Homemade deodorant: The quest for a natural counter to body odor

17 Jun

homemade deodorant

By Charlynn Avery

For years, I have searched for the perfect natural deodorant. Perfect for me, that is. Not one to be overly concerned about sweat or perspiration (it is natural and healthy for the body to perspire, so why suppress it?), I wanted something that was a good counter for body odor that was also effective – meaning, something that would last longer than an hour or two.

Before I explored homemade deodorant, I tried many natural, store-bought deodorants, which have a bit of a bad rap. They aren’t as effective as the consumer wants them to be, often requiring reapplication throughout the day. In some cases, the ingredients in these deodorants aren’t as clean as we want them to be, which can also prove to be a challenge.

After a little bit of digging, I found a couple of recipes online that were quite simple to make in my own kitchen. I tweaked the recipes to create a formula that incorporated some of the best aromatic effects of the chosen essential oils and to give them a stronger odor fighting punch. Once all the components were gathered, it took less than 15 minutes to create a crème deodorant that rivaled a natural version I paid a tidy sum for someone else to make for me. Never again with this recipe. I am happy to report it worked well – sometimes for a couple of days at a time, and didn’t leave permanent white streaks on my clothing.

What you need to make your own homemade deodorant:
Baking soda – A key ingredient in natural deodorants, baking soda can be used on its own for a simple deodorant as a paste made with water. It is a must-have in any natural recipe, as it is free of harsh chemicals and very effective at keeping odor at bay.

Powdered clay – Another great component used to fight odor, clay comes in a lot of varieties. I chose a bentonite clay for this recipe, but different powdered clays can be used. However, color rich clays are generally not recommended as they could cause discoloration the skin.

Coconut oil – Great for fighting odor and for moisture, coconut oil was the key binding ingredient for the dry powders.

Cornstarch or arrowroot powder – Either powder can be used to absorb moisture. This is great for keeping underarms dry.

Bergamot (bergaptene-free) – As one of the better essential oils for a deodorant formula, I chose bergaptene-free bergamot because it removes the concern of photosensitivity (sensitivity to sunlight) that the use of bergamot can bring. In choosing your own essential oils, make sure to use oils that are kinder to the skin as the underarm is a sensitive area. Suggestions include lavender, geranium, rose, sandalwood, tea tree, ylang ylang and Texas cedarwood.

Charlynn’s homemade deodorant recipe:

¼ c. baking soda

1/8 c. cornstarch or arrowroot powder

1/8 c. powdered clay

5 tbsp. coconut oil

24 drops bergaptene-free bergamot

Blend all ingredients together and place in small container. If the recipe is too soft, you can refrigerate after mixing to help solidify. Use as a crème and apply to underarms with tips of fingers.  The application may feel a bit gritty – that is completely normal and is due to the consistency of the baking soda.

Have you tried making your own deodorant? Share your tips below!

Charlynn Avery Aura CaciaAbout the author: Charlynn Avery, aromatherapist and educator for Aura Cacia, is on a quest to change the way we look at health and healing in the U.S. She has spent her career practicing and teaching in the arena of holistic health and wellness as a licensed massage therapist, and currently holds additional certifications in Holistic Nutrition, Thai Massage and Life Coaching. Although she loves natural healing, she loves spending time in nature even more. An avid traveler both for work and pleasure, she can often be found getting her U.S. National Park Passport stamped or reading a good book in an airport.

29 Responses to “Homemade deodorant: The quest for a natural counter to body odor”

  1. Sue | CandlesOffMain.com June 17, 2013 at 2:41 pm #

    Thanks for the recipe! I’ll definitely give it a try.

  2. Karen June 17, 2013 at 5:07 pm #

    Can I add a little beeswax to make it hard to put into a tube?
    thanks, sounds like a good recipe

    • Cayenne Room June 25, 2013 at 9:59 am #

      Absolutely! Beeswax is often used for that very reason, and makes it easier to transport.

    • Kim January 23, 2014 at 5:16 pm #

      Beeswax is definitely the way to go. Without beeswax, don’t try to take it in an airplane! The pressure destroys it! WITH beeswax, all is well!!

    • Amber January 25, 2014 at 9:11 am #

      How much beeswax?

      • Cayenne Room January 27, 2014 at 9:28 am #

        Start with 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons of beeswax. Add more if you want the deodorant to be more of a solid (like the stick kind). Otherwise, this amount will leave you with a glossy finish to the creme.

  3. Kim June 17, 2013 at 6:53 pm #

    I ALWAYS use tea tree too for the anti-bacterial qualities. I’ve never tried Bergamot. I’ll have to consider that (after checking to make sure mine is the right kind). I usually use tea tree and lavender

  4. Bj Mash July 25, 2013 at 8:11 pm #

    I am a distributor for two essential oil companies, neither have the bergatene-free type of oil you refer to, Can you tell me where you purchased this product, as it’s new to me, and want to try your recipe…..Thanks !

    • Cayenne Room July 29, 2013 at 4:14 pm #

      Hello, you kind find Aura Cacia at natural retailers and Whole Foods nationwide. We suggest visiting your local natural retailer to purchase.

  5. obsidiandreamcatcher October 14, 2013 at 3:11 am #

    Reblogged this on Obsidian Dream and commented:
    Homemade Deodorant!

  6. Stephanie November 16, 2013 at 7:17 am #

    What type of clay do you use?

    • Cayenne Room November 21, 2013 at 3:26 pm #

      Hi Stephanie, Charlynn recommends bentonite clay.

    • Kim January 23, 2014 at 5:18 pm #

      Kaolin clay is also good

  7. Jessica January 25, 2014 at 10:19 pm #

    Could any other type of oil be used besides coconut? Allergic. Thanks!

    • Cayenne Room January 27, 2014 at 9:27 am #

      Shea butter can replace the coconut oil – it will likely change the consistency of the recipe, so feel free to play around with the amounts of the other ingredients to make the desired consistency (some people like it more creamy, while others prefer it more solid). Cocoa butter can also be used, but at a reduced amount because it is more solid in nature.

  8. mollie January 27, 2014 at 12:40 pm #

    Does anyone else have any natural recipes for aromatherapy bubble bath, lotions, ect?

  9. Cassie February 6, 2014 at 10:25 pm #

    Can it be made without clay?

    • Cayenne Room February 17, 2014 at 1:44 pm #

      Yes — you don’t need to use clay for this recipe. Try increasing the arrowroot/cornstarch in place of the clay.

  10. Lora February 15, 2014 at 9:29 pm #

    This made me very red & sore … and did NOT control odor :( I think there was too much baking soda and it irritated me. I have not had problems using the same ingredients in other recipes for powders etc, just this one because of the amount of baking soda. Too gritty for tender little me I guess ;) Anyway, it didn’t control odor, so on to the next recipe :(

    • Cayenne Room February 17, 2014 at 1:41 pm #

      We are so sorry to hear about your experience with this formula. Unfortunately, there is just no one formula or recipe that works for everyone because we are all different. Our individual sensitivities, skin types and body chemistries are all factors when using any product, homemade or otherwise. While some people report a little itching initially, usually it goes away after the first or second application. We do greatly appreciate the feedback, and encourage everyone to only use what works best for their own individual needs. Best of luck in your search for a natural deodorant — let us know if you hit on one.

  11. Rosalyn M Zografos February 24, 2014 at 7:50 pm #

    Zinc oxide should also be added.

  12. jack March 2, 2014 at 11:43 am #

    May be a stupid question, but should you use a different oil for men?

    • Cayenne Room March 3, 2014 at 2:39 pm #

      Hi Jack, thanks for your question! You can change the essential oil – but men and women both like the aroma of Bergamot. It isn’t really a polarizing aroma and is used in perfumes for both. And it is a great essential oil to counter odor – it delivers its own benefits. But you can use others for a more masculine appeal – try vetiver or patchouli.

  13. Jill June 30, 2014 at 4:29 am #

    I’d love to see you post on Lavilin! Do you have you any experience with that brand? A few of my girlfriends use it and they all love it. Just got my first one on Amazon 2 weeks ago. So far, not bad!

    • katelintiernan July 2, 2014 at 1:15 pm #

      Hi Jill and thanks for your comment. The intention of this post was to help you make your own deodorant with natural ingredients at home. Commercial deodorants such as Lavilin may certainly be effective, however, our company policy is to refrain from commenting on other natural product brands.

  14. Katie November 5, 2014 at 6:58 pm #

    Thank you so much for posting this recipe! My mom is a breast cancer survivor and her doctor recommended she stop using antiperspirant because of the aluminum that is added. I made the switch as well because I wanted something more natural. However, many natural deodorants really just don’t get the job done. I made a batch using this recipe and we both love it! I just finished making another batch for us since we are running low. This is by far better than what you typically buy on the shelf. If anyone is on the fence about making your own deodorant definitely give this recipe a try. You won’t be disappointed :)

    • katelintiernan November 6, 2014 at 2:07 pm #

      Thanks for the kind words, Katie. We’re so glad to hear you enjoy it!


  1. NEST | CREATE | NOURISH … with a few favorites lately | Five and One - February 23, 2014

    […] searching for years for a good option without toxins and tried so many. Hoping this makes the cut. Homemade deodorant by The Cayenne Room. Please let me know if you have a […]

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