Friday, May 15, 2015

Making Cold-Processed Soap

I've been meaning to make soap for ages. Last week was rainy and miserable so I figured if I was stuck indoors, I might as well do something useful. I had tried to make cold processed soap a couple of years ago but it wasn't what you'd call a raging success. I was a tad overambitious and the colour and fragrance oils I used seized the mixture. This time round I thought I'd try a simple recipe (just coconut oil and olive oil) that I got from Down To Earth's blog.

There are a few different methods of making soap. Cold processed, hot processed and melt and pour.

Cold processed is where you mix your oils with your lye water and let the soap set in the mould overnight/for a couple of days. You then need to let your soaps cure for a few weeks before you can use them.

Hot processed soap is when you cook your soap in a crockpot or put into an oven to speed up the saponification process. (Saponification is the chemical reaction that occurs between your fats/oils and the lye solution to create the soap. Once it is complete, there is no lye remaining in the soap). The soap can be used a lot sooner and doesn't really need to cure.

Melt and pour is different in that you aren't actually making soap through saponification, rather melting down a base soap made of glycerin or white coconut oil and adding colours/fragrances and shaping them in different moulds.

Safety first. Safety is sexy.

Safety: Before you do anything, please make sure you are wearing appropriate safety gear. Gloves, long sleeves, safety goggles and/or a face mask. Using hot oils and caustic soda can be dangerous and has the potential to cause nasty burns if it isn't handled safely.

So, the first thing you need to do is weigh out all your ingredients (including your water). Depending on what fats and oils you are using, you should run your ingredients through a soap calculator. You can find quite a few of them around the net. Making soap is a science, and you need to be quite precise with your measurements.

 Next, melt your oils on a slow heat. (Don't use an aluminium pot or utensils, as it will react with the lye)

While they are melting, add your lye (caustic soda) TO your water in a separate container. Never add your water to your lye, it can cause a volcano-type reaction. So I've been told. Probs best to not try it.
The water/lye solution will heat up very quickly, and be quite whiffy, so make sure you're wearing a mask, or are in a well-ventilated space. This is probably not the sort of project you want little Billy helping with.

Using a candy thermometer, wait for the temperature of both the oils and the lye solution to cool down to about 50C. They need to be roughly the same temp.

Now you can add your lye solution to your oils. It will start to turn opaque. At this point, using a handheld stick blender is probably the easiest way to mix the soap.

It will start to thicken and you want to bring the mixture to 'trace'.  This is when the mixture has reached a pudding-type consistency, and if you pull your stick blender out, you will see in the mixture where it was, it's left a 'trace' in the soap. Make sense? I haven't had my coffee yet.

 At this point you can add your fragrance or any colour you want to use. I used lemon myrtle oil. Again, you want to run these measurements through a soap calculator so you know how much
fragrance oil to use.

Mix again, then you can pour into your moulds. You can use pretty much anything as a mould. I used silicone moulds but you could use a lined wooden soap mould, or a tupperware container. You could probably use a lined cardboard box in a pinch.

I covered my moulds with a piece of cardboard, then wrapped them in a couple of towels to insulate them, and let them cure for 24 hours.

Problem. The soap was REALLY soft. I'm not sure if I had the mixtures too hot still, or if the fragrance oil affected the mixture. Castile-type soaps (olive oil soap) is the softest soap you can make, so I'm not sure if that was normal or not. It was too soft to unmould after 24 hours, so I stuck it in the freezer for an hour to harden them up so I could unmould them. I placed the soaps into drying trays (just little office trays I picked up from the Reject Shop) and have been turning them once a day. They were harder on day 2, but still quite soft. These soaps will need to cure for about 6 weeks.

So that's it! It's really not that complicated, and I think most people put off trying soap making because of the lye. Just jump in and have a go if you're considering it! We've got enough soap to last us a few months now.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

25 Uses for Bicarb Soda

Happy Earth Day everyone!

In our quest to be a bit greener, we've switched a lot of our previously store-bought products to homemade, more environmentally-friendly alternatives. We always make sure we have an ample supply of bicarb soda, as it's so versatile. It can be used not only around the house, but for personal use as well!

Here are some ways you can use it:

1. Use it as deodorant

This is my #1 favourite use for it. I apply it under my arms like you would talcum powder. Please make sure you are using aluminium-free bicarb, as not all brands are. I haven't used commercial deodorants in over 3 years now!

2. Use it to whiten teeth

If you're a coffee/tea/wine drinker, you know how it can stain your teeth. Mix a little bicarb with your toothpaste, or just use it by itself to give your teeth a quick polish.

3. Make your own toothpaste with it

There are plenty of homemade toothpaste/tooth powder recipes kicking around the net, and most of them list bicarb as an ingredient. It's also great as a gum paste to help prevent gingivitis.

4. Soothe sunburned/itchy skin 

Add to a bath to help soothe skin irritations.

5. Use in a detox bath

I like relaxing in these once a week. Add some bicarb, Epsom salts and lavender oil to a warm bath and soak your cares away.

6. Sprinkle in shoes to get rid of odours.

I've got boys (and a girl) who get whiffy sneakers. Sprinkle some bicarb in them and leave overnight to deodorize.

7. Relief from insect bites/stings.

My husband has particularly nasty reactions to mozzie bites (and they seem to love him, unfortunately.) We thought he'd been bitten by a spider one time as his ankle and foot swelled up but it turned out to be a mosquito bite. Now if he ever gets stung, he applies some apple cider vinegar, and then a paste of bicarb to it straight away and it seems to help relieve the itching and swelling.

8. Deodorize your fridge/bin

Place a dish of bicarb in your fridge to help absorb odours, or sprinkle in the base of your bin to help cut down smells.

9. Use as an exfoliating scrub

Make a runny paste with bicarb and water and use as a mild facial exfoliant.

10. Polishing stainless steel/chrome

We have a stovetop kettle that always ends up splattered with curry/bacon grease and other lovely concoctions. A bit of bicarb and water always leaves it shiny and grease-free with minimal effort.

11. Washing fruit and veg

Either use it to soak your fruit and veg when you buy them, or just sprinkle some in your hand and give your single items of produce a quick scrub before you use them.

12. Use as a mouthwash

Add 1/2 tsp bicarb to a glass of water and swish/gargle with it to freshen breath.

13. Use it to clean your oven

Mix bicarb into a thick paste, either with water or with regular dishwashing detergent. Apply to your oven and leave overnight. The next morning your oven will be much easier to clean.

14. Freshen your vacuum cleaner.

Hoover up some bicarb to deodorize your vacuum cleaner bag. NOTE: Do NOT try this with bagless vacs. Yes I tried it. It clogged my HEPA filter. Trust me. Don't.

15. Unblock drains

Pour some bicarb down your drain, and follow with some hot vinegar. It should bubble and foam like a small volacano. Pour some boiling water down the drain after this and it should clear blockages.

16. Removing stains from cups/mugs

Use a damp sponge/rag with a bit of bicarb to scrub your cups and mugs and it should get rid of any coffee and tea stains and bring them back to their former glory.

17. Clean toothbrushes

Soak toothbrushes in a solution of bicarb and water and leave overnight to freshen and clean.

18. Ease heartburn

This was a godsend whenever I was pregnant as I use to suffer with the worst heartburn. Drink a small glass of water with 1/2 - 1tsp bicarb.

19. Remove burned food from saucepans

This tip came in particularly helpful the other night as I got distracted and burned the sweet potatoes on the stove.
If you get at it straight away, you can add some bicarb and a bit of detergent and water to the saucepan and bring to the boil. It should boil the burnt food off the bottom of the pot. Make sure you watch it because it will foam and boil over.
If the pot has been left, never fear. Just add some bicarb to the pot with some water and leave to soak overnight. The next morning cleanup should be easy.

20. Relieve nappy rash

Add 2 tbsp of bicarb to baby's bath to help relieve nappy rash

21. Food container wash

My kids drink bottles get a bit funky, as do the plastic containers hubby takes his lunch to work in.
Wash containers with a bit of bicarb to help get rid of the smells.

22. Make an easy craft clay

Add some water and cornstarch to some bicarb to make a craft clay for the kids. I haven't tried this. Yet. Thanks Pinterest.

23. Getting rid of odours

Sprinkle on your carpet/in cupboards/your teenager's room/anywhere that's smelly to help get rid of odours.

24. Cuts grease

I use a lot of grease/oils/fats in my cooking so I love using bicarb to scrub down my stovetop. Makes grease removal a piece of cake.

25. Use as shampoo

A while back I tried the "No 'Poo Challenge" and used bicarb for washing my hair with an ACV conditioner rinse. It's not for everyone, and there are pros and cons. However, even if you're not into ditching your shampoo, if you do happen to get caught short and run out of shampoo, bicarb can be used in a pinch.

 What are your favourite ways to use bicarb? Let me know in the comments below. Don't forget you can also follow me on Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram and FB (coming soon).

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Homemade Laundry Detergent

Hi guys, time for my annual post!

...just kidding ;)

Seriously though, how has a year flown past since the last time I wrote a blog entry?!

Between running around after 4 kids and a recent house move I have been a busy little bee. Our youngest is now 15 months old and definitely keeping me on my toes!

This year I'm trying hard to cut down on our "stuff". Moving helped with that immensely but we have a lot more to go. I really want to work towards growing a lot of our own food, spending less and making more things at home.

Yesterday I was going through a box I still hadn't unpacked from our move in January and found my old home recipes book-a bunch of different recipes for household cleaners, herbal remedies and balms and salves that I had been meaning to try out and hadn't gotten around to.

Since I had just used the last of my washing powder (which was crap and always left white powder over my clean clothes) I thought I may as well give the homemade laundry detergent recipe a go!

It's seriously easy to make and yields 10 litres of laundry liquid. You only use a 1/4 cup each load, so it will last ages!

Here are the ingredients:

1 cup of grated soap (regular laundry soap)
or 1 cup of soap flakes (I used Lux, just because they were hanging around my laundry already.)

1/2 cup borax

1/2 cup washing soda (NOT bicarb soda, there is a difference!)

Optional: fragrance oil of your choice.

Get a large saucepan and add the cup of soap flakes to 1.5 litres of water. Stir over a low heat (don't boil) until the soap has dissolved.  Remove from heat.

Get a 10 litre bucket with a lid (or two 5 litre buckets like I did) and fill with 8 litres of hot water. Add the soap mixture to the hot water, along with the borax and the washing soda. Give it a good stir until it's all dissolved. At this point you can add a fragrance oil if you like.
 Pop your lid on and leave overnight to gel.

When you open it up the next day, it will have thickened up quite a lot and some of the liquid will probably have separated from the gel. Give it a really good stir to mix it all together.

That's it! Use a 1/4 cup each load.

I did a few quick sums and came up with the following:

Lux Flakes costs $7.49 for a 700g box.  85g used per batch = 90c
Lectric Soda costs $3.99 for a 1kg bag. 90g used per batch = 36c
Borax costs $4.50 for 500g. 95g used per batch = 86c

So it cost me a grand total of $2.08 to make 10 litres of laundry liquid.

Using 1/4 cup each wash I should be able to get approx 166 loads out of one batch!

By comparison, looking at Coles online, Cold Power 1L laundry liquid is $9.89- for 10 litres, that would be over $90!!
That's quite a saving, folks!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

My favourite blogs

I thought I'd share with you a few of my favourite blogs.
These are ones that I always look forward to reading, have cheered me up on a lacklustre day, and are written by some lovely ladies.

In no particular order:

Annie Pancake

I started following her blog when she was in highschool, and now through university. I love her quirky vintage style.

Demi Lauren

Always fabulous, she looks like Britain's answer to Dita Von Teese, with her perfectly coiffured hair and red lips. Also, can I say-massively envious of her eyebrows  ;)

Diary of a Vintage Girl

Fleur de Guerre seems to pop up on every vintage clothing site I visit, modelling their garments:)
I also got a bit excited when I saw her as an extra on Eastenders a few weeks back lol

This Old Life

Nabby hasn't updated her blog since she announced her 2nd pregnancy (understand that ALL too well!) but if you love 1930's fashion, you should definitely check her out!  She makes THE most amazing 1930's reproduction outfits from mostly repurposed knits/clothing. Such jealous of her wardrobe :D

Welcome to Deluxeville

I have followed Mary Deluxe's blog for a few years now-lusted after her sexy mid-century lamps, drooled over her absolutely gorgeous house, been inspired by her garden, and her awesome "can-do" attitude towards life. Plus, she's a really lovely lady. Check her out!

and last but not least:

Tea with the Vintage Baroness

Jill has the most wonderful 1930's fashions, and I totally wish I lived closer to Canada...or that I had a few more $$$ to afford some of the outfits in her Etsy store!!

That's all for now.  If you have a fabulous vintage blog, leave me a comment below and I'll check it out!!

Til next time,

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

I'm Back....

...with a new addition!!

This cheeky monkey is now 5 months old!! It doesn't seem like so long ago I announced I was pregnant. He was born the day after his due date and was a whopping 11lbs me, I was shocked! My other 3 were all around the 7lb mark, so he didn't feel like a tiny newborn. In fact, a lot of the clothes I had for him were too small!

Til next time!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Sorry about my little hiatus...

I promise I have a good excuse...I have a little bun in the oven! I'm due at the start of January, although if this little one follows it's sibling's lead, it might be closer to Christmas (the other 3 were all two weeks early!)
Will be back with a proper blog post soon!! :D

Friday, March 15, 2013

Beach Babes & Ol' Blighty

 We've just sweltered through 14 days of 30deg + weather and I have discovered something....I like the beach.
Since I'm your (perhaps not-so-average) Aussie sheila, I can hear you saying, "Yeah, so what?"

I've never liked the beach. Never liked swimming, never liked icky sand getting stuck to me...princess or what?!

Now that the kids are a bit older it's fun taking them to the beach. We've been about 5 times in the past fortnight! I bought the first bikini I've owned since I was 14 ( and a teeny size 8!), and went swimming for the first time in about 10 years. Like, actual swimming, not wading in up to my ankles :D

And I loved it! We've been going down to Barwon Heads near the bridge where the water is nice and warm and shallow. The kids have been enjoying splashing around, and making sandcastles and and annoying the million mud-crabs that are down there. The biggest kid AKA my lovely hubby instigated the building of "Durham Castle" the other day, complete with moat :)

In a weeks time we will be going from 30deg weather to 5 deg weather...we're heading to England for 3 weeks!! It will be lovely to see the family, sightsee, and give the kids an amazing experience. We're hoping to visit Stratford-Upon-Avon and check out the birthplace of Shakespeare, head to York and visit The Shambles and the Roman Bath House. Hubby and I are going to go to Edinburgh and check out the Tartan Factory, amongst other things. See you all when we get back!!!