(Updated to add: several readers have asked about homemade deodorant for men. I am happy to report that my husband has been using this same recipe for years to his complete satisfaction. You might want to select some more masculine essential oils to give it a manly smell — I offer a few suggestions in my recipe. I also put his in a reused Old Spice deodorant stick container, which you’ll see below. Read on!)
Last year, I shared some of my favourite homemade body care recipes, including deodorant.
I’ve been using my own homemade deodorant for about three years now, to my complete satisfaction. It’s a very basic recipe, and you’re sure to find a bunch of similar ones online — it uses only baking soda, corn starch, coconut oil, and essential oils (especially tea tree).
This recipe is great because it’s effective, super-frugal, non-toxic, and much less wasteful than conventional deodorant, where you chuck out a plastic container every couple of months. I’m trying to reduce the amount of waste — especially plastic — I send to the landfill, so that’s a big deal to me. (I’ve been using this same deodorant stick container for the last three years. My husband has been using his for the last five!)
About this deodorant, from the original post:
You guys: this stuff works. I tried several natural deodorants from the health food store before trying this and none of them worked like this.
The baking soda absorbs odour, the cornstarch absorbs moisture, the coconut oil makes it stick together and offers antimicrobial properties, and the tea tree oil kills bacteria. Any other essential oil helps make it smell pretty.
There’s just one problem with my regular recipe. In the summer, it melts.
See, coconut oil melts at about 72 degrees F — the temperature of a moderately warm summer day. During the cooler months, that’s not a problem — my deodorant stick remains solid, just like the store-bought kind. (I actually have to hold it against my skin for a few moments to warm it up so it can spread.) But as soon as the weather starts getting warmer — for me, usually around the end of May — my deodorant starts to get all gloppy and messy.
Some people remedy this problem by keeping their deodorant in the fridge. I’ve tried that, but it’s kind of a pain, having to head to the kitchen to apply deodorant every day; and I don’t like the jolt of cold against my underarm.
Some people substitute shea butter or cocoa butter for the coconut oil, since these are also natural ingredients that are good for the skin but stay solid at room temperature. I’ve tried these, too, but I found them too stiff and crumbly. They didn’t apply as smoothly. They also didn’t seem to protect against odour as well as the coconut oil — perhaps because they don’t offer the antimicrobial properties that cold-pressed virgin coconut oil does.
But I’ve discovered a simple tip to keep my deodorant solid during the summer, without storing it in the fridge:
Beeswax is a popular ingredient in many natural skin-care products, and it has this magical property wherein liquid oils remain in a solid state at much higher temperatures when mixed with it. (You can even turn turn olive oil into a creamy whipped lotion that stays solid at room temperature by adding some melted beeswax.)
With deodorant, I just substitute a small amount of my coconut oil with beeswax, and all that summertime messiness disappears.
Please note, however, that this recipe is still somewhat creamy, and less solid than most commercial deodorant. You will still want to apply it lightly, and may need to gently massage it into your skin. But it won’t ooze or leak oil all over your handy deodorant stick.
I’m lucky, in that my parents keep bees on their farm, so I have access to free beeswax (and honey!). However, it is a HUGE ordeal trying to clean and purify that stuff, so I highly recommend finding a source of already-cleaned stuff.
If you can, try to find a local source. If you know of a farm where local honey is sold, ask if the wax is available as well. Of course, you can also get beeswax pellets from Amazon if you can’t find a local source.
Ready for the recipe and instructions?
Recipe for Homemade Summer Deodorant
- 1/4 cup corn starch
- 1/4 cup baking soda
- 3 Tbsp coconut oil
- 1 Tbsp grated beeswax
- 5 drops tea tree oil*
- 5 drops of some other essential oil (optional. I like citrus and lavender. For a more masculine or unisex smell, try patchouli, sandalwood, or bergamot)
Begin by melting coconut oil and beeswax together over a double boiler. I rest a heat-proof bowl inside a small saucepan of water and heat it gently, stirring constantly, until the beeswax is melted.
Add the remaining ingredients.
Stir it all together. At this point, you’ll have a runny paste or slurry. This will change quickly.
Work quickly: pour your deodorant slurry into your empty deodorant stick. By the end of this step, you may have to scrape the last of the paste into your container, push it down, and smooth the top. That’s how quickly it begins to solidify at room temperature!
There you have it! A coconut-oil-based deodorant that won’t melt at room temperature.
One batch should last about two months.
A few notes and tips:
(taken from my original deodorant post)
*I am quite certain that the tea tree oil is an essential ingredient. Don’t skip it! It helps kill the bacteria that create stink. I once tried to make this recipe with patchouli oil instead and it was a complete disaster. I reeked. Likewise, my sister tried some natural deodorants without luck, until she bought one with tea tree oil. And then? No more body odour.
If you don’t like the smell of tea tree, 5 drops in a whole batch is not enough to be perceptible when you put it on. And if you add some other essential oils, they totally mask the tea tree.
(I’ve read that lavender is also antibacterial, so you could probably swap that for the tea tree, or combine the two. I haven’t personally tried it without the tea tree, though, because I want to avoid another patchouli fiasco, but you might be more daring.)
Keep in mind that since it’s not an antiperspirant, it won’t stop you from sweating. But sweating is a natural process that helps your body get rid of toxins, and shouldn’t be inhibited. Embrace it. You won’t smell, I promise. And you won’t sweat as much as you do when you skip a dose of conventional deodorant/antiperspirant.
However, if you’ve never used a natural deodorant, you probably will have to go through an adjustment period. Your body has to get used to not having its glands blocked. Be patient. Pick a time when you won’t be around people too much. My transition period lasted a week or two.
How about you? Have you given homemade deodorant a try? What was your experience? Or are you hesitant to take the plunge? Tell me about it!