Deaf Hygienist..." Yes, the video is entirely in sign language which is why I gave the brief summary above. =) But if you know sign language, it's good info! I don't know if the video has a voice-over (doubt it).

Anonymous said...

One more thing: don't forget to floss!!! =D

Anonymous said...

I grew up with my Grandparents, and I remember being surprised one day when my Grandmother mentioned that she only used baking soda to brush her teeth as a child. What?

I remember trying it the first time and still thinking that Grandma must be playing a joke on me. LOL However, I also remember how much I liked it and how "clean" tasting I thought it was.

Of course, I have went back to the "modern" way of brushing my teeth but I still occasionally think about how much I liked simple baking soda.

Now, you have me considering trying something new. Just last week the husband was complaining about the toothpaste tube. Hmmm??

Anonymous said...

We have a truckload of toothpaste around our house, so I'm trying to use that up in the mornings, then I use plain baking soda in the evenings. I keep it in an old, plastic prescription bottle and just dip the head of my brush in it. My teeth have never been whiter.

Unknown said...

dc- thanks for the heads up on Arm and Hammer. Next time we buy, we'll look for ─▒ob's Red Mill.

I have to admit, I hadn't considered making my own toothpaste, but will seriously consider it now. After all, a year ago, I thought NIM was crazy to give up TP, and now I'm on that bandwagon :-)

Arif Mamdani said...

I'll fifth? sixth? tenth? the "baking soda, peppermint oil, and maybe some salt" combo applied to a wet toothbrush. I am also guilty of not clearing it with my dentist, but the bit of research I did didn't turn up anything terribly scary. In fact, what I did learn was that the salt is the more abrasive of the two ingredients.

DC said...

This is a little off topic, but in addition to toothpaste, homemade or otherwise, there are other "natural" ways to support healthy teeth and gums

One way it to drink green tea, which is a good natural source of fluoride. When you drink it, the fluoride binds to the tooth enamel. Also, green tea has powerful antibacterial qualities that fight bacteria responsible for common tooth diseases like dental caries. One study found that a group of Japanese school children who drank a cup of green tea daily had a 50% reduction in carious lesions compared to the control group not given tea. Green tea is rich in catechins, which make it difficult for harmful bacteria to adhere to the teeth and interfere with their enzymatic activity.

Another way to promote dental health is to use a tongue scraper to remove bacteria from your mouth. Daily tongue scraping is recommended by the American Dental Association, and it has been an Ayurvedic practice in India for thousands of years.

Neem extracts have also been found to be very effective in destroying cavity-causing bacteria, enhancing mouth immunity and preventing tartar and plaque buildup. In a German study, 70 patients with pyorrhea showed significant improvement after just 5 to 10 treatments with neem-based products. Neem twigs are used as toothbrushes throughout India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Neem oil is a primary ingredient in several natural toothpastes on the market, and you can buy neem twigs at some natural foods stores.

BoysMom said...

My local health food store sells baking soda in bulk. I suspect it's shipped in a paper bag--I've never had any need to buy a whole bag of baking soda, but that's how the flour and sugar come.
We've never tried using baking soda to brush teeth, though I use it for all sorts of other cleaning. It's good for getting stuff--especially grease--off of the stove. Much better than the nasty toxic comercial cleaners.

Riana Lagarde said...

for the last six months since our consumption rebellion started we have been using baking soda with a pinch of salt and some different essential oils: cinnamon and peppermint.

the great thing, you can drink orange juice afterwards!! and we both dont have sensitive teeth anymore!!! bonus!

Phil Rempel said...

For the last six months I've been brushing with soap. There are several tooth soaps made specifically for brushing. I first used tooth soap from this company, and you can find others by searching for tooth soap. After my first jar ran out I've been brushing with Dr. Bronners peppermint soap. I'm using it very diluted from a foaming pump. You don't need much unless you like a mouth full of suds. Once in a while the taste can be a bit unpleasant, but it's really not bad at all. Just make sure you use a very pure soap without nasty chemicals and fragrances. Just went to the dentist and was told to keep doing what I was doing.

Catherine said...

OH my goodness, I love this blog.

Where in the world do you buy glycerin and fancy oil?

Anonymous said...

That's the recipe I've been using for several years now, Crunchy, and at my dental checkups the hygenist can't believe I have no tartar to remove. I started out just adding extra baking soda to my toothpaste (natural kind), and now I mix my own. Sometimes I add seasalt for the minerals, thinking that possibly I can remineralize my enamel, don't know if it really works or not, but who knows?

I also just formulated a mouthwash using seasalt, peppermint spirits and a little glycerin in a quart of water. It works really great!!!

Keep up the good work, Crunchy! I adore the Divacup, and I use the cloth to wipe now. I'm so inspired by you and your family, and my prayers are with you all.

May said...

I haven't yet tried to make my own toothpaste, but since my boyfriend hates using the chemical kind, I'll have him cook some up to try.

Thanks for the info/links!

Lisa Zahn said...

You can google "glycerin" or "vegetable glycerin" and find where to buy it. The company I mentioned before, Wyndmere Naturals, no longer sells it but Mountain Rose Herbs is a great company and they do, according to their website,
It doesn't say if it's in a glass bottle or not, but I'd just call or email them to find out.


Grant said...

I'm not yet ready to go to straight baking soda or baking soda and salt, but in an effort to cut down on my plastic usage I've been using Tom's toothpaste. It still has a plastic cap, but the tube itself is made of (I think) aluminum. They offer fluoride and non-fluoride versions, along with several flavors including a kid-friendly strawberry. It's a good alternative for those who can't stand the chalkiness of baking soda.

Emily the Great and Terrible said...

I have used plain baking soda with a finishing rinse of hydrogen peroxide. My husband recalls using soap when he was a kid--blech!

Anonymous said...

I used to use baking soda, and now I can't remember why I stopped...At any rate, I'm not very satisfied with any toothpaste on the market right now, so I'm eager to try this once our tube runs out.

Btw, this is a Berkeley company with good, relatively cheap products, including veg. glycerin and essential oils. When I buy in-store, the products are always in glass, but I don't know about if you order on-line.

Anonymous said...

Stella, thank you! I just emailed Lhasa Karnak Herb Company, the one you mentioned in your comment (, and the owner said that they ONLY use glass bottles for everything they sell, including vegetable glycerin. I can't believe I didn't know about this place. It's only about 2 miles away from me. I'll go there this weekend! Can't wait to try making actual toothpaste instead of plain tooth powder.

Anonymous said...

Hydrogen peroxide?! Tea tree oil?! PLEASE be careful when experimenting with these things. I know it's only a few drops, but leave the strong chemicals to your dentist, don't fool around with them thinking they'll get your mouth "cleaner". They can be very toxic when taken internally.

Jenna said...

I've used the baking soda and water trick since I was little... so I hve to confess a tad bit of confusion over the inclusion of the other ingredients. I get the peppermint (or other) oil to give you a flavor change and that fresh minty feeling... but what is the salt and the glycerin for? Is this something I should be looking into adding, or is the baking soda enough?

Crap. The bad (lol) thing about this blog... one idea frankly kittens a dozen other things to track down and research!

Good thing I'm a big enough nerd to rather enjoy the hunt.

Crunchy Chicken said...

jenna - the salt is for abrasion (to get off the tartar, etc.) and the glycerin is to make it more tooth-pastey.

Anonymous said...

You might want to Google glycerin... I hear it's actually bad for teeth because it prevents remineralization.

My recipe is:

1 part salt
2 parts baking soda
Few drops peppermint e. oil

The cinnamon makes it yummy for the kids. They say it's too "salty" otherwise.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone add stevia to sweeten it up? I haven't, but have been thinking of trying it.

Crunchy Chicken said...

Stevia sounds intriguing. It might help the battle against saltiness, but I would recommend trying Xylitol since it's been found to prevent tooth decay and is used in sugar free gums, enhances remineralization and it's pretty tasty.

I thought most commercial toothpastes had glycerin in them. The above link has a wealth of information about the ingredients in toothpaste and what they are used for. It makes it easier to help concoct your own when you know what you are trying to duplicate.

Beth - I'm glad you have a plastic free source so close to you!

Sweetpeas said...

All the commercial toothpastes I've checked ("natural" or not) have glycerin, which is one reason I don't use them, even though my kids would much prefer it if I would let them LOL (I *did* let them use the sample size tube of Tom's that they got when they went 'trick or treating" at Whole Foods last fall, they were so excited LOL). I've read several places that say glycerin is actually very bad for teeth, but is used for consistency & also sweetness (taste straight glycerin, it's VERY sweet).

I use plain baking soda & water for my kids (someday when I'm more organized (& they don't spill so much LOL) I might try adding some peppermint oil to it)& alternate between plain baking soda & dr. bronner's peppermint soap for myself. Googling "tooth soap" will get you good information about avoiding glycerin and using soap, though I'm too cheap to buy the "tooth soap".

Anonymous said...

Hi! I was thinking about toothpaste alternative for a while. My dentist tells me that baking soda can do more damage than good to your enamel if you have a sensitive one. He said that using baking soda once in a while is OK, but not for everyday use. However, I see from the posts here, that many people use I don't know. I use Tom's of Maine that comes in aluminum tube that can be recycled, minus the cap.

Anonymous said...

I've been using straight baking soda for a year now and did okay it with my dentist. I think there can be a risk to enamel but I guess as long as you visit your dentist regularly it should not be a problem. One thing I noticed was that I used to get canker sores all the time and I have not had one since using baking soda.

Anonymous said...

Hmm.. I don't know about Xylitol. This web site says that it comes from corn:

But I don't have time tonight to find out more about it or compare it to stevia. Do you have more info?

I can get stevia from a bulk jar at Rainbow Grocery. Can Xylitol be bought in bulk with no packaging?

Anonymous said...

Crunchy, can you please let your readers know that Tom's of Maine is NOT natural as they claim to be? One of the ingredients in their toothpaste for adults is Sodium Laurete Sulfate (SLS) which is a chemical that is used for cleaning floors! Gag. I've stopped using them and will try the baking soda and water method after getting an okay from my dentist.

Anonymous said...

We have been using Edgar Cayce's Heritage products tooth powder. It has baking soda, salt, peppermint oil and slipper elm bark powder in it. We love it. And we just brush really gently with it, using an extra soft brush.

My parents make their own concoction of a jar of baking soda, salt and peppermint oil and they wet their toothbrush with hydrogen peroxide then add the powder mixture onto the brush.

I will second the comments about glycerin. I have read in many resources that glycerin can coat the teeth and making it hard for your teeth to absorb minerals they need to stay healthy. And yes, strangely enough, just about every toothpaste and mouthwash on the market natural or not has glycerin.

We used to use Tom's of Maine, but quit because of the aluminum tubes. We try to avoid any aluminum in our house b/c 1. my daughter has a sensitivity to it 2. aluminum is not so great for your body in general.

Anonymous said...

Came over from TinyChoices...just made the toothpaste that hedgeshappenings postes (thanks, hh!) and LURV it.

I prefer a paste to a powder, as I don't like the idea of double-dipping toothbrushes into a common container, and I didn't know about the glycerine thing, so I'll have to see if my teeth fall out in the meantime. Not really worried...

It's very cool to see so many choosing alternatives and sharing know-how. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Use regular organic goat milk soap w/ NEEM & tea tree oil & essential peppermint oil...dont use commercial soap...use organic homemade kind. lots on ebay or online...just brush w/ soap (neem & tea tree kills lots of germs, antifungal,etc) and peppermint or speariment essential oils are natural, and make it minty fresh...any essential oil works, for brushing teeth. i love it and will never go back. try or for what i mean...but now i just buy homemade bars of soap w/ all natural ingredients and add a drop of peppermint oil (that i buy in a little bottle) to it when brushing, AMAZING!!! Never go back to toothpaste...and it lasts for months for just 1 bar of soap. you just swipe your toothbrush over the bar a few times when wet...TRY IT!!!!

Anonymous said...

This site has an excellent run-down of dental options, and specifically focuses on antibacterial components of alternative ingredients (ie to prevent gingivitis and periodontal disease). Its written by Dr Keyes - who seems to know what he's talking about.

Recommendations include: Baking soda, table salt, glycerin, hydrogen peroxide, vinegar, cranberry juice (unsweetened), Neutrogena soap (unscented).

His "ultimate" recommendation is:
Add glycerin to baking soda to form a pasty mixture that can be applied to a toothbrush with a spoon or other instrument.

* Put a capful of hydrogen peroxide in a tumbler.
* Moisten bristles of toothbrush (mulitufted) by dipping in peroxide
* Rub moistened bristles over cake of unscented Neutrogena soap
* Cover bristles with soda-glycerin mixture.
* While watching in a mirror brush cheek-sides and tongue-sides of teeth
* Redip brush in peroxide as needed
* Work mixture between teeth with a flat toothpick or Butler stimulator
* A few drops of wintergreen oil could be added to the glycerin-soda mixture for flavor

Anonymous said...

Mine is a little different!

i am sensitive to the salt and found a GREAT recipe

1 cup baking soda
1 lime
20 drops oil (i use peppermint!)

you zeat the lime (make sure you stop before the white part) and let the zest dry 2 hours (i leave mine overnight) and then use a mortar&pestal (or your fingers) to grind the zest into a powder. Then combine with the rest of the ingredients in a waterproof jar.

I like to sprinkle it into my hand (WASH YOUR HANDS FRIST!!!) then dip my damp brush in.

the lime (if not fine/powdery enough) will get stuck inbetween your teeth. no need to worry, just floss and make it finer next time.

great taste, nice and clean feel!

about a week of just using this and you can taste ALL the chemicals in your old paste!

Leslie Ann

FAY...GAY...and ON-THE-WAY said...

i've used the salt & soda mix, brush with hydrogen peroxide for years...

the only other thing that gets my teeth this clean and free of tartar is a neem toothpaste (in a yellow tube), no fancy tastes-- from wholefoods and rainbow, san francisco.... we lived 3 year in panama and i used the salt/soda/h202 because we could only brush with bottled water as the water of the entire region was contaminated. besides, we'd be without water and/or power for four to six weeks at a time..... it was a chiquita company town and really, i'd prefer to starve before purchasing and eating ANY chiquita/dole etc product....

that particular neem toothpaste used to be easy to find in panama city--the republic of not the panama city in FL--no longer. and i've no idea what the name was but it was soo good my hygenist used to ask if i'd had my teeth cleaned recently

just FYI--medical care and dental care in panama was wonderful. i didn't know physicians and dentists like this (human beings vs MDeities) existed... on my ID, i added, "in case of need for medical attention, first call a priest and then put me on a plane to panama city/paitialla hospital/in care of dr roque pinilla. if i ever have to have non-emergency surgery, i'll return to panama. amazing.


Anonymous said...

With my recipe i just add 1 teaspoon Bi carbonate, 2 teaspoon calcium carbonate 1 drop gylcerine, 1 and a half teaspoon of water and 3 drops of peppermint flavouring.

Just mix them all in a cup.

Anonymous said...

Dentists are idiots.

1. the flouride scam
2. mercury in fillings
3. x-rays way too often
(by the way, did you know that when interventional cardiologist are doing their procedures while using radiography to guide their stents, they wear special throat covering to protect the glandular tissue ie thyroid?

The person who was worried about baking soda and their enamel should not worry. If anything, the baking soda might irritate the gums. People wear out their enamel by brushing hard horizontally when they should brush up and down and with a soft brush. Some brushes that claim to be soft are not. I would compare.

It is the acid from the bacteria that causes cavities. Baking soda is alkaline, so it will neutralize the acid. I would be careful about citrus fruit peels because it may make your toothpaste acidic. Also, not a good idea to brush soon after drinking orange juice, grapefruit juice, tomato juice, etc.

White tea has strong antibacterial activity. Maybe other teas as well (ie green, black)

mommacass said...

Here is the best recipe:
6T baking soda
1t xanthan gum
2 packets stevia
Combine & add:
4T vegetable glycerin
10-20 drops eo's taste.
For kids:
add an additional 2 packets stevia & use orange & lemon eo's. This makes it sweet for them.
Stevia is the key as it adds a nice sweetness w/o causing bacteria to grow. I took the ingredients from a tube of Young Living toothpaste & used it to modify the recipe I found online & the result is great. Now I'm trying to find an actual tube I can put it into.

Anonymous said...

DON'T ADD GLYCERIN! Did anyone mention glycerin is very bad for your teeth? It coats your teeth and prevents re-mineralization. Do not brush your teeth with salt crystals it is too abrasive! Only use salt if it is dissolved.

- said...

Glycerin is also commonly made from animal products meaning that it is not suitable for vegans or vegetarians unless it clearly states "Non Animal".

I like your blog by the way

The Boognish said...

Baking soda is good for brushing teeth and has been used for a very long time, but it is corrosive as has been stated. That is the reason you put salt in with the baking soda, to cut down on corrosiveness.

I remember reading in a book somewhere that many old roman skulls from times of antiquity had grooves going horizontally on their teeth because they brushed with straight baking soda. So to those of you asking whether it is a good idea to use plain baking soda, you should probably know that there is a reason people add salt... and it's definitely not because it makes it taste better.