Toothpaste's last stand

When people find out that I make my own soap and other body care products they sometimes ask if I also make toothpaste. My answer has, and still is, not yet.

For some reason I have been afraid of making toothpaste. I think it's because everyone in my family dislikes either baking soda or mint; two of the most common ingredients in make-your-own recipes. So we've used multiple tubes of toothpaste for the past couple years. A non-baking soda mint and a fennel flavor from Tom's of Maine; the once local show now owned by Colgate-Palmolive. There is a bunch of other stuff in these toothpastes I am suspicious of so it's time to tackle the toothpaste monster and make my own.

But not until these tubes are all used up. So, while we're talking toothpaste can someone recommend me a not-so-baking-soda tasting, mouth freshening, teeth cleaning, tried and true recipe?

I've come across lots on the internet and read about the evils of regular toothpaste in green beauty books but nobody I trust has said "here, this is my recipe and I like it". Maybe you could be that person in my life.

Toothpaste is one of the few store bought body care products we use. The other is shaving lotion. We are still using up our last bottle of that stuff and when it's gone I have this pile of shaving soap ready for Damien to use. The special consideration for him is that he uses an old fashioned straight razor, like right out of a western movie.

This requires a good lather since there's no "moisturizing strips" in the razor or other feel good attachments. Just a cold blade of sharpened steel scraping against your face. So, the man needs a moisturizing, frothy lather.

I designed this soap to provide that but he has yet to try it since he's been using this last bottle of Kiss My Face for ages. Really, I made this soap last summer in anticipation of the bottle's eminent emptying. I think it might be multiplying in the cupboard.

Homemade products we use for our skin and hair

  • Washing faces, body and hair - Whatever soap happens to be sitting in the shower or soap dish; all handmade by me. The same bar is used by everybody for everything. I addressed special considerations for long hair in this hair care post from last summer.
  • Moisturizing face & body - Homemade, super easy to make lotion. I use this all year round on my hands and also on my face in the winter. My soap is very moisturizing so my skin does not dry out with washing, except in the driest months of mid winter and even then not so much. Ellen recently posted on her experience making my recipe. It really is easy. For lips I use my homemade lip balm.
  • Deodorant - Would you excommunicate me if I told you I rarely wear it? Even in summer. My husband never wears it, but does shower every night. Either we stink to high heaven and nobody's told us or we are a-ok since I don't smell us. But when I do want to wear some because, as Brienne says, "This smells good. I could smell it forever." (her nose was not in my armpit by the way but smelling the tin) I use a modification of this famous angry chicken recipe. I substituted cocoa butter for shea butter and used lavender and rosemary essential oils.
  • Shaving - As I mentioned above Damien uses Kiss My Face shaving lotion and will someday (soon?) start my shaving soap. He uses jojoba oil, straight up, as an aftershave. I apply witch hazel and lotion after I shave. I may be a nature girl but I still shave my legs from time to time.

I would like to add that I've read of people using just oil to wash their face, baking soda for their hair and a pat of cornstarch under their arms. These probably work but I actually like the mixing and making of beautiful smelling soaps, lotions and balms. It's an outlet for my creativity and makes wonderful gifts for family and friends. A jar of baking soda just isn't the same.

You wash, shave, moisturize, brush and maybe deodorize. And you walk out of the bathroom feeling like a million bucks. And if you're only using 3 or 4 products that you've made in your own kitchen your scent doesn't pollute the breathing space around you, your bathroom stays super tidy (except for reproducing toothbrushes - where do those come from?) and packing for camping/backpacking/travel is a cinch.

Any questions? Am I missing anything? And please, if you can, recommend a toothpaste recipe (that you've tried). I'd be forever indebted.

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  • Jamie

    Jamie on Feb. 11, 2010, 6:12 p.m.

    I admit it - we rarely use deodrant either. I think eating good and not covering your body in all kinds of other slime allows you to be naturally stink free most of the time. I wish I had a good recipe for you but you're the one I come to for good recipes! I'm making a version of your sore muscle salve for a valentines gift :)


  • Jenn

    Jenn on Feb. 11, 2010, 7:43 p.m.

    i love the idea of making all your own products but it's not something i'm convicted of...yet. i know i will do this someday, it's the next step. but i am so terribly busy with six kiddos and all there is to do that i just stress when i think of adding another "thing" to my list. but i do love the idea of it and i think it's wonderful lovely that you are doing it. i do buy handmade soaps from other people, though and we use peroxide on our teeth alot, it helps whiten them and gets rid of germs and helps tooth pain, it's just wonderful stuff!! (though nasty) :0) can't have it all i suppose.


  • Kali

    Kali on Feb. 11, 2010, 7:53 p.m.

    Thanks for all the great links for homemade delights. I make baby bum cream, hand cream and lip balm regularly, but it's time to branch out. I too would love to try a toothpaste- it's such an expense to buy the "better" stuff. My hubs needs some convincing though- he loves a foamy mouth :) I'll try some and keep you posted!


  • old recipe for a new world

    old recipe for a new world on Feb. 11, 2010, 8:30 p.m.

    Yup, I agree that the toothpaste is a hard one to kick--have heard too many say baking soda based ones are too abrasive in the long run. That said, I do want to try it just so I know for myself. When I do, I think I'll use powdered anise instead of mint, and also other powdered herbs like marshmallow, which is "demulcent" and might help balance out the baking soda. I'll eagerly await the end of these tubes and whatever discoveries follow. And thanks also for all your info on soapmaking--that's next for me. Kyce


  • Cori

    Cori on Feb. 11, 2010, 9:41 p.m.

    Baking soda is much less abrasive than most silica based toothpastes. There is a scale of dentin abrasivity that you can google (sorry - no time right now!). One theory is that if you are eating well your saliva should naturally protect your teeth and you shouldn't really have to scrape them to bits. Currently I just use baking soda, but I have thought about melting some coconut oil and mixing that with the baking soda and maybe something smelly... Not sure you can really get away from the baking soda unless you use a tooth soap, which I think is just pretty much soap. You might do a search on a blog called Oceans of Joy. I remember her posting about dental health recently. And she is super inspiring anyway :-)


  • Shannon

    Shannon on Feb. 11, 2010, 11:09 p.m.

    I am looking for a good toothpaste recipe too. Tomorrow I will be giving away a fluoride and glycerin-free toothpaste and mouthwash combo on my blog if you want to check it out. I'm going to try Lindsay's (passionatehomemaking) deodorant recipe soon.


  • kate

    kate on Feb. 12, 2010, 2:20 a.m.

    I knew Justin and I would be together forever when, after a long, hot day of bouldering in the north channel, he smelled non-deo me and said it was the best smell ever. And I DID stink. I don't use shampoo in my hair often-- maybe once a month, with a little tea tree oil concoction. Thanks so much for all this recipe love-- I've been pouring over the book Make Your Place the last couple weeks, and am itching to venture further into the soap/salve departments. Good luck with the toothpaste-- we haven't given up sellouts, I mean Toms, yet. The kids like the strawberry flavor and I like not fighting them. If someone sends you some good idea though, pass it along!


  • Spring

    Spring on Feb. 12, 2010, 3:25 a.m.

    I seem to live with my head in the sand- I had not heard about Tom's! :( I pretty much gave up deodorant about 1 1/2 years ago- and no one, including my hubby, ever noticed! (I finally asked a year later). I MAY wear a tiny bit for church on a hot day (no a/c where we meet) but that is pretty much it, and I usually forget. Once in a while, I will put on some of my lotion on my underarms after I shave, just for the nice smell. I'm with Brienne- smells are very important to me! :)

    Of course, I have no recipe for you, but wanted to tell you my sis in law (with the fussy baby at your soap class :) gave us all homemade lotion for Christmas this year- made from your recipe! ;)


  • Michelle

    Michelle on Feb. 12, 2010, 12:53 p.m.

    Thanks for this - I've been thinking of taking on making more of our stuff (or any - hangs head), so this is a great resource for when I'm ready to start (planning a big move to a new home, not the right time now).

    I will read all of the comments, but I'd be curious to know if you or your readers have any experience with EXTREMELY sensitive teeth. Brushing is painful with anything I use, so I use Sensodyne to take the edge off. (I can't even touch my teeth w/ my own finger w/out hurting them, it's that bad. Sometimes they hurt for no reason.) Wondering if natural stuff would help or hurt.

    Really enjoying your blog, BTW!!


  • Denise

    Denise on Feb. 12, 2010, 1:10 p.m.

    I've just been using baking soda under the armpits! I still sweat but not stink. as far as toothpaste - just bought the trader joe's brand yesterday. thanks for this post. one of these days I need to get on board with making my own soaps.


  • AmandaT

    AmandaT on Feb. 12, 2010, 4:11 p.m.

    I have been using my own homemade toothpaste for a couple of months now. Lauren and I hate the taste, but it works great! I mix baking soda, evening primrose oil, slippery elm, ginger and black walnut powder all together in a little batch at a time. You just brush and rinse. It works great to strengthen, whiten and takes away toothaches!


  • Candelion

    Candelion on Feb. 12, 2010, 4:55 p.m.

    I switch off between baking soda and Tom's (was able to make my last tube last jan 09 to feb 10!!). I also rinse with hydrogen peroxide.. However, I have heard of people just using peroxide to brush (it's pretty foamy ;). I think they take a swig and then start brushing. My teeth are definitely whiter and they feel good, so I think I'm doing a good job? Hope that helps! My next projects are to make lotion and toner. I want to use witch hazel, but I don't really like that all the brands I have looked at contain alcohol. Do you know of a witch hazel without alcohol or is that the way it is extracted?

    Also, I've been meaning to tell you that I made the muscle salve awhile back with the ingredients you sent me. The salve is amaaaazing! I only used 1 oz. of the herb mix and I have a ton of salve. Just looking at that little jar makes me feel pretty accomplished. Thank you so much Renee!


  • Ellen

    Ellen on Feb. 12, 2010, 5:10 p.m.

    Thank you for the link, Renee!

    I really fell off the wagon on the deodorant front, but I was using one of those liquid crystal ones and I started reacting to it :( I'll have to give Angry Chicken's recipe a try.

    We are conventional toothpaste users around here, but I've heard that you can use Dr. Bronner's, although it foams like crazy.


  • Annie

    Annie on Feb. 12, 2010, 7:09 p.m.

    Oooo Renee will you post the shaving cream recipe. My hubby uses a standard razor and bush too. I would love to make him homemade shaving soap. I have made lip balm and lotion and love both.


    • renee

      renee on March 10, 2010, 1:08 a.m.

      I will share that recipe when I have time to do so.  Damien's still using the shaving lotion so he hasn't even used it yet. 


  • Jennifer

    Jennifer on Feb. 13, 2010, 1:45 a.m.

    I made your lotion last Friday and my family LOVES it. It smells so good and feels great knowing we're not putting harsh chemicals on our skin. The only thing is that I didn't add the Borax and added a little more beewax and cocoa butter, so far it doesn't seem to be separating. And I don't think I'll have to worry about it going bad because we've already gone through half of it in a week! I'd like to write about it on my blog. Would you mind if a put a link to your lotion recipe?


    • renee

      renee on Feb. 13, 2010, 2:38 a.m.

      Jennifer - Cool! The next batch of lotion I make I'm going to try to make without borax. I don't have big issues with it (I know some people do) but if I can use just oils and water all the better. I found instructions in Rosemary Gladstar's Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health: 175 Teas, Tonics, Oils, Salves, Tinctures, and Other Natural Remedies for the Entire Family that I hope to try. I'll let you all know how it works out.

      I don't mind at all if you put a link, rather like it actually.


  • nicola@which name?

    nicola@which name? on Feb. 13, 2010, 4:27 a.m.

    renee, i just posted a comment to your photo shoot, scrolled down and was alarmed i had missed two posts prior to that one. what? not sure how that happened! you know i love this post and am so appreciative. am bookmarking it, thank you. how does damien like his straight blade? mike uses and loves his old fashioned safety razor and also has shaving soap in the waiting for him. nicola


    • renee

      renee on Feb. 13, 2010, 1:14 p.m.

      does he like it? Absolutely, he loves it. Loves the whole process. He also finds it's better for his skin, more exfoliating.


  • Candelion

    Candelion on Feb. 13, 2010, 10:37 p.m.

    I know your husband uses a straight razor, but I forgot to ask what kind of razor you use Renee.. I have been looking at old-fashion razors online (you have to sharpen them yourself), because I hate buying and throwing away blade replacements (seems like such a waste). Again, thanks for the great post!!


    • renee

      renee on Feb. 14, 2010, 2:33 a.m.

      I'm embarrassed to say I use a regular disposable razor. I use it for months and months though before I toss it. I know, so wasteful but I'm scared of that straight razor, it looks like weapon. I think next time though I'll try these recyclable ones from Preserve. We like their toothbrushes.


  • Flo

    Flo on Feb. 14, 2010, 5:43 a.m.

    I used to make my own toothpaste, but after a while I found it very cumbersome, and not very efficient. Currently, I alternate between Dr Bronner's (unscented) soap and Eco-dent tooth powder, which I really like. Honestly, either one leaves my mouth feeling clean after brushing. I stopped getting Tom's for the kids a while back, but they have been happy with the replacement- Weleda.


  • debbie

    debbie on Feb. 15, 2010, 3:51 p.m.

    i don't know if someone else has mentioned this recipe (don't have time to read all the many comments this inspired just now!!), but i had your post in mind when i ran across this recipe on LuSa organics blog. she is a soap/lotion/lip balm maker (wonderful wonderful stuff) and makes this toothpaste for her family with no baking soda, but natural soap (like Dr Bronners) - maybe this will work for you? (i hope this links - not sure how to do that in a comment!)

    thanks again for all the sharing of knowledge and experience that you do here.


    • Rachel Wolf

      Rachel Wolf on March 4, 2010, 2:15 p.m.

      Hi Debbie! Thanks for the link. Here is a live link directly to the toothpaste tutorial.

      We've have allot of fun with this toothpaste recipe. My son (age 7) loves it and no longer asks for store-bought toothpaste. My three year old is a bit more finicky. Some days I catch her and her brother sampling little tastes, but last night she announced that the flavor was "moldy cake". She's so dramatic that one. Thanks again for the link. I'll be posting more diy body care tutorials very soon! ~Rachel


  • Jodi

    Jodi on May 13, 2010, 3:16 p.m.

    Hi Renee, I'm Cindy L's sister. She gave me some of your soap yesterday..."Lavender Lemonade"..awesome stuff. Jody B is always telling me about it as well. Hey, I found a toothpaste yesterday that is called "Tate's" it sounds interesting. They also make a 'miracle" conditioner/moisturizer/shaving cream/.... it has like 100 uses (says so on the bottle). I bought the "conditioner" I use JL Liggetts for shampoo and coconut oil after...leave in. I have dry hair. I also use coconut oil as a moisturizer. I use Tea Tree oil as an "aftershave" to prevent razor great. I use Thai crystal deodorant. I have used sea salt and (any) essential oil (not just peppermint) as a toothpaste. I love Eco-dent too. Oh...a girl at the health food store told me that several people she knows are shaving little pieces off the JL Liggetts bar and using that as toothpaste....hmmmm, don't know about that. I noticed you hiked to Gentian Pond....we live right down the street. I wanted to mention that we are avid wild mushroom hunters...this area is loaded too. We have eaten 23 differant varieties within walking distance of our home. If you're ever interested in learning about them, let me know. I'm on Cindy and Jody's facebook. Give me a shout. Nice to chat...great site you have!!!.....Jodi


  • Rachel

    Rachel on Nov. 18, 2011, 5:40 p.m.

    Would you be willing to share the recipe for shaving soap? My boyfriend prefers a lather brush and shaving soap to a store bought cream or gel, and I'd love to make him some for Christmas. Can't wait to try some of your other recipes!


    • renee

      renee on Nov. 19, 2011, 12:06 p.m.

      This is an older post. I honestly don't remember my recipe. Once those shaving bars ran out D. sometimes used my regular soap and right now he's using Kiss My Face cream. If you want to make a shaving bar coconut oil adds a lot of lather. 


  • Laura

    Laura on Sept. 18, 2012, 4:13 a.m.

    I know this is old, but for those looking for a toothpaste recipe, Shoshanna from the has one that looks good. The recipe is on the site, and she has a youtube video where she makes it and explains why she chose each ingredient. We are finishing up a tube of natural toothpaste, and then I'm going to try Shoshanna's recipe.


    • renee

      renee on Sept. 18, 2012, 10:49 a.m.

      Thanks Laura for adding this. I've seen this recipe of Shoshanna's and actually have it pinned to my Homemade Soap & Body Care Pinterest board.


  • Britt

    Britt on July 19, 2013, 9:04 p.m.

    I love the idea of homemade products! You save money annd know exactly what you are using on your body. I think we should all take the time to do this. Thanks for all the great tips on homemade products.


  • Maggie

    Maggie on Aug. 2, 2013, 12:46 p.m.

    Have you ever tried coconut oil deodorant?  I recently switched to this and love it!

    1/4 cup baking soda

    1/4 cup cornstarch

    4 Tbsp melted coconut oil

    10 drops essential oil


    I put mine in an empty "store bought" deodorant container and I keep it in the fridge - probably don't have to but I like the "cool" feeling. 




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