Homemade toothpaste is just one of myriads of fads today, but that’s not the reason I’m writing about it today. As a survivalist, I couldn’t care less about fads. What I do care about, however, are ways to survive, subsist and stay (relatively) healthy even when going against the odds. Whipping up my own toothpaste won’t put bread on my table or defend me against intruders. But it will help preserve my dental health when the going gets tough.
However, there are many myths surrounding homemade toothpaste that I wanna bust in this article. The fact that it’s not manufactured industrially doesn’t mean it’s a heaven-made substance that will magically wipe off the plaque. In fact, if you don’t choose your recipe carefully, it may do more harm than good.
Not to mention the squeaky-clean feeling all of us got used to over the decades of using commercial toothpaste. Your detergent- and glycerin-free toothpaste won’t be all foamy and bubbly. It won’t even taste or smell good. On the contrary – you’ll really need to get used to its very salty taste. It’s very likely that you won’t even have the feeling that your teeth are clean.
But they will be, and it won’t take more than a single week for you to familiarize with the peculiar flavor and texture of homemade toothpaste.
What DIY Toothpaste Should and Shouldn’t Have
Of course, the fact that something is homemade doesn’t necessarily mean it’s beneficial or even harmless. Many homemade toothpaste recipes include acidic components such as vinegar. While vinegar is one of those rare foods that are healthy, have many household uses and boast long shelf life, it doesn’t have any benefits for your dental health. On the contrary, it can even damage your gums and tooth enamel.
Same goes for hydrogen-peroxide. And lemon juice. Even essential oils, which you will find in 99% homemade toothpaste recipes! While some essential oils are very efficient bacteria killers, they don’t discriminate between “good” and “bad” bacteria. And the only reason why people like them in DIY toothpaste is to make it smell nice. The only exception is Anise essential oil, which you can freely add to make the concoction smell a bit nicer.
Fluoride is an essential ingredient in your average commercial toothpaste. As the common saying goes, prevention is better than cure – and that’s exactly what fluoride is about. Without it, tooth decay would develop much faster. Plus, fluoride bolsters enamel and gums’ strength and health. It’s even added to community water to help prevent dental diseases.
Therefore, a logical step would be to purchase fluoride and add it to your DIY toothpaste mixture. However, doing that would be tricky and potentially dangerous because of its toxic properties. If you ingest greater amounts of it, it can be harmful, even lethal.
What about glycerin though? Many people add it to improve the taste and texture of their paste. There’s an ongoing debate whether it actually stimulates plaque buildup instead of protecting us from it. While it’s not proven to be downright harmful, I prefer to leave it out. One less reason to go to the store (whether it exists or not)!
What No One Will Tell You About Homemade Toothpaste
I am all for self-sustainable, green life, with little or (ideally) no commercial products. Apart from being ridiculously cheap, DIY toothpaste is also green. One of the foremost reasons it’s become a fad these past few years is that it helps reduce plastic waste. When you store it in a glass jar, there are no plastic tubes to throw away.
So, everyone should learn how to make their own toothpaste. However, there is one very important thing you need to keep in mind.
Homemade toothpaste won’t safeguard your dental health as efficiently as commercial toothpaste does. That’s precisely because it doesn’t (or more precisely, shouldn’t) contain fluoride. Like I said, adding fluoride to your toothpaste is a risky business.
So, what’s the solution?
In the case of SHTF or TEOTWAWKI, you probably won’t have much choice. Unless there’s a working store next door and a wallet full of cash that you don’t need to economize with, you’ll just have to DIY your toothpaste and other basic hygienic products. In fact, you’ll have to make all the things you need.
In “normal” times, however, you should stick to your good old commercial toothpaste. Never forget that good dental health is one of the pillars of emergency preparedness!
Homemade Toothpaste Recipe
- Baking soda – 5 tablespoons
- Coconut oil – 1 cup or 8 ounces
- (Optional) Anise essential oil – 10 drops
- (Optional) Stevia organic sweetener – 2 packets
But just because you skipped fluoride, it doesn’t mean you should ditch all caution. You can also overdo it with the baking soda. Sure, it won’t harm you if you swallow it. All of us do it from time to time to help with digestion.
The problem with baking soda is that it’s very abrasive. That’s the exact feature that makes it clean your teeth. But add a grain too much on your toothbrush every morning and evening, and you’ll likely end up damaging your tooth enamel. Which is singularly bad because tooth enamel never restores.
But why are Anise and Stevia here if the homemade toothpaste will be equally good without them?
Because getting your kids used to brushing is hard enough as it is even with the sweet commercial toothpastes. Let’s be honest: baking soda tastes awful. That’s why you’ll likely need something to mitigate the nastiness.
Many people also add charcoal. But I really think you don’t need another highly abrasive substance in a blend that’s supposed to keep your teeth healthy.
How to Make It
The process itself couldn’t be any simpler.
You just need to mix all of the ingredients and stir until the texture gets even. Since coconut oil is normally solid, it will be easier to mix up with other ingredients if you heat it up a little first. In which case, you need to let your toothpaste cool off before using it.
But what about storage? That’s easy too. A simple, small glass jar will do. If you have a family and are making larger amounts of toothpaste, it’s best to get a separate jar for every family member. You’ll have to tip your toothbrush into the paste every morning, every evening. It’s not nearly as elegant and smooth a process as it is with a tube. So, keeping separate jars is just more hygienic.
Are we going to even need toothpaste when TEOTWAWKI spells the end of our consumer culture that shoves tons of junk food down our throats?
It’s very likely that our dental health will rejoice at our transitioning to natural food. Especially when we ditch the sugar! But that doesn’t mean our teeth and gums will stop being vulnerable.
People have suffered from cavities since the dawn of time. 2,000 years ago, without toothpaste or mouthwash, they used to clean their gums by chewing on various plants – including some nasty tasting weeds. But we don’t need to travel so far back in time – even as “recently” as the Middle Ages, people had surprisingly good teeth, regardless of their social standing. Because no sugar!
So, we’ll have to take care of our teeth, one way or the other, during or post-SHTF, with or without fluoride.