Homemade Deodorant

A year ago, after a bit of experimentation, I discovered the following natural deodorant formula. Ready-made, natural deodorants abound, but none proved effective for my body chemistry.  My eldest daughters and I tested this formula through hot summer days, and it’s passed with flying colors where others failed.  A few weeks ago, I taught group of young ladies to make this recipe, and the feedback has been positive from them as well.

(My sweet husband gave me the tulips pictured behind the deodorant containers!  Aren’t they pretty?)

Ingredients:
3 Tbs Coconut Oil
1 Tbs Shea Butter
1 Tbs Beeswax pellets
4 Tbs Arrowroot powder
2 Tbs Baking Soda
1 Tbs Zinc Oxide powder
*1/4 tsp Antibacterial Essential Oils (see blend suggestions below)

Directions:
1. Melt beeswax, shea butter, and coconut oil (in that order) over medium-low heat; let each ingredient melt almost entirely before adding the next, but don’t scorch the oils.  If it smokes, it’s ruined,
2. Turn heat to low. Add baking soda, arrowroot powder, and zinc.
3. Stir over low heat for about 5 minutes to eliminate lumps
*4. Add essential oils
5. Let cool 1-2 minutes to pudding consistency, pour into containers.
6. Refrigerate to harden.  It should be ready for use in less than an hour, and can be stored at room temperature (see note below) for a soft, creamy consistency.

This recipe fills a single 2 ounce container–the taller of the containers pictured, or three of the squatty .75 ounce containers.  You can refill old deodorant containers as well.  Alternately, pouring your deodorant into jam jars is even an option if you’d prefer spread a thin coat on with your fingers to the more traditional “roll on” method.  (I buy my tubes here.)

Note: If your home isn’t air-conditioned, this recipe will be very soft in the summer. If it is too soft to “roll on” you may either spread a thin coat on like a cream/lotion or you can alter the recipe by adding 1 Tbs Cornstarch and exchanging 1 Tbs of the Coconut Oil for an extra Tbs Beeswax.  

Coconut oil has an especially low melt point–about 76 degrees Fahrenheit.  Shea Butter has a melt point of approximately 113 degrees.   While the thickeners and beeswax solidify the deodorant past the temperature of the individual oils, it will still liquefy if left in an overnight bag in a hot car in mid-summer.  The advantage of these low melt points is that it glides smoothly onto the skin (the texture is amazing!) and it absorbs quickly, so it’s invisible with sleeveless styles, and won’t leave residue on clothing.     

What Each Ingredient Does:

  • Coconut Oil: Anti microbial, anti fungal, skin emollient, moisturizer.
  • Shea Butter: Emollient, anti-inflammatory, moisturizer/ also adds stability to the mixture as shea butter has a higher melt-point than the coconut oil.
  • Beeswax: Anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, anti-allergenic, and a germicidal antioxidant, gives mixture smooth texture.
  • Arrowroot Powder: Moisture absorbent thickener.
  • Baking Soda: Absorbs odors and thickens (Some homemade deodorant recipes are half baking soda! Due to it’s PH balance, high baking soda concentrations are an irritant for many people, especially when used long-term, so this mixture keeps the baking soda content low.)
  • Zinc Oxide: Antibacterial. Additionally, zinc oxide reacts with short fatty acids that are responsible for unpleasant odors by converting them into odorless zinc salts. Zinc is possibly the most active ingredient in this formula–although each ingredient has an important role.
  • Essential Oil: The oils selected in the formulas below have antibacterial and antimicrobial properties to destroy odor-causing bacteria.

*Essential Oil Combinations:
This deodorant is most effective when you choose essential oils with antibacterial properties.  The goal is not to mask body-odors, but to actually destroy the odor-causing bacteria.

  • Bubonic Bandit: I shared my Bubonic Bandid blend in my Essential Oils post here.  It is the best combination I’ve used for bacteria fighting, and if you require the strongest fighting deodorant possible, it’s my top recommendation.  Click on over to get the Bubonic Bandit recipe.  It is a great unisex deodorant, that’s more “Old Spice” than a feminine floral.
  • Lady Grey: Reminiscent of a cup of Earl Grey tea, it’s simply 1 part Bergamot Essential Oil and 1 part Lemongrass Essential Oil.  Of the deodorant scents I’ve done, it’s second to Bubonic Bandit in odor killing, and should be effective even for those who require considerable odor protection.  It’s a lighter scent than the spiced Bubonic Bandit, but could still be used by men or women; just change the name from Lady Grey to Earl Grey for the menfolk.
  • PrairieFrog Lotion Potion: For a more feminine scent we’ve used the same essential oil that we use in our homemade lotions and hair products.  Mix equal parts Rosemary, Clary Sage, Sweet Orange, and Lavender Essential Oils.  This blend is great for skin health, and although not among the most potent anti-bacterials, it should be sufficient for most.
  • Lemongrass Lymph Massage: If breast health is of primary concern in your formulation, I’d suggest my Lemongrass Lymph.  I designed this especially to encourage lymph flow, and it may have anti-tumoral properties.  Additionally, this formula avoids essential oils thought to be estrogenic, which some people avoid due to possible connections between cancer and elevated estrogen levels.  This blend is 5 parts Bay Laurel, 4 parts Francincense, 2 parts Lemongrass, and 2 part Rose Otto.  Lemongrass is the predominant scent.    Lemongrass Lymph isn’t the most antibacterial of my formulations, but is probably best for breast health.  Choose the blend that best suits your needs.
  • Experiment and make your own.  Research properties of essential oils, and make your own anti-bacterial blend!

Disclaimers: Don’t blindly try anything you read on the internet.  I’m just a mom with a blog. I’m not a doctor and don’t have any impressive credentials.  Reactions are rare, but possible.  (On the other hand, don’t assume that you’ll have problems with essential oils because you have fragrance sensitivities.  I’m highly sensitive to almost anything “scented”, but most pure, quality essential oils don’t bother my allergies at all-in fact they help!)   Body chemistry differs. If irritation occurs or this mixture proves ineffective, discontinue use.   No statements on this blog have been evaluated by the FDA.

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17 thoughts on “Homemade Deodorant

  1. I’ve just recently started looking into essential oils. It is kind of overwhelming! Can you recommend any of your favorite resources (books, websites, etc.) that you have used for learning more about oils, and how or when to use them?

  2. Would I need to double the zinc oxide, if I don’t use the baking soda, since the baking soda gives me a rash still, and not effective. Also does this deodorant melt in the heat/summer

    • Hi, Tammy! One of the biggest roles of the baking soda is thickener, so I think that if I were leaving it out, I’d likely increase the Arrowroot Powder or add in some cornstarch to make up that quantity. You could try just increasing the zinc, but it might be a bit “soft”. My home doesn’t get above 80 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer (due to air conditioning), and it’s softer, but still fine. (And on the skin it absorbs quickly and won’t matter how melty it is–it will be effective even if liquid.) In a home that gets above 80, I’m guessing it could get melty based on the coconut oil–and even the shea melts at temps in the upper 90’s. I think for warm environments it’d be best to either keep it in the refrigerator or store it in a jar instead of a deodorant tube so it could be applied more as a lotion/cream. It would be just as effective, but in a tube at higher temps, it’d be messy.

  3. First time I’ve made deodorant. Been using this recipe for just over 2 weeks w/ the bubonic bandid blend – amazing, best deodorant I’ve ever used. Works better than any store product – natural or not. End product is just the right consistency (I keep in a glass jar, apply w/ finger). I’m a fan of zinc oxide (sunscreens w/ added benefit of antibacterial properties, keeps my face clear).
    My wife bought me the Crystal brand roll-on a few years ago, it works the best of the crystal deodorants, but it doesn’t do that great a job. I keep “regular” deodorant handy – with all the bad ingredients – for the days I know I’m going to need extra protection. Not being satisfied with what I was using, and desiring something natural that worked, I did some research and came across this recipe.
    Typically I take a shower once a day, before bed. I apply the deodorant then. On a couple occasions I put the deodorant to the test. The days were > 85 degrees, I either was running from client to client meetings all day with a workout @ the gym at the end of the day or spent several hours outside doing yard work. Lots of heat and sweating. Normally I can smell myself. My wife did a pit smell check at the end of several of the days – 24 hours after application – no bad odors, NONE! She said my pits actually smelled good, faint odor of bubonic bandid – 24 HOURS LATER! She couldn’t believe it either, she originally thought I was nuts for attempting to make deodorant. Only con is I have noticed some yellowing on undershirts but so far it comes out in the wash.

  4. I would love to try this recipe, but I don’t have zinc oxide. 😦 Is there something that could take it’s place? Possibly diatomaceous earth, or benonite clay?
    Thanks! 🙂

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  6. I have a strong sensitivity to baking soda as well. I tried the original recipe as prescribed and still got a bit of a rash, worked well however haha! This is my second go around and i’ve substituted the baking soda out for an extra tbsp of arrowroot powder and zinc (so replaced the amount of baking soda exactly). I’ll let you know how it goes! I noticed the corn starch tip you left above as well. If I get any consistency issues i’ll give that a try as well.

  7. When using the solid oils (Shea and Coconut oil) would I be measuring it in the solid form or melting it then measuring? For instance I measured 1 cup of solid coconut oil but once it melted down it was probably 1/2 cup.

    • I measured the solid oils in solid form and it turned out fine. Also for those with baking soda allergies, substituting it out for an extra tbsp of arrowroot powder worked wonderfully. The final product doesn’t stop the perspiration to a high degree however the odor block is extremely effective.

  8. Man oh man have I been on the longest DIY deodorant journey. I’m got very high hopes that this is my last stop! (Standard coco/baking soda love but then rash, switch out for arrowroot but no where near as good, spend a fortune on the neem oil stinky crap, onward to the matcha one but gunky and ineffective, to here – whipped up last night). I swapped out the 2 baking soda for 1 extra arrowroot and 1 extra zinc. I swapped out 1 coconut oil for 1 zinc ricinoleate. And i luckily had all of the EOs for your bubonic bandit. So far this morning I’m very optimistic! Thank you so much.

  9. I’ve been using this deodorant since 3 days and I am already really happy with it ! Only downside, is that it makes my armpit white… Even if it doesnt stain even a black tshirt, it doesnt look nice if I wear a tank top… As I plan to sell those, I would like to find a way for it to be less white. I didnt use baking soda, but maybe the Zinc Oxyde is the culprit as it’s suppose to be an oppacifier?

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