Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Now this is not something that I eat, however, it is something that I put on my body. Why should we be careful about what we put on our bodies? The skin is an organ, and our bodies absorbs a lot of stuff through the skin. Whatever gets absorbs enters our bodies and the bloodstream. That is why poultices work, or a nicotine patch. To give herbs to babies, it is often applied to the bottom of their feet. The baby won't eat the herb, but their body can benefit still from the herbs through the absorption of the skin.

That being said there are many, many things that you will want to avoid, and the more you read your labels, the more that you will find that these substances are everywhere.
This is just a very brief list;
-Propylene Glycol (also known as anti-freeze, yes, for cars, also found in dressings and some ice creams)
-Parabens (anything ending with Paraben, major estrogen effect on the system, cancer causing)
-Fragrances (artificial - actually desensitizes your nerves and affects the nervous system, often of known cancer causing substances)
-Dyes (read: chemicals)

Then there are things like alcohol that are not necessarily bad, but are drying for your skin. So, in the luxury of Winnipeg (never thought I'd say that), where there are plenty of Health Food stores with various selections of soaps, my soap of choice was Castile soaps. Made with soaponified olive oil, some with added tea tree or honey, I was confident in getting a good soap that would disrupt the hormones or damage the nerves in my body. However, I was not sure of what to do here.

I was overjoyed when I found that the community makes their own good, old fashioned, homemade soap. With good old beef tallow and lye (lye is corrosive on it's own, but in soap it is fine). This is what I have been using to wash my laundry. And the people here have found that it works sooooo much better than the store bought stuff. Apparently a couple of the washing machines where brown inside and they couldn't get them clean. But in a couple of months of using this soap for laundry, the insides of the machines are sparkling white again. Laundry soap is another thing thing to be careful about. The soap often wears out your clothes with all the additives and fillers added to it. And the chemicals from the soap will be left on your clothes when you were them, again absorbing into your skin. (I don't have time right now to get into fabric softeners and dryer sheets, read: poison! Maybe I'll do a post on those things alone some other time.)

So, there is this homemade soap stuff. It doesn't smell the best, it doesn't smell the worst though either. Joey really doesn't like the smell though. However, our clothes don't have any smell left of them whatsoever (the line drying outside may help that too). So, I really don't know what I'm doing. I went and scooped up the small bits of the soap from container in the laundry room (thinking those would melt better), and I did get a couple bigger chunks as well. (In the laundry room, there is an old electric pot with the soap melted in some water ready for regular use, we just scoop it with a ladle and add it to the washing machine.)

I wanted to do something to the smell and it would have been nice if I had some cocoa butter, coconut oil, or Shea butter to make it more moisturizing, but the tallow will probably take care of that. Also if I had some essential oils that would make the soap smell a lot better. But, not having any of these ingredients I had to be creative.

I melted the soap in a little bit of water (I didn't want to make it too soft of a soap) in a pot on the stove. Then I added some honey. However, it doesn't have a really strong honey smell. So in goes some cinnamon. I also ground up some oatmeal and added some to the soap as well.

The soap still has the lingering soap smell, I would probably need some essential oil to cover that up, but it's not as strong as it was plain. The honey and oats are said to be good for the skin.

I poured the soap into a plastic container that I figured would be easy to pop the soap out of once it set. Some of the chuncks of soap never did melt, but I didn't really care, I don't really know what I'm doing anyway. I added some oatmeal on top for fun and placed it in the fridge for the night.

A couple days later I took the soap out of the fridge. It popped out of the container pretty easily. I then cut it into six pieces, it cut pretty easily. I placed it back into the mold, covered it and put it back into the fridge until I needed to use some.

It appears to be a winner. Joey mentioned that he really liked it and I find that it is not drying at all. The honey smell also seemed to get more noticeable when we used the soap.

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