"Commentary from the Countryside"
Thoughts on current events,
history, homesteading, preparedness, real food, and anything else I find interesting, from a cranky, middle-aged woman's common-sense perspective.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Play Date!

Well, maybe the term doesn't apply for someone my age, but really, it was fun and relaxing and a little bit exciting, just like gluing glitter to construction paper Christmas ornaments in third grade.  A friend came over last Saturday, and we spent the day makin' stuff.

First we made another batch of the lemon sugar scrub I made for New Year's.  The apricot oil I used in the original recipe had an odd odor to it, so that I ended up using a lot of lemon oil to cover it.  This time we replaced the oil with vegetable grade glycerin, but I'm not sure if I like it.  It took less lemon oil to make it smell wonderful, but the scrub isn't as softening as the first one was, and after a few days in the jar it separated.  More experimentation is called for on this one.

Next up was lip balm.  Our recipe was very simple - one ounce beeswax, four ounces coconut oil, and a teaspoon of flavoring oil.  The instructions called for vegetable oil, but one of my homesteading friends had been talking about how great coconut oil was so I had bought a jar and thought this was a good way to try it.  I think it gave better results than the oil might have.  The beeswax is melted in a double boiler (we used a pint canning jar in a pot of water) then the coconut oil is added and it is blended well.
Adding the flavor oil is the last step, then a pipette is used to transfer the liquid balm into the containers.  We did some with strawberry flavor, and some with spearmint, and they both smell great. The balm turned out very nice, soft and easy to apply, but doesn't melt when carried in my pocket.  Definitely doing this again.  We learned a lot about the process and if you try it here's a couple of tips:  keep the balm jar in the hot water and work quickly as the balm will set up fast and leave air bubbles in the tube or clog the pipette.  It's also handy to use a small basket to keep the tube upright while filling.

Ready to fill the tubes

Cooled and getting caps

For our last project of the day, we made laundry soap.  She brought the ingredients and a scribbled list of instructions which only she could read, so I was often confused.  She handed me half a bar of soap and said "this is for you".  Ok, great, um, thanks...I'll put it here by the sink.  "No, you silly, grate it into the bowl!"  Ah, ok, I'm following you now!  She was busilly grating away with the other half of the bar, and using my only grater, so I went digging in the cupboard and pulled out what might be an old time cheese grater - not sure what it is, but it sure did a great job on the soap!
A few turns of the crank, effortless grated soap!

I eventually got her to translate the recipe:

1 cup borax
1 cup super washing soda
1/2 bar Fels naptha soap
1 bar any soap with glycerin, such as Ivory
4 cups hot water
4 1/2 gallons very warm water

Grate the bar soaps into separate bowls and add 2 cups of hot water to each bowl.  Microwave each bowl for one minute and whisk thoroughly.  Put 4 1/2 gallons warm water in a 5 gallon bucket, add the melted soaps, borax, and washing soda.  Whisk thoroughly and put the lid on tightly and let stand overnight.  Whisk a few times before use.

Well, that's what the recipe said.  (We doubled it so we'd each have a bucket full.) After the soap had sat in the buckets a couple of days, I finally got around to putting it in jugs.  When I pulled the lids off the buckets, I was surprised to find a gelatinous mass of an uncertain color.  I guess I had been expecting some sort of liquid-y detergent-y sort of result, but no matter, I grabbed the largest spoon I had and started stirring,  It took quite a while to get the entire bucket of gel whisked up, but I got it done and started filling jugs.  We ended up with quite a bit of soap!

I've used it for four or five loads so far, and I'm very happy with the results.  I didn't care for the smell of the Fels-Naptha, but thankfully the smell isn't present in the clean clothes.   It's not a homogenous mixture, but I just shake the jug before I pour, and I use about one cupful for a load.
The weather, though cold, was clear on Sunday, and I used my new soap to wash my linens and hung them out on the line.  I think they seem cleaner than with store-bought detergent, and it is so heavenly to sleep in fresh sheets that were dried outside in the sunshine and fresh air! This project was definitely worth it - especially with the cost of store-bought detergent these days.  We have maybe twelve to fifteen dollars invested and have ten gallons of detergent.

Yes, I'm going to say it - the whole day was good clean fun!