Skip to Content

Homemade Tooth Powder: Ultralight Backpacking Tips

Homemade Tooth Powder: Ultralight Backpacking Tips

Dental powder has been around for a long time dating back to evidence that it was used by Ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Chinese, and Romans. Tooth powder has come a long way since those days. However, many ingredients are fairly similar today to what was being used back then.

Baking soda is the main ingredient in tooth powder now a days and it can be used exclusively by itself as a tooth powder. To use baking soda or any tooth powder, simply wet your brush slightly, dip the bristles into the powder, and brush as normal. Baking soda is great because it is environmentally friendly, naturally odorless, and has a variety of other uses while out in the woods as a cleaning agent for other items, antacid, and pain reliever.

However, if you want to stay away from only baking soda, you can add many other ingredients to your tooth powder to make it taste great, and work for you.

How To Make Tooth Powder For Backpacking

Making a tooth powder for backpacking is fairly easy. Most tooth powders are made up of a variety of ingredients with the main base ingredient being either baking soda or calcium carbonate. Both of those base ingredients will be great for removing stains on your teeth, making them whiter, and with the calcium carbonate, giving you extra calcium to make teeth stronger.

The good thing about baking soda too is the fact that swallowing small amounts of it is good for the stomach.

Here are a few other ingredients that you can use to make your tooth powder taste better, and be better for you.

  • Bentonite Clay – This clay is great because it has minerals that are nourishing to the gums and teeth. It also naturally binds to toxins which helps eliminate them.
  • Sea Salt – Sea salt helps sooth irritated gums and has good minerals that the body needs.
  • Sage – This is a good way to add a flavor to your tooth powder but it also is great for whitening the teeth.
  • Peppermint or Other Essential Oils – Peppermint is great for tooth powder because it is a natural antiseptic and antibacterial. It and other essential oils will also add great flavor to your tooth powder making it easier to use if you dislike the taste.
  • Cloves – These are great because they will also add good flavor to tooth powder but are also an anti-inflammatory ingredient which works great for sore gums.

These and many other ingredients you can add like ground mint or cinnamon are all great to make your own tooth powder. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different recipes for tooth powders to see which one works and tastes best. To start, I would recommend using this recipe below as a baseline. Then, you can add or take away anything you like to make it yours.

I really enjoy adding peppermint or ground mint to mine to give it a fresher flavor.

Homemade Tooth Powder Recipe:

  • 1 part Baking Soda
  • 1 part Calcium Carbonate
  • 1 part Bentonite Clay
  • .5 parts Sea Salt
  • .5 parts Cloves

Toothpaste Vs. Tooth Powder

There are many pros and cons to both toothpaste and tooth powder. Below I’ll break down some of the main reasons you should and should not use either.

Tooth Powder Pros and Cons – The best part about tooth powder is that it is good for you, and it also is good for the environment. It is non toxic, and generally comes from only natural ingredients. Also, it has sometimes been shown to be more effective than toothpaste at keeping teeth white, clean, and germ free.

The only real con’s to tooth powder is that it is slightly less convenient than toothpaste and it might leave a bad taste in your mouth after using.

Toothpaste Pros and Cons – The positives when it comes to toothpaste are the fact that it is convenient to use, does a good job of cleaning your teeth, and it has added fluoride which is used to reduce cavities.

Some of the bad parts about using toothpaste include the fact that it might leave a film on your teeth after use which will prevent re-mineralization. Furthermore fluoride can be harmful if swallowed.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Jessica Bashaw (@jessicab916) on

How To Store While Backpacking

You can use a variety of containers for your tooth powder once you make it. The size of the container will depend upon how long the trip you are taking is and how many times you are going to brush your teeth.

  • If you are only going to be gone for a week or less, an old film canister is perfect for keeping your tooth powder sealed while in your pack.
  • You could also use a zip lock bag or two so long as you put it in a place where you are sure it wont get jostled around and spill all over your stuff.
  • If you are going on a longer trip, a good piece of Tupperware should give you enough room for the tooth powder and will keep it dry and secure.

Other Variations

Other variations of tooth powder include many name brands such as Uncle Harry’s, Colgate, Eco-Dent, and Arm and Hammer. Any one of these brands makes a great tooth powder with different ingredients.

They will all also come in convenient cases used for travel. However, it is quite easy to make your own tooth powder as explained above so don’t be afraid of mixing some yourself in the kitchen with a simple recipe.

What about Activated Charcoal?

There are many conflicting theories about the effects that activated charcoal might have on teeth and as a whitening agent. Some of the main pro’s include the fact that activated charcoal works to bind to toxins and odors. It also making teeth whiter by taking these toxins and odors away.

On the other side, the con’s of using activated charcoal include the fact that there really is no backing in any way that supports the claims of what activated charcoal does. In fact, even some dentist believe that activated charcoal rubs away the enamel of teeth because of its abrasive texture making it bad for teeth.

Herbal Ingredients To Experiment With

Most of the ingredients listed before could be considered herbal ingredients that are great for tooth powder. I will also add that ingredients such as…

  • horsetail powder
  • mint powder
  • essential oils
  • neem powder
  • amla powder
  • pink Himalayan sea salt

…will all be great natural ingredients for a tooth powder. Don’t hesitate to do some more research on different things you can add to make your tooth powder better.

Also read: This study that compares between the benefits of herbal vs conventional pastes and powders on your teeth. You’ll see that the natural methods improved oral health significantly.

Tooth Brush Options

There are many options when it comes to different toothbrushes you can use. You should get one that has a cover and is also small the portable for backpacking.

I would recommend not using your finger for brushing your teeth because the bristles on a toothbrush will do a much better job of removing the bacteria and plaque from your teeth.

Go to the travel section of any grocery store or pharmacy and you will find great lightweight toothbrushes that you can bring with you on any trip.


Is baking soda toothpaste bad for your teeth? No, baking soda toothpaste is in fact good for your teeth. The baking soda acts as a natural stain remover and teeth whitener. It is also ok to swallow unlike other mouthwashes or toothpaste.

Is it OK to brush your teeth with salt? It is ok to brush your teeth with salt however this might not be the best way to clean teeth. The salt will be gently abrasive to bacteria left on teeth and should clean your teeth fine. But keep in mind that there are other better ways to keep teeth clean today.


Up Next In Ultralight Backpacking:

Women’s Ultralight Backpacking Gear List: 9 lb Base Weight

49 Ways to Lighten Your Backpacking Load

Ultralight Bivy Sacks – How To Choose

Share this article!

Leave a comment