DIY Bath Salts (part two): Know your ingredients

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Last week, I showed you how easy it is it make your own bath salts. As with any recipe, they are not set in stone. You can certainly customize these recipes just as you would food recipes. However, as with the food you eat, it is important to know which ingredients are good for you and which are not. That’s what this Monday’s post is all about.

There are three main ingredients in most of the DIY bath salt recipes you will find online; salt, essential oil, and the carrier for the essential oils (usually another oil). Some of these recipes will add baking soda but I have found it isn’t absolutely necessary. However, it does provide some health benefits in its own right! Let’s start with the salts.

There are four kinds of salt that are most beneficial for bath salts. The easiest to find is, of course, Epsom salt. Anyone who has played sports or been active knows that Epsom salts are incredibly helpful in soothing sore muscles. It also helps when you’re sore from a bad fall…not that I have any personal experience with that part at all…. I’m lying, I fall on my face frequently. But Epsom salt (and really all salts listed here) are a great source of magnesium. Epsom salt is actually composed of tiny crystals of magnesium and sulfate, making it very different from your run of the mill, regular table salt. Our bodies need magnesium for a number of reasons, one of which is that it helps our bodies produce serotonin. Serotonin is that fun little chemical in our brain that helps make us happy. Low levels of serotonin can be a key indicator of depression in humans.

Magnesium also helps relax us and reduces irritability. This is something that can come in handy for us females during certain periods of time. *winknudge* Another huge benefit of magnesium is that it helps eliminate toxins from your body. Soaking in this will allow your body to expel toxins through your skin, which helps to keeps us healthy and happy. Some people even believe that soaking in magnesium sulfate can help purge your aura of negativity. For some other ways that Epsom salts can benefit you, please see this article over at Natural Living Ideas.

The other salts I mentioned earlier also contain magnesium, so some of the benefits are the same. Himalayan Pink sea salt also has antibacterial and antiseptic properties which makes it really soothing and beneficial for skin problems like eczema, acne, and psoriasis. Also, it’s natural coloring makes it popular for bath salts since you don’t need to use artificial coloring then. Only downside there is that it only comes in pink. Dead Sea Salt is one of the most natural bath salt ingredients you’ll find. These salts are extracted directly from the Dead Sea and undergo very little (if any, in some cases) processing. This one, however, is a little more difficult to come by and can cost more. The biggest difference between Epsom and sea salts is the composition: while Epsom salts are purely magnesium sulfate, sea salts are mineral rich. They contain important minerals like calcium, copper, iodine, iron, phosphorus, potassium, sulfur, and zinc. These minerals are all natural and things that our bodies need to be healthy. Our lifestyles in today’s society tend to be deficient in a lot of these minerals so this is a lovely way to replenish them to our bodies.

A fourth salt that can be used is standard kosher salt. This works great to mix with the Epsom salts. This way you get the benefits of the magnesium sulfate from the Epsom salt and the minerals of the sea salts.

The other important ingredient is what is called a carrier or base oil. This is what you will add the drops of your essential oil to in order for it to mix with the water of your bath. I personally like to use oils because of the benefits to skin but you can also use things like castile soap or shampoo. I’m going to focus on the oils that I have used in the past. One reason I like these is because you can mix the essential oils with these and use them as moisturizers instead of mixing with the salts. Some of my favorites are apricot kernel seed oil, sweet almond oil, avocado oil, vitamin E, and grapeseed oil. You can also use green tea seed, olive, jojoba, sesame, and hemp seed. All of these oils are great for moisturizing skin but most of them also have antibacterial, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-aging properties.

As I posted in last week’s post, if you are using a base oil like sesame or sweet almond, make sure that the person using it is not allergic to it. DIY bath salts are super easy and inexpensive gifts for showers and holidays but you don’t want your gift to make your friend or family member to break out in hives or, ya know, go into anaphylactic shock.

Basically, these things are easy to make as long as you know and respect the ingredients. Some wonderful resources to look through if you want to research your own can be found here and here.

 

~Scribe Sarah~


DIY Bath Salts (Part One)

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It’s been a long, hard day and all you want to do is soak in a hot bath, maybe with a book or some soothing music. Adding aromatherapy to this scenario will take your relaxing bath to a whole new level. Some people use incense or Scentsy wax. But there is a little something that anyone can whip up quite quickly that will make that bath not only soothing but also beneficial to your health as well. Add a little bath salt.

There are a bunch of different recipes that you can use to make a simple, scented bath salt. I’m including the one that I use more frequently. This recipe is simple and all the ingredients are easy to obtain. Most items can be found at a grocery store and things like the essential oils can be found at stores like The Vitamin Shoppe. Be aware that essential oils need to be understood and used with care. I did a lot of research about how to use essential oils safely and the chemistry involving how these oils interact with your body.

There are many types of salts that can be used in bath salt recipes but Epsom salts are usually the easiest to find. Next week, you can read about the different types of both salts and carrier oils that can be used in the making of bath salts. A carrier oil is a seed or vegetable oil used to dilute the essential oils before they are applied to skin. If you try to put straight essential oil into your bath water, you’ll notice that your skin will start to burn and irritate. This is because oil and water do not mix so the essential oils tend to float on top of the water. Then you get into the bath and the oils are attracted to the lipids in your body, causing irritation (usually made worse by the heat of the water). You should never add essential oils directly to the bath water, always make sure you are diluting them with either a carrier oil, salt or both.

The recipe I use most uses both a carrier oil and salt. I like this recipe because Epsom salts are not only easy to find but it also helps sooth sore and achy muscles. This is especially nice after a hard workout or if you’ve taken a fall. You will need the following items:

  • 1 cup Epsom Salt
  • 1 cup Kosher Salt
  • ½ cup Baking Soda
  • 2 tbsp carrier oil of your choice
  • Essential oils (whichever scents you want)
  • A large bowl
  • A small bowl
  • A whisk
  • A rimmed baking sheet
  • Aluminum foil
  • Mason jars

To begin, combine one cup of the Epsom salt, one cup of the kosher salt, and a half cup of the baking soda into the large bowl and mix together.

Once you have those things mixed well, place off to the side and in a small bowl, add 2 tablespoons of your carrier oil. For the batch I made today, I used sweet almond oil. Be aware that if you plan to make a gift of these, check with the person about potential allergies! You don’t want to give someone who is allergic to almonds a bath salt that is made with almond oil.

Next, add 20 drops of your essential oil to the carrier oil. You can mix different scents if you like. I used eucalyptus, lavender, and spearmint for a relaxing and head-clearing bath salt. Stir the essential oils into the carrier oil. At this point, if you want to add a color to your salts, you can do so by adding a drop or two of food coloring to the carrier oil and mixing it in. You do not have to do this. Take your large bowl with your mixed salts and add the now mixed carrier & essential oils. Mix thoroughly with the whisk. (Make sure the dishes you are using for this either get cleaned really well or use dishes that are not used for food items).

Once the carrier oil is thoroughly mixed into the salts, spread some aluminum foil onto the baking sheet and then spread the salts out onto the foil. Let sit for about 15 minutes. This allows the salts and the oils to dry out a bit and bond together. Then you can carefully pull up the corners of the foil and use this to pour your salts into your Mason jars for storage. I like to use Ball Mason jars because they have measurements on the side. 1 cup of the finished salts equals one bath.

     

I hope you enjoy this recipe and there are a number of other recipes and tips to try from the internet as well. One can be found here along with a number of other fun DIY items (the focus of the webpage is for brides but some of the items can be for every day use also).

~Scribe Sarah~

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La Chacha Soaps

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Good morning, Thursday Crafthackers!

I bring to you a small business who I really enjoyed meeting a few months ago. This is La Chacha Soaps, which is a company that makes a wide collection of skincare products that are all hand made in Canada. Hand made in Canada, that’s what I like to hear. It has such a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? What’s even better is that this is a family owned company and it is their business philosophy to create high end, non toxic and all natural skin care products.

I love that they don’t just make soaps, though. They have a huge variety of skin care products that are made with love. Bath bombs, deodorants, face serums, shampoo bars and lip balms. You can of course see all the things they offer at the different shows they attend, and you can shop on their website also.

One thing that I loved was that when I visited this booth, the young lady who helped me (she must have been in her teens), was the one who was manning the booth and man was she informed about the majority of the products that they carry. She was able to explain much of how the different products worked and what ingredient in them made them exceptional, like their muscle and joint body butter. I love that they have a natural, topical alternative to muscle pain.

I also talked with this young lady about their facial serums and about what products that they might have that would be beneficial to eczema sufferers and I loved what she had to say and the products that they offered. It was quite a lovely experience, and I love the diversity of the skin care that they offer. You can check out their Facebook here, as well as their Instagram to follow and keep up with the goings on of the business and for new products.

I hope you enjoyed meeting them as much as I did.

Happy Crafting!

~ Megan


Exercises for your Hands

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A different kind of post for today. This is a subject that’s been weighing on me personally the past year, and I wanted to share my findings and help my fellow artisan crafters and artists out there. As much fun as it can be to make really cool items by hand, it’s equally important to make sure you’re taking care of those hands. Just like the tools you hold, your hands are an important and vital part of your crafting that can be worn down if not given time and treatment. So the first thing I’m going to start out with is a video on exercises you can do for your hands.

These exercises are designed to help prevent and/or cure injuries such as tendinitis and carpal tunnel syndrome. While traditional 2D artist are most known to have these issues, as a crocheter I’ve come to find this video invaluable. Less then 5 minutes a day is all you need to run these stretches and the benefits are already starting to show for me. I would recommend doing these daily for anyone that creates things with their hands; yes even writing. Your future self with thank you.

Since it was important enough to be the top comment, I want to include David Kuckhermann‘s addition on feeling a stinging pain while doing the stretches.

for those of you guys who ask about the stinging pain in the thumb/wrist while doing the stretches –  This is how it went for me: I had the same sharp stinging pain in the area that was inflamed while I did the stretches. The doctor I consulted with advised me to do the stretches anyway – once every hour or so for 8-10 seconds. I was careful to not overdo it but to stretch enough to still get the stretching effect on the muscles. In the beginning it was very painful but already after two days I felt a big positive change and had much less pain.

Note that I am not a medical doctor, so if you experience severe pain you should definitely consult your doctor before continuing these exercises.

The next advice I want to touch on is taking vitamins. This seems silly, but hear me out. I’m already required to take them as I have a genetic iron deficiency (my body doesn’t have/make enough naturally) that a simple multi vitamin takes care of. If I have super dark circles under my eyes when you come by at shows….it’s cause I’ve forgotten to take them regularly…again. Personal needs aside though, one of the muscle pains I can develop from crocheting is along my tendon muscle near my elbow. It can feel almost like a knot is sitting there, not unlike a charlie horse issue in your leg, that feels more sore then shooting pain. After consulting with my doctor, he suggested I try adding extra potassium to go with my multivitamin as it was possible I wasn’t getting enough in my diet. After about a week I noticed a marked difference and have been attempting to keep up with it. Potassium is an electrolyte and besides helping with your blood pressure, it also aids in electrical impulses carried through your body for proper nerve and muscle communication. Think of it like lubrication for your muscles. 😉

The last bit to add here is the one everyone knows and no one wants to hear.

Rest.

Yup. Take a break. Do anything that doesn’t put high stress on your hands/arms. Play some video games, watch movies, whatever you like. Give your hands a rest as much as you can before doing more creating. When you do jump back in don’t go ‘nose to the grind stone’ either to try and ‘make up time’. You’ll just undue all the rest you gave your poor hands and get you back to square one. I took a week off with no crocheting after NYCC last fall cause my hands/arms were so sore, and even though they felt normal after only 2 days, I stuck to the plan and then went at a slightly slower pace for a bit when I started back up until I felt I could resume normal activity/speed.

While none of the 3 suggestions I’ve listed are full proof and you should always consult your doctor first if you have severe pain or injuries, these are good places to start finding a plan that works for you and gives you & your hands a nice long working relationship. 🙂