Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Living Chemical Free, Part 3: Home-made Deodorant

Part 1, all about a shampoo-less existence, is here.

Part 2, with other uses of the awesome chemical that is known as baking soda, bicarbonate of soda, or simply bicarb, is here.

Home-made Deodorant

This is not what my medicine cabinet looks like.

There are a ton of recipes out there for making your own deodorant. A TON. It is confusing and a little bit intimidating to come across recipes that call for weird stuff like shea butter, beeswax, cosmetic clay, or ylang-ylang essential oils.

I do not keep that sort of thing just lying around in my house. Maybe you do! I don't know! But I don't even know what half that stuff is, up there.

Anyway, my theory is that if I'm going to buy special ingredients to make this deodorant, then I want to be able to use those ingredients in other things.

So this is my favourite home made deodorant recipe:

1/4 cup baking soda
1/4 cup arrowroot powder (or cornstarch, of which I have in my kitchen regularly)
5 Tbs coconut oil (this is a more rare ingredient, I think, but more on this later)
optional essential oils (I've never bothered, but don't let that stop you)

Okay, so what about the coconut oil? Who keeps that around the house, right? I never did before I started making my own deodorant. But now I love the stuff and I'll tell you why: it is multi-functional, just like the baking soda and arrowroot powder/cornstarch.

I use coconut oil on my daughter's eczema, minor skin rashes, as a face moisturiser, in frying and baking, nappy rash cream, the list goes on and on. (An easy way to get a good use out of it for such things is to pour the warm oil into ice cube trays and when it's cooled, just pop them out into handy little chunks. I then keep them in the fridge for easy access.)

If I am going to devote money, time and space to an item, I want to wring as much usefulness out of it as I possibly can.

So now that I am a dedicated coconut oil user, I always have a bottle in the house. It is just too useful!

Interestingly, coconut oil is a solid at room temperature. I have to keep it next to the boiler in my kitchen in order to get any use out of it when I need it. Sometimes that doesn't even work, like when the boiler hasn't been on for a while, so I have to boil some water and stick the glass oil bottle in there. The coconut oil soon melts, so even if it was solid a moment before, I can get a few tablespoons out of it without much of a wait.

Back to the deodorant recipe!

Making sure that the coconut oil is melted first, I just mix everything together in a bowl, and form the deodorant into a ball/sphere/lump. I then wrap it in a plastic food bag and keep it in the fridge! I find that if it's in the bathroom, the heat from the shower and the hot water tank melts it too easily and it's very difficult to rub on. But in the fridge, it's a nice firm lump that melts into my skin rather quickly.

As an experiment (I like those, in case you hadn't noticed!), I added some dried lavender buds to my last deodorant mixture. I was worried that my armpits would crunch as I walked around, but that hasn't been the case. I don't know if I smell like lavender, but it makes life that little bit more interesting. I probably won't bother again with future batches, but it works just fine.

One word of warning: Avoid using the deodorant directly after shaving! I made this mistake a few times, and hoo-boy! Does that sting!! I'm not sure why, I think it's the baking soda; if you want to wait a while, you might want to just use coconut oil on its own to moisturise the skin. It is also antimicrobial, so you might even get away with using it as deodorant on its own for the day!

So does it actually work? 

I love it!!

Before I started making my own deodorant, I was using two different kinds each day and still not happy with my smelliness by the end of the day. Now I can apply the home made stuff in the morning, rush around after my kids all day, do a bit of exercise, and still smell neutral by the end of the day.

In fact, and I don't know if this has anything to do with avoiding soap altogether or if there is a cumulative effect of using the home made deodorant or anything, but I don't always need deodorant at all! Sometimes I forget to use it and I still smell okay at the end of the day. At least, nobody in my house complains and if there was something to complain about, they would speak up in short order.

I'm especially excited for my kids to use this.

My oldest child is 9 and is right on the cusp of puberty. Some of my friends have children that are ever-so-slightly older than my daughter and those kids are using deodorant. I really like the idea of my children using something that is completely non-toxic and that works so well! Whenever they run out, we can just whip up a new batch, specially formulated with their personal scent preference, even.

I don't know how economical it is, unfortunately. Coconut oil is, admittedly, a bit of a luxury item unless you live near a foreign foods market. However, I justify the cost with the fact that it is just so versatile, and that my home made deodorant is vastly more effective than the store-bought variety. It only has three ingredients, two of which are cheap-as-chips and one of which is more expensive. I'm happy with that compromise!

Next up in my Living Chemical Free series is making my own laundry soap. It only has two ingredients!


Karen said...

when you say "it works" do you mean you don't have a bad smell... but you do still sweat, have wetness?

I can't stand to have sweat stains, even though I hate chemicals

Raisin4Cookies said...

Good question!

I still sweat, but haven't noticed stains on my clothes. I definitely don't have a bad smell, and that lasts for a full 24 hours most of the time.

To be honest, sweat stains isn't an issue that I've taken particular notice of, so can't give you a full answer.

Shannon Steffler said...

Love this! My oldest is almost 10 and has dappled with deodorant when playing soccer but otherwise hasn't thought of it much which is fine. I need to make this and see how it works. I'm used to antiperspirant, I admit so I need to get used to 'deodorant'! Keep sharing your experiments :-)