How I made deodorant, used it, and didn’t start to smell…

In my path to a life free of toxicity I recently made my own deodorant. I had a friend staying with me at the time and he asked if I was willing to take the risk, by which he meant the risk of smelling. I responded that my homemade deodorant was not as risky as the majority of commercial deodorant and the harm they could cause me. I keep looking at the ingredients in most deodorants…aluminum, parabens, Propylene Glycol, triethanolamine and diethanolamine, Triclosan, FD&C colors, talc…and thinking that most mainstream deodorant is simply not good for me*. I have said it before and I will say it again—I’m not a doctor or a scientist. But should that matter? What are these products and why should I apply them to my underarms? Do I smell so bad that I need a dose of diethanolamine to keep me flowery?

My lovely wife asked if I would make her some deodorant and I said sure, also offering to share my first batch. I made it as follows:

  • Six parts corn starch
  • One part baking soda
  • 6-10 drops of fragrant oil**
  • Mix ingredients in old glass jar and shake to mix
  • Remove cap from jar and pierce holes in jar using nail and hammer-like tool
  • Replace cap
  • Shake deodorant onto hand and apply to underarm
  • Rinse hand
  • Repeat with other hand for other underarm***

I found the recipe online among many others, including dry, wet, and stick varieties. The one I used seemed the simplest, and I like simple. It had the fewest ingredients and took about ten minutes to make, perhaps eight of which were spent piercing the holes in the lid. But I’ll never have to do that again so long as I keep the jar, I normally have corn starch and baking soda in my kitchen, and my peppermint oil should last me for several years.

Some of my other posts might provide a bit more context as to why I would want to make my own deodorant, or why I think you should, but I’ll recap. Most mainstream deodorant is bad for the environment, probably for many reasons that I am unfamiliar with, but most obviously because of the fossil-fuel-based casing that it comes in. This casing will likely end up in a landfill, and if it doesn’t, it might be down-cycled or recovered for the energy that it contains. But these processes are energy intensive and lead to the need for a new plastic deodorant casing, because they render the old one unusable. Corn starch and baking soda also come in packages, most commonly paper, and in an ideal packaging world the two products could be sold in bulk without packaging. Until then, they are still more environmentally friendly than plastic casings.

In terms of health, I just don’t understand or trust the ingredients that are sold in products these days. People around me are consistently being diagnosed or dying from cancer, an illness which I am beginning to find less and less mysterious as time passes. What is all that chemical crap that goes into all of our products, and why do we need it? Well, we don’t. We can take back our needs, save our money, our health, and the planet. Deodorant is just one piece of a much larger puzzle, but it is a very easy piece to place.

*Please see Natural Cosmetic News’ article on deodorant for further details about these ingredients, their risks, and additional studies on the subject
Dangerous Chemicals in Deodorant & Antiperspirant: A Detailed Review of the Chemicals, Research & Avoidance Tips

**I chose peppermint oil, which I found at a local health store that had about 40 different oils to choose from

***If you are very talented you can skip this step

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About Emerging Environments

Thoughts about environmental policy, sustainability, cancer, and more.
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