Shelf Life of Your Homemade Products

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Good morning, Hackers!

I have posted a lot about DIY and homemade products like bath salts and body scrubs, but I want to stress in today’s post that these products are made from natural materials. Unlike those store bought products, natural ingredients and can and will go bad so, for your health (and the health of anyone you sell or give your products too), it is important to understand what the shelf life of your products will be.

Today, I’m going to focus on two things that can affect your products. The first is mold and bacteria. We all know about these lovely little buggers because we all have bathrooms and no matter how meticulous you want to be about cleaning it, somehow, mold still occurs. That is because water is present. There is nothing mold likes more than moisture.

If you are making products that have water present in them (like lotions or emulsified scrubs), mold and bacteria are likely to occur. In this instance, a preservative should be used. There are a number of preservatives that you can buy to add to your product but if you want to stay as natural as possible in your product, there are two things you need to help preserve you product; antimicrobial preservatives and antioxidants. Coconut oil is an antimicrobial as is the carrier oil apricot kernal seed oil. There is some debate on if grapefruit seed extract is an effective preservative due to the revelation a few years back that most grapefruit seed oils contained other, harmful products. As with anything, be sure you know what you are using/buying. Read the labels, ask questions, sometimes you might even want to call the company that produces the product to find out what may not be listed on the label.

Antioxidants like vitamin E and rosemary oil extract are also great things to add to your products not just for the mold/bacteria repelling properties but because they are good for your skin. Just remember that if your product has food in it, like avocado, a preservative is not going to prolong the shelf life of the product. Make these types of things in small amounts that can be used well within the few days shelf life of this type of product. And remember to refrigerate these types of products or they’ll just go bad all the faster.

The second thing you want to be aware of is rancidity. A lot of people think that bacteria and something being rancid are the same thing but they are not. Your product can grow mold and bacteria at ANY time (because of the water). However, if you use a preservative to prevent mold/bacteria in your product, that product can still go rancid. Rancidity doesn’t necessarily mean your product isn’t safe to use, it just means that the benefits of the natural products may have depleted. (Mold and bacteria on the other hand, DO make the product unsafe and you should chuck it out immediately if you find mold.)

So now you’re probably asking yourself, “how do I know when I should use a preservative and when I don’t have to?” Just remember the water. Anything that doesn’t have oils, butters, waxes, etc in it but is a cream or lotion should have an preservative. Basically, creams, lotions, toners, moisturizers, emulsions…those need preservative. Things like lip balms, salves, ointments, body and facial oils, oil-based body butters… those do not require a preservative.

You can also extend the shelf life of your products by following a few simple steps in your making and storing process. Use clean, sterilized containers and tools, use distilled of boiled water (or water substitutes), and store your products in dark or opaque containers in a cool, dry place.

Making your own products can be fun and easy and safe when you understand what to watch out for.

Stay safe and healthy, Hackers!

~Scribe Sarah~


Bathroom Cleanliness — The Homemade Way

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I don’t know about you guys but nothing makes me happier that a spic-n-span bathroom. Over the last year, I have been endeavoring to be completely cruelty-free and as natural as possible in all my product usage. Alas, almost all of the highly rated and well-known cleaning products are not cruelty-free and are also choke full of chemicals. So I started researching and found some store-sold alternatives (Method and Seventh Generation are good options). But then, I started wondering if, like my bath salts, could I make cleaning products out of more natural ingredients? And guess what? I CAN! And so can you!

One of my favorite sites to research and find recipes to try is The Soap Queen. (Seriously, check out this site. It is super useful and tons of fun!) I found two recipes off this site to assist in creating a sparkling clean loo. The first is for a Natural Soap Scum Cleaner.

Ingredients:

  • Three 8 oz Bail Jars
  • 18 oz Baking Soda
  • 3 heaping Tbsp Pumice
  • 6 oz Epsom Salt
  • 2 mL Lemongrass Essential Oil
  • 5 mL Fir Needle Essential Oil

Directions:

*Add baking soda and Epsom salt to large mixing container. (Sift baking soda to unclump). Then add pumice and mix ingredients with a spoon or your hands. Add lemongrass and fir needle essential oils and mix thoroughly to combine. Transfer the mixture to the bail jars. Before use, test a bit on a hidden part of your shower to make sure it won’t scratch the surface.*

Next up is a Fizzy Toiler Freshener. No one likes having to scrub a toilet and these homemade tablets are a quick way to give your whole bathroom a boost of freshness.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup sodium bicarbonate
  • 1/4 cup citric acid
  • Witch Hazel (in a spray bottle)
  • 12 mL Lemon essential oil
  • 6 mL Peppermint essential oil (2nd distilled)
  • Spiral Flower Wax Tart Mold

Directions:

*Add baking soda and citric acid to a large bowl. If lumpy, break apart with your fingers or sift. Then add 12 mL lemon essential oil and 6 mL peppermint essential oil, 2nd distillation. Using gloved hands, mix the essential oils into the dry ingredients. The moisture level of the mixture is important; it should be wet enough that a handful of the squeezed powder will hold shape. Spritz with witch hazel if you need a bit more moisture but be careful with how much. Too much of the witch hazel will ruin the fizziness of your tabs.

Press the mixture into your molds and leave overnight. To use, simply drop one into your toilet bowl and let fizz, then flush.*

And finally, there is a recipe for the Best Homemade Bathroom Cleaner Ever, brought to you by The Wellness Mama. This is also a paste, however, the baking soda and vinegar make it highly effective. (Seriously, guys. There is no better cleaning product than baking soda. There is a reason our grandmothers all used it for, like, everything.)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup baking soda
  • 1/2 cup washing soda
  • 1/2 cup liquid castille soap (I recommend Dr. Bronner’s, it really is the best)
  • 25 drops of tea tree essential oil
  • 10 drops peppermint essential oil
  • 2 Tbsp white vinegar (optional)

Directions:

*Mix baking soda, washing soda, and liquid castille soap in medium-sized container until it’s pasty and mushy. Add essential oils and mix thoroughly. If you choose to add the vinegar, be aware that the soda will make it fizz a little. It’ll stop so don’t freak out. Then, to use, just scoop a little out with a sponge and scrub away!*

As with anything that you use essential or carrier oils in, you’ll want to store your products in either dark glass or opaque containers (steel spray bottles are good also). This will keep them from growing mold or bacteria or going rancid. Make sure you are also storing these items in a cool, dry space.

We all love a clean, sparkling and fresh-scented bathroom; even those of you out there with boys in the house can achieve this with no chemicals to harm your loved ones.

Happy Cleaning, Crafters!

~Scribe Sarah~


DIY Sugar Scrubs

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It’s the start of a new week, crafty people. Are you planning on trying anything new this week in your craft endeavors? Don’t forget to challenge yourselves. Try something you’ve never tried before. You might find a whole new hobby to take up more of your already dwindling time!

This week, I’d like to feature how to make your own sugar scrubs. In the next year, I set a goal for myself to try and use more natural things in my day to day life. One way to do this is homemade sugar scrubs. These are a great way to exfoliate your skin and some prefer sugar scrubs to salt scrubs as the granules are smaller and less abrasive. So if you have more sensitive skin, I would recommend sugar scrubs.

The basis of almost any sugar scrub is sugar and oil. General rule is 80% sugar, 20% oil. You can add essential oils for homeopathic and aromatic benefits but you don’t have to. Below, are a few basic & easy sugar scrub recipes.

Sweet Orange Sugar Scrub

Ingredients: 1 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup almond oil, & 7-8 drops of sweet orange essential oil.

Directions: Combine all ingredients in medium bowl, mix well and store in air-tight containers (bail or mason jars work best).

Cucumber Mint Sugar Scrub

Ingredients: 1 cup traditional white sugar, 1/4 cup coconut oil, 5 drops of peppermint essential oil, & 4 drops of cucumber essential oil

Directions: Melt coconut oil. Combine all ingredients in medium bowl, mix well and store in air-tight containers (bail or mason jars work best).

Vanilla Lavendar Sugar Scrub

Ingredients: 1 cup traditional white sugar, 1/4 cup coconut oil, 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, & 5 drops lavendar essential oil.

Directions: Melt coconut oil. Combine all ingredients in medium bowl, mix well and store in air-tight containers (bail or mason jars work best).

Honey & Brown Sugar Scrub

Ingredients: 1 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup almond oil, 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, & 1 teaspoon pure raw honey.

Directions: Combine all ingredients in medium bowl, mix well and store in air-tight containers (bail or mason jars work best).

You can use other oils for the base. Olive oil works really well and jojoba oil can be a great benefit for your skin. Adding a little vitamin E is never a bad idea and can help fight against aging in your skin.

So the next time you want to feel a little sweet, add a sugar scrub to your shower.

~ScribeSarah~


Drinking your way through the Holidays

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Happy Monday, friendly crafty folks!

Whether you live in the frigid Midwest or the sunny LA coast, the Christmas season is one of the best seasons for tasty (and sometimes alcoholic!) beverages! From classic eggnog to German gluhwein worthy of Christkindlmarket, there are tons of options to imbibe throughout your December. Here are a few recipes I have either always wanted to try and make on my own (gluhwein) or are some of my holiday favorites.

Classic Gluhwein Recipe

Ingredients:

1 bottle of robust red wine

1 cup water

1 lemon peel

3 cinnamon sticks

10 cloves

Juice of 2 oranges

1 star anise

Dash of allspice

Directions: Combine all your ingredients in a large pot on the stove top. You can also do this in a crock pot on low/med heat (depending on your crock pot’s cooking temps). Heat all ingredients without boiling. Once warmed, simply strain and serve. If you’re feeling extra festive, you can add a dash of rum!

 

Homemade Healthy Eggnog (serves 4)

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

2 cups almond milk

1/3 cup raw organic honey

3 egg whites

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

Pinch of ground ginger and/or cloves (optional)

Directions: Blend together all ingredients. Pour into a large pot and simmer (without boiling!) for 15 minutes. Serve in mugs with a cinnamon garnish.

Peppermint Cocoa

Ingredients:

Your hot cocoa of choice

Peppermint schnapps

Directions: This one’s super easy. Make your favorite hot cocoa. Add peppermint schnapps (to taste). Enjoy!

 

I hope that these yummy drink recipes keep you warm and happy throughout this holiday and winter season!

~Scribe Sarah~


Labor Day Celebration: Relax yo’self

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Hello my beautiful Monday Hackers! And a happy Labor Day to you all!

In honor of the holiday, I wanted to spend a little time on relaxation and rest. It is important to maintain a balance in our lives, which is part of the reason our country celebrates this holiday. As such, I wanted to give a few ideas for things you can do to help rest and restore yourselves from the stresses of every day life.

One of my absolute favorite ways to relax is to take a long, hot bath. Adding bath salts and fragrances add a lovely level to your relaxation time. In a post a few weeks ago, I posted a recipe for making your own bath salt. It’s quick, it’s easy, it’s inexpensive and you can find that recipe here. Some great relaxing scents you can use for this (or for a spray that can be misted over your bed before you go to sleep) are lavender, rose, ylang ylang, bergamot, chamomile, and frankincense.

In addition to the salts in your bath, having a good book with you can be a super addition to your rest time. Sometimes, taking a journey into a fictional world while inhaling calming scents is just what a human needs to fully decompress.

Another way to pamper yourself is to mix up a homemade facial mask. Many of these can be made with items you have in your kitchen, some are a little more detailed. But sometimes, unclogging your pores can really help unclog your mind. This may be construed by some to be a rather ‘feminine’ thing to do but I feel this is a great thing for any gender. Clean skin makes anyone feel better about things. Below is a quick and easy hydrating mask for dry skin.

Cocoa Dream Hydration Mask:

Mash up one quarter of an avocado and add one tablespoon of honey and one tablespoon of cocoa powder. Apply the mixture to a clean face and let sit for about 10 minutes. Rinse with lukewarm water and pat face dry. (I like to follow things like this with my favorite toner, Pacifica’s Coconut Micellar Water Cleansing Tonic, which can be bought at Target, Ulta, and Sephora or online at Amazon. Pacifica’s products are also all cruelty free and 100% vegan!)

Another fabulous homemade mask ingredient is bananas. Bananas are great for skin as they are high in antioxidants and moisture. This mask is super easy and great way to get glowing skin.

Organic Banana Face Mask:

Mash up half a banana and add one tablespoon orange juice (fresh squeezed is best!) and one tablespoon of honey. Apply to a clean face and leave on for 15 minutes, then rinse with lukewarm water.

One of my favorite ways to relax and de-stress is by doing a little yoga. Even the most novice yoga practitioner can accomplish these basic poses for relaxation. As with any physical exercise, make sure that you are trained on how to do these poses correctly by a licensed yoga instructor. Doing yoga poses incorrectly can actually damage your body. This webpage has five easy to achieve and fully relaxing yoga poses. Other poses that I enjoy and that help relax and relieve tension are locust pose and supine leg twist. For anyone who is a yoga practitioner who wants to have yoga on the go, I highly recommend the apps FitStarYoga and Asana Rebel. They are easy to use and show videos on the poses as well so it’s great for people who are not yet proficient.

I’d like to end my post on the most efficient way to de-stress, relax, and recharge. It’s quick, it’s easy and you can literally do it anywhere. Deep Breathing. Some people call this meditation and it is. However, all you really need to do is take in oxygen in order for your body to naturally relax and find serenity. Sit somewhere where you won’t be disturbed. If you can’t find a somewhat quiet spot, put in earbuds and start whatever relaxing music you like (I personally go straight for Chopin’s Nocturnes). Close your eyes and take one slow, deep breath in, then slowly let it out through your mouth. Repeat this for 5 minutes, 10 minutes, however long you feel you need to fully let go of your stress and find peace. Don’t think about anything; no mental lists of what you still have to do for the day, what you’re going to have/make for dinner, if you need to stop at the store on the way home for toilet paper. All those things will be there waiting for you when you’re done breathing. Just focus on the slow intake of oxygen and the release of breath out. Imagine all the bad thoughts and feelings you have exiting your body with the exhale. Even just 5 minutes of this can make all the difference in your mental state and how you approach or deal with your day.

Our weekend is long and for that, we are all grateful. Who doesn’t love a day off work? But remember the real reason for it and that is to take care of and treat yo’self. Happy Labor Day, kids!