Friday, December 11, 2015

Natural Mama: Natural Body Wash

Natural Mama: Natural Body Wash: I spent a lot of money on fancy body wash products (and fancy personal care products in general). I definitely bought into all the claims o...

Natural Mama: Liquid Hand Soap

Natural Mama: Liquid Hand Soap: It has been a long time since I have created a post on my blog. SO I decided to start off with an easy recipe for everyone to try. We go thr...

Natural Mama: Homemade Christmas Gifts

Natural Mama: Homemade Christmas Gifts: Wow! It has been several months since I have written a blog post. I am hoping that my followers have not abandoned me. I will be working har...

Natural Mama: How to Make Soap (With or Without Lye)

Natural Mama: How to Make Soap (With or Without Lye): I’d always been crafty, and when I found recipes for soap making in an old-time homemaking book, I was intrigued. At the same time, I was un...

How to Make Soap (With or Without Lye)

I’d always been crafty, and when I found recipes for soap making in an old-time homemaking book, I was intrigued. At the same time, I was unsure about some of the ingredients that the recipes called for, especially tallow and lye.

In fact, despite my intrigue with homemade soap, it took me a few years to work up the courage to make it, so I just bought handmade soap from a local vendor in the meantime. When I finally attempted to make homemade soap for our family, I was amazed at how simple it was, and how much money it saved!

While the process seems overwhelming at first glance, it is very simple, especially after you’ve done it once. Also, in less than an hour, it is possible to make enough soap for our family for months and months, and I was able to make soap for less than half the cost of buying it, even with organic ingredients.
Can You Make Soap Without Lye?

Often, the biggest concern with soap-making is the lye, and this was one of my biggest concerns as well before I researched it.

Lye comes with its fair share of warnings and with good reason, but that doesn’t mean that the finished soap product is in any way dangerous. The most often asked question on my soap recipes is “can I make soap without lye?” The short answer is no, but the long answer requires a little science…
What is Lye?

Chemically, lye is Sodium Hydroxide, a caustic alkali. It can eat holes in fabric and skin and cause severe reactions with other chemicals. For soap, the crystal form of pure Sodium Hydroxide is used (this is important!) and the lye must be added to water, not the other way around.

Sounds dangerous… right?

Not so fast.

After all, table salt is made up of sodium and chloride, both dangerous on their own but edible once combined.
You Can’t Make Soap Without Lye

Soap by definition is an alkali mixed with fats. When combined, a process called saponification happens, creating soap. This not only allows the liquid and oils to mix (they don’t do this naturally, as you might remember from grade school science class), but also creates the action by which soap has its cleansing properties.

In other words, without Lye, you just have a bucket of chunky, fatty oils floating in water.

The important part is to make sure that the correct amount of Lye is used for the particular soap you make (more on that below) as different oils and fats require different ratios of lye.
Don’t Want to Handle Lye?

If you don’t want to physically touch the lye but still want the experience of making soap, all is not lost. There are ways that you can make and customize your own soap without handling the lye by using a pre-made melt-and-pour soap that has been pre-saponified (in other words, the lye has already been handled).

It is not lye-free, but you won’t have to handle the lye yourself.

This is the brand of melt-and-pour soap that I’ve used before, and it worked really well. You can add scents with essential oils, or add other ingredients like clays, salts, or other add-ins if you want to create a personalized soap. Again, it isn’t lye-free and you haven’t technically “made” the soap but it is a way to have the experience without having to handle the lye (but it is also much less cost effective).
How To Create Your Own Soap (With Lye)

As I explained, though Lye can be dangerous on its own, there is no lye remaining in soap that has been properly made and no reason for concern when using lye appropriately and in the correct ratio for soap making.

If you are ready to tackle the simple process of soap making using lye.

Before you begin, it is important to have both a recipe and the necessary ingredients. You can make a custom soap with almost any variety of oils and fats, and a good soap calculator will help you know how much of each ingredient you’ll need. The bulk oils I keep on hand for soap making (and general cooking and use) are:

Coconut Oil
Olive Oil
Shea Butter
Cocoa Butter
Castor Oil
Avocado Oil
Mango Butter

I also found these kitchen tools helpful and I keep a specific one of each just for soap making and not for kitchen use:

A digital scale (this is important for making a soap that is not too harsh or too oily)
Glass jars and bowls
A stick blender
plastic cups (optional)
A metal spoon
A wooden spoon
A spatula
Soap molds (or an old cardboard box lined with parchment paper). I have green flower molds, red silicon rose molds and basic bar soap molds.
Gloves and sunglasses or eyewear
A large bottle of white vinegar for neutralizing the lye mixture if it spills on anything.
How to Customize Your Soap

At this point, you can also decide on any add-ins for your soap to customize the color, scent or texture. In the past, I’ve used:

Essential oils
Dried herbs (for texture or color)- my favorites are dried lavender flowers, chamomile flowers or calendula, though any dried her could be added.
Colors– natural color options I’ve tried are spices and plant materials like spirulina, turmeric, cocoa, ground coffee (my favorite), hibiscus, beet root and others.
Texture add ins– like dry freshly ground coffee, healing clays, salts, oatmeal or any other ingredient.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Homemade Christmas Gifts

Wow! It has been several months since I have written a blog post. I am hoping that my followers have not abandoned me. I will be working harder to create a new blog every few weeks again. Since it is the Christmas season I decided to post several wonderful cheap, easy, and fun gift ideas. I was busy making many of these this past weekend and had lots of fun.

Sugar scrub

Pour sugar into medium sized mixing bowl

Add coconut oil until desired consistency is reached; stir

Place a few drops of peppermint essential oil into the mixture

Divide your sugar scrub mix into two equal portions

Add a drop or two of food coloring into one of the portions (be careful not to add too much!)

In mason jar, alternate pink and white layers of sugars to create a “candy cane” effect. Press sugar down with a spoon to compact between layers.

Print sticker label for the front of the jar and add with a bow to gift.

I personally love the scent of Cinnamon and the scent of Vanilla. They remind me of the holidays and winter time. So I decided to make a Cinnamon Vanilla Sugar Scrub…and let me tell you…this one smells so good! I think it is now my favorite so far I love the texture of this one. This sugar scrub is a little bit different than my other ones because I added some Raw Cane Sugar. This sugar has a larger granule and I love the feeling and the exfoliation it along with the smaller granules of the white sugar. You will need the following materials to make this scrub recipe.

Cinnamon Vanilla Sugar Scrub

1/2 cup White Sugar

1/2 cup Raw Cane Sugar (baking aisle)

up to 1/4 cup oil (Olive Oil, Almond Oil, or Coconut Oil)

1/2 tsp. Vanilla Extract or Essential Oil

2-3 drops of Cinnamon Essential oil (I personally buy my oils locally from The Rosemary House in Mechanicsburg)

dash of cinnamon (optional)

Mix all of the ingredients together and place in your favorite container.

Lip Gloss

This was a very easy and fun recipe to make, I believe it only took me 5 minutes to make.

What You'll Need

Petroleum jelly
Coconut oil
Powdered Jello or Essential oils

Scoop out the coconut oil and petroleum jelly into a microwave safe bowl using a 1 to 1 ratio. (We used 1/2 cup each, and it makes lots)

Put it in the microwave for 30 seconds and then mix the mixture with a spoon until almost smooth.

Using a separate bowl, measure out 4 teaspoons of the oil and jelly mixture and 1 teaspoon of the powdered jello. This amount fit my containers perfect. (If you do not want to use Jello mix than you can substitute that for essential oils instead.)

Let them set up over night and you have lip gloss. Please note, these will not add color to your lips, they do however have a slight flavor. You can add more jello to make the flavor more intense.

Sugar Cookie Body Butter

My skin gets super dry and itchy in winter, and regular lotion just won’t cut it. I love using rich and creamy body butter to keep my skin soothed and nourished, so I was thrilled to discover that it is incredible simple to make at home. This homemade whipped body butter is thick and luxurious, and you can use any scent or fragrance that you like – I made my batch a sugar cookie body butter (yum!)!

What You’ll Need:

Coconut Oil
Raw Shea Butter
Almond Oil
Fragrance or Essential Oils, if desired (I used Sugar Cookie Fragrance)

In a small saucepan, melt the oils together over low heat. I used 1/3 cup each of the coconut oil and shea butter(I ordered mine on Amazon, check you local organic grocery stores) and 2 tbsp almond oil. Carefully pour the liquid oil into a chilled bowl, mix in 20 drops of fragrance or essential oil, and allow to sit until the oil begins to harden. You can throw the bowl in the fridge if you want to speed up the process, but be careful not to let it get too hard! You want the oil to be firm, but not solid, for the next step (about the consistency of softened butter). When the oil is ready, whip with a mixer for several minutes until the body butter is fluffy and the volume has increased.

This recipe makes just over a cup of body butter, so it fits perfectly into one of these short little mason jars. Package it with a cute bow, and you have an easy peasy DIY holiday gift that’s ready for giving!

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Natural Mama: Liquid Hand Soap

Natural Mama: Liquid Hand Soap: It has been a long time since I have created a post on my blog. SO I decided to start off with an easy recipe for everyone to try. We go thr...