Thursday, 25 March 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?