The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish
November 16, 2007

The Vodka Variations

On November 4, I wrote that I had finished up my last bottle of Act fluoride rinse and had decided not to replace it. Several dentists told me they didn’t think I needed it. However, I wasn’t just using the rinse for the fluoride; it had also served as my mouthwash for the last couple of years, leaving my breath minty fresh. Without it, I needed to find a plastic-free alternative, and since there are apparently no mouthwashes sold plastic-free these days, I decided to make my own.

I found the following recipe on and tried it:

Spicy Sweet Mouthwash

This mouthwash requires a couple of weeks for the spices to steep in the alcohol.

1 cup vodka
1 tablespoon whole cloves
1 tablespoon cinnamon chips (I used ground cinnamon)
1 teaspoon fennel seed (ommited because I didn’t have)
1 teaspoon anise seed
1 teaspoon licorice root
(also ommitted — didn’t have)

I also added 1/16 tsp of stevia powder for sweetness.

Place vodka and spices into a small glass jar, tightly lidded. Steep for two weeks, giving the jar a shake daily to keep spices from settling. Strain and pour into a glass bottle. To use, dilute 1 tablespoon mouthwash in 1 cup of water. Use as a gargle and mouth rinse and do not swallow.

Actually, I added one cup of water to the vodka mixture for a 50/50 dilution since that’s what the guys did on Mythbusters.

The results? I’m not crazy about the taste. Cinnamon is not my favorite flavor. But I do think it works well. Burns at first. Next time, I’m going to try a mint infusion instead of cinnamon. I think I might like it better.

This week, I also used up my last bottle of hairspray and needed a plastic-free alternative. Once again, I turned to vodka for help. From the web site, I tried:

Lemon-fresh Hair Spray

2 cups water
2 lemons
1 tablespoon vodka

1. Boil the water in a saucepan.
2. While the water is boiling, peel and finely chop the lemons.
3. Add the lemons to the boiling water, and simmer over low heat until the lemons are soft.
4. Cool, strain, and pour into a spray bottle.
5. Add the vodka, and shake well.
6. If the hair spray is too sticky, dilute it with a little water.

So far, this one doesn’t work at all. I mean, not at all. My hair’s not even sticky, much less held in place. Don’t know what I did wrong. Maybe I didn’t cook the lemons long enough. Maybe the lemons were not big enough. Maybe this recipe is a joke just to see if anyone will try it. Who knows? Will keep trying until I find something that works.

In the meantime, there are quite a few other uses for vodka to test. 21 of them, in fact, according to the web page, 21 Uses For Vodka. No, boys and girls. Vodka’s not just for drinking anymore. Check it out.

22 Responses to “The Vodka Variations”

  1. Nan Sea Love says:

    Hi Beth, i may try this but don’t like alcohol, did find another herbal recipe that sounds good: There WAS a wonderful mouthwash from that came in a glass bottle. It was made from herbs and just a few drops in water made our mouths feel fresh and natural. Perhaps you could get your readers to all contact the company and ask for it to go back on the market? i have tried many sources and they all say it is off the market, here is a link to what it is

  2. April says:

    FYI on the hairspray….
    After reading that this didn’t work for you…. I went ahead and tried it anyway but with some tweaking. I used 1 1/2 cups of water to make the mixture more concentrated. Also- when I cut/peeled the lemons- I did this over-top of the pan I was going to cook them in… instead of on the cutting board. This ensured that all of the lemon juice got into the pan instead of pooling on my cutting board. This turned out well and DOES hold my hair in place. I just spray a couple times more pumps than I would have had to do with store-bought spray.

    My only concern with this- is that after a while this starts to mold (afterall it is made from lemons). Does someone know a natural preservative I could use for this (and maybe also for the mouth wash should I choose to make it) so that I can make larger batches??

    • Beth Terry says:

      Hi April. Well, the vodka is supposed to kill everything, but maybe it’s not enough. Maybe increase the vodka or use a stronger alcohol like Everclear? Where are you keeping it? I think you have to keep it in the refrigerator, for sure… if only because of the ants. Read my next post about that particular problem here: Oh wait… that was a different sugar water hairspray. But still, I think the lemon spray could attract ants too.

      Maybe I’ll try the hairspray again with your adjustments and see how it works.

  3. Vanessa says:

    Omg, I just read your comment about using vodka in homemade toothpaste rather than glycerin, and I HAD to follow the link back to this… any excuse to up my alcohol intake while decreasing my plastic intake is always welcome! Also, I’ve tried that Vita-Myr natural mouthwash and it tastes kinda gross… who likes myrrh anyway? Yuck.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I found one cool product in Europe – Vademecum brand mouthwash. It comes in a little glass bottle (plastic cap, though) and it’s a concentrate! You just put a couple drops in a glass of water and I think it works just fine.

  5. Deb G says:

    Sorry I’m late getting back on this. My recipe is from Natural Beauty at Home by Janet Cox. Lots of great recipes in it-worth checking out. My library has it, as well as Amazon so should be pretty easy to find.

  6. Sunny says:

    Okay, I’m slow. Thanks!

  7. Beth in the Fake Plastic Fish Tank says:

    Hi Sunny. Thanks for the recipe. You can check the box at the bottom to subscribe to comments for a post and be notified if anyone else responds to that particular post. You do have to have a Google account with an email address, I believe, although it doesn’t have to be a Google email address. I think if you add an email address to your Blogger profile, it should work.

  8. Sunny says:

    Okay, I lost the recipe for a while. Anyways, 2 T baking soda, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1 tsp vodka. This has lasted me a couple of months so far and is way cheaper than toothpaste since we already have these things in the house and buy in bulk (except for the vodka). I don’t wet my toothbrush either. I just stick it in the powder until it’s up in the bristles and shake off the rest.

    PS Is there some way you can set this up so that when we make a comment on a day that we are notified when someone else makes a comment? I know some blogs can do that but I’m not sure how they do that. I don’t always remember to check back to see if somebody had anything additional to say or if they had something to say about my comment.

  9. Radical Garbage Man says:

    Please, for the love of Bacchus, use cheap Vodka that isn’t fit for drinking for your cleaning and hygene products and save your top-shelf bottle for its intended purpose.

    Fleischman’s (Wisconsin’s own crappy distillery) is perfectly rancid (and I think you can still find it in glass bottles). Look for something in the $4-5 range. Safeway Select vodka comes in a very attractive glass bottle and is actually drinkable with mixers, so that might be a compromise, dual-purpose brand.

  10. kat says:

    :( The “21 vodkas” page didn’t mention MY favorite use for vodka–it’s absolutely great at removing odors from fabrics (tip fresh from a former costumer for Beach Blanket Babylon in SF). Just put in a spray-bottle and spray on the odorific area (after testing for color-fastness, of course).

    Hey, it works on my karate uniform! :)

    I infuse a stick of cinnamon and some whole cloves in mint tea, then blend 1:1 with vodka for mouthwash. Clove has a long history of helping with oral hygiene. Ground clove, ground cinnamon, ground orange rind, baking soda and a little water make a good toothpaste. Or try mint leaves w/baking soda. The dried spices or herbs add anti-bacterial action to the baking soda’s abrasiveness.

    I haven’t tried it, but stale beer used to be used as a hair rinse prior to styling. Adding a little sugar to the hairspray recipe might increase the stickiness, but too much would be um…bad. Lemon can bleach dark hair, so possibly try a very dilute boiled sugar-water mixed with vodka.

  11. Debra says:

    Totally cool! Can’t wait to try the recipe. I will second the note from the person who said powder has different properties – chips (or busted sticks) are the way to go!

  12. OrneryPest says:

    GreatIdeas! I got here from Greta Christina’s blog. Please thank her for it. I’m going to add you to my list of regular links.

  13. terrible person says:

    Ugh! plastics (and other materials) are outgassing into our indoor air!

  14. Truth Seeker says:

    Oh, by the way… you’ll find that entry at

  15. axelle says:

    After reading this blog, I raced to my laboratory (kitchen) to find out why ground cinnamon should not have been used in place of stick cinnamon (aka “chips”) and this is what I discovered: Unless small amounts of liquid are gradually added to ground cinnamon, and stirred constantly as they’re added, nothing good will happen. Ground cinnamon has two qualities when not properly mixed and they are (1) water-repellency and (2) slime. When properly mixed, it has, among other things, an abrasive quality.

    Once I found this out, I did the following with the bowl of cinnamon juice I’d made: I scoured my stainless steel sink with it and used it as toothpaste.

  16. Truth Seeker says:

    Hello Beth,

    You got a great website here, with some cool advices.
    Will look through it when I have more time. I just finished an entry on my blog, and also mentioned your blog-link in that =;o)
    I hope you don’t mind.

    Keep up the good work!!

    Greetings from Germany!

  17. terrible person says:

    Wait…are your vodka concoctions shaken or stirred?

    Is it better to use vodka made from grain, potatoes, or something else entirely?

    It’s ironic that while we’re making household products out of vodka, in Russia, when people run out of vodka, they start drinking household products — I mean, seriously nasty stuff, like cleansers. But then, I guess Kitty Dukakis did that too.

    Here is an article about how plastic gets into the compost stream! Ick!

    I haven’t noticed your hair smelling like vodka, or your breath. I’ll keep my eyes — or rather my nose — open.

  18. Beth in the Fake Plastic Fish Tank says:

    Deb G and Sunny, comments like yours are the reason for blogging! It’s so great to get advice. I am totally going to try adding a little vodka to my baking soda tooth powder. What proportions do you use? And Deb G, what is your hairspray recipe?

  19. Sunny says:

    I use raspberry vodka in my toothpaste. Can’t remember the exact proportions but it’s vodka, salt and baking powder. Works great and the raspberry vodka adds a better taste to the powder. Maybe one of the flavored ones would work better in the mouthwash. PS I don’t use mouthwash and no one complains and I have great teeth and gums. Maybe I’m just lucky! Keep on going. There’s something out there.

  20. Deb G says:

    I’ve done the hairspray experiment-slightly different recipe. I actually really like it. I don’t use it to keep my hair in place like a traditional hairspray would though. What I like it for is that it takes care of the frizzies I get with my naturally curly hair.