31 October 2011

"Non-Edible" Kitchen Creations: Natural Deodorant (that actually works!)

Although, it's not formulated as an edible product (i.e., the combination of ingredients isn't exactly something you would want to eat.), technically, this IS edible.

Coconut Clove Deodorant Nugget
I don't like to use anti-perspirant. Naughty aluminum & chemicals(!) aside, your body is sweating for a reason - you're (over) heating; it's trying to cool you off. Stopping (clogging) up the pores in an effort to reduce wetness and odor is completely working against your body and nature. In fact, doing things that work against your body, is likely causing more odor and more wetness in the first place, but that's an entire post in and of itself.
To be clear, I'm not a fan of "pit stains".1 I tip my proverbial hat to those who do the completely au naturel thing, but I just can't hack it. I like to shave, and can't handle having stinky pits.

Unfortunately, store-bought, non-anti-perspirant deodorant stinks.2 Most brands (even ones touted as "natural") contain some or several undesirable ingredients; I have yet to find a store-bought one that is actually effective.3 There are a couple of natural ones at my local Whole Foods that don't contain scary ingredients; however, they're way overpriced, and based on the track record of their deodorant predecessors, I'm not interested in making the investment.

I had nearly resigned myself to the fact that minimal odor-squashing effectiveness was the trade off for not slathering scary things on to (to then be absorbed into) my body. Then I started to wonder if I couldn't just make my own deodorant. There are many foods, herbs and spices that act as anti-bacterials (ahem... coconut... ahem). So, armed with a few ideas and an armful of items from my pantry (Nutiva coconut oil, ground clove, baking soda, GSE), I went to my kitchen to concoct the ultimate, effective, inexpensive, vegan deodorant.

SUCCESS!! My first experiment was not only effective at first application, but it remained effective throughout the day AND into the next day - even after a sweaty yoga class! To top it all off, it also smells lovely!
This deodorant is different than typical stick deodorants. It's oil-based and will melt at temps above 76F. It moisturizes the underarms quite nicely! :-) Those accustomed to regular stick deodorants, might find a bit of an adjustment period.

Initially, I stored it in a small container and was using my fingers to apply a small amount (my apartment was warm). I then decided to see if I couldn't form it into something that would function more like a stick application. I scooped the deodorant mixture into a small mold and placed it in the fridge for a couple of hours. Once it had solidified, I popped out the deodorant nugget and was able to apply it with a few gentle swipes.
Gonna chill in the fridge for a sec...

I store mine in a sealed container in the fridge. It is a bit cool upon application, but that's surprisingly kind of nice. It could easily be stored at room temp during cooler months and still remain solid.

Don't forget this is DEODORANT not anti-perspirant. The baking soda does act as both an odor neutralizer and wetness absorber; that doesn't translate as 100% dryness - althoughsince I've been using my own deodorant, I actually notice a reduction of natural odor AND wetness, even when I forget to apply my deodorant nugget. Neat, huh?

I'd really like to know how it works for others. If anyone is up for trying it out and reporting the results, comment or send me an email.
[EDIT]: Due to several requests, the ingredients/directions are posted!!

The basic ratio is about 1:1 (Baking Soda:Coconut Oil). Feel free to make a larger batch, if you like; it lasts a long time.

Natural, Effective Deodorant
(makes enough deodorant to last over 30 days/one small nugget -  1.5"D; 2"H)
  • 2 Tbsp Baking Soda†
  • 2 to 2 1/2 Tbsp Coconut Oil
  • 4 drops of Grapefruit Seed Extract*
  • 1/4 tsp Ground Cloves** or 2 drops of your favorite essential oil** 
  • Coffee Filter or Tea Pouch (if using Ground Cloves)

(*)(**)(***) Those with very sensitive skin should exercise caution when/if adding these ingredients.If you are uncertain, omit them; the deodorant will still be effective, with a light, pleasing coconut scent.
Those with very very sensitive skin might consider a higher ratio of coconut oil to baking soda.

(**) Ground Clove could temporarily discolor white/light clothing. My very first batch was not suitable for any light clothing. For my second batch, I steeped the clove in the coconut oil, and strained the oil through a tea pouch (not a tea ball). I've now switched to the occasional use of essential oil.

If using ground clove, the coconut oil will need to be liquid, otherwise it really only needs to be soft enough to be able to easily blend in the other ingredients.
Very solid coconut oil will need to be gently warmed it in order to soften/melt it.

Steep the ground clove in warm coconut oil (use a bit extra) for 20-30 minutes. Strain the oil through a coffee filter or tea pouch to remove the ground clove - you can gently press the filter to squeeze out any extra oil
Mix the GSE into the Coconut Oil, then add the remaining ingredients. The resulting mixture should look like a smooth paste.
Easy, no?

To make the "nugget" line any small mold or container (ideas: votive candle glass; shot glass; one well of an ice cube tray) with parchment or wax paper and fill with your deodorant paste. Refrigerate until the nugget is solid, then gently tug the paper to pop it out of the mold.
(I haven't tried it yet, but perhaps it would be possible to re-fill an old deodorant stick container? Hmmm...)
Store your nugget in a resealable container in a cool (below 70F) place or in the fridge.

Create a fabulous day!
And don't forget to share any feedback :-)

1. I'm not saying I never have damp pits. On really hot days or after a vigorous yoga class, it happens. I don't have pit-stained clothes - it's actually those traditional (nasty) anti-perspirants that stain all of your lovely white shirts, FYI
2. Pun intended.
3. Dubious ingredients or not.


  1. I am interested! Instructions?

    1. Sweet! Can I shoot you an email with the instructions?

  2. Just came across your blog, it is fantastic:) would you be able to supply by email or post the recipe for these nuggets? I have been using the "Salt" bars, but my skin is sensitive and it's rather uncomfortable to use...I'd be very grateful!

    1. Thanks Sheena!
      Several others have asked as well, so I've updated the post, and it now includes the recipe/instructions.

      Let me know how it works for you!