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Can I make my own aluminum free deodorant?

Floraesthetics asks…After reading your blog post about scare tactics, I decided to try my hand at homemade deodorant. I looked at all kinds of recipes, and I created one based on the available ingredients I had in my kitchen. The result was amazing! I was so excited to have created a natural, “aluminum-free” deodorant that worked. Then, I researched a little more and realized that the clays I was using have aluminum content. I went back online and noticed that many natural deodorants contain clays that have aluminum. Can you help me figure out if it can be called aluminum-free if it contains bentonite clay, for example? Also, how does this type of aluminum fit into the neurotoxicity issue?

The Beauty Brains respond

First a little background about the different kinds of aluminum in Antiperspirant/Deodorant products.

How is Aluminum used in APDs?

Ingredient: Aluminum zirconium tetrachorohydrex glycine

Function: These ingredients are designed to interact with the pores of your body, creating tiny gelatinous plugs that reduce sweating. Best research shows no connection to Alzheimer’s disease.

Ingredient: Bentonite, Kaolinite

Function: These are naturally occurring clays that are used as thickeners because of their ability to gel the solvents typically used in deodorants. We have not been able to find any reference linking these to the Alzheimer’s controversy.

Can you legally claim aluminum-free?

Unfortunately we’re not lawyers (although we do like to watch them on TV) so we can’t really advise you of the legality of making such a claim. You’re certainly free to make such a product for your personal use, but if you plan on selling your own deodorants we recommend consulting an attorney. Regardless of what legal council tells you, would this claim really pass the “red faced test” for you? In other words, if you really don’t believe the scientific consensus that says aluminum salts in APs are safe, then can you in good conscience add aluminum containing ingredients to your deodorant? If science says they’re safe, they should be safe in both cases.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Viktoria Torma January 24, 2015, 2:22 am

    And what about the breast cancer with aluminium containing deos?
    You might write about is earlier, but I an very new here, and do not had time to scan most of the posts.
    So cab you explai me with a link or a few words what about the explanation, that:
    ” strong aluminium containing deos closes the pores of the armpit region. With this it prevents the detoxification procedure of the breast area, and helps the cancer to appear”
    If we think about this, bentonite clay is trivially not the same cathegory than other alum salt. The explanation sounds reasonable for my brain. What do you think about it?

    • Randy Schueller January 24, 2015, 7:53 am

      The body detoxifies itself through the liver not by underarm sweat glands.

      • Viktoria Torma February 1, 2015, 8:02 am

        I know, that mainly liver is the detoxification issue, but there is really no detoxification through the skin, and through the sweet glands?
        I’m not a biologist, i’m a chemist, but it seems strange that the body do not use all ways which is available for such an important process. (To say the truth, I have a lot of something, which I think to be an experience for having detoxification through the skin).
        I’ve read a lot of things pro and contra about this issue, and I’m really excited about your opinion…
        To be exact:
        There is much rumours about aluminium containing deo’s can be brought in connection with breast cancer. Are they all not true, and alu containing deo’s are all safe, or there is something inside?
        It is very hard to know the truth, and there are explanations sounds reliable for those who are not really professionals in that field. It is very similar to parabens (as everybody say they are toxic, much effort has been made to prove it, but simply nobody could, at least for the small ones). I just wonder your opinion about the deo’s…

  • Vivian June 11, 2015, 11:49 am

    Lavilin is a great aluminum-free brand, comes as both a roll-on and as a cream.

  • Dave June 11, 2016, 4:57 pm

    Even if deodorants containing aluminum don’t cause cancer (which is open to debate), they do interfere with the body’s natural cooling process, which doesn’t seem like such a good idea to me. And why take the risk of there being a cancer link when there are perfectly good natural deodorants available?

    • Randy Schueller June 12, 2016, 9:23 am

      Dave: According to the most recent research we’ve seen, the scientific consensus is that aluminum antiperspirants do NOT cause cancer. If you say that is still “open to debate” can you please provide evidence to the contrary so we can update our readers?

      Second, you say that interfering with the body’s natural cooling process “doesn’t seem like such a good idea” to you. Science doesn’t back that up, especially considering that the body has a large surface area and APDs only inhibit sweating in a small portion of that. If this was dangerous don’t you think there would be scientific evidence of that after all these decades of millions of people using these products?

  • DeAnn August 1, 2017, 12:28 pm

    Hi Randy,

    I’m grateful for your site — well done. But I have to take issue with your post above, as I find it arrogant and ignorant to a comical degree! After citing exactly ZERO evidence that deo doesn’t lead to breast cancer, you challenge Dave to come up with evidence for his position that it MIGHT — and act dismissive, as if his position is stupid since he presented the same amount of evidence you did (zero). And he’s the one who intelligently maintained agnosticism; you’re the one with the audacity to take a side! Come on, think!

    Unfortunately I can’t find the excellent article I read the other day explaining the mountain of evidence that deo MAY lead to breast cancer. With a lack of strong evidence for EITHER side, I think we all need to agree that this issue IS open to debate; any other position would be plain stupid in the face of the unknowns!

    The big question: Why have all cancers, and especially breast cancer, SKYROCKETED BEYOND ABILITY TO EXPRESS in recent decades? We can drone on and on about it not being plastic bottles, or deodorant, etc….but when I look around, I see these environmental toxins as a major thing that has changed (in addition to the cancer). Of course correlation doesn’t prove causation…but the question remains, what’s causing the cancer? We’d be stupid to ignore the link or say it’s “too small.” Small or big, the cancer’s coming from somewhere! So why not pay attention to the plausible suggestions that have been made?

    Last thoughts: There’s actually incontrovertible evidence that aluminum salts DO lead to cancer; that can’t be reasonably questioned. The issue that can be questioned, and that is being questioned, is whether it’s a strong/certain enough link to expect that breast cancer arises from “just” daily use within “just” a lifetime — or would take more deo/longer time. Again I ask, Where’s the cancer coming from? If we must take a position, and
    –Cancer has increased astronomically
    –Aluminum salts, in concentration, have created cancers in studies
    …What’s a reasonable suspicion? Not conclusion, just suspicion!

    I did find a few pertinent links, though they aren’t the strong evidence I read and wish I could find:


    One quote from one of the above: “The University of Geneva study involved isolated human mammary cells, and the results were later replicated in studies with mice. They found that long-term exposure to aluminum salts in deodorants created tumors that metastasized.”