Archive for the ‘toothpaste’ Tag

Singing Some of the Praises of Baking Soda   Leave a comment

Last weekend was the start of spring cleaning, starting in the kitchen, and my super weapon was baking soda! I found a couple more uses to add to my list. Here it is so far:

  • Baking soda is a good mild abrasive, although it does require thorough rinsing afterwards. Salt also works as an abrasive, but in my experience it is much easier to accidentally scratch something with salt than baking soda. I wiped down just about everything from countertops to fridge shelves to the blender base and kettle with baking soda. It left the fridge shelves free of those annoying rings that some jars leave behind but that soap and water can’t remove, and gave me a shiny non-spattered blender base and kettle.
  • Baking soda is a miracle worker when it comes to removing baked/cooked-on grease and food residue. To some degree this is due to the abrasive action, but I also think that there must be some chemical reaction in play. If you sprinkle the pot or pan with baking soda and then swipe it around with a sponge some stuff will come off immediately, but then if you leave it on for a minute more will come off easily without the need for hard scrubbing. Use hot water with the baking soda and it’ll work even better.
  • Not only does baking soda remove baked on grease, but char as well. Accidentally burn something in your favorite pot? Cover the char with damp baking soda and let it sit overnight; you’ll be able to wipe off most of the char with one swipe. If you’ve got a thick layer of char it might take a couple applications. Iodine works for this as well, but don’t ask me why.
  • Speaking of char, there’s one chore that I’ve always heard horror stories about but not had a problem with myself: oven cleaning. On a very dirty oven: step 1-sprinkle liberally with baking soda and dampen, step 2-come back in a little while and wipe up, step 3-there is no step three. On a relatively clean oven: step 1-sprinkle a little bit of baking soda and wipe up with a damp sponge/rag, step 2-oh wait there’s no step two. It took me about 5 minutes to clean the walls, base, rack, door and window of the oven this year. No elbow grease, no fumes, no pain.
  • Somehow baking soda cuts grease. I discovered this when I went shampoo-free using the baking soda/apple cider vinegar strategy. I was skeptical about using baking soda as the grease cutting step so I cleaned an oily skillet with no soap, just baking soda. Again, I have no idea why it works, I just know that in my experience it does. And since I’ve been using a baking soda solution to clean my hair for about two years now, I can absolutely say that it does work on hair (with the caveat that if you are used to super dry straw hair it will feel oily).
  • I have no idea how this works, but baking soda bleaches coffee/tea cups. I have a mug that has many many years of tea stains on the inside. All it took was a swipe with a baking soda covered sponge and they were completely gone.
  • Everyone knows that baking soda is a deodorizer, but I’ve also found it to work as deodorant. That story is part of a year-long deodorant search saga that I’ll write up soon, but I can say that baking soda outlasted the State Fair…and stripped a layer of skin off. So while it works, don’t take this as a recommendation.
  • Baking soda has long been used as/in toothpaste. In is better than as. I think there’s a reason toothpaste was developed and we’re not still using tooth powder.

I’m sure I’m missing a few uses. Isn’t there something laundry-related?

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Posted April 20, 2012 by mayakey in cleaning, personal care

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The Reformulation Curse   Leave a comment

One of the annoyances about trying to buy products that are “green” is that it requires eternal vigilance. There’s no such thing as brand loyalty because small changes can make a product no longer acceptable by whatever criteria you are using. Successful small businesses get bought up by large corporations to cash in on the LOHAS movement, and sometimes the board/governance/mission of the small company get watered down. Or compromises are made in order to grow a business larger. Or other companies/brands start producing products that meet the criteria better. In any case, label reading and general awareness is absolutely necessary. Lately I’ve encountered several instances where this is an issue.

The first instance was the body lotion that I have been using since getting my engagement tattoo. For years it was the only lotion at Whole Foods that does not contain aloe (aloe should never be applied on a tattoo), and thankfully it was also almost unscented. Sometimes I think I am the only person on the planet who cannot stand scented soaps, lotions, etc. So after years of using this lotion, I suddenly couldn’t stand the smell. When I looked on the label in the ingredients was the dreaded “fragrance”, which may indicate a soup of toxic chemicals (like phthalates). After an email exchange I know that it was not a reformulation, although that leaves me with no explanation for why my experience changed. I had never given the ingredients list too hard a look before since it was my only aloe-free option. As luck would have it, around the same time Whole Foods started carrying another aloe-free lotion. This one really is unscented and is made with fair trade shea as well. Score! Time for a lotion change.

The second instance was triggered by receiving a sample of Tom’s of Maine Wicked Fresh! Cool Peppermint toothpaste. When I read the ingredients I did not find “peppermint oil” like I find on the particular formulations of Tom’s toothpaste that I typically buy, instead I found “natural flavors”! “Natural flavors” can mean almost anything, and not always “natural”. This was a big red flag for me as Tom’s is on the watch list since being acquired by Colgate-Palmolive in 2006. I submitted an email question/comment/complaint online and received the assurance that they are still doing business independently as always but that their flavor blends are proprietary. Whatever, I’m not convinced. They have other toothpastes that list out all of the flavor oils, and it’s not exactly secret to have peppermint oil in peppermint toothpaste, unless they are not using real peppermint oil. So Tom’s is on my out list now. I just need to find replacement products, which is really annoying.

The third instance was a purchase of a replacement tube of calendula ointment, which we use fairly often. It took me forever to find it on the shelves while grocery shopping since it had been moved, so I didn’t look closely at the label at the time. Until the first time I used it and discovered that the brand reformulated and now uses a base of white petrolatum. I take issue with this for several reasons. The first is that I have been taught, for as long as I can remember, that putting Vaseline on a burn can make it worse because it traps heat in the skin. Since we use calendula ointment for treatment of sunburns, that limits the use of the product until long after the burn has already started to heal. The second is that I prefer to use vegetable oils–oils that are organic in the sense that they came directly from a living organism–rather than petroleum products on my skin. Unfortunately, I don’t know where else to buy calendula ointment, but before this long spring ends and the summer sun and sunburn season starts I need to find a replacement.

No Love For Baking Soda As Toothpaste   1 comment

The type of contact cleaner that I use has finally started selling small containers small enough to meet the liquid restrictions for carry-on luggage, so for my trip this last weekend I thought I could actually avoid checking any luggage. Since that 3 oz liquid restriction went into place I’ve had to choose between checking luggage or wearing my glasses for every trip, and for the sake of my own comfort that usually means I check luggage. But it’s such a hassle!

As I was packing my carry-on for this trip, I realized that toothpaste is also part of the liquid restriction, and I didn’t have a small tube of toothpaste. Or rather, I didn’t have an acceptable small tube of toothpaste. I do have the ones the dentist hands out, but I find those disgustingly sweet and not an option. Would I have to check my bag because of one measly tube of toothpaste?! No of course not! There’s another option: baking soda.

Yep, that’s right, in order to carry on my luggage I decided to go retro and try brushing with plain old baking soda for the weekend as an experiment. It’s cheaper and more environmentally friendly than buying a throw away tube, and some people think that it works just as well.

Well, it doesn’t. Quite simply, toothpaste works better than baking soda alone. I’m not even talking about the superficial taste issue (granular salty taste vs. minty freshness), I’m talking about the actual brushing experience and clean-mouth-feeling. It’s harder to brush with baking soda, or at least it’s impossible to get away with taking shortcuts. And while right after brushing my mouth felt just as clean (if a bit salty), within a shorter time period my teeth felt grungy again. Flossing was an absolute must because baking soda does absolutely nothing for the area between teeth, just the flat surfaces and gums.

Not that I was contemplating switching over to baking soda permanently, but would I do this again next time I travel? Yeah, I think so. A baggy of baking soda is a much easier travel companion than a stainless steel tube that gets banged up and wrinkled. So for short trips by myself I could do it again. Of course, avoiding the liquid restrictions by carrying a small plastic baggy of white powder has potential other complications. I guess I need to find a better container, and preferably a non-disposable container.

Posted October 28, 2010 by mayakey in frugal living, personal care, simple living, travel, unshopping

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Sweet Toothpaste   1 comment

Yesterday was the big moving day. We moved all of the furniture and lots of boxes. The last thing that we were planning to pack were the toothbrushes/toothpaste/etc in the bathroom, but at the end of the day when we were exhausted, somewhat delirious, and surrounded by the little things that remained in the house we forgot. Luckily, easily accessible in the pile of small stuff that did get transferred to the new house were our extra toothbrushes and the baggie of samples from the dentist. We broke out with new toothbrushes and opened one of the mini-toothpaste tubes. BLEECH!

I don’t think that I’ve used a sweetened toothpaste in maybe a decade. I can’t even remember when I switched to Toms. My husband switched when he moved in with me, so it has been four years since he used a sweetened toothpaste. Well, the toothpaste from the dentist was Colgate. From my reading of the ingredients on the tube, there are two sweeteners in Colgate: sorbitol (listed second of the inactive ingredients; don’t know if that means anything for non-food items) and sodium saccharin.

After so long using unsweetened toothpaste, the sweet stuff didn’t taste minty to us, it tasted like sugar. We both felt like we were going to bed with dirty teeth after sucking on a piece of candy instead of clean brushed teeth. “That’s not toothpaste, it’s candy masquerading in a tube,” said my husband. We’ll definitely stick with unsweetened toothpastes flavored with natural plant oils. (I’ve tried the plain baking soda pastes and found that I do need a little bit of flavor and some lather or my mouth just doesn’t feel clean; psychological not physical but nonetheless, there it is.)

Posted August 8, 2010 by mayakey in personal care

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