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The Nerdy Farm Wife by Jan @ The Nerdy Farm Wife - 1w ago
Learn why you need lye to make soap and how to handle it safely.

Our great great grandmothers made soap without having to use a caustic chemical, so why do we?

The short answer is that our grandmothers manufactured their own caustic chemical of sorts, called potash, by combining hardwood ashes and water.

This created an extremely strong alkaline substance that was considered ready when it would dissolve a chicken feather. The caustic wood ash solution was then mixed with fat rendered from butchered animals and boiled over an outdoor fire for many hours until a soft soap was formed.

While this method resulted in a truly natural soap, it was also difficult to control the quality of the final product.

These days, we have standardized substitutes to replace that wood ash solution:

  • Sodium Hydroxide (NaOH) – also called caustic soda or lye; creates solid bars of soap
  • Potassium Hydroxide (KOH) – is used to make liquid soaps

Using these types of lye and precise measurements, we’re able to consistently produce batch after batch of gentle soap.

What happens if you leave the lye out of a recipe?

Without lye, the oils in your recipe would stay oils. Nothing would happen to them.

A chemical change involving lye must happen in order to create soap.

Can you use glycerin instead of lye?

Some people mistakenly believe that glycerin can be used instead of lye. Glycerin (a humectant that’s good for your skin) is actually a byproduct of the soapmaking process and will not transform oils into soap.

If you try to use glycerin instead of lye in a soap recipe, it would be sort of like trying to start a fire with a fresh rose petal instead of a match. It just won’t work.

However, you can buy ready made glycerin soap bases (melt and pour soap, which is high in glyerin) if you don’t want to handle the lye part at home. (See my blog post “Making Soap Without Lye (Sort Of)” for more on melt and pour soaps.)

What about organic and natural store-bought soaps? Aren’t they lye free?

All true soaps are made with some form of lye. If not, then they’re detergent based products.

Some, like Dr. Bronner’s soaps, are made simply with just lye, oils and a few natural extras. Others, like Dove, are made with a combination of lye and detergents.

You can tell if a soap is made with lye, by looking for the following clues in the ingredients:

  • “sodium tallowate” = beef fat reacted with sodium hydroxide (lye for bar soap)
  • “potassium tallowate” = beef fat reacted with potassium hydroxide (lye for liquid or cream soaps)
  • “sodium olivate” or “potassium olivate” = olive oil reacted with lye
  • “sodium cocoate” or “potassium cocoate” = coconut oil reacted with lye
  • “sodium lardate” = pig fat reacted with lye
  • “saponified” means that one of more of the oils have been reacted with some form of lye
  • example: “saponified organic coconut oil” = coconut oil reacted with sodium hydroxide (bar soap) or potassium hydroxide (liquid soap)
How can such a strong substance create a mild and gentle soap?

You need lye to make soap, even natural ones, but it just doesn’t make sense at first thought, does it?

Hopefully, this section will give a better idea of how that happens.

With apologies to real chemists everywhere, below is a super-simplified illustration of how lye (sodium hydroxide) and oils/fats (glycerol & fatty acids) combine to make soap. In the presence of heat and water, the “fatty acids” bond with the “sodium” part of sodium hydroxide and form soap. The “glycerol” and “hydroxide” parts form glycerin, which is great for your skin. No lye (sodium hydroxide) is left in the final soap!

Isn’t chemistry amazing?!

Are you afraid of lye?

If so, you’re not alone; many people are. I can relate, because I was the same way! When I first started making soap, I was terrified at the thought of using lye and had my husband handle that part. After making my first successful batch of soap though, I realized…. lye isn’t that scary after all!

If you’ve ever safely worked with bleach or another strong household chemical, you should be able to handle lye just fine. The main thing to remember is that it’s a caustic substance. Just like bleach, you don’t want to drink it or get it in your eyes or on your skin. The fumes aren’t good to breathe in either.

There’s no need to fear lye, but it does deserve a good deal of respect and care when handling.

I’ll share a list of safety tips below.

Lye Safety Tips

1. Always wear gloves and goggles to protect your hands and eyes when working with lye and raw soap. (Raw soap is less than 24 hours old.)

2. If you get lye solution or raw soap on your skin, rinse thoroughly with lots of cool water. Don’t worry that a brief exposure will eat your skin off or anything drastic like that; it feels similar to a stinging sunburn until it’s rinsed off, but you do want to rinse it off quickly. While some soapers like to use vinegar in an effort to neutralize lye, the majority of safety experts recommend plain water. If lye solution gets in your eyes, rinse repeatedly with cool water and call your eye doctor for an emergency visit. (Always wear your goggles though, and this should not happen!)

3. Always add lye to water, and not the other way around. You can remember this by thinking about snow flakes falling on a lake. (Flakes of lye, falling on the water.) If you mix up the order (and I have before), it won’t blow up or anything, but could bubble up and overflow out of a small container. In my case, nothing out of the ordinary happened, but still, it’s good to go by the recommended order. I also suggest mixing the lye solution in your kitchen sink to contain any spills.

4. When lye first meets water, it gets really hot, really fast. Use room temperature or cooler water/liquids, since warm liquids can overheat and overflow. Don’t use glass for this part because it could shatter. The lye solution will also give off strong fumes for about 30 seconds or so. Don’t breathe these in and be sure to work in an area with good air flow, or even outside. If you have breathing problems or are concerned about the fumes, wear a respirator mask.

5. Don’t leave bottles of lye, or containers of lye solution, around where pets, children, or other members of the household could accidentally spill or drink them. Drinking lye can be fatal to both humans and pets. Don’t make soap with pets or small children around.

* Remember, these safety tips are in place to help prevent worst-case scenarios. People make soap all over the world, every day, without incident. Work carefully and responsibly at all times.

Want to learn more about making your own soap?

For natural soap recipes, tutorials and inspiration, along with access to my private Facebook support group, be sure to check out my Natural Soap Making Ebook Collection:

If you enjoyed this article on why you need lye to make soap, let’s keep in touch!

Subscribe to my newsletter and receive my best natural soapmaking tutorials, DIY body care recipes, plus flower & herb projects sent straight to your inbox 2 to 4 times per month. 

The information on this site is for idea-sharing only. While this site does its best to provide useful information, any reliance you place on such information is strictly at your own risk and not a substitute for medical, legal, or any other professional advice of any kind.

The post Why do you need lye to make soap? (FAQS) appeared first on The Nerdy Farm Wife.

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Learn how to make this non-toxic homemade natural deodorant recipe that features sweet orange and frankincense essential oils, along with herbal infused coconut oil for extra skin-soothing properties.

This recipe makes a cream style natural deodorant that you store in a jar and spread on with your fingers.

You only need a small amount to be effective!

The creamy base is made up of shea butter, beeswax and coconut oil, while baking soda and arrowroot provide thickening and odor protection. (Don’t want to use baking soda? Try substituting with white kaolin clay instead.)

I suggest infusing the coconut oil with beneficial herbs first (see below), but if you’re unable to, the recipe will work fine with plain coconut oil too.

For the essential oils, I wanted a clean summery scent that would also be safe for sun exposure, all ages, pregnancy and breastfeeding.

To determine which essential oils to choose, I browsed through the excellent reference manual “Essential Oil Profiles: Aromatherapy Reference Manual for the Everyday Beginner and Beyond” by Lea Jacobson.

It covers safety information, drug interactions, therapeutic properties, benefits and more for 60 of the most popular essential oils available. (This is definitely one to print out & keep in a nearby notebook for easy reference!)

Related: Right now, there’s an amazing Herbs & Essential Oils Super Bundle deal going on where you can get the Essential Oil Profiles ebook plus other valuable herbal and essential oil resources for less than $30.

This is a can’t miss sale that I look forward to each year! :)

I settled on using sweet orange essential oil for the primary scent, along with a small amount of frankincense, at a total dilution rate of around 1%.

(Note: While sweet orange (Citrus sinensis) is considered to be sun safe, many other types of citrus essential oils aren’t, so be sure to research first if using substitutions.)

I love this essential oil combination and hope you do too!

Herbal Infused Coconut Oil for Skin Soothing Benefits

To add an extra boost of goodness to your homemade deodorant, try infusing the coconut oil with herbs before making this deodorant.

I used chamomile for this batch, but good choices include:

  • chamomile – soothes itchy skin
  • calendula – helpful for broken or damaged skin
  • plantain – helpful for irritated or itchy skin
  • violet leaf – calms and cools, lymph health
  • dandelion – may help dry skin
  • rose petals – anti-inflammatory, astringent
  • sunflower petals – conditions skin

In addition, some herbs contribute other helpful benefits, such as the ones included in my DIY Herbal Deodorant for Women, which features ingredients helpful for lymph flow and breast health.

To infuse coconut oil:

Fill a heatproof jar about halfway with your chosen herb or flower, or combine several herbs at once. Fill the jar almost to the top with coconut oil. (You can add it in solid state or melt it first.)

Set the uncovered jar down into a saucepan containing several inches of water, forming a makeshift double boiler.

Place the pan over low heat for 2 to 3 hours, keeping a close eye that the water doesn’t evaporate out.

Remove the jar from heat, strain and use in your recipe.

Sweet Orange & Frankincense Homemade Natural Deodorant Recipe

Directions to make:

  1. Place the shea butter, beeswax and coconut oil in a heatproof container or jar.
  2. Set the jar down into a saucepan containing a few inches of water.
  3. Heat the pan over medium-low heat until everything is completely melted.
  4. Remove from heat.
  5. Stir in the baking soda, arrowroot powder and essential oils.
  6. Stir frequently while cooling to ensure a creamy texture.
  7. Spoon the finished deodorant in a jar.

This recipe almost fills a 4 oz jar.

Shelf life is around 9 months to 1 year. Keep out of direct sunlight and store in a cool dry area.

Troubleshooting:

If your deodorant turns out too hard for your preference, melt it again and add a teaspoon or two of a liquid oil, such as jojoba, sunflower, sweet almond, etc.

If the deodorant is too soft, try melting it and adding a pinch more beeswax.

Make sure to stir, stir, stir, especially in the first 5 to 10 minutes that the deodorant is cooling. This is what gives it a creamier texture.

If your deodorant develops graininess over time, that’s likely from the shea butter. To fix, melt the batch of deodorant until entirely melted and no lumps remain. Stir well as it cools. You may need to add a few more drops of essential oil in case some of the scent evaporates during reheating.

Remember that homemade deodorants help with odor protection, but they don’t act as antiperspirants. You will still sweat when using homemade deodorant.

If you enjoyed this recipe for Sweet Orange & Frankincense Homemade Natural Deodorant, let’s keep in touch!

Subscribe to my newsletter and receive my best natural soapmaking tutorials, DIY body care recipes, plus creative flower & herb projects sent straight to your inbox 2 to 4 times per month.

The post Sweet Orange & Frankincense Homemade Natural Deodorant Recipe appeared first on The Nerdy Farm Wife.

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Honeysuckle Orangeade is a refreshing summer drink recipe with the added benefits of honeysuckle herbal tea.

It’s easy to make, kid-friendly and was so well received by my family, I barely got photos of it before they drank every last drop.

My goats also seemed fascinated! :)

I was inspired to make this recipe (and more fun summer drink recipes like it!) after going through the Herbal Tea Kick Start Guide, a course created by herbalist Kami McBride.

It taught me how there were things I could do to make herbal teas more appealing for picky taste buds – such as including them in tasty drinks like this honeysuckle orangeade recipe!

Right now, you can get the Herbal Tea Kick Start Guide at an amazing bargain – it’s normally $47 but is included in the current Herbs & Essential Oils Super Bundle for just $29.97, along with a ton of other helpful herbal resources such as:

  • 1 year membership to The Herbarium (normally $45) – an ever-growing collection of herbal resources including in-depth plant monographs
  • Essential Oil Profiles: Aromatherapy Reference Manual by Lea Jacobson (a highly recommended & EXCELLENT EO resource, normally $27.95)
  • plus much more!

How to Make Honeysuckle Orangeade Step 1: Make the Herbal Tea

I chose honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica) for this orangeade recipe because it’s currently blooming around my house, plus it has an amazing scent, mild flavor, and a ton of great health benefits.

  • Honeysuckle may help reduce inflammation in diabetic nephropathy. (study link)
  • Honeysuckle directly targets influenza A virus. (study link)
  • Honeysuckle may be helpful for COPD. (source)
  • In Traditional Chinese medicine, honeysuckle flowers are among the important herbs for clearing heat and relieving toxicity. (source)

If fresh honeysuckle isn’t available, you can used dried honeysuckle instead (Mountain Rose Herbs is a great source) or experiment with different herbal tea flavors such as chamomile, elderflower or lemon balm.

To make the honeysuckle tea:
  • Pour 1/2 cup of simmering hot water over 1/4 packed cup of honeysuckle flowers (about 30 flowers).
  • Steep for 10 minutes.
  • Stir in 1 1/2 tablespoons of honey until dissolved.
  • Strain.

Step 2: Make the Orangeade

Orangeade is a naturally sweeter alternative to lemonade. It’s made mostly of freshly squeezed orange juice, but a small amount of lemon juice is added as well, to help round out the flavor.

To make the orangeade:
  • Squeeze several oranges (about 3 to 6 depending on size) plus 1 lemon until you get 1 1/2 cups of combined orange/lemon juice.
  • Strain to remove seeds and pulp.
  • Combine the orange/lemon juice with the honeysuckle tea/honey mixture – starting with a mixture of 1/2 cup tea/honey + 1 cup orange/lemon juice. (See important tip below.)
  • Honeysuckle Orangeade can be stored in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 days.
  • To serve, fill a glass with crushed ice and fresh orange slices (optional) and serve immediately.

Important Tip: Don’t combine all of the juice and tea mixture at once. Instead, start with mixing just 1/2 cup of the orange/lemon juice with 1/4 cup of the tea/honey mixture. Place a small amount of ice in a glass and taste test this 2:1 ratio.

If it’s too sweet for your taste buds, you’ll know to add a higher amount of juice, or a little less tea/honey mixture. Or, if it’s too tangy, add a higher ratio of tea/honey syrup to juice. Adjust and combine the two mixtures to taste.

If you enjoyed this recipe for Honeysuckle Orangeade, let’s keep in touch!

Subscribe to my newsletter and receive my best natural soapmaking tutorials, DIY body care recipes, plus creative flower & herb projects sent straight to your inbox 2 to 4 times per month.

The post Honeysuckle Orangeade {a refreshing herbal summer drink recipe} appeared first on The Nerdy Farm Wife.

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The Nerdy Farm Wife by Jan @ The Nerdy Farm Wife - 3w ago

This salve captures the essence of two well-loved summer flowers – roses and honeysuckle.

Roses are often used in skin care recipes for their cooling and anti-inflammatory properties. Honeysuckle flowers, while better known for treating flu and viruses internally, can also be used as a skin soothing component in skin care formulations.

A touch of rose (or geranium) and jasmine essential oils are included in this recipe, to give the salve an added boost of summer scent.

If you don’t have those essential oils on hand, you can leave them out for an unscented salve, or if you’re not a fan of rose, try replacing with lavender instead.

Dab the finished salve on dry, itchy or irritated skin. (A little bit goes a long way!)

To make this salve, you’ll first need to make a honeysuckle and rose infused oil.

*Some links in this post and on this blog are affiliate links. That means if you click on one and make a purchase, I earn a small commission for sending a customer their way. I only recommend products I love and have personally used & like. :) 

How to Make Honeysuckle & Rose Infused Oil

Gather and dry rose petals and honeysuckle flowers. (See my post, How to Harvest & Dry Flowers & Herbs from Your Garden.)

Once completely dried, fill a half-pint or other small jar about half-way with dried rose/honeysuckle. Pour in your favorite oil almost to the top and stir to release air bubbles.

Suggested oils include: sunflower, sweet almond, rice bran, olive, hemp, avocado, jojoba, etc.

You can also add some fractionated coconut oil or grapeseed oil to the mix, if you’d like the make the finished salve absorb into skin a little quicker.

For a quick oil infusion:

Set the jar down into a small saucepan filled with a few inches of water. Heat over a low burner for a few hours, keeping a close eye that the water doesn’t evaporate out.

Remove from heat and strain.

For a slower, more traditional infusion:

Cap the jar of flowers and oil and tuck away in a cabinet for around 4 to 6 weeks, shaking occasionally as you remember to. When the infusing time has passed, strain.

For a third option:

You could also set the jar of flowers and oil in a sunny windowsill for several days to a week to jump start the infusion. (Don’t store for long periods in sunlight though, as it tends to fade flowers and herbs over time.)

Ingredients for Salve
  • 1.75 oz (50 g) oil infused with dried roses and honeysuckle flowers
  • 0.25 oz (7 g) shea or mango butter
  • 0.25 oz (7 g) beeswax (*or vegan option below)
  • several drops each of rose (or geranium) and jasmine essential oils

* For a vegan version, try half as much candelilla wax instead of beeswax.

Directions for Salve

Add the infused oil, shea butter and beeswax into a small canning jar or, for easier cleanup, an upcycled tin can.

Set the jar into a pan containing an inch or two of water, to create a makeshift double boiler. Heat the pan over a medium-low burner until the wax is melted.

Remove from heat, add the essential oil and pour into a small glass jar or tin.

Dab the cooled, finished salve on dry skin spots, such as elbows, knees and feet. (A little bit goes a long way!)

If the salve turns out too soft for your liking, you can melt it down and add a little more beeswax.

If it’s too hard, melt it down and add more oil.

Store in a cool dry spot out of direct sunlight and shelf life should be at least 9 months to a year.

Did you enjoy this Honeysuckle Rose Salve recipe? If so, let’s stay in touch!

Be sure to sign up HERE for my newsletter, so you can get my latest natural soap ideas, herbal projects and other DIY body care recipes sent straight to your inbox two to four times per month!

If you like the projects on my site, you’ll love my book, 101 Easy Homemade Products for Your Skin, Health & Home!

Buy it today at the following places!

Amazon.com

Amazon (UK)

Amazon (Canada)

Amazon (Australia)

and wherever books are sold.

PS: I started this blog post two years ago and am just now publishing it! (I’m such a procrastinator sometimes!) :)

While I thought I’d made a sheet of printable labels to share with it at the time, I can’t find them now.

However, you can create your own round labels by following the video tutorial in this blog post on making round labels for bath bombs. (Round labels for salves are just the same.)

I believe the graphics used to make the label shown came from this Vintage Floral Collection and/or this Laurels & Floral Frames Package at Creative Market.

The post Honeysuckle Rose Salve Recipe appeared first on The Nerdy Farm Wife.

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This herbal apple cider vinegar face soap recipe is from my brand new recipe ebook, Natural Facial Soaps.

I designed the ebook to be an optional companion guide to my Natural Soap Making Ebook Collection, but am also making it directly available on my website for a while (see below), so that anyone can pick it up!

If you’ve never made soap before, I recommend studying up on the basics of soapmaking before making this recipe. (Check out my Free Mini Soapmaking Email Course.)

Sage & Chlorella – for potential skin benefits & natural color

This face soap recipe features sage (Salvia officinalis) for its astringent, bactericidal and anti-inflammatory properties. (source)

Sage can also be used in oil and water infusions as a subtle natural colorant. In this recipe, I infuse it in vinegar.

The soap also stars chlorella, an algae that’s been studied for some pretty impressive skin benefits. It also has the added bonus of turning your soap a pretty color that starts off dark green, but lightens over time.

Here’s some reading on Chlorella that demonstrates why it could be a good ingredient for facial soap recipes:

  • Inhibits Propionibacterium acnes strains (bacteria linked to acne) & has anti-inflammatory properties (source)
  • “Chlorella species can provide promising extracts rich in antioxidants, anti-aging, and skin-whitening ingredients” (source)

Chlorella is one of the first natural colorants I experimented with when I started making soap and it remains a favorite to this day. I use it to replace spirulina in soap recipes since it doesn’t fade as quickly, especially if you cure and store the soaps in a dark area.

You can buy organic chlorella powder (Chlorella vulgaris) from Mountain Rose Herbs.

Sage & Apple Cider Vinegar Face Soap Recipe

Oils & Butters:

  • 12 oz (340 g) olive oil
  • 6 oz (170 g) coconut oil
  • 4 oz (113 g) sunflower oil
  • 3 oz (85 g) grapeseed oil
  • 3 oz (85 g) jojoba oil

Lye Solution:

  • 3.65 oz (104 g) sodium hydroxide (NaOH)
  • 7 oz (198 g) distilled water
  • 2 tsp chlorella
  • 2 oz (57 g) sage infused vinegar (see below)

Recipe Notes & Tips:

To make this soap, you’ll first need to make a sage infused vinegar: Fill a half-pint or jelly jar about 1/4 to 1/2 of the way with fresh sage, then fill the rest of the way with apple cider vinegar. (If using dried sage, fill 1/8 to 1/4 of the way with dried herb instead.) Infuse for at least one day or up to a week, then strain for use in this recipe. Extra vinegar can be added to bath water, or diluted and used as a hair rinse.

For variety, try using thyme, yarrow or rosemary infused vinegar instead. (All 3 of these could be helpful for acne-prone skin.)

Make the lye solution with just the distilled water. Stir the chlorella into the lye solution while it’s still hot.

Add the infused vinegar to the lye solution after it has cooled, then blend the lye solution/vinegar mixture with the warmed oils.

When made as listed above, this recipe may be helpful for normal to oily, and/or acne prone skin.

Sunflower oil can be replaced with sweet almond, rice bran or safflower oil, while grapeseed oil can be replaced with hemp or avocado oil. Substituting oils will give slightly different properties to the finished soap though.

Allow the soap to cure a minimum of 4 weeks before using. Because of the higher amount of “soft” oils in this recipe, it will harden and improve even more as it ages.

Yield:

This herbal vinegar face soap recipe will perfectly fill this Crafter’s Choice Regular Loaf Mold 1501 (available at Amazon). You can expect 7 to 8 bars of soap if using this mold.

Soap Stamp Source:

I bought the soap stamp shown in the photo from Bramble Berry but it’s since been discontinued.

However, you can find a similar “Swaying Tree” soap stamp in the SoapRepublic Etsy shop. I have that stamp too and love it equally as well!

Natural Facial Soaps Ebook

My new ebook contains information helpful for making facial soaps, including which oils, essential oils, additives, clays and herbs to use for various skin types and conditions.

It also contains 18 recipes specially designed for a range of skin types.

Some of the recipes in the ebook include:

Carrot & Turmeric | Wheat Germ & Almond Milk | Tomato & Red Clay

    

Peaches & Cream | Adzuki Bean & Rose Clay | Shiitake Mushroom

    

In the future, it’ll be available only as an add-on option for my Natural Soapmaking Ebook Collection, but right now, you can buy it individually from my site for just $7 (regular price is $10).

When you check out, you’ll also have the option to add my Natural Soapmaking Ebook Collection for just $20 extra (normally $24.99).

(*The Ebook Collection option contains my Natural Soap Making eBook, All Natural Milk Soaps, Natural Shampoo Bars, helpful printables + access to a private Facebook support group.)

Take a peek inside Natural Facial Soaps:

Click the images below for a larger view.

If you enjoyed this article, let’s keep in touch!

Subscribe to my newsletter and receive my best natural soapmaking tutorials, DIY body care recipes, plus flower & herb projects sent straight to your inbox 2 to 4 times per month.

The post Sage & Apple Cider Vinegar Face Soap Recipe (+new ebook!) appeared first on The Nerdy Farm Wife.

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Do you want to make your own aloe vera soap using fresh aloe?

If so, then this tutorial is just for you!

I’ve also included a gentle aloe vera facial soap recipe, along with a variety of ingredient substitution ideas.

With a little bit of preparation, fresh aloe can be used to replace part (or all) of the water amount in almost any cold process soap recipe.

(Don’t have an aloe plant growing nearby? Check the produce section of local grocery stores – I buy mine at Kroger.)

How to extract fresh aloe for soapmaking
  1. Cut the aloe leaf into several sections.
  2. Use a sharp knife to run along the inside edges of each section, separating the inner gel from the outer skin.
  3. Use your fingers or a spoon and press the aloe gel from the leaf.
  4. Place in a small food processor or blender.
  5. Process until smooth. (It will get fluffy, almost like egg whites.)
  6. Store in the refrigerator if you’ll be making soap within a few days, or freeze in ice trays for longer storage.

Aloe vera facial soap

This soap was designed to be extra gentle and is suitable for use as both a facial and body soap.

It’s a small batch size that exactly fills 5 of the 6 cavities in the oval silicone mold by Bramble Berry. (You could also double the recipe to fit in a loaf mold like THIS Crafter’s Choice one.)

If you don’t have fresh aloe, look for bottled aloe vera liquid (like this kind) which you can use in place of water in any soap recipe.

Ingredients for aloe vera soap
  • 2.5 oz (71 g) distilled water
  • 1.92 oz (55 g) lye (sodium hydroxide) – 6% superfat
  • 2 oz (57 g) fresh aloe gel
  • 6 oz (170 g) olive oil
  • 3 oz (85 g) coconut oil*
  • 2 oz (57 g) sunflower (or sweet almond or apricot kernel)
  • 2 oz (57 g) tallow (or shea, mango or cocoa butter)
  • 1 oz (28 g) castor oil

Optional colorants: 1/2 tsp chlorella powder + 1 tsp French green clay added to hot lye solution.

Optional add-ins: 10 drops ROE (rosemary oleoresin extract) to extend shelf life + 1/2 tsp sodium lactate to harden soap.

*If you’re allergic to coconut oil or have extra sensitive skin, try using babassu oil instead. The lye amount will change slightly to 1.9 oz (54 g).

Directions to make aloe vera soap

If you’ve never made soap before, be sure to read over my Soap Making 101 tutorial before proceeding.

You may also find my Natural Soap Making Ebook Collection helpful; it’s filled with guides, handy printables, tons of natural soap recipes, plus a private Facebook support group where you can directly ask me any questions you run into.

  1. Put on goggles and gloves.
  2. Weigh the water into a stainless steel or heavy duty plastic container.
  3. Weigh the lye into a small cup.
  4. Sprinkle the lye into the water and stir well.
  5. If using, stir in the green clay and chlorella powder.
  6. Cool the lye solution in a safe spot for 30 – 40 minutes, or until about 100 to 115 degrees F.
  7. Stir in the sodium lactate, if using.
  8. Melt the tallow (or butter) and coconut oil, then combine with the remaining oils.
  9. Add the rosemary oleoresin extract (ROE) to the oils, if using.
  10. Use an immersion blender to thoroughly blend the fresh aloe gel into the oils.
  11. Pour the cooled lye solution into the warm oils/aloe mixture.
  12. Use a combination of hand stirring and brief short bursts of the immersion blender to mix until soap reaches trace.
  13. Pour soap into molds.
  14. Cover lightly with a sheet of wax paper, then a towel or blanket to insulate.
  15. Keep the soap in the mold for 1 to 2 days or until easy to remove.
  16. Cure the soap on sheets of wax paper in the open air for 4+ weeks before using.

For more natural soap recipes, tutorials and inspiration, along with access to my private Facebook support group, be sure to check out my Natural Soap Making Ebook Collection:

If you enjoyed this article, let’s keep in touch!

Subscribe to my newsletter and receive my best natural soapmaking tutorials, DIY body care recipes, plus flower & herb projects sent straight to your inbox 2 to 4 times per month. 

The post How to Make Fresh Aloe Vera Soap + Aloe Vera Facial Soap Recipe appeared first on The Nerdy Farm Wife.

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The Nerdy Farm Wife by Jan @ The Nerdy Farm Wife - 2M ago


I originally made these lotion bars for my husband. His primary job is as a rock mason and the mortar and rough stone often leaves his hands dry, cracked, and bleeding. At night, I put salve on them, and while that helped a lot, it just wasn’t enough.

Lotion bars have a long history of helping the toughest cases of cracked, dry skin, while dandelion oil is particularly useful for alleviating the chapped skin and soreness that comes along with manual labor.

This combination has been excellent for his skin. He rubs the bar over his hands several times while watching TV each evening. There’s no messy salve to deal with and he can use it on the spots that are most bothering him.

Step 1: Make the Dandelion Infused Oil

To make these you’ll need to first make a dandelion flower infused oil. Right now, my back yard is filled with dandelions, so I’ve been making up large batches of oil to use for projects throughout the rest of the year.

With proper storage, the oil should be good for around 9 months to a year.

Gather flowers from places that haven’t been sprayed with chemicals or used as a bathroom site for your pets. Dandelions often have bugs or ants on them, so let the container sit outside for a few hours before bringing in.

They’re a pretty important food source for several little critters this time of year, so don’t pick any one area clean; for every 1 dandelion you pick, leave 2 or 3 behind. (For those who are worried about hurting honeybees by picking dandelions – contrary to popular belief, there are better food sources for them; THIS ARTICLE has more information on that.)

Since dandelions have a high water content, let the flowers completely dry for a few days before infusing in oil to avoid potential mold and bacterial contamination.

A few links on this site are affiliate links. This means that if you click on one of them and make a purchase, I earn a small commission for sending you to their site. This helps support my blog and lets me keep doing what I’m doing. Thank you! :)

  1. Spread the dandelions out on a clean dishtowel or paper towels in a single layer to air dry.
  2. Fill a canning jar halfway with dandelions, then fill the rest of the way up with oil. I like using sunflower oil since it’s especially helpful for damaged skin. You can also use olive, sweet almond, avocado, hemp, and other such light oils.

For a faster infusion:

Set the oil and dandelion filled jar down into a pan of gently warmed water. Let the jar stay in the heated water, with the burner set to low, for a few hours then remove, cool, and strain. Keep a close eye on things to make sure the oil doesn’t overheat.

For the longer method:

Cover the jar and set in a warm place for about four weeks before straining. A sunny windowsill works well.

(NOTE: While dandelion infused oil is wonderful for making your own DIY body care projects, it’s not meant to be used as a food source or for cooking purposes.)

For more details about making the oil, check out my post on making Dandelion Salve, HERE.

Once your oil is finished, you’re ready to make your dandelion lotion bars! They are super simple to make. If you can melt chocolate, you can make these.

Step 2: Make the Dandelion Lotion Bars

I usually make a batch using 1/4 cup of each ingredient, but you can size it however you like. That amount will fill almost two dozen small (one-inch) hearts or several larger sized shapes. For molds, you can use candy molds, silicone molds, or even canning lids (as shown below.)

  1. Measure out the beeswax, shea butter, and dandelion oil into a canning jar or heatproof container. I use a recycled tin can for this project for ease of cleanup.
  2. Set the container of ingredients down into a pan containing an inch or two of almost simmering water, creating a makeshift double boiler.
  3. Allow the water to indirectly heat the contents until the beeswax is melted. Overheated shea butter can get grainy, so keep a close eye on the mixture and remove from heat as soon as it appears melted.
  4. Optional: add a few drops of lavender or other skin safe essential oil, but I often just leave these plain.

For my husband, I make rounds that fit perfectly in his hand, using a canning lid as a mold. Just set a canning lid with ring down on a sheet of waxed paper and pour the hot lotion bar mixture into it. Let it completely set up and cool, but not for too long, before turning upside down and pushing it out. Smooth the edges with your finger.

You can store smaller sizes in a jar or tins out of direct heat and hot areas. Whenever your skin feels dry or rough, just rub the bar over your skin. The heat of your body will melt it just enough to leave a light moisturizing layer that absorbs in much quicker than a salve does.

Did you enjoy this dandelion lotion bar project? Let’s stay in touch!

Be sure to sign up HERE for my newsletter, so you can get my latest soap ideas, herbal projects and other DIY body care recipes sent straight to your inbox two to four times per month!

You may also like:

12 Things to Make With Dandelions | Dandelion Soap | Dandelion Salve

      

If you like the projects on my site, you’ll love my book, 101 Easy Homemade Products for Your Skin, Health & Home!

Buy it today at the following places!

Amazon.com

Amazon (UK)

Amazon (Canada)

Amazon (Australia)

and wherever books are sold.

The post How to Make Dandelion Lotion Bars appeared first on The Nerdy Farm Wife.

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The Nerdy Farm Wife by Jan @ The Nerdy Farm Wife - 2M ago

This lavender rose balm recipe was requested by newsletter subscriber Patti, especially for her mom who gets sore from sitting in a wheelchair.

Patti’s mom loves lavender and roses so I combined the two scents together along with calendula in a balm designed to help soothe and heal chapped irritated skin.

To get the creamy texture shown, be sure to stir the balm frequently as it cools. If you’d rather have a smooth salve-like texture to pour into a tin, just skip the stirring part.

Both end products will work equally well, they’ll just have a different look and consistency from each other.

Ingredients & Why I Chose Them
  • Sunflower oil – This is one of my favorite oils since it’s light and suitable for all skin types; it’s also extra protective of damaged skin.
  • Calendula flowers – This soothing herb is well known for its ability to heal and repair.
  • Beeswax – This natural wax thickens the oil so it becomes an easier to apply balm.
  • Lavender essential oil (Lavandula angustifolia)- Besides having a wonderful calming scent, lavender is helpful for many skin ailments.
  • Geranium essential oil (Pelargonium graveolens)- Geranium is added for a rosy scent, but also encourages faster healing time (source, p 61).
  • Manuka essential oil (Leptospermum scoparium) – This is an antiseptic oil that’s useful for treating sores, warts, blisters, diaper rash and much more (source, p 81).

(You can find all of the ingredients you need for this project at Mountain Rose Herbs.)

Substitution Ideas & Tips
  • If you don’t have sunflower oil, try sweet almond, apricot kernel, rice bran, avocado, hemp, or another favorite oil.
  • Instead of calendula, you could use plantain leaves, violet leaves, dandelion flowers, or elderflowers.
  • For a vegan option, try using half as much candelilla wax as beeswax. You may need to remelt and adjust oil/wax amounts to get a consistency you like.
  • If you don’t have manuka essential oil, try using a drop or two of tea tree essential oil instead, or leave it out completely. Manuka has a milder scent, so the fragrance of the finished balm will be different with tea tree.

How to Infuse Calendula Oil
  1. Fill an 8 oz canning jar half way with dried calendula flowers.
  2. Pour sunflower oil into the jar until almost filled.
  3. Stir with a fork or chopstick to release air bubbles.
  4. Cover lightly with piece of cheesecloth or scrap of old t-shirt, secured with a rubber band.
  5. Place in a sunny window for at least 3 or 4 days, allowing the heat from the sun to infuse the oils.
  6. Alternatively, place in a saucepan with a few inches of water, and heat over a low burner for 2 to 3 hours.

Related: Here are 10 Things to Make with Calendula Flowers.

Lavender Healing Balm Recipe
  • 1.75 oz (50 g) infused sunflower oil
  • 0.25 oz (7 g) beeswax
  • essential oil blend (see below)
  1. Weigh the infused oil and beeswax into an 8 oz canning jar or upcycled tin can.
  2. Set the jar into a saucepan containing a few inches of water.
  3. Heat over a medium-low burner until the wax is completely melted.
  4. Remove from heat.
  5. Stir in the essential oils and pour into a small glass jar.
  6. Stir frequently as the balm cools, for a creamy texture.
  7. Apply to chapped irritated skin as needed.

Essential oil blend:

For a light scent, try 10 drops lavender, 8 drops geranium and 8 drops manuka essential oils.

You can add more essential oils for a stronger scent, up to 48 drops total.

If you enjoyed this easy lavender rose balm recipe, let’s keep in touch!

Subscribe to my newsletter and receive my best DIY body care tutorials, natural soapmaking recipes, plus fun and creative ideas for using the flowers and herbs that grow right around you.

If you like the projects on my site, you’ll love my print book, 101 Easy Homemade Products for Your Skin, Health & Home!

Available at Amazon or ask your favorite bookseller about it.

The post Lavender Rose Balm Recipe {with calendula} appeared first on The Nerdy Farm Wife.

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The Nerdy Farm Wife by Jan @ The Nerdy Farm Wife - 2M ago

Spring has finally started to arrive around these parts!

Yesterday, I took a walk with my daughter and we collected all of the pretty flowers and herbs shown in the basket above. After she asked me about how I planned to use some of the flowers, I realized that I’ve never written up a “things to make” post about one of my spring favorites – forsythia flowers!

Forsythia bushes (Forsythia suspensa) not only offer a pretty burst of color in early spring, the flowers are also edible and can be used in many food and DIY beauty & body care recipes.

The fruits (seeds) are also used in herbal medicine. They don’t appear until later in the year & in small supply, so I find it easiest to order forsythia fruit from Mountain Rose Herbs. (A forsythia fruit + honeysuckle tincture is a favorite to have on hand for flu season!)

If you’re pregnant or nursing, don’t take forsythia internally without checking with your healthcare provider first.

Here are 9 fun and creative things to make with forsythia flowers:

1. Forsythia Infused Oil

Make up a jar of this oil to have on hand for lotions, creams, soaps and lotion bars.

To make: Collect fresh forsythia flowers and spread them in a single layer on clean dish towels or paper towels. Allow to air dry for a few days. Fill a jar half-way with dried flowers, pour oil into the jar until it’s almost filled, then stir a few times to release air bubbles. Suggested oil types include olive (for soapmaking) or sunflower, grapeseed, sweet almond or rice bran for lotions, creams and lotion bars.

For a quick infusion, heat the oil uncovered on low for 2 to 3 hours in a small saucepan containing a few inches of water. For a slow infusion, cover with a lid and infuse in a cabinet for 4 to 6 weeks before straining and using.

2. Forsythia Flower Lotion

This lightweight lotion is especially suitable for those with oily and acne-prone skin, but can be used as a nongreasy moisturizer for all skin types. You’ll need an accurate scale (like THIS ONE) to make this recipe.

  • 17 g forsythia infused grapeseed oil (see above)
  • 5.5 g emulsifying wax (I always use this kind from MRH)
  • 50 g distilled water
  • 25 g witch hazel
  • preservative of choice*
  • optional – 1 to 2 drops of tea tree or lavender essential oil

Directions to make forsythia flower lotion:

  1. Weigh the distilled water and witch hazel in a heatproof container.
  2. Weigh the infused oil and vegetable emulsifying wax in a separate heatproof container. (I use two small 4 oz jelly/canning jars.)
  3. Place both jars down into a saucepan containing a couple inches of water, forming a double boiler of sorts.
  4. Turn the burner to medium low and heat until the wax is fully melted – about 10 to 15 minutes.
  5. Pour the hot water/witch hazel and melted wax/oil together into a clean jar and stir briskly with a fork for several minutes.
  6. Stir frequently. The lotion will thicken as it cools. I often place the container down into a bowl of ice water to help speed this step up.
  7. Once cool enough for your preservative of choice, stir that in and mix well.
  8. Add essential oil if you’d like. Tea tree is especially helpful for acne prone skin, while lavender is nice for all skin types.
  9. Pour into lotion containers or jars. Jar shown is a 4 oz canning jar.

* There are many choices when it comes to preservatives. I currently like Leucidal SF Complete (ECOCERT/COSMOS approved, Lactobacillus & coconut ferment) used at 4% (or 4 grams in this recipe). Check LotionCrafter, The Herbarie & Formulator Sample Shop for more options.

3. Forsythia Dandelion Jelly

For a tasty addition to your pantry, try forsythia dandelion jelly, made with real vanilla and raw honey. (Yum!)

Learn how to make this delightful spring treat by visiting the Homestead Lady.

4. Forsythia Clear Skin Toner

This toner is great for skin that tends towards redness and breakouts. To use, dampen a fresh cotton ball with the toner and swipe over your face after washing.

  • 1/2 cup loosely packed forsythia flowers
  • 1/2 cup simmering hot water
  • 1/4 cup witch hazel
  • 1/4 tsp glycerin

Pour the hot water over the forsythia flowers and steep for 10 to 20 minutes or until the water has turned a light yellow color. Strain. Mix 1/4 cup of forsythia/water infusion with the witch hazel and glycerin. Stir well and pour into a small glass bottle or jar. Store in your fridge for 2 – 3 weeks.

(Recipe excerpted from my print book – 101 Easy Homemade Products for Your Skin, Health & Home.)

5. Forsythia Salad Toppers

Forsythia flowers are edible and can be used to sprinkle over salads along with other spring blossoms such as violets and flowering quince.

They add such a simple and pretty touch to mealtimes!

6. Forsythia Flower Soap

This cold process forsythia soap recipe includes both a tea and infused oil made with forsythia flowers, giving it a light natural yellow color.

Read more about it in my blog post on how to make forsythia soap.

7. Forsythia Flower Soap Toppers

You can also dry the flowers and use them to decorate handmade soap. Press the centers very lightly onto the top of your soap. Avoid pressing too hard into the soap batter or the petals will turn brown – see the bottom right petal for an example.

Store flower-topped soaps out of direct sunlight to prevent the blooms from fading too fast. (Photo shows dried forsythia + dried flowering quince blossoms.)

8. Forsythia Flower Honey Syrup

This delicious forsythia flower syrup is naturally sweetened with honey and is perfect served over pancakes or stirred into tea.

Learn how to make this yummy recipe by visiting Grow Forage Cook Ferment.

9. Floral Foot Scrub Bars

These pretty floral foot scrub bars are simple to make and require just three ingredients: sea salt, fresh flowers and coconut oil. They’re perfect for smoothing rough feet and getting them ready for sandal weather!

Learn how to make them by reading my blog post, Spring Flower Foot Scrub Bars, and using forsythia flowers in the recipe.

You can also learn more about forsythia at these other great sites:

If you enjoyed these 9 creative ways to use forsythia flowers, let’s keep in touch!

Subscribe to my newsletter and receive my best DIY body care tutorials, natural soapmaking recipes, plus fun and creative ideas for using the flowers and herbs that grow right around you.

If you like the projects on my site, you’ll love my print book, 101 Easy Homemade Products for Your Skin, Health & Home!

Available at Amazon or ask your favorite bookseller about it.

The post 9 Things to Make with Forsythia Flowers appeared first on The Nerdy Farm Wife.

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The Nerdy Farm Wife by Jan @ The Nerdy Farm Wife - 3M ago

These pretty spring flower foot scrub bars are simple to make and require just three ingredients.

  • 1/4 cup sea salt
  • 1/4 cup fresh flower petals or herbs (loosely packed)
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil

Use them to polish and prepare your feet for sandal weather!

(You can also find this recipe on page 119 inside my print book, 101 Easy Homemade Products for Your Skin, Health & Home. Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or your favorite bookseller.)

How to Make the Floral Salts
  1. Grind the sea salt and flowers together in a coffee grinder.
  2. Spread the colored salt onto a sheet of wax paper.
  3. Air dry overnight.

The salt helps to rapidly dry the fresh petals, preserving the bright colors for several months.

For sensitive skin, try using granulated sugar instead of salt. If allergic to coconut oil, try babassu oil instead.

  • dandelions = yellow scrub bars
  • violets or pansies = blue or purple-blue scrub bars
  • dianthus = pink scrub bars
  • lemon balm or pansy leaves = green scrub bars

How to Make the Spring Flower Foot Scrub Bars
  1. Melt the coconut oil.
  2. Stir in the dried floral salt.
  3. Spoon the mixture into mini ice tray molds.
  4. Freeze for 30 minutes, or until solid.
  5. Store in a cool spot or your refrigerator.
How to Use Foot Scrub Bars

Use one or two bars during bath time to scrub the bottom of your feet. The salts will dissolve into the bathwater after their exfoliating job is done, while the coconut oil stays behind to seal in moisture, leaving your skin soft and smooth.

Be careful exiting the tub since the oil can make the floor slippery.

More Spring Flower & Herb Projects to Explore

You may also enjoy learning how to make beautiful 100% natural bath bombs and bath soaks, using herbs, flowers and essential oils:

If you enjoyed this project for making naturally colored floral foot scrub bars, let’s keep in touch!

Subscribe to my newsletter and receive my best flower & herb projects, DIY body care recipes, plus natural soapmaking tutorials, sent straight to your inbox two to four times per month.

The post Spring Flower Foot Scrub Bars appeared first on The Nerdy Farm Wife.

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