Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Full Disclosure and Goodbye for Now

Okay folks, here's the scoop.

This post is probably going to be my last on this blog and though it somewhat pains me to admit that fact, I just have too much on my plate as a fiction author to leave stuff like this hanging out there untouched forever.

I'm learning the practice of letting go and it has truly been a blessing to let myself off the hook for trying to do everything. I have enough going on with my full time job to add even more to the pile.

Some things are going to fall off the back end. This blog is one of those things.

I'm a person who likes things natural, Green, environmentally conscious, and that won't change, but I'm also a person who likes to feel good. As my husband always says:

"Just because it's natural doesn't mean it's good for you." 
He's right.

The thing that sucks is when I have to admit he's right and stop trying to be "healthy" because it is messing with our health in the long run. I have finally learned what the word 'balance' really means.

Before I go for good though, I want to give an update on where our household stands on all things homemade, natural, organic and why we are at the place we are right now. Some things are left out there in limbo and you readers deserve a wrap-up on how, why, or why I'm not using those items anymore.

Oh, and FYI, none of the links in this post are affiliate links.

Toothpaste. Yes, I still love making our toothpaste and feel it does a fantastic job of cleaning our teeth. It is quick and fairly simple and now that I have the formula down I know it not only saves us money in the long run but does the job without chemicals. If I decide to give up everything else, the toothpaste will be the one thing I don't stop making.

Body lotion. I made a batch early last summer and I loved it. The stuff was like visiting a tropical island where the air hints at coconut, lemon, lime, warm breezes, and sunshine. It melted into my skin and felt ah-mazing. But then the moisture of the tropics came to the inside of the jar and the stuff started to mold. After only a couple weeks. I thought that was weird because I use primarily shelf-stable ingredients and in the past had a jar last upwards of 5 months with no trouble. Also, I never reach into the jar or place it near water. I tried again. Same result. I don't know what happened because none of my ingredients had issues. Instead of wasting more shea/cocoa butter and essential oils I stopped making my own and started experimenting with commercially available products from handmade sellers. I haven't settled on any one product yet and that's okay. Someday I'll find my go-to.

Laundry detergent. Oh boy, this one is the biggie. I was so thrilled to find a formula that seemed to get our clothes clean. The problem: it started causing major skin irritation in some of our, let's just say, more sensitive areas. At first I didn't know it was the detergent so it took some time to figure out but once I did realize what was going on I had a half a gallon of useless liquid left over. I did a LOT of research after that debacle and ended up buying Biokleen Laundry Liquid last July. It gets an A rating from ewg.org and that's good enough for me. The best news: I spent $27.00 to buy the 150 oz. and I'm only about halfway through the bottle. The stuff is super concentrated and we have an HE washer so it lets us use even less. Clothes are clean, non-irritating, and at an average of 4 loads per week I spend about $0.14 per load. More expensive than making my own but less irritating and still super cheap compared to a name brand jug of chemicals.

Lip balm. I will continue to make this forever. It moisturizes, lasts longer than petroleum based sticks, and is low on the time investment scale.

Other stuff. Makeup is my next hurdle. I've noticed recently that I sometimes get headaches after wearing chemical based crap all day. No thanks. I'm switching over to RMS Beauty, Ilia, Alima Pure, Au Naturale, Beauty by Earth, Afterglow Cosmetics, or other organic based products with an ewg rating under 3. The challenge here will be to buy just what I need because some of those products are CRAY expensive! And as a person who believes environment means personal, local, and global, I won't break my bank just to look pretty for the 3 times a week I leave the house.

Haircare is under total control with Shea Moisture. I love it and though some products rate a bit higher than I'd like, everything I use is under 3.

Soap and deodorant were two fails when I tried to make my own. And other producers just make them better. For the past year I've been using Aspen Kay Naturals dead sea and Neem soap bars. I love it and for the first time my skin isn't dry after a shower. I barely even need lotion. Recently though, my friend turned me on to Hickory Ridge Organics soap and so far I'm loving the Balinese Coffee body soap. She also sells a deodorant I'm planning to try and her moisturizer bars look (and smell) good enough to eat! They are a bit pricey and could melt in transit from FL so if anyone knows of a similar seller here in AZ I'd love to check them out. Leave me a comment!

Food is another area where we have tried to streamline. Within the next year Matt should have his garden up and going but in the meantime I buy organic wherever possible, try to shop at the Farmer's Market when I can, and we are now getting weekly delivery of SunBasket. Organic and locally sourced when possible, their meals (and even the recycled packaging) are fantastic. It runs us about $75 per week for the 3 meals but that has actually saved us money because we eat every bite of food we make (no tossing leftovers anymore) and I don't over-buy at the store only to toss things gone bad later. 

So there you have it. Bottom line, I'm done trying to be a chemist who handcrafts everything. Between life, work, and hobbies I'm a busy gal with less and less time on my hands every day. I will happily transition back to commerce to free up more of that limited time as well as help support some smaller businesses who are much better at doing all of this than I am.

Like I said, this is likely my last post over here so I want to thank all of you who have stuck with me through the last ten years as this blog transitioned to many different iterations from where it began. Your loyalty has meant so much.

I'm streamlined now so if you want to find me and my opinions online, visit my personal blog
Randomness and Lunacy
or my author page on Amazon.

Again, thanks for being here and I wish all of you a long, healthy life xoxo

• • • • • • • • • • • PLEASE NOTE:

1) A new window opens when you click to comment.
2) Comments on posts older than 3 days will be moderated. Spam will be deleted. I am the sole decision maker on what constitutes spam. Anonymous comments are no longer accepted.
3) Nothing in this blog is meant to treat, cure, diagnose or otherwise fix anyone's ailments. I am not a doctor or other medical professional. Each post is simply an opinion of how something performs for me personally. Reading this blog or trying to make these products for yourself isn't advice for how to take care of yourself and shouldn't be construed as such. Always seek the advice of a medical professional.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

New Liquid Laundry Detergent Recipe

After what I’m now calling “The Great Shave Butter Mishap of 2016”, I got back to making some of the stuff that I love to make and have mastered. (Because I needed a win after all that razor burn.)

First, I was out of lip balm so I melted to fill up about 4 tubes of a lemon-lime scented stick. Made with Shea butter, coconut oil and beeswax. Plus the E.O. of course.

Next, I tried my hand at another body butter. I wanted one of those really whippy type ones that basically melt on your skin when applied.

The good news on that one, I think I got a perfect recipe for winter in Phoenix. The bad news is that our summers require me to use cocoa butter. That isn’t bad because it will help the mix to hold the shape better. I just know it will kill a bit of the key lime smell and replace it with chocolate.

I guess I’ll smell like key lime white chocolate all summer. There could be worse things.

Finally, we were out of laundry detergent. I’d developed one a while back that seemed to work pretty good. I like using liquid because our water in Phoenix is some of the hardest in the country. Melting soap products in cold water is almost impossible. Liquid works so much better for our clothes if I need to use cold.

The last time I made it, I stored it in a 1 gal jug left over from white vinegar, washed a few times. The bottle is translucent so I could see what was going on in there. The detergent looked like grey water except the top layer. That was thick and like the gel I expected.

Only problem – once that layer was gone the soap wasn’t all that soapy anymore. No matter how much I shook it or stirred, that laundry martini just didn’t blend right. It surprised me I hadn’t noticed it before when pouring into the measuring cup.

Instead of using liquid castile soap this time I decided to try the “even more effort” method and grated bar soap. I read a lot of reviews, forums, bloggers and decided to try my hand at grating and melting Fels-Naptha instead of the Dr. Bronner’s I tried last time.

This was for two reasons:

1. Fels-Naptha was available where I was shopping.
2. Dr. Bronner’s bar soap was not.

The Green community is divided on some of the ingredients in Fels-Naptha. I can understand that because a few things aren’t necessarily super, like talc, tallow (for Vegans), titanium dioxide. So the ones I wasn’t sure about I researched on ewg.org.

After reading all kinds of sciency speak, I feel okay about using it in my detergent. Here’s why.

1. I’m not Vegan so the tallow issue isn’t one for me.
2. Talc is something I’m on the fence about. I wouldn’t want to use it on sensitive skin as an absorbent, on my underarms for example, but as something that will wash fully out of fabrics? I have no problem with that.
3. For all of the ingredients I worried about I researched them on ewg.org and none of them went above a 3. Yes, on their scale, a 3 falls in moderate range but it’s at the lowest of that mid-range category. I’m okay with that too.

So I did some research and liked the basis of this recipe on Mrs. Happy Homemaker. I use washing soda and Castile soap normally and, yes, I also support the use of Borax. Someday I’ll do my big write up on why I say yes to Borax in limited quantity but let’s get back to the recipe.

I divided her recipe (measuring on the scale and dividing by 5 then converting to ounces for easier matching with how the soap was measured). I usually only make a gallon at a time. It’s easier to store it in our very small laundry space that way.

So far, I’m loving it! The consistency was a little thicker than my old stuff. It seemed to dilute perfectly in a load of laundry and everything came out smelling like clothes, not nasty Phoenix-in-the-summer pits.


This gallon should last me for 32 loads of laundry because I tend to do mid-sized loads and use about a half cup per load. I’m not doing the math on cost per load (because I know I’m saving money there) but I’ll give the overview of the total cost.

I used to buy the big spigot style blue stuff at a big box store. It would last through about 64 loads and cost about $20 with tax.

(I do an average of 4 loads of laundry a week including sheets, towels, blankets, guest linens, cleaning cloths/pads, and clothes. Blue stuff would last, on average, 4 months. Annual cost $60.)

In contrast, with my homemade stuff, I do have to invest some time to make it (only about 15 total minutes, far less than driving to the store) and the shopping part is far less frequent. And I don’t dispose of a container every time I purchase. I just mix and store in a lidded glass jar.

I bought the box of washing soda about a year ago when I first started making my own detergent. That was about $5. The Borax 6 months ago for $5. Which should last a year, the box is only half empty now. The Fels-Naptha will make 5 gallons worth of detergent, and with each gallon lasting about 2 months, the bar will make it about 10 months. This bar was just under $1. So with the extra 2 month share the soap registers at $1.20.

Total for a year’s worth of my detergent?


A year.

Sure, it takes time to grate and melt soap. (About 2 minutes to grate, 10 to melt)

Sure, it takes time to mix then wait for the stuff to set. (About 3 minutes, then, 24 hours)

Sure, it seems easier to just buy the stuff with the spigot. But another $48.80 in my pocket doesn’t sound too bad. And frankly, if I can avoid having to go shopping I’m a happy girl.


My New Liquid Laundry Detergent

CONVERSION: 5 Gal --> 1 Gal recipe reduction

I converted cups into ounces for measuring using the Tare feature on my scale.

1 cup Borax = 8 oz.
1 cup washing soda = 8 oz.
1 bar Fels-Naptha labeled at 5 oz.

For 1 gallon I divide each by 5.

Here’s my recipe and instructions:

1.6 oz Borax
1.6 oz. Washing Soda
1 oz. Fels-Naptha (grated)
Lavender essential oil (EO, optional)
Metal pan (for melting soap)
Glass jar/jug (with a lid)
Pot holders

1. Grate the soap and melt in about 1 cup of water, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, heat set at just past medium on the stovetop. (About 9-10 minutes)

2. Put the washing soda and Borax in the glass jar/jug, fill about halfway with very warm water, stir or cap and shake until the powders are dissolved. The water shouldn’t be clear. The glass will get hot, pot holders with silicone will help keep a grip on the glass as you shake, shake, shake.

3. Add your EO to the melted soap and stir in before adding to the water. I used about 25 or 30 drops of lavender but the Fels-Naptha has a smell too, an interesting combination.

4. Pour the soap and oil mixture into the jar/jug and stir lightly to combine. (Mine started to congeal a bit at this stage) Fill the jug the rest of the way with warm water, stir one last time and cap.

5. Let it sit, covered, for a full day to set and cool completely.

Very important: If you make this in an old plastic bottle or other flexible vessel don’t cap tight, leave a little air gap for heat to escape as it cools. If its closed all the way the sides can pull in as the steam gets trapped and it could explode open. That’s why I use glass, no expand or contract issues!

6. I have an immersion hand blender, which I used to get everything blended up smooth. We’ll see if that lasts in the heat of my garage. Things could separate, I’ll keep you posted.

7. Label it so everyone in the house knows this is soap. This should be fine for all top loading machines, that’s what we have and haven’t had any problems. Not sure how it would do in an HE since I don’t have one.


And that’s it. Easy breezy George and Weezy!

What do you like to use to clean your clothes? Does your water make a difference? Your appliances?

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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Highs and Lows of Creating DIY Beauty Products

Recently back from a week in a humid location, my husband and I noticed something about our old friend humidity. We loved it!

As soon as the door opened to the jetway back at Sky Harbor we both started losing moisture from our skin. And let me tell you, for the week we were traveling our skin felt and looked better than it had since we moved to AZ.

For 5 years now we’ve forced ourselves to suffer. Well, suffer no more I say!

In recent years I’ve been on a mission to naturalize our home and beauty products.

It started with toothpaste, which we still use and love. Then I moved on to laundry detergent (also, love), eliminated even more chemicals with wool dryer balls, then went all-in and started buying a bunch of stuff in bulk.

Shea butter, cocoa butter, beeswax, arrowroot powder (because I had/have dreams of creating makeup), vinegar, baking soda, liquid castile soap, essential oils, coconut oil by the truckload…

And then it was time to start experimenting. So experiment I did, with mixed results.

I blame it on my inability to sit still during science classes 30 years ago. That and the fact we never learned about this kind of stuff in school to begin with– why do some oils need to be heated, what does it do to the properties of the molecule, why does that make it more likely to mix with another element, how come some things don’t mix, why do I need a carrier oil when using essential oils…

If they taught that shit in high school I’d be a master mixer by this point and probably would have gotten better than a C in science. But here I am, still learning today!

The good news? I’m a grownup now and get to do my research without the silly grading system or pressure to perform during the school year. So, with the time to properly learn and give things a try, I’ve managed to test out quite a few home products.

Here’s how things are going so far:

  • Lip balm – epic win!
  • Body butter – semi-win (turned out a little too solid, less cocoa butter next time).
  • Toothpaste – epic win!
  • Face lotion – win.
  • Lip gloss – meh (beet root powder didn’t blend well with coconut oil).
  • Face powder – meh (I don’t love loose powder but the color was okay).
  • Shampoo – EPIC fail (can we say greasy oil slick?)!
  • Deodorant – fail (either too loose or too solid).

The 2 things I was skittish on trying my hand at making? Body wash and shave cream/lotion. Which might sound strange but I didn’t want anything that would cause my klutzy self to take a dive in that wet location.

So I put it off until last week. Why last week? Last week a new, shiny product arrived in the house and rekindled my inspiration for creating shower products!

Allow me a minute to explain how that particular product came to be in our house.

One of the other things I’ve been doing in recent years is really looking at all the items we purchase and “consume” in addition to food. For example, my shaving razors.

I might go hippie chick to a point but I love being a modern American hippie girl. That smooth leg, pit, and bikini line feeling is something I love on my body so I don’t plan to give it up anytime soon. Of course, that means limited choices and I have to pick one.

Laser hair removal. I’m torn on this one. On the one hand I’d be altering the natural rhythm of my body by literally killing the hair root so it simply stops growing forever. On the other hand, it stops growing forever! Eventually. After a certain number of treatments I could stop spending time/effort/money on any or all of the rest of this list. It’s tempting. But cost prohibitive. Next…

Waxing. Never done it. Very skittish of pain. Plus, it isn’t one and done, I’d have to keep paying someone else to hurt me on purpose and let the hair grow out in the meantime. If I wanted pain on purpose I’d go get another tattoo, thanks. Next…

Esthetician. Do they still use those swirling at light-speed, rip your hair out, tweezer in a container things? Not sure I want to find out. And speaking of Tweezers, um, no. That’s okay for my brows but not so much for legs. Next…

Removal cream. For a while this seemed like the ultimate idea – no nicks, no razor burn, slop it on and it’s 3 minutes to done! – but then I realized  what I’m really doing is giving my entire leg a chemical burn/peel. Absorbing all that crap into my body. Eek. Next…

Electric razor. So my MIL told me that’s what she uses. Sounded so smart! I tested it out on my legs using my husband’s (thanks Matt!) but quickly discovered that process isn’t for me. The thing felt awesome at first, gliding over my leg with ease. Until I saw the blood. Worst nicking/razor burn of my life and I tried both wet and dry. Next…

Disposable razors. Ah yes, the trusty old standby. The port in the storm. And probably the single most expensive piece of equipment in my bathroom. As a girl (because you know our products are always “better designed for women” AKA: more expensive for the same shiz the guys use) I can buy a 4 pack of the moisture strip razors for about $25. With legs to shave (even ones as short as mine) and various other bits and parts, I spent that $25 about once a month. Yes, that’s hovering at $300 every year just to feel sexy!

Now before you get all in my face about “feeling sexy starts on the inside” remember I told you I like my smooth legs for me. Because I feel sexy. So there it is. I buy into the line they feed me and I don’t really care because it makes me feel good.

But I digress…

Since the other options weren’t going to work for me for various reasons I settled on the fact that I’d be buying disposable razors for the rest of my I-still-want-to-feel-sexy life. So I started doing my research and even though it seemed like a gimmick at first, I’m the newest member of the Dollar Shave Club.

I used to use men’s razors all the time. My shin bones are prominent and women’s razors never seem to have the ability to bend. It’s probably because of the pounds worth of “moisturizer” they surround the blade with, trying to convince us that it might actually provide moisture.

It doesn’t.

Because it’s nothing more than a chemical compound that leaves a film of crap on my skin which supposedly allows the razor to glide across my skin.

Again, it doesn’t.

Most of the time I’d have worse razor burn with a first use of a women’s razor than a third use of the men’s. But men’s razors are pretty expensive too so I wanted something more pocket friendly. Enter DSC.

I’m only into my first month but I love the razors. They have some give in the blade head to get through problem areas but don’t have a ton of bells and whistles. They don’t try to convince you that a Dyson roller ball in the middle of your razor or a pound of moisturizer are essential to shaving.

When I ordered it was just the razor but of course they sent me a sample of their Dr. Carver’s Easy Shave Butter. I tried it.

Ho-lee heaven!

Thing is, the site says it uses sea algae and oats and barley and prickly pear cactus but the full ingredients list isn’t available on my little sample. Because I wasn’t sure I tried to make my own.

Based on a few bloggers I love, I tested out a few different recipes to see what might work the best. I came up with one using Shea butter, coconut oil, sweet almond oil, liquid castile soap, and lavender E.O.

Now here’s where things get tricky.

I whipped it so it could go into one of these open end tubes I bought back when I started making toothpaste (the tubes are too huge for the paste, we use a glass container and butter knife to apply to our toothbrushes). It scooped okay but my formula may have been a bit off because it started to fall and slightly separate as I spooned it into the tube.

But I persevered and tried it yesterday.


It didn’t dry out my legs.
It smells awesome.
It glides on, sort of.
It is all natural.

But like Matt always says: Just because it’s natural doesn’t mean it’s good for you.

My razor clogged with every swipe. Which I didn’t realize until I pulled it up my shin 2-3 times, knowing right away I’d have razor burn (it was mild, I’ll say that much, but it was there). And the water wasted down the drain while I spent so much time cleaning out my razor hardly seems environmentally friendly.

The razor had only been used 1 other time so it wasn’t dull blades. In fact, I tried it after shaving my legs on my pits using the last of the DSC shave butter and it was a-ok.

Meaning I needed to track down an ingredients list for the shave butter.

According to Badger & Blade this is what you’ll find in the Dr. Carver’s Easy Shave Butter:

Water, Cetearyl Alcohol, Glycerin, Cyclopentasiloxane, Behentrimonium Methosulfate, Macadamia Ternifolia Seed Oil, Grape Seed Oil, Oat Kernel Extract, Willow Bark Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Algae Extract, Papaya Fruit Extract, Pineapple Fruit Extract, Camelia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Panax Ginsing Root Extract, Propanediol, Cyclohexasiloxane, Dimethicone, Phospholipids, Retinyl Palmitate, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Leuconostoc/Radish Root Ferment Filtrate, Hydrolyzed Barley Protein, Opuntia Ficus-Indica Stem Extract, Orange Peel Extract, Rosemary Leaf Oil, Lavender Oil, Eucalyptus Globulus Leaf Oil, Dimethiconol, Potassium Sorbate, Hydroxypropyl Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride, Disodium EDTA, Ethylhexyglycerin, Phenoxyethanol.
No parabens, no animal testing. (Good, but not enough)

I got to the 4th ingredient, looked it up and sighed. It’s a silicone. And a potentially scary one at that.

Sorry DSC but when the EWG deems an ingredient to be “bioaccumulative” with the potential for endocrine disruption, cancer, and neurotoxicity, I throw it away and don’t look back.

Razors? Check! Butter? Back to the mixing bowl.

Have you ever made your own shave butter/lotion/gel? What ingredients do you use and what would be your deal breakers if they were involved? Have you found a readily available all-natural product you could recommend? Leave a comment and let us know!

• • • • • • • • • • • 
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Tuesday, December 1, 2015

DIY Whipped Body Butter and Other Stuff I Make on the Cheap

Just a quick note:

Blogger is being a PITA, every time I try to upload an image it pops up a sign-in request which loops back to the same sign-in request over and over, meaning I can't upload any images into the post. I apologize for that and will edit with images if this glitch ever gets fixed. Thanks for understanding and now, on to the post!

Good morning greenies!

It’s been some time since I’ve posted here, the last post was all about homemade toothpaste. But I promise, I have a good reason for my disappearing act.

For the past 11 months I’ve been a pretty busy gal. Between work (released two books this year which you can see at my Amazon author page) and figuring out ways to homestead(ish) in the city, my time to write about greener experiences has been limited.
Because I’ve been living them!

But today I’m going to give you a post-game wrap up of all things homemade that I’ve been working on for the past year. Hopefully it will inspire you to get out there and give DIY a try in 2016!

Before we go any further I want you to be aware that there are affiliate links in this post, that means if you purchase the products (other than my books above) you’ll pay nothing extra but I’ll make a small commission. It helps fund my green endeavors and I appreciate the support!

Now, with that said…

First up – whipped body butter

I’m a regular reader of (okay, I admit, I’m obsessed with) Katie, AKA: Wellness Mama. She’s been doing this stuff for a long time and has a good mind for creating healthful products from scratch.

So when I wanted to try my hand at a body lotion, her blog was the first place I went for inspiration.

I was excited to see that most of the ingredients she suggested were ones I already had in my closet/cabinets and some of the same ingredients I was considering using in my formula!

For this recipe I used:

The first thing I did was work out ratios. For this recipe I used: 2oz = 1 part (1 part can be anything you like – a pound, 6oz, ¼oz – whatever works for the needs you have).

Because, while Katie has a family to use up the items she creates, over here in Casa de Shon there’s just Matt and myself (and sometimes, like in this case, I’m the only one using the item in question).

Determining ratios helps with a couple things:

1. I can reduce / increase as necessary so my product fits in the container.
2. I want it to remain shelf-stable until I run out (nothing extra / wasted!).

Of course, #2 isn’t going to be a problem. I live in the desert. I’m using this stuff at least 3 times a day!

But here’s the thing, I’m kind of a lazy homesteader. There, I said it. I just loathe spending tons of time because I have a day job and a life to live on top of doing all this green stuff. I want things as efficient as possible so I can get in, get out and get it done.

That’s why I use a crock pot instead of a double boiler.

It’s one of the small ones but it works great – 1 “pan” = minimal cleanup. Convenient, efficient and simple…what’s not to love!?!

Here’s how I do it:

1 part cocoa butter
1 part shea butter
1-¼ parts coconut oil
¾ part sweet almond oil

Put everything in the crock pot, heat on warm until melted – stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon. Stir in 20 or so drops EO of choice. Put in fridge** for an hour and a half. Reheat on warm setting and add more cocoa butter (because mine was staying liquid, if yours starts to set don’t add more), stirring until melted. I put the crockpot back in the fridge and left it there overnight. Next morning it was hardened completely. Put on counter and once at room temp (3 or 4 hours), whip with a hand mixer until it resembles meringue. Scoop into container and / or slather all over your lizard-like skin. (Oh, that’s just me?)

In the winter it gets chilly in my house, so everything gets a bit more solid, but this stuff scoops right out of the container no problem and it’s light, fluffy and so chocolatey smelling!

I love using this after I shave my legs, all day as a hand moisturizer, and anytime I need a healthy glow to my skin.

A couple notes:

1. This doesn’t “spread” like a commercial lotion.
2. As you warm it in your hands it will resemble melting butter.
3. The oils can stain clothes, wait about 5 or 10 minutes after applying before dressing.
4. This won’t cure anything but it sure feels wonderful and is chemical free.
5. So far I’m on my second batch and haven’t had any problems with shelf stability (each lasting about 4+ months, I use a gasket air-tight glass jar and don’t let water creep in to harbor bacteria).

What else have I been working on?

This year has been about lots of experimentation with various household and beauty products. Some of which I’ve mastered (hello never having to buy lip balm again!), while others are taking numerous tries to get good enough that I’m comfortable sharing my method (I’m looking at you deodorant!).

Now, it may seem like a lot of money spent and up front, it is. But in the end I’m actually saving. I buy my ingredients in bulk and the good news is I can use many of the same ingredients across multiple items.

For example, in the past 2 years we would have bought a tube of toothpaste roughly every 2 months. That’s 12 tubes, at about $5 per tube we would have spent $60.

As of right now I’m still on the original box of baking soda ($4), vat of coconut oil ($25) and peppermint EO ($14).

Add it up and in 2 years I’ve spent $43 on toothpaste. It may not seem like $17 is much but all those $17 items add up over time and help our one income family live more healthful, planet conscious and frugally. And don’t forget, the coconut oil is also used for more than half my beauty products as well as our cooking oil when needed.

In the last couple years or so I’ve managed to switch over to the following chemical-free products:

  • Lip balm
  • Shampoo / conditioner (so much fail in this experiment, I use Shea Moisture brand now)
  • Wool dryer balls (best investment ever!)
  • Cleaning products (lemon juice, vinegar, baking soda – that’s it)
  • Laundry detergent (summers bode well for liquid, sadly winters in my garage are cold so I’m testing different powdered formulas now to see what works best with our hard water & will report back eventually)
  • Hair color (henna rocks)
  • Deodorant (I’ll get this one eventually but for now using Tom’s of Maine)
  • Candles (I use a wax burner, beeswax and a couple drops of EO)
  • Toothpaste
  • Face lotion (straight coconut oil works just perfect for me but some people have issues because it can clog pores so be aware)

Next on the list of items to DIY for health?

  • Body wash (exfoliating)
  • Dish soap
  • Dishwasher packs
  • Hairspray
  • Makeup (which I’ve started experimenting with and hope to get at least 1 good cover stick, loose powder recipe by next year)
  • Air freshener / fabric refresher

And that may not be everything but it sure feels great to be living more healthfully!

How about you? What commercially produced, chemical-laden products are you trying to replace in your house? Share your recipes in the comments!

**if you go right to the fridge it can strain the cold glass shelves, use a hand towel under the ceramic vessel to protect both from breaking.

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Sunday, January 18, 2015

The Great Homemade Toothpaste Experiment of 2014

For the past year or so I’ve been really thinking about the impact that chemicals and additives have on our bodies. I stopped drinking soda years ago and that seemed smart but in recent months I’ve been even more concerned about the other stuff.

Stuff like cleaning products, deodorant, toothpaste.

For the most part Matt and I have gone straight vinegar now for all of our cleaning needs. It works awesome at breaking down the calcified water we have here in Phoenix. Plus it’s:

  • Virtually streak free
  • Known to have anti-bacterial properties
  • Got an odor that dissipates quickly
  • Natural (so I don’t need to wear gloves while cleaning)
  • Not harmful if the fumes are inhaled

So I’ve been on the prowl for other stuff like that and over the summer I started what I’m now calling the Great Homemade Toothpaste Experiment of 2014!

I believe after some trial and MAJOR error (more on that in a bit) I’ve perfected a toothpaste that is refreshing, effective and costs next to nothing.

I’m going to switch up everything so I started here

Anyone who has been reading my blog for a while knows that one of my very favorite things is to explore new ideas in eco-friendly living.

Over the years I’ve tried all kinds of products touted as Green. A company would send an item for me to try. It was kind of cool to get free merch in exchange for an honest review.

But as far as I’m concerned, the Greenest possible option was not having all that extraneous stuff hanging around doing nothing.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that goes for ingredients too.

So I started doing all kinds of research, trial and error creation, and now (on our 5th batch of homemade toothpaste) we’ve got a version that really works!

The general disclaimer

Please note that this isn’t meant to cure, diagnose or treat any health issues. I’m not a doctor or other health pro so I can’t offer advice on your ailments or maladies. This formula works for me but may not be right for everybody.

I’m only a Greenie with a blog. But, just because it worked for me doesn’t mean it will work for you. Use your own best judgment and/or consult your healthcare professional.

Got all that? Good. Now, on with the details!

Ingredients and information

2 Tbsp baking soda
2-ish Tbsp coconut oil
20+ drops Peppermint essential oil
10+ drops Organic Liquid Stevia (optional)

Let’s talk for a second about each ingredient.

Baking soda is a very mild abrasive. It only took a couple days for my mouth to get used to this ingredient and now I feel like my mouth is less clean if I have to use a commercial paste.

Coconut oil is the carrier oil. Basically that means it will “carry” the peppermint, Stevia, etc. to the corners of your mouth. It also helps dilute and spread the peppermint around the mixture itself.

Essential oil is the flavoring. Trust me, you probably want something because baking soda is not delicious. A word of caution: use a food or therapeutic grade oil, NOT Aromatherapy grade. Some oils are better than others; test on your arm or other inconspicuous place to make sure it won’t bother you before making a batch of toothpaste. For example, cinnamon can be an irritant for some people. Do research!

Organic Liquid Stevia is a natural sweetener. I like using a bit to cut the peppermint. Stevia is a plant based product. If you’re looking for some extra info on this herb check out this resource. I use it instead of xylitol because I’m still not convinced that xylitol is healthy.

Now, on to the mixing!

Remember I said I had a MAJOR error? Here’s where I went a little awry.

On the first try I added the coconut oil to the baking soda and then added the peppermint and sweetener.

BAD idea!

The carrier oil didn’t carry the essential oil as far as I would have liked. There was way too much coconut oil and my mix was nothing like toothpaste consistency.

Because baking soda is sodium bicarbonate – salt – it’s inherent flavor can be a little off-putting (to say the least!).

In that first batch, Matt and I were brushing with a soupy version of lightly pepperminted ocean water.


We used the whole batch of it (because we’re troopers and don’t like wasting stuff) but both of us were concerned that to be Green we’d actually turn green every time we brushed our teeth!

The second time around I got a little creative and that’s when we realized this whole thing was going to work out just fine.

Here’s what to do:

Put your baking soda into your toothpaste storage container.

Next, add most of the peppermint you plan to add (I generally use about 20-25 drops in total so I’d add about 15-20 drops at this stage).

Add in about half of the Stevia drops you plan to use.

With a small fork, blend the three ingredients together really well by smushing, mashing and stirring. The mixture should still be dry looking.

Slowly add coconut oil until the mixture gets to toothpaste consistency. Sometimes that’s a full 2 Tbsp and other times it’s not, so pour and stir slowly.

Finally, taste test a small dot of the mixture. Continue to add a small number of drops of essential oil and/or Stevia until it gets to the flavor you want. (Rinse and spit it out)

Keep in mind what happens when water and oil touch - the oil will spread. Too much peppermint can make it feel like your mouth is on fire. Use your best judgment.

My final thoughts on all things homemade toothpaste

After doing this for the past 6 or so months I’ve got a few observations to share:

  • One batch lasts about a month for two of us brushing twice a day.
  • I like to do a brushing rinse after spitting out the paste.
  • A pea sized blob is plenty.
  • I start by brushing “dry” (AKA – don’t put the brush under water or you’ll lose some of the oil’s benefit).
  • We scoop the paste out with a separate tool so no water enters the paste container which could add bacteria and shorten shelf life.
  • My teeth have actually whitened a bit since starting to use this paste.
  • This stuff is all pretty shelf stable for up to about 6 months (but we’ve never had it last that long!)
  • My mouth feels clean and refreshed every time I brush.
  • I’ll likely never go back to conventional paste.

If for no other reason than cost benefit!

I haven’t done the exact math yet (because I’ve had all the ingredients for months and use them in different stuff as well as the paste) but suffice to say the Stevia and baking soda aren’t even half empty. I’ve only had to replace the peppermint once. Buying a gallon of coconut oil brings the price down to pennies per Tbsp.

**Here’s the exact ingredients I use**

**Please note that there are affiliate links so if you purchase any of the products from these links I’ll make a commission but you won’t pay anything extra**

Baking soda has experienced some controversy in recent years. The alleged aluminum debate rages on. If you want to know why I don’t mind using this product as packaged from a big box store (until it is gone) this article should explain it nicely. 

Like I said before, I’m not trying to treat or diagnose any ailments, so use your own judgment if you decide to try this or any other variation of this recipe.

My next experiments will include laundry detergent, body lotion, deodorant, face lotion, lip gloss and chapstick. Wish me luck! 

Have you tried any experiments at making more natural versions of everyday products? How many tries did it take before you got it right? Does it save you money? Share in the comments!

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PLEASE NOTE: Comments on posts older than 3 days will be moderated. Spam will be deleted. Blog Administrator is the sole decision maker on what constitutes spam. Anonymous comments are no longer accepted.