Ever wondered how deodorant works … or how it might work better? Aidan Oster ’21 did and is now pursuing a patent for his ground-breaking work to make us all smell a little better.
Oster was curious. Was there a way to react an organic acid, safe for human skin, with sweat to create a substance that removes the unpleasant odor from perspiration? Or even turn it into something that smells good? He spent the spring teaching himself relevant organic chemistry and began to experiment at home – in a makeshift lab that he built outside. Bacteria produces acid that makes sweat smell so unpleasant and is quite strong - and he had a test tube full of it in concentrated form.
“Once I started to work on it, I didn't really smell it much until I had my mom and dad come outside to test, and they were shocked at how powerful the smell was.” Oster said.
Through continued experimentation in his backyard lab, the Fifth Former found a substance that, when combined with the acid in sweat, produces a chemical that can actually smell pleasant. That reaction is where the innovation comes in. Most traditional deodorants and antiperspirants work against the body, attempting to keep an area dry. Once they are overpowered, they become ineffective. Oster’s invention works with the body. With his product, the more you sweat, the more fuel your body produces to create the resulting pleasant smell. In fact, he’s now experimenting with reactants that will produce different smells. “I’m working on green apple, pine, and flower smells,” he said.
Oster is now fine-tuning marketing materials that he can use to pitch to potential partners among the consumer goods companies for product development and commercialization.
Needless to say, Oster’s parents are excited about Aidan’s invention. “When classes shifted online last March [due to the pandemic], Aidan was sad to not be on campus and not be with his friends and teachers,” said Michael Oster, Aidan’s dad. “But he used the extra time for experimentation and patent drafting and we are very proud how he made lemons into lemonade during such an uncertain time.”
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