Tuesday, April 17, 2012


No, but now that you mention it, I did make homemade deodorant!

Before I can get to that, there is a little matter that I need to address. I started this blog with grand intentions, but finding the time to write about my escapades has been harder than the projects themselves. While I have all sorts of fun stuff to share with you, I feel I owe you a bit more regarding my overly-hyped Personal Challenge 2011.

When I decided to do this challenge, I failed to take into account just how much (little) I clean. I would mix up a 2 cup batch of window cleaner, clean all the glass in my house, and then find myself with 1 ¾ cups of a cleaner I really didn’t care for. Fast forward about two (ok, four) weeks and I finally get around to cleaning the glass again. Clearly, I don’t go through a lot of cleaner! I considered dumping the inferior stuff down the drain and starting over, but I just can’t bring myself to do it! After all, my whole goal was to reduce waste and cost (and boredom)! I suppose I could just clean more often.

Oh man, I just laughed so hard…

So far I have experimented with 4 out of the 9 items on my original list. To be honest, I’ve yet to come across a cleaner that blew me away. Normally, when (if) I clean, I use little more than a damp/soapy washcloth, or Windex and a paper towel. That includes sticky, greasy messes in the kitchen. This method requires more elbow grease than commercial cleaners, but I‘ve become accustomed to it. With my homemade cleaners, it seemed that I still had to scrub as much as before.  I definitely have more experimenting ahead of me. I’m determined to formulate a good cleaner!

In the meantime, here are the results of one of my attempts:

Homemade Deodorant
6-8 Tbsp coconut oil
¼ cup baking soda
¼ cup cornstarch/arrowroot powder
3-5 drops Tea tree essential oil, or any other essential oil you like

Combine baking soda and cornstarch. Work in coconut oil by hand until it is roughly the same consistency as commercial deodorant. Mix in essential oils. You can pack this into an old deodorant container or use a shallow lidded container.

I found my recipe at Passionate Homemaking, and it really couldn’t be much simpler. I’ll tell ya what, this stuff works pretty dang well! The first week I wore this, I kept sniffin’ my pitts. For quality control purposes, of course (not). Not once did I smell bad! To be fair, I don’t do a lot of strenuous activity, but I do still tend to sweat and stink after a while. (sorry, TMI)

Apparently, many people can get a rash from this recipe, either from a corn allergy or from the baking soda. I have yet to get a rash myself though. I’m wondering if some of the people who reacted to the baking soda were actually reacting to the lack of acidity on the skin. The surface of the skin is naturally acidic, and baking soda is extremely alkaline. Remember the vinegar and baking soda volcanoes in grade school? That’s the acid and alkaline neutralizing each other.  With that in mind, I wonder if a cotton ball of (diluted?) vinegar at the end of the day would restore the skin’s balance. I’ll have to try this sometime.

What surprised me most with this experiment was how much more aware I was of what commercial deodorant did to my underarms. I’ve always hated the odd feel of my underarm skin, but didn’t think I could change it. Just a weird, plastic feel that seemed to repel water and didn’t let me get a close shave. A week of homemade deodorant changed that. I think the grit from the baking soda and the motion of my arm gradually scrubbed away the dead skin and the old deodorant residue. I kept finding bits of gunk that I thought were clumps of baking soda, but after two weeks I no longer see clumps and my skin is in incredible condition.

I had suspected that commercial deodorant was the cause of the plasticy feel, but when I went to clean out an old deodorant container I was convinced it was the culprit. I had NO IDEA it would be so difficult to clean out! I went through a TON of dish soap and the deodorant just laughed at it. Seriously, it didn’t affect it at all. Finally I boiled some water in my tea kettle and poured that in the container. I let it sit a minute, then dumped it (carefully!) and refilled it with the boiling water. HALLELUIA! Hot, hot, HOT water turned out to be the key. The heat softened the greasy deodorant enough that I was able to pour most of it down the drain (with my luck it’s still stuck to the pipes somewhere).  In the end, it took several hot water soaks and a final scrub with dish soap to get that baby squeaky clean.

Fill the base, chill it, then gradually pack in the rest. 

Wanna know the funny part? A few weeks later the container broke.

In retrospect, the container would have benefitted from a thin layer of the original deodorant. This would have allowed the solid mass to slide up and down more easily. I broke the container because the clicky base wasn't strong enough to push up the solid, refrigerated deodorant. When I remade this a few weeks ago, I completely forgot about this little tip. I just moved the container to the fridge for the summer, so we'll see if I run into the same problem.

A final note on homemade deodorant, be mindful of the room temperature. Coconut oil is liquid below 76 degrees F, so you may want to keep your mix in the fridge during the warmer months. Cold deodorant will definitely wake you up, but it’s also quite refreshing in the dead of summer. Or I’m just weird.

I have several other posts lined up, but I won't be able to get the pictures off my camera for a few more days. Stay tuned, there's some fun stuff in store for the next few weeks!