You brush your teeth with what? – a natural toothpaste alternative

Not long after I started my journey to become more environmentally friendly and less wasteful, I saw a post that made me think about something I use (consume?) multiple times a day: toothpaste.  Why do I say consume?  Well, it’s in your mouth, you may (should) spit it out, but I guarantee you swallow some, and 2-3 times a day or more, for a lifetime…that’s a lot of toothpaste eaten!  I asked myself, is there a natural toothpaste alternative?

Baking Soda natural toothpaste alternative


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What’s in toothpaste?

So, if I am eating my toothpaste, what am I really eating?  Prior to switching to a natural alternative to toothpaste, I had been using Ultrabrite Advanced Whitening Toothpaste.  

Ultrabrite toothpaste

Ultrabrite Advanced Whitening Toothpaste Ingredients

Active ingredients: sodium fluoride (0.24%) (0.15% W/v fluoride ion). Inactive ingredients: sorbitol, water, hydrated silica, peg-12, sodium lauryl sulfate, flavor, cellulose gum, tetrasodium pyrophosphate, cocamidopropyl betaine, sodium saccharin, titanium dioxide.

I have read many arguments both for and against fluoride, so I will abstain from comment on that item.  However, the Environmental Working Group lists sodium fluoride as a 5 on a scale of 1-10 where 1 is best.

Here’s the EWG breakdown of all the ingredients (Ultrabrite toothpaste is not rated by the EWG yet)

  • sodium fluoride – 5
  • sorbitol – 1 (this is a sugar alcohol)
  • water – 1
  • hydrated silica – 1
  • PEG-12 – 3
  • sodium lauryl sulfate – 2, skin irritant
  • flavor – 4, this is a big unknown, it could be anything natural or synthetic 
  • cellulose gum – 1
  • tetrasodium pyrophosphate – 1
  • cocamidopropyl betaine – 4, irritant, can cause contact dermatitis, suspected environmental toxin
  • sodium saccharin – 1, an artificial sweetner
  • titanium dioxide – 1-3, inhilation concern (not a concern when in toothpaste)

Overall, the EWG rating is not too bad.  However, do I really need to put my body in contact with so many ingredients, including an artificial  sweetener and skin irritant, just to make my teeth clean? No!  

Ultrabrite & Kiss My Face toothpaste

I looked at other commercially available toothpaste, including Kiss My Face Whitening Anticavity Toothpaste.  At a glance it looked more natural, but a review of the EWG rating of 4 makes me realize it’s just as bad, if not worse than Ultrabrite.  

I knew I could find a more natural toothpaste alternative and still keep my mouth healthy!

Natural “toothpaste” – tooth cleaner

I started researching natural toothpaste, and found that there is a LOT out there!  The two main types of natural toothpaste were coconut oil-based and baking soda-based.  I know that coconut oil is antibacterial, and as you know from my posts about lotion, soap, sunscreen, and more, I love coconut oil in my cosmetics.  But I didn’t like the idea of coating my mouth with oil, knowing that’s all I’d taste for a while.  So I decided to investigate baking soda toothpaste.  I came across a recipe that called for simple ingredients – baking soda, water, pure stevia powder, and peppermint oil.  I gave this a try, and found it hard to work with.  The stevia and mint seemed like a great idea to mimic the classic toothpaste flavor, but the combination with the salty baking soda didn’t appeal to me.  Plus, the consistency was just weird.  I wanted something simpler for my natural toothpaste alternative.  

My Choice Natural Toothpaste Alternative

Baking Soda natural toothpaste alternative

So, I dumped some baking soda in a small mason jar.  I wet the toothbrush bristles, dipped it in the baking soda, and brushed my teeth.  That’s it.  That is what I use to brush my teeth.  Baking soda is my “toothpaste.”

Yes, it tastes salty.  Baking soda is sodium bicarbonate.  Sodium. Salt.  But, for me this was better than the combination of salty, sweet, and minty.  Baking soda provides a gentle abrasive to scrub teeth, but is not abrasive enough to scratch teeth.  I did talk to my dental hygienist and dentist, both of whom said there was no problem at all to using baking soda in place of toothpaste.  It’s been 2 years since I started using baking soda as a natural toothpaste alternative, and I have not noticed any negative side effects. 

toothbrush with natural toothpaste alternative - toothpaste

My observations about using baking soda as a natural toothpaste alternative:

  • it tastes salty
  • I can rinse the salty taste out of my mouth easily.  Traditional toothpastes always leave a lingering taste in my mouth.
  • it does not foam like traditional toothpaste
  • it leaves my teeth feeling smooth and clean!
Cost & Packaging

The tree hugger in me loves that I can purchase baking soda in a recyclable cardboard box, rather than the plastic tube in which all toothpaste that I have ever seen is sold. Additionally, it is very inexpensive – usually about $1 or less for a pound in brick and mortar grocery or mass merchandiser stores like Stop & Shop, Shaw’s, and Walmart, which would literally last years as a tooth powder.  Even compared to the inexpensive Ultrabrite ($1/6-oz tube at Walmart, which lasted 3-6 months), baking soda is extremely inexpensive.

You may have noticed that I show a plastic toothbrush in my photos.  Yes, I still use a plastic toothbrush.  I found these ultra soft bristle toothbrushes years ago and I love them.  I have been trying to convince myself to switch to bamboo tooth brushes (I’ve been eyeing these bamboo tooth brushes which advertise soft bristles) but still hesitate to switch from what I know and like, as bad for the environment as they are.

Do you use a bamboo or other natural toothbrush?  Can you recommend a great one to me?  Please share in the comments!

Homemade chemical free sunscreen recipe – a more user friendly formula

Summer is in full swing, and as a pasty-pale girl, I am always on the lookout for ways to protect my skin from sun burns.  This chemical free sunscreen recipe is my current favorite.  It provides me great sun protection and is much easier to apply than my previous recipe

homemade natural chemical free sunscreen recipe


Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.  See my Disclosure Policy for more information.


A commercially available option

Last month I told you all about a fantastic new chemical free sunscreen that I found on the market – from Goddess Garden Organics.  If you want the benefits of a natural, chemical free sunscreen without the hassle of making your own, I highly recommend you try out this easy to use product!

My chemical free sunscreen recipe

But if you’re feeling adventurous (or just want to make your own), try out my recipe!  If you’ve previously made my Homemade Natural Sunscreen Recipe, this “user friendly” sunscreen is super easy to make – all you need is that sunscreen and aloe vera gel.  I’ll give you the full recipe, too, in case you haven’t tried my other sunscreen.  

A note about aloe vera gel: many products that I have seen are loaded with chemicals and dyes.  When purchasing aloe vera gel, look for one that is over 99% aloe vera, and check the other ingredients (the Environmental Working Group website or app is really helpful).  This is a “do as I say, not as I do” moment – I checked the EWG for the aloe that I had on hand and used in my recipe, and found that it is NOT 100% aloe vera!  I am highly disappointed.  Next time I need to purchase aloe, I’ll go with an organic product like Nature Sense aloe vera gel.  While this Nature Sense product is not in the EWG database yet, I checked the ingredients against other aloe vera gel products and expect it to receive a “1” rating (best rating possible).  

From my original recipe:

Ingredients

Diana’s Homemade Natural Sunscreen

Aloe vera gel

Instructions

  1. For each tablespoon (15 grams) of sunscreen, add 5 teaspoons (25 grams) aloe vera gel.  Heat slowly (I microwaved in a mason jar for 10 seconds at a time) and stir well.  
  2. Allow to cool before using.
  3. When I use this product, I apply liberally any time I need protection from the sun!

supplies to thin homemade natural sunscreen

From scratch:

Makes about 2.75 cups

Ingredients 

70 grams coconut oil
109 grams shea butter
13.6 grams cocoa butter
82.5 grams non-nano zinc oxide powder
460 grams aloe vera gel (30.5 tablespoons, or 1 cup + 3/4 cup + 4 teaspoons)
homemade natural sunscreen ingredients
 
Instructions
  1. Melt the coconut oil and, very carefully, using care not to inhale any power, add the zinc oxide powder.  (A particle respirator can be worn if you’re concerned.)
  2. Still using care not to inhale any power, stir the zinc oxide powder into the coconut oil. 
  3. Add the shea butter and cocoa butter,  warm a little more if needed, and stir until evenly blended.
  4. Next, add the red raspberry seed oil and stir again until evenly distributed.
  5. Add the aloe vera gel and stir until completely blended.  

Store in an airtight container. I store in a mason jar and scoop out as needed.  Due to the thinner consistency of this sunscreen, you could reuse an old sunscreen or lotion squeeze tube.  Once this sunscreen cools, it does separate into the aloe gel (water based) and zinc oxide/oil blend (oil based).  It ends up having a cottage cheese-like consistency, as shown in the photo below.  This separation does not negatively affect the function of this sunscreen.  I have been using it for months and as long as I blend the sunscreen into my skin well, it is very effective at protecting my sun from burns.

sunscreen blended with aloe vera gel separates but still functions well

Why I love this chemical free sunscreen recipe

I like this sunscreen for many reasons.  #1, for me, it works: it protects my sun from burns and doesn’t irritate my sensitive skin.  Please use caution when trying any homemade recipe, as your body may react differently. #2, it is MUCH easier to apply than most of the oil-laden chemical free sunscreen creams that I have used (homemade and commercially available).  #3, it is cheaper than the buying sunscreen.  #4 Aloe is great – hydrating for your skin, cooling when applied, and smells nice and summery fresh!

This chemical free sunscreen recipe makes a product that easily blends into skin
This chemical free sunscreen recipe makes a product that easily blends into skin
Cost

Organic coconut oil – $14.99 for 54 oz (1458.99 g) at BJ’s Wholesale Club; (70g/1458.99g)x$14.99=$0.719 (or on Amazon for $16.99)

Organic shea butter – $11.70 for 1 lb (453.59 g) on Amazon; (109g/453.59g)x$11.70=$2.812

Organic cocoa butter – $15.15 for 1 lb (453.59 g) on Amazon; (13.6g/453.59g)x$15.15=$0.454

Organic red raspberry seed oil – $8.37 for 1.1 oz (650 drops) on Amazon; (30 drops/650 drops)x$8.37=$0.386

Zinc oxide powder – $8.95 for 1 lb (453.59 g) on Amazon; (82.5g/453.59g)x$8.95=$1.628

Aloe vera gel – $13.89 for 12 oz (about 354 grams) on Amazon; (460g/354g)x$13.89=$18.05

Total: $24.50 for 2.75 cups (735 grams = 25.6 oz), equating to $0.96 per ounce weight.  For comparison, Goddess Garden is $12.95 for 6 ounces, or $2.16 per ounce.  My recipe is less than half the cost!

Note:  The expensive ingredient in this sunscreen is the aloe vera gel.  My experience has shown me that aloe vera gel is one product that is often less expensive in brick and mortar stores than online, so you may be able to save even more by checking your local drug stores and grocery stores!

Have you ever made your own sunscreen?  Share your experiences in the comments below!