Saturday, February 16, 2013

Home Grown Hygiene

I love being industrious.  When my children were little I learned how to make bread, grow a garden and can just about everything.  I bought a cow and taught myself how to make butter, cheese and every other dairy product I could think of.  Then I took up soap making, followed by lotion bars, candles and lip balm.  I love knowing how to make everyday necessities just in case there comes a time when they are no longer commercially available.  And to tell the truth, I generally like the homemade versions of things much better than the store-bought versions anyway.

One of the products that I had considered off and on but never attempted to make was deodorant.  All of my experience (which was limited) with "natural" or "home-made" deodorant consisted of baking soda and cornstarch (puffed under the arms) or that crystal thing that was popular for awhile.  Needless to say, I was not impressed.

Recently I was reading an article about beauty and hygiene products and was shocked to find that a number of ingredients in most mass produced products were actually poisonous!  Apparently, because the toxins are in such small quantities, they pass the FDA inspection process with no problems.   Not really wanting to introduce toxic chemicals through my sweat glands, but also not wanting people to be able to smell me before they saw me, I started to research making my own deodorant.

After looking at a number of recipes, I decided to try one that created a solid deodorant. That was what I was used to and was comfortable with.  I also wanted a recipe that contained ingredients that I had in the cupboard from my other health and beauty endeavors.  In the end, I found a recipe that looked good, tweaked it to suit our family and gave it a whirl.  I have to say, I am immensely pleased with the results.

The first thing I did was carefully wash out two used deodorant tubes.  I could have bought new tubes, but until I perfected a recipe, I didn't want to incur any unnecessary expenses.  One of the tubes I washed had a bottom that wasn't solid, so I cut a piece of waxed paper and fitted it over the bottom frame so that the deodorant wouldn't just run through.  Then I gathered all of my ingredients and went to work.

Waxed paper fitted over the frame

A solid bottom tube

Bottoms screwed all of the way down and ready for the deodorant
Here is the recipe that I used, along with my adjustments....

Solid Deodorant
4 heaping T grated beeswax (or pellets)
2 T Shea butter
10 T Cocoa butter
1/4 C cornstarch (or arrowroot powder if you have sensitive skin)
1/4 C baking soda (aluminum free)
10 drops tea tree oil (optional - it is an anti-fungal)
5 drops vitamin E oil (optional)
15 - 20 drops essential oil (for fragrance)
2 - 3 new or used deodorant tubes (rolled all the way down)
  1. Melt beeswax 
  2. Add Shea butter and Cocoa butter and heat just until melted.  Stir occasionally.
  3. Remove from heat and add cornstarch and baking soda.  Stir until the lumps are gone and the texture is smooth.
  4. Add vitamin E oil and essential oils and stir until well mixed.
  5. Pour into deodorant tubes and let sit a few hours before putting on the tops (you can cool in the refrigerator).  You will want to fill them to almost overflowing (the deodorant will settle).
  • Don't over-apply.  2 to 4 swipes is ideal.
  • Only twist up as much as you need.  It will be slightly softer than store-bought deodorant and may fall off if you twist up too much.
  • You will need to give the deodorant a good 2 - 3 weeks use before deciding if it works for you.
  • This deodorant will stay solid at room temperature.  If you live in a very warm climate, you may want to refrigerate it to harden it up a bit.
  • This is deodorant - it will not keep you from sweating, but it will keep you from stinking!
Grating the beeswax

Everything measured and ready to go

Grated beeswax

Measuring the wax into the saucepan

Melting the wax (on the wood cookstove)

Melting the Shea and Cocoa butters with the beeswax

All melted

Stirring in the cornstarch and baking soda

Adding the oils (I'm not sure why it looks so yellow - it is ivory)

Pouring into the cleaned tubes

Filling to the top
This recipe makes enough for 3 large deodorant tubes.  I only had two, so I improvised.  Sir Knight had the idea of pouring the excess into a toilet paper tube.  We "greased" the inside of a toilet paper tube with shea butter and set the tube on a piece of waxed paper.  After the deodorant solidified, we cut the toilet paper roll down to the top of the deodorant and placed another piece of waxed paper over the top to act as a cover.  To use this tube, we just tear a small portion of the paper tube off the top of the roll and use the deodorant until we need to tear another bit off the top.  It works like a charm!

Pouring into the makeshift tube

A custom "tube" of deodorant
I have large quantities of beeswax, so I just take out a chunk and grate it with a cheese grater, however, you can buy beeswax in pellet form if you are so inclined.  The Shea butter and the Cocoa butter I buy from the same company I buy my tallow and lye for soap making, Essentials Depot.  They also carry essential oils if you don't have those on hand.

Because this deodorant is "custom", you can make a special batch for each member of your family.  I like pretty, "girly" scents like jasmine and sandalwood, but the boys prefer manly scents, such as Fir Needle Balsam and Cedar Wood.  Miss Serenity likes hers to be scent free, so we don't add any essential oils, leaving just a hint of the shea butter and cocoa butter.  

There is something comforting about having supplies on hand for all of our "Home Grown" hygiene needs.  Not only do we get to luxuriate with custom cosmetics, we also save money.  And an added bonus?  We can pronounce every ingredient on the back of the bottle!


  1. Lovely recipe! We are making our first purchase of local beeswax for crafts tomorrow.
    Have you ever heard of using beeswax-infused cotton in place of plastic wrap and/or sandwich bags? Apparently the heat of your hands will soften the wax enough to make a tight seal on a bowl, or shape the cloth around leftovers, etc. Waterproof and reusable. And no plastic to leach into your food.
    You can buy them online, but I figured it was just as quick and easy to make some - I'll let you know how it turns out.

  2. I see you have Secret and maybe Suave containers. I have a knot in lymph node under the arm. It hurts so much. When I was 23, I had a knot that was in almost the same place. The doctor had me give up deodorant for a week in the Southern summer with a one- and a two-year-old that kept me running and sweating. The lump/knot went away. Maybe I need to try this "cure" again.

  3. Mrs Enola,
    What a great article! I have been pondering making my own cleaners, soap, candles, hygiene products, so this was helpful! Have you thought about doing any articles on beekeeping or how you seperate/store honey and wax?

  4. Thank you for sharing your recipe. I have been trying to eliminate poisons from our home and have had some success in the laundry and shampoo department, but have been looking for recipes for the rest of the items. I am gearing up to make some lip balm as our arid climate requires it, for comfort at least. I have my tubes, I just need to find my recipe that I think I copied from your site.

    Now I have to go check to see if my bulk purchase of baking soda (that I cook until it turns into washing soda) has aluminum in it. (head smack) : /

    Thank you again, and blessings to you and yours.

    1. Anon, you may find some comfort regarding your baking soda here:

  5. Enola,

    We have been using "home made" deodorant for almost a year now. I simply use vinegar and either orange or peppermint oil (about 20-25 drops) in a small squirt bottle. We are in the heat of the south and my husband does very physical work. There are some days, about 2:00 p.m., it would be nice if he had access to another squirt but all in all it works very well. I have a friend who uses coconut oil, arrowroot, and her favorite oil and blends to a cream. She says it works very well also!

  6. Would love to make this, but I have one question-do you have to let it dry, or soak in before you get dressed? I'm sort of worried about oily stains (from the butters) on my clothes.

  7. I like the t.p. tube idea. I'll use that next time I end up with an abundance of homemade deoderant.

  8. Loved the post! I make my own deodorant, too. It took my awhile to "trust" that it works, but it does! I use lemongrass essential oil in mine, which I think has a nice, fresh, natural scent. If you are interested . . .

    Love reading your blog!

  9. I was going to suggest the tp tubes as I had read about that elsewhere, but Sir Knight already had the idea. Homemade deoderant is on my "to do" list. I have been just using peroxide lately.

  10. Love it! I make my own deodorant too only using coconut oil. I like the idea of using beeswax, cocoa butter, and shea butter - all of which I have in stock (as any good prepper would). I'll try your recipe out. I like the idea of the toilet paper roll, I'm going to use that as my container when I do a batch.


  11. Enola,

    I love this idea, thank you for posting your deoderant making. It would be a pleasure to make this deoderant and know exactly what's inside and be able to pronounce all the ingredients and not poison my family.

  12. Do I look for pure unrefined raw shea butter? or shea butter cream?

    Do I look for raw cocoa butter or cocoa butter cream?

    The cocoa butter and shea butter in the store have multiple other ingredients and I don't know if that makes a difference...