Is Earthpaste the Answer to Palm-Oil Free Toothpaste ?
I've tried tooth powders, tabs, oils, soaps - all of the palm-oil free types of dental care widely available to our community. If you want to avoid the conflict palm-oil in your toothpaste, then you have to venture into the world of "alternative" tooth care. There's kind of no two ways about it at this stage. I've been pretty beholden to the idea of tooth soaps, like Fat and the Moon's, but I get that not everyone wants to wash their mouth out with soap. Maybe it's that old adage or perhaps we've been brushing our teeth with paste for too long as a society, but a great many of you have been asking us for toothpaste that comes from a tube.
Enter Earthpaste. If you're from Utah, you may be familiar with this brand, which boasts five ingredients or less on average. The paste is primarily comprised of clay and salt, relying on essential oils for their antimicrobial and breath freshening properties. That all sounds really fantastic but before trying the tube you see below, I saw two red flags on the packaging that I think we should talk about first:
California Residents Proposition 65
On the box, you will see a small FDA warning that states: "This product contains trace amounts of lead, a substance known to the State of California to cause birth defects or other reproductive harm..." Well, that raises an eyebrow or two. I know that some fruits and vegetables, even organic ones, have the possibility of testing positive for trace amounts of lead - especially if you grow them in an urban setting. But is brushing your teeth with Redmond Clay safe? Earthpaste wrote several blog posts concerning the issue and here's some of the major points:
How could there be lead in Redmond Clay?
Lead occurs everywhere in nature — in sea water, fresh water, in soil, and even in air. Every time you take a walk along a beach or breathe fresh mountain air, you are being exposed to the tiniest amount of lead — up to 16 parts per million (ppm) of the surface of our planet. (That’s about .002 ounces per pound, according to numbers from the United Nations, World Health Organization, the US Environmental Protection Agency and the US Geological Survey*.)
Should we be worried?
Being surrounded by trace amounts of lead might sound like a very bad thing, but the good news is that lead likes to make friends — nearly all the lead in our environment is bound to other elements like zinc, copper, silver, and other trace elements. In all natural clay products, there is a trace amount of lead that bonded long ago with clay molecules and other trace elements.
Okay, I can mostly get down with that explanation...
This one admittedly freaked me out more than the lead. I've always been under the impression that ingesting essential oils is bad for you. The fact that Earthpaste won't disclose which company they purchase EOs from does not make me rest any easier either. While you may not be swallowing these oils, they are certainly coming into contact with your gums, which are far more vulnerable than people in chat rooms seem to think.
Apparently, this is also a common complaint for the brand and a similar blog post was written about it, too. Their main argument is that the EOs in Earthpaste are so diluted, that they won't harm your health if you brush your teeth, as you normally would, a few times a day. Their explanation:
The amount of tea tree oil in Earthpaste is so small, we’re going to have to use our imagination to really get a feel for it. Let’s say your tube of Earthpaste were as long as a standard basketball court—94 feet. In a tube of Earthpaste that size, the tea tree oil would be about one quarter of one inch. For a natural comparison, if your tube of Earthpaste were as long as a blue whale, the tea tree oil would be shorter than a honeybee.
Maybe you’re not really into basketball courts and whales, so here are the raw numbers: Each tube of Earthpaste contains 0.0174 milliliters of tea tree oil, which is 0.00353 teaspoons, or roughly half a drop. Let’s say you get 50 amazingly natural teeth-brushings from each tube. Each time you brush, you’ll have 0.0000706 of a teaspoon of tea tree oil on your toothbrush, part of 0.42 teaspoons of Earthpaste. A very small number, and a long ways from the warnings over undiluted essential oils.
So, Is It The Real Deal?
Now, that my worries are more or less gone: Is this a substitute for traditional, commericial toothpaste? Well, it doesn't have any glycerin or foaming agents, which is great for our palm-oil concerns but definitely means this paste does not behave like "normal toothpaste." That being said, there is something really comforting about squeezing a tube in the groggy morning hours. Though, I realize that this comfort does come at an environmental expense.
How does this tube win out over the rest if its packaging is not ecofriendly and it doesn't foam? Well, it does seriously freshen breath. No other palm-oil free product I have tried can make that claim - they neutralize odor but don't leave any noticeable after taste or smell. And did I mention that you can buy this at an actual brick and mortar store?
That's probably the biggest selling point for myself and for you. I bought this tube for $6.49 at my local Sprouts and you'll likely be able to find a tube near you, as well. You can also buy all five flavors online - Spearmint, Wintergreen, Lemon Twist, Cinnamon, and Peppermint - and they're available in travel packs, too.
I may not give up on tooth soaps forever, but I am glad that there is a paste out there for those who a) don't want to wait for the mail and b) miss traditional toothpaste. Brush on, folks!