Tuesday Tutorial: No Stinky Pits DIY Deodorant

One obsession I freely admit to is with my armpits.  Until the last 5 years, I was obsessed with keeping them dry as the desert and smelling like a floral bouquet picked from grandma’s garden.  I kept no less than 3 different types of anti-perspirants just in case one stopped working as well.  Then, after coming across numerous articles documenting the serious health risks of using traditional antiperspirants (with aluminum zirconium), my obsession became finding THE natural deodorant that worked.  Check out Autumn’s article and her links to scientific articles regarding the issue.

After spending an estimated $150 on trying out all-natural deodorants over the past several years, I found that most were a fail and many epic fails at that. Tom’s in the lavender and calendula scents, as well as Jason’s deodorant in tea tree oil scent, were okay, but after about 4-5 hours reapplication was necessary.  They were pretty sticky, too, and seemed to remain so throughout the day.  All of the unscented ones were a complete waste of money in my book.    Burt Bee’s deodorant was an astringent spray with a very masculine herbal scent that lingered a bit too long for my liking, permeated my clothes and needed a refresher mid-day, too. Scrap that, chicas!

Lush’s T’eo, a chalky bar made with baking soda and tea tree, smelled divine but burned like the dickens when I applied after shaving and my underarms ended up with an angry itchy rash.  I persevered, itchy pits and all, vowing to continue using it for a week only to find the bar crusted over in a few days and basically un-usable unless I first scraped off the surface. Hmmmmm…..  Another one bites the dust.

The best store-bought brand I found was at Whole Foods (aka “Whole Paycheck”), Weleda’s deodorant in the Rose and Citrus scents.   I didn’t need to reapply as often unless I worked out (or it was a particularly steamy day), but the steep price tag was a little hard to justify for a product with only one type of use.

This one worked pretty well and had a lovely rose scent but it was almost $20. :-(

This one worked pretty well and had a lovely rose scent but it was almost $20. :-(


I had pretty much given up until 2-3 months ago when I came across a recipe for homemade deodorant in a super-awesome DIY site called “Crunchy Betty.” I used an essential oil deodorizing scent recipe from another favorite DIY website, “One Good Thing by Jillee.” I have to say I expected this deodorant to end up in the “epic fail” category, too, but I was feeling rather alchemical that day and happened to have most all of the ingredients.

Not only did it work far better for me than all of the store-bought brands I tried, but it was completely effective.   I ditched the Secret and Mitchum and now use my homemade deodorant on a daily basis.  I have tried this deodorant camping out in the desert for 3 days, hiking in Fayetteville, and even recently in spin class.  No stinky pits in any of the test scenarios!  All results were boyfriend-verified.  Shaaaabanga!

So, dear readers, the obsession with my pits continues.  Only now it is focused how great my homemade deodorant works!


So, here it is…….  You will need the following:

  • Coconut Oil – 5 TBSP.   I prefer refined coconut oil because the coconut scent is completely removed.  There is some debate over whether the same beneficial properties are retained versus unrefined but I would rather have a few less anti-oxidants on my underarms than smell like coconut meringue.  If you only have unrefined (type most people use for cooking), it works just as well.
  • Arrowroot or Cornstarch – 1/4 cup.  In my opinion, arrowroot is far superior and has a silkier feel.
  • Baking Soda – 1/4 cup.


  • Essential Oils with antibacterial and anti-fungal qualities, such as Tea Tree, Lavender, and Frankincense.  Also good to add is Lemon or Lemon Verbena essential oils  Unless you completely abhor the smell, try to include at least some Tea Tree oil.  Most researchers agree that it is a great anti-bacterial substance. Since bacteria is what actually causes odor, not the sweat, you want this in your deodorant.  All of these oils, with the exception of Verbena, can be purchased at Drug Emporium in Charleston, WV.  (Warning: Frankincense is very pricey. I already had this oil in my stash because I use it in perfumes, incenses and skin care products, but it completely optional.)


My holy trinity of odor fighters- Frankincense, Lavender and Tea Tree.  I also added a few doses of Lemon Verbena to brighten the smell.

My holy trinity of odor fighters- Frankincense, Lavender and Tea Tree. I also added a few doses of Lemon Verbena to brighten the smell.

  • Metal or Glass Bowl.  A plastic one will retain the oil scents.  Metal fork and spoon.
  • Container for your deodorant. I like using a soap container or empty lotion tube.
The two types of containers I use: soap dish and lotion tube.  If you plan on taking this deodorant on travels, pick the tube because it does not leak.

The two types of containers I use: soap dish and lotion tube. If you plan on taking this deodorant on travels or if your home is very warm (i.e. your coconut oil stays liquid), pick the tube because it does not leak.

  • Funnel – optional.  This is really handy if you are using the tube.  If you are using the soap container, unnecessary.
I bought a set of these at Big Lots for around three bucks.

I bought a set of these at Big Lots for around three bucks.


First — spoon out 5 tablespoons of coconut oil and put in a small micro-wave proof dish.  If your house is warm enough that your coconut oil is already liquid, skip this step.  My house is pretty chilly, so I put the dish in the microwave for 20-30 seconds. Set aside for a minute if it is really hot out of the microwave.

5 tablespoons of the miracle oil!  Coconut oil is  a wonderful all-purpose product that also has anti-bacterial qualities.

5 tablespoons of the miracle oil! Coconut oil is a wonderful all-purpose product that also has anti-bacterial qualities.


In your separate mixing bowl, combine the arrowroot and baking soda with a fork to make sure any baking soda clumps are dispersed.

Stir it up!

Clumps be gone!

Now put your essential oils into the melted coconut oil.  I do about 10 drops of frankincense and 15 drops each of the tea tree and lavender.  This is my favorite part!

Then, throw the oils into the dry mixture and stir until the mixture is liquid.



Stir it up!  Little darlin', stir it up!

Stir it up! Little darlin’, stir it up!

Here is what it will look like when you are ready to pour:

The consistency should be a little runny. Don't worry, it will harden up later provided your house has a moderately temperature.

The consistency should be a little runny. Don’t worry  as it will harden up later unless you keep it toasty in your home.  Then, you reaaaallly should use the tube option.


Next, simply pour into your chosen vessel . . . .

Use a funnel to pour deodorant into your tube.

Use a funnel to pour deodorant into your tube or…….



After you pour it, you will need to wait a while for it to set up and solidify.

After you pour the deodorant, you will need to wait a while for it to set up and solidify.  If your home is warm, pop it in the refrigerator for 10-15 minutes.  I like my deodorant to be a soft so I leave it semi-liquid when possible.


How to Apply:

While you can apply with your fingers, I find the best way is to use a makeup sponge. Simply run it across the deodorant and apply a thin layer over the entire armpit area.  If you are using a tube and deodorant becomes too hard to squeeze out through the flip cap (and it will likely do so in the winter), then unscrew the cap and squeeze it it out like a popsicle.


Also, this may seem obvious, but this is a deodorant, not an anti-perspirant.  This means you are still going to sweat.  Deodorants are designed to allow your pores to do what God made them to do, sweat out toxins, but still keep you smelling fresh.    This is why the essential oils are important.  The baking soda and arrowroot are to help keep you dry, but don’t expect all-day complete wetness protection.

To really amp up the effectiveness of this deodorant, I use a powder over it after it dries.  I make my own: 1/2 c. arrowroot and 1/4 baking soda with same essential oils.  Just make sure you allow the deodorant to absorb (few minutes at most) before you apply or it will clump up on your underarms.

Other tips and reminders:

  • Wait for the deodorant to absorb into your skin before dressing.  Just like your anti-perspirant, the deodorant can stain your clothes.
  • Don’t use if you nicked yourself shaving or have a razor burn.
  • The scent of the essential oils will fade throughout the day because they are natural vs. synthetic, but this doesn’t mean they stopped working.
  • Wear breathable clothing, where possible.  Any clothes with polyester fibers are going to make you smell because the fibers trap and retain your sweat and any bacteria.  Even with the best deodorants and anti-perspirants won’t work that well with man-made fibers.
  • Some users of homemade and natural deodorants have reported that your body needs a few days to transition and cleanse itself of the pore-blocking chemicals (i.e. the deodorant won’t work as well the first few days).   I didn’t find this to be an issue at all, but just throwing the info out for you.
  • CLEAN-UP TIP:  Yes, you will likely end up with an oily, but fragrant, mess in your kitchen.  Use rubbing alcohol to clean your bowls and equipment as it removes the coconut oils and essential oils.

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial.  Please let me know how it works for you or if you have other “green” body and beauty treatments.

Peace out and may your pits be fresh and fragrant!

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  1. Evie Dawson - October 31, 2013

    I can’t wait to try this! Quick question, I plan to add Lavendar oil, but this will be the first time I work with oils. So, there’s so many kinds of oils (base/essential, etc). So, it is the essential oil that I should purchase, right?

    • Dennise Smith - November 9, 2013

      Hi, Evie! Sorry for the delayed response. :-( Yes, essential oils are what you want to use for scenting the deodorant. You can adjust the fragrance to your liking. I generally “load up” on mine as the smell dissipated after an hour or so anyway. Hope you love it as much as I do! ha!

  2. natal - August 20, 2014

    Hi there. I wanted to share with you my experience using the homemade baking soda deodorant. Although it worked wonderfully for a while, it eventually left a chemical burn on my armpits that took a couple months to heal. I used the recipe for a couple weeks before figuring it out. I wasn’t sure what was going on at first, I thought it was the tea tree oil but after further research, I found out it was indeed the baking soda. You may want to ask yourself why haven’t the big deodorant companies used such a simple recipe that works in their recipes?! The truth is there is a reason that chemists are very careful about how much baking soda they use in deodorants, it’s very ver minimal, if you look it’s always the last ingredient. It is because of how alkaline baking soda is. It will eventually cause chemical burns on most people’s skin. Within the group of ladies I know that used the homemade recipe all (5 of us) but one experienced these burns. My one lady friend who didn’t experience this may have a different PH and so it worked for her. I just wanted to alert to you that it may work for the smaller population of people but most people will experience the chemical burns to their pits. The ratio in the homemade recipes are waaaay to much for most people. I thought to share this because it was an unpleasant experience for me and wanted people to know of the risk. The redness of my armpits went away in a week or so but they stayed dark brown for a couple months before healing.

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