21 January 2013
3-ingredient DIY deodorant
Yep, homemade deodorant.
I've been using Soapwalla's natural deodorant for the past 11 months (the time it took me to go through one jar), and it is exceptional. If I were a less make-y sort of person, I would probably be ordering another jar right this second, and if you don't want to take on making your own deodorant, I encourage you to get over there and order some. However, I do like to make things, so I've been thinking about making my own for quite awhile. Running out of deodorant was an excellent opportunity to do just that.
There are numerous deodorant-making how-tos out there. The first one I remember seeing is Amy Karol's classic recipe. The problem was that earlier recipes like this usually called for ingredients I don't normally have in the house, like shea butter and beeswax. But more recently I've started to come across simpler recipes like this one from Crunchy Betty. Three-ingredient deodorant? Sign me up.
The three main ingredients are simple: cornstarch, baking soda, and coconut oil. The first two are easily available and very cheap; the third is less easily available, and can get pretty expensive. I had some in my cupboard, fortunately, but if you don't, I would recommend looking for it either at Trader Joe's or in the food aisle at TJ Maxx/Marshalls. This way you can get a standard 1-lb jar for about six bucks instead of fifteen. You're welcome.
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup baking soda
5 tbsp coconut oil
optional: ~5-10 drops essential oils of your choice
To make your deodorant, simply mix all of your ingredients together with a fork and pack the result into a jar of your choice. I added 6 drops of lavender essential oil, because that's what I had. Otherwise, that's it. Voila!
Wait, wait. This sounds simple, but is it? Coconut oil is solid at room temperature; its melting point is 76F. We generally keep our house at 64F in the winter, so my coconut oil was basically a big rock. Rocks are not very easy to mix with anything at all.
The solution: stick the jar of oil in a bowl of very warm water for a few minutes. The oil will liquefy in short order. At that point you can easily measure it out and mix it in with the cornstarch, baking soda, and essential oil. As the mixture cools, the oil will return to its normal solid state, forming a mostly solid balm. You're welcome.
It's also a good idea to use the pastry chef trick of adding only half the liquid to the powders, whipping everything together well, and then mixing in the remaining liquid. This will eliminate lumps and produce a beautifully smooth final concoction.
While the result was disconcertingly liquid at first, it started to harden to a frosting consistency almost immediately. I didn't have any big problem with it hardening too much to put into containers, though. You'll just want to make sure you have your containers and a spatula ready and waiting.
After hardening, my resulting deodorant is almost entirely solid, with a strong coconut aroma. The lavender scent is there, especially when the essential oil comes into contact with warm skin, but it's not particularly strong. You could increase the amount to eight or ten drops pretty easily, depending on the strength of your chosen oils.
To use, just dig a bit of deodorant out of the container, quickly warm it by rubbing your fingers together, and apply. It feels slightly gritty at first, but softens right up as your skin warms the oil. And the most important part? It definitely works. If you're switching over from a store-bought deodorant to natural, you'll probably need to let your body adjust for a couple days. Since I was coming from the land of natural deodorant already, everything was already fine. I smell just delightful.
This recipe made about double what I needed to fill my little jar, so I dug out one of my tiny condiment containers and filled that up too. I'm thinking a 1/4 pint mason jar would hold one full recipe. You could also try putting it into an old empty deodorant stick; it's definitely solid enough to hold up as long as your house temperature is under 76F. I could see melting being an issue in summer, however.
This also leads me to my next thought: if my first jar lasted 11 months, did I just make nearly two years' worth of homemade deodorant? Signs point to yes. I mean, we'll see, but essentially: yes. Hooray!
Have you ever made your own deodorant, lotion, balm, or what-have-you? How did it turn out? Should I make some too?