Monday, February 6, 2012


Sage leaves spurt out at a hint of winter sun

People and plants survive winter by a variety of mechanisms. Some pull inward, conserving energy and water by keeping under the covers or underground. Others make their own antifreeze to keep internal fluids flowing.  A few, like the key ingredient in this natural deodorant, pile on layers, drooping into the leaf litter when chilled and leafing out when the sun comes out.

Witch hazel's zigzag branch

The problem with most natural deodorants is that they don’t work unless combined with aluminum. This recipe, however, drops the noxious metal and instead combines antibiotic, astringent, and acidic herbs to last the whole work day. Sage (Salvia officinalis) is antibacterial and drying. The astringency of witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) adds another drying element. Throw in the acidity and scent of lemon peel and there you have it, an effective herbal deodorant.


dried sage – handful (substitute white pine needles)
dried witch hazel leaves and twigs – handful (substitute oak bark)
lemon peel – from 1/2 a lemon
vodka 100 proof (50%) – 200ml
distilled water – 200ml

Double filtering prevents clothing stains
1) Crumble the sage and witch hazel into a jar with a tight fitting lid;
2) Add the lemon peel in small pieces to the jar;
3) Pour over the vodka to completely cover the herbs;
4) Tighten the lid and place the jar in a warm dark spot;
5) Swirl the jar daily for one week;
6) Strain off the liquid using a double layer of coffee filters;
7) Add the distilled water to bring the tincture to 25% alcohol (minimum for antibacterial effect);
8) Pour into a spray bottle and use once or twice a day.

DOCTOR’S NOTE: If you have a history of alcohol related problems or alcoholism, avoid alcohol based deodorants because it is absorbed through the skin.


  1. Excellent! Wonder if I can find some witch hazel somewhere....

  2. It's an eastern US species so probably not in Colorado. Do you have another little tree with astringent twigs?

  3. The inner bark of oak trees is strongly astringent and can be subsituted for witch hazel in this recipe. Stripping off inner bark is hard and can hurt the tree so it's better to snip thin twigs into little pieces.