Oh dear, I have put off this post for nearly exactly a month now. Tomorrow is our next meeting for our Living Better With Less group, and here I am, still dithering about how to report the last month's meeting.
So last month we watched Leah make soap. It was amazing - did you know that soap looks exactly like custard while it is cooking? I am quite excited about the idea of learning to make soap - but it is quite complicated because you need the exact amount of water and lye in ratio to the fats you are using. There are on-line calculators to help with this process, but Leah used a manual method which involved actual maths. I know. We had pencil and paper maths whizzes competing with phone calculators to get the final total finally correct.
My dilemma is this. Soap making is dangerous and you have to get it right or you can get burnt. The only written instructions I had, which one of our members uses every time for excellent soap, had the instructions around the wrong way. In soap making you have to add the lye to the water (I had to check that three times just then, so I know I'm getting it right) to avoid a volcanic-type reaction of exploding burning soap mixture. We don't want that. The instructions I have from Kay on a pdf file tell you to add water to lye. Kay does it like this, and hasn't had a problem, BUT I don't want to risk it, so won't link to those instructions. Just in case, you know. Also, the on-line lye-calculator she used doesn't exist any more. Plus, I forgot to take any photos. So probably I am going to get fired from my job as recorder-of-Living-Better meetings. Sigh.
BUT, I have been researching all afternoon and found some useful help for hopeful soap makers.
Lye Calculators this tells you how much lye to add if you are making up your recipe, but do not fear, for here are:
Basic Soap Recipes which tell you exactly how much of each ingredient to use, no maths required:)
Obviously this is all from one website, which is the most comprehensive and clear that I have found.
To buy soap supplies in Australia, try Aussie Soap Supplies which will also sell you everything you need for lotions, lip balms and other health and beauty products.
Lye (sodium hydroxide) you can generally find at the hardware store. It can't be sent through the post in Australia.
One last note: apparently winter is not a good time to make soap, because it needs to stay warm for twenty four hours after you make it. So if you live in Tasmania, no soap making until next summer, which will give you (and me) plenty of time to brave up and find a soap buddy (truly, soap making feels like something to do in company, for courage).
Now, on to deodorant. Kay showed us how to make her fabulous home-made deodorant which contains no nasty heavy metals.
1/2 cup bicarbonate of soda/baking soda
1/2 cup arrowroot flour, or tapioca flour (cheaper - this is Living Better With Less, after all)
5tbs unrefined coconut oil
20 drops grapefruit or lime oil (or other citrus oil)
Mix bi-carb soda and arrowroot together, add oils, mix well. Coconut oil needs to be room temperature to mix easily. You know, warm room temperature, not an unheated studio in Tasmanian winter room temperature. Poor Kay had to mix for quite a while..
Pour into clean jar. Kay used an old Gillette speed-stick container (solid deodorant stick).
This makes a firm deodorant which melts on contact with body heat.
It smells lovely, and conforms to the only-put-stuff-on-your-skin-that-you-can-eat school of cosmetics.
Thanks so much to Leah and Kaye for sharing the art of home made cleanliness with us. Next month - oops, tomorrow.. soil health with David, who has been doing vegie growing trials with Steve Solomon's Complete Organic Fertiliser and biochar at the trial gardens at his Inspirations Garden Centre at Exeter.
Tired, but determinedly cheerful mother of four. One grown up son (The Boy), one grown up daughter (The Girl), two girls at home, Rosy (17) and Posy (13). Trying to buy a little less, make a little more, live a little lighter, not mess up the children too much.. and now extra frugal adventures with Partner Paul..