Saturday, 9 March 2013

Home Made Deodorant

There are really a million things you can do with coconut oil, aren't there?  Several months ago I finally kicked my Secret Antiperspirant habit to the curb.  Why?  What's in antiperspirant, you ask?  Well, for starters, aluminumparabens and triclosan.  Sure, the aluminum and breast cancer link is dubious at best, but the link between aluminum and Alzheimer's is pretty conclusive so if we no longer cook our food with it, why would I want to stick it on my armpits?  Maybe I'll forget that I have armpits?  Alright, I know that's not funny.  Sort-of.  But if you want to read more about the chemicals in deodorant and antiperspirant, start here.

Let me save you money and time and frustration.  Those "natural" deodorants they sell in the health-food stores don't work.  And they are only deodorant and not antiperspirant.  Don't bother wasting money on them.

It did take me a few tries to find a good substitute for my favorite antiperspirant, but in the end I settled on rubbing some coconut oil into my armpits, then shaking some baking soda from an old spice container into the palm of my hand and rubbing it in over the oil.  Easy-peasy, and worked as good as any antiperspirant I'd ever owned.

But then the day came when I was going on a trip and would need to board an airplane.  I was more than a little apprehensive about carrying a white powder in a spice container labelled baking soda through customs.  I was pretty sure it would be taken away from me (may even result in my getting asked to step aside and stripped down in the white room).  So I thought, well, maybe it's time to try to reuse that old empty deodorant container still sitting in my cupboard.  I knew that pure coconut oil wasn't going to cut it--it might melt and make an awful mess of my luggage.  And so the search for a solution began....

It started with a recipe from the Wellness Mama here.

But I didn't have some of those ingredients, nor did I want to have them.  It costs a fortune to buy pure shea butter, and why would I want vitamin E oil in my armpits?  I love the Wellness Mama, and she has good reasons for having those ingredients in there, but since I really liked the baking soda and coconut oil basic recipe, I wanted to keep it pretty simple--and affordable!

I understood that both the starch and the beeswax were necessary.  I definitely had to find, and buy, beeswax (I now have a 10-year supply of beeswax so I may have to make some more beauty-care products at some point in the future).  Then I just kind-of skipped over the rest and modified the original recipe to suit my tastes.  This recipe made a full deodorant container and 3 partly filled cupcake liners worth.  You can cut the recipe down, but those deodorant bars should stay good in your medicine cabinet for a very long time, so why not just make lots?

So here's what I used:

1/2 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup tapioca starch or arrowroot powder
1/4 cup baking soda
1/4 cup beeswax
10-15 drops essential oil (I used lavender)

In a double-boiler, melt beeswax and coconut oil.  Remove from heat and quickly stir in baking soda, essential oil and tapioca starch.  Immediately pour into silicone cupcake molds or scrape into old deodorant container.

Did this work?  Wow, did it ever!  I tested the deodorant "pucks" the day before we left--easy to handle, easy to store in a zip-lock in my medicine cabinet--it went on a bit sticky and gritty, but it quickly melted and sunk in and was fine (the beeswax leaves a thin waterproof coat on your armpits all day--and night--yaay, 24-hour deo!!)

It occurred to me around mid-day of that first "test" day -- and I had to send my husband a text about it -- my pits smelled like beeswax!  I was having a stressful day, so more than the usual amount of perspiration, and I thought it was pretty hysterical that I smelled very faintly like bee barf.  Of course, if you knew me, you'd know that I have the nose of a bloodhound.  I can smell things no one else can smell.  Steve reassured me that no one else could smell the beeswax, but I didn't care whether people smelled wax -- it was funny that I loved that my new signature "scent" was beeswax and lavender oil.  Pretty inoffensive smells, as far as I was concerned.  Yup, my tree-hugging-hippie was showing once again.  I am a weird paradox of modern-day-woman and hippie-chick.

And what about the old antiperspirant container I stuffed some of it into?  Ok, that was a bit awkward to get it into the container, but it went onto my armpits perfectly.  Loved it on the trip.  It was not confiscated (nor was the whole 500 ml tub of coconut oil I brought with me for face cream, light sunblock and chapstick).  The old antiperspirant container makes application even easier than the pucks I made, so I'll probably melt the pucks enough to stuff into the container when I use up what's in there now.  Whoever invented the antiperspirant container should have made a million bucks because it's awesome.

Do you make your own deo?  What do you use?  Let me know what works for you!


  1. I recently switched to using a mixture of just coconut oil, arrowroot and baking soda. Can I ask where you found beeswax? I've never gone looking for it, but I'd love to be able to add an element of waterproof-ness to my deodorant!

  2. I found the beeswax at a health food store--I did have to go to a couple of them to find it. If you can't find it there, it should be available at one of your local farmers markets. I love the beeswax addition. It does feel a bit sticky at first, but it adds a whole new level of protection.

  3. I'm going to try your first incarnation: coconut oil and baking soda. It's really similar to what I've been using for years: commercial rock crystal followed by a dusting of baking soda. For both everyday use and when I travel, I put the baking soda in an old Gold Bond travel sized bottle, but obviously any small travel sized powder bottle will do (baby powder, whatever). I like that there is nothing to make beforehand, and the crystal lasts forever. I've tried using one or the other on their own but it only seems to be effective for me if I use both. I stumbled upon this idea when I was in a natural deodorant phase (because normal ones were only covering the stink, not stopping it) but couldn't find any commercially made ones that didn't give me a rash.

    One thing that bugs me about homemade recipes is that "natural" is usually assumed to be good for you. I know it smells divine, but lavender isn't good for your skin []. I always check this website before I put any natural or man-made ingredients on my skin.

  4. Where do I get Arrowroot powder? I don't have beeswax, but I do have soy wax, will that work?

  5. Debra,
    The arrowroot powder/tapioca starch can be found at most health-food stores. I buy it at the Bulk Barn where I am--it should be available at any bulk-foods stores (the kind where you can buy from loose bins of flour and sugar), or at an ethnic grocery store. (It is extremely common in south american cooking and a staple in parts of Indonesia, as well as common in British cooking). I would not use soy wax in place of the beeswax (soy is very hormone-disrupting, even when applied to the outside of the body, especially the armpits). If you can't find beeswax, I would just omit it from the recipe.

  6. For a simple, cheap deodorant try Milk of Magnesia. I learned of this from a newspaper health article several years ago. Wet a cotton pad with Milk of Magnesia and rub on. I have not been able to find a refillable roll-on deodorant -style bottle which would negate the use of cotton pads. It is not an antiperspirant but it removes odor. I choose the mint flavor option for the minty smell. Local "dollar" stores sell 12 fl oz bottles for $1 each.

  7. Hi Diane,
    Wow, I did not know that about milk of magnesia. I bet a handful of pre-soaked cotton pads in a ziplock or a small re-used container would allow you to do touchups, say, after the gym or when going straight from work to party... Worth knowing! Thank you.