Toothpowder. What a vintage word and concept. It sounds like a product straight out of an apothecary. A stained old box that you’d see on a shelf in a reenacted historic home. But now it lives in my bathroom!
The array of tooth care products in the drugstore today is overwhelming: whitening, tartar control, extra-long breath freshening, sensitive teeth, with flouride or flouride-free, in different sized and shaped tubes, with a variety of flavors. Do we really need all that to take care of our teeth?
As soon as I started experimenting with homemade toothpaste, my boyfriend admitted that he was a bit concerned about it. While I won’t seriously hurt myself experimenting with shampoo and moisturizer, he was worried that I might get serious tooth damage if I really go an entire year without commercial toothpaste.
So I did some research.
According to wikipedia, toothpaste doesn’t clean your teeth – the friction of the toothbrush does. And tooth pastes and powders weren’t common until the 19th century. So I think as long as I do a thorough brushing, I should be fine with my homemade toothpaste. Or if not, you’ll definitely hear about it!
Attempt #1: Baking Soda
The first thing I tried was plain baking soda – just dip your toothbrush in the baking soda and brush. My teeth felt really smooth afterwards, but the taste was pretty bad.
Attempt #2: Sage Toothpowder
This time, I made a toothpowder from crushed dried sage leaves and baking soda. Sage is antibacterial, breath-freshing and is supposed to whiten your teeth. The major problem with this attempt is that I mixed the sage and baking soda together first, and then tried to grind them in a mortar-and-pestle. As a result, the sage pieces were still too big (it’s hard to grind baking soda since it’s powdery), so I ended up with green bits in my teeth. Not what I was looking for in a toothpaste! I did like the taste of the sage, so I’ll keep working on this recipe.
Attempt #3: Sage Toothpowder v2
This time I ground up the sage separately first, then mixed with some baking soda – much better! I carried some of this with me on a recent weekend trip and it worked well, and is easy to carry in a small container. There are still some bits, but they’re small and rinse away easily. I’ll probably continue to tweak this recipe over the year!
The sage flavor is nice, but I’m still missing the ‘minty fresh’ feeling – so next up is to experiment with some peppermint essential oil and actually making a toothpaste!