While I have used and loved Tom’s of Maine for years now, it was recently pointed out to me that Tom’s uses sodium lauryl sulfate in their toothpaste. It was also recently pointed out that sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) are either palm oil or coconut derivatives. If you missed my article on palm oil and the truly awful ramifications of this industry – on the shrinking rain forests and on the helpless orangutans and other animals that call those forests home (orangutans are actually killed by hand if they don’t die in the clear cutting and burning of rainforest to plant palm trees) – check it out. All this pointing got me thinking I should find out which toothpastes I can feel good about buying.
Other than the potential destruction to orangutans, SLS is considered to be toxic, and according to the NaturalHealthCentre.com, “Although SLES is somewhat less irritating than Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, it cannot be metabolised by the liver and its effects are therefore much longer-lasting.
“A report published in the Journal of The American College of Toxicology in 1983 showed that concentrations as low as 0.5% could cause irritation and concentrations of 10-30% caused skin corrosion and severe irritation. National Institutes of Health “Household Products Directory” of chemical ingredients lists over 80 products that contain sodium lauryl sulfate. Some soaps have concentrations of up to 30%, which the ACT report called “highly irritating and dangerous”. 
As I already knew, Tom’s of Maine is a great company that has set the bar in many respects of sustainability, naturally sourced ingredients, recycled packaging and social and environmental stewardship, and they do offer a toothpaste without SLS, so they made my list of non-toxic toothpaste options:
1. Herbal Choice Natural Tooth Gels – this brand is my favorite for its short and simple list of ingredients in its Cinnamon and Baking Soda flavor (though all flavors have similarly short ingredient lists): Purified Water (pure water), Calcium Carbonate (a natural mineral tooth polish), Cinnamon (organic), Tea Tree (organic), Lavender (organic), Guar Gum (natural plant gum) & Baking Soda (natural mineral).
2. Tom’s of Maine “Clean and Gentle” thoothpaste
3. Jason natural toothpastes
4. Weleda salt toothpaste
5. Organique by Himalay Neem-Pomegranet toothpaste
I also want to try making my own, of course, and figured it would include baking soda, peppermint or other minty-type oil, and something else – turns out the something else is coconut oil or glycerin. Here is a great recipe for all natural, SLS-free toothpaste, via TammysRecipes.com.
Another option all together is the new “THIS toothbrush” product inspired by a design student’s master’s project. It’s a natural twig that has bristles encased in an outer bark.
I’m going to make my own, try Herbal Choice and even pick up a THIS, just to see which I like best.
 “Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS ) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES). The Killers in your bathroom?” on NaturalHealthCentre.com
Headline image © Jonathan LaRocca