Updated: Jan 19
Let’s talk about underarms and body odor. It impacts everybody. Daily we smear deodorant on our bodies in the hope that it masks the smell (or maybe you don't!) but we don’t usually think about the impact it's having on our health and the environment. Although deodorant may seem a tiny thing to focus on, something that we use daily has a big footprint. Deodorants come with lots of chemicals and lots of plastic - so we need a solution!
Parabens and aluminum compounds can be found in many deodorant brands. Aluminum is actually the main ingredient in most antiperspirants and studies have linked these types of ingredients with an increase in breast cancer, although the industries continue to insist that minimum use isn't dangerous. If you do a quick internet search on “chemicals in deodorant” quite a few headlines appear warning of the risks involved in heavy deodorant use if you don’t watch what ingredients are in them. In my opinion using antiperspirants and even most conventional deodorants just aren't worth the risk.
Many deodorant containers are not recyclable at all or are too dirty with leftover deodorant to be recycled properly. Just because there is a tiny "recycling" symbol on the bottom of the container doesn't actually mean it is recyclable in your curbside bin. Before you toss it in there, visit your local waste management website and make sure that the specific recycling number is listed and that the contain adheres to any requirements regarding size and shape.
In the U.S. alone, we spend $18 billion on deodorant and antiperspirants per year. Let's not let those packages end up wrecking out recycling system or fossilizing in landfills.
In order to avoid the chemicals and stop relying on a disposable product, I make my own zero waste deodorant. And yes, it really does work! Like many of you right now, I was a doubter at first. I had used natural deodorants in the past and although they work, it definitely wasn’t all that great. So let’s clear the air right away. This WORKS. I literally don’t think I have ever used a deodorant that works better than this one that I made at home.
All of the ingredients I am able to source locally in bulk, which means I can buy exactly the quantity I need. But if you don't have access to bulk where you live, it's still worth it to make this yourself! You save money overall and take control of what you are putting on your body.
Zero Waste Deodorant
3 Tbsp. Coconut Oil
2 Tbsp. Shea Butter
3 Tbsp. Baking Soda
2 Tbsp. Arrowroot Powder
Essential Oil (optional for smell)
Mix all the items together! You may find that you need to heat the coconut oil and shea butter so that it is more of a liquid. This can easily be done in the microwave or with a double-broiler.
Start with adding 10 drops of essential oil to the mixture. Oils vary in their potency so be cautious at first. You can always add more if it isn’t strong enough for you! My last batch was a mix of lavender and rose – yum!
Pour the mixture into whichever container you would like to use. I split this batch up into two small containers so I could keep one at the gym and one at home.
Place the container in the refrigerator until it is solid.
Apply a small pea size ball with you finger on your underarm in the morning. Re-apply as needed (although I have never needed to do it more than once a day!)
Store it in your bathroom! It does not need to be refrigerated afterwards.
Note: If you are unable to find arrowroot powder, I have seen similar recipes where it is omitted and the amount of baking soda is increased. You can also replace the arrowroot powder with cornstarch with a 1:1 ratio.
The recipe yields two small containers of deodorant (about two sticks). Depending on the frequency of use and the amount applied, it can last for two months or more.
Does it stain?
This question comes up a lot and I even asked myself that quite a few times when I was first trying it out. As far as I can tell, no it doesn’t. However, if you are worried about it staining white clothes, apply the deodorant several minutes before putting on your shirt to allow it to dry completely. This will allow the oils time to soak into your skin and help eliminate the chance of stains.
So go ahead and try making it! I promise you won’t regret it! And play with the scents if you want to. You can always divide the batch up into many jars and try all different kinds.