Cough, Sneeze, Sniffle…go camping

I leave tomorrow for a week long camping trip, and because I didn’t have enough stuff to do to get ready to go, I decided to catch a little bit of a cold before I went. I’m blaming the husband, I definitely caught his cold, and it’s all his fault. So I’m taking a minute to drink hot tea and write this. But since I only have time for comfort care, and no time to lay around and be sick, I whipped up an essential oil roller pen filled with great stuff to relieve my stuffy nose and take the edge off my sniffles. You could use this blend in an essential oil diffuser; just leave out the menthol crystal and add a little more peppermint. Be sure to check the safety of the oils if you’ve got young children, there’s some question about peppermint and children under age 2. Better to be safe than sorry. Robert Tisserand has a great website about essential oil safety, and several books. He’s my go to guy. 

This makes a 10 ml roller bottle, and while I topped mine off with high proof vodka, you could also use perfumery alcohol-if you can find it-or a lightweight, fast absorbing carrier oil like grapeseed or sunflower. I like having cheap vodka around for projects like this (sure, you say, I can imagine you rolling your eyes now; but it’s McCormick vodka and not fit to drink) and it’s good for aftershaves as well. Buying the cheapest insures we won’t drink it and it stays dedicated for DIY projects. It’s 150 proof or about 75% alcohol, so it’s perfect in all kinds of projects that would normally require rubbing alcohol but where I don’t want that rubbing alcohol smell.

Here’s the recipe: 

Essential Oil Cold and Allergy Roller

30 drops eucalyptus essential oil

30 drops peppermint essential oil

20 drops clove essential oil

10 drops wintergreen essential oil

10 drops lime essential oil

10 drops lemon essential oil

10 drops cajeput essential oil

10 drops tea tree essential oil

5 drops rosemary

Three menthol crystals approximately the size of pencil erasers

High proof alcohol (70% minimum or 140 proof or  70% isopropyl rubbing alcohol, perfumery alcohol, etc.)

OR

Lightweight carrier oil with low scent that’s fast absorbing like grapeseed, sunflower, or safflower. 

10ml glass roller bottle. Although there are plastic roller bottles and they can be slightly less expensive, I suggest you use glass with this high concentration of essential oils. 

Count out the drops of essential oils into your roller bottle, then add the menthol crystals. This should fill it about halfway full, maybe a little more depending on how large your menthol crystals were. Don’t panic, in other words.  

Use a small funnel, an eyedropper, or a pipette to fill up the roller bottle with the alcohol or oil. Add the roller ball and cap. Shake gently to combine. The menthol crystals will dissolve in about 30 minutes. 

Once the menthol crystals have fully dissolved, shake well, then roll over neck and shoulders, across temples, and down chest. Inhale deeply to clear the sinuses and relax. Enjoy! Feel better soon! 

This will last about a year before it loses its potentcy. If you use oils and not alcohol, they may turn rancid so watch for any off smells that might indicate old oil. Otherwise, use it up in that time frame! Makes one (1) 10 ml roller pen. 

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Thighs like Velcro…in November

Last spring I shared my creation for beating off thigh and under boob chafing, and it worked fine for the most part. It’s literally nothing but carrier oil and starch (wheat, corn, arrowroot), and it’s effective. The problem I had with it was that it separated-way too easily-into a oil layer and a starch layer, forcing me to either shake the container very, vry, very vigorously or get a fork and agitate the mixture up until it was somewhat homogeneous. It’s messy and inconvenient, and a good product shouldn’t be either of these things. 

I got to thinking of a recent face moisturizer I made, that’s mostly  mango butter with arrowroot starch and works as a silky smooth face primer before applying mineral makeup. It’s light and dry because of the mango butter and oil absorbing because of the arrowroot. It got me to wondering; could I turn my thigh chafing stuff into an actual balm? How would I do that? I still wanted a large percentage of liquid oils, and I didn’t want to use beeswax because it gets hard and too sticky and hard to rub in. I needed something that would merge with the liquid oils and make a nice, soft, creamy ointment like balm. I needed….Emulsifying Wax NF! 

Emulsifying Wax is a cosmetic emulsifying ingredient. The ingredient name is often followed by the initials NF, indicating it conforms to the specifications of the National Formulary.  It is made out of Cetearyl Alcohol, Polysorbate 60, PEG 150 Stearate, and Steareth 20. It has the characteristics of cetyl alcohol (a fatty alcohol) combined with the viscosity building effect of steAryl alcohol as an effective thickener and helps form stable emulsions. 

Other uses? Well, when mixed with a liquid carrier oil, 50/50, it makes a fantastic soft balm that’s firm enough to handle some high temperatures and getting battered in a tin, but pliable enough to still be scooped out and rubbed on in any conditions. I made some bug off balms with sunflower oil and Emulsifying Wax NF, and Citronella, Lemon Eucalyptus, Lemongrass, and Pennyroyal. They were useful for purses and pockets, and the diaper bag and car. Spillproof and leak proof, the balm rubbed rubbed in smoothly and warded off noxious bugs. I wish we had remembered it more often and gotten more use out of it, but it will take some getting used to, relying on a balm instead of a spray. 

Back to the anti chafing ointment. 

So I had only ever measured my original recipe by volume, which meant my first step was converting everything from tbsp to grams. I knew I wanted to make a very small batch-a few tablespoons of each ingredient -and now I had to weigh them as they went into the double boiler for future reference. 

Ingredients:

2 tbsp= 20g Emulsifying Wax

2 tbsp mango butter= 25g

2 tbsp grapeseed oil= 22g

Add weights of mango butter and grapeseed oil. You will need that much cornstarch or arrowroot powder. 47g let’s round down to 45g! 

I want to use part corn starch and part arrowroot as they have different properties. 

20g cornstarch

25g arrowroot powder

30 drops essential oils of choice (I use 10 each lavender, tea tree, and rosemary as all three are good for skin)

Directions:

Melt mango butter over v low heat, hold for 20 min. Add Emulsifying Wax and melt pastilles. Add grapeseed oil. Add starch and mix well. Beat or whisk vigorously. Add eos as desired.

Makes about 2.5 oz
Final recipe for 4 oz jar

 (tweaked slightly after using balm a few times)

35g Emulsifying wax 

40g Mango butter

35 g grapeseed oil

35g arrowroot 

40g cornstarch. 

2g essential oils (I actually used 15 drops each lavender, tea tree, and rosemary, which is slightly more than 2 grams but close enough)

Follow directions as above.
So far working it’s  working well but weather got suddenly cool before I could really try it out under a dress all day in hot weather. When I go braless around the house it helps with underboob chafing and doesn’t sweat off easily but once again, not sweating overly much right now while braless. It does help thigh chafing at the gym the couple times I’ve used it there while J was in Canada this last time. 

I like that it’s a balm and that it doesn’t seperate. I’m debating swapping the mango butter, which is dry and silky, for shea butter, which would be more oily and slick. I had hoped using mango butter and a fast absorbing oil like grapeseed would be a good combo and compromise, but I’m wondering if perhaps I need to flip that and try a fast absorbing oil like castor for part of the oil, and maybe even cocoa butter (which absorbs fast imo) for part of the butter. If I used cocoa butter, I could reduce how much Emulsifying Wax I need by a few grams. So many possible combinations and so much potential! 

Well, there’s the base recipe, and ideas on how to personalize it just for you. I firmly suggest picking up some Emulsifying Wax or possibly Ecomulse (Ecomulse is an ECOCERT emulsifying wax that I actually prefer for lotions and creams over Emulsifying Wax, and you can buy it at Lotioncrafter’s right here.) You’ll find all kinds of great things at Lotioncrafters. Have fun shopping! I hope to publish some lotion recipes very soon, so be prepared with your ingredients! 

Addendum:

Made a new batch with mango butter, fractionated coconut oil, and BTMS 225. The texture is very silky and it absorbs almost instantly. 

Da da da Da Vinci!

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One of my best friends is going to Burning Man in a few months (hence the blog post title reference to this year’s theme) I don’t get to go this year (wah! just kidding, I am pretty cool with staying home this year). However, I’m trying to develop some fun body care products for her to take. Hopefully, after I get some feedback and make any necessary adjustments, I can then have all this and more ready in my Etsy shop next year to market to the festival crowd.

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First and foremost, I’m making a cooling mist. It’s based around a recipe I read on Humblebee & Me for “Air Conditioning in a Bottle”, only a little stronger and in a bigger bottle with an adjustable misting function. There are two things that wear on you out there in the dust, and one of them is the relentless heat, and the other is the lack of smell of anything but the dust. By making this strongly scented minty spray, with peppermint, camphor, menthol, tea tree, and wintergreen, I hope to help combat the dust smell for a brief few moments AND help provide a refreshing cooling sensation when misted on bare skin. My advice is to strip down as much as possible in front of your tent fan, mist your entire body, and enjoy both the smell and the brief little shiver from this spray even though there may be a dust storm outside.

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Another creation that’s been cracked is a lotion with an acidic component. It’s vital in the alkaline environment of the Playa to both moisturize and readjust the pH of your skin by applying something like vinegar. Now, you can use a double duty item like my new lotion, which can boast an oil component like either coconut oil or a rich oil, like wheat germ or jojoba (which is actually a wax, and very close in composition to human sebaceous gland oil), and also an acidic component like raw apple cider vinegar or citric acid solution. Of course, skin soothing essential oils can be added as well. For those of you who still prefer wiping down directly with your ACV, maybe consider a traditional lotion of coconut oil and shea butter with aloe juice to have on hand in your cooler after a hard day biking and checking out all the art. It would not only feel great, it would be great for your skin. I make traditional lotions upon request and with your input, helping you determine your needs and then constructing the lotion that will help you the most. I would like to mention that I can also make a more natural, paraben, artificial “yuckies” dupe of many items on the market upon request.

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Also, even though water is a luxury item and showers are unheard of at Burning Man, I made up two kinds of refreshing soap. Cooling and tingly mint soap in both liquid and bar form for anyone who wants it. Because it’s Burning Man, the liquid soap will be shimmery gold, and the bar soap will have a pretty bright green stripe with a fun swirl on top. Both have peppermint, spearmint, wintergreen, and just a touch of eucalyptus. I think you’ll enjoy them.

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And then, even though I STRONGLY believe in commercial and scientifically tested sunblock, I’m making some homemade sunblock that can be used as face and body paint. It “should” have an spf of approximately 20, which is too low to count on for all day wear in the desert, so layer this with a good commercial sunblock underneath. But these zinc oxide based body paints are colorful and fun for face and body, are water and sweat resistant, and their sparkly reflectiveness makes them unique. They come in silver, crystal white, purple, teal, yellow, and pink.

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I suggest you check out this awesome blog to read about how spf is calculated, the difference between chemical and physical sunscreens and sunblock, and other great information about using sunscreens in general that you should probably know. I have it bookmarked for easy reference because this blogger has her facts and ducks in a row! I use a different recipe than what she has on her blog, but her info is still awesome.

I don’t usually promote my shop this heavily on my blog, but I worked hard on everything for this event this year, and am hopeful that it will be utilized by friends and delighted new faces. I wish I could afford to gift all my creations to my community, but the best I can do is price them reasonably and competitively so that I don’t cause undue stress on the pocketbooks of the average attendee. I feel bad that it’s all coming together at this late date, but hopefully at least a few people will be able to utilize the fruits of my hard work and next spring I can use their feedback to make improved products for next year!

In the meantime, you can still email me suggestions and requests if there’s something you personally want for your trip to the Man or for another big trip, period.

Sunburn Spray

I don’t have a sunburn right now, so I can’t test this out. Because of my coloring, it’s also unlikely I’ll get a sunburn this year and need this, but after doing a lot of research online I came up with this simple spray. It’s preservative free so keep it in the fridge and watch it for signs of mold between uses or only make it up on an as needed basis (and hopefully you won’t need it often. 

1/2 c aloe vera juice
1/2 c raw apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp colloidal silver (optional, aides with healing)
10 drops peppermint essential oil
Place in 8 oz spray bottle with mister setting and spray on affected areas every few hours.

According to everything I read and the comments, this should work great. I certainly plan to make some up the next time someone here turns pink or red! I hope it helps someone else! If you use the gel, it’s allegedly a little sticky, but not if you use the juice. Just an FYI. You can also add some lavender essential oil, if you have it. But be sure to use the peppermint for the cooling sensation it gives.

Magnesium Anti Cramp Massage Roller

Using ideas and research into anti cramp essential oils, and the effects of topical magnesium on leg cramps, I worked up these anti cramp massage rollers.

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They are in nice, palm sized, 30 ml roller ball containers instead of the more typical 10 ml pencil sized rollers typically used for essential oil aromatherapy. This makes them the right size for rubbing on a tricky Charlie horse or other hard to reach muscle spasm but not so large they can’t be tucked in purse or gym bag.

The roller ball containers came from Amazon, and the recipe looks like this if you want to make it yourself. It should be up in the Etsy shop before the end of the weekend.

Ingredients:

10 drops clary sage essential oil(anti cramp properties)

10 drops  peppermint essential oil (pain relief)

5 drops clove essential oil (stimulates circulation)
5 drops cassia essential oil (stimulates circulation)
5  drops juniper essential oil- (stimulates circulation, anti cramp)
5  drops roman chamomile essential oil (calming, anti cramp)
5 drops lavender essential oil (calming)

10 drops black pepper essential oil (pain relief). You can also use red chili pepper oil, but I develop everything I make to avoid capsaicin as my husband is allergic. Black pepper oil brings some heat to the mix without the allergic reaction. The red pepper oil would be more effective. 

Emu oil: 15 g (pain relief, soothing to muscles)
Magnesium oil: 15g (helps with magnesium deficiency triggering cramping and spasms

Magnesium oil isn’t truly an oil, so you will have to shake this well before each use to mix the ingredients as they will separate between uses. It’s a good idea anyways.  
To make, simply add essential oils to bottle, then magnesium oil. Stir with bamboo skewer to mix. Add emu oil, assemble bottle, shake gently to mix the oils. Let sit a few days for everything to mix and mature before using if possible, but can use immediately if necessary. Shake well before each use. Roll o effected area and massage in well. Apply as needed to affected area. I personally have had some relief of muscle cramps in my bad leg with one of these, and also in my shoulders after slinging around 20 lbs of baby all day.

 

FYI: none of these statements have been researched by the FDA and I am NOT a healthcare professional, and you shouldn’t mistake my information here for medical advice. These are claims made by the people who make and sell the essential oils and other ingredients. Muscle cramps can be the sign of other health conditions. This blog isn’t designed to replace the advice of a health care professional, or to dispense treatment. I can’t emphasize that enough. Please see your health care professional if you have persistent symptoms about anything and don’t rely on website DIY remedies.

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Tushy trouble

Baby girl has a diaper rash. We’ve been using a balm I made just after she was born that’s coconut oil based, but in the current temperatures, it’s very soft and not tacky enough to stick to her skin.

There are a million and one DIY recipes for baby balm online, but most are heavy on carrier oils or coconut oil, so I decided to develop my own. Baby girl was helping me because she’s teething and fussy and refusing to be put down. As a result, I don’t have any pictures for this post.

My balm is shea butter based, and does have coconut oil, but also incorporates a bit of beeswax to help make it tacky and more stiff than just the butter and oil would be naturally. Shea butter alone would make a great healing ointment, but I wanted zinc oxide, and it melts well in a oil like coconut.
There are no essential oils because it’s going on a baby and going on broken skin.

Baby Booty Balm

(Makes about 7 oz, so divide into 4 oz containers for home use and diaper bag)

160 g Shea butter
80 g coconut oil
40 g beeswax
45 g  zinc oxide

Melt first three ingredients together in a double boiler. Remove from heat, stir in zinc oxide. Stir often until reaches pudding like consistency. Put into containers. Don’t use until completely cool and set up, about three hours.

To clean pan, scrape out as much balm as you can then wipe it out with paper towels. Rinse under hottest water possible from your faucet. Allow to soak with dish detergent and Borax and very hot or boiling water until you’re able to get your hands in there. It should clean up ok from there. If you make homemade dish soap from Borax, washing soda, and homemade soap, use that. (Works like a charm on DIY projects.)

There’s also a great alternative to baby powder that uses clay and arrowroot powder:

1/4 c kaolin clay
1/4 c bentonite clay (or 1/2 c bentonite clay)
2-4 tbsp arrowroot powder
1 tsp silk (optional, moisture manager)
Put all ingredients in a storage container and shake well. I mean shake til your arm hurts. Then either put them through a sifter if you have one or shake them through a sieve. Place in a shaker container (you can reuse or purchase from Mountain Rose Herbs, or old salt and pepper shakers from thrift stores work well). Baby powder helps the baby ointment stick better and manages moisture.

Stop using both if you suspect yeast and contact your health care provider. Neither of these will help control or cure a yeast infection.

Addendum:

This recipe made about 10 oz, enough for two four oz containers and a dab leftover. I melted it back down with menthol, rose clay, and then added lavender and helichrysum. The resulting balm is awesome on bug bites and scrapes.

Stop bugging me!

You had to know the DIY insect repellent post was coming.

In the past, we’ve used DEET, and I’m sure we will again in the future. However for our daily insect repellent, I did some research and found this great study.

I also researched the active ingredients and percentages of them in the most popular brands of essential oil based commercial insect repellents because I figured they have huge R&D departments and budgets and I don’t. Why not see where things overlap between it all?

Lemon Eucalyptus, Citronella, Clove, Cedar, all overlapped. My personal preference for lemongrass, catnip and pennyroyal, as well as mint, geranium, and lavender were documented as being possibly beneficial but not to the level of lemon eucalyptus and citronella. In the end, I used the following recipe:

15 g citronella
15 g lemon eucalyptus
7 g tea tree
7 g lemongrass
7 g clove
5 g cedar
5 g pennyroyal
5 g wintergreen
5 g lavender
5 g geranium
10g catnip extract (alcohol based: catnip essential oil was cost prohibitive while the extract was more affordable so I thought I would try it. If you have catnip essential oil, I would use 5 g).
Equal volume-not weight, but eyeball the volume-of red turkey oil as essential oils (optional: its purpose is to evenly disperse oils into alcohol and water. Without it, be sure to shake very well before each use.)
25 g 90% rubbing alcohol, high proof ethanol (Bicardi 151, Ever clear, moonshine) or for sensitive skin, use witch hazel. See note about preservatives!
190 g distilled water
2 g broad spectrum preservative

Why do I use preservatives? Because otherwise there could be moldy water before this is all used up and that’s gross. I don’t see to spray my kids with moldy water. I use a preservative that is paraben free and has an excellent EWG safety rating (name brand Optiphen). If you choose to forgo the preservative please consider making sure you go with a greater ratio of high proof alcohol to water (maybe 50/50), and skip using witch hazel, to extend the shelf life. Also consider storing in your fridge and check often for mold or weird odors.

I’ve used this once and gotten great results but I’m a horrible test subject as insects rarely bite me. I need to douse the hubs and kids in it now that we’ve had so much rain, because the mosquitoes will certainly be following soon.

There are warnings not to use lemon eucalyptus on children under age 3 but I have been unable to find any “why” or lists of substantial risks associated with the use. In addition, pennyroyal is very toxic if ingested. As a result, we will be exceptionally cautious when using this spray on the baby and making sure she doesn’t ingest it on her hands or skin, or on a toy or article of clothing. You have to decide what’s more toxic: the essential oil or the DEET, over long periods of time. Which builds up in the body. Which has been studied. I’m sure there will be situations where we use DEET (it’s convenient to mix a few drops of 100% DEET into sun block for outdoor sunny events where mosquitoes or ticks are present).

You have the burden of researching the different essential oils and their potential risks. Most of them are generally regarded as safe, but not all are considered safe by all experts for children and infants so you have to decide if protection against ticks and mosquitoes is worth any potential risk, if you’re willing to spray just their clothing, etc. If DEET is a better answer.
Make educated decisions.