DIY Toothpaste: A Zero Waste Fail

A few weeks ago I ran out of my regular toothpaste and so I decided it was time to give DIY toothpaste a go. As I am still early on in my zero-waste journey, there are still plenty of leftovers from my old lifestyle that I am working my way through, like Q-Tips, conditioner, and floss. These everyday items are convenient, necessary, and have fewer zero-waste alternatives. The first of my “scary swaps” was toothpaste, and unfortunately, my first go at it was a bit of a fail.

There are a number of DIY toothpaste recipes floating around the internet, most of which involve baking soda, coconut oil, and essential oils. Some recipes also call for stevia powder to act as a sweetener, but since I don’t keep this on hand it seemed to be counterproductive to buy it just to make toothpaste.

I ended up using the following recipe for my toothpaste:

  • ~1/2 Cup of coconut oil
  • ~2 Tablespoons of baking soda
  • ~10 drops of cinnamon essential oil
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The base of what I had hoped would be a great DIY toothpaste.

The texture is a thick paste that is a bit grainy. I have mine stored in a glass jar and scoop it onto my bamboo toothbrush with my finger. Unfortunately, the toothpaste has not worked for me. I am not a huge fan of coconut so mixing that with baking soda is rather unpleasant. Coconut oil also turns liquid when warm (rather than lathering like a traditional toothpaste), so it can be a messy brushing experience. I wouldn’t say brushing my teeth was ever a fun activity for me, but when I was using this toothpaste it was something I actively dreaded. Not something you want as part of tour oral hygiene experience.

Fortunately, there are a number of purchasable options for low-waste toothpaste. I ended up back at Lush (which has quickly become my go-to store for package-free or low-waste products) and picked up the Tooth Fairy Tooth Powder, which comes in a recycled plastic container that can be returned to the store when I run out. I may also repurpose the container if I can find a DIY tooth powder recipe to make at home. To use the tooth powder, I just wet my brush, take some of the powder in my hands, and press it into the bristles. The powder also froths like a conventional toothpaste. I’m sure this is just a placebo effect, but it does make it feel like I’m actually cleaning my teeth.

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In the tooth powder vs. DIY paste competition, the powder is a clear winner.

This experience has taught me a couple of things.

  1. Not every swap will be easy or right the first time, but
  2. There are way more alternatives to conventionally packaged products than we might think.

I may give the DIY toothpaste another go, but for now, I’m happy to have a happy medium between conventional plastic and DIY.

 

 

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