Make Your Own Toothpaste

My finished toothpaste

I discovered how to make my own toothpaste on Saturday and now I can categorically say that I won’t be turning back. In this previous post, I explained the reasons why you might want to look into this alternative rather than your average over-packaged, chemical-ridden, animal-tested varieties… But on top of that, there is something so fun about making it yourself! Getting your nutty professor on and testing out different mixes and scents.

The mix that Shani (from Ecoburbia and The Painted Fish) showed us works well for me, but is also the first I have tried. She also gave two other recipes which I will try once I am up with this batch. But for now…this one works swell. Give it a try.

Ingredients

(For tips on where to get these ingredients, see Notes)

  • 4 tsp Bicarb Soda (aka Baking Soda)
  • 1 tsp Salt (table is fine, or crush sea salt)
  • Glycerine (or Glycerol) – as much as needed to make a paste
  • Recycled jar or container

Optional ingredients

  • Essential Oils (like peppermint, vanilla) – make sure they are food-grade!
  • Lemon or Lime peel (dried and ground)
  • Mint leaves – finely chopped
  • Stevia leaves – dried and ground

Method

  1. Mix the Bicarb soda and salt in your container with a spoon
  2. Add Glycerine bit by bit while stirring until you get a smooth paste
  3. Add one of the optional ingredients here and stir. I used Peppermint Oil and it was lovely. It gave the traditional toothpaste-y smell which is good when you are getting used to a new taste.

My finished product! Peppermint Toothpaste.

Note – Where to buy

  • Bicarb Soda – Found in supermarkets, deli’s  etc. Try and aim for bulk to reduce packaging – Planet Ark in Freo sells it in 5kg boxes
  • Sea salt – best found at stores like Kakula’s Brothers or Sisters where you can buy bulk herbs and spices for a low price.
  • Glycerine / Glycerol – can be bought at chemists.
  • Essential Oils – Food grade essential oils can be found at healthstores. Manna Wholefoods in Freo definitely stocks it.

Review

The most important thing you need to realise here is also a very obvious point – this is not your standard toothpaste. You don’t have the Sodium lauryl sulfate in there to make it all foamy, there aren’t artificial sweeteners to make it taste like an after dinner mint and you have put a teaspoon of salt in the mix! At first, I was a very excited…

Eager beaver…

There is definitely a salty tang to it but there is also a sweet minty taste too (if you used the oil, as I did). The Glycerol has quite a sweet taste to it and gives it the smooth pasty consistency which is quite nice – it almost feels like you are just brushing with a wet brush. The bicarb soda acts as the cleansing agent (you can actually feel that working) and the salt is the abrasive. All in all it is not bad. Whenever I felt myself noticing it I just imagined I was at the beach and asked myself if I would mind if a little salt water got in my mouth. Nope.

hmmm… Think about the beach….

But then… I lost my head. I swallowed a bit of the stuff. Shit got crazy…

DON’T SWALLOW THE TOOTHPASTE

I really did consider not putting that photo and tip in… and this is not only because of how physically flattering it is for my face (obviously). I wanted to be honest about the experience and not promise some amazing flavour just to get you to try it! This is not a reason to consider not trying it… It is no different to your average toothpaste: If you swallow it you are going to be met with a few fairly unpleasant sensations. Don’t swallow it. It tastes like salt. Imagining I was at the beach did nothing to help me then, although my husband (the photographer) thought it was the funniest thing he had seen all week.

After our first few teething problems I am truly sold on this DIY toothpaste. My husband has converted as well and we honestly feel that it does wonders. Our teeth look whiter and we have breath tested each other at different points throughout the day and passed with flying colours. It is also just a damn good feeling to know that you are not contributing to environmental damage, animal cruelty and an overall bad system every morning and afternoon. I hope you enjoy it.

Toothpaste – Not So Squeaky Clean

How can something so minty fresh be so sinister? Whenever I picture the great villains of this world they never smell nice. Freddie Kruger, Gollum, Colin Barnett… I just don’t get a peppermint-y vibe from them. Maybe this is how toothpaste snuck into our bathrooms, seemingly unnoticed? It seems so non-threatening. However toothpaste has earned the title of Head Villain in our bathrooms. Why?

Image by Em Ehlers – Old Envelope

Packaging

I have never found toothpaste that has been wrapped without the use of plastic. Whether it is polyethylene coated aluminium or an upright container, whatever way you look at it is an item designed to be thrown away made from a material that is designed to last forever.

About 1 billion toothpaste tubes and dispensers are sent to landfills every year, many of which are recyclable. Though both typically end up in landfills, the average tube of toothpaste produces about 70 percent less waste than a pump dispenser, so is the preferable packaging option.

– Green Your.com

Animal Testing

I am not for shock tactics. I think conning someone into reading an article about DIY toothpaste and then punching them in the face with pictures of rabbits and puppies having chemicals poured into their eyes is not the way to go. But, if you in anyway doubt that this is the reality of the situation – google it. It is happening in cosmetic labs across the world every day and approximately 100 million animals suffer or die from testing and experiments every year. As hard as it is to look at, I think the alternative of looking away is harder.

Image by Emily Ehlers

Health

It is pretty hard to find a scientific study that categorically proves that toothpaste is unhealthy for you. Then again, I trust my common sense far more than a piece of paper handed to me by a scientist being commissioned by a cosmeceautical company. Here are some ingredients you may find written on your standard tube, and some side-effects that I am sure you won’t…

  • Triclosan – registered pesticide
  • Aspartame – Street talk for sweetener. AKA a neurotoxin linked to lupus, Parkinson’s Disease and Multiple Sclerosis.
  • Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS): Suspected carcinogen.
  • Methylparaben, Ethylparaben (Parabens) – linked to fertility problems (and hell for the environment)
  • Potassium Nitrate – a water soluble mineral that is toxic to the environment
  • Polyethylene glycol (or PEG) – Suspected carcinogen (especially linked to breast cancer)

And what about the highly contentious Fluoride? Here are some quotes I found…

“A 14oz tube of toothpaste, theoretically at least, contains enough fluoride to kill a small child”

– Proctor and Gamble, “Fluoride the Aging Factor”, Page 14

“In point of fact, fluoride causes more human cancer death, and causes it faster than any other chemical”

– Chief Chemist at the National Cancer Institute, Dr. Dean Burk, Congressional record 21 July 1976

(also a reason you may want to look into a water filter for the home).

Environment

All the aformentioned chemicals are the reasons that it is unhealthy to swallow toothpaste. It is the reason we spit them out and wash them away. But where is away?

wAterWAY

Parabens reak absolute havoc on animal hormones, triclosan (a toxic antibacterial) kills off good bacteria in ecosystems and sodium pyrophosphate contributes to the growth of algae in water which leads to lower oxygen levels that kills marine life and creates deadzones.

Even though you only use a little toothpaste imagine every person in every household sending all those chemicals into our delicate ecosystems with our birds, froggies and fish. Not good.

Image by Emily Ehlers

So what are the options?

There are eco brands around that cancel out some of the issues associated with your standard tube of whitening goo – but rarely all. You will never avoid the packaging but you can at least cancel out animal testing and chemicals.

If you are shopping in an Aussie supermarket the best you will probably find will be Naytura (Woolworth’s brand). It still has loads of nasties in it but is guaranteed cruelty-free at least. Otherwise health stores can provide organic alternatives. While these are better you could always go one further…

Make Your Own!

I learnt how to make my own toothpaste on Saturday at the Less Is More Festival. I am not going back. It is all natural, leaves my teeth feeling and looking amazing, isn’t tested on animals and has virtually no packaging associated with it. And an added benefit… you food doesn’t taste gross after you use it!

Come with me and learn how to make your own toothpaste here!

The Less Is More Write-Up

Earth Carers run yet another gorgeous community event.

Anyone that follows this blog, my Facebook or my Twitter would know that I was pretty damn excited about the Less Is More Festival that happened on Saturday. It has now been and gone and I can tell you all – I was not disappointed. It was a glorious day full of great people, ideas, food and workshops.

Festival organiser, Claire Litton, chats with arrivals

The festival organiser (hot-pink haired sensation, Claire Litton) should feel very proud to have fulfilled her objective; to show people how to consume less but enjoy more. I sat through a few workshops (and  poked my head into some too) and learnt something from each one. The classes were all buzzing with conversation with the presenter providing a framework but the crowd sharing their stories and tips. There was such a feeling of community.

Shani explains that you need to check your essential oil is food grade!

My fave class was definitely Shani Graham’s (from Ecoburbia and The Painted Fish) tutorial on DIY toothpaste and deodorant. Shani did a quick survey on why we were all there and it was lovely to hear so many people taking a stand against some of the unnecessary and downright unhealthy elements of modern day consumption. Too much packaging, animal testing, concerns for human health or a commitment to living organically.

"Is is meant to be this gooey?"

After the introductions Shani (like a mad scientist in her lab) started showing off the DIY ingredients. Bicarb soda, essential oils, corn flour, sea salt… no Sodium Lauryl Sulfate here! With recipe sheets in hand we all started shovelling salt and bicarb into our jars and dripping in coconut oils and glycerine. It was almost like year 8 science class and we were all testing out different concoctions and questioning whether we had the right consistency. Walking away from the class I realised something really nice – I now never have to give Colgate a cent of my money every again! (**I have been using my DIY cosmetics since the festival and I am absolutely loving it! For a recipe to make you own toothpaste click here).

My finished product! Peppermint Toothpaste.

After that I went for a bit of a wander and saw people making their own ginger beer, mango ketchup (Wow – delicious!) and even sanitary pads. I ended up in a workshop that is close to my heart… how to live plastic free. Fremantle couple Nathan and Jess (find them at Plastic Freo) have decided to go one whole year without plastic and they spoke about the challenges that they had already encountered and gave tips on how to go about reducing your plastic intake. As a dairy addict, Jess now has to order her milk ahead of time from Perth Organics as it comes in a glass bottle. As yoghurt only seems to come in plastic they have also learnt how to make yoghurt from it. They were a bloody inspiring young couple and have certainly given me some ideas on how to eliminate plastic completely from the Ehlers household. All in all I know that it is going to take effort, discipline and some organisation but I feel confident that I am up for the challenge. (Apparently the Fremantle Council is too – check out the Plastic Free Freo campaign).

Jess from Plastic Free gives a presentation

There were loads more classes that I didn’t manage to get to. If you went to one that I didn’t and want to share it please leave a comment. All in all it was an absolutely fabulous festival that really showed creative ways to reduce your impact on the planet. Personally I have taken a lovely lesson from it – I have realised that I need to slow down a bit and get back to basics. So on that note, I had friends over for afternoon tea and they sat down to vegetables with two homemade dips (beetroot and capsicum & walnut) followed by a warm slice of banana and cranberry bread. It tasted all the better knowing that I made it myself.

Less packaging = More homemade

Scroll down for more pics of the festival.

Cute kids game - Instead of Snakes and Ladders it was "Worms and Shute's"

Making concoctions

My finished toothpaste... mmm Peppermint!

My deodorant and the ingredients

Cooking lessons to make...

... Mango Ketchup. Nom Nom Nom

Ginger Beer making class.

Less Is More Festival – Saturday 18th February

Illustration by Clare Long

I am absolutely loving how many amazing eco events are popping up around Perth nowadays. We have turned into a city of ‘doers’; people have stopped waiting for the action to come to them and are instead creating it for themselves. The community has become so proactive and so supportive of anyone that has a desire to do more; more recycling, more learning, more teaching, more green get-togethers! In accordance with this new movement (a revolution where knowledge is power), an amazing green actionist from Perth has addressed one of the weird paradoxes of sustainability: Sometimes to do a hell of a lot more you need to focus your attention on doing a hell of a lot less. Enter the ‘Less is More Festival’.

The hero of our story is Claire Litton who has organised this fabulous festival with an amazing point of difference… NO MONEY ALLOWED. Have you ever heard of an event organiser stipulating such a ridiculous caveat? But as Claire sums up beautifully on her blog;

“You can’t buy the things that are really important!”

This wonderful anti-consumerist festival is about teaching ways that we can all consume less and reuse more.  There will be a number of workshops from various inspirational Perth greenies showing practical ways to apply the three R’s to your daily life – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle (and yes, that is in order of importance).

You can find the full list of workshops here but here are a few of my favourites;

Living Plastic Free

A young couple (Jess and Nathan)  discuss how they went plastic free for a whole year. This is particularly pertinent to me as I have (today in fact) started my own 365 days of going completely plastic free *gulp*. I am also the Online Campaigner for Plastic Free Freo campaign so it will be great to meet some inspirational people that are leading a plastic free life.

Upcycling

We are a culture obsessed with throw-away fashion. A 2005 study found that Australians spent $10.5billion on clothes that are disposed of after a short amount of time because of passing fads or poor quality.  Learn how to create a completely new and fashionable wardrobe from your old clothes or op-shop finds. Agnes will have hands-on activities and an informal presentation. People can watch but are also encourage to bring something to upcycle. Look through your cupboard… be brutal.

MYO Toothpaste and Deodorant

One of Perth’s loudest voices for living sustainably (and a favourite of mine) Shani Graham from Ecoburbia will be showing everyone how to make your own toothpaste and deodorant with standard ingredients that you probably already have in your pantry! You must bring two small jars for this so you can take your DIY products home with you.

Homemade Ginger Beer

NOM! Learn how to make your own Ginger Beer with Ronan and Rebecca. Not only will this recipe save you the empty calories of your standard soda’s but will also save hundreds of plastic bottles every year.

Those are just a few of my faves but there are plenty more. To get the most out of the day see the timetable here and plan ahead.

Kids

This is a family friendly event but there will still be some workshops that are for the adults only – so best to check with Claire beforehand if you are curious. This being said there are also events specifically for the littlies. The fabulous Eco Faeries (possibly the cutest organisation in the world) will be wandering round provide fun for the kids and getting them involved in sustainable games, interactive art and even a sustainable children’s story time at 10:30am.

“We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors;

we borrow it from our children”

~ Chief Seattle

Summary

I am so excited about this festival. I hope you are too. Here are the details;

10am – 4pm
Saturday 18 February 2012
The Grove Community Centre
1 Leake Street, Peppermint Grove