Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Homemade Toothpaste

My son is now 15 months old! He is walking, talking (his favorite words are Mama, Dada, duck, and uh oh!), and he just recently popped his first molar. Now that he is popping teeth in earnest (he is up to #11 with three more coming in), my husband and I are getting concerned about his oral hygiene. Before now, we would hand him his toddler toothbrush and watch as he chewed away on it, mimicking us as we brushed. We always made sure to give him water after juice or other sweets to rinse his mouth... But now, we want to start really brushing.

However, my husband has some concerns about fluoride found in toothpaste and in our city's water supply. For the most part, our son drinks spring water or breast milk, but we are wanting to eliminate fluoride as much as we can.

So, I've done a bit of research, and today, I made our first batch of homemade toothpaste!

Here's what you need to make your own:
-1 cup baking soda
-1/8 cup fine salt (You can leave out the salt if you want. I have seen other recipes call for 1/4 cup of salt, but I found that to be a bit too salty.)
-water (enough to give the mix a paste-like consistency)
-flavoring (a baking flavor, like peppermint, cinnamon, strawberry, lemon, etc.)

Combine your ingredients and store them in a clean container with a seal. Rubbermaid food containers work well, and are cheap! I found a nice, glass container with a seal lid for under $2.

In the end, you will have a liquid paste (about the consistency of glue) to brush your teeth with! It will not be foamy like commercial toothpaste, but it cleans sooo well and leaves your mouth feeling really fresh! The baking soda naturally eliminates odors in your mouth! Just make sure to use a soft-bristle brush...

Now I am not worried about my son swallowing toothpaste anymore! :oD Plus, we are lowering our impact on the environment by using a product without any unnatural chemicals and we are not producing any waste from the traditional toothpaste container and box. Bonus!!

Happy Creating!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Know your Oils: Olive oil

Olive oil! Everyone knows olive oil! A staple in the culinary world, the production of Olive oil is said to have began as early as 3500 BCE! Even Homer, the famous Greek behind The Odyssey and The Iliad is said to have called olive oil "liquid gold." The oil is extracted by pressing olives grown in the Mediterranean region of the world, and is used in cooking, soap making, and religious ceremonies!

Image courtesy of itsfordinner.com

Olive oil is an excellent base for soap, and is the main ingredient in all of our soaps! Olive oil creates a mild bar of soap that is good for all skin types. Some people even bathe their babies in pure olive oil soap due to its mildness! It is said that olive oil based soaps are excellent for helping to repair skin damage caused by wind, sun, or environmental hazards (like smoking and pollution).
Olive oil is also an excellent cleanser! I mean, soap is there to get you clean, right? Olive oil will adhere to dirt, which can be rinsed off, getting you cleaner! And olive oil will not clog your pores as it cleanses!
Olive oil is common in beauty regimens. Olive oil can be smoothed onto hair to create shine!

All of our soaps contain a base of olive oil, and we are working on a formula for castille soap, which is pure 100% olive oil! Make sure to check out my Etsy shop to see my olive oil based soaps.

For more info on olive oil, check out:
The Olive Oil Source
Olives 101

Happy Creating, everyone!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Why Handmade Soap?

I am sure that many of you who stumbled onto this blog must be thinking, Why should I use handmade soap? My commercial soap is just as good!

Well, I am here to tell you why!

Handmade soap is amazing! It is made using real oils, butters, and waxes, so you know that the stuff you are rubbing on your skin is natural! And when lye (sodium hydroxide) is added to these oils, a chemical reaction takes place that turns the oils into glycerine!

Wait, what? Your soaps have lye in them! I know what lye can do to someone! I've seen Fight Club!

Actually, once the chemical reaction takes place, and the soap has had ample time to cure, the lye is gone! All that is left is the byproduct, glycerine, which is a natural cleanser!

But, my soap from the store is working just fine.

Actually, did you know that most commercial "soaps" are actually not soap at all? If you look closely on most labels, your "soap" bars are actually called detergents or washes. These cleansers actually use synthetic chemicals to clean the body, rather than natural glycerine. In fact, most cleansers start off with glycerine, but the glycerine is removed! And most commercial cleansers contain paraffins and petrolium byproducts, which can be harmful to sensitive skin. In fact, doctors and midwives are now starting to sugest that pregnant women avoid cleansers with chemicals in them, like paraffins and propylene glycol.

So, now what?

Well, look into handmade soap! Always make sure to check the labels for products that might be irritants or cause allergic reactions. For instance, I have some soaps that are made with sweet almond oil. Folks allergic to almonds may need to steer clear! Handmade soaps can also contain colorants, both natural (like cocoa powder or parsley) or synthetic (such as micas or dyes). Scents can range from fragrance oils (synthetic) to essential oils (plant derived). (Caution: always check out a fragrance oil before using it! Certian ones can cause bodily complications! For instance, citrus EOs are known to make the skin more sensitive to the sun's rays, and rosemary EO is supposed to be avoided by folks with blood pressure problems!)
And many folks with various skin conditions, from mild sensitivities, to eczema and psoriasis have found that handmade soaps made with natural ingredients have helped ease their symptoms!

For more information on the benefits of handmade soap:
My Health and Fitness.com

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Craft Tutorial: Feather Quill Pen

For years, I have always loved the idea of writing letters and cards and poems with a real feather quill, dipping the ink in an ink pot and scribbling away... And I finally made it happen! I made my own feather quill!

Do you want to make one, too?
Then good! You are in the right place!

A feather (I used a big fake one from my hobby store.)
A quill nib (found in the calligraphy section, near the paint supplies)
Electrical tape
Hot glue gun with glue sticks

1. I first started by measuring out my feather's ends to "feel" like a pen in my hand, which turned out to be about half of the wire at the end. I folded it over using the pliers and used the electrical tape to tape the ends together.

2. After wrapping the tape down most of the wire, I attached the quill nib with hot glue and wrapped over the top with more tape.

3. I wrapped the tape over the wire about 3 more times to get the approximate thickness of a regular pen.

4. Using hot glue, I wrapped my ribbon over the tape.

And that's it! Super easy, and the pen works great! You can find loads of ink in a variety of colors in your local hobby store, or you can buy ink on Etsy! Here is a store that sells scented ink... Guess who might be getting some of it in her stocking at Christmas?!? :o)

Happy Crafting!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Know your Oils: Cocoa Butter

Photograph by AgricultureSouce.com

Cocoa Butter has been around a very long time in the culinary world as well as the cosmetic world. Cocoa butter is one of the main ingredients used in both milk chocolate and white chocolate. It is completely edible, and can be used in baked goods as well. The natural form of cocoa butter is a creamy color and has a slight chocolate smell to it!
In the world of cosmetics, cocoa butter has always been reccomended for pregnant women to help reduce stretch marks. It's also found in lip balms and products used to heal dry and cracked skin. It is a fantastic moustiruzer, and a pot of it can last for years!

When used in soap, cocoa butter helps to add hardness to the bar, as well as creamy lather when used. Its lovely moisturizing property can be found in soap when used to superfat, and it helps to create a barrier between the skin and the envorinment. And in regular cocoa butter, the cocoa smell will sometimes come through! Yummy! (Unscented cocoa butter can be found as well!)

You can find cocoa butter at most stores, but I buy mine from my local health food store. I actually try to look for the "Fair Trade" logo on most special oils that I buy. "Fair Trade" simply means that companies are committed to buying products (like cocoa butter and palm oil) from developing countries at fair prices. Fair Trade is also applied to other items, like fruit, wine, coffee (probably the most well known fair trade product), and gold, among others.

As of this writing, I have only used cocoa butter in one soap, which is currently in the "curing" stage. In the curing stage, cold process soaps are losing water and becoming hard. This soap (see right) was made with cocoa butter, colored with cocoa powder, and is scented with a fragrance oil called "Chestnuts and brown sugar", which is a sweet, rich, warm smell that goes along perfectly with the undertones of cocoa!

Happy creating, everyone!!