So What's an Ester
Esters are chemical compounds that are derived by reacting an oxoacid (an acid that contains oxygen) with an alcohol or phenol. Not only does lemon ester function well as part of a deodorant, but it is a popular food additive (E number 1505) that is a handy ingredient for helping produce a stable egg white foam. Lemon ester is also used within both the pharmaceutical and plastics industries.
What Does it Look Like
Lemon ester is a colorless and odorless liquid that you could very easily mistake for a glass of water (if it were sitting around in a drinking glass).
Where is it Sourced
One natural source of triethyl citrate is cherries. "Yay - finally something natural" one might immediately think. Unfortunately (for all of us plant-based fanatics), almost all of the lemon ester on the market is synthetically produced. Why? Because it's chemically identical to the 'natural version' and it is simply not sustainable to extract it from cherries. For this very reason, one of my suppliers dropped it quite suddenly after having carried it for ages. All of my other suppliers continue to carry it.
Which brings us to the inevitable question...
Is it Safe?
Yes. Lemon Ester is safe to use in cosmetics as well as in foodstuffs. Even the supplier that dropped it from their stock admitted to me that it was the 'synthetically produced' part that made them decide to drop it – not because it was in any way unsafe.
How Does it Deodorize?
In technical speak: Ofaction is based on a pH value dependent reversible inhibition of the enzymatical degradation of epidermal residues and skin surface fat so that odorous degradation cannot develop.
In everyday speak: It lowers the pH of the armpit area so bacteria, and thereby odor, has a hard time developing.
The Unhappy Camper
Ok, I'll admit it. I wasn't the happiest camper the day I found out there wasn't some cooperative of nature-loving people that were extracting the stuff lovingly by hand from sun-ripened cherries. I actually tried to follow my one suppliers example and reformulated my deodorants to see if 'Ester' could be dropped altogether. They still worked, but not all day. It was a no-brainer to reintroduce triethyl citrate to the formula. I mean, honestly, would you switch to a 'new deodorant that offered almost all day protection if you don't do anything too physical'?
See the Previous Posts in this Series Here
No sweat - how does deodorant work
No sweat - the basic makeup of deodorant
No sweat - potassium alum
No sweat - about baking soda deodorant
Visit the Deodorant FAQ Page