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Ginger (Zingiber oficinale) essential oil is becoming a hot health item recently. That’s because Ginger is an herb with some pretty powerful benefits and helpful uses. Ginger essential oil is just an excellent essential oil to have around for overall body support. We’ll go over the benefits and uses of ginger essential oil below.

Ginger has been around a very long time, and its powerful medicinal properties are undisputed. It’s also a tasty culinary herb, being used in a variety of Asian dishes.

Ginger’s pungent aroma is very strong, and I have not met a single person who doesn’t enjoy it. The essential oil is wonderful and as effective if not more so than the fresh rhizome as long as you purchase it from a quality company.

NOTE: You can find out criteria for how to choose a good essential oil company here. There are many good companies out there these days, but you do have to be careful about some things. Don’t buy your essential oils from the grocery store!

FTC Disclosure: There are affiliate links scattered throughout this article. If you click through and make any kind of purchase, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Ginger essential oil consists of the volatile chemicals from the ginger rhizome.

Is There a Difference Between Ginger Essential Oil and Ginger Oil?

This is a very good question, and I included it in this article because when I was doing my research, I kept coming across articles people had written about “making your own ginger essential oil.” That’s a red flag, my friend!

Also, some people talk about ginger oil and ginger essential oil interchangeably. Even when talking about ginger essential oil, some people will just call it “ginger oil.” It’s really ginger essential oil, and I think it’s a good idea to use the correct terminology to avoid confusion.

You see, true essential oils require some pretty intensive equipment and skill to create. Plus, essential oils require a LOT of plant matter—more than most of us have access to.

When I looked into these articles about “how to make your own ginger oil”, what these people were really describing was an herb (in this case Ginger) infused oil, like olive oil.

This is when you soak an herb in oil for a period of time to extract the plant chemicals into the oil. What you really have in this case is a ginger-infused oil, NOT an essential oil.

Pure essential oils are the volatile compounds extracted from the plant through a variety of processes (CO2 extraction, steam distillation, and other time and money intensive ways) and in reality are not that “oily” at all.

You can find out how to infuse herbs in oil for making salves and other body care products in this article if you want to make your own Ginger infused oil. It just won’t be essential oil!

Ginger root is not really a true root. Instead, it is a rhizome, a horizontal creeping root stalk! Ginger is a tremendously useful herb in both its natural form as well as the essential oil.

Therapeutic Properties of Ginger Essential Oil

Ginger (Zingiber officinale) comes from the botanical family Zingiberaceae and originates in India and China.

Ginger contains:

Zingiberene, ar-Curcumene, B-Sesquiphellandrene, B-Bisobalene, Camphene, B-Phellandrene, Borneol, 1,8 Cineole, a-Pinene, and B-Elemene.

Because of the chemical constituents it contains, Ginger essential oil has these medicinal properties: anti-inflammatory, anti-coagulant, digestive aid (carminative), anesthetic, anti-microbial, and expectorant.

Ways You Can Easily Use Ginger Essential Oil for Maximum Health Benefits1) Ginger Essential Oil for Digestive Issues:

Ginger has been used for thousands of years, and is both a culinary and medicinal herb. In China, ginger is used often in meat dishes because it enhances digestion.

Ginger essential oil can be used to soothe nausea and stomach upset as well. Ginger essential oil should be combined with a carrier oil, then can be rubbed into the abdominal area to help.

It can also be infused or inhaled for soothing nausea and digestive distress.

Are you wondering if it is OK to ingest ginger essential oil?

Some people say, “yes” to this question. Others say, “No.” And some say, “It depends.”

Frankly, I do not recommend ingesting ANY essential oil without the supervision of a certified aromatherapist because essential oils are very powerful. There’s been evidence that essential oils can cause damage to fragile internal linings, and it’s just too easy to over due the usage as you are dealing with very tiny drops.

Coupled with this fact, and very importantly, not all essential oils are created equal. Many are adulterated with other chemicals or oils, and this is very common. The FDA doesn’t regulate essential oils, and therefore it is up to the buyer to do research and beware.

The best thing to do is find two or three companies you feel confident with, and buy from them. I’m not a fan of any essential oils sold in grocery or even health stores. Find a good online company that specializes in quality sourcing.

You can find out more about how to choose an affordable, high quality essential oil company here.

In the meantime, my favorite essential oil companies are:

Rocky Mountain Oils,

Plant Therapy, and

Starwest Botanicals.

I also like DoTerra (although pricey), Pompeii Organics and Mountain Rose Herbs.

2) Massage

Ginger essential oil is warming and extremely soothing to sore muscles. Added to a carrier oil, like sweet almond oil or fractionated coconut oil, you’ll have a wonderful massage oil for helping with minor aches and pains and to warm up sore muscles that have been overworked.

It smells really great, too!

3) Joints & Pain

Because of the warming property of ginger essential oil, it is also very useful in helping with inflammation and pain in sore joints. It also helps increase circulation on areas where it is applied.

I like to rub some ginger EO that is diluted in some good carrier oil, like carrot seed or almond oil or fractionated coconut oil, into my hands and knuckles. It really helps the range of motion in my pre-arthritic joints, and it even helps with my knee issues.

Both ginger infused oil (sometimes) AND definitely Ginger essential oil are included in my Pain & Sore Muscle Salve, too!

4) Motion Sickness

Do you have a child who gets car sick? Or maybe that would be you?

I know if I’m sitting in the back seat of any kind of car, I have a tendency to feel ill. Even on airplanes, I’m not at my best.

Diffusing ginger essential oil is a great way to combat motion sickness.

You can dab (or use a roller bottle) a drop or two of diluted essential oil behind your ears to help. Or, you can diffuse it with a car diffuser or add some to a neat bracelet diffuser!

5) Memory Support

Used in conjunction with Rosemary essential oil, you’ll have a wonderful blend that will help with brain health, including memory!

6) Congestion, Sinus, and Respiratory Issues

Because of its expectorant properties, ginger is very helpful with congestion and support with cough and breathing. It’s a wonderful essential oil to use with other essential oils containing menthols, as these help clear the sinuses REALLY well.

If you’d like a great natural decongestant that contains fresh or dried ginger, take a look at: The BEST Natural Decongestant That Really Works.

7) Emotional Grounding and Balance

Ginger creates feelings of courage and confidence. If you are feeling some tension or worry, using some ginger essential oil diluted in a good carrier oil on your solar plexus area is very helpful.

8) External Infections

Because Ginger essential oil has antimicrobial and anti fungal properties, it is excellent to use (diluted) on areas that may become infected, such as cuts or other abrasions.

9) The Love Essential Oil (Aphrodisiac)

Oh, the lovely warming essential oils, like Ginger, are great choices for helping with sexual desire. Ginger calms, soothes, and increases circulation and temperature at the same time! Ginger strengthens the libido while helping reduce anxious feelings often felt at this time.

It’s a wonderful essential oil for massage prior to the hopeful event. Be sure to dilute it! Massage it into the lower back, the abdominal area, upper thighs, and even on your (or your partner’s) lower legs and feet.

Also, do not use it directly on sensitive areas like the genitals. NOT a good idea.

Ginger has a strong pungent scent and is highly aromatic.

Where Does Ginger Come From?Oh, the history of Ginger!

The part of the ginger plant most used is a rhizome (a horizontal underground stem from which actual roots grow). It’s easy to grow, too!

It’s been used for nearly 5,000 years that historians know of, both for food and medicine. During the times of the Roman Empire, it was in demand during the Spice Trade and traversed thousands of miles.

The rhizome was priceless during the times of the Spice Trade, and it is said that a pound of ginger was worth the same as an entire sheep!

By the 13th century, it had become a part of the spice usage of the nobility in England. In fact Queen Elizabeth I is attributed with the invention of the Gingerbread Man sweet.

Later on, during the 17th century, it was taken to the New World, where it was planted in more tropical areas for import back to Europe. Around this time period, essential oils were being discovered and ways of extracting these volatile oils were first invented.

Ginger is extremely useful for cooking, as a tonic, and with the essential oils, for external use and inhalation.

What Essential Oils Blend Well with Ginger Essential Oil?

Ginger essential oil actually blends with a very wide array of essential oils. My favorites include the Citrus (Orange, Lemon, Neroli, Bergamot), Black Pepper (another warming essential oil), Cinnamon, Cedarwood (a scent many men love), and Clove, among others.

Contraindications (Safety Factors) of Using Ginger Essential Oil

Ginger is considered a safe essential oil to use for just about everyone.

However, if you are on medications or are pregnant or nursing, you should consult with your medical doctor before using any essential oil or herb. See disclaimer below.

Final Thoughts About Ginger Essential Oil

I am just loving this exploration of the world of essential oils! As I work through my clinical aromatherapy courses, I realize essential oils are a wonderful addition to my already established herbal practice. Like my herbs, I use them every day.

Ginger essential oil is quickly becoming one of my favorites. I love its warm, soothing scent, and I think it really does help with confidence and courage! It’s become one of the essential oils I carry with me in my purse for a variety of reasons.

Have you tried using ginger essential oil? If you have some ways to use it not mentioned here, please do share with us!

You might also enjoy these related articles:

Insane Things You Need to Know About Frankincense Essential Oil

How to Make a Ginger Bug

How to Make Delicious Ginger Beet Kvass

Insane Things You Need to Know About Tea Tree Essential Oil

Why Do People Say to Rub Essential Oils on the Soles of Your Feet?

What is the Best Way to Diffuse Essential Oils?

And there are a LOT more over on the blog! So go explore! (www.healingharvesthomestead.com)

Hugs, Health, and Self-Reliance,


P.S. Have you signed up for the newsletter? You need to! You’ll never miss a thing when you sign up, and you’ll also get free access to the growing Resource Library at Healing Harvest Homestead. It’s filled with short eBookes, guides, checklists, cheat sheets, and lots more on the topics I write about here at Healing Harvest Homestead.

Just complete the form below to get the newsletter and the password for the Resource Library! One of the offerings is a booklet on favorite essential oil blends and how to make essential oil preparations!

Ginger essential oil is a must-have home remedy these days! The more people know about and use it, the more popular it becomes! Find out the benefits, uses, + how to use Ginger essential oil for your health: circulation, confidence, muscles, joints, respiratory support, “love” stuff, and more! You’ll also know the difference between a ginger infused oil and ginger essential oil—you need to know this! #ginger #essentialoil #howtouse #benefits #uses #homeremedy #health #healingharvesthomestead



B.M. Lawrence, Progress in Essential Oils. (Perfumer & Flavorist 20 no. 2, 1995), 55. Source cited in Robert Tisserand and Rodney Young, Essential Oil Safety (Second Edition. United Kingdom: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier, 2014), 295.



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OK! We are on Part Six of the How to Start Using Herbs series! Exciting stuff, right? Last time, in Part Five, you learned all about Tinctures, Acetums, and Glycerites. I hope you loved that section. Using tinctures, especially, is one of my favorite best ways to work with herbs.

This week, we’ll go over more herbal preparations that are used internally: These are herbal syrups, oxymels, and infused honeys. You’re going to love this yummy part of the series!

Last week, I shared information about different solvents, or menstruums, you can use to extract the useful chemical compounds from the herb to make an extract. Although the solvents discussed last week (alcohol, vinegar, and vegetable glycerine) are wonderful, there are some other solvents, albeit less effective, that taste delicious!

These include honey, syrups, and oxymels. These types of herbal infusions are often useful for children because they contain no alcohol, and they taste pretty wonderful (especially the infused honeys and the syrups).

These are are all good to cook with too. You can easily use them in dressings, marinades, dips, spreads, added to drinks, and more.

By adding herbs to sweet and sour solvents like these, you get the benefits of the herbs in a tasty and culinarily useful way! These herbal preparations are wonderful ways to “let thy food be thy medicine,” as Hippocrates famously said.

By the way, if you are interested in a fabulous online herbal education, The Herbal Academy of New England has some great courses for all levels and herbal interests!

Now, on to the definitions, examples, and easy recipes for these herbal preparations!

FTC Disclosure: There are affiliate links scattered throughout this article. If you click through and make any kind of purchase, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you

These sweet and/or sour herbal preparations (oxymels, syrups, & infused honeys) can be added to all kinds of drinks for their taste and health benefits. Find out how to make Forsythia syrup here!

What is an Oxymel?

An oxymel is a mixture of honey and vinegar. It’s as simple as that. The word oxymel comes from the Italian “oxymeli,” which means acid and honey. These herbal concoctions have been used for thousands of years and have an excellent history of effectiveness.

Even Hippocrates has been quoted as saying, “You will find the drink, called oxymel, often very useful….for it promotes expectoration and freedom of breathing!” —-Hippocrates, 400 B.C.E.

When you add herbs to the mixture, you end up with a powerful and useful tonic or medicinal.

The great thing about oxymels is the base of honey and vinegar has so many intrinsic health benefits already! You can find out more about the healing powers of honey along with remedies in that link.

As for vinegar, I recommend you use raw apple cider vinegar. It’s very easy (and inexpensive) to make your own, but if you don’t want to make it, you can buy very high quality 5% acidity raw vinegar from Bragg’s.

If you are wondering about tools you need, they are minimal. You can find out more about herbalist’s tools in this article: How to Start Using Herbs Part 3: Overview of Herbal Preparations and Herbalist’s Tools.

Here is an Elderberry Oxymel that is just getting started. In about four weeks, it will be ready to use!

How to Make an Oxymel

There are several methods you can use to create an oxymel. I’ll go over my favorites for you here.

Method 1: Super Easy, Fast Oxymel

Since the herbs need to be infused into the mixture, you either need to take the time for the infusion to take place in the actual oxymel, OR you can use an already infused herbal vinegar.

For this method, you will need an herbal infusion in vinegar form, already made.

Step 1) Fill a jar 1/2 full of the herb infused vinegar

Step 2) Fill the jar the rest of the way with honey.

Step 3) Shake or stir until the honey is completely dissolved.


A NOTE ABOUT RATIOS: The very old-school oxymel contained much more honey than a 1:1 ratio as above, especially if the herbs used tasted bad. In fact, some recipes call for as much as five parts honey to one part vinegar!

You can adjust your own oxymel to contain more honey to vinegar for the taste. Just remember, that with this method, you will therefore also be reducing the amount of herbal matter.

Method 2: The Traditional Way to Make an Oxymel

Step 1) Fill your jar about 1/3 of the way full of your dried herb.

Step 2) Add equal parts honey and raw apple cider vinegar.

Step 3) Stir until the honey is completely dissolved.

Step 4) Put a plastic lid on the jar (or non-metal, as the vinegar will corrode it). Shake it every few days and allow it to infuse for around four weeks.

Step 5) Strain off the herbs, bottle it up, and enjoy!

Method 3: Combining an Oxymel with an Herbal Tincture

Remember how in Part 5 of How to Start Using Herbs series, I explained that a tincture is an herbal preparation made using strong alcohol (80 proof or above)? Well, you can use an herbal tincture to create an oxymel too. Here are the steps:

Step 1) Combine 2/3 cup honey with 1/3 cup vinegar (or more, in the same ratio for a larger amount of oxymel). Mix until the honey is dissolved.

Step 2) Add 1/3 cup of tincture, and mix again until all is completely mixed together.

That’s it!

An option with this method is to make up a nice amount of oxymel base (just the honey and the vinegar) and keep it in a dark cupboard. Then you can add different herbal tinctures as you need them!

This is a great option for using the strength of an alcohol tincture and improving the taste.

Recipes and Directions for Oxymels:

How to Make the BEST Natural Decongestant That Really Works is in this article.

You can find my recipe for Elderberry Oxymel in this article about staying well during cold and flu season.

If you’d like my version of Fire Cider, which is also considered an oxymel, you can find it in this article. NOTE: I use molasses in mine, but you could easily substitute with honey. The result is still an oxymel either way.

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Here are the ingredients for one of my favorite oxymels: The BEST Decongestant Ever. It’s healing too.

What is an Herb Infused Honey? And How to Make One

An herb infused honey is simply what it sounds like: herbs that are allowed to soak in honey for a period of time. The time the herbs spend infusing in the honey allows them to release their medicinal properties into the honey.

This herbal preparation yields a delicious honey that has medicinal and health properties.

The thing about using honey as a solvent for extracting herbal constituents is that it’s just not that strong. You won’t be able to extract nearly as many of the benefits of the herb. But you will definitely get some! And you’ll get a tasty treat, too.

The directions are really simple. You just add your plant matter to the honey. Allow it to steep for one to two weeks. You can strain out the herb/plant matter or not. It’s up to you!

Recipes for Infused Honeys:

***Here is a recipe for Lemon-Infused Honey. This preparation is great for sore throats and to use in herbal teas.

***And here is one of my very favorite infused honeys: The BEST Cough Syrup You’ll Ever Make. You’ll like this because it’s quick (it only takes a day to infuse), and it works like a charm.

NOTE: You can also add powdered herbs to honey and infuse it that way too. The powdered herb will become part of the infusion, and there is no straining necessary.

Does this get your creative mind going? There is SO much you can create with a honey infusion.

This simple cough syrup is effective and so, so simple to make. Some herbs that have a lot of water will create a mixture with the honey you don’t even have to cook out or let sit long. This syrup only takes a few hours, and no heating required.

What is an Herbal Syrup? Plus, How Do You Make an Herbal Syrup?

Herbal syrups are just plain delicious. You can use organic cane sugar, or you can use honey. You could even use molasses, if that suits your tastes. Syrups are quite forgiving in their deliciousness.

Essentially, an herbal syrup is made by combining a strong decoction of herbal matter (remember we went over decoctions in How to Start Using Herbs Part 4: Herbal Water Infusions?) with honey or organic sugar to help thicken the decoction into a syrup.

Adding the honey or sugar also helps preserve the syrup much longer than the decoction (strong tea) would last on its own. In fact, I’ve had elderberry syrup I’ve made last over six months in the refrigerator before!

NOTE: You can make your syrup thicker or thinner, by adding more or less sugar or honey. That’s up to you. A thicker syrup will tend to last a little longer.

Are you wondering what you can do with an herbal syrup?

Well, if it is purely medicinal, you can take it by the teaspoon! Or you can add it to drinks like water or tea (this is how I drink up my elderberry syrup). Or you can even use it on top of pancakes! The possibilities are endless. And tasty.

Here is some beautiful elderberry syrup! This is one of my favorite recipes to keep the cold and flu away from my body. You can read more about elderberries and how to make this syrup if you like.

Recipes for Herbal Syrups:

If you live in an area where wild roses grow, you can make your own lovely pink Rose Hip Syrup!

Or, perhaps in the springtime, you have a beautiful Forsythia bush that blooms nearby? Here’s how to make a Golden Forsythia Syrup!

And then…there is the traditional Elderberry Syrup that everyone wants in the Fall and Winter to help fight off illnesses. It’s easy to make! You can buy the berries if you don’t have them growing near you too!

You can make all kinds of herbal syrups quickly and easily! The recipes above give you basic directions.

Here is another beautiful herbal syrup made with rose hips! You can see the directions and more about roses and rose hips if you like in that link.

Final Thoughts on Edible Medicinal Infusions: Oxymels, Infused Honeys, and Herbal Syrups

Isn’t herbalism just fabulous? I am obsessed! I love plants and all they can do for us. I especially love all the ways you can use their powers to help heal your body and stay healthy in an unhealthy world.

Don’t you?

If you are new to using herbs, perhaps start off making some of these sweeter herbal preparations. You’ll not only enjoy them, but you’ll get the medicinal benefits too. If you are hesitating to start—-start with something easy (like teas) or these simple sweet herbal offerings.

I’d sure love to know what you think or if you have questions! How are you liking this series so far? If this is the first article you’ve read in this series on How to Start Using Herbs, maybe you’d like to start at the beginning?

Here is a link to the first article: How to Start Using Herbs Part One: Which Herbs to Start With, Where to Source Your Herbs, How to Dry Herbs, and How to Store Your Herbs Properly.

Each of these articles are pretty in-depth and long, but they will give you a very basic beginning foundation for beginning to experiment with using herbs in your life!

If you want some GREAT resources, I recommend Rosemary Gladstar’s book, Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner’s Guide or Richo Cech’s, Making Plant Medicine.

There are a lot of other resources available for helping you learn about using herbs too, and you can find out more about these in my article: 8 Simple Steps to Start Learning About How to Be an Herbalist.

Hugs, Health, and Self-Reliance,


P.S. I’d LOVE if you sign up for the newsletter! You’ll also get immediate access to my free Resource Library! You’ll enjoy eBooks, guides, checklists, cheat sheets, and lots more over there, including this guide for How to Make an Herbal Tincture + Plant Proportions Guide. There are a lot of other valuable resources there too (including my eBook on How to Relax Using Herbs)!

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Your herbal preparations will take on the colors of the herbs you use. This forsythia syrup is a beautiful golden color. Isn’t it delightful? A springtime treat.

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I’m in the last minute gift making frenzy right now! Are you? I have to admit…it’s a bit stressful. But I love making fun things for people, like this recipe for Cranberry Spice Sugar Scrub! Oh, your friends will just LOVE this scrub! It’s similar to my Pumpkin Spice Scrub, which is just wonderful!

If you are wondering what to give your friends at the last minute….wonder no more. This lovely pink cranberry spice scrub can be packaged beautifully for an attractive and useful handmade gift.

**And if you are reading this at a time other than holiday gift time, it’s still perfect for a birthday, Valentine’s Day, Easter, or any other time gift!

OR, how about having some girlfriends over and have a beauty party? This scrub would be a hit!

NOTE: If you are planning to gift this sugar scrub, be sure to include a little note for your recipient to use it within a week from it being made, as it does not contain preservatives. It’s ALL natural!

Quick Tip: Buy fresh cranberries in season and freeze some for later in the year! You can also use them to make Fermented Cranberries for a delicious summer time treat later on!

FTC Disclosure: There are affiliate links scattered throughout this article. If you click through and make any kind of purchase, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Need a last minute gift? Or, maybe you are planning ahead for Valentine’s Day? Or is your skin just in need of a good brightening scrub? This natural cranberry sugar scrub has amazing benefits for your skin, especially your face. It’s an easy and inexpensive DIY gift. Find out how to make homemade cranberry sugar scrub with this simple recipe. #diy #recipe #handmade #sugarscrub #homemade #easy #Christmas #gift #healingharvesthomestead

Get the Newsletter and Access to the Free Resource Library! Click Here. Cranberry Spice Sugar Scrub Recipe

This scrub is perfect to use on your face, as it contains organic sugar. If you want a more detoxifying scrub that is fantastic for your entire body, you could also use sea salt.

You can read about the differences between salt and sugar scrubs here if you’d like to know which is best to use. They both have benefits, but there are pitfalls to each type of scrub that are good to know.

Benefits of Raw Cranberry for Your Skin

Cranberries contain a high level of anti-oxidants that fight those free radicals that damage your skin. They are also high in acids that help with acne and oily skin, as well as being astringent. High levels of vitamin C help brighten and tone your skin too! Here are the main benefits of using cranberry on your skin:

** Toning ** Great for Oily Skin** Combats free radicals (anti-aging)** Firming

Simple easy ingredients. (I don’t actually use cinnamon chips, but if you wanted extra exfoliating power, you could add some ground cinnamon instead of or with the essential oils.)

OK—Here are the directions for how to make this lovely healthy skin sugar scrub!

You guys—-sugar and salt scrubs are SO easy to make!

Ingredients for Cranberry Spice Sugar Scrub:

*** 1/2 cup crushed cranberries

*** 1/2 cup organic cane sugar

*** 1/4 cup almond oil

*** Essential oils: I used 4 drops Ginger, 2 drops Cinnamon, and 1 drop Nutmeg

NOTE: Cinnamon is a hot essential oil, and may not be good for people with sensitive skin. Use caution if you use cinnamon on the skin. I have no problems with it, but I have heard some people may. You can also leave out the essential oils all together or substitute them with other skin loving essential oils.

You’ll love this eBook on how to make herbal salves, oils, butters, & balms!

Crush the cranberries into small bits. You can also use a food processor if you like.

Directions:Step 1) Crush up the cranberries.

You should have a yield of about 1/2 cup or a little less after crushing. I used about 3/4 cup of cranberries. I pulverized them with a mortar and pestle, but you could also use a Nutri-bullet or other blender type item.

Step 2) Combine all the ingredients.

Mix everything together well.

Step 3) Package and Enjoy!

This recipe will make about two four-ounce jars, or a tad more. You can be creative with your packaging! I love these little hermetic glass hexagon jars for cosmetic use.

The lovely color of this scrub is worth putting on display!

Mix all the ingredients together.

To Use Your Scrub:

Just scoop a generous amount into your hands and apply in a circular motion onto your skin. Rinse well. The oil will soak right in, as almond oil is very emollient. You can apply a little moisturizer over the top if you think you still need it.

Your skin will just LOVE you and THANK you!

Enjoy your bright and beautiful skin!

TIP: This scrub is fabulous for softening rough skin on your hands (or your man’s hands) too! Mr V LOVES this stuff and was very impressed when I scrubbed his hands with it. He also likes the spicy scent.

Package your scrub in a cute jar for gifting. I love these little four ounce hermetic glass jars.

Final Thoughts on Cranberry Sugar Scrub

This is a wonderful scrub to make and gift to your good friends and family. I bet your child’s teacher will love it too! Or maybe a thoughtful neighbor? Or any other person who could really use some helpful and pretty self care.

Be sure you let your recipient know to use it right away! That’s pretty important as there are no preservatives in it. It should last about a week, especially if refrigerated.

Have you made a great sugar scrub before? I’d love to know your recipe! If you have thoughts on this, questions, or any comments at all, I’d love to answer them in the comments section!

Here are some other articles you may enjoy:

Salt or Sugar? Which is Best for Homemade Scrubs?

Rose Petal Bath Salts or Body Scrub

Juniper-Rosemary Sea Salt Scrub

Pumpkin Spice Sugar Scrub

How to Make a Soothing Lavender Salve

And if you want some GREAT books for making your own homemade skincare products, I just love these:

Jan Berry’s 101 Handmade Products for Your Skin, Hair, Home

Stephanie Tourles’ Organic Body Care Recipes

and Earthly Bodies & Heavenly Hair by Dina Falconi.

Hugs, Health, and Self-Reliance,


P.S. If you haven’t yet, go ahead and sign up for the newsletter! When you do, you’ll also get access to the FREE Resource Library that is filled with eBooks, short guides, checklists, cheat sheets, and lots more. It’s growing continually, too!

You may enjoy this free Melt & Pour Soap Making Guide with Recipes! (It’s just one of the resources in the Library!) Melt & Pour soaps are even more easy, fast, and beautiful gifts you can make this holiday season!

Just fill out the form below:

Isn’t this sugar scrub a lovely color?




Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or an aesthetician. I disclaim any liability from any individual’s use of any recipe on the blog. See full disclosures and disclaimers here.

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**This article is about 15 catastrophic events that could happen during our life times and why you, as a citizen, need to be at least minimally prepared.

Just imagine: The power suddenly goes out. Everything is completely silent. No cars run. The internet is gone. Cell phones don’t work. The water no longer runs. The air conditioner (or heater) has quit.

You realize you should run to the store to grab a few items just in case so you can make it through a couple of days of power outage….but then you finally understand your car won’t get you to the store…..This goes on for days, and your food and any water you had available is gone.

What happens next? It’s pretty ugly. This is the beginning of just one of the catastrophes that could change the face of our world as we know it. And it’s WHY you NEED to be prepared.

Mr. V. and I just started reading an excellent and thought-provoking book called A Failure of Civility by Mike Garand and Jack Lawson, both seasoned professional military men with experience in special operations. Well, we are only in chapter 3, and it is eye-opening. Scary. Downright. Scary.

I think the book must be out of print, because I looked for it on Amazon to give you the link, but the only copies there are used and are selling from about $675! WHOA! Right? (I’m wondering WHY it’s out of print, since it is such an excellent book. Suspicious mind, I guess.)

One of our neighbors lent it to us, and I admit: It’s been hard to tear my eyes away from the pages in this book.

Most people still don’t believe they need to be prepared for an emergency. Most people don’t even have the words “possible disaster” on their radars, let alone preparedness.

Here’s an example of this: I was in a meeting with some other homestead bloggers today, and one of us brought up writing an article with a “prepper” twist. What shocked me was that using a preparedness approach to the article was what made the most sense to me, and many of the others were, well, surprised and shocked!

About watching the news:

Mr. V. and I do not have cable TV, and our internet is often quite sketchy. So, we don’t watch the news. But last night I decided to turn on YouTube so I could see if there was anything going on…..

You guys!!!

I was shocked once again. (I know I shouldn’t be, but when you live in a little blissful bubble, our world is a crazy place.)

Here is what we saw on the tube last night: Civil unrest (the beginning of a revolution one man stated) in France, a huge snow storm that’s already devastating parts of the Southeast U.S., floods in Texas, an earthquake in Alaska…..


We NEED to be thinking along the lines of being prepared for a disaster of some type. Heck! We need to be ready at all times!

Our homestead blogging meeting today was a wake-up call to me that even among people who espouse self-reliance (homesteaders in general) the thought of preparedness for tragedy is not necessarily something all homesteaders think about and therefore do not prepare for.

I don’t care where you live: California, Kansas, Upstate New York, Vermont, an island in the middle of the ocean, the farthest mountain-top…. something could happen anywhere.

We need to be thinking about potential disaster events so that we can do our best as families and individuals to be prepared and to be able to live through it with relative ease…

To consider working together in groups for protection should our world as we know it disappear. And—to be able to help others, if we have the additional resources to do so.

There is that saying: History repeats itself. If we think back over the course of mankind and what we know about the history of the earth, the catastrophic events I will share with you have happened before. Therefore, they could absolutely happen again.

Some of these are more likely than others, of course. Especially given the current events in our own country and around the world, I believe a serious catastrophe is possible in our lifetimes that would change the world as we know it.

Some preppers call this TEOTWAKI (The End of the World as We Know It), while others just say, “When the SHTF.” Either way, it’s bad.

But if you are prepared, if you have taken the opportunity beforehand to have discussions with close neighbors and family and have put a plan together, you have a much greater chance of surviving a catastrophe that is localized or world wide.

We have a responsibility to ourselves and to our neighbors to be ready as much as we can be.

What are these potential catastrophic events that could happen? Let’s take a look!

FTC Disclosure: There are affiliate links scattered throughout this article. If you click through and make any kind of purchase, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.

There are several disaster events that will happen again. They’ve already happened in world history, so it’s a matter of time. Could you survive these catastrophic events? Could you and your family live through a SHTF situation? Find out what these 15 manmade and natural disasters are and what you can do to prepare. #healingharvesthomestead #survival #survive #SHTF #prepare #preparedness #howto #guide #catastrophe #financialcollapse #nuclear #terrorist

Get the Free Newsletter and More Free Resources! Click Here! But First, What IS a Catastrophic Event?

The authors of A Failure of Civility define a catastrophic event to be something that “will interrupt your normal life and that of the majority of people around you…and it may progress to cause extreme suffering and death.”

I’ll discuss some of the consequences of a catastrophic event below. Although not all consequences will be the same, the actions of people in response to a disaster is similar. Most people will not be on their best behavior.

15 Potential Catastrophes That Could Happen in Our Lifetimes and Possible Consequences

The consequences of these are varied, but all ultimate consequences are roughly similar without prompt actions to repair the situation: disintegration of civil attitudes toward one another, violence, suffering, and more.

Any of these events could cause people to be without critical supplies of foods and water anywhere from a few days to indefinitely. And without food and water?

People get desperate. (I’m planning another article on the mindset of desperation after this, so stay tuned.)

People will stoop to doing things to help themselves and their families that would be unconscionable in normal circumstances. Things will get downright ugly.

I don’t want you to think I personally live in fear all the time of these things happening. I don’t.

However, I think the wise person considers potential threats and takes measures to protect hearth and home. The best time to get yourself prepared is when everything is all well and good. In fact, it’s the ONLY time to get prepared.

You can read the story of my Get Home Bag and how to put one together for yourself here. It’s an example of an event that happened to me personally that caused me to realize I needed that bag!

The thing with disaster events is that more than one or even two catastrophes can occur in an area at one time because one event may actually cause another one (or two).

Here are some catastrophic events that have actually happened in world history or currently, and they could happen again. In fact, the Law of Averages says we are overdue for another one (or three):

1) Financial Collapse of the U.S. and/or World Economies

A financial collapse would mean depression, hyper-inflation, and most likely mass unemployment. Are you prepared for the possibility of not bringing in an income to purchase necessities like food and water for your family?

Our country experienced a severe financial catastrophe during the Great Depression of the 1930’s. People lost homes, families were split up and disrupted, and many people starved. Hoovervilles (tent cities of homeless) sprang up around major urban areas, and many people were hanging on by a thread. Many others died.

NOTE: You might like this article: 10 Money Saving Tips from Survivors of the Great Depression. And, if you want a great book to read with upper elementary and older students, I recommend the award-winning chapter book: Bud, Not Buddy, by Christopher Paul Curtis. My students loved it every year! It’s an excellent story of a young boy alone in the world during the time of the Great Depression and how he gets along.

But I digress.

So, what would a financial collapse mean for us?

If the U.S. economy were to collapse in these modern times, it would happen overnight. Banks would no longer extend credit, nor would we be able to retrieve our cash. Banks would essentially close down.

As far as food and supplies go, demand would exceed supply to the point that people would become violent, especially in highly populated urban areas. People would go into pure survival mode, and this means hurting others.

Eventually, for those who survive the starvation that would most likely occur in large urban areas, and also for those in rural areas, barter systems would be set up. These are traditional economies, where people would trade services and items for other items and services they need.

These are extreme examples of what life may be like in the event of a financial crisis, but it’s best to be prepared as much as possible with stores of food and water for your family.

Think about that for a moment. Just pretend there is NO more money, the stores are no longer stocked (or if they are, food costs are five times as much if not more). Do you have a plan?

I’ll talk about preparedness at the end of this list. And if you want my free downloadable preparedness checklist, just complete the form at the end of the article.

Here is a great article that explains what an economic collapse would look like here in the U.S.

Civil unrest in the Ukraine. It’s happening globally.

2) Cyber Hacking and/or Computer Viruses

Our entire world is run by computers these days. Everything. Vehicles. Our homes. Our phones. Even our utilities. All it would take is one good hack, and a city could be left without electricity. And that means no water. No gas pumps. No power.

Maybe you’re thinking, “So what?”

Well, certain things like food and water are considered critical supplies. Without these, people die quickly. And when a LOT or people realize how much trouble they’re in (because of not being prepared), things will get really bad really fast—-like within a day or maybe two.

Did you know that stores only keep about three days of food on hand? Without the transportation to bring more food to the stores, that’s all folks would have access to, and what is there will most likely be looted due to lack of law enforcement.

Besides these devastations, a cyber hack on financial institutions could cause transactions and email to shut down. If the banking disruptions were bad enough, this could even contribute to an economic collapse (see above).

3) EMP (Electromagnetic Pulse)

EMP’s are electro-magnetic pulses that can be set off in the earth’s atmosphere by either a powerful solar flare (and scientists have been monitoring these) OR (imho) worse, a terrorist attack caused by nuclear explosion in the atmosphere.

An EMP would immediately take us back in time to the Dark Ages. No automotive transportation, no food in the stores (because people will loot and steal it all within days), no water, no communications, and on and on….

For an industrialized nation like the United States, this would be devastating with far-reaching consequences that are truly unimaginable. A complete destruction of the power grid would annihilate all except those who live off-grid. And if water isn’t available via a solar or manual pump, it will affect these folks too.

An EMP, to me, is one of the most frightening of all of these disaster events. PLEASE read William Fortschen’s realistic fiction book, One Second After. It’s a realistic look at what the world may be like after an EMP. This man knows what he is talking about, as he worked with government agencies regarding this issue.

His book, One Second After, is one of the best descriptions of what an EMP event would do to a small town, let alone a large city or a large portion of the United States. It’s entertaining too, and will keep you riveted. It’s also available on Audible.

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This is a picture of an eclipse, but a solar flare from the sun could potentially cause an EMP.

4) Civil Conflict

In the past 20 (or more) years, our country has become divided among racial, sexual, economic, ethnic, and political lines. Our country (and dare I say world) is more divided now than ever before.

**NOTE: What ever happened to our country’s motto: United we stand; Divided we fall?

The fact is that potentially, these divisions could escalate into battles and maybe into war. The Great Civil War in our country happened once——could it happen again?

I think so.

Right now, people are so angry on all sides, some painful things have already happened. Take the Black Lives Matter movement, which was a pretty big deal for months prior to the results of this last election. Or during the same time period, what about the hatred and abuse directed toward our law enforcement officers?

In all my years, I’ve never seen anything like this! What happened to the peaceful protests (that actually worked) of Dr. Martin Luther King?

I have heard that in 2015, there was even a military exercise called Jade-Helm 15 across multiple states that appears to pit states against each other. So-called “hostile” states are those that believe in the Constitution and tote guns and love their religion.

Conspiracy theory? A jest? A reality? Who knows?

The real reality is that civil unrest caused by class warfare (or socio-economic problems), racial/ethnic wars, and divisive belief systems where a complete lack of respect for another side’s viewpoints could eventually cause some very serious problems in our country.

5) Famine

Crop failure could be a real issue in the years coming up. The way big Ag and big Government is treating the land is deplorable. Chemical fertilizers and pesticides are ruining the earth. Erosion is a real thing.

Then there is the issue of GMO. It is my understanding these seeds are not viable. They have to be engineered every crop season.

Even hybrid seeds are only good for a few years, if you are into saving seeds. You can find out more in this article: Why You Need a Seed Bank.

All of our eggs are in one basket, with commodity crops like soy, corn, and wheat. If any or all of these fail (which is possible), far-reaching famine could be a thing.

Plus, with most of the economic power belonging to just one or two very large corporations (seed/pesticide companies) we basically have a monopoly for food in the hands of enormous corporate entities who really don’t care about the citizenry. It’s all about the money.

I’ll admit, I don’t know a lot about this kind of thing, and I’m sure famines could be caused by multiple other reasons (drought for example), but famine has happened before, and it could happen again.

I believe the more arrogant our human race becomes with the food supply, the more likely and worse a potential disaster like this could be.

You know what would be like gold in this event? Seeds. Heirloom seeds. And a little land and water.

Drought could be ruinous to our country and globally.

6) Cold Summer

A cold summer is one in which crops won’t grow due to cold winds and storms that occur outside the winter season—during times when plants and food should be growing.

I hadn’t heard of this catastrophe until I read about it in the above book, A Failure of Civility. When I researched it, it turns out it has happened in our recent past, just two hundred years ago!

Most of the effects of this Cold Summer occurred in the New England states (N.E. America) and Northern Europe. People and animals starved for lack of food during these years.

It turns out, scientists now know, that several huge volcanic eruptions happened in various places around the world that caused ash to be carried into the atmosphere.

These eruptions (that killed over 10,000 in one event) caused the sun’s rays to not reach earth as normal, causing freezing of the Great Lakes and other areas. As wind blew across these frozen areas, the cold was intensified and nothing flourished.

Could we survive a year or two or more of a Cold Summer?

7) Drought

We talked about famine above, and drought is closely related, as it is one of the factors that could cause a famine.

But drought in and of itself would cause water in general to not be available.

Water is a concern as I speak. Even now, in the most atrocious of cities, Las Vegas, NV, the authorities in that area are busy sucking the water out of the northern agricultural counties of NV. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. Done. No mas.

What about California? California’s greedy fingers are ever-reaching for the water of neighboring states. As we moved here just a few months ago to Idaho, I am hearing it is an issue some people are discussing even up here!

Millions of people are living in areas where resources are scarce, especially water. It’s a foolish thing, and it speaks to the ignorance and arrogance of our modern civilization.

That’s all I’ll say about that, as I feel a rant coming on.

8) Dirty Bomb Explosion

According to the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission (USNRC), a dirty bomb is a type of RDD (radiological dispersal device) that is combined with conventional explosives. Therefore, this type of bomb combines radiation poisoning with your typical dynamite, etc.

We are all aware of what a nuclear bomb explosion would do to our world, so I won’t even go into that, but a dirty bomb is different.

A dirty bomb would cause serious damage from the explosives, but far worse is what the dispersal of radioactive particles would do to an area. I believe we’d have a localized situation of mass hysteria.

This would most likely be a terrorist act with the objective of causing extreme anxiety, far-reaching illness, and immediate hysteria.

A dirty bomb or a biological/chemical terrorist attack would be devastating.

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In this 5th part of the series, How to Start Using Herbs, you’ll learn how to make extracts that are not water-based, including tinctures, acetums, and glycerites.

Have you started using herbs yet? :-) Wouldn’t you like to start? One of the most important things about being self-reliant is being able to increase your independence from the commercial and material systems that abound in these modern times (like Big Pharma). Learning to use herbs for your health, remedy problems, and even for first aid is an extremely valuable skill to have. You can even use this skill to barter in the event of an emergency or disaster!

This herbal series, How to Get Started Using Herbs, will help you ease into the world of natural herbal remedies. When you first start using herbs for your health, it can be a little overwhelming for most people.

This series of articles will help you get started using herbs with confidence by giving you a basic foundation of terminology and herbal recipes you can find in the Resource Library (complete the form at the end of the article for access).

In the previous article in this series about How to Get Started Using Herbs, Part 4, you learned how to make herbal water infusions to be used internally (teas, medicinal infusions, and decoctions). These simple extracts using water are wonderful ways to support your health and help with certain issues.

Now, in this Part 5, we’ll stick with internally used herbal preparations and go over herbal infusions (extracts) made with alcohol, vinegar, and vegetable glycerine. These are all preparations you ingest to support your health and body needs.

Maybe you’re wondering…..

What is the difference between an extract and a tincture?

A tincture in the proper sense, is an herbal extract made with alcohol as the solvent. A tincture is also an extract, since the herbal constituents are extracted into the alcohol.

There are other herbal preparations that some herbalists call “tinctures” made using different solvents, usually not as powerful as an actual tincture made with alcohol. These are also extracts.

You could say that although a tincture is an extract, not all extracts are actually proper tinctures, since they use a different (and generally less powerful) solvent other than alcohol. Vinegar and vegetable glycerine are the most common solvents other than alcohol for making herbal extracts, and I’ll go over these too.

What on earth is a solvent, or menstruum?

The solvent is simply the liquid the herb infuses (or macerates) in. So, with teas, water is the solvent. With the preparations we’ll talk about this time, the solvents are alcohol, vinegar, or glycerine. These different solvents all have their own pros and cons, benefits and downfalls.

You may hear some herbalists refer to a menstruum. This is the same exact thing as a solvent. It’s just old-fashioned “herb” speak.

FTC Disclosure: There are affiliate links scattered here and there in this article. If you click through and make any kind of purchase, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Herbal extracts are so simple to make. Here are complete directions about how to make herbal tinctures, vinegars, and glycerites for your health! Plus, find out tips for using plant proportions too. Once you begin making your own herbal remedies for use in your home, you’ll be addicted! #homeremedy #herbal #tincture #vinegar #natural #glycerite #howtomake #healingharvesthomestead #cure #health

Tools You’ll Need to Make an Herbal Extract

Making herbal extracts is quite a simple thing to do, but you will need a few items that are easy to find and inexpensive. Here is a list of things to have on hand when you start making your herbal tinctures, acetums, and glycerites:

** Wide mouth Mason jars or other wide-mouthed glass containers.

** Strainers

** Cheesecloth

** Amber glass bottles or glass jars for storage

** Amber glass dropper bottles for using the extracts

** A funnel

** The herbs! I like to buy my herbs from Starwest Botanicals. They are an excellent company and support ideals I believe in. You can also purchase your culinary herbs from them too!

You can also purchase them from Amazon, and my favorite companies there sell organic, such as Frontier Co-op, and other organic companies.

Herbal Infusions for Internal Use: Extracts

There are three main types of herbal extracts (besides water extracts such as teas) that you can choose to use for your health. Tinctures, acetums, and glycerites are the formal names for each of these.

There are some key differences between the three types, which I will go over below. But for now, just know that a tincture is made with a menstruum of alcohol, an acetum is made with a menstruum (solvent) of vinegar, and a glycerite is made using vegetable glycerine.

There are pros and cons to all of these types of extracts, and I’ll go over these in each section below! But first, let’s talk about why a person would want to use an herbal extract?

How and Why Do You Use Herbal Extracts?

Herbal extracts are wonderful for supporting a very broad range of health desires and support your body systems. Tinctures especially, work very quickly, effectively, and powerfully to support your health and wellness.

Herbal extracts are quite shelf stable, especially when alcohol is used as the solvent. They can last many years when stored properly. When it comes to emergency preparedness and having helpful remedies on hand, I really can’t think of anything that beats a tincture.

Extracts are effective; and their effectiveness depends on a variety of factors: the person’s constitution, the person’s age, the person’s needs; the plant matter itself: freshness, how much used, and the combination of plants; and also how often the herbal extract is used.

To use a tincture or other extract, small amounts are taken. These can be taken from a dropper bottle directly under the tongue or used in a small amount of water or tea to help with the taste. Personally, I just take them directly. You can find out more about safety and dosing in Part 2 of this series.

Fresh or Dried Herbs? Does it Matter?

Yes. It absolutely makes a difference in the resulting tincture or extract between using fresh and dried herbs. Dried herbs are safer because there is no moisture in them to be extracted along with the medicinal compounds into the solvent.

This moisture is not as much an issue in a pure alcohol tincture, but it can be problematic in a vinegar or glycerite extract. My recommendation is to play it safe and use dried herbs, although I have made some wonderful tinctures from fresh herbs (in alcohol).

You can find out how much of different kinds of herbs to use in the FREE Herbal Extract Cheat Sheet found in the Resource Library! You can get access to the library (and the newsletter) by completing the form just below.

How to Make Tinctures: Herbal Extracts in Alcohol

Tinctures are herbal extracts using alcohol as the solvent. You can’t really use any old alcohol, though. Different strengths of alcohol will yield a less or more powerful tincture. Also, some plant parts do better in less strong alcohol (80 proof) as opposed to stronger alcohol (100 or higher proof).

You can find out more in Richo Cech’s book: Making Plant Medicine.

Most herbalists use a high-proof alcohol, generally 80 to 100 proof for the great majority of their preparations.

Some herbalists will use even higher proof alcohols, if they can be had, but these are overkill for most herbs, in my experience. The only kind of herb material that requires a very high proof alcohol are gums and resins, as they are very difficult to break down.

Although any strong liquor will work, most herbalists (myself included) prefer clear and mild-tasting spirits in order for the flavor of the herb to come through. Vodka is one of the more popular alcohols herbalists use.

You can also use brandy, whiskey, rum, etc., but the flavors of these spirits will affect the taste of the tincture.

NOTE: Alcohol, vinegar, glycerine, and water all extract different plant chemicals. Water happens to be quite powerful as a solvent, even though a tea may “seem” weaker.


Alcohol will extract nearly all the chemical compounds, except for some minerals. You can see why using alcohol is the most popular way for many herbalists to create medicinal extracts!

Richo Cech, in his book, Making Plant Medicine, gives a very good explanation of the different strengths of alcohol and how to make plant medicines from different herbs and plant parts. Rosemary Gladstar also discusses various extracts in her book, Herbal Medicine: A Beginner’s Guide, which is perfect if you are new to using herbs.

Are you concerned about using an alcohol tincture with children?

It’s a good question!

Since I am a grandmother now, I have not had the opportunity to give this much thought as my children are all grown up, and have been for the past 15 years—-before I really started learning in earnest about using herbs for health.

But if you DO have children, using alcohol tinctures is safe, and I wouldn’t hesitate to use them with my own kids, if they were still at home. Here is a great article about using alcohol tinctures with children written by Meagan Visser, a registered nurse and herbalist: Are Alcohol Tinctures Bad for Children?

This is elder flower tincture. These are freshly foraged (wilted for three days) flowers, and one of the few herbs I tincture without drying completely first. These tiny flowers are so sweet, don’t you think?

How to Make an Herbal Tincture:

There are a few different ways to make an herbal tincture. You can use the cold infusion method (my favorite), a percolation method (more mathematical and complex), or you can apply some gentle heat to speed things up a little (not my favorite).

I’ll address the cold infusion method here. The cold infusion method is actually the traditional folk method, and it has been successfully used for hundreds of years. It’s also the method most home herbalists use, and it is very simple.

Personally, I love the slower methods to extract herbal constituents. I just think they are more time-honored and I’ve only had excellent results from them.

The directions I give in this article are for the folk method (the cold infusion), which is the slowest, but I believe, the best way to make an herbal extract.

With that said: I have never tried the percolation method myself. I haven’t had the need, to be honest. But perhaps one day I will.

The thing with making tinctures (or really, any extract) is having a good ratio of herbs to solvent. To make sure you have a ratio that will ensure you extract as much of the herbal goodness as possible and avoid being too weak, you need to know a little about how the plant matter will behave in the solvent.

You can download my free cheat sheet that will help you decide how much plant material (roots, leaves, barks, seeds, flowers, etc.) you’ll need for the amount of alcohol you’ll use. Plus, the directions are there for you too!

This plant material cheat sheet for making tinctures is free for you to print and use in the Resource Library! Just complete the form at the end of this article.

OK—-Here are the basic steps for creating an herbal tincture:Step 1) Add your herbs to your jar.

**Download the Cheat Sheet for amounts by plant material by completing the form below!

Step 2) Fill your jar with your high-proof alcohol of choice.Step 3) Shake well, and allow to sit for about an hour.

**The herbs will soak up some of the menstruum, so you may need to add some more. All the herbal matter should be submerged completely.

Step 4) Add more alcohol (or other solvent) as needed.

**This will depend on how much alcohol the plant material absorbs. You want your solvent to completely cover the plant matter, and be within an inch or so of the top of the jar for movement.

Step 5) Find a great spot to keep your processing tincture.

**This can be in a sunny window (a gentle heat method); a dark, cool closet (which some herbalists prefer), or simply a shelf in your kitchen or on the counter.

Shake your tincture a few times a week, especially if you are using powdered herbs.

Step 6) Allow your herbs to macerate (steep) in the liquid for four to eight weeks. 

**I have left mine for a year before, and the tincture has been just fine. However, your tincture should be ready to strain within the six week range, give or take a couple of weeks.

Step 7) Strain out the herbal matter.

**To do this, I use a strainer and a layer or two of cheesecloth or paper towel. This ensures a nice clear tincture. 

Step 8) Bottle up your tincture!

**I use amber glass bottles because the amber glass helps keep light from the liquid and protects it from degradation.


This is wild rose petal infused apple cider vinegar. I love how it turns such a beautiful pink! I will be using this for salad dressings and to add to my drinking water!

How to Make Herbal Acetums: (Herbal Extracts in Vinegar)

Some people just don’t want to use alcohol in their tinctures, for various reasons. Or perhaps they are concerned about giving even small amounts of alcohol to children. Well, did you know vinegar can be a somewhat useful solvent for extracting herbal compounds?

A vinegar infusion is not as strong as a tincture made with alcohol, but it will still be helpful. In fact, vinegar has been used medicinally for thousands of years! It was the main form of extracting herbal value long before stills were invented for alcohol.

Vinegar is also useful for disinfecting, preserving foods, and much more. Besides being good for extracting certain herbal constituents, vinegar has a great number of health benefits, especially raw vinegars, like apple cider vinegar.

Some of the health benefits of raw vinegars include improved digestion, support of healthy cholesterol levels, boosting the immune system, and even weight loss. If you are using vinegar to create an extract, it’s important to note that these are mainly nutritional and not as much medicinal.

Find out how to make your own apple cider vinegar in this link! If you are interested in how to make artisan homemade raw fruit vinegars, you can find directions right here. If you aren’t interested in making your own vinegars, you can buy high quality, raw apple cider vinegar from Amazon or any good health store.

If you want to make a stronger vinegar infusion with your medicinal herbs, you can add some alcohol, creating a solvent that is a mixture of alcohol and vinegar. This is known as an acetous tincture. Adding alcohol will increase the number and types of plant compounds extracted, making a more powerful extract than just vinegar alone.

Want to know how to make an herbal vinegar infusion for medicinal and health purposes?

Just follow the same exact directions above in the tincture section! Be sure to use dried herbs for a vinegar extract.

Here are the plant constituents vinegar will extract from the herb: Minerals, trace elements, and alkaloids are extractable using vinegar. There are far fewer chemicals extracted with vinegar, but you do get the ones that have a great deal of nutrition.

Complete the form below to download my free Plant Material Proportions Cheat Sheet (+Basic list of directions) from the free Resource Library. You will also be subscribed to our weekly newsletter, and you’ll never miss a thing!

How to Make Glycerites: Herbal Extracts in Vegetable Glycerine

A glycerite is simply a type of herbal extract that can be used instead of sour vinegar or strong alcohol as the solvent. Instead, glycerin is the solvent in this type of extract (glycerite). Vegetable glycerine is sweet, being a clear, odorless liquid that comes from plant oils.

Glycerine takes a little longer for the extract to be ready, and the extract is not as strong as alcohol, vinegar, or even water for that matter. However, if you are planning to use herbs with children, a glycerite can be a good choice because they are sweeter and easier to take.

Another notable thing about glycerites is that they work much more slowly than alcohol tinctures because they are metabolized differently by the liver. Therefore, they are not only not quite as effective as an alcohol (or vinegar) extract, but the effects are slower too.

To make a glycerite, use dried herbs up to a little less than halfway in the jar. Cover completely with glycerine. Allow to macerate for about eight weeks, shaking a few times a week. Just follow the same directions as above!

NOTE: Hard herbal parts, such as..

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I wrote recently about natural remedies and herbal remedies you should either have ready to go or at least have the ingredients for this Fall. This is because cold and flu season is upon us! I’ve already run across those who are too sick to leave home, and I just know the “yuck” is going to start flowing through populated areas soon.

What about essential oils? I always laugh at this saying of the MLM distributors, “There’s an oil for that.”

Well, often (but not always) there is! And colds and flus are no exception. There are several great essential oils that are good to use during times of cold and flu.

Personally, I like to combine my herbal practice with the use of occasional essential oils. They work synergistically together to make a wonderful healing team!

But many people seem to be more comfortable using essential oils as they have become more and more mainstream. This article is going to concentrate on the best essential oils to use for helping with the common cold.

With the rampant overuse of antibiotics (especially in our meat, due to the sick food system in this country), colds and flus are becoming more resistant to pharmaceutical antibiotics.

Essential oils and plant medicines are becoming the best ways to go for best results in keeping the flu bug away and getting it gone sooner. Not to mention dealing with the ugly and unpleasant symptoms.

Here are my favorite essential oils to have ready to go right now! You’ll have some wonderful plant allies, especially if you take a look at the articles in the links above for natural home remedies you can easily make, too.

I’ve got a free mini eBook for you with lots of remedy recipes you can easily make using these essential oils! You’ll want to add this to your cold care arsenal this year! You can get it by completing the form at the end of the article!

FTC Disclosure: There are affiliate links scattered throughout this article. If you click through and make any kind of purchase, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.

These are the BEST essential oils you can use to get rid of the cold and flu symptoms like congestion, headache, body ache, lymph movement, cough, and more, naturally! Which oils should you buy for a natural way to beat cold and flu? Find out here by clicking through to the article! #cold #flu #getridof #natural #essentialoils #remedy #easy #fast #healingharvesthomestead

What is a Bad Cold, Anyway?

A cold is caused by one of over 200 identified viruses, the most common being strains of the rhinovirus. Since there are so many viruses that cause a cold, there is no way anyone could have built up the antibodies needed to fight them all off.

Since colds are caused by viruses, this means that antibiotic your doctor may hand you may be more for your mental benefit than being effective against getting rid of the cold.

Most colds just have to run their course. They can take (normally) anywhere from a week to 10 days to progress to recovery, although you can speed recovery naturally if you know what to do.

According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) most adults will get two to three colds a year, while children may get up to 12 per year! This statistic was shocking to me, I’ll be honest. Before I started using herbs and essential oils, I definitely fell into that range.

But since I began using herbs and essential oils many years ago? Well, I can actually count the number of colds I’ve had on one hand. Pretty amazing.

Symptoms of a Bad Cold

Symptoms of a cold are slightly different than those of a flu. Bad colds generally result in:

And once in awhile, with very, very bad colds, people may experience chills, mild fever, and weakness.

Colds CAN lead to other complications if they are not handled properly or for people who are high risk, such as children or infants, the elderly, and the immune-compromised. Some of these complications include strep throat, trigger an asthma attack, sinusitis, or ear infection.

Fall and winter are the most common seasons for bad colds, but you can get a cold any time of the year. It’s best to just prevent a cold by following good hygiene habits, reducing stress, staying away from people who are ill, and getting enough rest.

BEST Essential Oils to Have Ready to Fight a Bad Cold and the Symptoms

Well, DARN it all! You got a cold? I’ve sure been there. Well, here are some essential oils you can keep on hand to help fight that cold right off. These are the same ones I keep in my own home!

You can get my free recipe remedy guide to using these essential oils by completing the form at the end of the article.

Here is a rundown of the most powerfully effective essential oils for dealing with colds:1) Eucalyptus essential oil:

Eucalyptus comes from a tall evergreen tree, often known as a “gum” tree. The chemicals that make eucalyptus so effective are Eucalyptol and alpha-terpineol. Eucalyptus is a cooling and soothing essential oil that helps with relaxation.

It’s wonderful vapor helps clear difficult breathing and nasal airways, helping you feel better more quickly.

Eucalyptus is a wonderful cleaning essential oil, too, and will kill a certain number of pathogens. I like to use it in cleaning sprays.

One quick way to use eucalyptus is to drop a few drops just outside the water flow of your shower. The steam will carry it up and help clear you relax and breathe easier.

2) Tea Tree essential oil:

I love Tea Tree essential oil, although that was not always the case. It has very potent antibacterial, antiviral, antiseptic and anti-fungal properties. It helps with congestion when applied to the chest area in a carrier oil. Dilute 10 drops in a 10 mL roller bottle. If you have a cough, it may help soothe it.

Tea tree essential oil is probably the best germ-fighting essential oil in this list! Use it for cleaning to help keep the bugs gone.

3) Peppermint essential oil:

Peppermint essential oil is a gentle yet powerful ally in helping with winter time ailments like the cold and flu. It contains a great amount of menthol, which opens airways and helps breathing.

It’s also useful for soothing headache and helping with digestive issues. When used in combination with eucalyptus, you’ll have a wonderful natural way to soothe congestion. You can find out more about Peppermint essential oil here.

Peppermint is wonderful for helping with sinus headaches. It’s also cooling to the body.

Peppermint contains menthol, which helps clear up congestion. It’s also cooling and soothing.

4) Rosemary essential oil:

I just love Rosemary essential oil! It’s a fabulous essential oil for stimulating the immune system, as well as its antimicrobial capabilities. When combined with essential oils that help breathing and congestion, it enhances the actions of the other essential oils because of its high camphor content.

Rosemary essential oil also helps with lymph flow. This helps get the bugs out of your system faster!

NOTE: Rosemary should be used with caution if you have high blood pressure. Speak to your doctor first.

You can find out a lot more about rosemary essential oil here.

5) Lavender essential oil:

Lavender essential oil is calming and soothing. When you have a cold, your body is stressed. Trying to breathe through a stuffed up nose is just no fun. When you add a few drops of lavender essential oil to your remedy choices, you’re giving your body a chance to be calmed and soothed.

Lavender has a compound called linalool in high amounts. This compound is what helps calm a tense body and a anxious mind. By helping your body calm down, you are giving it a better chance to rest—-and that helps you get better faster.

You can find out a ton about lavender essential oil here.

Rosemary and Lavender are both excellent plant allies to help you fight cold and flu symptoms.

6) Ginger essential oil:

Ginger essential oil is warming and stimulating and is soothing for inflammation. It’s been proven to kill strains of the rhinovirus, so if you have a bad cold coming on….get your ginger out to diffuse.

Since it is a warming essential oil, you would not want to use it if you are trying to calm down. But rubbing some diluted ginger essential oil (5-10 drops in a 10 mL roller bottle) on your throat may just help may it feel better fast!

7) Sage essential oil:

Sage is a crazy germ fighting power house! Along with its anti-microbial properties, sage is an expectorant that helps dry and tone inflammation with wet mucous. It’s great for soothing coughs. Diffuse a few drops in the air to help give your house a clean feeling.

Rubbing some diluted sage essential oil (5-10 drops in a 10mL roller bottle) with come carrier oil onto swollen lymph nodes may help soothe and move the lymph fluid.

Ginger is warming and stimulating, helping with body aches.

8) Frankincense essential oil:

Oh….Frankincense. One of my most favorite essential oils of all. You can find out some INSANE things you need to know about Frankincense essential oil here.

But as far as a cold goes?

Well, frankincense happens to be astringent, expectorant, disinfectant, and anti-inflammatory. You can combine frankincense with any of the oils on this list for a great boost for getting that cold gone faster. Like sage, it is helpful in moving lymph and getting the toxins gone from your body.

9) Oregano (or Thyme) essential oil:

Oregano essential oil is one of the “hot” oils. Be sure you dilute this essential oil well. I actually had a friend who burned the bottoms of her feet with a distributor from one of the big multi-level marketing companies told her to rub this essential oil on her soles. She neglected to tell her to dilute it WELL.

Oregano has some pretty powerful germ fighting characteristics. It’s great to diffuse in small amounts for cleaning the air. Just be aware your home may smell like a pizza. :-)

This nebulizer is one way you can diffuse your essential oils.

10) Black Pepper essential oil:

Black pepper essential oil is a warming and stimulating essential oil, much like rosemary is. It can be helpful if you feel a low fever, as it can help you sweat. You can apply a few drops to a warm moist washcloth to make a compress for your forehead.

Black pepper can also be used in a tub to help with achy muscles. In fact, if you decide to go this route with a bath, add in a couple drops of eucalyptus and peppermint to help with your breathing at the same time.

Where to Buy Your Essential Oils?

I like to purchase my essential oils from companies I’ve researched and am familiar with. Here is an article about my criteria for how to choose a good essential oil company, if you’d like to take a look. The links in the article above are for Amazon, for your convenience, though.

Right now, I personally buy my essential oils from Rocky Mountain Oils (I love this company for many reasons), Starwest Botanicals (great quality, and you can purchase in higher quantities for soap making, etc.), and Plant Therapy ( I love that they have a Kidsafe line of essential oils that you can feel confident using.

I hope those choices help give you a good starting place!


These germ-busting, symptom relieving essential oils are wonderful to keep around your home in all the seasons, but especially during times when you have the cold or a flu!

These essential oils are special because they also will serve a variety of purposes in your home. You can find out more by clicking through any links to articles I added here.

Hey! Would you like a free mini eBook with actual remedy recipes you can make easily with these essential oils? You can get it now by completing the form below.

Also, I’d love to hear what you think and if you have ideas for favorite recipes using essential oils you like to use in your home for your family? Leave a comment in the comments section!

Hugs, Health, and Self-Reliance,


P.S. Here is where you can sign up for the newsletter and gain access to the Resource Library, where you can download your free eBook(s) and guides. There’s more being added every week, too! Enjoy!

Just complete the form below:

Disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor. No statement made here (or anywhere else by me) is meant or implied to treat, cure, diagnose, or prevent any disease or illness. Please seek advice from your medical professional. Also, always seed medical advice before using herbs or essential oils, as many of these can interact with medications or affect pregnant/nursing women, the elderly, children, or the immune-compromised.




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I’ll be honest: Melt & Pour soap making was my first experience with making handmade soap. I wanted to make my own handmade soap SO badly, but I just wasn’t ready to start dealing with lye. And measurements. And exact temperatures. After searching everywhere I could for ways to make soap without using lye, I succumbed to melt and pour. And I’m so glad I did! (By the way, people loved my M&P soaps, and they were a real hit!)

Some hardcore soap makers don’t consider melt & pour to be “real” handmade soap making or even “natural” since you’re using a processed soap base.

However, if you have been dying to make your own handmade soap (like I was many years ago), and you are afraid of using lye (like I was), then the melt & pour method is probably right up your alley!

By the way, I wrote an article a couple of years ago about the stunning secret to making soap without using lye—-Spoiler Alert! It’s all about the melt and pour method. You might want to go check that one out too!

If you are already convinced that Melt & Pour soap making is something you want to get going on right away, then. you’ll want to get my free eBook with five great Melt & Pour recipes and complete directions you can print out and use! Just complete the form at the end of the article.

Here are seven great reasons to make your own soap using the melt & pour method, even if you are already an experienced soap maker:

FTC Disclosure: There are affiliate links scattered throughout this article. If you click through and make any kind of purchase, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Can you make soap without using lye? Yes! It’s called Melt & Pour handmade soap making. Find out why melt and pour is a great handmade soap making option, plus directions and 5 recipes! These make perfect quick and lovely presents to gift during the holidays! So easy a child could make these as a great gift project. #meltandpour #handmadesoap #natural #soap #handmade #easygift #diygift #holiday #directions #howtomake #recipes

7 Reasons Why Melt & Pour Soap Making May Be the Best Choice for You

Now, I’ll be honest. These days, I mainly make melt & pour soaps when my grand daughter visits because it’s a fun way for us to spend time together. Plus she feels so proud of her creations!

I make mostly hot process soaps, and once in awhile I’ll make a cold process soap. But I still do love my Melt & Pour soap too. Here are seven reasons why you should consider making your own handmade soap using the melt & pour method:

1) Melt and Pour Soap Making is EASY

Seriously. It is.

There are very few projects out there that are easier, in fact.

When my hair dresser (many years ago, when I was a city girl professional—-now I’m totally into henna) told me she was going to use my hot process soap recipe to make soaps for her bridal shower, I told her she should take a look at Melt & Pour instead!

It’s so easy even the person who has never made soap before in their life (like my hair dresser) can make it perfectly the first time. It requires very few steps (I’ll go over these below), and you can use it right away.

One of the reasons I make melt & pour soaps with my grand daughter is that it is such an easy and simple project to make. And I love the fact that maybe one day she will be inspired to make more difficult “real” soaps.

** The word “real” is in quotes because of the (often rabid) discussions out there about melt & pour not being real handmade soap. I stay out of those discussions because if it hadn’t been for melt & pour soap, I would never have had the courage to try “real” soap making with lye later on.

BOOM! I love Melt & Pour!

2) You Don’t Have to Deal with or Worry About Using Lye

Since I’ve been sharing my recipes for hot process soaps with readers and friends, I have learned that the fear of working with lye is one of the top reasons people who WANT to make their own handmade soaps from don’t ever get started.

In fact, it took me literally months to work up the courage.

You see. When bloggers and authors like me write about making anything remotely dangerous, we often go a little overboard on the cautions. This is because we want people to be safe, and if these cautions aren’t emphasized, then people may not take them seriously.

Working with lye CAN be dangerous if you are not being careful. If you are being careful and doing things right (safety gear, no distractions etc.), then you’ll find soap making is fun and not scary at all. (You can read about 10 Soap Making Mistakes You Never Want to Make here, if you like.)

But still.

Many people are afraid of lye. I was.

I admit. That tiny little issue is what made me hold back.

But with melt & pour, you can make handmade soap to your heart’s content and never need to worry about lye “volcanoes” or burning caustic chemicals. Nope. You just get to have a good time!

Melt & Pour Soap Making is EASY. And it’s perfect for making with children!

3) You Can Easily Experiment With a Ton of Wonderful Soap Bases and Types

Soaping companies have found some pretty ingenious ways to create soap bases that people dream about working with. I mean, who would NOT want to make their own goat milk soap? Or Aloe Vera soap? Or translucent Honey Glycerin soap? Right?

But creating “real” goat milk soap is tricky and requires some skill, whether you are making your soap using the hot or cold process method.

But guess what?

With melt & pour, you get to make your own goat milk soap using a ready-made base! How cool is that?

I’ll go over some of your choices for soap bases here. There are SO many of them these days!

** Shea Butter Soap Base:

Shea butter is so soothing and wonderfully moisturizing for your skin. You’ll love a nice shea butter base. It is a solid white or cream color, which makes it terrific for adding natural ingredients like clays or herbal powders.

** Goat Milk Soap Base:

One of the more popular soap bases, goat milk soap base is not a vegan option, but there is no denying how good milk soaps are for your skin. I love my goat milk soaps.

Also, when you make “real” goat milk soap (or any milk soap) using the cold process method and especially the hot process method, your soap will most likely be a caramel color and not the beautiful creamy white of the melt and pour soap base.

** Honey Soap Base:

Honey soap bases are one of my favorites to work with. These are translucent, so if you are adding color fast flower petals (like calendula), they are presented just beautifully. Translucent bases, like honey, are also fun to add embeds, like a natural luffa sponge!

Olive Oil Soap Base:

Oh, olive is extremely conditioning for very dry or sensitive skin. It’s the perfect soap for babies. That’s why Castile soap has been so popular over the ages—-because it is made with Olive Oil only. Just a wonderful soap.

Oatmeal Soap Base:

I love oatmeal in soaps. It is so softening and is wonderful for skin. Besides, anyone who hears the term, “oatmeal soap” knows they are in for a special treat. This oatmeal soap base is not translucent, but that’s ok. It makes it a great candidate for adding colorants.

NOTE: It is very easy to take a basic white soap base and add your own oatmeal. You just have to keep the temperature at a certain place (about 115 degrees) before adding the finely powdered oatmeal so it doesn’t sink to the bottom. You want it suspended in the base.

You can find out more in my free eBook about making melt and pour soaps, along with 5 recipes you can make now! (Form at the end to request it.)

Aloe Vera Soap Base:

Aloe Vera has long been prized for its skin conditioning. It’s also great for oily skin and may help with certain kinds of acne. At any rate, it’s lovely green translucent color makes it a great choice if you want to add some pretty (dried) rosemary leaves.

(You should never add fresh material to melt & pour soap—you could have a moldy, rancid mess on your hands.)

These are just a few of your soap base options. There are others you can try too! The links above are to Amazon. My favorite companies to purchase from on Amazon are Stephenson and Our Earth’s Secrets. I’m sure there are other good companies, but I know these always have quality bases.

NOTE: You can find out how to make your own Aloe Vera gel and use this to add in after the melt!

Please do not go to the craft store to buy your bases! These are usually substandard (in my opinion) and are also more expensive.

Here’s a block of shea butter melt & pour soap base. I just started cutting it up into 1 inch cubes, and I remembered I’d better take a picture!

4) You Can Learn the Art of Beautiful Soap Making Without Stress—-Using Additives in Melt & Pour Soap

You know those handmade soaps that just make you “ooh” and “aah”? Well, you can create some pretty lovely soaps using the melt & pour method.

I’ll admit: I’m not an expert with these methods, but I can do some basic things. You can find five easy melt & pour recipes along with clear directions in my free eBook at the end of the article.

If you want some really great tutorials on very fancy and involved melt & pour soaps, check out the Soap Queen website. Marie Faiola is a true soap making expert, and you can also check out her book: Pure Soap Making.

You can color your soaps how you want to, you can learn to make swirls, you can add exfoliants, and scent your own handmade soaps using melt & pour very similarly (and sometimes even better) than with the other two soap making methods: hot process and cold process.

Here are some additives you can decide to use if you like:


Clays and herbal powders are my favorite ways to color any of my soaps, melt & pour or not. You see, these are truly natural colorants. I do NOT recommend micas or any of the fancy fluorescent colors, unless you want to slather chemicals all over yourself. Just saying.

You can easily powder your own dried herbs. I’ve had great luck with wheat grass, alfalfa, and nettle for greens. Calendula powder or turmeric for yellows, and lots more. You can find out how to naturally color your own soaps (including melt & pour) in this article using roots, herbs, & clays.

Exfoliants & Textures:

This is where creating your own soaps gets really fun! Did you know you can add textures such as coffee grounds (dry), powdered walnut shells, powdered almonds, oatmeal (powdered or not), pumice, seeds, and so much more? It’s super fun to play around with these!

Scents & Fragrance:

OK. Here I go on my all-natural tangent again. But PLEASE stay away from fragrance oils. These are terribly bad for you, even if they say, “natural.”

The FDA allows that word to be used on any chemical lab-created substance for cosmetics and especially soap making if it matches up to a certain extent with the chemical structure of the “real” thing.

Please just stay away from these. You can find out more about chemicals in this article.

What should you use instead?

Essential oils.

I know! I know. They are expensive. Yes. They are. However, in my opinion, it is well-worth the extra cost.

For making soaps, I only use essential oils from Starwest Botanicals because you can purchase a good quality essential oil in quantity without breaking the bank (too much).

You can find out my favorite best essential oils to use for soap making in this article. I chose them because they work great in soaps, and they are on the lower price point as far as essential oils go.

OH! You are probably wondering how much to use.

Well, I admit to being a little heavy handed with my scents, but that’s not what everyone likes. My suggestion is to start with a small amount. Just know your scent will tend to evaporate the longer the soap is around.

In my experience the scent does tend to last longer in melt & pour than in cold process or even hot process. So keep that in mind. The general guideline is about 0.2 to 0.4 ounces of essential oil per pound of soap.

If you like a lighter scented soap, use less. If you like a stronger scented soap, use a little more (but I would say no more than 0.7 ounces per pound at most for melt & pour).

Honey melt & pour with calendula petals—-This is such a pretty soap!

5) Melt & Pour Soap Making is SUPER Fast!

It really is! You can whip up a batch of melt & pour soap within 20 minutes or so. Cooling time is also much shorter than with hot process soap. And there is no curing, which is required for cold process soap.

Melt & pour has some really great advantages!

6) Melt & Pour Soap Making is a Fabulous Project to Do With Kids!

Want a totally fun and cool project to do with your own children, your grand-children, or even at a party for kids?

Try a simple melt & pour soap project! Make some yourself first so you can be sure it will work and then make adjustments as you need to. Then you’ll be all set to have that fun project with kids!

They’ll learn the basics about creating their own soaps, and I guarantee they’ll have a blast doing it! If you are homeschooling, you can even bring in some science concepts (like states of matter, etc.).

What a WINNER!

7) It’s Fun!

Have I mentioned making melt & pour soap is fun? It really is. Especially if you are a beginner to the soap making world, melt & pour is just a fun afternoon activity.

Also, because it’s so enjoyable, it will probably become a gateway into some “real” soap making endeavors using the hot process or cold process methods. I was that way for me!

After I made a few melt & pour soaps many years ago, I couldn’t wait to go ahead and make that leap into courageously working with lye so I could make more advanced soaps.

You can use a solid base (or not) like goat milk, triple butter, or shea butter, then add some texture like this oatmeal!

How to Make Melt & Pour Soap

OK. I’m just going to gloss over these directions a little bit, because you can find very complete directions in my free eBook “How to Make Melt & Pour Soap PLUS 5 Easy Recipes” just by completing the form at the end of this article. Or you can visit this article: How to Make Soap Without Using Lye, which is extremely popular.

Step 1) Cut the Soap Base

Yep. Using a sharp knife, just cup the base into 1 inch cubes.

Step 2) Melt Over Very Low Heat

Using low heat is critical, as you can actually burn your soap. NOT good. I prefer to use a stove on low, along with a double boiler, because, I admit: I do not own (nor will I ever) a microwave oven. Also, I just think using a microwave oven is asking for potential troubles.

And one last thing: If you are making this soap with a child(ren), it is SO good for them to watch the melting process as it occurs. (This is the 30+ year veteran elementary teacher talking here.)

Melt & Pour (depending on the base) melts at around 120 degrees or so.

It’s important to STIR the soap often to keep the melting smooth and even.

Step 3) Add Any Additives

I like to allow the soap to cool to around 115 degrees approximately. Especially if you are using heavier additives like oatmeal or clays, you may want to cool it even a bit more. You can use a candy thermometer to do this. Or I have this

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The other day, Mr. V. and I were discussing water. That’s because we didn’t have any! For the first time in six years, we had no water. We are on a personal well, you see. It runs off an electrical pump.

We moved to this homestead in Idaho from an off-grid homestead in So Nevada just a few months ago. There, we pretty much had our infrastructure and preps handled just fine. But now, here in Idaho, we are back on the grid. It feels kind of unsafe, I’ll be honest.

This means electricity from a utility company. And since we are in a very rural area outside a very tiny town, if the power goes down it may just be anyone’s guess how long it will be before it’s back on. I guess we’ll find out!

So when the power went out recently…..well. That was a moment that we looked at each other and realized once again we are at the mercy of the “powers” that be.

NOT a good feeling. At least not for us, being used to the safety net of solar power in our previous off-grid life.

Our concerns were for our animals as well as ourselves. And the garden. And for showers. Just saying.

But seriously. Without water, life such as it is just not going to last very long.

Being that our property is near the top of a mountain (we do own our portion of the very top of the mountain, as well as a large portion of the other side), which is about 200 yards up the hill from the house), we know it is impossible (at this point) to get water without the pump.

Anyway, we were discussing what we would need to be sure that we could keep water to the property in the event of a grid-down situation. Which could happen!

Just read One Second After by William Fortschen. You will be entertained, but more importantly, educated about the ramifications of an EMP—-whether solar or terrorist.

(PSST! This would be a GREAT gift for the guy in your life. And if he doesn’t read, get it on Audible. I have not met a real man who hasn’t gobbled this book up.)

We quickly decided that as soon as the funds are available, we will need to have a water tank installed on the top of the hill to route fresh water from the well. Then the water can be gravity fed into the house and stock areas.

BOOM! Problem solved, at least in our plans. We just need the money first.

After this uncomfortable incident with the power going out, I had the opportunity to think (once again) to myself: Am I a homesteader? Am I a prepper?

Or maybe I’m actually a survivalist? After all, I DO have a pretty nice Get Home Bag in my vehicle at all times.

After reflecting on these terms and mulling over ALL the literature (fiction and nonfiction) I’ve read about disaster situations over the years…well, I have come to some conclusions about where I fit in.

How about you? Do you think you fit into any of these categories?

Part of being self-reliant is being able to take care of yourself and your family in the event of a short or even a long-term disaster. And we have been aspiring to be self-reliant for a very long time now.

As I’ve mentioned before, in other articles like this one about food storage or this amazing list of emergency supplies every home should have: Nobody is really and truly ever totally self-reliant.

But, self-reliance is a theme that definitely threads through homesteading, prepping, and knowing how to survive anywhere.

So, here are the differences, between being a homesteader, a prepper, and a survivalist. Maybe you’ll find yourself in one or more of these categories!

What is the difference between a homesteader? A prepper? And a survivalist? Some people lump them all in one category, and there are certainly overlaps. In fact, self-reliance is a definite theme for all of them. Find out the differences and where do you fall out? Which are you? #prepper #preparedness #emergency #self-reliance #homesteader #survivalist #healingharvesthomestead

What is the Difference Between Being a Homesteader, a Prepper, or a Survivalist?

These really aren’t completely discrete terms. There are definitely some overlaps between all the categories. You can have characteristics of a homesteader but still be a die-hard survivalist too. So, I’ll define each and give you some really good examples from my own personal life of people I know in each category.

What is a Homesteader?

Mr. V. and I are definitely homesteaders. We have the mindset and hearts of the homesteading kind of person. A homesteader is a person who wants to be self-reliant. To be independent from the material world. To not be dependent on the nanny state.

But the self-reliance of the person with a homesteading mindset is not necessarily for the sake of surviving a disaster or a long-term grid down situation. The homesteader wants to be able to take care of the family themselves and generally live a simple life.

And we do fall into this category.

We want to be able to grow our own food. We want to be able to be sure we can either create or have access to all the things we need to live without relying on modern systems, government, or even other people to a great extent.

A homesteader wants to be able to walk out to the garden to pick the food needed for that night’s dinner. To be able to know that due to their hard work, there is food in the pantry set aside for the winter months.

Homesteading has kind of a “romantic” vibe, too. It’s not quite as “threatening” as being a “prepper” or especially a hard-core “survivalist.”

It’s got the Laura Ingalls “Little House on the Prairie” feel. That’s the homesteading mindset.

And honestly, you can be a homesteader in the city. You can be a homesteader in an apartment. If you are the kind of person who loves being able to handle your life without help from others….chances are you are a homesteader at heart.

In fact, I was an urban homesteader. You can find out what on earth I was doing without even realizing it in that link back when I lived and worked in a huge city—-for decades of my life.

You can take a neat little quiz in this article to find out if you are a homesteader or have the mindset of one: Are You a Homesteader?

And that takes us to:

Many homesteaders keep chickens, some in the backyard! Chickens provide fresh eggs that are not tainted by the stress hormones or issues of factory farmed chickens. (Read Don’t Eat That Meat!)

What is a Prepper?

I’ll be honest. I never even heard of the term, “prepper” prior to about six years ago. Actually, I never even heard of the term, “homesteader” either.

But I realized very quickly upon adopting our new lifestyle six years ago in the off-grid village of Cold Creek, NV, that we were definitely homesteaders.

And. Then we became preppers at the urging of some members of the community there too.

Here is what consititutes a person who is into preparedness: Preppers definitely fall on a continuum. There are “hard-core” preppers who literally put their life savings into their efforts. And there are those who just want to have a couple of weeks of food and water stored up, just in case.

So, a prepper is a person who feels the need to be ready for a disaster of some kind. It can be short-term. It may be long-term.

Preppers will have food storage and emergency supplies handy.

Usually, preppers start out looking at the short-term. Then as they become educated about the potentials of a long-term disaster, they may get more serious, depending on the resources at their disposal.

I was raised with a bit of an LDS background, as most of my family are LDS. One of the tenants of this culture is to have at least a year’s food storage set aside. Personally, I think that’s just plain smart.

Even though I am not LDS, much of the wisdom of that culture and religion has soaked into my bones. The food storage is definitely something Mr. V. and I have adopted.

A prepper will begin to think about the possibility of having to protect the property from those who would help themselves in dire times. Therefore, weapons of some type are generally involved.

Water is also a big consideration. Besides water storage, most serious preppers will give some thought to long term water. Where will it come from? Preppers have a plan for just about everything they can think about, even if (like us) they are working on the where with all (the financing) to get all the things done.

As you can see there are some overlaps between being a prepper and a homesteader. These are very natural overlaps.

The homesteader wants self-reliance. And by that very desire, they are usually edging into the realm of being at least somewhat prepared to take care of the family with food and water.

A prepper is thinking primarily about being ready for a disaster situation. With that readiness comes the thought process of being self-reliant in an emergency.

A survivalist will know how to build a great waterproof shelter quickly.

What is a Survivalist?

Have you ever watched the show, “Dude, You’re Screwed”? Well, those guys are survivalists. They know how to make something out of nothing.

And I’ll just say this: Many preppers I have met have the desire to also be survivalists.

But a survivalist has developed skills to be able to live completely off the land. To defend himself and family, often in some pretty violent ways if need be.

We have this neighbor. He is a GREAT guy.

He lives in the garage at his brother’s house, and he comes and goes as he pleases. He has a pretty great set up over there, if you ask me. He’s got a little wood-burning fireplace in the garage. He sleeps in his camper when the weather is nice and in the garage when it’s not.

He fishes and hunts for his own food. He forages for mushrooms and other foods. He lives off the land.

This man does not feel beholden to anyone for anything. He often takes off for weeks at a time and lives in the wilderness.

I mentioned to Mr. V. the other day that I didn’t think he was that prepared for a disaster. Mr. V. looked at me and said, “That man is the most prepared I’ve ever seen because he knows exactly how to survive out there!”

As usual. Mr. V. was right.

And I realized this man is an example of a survivalist.

Survivalists, preppers, and homesteaders all have skillsets. Some of these overlap. And some don’t.

My middle son, too, is a survivalist. He lives in an unassuming neighborhood in Florida. But he was an Army Ranger (decorated) for many years. He can get by just fine with a simple knife. Or probably less. His mindset is about protecting his family.

A survivalist has skills that allow him/her to be able to survive in the wild or to defend him or herself against predatory people in an urban environment. A survivalist is all about surviving: living through an extreme and terrible situation.

Mr. V. and I know how to shoot weapons (especially Mr. V. He is pretty adept), and I’m sure we have some semblance of being able to defend out property. However, we really don’t have the hard-core mentality of a survivalist.

Although, the show, “Dude, You’re Screwed,” really makes Mr. V. want to participate. (eye-roll—lol)

I’m not sure if the show is airing any longer, but you can find Matt Graham’s book, Epic Survival: Extreme Adventure, Stone-Age Wisdom, and Lessons in Living from a Modern Hunter-Gatherer on Amazon. His Condor primitive bush knife is pretty cool, too.

Are you ready for a natural disaster? Could you survive? Or would you need a FEMA camp?

Final Thoughts on Prepping, Homesteading, and Surviving

There are definite lines drawn between the three types of self-reliant types, but there are some fuzzy overlaps too.

You can be a homesteader without being a prepper (on purpose anyway). You can definitely be a prepper without being a homesteader. And you can be a survivalist without being a prepper or a homesteader.

However, most of the folks I meet who have this self-reliant mindset in terms of staying alive overlap in these areas.

We are preppers to an extent. We are homesteaders who are getting better at what we do. We probably are not survivalists. I’m sure we could do a bit if we had to, in a dire situation, but neither of us has any kind of training in outdoor or urban survival techniques. I’ve never even seen Mr. V. in a fight, let alone a fight to the death.

(LOL And I am certainly not set up for that kind of thing!) Although, you just never know what a good shot of adrenaline would do, right?

So. Where do you fall in this mix? It’s likely you do fit someplace, especially if you are a person who loves DIY and feeling empowered by having some skills that will keep you safe in the world if it should ever change as we know it.

And that could be any of these three personas—-or maybe a bit of them all.

What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Hugs & Self-Reliance,


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In the event of everything disappearing, as in the fires that took out entire towns in California recently, do you have a plan?

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