Q. Over a year ago I found a simple formula online that works even better than the deodorant stone! It is simply 1/4 cup baking soda, 1/4 cup arrowroot powder (don’t substitute cornstarch) and 1/4 cup coconut oil. Mix together (if coconut oil is hard, you can gently melt over a low flame). When everything is incorporated, add 10 drops of grapefruit essential oil. Pour in a little jar, and you’re good to go.

A. Thank you for sharing this recipe. It sounds a bit complicated, especially the coconut oil piece. Coconut oil does tend to harden at room temperature. We assume you apply this with your fingers or with a cotton ball.

We have one caveat about grapefruit essential oil. Some people may be sensitive to this ingredient. At the first sign of redness or irritation, discontinue use.

We do worry about crystal deodorants. Lots of people have switched to natural products in the hopes of avoiding aluminum in their armpits. What they may not realize is that the “natural” ingredient in such crystals is usually potassium alum, AKA hydrated potassium aluminum sulfate.

A year and a half ago we received the following scolding from Martin:

“I am a professional chemist and am amazed that nobody has said that alum actually contains aluminum, because it is a potassium aluminum sulfate salt. People who write about non-aluminum deodorants sometimes mention alum, but not one time have I seen anybody say that alum contains aluminum. If you guys knew anything about chemistry, which you should given this website, you should have caught that one.

“In general, as a chemist, I must say that the public’s ignorance of chemistry is huge and I constantly read information online that is absolutely false. Much of it could be avoided by simply checking Wikipedia…while the information there is not error-free, in most cases it is quite good!” Martin, the professional chemist

Potassium alum is natural, no doubt about that. It is mined from the earth’s crust and has a translucent-like crystalline look. But people who think they are avoiding aluminum by using a natural crystal deodorant are deluding themselves.

How much aluminum is absorbed through the skin remains controversial. There is growing concern, however, that aluminum is not good for the body or the brain.

Here are some other options for natural deodorants:

“Baking soda also makes a pretty darn good deodorant. Just rub it in well, and brush off any excess. One caveat: I use the kind from a health food store, and it says it contains no aluminum. I don’t know if the major brands do contain aluminum, or if so, how much there is.” M. R.

 “This is to MR: It is my understanding that Baking Soda does not contain Aluminum. Baking Powder contains Aluminum!! Just read that last evening.” Laurie

 “I’ve discovered an even simpler solution to underarm odor control I have a small spray bottle of rubbing alcohol with some added essential oil drops added, (your choice) and voila, I have not noticed even after exercise any nasty essence a la armpits. It’s cheap and inexpensive and free of aluminum compounds.” M.E.W.

“I dealt with underarm odor more and more as I aged. I tried many of the suggestions online and tried different products but what finally worked for me was to wipe my underarms with hydrogen peroxide after showering. That’s it…no more problem.” Renae

“I use milk of magnesia as a deodorant but first I apply a spray of vodka under my arms. Using vodka to fight body odor is no recent discovery. Theatrical wardrobe professionals going back to vaudeville days have used vodka spritz on elaborate costumes that can’t be cleaned easily. Applying vodka and letting them air dry gets rid of the odor. The only problem is explaining to strangers why you have industrial-sized jugs of vodka in the house.”

For those who would like to use milk of magnesia (MoM) in a convenient roll-on formulation, we have developed two new aluminum-free products. One is unscented and the other has natural essential oils in a women’s fragrance. Here are a few recent comments:

“I have been using regular MOM for some time. Recently switched to the new women’s MOM…what a difference. I have a problem with excessive sweating under 1 arm and strong odor…after 3 weeks using the new formula all that has disappeared. And no irritation like previously used products from store. Thanks.” L.M.T.

 “I just got your MoM roll on deodorant this week. I LOVE it! I am allergic to castor oil which is in all kinds of solid deodorants/antiperspirants. I switched to a roll on & still had reactions to something else.

“I used the MoM roll on & NO REACTION! YAY!! I am happy that it has no aluminum in it also! Thanks!” Renee


Anyone who would like to learn more about unscented MoM Aluminum-Free Roll-On deodorant can click here. If you are interested in the Women’s fragrance, try this

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  1. Laurie M.

    Omar, I did one thing different with the Coconut Oil, Corn Starch and Baking Soda mixture. I poured the mixture into empty Deodorant containers!!! Then put them in the fridge to solid them up. also the reason some people may not want to substitute cornstarch is because if they are prone to fungal problems under the arms, cornstarch feeds fungus!!

  2. omar

    I actually have been using this baking soda/coconut oil/corn starch for almost 2 years, all u do is just mix them all together to your preferred consistency and apply using your finger.

  3. STEVE

    And why not make a spray solution of MOM? Too thick for a pump spray? Seems like a fine spray would be convenient. And that makes me think of MOM as an aerosol also. What do you think Pharm?
    People’s Pharmacy response: You are correct. MoM is too thick to spray

  4. Leyna

    I have been experimenting with making my own deodorant. I tried baking soda mixed to a paste with coconut oil and a blend of essential oils, some with antibacterial properties and some just because I like the smell. My skin is not particularly sensitive but i found that using too much baking soda caused a rash under my arms especially if used after shaving.
    Now I mix it 50:50 with cornstarch and it works perfectly. I made sure the cornstarch was organic and non-GMO.
    I was curious as to why the poster said not to substitute cornstarch for arrowroot in a similar recipe?

  5. DWD

    Try Listerine. My wife has used Milk Of Magnesia for a few years and it satisfies her sensitive nose.
    It never worked for me. I normally use a regular deodorant (not antiperspirant) that works well except this time of year when I may get out and do sweaty yard work 6 days a week.
    Last year I discovered Listerine works for me in conjunction with my regular deodorant. I just pour half an ounce or so in the palm of my hand, rub my hands together and apply to my armpits. I must have some kind of build up of bacteria on my skin that the Listerine knocks out.
    Once the weather cools or I do less sweaty yard work, the normal deodorant alone works for me.


    I am very happy with the MOM deodrant that I ordered from People’s Pharmacy Store. I dont’t have time for all these other options…
    Thanks for the testimonial Kathleen. We appreciate all the recipes described above, but can imagine that some people might find them messy or just plain inconvenient. That’s why we developed MoM Roll-On deodorant.

  7. MHO

    Spray some Witch Hazel on your hand then rub on arm pits. It works great as a deodorant. There is no need to make messy baking soda mixtures. I did that for years. The oil you mix with it does stain clothing.

  8. DJ

    I have used alcohol before and found it very effective as far as fighting odor. However, when I do it seems that my breasts become tender – my lymph nodes near my arm pits. I’m not sure if this is related but it seems to happen every time.
    I also tried this with baking soda. It may just be me and I’m super sensitive. I do have a bunch of allergies.
    Wondering if anyone else has experienced this?

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