Monday, May 19, 2008

#225 - Raise Your Hand If You're Sure

Switching to an All-Natural Deodorant Stone

This is the eleventh change in my month-long pledge to give up plastics for Crunchy's Extreme Eco-Throwdown.

Yeah. Does the idea of a "natural deodorant crystal" just make you think of miracle supplements to enhance breast size and other quack remedies? Me too. In fact, I was so sure I was throwing money down the drain when I ordered my Thai Deodorant Stone that I also purchased a new Degree antiperspirant / deodorant stick the same week. Call it a leap of non-faith, if you will, but I wasn't ready to risk stinking all week long.

The stone arrived last Wednesday and I was all excited to try it out. So, of course, bright and early Thursday morning I forgot I had it and used my regular stick instead. Ooops. Well, I remembered to put it on Friday morning and gave it a full workout. We were heading out camping for the weekend and since hubby was working all day, that meant I had to pack everything up and load it all in the minivan, all while keeping the children amused and cleaning the house. Does anyone else out there HATE to come home from vacation to a messy house?

Anywhich, I packed the stone to bring with me on our trip too. Talk about putting it to the test! We hung out at the beach and went for long nature walks. We sat by the campfire at night and chased the kids around on their bikes during the day. By all accounts I should smell like a dirty jock strap. But I don't. In fact, I don't smell like anything. No body odor, no flowery deodorant smell, no nothing. It's like smelling my elbow. Just nothingness. I am amazed.

I have either spontaneously morphed into a non-sweat producing hominid, have developed an acute case of anosmia, or, and this would be the option that is most surprising to me - this shit actually works.

For those of you who aren't familiar with these magical stones or why we should consider using them, let me give you the low down on traditional deodorants and antiperspirants. This information is from a recent article on Green is Universal:

Thirty years ago researchers first detected significantly elevated aluminum levels in the brain of Alzheimer's patients, and subsequently proposed a link between the heavy metal and the disease. Though scientists still debate the connection, certainly aluminum is a toxic heavy metal that has no useful biological function, and which we don't want building up in our bodies, ever.

Manufacturers long discounted any such effect from aluminum salts in deodorants, which they claimed would not be absorbed through the skin. This assumption has proven wrong, and over time users of commercial deodorant do accumulate the stuff, sometimes in significant levels. A recent medical report described a woman who ended up with severe aluminum toxicity directly as a result of her deodorant use.

Most commercial deodorants also contain parabens, which act as preservatives and stabilizers, but which like aluminum can be absorbed with systemic effects. Parabens mimic estrogen, and though the amounts we absorb on a daily basis might be small, over time, the accumulation can be significant. A report from England in 2004 documented a relationship between parabens and breast cancer.

The deodorant stones, however, are made from potassium alum, which occurs naturally in such minerals as Alunite (alum stone), Bauxite and Kalinite. The alum that is used in the deodorant stone is in the salt form, not the metallic form, which is used in commercial deodorants. The alum is also too large (molecularly speaking) to be absorbed by the skin. Also, the stones contain no other ingredients, such as parabens, fragrances and what have you.

To use the stone, I simply wet it a bit and rub it on my underarms. It feels like a roll on and dries pretty quickly. The stone itself is oval shaped and fits in the palm of my hand. Supposedly, it will last me about a year, as opposed to my Degree deodorant, which lasts about three months.

Now the stone was NOT totally plastic free. As you can see from the picture, it came wrapped in a little plastic wrapper and included a small plastic tray. However, if you compare that small amount of plastic with four plastic deodorant holders, it's obvious that this change would dramatically reduce the waste associated with destinkifying my pits. I smell a miracle, folks!

19 comments:

CT said...

I tried one years ago, and ended up kind of stinky (and feeling fairly ridiculous). I threw the crystal in a box of toiletries and proceeded to carry it around for a decade. Last week I finally decided that I had to give it another shot or throw it out. So I gave it another shot. Success! Like you, just...nothing. I'm still not convinced that it will work for the worst part of the summer, but so what? If I can use it for most of the year and only "upgrade" to the heavy-duty stuff for the summer, I think that's a reasonable trade-off.

Lora said...

I am tempted by these stones. I am now convinced that they keep the stinkies in check, but what about wetness protection? Did it pass your test in that area? Inquiring/perspiring pits want to know.

Anonymous said...

Are all deodorant stones created equal? Are some brands better than others? I've always wanted to try one but have been afraid of wasting my money once again on something that doesn't work.. Thanks, sue from nd

heather t said...

Keep us posted on this one. I tried a similar product several years ago. While it seemed to keep odor down, it didn't seem to have any effect on actual sweat production so I stopped using it.

Still looking for alternatives to aluminum poisoning and being stinky/wet all the time. Considering baking soda. But I'd give the rock another chance if you continue to have success with it.

Green Bean said...

Sweet sweat! Shannon at Going Crunchy raves about hers too. I'll have to go for it after I use up my crappy LUSH plastic-free deodarant that came wrapped in a million pounds of plastic.

badhuman said...

I guess I'm still suspicious of anything that stops the natural process of sweating whether or not the product is naturally occurring. I do use Weleda deodorant spray which works well. Even after working out I don't smell badly and the citrus smell isn't overwhelming by any means.

eco 'burban mom said...

How are the stones for sensitive skin? My husband has some seriously tender pits and everything he uses except for one brand - must be same scent and color - makes his underarms become a giant swollen welt. Can you imagine the grief I would get if I gave him some stone that would do the same...

Wasteweardaily said...

I used the stone for awhile and kept getting large painful bumps in my pits. Haven't had them since I switched to healthstore deoderant alternating with baking soda. I've heard some people can be sensative to the stone.
Cindy in FL

CT said...

I'm not noticing much wetness, but I have never found a deodorant/antiperspirant that keeps me totally dry (maybe there are people out there who can wear a silk blouse without looking like a beast, but I'm sure not one of them). It's been kind of a cold week, though -- let's see if people start sniffing and running away when it gets warmer.

Jess said...

I've been using baking soda for the past few months, and it has been working wonderfully. I just rub the dry powder into my armpits and I am clean, dry, and odorless all day long. It's so cheap and so easy.

Mary Elizabeth said...

In answer to the above commenters: It's a deoderant stone - it does nothing as an antipersperant. I've had mine for Years - and while it has whittled away, (and is in two pieces after repetative dropping of the slippery bugger), it's still good. For me it works best if I apply it on wet from the shower pits (aka just cleaned), and regularly.

Crunchy Chicken said...

Oh dear. I've been tempted by the stone. My brother swears by it, but he killed his sweat glands years ago from Mitchum abuse, so I don't think he counts.

Anyway, I'd love to try it, but I'm not quite ready to throw caution to the wind and stink up the joint.

Nikki said...

Now you've got me paranoid about the effects of deodorant and breast cancer. I may have to splurge and try the stone. Seems a bit expensive with the shipping, but it just about evens out with what you would spend on regular sticks. And then factor in less plastic and a (possibly) lower risk of breast cancer and Alzheimer's. Seems like a deal then :P
Thanks for the rec!

Nadine said...

I bought some Al-free, all-natural deodorant years ago and ended up with wet pits and smelling stinky. I'd be willing to try the stone thing if it works better than that stuff.

MandyPandy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mary Elizabeth said...

in re: to nikki - the health blame is in the antipersperant, not the deoderant - if I understand right - so you could use a deoderant to cover up stink or the deoderant stone to try and avoid stink...or maybe a combo of both;)

Going Crunchy said...

I love mine! I do sweat when I work out heavily and the gym, but that is rather what I'm supposed to be doing.

I got mine for only about $4.00 at Wild Oats and I've had it for about 7 months now. There is a little vid snippet on my You-Tube site that shows it. It is so worth a try for the environment and your health. It took me years to try one because I thought it was just "too crunchy." Glad you tried it!!!

Billie said...

I used a natural deodorant for a while but I still sweated a lot and it didn't help 100% with smell. I went back to the commercial deodorant as I didn't feel my co-workers needed to be tortured.

Billie

Anonymous said...

I have just ordered some natural alum potash because I shave with a straight razor but I'll try it as a deodorant as well. Personally, I never use antiperspirant because you body needs to sweat. I also never use products that contain aluminum chlorohydrate and I always prefer to use products that are the least processed. This seems like it will work for shaving and as a deodorant plus you can add your own scent. With a little search you get a 4oz. stone for like $4 as opposed to the $16 most high-end shops like art or shaving charge.