The Green Gardener Soap Recipe with Hemp Oil, Mint and Green Tea.

Green Gardener soap watermarked and titledI am an avid gardener and I spend hours wrist-deep and bare-foot in sun, clay, and manure.  While the last three ingredients result in beautiful vegetables, they take a toll on your skin.  Dirt sucks the moisture out of your skin.  Sunshine and wind further dry and age your skin.  A good soap is a valuable commodity in a homesteader’s wash basin.

The Green Gardener bar is one of my absolute favorites.  It makes a beautiful hard, pale green soap with a fantastic lather.  Using nourishing ingredients such as moisturizing hemp oil, anti-oxidizing green tea and soothing, refreshing mint extract, this soap is great for dry gardeners’ hands.  I added clay to 1/4 of the batch at trace to make a lighter layer on top, but this is totally optional.  This one is a must for any gardener on your list!

Shopping List:

Sustainably Sourced Palm Oil
Coconut Oil
Hemp Oil
Olive Oil Pomace
Vitamin E
Green Tea
Peppermint Essential Oil
Kaolin Clay

This recipe is written for people who have made soap before.  If you are looking for a basic soap tutorial with pictures click here.

The Green Gardener Soap Recipe.
Recipe type: Soap Making
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Green Gardener's Soap makes a beautiful, hard bar of soap combining the nourishing properties of hemp oil with the rejuvenating and anti-aging properties of green tea.
  • 32 ozs. Palm Oil (Sustainably Sourced)
  • 27 ozs. Coconut Oil 76
  • 16 ozs. Hemp Oil
  • 15 ozs. Olive Oil Pomace
  • 10 drops of Vitamin E Oil
  • 13 ozs. Lye (Sodium Hydroxide)
  • 30 ozs. Green Tea (yes, make up a batch of strong tea)
  • 4 ozs. Peppermint essential oil or oils of your choice.
  • 1-2 tsps. of Kaolin Clay (Optional)
  1. Combine the oils in a large pot and melt until almost totally melted. Turn off heat.
  2. Combine the lye with the green tea.
  3. Take the temperature of both and add the lye mixture to the oil mixture when the temperatures are the same. As long as the temperatures of both are within 5 degrees F of each other, and are between 90F and 120F, you can combine them.
  4. Blend with an electric hand mixer (stick blender) until the soap reaches trace.
  5. Working quickly to avoid cooling, separate ¼ of the mixture into a different bowl
  6. Pour the rest into your prepared mold.
  7. Quickly mix the clay with the ¼ batch. Then pour on top of the soap that is already in the mold.
  8. Cover with plastic wrap and then wrap the batch well with a towel.
  9. Store in a warm place (70 F) for 24 hours.
  10. Remove soap from mold and cut into pieces.
  11. Place soap pieces on edge on a towel where they aren't touching each other (kind of like dominoes) so they can harden and finish the soap making process. Leave for 3-4 weeks before using.




Homemade Borax-Free Dishwasher Detergent

I have tried many different “eco-friendly” dishwasher detergents over the years.  From 7th Generation to Ecos, Method to Ecover, I just couldn’t find one that worked very well.  And with a price as high as those, I certainly wanted something that worked.

Eventually I came across a recipe to make my own dishwasher detergent.  It contained washing soda, borax, salt and citric acid.  It worked… somewhat.  I wasn’t satisfied with the results and neither was I satisfied with the ingredient Borax.  I am not convinced Borax is safe, especially when used on eating utensils etc.  After discussing the homemade recipe with some others, the thought came up “what if we just removed the Borax?”  So when I ran out of my detergent I did just that.  I removed the Borax.   I also added white distilled vinegar as a rinse aid.  The combination provides great results!!

So here is my borax-free dishwasher detergent recipe:

  • 1 cup washing soda (old recipe used  baking soda)
  • 1/4 c. citric acid
  • 1/4 c. coarse salt
  • 10-15 drops of citrus essential oil (Optional.  Orange, grapefruit, or lemon essential oils have great cleaning as well as antibacterial properties.)
  • Distilled white vinegar (in the rinse aid compartment)

Mix first 3 ingredients well in an air tight container. Add essential oil.  Mix again.  Fill your rinse aid compartment with undiluted white distilled vinegar.

Use 1 tsp. detergent for average loads.
Use 1 tbsp. detergent for extra greasy, dirty loads.

UPDATE:  More is not better!  If you are having any build up issues use less! 

Where to find ingredients:
Citric acid is easily purchased in bulk at  U-Brew  stores.  You may find it at grocery stores near the canning supplies, or in the bulk section.  You can also buy it at Mountain Rose Herbs Co.   Some people use plain, uncolored koolaid and get the same effects.  (Make sure you use the colorless koolaid or you will dye your dishwasher!) This is because koolaid is very high in citric acid.  I don’t like the other ingredients in koolaid though so I choose not to use it.  Lemi Shine is also sometimes used to replace citric acid.  I feel the same way about lemi shine as I do about koolaid.
Coarse salt: same as pickling salt.  Found in most grocery stores or purchase coarse sea salt online at Mountain Rose Herbs.  Don’t use regular table salt because of the iodine content.
Baking Soda: We all know where to find it!
Essential Oil: Found in most natural food stores or online at Mountain Rose Herbs.

  • I rinse off my dishes reasonably well ever since I switched to chemical-free dishwasher detergents.  Rinsing off grease and baked-on food will help any cleaner, not just a homemade one.
  • Hard water: I don’t know if this would work in hard water or not because my water is soft.  However, my own research indicates that citric acid is often used in addition to regular dishwasher detergents to help prevent mineral deposits on the dishes.  Try it out and let me know!
  • I placed one glass in the dishwasher and left it in for many loads as my tester.  I have done over 30 loads with this recipe to date.

Cost: (based on Mountain Rose Herbs prices)
5 lb. of citric acid is $20.
5 lb. of baking soda is $11.75.
5 lb. of coarse sea salt is $15.
Essential oil (optional) varies in price..

Is it worth it to make your own?
Based on the prices above (not including essential oils), and the fact that there are 36 tbsp. of sugar in a lb. (similar texture and weight to this detergent), I worked this detergent out to cost $0.08 a load. 

7th Generation dishwashing tabs (about 1 tbsp. each) are $6.99 for 20. (based on online price from London Drugs)  So 7th Generation dishwashing tabs cost $0.35 cents a load.   

You’ll be saving a lot of money (not to mention your health and the environment) by making your own eco-friendly detergent.

This post has been linked to Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways #25, Simple Living Wednesday, Homestead Helps Wednesday #5, Homestead Revival Barn Hop #61MorrisTribe’s Homesteading Blog Carnival #6, Whole Foods Wednesday #56 and  Fat Tuesday.

Salt of the Earth: Making Your Own Sea Salt.

Sea salt is one of those ingredients that you don’t really think very much of.  Or at least I didn’t. Like flour and sugar, salt is a base ingredient that you use in combination with other ingredients to create a master piece.  Run to the store and buy your basic ingredients and you have a homemade meal. Right?  That’s what I thought until I read a blog about a woman whose hobby is to physically collect salts around the world during her travels.  She raves about the distinct differences in salt flavours from different areas of the globe.  So, who would have thought of making your own salt?  (Obviously, not me).

As is often the case, it is easy.  So easy, in fact, you will ask why you didn’t think of making your own before.  You need an ocean (or other large body of salt water), a good sized but manageable container with a lid, a large OLD stainless steel pot, a sieve, a shallow pan and a stove top.  We used an igloo cooler which was a manageable size.  Hawaii was a fun place to collect it… the water was warm.  And if you don’t want people looking at you funny, go at night.  It makes it into a more exciting adventure :).
Go deep enough into the ocean so the surf isn’t breaking any more, (meaning that the water will contain less debris) and collect your water with your manageable container.  I imagine collecting by boat would work too.
Once home, pour your water through a sieve into a large stainless steel pot.  Simmer on low for as long as it takes until the salt crystals start to form, and you have a thicker slurry of salt water at the bottom, about 2 inches.  This could take a day or more.
Pour salt water into a shallow pan and place it in direct sun until the water is completely gone.  You will have gorgeous salt crystals that you can grind in a salt grinder!  This amount of water makes approximately 1 lb of salt.

When I tell people I have made my own salt I get some very strange looks.  Why would anyone want to make her own salt when she could go to the store and buy it, very cheaply?  As with most homemade things, I get a real feeling of satisfaction out of making it.  There is something very appealing to me about making something from basic, earthy materials.  I get the same feeling when I make pottery.  Or when I garden.  Or eat eggs and drink milk from my own animals.  It is an earthy-satisfaction that just does not occur when I run out to the store and buy salt/milk/eggs/vegetables/pottery.  Try it!  It will put a proud smile on your face.


  • Use an OLD stainless steel pot.  It will oxidise and never be the same again.
  • Don’t boil water until there is no water left.  Your salt will taste like stainless steel.  (we’ve done that).
  • The deeper you collect your water, the less impurities will be in it.
  • If you are flying, don’t bring your salt home in carry-on baggage.  They might not believe you when you tell them it is salt.

This post has been shared on: Homestead Barn Hop #52, Whole New Mom Traditional Tuesdays, Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways #17, Our Simple Farm Link Up, Living Well Blog Hop #32 The Morris Tribe’s Homestead Blog Carnival #1 and Real Food Forager’s Fat Tuesday.

Treasure Hunting: Why Secondhand Shopping is Sustainable.

When I was young I was a treasure hunter.  I grew up on a diet of Enid Blyton books filled with exciting adventures and discoveries of ancient treasures.  I made up my own treasure maps and buried them in the ground.  I trailed behind my older neighbour friend who had a metal detector, to watch him find treasure.  I searched through jars of pennies to find old ones.  I dug through 100 year old dumps to look for ancient (albeit broken) china.  I searched through bags of hand-me-downs with thrills of excitement.  And I would shop at the only old antique/junk store my tiny town had, looking for fantastic finds.  I blame it in part on my reading, in part on my frugal parents, and in part on my aunt who could kick start excitement in any child while touring ghost towns and antique shops. 

Today I still treasure hunt.  I don’t bury or search for ancient treasure maps anymore.  I don’t bother with a metal detector.  And you will no longer find me peering into old, abandoned houses with my aunt.  But you WILL find me wandering through thrift stores with my radar on high.  Treasure doesn’t mean buried gold ingots anymore.  It means unique decorating ideas, clothes that were never worn out, and kitchen utensils that most people think they will use and never do, like clay baking dishes and canning jars.  Treasure means old Fisher Price toys that I grew up playing with and that are still around because they were made well.  Ice skates for my children’s ever-growing feet.  Old story tapes that my kids will listen to over and over and over.  And so on. 

Treasure hunting serves a variety of “green” and “frugal” purposes.

  • First and perhaps most importantly, you are reusing, instead of buying new.  There is so much unwanted STUFF in our landfills.  New furniture is cheap, and with payment options and deferrals, most people buy new rather than secondhand. Buying secondhand gives these items a new life and keeps them out of the landfill for longer.  Our disposable society can only last so long.  Already over-full landfills are causing huge problems.  Buying secondhand is one way of keeping something else from heading to the dump. 
  • Secondhand shopping saves you money.  Ever looked on craigslist?  There are SO MANY of the same kind of things there, that the price HAS to be low or it won’t sell.  I know someone who bought new furniture, kept it for about a month, and then decided she didn’t like how it looked in the house so she bought MORE new furniture.  Her items were available on craigslist for a fraction of the initial cost and it was basically brand new.  Baby and child items are a great thing to find secondhand, since they aren’t always over-used.  I buy almost all our kids books at thrift stores because they are cheap, and it doesn’t matter as much if a page gets torn out. 
  • Secondhand shopping reduces your carbon footprint.  Secondhand items have already been made, packaged, shipped and sold.  That means that the item you are buying does not have to use up valuable natural resources, add extra pollutants to the environment during its manufacturing, or jeopardise the health of over-seas labourers who are working under pathetic conditions.    The money will not go into the pocket of big business. 
  • Secondhand shopping gives you the opportunity to find things that aren’t even available anymore.  Antiques are a good example of this.  Vintage clothing and toys.  Old books that are no longer published.  And if you are sentimental like me you’ll find things you had when you were growing up that you think are better than their later replacements. 
  • And finally, if you are shopping at thrift stores a portion of your money will go to a charitable organisation to help others.  Ask your thrift store to find out who benefits from their sales. 

There is still a bit of a stigma attached to secondhand shopping and I am doing my best to eradicate it. I know people who refuse to set foot in secondhand stores because they are above buying people’s old things.  The thing is, thrift stores aren’t just for poor people who can’t afford anything else.  They are for shoppers who want to make a difference.  Who want to green their purchases and reuse things that have absolutely nothing wrong with them. 

My love of treasure hunting has been passed on to my own children.  Secondhand shopping is a regular part of their life.  I hope that my children will never be looked down upon for it.  And I hope that secondhand shopping will develop into an integral part of the REDUCE REUSE RECYCLE mantra so we as a society can make better use of our purchases and live in a more sustainable manner. 

Common sense requires buyers to beware:  do your research.  You don’t want to end up with a recalled car seat or crib, or toys so old they are painted with lead paint.  Also, bedbugs are a growing concern in secondhand stores just as they are in hotels and other areas. 

This post has been linked to The Prairie Homestead’s Homestead Barn Hop. Frugally Sustainable’s Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways, Attainable Sustainable’s Patchwork Living, I Thought I Knew Mama’s Green and Natural Link Up, Common Sense Homesteading’s Living Well Blog Hop #26, Our Simple Farm’s Simple Living Linky and Natural Parenting Group: Monday Blog Hop.

Waste Not, Want Not. 5 things you can do to reduce your household food waste.

As I wrap up my series on food waste, I have finally come to the good stuff: things you can do in your own home to make a difference.  It is estimated that American households throw away 14% of the food they buy, which makes 470 lbs a year or $600 a year.  What!  You just threw $600 in the garbage.
My children are food wasters.  Babies are notorious for throwing food.  Toddlers are notorious for playing with food.  Preschoolers are notorious for not eating the food placed in front of them.  My 8 year old son is now finally a good, tidy eater.  (hooray!)  My daughters are still great food wasters.   Bread crusts, meat, half-eaten apples, corn cobs… in other words, VERY GOOD FOOD.  But, unfortunately, not worthy of re-serving.  (My husband and I do a lot of that kind of left-over eating though… who doesn’t love a slice of bread slick with… not butter or honey, anymore…)  
But what to do with this food waste?  Sadly, many people pitch it in the trash.  We used to.  Things have changed now.  We grow a lot of our own food and can’t stand the sight of seeing it in the garbage bag.  The thought of this wasted food ending up in a landfill and turning to methane, a nasty greenhouse gas, is also disturbing.  Not to mention the money wasted in growing or buying this food.  There are alternatives, though.   Here are 5 options to help decrease household food waste.  They may not all work for you, but if you practice even a few of them, you will be decreasing your carbon footprint, saving money, and providing other living creatures with food. 
  1. Make a grocery list based on meal plans.  This will cut back on unnecessary food purchases that usually end up rotting in your fridge. 
  2. Grow your own food.  After labouring for hours in your garden you will find that you waste MUCH LESS of your own food.  “You eat those carrots!  I GREW those!” 
  3. Think: What do I have to eat rather than what do I want to eat?  Chances are you won’t feel like eating leftovers.  But are we really rich enough to throw out that food and buy more?  There are lots articles dedicated to meal planning with leftovers.  Here’s one to get you started: BBC Good Food: Leftovers 
  4. Compost your fruit and vegetable waste.  The garbage can is not the place for compostable food items.  These items will make fantastic soil someday if you use a composter or add them to a friend’s composter.  An extra step, yes, but worth the effort.   
  5. Raise your own chickens or save your food waste for your neighbour’s chickens.  The addition of chickens to our yard has singlehandedly cut our food waste down by about 95%.  Our chickens eat almost everything we eat.  Any food scraps we have, even smaller bones, we give to our chickens and they turn them into tasty, healthy, organic free range eggs.  They even eat egg shells which give them calcium lost in the original production of the egg.    Much less food waste heading to the garbage!  They also provide us with a wonderful, rich garden manure.   A good friend of mine, and a co-blogger on this site,  gave me her food scraps for my chickens all last summer.  She stuck them in a fridge until we connected, sometimes up to a week later.   She went out of her way to make a difference, and we valued the extra food for our chickens.  Urban chickens are legal in our city and this is becoming a norm across North America.  If you can’t have your own, maybe you know someone who does and can donate food to them. 
For the sake of your children, your health, the environment and your budget, make a change.  This change today will, in a small way, make a change for the next generation.  If enough people make these changes, it may also help stores and producers get a better grasp on how much food is really needed to provide for our country.  And if there is excess food, perhaps our government will find a way to help those in other countries who really and truly do not have enough to eat.  A small step, yes.  A huge difference.
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