2 Months of Handcrafting…

Making America Awesome, again, through self-sufficiency!

Since I began my journey down the Handcrafted Road, I have learned so much, tried so many new things, and gained confidence from both epic successes and epic failures.

When I started this journey, I already made all my own bread and brownies. Since then, I have added quite a few things and began handcrafting them, rather than buying them. The list is pretty impressive, if I say so myself.

I have tried:

the reveal

the reveal

cottage cheese curd

cottage cheese curd

laundry ingredients

laundry ingredients

I like all of these products very well, and will probably make them again.

Here is a list of products I have mastered, love and use every day. I will never have to buy these items again:

green onions after over a week

green onions after over a week

ready to use, or store

ready to use, or store

cherry cashew vanilla granola

cherry cashew vanilla granola

boom. quart of liquid coconut-castile soap for $1.89

boom. quart of liquid coconut-castile soap for $1.89

Boom!  Body Wash.

Boom!
Body Wash.

soup!

soup!

I am also using a marvelous toothpaste made of coconut oil and baking soda. But I haven’t done a blog post about that yet!

My dream of providing healthy, effective alternatives to store-bought, chemical-laden products is coming along at lighting pace. Yes, it takes longer. Yes it is more work. Yes, it would be easier to buy them. But it is also cheaper, safe and gives me a chance to stick it to the Corporate Machine a bunch of times, every day.

All toll, I think it has been a successful 2 months! I can’t wait to see what I handcraft next!

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Handcrafted Liquid Castile Soap

As good (or better!) than Dr B’s, but cost $1.89 a quart to make*. Simple, fast, effective, and safe for the lake down the hill from my septic system drain-field.

I started with 1 bar of Kirk’s brand coco-castile soap. This is an all-natural bar soap, ingredients: Coconut Soap, Water, Vegetable Glycerin, Coconut Oil. 

the base

the base

I grated it with a hand grater. This was the hardest “work” of the whole project. It is a pretty solid bar, and if you have a food processor, you might want to chop it up in there. I don’t have one, or I would have.

kinda hard to grate, use a food processor if you have one

kinda hard to grate, use a food processor if you have one

 

Meanwhile, I put a quart of water into the tea kettle and boiled it. then, I added the still-boiling water to the grated soap and stirred until it was completely dissolved. It is a little bit slow, but it will happen. The smaller the soap bits, the faster the melt.

stir to dissolve soap bits

stir to dissolve soap bits

Once the soap is fully dissolved, I added a tablespoon of glycerin. This was added specifically to help keep my hands from drying while I was using this soap. I’m not sure it was even really necessary, but I had a good supply, so I used it. You can choose to use it or not. The soap is already very gentle and moisturizing, as all-natural soaps go.

adding glycerin for added moisture

adding glycerin for added moisture

Then, I put the liquid soap in a mason jar. The instructions for the liquid soap I found on youtube called for a 2 day rest on the counter, then a mix with an immersion blender on the second day. I did this, but as my soap had not separated at all, it was obviously unnecessary. I am also thinking the rest period was not too necessary, either. It was exactly the same, the day I made it.

store in tightly lidded jar

store in tightly lidded jar

This morning, I blended it and scented it with essential oil (lavender in my case, but I also toyed with the idea of peppermint for the dish soap), and shazaam! Liquid castile and coconut oil soap, every bit as good as commercial brands (Dr B’s) and soooooo much cheaper.

boom. quart of liquid coconut-castile soap for $1.89

boom. quart of liquid coconut-castile soap for $1.89

I will now be using this soap as the base for my body wash, laundry soap, and all my cleaning purposes. Cheap thrills for a more Awesome America!!! WOOT!

Handcrafted Hand and Body Lotion

Last night, I began a coconut oil lotion experiment that I wasn’t altogether satisfied with the result of.

I began the experiment with the basic recipe found here: wellness mamma’s lotion. It consisted of:

  • 1/2 cup olive or sweet almond oil (I had olive)
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup beeswax

The product was sort of more like a balm (think chapstick) and it wasn’t what I was looking for in a lotion. But, I knew that by varying the recipe a bit, and whipping, I could change the whole consistency of it. So, I melted it all down again (in the pyrex and pan double-boiler), and added at least another 1/4 cup of coconut oil. The best way to gauge its finished consistency is to drip a little on a cool counter or plate and then test it when it cools completely. Too oily, add a little beeswax. Too stiff, add more oil.

When I had it the way I wanted it, I removed it from the heat. It looked like this:

melted, blended lotion ingredients

melted, blended lotion ingredients

As it began to cool, I whipped it. As I whipped it, air was forced into the mixture, and it helped to cool it faster.

still very hot liquid

still very hot liquid

When it was the consistency of hummus, I poured/scooped it, with a spatula, into the tubs and allowed them to cool before sealing the tops.

starting to cool and whip

starting to cool and whip

pots of finished lotion, cooling fully

pots of finished lotion, cooling fully

The lotion is wonderful!!! I had every intention of scenting it with lavender oil, but, again, didn’t, because the scent of the coconut oil mingled with the beeswax was so delightful, I left it.

It is a little bit messy to make, but a clean-up tip~ emulsify the lotion with soap BEFORE adding the hot water. It will suds up a bit and then rinse right off. Easy peasy.

Laundry Soap: Update

regular strength and double strngth

regular strength and double strength

Yesterday, I made laundry soap, and diluted it into 2 different strengths.  The blog post is here: Frugal Friday Revisited .I used both types and determined that the more diluted version needed about 1/3 of a cup. The more concentrated is going to be perfect in the pump bottle I am saving from the last of the name brand detergent (more like about 2 tbsp.).

Both loads were cleaned really well. I did some especially dirty laundry to test its efficiency, and I was pleased with the results.

I also used the epsom salts fabric softener, and was equally pleased with the results on everyday clothes. For sheets and towels, however, I will be devising a new plan. I may add some baking soda to the rinse and see if that doesn’t make the difference I need. I am keen on Downy softness, I am just tired of the chemicals.

Will have additional reports on the fabric softener experiments in future installments.

Happy Handcrafting!

Frugal Friday, revisted

laundry soap, raw materials

laundry soap, raw materials

As promised, I am documenting the Laundry Soap experiment, here. The original recipe I used is from MyMerryMessyLife .

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup 20 Mule Team Borax
  • 1/2 cup Arm N Hammer Washing Soda (not baking soda. buy it in the laundry aisle)
  • 2 cups of water
borax and washing soda in water in saucepan

borax and washing soda in water in saucepan

Put the powders and the water in a saucepan and put it on the stove on high. Stirring regularly, if not constantly. Continue to stir

not yet, still gritty

not yet, still gritty

until the grit is entirely dissolved, and you no longer feel the grit when stirring. The result will be nearly clear

powder fully incorporated

powder fully incorporated

then add

  • 3/4 of a cup of Dr Bonner’s Magic Soap (I use lavender) and stir to fully incorporate
    adding Dr Bonner's castile soap

    adding Dr Bonner’s castile soap

    Then, fill 2 1 gallon containers (or a 2 gallon bucket, or whatever container system you have devised)  most of the way with hot tap water. Top off the containers with the mixture

topping off the gallon with the soap

topping off the gallon with the soap

Then add about 10-15 drops of essential oil into the jugs and shake it gently to mix.

Now, I was feeling a lack of confidence with the fully diluted product being soapy enough. It seemed really watered down to me. So I made a batch to spec and also left the rest 1:1 strength with water.

I will test both products and see how I feel about the performance.

both strengths

both strengths

I figure I can always dilute more, but I can’t undilute it, easily.

The recipe calls for using 1/3 of a cup per load. I will try this with the diluted version. But I am going to put the undiluted version in a sturdy plastic pump bottle I am reusing from a name brand detergent. It administers a small, concentrated amount, and this is what I, personally, am aiming for.

It smells amazing and I am excited to do some laundry later! (who would have imagined I might have that thought?!)

Frugal Friday rolls on!

UPDATE:

I used both dilutions and decided I liked it best full strength, in tiny amounts. I reused a pump bottle and it worked great. Just remember to shake the bottle periodically, say once each laundry day. Cold days it is thicker than hot days.