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Monday, February 25, 2013

homemade deodorant

Natural Deodorant

Scary sounding? It isn't. This recipe is surprisingly simple, and cheap, and best of all effective. As you know, I LOVE finding ways to cut corners and tighten down my budget for other things, and I also LOVE to know exactly what is in the things I put in and on my body. With cooking, the easy solution is to make it myself. But that isn't so daunting for most people out there because cookbooks and the Food Channel bring chefs, along with their tips and tricks, almost into one's own home with very little effort. When it comes to personal care and hygiene, house cleaning, it is generally far simpler to reach for products on the grocery store shelf.

I was a deodorant junkie for quite a few years. I don't like sweat. I really don't like sweat. I hate the stains on my white shirts after several summers of wear. I especially hated moving back to Arizona as a new bride and having to relearn heat all over again. I sweated constantly. And so I used antiperspirant constantly, too, and not just in my armpits! I would rub a little under my boobs before putting on my bra, so that I would sweat less and feel fresher while spending all day at work caring for children in a daycare that only had swamp cooling during the AZ August monsoons. I refused to even think about what I was potentially doing to my body by using antiperspirants thus.

While pregnant, my nose was, as we called it, "twitchy". I could smell everything. And so, again, I reached for the antiperspirant a lot, scent-free this time, as I simply couldn't handle smelling my own body odor, and the scents of baby powder deo, even the vinegar rinse I had used on my hair for years, would make me vomit. Anyone who has endured morning sickness, or lived with a woman during such a time, will appreciate the overwhelming desire to just avoid anything that could possibly make the puking feeling worse. I wish I'd had this homemade recipe back then. I could have made my own anti-nausea-scented deodorant!

Well, once my son was born, I finally made the switch. I stopped using junk-filled, metal-heavy antiperspirant with aluminum, and I bought a stick of Tom's brand deodorant. "All-natural", metal-free. It smelled pretty good, actually. I've been using Tom's for over a year now and it's worked reasonably well. At first, I found that I sweated more. I suspect my body had been trying hard for years to sweat in natural, normal places and had been blocked by the chemicals with which I was saturating my glands and delicate skin, and, unaccustomed to actually being allowed to sweat, was going a bit overboard. It took about 5 or 6 weeks before I felt that I was sweating a normal amount again. This was with spring approaching, might I add, so time of year was not working in my favor weather-wise, which I feel makes my assessment of improved sweat measurements more accurate if not a little understated.

But one thing bothers me about Tom's. "All-natural" still includes several ingredients I have a hard time pronouncing, let alone spelling, and I couldn't for the life of me tell you what they are or why they are in the stuff. This bothers me. My skin is the largest organ of  my body, and already takes a lot of hits daily due to traffic exhaust, occasional sunlight overexposure, makeup and chemicals I wear to feel pretty, regular use of my cellphone and kitchen microwave, to name only a few. Some things I will continue to use. Never fear, I'm not about to quit the western world and ditch global communications! But where I can make small changes, I feel I really ought to try, for the sake of my body, my budget, and the planet for which mankind has been entrusted to care by God himself. So, I made my own deodorant.

If you would like to read more about why certain ingredients, including aluminum, are unhealthy on the skin, this makes a good starting point.

The recipe I used, found in the Bulk Herb Store articles, and the video of Shoshanna showing the recipe in action, only needed a small amount of tweaking. My slight adaptation is the below recipe. As you can see from the photo above, the single recipe made enough for a full tube (white) of deodorant in a recycled twist-up tube, a full pot (brown) of finger application deodorant to toss into my diaper bag as a just-in-case, and another third (blue) in a second twist-up tube. My guess is the single recipe would comfortably make two full tubes of deodorant, one of which will normally last an average user at least a couple of months, or if you use a recycled toilet paper tube to make a push-up deodorant stick I imagine it would fill one tube. My husband and I are both wearing this deodorant today. Thus far, it has worked better than any other deodorant or antiperspirant that I can remember ever wearing. It does not block wetness, but I've done workouts and "played" with my husband and worked in the garden and done chores while running around with a toddler, and through the entire weekend I did not smell funky once. I fully expect that my good impression of this homemade, truly all natural product will not lessen as we head into a typical sweaty summer. Also reassuring, if my son were to ever taste this, given that most new things still make their way into his mouth for exploration, there is absolutely nothing in the recipe that would harm him internally. It probably wouldn't taste that great, but if he were to bizarrely eat the tube I would be laughing rather than freaking out and dialling 911. So, give it a go! Try the stuff and see how it works for you. I have no doubts that it will, and the recipe is easily adaptable, too, so if you find the texture not quite to your liking then it is easily changed by melting down the deodorant and tweaking it slightly.

Homemade Natural Deodorant

1/2 c raw coconut oil
2 Tb beeswax pastilles
(original recipe calls for 1)
optional 30 to 40 drops of essential oil(s), or have a look at my post on deodorant roller balls

2 Tb baking soda
1 Tb Celtic sea salt

2 Tb arrowroot powder (original recipe calls for 1)
2 Tb bentonite clay  (optional, as it may stain whites over time, so if you leave it out you may want to add more arrowroot and beeswax to form a thicker texture of deodorant)

Place coconut oil and beeswax pastilles in a Pyrex glass dish, within a pot of water on the stove to create a makeshift double boiler. Since the recipe contains bentonite clay, it would be very bad to bring any part of the clay into contact with a metal. Bentonite draws out toxins, especially metals, from the body, which makes it great to include in a natural deodorant for one who has used a lot of aluminum products in their armpits in the past. So use a glass dish to mix in, and a wooden spoon or popsicle stick to stir. If you want to use a different type of oil than coconut, you will need to add 3 Tb of beeswax pastilles, not 2, as coconut oil has a higher melting point than most oils and thus sets more firmly. I do recommend coconut oil, however, as the list of healthful benefits is quite long and it is especially known to be anti-microbial, thus aiding in the battle against body odor.

Melt oil and wax together until fully blended, and then remove from heat. Add essential oils and stir in well. The batch I am currently wearing contains 20 drops each of orange and lemon e.o., which smells beautifully fresh without being overbearing or girly. You can use pretty much any scent that pleases you. You can also infuse your coconut oil with herbs ahead of time, as the original recipe describes, which can often be cheaper, but does take an extra 3 days of mental energy. The essential oils were quick and effective for my initial trial batches.

Place baking soda and Celtic sea salt in Magic Bullet with grinder attachment, and break down to as smooth a powder as you possibly can.
Arrowroot is already very finely powdered and I did not find that it needed any further attention. My first batch was using fine ground salt and regular soda, and I found the finished texture to still be a little rough for my liking. Powdered well, the deodorant feels silky smooth and comfortable.

Mix all the dry ingredients together, and then, stirring well, add them to the wet and stir hard into a smooth paste. Let partially cool, stir hard again to ensure no possible settling, and pour into your mold of choice. Recycled deodorant tubes are great. You can make a push pop out of a TP cardboard roll. You can pour it simply into a non-metal container and use by finger application. You could reuse an empty chapstick tube if you want a really little deodorant for travel.

Further feedback!
Having used this deodorant recipe for several months now, I can report superb odor control. It's wonderful! It's now mid-July, which means we are in the midst of central Arizona's monsoons, and it's not only very hot but very muggy. The worst time is always shortly before the rains finally break, as the heat is easily over 100F daily and the atmospheric pressure makes me sweat like a dog all day long.

(Funny phrase, that. Sweat like a dog. I might be more comfy if all I had to do is stick out my tongue to cool off... Do dogs actually perspire as we do?)

Anyway... I have continued to wear this homemade deodorant. Marvelous stuff. I have worn it day in and day out, to church, in the garden, out for drinks, everywhere. The only time I thought twice about going natural was while getting dressed for an outdoor wedding in May. I had a small amount of gross stuff left in the cupboard, as I've been saving the container, and for a brief moment debated the sins of aluminum versus sweat stains in wedding photos before picking up my usual natural product and happily applying the good stuff. It complements my perfume fragrance best, I said!

Well, I sweated. Oh, yes. However, even in the heat of outdoors May, my body has adjusted so much that I did not sweat as much as in cooler January, believe it or not. Even after chasing a very energetic toddler by myself (as my honey was in the wedding party and couldn't help me) all afternoon, dancing with the boy and running around seeing everybody, I did NOT come home with sweat stains on my dress, nor did I smell at all sweaty! Damp, sure. But not smelling or appearing so. How great it that?!

I also find that the duration of odor control is typically a good 12 hours long, even through workouts, which means that I can apply the lovely paste after my evening shower and not have to worry about it the next morning or all through the day. Brilliant.

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