Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Lab Rats and Baking Soda Burn


What do lab rats have to do with baking soda burn from DIY deodorant? Maybe nothing, maybe a lot.

I get scads and scads of visitors to my posts about skin reactions to baking soda deodorant, and it does keep me on a constant lookout for new information.

Here's something I came across recently.


The Lab Rats

A study (on lab rats) showed that it is possible to neutralize an alkaline burn on the dermis by applying an acidic ingredient (such as vinegar) immediately after the burn.

Now, that's kind of cool.

In theory, this could mean regular old vinegar might be able to help diminish the baking soda burn so many people are experiencing from using DIY deodorant.

There's a bit of a hitch though.

The study in the link above refers to 'repair after the burn', so there's no telling whether or not this would work the other way around.

Although it is known that the skin reacts to the pH of what it comes into contact with, I'm not sure it is possible to 'prepare' the skin with a super low pH ingredient (like vinegar) to counteract a reaction from exposure to an alkaline ingredient (like baking soda). I have tried to find some studies on this, but no luck so far.

Why Apply?

It may sound a bit drastic applying a very acidic ingredient immediately before applying a very alkaline ingredient to the skin – and, well, it is. Why would anyone want to do this? Because there are some people who are very hesitant about using commercial deodorants and who believe baking soda deodorant is a better alternative. The problem: many of these same folks are getting serious skin reactions because of the baking soda – a documented skin irritant.

So, for those of you who are using DIY baking soda deodorant, I'd love to hear from anyone who has had luck using vinegar to counteract the rash, discoloration, itchiness and irritation that over 85% get from applying sodium bicarbonate to their skin.

Please share if you have had luck with this method – and also please do share if you have tried and didn't have luck. I'm very interested!

More about Deodorant on this blog

Over 85% get a skin reaction from DIY baking soda deodorant
An exchange about baking soda deodorant
Is your deodorant dangerous? Probably not
Why your baking soda deodorant is causing a rash
About baking soda deodorant
About Natural Crystal Deodorant
Deodorant FAQ

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'd like to know where you have found the statistic that 85% of people get a rash with baking soda deodorant. I too have done a lot of research on this and haven't come across this statistic yet.

Lise M Andersen said...

Hi Anon - please see the link at the top of the link list for the post about this statistic.

Priya said...

Hi Lise,

Wouldn't applying vinegar then baking soda yield a... science experiment on your 'pits? I'm thinking of fizzy bath bombs or the ever-classic science fair volcano. :)

Another thought, related to the question I asked long ago, about whether the pH of baking soda, rather than the abrasiveness of the crystals, is the culprit... If the idea is to neutralize the pH, what about including citric acid powder in a DIY baking soda deodorant? One could enough such that when the product is dissolved in a bit of water, the pH is neutral or slightly acidic. I honestly don't think this would work, because my gut feeling is that those scratchy, abrasive crystals are a big part of the problem -- and it would again create a fizzy bath bomb waiting to happen -- but it's a thought! I wonder what you make of this idea!

Lise M Andersen said...

HI Priya - Thanks for your input!

I agree that applying vinegar, then baking soda is a bit of a science experiment. However - there seem to be a lot of people doing just that. I'm trying to ascertain whether or not this method is working for anyone at all or of it's one of those things that works in theory but not in life. This is part of the reason I posted this - to invite anyone using this method to speak up.

I haven't forgotten your question from long ago. I have been trying to find more info but haven't had all kinds of luck with this. Overall, I have found very limited information on baking soda and topical application.

You are correct - adding something acidic (like citric acid) would be the way to lower the pH of a solution with sodium bicarbonate.

As to abrasive crystals being a cause for irritation: any crystals would no longer be abrasive if dissolved in a solution (something else I have not had much luck researching).

Science doesn't seem to have any ongoing or previous tests on sodium bicarbonate and topical application - dry or dissolved in a solution.

I will update on this as soon as I am able to source some more info. Meantime, if you should happen across anything I would be interested in links!

Lise M Andersen said...

HI Priya - Thanks for your input!

I agree that applying vinegar, then baking soda is a bit of a science experiment. However - there seem to be a lot of people doing just that. I'm trying to ascertain whether or not this method is working for anyone at all or of it's one of those things that works in theory but not in life. This is part of the reason I posted this - to invite anyone using this method to speak up.

I haven't forgotten your question from long ago. I have been trying to find more info but haven't had all kinds of luck with this. Overall, I have found very limited information on baking soda and topical application.

You are correct - adding something acidic (like citric acid) would be the way to lower the pH of a solution with sodium bicarbonate.

As to abrasive crystals being a cause for irritation: any crystals would no longer be abrasive if dissolved in a solution (something else I have not had much luck researching).

Science doesn't seem to have any ongoing or previous tests on sodium bicarbonate and topical application - dry or dissolved in a solution.

I will update on this as soon as I am able to source some more info. Meantime, if you should happen across anything I would be interested in links!

Priya said...

Thanks for your reply, Lise! Interesting to hear that some DIY baking soda deo fans have been applying vinegar first -- looking forward to reading about their experiences!

I've thought about this question of dissolving baking soda in solution to avoid the scratchiness concern. I tried something similar a couple years ago, IIRC, and was disappointed to find that once the liquid is sprayed on the skin and has a chance to dry, some of the baking soda crystals reappear on the skin! (Sort of like when you get really really sweaty, you end up with salt crystals on your skin.)

Re the idea of balancing baking soda + citric acid in a DIY deodorant, I do wonder if whenever one sweats, you'd get a little fizzing! Awkward! :)

I'll have a look at my files and if I've clipped any interesting research on baking soda, I'll share what I've got!

Lise M Andersen said...

Hi Priya! OMG! Fizzing armpits! Love it! This would be the perfect Halloween scare-thing to do! I shall be snickering the rest of the day now.

As to reappearing crystals - this is most interesting! If I dared to use myself as a test subject, I would be tempted to try this. But I am not inclined to apply baking soda in any way shape or form to my sensitive pits.

Have a great weekend.