There are now many alternative toothpastes which are free from the least desirable ingredients, such as sodium lauryl/laureth sulphate, fluoride, colourings, preservatives, artificial sweeteners and other
synthetic additives. However, the 'wholesome' ingredients which are substituted in the more natural products can be just as much a problem for some hypersensitive individuals. Sometimes, the only
solution is to make your own toothpaste using only ingredients which you know you can tolerate.
An effective toothpaste can be made very simply by combining chalk (calcium carbonate) with clay and mixing these with glycerin. A good basic recipe is 50 grams of chalk, 10 grams of clay and 40 ml of glycerin. Or, for a more gentle paste, 20 grams of chalk and 40 grams of clay, plus 40 ml of glycerin. A gram or so of salt may also be added, and/or a few drops of a favourite essential oil, if tolerated. Using glycerin alone, without water, removes the need for a preservative. However, those who dislike a glycerin-dominant paste (rather sweet) may replace some of the glycerin with water, if making only a small quantity at a time.
My own preferred recipe combines chalk and clay in equal amounts and I add mostly water, with only a little glycerin. I use 'technical grade' calcium carbonate (the cheapest option) and, although white clays such as Kaolin are preferred by many toothpaste makers for aesthetic reasons, I use Bentonite clay which is pale grey in colour. (See below for further details about Bentonite.)
I find it best to sift the dry chalk and clay together using a fine sieve (this helps to prevent the formation of lumps - the toothpaste maker's curse) and I keep a supply of this ready-sifted dry mix to hand for use as required. A new batch of paste can then be prepared easily by taking a small quantity of this and adding the required amount of glycerin and filtered water.
To make 140 grams of toothpaste
15g chalk (calcium carbonate)
15g Bentonite clay
10 ml of glycerin
approx 100 ml of water
In a bowl mix the chalk and clay with the glycerin, then stir in the water. An initial, brief stir produces a rather runny, lumpy mixture, but the clay continues to absorb water over several hours and, if left for at least 24 hours, a final stir is all that is required to produce a creamy-smooth consistency.
The cost of this bespoke toothpaste is quite modest. Using technical-grade chalk and Bentonite clay, it is less than that of a comparable quantity of any good commercial toothpaste.
Finding the ingredients
Aromantic (www.aromantic.co.uk 01309 696900) sells everything needed to make toothpaste, from recipes to small white plastic tubes to put the resulting paste into - though I find that any small, shallow, lidded container will suffice. They also sell plant-based glycerin, for those who prefer this to the versions available from chemists, which are invariably of animal origin from unspecified sources.
J M Loveridge (023 8063 9836 www.jmloveridge.com) can supply technical grade calcium carbonate, which behaves in exactly the same way as those forms sold by other suppliers and may in fact be exactly the same material, from the same source as even the most expensive and hard-to-obtain 'pharmaceutical grade'. The only difference, I am told, is that the 'technical' variety has simply not been tested and issued with a certificate stating its suitability for use in the manufacture of medicines.
NB J M Loveridge is also a 'Specials Manufacturer' - a producer of bespoke medicines (see Deadly Drugs and Free-from Medicines) and stocks many chemical products which are now difficult to obtain from high street chemists, such as borax and citric acid.
The Herbal Apothecary (www.herbalapothecaryuk.com 01947 896009) sells Bentonite clay, which is one of the most effective healing clays available, and has a valuable contribution to make to oral hygiene generally. It absorbs toxins, including heavy metals, free radicals, pathogenic viruses, parasites and pesticides, etc. and is claimed to be able to neutralise allergens. Also recommended to be taken internally, it contains an impressive amount of trace minerals.
A leaflet is available explaining the various properties and uses of Bentonite.
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First Published in 2007
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