Does toothpaste need a hechsher? Please explain the reason.
The issue with using toothpaste is that it contains glycerin which is a smooth, sweet tasting ingredient which is used in the toothpaste to prevent the solid and liquid components of the paste from separating. Glycerin can be made out of synthetic or natural ingredients, and the natural ingredients can contain animal and vegetable fat or oils. If it contains animal ingredients they will be non- kosher.
There are a number of factors to permit the use of toothpaste even if it contains animal glycerin; the fact that toothpaste isn’t edible, and the fact that it isn’t being eaten, but rather only tasted. R’ Yaakov Kaminetsky zt”l (Emes L’yackov ftnt 40), said that even if the glycerin is only bolit b’rov it is also permitted since the main ingredient is not edible, since the main ingredient is calcium carbonate( chalk), which isn’t edible. There are rabbomin and kashrus professionals that say that nowadays calcium carbonate generally is not really used, and the most common abrasive today is hydrated silica, which is edible, therefore R’ Yaakov reasoning won’t apply nowadays with many toothpastes. Nevertheless the other reasons still apply, that it isn’t edible and it is only being tasted and then it is spit out. Therefore m’iker hadin according to most poskim it would not need a hechsher, however if one can get one with a hechsher it would be better, especially when the toothpaste is flavored.
As a side point there are numerous toothpastes, that (as of Pesach 5777) do not contain animal glycerin and surely have no problem, such as, Aim, Aqua Fresh, Adwe, Arm and Hammer, Crest, Orajel, Pepsodent, Synsodene, and others. (See R’ Blumenkrantz’s Pesach guide pg. 280). Colgate however may have animal ingredients.
Rivivos Efrayim 2-10, Emes L’yackov ftnt. 40, Shearim Mitzuyanim B’halacha 46-7, Halachically Speaking 5-4 ftnt. 74 in the name of R’ Y. Belsky zt”l, Megilas Sefer- Issur V’ heter 98-2, Ma’adanei Osher 76-3,