The deodorant experiment? In full swing.
Results so far? One hundred percent success.
When I decided to try making my own deodorant, I started at Crunchy Betty (which is rapidly becoming my default resource for all things natural and homemade). There are two deodorant recipes on Crunchy Betty: the original homemade deodorant, and the Not A Secret homemade deodorant, with a slightly longer ingredient list. I really liked the look of the second one, but didn’t have everything it called for (and was too impatient to order it), so I kind of combined the two. Also, I looked at the price of essential oils at Wholefoods one time and my mouth immediately dropped into an open-jaw position and was unable to close for several minutes, so I used an alternative method for adding fragrance.
In the end, my recipe looked like this (I’m almost certain):
- 1 1/2 Tbsp grated beeswax or beeswax beads
- 4 Tbs coconut oil
- 4 tsp corn starch
- 2 – 3 strips orange peel
- 1 Tbsp dried rosemary
I started by melting the coconut oil in a small saucepan, then adding the orange peel and rosemary. (These pictures show a lot more orange peel and rosemary than the recipe, but I think the scent is a little too strong, so I will reduce it to the amounts in the recipe next time.)
When the orange peel started to sizzle in the coconut oil, I removed it from the heat and let the orange and herbs infuse the oil for a while — about 20 or 30 minutes, you could go ahead and eat the naked orange while you’re waiting — then strained out the solids (a larger strainer definitely would have been useful here, but I saw it in the kids’ sandbox out the kitchen window and settled for this one).
I then returned my Orange-Rosemary infused coconut oil to a small saucepan and melted in the grated beeswax.
Once the beeswax was all melty, I whisked in the corn starch, then removed it from the heat to let it set up a bit.
When it was cooled slightly but definitely not solid, I poured it into my clean, empty deodorant container. This recipe filled it up to the very tip-top, so I carefully moved the container into the freezer to help it set up to a solid quickly.
Then I got impatient and removed it from the freezer just a few moments later, because the top looked solid and I wanted to smell it, at which point I dropped it on the kitchen floor and the not-solid inside splooshed all over the floor and cabinets. I’m not going to elaborate further, but let me just note that if this happens to you, it is wise to simply shrug your shoulders and clean up right away while everything is still liquid, because if you walk away to throw a tantrum and come back five minutes later to clean up, your penance for throwing a tantrum will be trying to clean the now-solid coconut oil beeswax from the tiny molding grooves in your cabinet doors.
Then I started over, and ended up with this:
And it works! It stays solid in the cupboard, but softens nicely as soon as you use it. It does not feel at all sticky when on (my biggest complaint with the “natural” aluminum-free deodorants I’ve tried from stores) and I haven’t noticed any residue or stains on my clothes. I know the dead of winter in Saint Louis isn’t much of a proving ground for deodorant, but it seems to work as well as my old deodorant on distance runs. Although to be fair, we’ll have to have an update in July.
So why even bother making my own deodorant? If aluminum in deodorant really had the potential to contribute to chronic diseases like Altzheimer’s, it certainly wouldn’t be sold in a highly regulated country like the United States, right? I mean, that would be like allowing widespread use of genetically engineered foods without first doing any sort of research to rule out the potential to contribute to intestinal problems and food allergies, or like letting doctors use a neat new x-ray technology to examine babies in utero without first considering the possibility of serious consequences like birth defects. Oh… wait.
Seriously, I have no idea if aluminum in deodorant is dangerous. But I do know that in the last fifty years we have introduced hundreds and thousands of brand new never-before-used-on-humans chemicals and materials into our immediate environments (and bodies) and we simply do not know if or what the long term consequences of their use might be. And I know that when I have the option, I feel better not giving those unknowns immediate access to my lymph nodes.
But if you know me, and I smell bad, please write me a little note or something. I’m open to experimenting with more recipes.
**UPDATE** See this post for an update from the midst of a July heatwave…