See my previous post about this topic. I found that it is really easy to buy a lot of plastic packaging when you’re trying to make your own household products to avoid buying plastic packaging!
Bicarbonate of soda, or baking soda (unless you’re in the UK where baking soda apparently also includes cream of tartar) comes in plastic tubs of 200 grams at £1.29 at Asda, or in small wrapped sachets that are much more expensive, relatively speaking (a few sachets for £1).
I decided that I didn’t need flavoring for my toothpaste as that would likely also come with waste. (I still have some eucalyptus oil in a glass dropper. That should work too, if needed.)
I first tried bicarbonate of soda on my tooth brush, just like that, and it turned out to work much better than the toothpaste I was using!!! My teeth had that nice clean feeling. You know what I mean.
Yay, buying toothpaste eliminated!
(Except when travelling, maybe. I don’t want to be caught travelling with a white powder in my luggage.)
A dentist says about it: “Baking soda is completely safe to use as a DIY toothpaste. I like it because it’s non-toxic and increases alkalinity in the mouth by neutralizing acids, all while having a very low abrasion score.” Added benefits: no more yucky toothbrush and no more toothpaste stains on my clothing.
I clearly still needed to find some baking soda that is not packaged in plastic, so I searched online. I spotted Arm & Hammer on Amazon in Britain. 227 grams for £0.81, but the delivery costs are £5.56. Holland and Barrett has 450 grams for £4.49. It appears to be packaged in a plastic bag, but it would be less waste than one of those tubs. It’s much more expensive, though. Ocado has Arm & Hammer too.
But the winner is… Wilkinson/Wilko, which sells 500-gram packages at £1.50! That will likely last me at least a year.
I noticed that brushing with baking soda later produced a mildly sweet taste in my mouth. This may not be obvious to everyone and it may not even be the case for everyone.
(If you avoid consuming sugar, you can also detect the unpleasant acidic taste that results from bacteria attacking the sugar and producing acid around your teeth when you do eat sugar. I never was aware of that before I stopped buying sugar. I have made an exception three times, twice to make really yummy brownies in my microwave to treat my colleagues and once when friends were visiting who like sugar in their tea.)
When I went shopping for these things for making my own toothpaste and shampoo, I almost automatically grabbed some coconut shower gel but I remembered just in time that I wanted to cut my plastic waste. I can probably also use my DYI coconut shampoo as shower gel.
The can / tin of coconut milk cost me £ 0.80, but for the soap, I chose a four-pack of “Simple pure soap for sensitive skin” without perfume or color, which cost £2.16, both at Asda
After I got home, I wondered what “dermatologically tested” meant, which was printed on the soap’s packaging. It looked like paper but turned out to be… plastic. The bars are wrapped individually, too, but at least those wrappers are made of paper.
I looked into the dermatological testing. “Simple” products are not tested on animals, but this soap does contain sodium tallowate (made from animal fat). And what a shame about the plastic packaging.
But the soap smells delicious! Without added perfume!
Another possible problem with the soap is that it requires the use of a moisturiser afterward, but I can accommodate for that by adding enough olive oil.
I often use olive oil on my skin (though I’ve gotten out of the habit lately). It does a great job as it seals moisture in and makes my skin look really healthy and young.
The next thing I did was make liquid soap. I grated about a quarter of a bar with a cheese grater that I had bought because a consumer program on the BBC claimed that grating your own cheese is cheaper than buying grated cheese. (It wasn’t, in my case.)
I wouldn’t call this “finely” grated, but it will have to do.
Then I waited till 8 pm because between 8 pm and 10 pm, my electricity costs less than half of what it costs between 4 pm and 8 pm. (That’s 9 pm and 11 pm in during daylight saving time, though, and 5 pm and 9 pm!)
In the meantime, I tried to figure out how much “a quart” was, in the recipe that I’d found online. In the UK, it is 1.1365225 litres and in the US it is 0.946352946 liters. As the needed quantity of soap was one ounce or about 1/4 of a bar, I decided that about one liter of water would do. I could always add a bit more if I got the feeling that more was needed, but the recipe is American, so I didn’t anticipate needing more water.
Then I set about finding a suitable container for my liquid soap. Guess what? I stuck my arms into my kitchen’s trash container (relax, I knew what was in it) and pulled out two plastic pump flasks for liquid hand soap for which I had thought I had no more use. Each holds 500 ml, so that’s perfect.
These bottles are recyclable (probably turned into plastic wood), but whether I don’t know whether they are really recycled. The pumps are not recyclable.
Dissolving the soap was much easier and happened much quicker than I expected:
The recipe said to let the stuff gel for 24 hours, but I could already tell long before that that this soap was going to be great, and of the same consistency as the hand soap I used to buy.
So, one package with four bars of soap at £ 2.16 will make me 4 times 4 times 2 bottles is 32 bottles of soap that usually cost £1 or maybe 2 for £1. I didn’t use much electricity for heating so making my own hand wash this way saves me £ 15 to £ 30.
A possible downside is that this liquid soap may not be moisturising, so I will add a few drops of oil to it. I added a few drops of olive oil this time. Next time, I may use almond oil or rose oil.
I waited one more day, so 48 hours all in all, before I declared the two bottles with home-made liquid soap ready for use. The consistency is quite fine now, but when I vigorously shook both bottles 20 to 22 hours after I poured the soap mixture into the bottles – to ensure that the mixture had gelled well – the liquid that came out then was still quite thin/watery. It does take at least 24 hours for the mixture to stabilize, said the recipe.
Yay, buying handwash eliminated!
I’ll make shampoo next, when my current bottle runs out.