Why Baking Soda is a Great Deodorant
This post is inspired by Queen Composter’s post on “DIY vs. Chemistry” on the Green Phone Booth on Friday. It addresses the whole “these greenies are dissing ‘chemicals’ but really it’s all chemistry” dilemma…and I’m really glad it does. Because she’s absolutely right.
A few years ago my mom sent me a chemistry lesson email on why baking soda does indeed work as a superb and cheap deodorant. She was a chemistry prof for years, and if I’d had her in high school instead of who I did, I might have stuck with it longer.
I think this is brilliant, and I offer it to anyone who thinks they might like to give up the aluminum chlorohydrate stuff and try doing the non-stinky thing without rubbing a metal solution onto freshly shaven skin really close to, you know, your breasts, those lovely things that so often seem to be a place where icky malignant cells seem to gather and party…
“A short lesson in buffering, sodium bicarbonate, and bad smells:
Lots (most?) of bad body odors are the result of the production of stuff that is either acidic (butyric acid – essence of rancid butter, caproic acid – eau de male goat, eg) or alkaline (many many amines, the products of protein degradation – dog anal gland exudate being an example here). Baking soda is able to “neutralize” those amines by transferring its hydrogen ion to the amine, changing it into an odorless amine salt. In the case of the smelly acidic stuff, it steals the hydrogen ion from the acid, forming carbon dioxide and the odorless acid salt–almost magic, huh? Thats what buffers do – they can neutralize both acidic compounds as well as alkaline compounds by taking or donating a hydrogen ion. And since sodium bicarb is pretty much neutral itself, it does all this at the body’s normal pH and isnt too acidic or alkaline itself to cause any irritation, at least for THAT reason. AND ITS CHEAP!!!”