So what do you get when your aloe plant tries to stuff all five pounds of itself into a one pound container? You get something like this…
Except this photo was taken after I pruned it. So imagine it being twice this size. I’m an awful plant owner, I know. I’ve been meaning to do something about its shabby appearance for quite some time now but have chosen to ignore it (the same thing I do with my own shabby appearance most days). However, I walked by it this morning and what once was a little whimper for help now turned into a loud cry. And since I’m a sucker for a damsel in distress, I stopped what I was doing and gave it my full attention. Now my friend is still full-figured, but it’s a healthy, full-figured.
So what does one do with a lot of aloe besides eat it (which is supposed to be excellent for you) or smash yourself up so you can apply it to your cuts? The former sounds too icky and the latter sounds too masochistic. So since I’m a saver of all things, I decided to chop it up and attempt to preserve it. My initial plan was to blend it with some glycerin and vitamin e, throw it in the fridge, and bust it out when I made lotions next.As I chippity-chopped, I began flashing back to all the times I’ve tried and failed at making toothpaste. That is the one bath & body item I’ve never been able to master. I’ve wasted a lot of high-quality ingredients trying to make it and it’s always ended up being a gross disaster. Needless to say, I eventually admitted defeat and vowed to never try again.
And this is where I get a little sidetracked so bear with me… Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the strange direction in which we’re headed. Some may be more comfortable not thinking about it, some may be more comfortable denying it, and some (like me) are desperately seeking solutions, whether it be small or large. I believe deep down inside, we all know change needs to happen on some level; however, I also acknowledge that change may be too overwhelming for those focusing on the big picture. I mean, where does one even start? I firmly believe that even the most seemingly insignificant decision cascades out to touch the lives of others. It’s how we choose to treat one another, the products we use, the foods we eat, the places we shop, the beings we choose to ignore or idealize, the issues we choose to remain ignorant of, how we spend our limited time on this earth, how we spend our money, what we do for a living, etc… Most of us probably feel powerless when it comes to politics or world issues but in our day-to-day lives we are actually the most powerful forces of nature. We may not realize it but we vote every day and these are the votes that matter most. So what the heck does all of this have to do with aloe vera, you ask? Well, I’ve been thinking of ways to become a more active, conscious participant in the decision-making process of life. Basically, I want to become a more informed, everyday voter.
Since I make most of the products I use, I’m off to a good start but I can do better. One of my biggest issues is with palm oil (check this out). It’s used in about 50% of everything we use–from food, to cosmetics, to cleansers and oftentimes it’s listed as “vegetable oil” in the ingredients. Sadly, it’s unsustainably produced from the palm fruit in Indonesia and Malaysia. This means that beautiful rainforests are slashed and burned to grow oil palms. This also means that orangutans and other wildlife are being killed in the process. Even the sustainably grown version is questionable because the organizations providing this oil are lacking in quality standards and regulations. The bottom line is that palm oil is not necessary for anything we make, in fact, it’s usually found in the absolute worst products, such as processed foods. It’s ironic that the stuff we love the most is the stuff that kills us the quickest and is the quickest at killing other species too. So one of my many daily votes is to just say no to palm oil. I stopped using it in my soaps so I’m off to a decent start there and I don’t often eat processed foods and I make my own cleaning products but I still know I could do better. Ugh, it’s all about my nemesis, the toothpaste. Most toothpastes just so happen to have palm oil in them so I recently tried a palm oil-free version BUT the main ingredient is glycerin which I’m convinced is bad for your teeth. So it was up to me to make friends with toothpaste once and for all. And I did! My recipe is semi-based on my friend Carrie’s but I added more goodies. Next time I will omit the baking soda because I forgot how sensitive my mouth is to it but most people aren’t so have at it!
I’m sharing my recipe in the hopes that you will try this at home. Hopefully, I’m not the only one realizing that there’s always room for compassionate improvements in our everyday voting process.
- aloe vera plant or juice from the health food store
- stevia leaves/stevia powder from the grocery store
- organic peppermint flavoring from the grocery store (or any other flavoring you wish)
- baking soda from the grocery store
- food grade organic, extra virgin coconut oil from the health food store (I can’t recommend this 7-pound, $33 bottle enough. It’s worth it. I use it for everything. It’s in most of my lotions and body butters. I use it as a facial moisturizer. I put it in my daily smoothies and use it as a cooking oil–you should never use olive oil as a cooking oil!)
Optional items I put in my recipe:
- tea tree oil
- grapefruit seed extract
- vitamin e oil
- green tea tincture/extract/tea (If you want the best oral hygiene possible, I strongly recommend using green tea in some form. Extract is probably better compared to the tincture because it isn’t alcohol based. But you could even use actual green tea. Just steep a few tea bags during the stovetop process and let it sit for a while. This is going to bring your toothpaste to a whole nother level.)
I ended up with about two cups of chopped aloe vera, 1.5 – 2 cups of coconut oil, about 15 stevia leaves (what you saw in the photo above is the amount I used), 2 drops of vitamin e oil, 2 drops of grapefruit seed extract, 2 teaspoons of peppermint flavoring, 2 teaspoons of green tea tincture, 3 drops of tea tree essential oil (this is very powerful stuff so use sparingly or you will burn yourself), and 4- 5 tablespoons of baking soda. I basically eyeballed the amounts and then blended it all together. To test, I took a little bit to brush with until I was happy with the way it tasted. The ingredients were heated on the stove for just a minute or two. I don’t advise overcooking this because you might be boiling away all the chemical benefits.Then the heated mixture was poured into jars. If you want to make a lot, just pour the mixture into several containers and freeze/refrigerate them for later use. Make sure your container is clean and dry, please. In fact, make sure your blender, utensils, and cooking pot are all super clean. You don’t want to be brushing your teeth with a nasty, contaminated product. Not even your dog will want to kiss that mouth!Then quickly pop the jar(s) into the freezer for about a half hour (or longer). This is my trick for keeping things in suspension. I do this when making lip tints. If you just let them sit at room temperature the contents (such as pigments or in this case aloe vera and baking soda) will settle to the bottom of your jar. However, if you pop them into the freezer while they’re still warm and in suspension, your product will remain consistent throughout. After a half hour you can take your new toothpaste out of the freezer and start using it. Since it’s coconut oil based, it’s going to stay fairly solid at room temperature so you’re going to have to loosen it up to get it on your toothbrush. However, I was delighted to find that it has more of a whipped butter consistency than that of a solid oil so it’s not that difficult to get into. But I’ll leave those logistics up to you.
If making your own toothpaste sounds too overwhelming, you can always buy some from me. I only have four jars but I’m going to sell them at my upcoming tabling events. (Okay, now it’s down to three jars b/c my bro will want one). After that, the world will have to wait until my aloe plant starts beefing itself up again. More than anything though, the moral of this story is to keep thinking about your daily voting process. Consider that by just making your own toothpaste you have:
- not participated in the harming of orangutans or any other species that reside in a glorious rainforest far, far away
- not given money to companies that profit from our own physical destruction and that of our environment
- saved money in the long run because it’s far more cost-effective to make your own products once you make a few initial investments
- taken full control of the type, amount, source, and quality of ingredients that’s allowed to enter your body
It starts with toothpaste but it certainly doesn’t need to end there. Keep the magic happening!
Disclaimer: Statements contained herein have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat and cure or prevent disease or substitute care by a medical practitioner. All recommendations are believed to be effective, but since actual use of this product is beyond our control and can vary from individual to individual, no guarantee as to the effects of their use can be given nor liability taken.