Thursday, February 12, 2009

Homemade deodorant

So, I ran out of deodorant a couple weeks ago. And I thought to myself, "self, I should try to make homemade deodorant." Now some of you are probably thinking, "Is she so poor she can't afford a stick of Degree? Is she unconcerned with the potential for BO? What's the point?"
First, I have enough money for some deodorant, but I don't feel like spending it. I'd rather save it for food or thread or seeds. And, while I do understand the societal norm of BO avoidance, those that have lived with me for any amount of time will vouch that I am unafraid of my own smell, and rarely go out of my way to comply with this particular norm. As for the point of making my own? Well, why do I do any of the things I do? :-D I'm curious about whether it can be done, I've got the materials to do it, I think I can lessen my resource draw by doing it myself and I think my concoction will be healthier for me.

So, a few words on making your own deodorant, in case you feel like trying this for yourself.
First, sweat does not stink. Sweat itself is not much more than salt water with some trace fatty acids. The stink is from bacteria who like warm, dark and moist areas to live in. The things to remember about these bacteria are: you are never going to get rid of them, and they are more active at a certain pH. Now a human body's pH can differ widely from one person to another; that's why some people stink worse than others. If your pH is abnormal then you will attract more bacteria and they will excrete more stinkiness. Sugars and starches found in empty carbohydrates cause an individuals pH to be abnormal. In non-science terms, "You are what you eat." If you really want to avoid BO, eat healthier foods. Have you noticed all the "clinical strength" deodorants advertised? Have you ever wondered why you need clinical strength when it's quite likely that Grandpa grew up just fine on regular strength, or none at all? Those clinical strength deodorants are just increasingly acidic and fortified with antibacterial fighting agents, like propylene glycol and triclosan, to inhibit the growth of bacteria that are running amok because of the poor diet most American's consume.

If you're serious about making your own deodorant, you may want to think about changing your diet. I don't think my formula is going to be able to combat the underlying imbalances from a daily diet of take out and fast food. Even if you don't want to make your own, if you want to break the cycle of overactive bacteria and stink and the never ending search for a stronger deodorant, give veggies a try.

The other thing my homemade deodorant won't do is stop you from sweating. Most store bought sticks have a 1-2 punch of deodorizers (those acidic antibacterial agents) and antiperspirants. The active ingredient in antiperspirants is always aluminum based and works by plugging the sweat ducts, so no sweat can come out. Now, besides the fact that these aluminum compounds are linked to Alzheimer's and brain disorders and are a possible risk factor in breast cancer, why would you want to stop your body from doing something it's designed to do? Sweating is a part of the systems for temperature control and waste management. Seems important to me, why mess with it?

So, without further ado, here is what I made:

Jennie's deodorant
1 part Baking Soda
4 parts Corn Starch
1 part powdered Neem leaf and Lavender blossoms

The baking soda is my deodorizer. It's the same stuff you put in your fridge to soak up bad smells. The corn starch works to both dilute the baking soda and acts as a wetness absorber. Neem leaf is something I keep around, it smells nice and it's a natural anti fungal/antibacterial. The lavender blossoms are just added for a little bit of scent.
That's it! It took 5 minutes, and I have 2 jelly jars full of my new natural deodorant. It's a powder, so I apply it with a brush right now. (One of my old blush brushes) But I'm thinking about sewing up a little powder puff applicator out of some of my diaper making scraps. If it's not strong enough for you, reduce the corn starch. Some people do have reactions to straight baking soda though, so don't make it too strong.

After the first week of use I can say I'm pleased with the result. It survives a full day of work, baby heat waves and all and I go home unstinky. I might have to up the baking soda this summer when I'm doing lots of gardening, or reapply midafternoon, but, I'll wait and see.

There are other recipes out there for everything from spray/mist on liquids, to creams made with Shea butter. For the gentlemen out there, my darling Dave hasn't used store bought deodorant for a few months now. He's equally uninterested in my powder though, he uses a Thai stone. From what I can tell it just coats the underarms with a fine layer of salt, making it uninviting for bacteria. Do a little research and come up with something that fits your lifestyle. No need to buy a stick of aluminum!


Leslie said...

Hey Jennie,

Great post - I'm actually allergic to aluminum, so I'm always looking for alternatives like this. Lots of sunscreens also contain aluminum and other metals - any ideas there??

ALSO, have you done any container gardening of vegetables? I live in an urban area so a garden isn't feasible, but I would love to grow some green peppers, etc. on my front porch in containers. any advice??

Jennie said...

Avocado oil, sesame oil and shea butter contain a low SPF sunscreen. However, they have limited VA/UVB-filtering ability. Titanium dioxide can be found online and helps boost the SPF.

Container gardening is a bit trickier because the plants are 100% relying on you to provide space/nutrients/water. Something like a full grown tomato vine can go through a gallon of water on a sunny summer day. The constant watering means nutrients leach out quicker, and you'll need a good fertilizer to compensate.

I'll have a container garden this year, check back here and I'll make sure to post things as I deal with them.