Arm & Hammer Ultra Max antiperspirant deodorant

How to make deodorant

We’ve frequently mentioned on Wilderness Arena, two important aspects of survival that many may find surprising – cleanliness and state of mind. Cleanliness is important because in a primitive survival situation, something as small as a minor injury or unsanitary condition can be deadly. State of mind is important too, and we’re not talking solely about the “will to survive” – being as comfortable as reasonably possible can make surviving an unfortunate situation much easier for the participants. And nothing can make a person feel more primeval and disadvantaged as the stench and stink of body odor. Here’s how to make homemade deodorant using basic materials that you will most likely have on hand anyway.

The stinky smell of underarm odor does not result from the smell of sweat but rather, from the growth of bacteria that thrives in the environment provided by a moist, warm underarm (to a smaller degree, pheromones excreted through skin glands supply additional odor). If you can keep the bacteria at bay, you will not only smell better, but avoid potentially dangerous bacterial growth on your body. The key antimicrobials in our homemade deodorant are “essential oils”.

The following ingredients will be required to make homemade deodorant:

  1. Essential oils
    Essential oils, the aroma compounds from plants, include oils milked from plants such as bay, cinnamon, peppermint, spearmint, cedarwood, rosewood, ginger, rosemary, lime, clove, orange, oregano, thyme, tea tree, sandalwood, lavender, lemon, or neem (an evergreen tree).  Many keep some concentrated form of an essential oil in their survival kit to provide flavoring for food prepared in the wild.
  2. Baking soda
    With so many uses, it’s probably a part of your survival kit anyway. In the homemade deodorant recipe, it serves as a drying agent.
  3. Corn starch
    If it’s not a part of your survival kit, you should consider it. Corn starch can be used to clean glass, remove grease and oil, and to polish metals. A sprinkle of corn starch on a knot makes untangling it much easier. Most importantly, corn starch can be used to treat sunburn, insect bites, and poison ivy. A primitive form could be made by steeping corn for 48 hours and then separating the components.  Arrowroot powder can also be used as a substitute for corn starch.
  4. Coconut oil
    If available, it acts as a setting agent similar to animal fats (without the funky smell).

Making homemade deodorant from these components is very simple.

  1. Mix equal parts corn starch with baking soda
  2. Add several drops of your preferred essential oil.
  3. If coconut oil (or melted coconut butter) is available, add 2 tablespoons.
  4. Mix the ingredients together adding more coconut oil (or essential oil) until the mixture is somewhat fluid.
  5. Pack the resulting mixture into a container (an old deodorant stick would be nice) and allow it to dry for 48 hours.

Additional Notes

Antiperspirant?

Antiperspirant contains aluminum which does not kill bacteria but rather, inhibits sweating.  Some forms of baking soda contain small amounts of aluminum.  Adverse health effects from absorption of aluminum in your body are debatable.

Alternative deodorant recipe (very simple)

Another variant of homemade deodorant is simply rubbing alcohol with a bit of peppermint or wintergreen oil mixed in. Shake it up and slap it under your arms.

Sources: Lifehacker, Wikipedia
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