Smelling Fresh Sans Aluminum

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.)

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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).

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I then returned my Orange-Rosemary infused coconut oil to a small saucepan and melted in the grated beeswax.

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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.

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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:

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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…

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9 thoughts on “Smelling Fresh Sans Aluminum

    • You’re welcome! I was excited that it actually worked. :) There are also other (but mostly longer) methods for infusing oils with various herbs and scents – I plan on doing more experimenting when this batch runs out!

  1. I bought all my supplies here: http://www.wholesalesuppliesplus.com/Default.aspx

    I think I paid like $70 for the whole lot. I got a gallon (a gallon!!!!) of coconut oil, 1 lb of shea butter, 1 lb of the beeswax, 1 lb of bentonite clay, 8 oz of sweet orange oil, 4 oz tea tree, 2 oz lemon oil, 2 oz of rosemary oil, and 4 deodorant containers. I got a small discount cause I live relatively close to the place and I got 20% off for picking it up.

  2. Crunchy Betty is awesome! I used to pay quite the pretty penny for those silly clinical strength deodorants. So, I talked to my mom about it and she said that our great grandmother used to use milk of magnesia. At that point, I was happy to a) save money and b) go more natural… I always felt guilty rolling on the nice smelling but bad for you Dove deodorant. Back to my grandma, she would literally just slather on a quarter size amount per pit…that’s it! I started using it (1x in the morning and 1x in the evening) and I was shocked at the results. Of course it took about a week or two to adjust, but since then I’ve been smell free and I feel like I don’t perspire as much (and I’m from CA!). Once I did get a teensy bit smelly and my boyfriend noticed but said it was only hardly noticeable…compared to before when it would be really noticeable. Not sure if this works for you or if you run out of ingredients, try a bottle of milk of magnesia (you can get it for $1 at walmart or dollar tree). Thanks!

    • Apparently milk of magnesia contains Sodium hypochlorite which is apparently also known as “bleach.” I can’t imagine using something that has bleach in it is good for you.

    • Hi Susan – If you try it, please let us know how it works! I’m going to try a couple other recipes as it gets warmer here, perhaps increasing the beeswax or adding some clay to help it stay solid in the cupboard…

  3. Now that it’s July, would you mind giving us an update? Thinking about making some, but I might wait until it cools off just a bit outside :)

    • Hi Amanda – Thanks for reminding me about the update! I just posted a full update (see the link at the end of the post), but the short version is that this homemade deodorant is still working for keeping me smelling fresh (in 100+ degree heat), but it’s definitely not an antiperspirant… don’t expect it to keep you dry when it’s hot enough to make you sweat!

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