Coconut Oil Toothpaste
One of the easiest modifications you can make in your home is to make your own toothpaste. All it takes is a few ingredients, a small jar and about five minutes and Voila, you are on the road to less waste!
Mainstream toothpaste contains controversial additives that may be harmful to oral health. Ingredients such as glycerin, fluoride, triclosan and sodium lauryl sulfate concerned me before I embarked on our Zero Waste journey. After researching homemade options and seeing the results in my own family, I am now convinced homemade, natural toothpaste is the best choice. I am not a dentist, nor am I saying my regimen will work best for everyone. I have simply found a recipe for natural toothpaste that eliminates excess packaging and provides tangible results.
I’m going to put this recipe and my teeth to a public test. With only two visits to the dentist in six years, I can be described as a lazy dental patient. My first visit back was 18 months ago. I was still using conventional toothpaste at this time. During this examination I was informed that my teeth had a few areas of weakened enamel. My dentist recommended fluoride treatments in combination with fluoride toothpaste and mouthwash. As human nature goes, I was diligent for awhile but slowly fell back into old habits of simple brushing and flossing. At my most recent visit eight weeks ago, I advised my dentist that I had started making my own toothpaste, and while she is supportive, she still encourages me to use a fluoride-based toothpaste or mouthwash. She believes without implementing these preventative measures my weakened enamel will turn into cavities. I disagree, and with a daily regime of oil pulling, and using remineralizing toothpaste I hope to strengthen my enamel and prove her wrong.
You may already be scratching your head wondering, what is oil pulling and remineralization?
Oil Pulling: It is the simple act of swishing oil around in your mouth. Essentially you “pull” it through your teeth to kill bacteria and remove toxins. Oils most often recommended for oil pulling are organic virgin coconut oil or raw sesame oil. I have read, however, that organic sunflower oil or extra virgin olive oil are legitimate substitutes. The act of oil pulling should be done first thing in the morning before consuming food or water. Aim for 15 – 20 minutes and remember to spit into the compost and rinse with warm salt water. Some articles on oil pulling recommend it as a part ofyour daily regime. I oil pull two to three times a week and have noticed a positive change in the color of my teeth, reduced gum bleeding when flossing and reduced halitosis.
Remineralization: The good news! Contrary to what most dentists will tell you, remineralization of tooth enamel is possible. Most store-bought toothpastes contain the ingredient glycerin or glycerol. This ingredient is the sweet tasting thick liquid that gives your toothpaste sheen, texture and acts as a preservative. Glycerin coats the teeth for a period of time after brushing which inhibits enamel from remineralizing and strengthening. By eliminating glycerin and adding trace minerals to your homemade toothpaste you can actually strengthen your enamel. To further aid remineralization I swish with a Celtic salt water rinse after oil pulling and brushing.
I will keep you posted on how successful I am with remineralizing my teeth, particularly strengthening their enamel.
1 tsp salt. I recommend Himalayan or Celtic sea salt as these varieties contain the highest levels of trace minerals calcium, potassium, zinc and iron.
4 Tbsp baking soda. ( In the summer months and because I have become accustom to the taste – I add more baking soda to avoid having the toothpaste melt in the heat – I use 1:1 ratio with coconut oil or even greater).
8 Tbsp organic virgin coconut oil.
20-30 drops,food grade, essential oil of choice.
1 Tbsp warm water (I dissolve my salt in the water. You can start with a larger quantity of water and boil down to approximately 1 tablespoon). *during warmer months I forgo this step and blend the salt directly into the recipe.
Xylitol or Stevia for added sweetness…or should I say “to cut the saltiness”! If you choose to use these I recommend boiling in a very small amount of water with salt and then combining with hand blender.
Some essential oils you may consider:
Eucalyptus: cooling, rejuvenating properties, antimicrobial, antibacterial. Germicidal properties make it beneficial in plaque and cavity prevention and gingivitis. Eucalyptus essential oil is often found as an active ingredient in mouthwash and natural toothpastes for these reasons.
Orange: Anti-inflammatory (internal or external), boosts immunity, promotes elimination of toxins.
Clove: Aids in tooth pain (numbing agent), digestive support, antioxidant support, antimicrobial and antiviral properties.
Peppermint: Supports circulation to gums and teeth, cures bad breath, aids with digestion and nausea.
I have read that adding bentonite clay, trace minerals and vitamin K2 to your recipe will further aid remineralization. However, as I have not found these items in bulk and believe my current product works well, I have left them out. If you do experiment with additional ingredients, please drop us a line and let us know your results!
You can simply mix all ingredients together with a fork or spoon, but I recommend using a hand blender. Using the hand blender incorporates all the ingredients easily. If you find the resulting paste is too hard, simply add more water. If it is too soft, add more coconut oil and baking soda at the ratio of 2:1. But remember, if you have used warm or hot water, the toothpaste is likely to gradually harden. Perhaps pop it into the fridge for 30 minutes or allow it too cool before adding more ingredients.
This recipe fits nicely into a short eight ounce wide mouth mason jar, but any jar will do. You can use a small spoon to scoop out your desired amount of paste or simply dip your brush into the jar. The toothpaste will soften with warm weather. Depending on the climate you live in, you may prefer to keep it in the fridge to avoid separation.
The biggest hurdle to this recipe is the saltiness. My husband, and biggest critic, was skeptical, but after a few weeks using the toothpaste he is getting used to the taste and is very pleased with how white his teeth are.
If you are someone who simply cannot stomach the saltiness of this recipe but are committed to reducing waste, check out Tom’s Toothpaste. Tom’s is a natural toothpaste and the company believes in full circle manufacturing. You can mail back empty tubes (and other toilette packaging) to the manufacturer to be upcycled. While this option is pricier, it is an alternative to sending your trash to directly to the landfill. We have homemade and compostable alternatives to practically all other bathroom essentials coming out next month on the blog.
You can mail your empty tubes to:
Tom’s of Maine
302 Lafayette Center
Attn: Consumer Department
Kennebunk, ME 04043
Be sure to check out Tom’s of Maine Terracycle Brigade as well!