Friday, February 26, 2010

Making Simple Bath Salts

In lieu of my new Eucalyptus & Peppermint Stress Relieving Bath Salt that will be in my Etsy shop today, I thought I would discuss the making of bath salts.  These can be very simple to make and they are a wonderful treat at the end of a long day.

 What you will need:

- desired salt (sea salt, Epson salt, dead sea salt)
- scent (essential oil, fragrance oil)
- colour (must be suitable for making cosmetic products, optional)
- wax paper (for drying)
- cookie sheet (for drying)

First, the main ingredient in a bath salt recipe is... how did you guess? Salt! You may have seen many popular bath salts that use Dead Sea salt to make their products, however there are many other salts that you can use for your craft. For instance, you can use just plain old sea salt that you can find at either your local grocery store or bulk food store. You can also use Epson salts, but in most recipes Epson salts are not used alone, but are blended with sea salt. If you desire Dead sea salts, they are not that difficult to find: Try your local healthy living store. I know in the U.S., GMC carries Dead Sea salt. Salts usually come in fine and coarse grain. Most people look for a medium to coarse grain when making bath salts.

Next, decide what scent you would like your bath salt to be. I suggest something that makes you think of the sea, such as lavender or sandalwood, but be creative! Some scents, for example vanilla, still smell very nice (don't get me wrong) it's just that when one thinks about the combination of vanilla and salt... Well, they don't seem to be a fair match! This is a great tip to keep in mind if you plan to sell your bath salt. For your personal crafting projects, if salt and vanilla doesn't make you crinkle your nose, go right ahead! The scent will still blend well with the salt.

Now, when I talk about scent, you can either use a fragrance oil or an essential oil. The difference being that the scent of a fragrance oil will generally last longer than an essential oil, but essential oils are more natural for your skin and are derived from plants and botanicals.

You can also add colour to your bath salt, but it is optional. One of the repetitive questions I've been asked about making bath salts is, "Can I use food colouring?". Well, Yes. You can use food colouring, but do you want to use food colouring? Food colouring is great... until it stains your tub and your skin! If you use a small amount, it's not such a big problem. If you desire a deep, dark colour, food colouring is not your best bet. You should head over to a crafting supply store and find colouring that is suitable for making soap and other bath products. This type of colour is meant for this purpose and will not stain your skin in the least.

So, you have your salt, your scent and your colour. So, how do you make this stuff? Simple: Get a zip-loc style plastic bag and place your salt inside. Then, add your colouring and scent. Do up the bag and knead it with your hands until all of the ingredients are thoroughly mixed. For a one cup recipe, I recommend using about 6 drops of colour and around 12-14 of your desired scent.

Lastly, break out the old cookie sheet an cover it in wax paper. Take your bath salt out of the bag and spread it in thin layer all over the wax paper. Because you have moist ingredients in the salt, you need to give them a few hours to absorb. When I make a one cup recipe, I will spread the mixture over two cookie sheets covered in wax paper to achieve a very thin layer for it to dry. I use wax paper because when it come time to package your  bath salt, you can just lift the wax paper up on each side and tip it into the container without missing one grain. Drying times will vary depending on what oil and how much of it you use. I leave my salts out for about twelve hours. This long absorption time is because if you do not let the moist ingredients soak into the salt, when you package your product and open it for use some time later, you might notice that the salt granules have stuck together and your bath salt is unusable. Here is my salt drying on wax paper:

Once your salt has dried, make sure you package it in an airtight container. Use about 1-2 tablespoons per bath. You're finished! Yes, it is simple a that! Just a few ingredients and you have your own luxurious bath salt. I hope you enjoy this recipe, and I invite you to share your bath salt crafting experiences in the 'comments' section. Happy bath salt making!
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Monday, February 22, 2010

I Want To Create Luxurious Massage Oils... Wait! What's A 'Carrier Oil'?

Photo courtesy of

In addition to my soap making, I also have been making massage oils for my friends and family. Soon, I plan to sell some of my favourite scents at my Etsy shop. Massage oils are not difficult to make: The simplest blends contain just your preference of essential oil and a carrier oil. But what is a carrier oil and which one should you use for your particular project?

Carrier oils are vegetable oils used to dilute essential oils without loosing the scent and without compromising the characteristics of essential oils. In other words, they are oils that are used to carry the scent and properties of the essential oil onto the skin. This is done because many essential oils can irritate the skin when applied directly. There are many different types of carrier oils that each have a distinct purpose when used in a therapeutic fashion:

Grapeseed Oil - This oil is a preferred carrier oil of mine because it is considered an all purpose oil and has a thin viscosity. Is has an almost clear colour and a light, nutty aroma.You can't go wrong with grapeseed oil! Indeed this oil is very common in aromatherapy products (as it hold scent exceptionally well) including massage and bath oils, and it is noted for it's high content of fatty acids that are excellent for your skin. The only downfall of grapeseed oil is that is has a relatively short shelf life from 6-12 months. You are likely to find this carrier oil at your local grocery store.

Sweet Almond Oil - This oil has similar attributes of grapeseed oil: It is considered all purpose and has a light, nutty scent. However, this oil can generally be stored a few months longer than grapeseed oil and it has a slightly thicker viscosity. Also, as grapeseed oil is relatively clear, sweet almond oil has more of a yellowish tint. It is still very a pleasant and highly recommended oil to use for your bath and body crafting projects.

Olive Oil - I decided to write about olive oil, because I suspect many of my readers would now say something along the lines of, "Olive oil is a vegetable oil. I have some in my kitchen right now! Can I use it?" The answer is YES! You can use olive oil for you bath and beauty crafts, BUT I highly discourage it. My reasons being that olive oil is very thick compared to other carrier oils, has a very distinct green colour and if you are planning to sell your product, many do not like the overpowering olive scent of this oil. However, if you do choose to use it, olive oil contains fatty acids great for the skin and it can be easily purchased at your local supermarket. Make sure you buy a cold pressed olive oil for the best product.

Jojoba Oil - Jojoba oil is a wonderful carrier oil to use for massage products. This is mainly because of it's natural anti-inflammatory properties and it is most compatible with the skin. Also, this is the best oil you can use if you are creating a product directed towards those who have oily or acne prone skin. This carrier oil absorbs very well and has a medium viscosity with a yellow tint. Jojoba oil has almost an indefinite shelf life.

These are some of the best and most well rounded oils you can use, but if you feel courageous some other great carrier oils are: Apricot kernel oil, avocado oil, pomegranate seed oil, hemp seed oil and macadamia nut oil.

So, I encourage you to test out your own massage oil recipe! Just add the desired amount of essential or fragrance oil to a small amount of your selected carrier oil, and VOILA! Your own handmade massage oil! I invite you to share your findings and recipes in the 'Comments' section of this post. Happy crafting, everyone!
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Friday, February 19, 2010

My Quest For Lye: I Found It!

Just a very quick update to let my fellow Canadian soapers know that I successfully found lye at 'Home Hardware'! However, It was NOT the 'Gillett's' brand as stated in my previous blog post. After speaking to the store manager, he said that they do not carry the 'Gillett's' brand anymore, but they do have lye crystals that come in a three kilogram container sold for $19.99 and labeled as their 'Home' store brand. I do not know if the 'Gillett's' is sold at other 'Home Hardware' stores, or if just the one store stopped carrying it. If you live in the Toronto area, the location I went to is just west of Bloor Street and Ossington. The manager said that they usually have a fair amount of stock. Here is a photo of the product I bought:

Well, I hope this helps my fellow soap makers! Have an excellent day and happy soaping!
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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

My Quest for Lye: Please DO NOT use Drano!

Good old sodium hydroxide! Veteran soap makers know that in order to make scrumptious cold process soap, you must include lye in your recipe. But, because lye is a highly reactive chemical and is also commonly used in meth labs, it is near impossible to find unless of course you have a friendly neighbour who happens to be a chemist! If you happen to find lye online, you will find that most companies will not ship it due to it's reactive properties.

Lye is a common ingredient in many household drain cleaners. If you check the active ingredients on your 'Drano' bottle, you'll see sodium hydroxide listed. DO NOT use 'Drano'! In order for your soap to be successful, you need to use PURE sodium hydroxide. 'Drano' also contains other chemicals and aluminum shavings that will harm your skin and perhaps will cause a different chemical reaction in your soap recipe.

So, where can you find lye?

Most soap makers will tell you to simply run to your local hardware store, but in my experience most hardware stores do not carry pure lye.

If you are a proud Canadian soap maker like myself, heed my words: I have been to 'Home Depot', I have been to 'Lowe's', I have been to 'Rona'. They do not carry any such product that is pure lye, and furthermore they usually cannot even tell you what it is! At least in Canada... specifically, Toronto. However, you can find it at 'Home Hardware'. I know... I would think a big box store like 'Home Depot' would carry it over our tiny neighbourhood chain. 'Home Hardware' carries only a few bottles at a time and it is made by a company called 'Gillett's'. The label clearly says 'Gillett's 100% Lye'. This brand, I've heard, can also be found in some IGA stores across Canada.

If you live in the Huntsville, Ontario area, there is a company called 'Canwax' that carries sodium hydroxide. They used to be located in Mississauga, but have recently relocated to cottage county. You can find their address here: . I believe they only offer local pickup for their sodium hydroxide, but carry excellent soaping supplies at great prices.

I know most of you American soap makers used to use a brand called 'Red Devil', but it is no longer on the market. I've heard that you can buy lye from 'Home Depot' and 'Lowe's' in the states. I've also heard from fellow soap makers that you can find it at 'Ace Hardware' and even 'Wal-Mart'. I know 'Backyard Style' carries a brand of lye called 'Robic'.

I invite any soap makers who have experience buying and using lye to comment about the brand they use and where they buy it, as this can be the most difficult ingredient to find when creating cold process soap. Please also state your location.

I hope this information helped my fellow crafters get an idea of where to buy your soap making lye. As always, happy crafting!

P.S. Do NOT use 'Drano'!!!
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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

I Think the Term 'Strange' Crosses My Mind...

Just a quick post to introduce my wonderful readers to the world of imaginative and immensely weird handicrafts! I found these 'crafting ideas' while perusing the far reaches of the internet. After viewing this first 'craft', I promise you, both ladies and gents, that you will never think of a tampon the same way. Oh, and they've been so kind as to make a special craft for Valentine's Day! Hope you're not too grossed out:

Bloody Heart Earrings - made from tampons

After finding this gem, now I know it's possible to find anything on the web! I wonder what brand they use?
Click to Check Out More Tampon Crafts

If you are not to offended by the first 'idea', here's another that is sure to give you a giggle: Felted Celebrities. That's right... You too can own a mini felt version of Connan!

Check out the 'Felt Alive' Gallery to Find Your Favourite Celeb

Now, this last idea is a personal favourite of mine because I am probably the biggest fan of the TV show, Mythbusters. If any of you lovely readers are a fan of the show, you'll know all about Adam Savage, Jamie Hyneman and the quandaries the immerse themselves in. These crocheted Mythbusters are made by deadcraft on Etsy, but currently there are none in stock. From viewing deadcraft's shop, I believe the dolls are made with some kind of voodoo association in mind? Check out more of deadcraft's crocheted designs here.

I think I'm going to contact the seller on Etsy and ask to order these... I wonder if Adam and Jamie have seen them? Well, I hope you enjoyed these crafts as much as I did. Happy crafting!
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Saturday, February 6, 2010

What Fat Do You Use For Making Soap? ...Bacon, Anyone???

Most know that along with lye and water, fat is needed to make soap. These days, most handmade soap makers will use a blend of different oils (typically coconut, palm and olive oils) or vegetable shortening. On the package ingredients list of many commercial bars, you'll probably see the ingredient sodium tallowate. Can you guess what this might be? That's right! This ingredient comes from rendered beef fat. Yum!

BUT, soap can be made from practically any kind of fat...

Don't get squeamish while you read this next section, but here's another "fun" fact about soap: During World War II, the Nazi's were accused of mass producing soap made from human fat. Some suspect that this was just a rumour perpetuated by the Nazi's to frighten camp inmates, but evidence has been found to solidify the idea.

So, if soap can be made from any kind of fat, could you make soap from bacon fat? The answer is YES! I invite you to watch the video below to find out how. Who know's? If you wash with bacon fat, maybe that pesky neighbourhood dog will think your is best friend... if he doesn't chase you!

To best view this page/video, I suggest clicking the play button and the clicking the 'View All Steps On One Page' in the top left corner. Enjoy!

How to Make Bacon Soap - More DIY How To Projects
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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

3 of the Most Popular Essential Oils and How to Use Them

Whether you have your own craft business or just craft for yourself or loved ones, you probably have come across essential oils when making soap, candles or other projects that require scent. Essential oils are the best and most natural way to control the scent of your craft, but how do you know what essential oils to use? For example, what oil would you use to make a relaxing perfume candle? Or, what scents will sell the best for your business? Here are some of the most popular scents and their uses:


Vanilla is the undisputed contender of scent! Vanilla's scent can be described as a delicate, sweet, creamy and unique. For these reasons it has become undeniably popular and continues it's rein over other smells and ingredients. However, if you want true vanilla essential oil be prepared to pay up! Vanilla is one of the most expensive spices due to the incredible labour needed for it to grow.

Vanilla has anti-oxidants, relaxation, anti-depressant properties and is recognized as an aphrodisiac. A great scent for Valentine's Day guys! Vanilla essential oil blends well with chamomile, orange, jojoba, lavender and sandalwood oils.


Lavender is a close second when it comes to essential oil scents. This essential oil derives from the lavender plant and has a clear light, sweet and floral scent.

Lavender essential oil has incredible health benefits: It can be used as a pain, stress or nervous tension reliever and can even treat respiratory or skin problems. Lavender blends best with pine, geranium, chamomile, vanilla, cedarwood and nutmeg essential oils.


Jasmine is a very popular scent aromatherepy scent that comes from the sprawling Jasmine shrub. It has a slightly floral, sweet and exotic scent.

Jasmine essential oil can be used as an antiseptic, aphrodisiac or anti-depressant. It can also be used to calm nervousness, sooth coughs and relieve sexual problems. On the sensitive skin Jasmine makes a great toner. It blends well with most other essential oils but especially with bergamot, rose and sandalwood.

These are just some of the most useful and popular essential oils. Please feel free to leave comments about your favourite essential oils and what you use them for, and also be sure to vote for your favourite scent in our poll in the right column. As always, thanks for reading!
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