What’s the story with baking soda?

A few people have asked – why are some deodorants now marketed as “baking soda free”?  What’s wrong with baking soda?  After all, it is a natural ingredient and it’s known for its odor eliminating power and antibacterial properties.

Baking soda, also known as sodium bicarbonate, is found in many bath, skin and hair care products.  It’s even used in toothpastes to whiten teeth and freshen breath.  Many actually consider it one of the most versatile household ingredients you can find.  I mean mom even stuffs open boxes of it in the fridge, right? So why does it sometimes get a bad rap?

Baking soda is a highly alkaline substance which means it has a high PH.   That means that individuals with a naturally lower PH level (a more acidic body) can experience redness or irritation when they apply a deodorant that has a high level of baking soda (a high PH).  Think of a high PH substance coming in contact with a low PH substance (i.e., the baking soda and vinegar exploding volcano experiment in chemistry class).  Wow, that sounds scary.  However, the truth is that a very small percentage of people actually experience any baking soda sensitives, and if they do, it often means a very high percentage of baking soda was used in the product (top 5 ingredient). 

In fact, many individuals often assume the culprit is baking soda but it may be another ingredient such as aluminum or even propylene glycol.  At this point we all know to steer clear of aluminum, but we want to take a minute here to call out propylene glycol as it has flown under the radar and can be found in a number of natural deodorants.  Propylene glycol was originally developed as an anti-freeze - ugh. It is now used in some natural deodorants as a skin conditioning agent and to give the stick it’s firm texture. However, it is a known skin irritant, even when used in small percentages.  The even sadder part is that it is often one of the top two ingredients, which means it’s used in high levels, so please, keep your eye on this one.  We recommend putting it on your no-no list with the other Ps – parabens and phthalates.

So, back to baking soda.  When we began our formulation process we actually tested a baking soda free formula.  Well… that didn’t work.  Even with our other awesome ingredients, we felt the baking soda free version simply wasn’t strong enough for very active teens (or their moms).  We therefore added baking soda bit by bit until we got to the perfect formula.  Just enough baking soda to have the tough odor fighting power one would expect from a great deodorant, but not enough to cause sensitives.  Individuals who were traditionally sensitive to deodorants tested our product and reported no irritation and great results.  Woo hoo.

Now, we know that every body type is different and there is no way to test and formulate for them all.  So far the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, but if you do happen to experience a sensitivity to Not My Mama’s deodorant, please stop using the product and let us know.  We want to hear from you – the good, the bad and the smelly.

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