Saving money on deodorant

For years, the idea of anti-perspirant has bugged me.  It’s always seemed counter intuitive to health to keep perspiration from being released (one way the body releases toxins).  And I’ve also always wondered about if there’s a connection between breast cancer and anti-perspirant, since the lymph nodes are right under the armpit and if they get blocked up, it makes sense that a person will get sick.

Well, regardless of my mental cogitating on all of this, I like looking and smelling socially acceptable and this wasn’t something I was going to give up.   I had tried a crystal but it didn’t work at all, and the healthy deodorant alternative in the store was mucho money and I didn’t want to spend that without knowing it would work really well.

But about a year ago in the winter, I decided it was a good time for an experiment in this area, since if it wasn’t working no one but me would know. :) I started applying a sprinkle of baking soda in place of deodorant, and I found that it worked great!  I stayed fresher than I ever did with deodorant!  Because I prefer to try things for a while before sharing them to make sure they really work, I didn’t want to post about it here until I had gone through all the seasons.  So it’s been over a year now and I can say with confidence it’s worked great though all kinds of weather, hot and cold.

However, there were two downsides to my solution.  One – it was slightly messy, since a sprinkling of baking soda would fall on my bathroom counter. That’s easily enough taken care of by a daily wipe down, but still it was a down side.  And it is kind of wasteful.   Two – my teenagers had no interest in trying my solution, even though they tend to be open to my ideas.

So, I decided it was time to find a solution that would work for them, and we did!  I saved a few empty deodorant containers, and made an effective, healthy, and inexpensive alternative to deodorant.  And it took all of five minutes to make a few bars worth. (The recipe below will make one or two bars, depending on the size you make it.)

Homemade Deodorant

  • 1/4 c. baking soda
  • 1/4 c. cornstarch
  • 2 T. coconut oil (expeller pressed)
  • optional – ten drops of essential oil

Melt the coconut oil in a small pot.  Stir in the baking soda and cornstarch until smooth.  If you want to add a scent to it, add ten drops of essential oil now.  I didn’t, because all I had on hand was tea tree oil and my kids hate the smell of it.

You’re going to have a soft white paste.  Take out the empty deodorant containers, and turn them so the little thing in the middle is down as low as it can go.  Then fill the containers, and let them sit on the counter until they harden.  Once it’s firm, use like any regular anti-perspirant – it will look just like what you buy in the stores, and my kids have said it works great and are happy to use it.

If you don’t have an empty deodorant container and don’t feel like waiting to have one to try this, find a couple of empty toilet paper tubes.  It seems to me that if you stand the empty tube on top of a wax paper or pan and then pour the mixture in, you can let it harden in place.  Then once it’s firm you can cut down the side that has the paper tube sticking up, leaving enough over so that you can fold the sides of it down over the bottom like you would wrap a present.  Then turn it right side up and just push it up from the bottom as you want to use it.

How does this work?  Baking soda is known to be an absorber of smell, and the cornstarch wicks away moisture.  I’m sure the coconut oil is beneficial as an antibacterial factor as well.  If you add the essential oils, it mostly just makes it smell nice.

The cost for this is very, very low.  I pay under .50 lb for baking soda (.06 for 1/4 cup), and around a dollar for a cup of expeller pressed coconut oil (.13 cents for 2 T.).  I haven’t bought corn starch in ages so I have no idea how much I paid, but it wasn’t a lot.  So for under .25 cents, I’ve been able to make a generous sized deodorant that works great, without any of the negative side effects!

(This post is part of Fight Back Fridays and Frugal Fridays.)


22 thoughts on “Saving money on deodorant

  1. Good to know! I may try that. This week I’ve been experimenting with alternative skin cares. One of them has been using coconut oil as deodorant. I keep a jar of it in my bathroom for moisterizer. I just take a little smear and rub it under each arm. So far so good! Coconut oil is like a miracle oil for everything!

  2. I like this idea very much. I’ve been using the natural stuff or the mineral salt based liquid for shabbos. They worked well but I wouldn’t mind spending less (especially when my kids are old enough to need this the savings will add up).

    I have one question which I hope doesn’t sound foolish. I have mostly avoided cornstarch on the body since I had an issue with fungal infections (and from what I understand, fungus thrive on cornstarch). Would this be a problem here or is there a simple substitute?

    Thanks for this wonderful blog resource.

  3. Thank you for this. I’m trying to eliminate toxins as much as possible and deodorant is one I’ve eliminated but haven’t found one I like yet. And the price of all natural is crazy — definitely going to try this.


  4. My skin doesn’t like baking soda every day, it tends to scald and peel. But I can use it in rotation: day 1 baking soda, day 2 coconut oil, day 3 diluted tea tree oil. Now that I’m not wearing makeup anymore, I converted my old kabuki brush to a baking soda application brush! Ooh, luxurious!

  5. Homecraftsblog – I love that this reduces my miscellaneous expenses since it’s part of my grocery budget.

    Sara, I’ll give you my best guess. Coconut oil is an anti-fungal so I think it would neutralize the cornstarch issue. If you wanted to totally leave out the cornstarch and increase the baking soda in an equal amount, you can follow the same instructions.

    Sarah – welcome to blogging! There is so much to learn about natural living; isn’t it fun?!

    Sandra – I hope this one works well for you!

    localnourishment – it sounds like you found a great solution. I like the idea of applying the baking soda with a brush!

    Direct baking soda can be abrasive. For those with sensitive skin, the recipe above can be adapted: cornstarch can be increased to 6T. and the baking soda decreased to 2 T.

  6. Thank you for replying. Can something be used instead of the cornstarch (and to use less baking soda) since I do have quite sensitive skin?

    1. I really don’t know, Sara. All of the similar type starches I can think of (potato, arrowroot) that would have the kind of smoothness are still starches which would still be the same concern. I think you should try making this recipe and see if you react at all. As I said, it’s very possible the presence of the coconut oil will counteract any fungal growth.

  7. If I shave & use baking soda, my skin burns like fire! I have found that BS works great for the smell. As in, I live in SW Louisiana and do yard work in the middle of the summer and I still don’t stink! Amazing. :)

    I wonder what would happen with your recipe when it warms up? Will the coconut oil melt back to liquid state or will it stay firm w/the BS and CS?

  8. Thanks for posting this. It looks great. I’m going to try an EO with citronella this summer to see if it helps repel mosquitoes, as a bonus.

  9. Hi, Beth, welcome! Thank you for the kind comments and I agree that the essential oils would do more than just smell nice.

    Motherhen – the heat of the deep South definitely is a good test of if baking soda will work or not!

    As far as the heat melting it – I was concerned about this and the first bar I made was a little too firm – I wanted to be sure it wouldn’t melt in warmer weather. The next batch seemed to be just right, but I’ll have to see when it gets hot. If it’s a little too melty, then I’d have to add a little bit more solid to firm it up.

    Hi, Martha, welcome! Citronella as a mosquito repellent sounds great – I’ll have to remember that for the summer. :)

  10. Hi Avivah – this is such an interesting post, I have stopped wearing any deodorant since maybe two years or more ago. My husband uses the rock crystal deodorant and seems to like it, but I was getting scratched from using it when the crystals would dry out after wetting it under the sink.

    I do have days where I know I don’t smell great, but I have just been either showering or cleaning off with a wet washcloth and Dr. Bronner’s soap. Usually this is not a problem. However, I do have one side of my body that seems to have more odor than the other – my left side. Coincidentally I also have a benign cyst in my right breast, and as you mentioned with artificial deodorants (which I wore for years), I wonder if this has anything to do with my cyst because those are usually a lymphatic problem. So now I’m almost convinced this is why I seem to have little to no odor on that side. I’ve tried all types of natural remedies and eat a very healthy, traditional diet, but still no luck with eliminating the cyst.

    But I am going to have to try your recipe for natural deodorant, it sounds like a good one! Great site, by the way!

    1. Hi, Raine, welcome! Your experience is interesting and doesn’t sound so coincidental. Have you ever considered doing some energy work for the cyst? A great diet is wonderful but I’ve personally experienced that sometimes there’s an energy block that needs to be removed before the physical diet type of stuff can help as much as it should.

      (My chiro does something called Neuro Emotional Technique.)

  11. Dear Avivah,

    can it be that baking soda might block the pores and eventually cause problems with breast or lymph nodes?

    I have thought, the idea of using powder on porous skin has not been encouraged..

    1. Hi, ds, welcome! Baking soda doesn’t work by blocking the pores, but by absorbing odor, so no, it wouldn’t be a concern in blocking lymph nodes. As far as not using powder of any kind on porous skin, I haven’t heard anything about that. Would you like to share more information about what the issue would be and why?

  12. i think i heard that baby talc, for example, is not encouraged as it is blocking pores, and it is not used any more. So i thought, baking soda might function in a similar way.
    Would be glad to know it is not true

  13. This idea sounds very interesting, Avivah. I just finished a stick of deodorant, so I think I might make your version.
    One question: Must I use refined coconut oil?
    I only have virgin coconut oil at home right now.

    1. I suggest expeller pressed because it’s less expensive and because it has no odor. But if you like the scent of coconut oil and don’t mind spending a bit more on it, then it’s fine to use the extra virgin oil!

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