What's in Toothpaste?

Modern toothpaste uses surprising ingredients rooted in toothpaste recipes from thousands of years ago. Watch as chemist George Zaidan tries to create his own homemade toothpaste.

UPDATE: Since we filmed this video, the FDA has banned triclosan and 18 other ingredients from “consumer antiseptic wash products” (aka soap). You can read the details here and here, but the FDA is basically saying that none of these ingredients clean your hands any better than plain old soap and water. The FDA did not ban triclosan from toothpaste, but you can easily check whether your toothpaste has it by checking the ingredients label. Triclosan would be listed under “Active Ingredients” in the “Drug Facts” box on the back of the package. Most toothpastes don’t have triclosan, so you can choose to brush without it if you’d like.

Join MIT-trained chemist and science educator George Zaidan as he tries to recreate everyday household products like toothpaste, lipstick, or shaving cream using only natural ingredients… and no recipe! He’ll have to decode long lists of intimidating chemical names, figure out what they all do, try and find natural substitutes, and then cook up the do-it-yourself versions in his chemistry lab (kitchen). While George may or may not succeed, we'll all learn something new and surprising about the products we take for granted every day.

Get updates and tweet episode ideas @georgezaidan.

Credits:
Special thanks: H. Elaine Cheong, DDS
Editor: Daniel Carbone
Graphics and Animations: Per Hoel
Illustrator: Brett Paci
Overlays: Ceri Riley
Director of Photography: Adam Morrell and Emily Wathen
Theme Music: Pickup Stix
Additional music: Cyborg Ninja (Kevin MacLeod)
Created and Executive Produced by: George Zaidan and Elizabeth Choe

For National Geographic:
VP, Digital Video: James Williams
Executive Producer: Danielle Steinberg
Producer: Will Halicks
Associate Producer: Milaena Hamilton
Associate Producer: Lindsay Benson
Special thanks to Stephanie Atlas, Lisa Covi, Dan Steinmetz, Rebekah Barlas, Nicola Overstreet, Anna Kukelhaus, Kelsey Taylor, Gabe Bullard, Becky Little

Sources:
http://www.statista.com/statistics/195650/leading-us-toothpaste-brands-in-2007-and-2008-based-on-sales/
http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00784-012-0916-9
http://www.speareducation.com/spear-review/2012/11/a-brief-history-of-toothpaste/
http://www.karger.com/Article/Abstract/69022
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12535435
http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/ed055p736
http://www.madehow.com/Volume-3/Toothpaste.html
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12013348
http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/ed1004992
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18436299
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20091655
https://www.crcpress.com/Handbook-of-Cosmetic-Science-and-Technology-Third-Edition/Barel-Paye-Maibach/p/book/9781420069631
https://www.elsevier.com/books/cosmetic-and-toiletry-formulations-volume-2/flick/978-1-4933-0516-2
http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-1405126965.html
https://books.google.com/books?id=JxorBgAAQBAJ&lpg=PP1&ots=L6uTcHYQfo&dq=poucher's%20perfumes%20cosmetics%20and%20soaps%2010th%20edition&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q=poucher's%20perfumes%20cosmetics%20and%20soaps%2010th%20edition&f=false