How to Make Toothpaste and Other Toothpaste Facts

Is it worth learning how to make toothpaste? What's good to use if you want to be eco-aware? And which toothpastes are the best for our health?

This page tries to answer some of these questions.

First: How to make toothpaste

It's quite easy to make a simple toothpaste for everyday use. Just mix salt and baking soda and add a few drops of glycerine. This is the basis for a simple homemade toothpaste.

Here's a toothpaste recipe for baking soda toothpaste:

  • 4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • a few drops of flavouring (peppermint extract)
  • Mix well and keep the mixture in an air-tight container

This is probably as safe and effective as any homemade dentifrice can be. There is no evidence that either of the main ingredients causes any harm to tooth enamel. One dentist promoted the use of baking soda for cleaning teeth for years. He always asked his professional colleagues if they had ever encountered a problem with it - and they never had. This would tend to indicate it is safe.

Baking soda toothpaste is also on sale almost everywhere, though the quantities of baking soda will be generally less than in this homemade version.

How to make toothpaste and other toothpaste facts:

What are the properties of baking soda as a dentifrice ingredient?

Baking soda combines with acids in the mouth and thereby releases carbon dioxide gas (not a significant addition to greenhouse gases!)

It also helps to create foam and it is mildly abrasive. It may help reduce the numbers of acid loving bacteria in the mouth but this effect lasts only as for a short time. It feels quite good in the mouth and it tastes OK. Your teeth should feel clean and smooth after its use.

Make sure you use baking soda, not baking powder (which contains baking soda but also includes cream of tartar). Just plain baking soda is what you want - otherwise known as sodium bicarbonate.

The glycerine (glygerin) is optional. It helps turn your dentifrice from a powder to a paste. Personally, I think the mixture is easier to handle in powder form, as glycerine is quite tacky and thick.

Even if you only use this toothpaste as a standby you may save some trips to the shops. If you use it more long-term you will be saving yet another source of landfill: most toothpaste tubes land up in our rubbish bins. They are not very easy to recycle, though I've heard that Hounslow in London is now doing this, and Tom's of Maine also take back empty tubes.

This toothpaste is also very cheap to make.

How to make toothpaste and other toothpaste facts:

Here are a few other ways to keep your teeth clean without buying conventional toothpastes.

Herbal toothpastes and toothbrushes

Humans have been using some kind of tooth brushing regime for a very long time now. If you go back to pre-historic times there's little doubt that some twigs and plants were used as toothbrushes.

Even today some people in Africa, India, and the Middle East clean their teeth with "chewing sticks" from Salvadora persica - (source of an extract now included in Sarakan toothpaste.) Other trees and herbs used include eucalyptus, bay and juniper.

Liquorice root also makes a good toothbrush (with paste included!). Liquorice root is available in many health food stores and herbalists' shops.

All you need to do is to take a small thin twig (a bit smaller than the average pencil in size) and to fray the end by chewing. You can then use the frayed end as a makeshift toothbrush. Easy, but not so convenient for the modern bathroom!

Personally, I prefer a rather more modern approach...

How to make toothpaste and other toothpaste facts:

Modern alternative toothpastes

There are plenty of alternative toothpastes on the market now, many making bold claims about the healthiness of their ingredients. Many have very good ingredients without any of the nasties found in most commercial pastes.

Apart from issues of cost, they can prevent you from needing to learn how to make toothpaste for yourself!

Here's look at some of the very best natural toothpastes available today.

How to make toothpaste and other toothpaste facts:

Natural and safe toothpastes

Here are some of the best products which feature truly natural and (some) organic ingredients. (Note: You won't find any toothpaste products advertised as "organic" because most toothpaste contains fair amount of silica and chalk which, although natural are not "organic" as they are not grown.) Most of them avoid common toothpaste ingredients such as SLS and fluoride.

Here they are in no particular order.

WalaVita toothpaste is made with bio-dynamic and certified organic medicinal herbs. There are no synthetic colours, fragrances or preservatives. One type contains lemon and salt. Another has a mint flavouring. They are completely free from tensides ( Sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS) is an anionic tenside) and added fluorides, have been tested by dentists and are BDIH Certified Natural Cosmetics (a German standard). This German brand is available in 30 countries worldwide, including the US and Australia.

Weleda also make a salt toothpaste which is very simple and inexpensive. The effect is cleansing and toning to the gums. I've used this one a lot and I've found it very good. They also make a children's tooth gel which contains calendula (marigold) - herb renowned for its healing properties. Weleda products are naturally sourced, using organic and bio-dynamically grown ingredients. They are suitable for vegans and anyone who cares about ethical production methods. Weleda products are available practically worldwide.

Sarakan toothpaste uses the famous "toothbrush tree" (Salvadora persica) as an ingredient. It has a refreshing but non-minty taste. It's endorsed by the British Dental Health Foundation and it has been available in Britain for about thirty years. "About 40 years ago an army doctor serving in India noticed that the native populations' teeth and gum health was comparatively very good despite their generally low quality of nutrition." (from the Sarakan website) He discovered that many used a 'chewing stick' to clean and massage their teeth and gums. He developed Sarakan on his return to Britain. Sarakan is available in specialist shops worldwide.

Lavera's Basis Sensitive not only contains mint and sea salt but also has added propolis and echinacea. Propolis is the "magic" substance used by honeybees to protect and seal their hives It is thought to have healing and re-vivifying properties. Echinacea is a natural stimulant for the immune system, so this product might be a good choice if you have on-going dental problems. This product does contain fluoride. Lavera products also have the BDIH certification. Lavera has a strong ethical policy and takes a stand against animal testing.

Jason toothpastes are produced in several varieties to suit different dental needs. They are made by Hain Celestial Group Inc, a large natural and organic food and personal care products company from the US. They are made with natural ingredients and the company has an ethical policy.

Burt's Bees toothpastes also score well with EWG. They are committed to earth friendly natural personal care so their products are some of the best from an environmental perspective, too. They use animal products - such as milk and honey - in their products but do no testing on animals at all. Their products are available in the US, Canada and Taiwan.

Desert Essence do a wide range of toothpastes in different flavours, may of them featuring tea tree oil. They claim they are using renewable energy to create them! Their products are available in the United States, Canada and parts of Europe. The company is part of the Country Life Group (US).

Peelu Company toothpastes are some of the purest and safest around, according to the EWG Skindeep site. They is manufactured by Swanson's a trusted US brand.

Tom's of Maine is well known on this side of the pond (UK). Most of them are very safe (good EWG scores, again) and there is quite a lot of choice, some with fluoride, some suitable for using with homoeopathic medicines. The company is Colgate Palmolive (who produce plenty of the common brands found in supermarkets and drug stores.) Most also contain SLS, which some people may want to avoid.

Nature's Gate is dedicated to developing personal care products based upon botanical remedies. They have strong environmental ethics and their toothpastes are rated well at EWG. They produce toothpastes both with and without fluoride. Some feature aniseed and wintergreen.

How to make toothpaste and other toothpaste facts:

Benefits of learning how to make toothpaste

If you use any of the above products you should have no big environmental or health qualms, especially if you avoid fluoridated toothpaste.

The only remaining reasons to learn how to make toothpaste are to save money and avoid packaging.

Making toothpaste at home might enable you to cut down on shopping trips a bit too, saving some carbon emissions if you are using motor transport. (I know our toothpastes always seems to run out very fast! Although I've tried homemade toothpaste recipes, I really prefer brands such as Weleda and Sarakan but a homemade toothpaste can easily put us on for a day or two.)

If you have a toothpaste recipe, or want to submit details of how to make toothpaste, please use the contact form. Thank you!

*BDIH certification:

  • Use of Special Raw Materials
  • No use of synthetic ingredients
  • Natural Preservative System
  • No radioactive and genetically modified ingredients
  • Animal Protection
  • Against Animal Testing


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