Homemade Zero Waste Toothpaste

You'll be hardpressed to find a local recycler that takes toothpaste tubes. Usually, they are made of aluminum and plastic or a composite of both (depending on the manufacturer), making them more complicated to process and recycle. Even if they have the equipment and materials to do so, by the time a recycling facility cleans and breaks down the individual components, they might not be worth that much.

So, the tubes normally must go out with your trash. If you think about all of the tubes you go through and multiply that by the number of people using them...that's a crap-ton of tubes taking up space in landfills or going to incinerators which pollute our air.

Terracycle does offer a free oral care recycling program where you can mail in collected oral care products. However, for toothpaste tubes, you must completely clean out and dry the tube. Sounds like a pain to me!

Even if recyclable through this program, it's important to note that there are also resources like water and energy that must go into making the packaged material to begin with.

Why not do yourself and your planet a favor and make your own toothpaste to bypass all of that mess? I have been making my own toothpaste for a while now and have not turned back to buying typical toothpaste, with the exception of Lush's toothpaste tabs for easy travel.

My toothpaste has two major ingredients and I don't have to guess whether or not they are good for me and my family or for the environment. They are coconut oil and baking soda.

Coconut oil (refined so it doesn't have a strong coconut flavor) can be found at most grocery stores and in relatively large amounts. If I were to just use my jar (by Nutiva) for toothpaste and nothing else, it would last me almost a whole year. It has so many wonderful benefits and increasing research shows that coconut oil has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties beneficial to oral health (1).

Baking soda is also easy to find, if not easier, and can be bought in bulk amounts. A 4lb box of baking soda (largest size sold by Arm & Hammer) would last me over 2 and a half years with this recipe! Baking soda has been used in commercial toothpaste for a long time and also has certain oral health benefits. Studies have shown that baking soda is effective in controlling plaque and gingivitis when used in toothpaste (2).

The third and optional ingredient is peppermint flavoring (I use the Simply Organic brand). I use this as opposed to my peppermint essential oil because I know that it is designed and safe for ingestion, whereas most essential oils (and the ones I have already) are not. I use the flavoring, well, for flavoring. I sometimes miss the minty-freshness of commercial toothpaste.

This recipe takes me about 60 seconds to make and lasts my husband and me about a week. Neither of us has had any cavities or oral health issues since we've started using it and we are both very prone to cavities! Despite our amazing results with this homemade toothpaste, I am not a dentist or medical professional. PLEASE consult with your dentist prior to making and using this toothpaste to make sure it will work for you and your oral care routine. 

What you'll need

  • 1 tbsp refined coconut oil (unrefined has a strong coconut taste)
  • 1 tbsp baking soda
  • A splash of peppermint flavoring (optional)
  • Small jar 
  • Small spoon for scooping out toothpaste (a teaspoon will do)

How to make & use it

Mix together refined coconut oil and baking soda well. Add a splash of peppermint flavoring to taste and then mix. I like to make small batches to avoid too much contamination, but you can always add more than 1 tbsp of coconut oil & 1 tbsp of baking soda. The ratio will always be 1:1.

If it's on the more liquidy side, pop it in the freezer for a couple of minutes before use. 

To use, apply a small amount to your toothbrush using a spoon and add water. Proceed with brushing your teeth. I store mine in my medicine cabinet without a lid, so I can keep the spoon in the jar and keep it away from any splashes from the sink. Or, you can simply store it on your bathroom countertop with a lid. 

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References
1. Peedikayil FC. Is coconut oil good for oral health? A review. J Health Res Rev 2019;6:1-4.   http://www.jhrr.org/temp/JHealthResRev611-5688548_154805.pdf
2. Valkenburg, C, Kashmour, Y, Dao, A, (Fridus) Van der Weijden, GA, Slot, DE. The efficacy of baking soda dentifrice in controlling plaque and gingivitis: A systematic review. Int J Dent Hygiene. 2019; 17: 99– 116. https://doi.org/10.1111/idh.12390

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