I haven’t purchased toothpaste in years, and y​es –  I brush my teeth!​ How is this possible? I make it myself.

When I transitioned to a Zero Waste lifestyle over four years ago, toothpaste was the first product I stopped buying and started making. The ingredients are simple and easy to find at almost any store: baking soda, organic coconut oil, and organic essential oils. It takes no more than 2 minutes to combine these three ingredients, and the toothpaste leaves my mouth feeling so incredibly fresh— way fresher than store­bought toothpaste.

But let’s take a step back… why did I make the switch from “conventional” packaged toothpaste to one that I make myself?

The Packaging:

For starters, I live a Zero Waste lifestyle and toothpaste tubes are totally wasteful. They are typically sold with not just the tube, but a box as well. While the box is recyclable, the tube is very difficult or impossible to recycle and will most likely end up in a landfill. The benefit of making my own toothpaste is that I can put it in a glass jar or stainless steel container that I can wash and reuse infinitely. No plastic tubes, no trash, no landfill.

The Ingredients:

I like to have control of what I am putting on and in my body. There has been a lot of controversy around the ingredients that are in conventional toothpaste. Two that I will focus on are triclosan and sodium lauryl sulfate, but conventional toothpaste also contains fluoride, propylene glycol, and sodium hydroxide, all of which are controversial because they are linked to cancer and a long list of other ailments.

Triclosan:​ A chemical added to many products to reduce bacterial contamination which is also used in toothpaste to prevent gingivitis,​according to the FDA and toothpaste manufacturers.​In addition, it has been said to be potentially carcinogenic and have negative effects on the endocrine system in animals. It is banned in certain applications in Europe and in 2011, some of Colgate’s soap products were reformulated without the chemical, but not their toothpaste. The ecotoxicology of the ingredient is still under heavy scrutiny and EWG rates it to have a moderate/high health hazard. That’s all I needed to hear to make the decision to stay clear of it for good.

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS): ​Is a surfactant (a foaming agent that lowers the tension between two liquids or a liquid and a solid) used in toothpaste to evenly disperse the ingredients and help with effective rinsing and removal of mouth debris. It also promotes foaming. Many studies on SLS show that it is contaminated with 1,4 dioxane, a byproduct of the manufacturing process, which is also a possible carcinogen. SLS is also said to aggravate gums. No, thank you.

If something has a supposed risk, I will avoid it until I have concrete evidence that it is safe. This is why I choose to make my own toothpaste with just three ingredients that I trust and buy package­free: baking soda, organic coconut oil, and organic essential oils.

The Savings:

Toothpaste can cost anywhere between $1­-$8 for a 6oz tube depending on the brand you are buying and where you are purchasing it from. In my experience (purchasing ingredients in NYC), I have spent at most $.60 for 6oz of toothpaste. All aside, the cost savings alone are worth it.

With so much to gain and not much to lose, making your own toothpaste makes sense! It’s cheaper to make, tastes better, feels better in your mouth, and is better for you. See for yourself, to learn how to make my zero waste toothpaste by checking out this video. 

Find some more of my favorite zero waste dental hygiene products below:

Repurposed from this post on EcoWatch.com

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19 comments

  1. Hi,

    I also live in NYC and would like to know where you buy package free coconut oil and baking soda?

    Thanks!

  2. Dear Lauren – thanks for this zero waste toothpaste recipe. It looks super simple to make and I plan to start using it right away! I was wondering, do you floss your teeth and, if so, how do you do so with zero waste. Would love to know. Thanks.

  3. I love this recipe! but I'm not sure: do I have to leave it in the fridge or can I have it outside in the bathroom?

  4. I have read that using coconut oil in the sink is not great for the pipes as it can build up and mess up the septic system. Anything you know about this at all?

  5. My 10 year old daughter tells me to write you that YOU ARE GREAT and I totally agree!!! We have just made our first toothpaste together (one with lavander oil and anonther with lemon oil – the only 2 we had at home) and it was 1) super easy to make and 2) we had a lot of fun brushing our teeth afterwards. The mouth feels fresh and the teeth very clean. Thank you so much for sharing – I admire you attitude! Bisous from France!

  6. Hi! I love your blog and I think that you are doing a fantastic job sharing all this with the people!! I am from Seville (Spain), although it is a little bit difficult to live a life like yours here, I try to do as much as I can because I think it's great (and necessary for the environment)! Thank you very much!

    R

  7. I have done it, a bit salty, I hope its correct? I used (as I live in Germany), natron (baking soda), and eucalyptus oil with the coconut oil, same proportions. any advise?

  8. Hi Lauren,

    I tried using this toothpaste recipe for about a month. While the texture did not bother me at all, I noticed that usually about halfway through the day my teeth felt kind of fuzzy and dirty (like I hadn't even brushed them). I would really like to stick with a homemade recipe, do you have any tips or suggestions?

    1. When the paste gets solid, you can scratch the surface with a spoon and put it on the brush. It will melt as soon as you put it in your mouth. Try to spare water and also energy to hot it. Thank you.

  9. Hi,

    and I’m sorry I’m leaving a comment to such an old post BUT I’ve been thinking about toothpastes A LOT… I would like to switch from the “conventional” paste to a more environmentally friendly option but the effectiveness of an organic paste is a question that I don’t think has been truly answered. Don’t our teeth need fluoride to develop a harder enamel? I mean I do know fluoride has a lot of negativity around it and it has at least to some extent been proven to be the cause of different symptoms such as stomach aches, migraines and so on, but are there really any cavity-preventive effects in the paste that contains only coconut oil and baking soda? The coconut oil keeps your gums hydrated and the baking soda dissolves some of the food stains in your mouth, but is this enough? From what I’ve read, the problem is in the food we eat these days. All of the white sugar and white wheat we eat does baaaad things to our mouth (and health in general), but in case you sometimes want to eat say, candy or fast food, is the organic paste really enough to protect our teeth and our health in general? Is the coconut+baking soda paste really effective only if you eat organic, simple, pure food?
    I hope you understand my concerns. And please prove me wrong! I want to stop giving my body fluoride, but at the same time, I’m worried that the organic option might not be enough to protect my mouth.

    Thank you for an amazing blog, I’ve really started to think changing my habits more concretely because of your great tips!

    1. Hi,
      I don’t know about the components of a toothpaste, but what I’ve always heard is that the important thing is to brush your teeth, even without toothpaste, so I’m guessing here that the lack of fluoride won’t be a problem.
      Of course I can be wrong and I’m curious too, but not worried 🙂

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