Thursday, February 5, 2009

ZERO WASTE Toothbrush!! :))

Oh gosh, I'm so excited!! :))

I just read an article (in Slovenian) about using natural toothbrush - that you can just grab from a tree!

Apparently the rest of the world has been using them for millenia.. They are known as
chewing sticks, Miswak or siwak, muthala in Namibia or datan, datun, datun or so in India.

Used in old China, India, Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece and Rome, and by Amercian Natives, they can even be bought online! Nowadays they are more present in Muslim areas, as they've taken on a religious meaning.

But why buy? Go outside and uhm, pick a branch from a tree/shrub!

Apparently the original miswak is made from "twigs of the Salvadora persica tree, also known as the arak tree or the peelu tree" which according to Wikipedia has antibacterial and perhaps also other healing properties, possibly also curing you of rheumatism or asthma as you chew - or helping you to quit smoking (!).
Not surprisingly, even the toothpaste industry got in on it:

Quite shockingly, "A 2003 scientific study comparing the use of miswaak with ordinary toothbrushing concluded that the results clearly were in favor of the users who had been using the miswaak provided they had been given proper instruction in how to brush using the miswak."

"Other tree types that are used are the olive, walnut, and other trees with bitter roots."

The Slovenian author said he just started to experiment with various trees, and recommends olive tree, sumach, ash tree or peach - they are easy and pleasant to use (he didn't research their antibacterial etc properties though, so this is still open to research).

He said some were a no-go (oak, hazel, linden tree, pine tree/spruce, cedar, cherry etc.) - because their wood was very hard to chew or tasteless, or not making pretty fibers (they either got frayed, fell off or were too thick)

His favourite trees are olive, ash tree, peach, sumach or 'smoke tree' (I hope that's the right link!), acacia, Syringa vulgaris or common lilac (which is interestingly also in the olive family), and some others.

There are tutorials online and on Youtube, on how to use it!! :)

Maybe a bit more research is needed, to see if any of those could be toxic in greater amounts, and exactly HOW to use it! - but I'm excited to try!! :)


  1. Oooo, now look who I found in the blogosphere! So glad to see you finding space for your writings.
    We had heard about neem twigs and I assume these are the same?
    I'm looking forward to following your blog :)

    Mrs G x

  2. Yeah, these are sort of similar - apparently both neem tree or arak tree or other trees can be used!! :)

    Still experimenting with the blog, and maybe I'll have a more 'official one' later on, but thought I'd document stuff as I go along.. :)
    /Yes, those comments on your site & elsewhere were getting a bit lengthy lol :)/

    Have you ever tried the neem twigs or such? :)

  3. Here I am, Layla!!!
    Welcome in the blogosphere!
    I wish you a great success with your experiments! :)

    I've never seen these sticks! This is a good alternative to the normal toothbrush but how many sticks do you think one could need, for example in a month? One a day? And is the single packaging compostable or recyclable? Do you think you'll try them?

    I am using an electric rechargeable toothbrush, and I am still in doubt if it is the greener solution to a simple plastic one. I must throw in the landfill a little piece of plastic mixed to iron anyway, and I consume energy too... so, am I doing the right thing? I fear not!

    How's hard the way to Zero Waste to us, "garblogger", but it totally worth!

  4. Danda,

    great to see you here!! :)

    I haven't used the sticks yet, but I intend to!! :)
    I intend to get it from a tree, not from a shop!! :) And then it doesn't matter so much, how many you need, probably depends how often you clean your teeth..

    I must first google the different sorts of wood mentioned to see if they are toxic or so.. Probably olive would be okay, we don't have it here though.. peach has been sprayed, so that's a no-no too.. So I wish to learn more about this, and then I will try!! I will report when I try it!! :)

    I am not sure what is better, electric or ordinary toothbrush - electric does use electricity (emissions) but you throw away a whole toothbrush if it's an ordinary one..
    There are ordinary toothbrushes with replaceable heads too..
    But I was really excited about these bio-sticks, as you need no plastics at all!!