Monday, January 26, 2009

A little more autonomy...

Here are some of my favorite care products recipes. We haven't bought soap, shampoo, deodorant, cream, house cleaners and toothpaste in quite a long time here... And that feels pretty darn good!

Mara at 4 months... this little baby skin is one of the reasons I started making my own products!


1. Get yourself some Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint Hemp Pure-Castile Soap, a beautiful liquid soap made with organic, fair trade oils and ingredients and available at most healthfood stores in North America (at least it is around these parts!). If you can’t find it in your area, you can order it online. I recommend the 16 oz bottle - I paid about $9 (it’s $8.99 on the website) and it will make LOTS of bottles of tooth cleaning soap - by my calculations more than 16 bottle refills. Compare that to what a tube of glycerine-laden natural toothpaste costs, or even cheap-o industrial toothpaste and you’re saving a bundle. It does have the naturally-occuring soap glycerine included, but none added (the ‘real’ Toothsoap also contains a bit of naturally-occuring glycerine).

2. Find (and sterilize) or buy a clean, dropper-top or spray-top glass bottle (the one we’re using is in the photo here - my rubber dropper bottle top disintegrated a few weeks back).

3. Pour the Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint Soap into the glass bottle to about 1/4 full or even a little less.

4. Fill the remainder of the bottle with filtered or distilled water, shake lightly and voila, your very own tooth soap at a fraction of the price of natural toothpastes or the real thing.


1 part baking soda
2 parts coconut oil
lavender essential oil

Melt coconut oil, add baking soda and essential oil. Mix well. Pour into an old dedodorant stick (not roll-on), let it hardens and use!

Sometimes, I will simply wet my armpit and put some baking soda underneath. It works great!

Shampoo and conditioner

Our shampoo is 1 tablespoon of baking soda in a cup of warm water (I usually use 1 1/2 tablespoon in 1 1/2 cup of water since I have long hair). Just keep a Mason jar and add the soda in it just before turning on the shower, then fill with water from the shower. No, it doesn't lather, but, yes, it does clean as well as shampoo (BUT, if you have hard water, this doesn't work as well). Our conditioner is 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar per cup of water (sometimes, I infuse it with rosemary when I have some kicking around). I fill a big bottle and leave it in the shower and use about a cup every time I shower (only on the ends, but if you have dandruffs, you can use it on your scalp too). Do not rinse. It works very well for children with tangled hairs! I swear, this combo works VERY WELL if your water isn't too hard. It's cheap, chemical-free and easy to use! You might want to give your hair a chance to adjust since it tastes a while for the scalp to adjust.

Hand cream

Makes approximately 16 oz of cream.

1 cup water (can use aloe vera juice or gel, or any combination of water based
herbal tea etc)

1/3 cup solid fat (coconut oil, shea or cocoa butter, even lard)

½ oz (by weight) beeswax

3/4 cup oil (can be olive, sunflower, grapeseed, jojoba, or any herbal infused
oil, like chamomile, rose petal etc. Can also be a combo of any oils, like 3/8
cup sunflower and 3/8 cup jojoba, use what you have)

1 t lanolin or emu oil (optional)

1t vitamin E oil (optional)

1 t essential oil of choice (lavender, chamomile, mint, etc or a combination)

Use small jars, like baby food jars, old clean cosmetic or cream jars, or
canning jars to hold a total of 16 oz of finished cream. Wash all jars
thoroughly in hot soapy water and dry.

Prepare clean jars, a spoon, small spatula, tongs and blender by boiling a pot
of water and placing jars, lids, blender top, and other utensils in it for 5
minutes. Pour boiling water into blender and allow to sit five minutes before
pouring it out. Remove items with tongs and place right side up on a clean dish
towel. Cream without preservatives can quickly become contaminated and mold so
start with things as clean as possible.

Place water and lanolin or emu oil and Vitamin E into blender. Over a double
boiler melt beeswax with the solid fat, then add other oils. Slowly drizzle into
blender on medium speed. When almost through adding the oils the blender will
begin to bind. Stop then and add the rest of the oil and the essential oil a bit
at a time, stirring with spoon or spatula and pulsing till mixed. Do not over
blend! Cream will turn milky white or yellow depending on the oils you used.
Spoon immediately into your clean jars and allow to cool to room temp before
capping. Cream will thicken as it cools. Don't forget to label the jars with the
date made. Use within six months and discard after that. Discard any you see
with mold or that develops an odor. I've never had any go bad on me but I always
toss it after six months anyway. This cream makes great holiday gifts.

Home-made scouring powder

1 cup baking soda
1 cup salt
1 cup Borax powder
1-2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
a drop or two of orange oil, or finely grated orange peel.

These last two ingredients are optional. They just make it smell wonderful, and supposedly orange oil has some disinfectant properties.Combine all; store in an air-tight container. Use as you would use commercial scouring powder.

I like to keep mine in a vintage shaker- the kind with large holes.

For really tough stains, try a paste of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide.

Home-made all purpose cleaner

1 tsp. Borax
1/2 tsp. Washing Soda
2 Tbsp. vinegar
1/2 tsp. liquid dish soap
2 cups really hot water

Mix everything but the water in a spray bottle. Gradually add the water, stirring or shaking gently until everything is thoroughly dissolved (that's why you need the water hot).
Add a few drops of your favorite essential oils if you like.

We also make our own remedies, but that's another entry in itself! I love the book Family herbal by Rosemary Gladstar. It contains tons of great recipes.


Anonymous said...

Do the girls like the Dr. Bronner's? I've been wanting to switch them to Toothsoap but was worried about the taste.

Catherine said...

Kyrie, I started the girls with a very diluted version of what we used. They had a choice while we were finishing the old toothpaste, but they chose the toothsoap since it was so much fun to spray it themselves on their toothbrush. The taste is a bit soapy at first, but we got used to it and now they use the same proportions as we do. They still have a choice between the toothsoap and a mix of sea salt and baking soda. For some reason, when they have a choice, they fight less!

Francesca said...

I've been looking for a recipe for a handcream (and deodorant), and yours look perfect. The only problem now is finding the ingredients ...

Catherine said...

Francesca, let me know what you have a hard time finding and I'll let you know with what you can replace them.

Francesca said...

Thanks Chaterine! Right now, I'm going insane trying to find the original URL for this post (for linking to it) - somehow I can't get rid of google automatic translator! grrr!

Catherine said...

Francesca, did you manage to find it? I can send it to you if you want. How do you activate Google translator? Some people have asked me about it...