Stuff You Can Make Yourself: Tooth Powder

I’ve had a lot of requests for a natural alternative to toothpaste that actually works, and while I won’t be selling my tooth powder, I do think it’s easy enough for anyone to do at home.  I’ve been using this tooth powder for almost two years now, and my teeth and gums have never been healthier.  Best of all, my minor tooth sensitivity is gone–a result which I didn’t expect!  My dentist is very pleased, and said that if it had added fluoride, he’d endorse it in a heartbeat for me!  However, I’m glad there are no nasty chemicals, no sudsing agents, no fluoride except from your rinsing water.  It is a little weird getting used to brushing without foamy suds, but once you feel how clean your teeth are, I don’t think you’ll mind!

ToothPowder1

Each ingredient in this recipe has a purpose:

Powdered kaolin and/or bentonite clay is wonderful for drawing toxins and mildly scrubbing.  I really believe this ingredient has been the cause of my sensitivity going away.  It really helps purify your gums!

Baking soda…well, we all know how good that is!  People have been using it to clean teeth forever!  It acts as both a gentle scrubbing agent and an antiseptic.

Ground sage is one you didn’t expect, isn’t it?  Did you know that sage is a natural whitener?  Well, it is!

Table salt is also a well-known antiseptic and cleansing/scrubbing agent!  Best part about this one is that it dissolves so you can’t over-scrub!

Stevia powder is purely for taste.  I’d say to use sugar, but we’re brushing our teeth here…let’s don’t be silly!  I like the Truvia brand, myself, but do your thing.  Any sugar-free sweetener will be fine.

Peppermint essential oil–again purely for taste.

This recipe makes about 2 oz of powder, which lasts me a couple months.

2 Tbsp. powdered Kaolin or Bentonite clay.  Either will work well, and I like to use 1 Tbsp. of each!  Bentonite is gray and a bit more scrubby.  Kaolin is white and finer.  (Available in most health food stores.)
2 Tbsp. baking soda

1 Tbsp. ground sage

2 (scant) tsp. table salt

1 tsp. sugar-free sweetener of your choice

15-20 drops of peppermint essential oil

In a glass bowl or large measuring cup (don’t use metal), mix thoroughly, pulverizing any lumps made by the essential oil…you want that thoroughly distributed throughout the mix, not clumped at all!  If you’re nervous about it, you can run it through a sieve, and pulverize anything that doesn’t make it through, and mix again.  When it’s thoroughly mixed and smooth, store in an airtight plastic container (I use a little tiny 2 oz. tupperware-like container I found at the grocery store.)

To use:  Tip a little bit (maybe a teaspoon or so) into the palm of your hand (the hand that doesn’t hold your toothbrush!).  Wet your brush and dip it in the powder in your palm, and brush.  I usually get a good job done in about 3 to 4 dips.  Rinse thoroughly with water once or twice.  Note:  the clay and the sage will turn dark when wet, so don’t be alarmed when you spit!

A note on the taste:  It will taste rather salty while you brush, but you’ll feel the clean finish of the peppermint when you’re done!  Oh, and it doesn’t foam or get sudsy…you’ll just have to get over that one.  ;-)

Notes on other recipes you may have found.  Adding oil can make this seem like a paste, but it will prevent the clay from drawing impurities from your gums to full effect, and reduce the shelf life of your mixture.  I like to keep it a powder for these reasons.  Also, a coating of oil on your teeth can feel like smoothness, but it’s really just a coating of oil.  Eep!  Second, do NOT add cinnamon!  It is unduly harsh on sensitive areas like the inside of your mouth, and can be a serious irritant!

So there we are!  First recipe I’ve posted in quite a while!  Enjoy your new brushing method, and feel free to stand in front of the mirror afterward, running your tongue across your front teeth and pretending you’re in a tv commercial.

Everyone does it.

A Place for Everything, and…

PARTY AT MY PLACE!!

Ok, not really, except to me, it feels like a party now.

After more than a year of planning, I have a new soaping room.  A dedicated place with not only a mini-kitchen ideally fitted with everything I need to craft my products, but with a stock-and-storage area and even an office!

I took shameless advantage of my birthday on Monday by getting the kids to clear out the partially finished basement.  Great heavens, it was a disaster down there.  I’m talking Obamacare-level disaster.

BeforeCan you find the obsolete computers?  Or Waldo?

They found things they hadn’t seen in years, and we’ve donated, gifted and junked at least a 6 ft. tall pile of superfluousness!  They really went the extra mile, going through books and the insides of cupboards and everything!  I joined in with the mopping, scrubbing, organizing, etc. when it was all cleared out.

But this is the result:

After

SoapLab
Kitchen/Crafting Space

Stock       Shelving
Stock (or some of it, anyway!)                           Storage/Ingredients          

OfficeSpace
And this sweet little office and work space between the two!

I wouldn’t leave.  We even had my birthday party down there:

Bday

I was making liquid soap at the time.

 

 

Mixin’ It Up!

wpid-20131217_075819.jpg

They say there’s more than one way to skin a cat.

I’m not a big fan of skinless cats, and it can’t be terribly comfortable for them either, so let’s have none of that.

There’s also more than one way to make soap!  My main method is cold process.  It allows me to use my slab mold and play with design and texture on the largest surface of the soap.  It makes for very fluid swirls and all manner of yummy looks.

Peep, if you will, the following examples:

 

ChristmasRosemaryVanillachocolateSpiced Apple

The only down side to the cold process method is the time it takes for these beauties to be cured and ready.  After I get ‘em looking like what you just peeped, I must wait 4 to 6 weeks before they’ve reached a full cure!  Since 4 to 6 weeks is not now, and I’m a big, BIG fan of now,  I’m glad to say there’s a quicker method!

Hot process soapmaking is a different way to get the same product.  The lather, the fragrance, the cleansing qualities are all the same.  The look, however, is different!  I do hot process in a log or loaf mold, which makes a big ol’ hunk o’ soap that gets sliced into bars.  With this process, I can play with the design on the INSIDE of the soap, rather than the large surface area!  Peep on:

RosyCheekHPManly Grunting Man SoapDSCN1020[1]CocoNuts 

Number one awesomeness about the hot process method is the speed.  Once it’s cut and trimmed, it can be used immediately!  I like to give it a few days to firm up a bit, but it’s completely saponified during “the cook”.  I actually cook the soap through the cure before I add the color and scent, coconut milk or oatmeal or any other fun stuff.  I can even wash my pot with what’s left in it when I’m done!

There’s an element of mystery and fun involved too, because I never REALLY know what it’s going to look like until the next day, when I unmold and slice it!

Thanks to the hot process method, I’ve been able to keep my stock going through the mad holiday rush!  I plan to make both hot and cold process soaps for all or most of my recipes from here on out, rush or no rush!

You can see all the different “versions” of each soap in the product gallery on each item’s page, and take comfort in the fact that if something sells out, it won’t be a month or more before you see it again!

I love this stuff…

 

 

I’m a Scent Rebel

RosemaryVanilla

Now, some folks have questioned me on my use of scents like patchouli, pine and herbal extracts in my soaps.  That’s cool…they certainly don’t represent the kind of thing you see in the supermarket’s soap aisle on a regular basis.  Even with an adventurous spirit, this can take some getting used to!

For the record, I’m used to it!  I’m playing with essential oils I’d never heard of before, and combining scents I would never have DREAMED of combining!

It.  Is.  Fun.

The first real confidence-booster was Rosy Cheek.  I had played it pretty safe up to that point, but I was making that soap with my friend Bridget, and I wanted something really special and unusual for her.  Plus…I was probably showing off a bit.

That soap had a blend of rose, rosemary, and a leeeetle bit of eucalyptus.  It quickly became a best seller, and yes, it is cheeky.

KoalaMeme

In talking with other soapers last week, Rosemary essential oil was discussed more than one would think.  Apparently, rosemary plays very well with others!  Soapers seem to blend rosemary with everything!  Well…I hadn’t come up with anything tremendously new in a while, so I started thinking about rosemary.  I decided that I would plunge my hand into my big box of aroma-happinesses and blend whatever came out with rosemary somehow.

What did I pull out?

Rosemary.

I should’ve taken that out before plunging.  So I plunged again and came out with Vanilla.

Rosemary and vanilla?  Fresh/herbal/spicy combined with warm, mellow and autumnal?  “Hrmmm…,” I thought, “I sure hope they don’t cancel each other out and end up smelling like distilled water.”

Then I laughed a little because I crack myself up.

Whellll, I’d made an agreement with myself so I got to work.  I used 3 parts rosemary with 1 part vanilla, and the blended oils hit me like a ton of bricks.  Intriguing…different…yet familiar…just wonderful!  It’s invigorating and warm at the same time.

How NEAT is that??

In the finished soap at 24 hours, I got mostly that refreshing, snappy rosemary, but now, four days later, the bar gives off a comfortable undertone of vanilla.  I can’t wait until it’s fully cured so I can see what happens when it lathers up!  Here it is:

RosemaryVanilla

We are temporarily out of stock, but you can pre-order here.

I’ll admit, the thought of plunging in like that and just going for it was scary…and a teensy bit against my nature…after all, I, like everyone else, know what I like!  I gotta tell you though…this might not be the last time I take the plunge!

In other news, I’ve recently discovered that St. Florian is the patron saint of soapmakers (among other things)!  Perhaps he was watching out for me when I took the plunge and got this great scent blend!

St. Florian, pray for us!

StFlorian

 

Clays…Let’s Play In The Mud!

clayplay

I live South of the Mason-Dixon line, so I’m no stranger to clay.  It’s all around me!  The dirt is red, and if you’ve ever tried to plant anything in it, you know what a pain in the neck (and back and arms) it can be!

What I’ve found, however, is that certain types of clay are super-great for your skin!

Clay is non-irritating, it draws toxins from your skin, it provides very gentle exfoliation and even has antibacterial properties, so it’s a must-have in many of my products.  I use two types:  Bentonite Clay and Kaolin Clay.

Bentonite is gray, Kaolin is white.

I use bentonite and kaolin in my gentle facial mix (now available here).  It’s great for everything from acne to wrinkles, and you can use it as a quick scrub or leave it on as a mask for 20 minutes or so if you want more detoxification.  I love using bentonite clay in the facial mix because it’s reported to not only prevent skin problems by clearing out the toxins, but also to heal current breakouts and improve circulation.

Kaolin clay, because it’s white, is an ingredient I use alone when color is an issue.  Soap, in my opinion, should be pretty, or at least cool-looking, so when I want the benefits of clay in something but I don’t want it to turn gray, kaolin clay’s my pick.  It’s great for facial soaps and shaving soaps especially.

Why shaving soaps?  Well, I’ve found that clay gives an added “slip” to the lather which helps the razor glide more easily and comfortably on the skin.

The clay I use is also food-grade.  That’s right…some people actually use clay internally as a detoxifier and digestive aid.  I’m not there yet myself, but I do get food-grade clay for a reason.  I use it in my tooth powder.  I’ve ditched toothpaste and I make my own tooth powder.  The clay is great for gentle scrubbing and drawing impurities from the gums, tongue and cheeks.  I’ve found that all my former tooth sensitivity is gone, and I can’t wait for my next checkup to see what the dentist thinks!  I’ll probably post my tooth powder recipe one of these days under Stuff You Can Make Yourself.  Stay tuned!

There are lots of other kinds of clay…green clay has tons of iron and magnesium,  pink, black…there’s an impressive selection of dirt out there!  So let’s add some water and play in the mud!

Stuff You Can Make Yourself: Bug Spray

skeeter

Well, it’s that time of year.  Skeeter weather.  Oh, we’re grilling and setting off firecrackers and engaging in all kinds of fun summery hijinx, but somehow the phrase “eaten alive” comes up more than one would hope.

So here’s my solution.  This recipe is different from my others, because the essential oils are what really make it happen.  And this time we’ll use a blend of three or more essential oils, which can be found in most health food stores.  Here we go!

In a small spray bottle, combine:

1 1/2 to 2 cups distilled water
2 Tablespoons witch hazel
1 Tablespoon rubbing alcohol (or absolute vodka, if you like)
2 Tablespoons sweet almond oil (or olive if it’s handy)
1 teaspoon eucalyptus essential oil
1 teaspoon lemongrass essential oil
1/2 teaspoon cedarwood essential oil

Shake before each use!

All those essential oils are great for repelling buggies.  You can replace the lemongrass with lavender or rosemary if you like, but I like the combination above.  The cedarwood will be the strongest, but that’s the more potent against the buggies.  Other good insect repelling essential oils include citronella and catnip (yes, catnip).

As with anything that goes in or on the body, pay attention to any allergies you or your family might have here!

Now go outside and play!

Stuff You Can Make Yourself: Dusting Spray

DustBunnies

Hey there Folks!

Note:  This is not a furniture polish!  This is a cleaning and dusting spray that will allow you to toss the cans of chemicals!

I recommend spraying this directly on your duster or cloth.  It won’t hurt your furniture if you spray directly onto the wood, but it’ll do it’s job better from the duster.

2 cups distilled water (tap is ok, but it has its own chemicals and buggies in it, so I always use distilled)
1/4 cup white vinegar
2 teaspoons olive oil (or sweet almond, which I prefer)
10 drops lemon essential oil

Pop all that stuff into a plastic spray bottle, and shake before each use, as the oils will rise to the top.

Not that anyone has time to dust, really, but this is great stuff!

Enjoy, and watch out for those vicious dust bunnies!

Stuff You Can Make Yourself: Dishwasher Detergent

dishwasher

Yes, you read that right.

Automatic dishwasher detergent isn’t as difficult to make as you might think.  I’ve been using mine for months now, and I’m very pleased with the results…and the cost!  A little bonus is that it keeps the dishwasher itself clean and the pipes/hoses clear of hard water buildup!

Here’s the recipe:

1 cup Borax
1 cup Washing Soda
1/2 cup citric acid
1/2 cup salt (kosher, table, whatever you like)
1/2 cup of vinegar (not to be mixed in!)

One tablespoon per load.

Note:  A good resource for citric acid is: http://www.bulkfoods.com.  It’s a bulk/wholesale store that actually allows you to purchase one pound.

Back to the recipe.  Borax and washing soda are the cleaning agents.  Citric acid is probably the most important item, as it dissolves food particles and combats hard water, giving a cleaner rinse.  Salt is a scrubbing agent and also helps combat hard water.

The vinegar is your rinse aid.  Some people fill the little rinse aid compartment with vinegar, but I’ve found that doesn’t do as good a job as just pouring a couple “glugs” right onto the dishwasher door (about half a cup) before you run the machine.

One important thing about this recipe.  Citric acid causes this stuff to absorb moisture and clump like the dickens if you aren’t proactive about preventing it.  You can put rice in the toe of an old, clean stocking, tie if off and put it in your detergent mixture.  You can do the same with a couple silica gel packets–the kind you find in a new purse. I like to leave the mixture in the open air (don’t put a lid on your container) for 2 or three days, and give it a vigorous shake periodically, for good measure.  Once a few days have passed in the open air, you can cap it and store it under the sink.  (If you forget and it does clump up, run that stuff through a dry food processor or blender.  Good as new.)

Some people leave out the citric acid and add it separately to each load (1/2 tsp. per load), but that just kind of smacks of effort, if you ask me.  Hahaha.  No.  Really.  I’m lazy.

You can adjust the recipe if you have super-hard water, or if your glasses seem cloudy.  I have ridiculously hard water, so I actually double the amount of citric acid in mine.

If you have cloudy dishes, first try using a little less or a little more in each load.  If that doesn’t make the difference, add more citric acid to your recipe.

Bonus tip:  To prevent etching on your glasses, don’t use the drying cycle!  Spots you can wipe off, but etching lasts forever!

Stuff You Can Make Yourself: Scouring

Scouring

Hi Kids!

Next in the lineup for Stuff You Can Make Yourself is scouring powder, tub-scrub, cleanser…whatever you like to call it.  It’s the stuff that gets your sinks, tubs, tub surrounds, etc. clean and sparkly.  Pretty nice on the grout too, I must add.  You can also use this to scrub pots and pans after the kids are done cooking your Mother’s Day breakfast!

I even use this to get burnt crud off my glass-top stove.  No, it doesn’t scratch or harm the surface.  I’ve been using it for months!

1 cup Borax
1 cup table salt
1/2 cup Baking Soda
1/2 cup Washing Soda (Arm & Hammer makes this too)
*Optional:  5 to 10 drops of your favorite essential oil, for scent (but I use 3 drops peppermint and 4 drops pine)

You can just whisk or shake this mixture together, but I like to run it through a food processor to mix it completely, and to bust up anything that’s gotten lumpy.

Sprinkle, scrub, sparkle!

Stuff You Can Make Yourself: Glass/Mirror Cleaner

WindowCleaner

Hey!

It’s finally acting like Spring outside, over most of the country, and people all over are doing something they only do around this time of year.  Oh, they SAY they do it more often, but really, cleaning your windows (inside AND outside), is pretty much a spring cleaning activity.  (Wait…I may have just tipped my “lazy” hand…)

After much testing, I have come up with the worlds greatest all-natural, ammonia-free window cleaner.

Here’s the recipe:

In a 26-oz. spray bottle (or larger), combine:

20 oz. distilled water
4 oz. white vinegar
1 oz. rubbing alcohol (or absolute vodka, if you really wanna use it to clean windows)
1 to 2 tsp. cornstarch (or tapioca flour/starch)

Shake before each use…the cornstarch won’t dissolve, so you need to shake it or it’ll clog up the sprayer!

Plus, it’s fun.  Shaking things is fun.

To break it down, the water is the carrier, the vinegar is the cleaning agent, the alcohol makes it dry faster, and the cornstarch prevents streaking!

Take that, blue window juice!  If you NEED it to be blue, pop a drop or two of food coloring in there, but don’t overdo it!

Note:  I’ve been using this on my surfaces too, and it works nicely!  Do not use on sealed granite or other sealed solid surface, though!  Alcohol will damage the sealant!

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