Thursday, June 20, 2013
The Philosopher's Stone - To Stink or Not to Stink
This is post about Hygienic Philosophy.
A little while ago I read an article by a minimalist traveler (he takes very, very, VERY little with him). One of the things that struck me when he posted his packing list was that he uses a "deodorant stone." Oh yeah, I initially thought, I've seen those before... stones that are supposed that replace your deodorant but don't really work because they are some sort of New Age crystal or something. But I thought, what the heck, I'll do some research as it's always nice to find an alternative to liquids and gels when traveling so as to avoid the whole security hassle.
What I found was pretty interesting. First, let's start with some information on your basic deodorant. What you use might be 1) a deodorant 2) an anti-perspirant or 2) both a deodorant and an anti-perspirant. Huh, you say? Let me explain -
Deodorant = product that prevents bacteria from forming and thereby reduces the amount you stink
Antiperspirant = doesn't do anything on the stinky side of the equation, per se, but blocks your sweat glands so you sweat less (thereby removing moisture for the bacteria to thrive in)
Commercial deodorants/antiperspirants are loaded with all sorts of chemicals that interfere with the sweat & smell. In fact, one of the leading components is aluminum. Where the issue comes in for some people isn't just that you are placing these petrochemicals against your skin but that you are placing these in an area that is part of your lymph system - which is critical in fighting infections and illness. Some of your lymph nodes are in your arm pit area.
The "holistic" philosophy surrounding a deodorant stone is that these things are natural rock and thereby healthier for you. The way this works is that you get out of the shower, you make sure you and the stone are wet and you rub the stone all over your underarms. Then you let the moisture dry. Tiny particles of the rock, containing minerals, layers your skin and works like a deodorant. But as it's not an antiperspirant, you will still sweat. You just shouldn't smell. Oh, and they should last at least a year use-wise.
But it isn't as easy as all that, it turns out. Many of the deodorant "stones" you can get commercially actually contain aluminum too. So you are back to square one with regards to the whole health issue! Fortunately, though, not all stones seem to have aluminum. You have to look around and do your research to make sure the product uses other things like a salt-based mineral, etc. Supposedly the ones in Thailand are good. Honestly, I'd still need to do more searching to see which are the best & safest to use but that will have to be another post...
What intrigues me is the idea of both the natural way this supposedly works and that it would be great for travel. But I've also noticed a lot of mixed comments and reviews about how effective the stones really are. Some people swear by them. Others don't. Some say they work but you have to reapply as the day wears on.
I did search around town to see if I could find something (Walmart, Target & Shopko) but the places I checked didn't carry any. Sure there were all sorts of "natural" deodorants/antiperspirants but no actual stones. The pharmacist at Shopko said the best place to check would be at a health food store. Makes sense! So I'll have to read up some more on these things and then head out to several health food places around town to see what they carry and maybe I'll get lucky and find a good one. Then we'll see if this whole thing is just one stinky deal or not!