DIY Deodorant: Pros and Cons

Last September, I reblogged The Zero-Waste Chef’s post about how to make your own deodorant and hoped that having it on my own site would motivate me to try this handy do-it-yourself option.  I actually did get around to it within a few weeks…creating deodorant that then became unusable for me for months.  It wasn’t until this spring that I was able to give it a fair trial.  Now I can tell you what’s good about it and what isn’t.

DIY Deodorant ingredients

The ingredients: coconut oil, baking soda, corn starch, and essential oil. Image from The Zero Waste Chef.

The Good Things:

  • It works!!!
  • It truly was easy to make and took me just a few minutes.  Combining the ingredients was soothing and satisfying.
  • It hasn’t made grease stains or white marks on any of my clothing.
  • It’s less expensive than buying natural deodorant, which is $5-$7 in my area.  The ingredients for a baby-food jar full of DIY Deodorant, which gives approximately the same number of applications as a stick of solid deodorant, cost less than $1.  It’s hard to find even a nasty-chemical-filled deodorant for $1 these days.
  • It does not have a plastic package that will never biodegrade and is made from irreplaceable natural resources.

The Bad Things:

  • It really needs to be stored at a room temperature of approximately 70-85 degrees Fahrenheit.  Within two days after the time when I happened to make my DIY Deodorant, my house settled down to its winter temperature, which maxes out at 70 degrees on the thermostat but is a bit colder (66? 67?) up in my bedroom where I keep and use my deodorant.  The coconut oil hardened so that I had a jar of solid stuff impenetrable to my fingertips.  I considered using some kind of tool to scrape out each dose, but that would be really annoying–and given that I apply deodorant while I’m half-conscious and often stepping over a crawling baby, there was a high risk of flipping bits of this oily stuff all over the room!  I ended up deciding to leave it alone until the weather got warmer.  I live in Pennsylvania.  This deodorant was unusable for seven months.  And within a few weeks after it finally became scoopable, we had a 90-degree day when we left the drapes open so that the bedroom heated up, causing the coconut oil to become liquid so that the DIY Deodorant was unscoopable in a different way: too drippy!  (It was fine again the next day, though, and didn’t even need re-mixing.)  The Zero Waste Chef lives in central California, where the weather is more consistent, and I think that’s a big reason why this stuff works so well for her.
  • You need to wash your hands after applying it, or at least wipe them hard on something that you don’t mind grease-staining.  I’m not thrilled with adding this extra step to my morning routine.
  • If you drop a bit of the deodorant–which is easy to do because it’s crumbly–it will leave an oil spot.  Annoying.  Especially on paper items, a tiny bit of coconut oil can make a big, obvious grease stain.

Overall, I think I will keep using this stuff until it’s gone and consider making more for late-spring-through-early-fall-except-on-very-hot-days use, but for most of the year I’m going to stick with Tom’s of Maine long-lasting natural deodorant.  It works well for me, it’s easy to use, the fragrances are pleasant and not too strong, the price is acceptable with coupons and sales frequently available, and it’s sold in many stores that are convenient for me.  Daniel and I both have been using Tom’s deodorant for about ten years now.  We do not recommend Tom’s antiperspirant, and we have not liked any other brand of store-bought natural deodorant that we’ve tried.  Tom’s deodorant is available from ePantry for only $5.89; click here to learn more about ePantry and get a special deal!

If you live in a consistently warmish climate, though, DIY Deodorant may be all you need!  Give it a try!

UPDATE: Readers inform me that blending beeswax into your DIY Deodorant makes it more stable in changing temperatures, and you can even refill a twist-up deodorant container with it!  See the comments below for information and links.

Visit Works-for-Me Wednesday and Waste Not Want Not Wednesday for more great tips.  Visit Real Food Friday for more things (mostly edibles!) that you can make from food ingredients.

About 'Becca
author of The Earthling's Handbook, about the environment, parenting, cooking, and more!

10 Responses to DIY Deodorant: Pros and Cons

  1. Pingback: DIY Deodorant | The Earthling's Handbook

  2. It does get hard with the coconut oil. My daughter adds beeswax to hers: https://brokebusyeco.wordpress.com/2014/09/22/homemade-deodorant/ (that’s her blog). That makes it creamier🙂

  3. I’ve been making my own coconut oil deodorant for a couple of years now (and have a recipe on my blog for it, along with some of the pros of making your own) and agree it can be a bit difficult in hot weather. In the summertime I keep it in the fridge, then scrap off a bit with my fingernail and wait a couple of seconds for my body heat to soften it, so it being hard isn’t usually a problem. When it gets really difficult is when I’m traveling in a warm climate and have no fridge to keep it in! Or if you want to carry it in a bag with you somewhere, and it melts… Unless your container is well-sealed, it can get messy (and oily!). I haven’t tried it with beeswax, but I’ve heard from others it’s helpful also. I do still prefer it over other natural deodorants, though, because I think it has more staying power and protection.

  4. Katrina Szymanski says:

    I have used homemade natural deodorant for 4 years now. I use a touch of beeswax. I love it and recommend it to everyone. I have used it in every weather situation, I have even used it in hot weather even if it’s soft or melted. It’s never failed on me! Try other recipes! Some people recommend too much baking soda, this can become very irritating to the skin. I hope everyone can try homemade natural deodorant at least once in their lives. It takes some people a month for their bodies to adjust to the natural deodorant. It took me about 2 weeks to adjust to it but I never looked back. It always shocks everyone when I tell them I make and use my own natural deodorant. Also I live in Pennsylvania and when my home is cooler below 68 in the winter. I just use my clean hands and scrape some out with my nail. Thank you for your analysis of homemade vs. store bought. I find the positives out weighs the negatives.

    • 'Becca says:

      I thought about mentioning that it can take a while to “detox” from the synthetic stuff so that a natural deodorant works well for you…but I didn’t have any references handy and don’t have much experience with that; when I switched to Tom’s, it worked well enough for me right away and then got more reliable over the course of a few weeks.

  5. Caitlin King says:

    I made mine with beeswax – I haven’t “tested” it yet to see how it’ll stand up to the heat but hopefully that will help. And I put it in a deodorant container so I can apply it like a stick deodorant instead of having to scoop out of a jar. http://mychocolatemoments.com/2015/05/19/easy-and-effective-homemade-deodorant/

    • 'Becca says:

      Nice article! How cool that you have a beekeeping friend who made it easy to get beeswax! I think I can buy it at my food co-op. Maybe I’ll try your recipe in the fall.

  6. Marla says:

    Great recipe – I love the smell of peppermint and believe so much in DIY recipes. Thanks for sharing on Real Food Fridays .Pinned & twitted.

  7. Emmie Wilson says:

    Wonderful post! I’m going for zero waste lifestyle and that is something really useful and practical. I’ll not only reduce the plastic package, but also increase my skills and knowledge in doing something else. It depends on how you see it – the positive way or the negative one!

  8. Pingback: Top 10 New Articles of 2015 | The Earthling's Handbook

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