Traditional Balinese Toothpaste

published by : wayan purya on June 30, 2016


untitled-4021Living societies always find ways to adapt and blend with available resources and their surroundings. The same can be said for the Balinese. Long before the introduction of modern day materials to fulfill daily necessities, such as toothpaste, the Balinese found themselves using nature-friendly provisions. In this case, soft river sandstones. It might be something you’ve never thought would exist in the current modern world. Even so, the Balinese have mastered the art of blending in with nature.

untitled-4015   untitled-4016

For the Balinese, taking a bath, washing their hair and brushing their teeth, all come as a one-stop activity, since reaching water sources are normally quite a chore, usually to the nearest river in the village. Cleaning of teeth is like a ritual. In doing so they use natural tools, known as a ‘pilah’, or a kind of soft stone found in the rivers, together with rice straws and water. The process is easy. Simply find two palm-sized pilah and rice straw to be used in the manner like a toothbrush. Rub your pilah together until powdery, then scrub your teeth carefully with this powder using the rice straw. It will take a little bit longer to get your teeth entirely cleaned, and don’t forget to do a final rinse and gargle with water. Sometimes they mark their stones and keep them at a safe place for next use, or even take it home to avoid being lost or taken by someone else.


Hair washing is another story. The Balinese come to the river equipped with hibiscus leaves instead of shampoo, which they normally pick up on the way to the river in case there are no leaves available around the riverbank. The liquid resulted by crushing the leaves with water is effective to cleanse hair from dandruff and head lice, and makes your hair as smooth as silk. It’s no surprise to see elder Balinese women who love to keep their hair long, and the longer their hair, the larger their pride. At certain times, the Balinese women will spend even a half day at the river. They sometimes combine their personal grooming while doing their family’s laundry, and on the way home they carry bouquets of spring water for daily household use. Hence, it is a much more complex and heavier trip compared to what modern women endure today. *BB-RM*



Leave a Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *