By Jeffrey the Barak
Deodorant of Death?
A couple of decades ago, my nephew’s wife mentioned that she was looking for deodorant that did not contain aluminum, because her late mother had died of cancer and she thought that aluminum in deodorant was at least partly to blame.
I made no move thereafter to stop using deodorant that contained aluminum, but I remembered the horrific claim. I am still not sure how much the various chemicals in the typical deodorant get through the skin and into the blood stream, or into the lymph glands that hover beneath the armpits. And I still like to optimistically believe that there are legal regulations in place that stop manufacturers from putting dangerous substances in deodorant.
Failure to Protect.
But deodorant is always somewhere in the back of my mind because I am really bothered by the smell of human body odor. I cannot stand it. For several years I have used a common deodorant that was so effective, I never gave it a thought. It was Mitchum. But suddenly this year, the product that worked was updated to become a product that failed to work. It is called 48 Hour, but body odor defeats it in 4.8 hours.
At first I assumed it wasn’t me. I was wondering why the bedroom smelled stuffy in the morning. I was washing sheets, the duvet, the mattress cover, and dusting and vacuuming and cleaning the floor more than ever. I even thought it might be breath-related and was stepping up the oral-hygiene like a mad man.
Finally the realization forced itself through, the deodorant had stopped working. The new Mitchum was making me smell terrible. Instead of combing the shelves in the drug store for an alternative, I first sat down and started Googling. Right away I found a lot of articles and posts about home-made natural deodorants and my interest was piqued.
What exactly are we smelling?
Armpits themselves do not have any odor. Neither does sweat. Even armpit sweat is odorless. The apocrine sweat glands in the armpit, crotch and navel areas of the body release fats (lipids) and steroids and transport them to the skin’s surface. Even these do not actually smell. It is what happens next.
Bacteria present on normal skin manufacture enzymes that break down the lipids into acids such as butyric acid, and it is the gas given off by these acids that we recognize as body odor. Another source of food for bacteria is propionic acid which is a breakdown of amino acids from the sebaceous glands by different bacteria.
Basically it is gas coming from acid that smells. And if the person does not wash off the bacteria it gets stronger and stronger very quickly.
Mankind’s answer to this is deodorant. There are three kinds, deodorant, antiperspirant and antiperspirant deodorant. Most of these have a perfume to mask smell, but that is not how or why they work.
Basically, antiperspirant physically blocks the sweat from coming out through the skin, which keeps the area dry and takes the food-source away from the bacteria. Deodorant on the other hand, allows the sweat to flow, and cool the body, but it kills the bacteria so it cannot feed on and ferment the sweat, causing it to smell. And as you might have guessed, antiperspirant deodorant does a bit of each.
But as you can tell by doing a quick Internet search, there may be a way to quickly whip up a batch of safe, indeed edible, deodorant in your kitchen for a few pennies per month. The question is, can these home made potions be relied upon to prevent body odor?
Well actually, yes they can!
The main ingredients for these recipes are coconut oil, arrowroot powder, diatomaceous earth (shell flour), baking soda (in very small amounts) and other optional additions such as essential oils.
The ingredient that does the job is the coconut oil, although some experimenters have substituted other natural oils with some success. Coconut oil, has among it’s many miraculous properties, an anti-bacterial effect and it is quite capable of killing off more stink than you can produce between showers. It smells good too!
Arrowroot powder is what makes the liquid coconut oil (yes it is liquid when you don’t live in a cold place) behave like a solid white mass (like deodorant). The optional diatomaceous earth also draws toxins out of the skin and somehow neutralizes them. Baking soda absorbs smell, but it also irritates skin so only very tiny amounts are added and it can be omitted if you have very sensitive skin.
There are many recipes that you can search for, and they vary somewhat, especially in their ingredient ratios, but here is one to get you started. By all means look for more online.
Coconut Oil 33%
Arrowroot Powder 55%
Diatomaceous Earth 11%
Baking Soda 1%
(percentages are approximate)
You can store the mixture in a jar and apply it with your fingers to your armpits. It is harmless after all!
Experiment and enjoy, and notice the lack of odor on your skin, clothing, bedding etc. This crazy, simple, natural, cheap, gunk works! It works better than the stuff in the drug store.
What is missing?
Look at the ingredients on your deodorant container. You will see a long list of chemicals, some for the task at hand and others to keep it together in a wide range of temperatures and humidities. We can assume these things are fairly safe, but if you ate your deodorant it would poison you and possibly immediately choke you to death from drying up your throat. Compare this to the natural recipe deodorants which are basically made of food.
And once again, the recipes do the job, better than most of the nasty smelling perfumed mixtures being sold at a few dollars per plastic-encased spoonful at every store. So head to the kitchen and whip up a batch of deodorant!
Author Jeffrey the Barak used to be a coconut, but he fell out of his tree.