Sorry…I stink.

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SUPER IMPORTANT: If you’re not familiar with the principles of Paleo/Primal/Real Food Nutrition, you must understand that they are the foundation of any body care routine. My recommendations are meant to build upon the foundations of healthy eating as defined on my “What is Primal/Paleo?” page. No amount of oil cleansing can fix a nutritional deficiency, and nutritional deficiencies set the stage for acne, skin problems, hormonal imbalances, and – yes – stinky pits and bad hair. The quality and sources of our food – the only fuel we have – determines how well every single bodily process works.



I podcasted! Bill and Hayley of Primal Palate had me on for a guest appearance on their podcast, The Food Lovers Dish It…Find it here! (Update: I’m now podcasting on a weekly basis with Diane of Balanced Bites – Find the Balanced Bites Podcast here!)



Update: Since this post was first published, I’ve landed on a pretty perfect duo: a swipe of baking soda over a bit of coconut oil. There are homemade versions and a few for-purchase versions I like. I describe them here.

So I used the title words of this post at the end of my last grueling CrossFit session. And they weren’t in reference to my performance in the workout. In fact, I PR’d my 1RM DL, then did all the double-unders and pistols as Rx’d. And pistols are hard.

For my 2-1/2 readers (Hey Kim, Khloe, and that one younger Kardashian!) I’ll explain the exercise terminology later. It’s not really all that relevant. What’s relevant is – I kind of stink.

Have you ever been in a situation where you’re just so utterly humbled by your total deficiency (whether that deficiency is manifested in your lack of rollerblades, nonexistent cooking ability or, in my case, junkyard stench) that you can’t help but acknowledge what everyone else must be thinking?

So that’s why I wrapped up my gym session today with the Unnecessary News Bulletin of the Day: A sheepish admission of stank.

AndreAnna, who is the official Boss of Me, had the fantastic idea to try and build on the success we’ve both had with the Oil Cleansing Method and experiment with making our own deodorant. (Aside: I can spell pterodactyl, bureaucrat, and aneurysm on the first try but have never ONCE spelled deodorant correctly.)

Most commercial deodorants (got it that time!) contain aluminum and parabens, which are being implicated in certain physiological changes that are correlated with breast cancer based on estrogen manipulation. That’s a fancy way of saying “that $h!t’s wack!” Aside from that, I also don’t have a clue what the remainder of the ingredients on the label are – the same scenario that inspired my awesomely effective “No ‘Poo” regimen. So we picked a relatively simple recipe involving cocoa butter, beeswax, castor oil, tea tree oil, baking soda, arrowroot, and a bit of coconut oil and set to work. AndreAnna’s recipe was modified slightly, so I’m curious to hear her results soon.

Putting it together was relatively easy – I melted the beeswax by placing it in a clean coffee tin submerged in simmering water. Once the beeswax melted, I poured it into a small mason jar and placed it in the hot water to keep it melted while I added the other ingredients. I removed it from the heat and turned my back for a split second…mistake.

Don’t. Turn your back. On baking soda.

Cleanup completed, I poured the mixture into the empty deodorant stick. The plan was to use a vodka toner (brilliant, actually) then apply the deodorant. The toner actually works extremely well – I’ve noticed that I actually stay more odor-free using the vodka alone than when I add the deodorant  - which, incidentally, smells like Peppermint Patties due to the tea tree oil and cocoa butter. I think I made the deodorant too beeswax-heavy, so it coats to the point of total insulation and doesn’t allow my lovely pits to breathe.

This was NOT the case a week ago when I Podcasted with my wonderful Primal Palate friends. At the time – and you may hear this on the podcast – I was feeling pretty optimistic about my “stank.” I thought I was registering a consistent, solid “2″ on the Stank Bomb Scale (sorry, impartial jury – aka – CaveHusband).

Bill, Hayley and I even discussed those disgusting, stinky, oblivious folks at Hot Yoga who smell simply awful and are so completely unaware of it. Have I not actually been setting my mat down next to the stinkiest people in my class for the last 2 weeks? Has that ucky odor been coming from…me?

Am I registering the dreaded “5″ on the Stink Bomb Scale?

With all the Crazy involved in the last few weeks – starting school, finishing the nutrition workshop, and generally keeping up with Life – I’ve been terrible about a very key thing: staying hydrated. Over the next few weeks I’m going to see if that makes a difference, because for me it often does. Meanwhile, has anybody else tried making their own DO? I’m not ready to give up yet.

You better help me out with this…otherwise, I’m bringing my Stink Bomb Scale to your house.

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  1. Makes sense that water would help your stank, as it really helps death breath too. (“better than death breath seth… or so I would imagine…”

    I haven’t had the chance to compare the ingredients of so-called “natural” deodorants to my normal stick of Dove (or all-spice, depending on the manliness of my day), but how do those compare as far as aluminum and paraben content?

    When you find a successful recipe, be sure to share!

  2. Dude, I have to tweak my recipe too but am too high on pain meds right now. Will keep you posted and keep posting on your progress!!

  3. Hi, love your site. I actually found an amazing 100% natural deodorant in the fall and i love it so much i tell everyone. i never reapply and i never stink, and believe me i have been told i stunk while using other products. anyway the brand is Soapwalla, and its sold on Etsy. even if you don’t buy it maybe you could read the ingredient list to tweak your recipe….but i would totally try the stuff. amazing i tell you.

  4. It seems like your recipe is a little busy. Maybe try just mashing together coconut oil and baking soda and using that? Also, I found that coconut oil alone worked okay for me but coconut oil with tea tree oil was TERRIBLE. I think the tea tree oil irritated my pits and irritation makes them smell worse. That’s also part of the reason I stopped shaving them.

  5. I use an all natural deodorant. It’s just salt and water. It by Thai Deodorant. If you type that in google they wil pop up. I use the stone in the morning and on hot days the spray before working out in the afternoon. It takes about a week to get used to. But my hubby has done the smell test (not for the weak) at the end of the day and we’re still married!

  6. I’ve had success with mixing equal parts baking soda & cornstarch (sometimes the soda can be irritating, if that happens, just cut back on the amount), then adding it to a bit of melted

    coconut oil. Pour it in a shallow jar & let cool. I just scrape out a pea-sized amount with my thumbnail for each pit. Been using this for about 6 months, seems to be working (meaning my skeptical husband and son have admitted that I don’t stink). Did experience an adjustment period, but what’s really funny is that now if I use regular deodorant/antiperspirant I do get stinky! Good luck!

    ps – Love your blog!

    • Thank you Lisa! Question: When I did the baking soda/coconut oil thing, I found that the soda sank to the bottom of the jar as the coconut oil cooled. Did you have that experience? I suppose the soda could’ve done the same thing with the mixture AndreAnna and I used, but I just didn’t notice since the rest of the mixture was opaque, not clear like coconut oil!

  7. i use apple cider vinegar as a toner, then i rub a salt crystal on the acv i just put in my pits. i almost never have b.o.

  8. Love the deodorant idea! My mom uses plain Milk of Magnesia as her deodorant, but she was never a particularly smelly/sweaty person to begin with (however, she notes that you need to find the MoM that isn’t a ‘new’, more gooey formulation. Aim for a chalky finish when it dries). My sister has mashed up coconut oil and I think cornstarch and used that. I use a roll-on by a company called Melvital; I am trying to wean myself off it, but dang if it doesn’t prevent the stank!

  9. I use “Bubble and Bee” SUPER PIT PUTTY. The ingredients are organic: arrowroot powder, coconut oil, palm oil, lemon essential oil, clove bud essential oil, patchouli essential oil. Pretty great deodorant. And the lady that make it is pretty right on.

    • So funny that you mention bubble & bee, because I mention them in the July issue of Paleo Magazine. I actually have a stick of their geranium lime deodorant! I do like it, but something about that particular scent doesn’t jive with my body chemistry. I will be trying another type from them soon. I also ordered their soap nuts, which are awesome! Any chance you happen to know the proprietor of Bubble & Bee? I’ve reached out a few times for a profile in Paleo Magazine but haven’t heard back ;) I could use a (wo)man on the “inside.”

  10. Great blog! I am loving all the wonderful info. I wanted to let you know I made a batch of homemade deodorant this recipe:

    I am amazed that it really truly works (for me at least!). Over the years, I have tried lots of commercial “natural” deodorants and they never, ever worked. This recipe does. I still find myself sniffing my pits with astonishment that I’m not rating a 5 on the stink bomb scale. In fact, it is really just a neutral smell.

    If you do try it, I would advise only using the pea sized amount under each arm. The first time I tried it I caked a lot on because that is what I usually have to do with DO. But, my pits ended up burning from getting TOO dried out! So yeah, just a little bit does the trick.

    Oh, and my baking soda didn’t settle out of the mixture. I think maybe because I didn’t melt the oil all the way, it was just soft enough to mix/cream everything together.

    Good luck! I hope you find the right DO that works for you!

    • This is great! Since this post was originally written, I’ve come a long way. I’ve found that citrus just doesn’t jive well with my “armpit chemistry,” but all the ingredients you mention – arrowroot, coconut oil, and baking soda – are precisely what’s been working for me! I just did a write-up for Paleo Magazine about the wonders of coconut oil and baking soda. And AndreAnna from Life As A Plate ( convinced me to try the vodka toner…I like it! I also finally found a container that works for me – I “lifted” some of those little glass syrup jars from the last hotel we stayed at and stirred up a combo in one of those. I can take it with me anywhere! I do need to stir/shake it up if the Coconut oil gets too liquid, but that’s a small price to pay.

      What beautiful photos you have of the process on your blog :) I love your site and am so flattered to have had you stop over at my little run-on sentence :)

      • oops! sorry sorry sorry–i didn’t mean to imply that ‘how about orange’ was MY blog, i merely used the deodorant recipe from there and was passing along the resource to others. so so sorry to be unclear about that in my post!

        even though i’m not the design genius behind that blog, i’m still glad to know you found a deodorant combo that works for you. coconut oil and baking soda *are* amazing, i will have to check out your write-up in Paleo Magazine!

        sorry again for any confusion,

        Megan (a.k.a. lowly blog reader, not talented blogger!) :)

    • K.Genevieve says:

      I tried this recipe and love it so far! It withstood a serious kettle bell workout and a few very stressful days. The scent is perhaps a bit too sweet (I smell like a macaroon- the Trader Joe’s coconut oil in particular has a sweeter smell) so I might experiment with different essential oils to tone that down. There are worse things to smell like than a macaroon, though. :)
      Anyone have issues with the oil staining clothing? That’s one minor concern.

  11. OK maybe a dumb question, how do you make the vodka toner? Thanks and your blog is so informative-love it!

    • Not dumb! I put some in a miniature, small-mouthed glass jar/spray bottle and either spray it on (if I’m feeling like conserving cotton balls) or dab it on with a cotton ball. Definitely label the thing! Husbands think all clear liquids are water and intended for use in ironing :)

  12. Pure Lavender oil seems to work for me. It is fabulous and easy, French lavender is the cheapest here in Australia x

  13. OK, I am trying the Coconut Oil and Baking Soda and I def do not smell after I put it on but I am developing some sort of rash on my underarms…anyone have this at first?

  14. I know this is an old post, but I’ve recently discovered that a small amount of coconut oil with 2 drops of lavender essential oil, melted and just rubbed together between palms to mix, goes a long way towards eliminates my stink for the entire day. I keep a mini jar (Bonne Maman jam jar from breakfast buffet during travels) full of the oil, and just scoop a little out each time and add the oil fresh. I even take it to the gym and just do my business discreetly in the shower area!

  15. I’m a bit late to the party on this one but just want to chime in anyway. I’ve always had a BO problem even when I was still using regular deo – I resorted to using the mens version. When I started cleaning up my personal products to avoid toxins I chose the easiest way and just started using a little coconut oil – it worked really well keeping the smellies at bay but I did still have odor. Now, I haven’t been able to pinpoint exactly what it was, but it seems some change in my diet or supplementation has almost completely eliminated the bad BO – even without applying anything topically! I wish I could figure out what it was – anyway, the point I am making is that I think odor can sometimes be linked to diet. BTW – another vodka also helps with BO – a little spritz works but doesn’t have the staying power of the coconut oil. It is also useful for removing odor from clothes.


  16. Jocelyn says:

    I just chanced upon your site via pinterest! Oh joy. I recently just finished off a tube of home made deodorant that worked great. (also found that recipe via pinterest) The recipe I used was basically just coconut oil, and baking soda, and either cornstarch or arrowroot. I used cornstarch b/c it was already on hand. Then my best lady friend and I added our favorite essential oils, including tea tree oil. It smelled great, not like a peppermint patty, but fresh and vaguely minty. For us, the trick was to add the oil gradually so that we didn’t have a soupy mixture, but more of a paste. Then we put it in the empty (reused) deodorant tubes and let it set in the fridge. It still got a little messy at first, kinda flaky, but I haven’t had any odor issues to speak of. All out now though, need to make more!

  17. I experimented with coconut oil and baking soda a couple of years ago and had a horrible rash that I realized was resulting from the coconut oil–bummer! Any other ideas? It sounds like people are generally using coconut oil as a base. It did happen to be the only natural thing that worked against odor for me. But I couldn’t put my arms down against the sides of my body. Ow.

    • I’m just not sure! Are you positive it wasn’t the baking soda? That’s what tends to irritate me every now and then.

      • You know, I really should try again with just coconut oil, and maybe mix it up with something else. I was positive that I had isolated coconut oil as the culprit, but it was a couple years ago, so my memory might be failing me, especially if you say baking oil is a known irritant. More recently, I have started using coconut oil on less sensitive skin with no problems, so I should give it a chance.

  18. I’m also chiming in quite late, but I wanted to say that I’ve been using coconut oil and baking soda for about a year, per the information from this awesome site! Thank you Liz! I notice that my pits get really irritated with lots of red bumps that won’t go away until I leave them alone for a few days, with the exception of just plain coconut oil. I’m sure they are irritated by the baking soda and it seems to happen almost immediately if I shave in the morning and then apply the deodorant. I just read this tip from Soapwalla on Etsy that said to try shaving at night instead of doing it in the morning and then immediately putting deodorant on. I will do this in the future and hopefully that will work. It’s kind of embarrassing to walk around with torn up armpits…especially at the gym!

  19. Do you have any suggestions for anti-perspiration? I have more trouble with wetness than odor. I have oily skin in general (hereditary).

    • Unfortunately, perspiration is just one of those natural, human things we should probably embrace…ya know, like leg and armpit hair ;) Alas, I totally understand not wanting to deal with it – but I don’t know any natural way to suppress it. I suppose that’s how it should be! As for the oily skin (I assume you’re not talking about the armpits?) I’ve had great success evening oil production with the Paleo lifestyle (especially when I include the most nutrient-dense foods like organ meats, sardines, broth and healthy fats like ghee) and using Jojoba oil and the oil cleansing method topically. Not perfect, but better than it ever has been.

  20. I’m surprised no one has mentioned alcohol based deodorants. I tried Benedetta’s the Best Deodorant and it worked SO well. It even worked retroactively: I could be stinky and put it on and suddenly I’d be fresh.

    It’s $20 a bottle, and my bottle spilled in my purse before it was half done, so I was highly motivated to come up with a DIY. I made a batch with Everclear (cheap ass high proof alcohol) and a touch of witch hazel and essential oils to compete with the alcohol smell until it evaporates. You just shake and spray. Works great.

  21. Hi Liz! Thanks so much for all you do – I love your podcasts with Diane and your blog has made a huge difference on my journey to health (especially skin health!). I started using the coconut oil and baking soda deodorant combo on the same day I started my No Poo regimen (which is going wonderfully, by the way!) about two weeks ago. This morning I noticed some small dry, red, itchy patches on the skin surrounding my armpit, on both arms. This has never happened before, so I’m curious to know what you think – could this be a reaction to the baking soda? I have used coconut oil as a moisturizer on my legs and arms before without any weird reactions, so I don’t think that’s the reason, but my scalp is adjusting so well to the baking soda that it seems odd for me to be having this reaction elsewhere. Any thoughts as to the reason and/or suggestions about what I should do? Thank you!

  22. Have you tried Ava Anderson Non-Toxic products? They are all Gluten-free, vegan, natural, and non-toxic. If you are interested in a list of ingredients for each product let me know! I can also send you samples!!

    After listening to all the “reasons” why one might stink (meat, toxins, etc.) I am AMAZED at how well this works!! I’ve tried every non-toxic option out there and after 2 months of using the coconut oil and baking soda I still can’t believe how well it works!

    One thing I learned the hard way is “pat” the baking soda onto your pits, don’t rub! I do it over the sink and then scrub the sink clean ~ awesome. Thank you Liz!

  24. Dana in St. Louis says:

    Thanks for this post! After trying several aluminum-free deodorants which didn’t do the job well, hubby went back to conventional ones as I continued the search for something better.

    I’ve found that straight Baking Soda is best for me. I dilute it with about a 5:2 ratio of baking soda to water (this can be tricky, it’s a thin paste – about 1tsp of baking soda works for me), which I then apply directly to my underarms. I sweep it on and rub it around evenly. I occasionally will go back and try a convention product, and I just can’t stand it. I can’t believe they worked for me at all!

    I do this over the sink because some may fall, but it’s easy enough to clean up.

    I do love your suggestion of applying coconut oil first and then pressing baking soda into that.

  25. [Marked as spam by Antispam Bee | Spam reason: Server IP]
    I started going all natural before I knew about Paleo, so I didn’t know there were actually recipes or other ingredients to use. And thrilled now to find your web site to help me follow the lifestyle I was gravitating toward naturally.

    I started bathing my face and body with honey and baking soda so I thought, well, I’ll use that as deodorant too. Not wanting my pits to be too sticky with honey I use just a drop on my finger, dab that in the baking soda and massage into my pits. It worked great! After several days of doing this my husband was the tester!!! and said I had no smell at all under my arms. Then I decided to try pure almond oil and baking soda, applied the same way and that has worked as well. You might be able to explain what the honey does, I think the baking soda absorbs any smells. And the almond oil just makes my pits feel nice and silky. I use coconut oil on my skin and hair too, so, after reading your recipe, I’ll be using that next.

  26. Hey Liz!

    I love the blog and have been trying to incorporate some of the natural skin and hair care ideas you suggest. I came across a website today for Primal Pit Paste ( and was wondering if you’ve ever heard of it? What are your thoughts on this product? I am thinking of trying the Thyme and Lemongrass scented one. :)



  1. [...] Sometimes we do a hot yoga class and spend an hour breathing in the toxic fumes of a ranking member of the Senate Stank Committee. [...]

  2. [...] I replaced my shampoo, conditioner and pomade, my facial lotions and potions, my toothpaste and my deodorant with natural alternatives.  If you are interested in what I used instead, click the links for [...]

  3. [...] Scale. Unofficially dubbed “the stank scale.” I originally wrote about it in this post: Sorry, I Stink. The unwitting judge of Stink (or Stank) was to be my husband, and his options as [...]

  4. [...] the sun, but if you want to go aluminum-free (and I suggest you do), you can pretty much guarantee some stank. Unless, that is, you go with the trusty combo of baking soda and coconut oil. A swipe of oil [...]

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