The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish

August 10, 2011

Natural Plastic-Free Toothpaste, Tooth Powder, Tooth Soap Ideas…

Tom's of MaineSince Tom’s of Maine switched from recyclable aluminum toothpaste tubes to plastic laminate a few months ago, I’ve been getting tons of emails asking what less plastic option to use instead. I looked at the change as a challenge to finally figure out a better toothpaste alternative. Aluminum was good (you could send the tubes back to the company to be recycled) but not perfect because of a) the plastic cap and threads, and b) the resin lining inside the tube which possibly contained BPA.

So, after much research and some harrowing moments, here are the Plastic-Free or Less Plastic tooth cleaner solutions I’ve discovered.  There are many, many more out there.  Your suggestions and input are welcome!

Make Your Own Tooth Powder

Google is full of recipes for making your own tooth powder. Here are two ideas.

tooth powder ingredients 1) Baking Soda and Salt Tooth Powder. When I first started my plastic-free project, I tried making my own tooth powder with baking soda, salt, stevia for sweetness, and essential oils for flavoring. After a while, I omitted the salt because it was just too, you know, salty.  Some people find baking soda to be too abrasive, but if it works for you, go for it.

tooth powder ingredients2) Calcium Carbonate Tooth Powder. Looking at my tube of Tom’s of Maine, I saw that the main ingredient after glycerin and water is calcium carbonate. Thinking that perhaps calcium carbonate is less abrasive than baking soda and salt, I looked into purchasing it in bulk and making tooth powder from that. But where do you buy food grade calcium carbonate? And where do you find it without plastic? All the online vendors I found sell the stuff either in a plastic bottle or a plastic bag.

Finally, I discovered a ceramics supply store in my area that sells calcium carbonate as “whiting” in a paper bag. I bought 5 pounds for 5 bucks and thought I was all set… until I saw the California Prop 65 Warning sticker, which says, “Do not take internally and do not allow contamination of food stuffs.”  I think — but I don’t know for sure — that the reason for the warning is that calcium carbonate powder can cause lung problems if you breathe it in.  But whether this stuff is okay to put in my mouth or not, I realized that it wasn’t manufactured for food use and who knows what it could be contaminated with?  If you’re going to make tooth powder with calcium carbonate, it’s probably best to buy the food grade version in the plastic bag (or try to find food grade calcium carbonate in bulk).  After all, the plastic around 5 pounds of calcium powder is less packaging than the comparable number of plastic tubes you’d need to contain the same amount of toothpaste.

A recipe on The Rucksack web site contains: 13 tablespoons of calcium carbonate, 4 tablespoons baking soda, 1 teaspoon salt, 25 drops peppermint oil, 12 drops cinnamon oil. If anyone tries this, please let us know how it works out!

Pre-made Tooth Powder

Aquarian Bath's Tooth Powder3) Aquarian Bath’s Tooth Powder.  Cory from Aquarian Bath makes two kinds of tooth powder: cinnamon stick or black licorice.  The powder comes in a metal tin, but Cory also sells refills which come in your choice of baggie: plastic or glassine paper.  (Ask for glassine, which is plastic-free.) She sent me a tin of the cinnamon stick tooth powder to try out.  Ingredients: food grade Bentonite Clay, Organic Ceylon Cinnamon Powder, Activated Charcoal, 5x Myrhh powder, and organic stevia.

It took a little getting used to because the powder is black from the charcoal and a little messy, but it washes away cleanly and smoothly.  I liked it.  Cory told me that all her shipping materials are compostable or reused and that she is happy to honor requests for plastic-free packaging.  Check out the rest of her store.  It’s great!

4) Uncle Harry’s Tooth Powder. Uncle Harry’s tooth powder usually comes in a plastic container or a glass jar with a plastic lid. But several readers have told me that they will sell it to you in bulk by the 1/2lb or 1lb in a paper bag if you request it. Ingredients: Calcium carbonate (natural chalk), mustard seed powder, sea salt, peppermint, eucalyptus, clove, wintergreen, and oregano essential oils.

Have you found any other tooth powders that are sold without any plastic packaging? Please let us know.

Tooth Cleaning Tablets

Lush toothy tabs5) Lush Toothy Tabs.  2016 Update:  Sadly, Lush is now selling Toothy Tabs in a plastic bottle instead of a cardboard box.  I no longer use or recommend them!

2019 UPDATE:  Fortunately, there’s a new plastic-free alternative to Lush Toothy Tabs!  Bite Toothpaste Bits come in a glass jar in plastic-free packaging and taste great.  Read my review here.

Tooth Soap

Blogger Fonda LaShay from Mint & Chilli has been urging me to try brushing my teeth with soap. And she posted a long treatise on her blog about why she doesn’t use toothpaste. There is the opinion that glycerin in toothpaste coats the teeth and doesn’t allow them to remineralize. I haven’t formed my own opinion on that point. But I do think brushing with soap could be a great idea to reduce the number of products we have to buy. How simple! So I tried it.

brush teeth with soap6) Natural vegetable soap without added glycerin. To brush your teeth with soap, it’s recommended to use a soap without added glycerin. Glycerin is a natural byproduct of soap-making, and unless the glycerin has been removed, most soap contains some. But you just want to make sure that glycerin is not an added ingredient listed on the label.  First, I chose a plain olive oil soap.  I brushed my wet toothbrush over the bar, started brushing and…


Yes, I did.  The soap taste was just too much to bear.  Now, some people don’t mind it.  And some people say you just have to get used to it.  So I tried again and again.  And finally threw up in the sink.  Enough!

I thought maybe I was using the wrong kind of soap.  So I bought a couple of bars of PlantLife soap, which looked like they were wrapped in plain paper (but which later turned out to be plastic!) and contained peppermint and anise oils.  First, I tried the peppermint.  It started okay.  I could taste the peppermint.  So far so good.  And then the soap flavor came through, and I…


Not good. Not using bar soap.  But seriously, you guys should try it.  Some people love brushing with soap.  But then again, some people love cilantro, another substance that makes me gag.

brush teeth with soap7) Rose of Sharon Acres tooth chips.  Tooth chips are tiny shreds of soap made especially for tooth brushing. They come in a metal tin without plastic. Wondering if I would have the same gag reflex with tooth chips as I did with bar soap, I asked my friend blogger Lisa Sharp to send me a tiny sample of hers to try. I didn’t want to buy a whole container if the stuff was just going to waste. A couple of hours ago, I decided to gather my courage to try them out. I put one between my teeth, bit down a little, and then started brushing with my wet toothbrush. At first, I tasted the sweet flavor. Okay, not so bad, until… that soap flavor and…


And oh my god, I couldn’t get the taste out of my mouth. There was tooth soap stuck in my back tooth, and I couldn’t get it brushed out fast enough.

Look, I feel bad saying anything negative about this product. The ingredients are great: Saponified Extra Virgin Olive Oil (Sodium olivate), Saponified Coconut Oil (Sodium Cocoate), Saponified Organic Palm Oil (Sodium palmate), Xylitol, essential oils. I simply can’t put saponified anything into my mouth. And you know what else? I don’t have to eat cilantro either. Or broccoli!

Homemade Toothpaste

There are recipes out there for making your own toothpaste. Basically, they are like tooth powder, but you add coconut oil or glycerin (if you feel glycerin is okay for teeth) or both to make a paste. Here are a few I’ve found but haven’t tried yet.

8) Calcium Carbonate Powder, Baking Soda, Xylitol, Castile Soap (not for me!), Coconut Oil.

9) Coconut Oil, Baking Soda, Stevia, Peppermint Oil.

10) Coconut Oil, Baking Soda, Stevia, Peppermint Oil, Glycerin.

11) Baking soda, coconut oil, xylitol, peppermint oil.

12) Bentonite Clay, Xylitol, Water. Reader Kacie has been brushing with bentonite clay (which you might find in bulk at a health food store or Whole Foods) and says she thinks it might be remineralizing her teeth. You can also skip the water and use it as a powder.

It seems to me that with any of these recipes you could substitute whatever essential oil(s) you want. You could also add Neem oil or Neem powder. I found neem powder in bulk at my Whole Foods, but haven’t tried brushing with it yet. Use bentonite clay instead of calcium or baking soda. There are all kinds of options. Just be creative.

Brush without Toothpaste

Do we really need to use toothpaste or tooth powder at all?  Maybe not.  Reader E.K. Sommers wrote to me that there’s no need for toothpaste.  I keep hearing that the most important thing is the physical act of brushing and flossing.  If we brush with plain water or even a dry toothbrush and floss well, do we really need toothpaste at all?


Related Posts:

Eco-Friendly Toothbrush Review
Verdict on Neem Chew Stick Toothbrushes
Plastic-free Dental Floss? Not Quite.
Does Your New Eco-Dentist Offer Foot Massages?

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Just a quick note if you make your own toothpaste (or buy commercially) Xylitol is toxic to dogs so please, please, be careful and don’t use it on your pets.
-From a vet student <3


I’ve been told I need the fluoride from toothpaste or else my gums will get infected. What are your thoughts?


In Australia our water has fluoride in it for that reason.


My local water isn’t fluoridated and my dentist recommends fluoridated toothpaste and mouthwash instead. His reasoning isn’t gum infection per se, more about cavity prevention and tooth strength.

When I’ve asked companies about fluoridated options, their reasoning is that their perceived market doesn’t want fluoride. I hope plastic-free toothpaste packaging gets popular enough that fluoridated toothpastes are offered as well!


Have you seen this option?

Erin Jones

Hello! I have FINALLY found a solution to this!! Tooth tabs WITH FLUORIDE plastic free!!! Anything but plastic sells them in cardboard boxes, plastic free. This is what I plan to use :)

Alana R Theriault

Erin, what’s the brand?


I read that you need fluoride for healthy teeth. I know this for a fact because I’ve tried Aquarian Bath tooth powder and my dental health slowly deteriorated. Now that lush sells its toothy tabs in plastic, I’m stuck. Does anyone know any products with fluoride I could use?


I’m in the same boat as you. The least offensive option I’ve been able to find for a fluoride toothpaste is Tom’s Of Maine Cavity Protection Toothpaste (with baking soda) in Peppermint. I’m wary of what “other natural flavor oils” could mean, but, other than that, the ingredient profile is mostly good. The tubes, which are made from aluminum barrier plastic laminate, can be temporarily diverted from landfill through TerraCycle. The paperboard carton is made from 100% recycled paperboard (no info available regarding post-consumer fiber content) and printed with soy ink; recyclable or compostable.


I talked to my dentist about this recently and they said that fluoride in toothpaste is just like some other vitamin supplements – you might find it helps, but is not essential. I’m in Australia where fluoride is in the tap water and at every 6 monthly dental check a fluoride treatment is applied so I’m ok to use fluoride free toothpaste. I am stuck on how to do dental checks without plastic – but that’s a whole other conversation!

Erin Jones

Yep! Tooth tabs by ANYTHING BUT PLASTIC, sold in cardboard


Beth, I think I read that you use baking soda and essential oils to clean your teeth, but Davids Natural Toothpaste is sold in a recyclable aluminum tube (instead of a plastic laminate tube) and FSC-certified paperboard carton. For anyone who prefers buying premade products over DIY and is not looking for a fluoride toothpaste, this is a convenient plastic-light option with a good ingredient profile (as long as you’re not opposed to glycerin, carrageenan, or stevia) that is similar to conventional toothpastes in form/texture, so it doesn’t require getting used to something new (e.g. neem sticks; tooth powders; non-foaming,… Read more »


I recently read about an experimented with ‘oil pulling’.
Melt a half-ish tablespoon of coconut oil in the mouth, then swish it around for 5-20 minutes, as tolerated (while showering, reading, play video games, whatever.) Spit, then brush and floss. No paste, soap, powders, or acidic washes. Essential oils are often recommended for just about every step, but I’m sensitive to taste so I don’t use them.
My teeth felt awesome and I had someone ask if I was whitening because of the shine. Shiny teeth are usually healthy teeth!


How about this toothpaste?
I think it tastes really good and is in a recyclable / recycled tube


I love 1/4 c bentonite, 1/4 c baking soda, 20 drops of thieves oil plus 10 drops Dr. BRONNERS Peppermint soap. Pound with a wooden spoon to mix add soap last and pound again .it is all done. Not soapy or gritty!

Mes Amies Soaps

What awesome DIY toothpaste recipes! I got into making my own tooth powder after learning about all the toxic chemicals in store brand toothpaste, and it’s worked so well for my teeth that I now sell it as part of my ethical + eco-friendly self care business, in zero waste packaging of course!


Hello:) I recently discovered a great option. tooth paste and mouthwash. made from a one person business mindful of pure ingredients and comes in a cute glass canning jar. All responsible vegan products. The unflavoured toothpaste contains vegetable glycerine, calcium carbonate, coconut oil, kaolin clay and neem oil. It’s a nice thick white paste, tastes refreshing. My teeth feel really clean after I use it. I also use the vegan tooth oil to brush with. Contains coconut oil, peppermint oil, clove oil, and myrrh oil. This feels clean on my teeth but especially good on my gums when they… Read more »

sandy spears

im trying baking soda with stevia. Then I follow with homemade mouth wash of water, cinnamon, lemons and honey


You should stay away from lemon juice. It is acidic, which is really bad for teeth. Go with something with a high pH.


I’ve been using Toothy Tabs for a year or so now, and just went to get some more today. Imagine my horror when I found that they’re now packaged in PLASTIC BOTTLES. Now I need to look into tooth powders etc.

Linda Foss

I haven’t used toothpaste for years. Nor have I purchased any tooth powders or tried any elaborate recipes. I’ve read numerous times spanning decades that dry brushing removes more plaque. But in the hopes that using minerals will help remineralize teeth, I brush with calcium bentonite clay powder or dolomite powder. Some times with some sea salt. I see no reason to sweeten the mixture or make it minty. Clove would be antimicrobial, but I frequently drink clove tea in the evening, so…

sandy spears

where do you get bentonite powder


I’ve experimented a lot with making my own toothpaste- i noticed with coconut oil it’s just too unpredictable in temperature differences. It’s either too hot and liquid-y- all the ingredient float to the bottom, or too cold and have to scrape at it with the back of my toothbrush. I’ve finally gone with my own tooth powder that I’m just starting to sell, i can send you a free sample to try out (no plastic policy) with either a metal tin 125ml or glass mason jar. The sample would be in a small 5ml metal tin. let me know! glad… Read more »


Just the Goods vegan toothpaste 120g comes in a glass jar the anise, unflavored, and spearmint all rate a 0 on skin deep and every ingredient in them is a 0. there is also A Soap for Goodness Sake Plain/spearmint Tooth Powder same scores but runs more expensive.


Real cellophane made from cellulose or fake cellophane (crinkly, noisy plastic)?


Do you get your teeth cleaned at the dentist? The baking soda stuff they shoot on at the end has aspartame in it. I could taste the sweetness in the residue around my mouth and immediately I started to get a migraine headache. Ask for plain baking soda.


Pump bottles siting in the shower get water through the top into the pump and bottle so keep them out of the direct spray. Those screw-on tops that you press and the side of the top pops up to dispense the shampoo can be taken apart and scrubbed with an old toothbrush.


@Beth Terry Oh dear, this is making me very discouraged! But I shall soldier on. Any little bit helps, I suppose.


Does anyone remember back in the day the dentists used to put fluoride on kids’ teeth? It tasted icky, but I remember it….of course this was decades, eons, ago, and might have been when we were not in the US. It’s been so long I can’t even remember which of several countries it may have been. (Oh dearie me, I’ve gotten old all of a sudden!)


@Eve Stavros Sounds like my own recipe of bentonite, baking soda, sage, myrrh EO, peppermint EO, xylitol, and activated charcoal. Sometimes I add organic cocnut oil, yummy! (I know, I’m a bit late to the party, but only came upon this site 2 days ago.) I’ve only been at it for awhile so don’t really have results yet, but teeth feel really clean, so….


This might be an odd question… But I’ve been through the process of getting porcelain dental veneers. OK, that may not have been green-friendly, but the damage is done, so to speak. I’m wondering if any of these plastic-free options at oral hygiene are safe to use with veneers. They are rather durable, but they can still be damaged, which would result in embarrassment. If anyone knows, I would appreciate it!


I belive you need to see the reason for the big enamel loss first. Sometimes they are due to unknown reasons. But they could come from brushing too hard, stomach problems and acid reflux, drinking too much soda, misaligned teeth, grinding too hard and bruxism, genetic… have you been told what kind of abrassion you have? is it at the gum line or on the chewing surface?


@EthelQ Bea at zero waste also has a silk shirt she unravels – then flosses with the silk thread.


salt is usually included because it inhibits/kills bacterial growth and infections. over time, it strengthens your gums. i have discussed these things with many dentists over the years. not one has contradicted me. most dentists are much more open to alternatives in oral health, due to the mass influx of chemical sensitivities and allergies faced by their patients. if you are truly concerned about abrasives, i would suggest skipping the whole toothpowder/paste issue and just use water. plain coconut oil (virgin, organic) is also used to brush with by many, is highly beneficial to overall health, and i personally like… Read more »


many dentists have told me over the years (i move a lot) that my teeth are very clean. then i tell them i have never used toothpaste. (i am over 40- my mother is 70 and has never used toothpaste either…still has all her teeth. lol) i have always used either baking soda (salt optional), plain water, or sometimes diatomateous earth. you would have some trouble damaging your tooth enamal, it is the hardest known biological substance. the dentists themselves scrape at you with stainless steel and abrasives. some folks are born with thin enamel. google what you need in… Read more »


what about a good alternative to mouth wash?

Beth Terry

@yvonne123 Here’s a mouthwash I made: And here is one I haven’t tried but sounds great; however, it can be hard to find vegetable glycerin in glass. But where I live, there is an herb shop that only uses glass bottles. Here’s the recipe:


I am wondering if you have consulted any licensed dentists on all this. All I know is that my dentist told me I have literally scrubbed off the enamel on my teeth over the years. I grew up on brushing with bicarbonate. Just bicarbonate. Why is salt added to these recipes? Just curious on that one.
Any green eco dentists out there? I just wonder about all thiese various ingredients…as I have loss a lot of enamel. I would like to have them weigh in on the abrasives in these recipes.


Do you know why “To brush your teeth with soap, it’s recommended to use a soap without added glycerin” ?

Beth Terry

@EcoPeaceful Here is what one reader wrote about why she brushes with soap and why she thinks glycerin is bad for teeth:


@Beth Terry Thank you.

Ashley Myers

I use the Brushing Blend from OraWellness. I really like it.


I’ve been using homemade toothpaste with baking soda, peppermint oil and coconut oil. I hear the coconut oil makes it less abrasive on the enamel, and I haven’t had ANY sensitivity in the month I’ve been using it. Also, I was about to cut the end of my old toothpaste tube and refill it with my own paste, but then I remembered something I heard about acids and fat/oils making chemicals more prone to leach out and be ingested. So it’s in a small jelly jar.


Teeth remineralize from the inside out through proper diet. Look up Ramiel Nagel’s book, “How to CURE Tooth Decay”. Many tooth powders on the internet. If you get a tooth soap make sure it is super-fatted and the mildest possible for sensitive mucous membranes.


I saw no mention of Victoria’s Tooth Soap. I hav e heard great things about it, although I have never used it – for all I know it could be packaged in plastic. But there are tooth soap recipes on the ‘net as well. Me, I can use Dr. Bronner’s liquid soap. Yes it is dispensed in plastic containers, but when I think of how long it will take to use up the contents of the container, the amount of plastic per unit of time ratio is very low.

Eve Stavros

It’s official! My dentist says that I’ve got less staining, my gums look healthy, and I noticed less sensitivity to the water “drill” at yesterday’s cleaning. This after six months of: 1 – mornings – a mix of equal parts of baking soda, salt, bentonite clay, and powdered sage, with a few drops of peppermint essential oil for flavor. (These provide the abrasiveness necessary, according to my hygenist, that simple brushing w/water doesn’t give us) 2. dry brushing after lunch/snacks (well, when I remember) 3. evenings – Dr. Bronner’s peppermint castille soap And, I refused (politely) the goody bag of… Read more »


Hi, long time listener, first time caller. I love your blog and am especially sympathetic to your search for plastic free tooth care. I use a mix of soap and homemade baking soda based tooth powder, but I run into trouble when trying to find something to floss with. I saw that the family of the zero waste home blog uses rubber tipped gum simulators rather than floss ( I don’t know if this would work as well as floss or not, but I have a dentist appointment coming up soon and I intend to ask about it. I’ll let… Read more »


I think it is great that you were curious about something and then experimented to get your answer. I wouldn’t of been as brave as you. It is a wonderful concept of using something other than toothpaste to brush your teeth and you really enlightened me on the possibilities. Thank you so much and what a wonderful blog.


Interestingly enough, my Dentist’s office has a children’s book that instructs to brush first without toothpaste since it dulls your tongue to the feel of your teeth (or something like that) then says to proceed with toothpaste. I’m thinking that toothpaste etc. may be a vehicle to get us to brush. Flossing and brushing may be enough. But I do prefer to use something. I like plain baking soda sometimes, but I may try some of these other suggestions. Thanks.


a dentist told a friend that her allergic-to-toothpaste daughter could get her teeth just as clean without toothpaste. but that she must be sure to brush LONGER.


Late to the game here, but I’ve just tried the Lush toothy tabs, and you definitely don’t need a whole one per brush. Half is more than enough . . . I’ve actually moved to using about 1/4 tab per brush, which makes it less expensive and packaging intensive per use.


As I said, each to their own. The internet is a wonderful thing.


@ Jay “Most of us drink fluoridated water, and for a reason. Our dental health as a society is stunningly better than pre-fluoride. It was a public health decision. I know some communities are reconsidering, and dosing levels are debated, but until dental care is universal, some treatment would still seem to be a good idea. Not really! if it’s what you think you should inform yourself better: Here is a excerpt: “No difference exists in tooth decay between fluoridated & unfluoridated countries. While water fluoridation is often credited with causing the reduction in tooth decay that has occurred… Read more »

Eve Stavros

First I tried 50/50 baking soda & salt, but it was too hard on my gums – at least they felt tender to me. So I tried a mix of equal parts baking soda, salt, bentonite clay and powdered sage and I LOVE how it works and doesn’t seem to have the same effect. We’ll see what my dentist says on my next visit. For even better consistency & blending I whirred them all together in my spice grinder (hint – do NOT remove the lid too soon – let the powders settle down – achoo!).


we as consumers have been brainwashed into thinking that we need a lot of froth and foam to have a “clean” home, body and yes teeth :)


Thought you might be interested in this:

It’s an umbrella. 70% of the frame is recycled and 100% of the canopy is recycled. Plus, it comes with a lifetime warranty.

Lori Popkewitz Alper

Great post Beth-thank you! I focus most of my efforts on flossing and then brushing -toothpaste doesn’t seem to make much of a difference aside from fresh breath. Finding floss that is Teflon free is challenging-but they’re out there. We use a reverse osmosis water filter and it removes the fluoride. I’ve never supplemented with fluoride and my kids don’t have any cavities. I’m still using Toms and plan to shift to one of your other suggestions once we run out. Great toothpaste discussion!

Fonda LaShay


I am so glad to hear it worked for you! Yay!


Thanks so much for this post! I’ve been thinking about ditching the toothpaste, wanting to do something greener and healthier. I actually skip it about half the time, but sometimes need it to help my teeth feel clean. So while I was at the store yesterday, I bought a bar of 100% olive oil soap. I’ve brushed with it a few times. I can barely taste it at all, and it doesn’t taste bad, just weird. And like Fonda mentioned in her blog post, my teeth feel all slippery and clean, even though I’ve been eating popcorn and ice cream… Read more »