Tripod Thursdays-Birthday Trip Scenery

These pictures are all from Kentucky, Ohio and Indianan. The river views are the Ohio River, the Cincinnati, OH. and the Covington, KY sides, and then the later river shots are from Indiana, near Vevay.

What's Happening Wednesday-Updates and New Items

I am excited because I just received two new silicone molds. They are supposed to be for baking treats, but of course they will be for soap! The bar one is a tad narrow, but I think it will be just the right size for camping and shampoo bars. And of course the hearts are just too cute for guest soaps. 

Speaking of soap, I have changed my soap packaging! I would tell you all about it, but then I would have to kill you! Lol. Seriously though, I have gone to a box for my store soaps and they also have a strip of seed paper included, so buyers can plant and grow herbs with each soap purchased.

I am now in the process of planning my holiday soaps and lotion fragrances, as well as some special packaging. I have included a picture of what is called a box basket. These come in two sizes, the small one is pictured here. They come in a variety of prints, from sports to holiday themes. Of course I am ordering some florals, but I am also getting some Christmas boxes for in store placement of gift sets.

                                                     This is orange Clover soap
                                              This is Blackberry, Cedar, and Sage 

                                      This is Kumquat and Lime

This is called 
Splendor in the Grass, it is a proprietary blend 

These are new molds 

This is one of the box baskets that I am getting for gift sets. I don't think I will put the white paper in it though, I think green would look better.

I currently have 50 batches of soap, all different fragrances. About 12 of those are still curing, having several to just a few more weeks until they are ready to go. But the past couple of weeks I have slacked of the soap making and been concentrating more on writing my essential oil book, as well as taking care of some other business obligations. And next month will be very busy, as I will begin making the melting snowmen and glass snowman ornaments. While I have always waited until August, I have so much to accomplish this year, that I have to begin early! 

So there you have what's happening with me this Wednesday, what's going on at your place? Tomorrow's tripod Thursday will be of scenery taken during my 50th birthday celebration. Beautiful river shots, and the Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky country side! 

Teaching Tuesdays -The How and Why of Exfoliating!

While exfoliation is a major part of a day at the spa, do you understand the why of it? Do you know how to do it properly at home? Well, you will after this post, so hang in there with me!

While exfoliation techniques vary, the two-fold purpose remains the same. First of all, exfoliation removes dirt and oil residue from the surface of the skin, as well as the uppermost layer of dead skin cells.  Removal of these dead cells enables the skin to absorb or react to products which are utilized in treatments  following the exfoliation process. And this is the second reason for performing exfoliation, it prepares the skin for any subsequent treatments.

While the affects above are reason enough to include exfoliation in your skin care regimen, there are additional healthful benefits. The act of exfoliation also helps to stimulate and circulate lymph fluids which aid in the elimination of toxins. It also serves as a stimulating massage, which improves over-all circulation.  Additionally, it affects the secretion and, in turn, the production of the body's natural oils. This is extremely valuable in regard to the skin's over-all health, its moisture level, and its ability to protect (which is one of its main jobs). 

Since exfoliation should be a regular and important part of your skin care routine, it is important to know how to properly perform it. First of all, you need to make sure that you have the appropriate body-scrubbing tools. Sisal mitts, towels, loofahs, abrasive sponges and stiff brushes will all work. Remember that we are discussing exfoliating the body, not the face. 

Once you have a tool that you like, you should begin to scrub your body on a daily basis, even if its just for a quick, five minute treatment. When scrubbing for the first time you should be extra gentle, ensuring that you do not irritate or abrade the skin. Continuing the process will eventually allow you to scrub more vigorously, while applying more pressure, but it takes time to get your skin use to it. Also, since all this scrubbing is revitalizing and energizing, it is better utilized in your morning routine, rather than an evening one.

To exfoliate, take your scrubbing tool of choice and begin with your feet, ankles and legs. Working in a circular motion, gently, but firmly, apply an even pressure as you work. keep working, going from the hands to arms and shoulders, gradually working your way down the back, then up through the torso toward the heart. 

Once you are finished, a cool water rinse will help to further encourage good blood circulation! Remember to pat dry, no rub, and don't forget the next step is to properly moisturize. You also need to wash the scrubbing tools thoroughly with soap and water, and allow to air dry. It is best to hang them up so that the air circulation is maximized. Proper cleaning and drying is extremely important, as they can develop nasty bacteria pretty quickly. 

One quick and easy body scrub to help in your exfoliating is just 1/2 cup of sea salts, 1/4 cup of the carrier oil of your choice, and the tool of your choice. Just dip the scrub tool in a bit of the oil, then dip it into the salt. Rub over the skin in a circular motion, following the instructions above. Pay special attention to the rough spots like the knees, elbows, and heels. When finished, rinse off, pat dry and moisturize. As mentioned before, the exfoliating will prepare your skin to accept the following treatment. So it will soak up more of any moisturizer that you use.   

Make It Yourself Monday- Fishing Treats

Here's a healthy dog treat recipe for the fur ball in your home!

1 15oz can of Salmon or Jack Mackerel
· a small amount of  flour
· 2 tsp of salt
· 1 tsp baking powder
· Optional: add sprinkle of garlic powder if desired

Mix the fish plus ALL of the liquid from the can, he salt & baking powder, and add in enough flour for texture. Then spread it all out on a cookie sheet. Score it into sections so it will be easier to break it apart when its done. Bake it at 350 degrees for about 30 min. or until the crust is a nice golden color.
Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator or you can freeze them to keep for a longer period of time. Make sure that you thaw completely before giving to your pet. This usually takes about 30 minutes.

What's Happening Wednesday-

What is happening this Wednesday is that I am taking off for a few days! My 50th birthday is tomorrow and I am heading out to begin my celebration! So you will have to forgive me for the short post today and the inclusion of tomorrows' pictures for Tripod Thursday. Now don't feel bad if you want to go ahead and cheat and look at the photos today, since it's my birthday I will allow it! But, if you'd rather play it straight, you can always come back tomorrow and look at them then! At any rate, I will be off until next Make it Yourself Monday, so enjoy the photos and enjoy your weekend!

If you don't want to see the photographs until tomorrow, don't scroll down!

Here is a bit of the Ohio countryside for your enjoyment! 

Teaching Tuesdays -Compress and Poultice; What are they and how do they work?

Today is Teaching Tuesday and we are going to look at the uses for a compress and a poultice, and explore just how these can benefit you and your family.

A compress consists of a pad or cloth material, cotton or gauze being the best material choice, that has been soaked in an herbal tea, decoction, or extract, and water mixture. After the appropriate tea, decoction, or extract is chosen and made, you soak the fabric in the liquid, wring it out, then apply the material to the affected area  that is to be treated.

Compresses can be used either hot or cold. If swelling, muscle sprain/strain, or a headache is involved, cold is the better option. After the material has been   soaked, place the compress in the freezer until it is cold, then apply it. 

Sometimes it is beneficial to alternate between heated compresses and cold ones in order to help relieve pressure. 

Compresses are ideal for treating, and helping to heal, muscle injuries, wounds, and other external pain. In order to know which herbs are most appropriate for which ailment(s), refer to a herbal book or chart, and look for the list of benefits and properties of the herb that you are looking for. The herbs can be used as single notes, or you can try mixing a few together for a more powerful healing whomp!

For muscle pains, try wintergreen, camphor, lemon grass, sage, or eucalyptus teas. For a headache try a cool lavender, chamomile and/or sage compress. For minor wounds or skin irritations, try rosemary, chamomile, thyme or lavender.

While similar to a compress, a poultice is when the whole herb is applied to an affected area, instead of the liquid soaked fabric. To use the herbs this way, first you must boil the fresh herb (roots can be used too). Then you actually squeeze all of the excess water out of the herb and place it on a thin 

layer of gauze that is folded to keep the herb(s) sandwiched inside, then lay the whole thing over the affected area. This poultice should then stay in place for 3-4 hours, but it can be replaced with a fresh one if longer treatment is needed. 

Again, the choice of herbs/roots us something that needs to be well though out and researched. However, a poultice of (either one or a combination of two or more) the herbs; rosemary, thyme, lavender or chamomile would make a strong healing poultice. 

Chamomile on the skin helps to reduce redness and sooth inflamed skin, as well as being an antiseptic, bactericidal, and mild sedative.

Thyme is reputed to be strongly anti-viral, while also being considered an antibacterial agent and fungicide.

While lavender works well on all types of skin problems, it especially worlds well for healing boils, burns, sunburn, wounds, psoriasis, insect bites, and stings. Among many others, Lavender has the properties of an antiseptic, and an analgesic, an anti-inflammatory, a restorative and a mild sedative. 

Rosemary also possesses many properties, but for the purpose of a poultice, it is important for its analgesic, antimicrobial, antiseptic, fungicidal, and  restorative properties.

Make It Yourself Monday- Recipes for (more) Relief

Hope you had a fantastic father's day, and nice weekend. This is Make it Yourself Monday, and here are some more recipes to provide relief!

With summer often comes hot, sweaty, sore, muscles, and sometimes even stinky feet. To provide some relief try one of these recipes.

Cooling and Deodorizing Mist

Get a 8 ounce spray bottle and fill it three fourths full of water. Then add 4 drops of peppermint, grapefruit, and lemon, and 3 drops of wintergreen essential oils. Then add a cap full of vodka. Twist lid on and shake well. You can use this now, or you can wait until it gets cold in the refrigerator for even more cooling, soothing and relief. This spray is great for achy leg muscles after an athletic event, a work out, or just a long day. It is also wonderful for those little piggies who just don't feel up to going to the market anymore! Leave this in the fridge so it will be ready for when you need it, and it will last you for several weeks. You can also give a squirt into those stinky sneakers too for a quick freshen up!

Cucumber Hand Wash

For a nice hand wash that will soothe irritated skin. Try peeling one small cucumber and put it in blender and blend it until it is liquefied. Add one tablespoon of witch hazel to the juice and wash your hands with the mixture. Pat dry and moisturize as normal. This formula helps heal abrasions and relieves puffiness, as well as soothing irritated skin.

Herbal Foot Soak

Herbal soaks are great for tired, achy feet, and they are easy to prepare. Plus, you can alter a herb or two and customize the blend or just give yourself variety! All you need to do is to steep 2 cups of fresh herbs, or 1 cup of dried herbs, in 2 gallons of water for 20 minutes. With the herbs in the pot, bring the water to boil, then reduce heat and simmer with the lid on, for 20 minutes.  Once the time is up, strain the liquid and throw away the plant material. Pour the liquid into foot basin. Once it has cooled enough to not harm you (use it as hot as you can handle it, your feet will love you!), soak your feet for 20 minutes, then pat dry and moisturize as normal. 
As for herbs, you can use many, but I suggest you try these; comfrey, elderberry, chamomile, lavender, pine, rosemary, sage, and/or horsetail

Frankly Speaking Friday- Cats and Essential Oils Don't Mix!

I am taking a break from the Summer Relief Recipes to remind, or perhaps inform for the first time, the dangers of mixing Essential Oils with cats. We all know that dogs and cats are different, but when it comes to how their bodies deal with  processing essential oils, they are worlds apart. Let me begin by clearly and blatantly stating that you can KILL your cat by using essential oil products on them, or even around them if you are not cautious. 

Humans quickly become used to the intensity of a beautiful aroma, or really any aroma at all, it is called adaptation.  This is why we have the habit of 'freshening up' scents repeatedly. This is why we keep spraying the air fresheners and the perfumes, and why we add more and more essential oils to the diffuser, which is definitely not good for the cat. Cats have many more olfactory receptors than humans do, so they are bombarded by these scents, odors, and essential oils used in our homes. To understand adaption better, leave the room/area that you have doused in scent. Go to another area that is not affected by the diffusion, and stay there for about 15 minutes, then re-enter the room that you have been diffusing. You will once again smell the aroma that you thought was faded. This adaption is why you get used to the litter box smell while in your home, but will smell it strongly when you come in from outside. It is also why holding your breath, or stepping away from a bad smelling situation is not the best way to deal with it.

It is imperative for the health and well being of cats that they are not forced to inhale essential oils in any quantity. You must remember that essential oils are concentrated, and have medicinal properties. While dogs and humans can tolerate and process any [normal amount of] absorption, feline bodies cannot. Plus their heightened olfactory sense multiplies the effects.

The ASPCA warns that cats are sensitive to the effects of essential oils, but many owners dont think to check out the site for this type of information, it is seemingly so innocent. This is another reason that we need to learn all we can and share this information.  Now, the ASPCA does point out that most feline exposure tends to occur when the cats lap up heated liquid from a simmer pot, or when liquid spills on their fur from a leaky container and they then lick it off, but there are articles that point out that concentrated essential oils can harm cats by inhalation, as well as topical application. Although the exact level of essential oils in sprays and in burning oils that will cause harm is not really known, they suggest that when you are diffusing oils you should try not to use excessive amounts of essential oils, and that you choose oils which have lower volatility. 

Most importantly though, you need to ensure good air circulation. Especially during the diffusion process, so that the local concentrations of essential oil vapors are not built up in non-air exchanged areas that are inhabited by the cat. You need to make sure that the cat can get to an undiffused area and breath clean air at any and all times.  It is best to only diffuse in an individual room if the cat does not have access to clean air, then block the cat out of that diffused room if possible, or at least allow it to roam out of that room and into non-diffused rooms. Toxicology studies show that the feline liver usually needs 48 hours to process and excrete 'terpenes', the substance in essential oils that is harmful to them. So make sure to allow at lease 48 hours between the end of your last diffusion and the starting of another, to avoid repeated inhalation exposure.

Never use any essential oil product on the cats skin, their bedding, or even on areas where they will sit or walk. Cats are groomers and they will lick their paws and fur, ingesting whatever is on them. You really need to view your cat as a baby, and the essential oils as poison. By having knowledge of, and a healthy dose of respect for essential oils, you can keep your cats safe and still enjoy the benefits of these therapeutic oils yourself!


What's Happening Wednesday-Questions you can answer!

It is Hump Day! And that means, What's Happening Wednesday is here!
For me, that means a few things. First of all, I am a Auntie to a newborn, Miss McKenlee was born a week ago Monday, and she is now with her Mum at Grandma's house, eating, sleeping, growing and being loved, while her Mum is recovering from the emergency c-section that McKenlee safely here! For some cutie pie pictures, see here!

I continue to work on my Essential Oil book, but I am a bit overwhelmed with chapters and ideas. I have been asked numerous quetions over the years, and see many of the same ones on forum after forum, so I will be addressing those, but this is where you can help. If there is something that you would like to know about essential oils, either a specific question, or an area that you would like reviewed in greater depth than you have seen in your readings, I would love to hear about it! You can either leave a comment here, or you may feel free to email me at

I am also wondering if you would prefer one larger, more comprehensive book,  or several, smaller additions at a smaller price each. Because my outline continues to grow as I hit area, after area that I feel need more defined. What began as a basic; this is what they are, this is where they came from, and this is what they do book, is now much more intricate. The teacher in me feels that little of what I have outlined can be dropped, but in practicality, it certainly could be broken out into various additions. There are, after all, over 300 essential oils. If you have a preference, I'd love a short note in comments, a simple long/short will do. if you don't feel like elaborating! 

Thanks for reading along, and I look forward to your input! Tomorrow is tripod Thursday and I am thinking that we need some more scenery pictures! Fun, sun, water......sounds good to me! Friday will be part 3 of the series, Recipes for Relief from the Elements. 

Teaching Tuesdays - Recipes for Relief part 2

Today, as promised, is part two of Relief from the outdoors recipes! First off, is a nice after sun recipe, but remember, PREVENTION is the best medicine, so make sure that you use sun block at all times, and use anti-bug recipes when you are likely to be exposed to insects. There are a few organic recipes on this page too, for those who prefer to not use deet! And of course, if you don't want to bother with making your own, Unique Garden Essences does sell essential oil blends, soaps, and spritzers that utilize known bug repelling EO's.

After Sun Recipe; This is a good body butter for relief after your day in the sun.

You will need;

1/2 cup cocoa butter 
1/4 cup coconut oil
1 tsp sweet almond oil or other light oil of choice
10 grams (2 tsp) FO of choice OR up to 5 grams of EO (s) of your choice


Place the first 3 ingredients in a double boiler, over a medium heat until the cocoa butter melts. Continue to heat on low for a total of 15 minutes, then pour into a PET (plastic) cream jar, and allow to cool until it is soft set. Then stir in the essential oil(s) or fragrance oil of your choice, mix well, then allow to cool completely before you cap or use. To use; massage a small amout over your skin after sun exposure or after artificial tanning. This will soothe your sun parched skin, and even prolong the life of your tan. For a real treat, try  melting a couple of teaspoon fulls in your bath. It will change your bath into a  skin softening treatment! 

For protection from mosquitoes, fleas, gnats, flies and other biting insects there are several essential oils, and oil combinations that may do the trick, but I don't have the space to list them all, so I will provide you with a few top ones. For more on pest control and repelling, you can always look forward to my book! Lol yes, a self-serving plug! 

The CDC has now declared that lemon eucalyptus essential oil is as effective as products that utilize DEET, so look on the market shelves for some of the big companies to be offering a more "natural" bug protection with this essential oil!  But, of course, you don't need to wait, you can make your own!  

Of course, if you don't like the scent of lemon eucalyptus, you could also use catnip, which studies at the University of Iowa have found to be 10x more repelling to mosquitoes than DEET. Just a 1% solution of catnip EO will repel mosquitoes as well as a 5 to 25% solution of DEET!  

Or, other studies (sorry, can't find my reference at the moment to say which studies) have found pink grapefruit to also be more effective against mosquitoes than DEET. There are some grapefruits that have their photo-sensitizing property removed, so look for this type or use sun block before you apply the repellent.  

So you have a nice selection of scents that will be effective against those nasty biting mosquitoes. All you need to do is to mix your choice of an effective EO (or a blend of Eo's) with either water, witch hazel, rubbing alcohol,  a carrier oil. You can use a spray bottle to disburse your mixture, making sure to cover all exposed skin before heading outside. While many people prefer to use fractionated coconut oil for this application, I do not. F. coconut oil is most often used as the base for perfume oils because it is readily, absorbed into the skin. While all oils will eventually be absorbed, I prefer to either use water as the base or to use a thicker oil that takes more time to be absorbed. The choice, however is a personal preference. Whatever you use, take 2 oz of your base and add no more than a 5-10% concentration of EO's (total amount). This is 60-120 drops of the essential oil(s). And remember to do a patch test before you use the product!  If you decide to use water, since oil and water do not mix, make sure that you shake your bottle well prior to each use. 

One blend I have see repeatedly over the years is; 
1/2 ounce citronella eo
1/4 ounce lavender eo
1/8 ounce pennyroyal eo
1/8 ounce tea tree eo

You will then add this blend to 16 ounces of the carrier oil of your choice, rubbing alcohol, or water, same as explained above.

One other EO that is effective against flies, gnats, bees and mosquitoes is feverfew. For this one, just cover exposed skin in a double strength (tea) brew and allow it to dry before heading outside.

Of course there is also the straight oils of Neem and Karanja, both of these will offer its user protection from insects. Of course, neem is exceptionally strong and most peole do not care for its pungent scent without a great deal of "covering up"! Karanja is neem's cousin, with its same properties, yet it is a lot more "sniffer friendly"! 

And one more interesting bug repellent recipe I found was one called "Bite Blocker Insect Repellent." The New England Journal of Medicine published a study that found this repellent to be as effective as DEET, and it protects for 8 hours, while many Eo based repellents need reapplied every 30-45 minutes. If you are handy with mixing, you may want to try these ingredients and see if you can hit on the right proportions for your own version of Bite Blocker. It has 

a soybean oil base with coconut oil, geranium oil (this is an EO), citric acid, lecithin (you can get this at most places that sell cosmetic oils. It is a fat, either plant or animal based), and soybean oil. Know that geranium oil is also effective against ticks, and soy itself is considered a very effective repellent. So they may have something with this combination! 

Well it seems that I didn't get too far away from the insect repellent recipes today, but I will give you one more recipe before I close. This one is for a "Tiger Balm" type of ointment. It is great for those achy muscles from too much exercising or playing out in the sun! 

Liniment for sore muscles


4 tsp shea butter
3 TBS of any vegetable oil 
2 tbs of jojoba oil
1 cake (1 tbs) camphor gum
15 ml peppermint oil eo
15 ml eucalyptus oil eo 
10ml of lavender oil eo
1 tsp beeswax pellets

Melt the shea butter in 20 second bursts in the microwave, or in a double broiler. When it is liquid, add the vegetable oil you chose and the jojoba oil, then  put on gloves and crumble the camphor gum into the mix. Stir, stir, stir until the gum is melted as well. When it is all liquid remove from the heat and  pour into a 4 oz PET cosmetic jar. Let set for a whil until it cools off some, then add in the essential oils, mix well and leave until completely cooled. This  will be a fairly thin ointment, but your tired, sore muscles will be relieved!

Make It Yourself Monday- Recipes for Relief

It is that time of year, the time when we spend hours outside, time at the beach or the lake, camping or hiking in woods, working in gardens, or just playing in the yard. So today's Make it Yourself Monday AND tomorrow's Teaching Tuesday will focus on recipes that soothe. Recipes that provide relief from over-exposure to the elements, from insect bites, and even some that  offer relief from dirt and heat. 

Today we will go through some bug bite remedies that are for AFTER you are bitten, not preventative treatments. Then tomorrow we will look at a few preventative recipes, as well as some recipes for relief from other annoyances. 

For those times when you are attacked by a whole pack of mosquitoes, try this recipe for relief! 
Take 1 cup of apple cider vinegar, mix in 10 drops of lavender essential oil, and   5 drops of thyme essential oil. Blend this well and then add it to a tub full of tepid bath water. Swish it around to get it mixed well before you get into the tub, or before you put a child into the tub. Once in the tub, soak a washcloth or a sponge in the water,  and use it to (liberally) wipe down the body areas with the bites. Make EXTRA sure to keep this bath water away from the eyes, you really don't want to experience vinegar and EO's in the eyes, even this diluted! Don't ask me how I know this! LOL

Don't want to get into the tub? Don't need an all-over treatment? Try this recipe as a "spot" treatment for any bug bite. Take 1/4 cup sweet oil (ask the pharmacist for this if you can't find it), and mix in 5 drops each of eucalyptus, thyme, chamomile, and oregano essential oils (you may substitute oregano extract if you'd prefer), This bug bite soother recipe will last about 6 months, so you can have a bottle on hand all summer long!

For stinging bites, take 1/4 cup of baking powder and add enough water (a little at a time) to make it into a paste, then stir in 3-4 drops of lavender and chamomile essential oils. Apply the paste to the affected area and leave it on for about 15-20 minutes. Then rinse it off with cool water, and allow the water to run over the skin for a few minutes. This recipe will help pull the stinging out and keep swelling down if you get it applied within a minute or two of getting stung. It will also help if you keep the affected area under a cold rag or cold running water until the paste can be applied. 

Frankly Speaking Friday- Definitions to Know

In reviewing my outline for the Aromatherapy book I am working on, I realized that there are several terms that are frequently used, yet many Indie bath and beauty makers do not necessarily know what they mean. So today is another definition day! You can read here and here to review other need to know terms.

Organic – an organic essential oil is produced from plants grown without the use of chemicals like fertilizers or sprays.

Certified Organic – same description as above but is authorized/certified by the FDA here in the USA, or an organization like Ecocert Canada, in Canada. 

Chemotypes – plants of the same species that are chemically different but otherwise indistinguishable resulting in different therapeutic properties.

Wild Crafted – essential oils that have been extracted from wild grown plants.

Selected Farming – where only specific plants are grown on a particular farm.

Fractionated – essential oils that have had part of their undesirable chemical composition removed. For example the terpenes which make bergamot photo-toxic and non-volatile are removed to create bergamot FCF.

Quenching – is a process of adding a chemical to a whole oil to help prevent unwanted side-effects like a skin irritation, for example adding d-limonene to lemongrass.  This process is mainly used in the perfume industry. In  aromatherapy using whole oils is very important because each essential oil has a unique chemical combination that affects the body’s chemistry.

Distillation - The most common method for extracting essential oils is by steam distillation. You get only the volatile and water insoluble parts of a plant using this method. 

Expression - A method for extracting essential oils by pressure. This is used when the oil is very plentiful and easily obtained. Citrus oils are extracted  using this method.

Extract- A substance made by extracting a part of a raw material, often by using a solvent such as ethanol or water. Extracts may be sold as tinctures or in powder form.  

The aromatic principles of many spices, nuts, herbs, fruits, etc., and some flowers, are marketed as extracts. Among the best known of true extracts are;  almond, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, lemon, nutmeg, orange, peppermint, pistachio, rose, spearmint, vanilla, violet, and wintergreen.

Solvent extraction - A method for extracting essential oils that is used when the oils would be damaged or destroyed if they used expression or distillation. Jasmine is an example of solvent extraction. A solvent (such as hexane or heptane) is used to pull, or dissolve the plant. The solvent is extracted for the creation of absolutes, concretes, and resinoids.

The majority of natural essences are obtained by extracting the essential oil from the blossoms, fruit, roots, etc., or the whole plants, through four techniques:
-Expression (see description above)
-Absorption; which is generally accomplished by steeping the substance in alcohol. Vanilla beans are often done this way.
-Maceration; tearing/shearing that is used to create smaller bits/pieces of the whole. Peppermint extract is made this way. 
-Distillation, which is used with maceration, but in most cases this requires expert chemical knowledge and the erection of pricey stills.

The distinctive flavors of nearly all fruits are desirable adjuncts to many food preparations, but only a few are practical sources of sufficiently concentrated flavor extract. The most important among those that lend themselves to "pure" extract manufacture include lemons, oranges, and vanilla beans.

What is the difference between the herbal oils obtained by expression, solvent extraction, steam distillation or other methods? The overall content of oils in some herbs are not sufficient to make efficient the use of a press. On the other hand, steam distillation works only for volatile (essential) oils and may inactivate some temperature sensitive bioactive nutrients, important for the biological action. 
Extraction with organic solvent is frequently utilized for the manufacturing of food additives and flavors from herbs. Obviously, direct oil extraction is preferable to organic solvents for skin care products. 

Tripod Thursdays- Babies Make the World Smile!

This past Sunday my Sister had her third child, her first daughter, and I got to visit them on Monday! Little McKenlee Elizabeth is so tiny and sweet! I swear, and if she wasn't enough, I also got to go and see my Grandson that same day! Braidon will be a year old next month. My how time has flown!  

To anyone that is having a rough day, feeling a bit down, or all out blue, I highly recommend holding a baby. I swear I left the hospital feeling pounds lighter. And then, when I walked into my Son's place and that little boy looked up at me and smiled, showing all of his 4 teeth, well that was enough to make me float! Babies, they do your heart good! 

So here are a few pictures from my Monday visiting. I hope they do your heart good too! 


What's Happening Wednesday- Additives Cont. Salts

I know that we recently discussed Dead Sea Salts (and mud), but there are other salts available too. So todays additives is salts!

When making bath salt recipes, there are a variety of mineral salts to select from. Table salt is a mined salt, sodium chloride, but it has very little trace elements left in it. It's composition is also different from sea salts. Although they both contain sodium and chloride, the sea salts still contain their trace elements that were obtained from the sea water. 

Of course the various sea salts have compositions that differ too. Ocean sea salts contain approximately 4% mineral content, where the Dead Sea salts contain approximately 60% mineral content. The minerals of magnesium, calcium and potassium are known for soothing the skin, easing aches and pains, acts as an anti-bacterial, and draws out toxins and impurities at the skin level.

Epsom Salts are Magnesium Sulfate, also known as bitter salts. They are
used in baths, for flotation therapy, foot soaks, for the alleviation of rough patches, and for the reduction of inflammation. They can also be used to fight  skin problems such as blemishes and acne when applied directly to problem areas in a poultice. When used to exfoliate skin this salt does not leave the skin feeling dry like other salts will. They are an emollient and will give the skin a nice silky smooth texture. Epsom Salts are able to blend well with oils, so they make a great addition to your bath blends.

Epsom salts have many medicinal uses and is even used as first aide. Soaking in an Epsom Salt bath can help relieve the symptoms of Herpes. The paste form is used as a dehydrating agent to treat abscesses, carbuncles and boils, and in the case of barium poisoning, this salt is administered as first aid. This salt is also used to provide relief from insect bites, sprains, bruises and is even used to draw out splinters. Epsom Salts can be absorbed through the skin, so the magnesium level in/of the body will increase when the skin is exposed to these salts. This increase in magnesium can stimulate serotonin production within the brain. Since serotonin is a mood-regulating neurotransmitter, it can elevate feelings of well-being, happiness, and positivity. Magnesium sulfate also works to sedate the nervous system.

Of course, if you want to take your Epsom salts to the garden, magnesium sulfate is great when added to the soil of potted plants that need more magnesium, or to the soil of crops that need a high amount of magnesium, like roses, tomatoes, peppers and potatoes. Using Epsom salts is preferred over other magnesium soil amendments because of its high water solubility. 

Himalayan Salts come in a variety of colors and are a pure, hand-mined salt,  found naturally, deep inside the Himalayan Mountains. These high mineral crystals range in color from white, to varying shades of pink, to deep reds, which indicates a beneficial amount of 84 trace elements & iron. This 250 million year old, Jurassic era sea salt is known for its healing properties, and is used by health professionals, spas, and individuals who are interested in utilizing natural products to heal the body and relax the mind. For centuries, salts have been used as folk remedies for a variety of health issues. Stimulating circulation, lowering blood pressure and removing toxins such as heavy metals from the body are just a few of the many benefits of Himalayan  salts. 

Rio Salt Crystals are pure Atlantic sea salt. These crystals are solar evaporated from the clear blue waters off the coast of Brazil. The salt rocks are minimally crushed and left in pretty large pieces. The salt crystals are semi-transparent, and can be rinsed to create a clear shimmering crystal. The composition is the same as high-end bath salts, which makes this salt very versatile. They are also the ideal size to be used in Salt Potpourri or Crystal Potpourri. The large crystals are semi-porous, which enables them to be infused with color and essential oil. The, when heated, the crystals will slowly diffuse the Essential oil into the air. The crystals can be re-scented every 3-5 months, making this a great, long-term investment.

Traditional Alaea Hawaiian Red Sea Salt’s unique flavor is ideal for seasoning a variety of foods, especially red meat. Hawaiian Salt is harvested from the sea surrounding the island of Molokai. As a small and isolated island, the ocean waters of Molokai remain pristine and unpolluted. These salts are harvested using the highest of standards through a slow and careful process of solar evaporation, allowing the salt crystals to form with the much desired trace minerals intact. Reportedly, there are over 80 trace minerals in this salt, all of which are minerals that are found naturally in this sea’s water. The Hawaiian volcanic clay called “alae” is added to this salt to enhance it with iron-oxide,  which is what gives the salt its extraordinary red color. Though adding the alae clay does not affect the taste of the salt, it does increase the health benefits of the salt by providing a source of digestible dietary iron. 

While this salt is most often used for seasoning and preservation, its color and mineral content make it a new addition to the cosmetic industry. 

When using salt as an additive in your soap, remember to NOT use Dead Sea Salts, as they will weep. 

Here is a summary of various Salt benefits; 

Dead Sea Salt:
* excellent for soothing aching muscles
* used as a body scrub
* perfect general relaxant
* highest content of any sea salt
* improves skin health
* restores skins moisture balance
* naturally treats psoriasis and eczema

Himalayan Salt:
* known to stimulate circulation
* soothes sore muscles
* removes toxins
* relieves arthritis pains
* alleviates skins rashes
* lessens flu and fever symptoms
* less polluted of other salts
* dozens of trace minerals
* re-mineralizes the body
* and cleanses wounds.

Epsom Salts:
* also known as Magnesium Sulfate
* carries a high mineral content
* great for skin exfoliation and detoxification
* absorbs excess oils
* flushes heavy metals from skin cells
* reduces inflammation
* reduces blood pressure
* increases circulation
* and relieves stress.

Pacific sea salts:
* quality salts at a lower cost
* moisturizes skin
* removes toxins
* relaxes the muscles
* great for scrub recipes.

Dulse Sea Salt:
* fine salt blended with dulse powder
* good for any marine and botanical salt blend.

Teaching Tuesdays - Additives, Alkanet & Black Walnut Hulls

Happy Tuesday! Today we are going to continue on with the mini-series, Additives. Friday we looked at Aloe Vera and today we are continuing on with a few more botanicals. Botanicals are plants or plant parts that are valued for their medicinal or therapeutic properties, flavor and/or scent. Herbs are a subset of botanicals, and come in many forms. They can be fresh or dried, liquid or solid extracts, and can come in powders or tea bags as well. 

Spices are strongly flavored and/or strongly aromatic parts of plants, which are used in small quantities in food for color, flavoring, stimulating odor or as a preservative in cooking. They are also used in cosmetics for  color, fragrance and their therapeutic properties. 

Alkanet is a perennial that has a bright blue flower. Botanically know as Alkanna tinctoria,  it is its' thick, red-maroon taproot that is sought for use as an additive, and is usually used as a powder. This root releases a rich, dark red dye when it is infused in alcohol or oil, and a less intense shade of red when it is in boiling water. Alkanet root is used as an astringent, and for its antimicrobial and wound healing properties. 
In soapmaking alkanet root is often used as a colorant because it offers colors ranging from gray-lavender to deep purple, and from a pastel blue to a dark blue, all depending upon the alkalinity of the soap. 

Black Walnut hulls are crushed and powdered, and frequently used as an additive for soap. Their powder contains vitamin C, zinc and a naturally occurring chemical that has antibacterial, antiviral, antiparasitic, and antifungal properties. Herbalists will frequently use black walnut hulls to treat a variety of skin issues. In soap, they will provide a lovely nut-brown color, but are also good for treating eczema and acne. For coloring your cp soap, just add the powder directly into your soap pot at trace and mix it well. For melt & pour soap, blend it in a small amount of [heated] glycerin in order to release the coloring, then strain it and add it back into the melted base drop by drop, until you get the color you want.

Remember that with most herbs you can either add them directly into your soap pot at trace, or you can infuse them into your oils, strain, then add the colored oil into your soap pot as part of the base.

Make It Yourself Monday- Banana (Dog) Biscuits

Dallas informed me that it was about time for another dog treat, so here is a Banana Biscuit recipe for that four-legged, furry friend in your life!  

5 cups whole wheat flour 
1/4 cup peanuts, finely chopped 
½ teaspoon baking soda 
1 medium to large egg 
¼ cup all vegetable oil 
1 ½ cups  pureed banana
2 teaspoons vanilla 

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. 
Place the dry ingredients into a large bowl and make a well in the center. In a separate dish, blend the egg, oil and banana together. Once blended sufficiently, put them into the well of the dry ingredients, and start combining together. Add the water, one teaspoon at a time, as much as needed. Knead it by hand until it is mixed thoroughly, then put on the counter (toss some flower on the counter first to prevent sticking) and roll the dough out so that it is about 1" high. Cut into strips that are about  6" wide and place these onto your non-stick baking sheets. Bake for 30 - 40 minutes, then remove and cool off for 10 minutes. Once cooled, slice each strip about 1/2" - 3/4" squares, the replace onto the cookie sheets and bake for another 20 minutes or until golden brown. Completely cool, the store in an airtight container. If you are not going to use these up within a few weeks, store them in the refrigerator for about a month. If you need more time than this, freeze them. When you go to use these, make sure you allow enough time to completely defrost before you give them to your dog. This usually takes at least 30 minutes.

Frankly Speaking Friday- Additive Definitions and Aloe Vera

With the exotic oils series completed, I have decided to follow up with a mini series of sorts. This one has to do with the various additives that we find in soaps and other cosmetics. Before we can do that though, we need to know the meanings of some words. So we will begin with the definitions, then we will start today with the Aloe Vera plant! 

A Preservative stops germs and molds from growing and spoiling your products,  making them unsafe to use. There are many preservatives, some work in water products, some  work in oil based ones, and some only work in certain ph ranges. Some preservatives are considered formaldehyde producing, while others (most) contain parabens.  This is an area of great debate and one that every user and creator should thoroughly investigate before deciding the best one for their product. For sure though, the alternative is not a pleasant one! 

Antioxidants delay fats (read the word "oil" here) from going rancid, thereby extending the shelf life of these products. Another plus is that they often  contribute some of their own properties to formulations they are added to. Vitamin E is one of the top natural antioxidants.

Emulsifiers allow for the incorporation/blending of ingredients, namely oils and liquids/water, and they also prevent separation.  

Colorants are just as they sound, ingredients used to make the product a color that it would not naturally be. These colorants can be natural, from the color of herbs, oils, and other additives, or the colorants can come from chemicals, such as FD&C colors (think along the lines of food coloring). There are also micas and oxides and other lab colors as well, but more on these another time. 

Herbal additives can be in the form of the herb itself (either the flowering part, or the leaves), the herb (root, leaves, or flowering portion) dried and ground into a powder, or either of these can be infused into the oils or water used in the recipe. 

So.....Here we go! The first additive I want to look at is a fairly common one, especially with summer here. It is the aloe vera, botanically known as, aloe barbadensis. This can be used straight from the plant, or you can purchase it in powder form, or as a juice or a gel, all of which come from the pulpy inside of the leaves. While the liquids generally last from 6 months to several years with proper preservatives, the powder has a shelf life of about two years.

While the aloe vera plant looks like a member of the cactus family, it really belongs to the lily family! The name actually comes from the Arabic word  alloeh, which means "bitter" , stemming from the bitter taste of the liquid that is found in its leaves.  The aloe vera is about 96% water, but it contains other active ingredients such as steroids, minerals, vitamins, essential oil, glycoproteins, amino acids and enzymes. Research has shown that the aloe vera gel penetrates human skin almost four times faster than water does. Therefore, it is a highly effective additive in moisturizers, shampoos & conditioners, soaps, and other products. It is also quite useful in the treatment of acne and other dermatological problems. The aloe vera gel, extract and oil is said to encourage skin rejuvenation, promote healing of various skin disorders including ulcers, lesions, and general wounds. They are effectively used to  treat burns, skin rashes, insect bites and chafed nipples (from breast feeding).
This additive is considered safe to use and is without any known side effects. Aloe vera is probably the most widely known and used additive. Many families even keep a bottle of aloe gel in the refrigerator year round, for sunburns and kitchen incidents. While its powdered form is frequently used in facials, body wraps, bath salts, milk baths, soaps, body scrubs and more.  

Tripod Thursdays

Here are some photos of my latest things, and it includes the UGLY soap that I mentioned yesterday. So how ugly is too ugly?

What's Happening Wednesday- Dead Sea Salts and Mud

I hope that everyone had a lovely Memorial day weekend! I apologize for not having a post the past few days, once again the auto-settings did not work, I guess I will give up on that feature! So what is happening this Wednesday? wise I only managed to get 3 batches of soap made this long weekend, and one of those really was a failed batch. It smells great, but it looks......well it looks like my Grandson played with his finger paints and ended up with soap. No, actually that is not quite true either, because I would love whatever his painting looked like, but this soap, well it is the ugliest thing I've ever made!

You may think that I am exaggerating, but I promise you, I am not! I was trying to "paint" a scenery picture by pouring various colors over a layer of uncolored soap. I had this lovely gardenesque type painting in mind, some grass on the bottom with splashes of color for flowers, a setting sky with several colors blue, pink, red, maybe some mountains in the background. Sounds lovely, right? Well it certainly didnt turn out that way! The colors began setting the soap faster than I could work for one thing, and the "glops" just didnt make a nice painted effect. Then, the coloring wasnt correct either, AND, on top of that,  it never dawned on me [before I began making it that is], that it would never look right when cut into bars, even if it did turn out pretty!

In my defense, I think the 90 degree heat here was boiling my brains or something, as the cabin doesnt have central air, and the window air conditioner wasnt in yet!  So the question now becomes, what on earth do I do with this ugly, smell good soap? LOL. My lovely friend who spurred me on with this experiment, thank you Cathy!,  has come up with a few ideas to salvage it, but I don't know that anyone would even want this as a sample. It is not really a soap I would feel comfortable offering to a charitable organization, nor can I imagine them accepting it! Lol. So here is my question.....I have participated in a "pay it forward" deal in one of my Etsy shops before. For those unfamiliar, this is basically am inexpensive deal. Usually the product is listed with the price being the cost of the listing fee (20 cents), and some people have the buyer also pay for  postage, others do not.At any rate,  I am wondering if this would be a good way to get rid of this failed batch. What do you think? Would you mind a truly ugly bar of soap if all it cost you was postage (actual postage not "and handling"!) and 20 cents?  Please, please make a comment of yea or nea, and any thoughts or ideas you have on the subject. I really need help here. I could just rebatch the whole deal, but I think it would still be ugly, because all of the colors would just be mixed together then.

Now, since I didnt get the Teaching Tuesday post up, I want to go ahead and share that with you now.
many have heard of the Dead Sea and its famous Salts and Mud, but many dont know WHY these products are good to use. So lets look at it, shall we?

First of all, some background.

To begin with, as the name suggests, the Dead Sea is devoid of life, due to an extremely high content of salts and minerals. 
It lies some 400 m below sea level at the lowest point on the earth's surface, and is a part of the Syrian - East Africa Rift Valley, flanked by the Judean Mountains to the west and the Moab mountains to the east... Having no outlet, the Dead sea is a "terminal lake" which loses huge amounts of water by evaporation into the hot dry air. This results in high concentrations of salts and minerals, and in a quite unique composition too. The Dead Sea has up to a 33% concentration of salts and minerals, compared to only 3% in the ocean. It contains 10 times more salts and minerals than the Mediterranean Sea. 

While sodium chloride, common table salt, makes up about 80% of the total salt in sea water, the Dead Sea contains a considerably smaller amount of sodium chloride. This low percentage of sodium makes Dead Sea Salt gentle and less irritating to the skin. Dead Sea Salts are mostly made of magnesium, potassium, and calcium chlorides, as well as a high concentration of bromides. The water of the Dead Sea contains 21 minerals, twelve of which are not found in any  other ocean or sea. Some of these minerals are recognized for imparting a feeling of relaxation,  nourishing the skin, activating the circulatory system, and for easing rheumatic discomfort as well as metabolic disorders.  In fact, it has been clinically proven that Dead Sea Salt baths provide relief from Psoriasis when utilized in a recommended six week regimen of 3 baths per week for 20 minute per bath, for 6 weeks. It has also been studied and used (and shown) to improve  various skin ailments, such as; acne, eczema, skin rashes, and even dandruff. The salts and the mud have been shown to tighten the skin, improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, hydrate and moisturize the skin. They exfoliate dead skin cells and leave a more youthful complexion. They also improve the cell metabolism, thereby helping the body to absorb nourishment, as well as eliminate toxins. Health wise, bathing in the Dead Sea salts has been reputed to improve arthritis, bone and cartilage inflammation, rheumatism, reduce stress, fatigue and even sleeplessness. 

It is believed that the therapeutic properties of the Dead Sea are due, in large extent, to the presence of the other salts it contains, mainly those of magnesium, potassium and bromide. It is these natural elements which give the Dead Sea waters their curative powers. Dead Sea Salts, as well as Dead Sea Muds, have been recognized by millions of people as a single source of health and beauty since the days of Herod the Great, more than 2,000 years ago. Even the process by which they are obtained,  fractional evaporation and crystallization, actually serves to enrich the therapeutically valuable potassium and magnesium salts, while retaining all the other mineral elements of the Dead Sea. 

The Dead Sea brine's chemical composition reflects erosion, as well as the recycling of older deposits. Leaching of minerals from the geological strata also contributes to the Dead Sea brine and to a number of thermomineral springs along its shores. In addition, alluvial deposits form the much valued Dead Sea mineral mud, which is also known as Dead Sea therapeutic black mud. 

Products made with Dead Sea Salts and Minerals leave no oiliness on the surface of the skin, and they are equally effective in dry or moist atmospheres. They increase the moisture level and the permeability of the skin, which allows the minerals to penetrate into the deepest layers of the skin, replacing essential minerals which are necessary for retention of moisture and healthy cell growth. Dead Sea Salts mineral composition improves cell metabolism and contributes to its restoration and regeneration. It also acts as a disinfectant and helps in removing harmful substances from the skin. While the Dead Sea is an ideal destination for people seeking relief from rheumatic and skin disorders, as well as vacationers seeking relaxation, if you can't get there, you certainly can bring the Dead Sea's properties into your home bathtub, for relief or just for relaxation!