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Tooth Powder and Grey Water Systems

Posts: 4
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Hi, everybody!  

I apologize if I am posting this in the wrong place.  My name's Ashley and I'm writing from Wyoming.  I'm new here, so please bear with me!

I had a question regarding grey water systems.  My eventual goal is to build a sheep wagon to live in out here in the sagebrush, and I'm trying to get a head start on using products that are compatible with grey water systems so that my transition to tiny living will be a little easier when the time comes.

This may seem a little extreme, but I'm considering making my own tooth powder.  As far as I can tell, the ingredients would include food grade bentonite clay and dolomite powder, as well as powdered spearmint leaves and spearmint essential oil.  Are any of these four ingredients out of sync with using a grey water system?  I've read through some of the posts on this forum and learned that salts are not preferable but can be used in moderation, and I'd imagine that dolomite powder may provide a little of that.  If anyone has any insight, I'd be happy to hear from you.

Thank you all so much!  I look forward to becoming an involved member of this board!
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Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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Slightly off-topic but, please beware of using abrasives that may be too harsh for teeth (sorry, my dad is a dentist and former dental professor, so it's hard for me to resist cautioning about anything to do with teeth!)
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Location: Ladakh, Indian Himalayas at 10,500 feet, zone 5
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First of all I think both dolomite powder and bentonite clay are fine for soil. I don't think they are salts.

But more importantly, I don't think your toothpaste will be a problem for your greywater, even if you use conventional toothpaste. It's such a tiny amount of the product. Think of how long it takes you to finish a container of it, and then think if your greywater system and soil can probably handle that much product in that much time.

My 20 years of experience with greywater is extremely low tech. Our school in Ladakh, India, has greywater piped from the bathing block and from the kitchen block out to some trees. We don't have a shortage of water, so it's all pretty well diluted, though we've got 50 to 100 people at any given time using it, so that's a LOT of washing products and kitchen washing waste. We don't try to control the products people use so we've got laundry detergent, soap, toothpaste, and god knows what kind of gick our teenage residents use. We've been using this system for 20 years and the trees seem to love it. The willows and poplars are on the bathing-block water so they get mostly soap, laundry detergent and cosmetics. The fruit trees are all on the kitchen water outlet so they get a little soap and a lot of food bits and nutrients. We did lose an apricot right after winter years ago, that was on the bathing outlet, so I wonder if the willows and poplars are hardier in the face of soapy greywater. We try to  regularly alternate the canals that are fed by the greywater, but some of the trees are right at the initial outlet and so are always getting greywater every day and night of the year, including an apricot, a pear, and several willows.

I think the key is if there's plenty of water, the soil can handle most of what you put on it. Especially if you make mulch basins full of wood chips as recommended by Art Ludwig, I think greywater is pretty unproblematic.

If you have to haul your water from far away and will be using tiny amounts of water very efficiently, then maybe it would be concentrated enough to be an issue, but then you could dig a small soak pit for that concentrated water. Also you might find yourself using smaller amounts of all cleaning products, in the interests of using less water to rinse. Oh, or you try start using local sticks that you chew the end of, and you might well find that those make your teeth more squeaky clean than a reusable toothbrush with any kind of product.

I believe greywater is much simpler than you fear it is.
Ashley Sawtelle
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Thank you, Tyler and Rebecca, for your replies!

Tyler, I agree that I will need to double-check with a dental professional before making said tooth powder.  Thankfully, I used to work for two dentists right here in town for a couple of years, and I know plenty more around these parts, so I'll be sure to double-check the abrasiveness factor of the ingredients.

Rebecca, thank you for your helpful response.  Out here in Wyoming, I will need to be hauling water and will be using it sparingly, but as you said, it takes forever to get through even a tube of conventional toothpaste, so I'd imagine the minute amounts wouldn't do much to the soil.  And, on second thought, I think you're right about bentonite clay and dolomite powder not actually containing much salt, but again, I will be sure to double-check that with local dentists.

I appreciate all of your help!
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