Top Posts of 2012: DIY Tutorials Rule The Roost!

After reviewing the most viewed, shared and commented on posts from My Healthy Green Family, it is clear that do-it-yourself tutorials and recipes rule the roost!   Here they are, in order.

#1. Washing My Hair With Baking Soda

#2. Homemade All Natural Deodorant with Men and Women’s Fragrances

#3. Homemade Borax-Free Laundry Detergent with Price and Product Comparisons

#4. Homemade Borax-Free Dishwasher Detergent

#5. 100% Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread That Rises Like White!

#6. Plastic Wrap Alternative: DIY Beeswax Cotton Wraps

#7. Homemade Citrus Vinegar Cleaner

#8. To Can or Not To Can? BPA Is the Question

#9. Whipped Body Butter with 2 Simple Ingredients

#10. DIY Faux Paper Towels: Upcycled, Eco-friendly and Cheap!

For more eco-friendly and economical tutorials check out My Healthy Green Family’s DIY Recipes page.

Thanks for all your encouragement, ideas and support over the year!  Watch for more tutorials coming soon.  See you in 2013!

 

Whipped Body Butter Recipe: 2 Simple Ingredients

“Decadent, smooth and rich.”

This Christmas I am, once again, attempting to make (almost) all of my Christmas gifts.  A great gift to give is something that can be used up.  Natural body products are not cheap to buy, but they can be fun and economical to make.

Body butters are oil-based and contain no water-based ingredients.  They are a mixture of oils and butters.  They are very hydrating, but they tend to be greasy.  I have been searching for a way to make oil-based butters smooth and light.  I have finally come across a simple way of dealing with butters: you whip them.  Like whipping cream.  This makes them soft, light, and less oily since there is air whipped into the product.  You can add any essential oil you like, and the overall appearance, texture and hydration is decadent.  The final product feels and looks like whipped cream.  I was very tempted to eat mine…
One thing to keep in mind with whipped butters, however, is that they are really only an oil and they will “melt” back into their oil state IF the temperature at which they melt is reached.  For example, a coconut oil-based whipped butter will melt at 24C (depending on what temperature your oil melts at.  Different coconut oils have different melting points).  Other butters may have a slightly higher melting point.  If your house gets higher than that melting point, or you keep it in a steamy bathroom, or on top of the dishwasher (which I did) it will melt back into an oil and you will have to re-whip it.  You can keep it in the fridge if you are worried about the temperature.

Does it stay like whipped cream for a long time!  YES!  It does.  How long?  I don’t know, but it hasn’t melted on me yet, and so I’d say weeks at least, if not permanently.With a mild and delicious cocoa fragrance, it isn’t necessary to add extra fragrance, but you certainly can if you like. Do not use citrus essential oils in body products since they are photo-toxic when exposed to sunshine. I am not a huge fan of the smell of coconut oil and so I choose the coconut oil that is fragrance-free.

Is this product non-greasy?  No.  It doesn’t contain alcohol or any other ingredients that “dry it out”.  But it is much less greasy than heavy, unwhipped body butter, and it will depend on the butters and oils you use (some are less greasy than others).

Over the next few weeks I will be playing with different ingredients, including kokum and mango butter, two butters which are less oily than cocoa butter and coconut oil.  I have shea butter which is extremely hydrating, and I will also be experimenting with infusing herbal extracts such as calendula, chamomile, green tea and lavender, into some of these oils to make whipped butter recipes that provide soothing, calming and anti-aging properties.  Subscribe to be updated regularly or “like” us on facebook so you know when these new recipes are available.

Ingredients:
6 oz. Coconut Oil (fractionated coconut oil is less greasy but any kind will work)
2 oz. Cocoa Butter
Essential oil if desired.

Materials:

  • Electric mixer and stainless steel bowl
  • Scale
  • Small pot
  • Pyrex measuring cup
  • Whisk or fork
  • Spoon
  • Spatula
  • Storage jar and lid

Directions:

  • In a small pot or double boiler, over low heat, melt 2 oz. of cocoa butter.
  • Add and melt 6 oz. of coconut oil.

  • Once oils are melted but NOT boiling, immediately remove from heat, pour into mixing bowl and refrigerate.
  • Once your mixture looks slightly opaque, remove from fridge and whip.  I use a stand mixer which makes the process go a lot faster.  It will get creamy quickly, but won’t whip immediately.
  • Once it is creamy put it back in the fridge for another 5 minutes or so and whip again. 
  • Once it starts to whip like whipping cream, you know you have it.  If it doesn’t, put it back in the fridge for a few more minutes and try again.  It could take up to 10 minutes of solid whipping to turn it into whipped butter.  It will get quite “stiff” and feel like chocolate mousse if you whip it long enough.
  • Once it starts to form soft peaks you can add your essential oil (if desired) and you are done!
  • Spoon it into jars and put lids on.
  • Store in a cool location.

 

Notes:

  • If you are looking for a good source to purchase body product ingredients check out Mountain Rose Herbs.  Exceptional quality, certified organic ingredients.
  • Cocoa butter helps increase or maintain skin elasticity and is very hydrating.
  • Coconut oil is, among many other things, rich in antioxidants and contains natural microbial and antibacterial properties making it a great oil choice for body products.
  • A little goes a long way.  Use a small amount!

This post has been shared on Frugally Sustainable’s Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways 56, Farm Girl Friday Blogfest #12, Homestead Barn Hop #91, Seasonal Celebration Wednesday #42, Wildcrafting Wednesday and Waste Not Want Not Wednesday #8.

 

 

Homemade Borax-Free Laundry Detergent with price and product comparisons.

Laundry detergent plays a very large role in daily life.  With 3 active, free-range kids I am doing laundry daily and I require a good soap that will remove dirt and stains effectively.

Commercial laundry detergent, however, contains many irritating, and potentially toxic ingredients.  One of the best-working, most common detergents available is TIDE and even the “free and clear” variety still contains dangerous chemicals that aren’t labelled.  Lori at Groovy Green Livin is leading a campaign to convince TIDE to remove these toxins from their “safe” products.

…it turns out that Tide Free & Gentle® isn’t so gentle. A report recently released by Women’s Voices for Earth, Dirty Secrets: What’s Hiding in Your Cleaning Products?found high levels of the cancer-causing chemical 1,4-dioxane in the detergent. 1,4-dioxane doesn’t appear on the product label or on the product website, so consumers have no way of knowing it’s even there.

This is especially concerning, because Tide Free & Gentle® is marketed to moms as a healthier choice for their children’s laundry. Infants and children are more vulnerable to chemical exposures, because their immune, neurological, and hormone systems are still developing.

1,4-dioxane is a known cancer-causing chemical, and has been linked in animal studies to increased risk of breast cancer.

These days I feel more and more like I can’t trust ANY company to tell me the truth about the ingredients in their products, and so I have been searching for a safe, homemade laundry soap recipe where I will at least know what is in the product.  I found many recipes that used borax, but am uncomfortable with borax ever since reading that borax, though natural, is toxic in large amounts, can be a skin irritant, and may not be as safe as people originally thought.

My search then changed to a borax-free recipe search.  I came across a few, but while searching I also came across some ingredients that will aid in the cleaning process.  By combining a number of recipes and adding ingredients I came up with my own recipe.

Brand Comparison:
I tested my recipe by badly staining 3 pieces of clean white cotton with ketchup, blueberry jam, olive oil and dirt.

I labelled each one and let the stains set for 24 hours.  Then I washed each piece separately in my front loading HE washing machine on “heavy duty” cycle.  I washed one with original TIDE, with an assortment of clean rags.  I washed the second one with SOAP NUTS, same setting, same rags.  And finally, I washed the third one with my own laundry soap recipe on the same setting and with the same rags.  My results demonstrated that the SOAP NUTS did not clean very well in comparison ot the other 2 cleaners.

TIDE appeared to remove a bit more of the ketchup but my detergent appeared to remove the blueberry jam stain better.  Both appeared to remove the dirt and oil equally well.  While I wasn’t expecting it, I was thrilled to find that my soap was actually competing on a level with TIDE without the dangerous chemicals!  The laundry washed with my soap smelled fresh, clean and fragrance-free.

Cost Comparison
Tide Free and Clear costs $8.99 for 40 loads ($0.22 per load) at my local London Drugs and grocery stores.  My recipe, according to my calculations with prices based on where I purchase my ingredients (some ingredients could likely be cheaper elsewhere) is $2.24 – $4.47 for 25 loads ($0.09 to $0.18 per load). The range is based on whether or not you use 1 or 2 tbsp. per load.

Cost comparison based on the following prices:
5 lb. citric acid $20
5lb. baking soda $11.75
5 lb. coarse salt $15
5 lb. washing soda $5.
Pure glycerin bar soap: $2

Purpose for ingredients:
glycerin soap: cleanser
washing soda: cleanser and water softener
baking soda: stain remover and odor remover
citric acid: water softener and color brightener
coarse salt: color stabilizer (helps prevent fading) and fabric softener.

Citric acid, coarse sea salt and baking soda can be purchased in bulk at Mountain Rose Herbs. Alternatively you can often find citric acid at home brewing stores or health stores.

Recipe for Borax-Free Laundry Detergent:

Ingredients:

1 bar glycerin soap, grated finely
1 c. washing soda
1/2 c. baking soda
1/2 c. citric acid
1/4 c. coarse salt

Directions:

  1. Finely grate 1 bar of pure, unscented glycerine soap
  2. Add last 4 ingredients
  3. Mix thoroughly
  4. Place a desiccant in jar to prevent clumping.
  5. Store in airtight container
  6. Add 1-2 tbsp. detergent to machine for clean, safe, fresh laundry!

I was thrilled to discover that I can make a safe, borax-free laundry detergent that cleans clothes very well.  Although somewhat cheaper than TIDE, my main satisfaction lies in the ingredients.  I KNOW what the ingredients are and I trust them to be safe to use on my family’s clothing.

Notes:

      • You must use a desiccant with this detergent to prevent clumping.  Learn how to make them yourself here.
      • Can these be used on cloth diapers?  I don’t know.  Some people say that a soap of any kind will cause diapers to eventually repel liquid.  You can try it if you wish, and please let me know what conclusion you arrive at!  So what is in your detergent that is actually cleaning your diapers?  That’s just it!  We don’t know!  With this recipe you know exactly what ingredients are being used.
      • Use 1 tbsp. for small load, and 2 tbsp. for large load.

 

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.
Tips:

  • 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.