Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.
This post appeared originally at HOMEGROWN.org.
Commercial deodorants, along with shampoos, conditioners and body soaps have all sorts of toxic chemicals in them. Want to freak yourself out? Check out the Environmental Working Group's Cosmetics Database to see exactly what those ingredients can do to you. Thanks to the database I have decided to age gracefully and no longer dye my hair or use "age-defying" treatments for my skin. I've switched from using commercial shampoo to using either a homemade shampoo bar or baking soda and apple cider vinegar (depending on my mood for the day). Same goes for body soap - we now use only homemade soap. I no longer wash my face with soap then slather it with some toxin-containing lotion. Instead I now use coconut oil. I slather it on heavily than wipe it off with a cloth which removes dirt, excess oil, even makeup. It leaves my skin feeling supple and smooth and it's never dried out. Amazingly it's also never oily either. Goodbye T-zone. And let me tell you, my skin has NEVER looked this good. Gone are the fine lines and most important of all, the mid-life acne is gone. Completely. I don't even get hormonal acne anymore. It's a thing of beauty (pun intended).
The deodorant switch was our latest experiment. Tom was skeptical about it and rightly so. Tom is a man's man and is the muscle around here. He's big, he's strong, and he works hard and gets (really) sweaty, which can often times lead to the unpleasant odor of man-sweat. So I had a challenge ahead of me. I found some recipes online but none seemed that appealing. I wanted something easy to make from ingredients that we almost always have on hand, or at least could easily keep on hand and were readily available at local stores. So here is what I finally came up with:
2 oz Coconut Oil
1/2 oz beeswax
1/4 C baking soda
1/4 C cornstarch (non-GMO of course)
20 drops Tea Tree Essential Oil
20 drops any other essential oil for scent (optional)
Melt the coconut oil and beeswax together in a sauce pan on low heat. Once melted take off of heat and mix in remaining ingredients. Pour into cleaned out deodorant containers. This is enough to fill 2 medium sized deodorant containers.
So how does it work? I'll get to that in a minute but first I want to explain why I chose the ingredients that I did.
The coconut oil is very moisturizing, it's lightweight and goes on really smoothly. The problem though is that it melts at a low temperature so on a warm day you might end up with a puddle of oil rather than a solid deodorant. That's where the beeswax comes in. Just a small amount is all you need to harden it up. Too much beeswax though and you end up with a gummy product that doesn't go on smooth.
The baking soda helps eliminate odors and the cornstarch absorbs excess moisture. Tea tree oil is antibacterial so it helps eliminate the bacteria that cause bad B.O. and then the additional essential oil is optional if you don't care for the smell of the tea tree oil (I personally don't like it).
After several months of using this deodorant I have to say I am surprisingly thrilled about it. Tom really likes it too. Neither of us suffer from any type of B.O. which is actually more than I can say about every other commercial deodorant that I've ever tried. After several hours they just lose their effectiveness but this homemade stuff lasts all day with no problem. It goes on smooth and a little goes a long way. In addition, for us ladies, it doesn't making your armpits sting or itch after shaving.
My friends in college used to call me a Renaissance woman. I was always doing something crafty, creative, or utilitarian. I still am. My focus these days, instead of arts and crafts, has been farming as much of my urban quarter acre as humanly possible. With my husband, we run Dog Island Farm in the SF Bay Area. We raise chickens, goats, rabbits, dogs, cats, and a kid. We’re always keeping busy. If I’m not out in the yard I’m in the kitchen making something from scratch. Homemade always tastes better!