My friend and soul sister Erin is an inspiring scientist, educator, and renaissance woman. Erin taught me to make soap. For those of us with the I-want-to-learn-make-do affliction, that about says it all. When she told me about her homemade deodorant this summer, I immediately wanted to try it. So I asked her if she would write a guest post. Graciously she accepted and now I get to try making my own!
I’m a huge fan of all Jen’s crafty, homesteady ideas so I’m excited to be writing a guest post for her blog!
I’ve been making my own deodorant for a few months now and it’s great! You get to pick from a huge array of scents and you avoid putting any weird chemicals on your body – what’s not to love? Plus, I find it works better than the previous brand I was using for odor control. And it only takes about 5 min! The recipe I use is modified from one I read on another blog and unfortunately I can’t remember the name of the blog so can’t give that person the credit she is due.
You will need:
- Coconut oil
- Baking soda
- Arrowroot starch or cornstarch
- Essential oils (optional)
- Shea butter (optional)
- Alum (optional)
- Container to hold your deodorant
The coconut oil acts as a microbicide and fungicide, the baking soda helps absorb odor and the arrowroot starch absorbs moisture. If you can’t find arrowroot starch you can substitute cornstarch. Some sources suggest that using cornstarch can result in an increased chance of a yeast infection in your armpit; however, I couldn’t find anything definitive about that. Personally, I like the texture of the arrowroot better. It’s a bit more expensive but since you use such a small amount at a time it is still cost effective.
Step 1. Measure out equal parts by volume coconut oil, baking soda and arrowroot starch. I generally use 2T as my unit (i.e. 2T coconut oil, 2T baking soda, 2T arrowroot) since that amount fits well in my container and will last for several weeks.
If you make up your first batch and find that it is too drying or makes your armpits itch, try reducing the amount of baking soda. I do this with mine – I actually just eyeball slightly less baking soda and slightly more arrowroot (not very scientific, I know).
Step 2. Add optional ingredients. I typically add about ¼ tsp of shea butter to my deodorant. Shea butter is a great moisturizer and soothes irritated skin. You can also add a few drops of essential oils to scent your deodorant if desired. For my 2T-based volume, I add about 6 drops of essential oil. I like to use 1 drop of tea tree oil, which is also a natural microbicide, along with 5 drops of some other more pleasant scent.
If you want your deodorant to function more as an antiperspirant you can try adding some alum. Alum typically comes in the form of potassium alum (KAl(SO4)2) and is commonly used in commercial antiperspirants (on the other hand, you may be making your own deodorant to specifically avoid use of aluminum products). I haven’t tried adding alum so I don’t have a formula for how much to use but if you do add alum, reduce the amount of the other powders you add in step 1. Alum is typically available in the spice section at the grocery store or at craft stores (it’s also used as a mordant for dying).
Step 3. Place your ingredients in a vessel that can go on the stove at a very low heat.
Step 4. The melting point of coconut oil is only 76°F (24°C) so gently heat your ingredients until the oil melts. Mix the powder into the oil until you get a nice slurry consistency (note that hydrogenated coconut oil melts at a higher temperature – ~97°F/36°C so be sure to purchase unhydrogenated or virgin coconut oil).
Step 5. Fill your container with the slurry and let cool until it resolidifies.
And that’s it!
To use, scoop a pea-sized amount and hold against your armpit until it melts into your skin. I find that in the winter I sometimes have to chip a piece off since the solidified coconut oil can be quite hard, and in the summer I sometimes have to place the deodorant in the fridge so it doesn’t melt completely.
Erin lives with her husband in Nanaimo, BC on beautiful Vancouver Island where she is a scientist for Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans. In her spare time she rides horses, climbs, kayaks, knits, dreams of chickens, and plans her garden.