Beautiful Cornflowers, growing wild:
(Photograph, courtesy The Guardian.co.UK)
So, I make my own homemade personal and home products. I do it for me AND the environment. My roomie too (see cutiepie in posts below ;^)), who is uber-sensitive and has very delicate skin :).
All my ingredients, including most of the containers are from Mountain Rose Herbs — my highest recommendation for anything they offer! Very high-quality, pure products.
I tend to make these on the fly, much like my cooking. I rarely write them down as recipes, but will try to. It’s just so fun to create on the spot; and never make the exact same thing twice :^). AND, most things like this require tweaking…so even when I follow someone’s recipe, inevitably — whether it’s the weather, product variation, or preference — something will need altering!
Here are a few things I’ve been up to lately. I’ll post more on this topic, with instruction and recipes (eventually!).
I needed a good eye bath (weather’s acting up something terrible) to replace conventional ones like Visine, etc. Did a bit of research and learned that cornflowers are an ancient use for eye bathing. So, I thought I’d give my eyes a dip in the blue waters of corn :).
Here are the cornflowers infusing in purified water:
As you can see, it’s in a VOSS water bottle! For sanitation reasons, of course, every instrument which comes into contact with any solution one is making must be sanitized; so I decided on starting with a sealed, purified, good-quality water in a glass container. Sort of saves me the anxiety of it all! All of this is much like canning. I simply strained this very well and, voila! Cornflower water
By the way, VOSS water is excellent! Unfortunately, very expensive.
The cornflower water had a very light, pleasant, floral fragrance. I use it for a body spray, after-bath as well! I diluted it with water and washed my eyes with it using a glass eyewash cup –worked! It was very refreshing, non-stinging (good thing I diluted; the cornflower water was strong as it was), and eyes felt clean.
I searched for an appropriate preservative, as, I imagine, this will “rot” rather quickly, especially since it’s not something I’ll be using daily. However, what is really appropriate for the eyes?! I decided, since this was a home-remedy, I’d go the freezing route (as IF I have the freezer space!) and just use as needed. I froze in ice cubes, sealed well, and that’s workin’ for me :).
I’ve also used chamomile flowers for an eyewash, and it’s also very nice and gentle (have some cubes in my freezer too); and I can also drink it as a nice evening tea
These are just some other potions I came up with: One on the left is the cornflower water (I think), and the one on the right is a sage deodorant spray I made (came out excellent).
Lovage is fabulous in deodorants. It has a nice fresh-green fragrance. It’s a light aroma, reminiscent of parsley, though I read it’s closer to celery, which it also smells like. It works very well as a deodorant all by itself, and is non-fragrant for the most part. Paired with witch hazel it’s even better! It dissipates, and the small amount used for the underarms isn’t enough to be fragrant. I will work on an even better one soon!
I made the lovage water myself (Eek! I cannot recall if it was an infusion or a decoction…) It came out great. The extra I had, I added a couple drops of grapefruit seed extract to act as a preservative; It worked great and I didn’t have to fridge it. It’s been a couple months now, and it’s doing great in my bathroom. I put it in a spray bottle as well and simply spray my underarms with it on some days as a deodorant. It basically neutralizes any odors rather than masking them. Very nice if you don’t want the funk of perfume+ odor :O
It’s also a fabulous general body spray!
It is most often used as a food ingredient, however; and I read that it is the primary ingredient in the Maggi and Knorr products!(junk!) It makes a good soup broth or ingredient for vegetable broth and purported to be a good salt substitute or ingredient of same.
Next, is a concentrate I made for a mouthwash. I added it to the larger glass bottle with some water and a bit of aloe…came out excellent. I didn’t write down the recipe, but I do know I used whole anise seeds (which I left in); essential oils of clove, cinnamon, neem, myrrh, peppermint…and more I can’t recall!
Here are some vegan lip balms I made as well: This first one is an orange vanilla-mint lip balm which came out really nice.
And this is a vanilla-coriander lip balm:
I was very excited to finally get around to trying Soap Nuts!! Good enough for the Aztecs; good enough for me I purchased these
brand soapnuts. I was pleasantly surprised that these little — technically fruits — nuts worked!
Clothes came out sooooo soft. I love-love-love that there is nothing added; it is simply fruit! Pick from a tree and that’s it! How much more natural can it get?! Here are some answers to questions often asked about soapnuts, courtesy Maggie’s Soapnuts.
I have learned that soapnuts can be used as a multi-purpose soap! I was SO happy to learn this! I have always wanted a truly — truly — pure, and natural soap to use, one which does not use the lye processing; however, it is impossible to find any soap like that. A few years ago, I was looking into making my own soap bars — or any type of form for personal soap — and read that it was “impossible” to make soap without the lye process. I always wondered, “Then how did they wash clothes back in the day?! I mean, I know beating against rocks and rinsing in water was common, but how else? Anyway, after learning one ancient Roman method involved using urine as a cleaner and “bleach” to clean clothes (Ack!) and another using rendered animal fat (:(), I decided I’d skip the ancient ways and resign myself to the more “natural” of soaps available nowadays (even with their ridiculously hefty price tags).
I did discover, however, that MountainRoseHerbs had a fabulous castile soap (better than Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, in my opinion, though I’m not against Bronner’s and would use it if I couldn’t get the MRH). VERY clean, no fragrance, and a fabulous-fabulous cleaner — I don’t think I have ever been cleaner! It also is, surprisingly NON-drying. Love that. So, I’ve been using it for all my products calling for soap, such as my own pump handsoaps for the kitchen and bathroom. I just add essential oils. I don’t think I’ll be giving up totally the MRH’s castille; it’s too good!
ANY_way, back to the soapnuts! SO-so many-many uses! And they now come in various forms for convenience. Fantastic for people with allergies as well!
I read some reviews and comments and most said it did just as good a job at least. Many said it did better than regular detergents, while a few said not as well. There were several comments about extra-dirty clothes requiring something extra, but, that’s pretty much with a conventional detergent too. I use vinegar in the rinse to remove especially tough odors and as a fabric softener (leaves no smell at all) amd it’s cheap! (And vinegar is fantastic for any cleaning job, really.)
For tougher stains, a non-bleach, oxygen-type product works well. Some borax is a good general laundry boost (though, *I think* I’ve recently read that even it is not so environmentally friendly as supposed; unfortunately, I can’t find the source where I read it! I could be wrong on that, so don’t quote me on it…)
If I want a soft fragrance, I can add a few drops of essential oil to the wash.
I will be updating on my experiences with it. I have so far made a liquid handsoap! Came out okay, but I overdid the essential oils.
I hope to work it to get a nice dishwashing soap; already, it can be used in automatic dishwashers! I wash dishes the old fashioned way, however :^) More on my dishwash-soap experiments to come…
The soapnuts come with three little sacks (I had one going in the washer at the time I took this pic, so only two are shown here). Simply add 3-5 whole soapnuts to the little sacks and throw into the machine with a load. It gets even better: You can do 3 loads with those nuts! The instructions say that they must be used the same day, though, because, being that these are plants, they will decay and rot. However, I found that, after one load, I simply laid them to dry and they did not rot; and, in fact, I was able to use them a week later :). If it’s humid, I’ll probably dehydrate them or even stick them into my potted plants, as they are natural insect repellents and keep little buggers from eating your goodies! You can also make a spray of it and mist your plants to keep them pester-free. How fabulous is all this?!!
And speaking of soaps, I saved several pieces of various bar soaps, which had been used to small nubs; melted then combined them; added glycerine and aloe and came out with a fabulous whipped (as it like whipped cream!) soap! I did this all on the fly; I had no idea how it would turn out. As it was, I put in too much glycerine. I will work on it and get the measurements right and post it. It was still fantastic! I added some essential oils for fragrance and therapeutics. My skin was soooo soft (from the glycerine) that I didn’t need any body lotion!
I was going to take a picture of the whipped soap, but ended up using it too soon so the picture wouldn’t look to great — next time :D. And I will update on that later as well.