Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Soap recipe

I found a simple recipe for homemade soap... no-weighing even!  We have a scale but this just seemed like an easy, fool proof first recipe to start with.  I have been having a difficult time finding some of the oils and specialty ingredients that many recipes call for.  The recipe I found and plan to use uses simple ingredients found at most grocery stores.

750grams (26.46 oz) coconut oil
700 grams (26.69 oz) olive oil pomace grade
900 grams (31.75 oz) shortening
342 grams (12 oz) lye dissolved in
650 grams (22.93 oz) distilles or deionized water

I will also add some colourant 1-2 teaspoons... possibly tumeric or cinnamon, 118ml (.05 cup) finely ground oatmeal and a fragrant oil of some sort such as lily of the valley or lavender.

The canwax website in canada is great and has most ingredients but they want to charge me almost $20. for shipping.  I am hoping to get a few batches under my belt and then go onto more difficult and elaborate recipes, then I will order more fancy ingredients and place a huge order and get a few batches worth of supplies at a time.  I wanted to make soap and give them away as Christmas gifts but I won't have the time, but I will definitely be making soap for my own families use.  Hopefully sooner rather than later... Christmas holidays are always so busy!

recipe from Soap Maker's Workshop

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


My most recent blanket has been completed and turned out pretty nice.  The stitch was clean and simple and I was able to complete the blanket in less than a month.
Stitch I used for the blanket from The Complete Photo Guide To Crochet.
The blanket was for my brother in laws soon to be first born!  The baby shower was this past weekend and I was able to give the blanket along with the rest of the gift!

I also threw together a toque (hat) last night for Megan.  The toque was done is rows, not rounds with double crochet in pink and double crochet-cross stitch for the 2 rows of beige.  I used a 6mm hook but would use a smaller one next time to have a tighter crochet for colder weather, with the 6mm hook this hat will be a tad too drafty for those frigid cold days.  Also, Megan was in bed when I decided to make the toque and I guessed at the size of her head... turns out I was a size off and the toque is a bit big.  I think it is super cute though and love the way it turned out.  The yarn is Bernat Handicrafter and is 100% cotton, ultrasoft.  I may give the toque to my niece or keep it for when Megan next year... I have yet to decide.

Monday, November 28, 2011

French Toast!

Aaron had been bothering me for some time to bake fresh Brioche bread to make french toast with.  This past weekend we had an open house and our realtor had suggested baking bread or cookies to create a pleasant smell throughout the house.  Aaron took this advice and ran with it!  It was the perfect excuse to bake his brioche.  He got the bread recipe from The Bread Bakers Apprentice which we had purchased for his brother a few years back, although I am sure there are many fine brioche recipes online!  The book has 3 versions of the Brioche; poor mans, middle-class and rich mans.  Aaron decided to do the poor mans since the major difference (from what I understand) is the amount of butter added.  The french toast mixture was from Fine Cooking Magazine.  Turns out... Brioche makes the best french toast EVER!!!  This was so tasty and the edges were crispy and sweet and the center was just moist enough... not soggy, but just right!  Aaron served it to me with icing sugar, 100% pure maple syrup and a fanned strawberry!  Bon Appetite! 
Looks Tasty Doesn't It!

Homemade Salsa

I can't believe I forgot to post about our homemade salsa!!  I made it around the time we made the pasta sauce back in September.

Salsa Recipe:
8 cups Roma tomatoes, diced
4 Cubanelle peppers, diced
2 cups white onion, diced
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups white vinegar
1 cup sweet red peppers, diced
1/2 cup jalapeno pepper, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2-5 1/2oz cans tomato paste
2 tbsp. paprika
2 tbsp. coarse salt
1 tsp. oregano
1/4 cup parsley, chopped (add at the end)

Bring all ingredients but parsley to a boil and simmer for 2 hours. Add in parsley and Enjoy! You can 
adjust the heat to your taste. 1/2 cup of jalapeno is mild, I removed seeds but left the membrane.

Finished Salsa... Delicious!

I made it while Aaron was at work and Megan had been napping.  I was concerned about the heat so I didn't add many jalapeno peppers; Aaron and I love heat but the kids like to eat salsa so we needed to be careful.  We got the recipe form Aaron's cousin and had tried their batch and really enjoyed it.  I didn't have tomato paste or enough vinegar so Aaron brought some home after work... but with less vinegar (only 1/4c) and no tomato paste it tasted fantastic and could have been eaten then as a FRESH SALSA!  I started cooking the salsa before getting the extra ingredients and just added them once Aaron got home.   My only issue with how it turned out was the vinegar... I should have used a good quality AC vinegar but used no name and adding 3/4c late certainly didn't help, although it didn't cook it long before Aaron got home.  We then canned them up and used the boiling water bath method for preserving (link for how to).

Monday, November 21, 2011

... and so our gardening season ends.

We decided to blanche the kale to bag and freeze and dried the herbs.  For the kale Aaron blanched it in batches for 30 seconds and then cooled them down in cold water, patted them dry and bagged them for freezing.

Frozen portions of kale to be bagged.
As for the herbs, we simply put the oven to 170 and dried them for a few hours.

Rosemary and Sage.

When the herbs were dry we cooled them on the counter and put them into tupperware.  I decided to put in some dry rice at the bottom of the tupperware just incase there is some moisture left.  I don't want the herbs to get moldy if there happened to be a bit of moisture left.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

New Layer.

There is clearly a new layer out at the coop.  I collected eggs this past Wednesday and found a "mini egg".  The small egg had a nice shape to it but the shell was bumpy and the colour was inconsistent.  There are often some very large, slightly misshapen eggs as well which I assume are from the older layers.  I am excited to crack the tiny egg open and see the size of the yolk (vitellus) and white (albumen) in comparison to an average size egg.    I am not sure if the new layer would be one of my Barred Rocks or one of the Chanteclers since they are all about the same age and both lay brown eggs.  I would like to think it was one of the first from my hens, but there is no real way of knowing unless we actually see them laying.  Pretty cool regardless!
Tiny egg compared to one of the larger eggs.  

Monday, November 14, 2011

WECSA Coop Improvements

 Aaron finally made it to this past weekend to do the improvements at the coop.  He and another member built the ladder roost with a poop drawer. They built the roost and use mesh to keep the birds from getting underneath it.  There is netting that prevents the birds from getting underneath and below the poop deck is storage for food and supplies. I went out later in the evening after the improvements were complete to check on the birds and see if they were using the roost...
New roosts with poop deck.  Underneath there is storage space for food and supplies.
My birds and the Chanteclers were up on the roost with 2 other brown hens and the one sex link.  The rest of the brown hens were... huddled in the corner between the nest boxes and the wall with some in the nest boxes.
Nest boxes, grit feeders on right wall... birds all huddled together unable to get onto the roost.
Here is the straw bale outdoor coop.  There is a hole in the side of the main coop to allow the birds to enter and exit as they please.  The white angled structure is covered with a tarp which is over the hole to prevent the birds from getting snowed in over the winter months.
Once we noticed the birds unable to get onto the high roost we decided to build a ladder so they could climb easier.  The following night 4 more made it onto the roosts; hopefully in time more will find their way up there.

Take a stand!

Lately I have been wondering where our voices have gone.  I understand that not everyone will find something that they have a passion for (the ones who do will lead the way) and many working families do not have time to dedicate fully to a cause.  But what about simply having an opinion!  People do have opinions about issues once informed ( I hope).   Lets use animal cruelty as an example, even more specifically Rhino poaching.  Now if I were to tell you that dogs or cats were near extinction and that their population is so diminished that it likely will not recuperate... what might you say, better yet, what might you do?  The rhino population has in fact declined 90% since 1970 and their population will likely not recover from this decline.  I had no idea this was even occurring until just days ago, where the hell have I been?!  To top it off, just this week the Western Black Rhino was officially declared extinct!  Now, the Rhino's extinction will not directly and immediately impact my day to day life and so maybe I should not be overly concerned with this news... or should I??  The answer is I SHOULD!   If your neighbour was running a meth lab out of his/her basement I bet you would have a voice!  Why does it need to negatively effect people for them to care enough to have a voice!?!

Now, one single person cannot ever be abreast on all the issues that plague our world but lets think about the ones you ARE AWARE OF! (ex: Global warming, war, poverty, etc.)  Supporting an issue does not mean that you must donate money and hours of your time.  Not everyone is in a financial situation where they can give to many or any causes.  Simply sending emails, spreading news and information and vocalizing your support IS STILL SUPPORT!  It does not take long to "fan" a page on facebook, start a conversation about an issue or cause with friends and coworkers or shoot off an email to people of influence.  If everyone in Canada made their voices heard about every issue they had an opinion about think of how much good we could do as a country!  Those with influence could help, those with funds could support and those with a voice would be heard and that is how change happens!  I am not going to start a local campaign to support the Rhinos but I will speak to the issue and spread the word.

I can't resist but to mention backyard chickens here... It is my belief that the majority of people don't mind if a neighbour were to keep backyard hens and that if those who are opposed were to be educated about backyard chickens they too would be supportive.  I believe this whole heartedly!  I can give you a dozen+ news articles from the past few years about backyard chickens.  With all the news coverage I would assume that the majority of people have heard about people wanting to keep chickens.  If everyone within a city/town were to make their voices hear.. whether in support or not, imagine how simple it would to have change!  As of now, it is those who want to keep hens and those who are totally against them that have a voice.  When people read the news articles and say "Oh, thats really a shame they had to get rid of their chickens, who cares if they want to keep a few chickens."  THIS DOES NOT HELP ANYTHING!  People need to stop saying "oh, thats too bad."  with regards to every single issue they read about.  "That's too bad." is what's wrong with society.  If you support a cause... make it known!  With regards to Backyard chickens, if you don't mind them... let your town/city know about it!  Just because you don't plan to have them in your yard doesn't mean you shouldn't have a voice.

I guess what I am trying to get at here is.... when you read your local paper and hear about an issue-form an opinion and have it heard.  When you go to the grocery store and they have a box for canned food donation-throw in a $1 can of beans.  If you go to throw away your clothes-think about those less fortunate and donate them instead!  There are many ways in which we can make a difference.  When you buy food-think about where it came from and what might be in it.  As you try on apparel made from animal skin-remember where they came from.  As you drive by the next construction site for a big box store or new strip mall-remember what used to inhabit that land.  Not all causes need to save the world and not all activism needs to be major.  It starts with one and for every voice that is heard... other minds start turning; its a chain reaction.   Take a stand!


Friday, November 11, 2011

Homemade Dishwasher Detergent

Aaron whipped up our batch of dishwasher detergent yesterday and we ran our first load and it worked wonderfully!  We used a simple formula of 1c Washing soda, 1c borax, 1/2c citric acid, and 1/2c salt.  We are also using vinegar as our rinse agent but you can also use lemon juice.
We did run into one issue when we opened the container today and noticed that it has become one big clump in the bucket.  The citric acid causes the moisture  We did some reading and found a few different solutions.

1.  Adding rice would eliminate the moisture although I don't know that rice is good for dishwashers.
2.  Leaving the mixture out and stir a few times a day for a few days keeping lid on after stirring.
3.  Add citric acid separately to each load.
4.  Put the mixture into ice cube containers and make into blocks, then seal in an air tight container.

We are leaving it out on the counter and stirring it for a few days and will see if that works out for us.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Goat Milk Kefir

Liberté 3.25% Goat MilkIf you are a lover of goat cheese you shall fall head over heels with goats milk kefir.  The milk already has the subtle goat cheese flavour but once fermented with the kefir grains it becomes like drinking liquid goat cheese.  I love goat cheese but find the goats milk kefir to be way to overpowering for me.  I tried adding some flavouring but the goat flavour could not be mellowed.  I am going to try pureed mango slices tomorrow; Aaron tried the mango and said it was much more palatable.  We have went back to making it with regular 3.25% milk.  Goat milk is fantastic to drink and very tasty but fermented with the kefir is just not for me.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Lots going on over here!

So many things to talk about lately.  I have started (unraveled and restarted) a new blanket for my brother-in-law's baby on the way.

I am doing a simple double linked stitch and adding the 2 stripes.  I was so excited to have found a nice chocolate brown yarn that I grabbed the 5 balls that were left on the shelf and never even bothered to check the dye lot number!  Turns out 3 balls are from 1 dye lot and 2 are from another.  They are a shade different and so I had to rethink the pattern.  With 3 balls of brown I figured I should add some stripes since the Mommy to be said she really liked the last blanket I made which was stripes.  I believe it was a blessing in disguise since I think they will like this blanket much more than the solid brown with a green trim, this pattern is far more FUN!  The other 2 brown yarn balls will make a warm snugglee hat for myself or one of the kids!   

I am looking for some good recipes for my homemade soap.  I have found a nice resource webpage ( and  as well as a Canadian supply store that will ship called Canwax.

We are also slowly trying to eliminate all store bought cleaning and personal products in our home; once we run out of store bought we will be making most things ourselves.  We started with the Laundry soap and are now finding the ingredients to make our own Dishwasher detergent since we have only 2-3 loads worth of the store bought left.  I have yet to decide on whether I want to make deodorant (many use simple rubbing alcohol) instead of buying my regular antiperspirant since it contains aluminum.   Toothpaste, which contains fluoride (many use good old baking soda) is also on the fence.  I have yet to make up my mind as to which is best, homemade or store bought.  I think I will end up using both  homemade and store bought.  Homemade deodorant and toothpaste for regular everyday use.   Store bought toothpaste for use once or twice a week (preventative) and store bought antiperspirant for certain outings and workouts (ex: weddings, volleyball in summertime, etc).

We have also been getting loads of traffic through the house lately.   It has been a bit challenging trying to keep the house in "show ready" condition.  Trying to balance the cleaning, family time and adult time is getting increasingly more difficult.  We are hopeful that the house will sell soon.  The holidays are just around the corner and we would love to be settled into our new home at least before the 12 days of Christmas are upon us.  I am a Christmas fanatic and will not allow moving to interrupt our Christmas celebrations.  We are also trying to see a few other houses.  We still have an offer on the home with 2 acres but want to know our other options just incase there is some issue with home inspection on our current prospective property.

We have also been trying to get out to the chicken coop as often as possible.  We still try to go twice a week.  We brought Owen out there recently and let him collect some eggs.

Owen collecting some farm fresh eggs!
We also have some ideas for improvements and are hoping to get out there and spend some time cleaning and building a new roost.  Aaron wants to build a ladder roost with a poop drawer to aid in cleaning and also is more conducive to the birds hierarchy. We would build the roost and use mesh to keep the birds from getting underneath it, allowing for easy cleaning of the poop drawer.  Since we all plan on keeping the coop running over the winter, the easier the cleaning the better... especially in the dead of winter!

Some other things going on at the coop... the run was extended and there are suppose to be 3 separate areas in which the birds would alternate depending on where we allowed them to go.  They decided they would venture into all the run areas by digging and slipping under the fence.  The birds were not able to get back to the original run and therefore, not able to return to the coop.  Someone propped up the fence to allow them to go from run to run without getting stuck just until there was a solution.

Our birds found a perfect place to dust bathe... together of course!
Under a window below the fence that was suppose to separate 2 run areas.
One of the members came up with a solution and used old wire coat hangers (donated by members) to peg down the fence and so far this has been successful.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Water and Milk Kefir

We re now overloaded with water grains.  Our flavoured batches turned out great.  They really took on the colour of the berries used.  We have been making a batch or two per day and now have way to many grains.  I think Aaron will just start eating our excess if we don't have someone who wants them.  Also, we have been storing our excess in a tupperware with sugar water in the fridge; the cool slows down the growth process.   We have also eliminated all sugars aside from the organic cane sugar (palm sugar had a negative effect on the rain forests).  The flavour that comes from the cane sugar is what we seem to prefer.  I have not made any more flavoured batches since the first two.  We have been sticking with just using the cane sugar and adding a date and an egg shell.  I then add about 2 tbsp of lemon juice and 1/2 cup of each kefir water and regular water.  Aaron has been drinking his with prune juice, he seems to find it makes the prune juice far more palatable and is now enjoying it.  Our next venture is going to be to try to make a super fizzy batch!

We also received some milk kefir grains. 1 tsp of milk grains to every 1 cup of milk (homo, skim, goats, coconut, etc).  We added the grains our homo milk on hand within 24 hrs it was thick and delicious.  If you like the kefir (yogurt style) from the grocery store... this smells and tastes the same.  For different consistencies it depends on amount of grains.  If you stick with the 1 tsp per cup of milk you will see that 12 hrs later it will be sweet and thin, 24 hrs later it will be thicker and tangy and then 48 hrs later it will be thick like yogurt and very sour!

First batch of Milk kefir:

We have made 3 batches so far and the grains multiply slower but since you use very little it is easy to accumulate plenty.  We have only fermented our milk kefir for about 24 hours or so.  We have not been watching the clock too closely since it has plenty of leeway.  We simply go by the texture of the kefir to decide when its done.   I have also not become overly fond of the flavour of milk kefir, even the store bought.  I try it au natural each time but always add something.  I have 1 cup at a time and the first few times I tried about 1-2tsp sugar with 4-6 thawed frozen berries and it was very tasty.  Today I tried it with about 1-2tsp of vanilla extract and 1tbsp of strawberry torani syrup.... this was fantastic!  We do try to minimize our sugar intake but since the kefir has great benefits I think that a bit of sugar added to make it more palatable is worth it!

Vanilla and strawberry flavoured milk kefir
Aaron has noticed many health benefits so far with drinking the kefir.  He was having some digestion and elimination issues and has noticed a complete elimination of these symptoms.  I, on the other hand, have not noticed any changes.  I am not discrediting the stuff, I just think I have a very productive and efficient system.  I have never had any issues and so I may not notice the benefits as others have... but the benefit is still there and I am sure my internal flora is far healthier due to the kefir.

Kefir Benefit links: AND

Friday, November 4, 2011

We've Got Homemade Laundry Detergent!

Our 3 Laundry Detergent Ingredients.
Our Linda's Laundry Soap Bar. (unable to find Fels-Naptha)

Mixed the 1, 9.5oz bar with just over 2 cups each of Borax and washing soda. Original recipe from DIYNatural called for a 4.5 oz bar with 1 cup each of Borax and Washing soda so we adjusted for our larger bar of laundry soap.  Making the entire batch took no more than 5 minutes.  We decided to try it without using vinegar as the static guard and instead used the anti-static dryer balls (linked to amazon but available at many dollarstores) we purchased for $1.00 at our local Dollarama.  So far this has proved to be successful!  Our clothes are clean and we have yet to have any static cling issues.  I think the true test will be over the weekend when we clean the kids clothes.  We had previously been using Method laundry detergent  which we liked but it often left the kids clothes with stains that needed to be treated.  Using just 1 tbsp. of homemade detergent per load is such a cost effective way of doing laundry!  With a laundry detergent that cleans well with only 3 ingredients, what is the deal with these commercial detergents that have 15+ ingredients?  Boggles my mind!

If we compare homemade laundry detergent with 3 commercial detergents what do we get:

Homemade Laundry Detergent:  ARM & HAMMER® Super Washing Soda (100% sodium carbonate), Linda Laundry Bar Soap* (next batch will be my own homemade soap) and Borax (100% sodium tetraborate), and thats it!  (Totaling 3 ingredients)

*If we assume the Linda Laundry Bar contains similar ingredients to Fels-Naptha; this is the Fels-naptha ingredient list on their package: Cleaners, soil and stain removers, chelating
agents, colorants, perfume.  As for the Fels-naptha MSDS info the only hazardous ingredients are soap dust (obviously) and  "Hydrocarbons, Terpene processing by-products CAS# 68956-56-9"  (It no longer contains Stoddard solvent, a skin and eye irritant which used to be found in the bar).  With this now known, I will be making my own all natural homemade laundry bar for our next batch; I already have a recipe.

Method (our old detergent):  Natural Alcohol Ethoxylates, Coco Methyl Ester + Sulfonate, Secondary Alkane Sulfonate, Bio 1,3-Propanediol, Alcohol, Vegetable Glycerin, Purified Water, Calcium Chloride, Dipropylene Glycol Monomethyl Ether, Glycerine Carbonate, Protease, Amylase, Cellulase, Carboxylate Polyester, Phenoxyethanol, Sodium Distyrylbiphenol Disulfonate, Fragrance Oil Blend (not used in free + clear).  (Totaling 17 Ingredients or 16 with Free + Clear)  

Tide Free and Gentle Powder:  Sodium Aluminosilicate, Sodium Carbonate, Alkyl Sulfate, Water, Sodium Sulfate, Linear Alkylbenzene Sulfonate, Sodium Percarbonate, Sodium Polyacrylate, Polyethylene Glycol, Protease, Disodium Diaminostilbene Disulfonate, Silicone, Silicate, Ethoxylate,Cellulase.  (Totaling 15 Ingredients)
Tide Origional Liquid Detergent:  Alcoholethoxy Sulfate, Linear Alkylbenzene Sulfonate, Propylene Glycol, Citric Acid, Sodium, Hydroxide, Borax, Ethanolamine, Ethanol, Alcohol Sulfate, Polyethyleneimine Ethoxylate, Sodium Fatty Acids, Diquaternium Ethoxy Sulfate, Protease, Diethylene Glycol, Laureth-9, Alkyldimethylamine Oxide, Fragrance, Amylase, Disodium Diaminostilbene Disulfonate, Diethylenetriamine Pentaacetate (Sodium Salt), Sodium Formate, Calcium Formate, Mannanase, LiquitintTM Blue, Dimethicone. (Totaling 26 Ingredients)

These commercial detergents range from 15 ingredients up to 26!  If you are not into making your own detergent, Method is definitely the way to go but the Free + Clear ("Fragrance" in an ingredient list can be any number of chemicals).  They may have 16 ingredients but they are far more natural and eco-friendly than the other products out there I have found.  Tide Free and Gentle is better than the Original Tide but still contains way too many chemicals for my liking... it is only free from dyes and perfumes; it is NOT chemical free.  Aaron had been bugging me for a long time to make our own detergent and I am not sure what my reservation was but I am glad I got on board.  

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Handmade Soap!

I am going to be trying my hand at soap making!  
Handmade soap is far superior than any traditional store bought soap.  The biggest difference is in the amount of synthetic ingredients.  Handmade soap has far less synthetic ingredients.  Handmade soap also contains more natural ingredients and are therefore gentler on skin as well as the environment.  

Its ingredients can be changed to suit you own personal needs and preferences.  With store bought soap you are limited to what is on the shelf.  With handmade soap you can be sure to eliminate any ingredients that may irritate your skin and add any colourants, scents, oils and conditioners you desire!  

Now, there are a few (I use the term loosely) "negatives" with handmade soaps.  Now with no chemicals added, handmade soap tends to spoil faster (no chemical preservatives) and produce less lather (with added chemicals) than store bought.  For me, this is not a negative.  I am ok with less chemicals in my soap even if it means having to use it within the year it was made and being sure to rinse thoroughly.  With handmade soap comes a lotion like feel as well as being less drying than the store bought soaps.  
Benefits of Handmade Soap:
Handmade soap retains all of the glycerine which is produced as a by product of the soap making process. Glycerine is widely used in the cosmetics industry and is frequently removed by the large manufacturers of commercial soap. Glycerine is a natural moisturizing agent and accounts for many of the benefits of handmade soap.
Most of the handmade soap contain natural vegetable oils.  These oils are more expensive than those used by the large commercial manufacturers and result in a superior texture, moisturizing properties and cleaning ability.

Handmade soap can also be changed to suit your personal needs and preferences.  You can eliminate what irritates your skin and add whatever oils, colourants, scents and conditioners you desire; with store bought soap you are limited to what is on the shelf.  
Chemicals, detergents, degreasers and the like are absent from homemade soaps. While these compounds will clean your skin, they also remove the natural oils and dry the skin.

To illustrate some of the advantages of handcrafted soap over mass produced commercial soaps, lets take a look at two store bough soaps  “Dove” and 'Lever 2000'. Like all store bought products there is an ingredient list.  The ingredients are always listed in order by the quantity of that ingredient in the product, with the largest quantity listed first.

Sodium Tallowate, Sodium Lauroyl Isethionate, Stearic Acid, microcrystalline wax, Sodium Palmitate, Lauric Acid, Sodium Isethionate, Water, Sodium Stearate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Sodium Cocoate or Sodium Palm Kernelate, Fragrance, Sodium Chloride, Tetrasodium EDTA, Tetrasodium Etidronate, olefin sulfonate ,Titanium Dioxide (Cl 77891).

Lever 2000:
Sodium tallowate, sodium cocoyl isethionate, sodium cocoate, water, sodium isethionate, stearic acid, coconut fatty acid, fragrance, titanium dioxide, sodium chloride, disodium phosphate, tetrasodium EDTA, trisodium etidronate, BHT, FD & C blue no. 1, D&C red no. 33.

Notice that sodium tallowate is listed first in both of these soaps.  Tallow has been used in soap making for thousands of years.  This compound is a natural result of combining sodium hydroxide (lye) with beef tallow.  It is considered by some to clog pores, cause blackheads, and increase eczema for those individuals with sensitive skin.  The attractiveness of tallow for mass producing soap is that it processes quickly, produces a hard bar of soap, is cheap and plentiful.  Pioneers on the American frontier had few, or no, alternatives to the use of animal fats for making soap .  Today, there are many vegetable oils which are better alternatives.

Sodium cocoate is listed in both sets of ingredients.  Sodium cocoate is the result of combining coconut oil with sodium hydroxide (lye).  Coconut oil is a main ingredient in many quality soaps. Sodium palm kernalate is listed next.  This soap compound results from the combination of palm kernel oil with sodium hydroxide (lye).  This is an excellent soap compound; white in colour, very hard, and excellent lather.  Although Palm oil contributes to the destruction of the rainforest.

Stearic Acid is listed in both sets of ingredients.  Stearic acid is a saturated fatty acid usually derived
from tallow or lard and sometimes palm oil.  The use of stearic acid can contribute to a harder, more long-lasting bar of soap.

Titanium dioxide is a neutral, very white powder used in combination with other colorants. It is not considered to be harmful.

If the list stopped there there would be no major complain about store bought soap, but it doesn't; it continues...
Now lets take a look at the other ingredients:
Tetrasodium EDTA - Synthetic preservative - can be irritating to the eyes/mucous membranes.

Sodium cocoyl isethionate - synthetic detergent. Technically, an anionic surfactant, meaning it reduces
surface tension, making water 'wetter'.

Sodium isethionate - synthetic detergent. Technically, a moisture absorber, surfactant and anti-static agent.

Trisodium etidronate - A preservative. Possible irritant.

BHT - (butylhydroxytoluene) Synthetic antioxidant to keep oils in formula from going rancid. When ingested, implicated in tumour formation and liver enlargement in rodent tests. Sometimes used as a food preservative.

Disodium phosphate - Buffering agent, used to adjust pH.

Sodium Laurdyl - cheap foamer used in the auto industry to clean car motors.

Microcrystalline Wax - A type of wax from petroleum products used to harden soap.

Etidronate - chelating agent used to soften water and soap to prevent soap scum. Aggravates skin problems, particularly eczema. (I'd rather clean soap scum!)

Olefin Sulfonate - Man made plastic like chemical used as a hardener.  Known to cause birth defects and reproduction/ fertility

Fragrance - far too many possible ingredients to list. Here is a helpful link.
Now we can take a look at some common Handmade Soap ingredients:
Coconut Oil - Great for moisturizing and produces a good thick lather even in cold water!

Olive Oil - very good moisturizer because it attracts external moisture and holds it close to the skin. It forms a breathable film to prevent loss of inner moisture.

Canola oil - Contributes protein and moisturizing qualities.

Cocoa Butter - lays down a protective layer that holds moisture to the skin making it a great skin softener.

Neem Oil - great oil that is used to treat dandruff, oily skin, and skin diseases such as scabies. Great mosquito repellent!!

Castor Oil - a vegetable oil from the castor bean
Acts as humectants by attracting and retaining moisture to the skin. Great for shampoo and any skin care.

Shea Butter - also known as African karite butter it is an awesome moisturizer. Helps to heal cracked, dry feet and leaves the skin soft and supple.

Grapeseed Oil - loaded with anti-oxidants and possessing regenerative and reconstructive qualities makes this a great oil for aging skin.

Avocado Oil - contains protein, amino acids, and large amounts of vitamin A, D, and E. They not only moisturize but also heal. They enable the Avocado Oil to regenerate cells, soften tissue and heal scaly skin and scalp.Great for aging and sensitive skin.

Cinnamon - cooking spice that adds a dark, earthy brown colour as well as some fragrance

Annatto Seed - imparts a yellow-orange colour

Turmeric - cooking spice that adds a yellow colour.

Paprika - cooking spice which adds a peachy pink colour.

Alkanet - a root which produces shades of pink, blue and purple depending o ampount used as weell as other ingredients.

Floral: geranium, lavender, lilac, rose, etc.

Citrus: grapefruit, lemon, lime, orange, etc.

Aromatherapy: lavender, peppermint, ylang ylang, etc.

Medicinal: tea tree, rose geranium, etc.

Earthy: atlas cedarwood, balsam, juniper berry, sandalwood, etc.

Seasonal: pine, spruce, etc.

aloe vera, cinnamon, lemon oil, tea tree oil, wheat germ, calendula, lavender, oatmeal, vitamin E coconut milk, etc.

Conclusion: store bought soap = chemicals, handmade soap = natural.

Now decide for yourself as to what you would rather use on your body.  I choose natural handmade soap!  I am thinking it will not only be better for our skin but also for our wallets... plus it should be loads of fun to make!

references: Island Soap and ehow

Dishwasher detergent and Laundry Soap

In our efforts to minimize our impact on the environment and to live healthy and green... we have decided to start making our own cleaning products!  After reading some articles and information about household cleaning products it is clear to me that something is seriously wrong with our way of thinking when we use harsh and poisonous chemicals to "clean" our homes, possessions and even our own bodies.  We are going to be using the simplest formula with no added perfume (ie: chemicals) unless plant derived and organic.

Here is our ingredients for Laundry detergent (costing $0.05 per load):  
  • 1 – 55 ounce box of Washing Soda 
  • 1 – 76 ounce box of Borax
  • 1 – 10 pack of 4.5 ounce bars of Fels-Naptha®
Here is our ingredients for Dishwasher Detergent (costing $0.05 per load):

  • 1 – 55 ounce box of Washing Soda
  • 1 – 76 ounce box of Borax 
  • 1 – 48 ounce box of coarse Kosher Salt 
  • 1 – 5 pound container of food-grade Citric Acid (You can find this online or at your local brewery or specialty beer store.  If you cannot find this you can substitute LemiShine.)  
  • 1 – gallon of White Vinegar (rinse agent: costs $0.06 per FILL)
Recipes from: DIY Natural - Great Link!