DIY Bug Spray – Insect Repellent

We are in the middle of another stretch of hot weather. I went out two evenings ago to water the flowers in the backyard and was immediately besieged by a swarm of mosquitoes. I could literally watch five of them land on my leg at once. I suffered through watering as quickly as I could while waving them away and swatting at the ones that actually landed on me. When I came in I counted 20+ mosquito bites on my arms and legs. The next day, I thought to put on my homemade bug spray first. I was out for longer this time and I watched to see how many would land on me. Only ONE mosquito even attempted to land on my bare legs and arms. I came in after watering for over half an hour with zero bites! Amazing isn’t it. Click the link above and then scroll down for the recipe. It’s easy. Grab a 2 oz. spray bottle from the travel sized toiletry department at Walmart, add a carrier oil, add in the essential oils of your choice, spray directly in your skin (avoiding clothing and eyes), rub in, and watch the mosquitoes stay away from you.

Note: The oils pictured above are the five that I find work the best at repelling mosquitoes. However, you should use Rosemary and Citronella with caution on children and young babies. Use a high dilution ratio for these oils as well as lemon as it is photosensitive and can cause sunburn when exposed to sunlight. Other safe oils to include if you would like to substitute something else for one of these oils would be geranium, catnip, cedarwood or vanilla. Visit http://www.hopewelloils.com to research safety information.

DIY Simple Salve

This is my favorite salve for, well, any skin condition, but we are using it up here on the dry skin that has reared its ugly head in our house this winter.

It’s simple, effective and easy to make. 3 ingredients:

Here you go….

4 tbl. Cocoa butter

4 tbl. Tallow

2 tbl. Lanolin

Melt in a double boiler and pour into your container of choice. Makes 4 oz.

During the melting, you can add essential oils for scent and therapeutic properties if desired, but I like it just the way it is.

Ingredients

Measured out

In double boiler

Melting

Poured up

Cooled. Creamy goodness.

Magnesium Oil: uses for pregnancy

 

magnesium oil

Have any of you tried the Magnesium Oil recipe from Wellness Mama? I’ve been using it for several years now and recently loaned my friend a bottle to use on her husband’s sore back.

She started using it and found that really helps the muscle cramps that she gets during pregnancy. She says that it’s magic. As soon as she sprays it on she says that the muscle releases. I’ve also used it during pregnancy and though I don’t typically get muscle cramps, I struggle with restless legs and sore ligaments. I’ve found to be especially helpful with my sore muscles with my last pregnancy and in terms of mobility – the aches and pains disappeared and I didn’t even feel like I was pregnant. So, make up your own magic potion for sore muscles. Why suffer? Give your muscles what they need – extra magnesium! (Note: magnesium oil can sting when first applied. Do not use on broken or cut skin or apply after shaving.)

2-Minute, 2-Ingredient DIY Sunblock

7.13.12 104If you’ve read my blog at all then you know that I have a kid who reacts to lots of things – including sunscreen. A fun-filled day trip to Coney Island resulted 2 weeks of no sleep due to the itchy rash that he got where ever we had put sunscreen on him. What does that mean? No more sunscreen for us! So, what’s a mom to do? Make her own of course.

I immediately went to the internet and researched all the homemade sunscreen and sunblock recipes. I came away knowing that I wanted to go with a zinc oxide based sunblock since that seemed to have the best safety profile and effectiveness ratings. However, I didn’t want to spend the money on a huge bag of zinc oxide powder from Amazon. (Note: It is much more affordable now than it was when I was looking 3 years ago and available in smaller bags.) So, necessity breeds creativity here. I was in the drug store and realized that Desitin is 40% zinc oxide. Immediately I knew I had instant sunscreen here.

Now, you may be thinking, “Wait a minute. There is no way I’m rubbing that white gooey stuff all over myself and my kids. What a mess!” And you would be right. Yet, never fear. All you need is 2 minutes to turn that Desitin into a smooth, lotiony sunblock.

Most zinc oxide sunblocks with an SPF of 30 are 20% zinc oxide. Which means that if you mix equal parts Desitin and your favorite lotion, it cuts the percentage of zinc oxide in the mixture by half and you have an instant SPF 30 sunblock! It’s that easy.

Playing at the lake. She would play there all day if we would let her.

Playing at the lake. She would play there all day if we would let her.

I’ve used this  Desitin sunblock with my homemade lotions for the past three years and it works great. I find that this sunblock is fairly waterproof, but if you want to improve that “waterproofness” of your mixture then add a little bit of liquid lanolin to it. Our oldest loves the water and has played for hours in the full sun without a sunburn. So, what are you waiting for? Everyone run to their medicine cabinet and pull out that tube of Desitin and start mixing!

If you want to make your own lotion first to mix the Desitin with, you can visit the Herb Shed and scroll down for directions and more sunscreen tips and recipes. If you use regular lotion and find that you can’t get the Desitin to blend well, then melt the two ingredients (lotion and Desitin) in heat proof bowl over a small saucepan (double boiler technique) until it is blended. I like to mix it with a popsicle stick so that I can just throw it out when I’m done and don’t have to worry about cleaning the mixture off of my spoons. The other nice thing about this recipe is that you can make small batches easily so that you don’t have to worry about unused sunscreen, or you can make a large batch if your family goes through a lot of sunscreen.

Here’s to a happy and sunburn free summer!

Note: Zinc oxide can stain dark clothing so take care when applying it. Also, individual results can vary so use with care and common sense. The author is not responsible for any adverse reaction or sunburns if you choose to use the recipe recommended here. Read my full Disclaimer here.

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Visit the Herb Shed if you want to make a homemade lotion to mix with your Desitin.

DIY Olive Oil Hand Soap and Dish Soap

140128_0012This is easy peasy for all of you who aren’t brave enough (like me) to undertake the daunting process of making your own soap from scratch.

With this recipe you can customize your blends, and add your own essential oils for scent and disinfecting purposes.

We avoid all the natural soaps and all the store bought soaps because members of our family react to the coconut oil in almost every natural soap and have very sensitive skin which reacts to the mainstream soap brands. So, once you take out coconut oil as a base ingredient and all the main soap brands and all their irritating ingredients, then you aren’t left with much except coming up with your own homemade soap. However, the process of making my own soap from scratch is a bridge too far for me right now. I’ll make lots of things from scratch (as you can tell from the recipes on this blog), but cooking fats and handling lye with littles around just makes me too nervous. Maybe I’ll try it one day, but right now, soap is one project that I don’t have the time, energy or ambition for. So, this is the way you do it without having to make it from scratch yourself. And I just found out that it has a name. I’ve been making soap this way for the past several months and didn’t know what it was called until recently. It’s a process called “re-batching.” Basically, you’re taking an existing bar or leftover pieces of soap and remake it.

For our purposes, we will be turning a bar of soap into liquid hand soap and dishwashing soap.

Now, if you research DIY soap recipes online, you will find that almost all of them call for liquid castille soap. Now aside from the fact that most of those contain coconut oil as part of the base for the soap – which rules them out for me – the other factor that has driven me to develop this recipe is the expense. Even if buying castille soap is cheaper than buying regular dish soap at the store, liquid castille soaps are expensive and basically, I’m just not willing to pay that much money for them.

So, here’s what I do instead. Note: This recipe is very easily customized to meet your needs so change the ingredients to suit your purpose.

Basic DIY Liquid Hand Soap:
Start with 1 bar of 
Kiss My Face Pure Olive Oil Soap (affiliate link, see Disclosures Page). Amazon charges $3.99 per bar for this (you can find 8 oz. bars even cheaper other places online), and you’re only grating 1/2 cup of shavings which is a very minimal amount. So, this recipe will cost you probably less a quarter per batch. To make the soap, start with a cheese grater. Grate enough shavings to loosely fill a 1/2 cup measuring cup. Don’t use the largest shredder but the next size down. Dump the shavings into a small glass bowl. Add your favorite essential oils for fragrance and disinfecting. To decide which oils you want to use, click here for a list of essential oils and their properties. Then add 1 cup of distilled water. (You could use tap water if you’ll use the soap up quickly, but if you don’t use it up fast enough you may find bacteria or mold growing in your soap and have to throw the rest of the batch out). Let the mixture sit overnight. The water will soften the soap shavings and in the morning you will have a lovely, scented liquid soap. Stir the soap and pour it  into an old soap dispenser and you’re done. This recipe will make enough soap to fill a 10 oz. soap dispenser. If you’re not sure what oil blends to use, my favorite for hand soap are geranium/cedarwood or lemon/lavender. If you want to make a moisturizing soap, add 1 teaspoon of your favorite oil (olive oil, almond oil, etc.) to the bottle and shake well. Note: Over time the soap may begin to solidify or coagulate in places so that it looks like there are things floating around in your soap bottle. This is normal and the nature rebatched olive oil soap. If this happens you can just vigorously shake your bottle to remix it. If it doesn’t mix all the way, you can either use it as it is (which is what I usually do). Or if you bothers you, pour your soap into a sauce pan and gently heat it on low (do not boil) and stir until it is all recombined. When it has cooled a little bit pour it back into your soap dispenser.

DIY Liquid Dish Soap:
Follow the recipe above, except only add 3/4 cup of distilled water to the 1/2 cup soap shavings. This will make a more concentrated soap. If using distilled water, feel free to double and triple the batch so that you don’t have to make it as often. The best oils for dishwashing purposes are citrus blends – lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit, tangerine. I would suggest using lemon as the main oil as it has wonderful disinfecting and solvent/grease cutting properties, and then adding some other citrus oils based on what scents you prefer (be creative and come up with your own combinations). Probably 12-15 drops of oil total is sufficient for a small batch of this recipe. If you double or triple the recipe, adjust the essential oil amounts accordingly. I should warn you that you won’t see any bubbles in your dishwater when using this soap. Olive oil soap is a very low sudsing soap and hardly makes any bubbles. It will still work fine though. It’s just not what we are used to.

DIY Foaming Mosturizing Hand Soap:
Follow the recipe for the basic hand soap above. Add about a 1/4 cup of the end product to a foaming soap dispenser and fill with water. Add 1/2 teaspoon of oil to the soap dispenser to make a moisturizing blend. Keep in mind that olive oil soap doesn’t foam much. So, I use it for one of my bathrooms, but don’t expect typical results in a foaming dispenser. If you want the typical foam then I suggest using this foaming hand soap recipe.

This basic recipe will work with any bar soap that you like and works well for you skin. Feel free to try it with something other than olive oil soap. The moisture content and sudsing may be different with another bar soap, but try it out. It will save you money and if you use a soap with minimal ingredients it will be better for your skin too.

New and Improved Chocolate Spice Toothpaste

130606_0000This is a paste version of my Chocolate Spice Tooth Powder recipe. My kids didn’t like the powder version much because the texture was dry and it wasn’t sweetened. This sweetened paste is quite tasty. First simmer a pinch of stevia leaf (maybe half a teaspoon), 2 cinnamon sticks in 1/2 cup of distilled water for 15 minutes. While this simmers, blend the powdered ingredients from the powder recipe. Turn the heat off the liquid mixture and let it cool a bit. Strain the herbs from the liquid and add two drops of clove essential oil. Add just enough of the liquid to your powder mix to make a thick paste (you might not need the whole amount of liquid so add a little bit at a time so that your end product isn’t too runny). Blend with a popsicle stick and store in a glass jar. Apply to your toothbrush using a popsicle stick. This does not have an indefinite shelf life like the powder does, but should last a couple of months if you use distilled water. I like to make a large batch of the powder since it doesn’t go bad and then make small batches of paste as we need it.

The Home Remedy Maker’s Tips and Tricks

If you’re into making home remedies, you’ve may have a stash of herbs, clays, syrups, tinctures and essential oils.

Once you’ve had some experience making and using your own remedies to heal illness, wounds and improve ailments you discover little “tips and tricks” that aid you in your efforts. Here are some of the things that I’ve found work well.

9.27.13 046Administering herbal syrups and tinctures:

One of my favorite ways to administer herbal syrups and tinctures to my kids (otherwise known around our house as “drops”) is to use these nifty little measuring cup shot glasses. You can measure out the dose and your older ones can drink it themselves. If you’re concerned about letting your kids drink out of a glass cup, you can look for stainless steel condiment cups at Walmart and use those. They don’t have the measurement markers on the cup but they aren’t breakable. These little cups are also nice for mixing remedies as well.

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Injuries, wounds, scrapes, cuts, skin abrasions and irritations:

9.27.13 049Figuring out how to apply herbal salves, poultices, creams, clays, compresses can be challenging. Band-aids and gauze bandages will only go so far at holding those herbs in. I’ve found that my husbands old t-shirts cut into strips work the best for applying dried herbs, compresses and clays. You can roll the herbs into the cloth and then tie it around the affected area. It works especially well on arms and legs as a bandage and application for homemade herbal remedies. For injuries or issues on the hands and feet the cuff of an old sock actually is an excellent way to cover a wound or irritated skin with a salve, clay or poultice. You don’t have to tie anything and it holds everything in place. So save all those mis-matched socks and save the ones with holes too. Just cut off the foot saving the cuff. Kids socks work great around the hands and feet since they are smaller. Cuffs from adult socks are good for arms and legs.