This blog will not be adding more posts but will remain open for you to access the information that will remain here.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Making Your Own Deodorant

by Melinda Briana Epler, One Green Generation

One of the most popular posts on my blog is a post about making my deodorant. Hundreds of people visit it each day - still, a year after I wrote it! And I must say making my own deodorant is one of THE easiest changes I've ever made on the path of sustainability.

Why Make Your Own Deodorant?

  1. Aluminum is a neurotoxin, and is found in most antiperspirants. It has been linked to Alzheimer’s Disease, respiratory illnesses, reduced renal function, and DNA damage. Find out more here, here and here.
  2. The parabens in many antiperspirants may be linked to breast cancer, and there are possible complications associated with SLS in deodorants.
  3. It's really, really cheap.
  4. It's really, really easy.
The Story

Since I learned about aluminum in normal antiperspirant about 20 years ago, I have been searching for the best non-toxic deodorant. For whatever reason, most “natural” deodorants just don’t work for me at all.

But several years ago I found Alvera Aloe & Almond Deodorant. It works and smells lovely. It’s not tested on animals and it has ingredients I can pronounce. The problem: not very many stores carry it. So over the years I’ve gone from natural store to natural store looking for it, I’ve stocked up from time to time, I’ve had stores order it, and I’ve ordered it online, but all that is time consuming, frustrating, and resource-depleting. I did this for years!

That is, until the week my husband was in the hospital a little over a year ago. I brought him a bag from home that included a brush, shaving supplies, … and our only stick of deodorant. So, after stepping out of a nice clean shower at home, I desperately searched for an alternative. I reasoned to myself that if baking soda works on my hair, why not try it on my underarms? Afterall, it’s an ingredient in many deodorants…. So I used it like baby powder, just a splash.

And it was the best deodorant I’ve ever used. No kidding.

The following day, I didn’t need to re-apply. Amazing!!

But then… on day 3, I realized my left underarm was itching a bit. So I did some online research, and found that straight baking soda might be too strong. Apparently, you need just a tiny bit. In my various hours of research, I came upon a solution: mixing baking soda with cornstarch. The cornstarch actually works as a light antiperspirant, and the baking soda deodorizes.

I’ve been using it for over a year now, and I love it. Absolutely love it.


  1. In a reusable and resealable container, mix 1 part baking soda with 6 parts cornstarch.
  2. Close the container and shake vigorously for about a minute, to thoroughly mix the two powders.
  3. Then dab a small amount to the skin of your armpits with a soft cotton cloth, cotton ball, or cosmetic applicator. Apply as if you were lightly applying baby powder or cosmetic powder.
How hard is that?


  • If this recipe is too harsh on your skin (it would only be that way for people with extra sensitive skin), you can mix 1 part baking soda with 6 parts coconut oil. I use this variation, and it works equally well, though sometimes I need to reapply in the middle of a particularly sweaty day. I just keep a small container at work, just like I used to have a stick of deodorant.
  • If you decide that straight baking soda isn’t right for you, you might try “The Rock” or use one of the recipes here, here or here for homemade deodorant.

Final Notes
  • The application should last at least a day – for me it lasts at least 2 days!
  • This method hasn’t left any stains or residues on my white or black clothing. It seems to do better than normal deodorant in that regard! (Still, of course use caution with expensive and/or hard-to-clean items, as you would with any deodorant.)
  • A nice way to store your deodorant powder is in an antique cosmetic jar (above), which you can pick up at a garage sale or thrift store.
  • Baking soda (aka sodium bicarbonate) is aluminum free.
  • Curious how conventional antiperspirants work? Find out here.

Do You Make Your Own Deodorant?

If you do, how do you make it? And if you don't, would you consider trying it?


Simple in France said...

Excellent--I've been looking into using homemade deodorant for a while now. I've switched to one you can commonly get in France that uses lichen and wasabi extract, it's ok, but I kind of think it makes me smell like mustard. . .I'm going to use it up and in the meantime am looking for a small and suitable container for the home made variety. I want something I can fit in my travel case. . .

I already have all the ingredients yo mention because I cider/baking soda wash my hair. Thanks for sharing your process!

Melinda said...

Awesome, SIF - glad it's useful! Enjoy - I don't imagine I'll ever go back to deodorant. Have a lovely day!

Kimmer said...

This sounds wonderful--going to mix some up asap. Finding a nice container & applicator is going to be the hardest part!

renee @ FIMBY said...

Yes, I do make my own deodorant (but mostly I just don't wear anything of that nature any more) and almost all of my personal care products. Experimenting with perfecting a toothpaste recipe right now.

Summary of my homemade beauty products
Learning to make toothpaste

Hana_Caena said...

I'm trying this one as soon as I can get my hands on some cornstarch!
And going over from my present deodorant to that will probably be easy... =)

anastasia_wolf said...

I wish, but even a tiny amount of bicarb as deoderant gives me an awful rash :(. I loved using it until the red itchy welts appeared! Since then even a tiny amount is a no-go.

Catherine said...

I use a mix of coconut oil and baking soda (half and half, and a few drops of lavender essential oil), but I find it stains my clothes... Same with baking soda (if I sweat a lot, I have big white circles on my sweaters...). I have never tried mixing it with cornstarch. Maybe it will help. I use the crystal rock, but am not entirely happy on big sweaty day of work in the garden under the sun!! Still much much better than the commercial stuff!!

Sense of Home said...

I have used the rock on and off for a couple of years. It seems to work for a while and then quits working for me.

My sister died of breast cancer so this is a huge concern of mine.

I have been meaning to try your recipe for some time Melinda, so my goal for this weekend is to mix some up and give it a try.

Sense of Home said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Katie said...

Interesting! I'll have to try some of these out.

hennalion said...

making my own deodorant based on your recipe has been my latest green step. i started... maybe a month or two ago?

i already make soft flannel squares to use as toilet wipes, so i just made a new one to use as a deodorant applicator, and i use a babyfood jar to keep the powder in.

one application certainly doesn't last me a whole day, but i'm a stinky woman. even without much heat or moving around, i get sweaty and Definitely smelly, although i don't shave my underarms and i'm told that leads to more stinkiness.

BUT, the homemade deodorant works as well as, and sometimes better than, the various types of tom's deodorant that i would use and then give up on after they gave me a rash. so THANK YOU!!!!!

my no 'poo trial will be next =)

Lauren S said...

Anyone have suggestions on how to apply it for men with hairy armpits?

hennalion said...

lauren s - i don't shave, so i've got hairy armpits too. i still do the same thing - i use a little flannel wipe (two ply, sewed together), dip it into the powder, and then just pat it on to apply. a tiny bit of powder drifts down onto my hips sometimes, but i just brush it off, no big deal. i feel like the powder stays on well enough despite my hair.

Kimberly said...

I had been using a baking soda/cornstarch/coconut oil mix for six months. When I got pregnant, it stopped working. Hormones??? Beats me! I will go back to it as soon as I can. I tried angry chicken's recipe once pregnant. It felt great, but didn't work for me. Both still work for all the friends I made it up for though. I do just think it is the pregnancy. I am now using a Tom's roll-on kind. BTW-for those with bicarb issues---try just the coconut oil rubbed on. It may work just fine!!!
I am now making so many things I never knew were possible from lotions to lip balms and healing balms. I love knowing it is better for my family and so much safer with little ones!

Laryssa Herbert said...

Very interesting! I'll have to try that.

Anonymous said...

I use straight baking soda, no cornstarch mixed in. For my skin, it works! No rash, ever. I tried mixing it with the cornstarch, and I felt it didn't work as well. We are all so unique! I have been using the baking soda for several months now, and I still am amazed at how well it works.

Chiot's Run said...

Very cool. I've always thought about it. Generally I just don't bother putting it on unless I'm going to be filming for a long day in the heat of the summer. I've tried to get rid of most personal care products. I only use clay on my face occasionally and I use rose hip oil when needed for moisturizer. No makeup. I still use shampoo occasionally, that will be my next oust.

I'll give this a shot, so cool.

Jessica said...

On the days that I don't use the deodorant crystal, I use a mix of equal parts baking soda, arrowroot powder, and coconut oil with a couple drops tea tree and lavender essential oils.

Anonymous said...

I have been using a combination of equal parts baking soda and corn starch with a few drops of lavender essential oil for several months now and it works great for me. Have had a few extra sweaty days that I have had to reapply but usually one application works just fine. My son is a personal trainer and had been nagging me to quit using commercial deoderant. I used Tom's for a while but really like using this homemade recipe much better.

Caitlyn Nicholas said...

I'm going to give this a go and put up results on my blog! Given its 33 degrees today and set to stay the same for the next four days I reckon that'll sort out if its going to work for me or not :)

Joyful said...

I don't currently use home made deodorant but I've been thinking about it for awhile now. Your recipe comes in handy!

Mrs Spot said...

Thanks for the excellent information. I have been trying deodorant alternatives for a little while but still end up smelly. I will definately give this a try. Hopefully now the days are a bit cooler I won't be sweating quite so much anyway.


Heather said...

I make my own deodorant too.. I agree, one of the easiest changes towards sustainability etc.
I mix equal amounts of baking soda, corn starch, and coconut oil, and heat it low on the stove until it's all melty and mixed together. Then I pour it into a container and let it cool. Then I use it! It works great. I used to use baking soda and cornstarch without the coconut oil, and the coconut oil has perfected our recipe. Also we add a few drops of essential oil for a nice scent - I added lime last time.


If you add in Kaolin clay it has the reputed added advantage of removing toxins from the body.