homemade toothpaste

Even for people who are really concerned about questionable ingredients found in soaps, cosmetic and household cleaners, making your own toothpaste is an unusual pursuit. Yet as recipes go, toothpaste takes a few easy minutes, avoiding toxins, sweeteners, dyes, packaging, shipping, and last-minute shopping trips. The pleasure of knowing how to meet our own basic daily requirements is something of a liberation. Over the years I’ve grown fond of making toothpaste exactly how we like it. The ingredients are inexpensive, store indefinitely, and go a long way.

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The ingredients

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1 cup Calcium carbonate – otherwise known as chalk or limestone flour. Most toothpastes use this as a base, and it makes sense to me to scrub my teeth with calcium. It makes a fine polish.

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1 TB Sodium bicarbonate – baking soda. I use this as a cleansing and polishing agent, but I don’t love the flavour and lately have been leaving it out and the paste is still effective, tastes better, and is smoother and gentler. Still, it’s an option.

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¼ tsp Sea salt – just a pinch. Salt draws out infection, and helps to heal the gums. I prefer sea salt for its broad mineral content.

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2 TB Birch sugar – otherwise known as xylitol. A sweetener with dental benefits, so they say.

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4 TB Coconut oil – unrefined. I use virgin coconut oil in toothpaste as a base, mostly for its anti-fungal properties. It melts at body temperature.

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Stevia – 2-20 drops, to taste. My children like sweet toothpaste, and this herbal sweetener is one we use frequently, as it doesn’t have much effect on blood sugar.

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Lastly, a flavour, to taste. We like peppermint oil – we use 1.5 teaspoons of an edible, organic extract. There are lots of possibilities for what flavour to use, orange, fennel, and I like that I can keep it mild for the children.

The method

Mix well together calcium carbonate, sodium bicarbonate if using, and sea salt. If finely ground, also mix in xylitol; if coarse crystals, dissolve in ¼ cup of hot water. Melt coconut oil if it is cool and solid, and mix it in. Begin to add water/xylitol water while mixing with a wooden spoon, using just enough to make a soft paste. Lastly, add a little of the peppermint oil and a few drops of stevia, until the flavour is to your liking.

Of course, I’m not a dentist or a doctor, so I leave you to make your own decisions for your teeth.

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We store our homemade toothpaste in a little pot, ready to use. You can even use the leftover paste from the bowl to polish your silverware, white crockery, and enamel, but that’s a story for another day.

hair tonics

The other day I read a gorgeous description of using a rosemary infusion to dye fabric. It inspired me to try a recipe in my beloved copy of Sloe Gin and Beeswax, for making a hair rinse in Mid-Winter. For my little brunette child and my little blonde child, I’ve been infusing a pair of herbal hair tonics.

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Rosemary for dark hair, picked from the garden.

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Chamomile for light. I would have preferred whole flowers, but in a few months we can harvest some. Meanwhile organic Royal Chamomile tea is just fine.

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I made an infusion of each by pouring boiling water over the herbs; I covered them and let them infuse for a few hours.

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I’ve halved the recipe: 4 or 5 stems of rosemary, a litre of spring water, 75 ml of apple cider vinegar, and 3 drops of rosemary essential oil. A cup of chamomile flowers and lemon essential oil for the light version. I put the infusion through a strainer, mixed the cider and oils well in;

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Decanted them into bottles and corked them. Rosemary is said to darken hair over time, to stimulate the scalp and roots, and condition the hair. Chamomile is said to enhance highlights in light hair, strengthen it and restore shine. Cider vinegar is known to be excellent for removing excess products, conditioning and restoring ph balance. We’ll use a generous splash of the tonics after washing our hair, no need to rinse.

bath salts

Sweet girls of ours are very ill with the flu. I rarely see them sleep so much, it is awfully quiet around here. I was very pleased to receive a delivery of epsom salts today, this is just what they need. My understanding is that epsom salts (magnesium sulfate) draw out toxins from the body. I always feel infinitely better for a long soak in this kind of bath salt, with some kind of essential oil to relieve whatever is ailing me. I will use lavender tonight to bathe the children and help them breath clearly and settle easily to sleep. When I was awfully sick with a chest infection I used epsom with tea tree (in small amounts, mix it in well to dilute or you might burn yourself!), lavender and peppermint to clear my breathing. The salts don’t dry out your skin but leave it soft and smooth. On a cold, dark rainy evening, I think it is just the thing.

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I keep the bath salts in a jar by the old tub, with a scoop left inside. Towels warm on the radiator beside, and my old fashioned razor, olive oil soap, a natural sponge, a loofah, and a beeswax candle are within reach. I like to bring in a little stool for my writing book and fountain pen to sit upon, and then this is my idea of heaven.

traditional razors

There are some inventions that I well and truly appreciate. I’d prefer not to use a straight razor, especially around my ankles. Still, there’s an old and delightful solution between the straight blade and the safety throwaway. Here’s my traditional safety razor.
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It takes a simple double edged blade of which I bought ten in a little box for just over £1. While this part is thrown away (safely!) I think it is appreciably better than the alternatives, electric or plastic disposable.
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Its elegance is seductive, and its longevity is liberating. I’ve fallen in love with objects that are used for life, may even to be passed along through the years. I think this traditional razor embodies that. Like the fountain pen, it is one of those little investments I think is worth saving for, the kind that saves a lot over time.
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There are traditional shaving shops all over the world.
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