Category Archives: Personal Care Products

June UFH Challenge Round 4: Everything Else

Here it is the end of June and I’ve gone missing. Where am I? Out in the goat barn milking or inside making cheese, weeding the garden or inside making cheese, chasing the gazillion chicks that keep escaping from their aerial-predator proof run or inside making cheese. Or I might be inside making cheese.

I never even posted pictures of Mary and her baby Flip, or Mona and her babies Rose and BT (though I will.) I never shared with you that Bessie was so quiet I was sure she was bred and in fact watched the coupling happen at least three times but it turns out that she was just big because I fed her like she was pregnant all winter. I never shared with you that I took Val and her doelings up to the miniature dairy goat show two weeks ago and Val and the babies won heaps of ribbons, and one of Val’s was best of breed. And then the babies went to new homes and I grieved with Val for a day and then she moved on, only it took me three days to move on I missed them so much. I think I have a case of empty barn syndrome. But the cheese is helping me get over it.

And now here it is nearly the end of June and I want you to think about making herbal concoctions not just to drink with spirits – but to ease troublesome coughs and support your immune system. I want you to think about making super simple lotions from Laurie’s infused oils. And I want you to think about drying some flowers and berry leaves from your own garden and making teas with them, or think of planting a Sochi tea plant if you like green and black tea.

I know this last one is a curve ball coming at you fast in the bottom of the ninth inning but I want you to take a big swing at it and give it your all. If the hydrosol challenge was too much for you then try making lotion. If that’s too much then just use your infused oil directly on dry skin. And if that’s too much then buy some quality essential oils from Mountain Rose Herbs and make your own house cleaners and personal care products.

Surely there is something this month that speaks to you, if even just infusing the milk for your homemade chocolate mint ice cream with real garden mint.

Tune back in for the next post, which will be the roundup to see all that you’ve been brave enough to try, and to throw your hat in the ring to win some great June prizes!

June UFH Botanical Challenge – Round 1

I know I said this last month but I can’t believe it’s June already! I’ve been in the barn all month with the goats, four rounds of babies complete with disbudding, wethering, selling, lessons on hoof care and milking for new owners and lots of milking for me to do too. If only it was still the home dairy challenge I would be all full of cheesy goodness.

But it’s botanical month. What does that mean?

It means that I want you to become one with herbs, spices and flowers. They do more than just flavor your foods – they create soothing bases for lotions and salves, nourish mind, body and soul, complete herbal tea bases, cough syrups and immune boosters. Rather than reaching for a bottle of extract to flavor that mint ice cream, I want you to reach for your scissors and trim up that chocolate mint plant in your garden (or lemon verbena, or cinnamon basil). I want you to stick rosemary sprigs in your apple jelly (and your martini) and dry rose leaves for potpourri.

I can’t promise that we’ll cover all these things but I want you to think about flowers and herbs in a whole new way. Always out of thyme? Why not dry part of that bushy thyme plant that has been overtaking your herb spiral?

It’s true you could buy these things but if you already have them growing in your yard or your neighborhood, there is no need for that. And this way you know exactly what goes on and into your body.

June prizes from our sponsors:

For now, skip on over to Woodwife’s Journal for the first challenge – hydrosols. If you’ve never used a hydrosol you are in for a treat. In the summer there is nothing more refreshing than a quick hit of peppermint hydrosol or as calming as a rose geranium or lavender one. They are dilute enough to go directly on the skin and rose hydrosol is a wonderful part of my evening facial routine. With different herbs and flowers they are a great anti-itch or post sun burn reliever as well.

Sharon gives you directions for creating your own distilled (that’s right, this information may come in handy during grain month, you never know) hydrosols. As always, keep checking back here throughout the month for more challenges and at month-end for the link up post to enter yourself into the monthly drawing. So branch out this month!

Do it Yourself Cleaners – for the house and for you

Now that I rarely go to the store it really irks me to make a trip because we’ve run out of toothpaste or cleaner of some kind. And with so few labels to read I can scrutinize the heck out of everything.

My goal this year is to come up with solutions for everything I buy. I’ve learned how to make my own lotion, salve and lip cover. I’ve learned how to mix my own facial oil which actually works better for me than lotion although when I have time I still plan to mix some of that into lotion form since I think in the summer it may be nicer to have a lotion to put on frequently.

I’ve been making my own toothpaste which works and tastes great. I’ve been making my own underarm deoderant which works fine for me but I’m not training for the half marathon this winter so perhaps that one isn’t a fair test yet.

I’ve been making my own vapor rub, both for us and the kids and it’s nice to know it’s not petroleum based and contains the same active ingredients as Vic’s.

I’m still testing dish soap, dishwasher soap and laundry soap recipes but hoping to share those with you soon. You can bet your bottom dollar they are earth friendly (not just claiming to be) and contain nothing creepy.

The last thing I’m geared up to do but still looking for time to make is a year’s worth of soap – both bar soap and liquid soap.

The great thing about all of these things is that by buying a small arsenal of essential oils and using pantry ingredients plus a few specialty items like sodium carbonate (washing soda) or potash (lye) you can make your own solutions to what encompasses multiple aisles at the druggists or grocers. You invest one time in spray bottles and recycle food or lotion bottles to store things in.

There are no planetary resources that go into manufacturing, distributing, marketing, corporate research and develop which may include animal testing, and there are no bottles for you to recycle when you are done. It really doesn’t get much more sustainable than that. And you just can’t beat the cost of making things using stuff you already have in your pantry.

Once you’ve built up a nice library of essential oils, that is.

If stored properly, essential oils will last for years. You can buy essential oils at almost any health food store but I’ve found the quality of oils from Mountain Rose Herbs to be amazing and they don’t have those “not for human consumption” warnings on them which is nice if I plan to use them in a toothpaste or mouthwash. I’m increasingly wary of the source of all my spices and oils in the wake of food recalls related to black pepper this year.

Please consider trying some of these solutions and let me know what you think!

Daytime Face Oil for Aging Skin
This is great for rosacea-prone skin as well
2 Tablespoons sweet almond, olive or apricot oil
1 teaspoon any or all: jojoba oil, borage seed oil, carrot
10 drops evening primrose oil
15 drops German chammomile essential oil
5 drops lavendar or geranium essential oil
5 drops palma rosa oil
Spray clean face with a lavendar or rose and water spritzer (add EO to distilled water in a spray bottle) then gently massage in the oil. After a few minutes if it feels like there is excess oil you can blot it with a tissue but it seems to soak right in for me.

Nighttime Face Oil for Aging or Rosacea-Prone Skin
2 teaspoons wheatgerm oil
2 teaspoons avocado oil
30 drops jojoba oil
10 drops borage seed oil
20 drops evening primrose oil
10 drops German chammomile oil
15 drops Geranium oil
10 drops Carrot oil
Use as the day time oil.
Note: I am just using the daytime oil which seems to work fine for me. I am adding some olive oil that I infused with chammomile, comfrey and borage flowers last summer since I have it on hand. I use that same infused oil in my lotion mix and my salve since it is so anti-inflammatory and soothing.

Window and Glass Cleaner
For windows, glass and any shiny surface I use vinegar.

Scrubbing Cleaner
For anything needing scrubbing powder (like the shower or sink basin) I use baking soda (sodium bicarbonate.) This includes the stove top with it’s baked on gunk that I’m afraid to scratch, as well as my white tiled bathroom floor and grout. I remember whining to my grandpa once when I was tasked with cleaning the bathroom as a small child. “How do you expect me to get it clean?” I asked. “Put some elbow grease into it, kid” he said. So add elbow grease to my list too.

Carpet Stain Remover
For carpet stains I use borax which you can buy with most laundry detergents. It’s sold as a laundry booster. Blot your carpet stain dry, sprinkle borax on, let it dry and vacuum it up.

Disinfectant/Cleaning Spray
Dash liquid soap such as dish soap or Dr. Bronner’s liquid soap
2 Tablespoons vodka
5 ml lavender essential oil
5 ml niaouli essential oil
5 ml lemon myrtle essential oil
3 ml oregano essential oil (you can use pine if you like that scent but I abhor that pine smell)
32 ounces distilled water (I’ve used filtered and it seems to last forever without molding)
Mix everything together and put into a spray bottle.

Toothpaste
2 Tablespoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon vegetable glycerine* (you can omit and use this as a powder which you sprinkle on your toothbrush instead)
10-20 drops essential oil like clove, cinnamon or mint
Liquid stevia to taste

Mouthwash
2 oz water
6 drops tea tree oil
6 drops peppermint, cinnamon or clove oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 oz vodka

Deodorant
1/4 cup vodka or witch hazel
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon vegetable glycerin (optional)
10 drops tea tree oil
20-40 drops essential oil of your choice (lavendar, rose geranium, clary sage, vanilla, clove or citrus would all be nice. More masculine scents might be fir, sage or bay laurel)

Air Freshener
Add any combination of essential oil drops to water to get the strength and scent you love. Spray with abandon, avoiding eyes. You can also place your liquid in a shallow bowl of pebbles with a bamboo skewer to scent the room, or use direct essential oils to scent pine cones or dried flowers in a bowl potpourri style. Some stores also sell those plug ins with blank “filters” that you can simply put your own essential oils on and plug into an outlet. Compare this with those chemical laden “air fresheners”.

Remember the first R is “Reduce.” By reducing the number of personal or household products you buy you really are making a difference.

Update: I had totally forgotten about this link which I posted sometime last spring. This site has some really simple and effective home made cleaning solvents too.

Pay special attention when they say “According to a study at Virginia Tech, spraying hydrogen peroxide and vinegar right after one another is just as effective at killing germs as lung-irritating, stream-polluting chlorine bleach.” How cool is that?

* I recently read something that said you should avoid toothpastes with glycerin in them because it coats your teeth, making it difficult for them to remineralize so I’ve been leaving this out.

Body Lotion

lotion

I’ve been out of lotion since last summer and this cold stretch has all but done me in.  It’s amazing in our damp Seattle climate how far simply drinking enough drinking water will get you. With this dry, cold weather and the heater constantly running though, I dried up.

Last June I infused some olive oil with chamomile flowers, calendula and comfrey. I made a small batch of lotion with it just to test and it was great. Then I ran out of time to make more. The chamomile, calendula and comfrey are all very soothing with strong anti-inflammatory properties so they make great lotion additives for someone who spends a lot of time in the garden. You could certainly make lotion without using this oil and it will be a nicer, whiter shade.

The great thing about making your own lotion is that you likely have most of the ingredients already and you know exactly what is in it. I’ve made a few rounds of lotion in the last few weeks. One was more of a salve and cuticle cream that I made entirely from things I wouldn’t mind eating. The main ingredient was cocoa butter and I added a few drops of vanilla to it. I have a hard time not eating it because it smells so heavenly.

The body lotion is almost entirely edible but I added some shea butter to it to make it really moisturizing.

To make lotion you need a double boiler or a large glass measuring cup, or a smaller pan that can fit into a larger pan.

You will want to start with some solid oils, some liquid oils, beeswax and essential oil.  You literally just need 3 things but I had all these so I used them.  I also added about 6 drops of grapefruit seed extract to my lotion to extend it’s life.  Once you add herb infused oils or plant extracts you shorten the life of your lotion so I figured that was good insurance.

lotion-ingredients

You need 6 ounces of liquid oil (like olive oil, almond oil or jojoba oil), 3 ounces of solid oil (like coconut oil, cocoa butter or shea butter), 1 ounce of beeswax shaved or grated, and 9 oz of distilled water (including any witch hazel, rose water, aloe vera, or glycerin).  You can use filtered water but that will also shorten the life of your lotion.

Combine your liquid oils, solid oils and beeswax in the top of the double boiler or glass measuring cup inside a water bath. Heat the water to medium and stir until all the oils and wax melt together and form one single liquid.

lotion-melting

Remove the double boiler or cup and let it cool to body temperature, stirring occasionally to keep it smooth. When the oils are ready warm the water up to body temperature.

Pour the water in a mixing bowl if using a mixer, or a tall container like a yogurt container if using an immersion blender. Add your grapefruit extract now. With the mixer on low, slowly add the oil to the water in a thin stream just as you would if making mayonnaise. You can also do this in a food processer or blender.

This only takes a few minutes using my immersion blender.  If you don’t have one yet Christmas is coming and they make great pureed soups without having to worry about spilling hot soup everywhere getting it in the blender. I’m surprised how frequently I use my immersion blender!

After a few minutes of mixing you will start to see the lotion begin to form. Initially it will look like milk curdling but if you continue mixing for a few more moments you will end up with a nice, smooth and creamy container of lotion.

Once your lotion is done you can stir in as much essential oil as you like. Citrus and mint scents are uplifting whereas lavender and geranium are calming. They are all lovely. You can even divide the lotion into a few bowls and make each one a different scent.

These make great handmade gifts when poured into 1/2 pint jelly jars. I made these for my own use so I didn’t spend any time decorating them but imagine lavender scented lotion with a few sprigs of dried lavender tucked into raffia. Even more fun (and hopefully coming soon…) a gift basket with homemade lavender soap, lavender body scrub, lavender lotion and lavender jelly. What a treat that would be for a special friend!