Category Archives: Make it Yourself and save

Slippery History: How Soap Works

From ancient Babylon to Ma Perkins, soap has a rich and frothy past.

The basics of how soap works

5000 BC
Clay cylinders in ancient Babylon are inscribed
With instructions for boiling fats with ashes

4000 BC
Hebrews write on clay tablets about purifying of oils
Ash and lime-stone

1000 BC
Soap Gets the name from Mount Sapo, a sacred site where animals
were sacrificed during Roman rituals.
Women come from all around to bathe in melted animal fat and wood ash
Found in the Tiber river at the base of Mt. Sapo
Soap is formed when an acid, derived from the fats and oils of plants and animals, is combined with an alkali. Today most soapmakers use commercially available alkali such as sodium hydroxide (caustic soda) or potassium hydroxide (caustic potash). When the fats and the alkali are combined, a chemical reaction called saponification occurs. And there you have it: soap.
And how does it work? Water has a property called surface tension. This tension is created as water molecules at the surface are pulled toward molecules at the bottom. Soap molecules have a head that is attracted to water and a tail that is attracted to dirt. The tail embeds itself in the dirt, and the head pulls itself toward the water, breaking the surface tension. When you rinse off, you wash away the soap molecules along with the dirt their tails are clinging to.
Clean ingredients
Even though they aren’t required to list ingredients, natural soapmakers such as Joshua Onysko of Pangea Organics generally do because they’re proud of them. Pangea soaps, for example, are made from a base of olive oil, coconut oil, soybean oil, and hempseed oil; naturally formed glycerin, herbs, flowers and spices; and essential oils.
What you put on your skin could be absorbed into your body, so it’s important to read ingredients. Seeing the word “organic” in a soap manufacturer’s name doesn’t guarantee all the ingredients are organic. Many people in the personal care industry believe that unless an ingredient is certified organic in California or another state with strict certification standards, it doesn’t mean much. “Coconut oil can be certified organic in SriLanka, but they still use DDT there, so I’d be concerned,” Joshua says.
CollectionStory_HeritageSoaps
Soothing, simple soaps
To make this soap, first purchase a solid, translucent glycerin soap base (available from Sun-Feather Natural Soap, (315) 265-3648). Melt it gently in a double boiler over medium heat. Add soothing botanicals, fragrant oils, and any other ingredients that please you, and stir. Then pour the thick liquid into a plastic soap mold or a plastic food storage container and let it cool.
Lavender and Rosemary Soap
3 cups glycerin soap base
1/4 cup infusion* of lavender flowers and rosemary leaves
1 1/2 teaspoons lavender oil
1/2 teaspoon rosemary oil
1 teaspoon pulverized dried rosemary (optional)

1. Combine melted base and botanicals. Stir until blended, then pour into molds and cool.
*Make an infusion: Infusions are delicate teas made by pouring hot, steamy non-chlorinated water over fresh or dried plant parts. Three tablespoons of dried or fresh herb per cup of water, steeped 10 minutes, will suffice.
Reprinted with permission from Soothing Soaps by Sandy Maine (Interweave Press, 1997).

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A Green Clean: Detox Your Home With These Eight Natural Cleaning Ingredients

f4e6256677359ae0ea7ba3dfe572e83bA Green Clean: Detox Your Home With These Eight Natural Cleaning Ingredients
Keep toxins out of your home and save money with safe, effective homemade cleaners.
July/August 2009
By Kim Erickson
Image GalleryDetox your home with these eight natural cleaning ingredients. Also, check out these recipes for effective, homemade cleaners.
Photo by Joe Lavine

Nothing feels as comforting and welcoming as a tidy, well-tended home. But a clean home isn’t necessarily a healthy one. As you peruse the cleaning aisle’s furniture polishes, air fresheners, carpet deodorizers and stain removers, you may realize that a full product arsenal could contain literally hundreds of chemicals and include dozens of safety warnings—not to mention cost a small fortune. Fortunately, you can create nontoxic, inexpensive counterparts to nearly every conventional cleaning product with items found in your pantry…
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency notes that conventional cleaning products make a significant contribution to indoor air pollution. In one study conducted at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, researchers found that the chemicals in everyday household cleaners can trigger the onset or worsening of asthma. Children with asthma can experience respiratory symptoms in a newly cleaned home. At least one study also suggests a possible link between prenatal exposure to low doses of common cleaning chemicals and attention deficit disorder or even autism in children.
Exposure to these everyday products can also affect your heart. Results from the Detroit Exposure and Aerosol Research Study, which were recently presented at a scientific session of the American Heart Association, showed that people exposed to pollutants—including household cleaners and air fresheners—experienced a narrowing of blood vessels and an increase in blood pressure.
Even seemingly benign products can cause health problems. Glass cleaners often contain ammonia, an eye irritant that can cause headaches and lung irritation. Disinfectants often harbor phenol and cresol, two petroleum derivatives that can cause dizziness and fainting. The polishes that make our floors and furniture shine include nitrobenzene, a carcinogen and reproductive toxin that can also cause short-term shortness of breath and nausea.
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are toxic chemicals released by common cleaning products that can remain suspended in the air for days after use. Able to cross the blood-brain barrier and placenta, VOCs can depress the central nervous system; irritate the eyes, nose and throat; and reduce pulmonary function. Long-term exposure can contribute to a variety of cancers.
The good news is that you don’t need to rely on these toxic chemicals for a spotless house. You can power through most household dirt with inexpensive and effective homemade cleaners. Plus, you can customize your cleaners with bacteria-busting essential oils.
Nontoxic cleaning kit You can clean your house from top to bottom with just eight simple ingredients. To save time and money, buy the ingredients in bulk and make cleaners in advance.

Green Clean: Detox Your Home With These Eight Natural Cleaning Ingredients
Baking Soda:
A truly multitasking cleaner, baking soda is a perfect substitute for cleaning powders that scour sinks and tubs without scratching. It’s also great for wiping down and deodorizing the fridge.In cleaning the fridge and after cleaning the oven use cinnamon mouth wash in warm water to give it a pleasant fragrance it is also great to flush the drain trough in the fridge which also takes any residue from the tubing to the drain tray. Combined with an equal amount of vinegar, baking soda can freshen drains and prevent them from clogging.
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• Borax:
Combining equal amounts of white vinegar and borax will banish mold and mildew from hard surfaces. This natural mineral can also clean your toilet. Pour 1 cup of borax into the toilet bowl and let it sit for a few hours before scrubbing to eliminate stains and odor
• Distilled White Vinegar: This pantry staple cuts grease, eats away lime deposits and destroys odors. Because of its neutralizing properties, white vinegar is also good for washing windows, sanitizing kitchen counters and shining bathroom fixtures. Simply dilute 1 part vinegar in 4 parts water. A natural antibacterial because of its high acid content, vinegar is an effective alternative to caustic cleaners on toilets and floors.
• Hydrogen Peroxide:
Typically found in the medicine cabinet, this disinfectant can also be used as an effective bleach alternative in the laundry room. Because it’s also a powerful oxidizing agent, it works especially well on food, soil, plant, blood and other organic stains. Just make sure to spot test in a discreet area because, like bleach, hydrogen peroxide may lighten fabrics. For each average-size load of whites, add 8 ounces of 3 percent hydrogen peroxide after you have filled the washer with hot water.
• Salt:
Perfect for cleaning grungy ovens, this natural abrasive is also great for soaking up fresh carpet stains such as red wine, coffee or ink. Pour salt on the wet stain. Let dry, then vacuum.
• Vegetable Oil
(Castile) Soap: This natural soap is great for floors and all-purpose cleaning when combined with vinegar, borax or even warm water. For an all-purpose cleaner, add 1⁄2 teaspoon of soap to either 2 cups of water or to the “All-Purpose Cleaner and Disinfectant” recipe below. For floors, combine 2 teaspoons of soap with 3 gallons of water. Make sure to rinse well to remove any dulling residue.
• Washing Soda:
This old-fashioned laundry booster cuts through tough grease on grills, broiler pans and ovens. Because washing soda is a strong alkaline, it’s perfect for tackling dirty linoleum floors. But because it’s caustic and strong enough to strip wax and peel paint, wear gloves when using—and use sparingly. Adding just 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 teaspoon of washing soda to 32 ounces of hot water will tackle the toughest grease.
• Lemons:
Lemon’s citric acid content cuts stubborn grease and makes your home smell fresh. Lemon juice is also a natural bleach, especially when combined with the sun. Freshen cutting boards by rubbing a cut lemon over the surface. This is especially effective for banishing fish odors. Undiluted lemon juice can also be used to dissolve soap scum and hard water deposits.

Recipe Lemon Curd

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Instead of buying It in jars make your own lemon curd

 

Ingredients
3 lemons
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 pound unsalted butter, room temperature
4 extra-large eggs
1/2 cup lemon juice (3 to 4 lemons)
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
Directions
Using a carrot peeler, remove the zest of 3 lemons, being careful to avoid the white pith. Put the zest in a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Add the sugar and pulse until the zest is very finely minced into the sugar.

Cream the butter and beat in the sugar and lemon mixture. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and then add the lemon juice and salt. Mix until combined.

Pour the mixture into a 2 quart saucepan and cook over low heat until thickened (about 10 minutes), stirring constantly. The lemon curd will thicken at about 170 degrees F, or just below simmer. Remove from the heat and cool or refrigerate.

Read more at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/lemon-curd-recipe/index.html?oc=lin