Additive-free toothpaste

John Scott gives his recipe for chemical-free home made toothpaste.

Tooth cleaning

There are now many alternative toothpastes that 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 that are substituted in these 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 that you know you can tolerate.

An effective toothpaste can be made very simply using just chalk (calcium carbonate), clay and water.

I use 'technical grade' calcium carbonate, which is 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.

The recipe

100ml filtered water

3 drops of 35% food grade hydrogen peroxide (H2O2)

13g clay

13g calcium carbonate (chalk)

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! 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 it to filtered water.

I pour the water into a suitable small lidded container that will accommodate all the ingredients, and add the 3 drops of H202. This prevents any bacterial growth in or on the paste. I then add 26g of the dry, sifted clay/chalk mixture and stir the mixture until relatively smooth. Then I set it aside for a few hours.

The clay continues to absorb water for some time, eventually producing a paste that "rises" slightly as a result of the action of the H2O2. I place a little of this paste into a shallow lidded pot for use over the following few days, and seal the bulk of the mix in its original container until needed.

Each time I want to clean my teeth, I scoop out from the shallow container as much of the paste as I need.

This particular mix is moderately abrasive, which is how I like it. For a less a abrasive mix, just use less chalk and more clay, bearing in mind that clay absorbs much more water than chalk, so the more clay the mixture contains, the greater the quantity of water that will be required to maintain the same consistency.

Locating the ingredients

Bentonite clay can be obtained from Amazon.

Technical grade calcium carbonate is available from J M Loveridge ( +44 (0)1264 367 610). This behaves in exactly the same way as those forms of calcium carbonate sold by most 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 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.

It's worth noting that J M Loveridge is also a 'Specials Manufacturer' - a producer of bespoke medicines (see the FoodsMatter articles here and here). And they stock many chemical products that can often be difficult to obtain from local shops, such as borax and citric acid.

Food grade hydrogen peroxide (35%) can be bought from the Nutricentre.

Aromantic +44 (0)1309 696900) sell everything needed to make toothpaste, from assorted clays and recipes to small white plastic tubes to put the resulting paste into - though I find that any small, shallow, lidded container works well.

For those who want to experiment with other toothpaste recipes, there are several here.

First Published in 2007; revised and updated 2014

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