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A couple of years ago I started getting really interested in making my own body products so as to avoid chemicals, reduce packaging and save money. I stopped posting on my experiments because I honestly got a little stuck on a deodorant and shampoo that worked for me in the long run. But I have had nothing but success with various toothpaste recipes and far prefer my homemade versions over industrial toothpaste. I first wrote about a lime zest tooth powder and a minty toothpaste, then a few months later wrote about an orange toothpaste that I created for my daughter.
I continued to love these recipes for quite a while, but then I started to worry about the abrasiveness of the baking soda in the powder recipe. And really the two toothpaste recipes were not so cheap (I have yet to find cheap food grade coconut oil and zylitol where I live). In addition, the fact that coconut oil changes consistency according to temperature and would get rock hard in the winter and sloshy liquidy in the summer was getting a bit irritating. Bringing the toothpastes while travelling got to be a big mess because of this. So I did a little research and came up with new recipes for natural homemade tooth powder. I absolutely adore these new recipes and find that they are easier to prepare and much cheaper than my previous toothpastes. Are you interested? Then read on!
First, let’s talk ingredients.
Baking soda is miraculous. I use it for cleaning pretty much everything in my home. It’s also a classic for toothpaste and tooth powder. Some people brush their teeth with just baking soda however, as I mentioned before, it could be a bit too abrasive to use straight on your teeth, so it’s best to mix it with something else. As you know, you can buy this in any old supermarket.
Kaolin is a clay mineral and is also known as white clay. It’s not really white, but more of a light beige, although I suppose it does look white compared to green clay (which I mix with a little bit of water to apply on my face in the evening). This powder cleans and supposedly whitens teeth, however it is incredibly soft and gentle and also has a relatively neutral flavor. If you want a mixture for more sensitive teeth, raise the percentage of kaolin, as I did for my daughter and husband’s tooth powder (more about that below). You can find kaolin in health food stores.
Arrowroot is less common in toothpastes, however I saw it mentioned in other recipes often enough for me to want to try it out. Like kaolin, this starch is more gentle on teeth than pure baking soda, however I prefer the taste of kaolin. You can buy little jars of arrowroot in the supermarket, but that can get expensive quickly so you might want to look for larger bags of it in health food stores.
Recipe #1: Tea Tree Tooth Powder
This is my hands-down favorite tooth cleaning recipe that I’ve tried yet. It takes just a minute to prepare, is inexpensive and leaves my teeth and mouth feeling incredibly clean. It uses tea tree oil, which is my absolute favorite essential oil. It is antiseptic and has a very strong, clean scent and taste. It can be used in gazillions of ways externally. Experts are not totally sure if it is toxic if taken internally, so you don’t want to swallow this tooth powder (which you probably weren’t considering anyway) and you might not want to use it if you are pregnant, just to be on the safe side. For this recipe you will need:
2 tablespoons baking soda
4 tablespoons kaolin
10 drops mint essential oil
10 drops tea tree essential oil
If any of your ingredients are clumpy, as my baking soda was, you might want to sift it first. I used a tea strainer directly over my jar and stirred the baking soda around inside it with a spoon until it was all sifted into the jar. (See picture above.)
Then add the kaolin.
If you want, use arrowroot instead of kaolin.
Now for the essential oils. You can choose whatever flavors you like most but I suggest always adding some mint essential oil to make the tooth powder feel more fresh in your mouth.
Measure out your drops directly into the jar with the dry ingredients. Try to get them to fall into the powder without touching the sides of the jar. Put the lid on the jar and shake it up well. And that’s it!
Recipe #2: Sweet Orange Tooth Powder
This version of tooth powder is for more sensitive teeth and/or gums, having a higher percentage of kaolin. I originally created it for my daughter so it has sweet orange essential oil instead of tea tree oil. Then my husband started using it, too.
1 tablespoon baking soda
6 tablespoons kaolin
10 drops mint essential oil
15 drops sweet orange essential oil
Mix the ingredients and shake as indicated for the first recipe.
Recipe #3: Super Sage Tooth Powder
Sage is a fantastic herb. Besides tasting delicious, it is also antibiotic, antifungal and astringent (source). Native Americans and other ancient cultures cleaned their teeth by rubbing them with sage leaves. You will sometimes see sage toothpastes in the supermarket, though I doubt there is really much of the natural herb in them. We, on the other hand, will be using ONLY the natural herb mixed with other natural ingredients. Before I give you the recipe, let me walk you through the preparation of the sage. First of all pick a bunch of it, rinse it and dry it well. You can read more about my winter method of drying herbs and citrus peels, among other things, in this post about lemon rosemary flavored salt. What I do is put the ingredient to be dried in a heat-resistant container and place it on top of the radiator. The heat dries most things out within a few days or up to a week. It took longer for the batch of sage above because there was so much of it and the heat didn’t reach the top leaves as well, so I had to move them around every so often.
After a while your leaves will be nice and dry and crispy. If you don’t have a big enough radiator or don’t have your heat on, you can use a dehydrator, put the container in the oven after you’ve removed whatever you were baking and turned it off, or just hang the branches up with an opened paper bag over them to protect them from dust.
Snap the leaves off of the branches and pulverize them in a food processor, mortar and pestle or other grinding apparatus. I used my Magic Bullet.
And there you have your sage powder!
For the Super Sage Tooth Powder you will need:
1 tablespoon baking soda
3 tablespoons kaolin
3 tablespoons dried and pulverized sage leaves
10 drops mint essential oil
As it’s not easy to make a perfectly ground sage powder, I recommend blending the dry ingredients in the food processor, pouring them into a jar, adding essential oil and shaking.
If you have any extra pure sage powder, put it in a little jar to use later on for cooking or other uses. I had dried so much sage that I left some leaves intact so as to better preserve the flavor. Being dry, it’s easy to just crumble them as needed when cooking or directly into your plate.
Put a label on your tooth powders to keep them straight and get brushing! (Did you notice that the Super Sage Tooth Powder in the picture above is lighter than in the picture above that? The lighter one was a version with less sage and with the lighter-colored arrowroot instead of kaolin.)
The powder sticks nicely to damp toothbrush bristles. The official way to use tooth powder is to take some out with a little spoon or something and dump it onto the bristles so as not to contaminate the rest of the powder or accidentally get water in it. But you know what? Doing that is kind of a pain in the butt and you end up inevitably dumping tooth powder all over your sink. So my compromise is that I get my toothbrush wet, shake it out well and then quickly dip it into the powder without shaking off the excess. And brush away! I will warn you that the sage version might leave teeny tiny bits of sage stuck between your teeth (because, like I said, it’s pretty hard to get it perfectly pulverized), so I only use that one when I’m sure I’ll be flossing immediately afterwards (which you should be doing all the time, anyway). You could also just use less sage powder when making the mixture, but I like it nice and sage-y.
There’s no reason to be the only one in your home using these natural tooth powders! You can customize these powders as much as you want by adding different essential oils that have the properties that you’re looking for or that you simply like the taste of. Just add them to the regular dry base of recipe #1 or to the more sensitive dry base of recipe #2, or even fiddle around with the dry bases until you get the mixture that you prefer. We always have more than one version of tooth powder going at any given time in our household and I’m so happy that I’ve been able to provide a natural, healthy teeth-cleaning alternative without any weird synthetic or toxic ingredients. It can travel along with us without any issues and, as if that weren’t enough, it’s super cheap and lightning quick to make!
Question of the day: Do you have a great homemade deodorant or shampoo recipe (or any other homemade body product recipe) that you want to share?
The first homemade body recipe that I tried about 2 1/2 years ago was the baking soda and apple cider vinegar no-poo method. At first it didn’t work, then it did, then it stopped working again. After that I tried all sorts of flours and clays, but I never managed to find anything that really worked for my hair. Soon afterwards I started making homemade deodorants. At first they worked great, but then the baking soda content of them started burning the skin of my armpits like crazy and I had to stop using them. Every so often I would try to use one again, but the burning would start right up again. Every body is different and can have different reactions to these recipes, so I am not trying to discourage anyone from trying these recipes. However I’d love suggestions for other deodorant and shampoo recipes!