DIY Quick Tips and Must Have Soapmaking Equipment

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Turn a Pyrex Measuring Cup into a Double Boiler!

There are often times when making your own homemade bath and beauty products that you come across some rather heat sensitive ingredients that you just don’t want to use a microwave for. Sure a microwave is quick and easy but sometimes it can go a little overboard. Not to mention burnt waxes don’t smell pretty. If you’re just getting started and not ready to invest in a double boiler, no worries.

My friend and fellow blogger, Cari Dunn of Everything Pretty, told me that she uses a canning ring to convert a glass Pyrex measuring cup into a double boiler in a pinch. Simply place the canning ring your pot and set the measuring cup on top, then add your water around the measuring cup and turn on the heat! Or try a Universal Double Boiler for less that will fit your existing 2 quart and 4 quart sauce pans!

Speaking of Pyrex measuring cups, these have become a staple piece in my stash of soapmaking equipment. I own two each of the one cup and two cup measuring cups and one of the four cup or quart measuring cups. Following are some of my other favorite soapmaking tools and equipment I use on a regular basis.

Must Have Soapmaking Tools and Equipment

A good scale is an absolute must. I’ve been using a Baker’s Math Kitchen Scale for years. It measure in ounces, grams, kilograms, pounds and pounds with ounces. It’s heavier duty than standard kitchen scales and postal scales, doesn’t need re-calibrating and comes with a 30-year warranty. You’ll need it weigh out ingredients for soap recipes as well as many bath and body recipes.

A hand blender or stick blender is another must have accessory. It takes the hardest physcial part of soapmaking – the mixing – out of the equation and helps you not only achieve trace faster, but also ensures a evenly mixed batch of soap. In twelve years I’ve only gone through two stick blenders. My latest, and also the cheapest, has lasted longer than the first so it doesn’t need to be brand specific.

Loaf molds. While I regularly use my trusty wooden loaf soap molds my dad made for me – these are the size I use for the cold process soap recipes I post here on my blog – silicone molds have become commonplace and can help make crafting cold process soaps simpler. As there’s no need to line these molds it helps to save on time and waste. The Crafter’s Choice™ Regular Silicone Loaf Soap Mold is a great silicone loaf mold and most all of the soap recipes I create for Wholesale Supplies Plus’ eHandmade Magazine will fit perfectly inside this mold.

Bakers & Chefs 12″ x 3000ft. Foodservice Film continues to be a staple for my finished products. It’s not only inexpensive for the quantity but it sticks much better than regular plastic wrap making it a both a smart and simple choice for wrapping melt and pour glycerin soaps and giving them a more professional look. It also works great on cold process soaps. You’ll find that the 12″ size is perfect for most standard size bars of soap.

Graduated Plastic Transfer Pipettes are great for when you’re making smaller sized recipes for things like lip balm and salves where you need to measure out fragrance, oils and flavors in smaller quantities. These can be purchased in bulk and are relatively inexpensive so there’s no reason not to use a fresh pipette for each ingredient. The measurement marks make it easy to measure out your liquid ingredients in both millimeters and portions thereof.

Small graduated glass beakers or plastic beakers are great for pouring things by hand when you need a steadier hand. I love the 50ml beakers for pouring my lip balms into tubes. Trying to use a syringe can cause the lip balm to cool too quickly while a plastic transfer pipette can melt if you try to add the liquid lip balm to the tubes too hot. With the beakers both of those issues are solved and I find even without a lip balm filling tray, my not so steady hand can fill a lip balm tube on a kitchen counter without having to secure it in any way.

Silicone Spatulas are another tool I always have handy for helping get all of my soap in the mold as well as for random bath and beauty recipes. I also have an extra sturdy metal spoon with a thick handle that won’t bend when scooping out solidified coconut or palm oils from tubs and a basic 1 cup measuring cup scooping out ingredients to be weighed like sodium hydroxide and palm kernel flakes.

I also own a trio of stainless steel pots so I always have the perfect size to fit my cold process soap recipes whether they be large or small. It also allows me to make three small batches at one time.

Interested in learning how to make your own homemade cold process soaps from scratch? Be sure to check out my soapmaking tutorial or follow my DIY Bath & Body board on Pinterest for an ever growing collection of handmade soap recipes and bath and beauty DIY’s.

Do you make homemade soaps? I’d love to hear what your favorite tools and equipment are! Share your favorites along with any tips and tricks you have that make the job easier!

Quick & Easy DIY Eco-Friendly Reuable Swiffer Pad Solution

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Easiest Ever DIY Eco-Friendly Reusable Swiffer Pad Solution

One Good Thing By Jillee recently posted her homemade solution for making the easiest ever DIY Swiffer Sweeper refill pads. Her simple alternative solution for eco-friendly, reusable pads is to use chenille socks.

However, you could easily use the same concept and upcycle a pair of old socks that are stretched out or have acquired a hole. Visit One Good Thing By Jillee here for the skinny on how she does it. Plus discover how to refill those canisters of Swiffer Wet Jet solution as well as how to make your own DIY eco-friendly, non-toxic cleaner to refill it with!

For more great DIY homemaking tips and solutions, be sure to follow my DIY Lifestyle Tips board on Pinterest. It’s filled with tips for making every aspect of your life easier for tips and how to’s to home remedies and natural non-toxic cleaning recipes and everything in between.

How to Make Elderberry Syrup

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How to Make Homemade Elderberry Syrup - Natural Flu and Cold Home Remedy

Black elderberries have been used for hundreds of years for their medicinal value in treating colds, the flu, allergies and to boost overall respiratory health. Found along rivers, forests and even roadsides, this common botanical yields ripe berries that are rich in antioxidants, potassium, beta carotene, calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin C. Elderberry syrup is a simple and tasty way to ingest the nutrients offered by elderberries. It’s believed that taken daily, it can help to prevent flu and colds as well as aid in the recovery of an existing illness such as the flu, colds, excessive mucus and even a sore throat.

For my homemade elderberry syrup I purchased a little DIY Elderberry Syrup Kit from Jes of Good 4 You Herbals. (Be sure to check out Jes’ DIY for making your own custom herbal tea blends.) However, you can also find all the ingredients you need for this elderberry syrup recipe at Mountain Rose Herbs. Spice this recipe up by also adding cinnamon sticks, organic cloves and organic ginger root.

Don’t have time to make your own? You can also buy Elderberry Syrup. Keep reading to learn how to make elderberry syrup for your family.

Homemade Elderberry Syrup Recipe

Ingredients:

1 1/2 oz. organic elderberries
1 1/2 cups filtered water
1/2 cup raw honey

Supplies:

amber or cobalt blue glass bottles with droppers
digital kitchen scale
large pyrex measuring cup
large cotton muslin bag
small funnel
small sauce pan
spatula
labels

Instructions:

Start by weighing out the elder berries, then place in a large cotton muslin bag (optional.) Pour your filtered  tap water into a small saucepan on the stove, turn the heat on high and add the bag of elderberries.

How to Make Natural Homemade Elderberry Syrup - Natural Flu and Cold Home Remedy

Bring the water to a boil.

Homemade Elderberry Syrup Recipe - How to Make a Natural Elderberry Syrup Home Remedy for Flu and Colds

Then reduce heat and allow to simmer for twenty minutes or until the water is reduced to half.

Homemade Elderberry Syrup Recipe - How to Make a Natural Elderberry Syrup Home Remedy for Flu and Colds

Now remove the elderberries from the water and press firmly to squeeze out all of the remaining juice from the berries. If you did not use a mesh bag, strain the berries from the water.

Combine the water with the raw honey – I bought local clover honey from my Farmer’s Market – in the glass pyrex measuring cup and stir to combine thoroughly. (Keep in mind raw honey is not recommended to children under two years of age.)

Natural Flu and Cold Home Remedy - DIY Elderberry Syrup Recipe

Finally, using a funnel, slowly fill your amber glass bottles. Don’t fill them too full or the syrup will spill out of the edges when you place the lids with the droppers on them. Label as desired.

Store in the fridge for 2-3 months

You can store your elderberry syrup in the fridge where it will keep for 2-3 months. To use, take one Tablespoon daily to help prevent illness. If you have an existing cold or flu, take one teaspoon every 2-3 hours while ill.

Want to teach your children about the benefits of natural herbs and botanicals? Check out the book, A Kids Herb Book, by Lesley Tierra! It’s packed with beautiful illustrations, charming herb facts, coloring pages, herb checklists, funny stories, herbal bedtime stories, a “how to make” section, herbal mythology written for kids, as well as a plethora of engaging herbal information for the young ones.

What are some of your favorite home remedies?

A Generic for Dr. Lipp Original Nipple Balm for Lips?

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Save Money On Cosmetic Favorites By Analyzing Ingredient Lists - Dr. Lipp Original Nipple Balm for Lips vs. Pharmaceutical Grade (Refined) Anhydrous Lanolin

I first learned about Dr. Lipp Original Nipple Balm for Lips through a sample I received in one of my orders from Birchbox. It’s touted as an all natural hydrating, healing product that later gained notoriety as the ultimate lip gloss, primer and multipurpose balm among London makeup artists. In addition, it also works great as a nipple cream for nursing moms, soothes and smooths dry patches of skin, repairs damaged cuticles, split ends, sunburns, and even diaper rash. A half ounce container runs $14.50 retail.

However, there is really no secret formula to this product. The ingredient list has only one ingredient – pharmaceutical grade lanolin. You may remember lanolin from previous posts on my blog including my recipes for a homemade lanolin salve, a natural lanolin shaving soap, and my natural lanolin & neem salve.

Basically, lanolin is a naturally occurring wax secreted by the glands of sheep and other wool bearing animals that helps them shed water from their coats. When sheep are sheared in order to use their wool for textiles such as yarn or felt, the wool is first run through rollers in order to extract the lanolin. Because lanolin is very similar in composition to the oils secreted by our own skin it’s able to provide a protective moisture barrier when used in skin care products. It acts as an excellent moisturizer and skin smoother as it’s capable of not only penetrating the outer layers of our own skin while still allowing it to breathe. As such, it’s long been used as a moisturizer and can be substituted for petroleum based products like petroleum jelly. It’s also one of the main ingredients in Carmex. Liquid lanolin – which has had the ester removed consequently making it less sticky then pure lanolin – is often used in lieu of mineral oil in beauty and skin care recipes.

Pure lanolin has a natural yellowish tinge to it and a slight odor. The only difference between lanolin and pharmaceutical grade lanolin is that pharmaceutical grade lanolin has been refined. During the refining process, some color and the natural scent of lanolin is removed.

For $8.90 you can purchase 2 oz. – that’s four times the product of Dr. Lipp Nipple Balm for Lips for almost half the price – of pharmaceutical grade lanolin like the Australian Golden Lanolin pictured above. For $14 – just fifty cents less than the retail price of Dr. Lipp Nipple Balm – you can purchase 16 oz. (one pound) of Saaqin Ultra Refined Deodorized Lanolin.

You can pay more for Dr. Lipp Original Nipple Balm for Lips and it’s cute little tube or you can buy lanolin in bulk and take advantage of all the great uses and recipes that lanolin can be used for. Want to make your own Dr. Lipp Nipple Balm for Lips? Simple. Just add refined lanolin to the container of your choice. Alternately, if you don’t mind the scent, you can also use Pure (Unrefined) Lanolin from Now Foods. 7 oz. of this product is just under $10.

What’s your experience been with generic brands and lesser name brand substitutes?

How to Re-size a Cold Process Soap Recipe

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Learn How to Easily Re-size a Batch of Cold Process SoapI’ve had several people request a smaller sized cold process recipe for some of my most popular homemade soap recipes. However, as when I started making many of these specific soap recipes I had created, I always made larger batches to keep up with the demand from where I was selling at my local farmer’s market as well as Etsy. I’d never considered having to re-size a batch of cold process soap before. However, the solution is pretty simple.
How to Re-size a Cold Process Soap Recipe Using the Lye Calculator from Bramble Berry - Make a Large Batch Smaller and Vice Versa!

Bramble Berry’s lye calculator includes a tool that allows you to re-size any batch of soap. Simply plug in the existing recipe, choose the superfatting level and hit calculate. Then below the current batch label, simply choose re-size batch and enter in the size of batch you want to create! If you’re not sure what percentage the recipe was superfatted to, you can play around with the numbers until they’re close. (I typically use around 6% superfat.)

Pictured above is screen shot of the results from plugging in my Best Ever Big Lick Salt Bar Soap Recipe. This particular recipe fills three of my soap molds and yields approximately 30-36 bars depending on how large they are cut.

Re-sizing a Batch of Cold Process Soap - A Simple How To

As each one of my molds can hold a recipe with 36 oz. of oil, I plugged in 36 oz. under “resize batch” and then submitted the new information. It instantly converted the previous recipe to the smaller size with the new amounts needed. This new recipe will now fill just one of my soap molds instead of three and yield 10-12 bars of soap. (I tend to round up or round down the water amounts.) So for this recipe I would use 5 oz. of lye and 12 fluid ounces of water.

As this re-sized recipe is exactly one third of the larger sized batch, you would then divide the amounts for the fragrance oil and salt by 3. Therefore you end up using 2 oz. of fragrance oil. As the recipe calls for 1/2 cup of large sea salts, you would need to divide that by 3 as well. The easiest way to do this is to convert the 1/2 cup into Tablespoons. 16 Tablespoons equals one cup. So a half cup is the equivalent of 8 Tablespoons. 8 divided by 3 equals 2.6 Tablespoons. Therefore I would use 2 1/2 Tablespoons of salt. Or 2 Tablespoons and 1 1/2 teaspoons. (You can reference the original recipe and tutorial here.)

I hope this helps those of you just getting started out and in need of a little assistance. Math skills come in super handy when making soap. I’m constantly figuring percentages of oils I want to use in my new soap recipes. For more help with soapmaking as well as creating your own unique soap recipes, I highly recommend Susan Miller Cavitch’s book, The Soapmaker’s Companion. It was the first soapmaking book I ever purchased and the information has been invaluable.

For more great homemade soap recipes as well as bath and beauty DIY’s, be sure to follow my boards on Pinterest! You can also follow my blog on Blog Lovin‘.