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Posts Tagged ‘Essential oil’

A female mosquito of the Culicidae family (Cul...

A female mosquito of the Culicidae family (Culiseta longiareolata). Size: about 10mm length Location: Lisbon region, Portugal Türkçe: Culiseta longiareolata türü dişi bir sivrisinek. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We had the craziest weather today, it was sunny and it rained, then the sky got dark and we had an amazing thunder and lightning storm, then the hail came… our swollen creek is running so fast it should join the Olympic swimming team.  The signs of summer are just not showing.  Sure it’s spring in the Pacific Northwest, rain is the normal, but I have a nice reminder of summer on my leg and it’s not a tan.  Apparently when I was standing in the rain talking to my neighbor the other night, I was being feasted on by mosquitoes!  I noticed my leg itched, scratched it to find a huge welt.  The suckers got me 6 different times on the same leg!  Ugh.  Isn’t it too early for mosquitoes?

I noticed that my jar of homemade lavender oil was sitting on the counter.  So itchy and scratchy I decided to turn that into some mosquito repellent.  We have a lavender bush and so does my best friend, with our flowers and the ones she gave me I put them into a mason jar then covered them with oil and let them sit.  After they sat for several months, I strained them out of the oil then packed the jar full again of another batch of flowers and put the oil back on top.  So essentially I soaked the oil twice.  I’ve been using that lavender oil as my repellent for the last couple years, I’ve just kept it in the fridge and applied it when I needed it.  Lavender oil works amazingly for mosquitoes, but you have to apply more often than you would the chemical types.  So I wanted the power punch this year, I mean if they are out already and eating me alive like it’s June then I think we’ll need some good defenses this year.  I went online and found that lemon and eucalyptus oil was the best oils to ward off mosquitoes, so I just happened to have a little bottle of essential oils.  So I put some lemon eucalyptus oil in my lavender.  Then I made a salve out of it. I wrote a previous blog about making salves here.

So I have my defenses for the year.  But that doesn’t take care of my current problem, how much they itch!  So I did a little looking and found some interesting ideas.  I took these ideas from this site.

  • Rub the bite with soap.
  • Apply an ice pack to the bite.
  • Mix baking soda with enough water to make a paste and apply to the bite.
  • Apply lavender and tea tree oils with a swab.
  • Rub a piece of freshly cut onion on the bite.
  • A dab of toothpaste is soothing, too.

I’ve done baking soda on bee stings, the onion just sounds like it would sting like crazy, and I don’t use conventional toothpaste…  The one thing the author suggests before the points above was to rub a banana skin on them.  We have tons of bananas around and so I was itching enough, and the results were pretty fabulous actually.  The banana skin took away the itch 100%.  I am not sure how long it lasts but I’m willing to reapply.  However a banana peel at work probably wouldn’t work, I think there I’d stick with some essential oils which could be easily applied in the restroom. 🙂  Happy mosquito season folks, hope they are not going crazy on you like they are on me.

Deutsch: eine Bananenschale English: banana peel

Deutsch: eine Bananenschale English: banana peel (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

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I don’t wear traditional deodorant anymore, nor does Hubby.  No, I’m not a stinky hippie.  In fact I work in a doctor’s office and have to be professional here.  Yes, there are a lot of stinky hippies in Portland, I am just not one of them.  Somewhere in the pages of Natural Cures They Don’t Want You To Know About, he talks about the dangers of traditional deodorants.  From aluminum, to putting dangerous chemicals right on top of two major lymph glands (Remember your lymph system doesn’t move on its own, you have to do it…so many people are putting this stuff on, it’s getting into their body and then remaining stagnant because they aren’t moving their lymph system).  A simple google of “dangers of deodorants” or even on naturalnews.com and you will have tons of reading.

There is such a taboo to deodorant.  We are taught that we MUST have this product, because then the boys or girls won’t like you if you smell.  I remember being SO embarrassed if I forgot my deodorant one day.  Gasp! In fact I have quite active sweat glands under my arm pits.  When I was growing up I was embarrassed about that as well.  No one told me it was normal for my body and that I should just embrace it, so I bought the high-powered deodorant and I can’t help think what I am paying for now, because I used that then….

So what do I use?  Well it’s changed over time.  At first I bought the “natural” deodorants from health food stores.  Which is fine, but it is another product that you HAVE to buy and still there are things in there that I still can’t pronounce.  I mean really if I can’t pronounce an ingredient then I’m pretty sure it shouldn’t come near my body, but that’s just me.  Then I started trying a spray.  I bought some essential oils and combined them with water for a morning spray.  This was also fine, but it doesn’t last all day and it doesn’t seem to help with odor, it just masks it for a while.  Then I read that people were using plain old baking soda with their essential oil spray.  You spray on the essential oil mix, then add baking soda to the top (making it stick).  This too was ok.  If you are focused on smelling good this is a good alternative.  But I took it one step further, I dropped the spray.  I only use baking soda.  Like I said I have active sweat glands, so I don’t usually have problems with having something for the baking soda to stick to.  What I do is carry a tin of baking soda in my purse, usually when I get to work I will apply it sitting at my desk.  I wipe my arm pit, dip my finger into the soda and then apply.  Generally I put a few wipes on, and yes I often times have to reapply at some point of the day.  But baking soda is an odor eater, don’t you put it in your fridge for that same purpose?  Once applied I do not smell.  Even if I have odor before applying the baking soda takes care of that, right away.  It is simple, it works and all I have to remember to do is grab my purse, and refill it when I’ve used it all.

I’m not embarrassed anymore.  If I sweat more than the next girl, so what…God made me that way.  I don’t smell anymore and I’m healthy and I save a TON of money every year not buying the prepackaged stuff from the store.  What does a box of baking soda cost?  Cheap, very cheap 🙂 Yay for saving money and not stinking! LOL

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In 2006 Hubby and I had just returned from a very failed move to Florida.  I guess I’m just a Oregon girl through and through.  I had to restart at my job and didn’t have insurance when I got two very nasty spider bites.  We assumed they were brown recluse but couldn’t be 100% sure.  They started out like small pimples on my hips and quickly went down hill from there.  With no insurance I wasn’t going to go to the doctor, and I was still very new to the herbal healing.  We tried all types of goofy things, including strapping cut potatoes to my hips in attempt to draw out the poison, man did that hurt!  Very long story short, eventually they healed.  During that process we learned a lot about spider bites and how to treat them.  Since that time I’ve been PLAGUED with spider bites.  Apparently I taste very good to spiders, lucky me.  So here are a few tips that helped me.

Magnesium: This is your #1 best treatment for spider bites!  This might be why potatoes were suggested, but don’t do the potatoes unless that is all you have.  We keep a bottle of magnesium pills around the house at all times.  When I get a bite, we grind up a pill or two and add just enough water to create a paste.  Put that paste on your bite and cover with a band-aid.  Once the magnesium dries it will harden, often times I will peel it off in order to have it pull out the puss/core.  This usually needs to be repeated a few times, but if this is all you have, you will heal your spider bite!  I learned this tip after my horrible bite, but I’ve never forgot it.

Well-Horse:  This stuff is made from the Amazon, it’s some kind of resin.  When I had my last bite, I went to our feed and seed (which we are VERY close with the staff) and was talking to a friend that works there.  He gave the store bottle of Well-Horse to try.  I took it home and Hubby applied it every time I got out of the shower (the bite was on the back of my leg, that’s what I get for gathering wood in a skirt).  This stuff is amazing!  Not only does it work super well on spider bites but it works on cuts and scrapes, and of course as the name suggests… you can use this on your animals.  The reason I love it the best is that it actually forces your body to scab.  Of course you will want to make sure whatever you are putting it on is thoroughly cleaned before applying.  My dog recently sliced his pad open, there was blood all over the floor when he came in from playing and he was licking like crazy.  I ended up putting a bit of Well-Horse on it and I never noticed it bothering him again.  The stuff is expensive (certainly compared to a bottle of magnesium), but a bottles seems like it will last forever.  Check your local feed and seed for it or you can go to Well-Horse’s website here http://www.well-horse.com/

Generally though my first line of defense is a homemade herbal healing salve.  If you have never made a salve this healing salve would be the place to start.  It is where I started. 🙂  I still make it and honestly I get requests for it ALL the time, especially from my Mom friends who use it on their babies bums for diaper rash and irritation.  They tell me it is the only thing they use and it works, so far I’ve had two different friends ask for more (we gave out tins of it for our wedding to the guests).  Salves are easy, I never measure anymore everything I do is generally by sight and experience.  So a salve is basically herbs that are soaked in some kind of oil and beeswax, that’s it.  For containers I look on craigslist for boxes of baby food jars and I ask my family and friends to save me their bottles, or used Altoid cans.  Also check out thrift stores for tins/jars.  A general salve ratio is 1 part beeswax to 3 parts oil.  So if you use 3 oz of oil you would use 1 oz of beeswax.  A scale really helps when you are starting.  If you want to be a bit “free” like me you can just add how much bees wax you think is enough and then dip a spoon in it and put it in the freezer to see how hard it becomes.  Ok I’m getting ahead of myself.  Lets just make the salve already!

Herbs you need are Calendula, Plaintain (the herb/weed not the “banana”), St John’s Wart, and Comfrey (which I talked about yesterday).  We grow our own Calendula, Plantain pretty much grows in everyone’s yard (and is perfect if you get stung by a bee! This stuff pulls out toxins.  Just chew up a leaf then put that mash on your sting and presto! Gone), St John’s Wart I bought at first but have found it grows up where Hubby’s Grandma lives so we harvested a bunch last year, and then Comfrey.

Oils: I usually use what I have on hand.  Olive oil works, I’ve used Grapeseed oil, Sunflower oil, Safflower oil… but almost always now I put some coconut oil in.  Coconut oil is solid below 75 F and helps add to the solidity of the salve, plus it’s super good for your skin.

Method: Get a pot out, measure (or eyeball) your oil then put your burner on low.  You want equal parts of your herbs.  So if you pick 1 oz then you use 1 oz of each herb.  I generally grab them and throw them in, but in the beginning I measured so carefully.  You add your herbs to your oil and let it sit (generally I cover it) for at least an hour on low.  Our new house has gas and this doesn’t work for me anymore, the oil starts to boil.  So I would turn it on low, don’t cover it and stir constantly.  Once the oil gets to the point it’s about to boil, turn off the gas for a while.  Then go back and do that again.  There is no special time here, an hour is a general time, I’ve done it longer and shorter and had wonderful products after.  Check on it from time to time, stir it, make sure it’s not boiling… After it’s sat in the oil then you take a cheese cloth (or an old T-shirt) and line a mesh strainer, pour the oil and herbs into another container and strain off the plant material.  Put your pot back on the stove on low, then you add your beeswax until melted, once it’s melted pour back your oil into the pan.  Warning: your oil will be cooler than the beeswax and it will harden a bit, this is normal and will melt again once everything gets up to temperature again.  Once everything is melted you’re ready to pour.  I forgot to mention that you should have your containers already washed and ready to go by this point.  Add about 5 drops of lavender essential oil to each container (or more if you love lavender… you can also put flowers in with your other herbs during the heating process).  I usually pour my liquid salve into a measuring cup with a pour spout on it.  It makes filling up the containers a lot easier.  Fill and let them sit until hard.  Label them with what you used and as “healing salve.”  I always make large batches so we have several jars of it on hand.  I give them away as the need comes, I use it on burns, cuts, scrapes… on the dogs (it’s ok if they lick it off it won’t harm them), on kids… the sky is the limit.  You’ll need to reapply it to whatever you are putting it on, probably a couple times a day and at the least once a day.  I love this stuff!  We have it around for all our neosporin needs 🙂  Cheap, easy and YOU made it.

 

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Making Soap

I love making natural products.  I started out by making herbal healing salves, then some lip balms which is similar to the salves.  I’ve tried making “very close vein” (aka varicose vein) salves, and even an arthritis rub.  Then I moved into lotions, which is super easy you just have to get the right blender.  I have found that a stick blender is perfect for this.  These were my adventures in natural products.  I have figured out easier ways to do the processes, I can teach people to do them, I feel 100% confident in herbal salves and lotions.  Still when I bought my soaps, I felt a bit perturbed.  I mean how hard can soap making be?  I should be able to do this, if I can make lotion, I could certainly make soap!

If only it was that easy.  I started with the wonderful lady I was buying my soaps from.  She has an Ebay store and I was buying her organic shampoo anyway, so I bought her soap too.  She had amazing scents, and even emailed me to tell me how to do it.  Although she did suggest I go to a soap making class.  Then I got a series of DVD’s called Homestead Blessings (two thumbs WAY up on them! Highly recommended) and they have one called Soap Making.  So I watched it, over and over and over.  They make cold process soap (aka lye, and not a melt and pour glycerine soap) and then make a remilled soap, which makes a harder bar they say.  They don’t even wear gloves!!  If they can do it, I can do it right?

I joined soap making internet groups, I read about it, and I even found a woman who was selling all of her soap making materials on craigslist for cheap, which included a soap making book, VERY helpful.  I had everything I needed to make soap, what was stopping me!?  Well… I finally bit the bullet this weekend and did it.  Turns out I was terrified of the lye.  I’m a klutzy person, I fall on nothing, I don’t pay attention and I knock something over with my elbow, I was so afraid of going to the ER (which I might add, we don’t have in our town… I would have to drive 30-45 minutes for one) with massive lye burns all over my body.  Fear is not of God, Corri… get it together!

So after putting the soap off for way too long, here is my story.  I was alone, so that didn’t help my fears.  First off I recommend having help.  The West Ladies (Homestead Blessings) had help, one was stirring while the other added oils, this would be helpful until you get the hang of it.  First you add your lye to the water (I used tea… water with camomile and calendula infused in it), not the water to the lye.  I wasn’t interested in finding out what happened when I did that wrong, so I didn’t.  I had 4 windows open and my back door, which is right by my kitchen.  I had an apron on, big goggles, big yellow gloves and a doctors mask, goodness the new neighbors must think I’m an odd duck. 😉  I did look pretty funny.  But I didn’t know what to expect!  Plus this was all in the kit I bought on CL so figured the girl must have known what she was doing.  I stir the lye in, next thing I know I get this whiff of something, something nasty.  I instantly back away, so the fears of being poisoned by the lye odor is not going to happen.  No one in their right mind would WANT to smell this stuff, and I like the smell of gasoline.  This was not pleasant.  I start to see the steam (is it steam?) come off the water, the water gets hot so I suspect it’s steam, that and lye.  Let me say that everything was weighed out BEFORE I started, and I had garbage bags on my counters, just in case.  I start to add the oils, coconut and olive and palm.  The coconut and palm are solid at room temperature, but the lye water is hot so it dissolves it.   Unfortunately for me, I didn’t get it totally mixed and I have a couple small chunks of oil in my soap, but this would have not happened had I had a buddy, I’m convinced.

After all that is done, then take a stick blender and CAREFULLY blend your mixture.  You blend it until it traces on top, or leaves an impression or line on top of the liquid.  I think I blended mine too much, or started too early because of the oil not all dissolving, but it was only a little so I’m still calling this a success.  It started to get thick, and it seemed to happen faster that I expected.  I worried about one big pot of soap if I didn’t get it into my mold.  So I poured the soap in to the mold that was lined with wax paper.  The West Ladies use a container that looks like a cat box bottom.  Mine is actually a soap mold that I got in my kit.  The West Ladies say to check it every half hour to make sure it doesn’t get too hard so you can’t cut it.  If you are using a wood soap mold, DO NOT do this.  I thought I ruined mine when I lifted the lid and half the soap came up with it!  I left it for the evening after that.  Periodically I would go and feel the side of the mold which stayed warm most of the evening, but I kept it insulated with a few towels so it would slowly cool.

The next morning I couldn’t wait to get up and check out my soap.  Other than some of the wax paper attaching to the soap (and couldn’t get it off and you can see at the top of the soap below) it was quite the success! Here it is before I cut it.

Then I cut it (again everything I bought was great and it had a soap cutter with it, but a knife would work) it was still really easy to work with, so it probably could have gone longer, but better to be safe than sorry.  I cut all the soap, lined an oven rack with a paper sack (writing down or you’ll have writing on your soap) and left it to cure in a closet.  It has to cure 3-4 weeks, a bit unfair since you want to use it right away, but patience is a virtue.  When it is all done I’m going to remill it.  Which means you grate it with a cheese grater, put it in a pot with some liquid (coffee, tea, water, goats milk) and then you can remold it.  It will only take a short time to get hard again (in the freezer this time) then your soap will be harder and last longer, or so the West Ladies say.  At that point I’ll add my fragrance/essential oil.  I will try a batch where I add my essential oil before I mold it, but I wanted to try remilled badly this time, so that is my plan with this batch.

Here’s the finished product.  I faced my fears and made soap and lye wasn’t hardly as frightening as I gave it the power to be, isn’t that the way with most things in life?

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