Archive for July 2011

The dog days of summer

Well here we go folks. The outlook for the next two weeks is . . . HOT! HOT! HOT!
I must admit. Those two words “Hot and Humid” make me run for cover. But I will take them over the ice and freezing winds we get out here on our little farm in the winter months.
I can remember a time when I LOVED the winter months. What? Was I going nuts!? My feelings sure have changed about that over the years. I am told this is normal with the aging process. Ha.Ha.

But I digress. Where was I? Oh yes, here we are roasting in the heat, trying to stay comfortable and not melt. I worry more about our animals outside more than anything during a heat wave. I keep thinking what it would be like to have to stay outside on days like these with a fur coat on. UGH!

Please make sure all of your fur babies have plenty of water, and a place to go out of the direct sunlight. And all pets and livestock should be checked on, several times throughout the day.

We do not have air in our home with the exception of the bedroom. Luckily, our home is partially under ground. This helps keep it a bit cooler in the summer, and warmer in the winter. And for those of us without air in our homes, I have gathered a few helpful tips on keeping cool during the dog days of summer.

1. Drink lots of water. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!
2. Keep the shades pulled and all doors and windows closed, this can help maintain the cool of the morning throughout the day keeping the hot air outside. I also have the fans running.
3.Doing the majority of your chores between 4 and 8 A.M. also helps as this is the coolest part of the day.
4. Dressing is very important. Dress in loose clothing in cool colors like white or other light summer colors, it helps if the fabric is a light cotton or linen.
5.Between 2 and 6 during the day is a good time to go to the grocery store, a movie, the library, you get the idea, a place with air conditioning.
6. Try not to generate too much heat while you are in the home such as, lights left on, the stove or oven. A cold plate lunch and dinner with cold meats, cheeses and fruits work well on hot days. This would be a good time to get better acquainted with your microwave.
Lastly, if you must (Like a certain husband I know.) be out in the elements doing chores and what not. Take a cool, wet, hand towel or dish towel and drape it around your neck, and refresh it under a running spigot or hose when needed. Don’t forget to keep a hat on to shield your head from the sun, and use a sun screen.
A life-threatening heat stroke can happen quickly, and before you know it, your in deep trouble. Some signs to watch for are:

Skin may become moist and clammy, or it can go opposite . . . hot and dry.
Fainting, nausea and fatigue are also associated with heat exhaustion.
So friends, please watch yourself, your loved ones, and your pets closely during these hot times.
Hope these tips come in handy. Stay cool!

Using Clay in Handmade Soap

Using Clay in Soap

Today I’d like to talk a little bit about the use of clay in handmade soap.
Clays come in many different particle sizes, on a general average the denser the clay the more drawing on the skin.
There are many clays that can be used in handmade soap. We will cover some of the basic ones now.

Kaolin clay- is a light fluffy white clay, it lends a silkiness and creaminess to soap. It can also be used in masks for aged dry skin without adding color. It also works well as an alternative to talc in most recipes.

Bentonite clay- is a light green clay that is highly absorbent. It also produces a slip in handmade soap, this makes it a good choice in shaving soaps. It is also used in small amounts to mask recipes to give them more elasticity.

Rose clay- is a medium weight clay that is also highly absorbent and adds a nice silkiness and slip to soap. It also gives a lovely soft rose pink color. Iron Oxide gives this clay its rosy hue.

Rhassoul clay- is a light brown clay. It is very absorbent of oils and impurities that our skin comes in contact with on a day to day basis. The micronized variety of this clay gives a nice bubbly sudsing soap.

Usage rate: 0.5-1 Tablespoon per pound of handmade soap mixture. At light trace add to a small amount (1-2 cups) of the soap mixture. Blend well and back into soap.

I hope this has answered any questions you may have had, about using the wonderful clays that are available to us all. Play with them, have fun learning what a great addition they can be to your soaping adventures.

Using Charcoal in Soap

Activated Charcoal:

Recommended usage : 1-1 ½ tsp. Per pound of raw soap. I know what your saying…Did you say charcoal in soap? Yes I did. Now I am not telling you to run out to the garage or patio and retrieve the bag you bought for barbequing with this spring . 

I am talking about a very fine black powder called Activated Charcoal. You may be asking me why in the world I use that in my soap? Well, this type of charcoal is great in soap for absorbing and rinsing away toxins and pollutants from the skin. As a bonus, it also gently exfoliates and rinses away dead skin cells. 

Japanese soap makers have been using it for hundreds of years to take advantage of the detoxifying and drawing effect it has in soap. It is nontoxic and odorless. It works by absorbing chemicals, which in return reduces their toxicity. 

One of the pros for using it is, it will not stain a washcloth like some oxides can. Many soapers prefer to use it over black oxide to produce a black soap for this reason. It is said that soap with charcoal in it produces a creamy, light heather gray lather. But if the thought of that turns you off you may want to use the lighter recommendation of 1 tsp. Pp of raw soap. 

There are soapers that use 1 tsp. of charcoal per pound of raw soap who say this will produce a soap that has a white lather with no gray in it.