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Sunday, 5 August 2012

Tingle Soap Wild Mint

One of my favorite soaps to make is made with peppermint essential oil. This past week I discovered Mentha Arvensis which smells a lot like peppermint but is actually Wild Mint. Here is a link that tells you more about Mentha Arvensis...Wiki link to mentha arvensis

 My source is organic which is always nice and 'tingles' in soap just like peppermint.  For all those who wanted the recipe here you go...

Wild Mint Tingle Soap

1 lb melt and pour goat milk base
15 ml Mentha Arvensis essential oil
1/2 c. ground oatmeal

Melt the soap base. Cool until thickening but still pourable. Add the essential oil and ground oatmeal. Stir well and cover until hardened. Cut into 4-6 bars of soap. Wrap each well and store in a cool dark place just as you would essential oils. Use within 6 months --essential oils evaporate quickly so make only as much as you will use. You can try adding the eo's to a Tablespoon of orris root powder and it will hold the scent longer.

Warning: This really DOES tingle sensitive parts. It won't burn the skin in this dilution. But it does leave a cooling tingle that lasts for 20 min to an hour. 

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Camping Essentials, Essential Oils That Is...

I recently returned from my first true camping with a tent trip. It was really fun, super hard but full of  unknown dangers. I thought I'd take the time to give you some tried and true tips to using essential oils in your first aid kit. Here I will update periodically as I learn what works well in the wild, so this is just the first instalment of this post so check back from time to time for more ideas for natural protection from the Wild.

I visited the forested area around Shawnigan Lake this past week with my daughters and a group of girls from my church aged 12-18. One of my daughters has CP (cerebral palsy) so I was really nervous about taking her to the Wild. I live on Vancouver Island  in British Columbia and we have a lot of forested areas that are amazing to camp at. What I didn't realise is that many areas are called Stinging Nettle Forests for a reason. So as soon as we started setting up camp many of the girls were running and yelping (okay so I was the one yelping) about the abundance of Nettle. It was EVERYWHERE!  Here are some ways we dealt with the pain of our injuries...

One leader suggested tooth paste would soothe the pain. I didn't want more sticky goop on my skin so I thought about what in toothpaste might stop the pain...PEPPERMINT! I brought my 'Just Breathe' with me (a blend of secret essential oils one of which is Peppermint) and Voila! No more itchy stingy sensations on my ankles and calves. Never use EO's full strength on the body. Most need a carrier oil such as Amond Oil to make them skin safe.  Here are two recipes for Stinging Nettle Soother...

Stinging Nettle Soother #1

10 ml Almond Oil
1 ml Peppermint Essential Oil
Blend the oils and store in an amber dropper bottle. The peppermint really did help my stings and some others agreed--others individuals needed repeat applications.

Stinging Nettle Soother #2

1/4 c. baking soda
1 ml pepermint essential oil
1 ml tea tree essential oil 
10 ml almond oil
 Mix the essential oils into the baking soda. A plastic baggie works well at evenly mixing the oils with the soda. According to the article below this formula works because the nettle sting is acidic and the basic nature of soda counteracts the sting efficacy. I like it because it isn't goopy or sticky. Store in an amber cream jar.


Here is a link to other ways to deal with nettle stings... Stinging Nettle Treatments

Photo courtesy of iStockphoto free pics.

Saturday, 30 June 2012

Medlar Facial Mask Recipe

Medlar is a fruit that is more popular in Europe than in North America. You can buy the fruit paste at some high end gourmet grocery stores. So far I haven't found it for sale online. If you have access to the fruit, here is a link to a good medlar jelly recipe. I planted one in my yard here in Victoria, BC and the first year it produced fruit. It has the most lovely white flowers that bloom after the leaves have sprouted. Here is a close up of  blossoms on my tree in bloom...

Medlar is primarily used to make fruit pastes due to its high pectin content. Fruit pulp is really good for the skin and is often used in fresh preparations.  The fruit is harvested once it becomes soft on the tree.

It has a sweet sticky consistency.  The scent of medlar reminds me of pears so I like to combine the two fruits. Last year I made a fruit paste. From that fruit paste I have tested the medlars cosmetic 'worthiness'. If you can't get medlar feel free to substitute pears.

It makes a lovely soap. Here is a medlar soap recipe you can try...

Medlar Pear Soap
1 lb Crystal Melt and Pour
2 oz Medlar Fruit Paste
 1 T. unscented cocoa butter
 15 ml Brandied Pear Fragrance Oil

Melt the soap at a low temperature or microwave on high for 1 min. intervals, stirring between. When soap is no longer 'steaming hot' and yet liquid add the fruit paste, cocoa butter, and fragrance oil. Pour into a 1 lb mold. Once cooled and hardened cut into 4 large bars. You can add soap tint to this but I prefer it slightly brown from the fruit. The Brandied Pear fragrance is heavenly! It also turns the soap a golden yellow over time.

Alpha and beta hydroxies are used in the cosmetic industry to reverse the aging process claimed by time. They are particularly effective in facial products. Acidic fruits such as oranges and apples are naturally rich in these chemicals. Since less is known about medlar's chemical compostition I formulated with known sources to increase its effectiveness. The alphas will 'burn' or itch and the betas counteract that effect by soothing the skin. I used a combination of these to create my Medlar Facial Mask.

Medlar Facial Mask

1 Tablespoon Medlar fruit paste or jam
2 T. apple puree (raw Alpha source)
2 T.  almond meal/flour
1 T. pink clay 
1 tsp. green tea powder (Matcha--Beta source)
1 teaspoon virgin coconut oil
Melt the coconut oil and mix in the fruit paste. Add the almond meal. If the mixture is too thick, add water to make it the consistency of pudding (spreadable). Apply liberally to the face. Let dry for 30 min. Wash carefully, by warming a wet towel and soaking it off the skin. Rubbing too vigorously will damage the delicate tissue of the skin. Follow up with your favorite moisturizer. If you have oily skin you can leave out the coconut oil. Smells good enough to eat, but please do not.
This is a single use mask recipe---discard leftovers or freeze for a later time. I often use a ice cube tray to freeze my fresh preparations.

As with all preparations for the skin, allergy test it on a small portion of skin before applying it to large areas of the body such as the entire face. Inside of the wrist application for 15 min then checking for redness or itch is an easy test to perform before using a new product.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Ickle Baby Bum Cream

As the mother of 5 of my own children and several others, I've had vast experience with babies and their delicate skin. Dealing with 'mystery rashes' that babies develop can be scary for a new mom to handle.

Most conditions can be solved without antibiotic or cortisone creams. Sticky zinc creams will stain washable diapers. Try these first and see if they help the baby bum burn...

This first recipe I used with all of my babies. It was originally developed for a friend who had severe eczema. She had twins who also suffered from this condition and it helped elevate some of the itchiness and promoted healing.

Chickweed Salve
8 oz olive oil
 2 c. dried chickweed
2 oz beeswax
1 tsp lavender essential oil
1/2 tsp tea tree essential oil 
Warm the olive oil and add the chickweed. Allow to steep for 3 days. Drain off the herb. Warm the beeswax in a double boiler (put wax in a tin can). Warm the olive oil blend and add the melted wax. Once the mixture is no longer hot to the touch and beginning to thicken, add the essential oils. Store in a dark container in a cool place. Test the skin for allergy before using any new skin product...apply a tiny amount to the inside wrist. Wait 20 min to an hour. If no rash or redness appears this is most likely safe for you to use.

Ickle Baby Bum Cream was developed in the last couple of years and it is very good for healing and soothing chapped skin as well as those rashes. It is also the simplest of my formulae and sometimes basic is best.

Ickle Baby Bum Cream 
1 cup virgin coconut oil
20 drops lavender essential oil 
Melt the coconut oil. When cool add the lavender essential oil. The best storage container for any product containing essential oils is amber or other dark glass.  Store in a cool dark place. 

This last recipe is much better for baby bums than talc.

Natural Baby Powder
2 c. cornstarch
10 drops rose essential oil
10 drops vanilla essential oil

Add the essential oils to a tablespoon of cornstarch. Mix well by rubbing the spoon against the powder. Slowly add more cornstarch mixing well each time. This blend of essential oils will give you a natural baby powder scent. I also enjoy substituting lavender or tea tree as both have healing properties and smell nice. If you want you can forgo the essential oils and leave it unscented. Fill a empty baby powder container or a salt shaker with larger holes to dispense. Ideally your container should have some type of lid.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Pop Rocks Snap Crackle Soap

I have favorite cosmetic companies that I buy products from. It's kind of like going to various bakers for your favorite foods. One of those companies that has my regular patronage is Lush Handmade Bath Products. Here is a link for you to have a browse around...

Why do I like Lush? Because I always find something new to tempt my skin. There are few brave souls in my family that can visit the Lusheous heady aroma of the Lush store. I love it! Last year I bought scads of their Toothpaste Tabs and Sugar Scrub Lip treatments. One of those lip treats was called Pow Wow. It was yummy and also worked really good at removing dead skin. The problem with Lush is they discontinue their products too fast IMO. So what's a girl to do? Make a copy cat or forever do without, that's what!

 Mojito Lip Scrub
1 Tablespoon virgin coconut oil
1 Tablespoon jojoba
1/4 c. sugar
10 drops lime essential oil
1 drop peppermint essential oil
1- 9.5 gram package green pop rocks type candy

Melt the coconut oil. Add the jojoba and sugar. Add pop rocks, and essential oils. If you want it more like the lush version of their discontinued Pow Wow leave out the peppermint. Pot into small containers. Makes 10 lip scrubs---lots for yourself and it makes a wonderful gift.

 To use: Wet the lips. Taking a very small (1/16 teaspoon) amount rub over the lips. Rub gently to loosen dead skin. Lick off the extra scrub. It tastes amazing!

CAUTION: Use only once or twice per day at the most! If you overuse it your lips will become sore and may get a 'lip scrub burn'. Be gentle with your lips. Dry lips are also a sign of dehydration. If you suffer from this condition, try to increase your water intake.

Since discovering that Pop Rocks make a fun additive cosmetic ingredient,
I thought I'd try it in a soap. I wanted the soap to crackle while you used it. Embedding the crystals in the soap makes it a great scrubby. The popping and snapping going on while you use it is a lot of fun!

Snap Crackle Pop Soap
100 g. melt and pour soap
2 packages  Pop Rocks type candy
10 drops lime essential oil
10 drops lemon essential oil
10 drops grapefruit essential oil
Crush one package of the pop rocks candy until a fine powder.
Melt the soap in the microwave for 30 second intervals until liquid.

 Allow to cool until no longer steaming. Add the essential oils and soap tint.

Once it begins to thicken add the crushed pop rocks. If you add to liquid soap the reaction will be used up in the soap and there will be no 'snap, crackle' to your soap.

Next, hand form and press your soap into a mold such as a muffin tin. Flexible molds work better than metal ones. I used a knife to remove mine below...

Melt some more white base and dip the soap to give it a smooth and shiny appearance.

Finally, Sprinkle dipped soap with additional Pop Rocks or other fizzy candy.

My kids love it when I make this one. Here is the proof...
Warning: Be prepared for lots of giggles the first time a child uses this soap! The toppings make a nice snap crackle at the first washing, but the smaller particles as you use the soap you have to listen really hard for, but it's nice not to have the sharp bits while washing.

You can also add fizzy candy to your favourite bath bomb or bath powder recipes. Here is one that I really like...

Cherry Bomb
1 c. baking soda
1/4 c. citric acid
1 package  Cherry Pop Rocks 
5 drops almond fragrance (benzylaldhyde)
5 drops soap tint.
Mix the baking soda and citric acid.

Add the soap tint and fragrance. Mix it well, rubbing the color to blend it to a pink. 

Spritz with water/witch hazel solution until you can make a 'snow ball'. Over spritzing will use up the reaction so be very cautious and use a fine mister. 

Add pop rocks last, while molding into shapes. Pop out of mold carefully and allow to dry naturally or in a slow oven on rainy days. (prop your oven open a crack and set to about 150 F)

Use one whole 'bomb' per bath. Fizzy Bliss!

As with all preparations for the skin, allergy test it on a small portion of skin before applying it to large areas of the body such as the entire face. Inside of the wrist application for 15 min then checking for redness or itch is an easy test to perform before using a new product.

Friday, 25 May 2012

Dry Shampoo Recipes

I belong to several forums and one of the members had this problem...

"My daughter has super oily hair! Even if it is washed daily, it looks oily before the next washing. We have asked hair dressers, salon supply stores, etc...
So far I have not found anything that works! She is 14 and this is a huge deal for her. I know how she feels because mine is super thin... Can anyone help???"

Here was my suggestion: "Less shampooing and 'dry shampoo' in between washings really is the best answer. Dry shampoo can be as simple as baby powder that you sprinkle in the hair and brush out. If that doesn't work use corn starch. You can add a couple of drops of lavender essential oil or even a drop or two of peppermint to about a 1/2 a cup of cornstarch to make a great dry shampoo. The peppermint will dry up the oil producers some so don't use too much--it also tingles so use it sparingly. Lavender is also antibacterial and smells awesome. If you have darker hair dry shampoo can be harder so brush well and shake it out. It will absorb the excess oil without stripping the scalp and signaling the body to make more oil. She may outgrow the problem but less stimulation from soap will make a difference."

Dietary changes, frequent brushing, less shampooing and 'dry shampoo' in between washings really is the best answer.

Here is a great article to check out...Natural Chica by Dr. Kerry Williams. She talks about the scalp and what is going on with the body as well as warnings about 'greasing up' to combat this problem.

Dry Shampoo
Dry shampoo can be as simple as baby powder that you sprinkle in the hair and brush out. If you don't like that, use corn starch. You can add a couple of drops of lavender essential oil or even a drop or two of peppermint to about a 1/2 a cup of cornstarch to make a easy dry shampoo. The peppermint will dry up the oil producers some so don't use too much--it also tingles so use it sparingly. Lavender is also antibacterial and smells awesome. If you have darker hair, dry shampoo can be harder to brush out, so brush well and shake it out. The starch will absorb the excess oil without stripping the scalp and signalling the body to make more oil.  Try this recipe as well because less stimulation from soap can make a difference.

Lavender Dry Shampoo

1 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup potato starch
6 drops Lavender Essential Oil
2 drops Rosemary Essential Oil

Mix the starches together well. I use two different starches in this mix to help with the 'feel' of the shampoo. Add the essential oils. Wearing gloves 'work' the oil into the shampoo. Store in a salt shaker with larger holes if possible or a talc container. Sprinkle on the hair sparingly avoiding the scalp as much as possible as the powder will collect there and is harder to remove.

The essential oils will not make your hair greasy. They clean by their antibacterial qualities and help the scalp to heal if needed. Using dry shampoo is especially nice while camping and water isn't readily available. It is also great for those days where the oil is 'out of control' and you don't have time to shampoo with soap. Leave out the rosemary if you are pregnant.

Peppermint Tingle
 Dry Shampoo

1 cup talc
1/2 cup cornstarch
1 T. green clay
6 drops Peppermint Essential Oil

Mix talc, cornstarch and clay well. Add the essential oils. Wearing gloves 'work' the oil into the shampoo. 

Pour into a bottle with a smaller top that will allow you to 'squirt' small quantities at a time into the hair. The small puffs of air and powder will be easier to manage than handfuls of dry shampoo. Again, avoid the scalp as much as possible. Some powder will naturally settle there so it will help in small quantities, but without clumping in the scalp and making your hair look even worse.

The peppermint essential oil will help 'calm' the oil producing cells in your scalp or sebaceous glands. Peppermint may help reduce production of oils from the scalp. 

Do not apply pure essential oil to any part of the body. Essential oils are concentrated 'medicines' and should be treated as such.

For essential oils or specialty ingredients contact me at

Lavender and mint pics on this page compliments of

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Almond Sundries

There are so many parts of the Almond that can be used in cosmetics. So I've outlined some of the ways I've used each of these in my concoctions.

Almond in Bloom / Almond Fruit

Almond Meal: Soothing like oatmeal, almond meal is used as a gentle abrasive to unclog pores. Also known to lighten or bleach the skin.  As with all nut products you must use care and list it in your ingredient list to avoid accidental allergic reactions to your product. 

Almond Oil: Easily found in grocery stores especially in the Ethnic food sections. This beautiful, easily absorbed oil is one I use for my essential oil synergies. It is edible and full of nutrients.

Almond  Shell/Hull: The ground shells are used as a more abrasive exfoliate. The proteins within the almond shell can leave the epidermis firmer and more elastic which is why it is used in many face and body preparations.

Bitter Almond Oil is widely used in cosmetic applications. Also known as Benzaldehyde, it has a distinct almond scent that is very powerful. Use with care as this is a very powerful fragrance, a bactericide, anti viral and fungicide. The pure bitter almond essential oil has several poisonous components such as cyanide and prussic acid so use extreme care when handling this as it is also poisonous to humans. Diluted application with oil or water on skin and hair keeps them free from infections from germs, insects and fungi. Bitter Almond oil, after removal of the toxic components, is used for flavouring edibles.

My personal rule of thumb for additives is--if you can eat it then it is safe to use in soap or other skin preparations. This is the reason I personally stick to the extracted benzaldehyde for all of my applications for safety reasons. Besides, the scent is AMAZING! 

Every time I use almond fragrance, I am reminded of a direct sales cosmetic company my grandmother represented called Jafra. All of their products were almond scented about 30 years ago. One of my favourite products was a bath oil. Here is my version of that wonderful product.

Almond Bath Oil

4 oz almond oil
Chinese Royal Jelly preparation (1 vial)
1 tsp. almond fragrance (benzaldehyde)
1/4 tsp soap tint red
1 T. sodium laureth sulfate gel (SLS)

Warm the almond oil, add the SLS, tint and Royal Jelly. When cool add the benzaldehyde. Mix well. Shake before using. Pour 1 tsp -1 Tbl into a running bath.

Almond Body Scrub
1c. unscented lotion
1/4 c. ground almond hull
10 drops almond fragrance

Mix all together well. Gently wash the body with the scrub to buff dry skin. Follow with your favorite lotion. 

Almond Face Scrub
2 Tablespoons almond meal
1/2 teaspoon honey
4 teaspoons unscented liquid soap
1/4 teaspoon almond oil

Mix all together well. Store unused scrub in refrigerator and discard after 3 days or freeze.  This is formulated for normal skin types. Omit almond oil for oily skin and increase oil to 1/2 teaspoon for dry skin. Apply liberally wet face. Scrub gently. Rinse well. Avoid eye areas.

Almond Synergy
10 ml almond oil
10 drops almond fragrance
5 drops orange essential oil
10 drops vanilla essential oil 

Fill 15 ml amber bottle with 'drops' of essential oils. Top up the bottle with almond oil. I find this blend refreshing and enjoy putting it into my diffuser. It smells like almond cookies.

As with all preparations for the skin, allergy test it on a small portion of skin before applying it to large areas of the body such as the entire face. Inside of the wrist application for 15 min then checking for redness or itch is an easy test to perform before using a new product.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

SLS Myth vs Reality

David Suzuki and other Natural Heath advocates perpetuates SLS rumours by posting studies which back up their claims that SOAP is BAD (because basically SLS is coconut oil soap made into a detergent by additional hydrogenation and sulfonation processes). Oh, and don't put soap in your eyes, that is harmful and duh it hurts!

SLS is NOT a byproduct of the petroleum industry.

These studies are misleading and often leads to claims that introduced the Urban Legend that SLS causes CANCER!
Here is a link to that explains some of the bad PR you might have come across regarding SLS...
Urban Legends SLS

That's it basically. Coconut oil will make a soap that makes A LOT of BUBBLES. That's why I add it to most of my soap formulations. We are disappointed as consumers in a soap product that doesn't have many bubbles. The price of more bubbles is a harsher soap. It is an awesome cleaner but it has a drying effect on the skin. This is one reason I add extra oils to 'superfat' my soap. The moisturising extra oils protect the skin. My handmade soap has a lower shelf life as a result and should be stored in a very cold place or used within one year
Here is a good read if you want to know more about the chemistry of SLS and SLES...

Monday, 14 May 2012

Banana Beauty Products?

Why? Because bananas are awesome. Did you know that the banana is a rich source of potassium and Vitamin A? It is moisturizing to the skin and can even help some skin conditions. For a moisturizing scrub mash two over ripe bananas in a bowl. Add 1/2 c. sugar---no we are not making banana bread! Use this Banana Sugar Scrub all over the body while in the shower. Rinse well. This treatment will moisturize and gently exfoliate the skin leaving it softer and moisturized. You can also use this as a hair mask for treatment of dandruff and some also believe hair loss. Give it a try---what have you got to lose?

Banana's are also thought to be antibacterial. Here is a great face mask to try...

Banana Face Mask
1 T. ground oatmeal
1/2 tsp. honey
1/2 a banana (mashed)
1 tsp cream (dry skin---normal use milk---oily use water)

Mix it all together. Apply liberally to face or other 'problem' areas. This should help those suffering from acne and other skin blemishes.

For Mother's Day this year I taught a group of Cub Scouts how to make soap. We made soap with fresh and dried bananas. Melt and Pour soap base is the best type to use for younger kids. You can get it from any soap supplier online and sometimes at craft stores such as Michaels.

For a class of 20 I used the following supplies:

Banana Mother's Day Soap
4 lbs melt and pour soap base clear
1 oz banana fragrance oil
20 banana chips
2 mini bananas

For the class I used disposable 1 oz containers with lids. I gave each boy 2 containers and a spoon to stir with. I wanted each child to feel he actually made the soap so I measured out each cup with a few drops of banana fragrance oil, poured the melt and pour into each container--the boys mixed it up and floated a banana chip in the 1st soap.

The second soap was made by having the boys each mash at the two bananas. I gave them each 3 drops of fragrance and about 1/8 tsp of banana puree and added soap base per 1 oz cup. They had to stir this one a bit more so I instructed them to use the pointed end of the spoon rather than the bowl.

Here is the label I designed. Each child signed their names and I packed them up in clear self sealing bags.

Happy Mother's Day!

As with all preparations for the skin, allergy test it on a small portion of skin before applying it to large areas of the body such as the entire face. Inside of the wrist application for 15 min then checking for redness or itch is an easy test to perform before using a new product.

Friday, 11 May 2012

Bacon Soap and Cosmetic Recipes

I recently had an unusual request for a soap. Bacon is a popular item in the marketing world right now. Flavoring for such products as lollypops, muffins, mints, cigarettes, etc are common place. Here are some fun URL's to check out.. 1- Bacon Lollipop
                                      2- Bacon Mints

I don't know why exactly, but I have the urge to explore the possible savory cosmetics I am able to formulate. I'm testing recipes for bacon soap, lip balm, lippy salt scrub and lotion. Who is my target consumer? Men who love BACON! Surprisingly enough, I have testing subjects that are happy about the prospect of being enlisted in this venture. So before I start giving out recipes lets see if bacon is a good cosmetic ingredient in the first place.


Lets start a discussion about some of the history of soap making. Pork fat has traditionally been an economical soap ingredient. Pioneers made soap with fat rendered from animals such as pigs, cows and deer. Today a very nice soap can be made with lard (pig fat) and coconut oil. Lard soap on it's own has few bubbles but it is very creamy. With the addition of coconut oil lots of cleansing bubbles balance the creaminess of the lard. Soap from scratch is very high in glycerin. In times of war, large soap companies were legislated to extract that glycerin as a separate product. That is one reason that most commercial soaps don't last as long as a bar of handmade soap. The glycerin binds the bar and also extends its lather life. As I explained to my class last week: fats + oil + sodium hydroxide + water = soap + glycerin + water . This  bacon soap recipe may also have traces of meat.

About 15 years ago I made about 100 pounds of lard soap for a fundraiser that celebrated my pioneer heritage. The young women in my church were involved in grating, scenting and molding the soap. It was a lot of work and even though the soap was made 2 weeks before we 'finished' the soap with carnation fragrance, there were a couple of 'tingly' itches that had to be seen to during the manufacturing process. When making cold process soap or any other formulation for the skin with young adults or children make sure to not give them too much responsibility. They are just not mature enough to understand the dangers even if warned about the caustic nature of the process. Keep in mind that a single flake of lye about the size of a grain of salt can cause 3rd degree burns in a matter of minutes. I've actually experienced first hand this type of burn and it is the size of a grain of salt and black. It is very painful during the healing process. Keep a bottle of lemon juice or vinegar while working with lye to use for first aid. The acid in the juice will help neutralize the caustic base and help minimize a burn. Wash with LOTS of water as well. Never ignore an itchy or tingly spot on the skin when making soap from scratch. Wear your safety gear!

Ordinarily I would NEVER use bacon fat as a soap ingredient. In fact I have warned my students in the past not to use leftover bacon fat in their formulations. Why? Because whatever quality ingredients you use will affect the end result. If you use bacon fat the soap WILL smell like bacon no matter how much lavender essential oil you add. Is bacon particularly good for the skin? Um ,no. Is it particularly bad for the skin? Not really. Does it smell good? Yup. Is there a market for bacon scented soap? Maybe, like I said it has been requested (by a hoard of Cub Scouts and one of their leaders--they also wanted hamburger scented soap but I refuse to go there at this time).

I made this Bacon Soap using the HOT process for soap making. I wanted to try it out right away instead of waiting for a month using the COLD process. Make sure you use a deep stock pot for this soap because the soap will boil up and rise very high---often as much as 4x the volume. This is a result of hurrying the saponification process along.  Even cold process soap goes through this 'gel' stage when covered by layer upon layer of insulation to prevent ash. Hot process soap isn't as pretty as cold process soap but it works just as well and it is nice to be able to use it right away.

Bacon Soap
500 g. lard
100 g. bacon grease (strain the meat and cracklings out with a coffee filter while the grease is hot) 
250 g. coconut oil

122 g. lye
220 ml water 

Assemble your tools:
Deep stainless steel cooking pot 10 litres or more
Rubber gloves
1 gallon ice cream bucket
2 Plastic stirring spoons
Hand Mixer (a.k.a. stick blender)
A good kitchen scale (one that measures in standard & metric as the recipes differ & also the results will differ widely)
Plastic soap mold (square plastic food storage containers work well--use a casserole or deep large size)
Lemon juice or vinegar—first aid precaution in case skin comes in contact with lye. If you feel an itch or burn anywhere splash the skin liberally with lemon juice or vinegar to counteract the basic nature of the lye. Rinse well with water.

Assemble ingredients:
Oils /fat/butters
Distilled water
Sodium hydroxide (lye) (look in the cleaning supplies or plumbing supply aisle in your local grocery store.)
Fillers Fragrance/essential oils

Put on safety gear:
Goggles or glasses
Rubber gloves
Long shirt sleeves or smock (lab coat works very well)
Long pants Shoes
Socks (Don’t laugh, I got burned by not wearing socks!)

Carefully volume measure your water and pour into small plastic bowl. Using the scale measure the sodium hydroxide. In a well-ventilated area (such as outside), carefully add the sodium hydroxide, a little at a time. Stir after each addition. Stir until  all crystals are dissolved. Be sure to avert your face to avoid inhaling fumes. The fumes can burn the lungs and cause damage to tissue they come in contact with. Wear a mask if you are unable to avoid inhalation of the steam from the lye-water reaction. The mixture will become very hot. Cover and allow mixture to cool in a safe place away from pets or children.

Weigh your oils and melt on the stove over medium heat until melted. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.

Both the lye and the oil mixtures should be approximately the same temperature when combining.
Pour sodium hydroxide mixture (still quite hot) a small amount at a time, into the melted oils (hot). 

Over medium heat bring mixture to a boil. Use a stick blender to mix while the soap heats. It will go through several stages. The first stage is a creamy stage similar to custard or pudding...

In the 2nd stage the oils and soap separates. It looks like oatmeal and oil. It has a lumpy uneven texture. Keep using the stick blender.

In the 3rd stage the mixture will become uniform and start to bubble up the pan. Remove from heat to prevent overflow. Continue to cook at a lower setting.

During the 4th stage the soap is chunky and appears almost transparent in places. This is the gel phase...

The last phase (soap is back to opaque) is when you test ph. Using a large plastic mixing spoon is best during this phase. Have a spatula ready for pouring time. When the ph is 9  (sage green on lithmus paper) or less the soap is skin safe and ready to pour into a mold. Make sure the mold is thick enough to take the heat. It must be flexible for easy removal as well. The soap will be lumpy so pack it in well with the spoon. If your measurements were accurate your soap will get milder with time but be usable right away.

Here is an easier recipe for those who don't want to work with caustic chemicals...

Bacon Soap
200 grams white melt and pour soap
2 T. bacon grease
 a few drops red soap tint.

Chop the soap into cubes.

Melt in the microwave at 30 second intervals until most of the soap is melted. Remove from microwave and stir until all of the soap melts.

Stir in the bacon grease. Make sure it is fully incorporated into the soap so there are no fatty pockets in the finished soap.
Pour into a square 5 x 5 mold. When cool, trim edges with a fluted knife and use the pieces to decorate your finished soap by dipping the sides in red tinted soap to make it look like 'bacon'.
It's kind of tricky, good luck.
And here is the finished soap... (pics to follow)

Here are a couple of other recipes for you bacon lovers to try...

Bacon Lip Balm
1 tsp bacon grease
1 tsp almond oil
1/2 tsp beeswax

Melt beeswax and add the oil and grease. Makes one lip balm.

Bacon Lippy Salt Scrub
1/2 tsp bacon grease
1/2 tsp coconut oil
1 T. salt
1 tsp. sugar

Melt the oils and add the salt and sugar. Store in a glass container. To apply: wet lips, apply very small amount of scrub. Scrub GENTLY (you don't want to make your lips bleed) with the lippy salt scrub. Finish with Bacon Lip Balm or other favorite gloss.
***Usually I use sugar for a scrub for the lips, but this is BACON. You can substitute 100% sugar and it's oddly yummy.

As with all preparations for the skin, allergy test it on a small portion of skin before applying it to large areas of the body such as the entire face. Inside of the wrist application for 15 min then checking for redness or itch is an easy test to perform before using a new product.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Cherry Blossom Soap

Today I was walking with my friend Dave and we were admiring the Cherry Blossom trees in full bloom here in Victoria. From Victoria BC to Washington DC to Tokyo Japan celebrations of the cherry blossom and bloom counts are starting. My favorite trees have this blossom type...

 Edible flowers are among my favorite ingredients to use in soap and bath bombs. I also use cherry fruit puree to make fresh fruit smoothie soap which are always popular. The melt and pour base I use has a preservative quality that allows me to use fresh ingredients. I have yet to have a bar go 'bad'--even after a year or more.

It is always interesting to see how the acid fruits will change to a brownish colour as they react with the base in the soap. If you want a brightly colored soap make sure you pair it with the 'right' color. Green cherry soap for example just doesn't work for most people. It is 'wrong'. Instead use yellow, purple, pink or even red of course!

Using food dye isn't the best choice for soap making. Order soap dye. It is worth the investment and your soap will hold it's jewel colours so much longer. Store surplus coloured soap in a DARK place. Light will destroy the intensity of colour and it will fade (especially the reds).

 Here is an easy recipe that makes about one bar of soap:

 Cherry Blossom Soap 
100 g. clear melt and pour soap
 3-4 freshly gathered cherry blossoms
1/8 tsp or 20 drops bitter almond essential oil
10 drops red soap tint

Melt soap in the microwave. 1 min on high then 30 second bursts until soap is melted. Add the cherry blossoms (they will brown). Add tint and fragrance. Pour into a bar mold. Cool. Remove when hard.

 If you don't have any soap molds, you can use the bottom of a 500 ml pop bottle. Just cut off the bottom (about 3 inches). This makes a nice inexpensive and pretty round bar of soap. You can use any plastic 'mold' but just make sure it is flexible or you will have trouble removing it from the container. DO NOT place in freezer to hurry the process up. The soap will have a tendency to fracture. You can place it in the refrigerator for a short time which will facilitate easy removal.

Since I mentioned it earlier, here is a fun 'smoothie' soap that uses many of the same ingredients and is a personal favorite this time of year...

Cherry Smoothie Soap

100 g. melt and pour clear
1 tsp puree cherries
1/2 tsp yogurt
20 drops red tint
10 drops bitter almond essential oil

Melt soap in the microwave. 1 min on high then 30 second bursts until soap is melted. Add the cherry puree (it will brown). Add tint, yogurt and fragrance. Pour into a bar mold. Cool. Remove when hard.

As with all preparations for the skin, allergy test it on a small portion of skin before applying it to large areas of the body such as the entire face. Inside of the wrist application for 15 min then checking for redness or itch is an easy test to perform before using a new product.

Monday, 7 May 2012

Avocado Lip Balm

I was having fun with ingredients today and decided to share what I know about the avocado and its uses in cosmetic preparations...

 We all know that avocado makes a mean guacamole and is excellent in sandwiches, but how is it used in the cosmetic industry? Like all things that are nourishing for the body avocado has many applications that are wonderful for the outside of the body as well as inside. Avocado oil is used in many high end or artisan soap, lotions and creams. It is full of Omega 3 fatty acids and is beneficial especially on sensitive or mature skin. Because of its purported restorative properties and its natural sunscreen ability it is especially nice in creams and other topical applications. It is readily absorbed by the skin which provides nourishment to the skin as well as providing excellent ‘feel’ to products which incorporate this oil in the formulations. The oil is expressed from the soft green tissue surrounding the pit.

Did you know you can eat an avocado pit? I recently made a wonderful smoothie and included the pit (of course you need a high end blender that can blend bolts and glass for it to be edible).

Avocado Lip Balm

1 ½ Tablespoons Avocado Oil
1 teaspoon virgin coconut oil
1 Tablespoon natural beeswax (melted)

Melt beeswax in a double boiler. A great disposable double boiler uses a recycled soup can in a pan of ½ inch of water over medium high heat. Mix the coconut and avocado oils and melt together in the microwave for about 30 seconds or until the coconut oil is melted. Add the melted beeswax and blend well.  Pour into a lip balm pot or tube. This has a nice coconut and honey taste and smell.

As with all preparations for the skin, allergy test it on a small portion of skin before applying it to large areas of the body such as the entire face. Inside of the wrist application for 15 min then checking for redness or itch is an easy test to perform before using a new product.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Comfrey: Making Healing Infusions and Soothing Salves

Sunday Surprise!
At least one day a week I'll post a recipe for you to try.  Today I thought I'd post about one of my favorite herbs, comfrey and how to use it to make healing infusions, lotions and soothing salves.


Comfrey has been used as an anti-itch agent for centuries. Another name it is known by is Healing Herb. It is recommended by many herbalists to aid in rapid wound healing. Here in Victoria BC it is found growing wild and in many gardens. Instead of weeding it out or using it for mulch try this infusion recipe.

 To make an oil infusion use only the freshly dried herb. You can easily dry the herb quickly in your microwave between paper towels or in the oven on low with the door propped open. The dried herb is more potent.  Heat your carrier oil (liquid almond or semi-solid virgin coconut are common carriers) and pour over a quart of herb.

Comfrey Infusion

2 cups virgin coconut oil 
1 cup almond oil
1 cup grapeseed oil
4 cups dried comfrey

Heat the oils to 200 degrees F. Pour over the dried herb. Let steep for 24 hours. Repeat process with additional herb until desired strength is achieved. The herb will color the carrier oil a greenish yellow. Store in sealed in dark glass jars or other container that will protect it from the light. If stored in the refrigerator it will be semi solid. Bring to room temp or slightly warm for easy dispensing.

 For external use only. Not recommended internally as it has been implicated to cause liver damage.

This wonderful infusion can be used as the base for your favorite creams and lotions. People who suffer from itchy skin conditions will thank you for your concoctions.

Comfrey Salve 

 100 grams of beeswax 
2 cups of Comfrey Infusion

Melt  beeswax and heat comfry infusion. Mix well. This makes a thick salve. Store in cool dry place.  


As with all preparations for the skin, allergy test it on a small portion of skin before applying it to large areas of the body such as the entire face. Inside of the wrist application for 15 min then checking for redness or itch is an easy test to perform before using a new product.


Saturday, 5 May 2012

Welcome Back Jentle Soaps!

After a long sabbatical I am so happy to be able to launch Jentle Soaps back on the web. I will be testing new and wonderful recipes out for handmade cosmetics and would love feedback on what you think of my creations. To begin I'll start posting recipes from my ebook Beauty Crafts to give you a taste of my Soap making and Sundry skills. I've been concocting beauty products since I was 7 years old so I have a few recipes to share...more than a few actually!

I'm going to launch this blog with weekly Ingredient discussions and see where it goes...

Making your own soap and cosmetics is a rewarding and artistically challenging hobby. Discovering the complex chemistry between ingredients and how to maximize the benefits of each is how we create new products. In this blog I will share recipes I have developed  for primarily soap from scratch & transparent soap crafting (also known as soap-casting), formulas for lip and body balms, dusting powders, bubble bath, bath bombs, shampoo and more.

Many of the ingredients are easy to find at your local craft, grocery and drug stores.  As the owner of Jentle Soaps I believe that only the highest quality ingredients make the best products. In my opinion the search for the more exotic ingredients are worth the hunt. Fresh high quality ingredients will give you the best results. Oils such as shea butter, cocoa butter and virgin coconut oil are now available in many health food stores or by mail order. Because fragrance is such an important ingredient for many people make sure you purchase your essential and fragrance oils from reputable manufacturers and importers.
I invite you to begin learning Beauty Crafts. Use the body treatments within the recommend time period and always refrigerate any fresh ingredient preparations. Any handmade soap should be used within one year. Store all hand made preparations in a cool dry place. I hope you enjoy crafting each and every recipe as much as I enjoyed testing them.

If you have any questions feel free to email me at