Saturday, December 27, 2008

Lotion Bar Tutorial

These are the ingredients you will need. The original recipe I started out with called for 3 oz. cocoa butter, 3 oz. sweet almond oil, 3 oz. beeswax all melted together in a double boiler. This recipe yields a very waxy, hard substance. While some individuals may enjoy these hard, waxy bars, I prefer mine much more malleable.

DK's Lotion Bar Recipe
4 oz. beeswax (I used unbleached because the color of the end product is not an issue for me)
4 oz. hazelnut oil (any skin-friendly oil will do, really, but I like hazelnut because it is absorbed very quickly)
4 oz. cocoa butter
4 oz. coconut oil (I added this because it is excellent for skin and melts at 78F, yielding a much softer product)
desired fragrance or essential oil(s)

Step 1:
Get yourself a double boiler set up. Mine was a metal bread pan set inside a large skillet filled with just enough water to get the job done. (Please disregard the dirty KitchenAid on the left; my kitchen is a working kitchen and as such does not always get cleaned up spic-n-span after each and every use.)

Step 2:
Put your beeswax into the top of your double boiler and start melting your cocoa butter if it is in containers you cannot easily remove it from.

Step 3:
Put the (now mostly melted) cocoa butter in with the beeswax and start melting your coconut oil if it is not already warm enough to be liquid. Mine had been living in a kitchen cabinet and we generally keep the heat set at 65F. Add the hazelnut oil (or skin safe oil of your choosing) at this time as well as 4 oz. of the coconut oil as soon as it can be measured.

Step 4:
Wait. Everything has to get all liquid and mixed well. This is a good time to go hang out with a friend or catch up on the latest They Might Be Giants podcast or something like that. I took obligatory pictures of cute fluffy birds with my brand new camera. Bird didn't like the flash, but Lily was fascinated with it until I got 3 feet away from her with it; then she started screaming bloody murder...

Step 5:
When everything is all melty and nice smelling, it is time to remove it from heat. This is very easy to do if you have an actual double boiler, but if you are like me and made up your own device the removal process could take a bit of finagling.

At this point you have a couple of choices. You could decide that you are done right here and now and package it all up. You could also add whatever kind of skin-friendly fragrance oil or essential oil you like. A little bit really does go a long way with this stuff. If I were going to perfume the entire batch I would add somewhere between 1 and 2 teaspoons of fragrance oil, less if I'm using essential oils as they are stronger.

This is what is left of a 4 oz. bottle of vanilla perfume oil C's mom left when she moved. The little green bottle is labeled "African Musk" and came from a small cedar box full of such small bottles of lovely smelling liquids C's SIL left behind when she moved. (And I absolutely love each and every one, even the one that I think smells like cat piss (because it only smells like cat piss when I try to wear it; smells great on C) Thanks H!)

Step 6:
Add fragrance(s)! I had previously set refilled both cocoa butter containers with plain, unscented lotion. I dumped the above bottle of vanilla perfume oil into what remained and the picture below is what is looked like immediately following. The perfume oil was cool enough to solidify part of the oil/wax mixture. So back onto the double boiler it went until it was homogeneous once again.

I poured out this little dish of plain vanilla scented lotion and decided to add rose oil to one of the cocoa butter pots, so it went back into a (much smaller) double boiler to reliquify.

I then added approximately 1/4 teaspoon of oil from the little green bottle to what was left in the bread pan as well as a little extra coconut oil for extra melt-ability...

and poured it into a small crock for a large vanilla-musk scented massage bar.

This is what was left of a small roller bottle of rose oil I had had for a little over a year. I used to wear it every day until I lost it for a few months. It is what I added to the one cocoa butter pot I had put back into the double boiler you can just barely see there on the right.

And this is the final result! One very large vanilla-musk scented massage bar, one unscented 2 0z. container of lotion, one rose scented 2 oz. container of lotion, and 1 (I think somewhere between 1 and 2 oz.) container of vanilla scented lotion. The Ginseng Rose Balm was something I bought kind of on a whim from Cheryl's Herbs where I had purchased everything save the perfume oils and coconut oil (which was already part of my pantry for use in my hair) earlier that day.

The Ginseng Rose Balm smells absolutely amazing! It is wonderful on my lips and I also now use it as a face moisturizer instead of the chemical-laden Dove brand stuff I had been using. It does not have any SPF, but I think I can handle not having SPF on my face for a while since it is winter and I don't spend a lot of time out of doors in winter time.

These lotion bars are really great for individuals with allergies or chemical sensitivities as they can be tailored for specific needs. If I were making something for Mom L, for example, I would not have used hazelnut or coconut oils as she is very allergic to nuts (to the point of ER visits and hospital stays). I would probably substitute jojoba oil, olive oil, avocado oil, or some combination thereof for both the coconut and hazelnut oils in such case. Doing this would yield an even softer lotion that would have to be packaged in some sort of a pot as it probably would not hold its shape in a bar very well.

It should go without saying, however, that even the hard, waxy bars from the original recipe should be kept in a relatively cool, dry location; definitely not in your pocket or in a hot vehicle on a sunny day.

I, personally, am allergic to many kinds of perfumes. I can't use any sort of fabric softener or dryer sheets without breaking out in hives. Being able to decide what kind of perfume and how much I use, if any at all, is something I really, really enjoy. Also, the painful, scaly patches of eczema on my shoulders are once again under control. I love this stuff!

I'm back

from the land of the ice and snow.

No joke. We got 18+ inches of the darned white floaty stuff the night I got in and were subsequently stuck in the "missionary house" until late the next afternoon. It was never above 20F until the day that I left, but then I was in Grand Rapids and it started snowing big puffy slippery snow that makes it hard to see where you're going and even harder to drive well.

Pics of wintryness and wedding forthcoming; as is a photo tutorial about lotion bar making. Woohoo!

This is what greeted me when I was sleepily uploading pics from the camera the other night after I got back. Cute preeny birdie being really sweet and preening me without even asking for head scritches in return. (He ended up getting lots of head scritches after he finally decided he was done preening me. Lily still seems to be upset that I left in the first place and I'm not allowed to touch her.)

Have a great day everyone. Stay safe and warm!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Mosaic for Monday

I'm a little chicken-happy today. I really wish I could have chickens in the city, but I really don't think my landlord would approve.

1. needle felted chickens
2. whimsey-jar chickens
3. chicken soup pouch
4. Chinese chickens
5. Rocking chickens
6. Two Chickens
7. marching chickens pouch

Friday, December 12, 2008

ready to go

Two gift crates packed full of crafty and spicy goodness, ready to go to Michigan with me. Bottom one is for Mom and Dad, top one is signed and dated 12/20/2008 by C and me for a combination wedding/holiday gift for my sister. While there are now, I realize, a few things that should have gone into the one for Mom and Dad before I nailed it shut and bent the nail so that I can't get it back out again, there was no extra space left in the one for my sister. C even got out the really nice jar or pink Himalayan salt chunks his mom gave him so I could nab a couple to fill up the last bit. Since this is a combo gift I wanted to make sure there was enough in there that she didn't feel like I was skimping. Not that she would think that necessarily, but I really, really wanted it to be nice for her. The crates themselves were discarded from the spice shop where I work and were handmade by skilled craftsmen/women in Wisconsin.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


I bought this for $2.99US at Hancock last night. It solves an issue I've been mulling for quite a while. I won't post what issue because I think the individual involved will be reading this and I don't want to spoil anything.

I've made a claim!

And been claimed in return. In the Craftster Ongoing Wish Swap 41, that is.

I claimed Craftster lapoli for a wool sweater, lavender buds and something inspired by her wists. I have the sweater and lavender buds all set to go. I'm finishing up a bag inspired by this one in her wists tonight. The orange sweater is really more of a mustardy yellow in real life. The green is a vintage curtain panel (polyester I think, that or nylon, it really could be either) for the bag proper and the white is a floral patterned polyester for the lining. You can actually see the textures if you click on the image for a larger view. Same goes for the rest of the pics in this post, with the sole exception of the fluffy bird pic taken with the webcam.

Looks to me like a pretty fun package to receive. What do you think?

I am also working more on bridesmaid dresses tonight. Pics of the dresses will be coming shortly. I promise. I should probably be posting pics as I go, but I think I'd rather just post the entire process at once. Sewing this stretch satin stuff is pretty intimidating, even with a machine. I think it's because I'm concerned about them being as perfect as possible since they're for my sister's wedding. Only about a week to go now. Eep! I need to hunker down on this wedding sewing business and stop doing things like adding to my wists (there's a new feature over there on the right showing you all of my own wists, by the way), listening and dancing to salsa music on Pandora, and giving out free head scritches.

But, seriously, who could say no to that much fluffy green cuteness whispering "come here" and making kissy sounds? Huh? Yeah, that's what I thought; you wouldn't be able to, either. That's Bird hanging out with me after I got home from work tonight. He's my buddy. I call him "Bubba," but I'd advise against it for anyone else as he gets kinda angry at C sometimes if he calls Bird Bubba.

I promised pics of thrifted and thrifted-felted goodness a while back. Here you go!
Clockwise, left to right:
1. dark red polyester blouse
2. heathery-purple lambswool sweater to be felted
3. pink, lightweight, cabled lambswool sweater to be felted (I hope some of the cabling texture will still be there after felting)
4. grey, oh-my-goodness-it's-so-soft-I-can't-believe-it, cashmere sweater size XL (still waffling between keeping it for myself or felting it and making matching mommy-and-me hats/mittens for newly re-found best friend)
5. 100% silk, 1 size too big for me blouse (keeping for myself for a while yet as part of my work wardrobe, maybe I'll take it in or maybe I'll leave it roomier)

Felted child's sweater from an earlier post cut up. This piece will be a nice hippy-ish/faery-ish warm hat.

These pieces will turn into spearmint-filled cat toys like the one below.

This one will soon be (hopefully) thoroughly enjoyed by Eloise the cat, my now ex-roommate's kitty. Eloise went nuts when we had spilled a bag of dried spearmint in the kitchen one day so it seemed appropriate. Makes me wonder if catnip is really all that it's made out to be as far as cat toys are concerned. Maybe it isn't just catnip but plants in the mint family in general that cats seem to love so much?
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