Monday, August 8, 2011

Homemade Deodorant Recipe Roundup

a suburban greenmom sweats toxins...

These days it seems all but impossible to avoid some cancer risk or another. Our cell phones, our computers, the linings in our vegetable cans, our body care products...it just doesn't end.

I'm a believer in the idea of "body burden"--that what we are at risk for is less about the specific ingredients to which we are exposed at any given time than about the accumulation of various things beyond our bodies' abilities to filter and clean them out. I genuinely wonder if this isn't an evolutionary, natural-selection kind of quality that we are gradually picking up as a species, the ability to process and eliminate foreign contaminants from our bodies with ever-increasing efficiency and speed.

Which gives me comfort--because there really isn't any possible way to avoid it all. But wherever I can, I try to avoid what I can.

So when there's an alternative to daily doing something like, for example, shaving my armpits (you know, that spot really close to my breasts and lymph nodes?), and then rubbing an aluminum compound on the newly nicked skin in the interest of not being stinky, I'm going to take it.

Deodorant. We all (okay, I assume most of us) use it. But Aluminum Chlorohydrate, the primary ingredient in most commercial anti-perspirant/deodorants, is associated with all kinds of health risks, including Alzheimers and breast cancer. The "crystal" kinds of deodorants, which use potassium alum as their main ingredient, are better but still a little controversial.

But there are also a lot of recipes out there for making one's own.

Crunchy Thrifty Cool and Tammy's Recipes both have versions which involve coconut oil, baking soda, and cornstarch with essential oils; Crunchy Betty has one which uses beeswax and clay as well. This seems to be the main master recipe most people use variations of: some mixture of melted solid oils, cornstarch or arrowroot powder, baking soda, and sometimes essential oils. Here is one for a liquid spray deodorant which includes aloe, witch hazel, and zinc oxide. Most recommend use of essential oils such as tea tree, lavender, rose geranium, and such.

Very few of the recipes I've consulted do what I have done (and what Green Generation has done), which is far simpler than most other versions, less messy, and is honestly the most effective deodorant I have ever tried. I have been using it exclusively for months, and now that it's gotten me through most of a really sweaty summer, I finally feel comfortable blogging about it:

Jenn's Homemade Magic Anti-Stink Powder Recipe
In a small jar, mix equal parts aluminum-free baking soda and cornstarch. Add a few drops tea tree oil, lavender oil, and other safe oils as desired. (Sweet orange and/or Roman chamomile would be lovely.) Shake well until oils are mixed well through the powder. Gently pat a little under each armpit, using powder puff or fingers, and face the day pretty sure that you'll neither stink nor have any oily stuff staining your clothes.

This powder is also all but magical for treating stinky shoes, doggy-smelling blankets, and it makes a very effective dry shampoo for the off-days when my hair doesn't really need washing but maybe is looking a little oily around the roots.

Could anything be easier? Mostly I love this because there's no mixing, melting, strange ingredients, or just plain time involved. When I run out, I just duck down to the kitchen and mix a little more up in about 9 seconds. Totally simple.

Okay, so how about you guys? Any variations on the recipe I've missed? What's worked for you?

Anything I've said enough to convince anyone who hasn't gone here yet to give natural deodorant a try?

--Jenn the Greenmom

13 comments:

brendie said...

im a stinky, i sweat alot. no commercial preparation works for me, most end up smelling like cat pee within hours (as does any perfumes)even the so called natural teatree oil ones. what does work for me is baking soda which ive just recently began adding a few drops of lavendar e.o to. in the evening im still fresh smelling. havent thought to use cornstarch with it.

knutty knitter said...

What brendie said :) I will try the cornstarch and oils too though.

viv in nz

ps why is it that perfumes smell like cat pee?

Jenn the Greenmom said...

Brendie--
When I weaned off the aluminum chlorohydrate deodorants, I went through this period of a couple of weeks where I had the TOTAL EVIL SKUNKPITS FROM HELL. I mean, it was NASTY. And then, it sort of...went away. Never to return. I've always assumed it was like the "no poo" acclimation period, where my body had to get used to a new way of doing things AND filter out the crap that had been clogging my pores for the past 25 years or so since puberty...

Viv--just for chuckles, I pasted your question into a Google search and, believe it or not, got 181,000+ hits. Not all are relevant, and none of them seem to definitively answer the question, but...there you are. :-)

Betsy (Eco-Novice) said...

Well that definitely sounds easy enough to give it a try. Do you think it would work fine w/o the essential oils? I can't see myself getting around to buying any anytime soon...Have you tested this out on a man?

Jenn the Greenmom said...

Betsy, equally good questions...

Never tried it on a man, though my hubby uses a natural non-aluminum compound himself (Aubrey E above High C, I think?) and is rarely if ever stinky. And he exercises and sweats a lot. But he is mistrustful of my potions.

I know a lot of people do use something like this without essential oils; the baking soda is what mostly does the trick, and coconut oil is supposed to have those properties too. But Tea Tree oil is cheap and available at a lot of ordinary stores now, and it's a fabulous antibacterial and antifungal, so I'd imagine it's a big part of what makes this work AS WELL as it does. The lavender is mostly just for pretty. If you try it w/o the oils, come back and let me know how it works!

pathtogreen said...

My own recipe is very similar to yours, except I mix the baking soda, corn starch, and essential oil with coconut oil to make it a creamy solid. It smells divine too.

Here's the link if you want to check out the details.
http://pathtogreen.wordpress.com/2011/01/05/homemade-deodorant-recipe/

Jenn the Greenmom said...

PathtoGreen, THANKS--that looks like a motherlode of DIY tricks, I'll check them out!

Do you ever have any issues with the coconut oil staining clothes? That would be my worry; I spill on my clothes ALL the time anyhow, and oily armpits would be a deal-breaker...

pathtogreen said...

I have been using my version for (I think) about a year now and have never had it stain anything. It might look like it will leave a mark, but will always wash out, at least for me anyway. Certainly not like those "invisible solids" out there that leave horrid stains. Glad I could help!

Brandislee said...

Thanks for the mention!

I haven't had any staining issues, either, although I understand your concern. I used cold pressed veg oils (other than coconut, hadn't discovered it's awesomeness yet...) on my kids when they were newborns and if I got even a tiny bit on their clothes it stained yellow and smelled like a frier when it came out of the washer- yuck! But I've noticed nothing like that with the coconut oil. And far less clothing residue than what I had with conventional deodorant.

Baking soda alone works well for many, because it does most of the work in the mixture neutralizing the stinkies and absorbing odor. Corn starch mostly provides cheap bulk and absorbs moisture. Coconut oil is nice if you like a solid- I think it's easier to put on than a powder, but I do keep a mixture of pretty much the same thing you use (minus the baking soda) as a dry shampoo. I just always manage to make a holy mess with it:)

It's also worth noting that some people react badly to cornstarch, so if you breakout or have any unfavorable reaction, that is the likely culprit.

Jenn the Greenmom said...

Brandislee--

Interesting! Many of the sites I saw suggested that it's baking soda that causes irritation, and that's why they recommend corn starch to sort of cut the strength of it. I haven't had problems with either, so I can't really speak to it...

...except to mention that arrowroot is often suggested as an alternative to cornstarch. FWIW!

Alicia@ eco friendly homemaking said...

Wow what a great recipe! I have made the ones with arrowroot, soda and coconut oil but this sounds so much better. Thanks so much for sharing the recipe!

Condo Blues said...

I tried several variations of baking soda/homemade deodorants for a month at a time. None of them worked :( It's not too surprising because there is only 1 conventional deodorant that does not fail on me mid day. I alternate between that if I need extra protection and the liquid crystal.

Jenn the Greenmom said...

Coming back later in the game...just noticed that Jeanne at A Life Less Plastic uses the baking soda/cornstarch mix, apparently without essential oils, and it does fine...

http://lifelessplastic.blogspot.com/2008/04/homemade-deodorant-just-use-baking-soda.html

FWIW!

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