One-bag travelers and ultralight backpackers have more than a few things in common. In addition to always being concerned about the weight of what we pack and always shopping for supplies with the least amount of wasted packaging, both backpackers and one bag travelers are in unique positions to struggle with staying clean and fresh while enjoying our respective hobbies.
One great way I’ve found to reduce my backpack weight while ensuring that no sacrifices are made when it comes to personal hygiene is making my own travel deodorant and placing it in extra, extra small containers that fit into even the smallest space in my bag.
The Problem: Even “Travel Deodorant” is Packaged with Wasted Space
While a few brands of deodorant antiperspirant have begun making smaller size containers of deodorant and antiperspirant, the options are limited.
If you want “your brand” of deodorant on the road – the one you trust to keep you smelling great- it probably doesn’t come in travel size. If it does come in “travel size,” it’s probably a corporate take. See, wasted packaging is designed to make us think we’re getting more product, when in fact we’re just paying for wasteful packaging, empty plastic, and plastic filler. While many times packaging for travel-sized items may appear to be more travel friendly, the product to packaging ratio still results in a lot of wasted space.
Presumably, this is all to make customers believe they’re getting a better value for their dollar – even customers specifically seeking smaller products.
My solution? DIY travel deodorant with low waste packaging.
When I decided to try making mini travel deodorant for my travels, I looked around online to see if someone had tried something similar.
Various reports on Reddit mentioned making DIY mini deodorant, but the process described involved measuring cups, microwaves, and inevitably what sounded like a big mess to clean up.
Having recently discovered sous vide cooking, I wondered, could travel-size deodorant be made with no mess by shrinking the whole process down ad containing it in just a single plastic bag?
I set out to test my hypothesis, photographing it along the way and, based on my successful results, I present below the tutorial for packing your own mess-free ultralight travel deodorant and antiperspirant.
How to Make Mess-Free Travel Size Deodorant
Prepare Empty Mini Deodorant Containers
Prepare your containers by either cleaning up previously used containers or removing the lid from containers you’ve purchased empty. Make sure the dial is adjusted to allow the container to be completely filled. Stand all of your opened, empty containers on a stable surface ready for the next step.
Next, open your preferred antiperspirant or deodorant and twist the base until the product extends fully out the top of the full-sized deodorant applicator container.
Remove and Melt a Full Size Product
Use your fingers to pull the deodorant free from the two (this works a little bit better if the deodorant has been refrigerated)
Place the chunk of loose antiperspirant into a sturdy plastic bag. If you have access to a food saver vacuum sealer, vacuum seal the deodorant in plastic. If you do not have a vacuum sealer, use the sous water displacement method demonstrated in this youtube video to remove excess air from your plastic bag, then seal the zip top.
Prepare a bath of warm water. Now, you have to options:
- If you have a sous vide machine or an Instant Pot with a sous vide setting, pre-heat the water to 90°F and then let the plastic-encased deodorant sit in the water for 10 minutes.
- If you do not have a sous vide machine, bring 1 gallon of water to a boil, then remove from heat, pour the water into a metal bowl, and wait three minutes to allow the water to cool. (Water should be warm but not hot at this point, it may take longer than 3 minutes for the water to cool to this temperature. Do not rush) When the water has cooled to warm but not hot, drop the plastic bag containing the deodorant into the water. Let the deodorant sit in the water as it cools for 10 minutes.
Whichever method you choose, after a few minutes the antiperspirant bar will be melted down to a creamy liquid and you’ll essentially have a warm, squishy pouch of molten deodorant ready to repackage.
Snip Bag and Pipe Liquid into Mini Deodorant Tubes
Remove the plastic-encased antiperspirant from the water bath, dry the outside of the bag, then snip off a small corner. Next, as if it is a piping bag full of cake frosting, squeeze the contents into your waiting empty containers.
As you fill each container, gently tap the bottom on a table or countertop to remove any bubbles. Add more deodorant from the bag if taping results in contents settling.
Keeping tubes upright, place them in a cool location for the deodorant to re-harden.
Where to Buy Small Deodorant Containers
There are several options when making your own travel deodorant. While some people like to refill containers they’ve used previously (like my pink body glide applicator that I refilled in this series of photos) others may choose to purchase new vessels – like the black empty chapstick tubes I used for this tutorial.
The size of the container you use should vary according to your trip and travel style.
For example, for ultralight travel and backpacking, I use deodorant melted into lip balm tubes. With a little bit of experience using this method, I know that a lip balm tube full of antiperspirant will last me about 10 days traveling in a hot climate (so I know for a two-week backpacking trip, for example, I’ll need about two lip balm size containers of travel deodorant.) For trips where I have a little more space in my luggage, I do prefer the convenience and speed of application of a wider applicator.
Here’s a link to purchase containers for making your own miniature travel deodorant
The following section may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.
Etsy also offers 100% cardboard .3oz containers, for a green and eco-friendly packaging alternative.
Final thoughts on making my own miniature travel deodorant
It’s not the most glamorous part of long-term travel or digital nomading, but preparing my own travel deodorant before I leave for a trip is a great way to save time and money on the road. The benefits include leaving more space in my luggage for souvenirs and ensuring that I’m never without my favorite brand of deodorant even when I’m thousands of miles away from home.
If you use this tutorial, I’d love to hear from you! Drop a comment below to let the world know how this method worked for you for making your own travel-sized deodorant.
Here’s a quick run-through of the instructions in simplified terms:
How to Make Ultra-Compact Deodorant for Travel & Camping
Total Time: 15 minutes
Aquire and open mini deodorant containers (use lip balm tubes or repurposed half-size deodorant applicators from less preferred brands)
Remove contents of full deodorant tube
Remove deodorant from full-size tube and place in a plastic bag. Remove as much air as possible and seal the bag.
Place the bag containing deodorant in a warm water bath (around 90 degrees F) till melted. This should take about 10 minutes. Squeeze to make sure warming is consistent.
Pipe Deodorant into Travel Size Containers
Snip a corner from the sealed bag of melted deodorant, and pipe melted deodorant into the previously prepared ultra-compact containers.
Allow travel deodorant to cool and harden
Once cooled and the deodorant has hardened, place caps on containers and pack in your backpack or luggage.
Estimated Cost: 10 USD
- .5 oz roll up tubes or empty lip balm tubes
- plastic bag with seal
- full size deodorant
- warm water
Artist, digital nomad, and highly sensitive person, Lynli started traveling full time as a digital nomad in 2018. Writer and Illustrator by day, remote-destination explorer by other-days, Lynli is passionate about pushing the boundaries of her own comfort zone, exploring the world as a plus size, one-bag traveler, and journaling it all on WanderBig.com