Feelin' it Friday- More Under the Radar EO's- Spikenard Oil

It's that magical last day of the work week again, so happy Friday! As you go into your weekend, let's ;ook at another essential oil that may be under your radar. It is Spikenard oil, or Nard oil, as it is often called.

Spikenard Essential Oil, botanically known as Nardastachus jatamansi, is a flowering plant in the Valerian family. Often just called "Nard", it is found in the high altitudes of the China Himalayas, and in the northern region of India and Nepal, usually in the 3000–5000 meters range. It grows to about 1 m in height, and has pink, bell-shaped flowers. The essential oil comes from the root of the plant. The rhizomes (underground stems-roots) are crushed and distilled, usually via steam distillation. The oil that comes from it is intensely aromatic, amber-colored, and very thick, or viscous in consistency. It is classified as a base note, and has a heavy, sweet-woody, earthy, musky, spicy odor. AN odor that is very reminiscent of valerian root oil.

Spikenard has been used for many years, and, in fact, is referred to in the Bible. It is one of the eleven herbs that was burned in the holy temple, and was used to wash the feet of Jesus, and another verse suggests it was used to also wash the head of Jesus.

While Spikenard, aka Nard oil, is often used as a fixative in the fragrance/perfumery industry, it is not used as much as many of its valerian cousins. But, it is still used in many Tibetan healing incense, and as a nerve tonic and sedative for sleep disorders in the herbal medicine of India, Tibet, and the whole of China. Spikenard is well known there as a healing oil, not only fighting  insomnia, but also birthing difficulties, and other minor ailments. It is also known for its skin healing properties, and makes a great addition to skin-care formulas. In can, and often is, substituted for its valerian cousins. It is considered to be a generally safe oil. One oddity though, the scent of spikenard seems to attract cats. This is considered a strange phenomenon.

It is said that Nard posseses; antibiotic, antifungal, anti-infectious, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, bactericidal, deodorant, fungicidal, laxative, sedative, and tonic properties. ANd is said to benefit conditions resulting from; allergies, anxiety, hysteria, inflammation, insomnia, mature skin, menstrual problems, migraine, nervous indigestion, rashes, stress, and tension.

 Physically, spikenard essential oil is used as a diuretic; it is also effective against rashes and skin allergies. It is also claimed to have a balancing effect on the menstrual cycle. Emotionally, this oil is reserved for deep-seated grief or old pain. It is used in palliative care to help ease the transition from life to death. The oil is also used for preparing medicines for cholera, epilepsy, heart diseases, and more. This oil deserves more attention and study for sure!

Tripod Thursday- Spring has Sprung Around the Lake

The photographs were actually taken about two weeks ago. Now the lake area looks like mid summer With all the 70 and 80 degree days, what else could we expect? I am just glad it is Spring now, cuz that 60 and 70 degree winter weather was killing me! LOL

Facing Some Face Care Challenges

Throughout history women have gone to great lengths to achieve the standard, "beautiful" face. Elizabethan women covered their faces in lead to achieve the coveted ghostly pallor that was considered beautiful in that time. Roman women use to smear wax on their wrinkles, and used mercury based lotions on their freckles and spots, in order to maintain their idea of a beautiful face.
The ancient Greeks believed that facial proportions needed to be harmonious for a woman to be beautiful, while the Victorians favored thin lips, and Rubens went for double chins and fat cheeks (many of us long for those days I think! lol).

Clearly the idea and the standard of what constitutes a beautiful face changes with time. While our society, even just a few short years ago, favored the thin bodied, with full, lush lips, today there is a large push toward more "normal" sized women, with proportionate features. However, no matter what anyone in particular identifies as beautiful, one thing is for certain, the key is clean, healthy skin. 

Everyone, men and women alike, desire clean and healthy skin, and feel better when they have it.  You can cover your hands and feet, and camouflage the skin in clothing, but you cannot hide your face. It is always out there for all to see. And, it is always out there taking the brunt of all the elements. Additionally, poor diet, poor sleep patterns, smoking, drinking alcohol, stress,and exposure to weather all affect the sensitive skin of the face. 

Of course good habits and good health are the first key to good skin care, after all beauty (and health) comes from the inside out. But still, you can have issues, no matter your age. Actually, about 25% of adults  suffer from acne, and most of theses are women. Unfortunately, the hormonal fluctuations that females endure from the teen years to menopause, trigger an increase in the production of sebum. Sebum comes from the sebaceous glands in the skin, and is the skins way to lubricate itself. It is our body's oil. When there is excess sebum it can become trapped under the dead skin cells, and block the block the pores. Blocking the pores effectively cuts off the sebum's route to [skin's] surface, which leads to inflammation inside the pores. Then the bacteria that normally lives on the skin  heads to that site to feed on the trapped oil. This is when a pimple or zit pops up.  

So what can you do to ensure good skin and combat the elements that conspire against your face?

First of all we need to review the basics. Realistically, there are five steps that should be in your routine skin care plan. 
1. Cleanse. This will rid your skin of dirt, makeup and oils. For this step, you should consider using a good soap adn keep the detergent bars on the shelf. In case you are new to this blog, you should know that almost every bar of soap in the big box store is actually a detergent bar. If you have to choose from commercially prepared soaps, at least choose one designed for sensitive skin. For more information on cleansing, as well as some natural recipes, see this post.
Want to make yourself a good cleanser that won't break the bank? Try this one.

2. Steam. Steam opens the skin's pores, increases the blood circulation in the facial capillaries, and deep cleans the skin. For more about steams, including recipes for steams to address various skin conditions, see this post.

3. Mask or Peel. This will further remove residue deep in the pores. It also nourishes and replenishes the skin with essential vitamins and minerals. Need some easy recipes to make masks and peels at home? See this post.

4. Tone. Toners tighten the pores and prepare the skin to accept the moisturizer. For recipes and more details about toners, see this post.

5. Moisturize. This replenishes the skin with fluid and gives it a fine coat of protective film. For recipes and more details, see this post.

Before continuing on I want to review some face care tips that we all would do well to remember;

-ALWAYS clean your face BEFORE doing a steam.
-Pull your hair back so you can get right up to the hairline.
-Should you have a flare up, do not be tempted to over-wash your face. Washing too often can strip the skin of its natural oils, as well as irritate already inflamed skin. Do not think that striping the skin's natural oils will solve your problems, because all it does is stimulate the body to produce more sebum to compensate for its loss.
-Avoid products containing heavy oils, namely petroleum by-products. When choosing makeup, avoid oil based foundations, as these tend to clog pores.
-Always remove makeup by cleansing the face before bed time. As previously stated, be sure to use a gentle cleanser. The more natural, the better.
-ALWAYS wear sunscreen when outside. That means ALWAYS, not just when you go to the beach or pool. Uv rays are always present.
-Don't forget to cleanse and care for your neck just like you care for your face. Neck skin ages the same way that the skin on your face does.
-Don't forget to moisturize above your upper lip and the area above the cheekbones, but below the eyes. These areas tend to be particularly lacking in moisture.
-Steam your skin once a week for the benefits mentioned in the steps of facial care.
-Be cautious when steaming. You do NOT want to scald the skin. If the steam is burning the inside of your nose when you breath in, wait a few minutes for the water to cool down, the try again.
-Eating more whole grains, eggs, leafy greens and broccoli will naturally increase the vitamin E in your system, and vitamin E promotes skin elasticity.
-Eating more spinach, cantaloupe, carrots and pumpkin will increase the amount of vitamin A in your diet, which lubricates and heals the skin.

So....since extra washing is not the answer when you have pimples, what else can you do, what will correct the problem? While there may be some cases where only a dermatologist consult is appropriate, certainly there are many instances where a small amount of time and an herbal remedy is the key. In fact, there are several herbs and essential oils that have been used for many years to treat skin conditions. The following is only a partial list.

Bergamot oil is primarily used for its antiseptic properties. In a facial steam it reduces redness, irritations and puffiness.

Burdock root is a herb that contains antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. It too has traditionally been used to treat acne, as well as other skin conditions.  

Chaparral, also called “stinkweed,” is often used to treat inflammatory skin conditions such as acne, herpes, psoriasis and eczema. 

Lavender is very beneficial for acne-prone skin, as it normalizes the secretions of sebaceous glands.

Neem oil has traditionally been used to treat all kinds of skin conditions. It possesses anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, and is said to be quite   effective against acne. 

In beauty treatments, rose oil is effective for treating wrinkles, puffiness and dry skin. Rosewater has anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and toning properties, and makes a great steam for any skin condition.

Witch hazel is an old, and well used treatment for psoriasis, eczema, and cracked or blistered skin. Witch hazel reduces swelling, has antiseptic properties, and even though it is a strong anti-oxidant and astringent, it also acts to soothe the skin, which makes it very useful in fighting acne. It is much more skin friendly than alcohol, which is often present in commercial astringents and toners. For more about astringents and toners, their definitions and recipes that you can make at home for skin problems, see this old post.

Yellow Dock Root also has minerals that control swelling and irritation in blocked pores.

Rosemary, sandalwood, tea tree, red thyme, green and blue yarrow, ylang ylang, galbanum, geranium, and helichrysum are all essential oils that would be beneficial in creating acne treatments.

While the following essential oils would benefit preparations for oily skin; fennel, grapefruit, juniper, bergamot (make sure its furo free), myrtle, patchouli, petitgrain, red thyme, rosewood, tea tree. 

 In fact, if you look through older posts, I am sure that you will find some things mentioned that I have forgotten to include here. Generally speaking, there are several good herbs and essential oils that you can use to benefit various skin conditions. So study up, then have fun experimenting! 

Here are a few more recipes. And some more

**Essential oils are a wonderful treatment modality. However, they need to be treated with caution and respect. Unless you are educated in their usage, please seek out a professional. Trying to formulate your own recipes with these oils when you are unaware of their proper implications, usage rates, or contraindications can be quite dangerous. So please be safe! 

Make it Yourself Monday-Bath Jelly

It is Monday again and time for you to make it yourself! This recipe makes for a fun bath time for your kids, grandchildren, or even you when you are in that childish mood! It is a bath jelly. If the phrase "slime" wasn't trademarked, it would describe this soap for sure! It is very easy and doesn't take much time either. Want to make it even more fun? Save some of the small play-dough containers and use those as containers for this soap!

You will need;
transparent melt and pour soap (you can get this at many craft stores or on line)
distilled water
knox gelatin
fragrance (either essential oils or fragrance oil)
colorant (either soap coloring or natural colorants)

Microwave or heat the distilled water to boiling. Pour the gelatin into a large bowl and then pour the boiling water over it. Stir it well, until it is all dissolved. Melt the melt and pour soap in the microwave. When it is melted, add in the fragrance or essential oil of your choice (be sure to only add the recommended amount for the weight of the soap you are using). Stir it gently, but thoroughly. Pour the mixture into individual containers and color each container a different color. Make sure to use only the recommended amount of colorant or you may end up with a green kid! When you are all finished, place the containers (without the lids) in the refrigerator until they are set. Once set, remove from the frige and cover with the lids.

Feelin' it Friday- More Under the Radar EO's-Ravensara

This Feelin' It Friday we are heading back into the "Under the Radar" Essential Oils. Today we are exploring the EO, Ravensara. While you may not have heard of this EO before, it is certainly one that is well worth clearing some shelf space for.

Ravensara EO is botanically known as Agathophyllum aromaticum and sometimes called Ravensara aromatica. While the seeds of this plant are known as Madagascar nutmeg, and are used in cooking and medicines, it is the leaves of the plant that are steam distilled to create the essential oil. It has a Slightly spicy, camphory, woody herbaceous fragrance, and is considered a middle note. It is
mainly produced in Madagascar, and has been used for years in medicines and treatments. It possesses analgesic, antibacterial, anti-infectious, antiseptic, antiviral, carminative, diuretic, expectorant, and stimulant properties. This essential oil is used in formulations to combat ailments such as; asthma, bronchitis, colds, congestion, cuts, diarrhea, fatigue, fever, flu, general tonic, muscular aches and pains, shingles and wounds.

This EO is said to be the best oil for combating any type of respiratory ailments, as well as cold and flu symptom relief, including the associated congestion. Additionally, due to its high estragole content, this EO is frequently used used in Calophyllum to ease the pain and inflammation of Shingles. Many use this EO to
formulate products to combat the pain of neuralgia too. And because this EO has strong antifungal, antibacterial, and antiviral properties, it also makes a great ingredient in hand santizers deodorants, and antiperspirants.

While this EO should be considered a great additive for many products, especially when formulating an inhalation blend, or an ointment to relieve congestion, you do need to mind the percentages, and be sure to perform a patch test. This EO may
cause skin irritation, and should not be used by expectant mothers. When creating products for children, especially topical products, you may wish to consider Ravintsara instead of Ravensara. It has similar properties, but is considered to be a gentler, less irritating, and therefore, a bit safer EO. It is not completely interchangeable though, so to effectively combat the pain and swelling of shingles, stick to the Ravensara!

Tripod Thursday- Soap and More

Having been out of town Wednesday, this week I am doing a two in one day! Lol So the What's Up Wednesday subject is also what the Tripod Thursday pictorial is all about. What is that? Well, soaping of course lol. Actually, not to be too boring, I have also begun stocking up on other bath and body items, in preparation for my first Spring show, the Chatfield college Quilt and Craft show. This will be either my fifth or sixth year there, and I truly enjoy this show. The campus is set on a back country road, down a long, tree lined lane, just past a small pond. It is truly a gem, and I would think that anyone attending there would have a difficult time studying or paying attention to a lecture, when out those big windows is such a peaceful and serene view. But as far as places I would love to go to for a craft show, what a peach is all I can say!

Anyway, so far this week I have poured some solid lotion bars into tins, made some bath melts, and, of course I have also made a few new soaps. In between batches of these things, I was also busy listing soap on a relatively new web site, called Artful Vision.  This site is a bit different than the normal shopping and vendor sites, because at this one, the Artisan that you purchase from contributes 20% of each and every sale to a charity. A charity that is chosen (from several) by  the consumer. Each is a large, well known charitable organization, and the interests are varied. So I think that anyone can find something that they would like to contribute to from the choices offered, and it provides an easy way to do just that! I really hope that you all will spread the word about this site, and head there to check it out yourself!

Teaching Tuesday- Safflower and Sunflower Oils

Today we are looking more in depth at Sunflower and Safflower Oils. They are both quite similar in many ways, and both are to be included in a healthy diet. They both can also be used for skin care and in many cosmetic formulations.

Sunflower Oil (Helianthus annuus) oil is extracted from the seeds of the sunflower.  Healthy, natural sunflower oil is produced from oil type sunflower seeds. It is light in taste and appearance, and it supplies more Vitamin E than any other vegetable oil. It is a combination of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats with low saturated fat levels. It is made up of predominately linoleic acid (48-74%), monounsaturated omega-9 fatty acid oleic acid (14-40%), palmitic acid (4-9%) and stearic acid (1-7%).  There are three versions of sunflower produced, NuSun, linoleic, and high oleic sunflower oil. The variations in the unsaturated fatty acid profile are factors of both the growing climate and of the genetics of the plant itself.  But all sunflower oil has high vitamin E content, though.

High Oleic Sunflower Oil is great for your health. A diet that is rich in high-oleic-acid sunflower oil positively impacts cholesterol, triglycerides, and even factor VII coagulant activity. So you should substitute foods rich in saturated fat with foods that are rich in high-oleic-acid sunflower oil and margarine. This oil also is great for diets that are aimed at the prevention of heart disease. The versatility of this healthy oil is recognized by cooks internationally. Sunflower oil is valued for its light taste, its frying performance, and its health benefits. It has a very neutral taste, and provides excellent stability without hydrogenation. The high oleic sunflower oil offers a trans free oil solution for all the health conscious. It is appropriate for many applications, including baking, spray coating oils for cereal, crackers and dried fruit. It is also used in non-dairy creamers and many types of frying, as well as other uses. Since the patent on high oleic sunflower seed and oil has expired, more companies are now getting involved in producing and selling this version of the oil.

While Sunflower oil is used primarily in the food industry, it does have  applications in the cosmetic industry as well.  One of its best attributes is that it helps form a seal on the skin that retains moisture while allowing the skin to breath.  An interesting study found that when sunflower oil was used as a treatment for low birth weight pre-term infants, the infection rates were lowered  by 41%.  The theory being, that pre-mature babies have underdeveloped skin, which leaves them more susceptible to infections, and that the sunflower oil created a much needed barrier on the skin.

Many of the characteristics noted for sunflower oil also apply to safflower oil. Safflower is another species of the Asteraceae, the sunflower family. Like sunflower oil, safflower oil is polyunsaturated, therefore it is also useful in lessening the threat of arteriosclerosis. Safflower is also an annual crop. It is  native to the Old World, and the genus occurs naturally in the Mediterranean region, northeastern Africa, and southwestern Asia to India. There are positively identified archaeological records of safflower from 4000-year-old Egyptian tombs, including a find of single safflower flowers wrapped in willow leaves, that were placed with a mummy from the 18th Dynasty (ca. 1600 B.C.).

The flowers of the Safflower, Carthamus tinctorius, are pale yellow to red-orange, tubular disk florets. Since ancient times, orange pigments have been obtained from safflower. In fact, the name safflower may be derived from another plant, saffron, which was a precious, and very expensive, yellowish dye that was obtained from the stigmas of freshly opened flowers. The name Carthamus is the latinized form of the Arabic word, quartum or gurtum, which refers to the pigment color. Dyes were produced from fresh flowers, which were collected and dried.

Safflower Oil (Carthamus tinctorius) comes from the seeds of an herbaceous thistle like annual flower.  It is a polyunsaturated oil that is similar to sunflower oil in both nutrient values and shelf life.  Safflower and Sunflower oils are both relatively unstable when exposed to high heat, light or oxygen.  And both are good to use in low or no heat formulas.  Safflower oil contains the monounsaturated omega-9 fatty acid oleic acid (78.9%), unsaturated omega-6 fatty acid linoleic (11%), palmitic acid (6.2%) and linolenic (.02%). It is a drying oil that is used in white, and light-colored. oil-based paints instead of linseed oil. It does not yellow with age like linseed oil and other similar oils. And safflower was used as a substitute for more precious oils. Likewise, safflower pigment was used as a substitute for, or an adulterant of saffron for many things, such as the coloring agent in cheeses. Safflower was particularly important as an oil and pigment in southern Asia, Iran, Afghanistan, and India, where early carpets (from these regions) used safflower dye. When it arrived in China, around 200-300 A.D. the dyes became important there as well. Safflower oil was considered inferior to sesame oil in China, but nonetheless it was, and is, mixed with sesame and cottonseed oil, in the preparation of Japanese tempura. Also, the Japanese cosmetic, beni, is made from safflower. Even French chalk was mixed with safflower in order to make a cosmetic. To this day, saffron rice is made with safflower in India and Afghanistan,  and that is what gives it the interesting orange color. Moreover, for centuries safflower has been used commonly in potions and folk medicines throughout the Old World.

Safflower cultivation is now widespread, and you can see many Safflower fields across the dry areas of the southwestern United States, because safflower is fairly drought resistant and salt tolerant. Each plant forms one to two dozen heads of flowers, which are quickly converted into full heads of fruits, because the flowers are self-compatible and self-pollinated. The presence of honey bees can also increase the production. The oil content of the achenes is frequently 30-45%, and the protein content can be as high as 24%. After the oil is expressed, the safflower seedcake can, and is often used for livestock feed. Then the remaining plant, if it's not too spiny, can be used for green fodder or silage. Making this a completely useful plant.

The Safflower oil is a light, odorless oil, and it works well for many cosmetic applications. Just like sunflower oil, safflower oil has a high vitamin E content as well, though not as high as the sunflower. Safflower oil is especially great for massage, either by itself, or when blended with other oils. And, because of its high burn point, it can also be used for stone massages. It makes a wonderful carrier oil for essential oils, and if you use the high oleic safflower oil, you will get a longer shelf life.  Just as sunflower oil, safflower oil acts as a protective barrier on the skin, while softening and relieving dryness. It is a wonderful oil to include in cosmetic preparations, as well as in your diet.

Make it Yourself Monday- Body Butter

Sorry for the delay in posting, for some reason the timer deal is not working again. Anyway, it's still Monday, so here we go! This recipe is for a type of balm, a body butter, or heel and elbow cream if you will. While this is not the recipe I use, should you decide to purchase instead of making it yourself, this is a great version of heel and elbow cream, and one I occasionally make for friends and family. If you are Vegan you will not want to use this recipe (but you can still buy the one in my shop) because it utilizes lanolin. Lanolin comes from sheep (they are not harmed in its gathering) and is what protects and water proofs them. So it makes sense that it is good for our skin too. If you have seriously dry and/or cracked heels, apply generous amounts to your feet before bed, and cover with some footies or socks.  Then just go to bed and let it do its thing. By morning you will see a huge difference!

Of course this butter is good for your skin everywhere, so use it on any dry or cracked area, or just use it for regular maintenance and skin softening. And feel free to use your favorite essential oil or EO blend.

You will need;
4oz Lanolin
2 oz Shea Butter
1 1/4 oz Avocado Oil
3 caps Vitamin E
1 1/2 oz Glycerin

Put the lanolin and the shea butter into a microwave safe container, and heat it, using short time bursts, until it is melted. You want to melt it without boiling it, so set it for 45 seconds or so, stir, and repeat until it is all melted. Generally this takes about 2 minutes. Once melted, stir in the remaining ingredients. Leave the Vitamin E for last. Puncture 3 gel tabs and put the oil into your mixture. Stir well then pour into a tin or jar. Once it sets up completely (after it is completely cooled), try it out. If you like yours to be more stiff/hard, you can add in some cocoa butter. Start out by adding 1 oz to this recipe and test from there until it is to your liking. If you like yours thinner, add some more oil. You can also exchange the avocado oil for an oil of your choosing. I prefer to use the avocado oil or some hemp, or olive oil for their skin-loving properties, but really it is a matter of personal preference.
Also, according to personal preference, you may add an EO or an EO blend. I am very partial to lavender for its calming, centering and relaxing qualities, especially since I like to apply my butter at night. Of course this is great to use any time of day and with any skin safe EO or EO blend. SO have fun experimenting! Just make sure that you don't use over  1/2 oz of EO, and with some, you may even need less. Always error on the side of too little, rather than too much. And if it is a new EO to you, use the patch test before applying to a large area of skin.
E R I N  GO   B G H !!!!
And Happy St. Patrick's Day to You!

Feelin' it Friday- Mango Butter

TGIF! Today we are looking at Mango Butter,  Mango butter is a hard, white fat which melts at 101-102 degrees F. It comes from the fruit seed of the mango tree, botanically known as Mangifera indica. Although this fruit is largely grown in the sub-tropics of India, it also grows in other parts of the globe. From the seed, a firm "butter" is rendered. This tropical butter is similar in composition to both Shea and Cocoa butters, although the fatty acid content is slightly different. In its natural form, Mango Butter smells slightly sweet and fatty, but when it's refined, it is a very mild odor, and the scent is easily covered in any formulation. Also, when it is refined, it more easily melts at skin temperature. While it really doesn't apply well in a stand alone application, it can be warmed and melted, then used on the skin. It then disperses evenly and smoothly, as it leaves an emollient and protective layer. This butter is a wonderful additive in many formulas, as it is quite nourishing to the skin. In fact, Dermatologists often recommend Mango Butter to treat wrinkles, and those that use it report seeing lines and wrinkles disappearing within 4-6 weeks of using it daily.

Mango Butter has been traditionally used in the rain forests and the tropics for its skin softening, soothing, moisturizing and protective properties, as well as its ability to restore flexibility and reduce the degeneration of skin cells. It also protects against UV radiation. Mango butter has natural emollient properties, wound healing, and regenerative properties. It relieves dry skin, heals skin rashes, heals peeling after sun exposure, clears blemishes and wrinkles, and relieves itching. It is a great additive (or base) for many body care products, so look for it in your soaps, lotions, massage creams, balms, and hair care products.

Tripod Thursday- Soap, soap and more soap

This first slide show contains the new product shots that I have been working on. While I still have about 25 batches yet to get on film, you will get the idea from these. Please let me know what you think about these. In preparing for my new web site, I thought that more uniform product pictures would be best, but now I am questioning my decision.
The second slide show is of the soap making process and the majority of the soaps that I have now.


What's Up Wednesday-More Soaps

This week has been pretty warm here in the Buckeye state, which has led to some Spring time restlessness. So this week I have been cleaning out the craft room, organizing drawers, or I should say, re-organizing, taking product photographs, and making soap. I actually have been attempting a new swirling technique that I had in my head. I have to admit that so far, it looked way better in my head than in real life! In fact, it hasn't looked like anything in real life. So I think I might have to give up on this one and just move on along! Lol
This week I made a Lime and Kumquat soap and some Restless Rain. They both smell great, even if they don't look exactly how I envisioned them.

This is Restless Rain

And this one Lime and Kumquat, maybe limekuat? lol

And these are the two previous, Amber nights is on the right and karma on the left. The amber nights is a deep, deep purple, two different shades. But I wanted a lighter one than I ended up with thanks to a heavy hand with the colorants as the batter was setting up very fast.

Coming up the rest of this week, more cleaning and organizing and more soaping of course. I am thinking that a nice oceany type and maybe a salt soap with eucalyptus, or a lavender eucalyptus blend, should be on the list for the end of this week.  Guess you'll find out next week!

Happy hump day to you, hope yours is full of sunshine and warmth! Come back tomorrow to see what pictures will be shared on Tripod Thursday. Friday will be all about Mango Butter, so be sure to come on back to check out, Feelin' it Friday!

-Soap Oils

Ever wonder just what is in a good, handcrafted bar of soap? Well, lots of good things of course! Lol But the simple fact of the matter is, all soap is fat + lye. Remember that fats are oils, both solid and liquid. It is the type of fat, or fats, and the additives that set each handmade soap apart. I keep stressing "handmade" because most any soap that you buy from a big box store is going to be a syndant bar, a detergent bar, in other words, a made with synthetics bar. Just check out the ingredients.  Commercially made soaps are more harsh, using less fats and removing or harvesting the natural glycerin that is a byproduct of soap production.  
Anyway, there are not just one or two oils to choose from to make soap, and there are certainly not just one or two oils that are good for using in the soap. We jokingly say "too many oils, too little time", yet to most Soapers this is really not a joke. We are constantly experimenting and reformulating, striving for that perfect combination of oils. The problem is, there is not just ONE perfect combination, rather, there are many! So we find our favorites and stick to them, until we find new favorites. But I digress again....

So how do soap makers decide which oils to use? Certainly each Artisan has their personal favorites, for a myriad of reasons, I am sure. While availability and cost must factor in, hopefully there is an understanding of the oil's properties, as well as an understanding of how those properties will enhance the soap and benefit the user.  So here are just a few of the fats that are commonly used in soaping. Well, I say commonly, but I should have said, that I commonly use in soaping.  

Apricot Kernel Oil (Prunus armeniaca) – is expressed from apricot kernels. It is known for its ability to penetrate the skin easily, leaving it soft and smooth. It is a very lightweight emollient, high in oleic and linoleic acids. It’s also high in minerals,  as well as vitamins A and  E. It's gentle enough for a baby, and it is very similar, both in how it feels, and in its properties, to sweet almond oil, to which many are allergic to. 

Avocado Oil (Persea americana) – This oil comes from....yep, you guessed it, the pulp, of the fruit, of the avocado tree. It is categorized as a vegetable oil, but the avocado is really a fruit since it has a stone. It is a great oil (and fruit), rich in protein, vitamins A, D and E, as well as lecithin and potassium. It is highly  moisturizing, and studies have actually indicated that this oil increases the collagen in the skin, which makes this a great oil for any skin, especially for aging skin. It is also purported to relieve the itching and dryness of psoriasis and eczema, as well as reduce age spots, alleviate scars and sun damage. 

Babassu Oil (Orbignya Oleifera (babassu) seed oil) is a solid, white fat, that melts when it touches the skin. In fact, it actually draws heat from the skin in order to initiate the melting. The resulting heat transfer produces a cooling effect on the skin as well. And the Babassu oil forms a protective, soothing coating when its applied. It leaves the skin with a very pleasant, velvety feeling, and has been used for centuries to soothe dry skin. 
This oil is cold pressed from the fruit kernels of the Babassu palm, which is native to the southeastern Amazon region of Brazil. It is ultra-refined without chemicals, and is a superior emollient. It is beneficial for both dry and oily complexions, and gently moisturizes the skin without contributing to an oily sheen. It's properties make it especially suitable for eczema, itchy, dry and inflamed skin. It contains about 70% lipids (fats), glycosides, vitamins and minerals, and it creates a nice, mild soap with good lather. This oil is a bit on the pricier side, but I really feel it is worth it! 
Besides that, the tree that bears the fruit used to make this oil is highly sustainable and quite beneficial. The fruit is used to produce products such as medicines, beauty aids, and beverages. The seeds contain the oil, which is used for cooking, as well as soap making. The leaves of the tree are used to provide thatch for houses, and woven into mats for constructing house walls. The stems are even used for timbers. Natives make use of every part of this tree, as well as benefiting from the exporting and sale of the oil.

Caster Oil (Ricinus communis) comes from the castor bean plant. I use cold pressed castor oil in almost all of my soaps. It is a humecant, meaning that it actually attracts and pulls moisture to the skin. Castor oil is a skin softener and emollient. It is great for many skin conditions, including psoriasis. When added to soap, it helps to create a nice, bubbly soap lather. Almost every bar of soap that I make has castor oil in it, it just adds so much! 

Coconut oil  (Cocos nucifera) is an oil that is not only in almost every bar of soap that I make, but is in most every bar that everyone makes. Why? It produces a nice, hard, bubbly bar of soap. Coconut will bubble and lather in the hardest of water, and has been used for centuries as a cleanser. But it is also, in the correct proportions, very moisturizing. Coconut oil presents as a solid, but melts as it is warmed by the skin.  

Hemp Seed Oil (Cannabis sativa) has a high amount of essential fatty acids, and is considered a wonderful healing oil for all skin types. It is a very emollient, nourishing, balancing and restorative oil, so it is great for all skin conditions, even the most severe. Many studies have been done on this oil and all report great results. This is not the same cannabis variety that produces marijuana. This plant has so little THC that, even if you grew it, rolled it and smoked it, you would not get high. So don't worry about its use. It is even gentle enough for a baby! For more in depth info on hemp seed oil, check out this past post, as well as this one, from my exotic oil series.

Olive Oil (olea Europaea (olive) oil) is another oil that is in almost every bar of soap made. In fact, some soap has nothing else with it, Castile Soap, and some has just another oil or two with it, Bastile Soap. Why? Olive oil is exceptionally mild. In fact, it is almost always chosen for baby soaps and soaps for sensitive skin. While it doesn't really produce much in the way of bubbles, it does have a nice, rich, albeit maybe a bit slimy lather. Used alone, this soap may take some getting used to. But as a part of a base, this is considered the king of soaping oils. Not only is it a humecant, attracting moisture to the skin, but at the same time, this oil allows your skin to breathe, as well as preventing it from losing  its natural moisture. Olive oil keeps the skin soft and supple, and is very emollient. This is a wonderful oil for many skin conditions and is a good for infants to elders.

Of course these are but a few of the oils available, and are not even all of the oils that I regularly use. But these are my top "go to" oils. For more oil information, check out my Exotic Oils series from about this time last year. You can start with Babassu oil (3-1-11), and find about two a week, sometimes more, through the 5-27-11 Wheat Germ oil post.   

Make it Yourself Monday- Diet Cappuccino Pie

With Spring in the air and Summer just around the corner, some  are thinking about winter weight gain and wanting to do something about it before the shorts, sundresses and sandals come out of the closet. Others are simply striving to eat more healthily, and still others are forced into a more healthy lifestyle due to ailments such as diabetes. 

Well, guess what. Now days you CAN have your cake and eat it too. Well, this is pie, but you get the drift. It is truly amazing how many good, and good for you recipes that there are these days. In general, many diets fail because of unrealistic expectations and extremeness. When the restrictions are simply too strict, people are less likely to stick to it for any length of time. And even if they do, once they are off the diet, they usually gain the weight right back. This is why reasonable plans tell you that it is a lifestyle change, not a diet per say. Even diabetics don't have a set "diet" any more. Instead, there are dietary suggestions for healthy living and eating. Of course portion control is key, and learning to make better food choices more often. But even the American Diabetes Association tells its followers to not deprive themselves of a special  dessert or treat once in a while. They know that if you completely deprive yourself you are less likely to maintain in the long run.  

All that being said, the following recipe is rated at 5 stars out of 5 stars, and is from the Diabetic Gourmet Magazine. The nutrition information is following the recipe. As you will see, this dessert is quite a bit lower in calories than a normal piece of pie. It is also pretty descent in carbohydrates, so it could be easily worked into a low carb diet. One low fat yogurt is at least 18-19 carbs, so for a little more you could have an ooey, gooey, cappuccino pie!  

Chocolate-Walnut Pie Crust


1/2 cup sliced almonds2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 cup chocolate graham cracker crumbs
Sugar substitute of choice equal to 3 tablespoons sugar
1-1/2 tablespoons melted margarine or butter
1-1/2 teaspoons fat-free egg substitute


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Place the almonds and sugar in a food processor and process until the almonds are finely ground. Add the graham cracker crumbs and sugar substitute and process to mix well.
Add the margarine or butter and the egg substitute and process, pulsing for a few seconds at a time, until the mixture is moistened.
Coat a 9-inch pie pan with nonstick cooking spray and press the mixture firmly over the bottom and sides of the pan. (Place your hand inside a small plastic bag as you press to prevent sticking.)
Bake for about 8 minutes or until lightly browned. Let cool to room temperature before filling.


1/2 cup room temperature coffee
1 envelope (1/4 ounce) unflavored gelatin
1/4 cup coffee liqueur
1 cup nonfat or light ricotta cheese
Sugar substitute equal to 1/3 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups nonfat or light whipped topping
1 Chocolate-Almond Piecrust (click for recipe)
1-1/2 tablespoons shaved dark chocolate


Place 2 tablespoons of the coffee in a blender. Sprinkle the gelatin over the coffee and let sit for 2 minutes.
Bring the remaining coffee to a boil and pour over the mixture in the blender. Blend for 1 minute, until the gelatin is completely dissolved. Set aside for 5 minutes to cool slightly.
Add the liqueur to the blender mixture and blend to mix. Add the ricotta, sugar substitute, and cinnamon and blend until smooth. Pour the mixture into a large bowl and refrigerate for about 30 minutes, or until the consistency of pudding. Whisk until smooth and then fold in the whipped topping.
Spread the ricotta mixture into the piecrust, swirling the top.
Sprinkle the chocolate over the top.
Cover and chill for at least 3 hours, or until set.

This recipe makes 8 servings-
Nutritional Information (Per Serving)
Calories: 208
Protein: 7.2 g
Sodium: 128 mg
Cholesterol: 1 mg
Fat: 7 g
Dietary Fiber: 1.1 g
Carbohydrates: 27 g
Exchanges: 2 Carbohydrate: 1-1/2 Fat

For more good, and good for you desserts, check out the site; diabeticgourmet.com
*While this recipe came from that site, it originated from Sandra Woodruff's book,  Diabetic Dream Desserts.

Fearce Friday-Oils for cooking and eating

Whether cooking food or soap, we need fats, aka, oils. Oil is that basic pantry item that you rarely think about. True story; just the other day my Mother pulled a nasty bottle out of the cabinet over the stove. After she smelled it, she asked me if oil could go bad and stated that it didn't "look" nasty. I didn't have to lift the bottle all the way to my nose, because I smelled it half way there! How she didn't is beyond my comprehension. So, being the frugal, tough woman that she is, she wanted to taste it and see just how "bad" it was. Being the good, easily grossed out kid that I am, I stopped her by grabbing the bottle. The bottle had an expiration date of  1999! I kid you not! Needless to say, it went into the trash, but that got me to thinking about oils and how many of us don't really know much about them.

We all have oil in the kitchen cabinet, and most of us probably keep it in that tall cabinet over the stove. But how many different oils do you have? Do you use one oil for everything? Did you know that not all oils should/can be used for all things? Even the weekend cook should have more than one oil in the pantry. Oh, and that is where the oils should be stored, in the pantry. That cabinet above the stove has too much of a  temperature variation, which will cause your oil to degrade more quickly than it should.

The type of oil you need for cooking will depend upon the type of cooking you are doing. Each oil has "smoke point". That is the temperature at which the oil begins to smoke. This information is included on the labels. You never want to heat the oil beyond its smoke point because that generates toxic fumes and releases harmful free radicals.  If you do accidentally heat oil to that point, make sure to discard it, along with any food that it came in contact with.

So what oils do you need to stock? What type(s) of cooking do you? For baking you will want to use; coconut, palm, canola, high oleic sunflower or high oleic  safflower oil. For frying;  Use avocado, peanut, palm or sesame oil, as these stand up to the heat well. When you are sauteing many oils work well. Try; avocado, canola, coconut, grapeseed, olive, sesame, high oleic safflower or high oleic sunflower oils. When you are making salad dressings, marinades, or just want a  dipping oil, you need an oil that is quite flavorful. Try one of these oils; flax, olive, peanut, toasted sesame or walnut oil.

Here are some suggestions for oil uses;
Avocado Oil is pressed from avocados. It is a smooth, nutty oil, that is high in monounsaturated fats (more than 50%), which makes it a heart-smart choice. It is great for use in salad dressings or to saute chicken or fish, or try it on sweet potatoes.

Canola Oil is actually a variety of rapeseed (soy) that is part of the mustard family, which includes cabbage and brussle sprouts. It is low in saturated fat and has omega 3, so it is also a great oil for heart health. It is perfect for light cooking, making sauces and desserts.

Coconut Oil is pressed from the fruit of the coconut palm tree. It is perfect for light cooking and for subtly flavored dishes. Try it in popcorn making or hash browns and see how good it is. At one time many thought this oil wasn't healthy, but extensive study has proven that this oil should not be avoided. In fact, it is being recommended more and more and is listed as a healthy and heart beneficial oil.

 Most corn oil is extracted only from the germ of the corn kernel. It is a golden yellow color, but the unrefined oil will be darker in color, and richer in its corn taste. This oil is good when used in salad dressings and dips, and with stronger flavors, such as peppers or garlic.

Grapeseed Oil is extracted from the seeds of grapes and is a byproduct of the wine-making industry. Use this on salads and raw veggies, or in dips, sauces and salsas. Grapeseed oil is also good when mixed with garlic and basil, then drizzled over toasted bread.

Olive Oil is one of the oldest known culinary oils and a mainstay of the Mediterranean diet. It is a heart-smart oil, consisting mostly of monounsaturated fat. Extra virgin olive oil is from the first cold-pressing of the olives. "Pure" olive oil is mild, but is a blend of the refined olive oil and the extra virgin olive oil. Whichever you have, try drizzling some over grilled vegetables,  hummus, or toasted bread.

Peanut Oil is relatively high in monounsaturated fat, so it is heart-smart and is  good for light sauteing. But it is considered superior for frying foods, especially   stir fry, due to its high smoke point. You do have to exercise extreme caution with this oil however, because of its allergen potential.

Sesame Oil comes from the seed of the sesame plant and is high in antioxidants.  Unrefined sesame oil is a wonderful and key flavor component in many sauces and dressings. Use the refined sesame oil for frying and other high heat applications. Use the toasted oil for stir fries and Asian sauces and dips.

A few more things you should know about oils;
Oils do spoil. Heat, air and light trigger oxidation, which begins the degradation cycle for the oil. You cannot prevent oxidation, but you can delay it, thereby extending the oil's shelf life. Oils should be stored it air tight containers, out of direct sunlight, and in a cool place. The more polyunsaturated, the shorter the shelf life. To extend it, store these oils in the refrigerator.  Once an oil is rancid you will easily smell and taste that. Throw it out!

Some oils, such as olive oil, will appear cloudy when they get cold or are put in the  refrigerator. This does not affect their quality at all, and after they get warmed up a bit they will look normal again.

Some oils are refined in order to make them more stable and raise their smoke point. That process tends to remove a lot of the natural flavor, color and even some nutrients. So use the refined oils for baking and stir-frying, where their high smoke point and neutral flavors are a big benefit.

It is best to use unrefined oils in either no-heat, or low-heat applications. But, since unrefined oils are just pressed and bottled, they retain all their original nutrient content, flavor and color. They offer their full-bodied flavor to any dish that they are used in.

I could go on, delving deeper into the types of oils (polyunsatured, triglycerides and such), but I am a soap maker, not a nutritionist. But, since we all need to care for bodies and our health, I suggest that you check into this more. Speak to your physician and/or dietitian for more detailed information and recommendations.

Next Tuesday's post will look at Oils again. This time we will be looking at using them in soap! So please come back Tuesday when we will discuss the properties of various oils, and how those properties impact our skin care.

What's Up Wednesday-Spring Soaps

Spring is almost upon us, so naturally my thoughts are toward soaps made, and soaps that still need to be made for the Spring and the Summer. I also have begun taking and re-taking product photographs. Small business owners really need to wear many different hats, and the ones that we generally care for the least, are the ones that we often need the most. This year I have dedicated myself to perfecting some of my "least cared for" hats. While I actually love photography, product photography has never been one of my strong suits. I have to say though, that I have improved over the years. So, with the new web site in the works, I decided new pictures need to also be in the works. So far, I only have ten soaps photographed, but it is a start!

Currently I have Mediterranean Flowering Spa, A citrus, ginger, chamomile Dead Sea Mud, Flowering Grapefruit, Embrace, Herbal Koala, Awaken, Blue Rose, Red Tea, White Tea and Ginger, and Pear Berry soaps photographed.

On the schedule for soaping this month? A salt bar, which will likely be a lavender and eucalyptus blend...some type of rain and/or sea soap..... embrace, because I think I only have two bars left.... some fruits, such as orange, kumquat, lemon or lemon lime....and a few herbs, lavender for sure, and maybe some lemon grass and thyme or rosemary. Of course I am still working on liquid soap and I also will be doing a whipped soap this month.

I just completed three solid fragrance sticks this past week. The scents were Daisies, Embrace and White Tea and Ginger. I now have some tins coming in, and when they arrive I will be pouring body balms or solid lotion in them, to go along with the solid lotions in the twist up tubes and the ones that I made into bars. While I love the twist up tubes (think deodorant type) for the solid lotion, many have requested the tins. So, tins are on their way!

Tomorrow's Tripod post will be of the soaps that I spoke about and photographed today. So come on back and check them out!

Teaching Tuesdays-Flax Seed Oil

Today we are taking a break from the Under the Radar EO series, to look at Flax Seed Oil, both as an herbal supplement and as a topical treatment. Perhapse this oil has been under your radar.

First cultivated in Europe, flaxseed has been cultivated for more than 7000 years.
A source of fiber for linen fabric since ancient times, the slender flax plant also boasts a long history as a healing herb. A rich source of healing compounds, the plant's brown seeds were regularly used to prepare balms for inflamed skin and healing slurries for constipation. Today, flaxseeds (also called linseeds) are best known for the therapeutic oil that is derived by pressing them. Rich in essential fatty acids, flaxseed oil has earned a solid reputation for treating a range of ailments, from heart disease to lupus, and to relieve a variety of inflammatory disorders and hormone-related problems.

While Flaxseed oil is primarily marketed as a plant-based nutritional supplement for the over-all improvement of the heart’s condition, the strengthening of the immune system, and the development of an individual’s mental health, consumer trials and experimentations have indicated that it can also deliver benefits for the hair and the skin, both when taken orally, and when applied topically to the affected areas. For many years the benefits of flaxseed oil have been concentrated on the physiological and mental functions of the body. While preventing cardiac problems, diabetes or joint problems certainly is a positive reason for utilizing this oil, it appears to have further reaching benefits, ones that have been underutilized.

Flaxseed oil has proved itself as a potent remedy for hair and skin problems.
Although it has yet to be proven by clinical specialists, herbalists and customers agree that these hair and skin benefits are substantial, and that flaxseed oil is a very safe product. Although flax oil supplements are intended as an additional source of the essential nutrients which the body cannot produce or synthesize on its own, they are now also being recommended (more frequently) for the treatment, or improvement of hair and skin problems. In such cases, this oil performs when taken orally, in its liquid form or in softgel capsules. and when applied directly onto the affected area of the skin or scalp. Aside from reducing the likelihood of serious illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes or high blood pressure, the omega 3 in the flaxseed oil also contributes to healthy skin and scalp.

Specifically, the oral intake of flaxseed oil, through the essential fatty acids, provides nourishment to the scalp. The Omega 3 also stimulated the production of  hormones that are needed to supplement any deficiency in the body (for instance in the case of women who just gave birth). This supplementation then reduces the likelihood that hair loss will occur because of infections or hormonal fluctuations. It helps to maintain healthy hair, and even promotes hair growth from the roots to the tips. Many scalp conditions are remedied just by the supplementation. Of course topical application will also nourish the hair shaft, as well as calm, soothe, and reduce any scalp conditions or outbreaks.

Considered as a natural and organic product, flaxseed oil can be used as a leave-on serum for the hair after it dries. Similar to commercial coconut oil specifically for the hair, flax oil can be applied to maintain long hair, making it shiny and more manageable. As previously stated, this oil provides both internal and external nourishment to the hair strands, which gives the hair a nice sheen and luster.

Dandruff  is generally caused by the shedding of dead skin cells on the scalp. Orally, flaxseed oil provides the necessary nourishment to prevent the scalp from being irritated or from developing a serious cases of psoriasis, and there are studies (from skincare specialists) to back this up. Of course, topical application of the oil will also reduce the dryness, redness and flakiness of the scalp as well.

Flaxseed oil can also be a great solution for skin problems. Indeed, it was well used in the pre-historic times as a skin balm. Since that time, flax oil has been well accepted as an herbal medicine, largely because of its anti-inflammatory and soothing properties.

Skin diseases, such as eczema (redness and itchiness of the skin), rosacea (redness in the face that often leads to acne breakouts) and psoriasis (itchy and scaly patch in the skin that often develops into lesions) can be improved by taking flax oil orally. And/Or, by applying a thin film of flaxseed oil topically, over the skin, for a more tangible avenue of relief from the dryness and itchiness. In fact, flaxseed and its oil has been reported to reduce the signs of aging, both physically and mentally.

The soothing capability of flax oil also makes it a good and an inexpensive treatment for the treatment and healing of sunburned skin. Application of this oil on the burned areas reduces the redness and the inflammation on the skins' surface, as well as reducing the likelihood that that portion of skin will develop superficial lesions.

Since acne breakouts are largely caused by (excessively) clogged pores of the face, it is also reasonable to assume that the essential fatty acids in the flaxseed oil will work on this skin problem by reducing and thinning out the sebum, the oily secretions that clog the pores. While many users have reported clearer skin after continuous intake of this product, some reported no significant improvement. So there is no clear cut indication as to weather flaxseed oil is a good treatment for acne or not, but I suggest that it can do no harm to try it and see how it works for you!

Not only is the oil good for you, but the whole flaxseeds are too. They are a rich source of lignans (phytoestrogens), substances that appear to positively affect hormone-related problems. Lignans may also be useful in preventing certain cancers and combating specific bacteria, fungi, and viruses, including those that cause cold sores and shingles. Specifically, flaxseed may help to; lower cholesterol, protect against heart disease and control high blood pressure, protect against angina (chest pain), prevent against a second heart attack, counter inflammation associated with gout, lupus and fibrocystic breasts, which in turn, lessens the (often) sudden and severe joint pain and swelling associated with gout and lupus, as well as the pain of fibrocystic breasts. It is also reported to control constipation, hemorrhoids, diverticular disorders and gallstones due to its high content of dietary fiber.

This is an oil and a product that is worth checking out and incorporating into your diet. Its potential benefits are certainly worth checking out for yourself. You should know though, Flaxseed oil should not be heated. To benefit from all its goodness, use it in smoothies and as a topping on salad, or take the capsules.
Pregnant women, men with prostate cancer and women with certain cancers should not take flaxseed without approval from a doctor. While Flaxseed is also called linseed, DO NOT USE the commercially available linseed oil that is found in hardware stores. It is NOT for human consumption. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which is responsible for regulating drugs, may find the statements/claims in my post to be unsubstantiated, but you must remember that  the FDA is notorious for not recognizing the benefits of non-chemical-based, natural products.

Make it Yourself Monday- Body Scrubs

Body Scrubs are not just great for removing dead skin cells, but they also help promote circulation as they invigorate and rejuvenate the skin. The abrasive action that occurs when the scrubbing agent meets the skin, removes the dead skin cells and open the pores. The various oils that are added to scrubs offer nourishment for the skin as they moisturizing it.

Any carrier oil will work in any scrub recipe, so feel free to change out according to what you have in the cabinet. You should, however, study the oils enough to know which ones will work best for your skin type. You may want to review some of the past posts on carrier oils to refresh your memory.

Many things make good exfoliation agents. You can use salt, corn meal, almond meal, ground walnut shells, jojoba spheres, bamboo powder, apricot seed powder, sesame seeds, and on and on. You will want to do a test with your "scrubbing" agent though, especially if you are unfamiliar with it. You may be surprised at how rough a powder feels when they are used in a scrub. Once you become accustomed to performing routine exfoliation your skin will roughen up a bit and you will be able to exfoliate longer, harder, and with agents that you cannot tolerate when you first begin.

To make Ginger Lime Salt Scrub, you will need;
1/2 cup of sea salts (fine or small)
1/2 cup grapeseed oil (or sub as desired)
1/4 cup fresh ginger root
3-5 drops lime essential oil

To begin with, pulverize the fresh ginger (find this in the grocery store produce section) in a blender. Then mix the salt and the ginger together in a bowl. Make sure that you don't use any copper, aluminum, cast iron or teflon coated bowls or utensils. You don't want any chemical reactions while you are mixing.
When it is well mixed and appears to be a consistent blend, add the grapeseed oil, or whatever you are substituting. Once that is mixed well, add the essential oil. If you want, you can drop the lime EO to 3 drops and bolster with 2-3 drops of ginger EO. Once mixed well, place into an airtight container. Some prefer glass jars, but you can use a PET jar with a tight fitting lid and not have to worry about dropping it!   To use it, just scoop out a small amount, place it on your palm, and begin rubbing gently, in a circular pattern, over your skin. Make sure that you apply gentle, even pressure. You can do your hands, feet, heels, elbows and any rough patches of skin, anywhere else. Just don't use on skin that is cut, infected, or irritated, or you will be sorry!  Once you are finished, rinse off thoroughly with warm water and pat dry. While the oil in the recipe will give you some moisturizing, it is possible that you will need extra conditioning. If that is the case, apply lotion, cream, butter, oil, or whatever you use when you are finished exfoliating.

Remember that you need to begin slowly, you don't want to exert too much force, or rub too long. You do not want to tear or abrade the skin the skin, you just want to clean it. Then, as your skin becomes accustom to the treatment, you will be able to increase the amount of time that you spend performing the treatment, as well as the amount of pressure or force that is applied doing the treatment.

Since there is not any preservative in this recipe, make sure that you use a scoop or spoon to get the product out of the jar and then recap immediately. Never use your fingers to scoop out the product, as this could introduce microbes and contaminate the entire jar.  Do not store or use the open jar anywhere near water. Water, even a small drop, can seriously contaminate your product in a very short period of time. So take extra care to prevent this possibility from occurring.

You can make all sorts of scrubs, just use your nose and your imagination to blend what you like!
Use 3 cups of sea salts  (fine) and whatever oil or oils you want. Try mixing 1/2 cup of olive oil with 1/2 cup of sweet almond oil. When it's well blended, add in your EO (s). Try 2-3 drops of  tea tree essential oil, 2-3 drops of Siberian fir essential oil, 4-5 drops of rosemary essential oil, and 2-3 drops of peppermint essential oil. OR any combination you can think of. Try a new one every day!

Fearce Friday-Discussing Soaping Failures

Given that I shared about color morphing yesterday, something that may cause failure in the soap kitchen, I thought I would continue on to share my most recent  failures. Well, maybe not complete failures, but certainly batches that did not do what I intended, making them failures in my mind. Believe me, there is not a Soaper alive who has made perfect batches of soap each and every time. If anyone says differently, they are being less than honest. I have been at this for many years now, and while I certainly have had fewer botches than many, if not most, there are still batches that just don't come out the way you envisioned, or the way you know they should have. Somehow or another, even when you are making the same recipe, the same way, with the same scent you have used a million times before, something happens......and you get a completely different result than you did the other 999 times that you made it. But it happens, and when it does it generally leaves us all scratching our heads, and asking other Soapers what we possibly could have done wrong. After much discussion and dissection, inevitably the answer always ends up the same......it must have been the gremlins!

For example, this past week I made four batches of soap. All with the same recipe. I use natural colorants, so I have used all of them before. Now the fragrances were different, and I do mix my own blends, but again, this is something I do all the time,  so I am used to the differences this can cause. So anyway, with the first batch I wanted to test out some natural blues and purples. Problem was, I added a white into the batch in order to make the colors pop better. The problem with that was that this white made the batch trace fast. That is to say, it got very thick, very fast, as in Superman flying to rescue Lois Lane fast! I barely had time to stir it properly, let alone to add a color or two. While I did manage to beat some color into it, I certainly couldn't get any where near what I had intended. And, of course it also meant that I ended up with (some) air holes, even after banging the mold on the counter many times. For those who are not soap makers, in a perfect batch the batter will fill the mold nicely and evenly, with one bang in the end you ensure against air holes.

Now, I did say that I didn't consider my so called failures to be complete failures. And that is true, even with this batch and its few air holes. It is okay in the pretty department, but what it lacks there, it makes up for in the scent department!  I created a new blend that I had intended to name Karma, but am now unsure if that will be the name or not. It smells rather fresh, with a hint of sweetness, and dash of vanilla and spice. Yumm is all I can say about it!

Skip ahead a few batches, and we will be at my second failure of the week (by the way, I hadn't had a failure in almost a year until this week!).  Again, I wanted to go with the natural blues and purples, and again I messed it up somehow. This time I wanted to do a "gradation". This is where you start out either light or dark, and with each layer you move in the opposite direction. So if you begin light, you get darker each layer, or if you begin darker, you get lighter each layer. In this aspect, I completely failed with this batch. I failed to make enough coloring, so I was hurriedly, doing it on the fly, as I fought to get it done before the batter got too thick (like the other batch). Consequently, I ended up with only three descent layers and one, too thin, top layer. And all but the very top ended up being so dark, that there is only a minor distinction between layers. While I can see the layers in person, they are very hard to pick out in a picture, and I expect that, as they cure, they will darken even more, loosing what little distinction they currently have. Yet again though, the scent is this soaps saving grace. In fact, I think it is quite heavenly. I mixed Amber with some fruits, black pepper, and a few unexpected fragrances for this one. It ends up with fruity top notes, an interesting, spicy middle note, and that beautiful, sultry, Amber bottom note. It is not heavy at all though. In fact, it smells rather light and bright, with an afterthought of spice. I am going to call this one Amber Nights. So, while the soap is not at all what I intended color wise, my newest scent blend is awesome!

Oh how I hate it when the plan doesn't come together! So now I have to decide if   I sell these soaps on an oops table, give them away to friends and family, or just sell them like they were meant to be what they are. I mean, I have seen many average looking soaps being sold, so these could be what someone intended to make. Lol
The Karma is on the left and the Amber Nights is on the right.

Tripod Thursday- Soap Morphs

Since Wednesday just flew by me, I am combining a "What's Up Wednesday" post with the "Tripod Thursday" one.

As you know, among other things, I make soaps. Usually I prefer to make what we call cold process soap, or cp soap for short. It is where you take lye and mix it with fats (oils and butters) and they react, heat up, and create soap. Now this process is truly an amazing event and it can be quite surprising too. One of the most surprising things that can happen is what we call "morphing". This is when you put in and see one color and end up with another. I don't just mean the thing you would expect, like mixing a blue and a yellow and getting a green. I mean, having a very pretty beige and a caramel colored soap when you look at it, and a few weeks later you have an all dark brown soap. This is an instance where the soap morphed. Morphing is usually caused by the ingredients in the soap reacting to the lye. Fragrance oils sometimes cause morphing, and anything that has vanilla in it, even if only a small amount, will usually morph as well. In fact, vanilla morphs brown. When sugars are added, as in milk soaps or honey, those will morph a tan to dark brown, depending upon the sugar content of the milk. Goats milk turns very orange for a time in the pot, looks caramel when curing, and goes brown by the time it's cured. As soapers, we generally expect vanilla and milks or honey to change our soap, so we compensate for that or at least expect it. But sometimes we are surprised by the morphing and can only explain the "why" by saying the gremlins came and visited!  Nobody really expects red hibiscus powder to turn gray/brown in cp soap, but it does. In melt and pour though, it is quite a lovely pink/red!
At any rate, here are pictures are of my morphed soap. I did expect the baby soap to go brown, as I used goat's milk in it. But the others were surprises. I maybe should have guessed that "Sugared Chestnuts" would go brown, but I didn't. Even so, while I consider all that dark brown to be ugly, it smells divine, and it doesn't stay on the shelf very long!  Besides that, many of my male clients, or females buying for the men in their lives, really enjoy the browns. Besides that, soap is soap, and good soap is good soap, even when brown! Lol!