Back to Basics: Homemade Toothpaste
Here are the homemade toothpaste/tooth powder recipes I’ve promised from last week’s Back to Basics post, regarding why store-bought toothpaste is not as beneficial as you may think it is.
Remember, you want to steer clear of harmful store-bought toothpastes that contain: Fluoride, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS), Saccharin, glycerin, and any artificial colors (such as: FD&C Blue 1, FD&C Red 3, FD&C Red 40, FD&C Red 33, and Yellow 10 Lake), and any other chemical ingredient. Research the ingredients in your hygiene products!
First, let’s look at the ingredients I choose to use to make homemade toothpaste & why:
- Baking soda: Cleans teeth, whitens teeth, and freshens breath. Going “back to basics”, baking soda has been used as a teeth cleaning agent for years, and is still used in today’s commercial toothpastes. Baking soda is also alkaline and will neutralize the acids that are lingering in your mouth & on your teeth from consuming acidic foods/drinks. Acidity can erode enamel & causes cavities.
- Sea Salt: Natural anti-septic, used for years. Kills bacteria that cause plaque, and cleanses teeth & gums.
- Xylitol: A natural, non-fermentable sugar that not only sweetens the toothpaste, but protects against cavities as well. Xylitol has the opposite effect of traditional sugar. While sugar helps bacteria grow & thrive by creating an acidic environment, Xylitol cannot be fermented, and therefore protects against the growth of bacteria and helps to prevent cavities, helps with the re-mineralization of teeth, & eliminates plaque.
- White Kaolin Clay: Earth’s clay has been used for years by our ancestors for various cosmetic and healing purposes. Clay has been known to cleanse & purify the skin by pulling toxins and pollutants from the skin when used as a mask, and have also been used in toothpastes and mouthwashes for the same purpose. When clay is used in the mouth, it purifies, cleanses and rids the mouth of bad bacteria. Kaolin clay is also known to polish the tooth’s surface, while gently removing surface stains and plaque.
- Eggshells: Probably the best natural source of calcium, since eggshells are calcium & other trace minerals. The composition of eggshells are very similar to our bones & teeth. Eggshells are easily absorbable. Finely ground eggshells make calcium powder. However, only use organic, pastured-eggs, not store bought (factory farmed) eggs. Factory farmed/store bought eggs are not very nutritious…if the chicken does not get proper nutrients, the eggshells will not be filled with all of the nutrients we need, and instead will be weak & easily breakable (therefore, have less calcium). If you don’t have healthy eggshells available, use calcium powder instead.
- Coconut oil: Great for the gums and is anti-bacterial. Coconut oil kills bacteria that causes tooth decay and gum disease.
- Aloe Vera gel (in it’s pure, liquid form): Aloe has been used for centuries as a home remedy. For toothpaste purpose, it cleanses and soothes teeth and gums, as it is also anti-bacterial.
- Myrrh Essential Oil: Great for the mouth & gums! This oil has been used for cleaning and purifying since ancient times and is known to keep gums healthy & eliminate mouth sores/infections. It is antiseptic by nature, and also stimulates circulation, which is great for the mouth and gums.
- Peppermint Essential Oil: Anti-bacterial and provides a minty fresh scent to breath, and a minty taste to homemade toothpaste.
After much research and thought, here is the toothpaste recipe I like to use: (you can feel free to add or remove ingredients based off of your own research, and change measurements as you see fit. I use measurements of my own based off of research and personal wants/needs, and personal opinion).
1/2 cup baking soda (finely ground*)
1/4 cup finely ground* sea salt
1/4 cup finely ground* xylitol
2 tablespoons Kaolin clay
2 tbs finely ground* eggshells (organic, pastured-eggs from a farm. I wouldn’t do this with factory farmed, store bought eggs. You can replace the eggshells with calcium powder if necessary).
Essential oils (I use myrrh & peppermint)
To use as a toothpowder, use recipe above and sprinkle onto toothbrush & brush gently. If you’d rather have more of a paste consistency like I do, use the following:
A few tablespoons coconut oil (I used 2 tbs)
1-2 tsp aloe vera (pure aloe vera, in it’s liquid form/aloe vera juice)
Store in small glass jar or bowl if you made paste (the wet Kaolin clay CANNOT be stored in plastic, as it will absorb the toxins from the plastic. As a tooth powder (in dry form), it can be stored in plastic).
*For ingredients marked “finely ground”, I literally grind these ingredients (in small portions) into a fine powder in a small coffee grinder (Krups Electric Coffee Grinder, $19.00). It works fabulously. The reason for grinding these ingredients is simple: They’d be too abrasive on the tooth’s enamel otherwise. Although some people do use baking soda whole and brush strictly with baking soda alone, I feel that it is too abrasive to use on a daily basis (in it’s whole, un-ground form). Some dentists say it’s fine and good for your teeth, others say it’s okay to use, but maybe only once a week instead of daily, while other’s disagree completely and say it is too abrasive. Well, to be safe, I grind all of my “too abrasive” ingredients, including baking soda, to a fine grind.
I make this recipe, which allows me to have more than I need for one small jar (think baby-food jar), which is probably about 2-3 tablespoons of the tooth powder (dry) mixture. Then I mix about equal amounts of coconut oil, and 1-2 teaspoons of aloe vera to form a paste. I store the extra dry ingredients that are already mixed together in a zip lock bag so when I run out of toothpaste in the future, I just have to mix together a few tablespoons or so the dry ingredients with the coconut oil and aloe vera, and I’ll have a new jar of toothpaste. Quick & easy. I could also always use the dry ingredients as a powder, of course, but for now, I’m sticking with the paste.
*I obviously am not a dentist or a professional of any kind, & all of the information I have is based off of my own research & opinion and is not meant for treating or curing any hygiene disease. I simply make homemade products for my own personal use, and I’m offering the recipe for my homemade toothpaste for those who would like to make and use their own all natural toothpaste. That doesn’t mean you will be cavity-free!
Back to Basics: What You’re Putting Into Your Body When Brushing Your Teeth
In ancient times, toothpastes varied depending on the culture, although many cultures used crushed shells (including eggshells) and bones, and powdered ingredients such as ashes, bark, charcoal, herbs, and salt. When toothpaste was developed in the 1800’s, many toothpastes were made of soap and chalk. It wasn’t until after the 1850’s when toothpaste actually became made as paste. Before then, “toothpaste” was actually a powder that would turn into a paste substance after mixing with the saliva of the user.
Nowadays, toothpastes contain artificial foaming agents, detergents, artificial flavors, artificial colors, sweeteners, and humectants, such as glycerin. Some commercial toothpastes even include Triclosan (a registered pesticide according to the EPA, and an antimicrobial agent that is known to create super-bugs). Triclosan has been shown to cause bacteria to become resistant to antibiotics, and when mixed with chlorine found in drinking water, can form Chloroform (a probable human carcinogen according to the EPA).
Let’s look at some other common ingredients in your tube of toothpaste:
Fluoride: A neurotoxin that was often used as a poison and insecticide in the past. (See my post on water fluoridation here, and a link about dental fluorosis here).
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS): An chemical foaming agent used to create the foam and suds in toothpaste, soap, and shampoo. I posted about the dangers of SLS & why you should go SLS-free here. Remember, foam, bubbles and suds do not = clean! We are conditioned to think that way and feel that a product not foaming may not be working as well, but the foam really is all smoke & mirrors. It’s just a chemical added to your products to purposely create foam.
Saccharin: An artificial sweetener that has been linked to cancer.
Artificial colors, such as FD&C Blue 1, FD&C Red 3, FD&C Red 40, FD&C Red 33, and Yellow 10 Lake: These colors are lab-created dyes that have either been banned in other countries, or banned by the FDA for other uses (such as some eye cosmetics, etc.), and many of these dyes have been linked to toxicity and various tumors. For some reason though, these artificial colors are still allowed in our toothpastes & mouthwashes (which are absorbed through our gums and often minimally swallowed).
Glycerin: A humectant used to keep the paste moist & smooth. Although a natural ingredient that is safe for use, glycerin forms a sticky layer on teeth that has been shown to take 27 rinses to wash off of the surface of teeth. I don’t know anyone who rinses 27 times. The film formed on the teeth due to the glycerin content in toothpastes blocks saliva from coming in contact with teeth, & therefore, blocks the ability for teeth to remineralize.
Any of the ingredients in our toothpastes are easily absorbed through our gums and enter into our bloodstream. But how often have you stopped to think about your toothpaste, the ingredients in it and how it’s effecting your teeth and your health? We tend to buy what’s on a shelf and assume that it’s safe. Why would anything sold in a store be toxic to my health? Plus, my toothpaste is FDA approved, so it must be safe. Well, that’s what you’d think, but the truth is, many of the ingredients in commercial hygiene products are horrible for your heath. Look into these ingredients yourself instead of trusting that the FDA or your favorite store or brand will keep you safe, because, well…they won’t.
Ingredients are often approved based off of the amount of that specific ingredient that is allowed into the product. This doesn’t take into consideration that the ingredients/chemicals in products that we use every day, such as toothpaste, mouthwash, soap, lotion, etc., accumulate in our bodies. This causes a toxic, chemical build up overtime from the constant use of these ingredients. Ingredients that maybe have been determined “toxic, but safe in low doses” is now a high dose ingredient in your body. Not to mention that the ingredients SLS and SLES allow your body to absorb more of whatever it is that’s in the product to begin with. Basically, it enhances absorb-ability. So now, not only is the SLS itself harmful, but it’s allowing the other harmful ingredients in the product you are using to be more easily absorbed by your body. Great.
And you also cannot just assume that because something is a known “all natural” product, that it really, truely, is! A great example of this is Tom’s of Maine, a well-known “all natural” brand. Although they sell a fluoride-free version of toothpaste, their toothpastes list SLS as an ingredient. They are able to get away with this as an ingredient in their “all natural” product by stating that it is “derived from coconut and/or palm kernal oil”. Although Burt’s Bees, another popular “all natural” brand, does not use SLS in their fluoride-free toothpaste, it does use glycerin (described above). And as we know, glycerin is an all-natural ingredient, however, in this specific application (toothpaste), it is bad for us (since it prevents our teeth to naturally re-mineralize themselves, the way nature intended).
The best way to steer clear of unnecessary ingredients in your toothpaste is to research and read labels! Read the ingredients on your tube of toothpaste and find out what each ingredient does, why it’s used, and any harmful effects associated with it. Even with all natural products, read labels to ensure the ingredients truly are all natural and will benefit your teeth/gums in some way. Another way to avoid unnecessary ingredients and uncertainty is to make your own toothpaste or tooth powder. I will end this weeks post on that note and will post a few homemade recipes for toothpaste and tooth powder for next Sunday’s Back to Basics post. Stay tuned!
Back to Basics: How to Make (Liquid) Whey
Liquid whey is much different from whey protein (in powdered form), which is derived from whey and is often used as a supplement by many health enthusiasts. Powdered whey, however, is denatured and often toxic, and contains MSG (although it will not be listed on the label, since the MSG is a byproduct of the manufacturing process and is not added). Whey protein is extremely delicate and should not be subject to heat processes such as those used to make whey protein powder in order to separate the protein from it’s food source.
Liquid whey cannot be store bought (it can only be “homemade”), and is filled with good fats, vitamins, minerals, and healthy probiotics. This real, live whey promotes a healthy gut by protecting it from pathogens, and helps aid digestion. It can also benefit those with gut dysbiosis (which is the underlying cause of many auto-immune diseases) by helping to re-balance the good bacteria in the gut in order to promote healing.
Now, onto how to make Liquid Whey!
You will need:
1. Raw Milk (directly from a reputable farm, this milk must be grass-fed and unpasteurized) -or- if raw milk is not an option, organic yogurt will do, but you will not get as much whey out of it as you would with raw milk.
2. Cheesecloth or a clean, thin dishtowel (tea towel)
3. A bowl
Step 1: Allow raw milk to clabber. To do this, allow the milk to sit on your kitchen counter for 1-4 days, depending on how long you’ve had your milk for at this point. The milk solids will begin to separate from the liquids and you will be left with curds & whey. Curds = the solid, clumps, and whey is the liquid that is left. (Sidenote: You absolutely cannot do this with pasteurized milk!! Do not try it, the milk will just go bad!)
Step 2: Spread cheesecloth or tea towel over a bowl and pour the clabbered raw milk over the cheesecloth/towel. This will strain the liquid from the solids.
Step 3: Gather the excess cheesecloth/towel to lift up the cheesecloth out of the bowl — use a rubber band to tie the ends of the cheesecloth together and use the rubber band to tie the cheesecloth (now filled with the milk solids) to a kitchen cabinet handle, or secure it any other way that you can in order to suspend it so that it is hanging over the bowl.
Step 4: Allow this to hang there for a few hours, with the bowl underneath, until the liquid is completely strained form the solids, and the cheesecloth is no longer dripping.
Step 5: The liquid you have in the bowl is your whey! Pour the liquid whey into a jar/container and keep it in the refrigerator. This will last for about 6 months. The strained solids that you have in the cheesecloth are now homemade, real, cream cheese and can be sweetened naturally with maple syrup and/or fruit (mixed together in a food processor) and can be used as you would store bought cream cheese, for up to about 2 weeks.
I’ve used this liquid whey for a few different real food recipes thus far and intend on using it for many more! I wanted to post this basic post today so that when I post recipes in future Back to Basics posts, you can have this to refer to when I mention liquid whey as one of the ingredients.
Whey can be used in many homemade recipes to add probiotics to things including homemade condiments (will cover in future Back to Basics posts), smoothies, to lacto-ferment fruits and vegetables, and even to make ricotta cheese.
Lately I’ve been finding more and more ways to convert my lifestyle to incorporate more all-natural & traditional ways of eating (and living)! I’m on my way to becoming a “real foodie” — taking baby steps, of course. But any improvement is better than no improvement at all, and I’ve already come a long way! (More on this in next week’s Back to Basics post)
This video was released just in time for this week’s Back to Basics segment & I thought it’d be the PERFECT way to explain to everyone what direction I’m moving towards and how/why.
In this video, you’re introduced to Sarah of thehealthyhomeeconomist.com. Reading her blog is what initially made me become interested in a traditional/real foods lifestyle. I learned SO much from reading her blog, as well as other blogs & sources from the world of real foods. Everything I learned made perfect sense to me. And although I question everything, this one was a no brainer. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t be living how our ancestors did years ago. I already had this mind-set anyway, even before I knew about the community of people who live/eat traditionally. (Remember, before I was interested in the food aspect of it, I already eliminated the use of store bought skin care products & cleaning products by using all natural products that I made myself. Also, I already started going No ‘Poo way before I was reading into real foods!) — It all fell into place with what I’ve been trying to do myself this entire time.
Although I’ve been trying to post informational posts for my Back to Basics posts lately, these next few B2B posts will be going in the direction of what I’m doing, specifically, to go Back to Basics and eat and live more traditionally (without the processed, chemical-filled junk). I’ll use this weeks video post as a preview and overview of what’s to come.
It has been 1 year since I’ve used shampoo & conditioner to wash my hair! (This Monday, Sept. 5th, to be exact). Now, before you judge me (I know it sounds gross), let me explain what I’ve been using to clean my hair instead of shampoo, and why going “no ‘poo” is better than using commercial shampoos to clean your hair.
HOW I CLEAN MY HAIR WITHOUT SHAMPOO (THE NO ‘POO METHOD):
To replace shampoo - Use 1 tablespoon of baking soda mixed into 1 cup of warm water. I put this in a small reusable bottle with a sports bottle top (pictured above, on left). This makes it easy to open the top and squeeze a bunch over the top of my head in the shower. This recipe can be multiplied to fill a larger bottle, if you’d prefer. Baking soda is used to cleanse and deodorize. Applying a little baking soda to your hair will clean your hair and remove build up from use of products and chemical shampoos.
To replace conditioner - Make a hair rinse by combining 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar with 1 cup of water. Apply to hair (after cleaning hair with baking soda mixture), and rinse out with cold water. I double or triple this recipe to fill a large spray bottle (which I bought empty, at a dollar store; pictured above on the right). That way, I don’t have to make this mixture very often since it lasts me a while. The apple cider vinegar rinse does not have to be used with every wash. If you have thinner or more oily hair, you probably won’t need to use the ACV rinse very often, maybe once a week, or every few washes. If your hair is thicker, or tends to be dry, you may have to use the ACV rinse more often, or even after every baking soda cleanse. Experiment to see what’s best for you. And don’t worry, it’ll only smell like apple cider vinegar while your applying it. As soon as it’s rinsed out, you won’t smell it at all! ACV helps to balance the pH level of your hair, as well as clarifies and detangles hair, while sealing the hair’s cuticle.
After trying the ACV/water mixture alone for a few months, I decided to enhance this step by boiling my water portion and steeping tea bags in the water before mixing the ACV. You can use whatever herbs or tea you’d like to get extra nutrients into your hair. I use black tea — black tea is recommended for brunette hair, and it also provides anti-oxidants & additional nutrients to the cleansing process.
Cleaning your hair with BS and ACV allows your hair to take control over itself, naturally. Once your hair is allowed to fully function on it’s own, and it’s oil glands are under control, you will most likely not need to use hair products anymore since your hair can do what’s right. People who have gone no ‘poo claim that their hair is less frizzy, has nicer curls (for curly hair), and is more flat/straight (for straight hair) — and it’s true. My hair has probably never been healthier. It’s not dry or brittle, I don’t use a straightener anymore, and especially don’t use any hair products anymore. It’s just not necessary now that my hair is able to take care of itself! It takes my hair about 3-4 days of no BS/ACV cleanse to get as greasy as it used to by going just 1 day without shampoo. It’s really amazing.
WHY GO SHAMPOO & CONDITIONER FREE:
1. It’s healthier for you and your hair: Commercial shampoos and conditioners are filled with toxic chemicals. Everything from the synthetic foaming agent that causes the bubbles that we’ve learned to associate with “clean”, to the artificial fragrances that gives our hair that freshly cleaned scent, to the preservatives that allow the bottle of shampoo to sit on a shelf for months at a time before it even enters our homes, are ALL chemicals that were developed in a lab — and there’s absolutely nothing natural about them. These chemicals have been shown to cause neurological diseases (including Alzheimer’s), liver damage, and cancer. These toxins are absorbed through the skin and scalp, and are also found in basically all of our commercial personal care products (including soap, lotion, toothpaste, deodorant, make up, etc). With use of these products, toxic chemicals can get into our bloodstream, and accumulate over time. Therefore, it is important to eliminate toxic products whenever possible, or switch to an all natural alternative. — Shampoo and conditioner are two products that I have learned are completely unnecessary.
2. It’s cheaper: Switching to a completely all natural shampoo and conditioner is expensive (especially if you use shampoo and conditioner every single day, like I used to), and is really not necessary once you realize the baking soda and vinegar mixtures clean your hair just as well, for only a small fraction of the price. I’ve been using a 5 lb. bag of baking soda for the past year and still haven’t finished the bag yet (that’s including using the baking soda for cleaning my hair, cleaning my house, baking, and for making other all natural skin care products over the last year), and I still have a good amount left! Actually, the amount that I use to clean my hair is the least amount that I use that bag of baking soda for! So aside from the fact that you probably already have baking soda & apple cider vinegar in your kitchen for other uses — BS & ACV are cheap! This is THE absolute only way to save so much money on hair products, while still keeping your hair clean. I just bought a huge 4 lb. box of BS for only $2.18! And this will last me at least a year (that’s including all of the other things I use BS for..if I were to just use the BS for my hair, it would last me a few years, I’m sure). And ACV is almost just as cheap. For a 16oz bottle of ACV (found at the grocery store), I paid just a dollar or two, and this lasted me about half of the year — considering I bought just 2 of these ACV bottles over the 1 year I’ve been using ACV as a hair rinse. So if you think about it, I’m spending about $6 over a 1 year span, and still having clean hair! Compare that to the cost of using all natural shampoo & conditioner!
3. Aside from toxins, shampoo does us more harm than good: All of us naturally have oils that come from our scalp and go to our strands of hair to provide protection and nourishment to our hair. When we wash our hair with harsh shampoos (which are really detergents that we use in our hair), our natural oils get stripped away. Most of us are led to believe that when shampoo washes away the oil in our hair, that it’s a good thing. But it’s not! Oily hair is NOT “dirty” hair. When we use shampoo, our natural oils are stripped away and our hair feels “clean” and “soft” — but these are just the shampoo’s chemicals at work, giving us that instant gratification that we seek. Overtime, these harsh chemicals cause our hair to become damaged and weak. And because these are the same chemicals that strip our hair of it’s natural oils, our hair loses it’s ability to protect itself. Also, by eliminating the natural oils in our hair and scalp as often as we do with use of shampoo, our scalp is fooled into producing more and more oil to protect and nourish our hair — often causing our hair to become greasy/excessively oily whenever we attempt to skip a few days of washing with shampoo. It’s a very vicious cycle!
*TIP: Going no ‘poo is a commitment! Within days of going no ‘poo, your hair will go through a detox period where your scalp will produce excessive amounts of oil since that’s what it was used to the entire time you’ve been using shampoo (which, for most people, is our entire lives). Since everyone is different, this detox period can last from a week or two to a month. It completely depends on your hair type and what your hair is used to. In my situation, I’ve washed my hair with shampoo and conditioner EVERY day for my entire life when I decided to go no ‘poo. Because of that, my oil glands were out of control and produced excessive amounts of oil whenever I didn’t have shampoo to wash the oils away. On top of that, my hair is rather thin and oily to begin with, so it gets that “greasy” look VERY easily. With just a day of not washing my hair with shampoo, my hair would look absolutely disgusting. So my detox period was pretty rough and lasted a week or two. During that time, I wore my hair up to cope with the greasiness. And that’s really the best advice I can give to get through the detox period — headbands and ponytails! (I’ll post a picture of my hair after a month of going no ‘poo in my next post, to prove that once you get through the detox period, no ‘poo really does work!)