For many of us, toothpaste was our first foray into the world of DIY personal-care products. We glumped some wet baking soda onto a toothbrush and never looked back.
Making your own toothpaste can be healthier and more economical than buying the store brands, but it can be tough to find a recipe that’s both effective and practical for the long run. But after a lot of exploration, education, and awkward faces in the bathroom mirror, this might just be the best damn DIY toothpaste recipe I’ve ever shoved in my mouth.
- Baking Soda — 4 Tbsp (60 g)
- Calcium-Magnesium Powder — 1 tsp (5 g)
- Xanthan Gum — ¼ tsp (1 g)
- Coconut Oil — 1 Tbsp (15 mL)
- Vegetable Glycerine — 2 Tbsp (30 mL)
- Liquid Castile Soap — 1 Tbsp or 15 mL)
- Hydrogen Peroxide — 1-2 Tbsp (15-30 mL)
- Peppermint Essential Oil — ¾ tsp (3-4 mL)
- Stevia — ¼ to ½ tsp (1-4 mL)
- Grapefruit Seed Extract — 3 drops
- Clove Essential Oil — 4 drops
- Salt (totally optional) — 1 tsp (5 g)
Makes a generous 3.5-ounce (100 mL) batch.
1. Combine all the ingredients except for the xanthan gum and hydrogen peroxide. At about the point when you’ve formed a basic paste, the whole mixture will want to fluff up and expand. Make sure it’s mixed thoroughly, then leave it to finish fluffing and collapse again — about 5 to 10 minutes.
2. Next, mix in your xanthan gum. You’ll have about 2 minutes before it makes transferring your toothpaste into a tube impossible, so if you want your finished product in something more than a jar, act fast and plan ahead. I recommend snipping the corner off a sandwich baggie and using it like a pastry bag to fill your permanent squeezable tube.
3. Over the next 24 hours, the xanthan gum will absorb a lot of the liquid in the toothpaste, making it harder to squeeze. This is where the hydrogen peroxide comes in. Just pour it right into the tube and massage it all together for a second. Leave the cap off your tube overnight in case the mixture wants to fluff up again. (Trust me. I’ve had to clean out the inside my medicine cabinet after learning that the hard way…)
There are lots of (great) homemade toothpaste recipes out there, but with this, I wanted it to do more than just work. I wanted it to foam, taste, and squeeze like the toothpaste I grew up with.
Here’s a breakdown of the ingredients — same order as above — and why they’re in here. (Also, for some of the harder-to-find items, I provided a link so you can order ’em on Amazon.)
Baking Soda (sodium bicarbonate) cleans and whitens teeth naturally in two ways. First, it’s an extremely gentle abrasive that literally scrapes plaque and particles off the tooth’s surface. Second, when exposed to water, it releases free radicals that penetrate your enamel to break down stain molecules. Chemically, baking soda is also a weak base that counteracts and neutralizes the cavity-causing acidic environment created by bacteria. This same acid-neutralization can help reduce inflamed or irritated gums, too.
Calcium-Magnesium Powder helps strengthen tooth enamel by replacing the minerals lost through everyday demineralization caused by plaque, sugars, and bacteria. Brushing with cal-mag powder redeposits minerals directly onto tooth enamel. Plus, it also gets absorbed into the blood stream through your gum tissue, reaching your teeth from the inside. And unlike fluoride, calcium-magnesium powder doesn’t require a poison warning label. (Amazon.com)
Xanthan Gum is a food thickener made from the powdered byproduct of the bacterium Xanthomonas campestris. It’s common in foods like ice cream or salad dressings — and not something I’d really encourage eating given its laboratory beginnings, but in toothpaste is what holds everything together and gives it that satisfying squeezability. While guar gum is my first choice for thickening food, somewhat-natural xanthan gum is my first choice for products that need a longer shelf life. (Amazon.com)
Coconut Oil is a fantastic creamy base, but it can actually help prevent tooth decay. Yup. Coconut oil is naturally anti-bacterial and anti-microbial — meaning it actually inhibits the growth of acid-causing bacteria that are the major cause of tooth decay. (On an unrelated note, if you want to get the most out of coconut oil’s benefits, check out oil pulling and try that first thing each morning.)
Vegetable Glycerine is the primary liquid base of any toothpaste. It’s non-toxic, a natural humectant, and also provides a touch of sweetness — but this being the internet where misinformation can reign supreme, you may have read that glycerine coats teeth with an invisible film and causes tooth decay. In truth, if you’ve ever used it to make other home-care products, you know that glycerine is completely water-soluble and naturally occurring in things like soap, which many of the anti-glycerine sites recommend brushing with instead. Moreover, with a little detective work, turns out the entire glycerine frenzy stems from the claims of one guy called “Dr. Judd” — who’s not only not a doctor, but he never even put his claims to the test before publishing. (You’re welcome, internet.) So, yes. I put heaps of glycerine in my toothpaste. Love the stuff. (Amazon.com)
Liquid Castile Soap does exactly what it sounds like. It’s both an emulsifier (the quality that makes soap work) and what gives your homemade toothpaste that satisfying familiar froth. In commercial toothpastes, this ingredient would be sodium laurel sulfate, or SLS, and the active ingredient in industrial engine degreasers. (For more info on SLS, check out my piece “3 Simple Swaps to Instantly Start Making a Difference”) But while SLS is made from petrochemicals — I know, right? — the key ingredient behind castile soap is just pure olive oil. (Amazon.com)
Hydrogen Peroxide is like water with an ace up its sleeve: the standard 3% variety kills bacteria and helps to gently bleach teeth. Win-win!
Peppermint Essential Oil. This may come as a complete surprise, but just a few drops can effectively create minty-fresh breath. (Mind. Blown.)
Stevia is an insanely potent natural sweetener made from the leaves of the stevia plant. It has 300 times the sweetness of sugar, so less is definitely more. (Some toothpaste recipes prefer xylitol, but I still haven’t decided if it’s harmless or just plain creepy.) (Amazon.com)
Grapefruit Seed Extract (GSE) is a natural preservative made from… yup, you guessed it: grapefruit seeds. It inhibits mold growth and kills bacteria, fungi, and parasites on contact. (It can also be used as a dietary supplement to regulate gut flora or cure yeast infections, or can be used as a household cleaner to sterilize countertops or cutting boards.) And while there are definitely those who scream, “Lord Jesus, noooo! It’s poison!” — I find 2 or 3 drops in a tube of homemade toothpaste keeps everything nice and shelf-stable. (Amazon.com)
Clove Essential Oil definitely adds an extra layer of flavor, but I’ve added it to this recipe because clove oil is great for sensitive teeth. If you’re a Sensodyne kind of person, a few drops of clove oil in your homemade toothpaste will do the same thing.
Salt is really a matter of personal taste — literally — but if you don’t expect toothpaste to taste like chewing gum, or spent years brushing with Waleda Salt Toothpaste like I did, the addition of salt is fantastic for gum health. Plus, mouth flora can’t survive the salt bath, and a little salt helps preserve your toothpaste in its container.
Obviously, teeth are for life, so no magical before-and-after photos here — but I’ve been making my own toothpaste for years now and the compliments from the dentist keep rolling in. “Whatever you’re doing, keep it up.” At a recent visit, one of my dentists even called me “mouth of the month.” (Aw, shucks.)
Of course, half of good dental health is genetics, but I’ve never had a cavity… and I intend to keep it that way.
(Disclosure: affiliate links to Amazon do not affect the price of items for you, but may provide a certain Crunchy blogger with a small commission.)