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Adventures in Deodorant

Concerned about the chemicals in standard deodorants, I started experimenting with more natural brands and making my own. Here’s what I’ve learned in the past year…

First, I went commercial and bought Tom’s of Maine. It worked great for awhile, but then I started feeling smelly. Next, I tried rubbing a pinch of just plain baking soda in my underarms. It totally eliminated odor, but after a few weeks my underarms freaked out, turned red and splotchy, and started peeling. Eek! Plus, grains of it stood out on black clothing. Back to the drawing board–or rather, back to the Tom’s. When I finished the Tom’s, I gave J/A/S/O/N Organics deodorant a chance. That was a nightmare for my body chemistry. I am not a particularly sweaty person, but that stuff made me smell just awful. (In J/A/S/O/N’s defense, they did respond to my complaint and gave me a coupon good for any of their products.) At that point, I came across a recipe from Little House in the Suburbs that looked awesome. I made it as instructed and even put it in an empty deodorant container. I loved how well it worked, but it kept crumbling out of the dispenser on colder days and melting out of the container on hotter days, and my pits started doing the peeling thing again. So, I shelved that and bought Nature’s Gate deodorant. It did absolutely nothing for me. So, I decided to go back to making my own, but this time I’d take the Little House ingredients but make a custom blend for my sensitive pits and make it creamy rather than a stick.

More Green for Less Green Creamy Deodorant


  • 1/4 cup Baking Soda
  • 1/2 cup Cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup Coconut Oil
  • Tea Tree Oil


  • Lidded, microwave-safe container, 1 cup (or larger)—I use my beloved lidded Pyrex
  • Sturdy Spoon
  • Measuring cup
  • Microwave (optional)
  • Small cotton cloth (optional)


  1. Add cornstarch, baking soda, and coconut oil to container.
  2. Microwave for 10-15 second and stir thoroughly. (You can omit microwaving, but it makes stirring easier.)
  3. Add 15-20+ drops of tea tree oil.
  4. Let cool. It will thicken as it returns to room temperature.
  5. Take a small swipe of the deodorant using your middle and index fingers and massage it into each underarm. It will look slightly shiny on your skin briefly, but won’t be visible.
  6. If you are not applying this near a sink, keep a small cloth with the deodorant container to wipe your fingers clean with.

I do not use this immediately after shaving because the baking soda irritates nicks. One thing I do is shave less—just once or twice per week—and then use hubby’s conventional deodorant on those days. Or, better yet, I’ll shower at night, go clean-pitted through the night, and then apply the deodorant in the morning.

I have not had any problems with it staining clothes, being visible, quitting on me midday, etc.

Do note that the mixture changes viscosity based on temperature—it will be semi-solid in cooler conditions (right) but runny when warm (left). It works the same at either temperature range. I made a batch on hottest day of the year thus far and it was so runny that I thought my recipe must have gotten screwed up somehow. Now that normal spring temperatures have returned, it is thick like canned frosting.

Why it works: baking soda combats odor, cornstarch absorbs moisture, tea tree oil has natural antiseptic properties and smells good, coconut oil is the perfect base—it makes the deodorant spreadable. This oil is solid at room temperature but has a very low melting point. Simply touching it will transfer heat enough to melt it. You can find coconut oil at many grocery stores, just ask where it is.

P.S. For emergency pit spruce-ups, I keep a repurposed, small lip balm container filled with baking soda in my purse. Very occasional use of straight baking soda doesn’t irritate my pits too much. Nothing combats smell like baking soda! Just grab a pinch and rub it in.


About More Green for Less Green

Hi, I’m Pamm. Welcome to my little slice of the web! As both a pastor and crunchy homeschooling mom, I’m never quite what anyone expects of me. But, hey, that’s what makes blogging interesting, right? Join me as I try to wholeheartedly parent my three little boys, slowly fix up the trashed foreclosure we bought in 2009, and live simply.

{ 5 comments… add one }

  • Shoebotmom April 10, 2010, 12:08 am

    Question. Is there a reason that hubby uses conventional deodorant over the homemade stuff?

    Question. Do you think it would work as well if you tried a different essential oil?

    I am super excited to try this. I am headed to the store tomorrow to pick up the coconut oil! Thanks for posting this.

  • P April 10, 2010, 12:17 am

    Hubby has severe and painful contact dermatitis so trying anything new his skin is a scary thing. Personally, I think he’d be better off with the homemade kind, or a commercial green brand, but thus far he refuses and just sticks with the one he’s been using for a long time.

    As for the EOs, you certainly could try different scents. Little House mentions lavender. I would be sure that the EOs you choose can be used on the skin, though. Some have adverse effects.

  • Jen April 10, 2010, 4:48 am

    This is awesome, thanks so much!

  • Anonymous May 11, 2010, 7:48 pm

    I made this the other day and it seems to be working well. I think I put too much tea tree oil in though, because the smell is really strong. I’m thinking about making another batch with the tea tree oil and combining them. However, the batch that I made will probably last me quite a while, so adding another batch to it might last me forever!

  • P May 13, 2010, 11:47 am

    I find the tea tree oil smell mellows as the baking soda does it work and eats scent. That said, mixing in some of the other ingredients is a great idea. I designed this recipe to be easily scalable to any amount–even very small ones–as long as the ratios stay the same.

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