Deodorant has been on my list of things I’d like to make for myself for a while now. I have been using a natural deodorant from Miessence for ages, it only contains aloe vera, baking soda and essential oils. And it works ok. To be honest I don’t really care that much, I don’t even use it if we are going to be doing farm work all day and not going anywhere special. I use it on work days, but I sit in air con, so I don’t sweat much. If I’m going out in summer, no amount of deodorant is going to control sweat in the climate we live in (hot and humid), but I will apply deodorant anyway, may as well try to smell nice. So if you’re picky about these things, I’m probably not a good reference point if you actually care what you smell like!
Anyway, I’d better start from the beginning before I get into making deodorant. I changed from conventional deodorant to the natural brand a while ago because I wasn’t happy with all the extra ingredients. See this link, which lists ingredients of concern:
AluminumAnd I will add artificial fragrance to that list.
TEA & DEA
There is a lot of stuff on the internet about the links between cancer and deodorant being “debunked”. Sorry, but just because you did a study of people with and without cancer who did and did not use deodorant and couldn’t find a conclusive link does not mean that there is no link. I prefer to apply the precautionary principle. If I don’t NEED to put a toxic chemical on my skin, I won’t, and that goes for deodorant too.
Typically, deodorants contain antibacterial ingredients that help reduce the numbers of odour-causing bacteria, and may also contain perfumes that mask the smell. On the other hand, antiperspirants use aluminium salts to reduce sweating by temporarily plugging pores and also by constricting or shrinking the pores due to their astringency. Antiperspirant products don’t completely prevent sweating, and often contain deodorising ingredients as well as antiperspirants to reduce smell. Plugging pores just doesn’t sound like a good idea to me, and aluminium salts have been linked to Alzheimer's disease. Again, aluminium salts may not actually cause Alzheimer's disease, but it doesn’t seem like a good idea to take the risk.
One of the alternatives to chemical deodorants that I considered was the “crystal deodorant”, which is also an aluminium salt (although a different chemical formula to the antipersperents). I cannot find conclusive evidence that this form of aluminium is sustaintially different to he form I am trying to avoid in conventional antiperspirants and no information about how this product works, so I suspect that it also clogs pores. I'm just not confident that its a better option without more independant information (apart from people trying to sell crystal deodorants).
After several years of only using a natural deodorant, I keep seeing blog posts about making your own deodorant and I’m thinking that would be a handy thing to be able to make. At the moment I have to order the one that I use because there is nowhere in Kingaroy that sells anything like that. So in the end, it doesn’t really matter if the chemicals in commercial deodorants are causing cancer or not. The point is that they are not natural and I can’t make them at home, so they are not the best option for me.
There are lots of recipes out there and one thing that I’ve learnt is that there seems to be a difference in the types of deodorant in different parts of the world! The US deodorants seem to be a solid stick, rather than the UK or Australian runny liquid deodorants. This explains why there are so many different recipes.
Here's some examples that I found on the net:
Without knowing why the various ingredients are used, its difficult to work out which recipe to use, fortunately I found an explanation, so I was then able to work out a suitable recipe.
baking soda - odour
arrowroot/corn starch – wetness
essential oils – antimicrobial
coconut oil – antimicrobial
beeswax – solidity
Mix it up (you might need to melt the coconut oil if its cold at your place) and keep it in a little jar. Apply with your fingers.
I left out the arrowroot/corn starch because it was impossible for me to find pure organic sources of either of these.
The first time I made this I was in a hurry and didn't follow the recipe properly and I skimped on the baking soda. In my experience, it doesn't work well without enough baking soda! So if it doesn't work for you at first, try adding more baking soda until you're happy with it, although it does start to get a little abrasive.
Also, there is some discussion around the blogs about diet being important. The theory is that if you are eating a clean and natural diet, you most likely smell less and will find this deodorant effective, if you're still eating junk, you're body will be eliminating toxins in your sweat and you will probably stink. I don't know if this is true, but if you experiment with this deodorant and don't like it, maybe have a look at your diet as well.
Sure neither ingredient is something I can grow myself, so its not really a self-sufficient deodorant. But if we get into a situation where I can't get baking soda or coconut oil, I think deodorant will be the least of my problems!
Commercial options are available from Biome, see link in banner below: