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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