Super Simple Toothpaste

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No, that is not a jar of some sort of weird white ketchup–it is a jar of my homemade toothpaste, which uses four simple, non-toxic ingredients that you likely already have in your pantry, especially if you’ve tried out my no-bake mint chocolate pie.

Most commercial brand toothpastes contain questionable ingredients such as fluoride, which is a particular concern for those with children, who often swallow a certain amount of toothpaste when learning to brush. For a fascinating–and disturbing–article on the transformation of fluoride from a toxic-waste problem to a health boon, check out this article put out by the Weston A. Price Foundation. It’s a tale of industry and academic collusion to find a productive use for fluoride, a by-product of aluminum processing.

Even fluoride-free toothpastes can contain flavorings and dies that aren’t sufficiently tested for safety. So-called natural toothpastes such as Earthpaste and Uncle Tom’s of Maine are better options than standard commercial brands, but they are quite expensive.

My personal solution to the toothpaste issue is to make my own using the following four ingredients:

  • Aluminum-free baking soda
  • Celtic sea salt (or another higher-end salt)
  • Filtered water
  • Peppermint extract

Simply combine 4 parts baking soda with 1 part salt, add just enough water to turn pasty while stirring up the mixture, then add a few drops of peppermint extract and stir one more time to distribute the flavor. A drop or two of essential oil (peppermint or lemon work well) can be used in place of the peppermint extract, you’ll just have to be more careful about not swallowing the toothpaste since most essential oils are not intended for ingestion.

The reason I use a higher-end salt for my toothpaste (and for flavoring my food) is because the cheaper sea salts are often harvested from more polluted parts of the ocean, meaning they can contain trace amounts of toxins in them–or so I’ve read. Since salt doesn’t get used up very quickly, I don’t mind spending a higher price for higher quality.

Compared to $3-4 per tube for natural commercial toothpastes, this toothpaste costs just pennies to make and can be mixed up in a matter of minutes. I prepare a new batch about once each month and have never had a problem with bacterial growth even though I dip my toothbrush straight into the jar. A salt and baking soda mixture isn’t exactly the sort of environment in which microorganisms thrive 🙂

Note that this toothpaste is not going to be the smooth, gelled toothpaste you’re used to from commercial manufacturers. It will be grittier and grainier but it’s SO incredibly cheap and easy that I’ve never minded. The mangy munchkin loves it, and although I’m trying to teach her to spit it out rather than swallow it, if she does ingest a small amount–even if she ingests the whole kernel-sized amount I put on her brush–I have nothing to worry about!

 

Decidedly Easy Deodorant

Homemade deodorant

Here is the DIY tip that prompted so many of my friends to encourage me to start a blog.  When I posted this picture of my homemade deodorant on Facebook back in April, almost as many friends “liked” it as they do when I post photos of my kids.  If you have your own kids and have experienced the flood of “likes” you get when you post a cute picture of them, then you have an idea of how popular this post was!  Since I received a lot of follow-up questions via private messaging when I posted the picture and accompanying recipe, I thought it might be beneficial to dedicate a full post to the process of making your own deodorant at home.

For several years, I had searched for a natural, aluminum-free deodorant that worked, without any luck.  Reluctantly, I purchased a small jar of Primal Pit Paste despite the $8.95 price tag because I’d read rave reviews about it on The Healthy Home Economist, a blog I follow.  Sure enough, it worked amazingly well.

Not wanting to have to spend so much money on deodorant, I thought I’d try to replicate the pit paste at home.  The ingredients listed on the label were simple: shea butter, arrowroot powder, coconut oil, and baking soda.  The exact amounts weren’t listed (no for-profit company is going to give away it’s secret recipe!) but the descending order meant that shea butter was the greatest ingredient by volume and baking soda the least.  So I purchased all four ingredients at my local food coop/health food store and experimented in my kitchen until I came up with a recipe that worked (below).

Decidedly easy deodorant recipe:

  • 4 tablespoons shea butter
  • 3 tablespoons arrowroot powder or starch (or cornstarch)
  • 2 tablespoons virgin coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons aluminum-free baking soda
  • 1 drop tea tree (melaleuca) essential oil

To make it, simply melt the shea butter and coconut oil over low heat in a stainless steel saucepan then stir in the remaining ingredients. Pour the mixture into a small glass container (I purchased mine from Target), refrigerate for an hour or so to re-solidify, then move to your bathroom for regular use!

I added a drop of tea-tree oil to my recipe after coming across Mommypotamus’s recipe for homemade deodorant.  If you don’t have air-conditioning, I strongly recommend against relying solely on coconut oil as your base like she does in her recipe because it turns liquid at 75 degrees Fahrenheit (the shea butter will stay solid); but I definitely like her idea of adding a drop or two of essential oil to each batch.

Once I figured out a recipe that works, it now takes me less than 10 minutes to prepare a batch every four to five months (yes, that little 4-ounce jar lasts that long!).  You only need a pea-sized amount under each armpit; apply it with your fingers and rub it into your skin (I scoop it out with the back of my fingernail).  Based on the prices I paid for my ingredients, the cost works out to about $2.50 per 4-ounce jar, and I will be able to make several jars before I need to purchase more ingredients.  Mommypotamus claims that this type of deodorant also works for her husband, so you may be able to cover your entire family’s needs in just 10 minutes every few months!  I’m thinking rosemary or bergamot essential oils would make good “man” smelling deodorant.

One caveat is that you may need to adjust the recipe slightly to suit your own skin (or your partner’s), using more or less baking soda (the deodorizer) or arrowroot starch (the moisture absorber).  The nice thing about this deodorant is that if it doesn’t quite work for you, you can simply scrape it back into a saucepan, melt, and add a little bit more of this or that until you have a formula that works.  Just make sure to write down what you did so that you remember it for next time!

I will admit that even this deodorant doesn’t work on the first two days of my period.  For whatever reason (hormones?), I just stink those two days of the month no matter what I try.  But for regular, everyday use (even during hot summer months without any air conditioning), this deodorant works, and works well.