Summer of Alchemy : : the Good & the Bad

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A while back I posted that I had deemed that this summer I was going to experiment around with more homemade body care & natural cleaning recipes. My first move was researching, which found me with two very promising books from the library: Clean, Naturally and Soap Book, both by Sandy Maine. They both looked so promising at first, full of interesting essential oil blends, nice layouts, easy instructions. I was motivated to start experimenting.

Being that our house was being invaded by ants that week, I set out to make an all purpose soft soap that was advertised to keep bugs at bay. I carefully grated a bar of Dr. Bronner’s Lavender soap, softly boiled it with a mint tea I made from our garden, added in some baking soda & borax, and completed it with a few dashes of tea tree oil. I stirred it gently, so pleased with the lovely smell and the alchemy that was simmering away on my stove. I promptly cleaned all the kitchen counters with it that evening with gusto, so happy to hopefully have found a solution to our ant problem.

The next morning I woke up and not only were there many more ants crawling around our counters, but the ‘soft’ soap I had made turned rock hard. How I’m going to ever get it out of that jar is beyond me. I quickly deemed that recipe a failure.

Moving though these two books, I soon became concerned that every single soap recipe calls for Crisco and that almost all cleaning recipes called for sodium lauryl sulfocacetate. Now I know that there are worse chemicals on the market than SLS, but why use it if there are so many natural cleaning concoctions that don’t call for it. And why Crisco, when you can use a variety of so many other good oils?
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So I moved onto a lotion recipe that used both beeswax and honey. It was called Queen Bee Lotion, a great name! I’ve learned in my experimenting over the years that it’s very important to follow the recipe as written the first time through. Then should I feel good about the results, I can start getting creative. And it’s also a good idea to half the recipe amounts, so as not to waste expensive ingredients if things should go wrong. Very luckily I halved this recipe because look how it turned out. At first I became alarmed because it never set up, it stayed very liquid. And then the next morning I woke up and found it full of mysterious white dots! Would you want to rub this into your skin? No thanks!
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With three strikes against these books, I returned them, thankful that I didn’t buy them. Very luckily though I quickly followed up with a body butter recipe from a book I did buy, Organic Body Care Recipes: 175 Homeade Herbal Formulas for Glowing Skin & a Vibrant Self, and I have to say it’s divine! The best lotion I’ve made to date. But I’m not ready to share just yet. Now that I’ve followed the recipe exactly, it’s time to get creative and put my own spin on it and then I’ll share it with you.

Let the Summer of Alchemy continue!

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12 Comments

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12 responses to “Summer of Alchemy : : the Good & the Bad

  1. Your creative side will will as you experiment with all the different oils and butters. In order to mix oils and butters well, they must be fully heated and continuously mixed or the butters will cool at a faster rate than the oils. (hence your mysterious dots!)
    I can’t wait to see what you come up with!

  2. Jennifer Middleton

    Good Morning Kendra! I follow your blog faithfully and I love how you keep us informed. I have had experimental failures as well, and love to know what’s working for others out there. Good Job!
    I would also like to know a safe dish washer soap to use.

    • Rose Myrtle

      I don’t know if you have a Whole Foods where you live, but if you do you can buy Organic dishwasher gel called ‘It’s a squeaky clean revolution!’ It’s a good price, but the price may vary depending where you live. This is for automatice dishwashers…Hope this works for you!

  3. Rebecca

    There’s a very easy trick for ants: dilute a bit of the liquid peppermint Dr. Bronner’s soap with water in a squirt bottle and spray away! It kills the ants on contact and erases their trails. It’s all we’ve used for the last 2 years with huge success.

  4. Jennifer

    I’ve had similar problems with finding bad recipes….one of the better whipped body butter recipes I found was on youtube…yep, youtube. That way you can watch them do it, and know how it’s gonna turn out. I’m with you where i’ve had to learn to half the recipe, and have been really frustrated when I waste expensive supplies. Hang in there, cuz there are good recipes out there! Best of luck and thanks for sharing the info!

  5. Sabile

    The best and safest way to keep ants away is by using baby powder – that’s it! No formula. Just spread it as a line around doorways and windows…wherever they are entering from. They will not be able to cross past the fine powder.

  6. Michaela Kalemba

    I swear by 1 Tbs. Borax, 1Tbs. sugar, mixed into a paste with a bit of water. The ants eat it up and buh bye ants! BEST cure ever! I just left the dish of mix on the counter overnight after trying several other things.

  7. Mika

    For ants I use halved limes or lemons. I leave them near the ant trails. The sugar calls to them but the limes/lemons are too acidic for them, so they die. It doesn’t kill the queen but it does sure help. Also it smells nice and limes/lemons are cheap.

  8. Pingback: Homemade Liquid Hand Soap Recipe | Enlightened Lotus Wellness

  9. Emma

    Hi! I actually learned this cleaning tip at my local zoo. Mix equal parts vinegar and water and it makes a good earth-friendly window and mirror cleaner! I have yet to try it but I hope it’s helpful :) !

    • Rose Myrtle

      I’ve been using plain vinegar to clean mirrors, windows, sinks, toilet, etc for as long as I remember. It’s said that vinegar is a good cleaner for your toilet seat

  10. Rose Myrtle

    One way to get rid of ants is to leave cucumbers out and the ants will eat it and for some reason, die. I don’t like to leave cucumber all around my house thought, so, I just leave a few on the counter and maybe one near my cat’s food dish.

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