We try it!

We Try It: Homemade Deodorant

Have you tried natural deodorant lately? It doesn’t really work. But the aluminum in antiperspirant ruins clothes and may or may not be harmful to your health.

I’ve tried pretty much every natural deodorant on the market in my effort to save my expensive white blouses and possibly prevent a horrible disease. In my quest to find aluminum-free deodorant, I’ve discovered that Soapwalla and Le Couvent de Minimes Everyday Deodorant work the best. Unfortunately for my budget, they cost around $15. But they do work! So if you’re not the DIY sort, get thee to the Internet and try them out for yourself.

As for me, I’m budget conscious and love DIY chemistry, so let’s begin!

I tried two recipes, one recommended by a friend and one I came across on Tumblr. I made each and put one on each pit for a week and had my mom smell my pits at the end of the day (she’s a good mother). The recipes and the results follow.

Recipe 1: Vodka and Witch Hazel Deodorant (AKA, I Do Not Keep Booze at My Desk)

ingredients for vodka deodorant
That bottle of vodka cost $5.

A friend told me about this simple (and cheap) mix. It’s equal parts vodka and witch hazel mixed with your choice of essential oils. I used tea tree and pine oil because they smell like trees (I used about 10 drops of each in my mix).

Mix everything in a small spray bottle and spritz on your pits.

This mix makes a lot of sense: The witch hazel tightens pores and the booze kills the bacteria that makes you smelly. The essential oils help too: Tea tree oil has germ-killing properties. It also smells nice.

And you can make a terrible cocktail with the 5 o’clock Vodka you bought for the spray.

Did I smell at the end of the day? Yes. Yes I did. My mom said it was end-of-day smell and not stinky per se.

My mom tried this formulation and she didn’t smell. We attributed this to the fact that she’s in menopause and maybe has less smelly hormones (this is pure conjecture and not at all scientific).

I liked this formulation because it was easy to apply and dirt cheap, but it may be best for those of you who don’t smell much to begin with. It might also work as a refresher in your purse.

Recipe 2: Cocoa Butter and Coconut Oil Deodorant (For the Well-Moisturized Pit)

coconut oil and cocoa butter deodorant
This stuff works!

Mix equal parts cocoa butter, coconut oil, baking soda, and corn starch. This mix melts in any warmth, so keep it in the fridge if that bugs you. Add your favorite essential oils. Again, I used about 10 drops each of tea tree oil and pine oil. Because I like forests.

Did I smell? Not really! My mom said I smelled neutral, which is just fine in my book. This formulation has a larger up-front cost than the vodka deodorant recipe, but if you buy the coconut oil from Trader Joe’s and already have baking soda and corn starch on hand, the basic ingredients run around $10. The essential oils will cost you, but your town may have a discount natural foods place that will make this part of the recipe more affordable.


The cocoa butter and coconut oil worked the best for me. I actually felt like it worked as well as Soapwalla. Looking at the ingredients, my mix is in the same genre as Soapwalla’s formulation. I might add some of their ingredients, including kaolin clay and an emulsifier. I think the clay might help keep me drier. I may also experiment with my essential oils mix.

I might try a batch without corn starch. I’m a follower of Paula Begoun, and she always says to avoid face powders with corn starch if you are prone to breakouts because it’s like food for bacteria. If bacteria cause odor, maybe a batch without corn starch might be worth a shot.

Have you tried any homemade deoderent recipes? Did they work?



By [E] Sally Lawton

My food groups are cheese, bacon, and hot tea. I like studying cities and playing with my cat, Buffy.

12 replies on “We Try It: Homemade Deodorant”

“But the aluminum … may or may not be harmful to your health.”

That page you linked to is pretty unequivocal, though. It says: “There is no real scientific evidence that aluminum or any of the other ingredients in these products pose any threat to human health.”.

By all means use non-commerical antipersperants/deodorants – I’m intrigued by the coconut oil one, love coconut oil – but if you’re scared of breast cancer/Alzheimer’s there are much more proven ways to spend your time, money and mental energy to reduce your risk than this.

In reality, I’m more concerned about ruining my white shirts and there is no question on that: aluminum in antiperspirant ruins white clothing. I’m a clothes horse and have some very nice white blouses and I’ve lost many of them to antiperspirant. Rest in peace, my blouses. I have learned my lesson.

I use a mix of coconut oil and essential oils (tea tree and lavender) for just about everything and love it! If I’m thinking specifically of deodorant, I tend to just use tea tree oil and I’m happy with it. These are awesome ideas though, and I like the idea of adding cocoa butter!

I find the tea tree does work for me (sometimes used more than once a day) and I’m quite content with it (though seriously, the cocoa butter idea seems really interesting!). I have to put up with being sweaty all over (using wraps/slings for a few hours a day does that!) but the only cure for that is a shower!

My guess based on just reading this (and spending eight years studying chemistry) the starch is there to buffer the pH of baking soda. Most skin is around pH=5.5 and baking soda is around pH=8.5 (it depends on the concentration of sodium bicarbonate though).

If you get rid of the starch, you should lower the amount of sodium bicarb, because it can cause skin irritation.

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