Thursday, October 13, 2011

Homemade Lotion Bars

I suppose I don't need to tell anyone Texas is dry, especially in a year of record breaking drought. And hot (another redundant statement I suppose). This combination wreaks havoc on skin. My arms are beginning to look like one of those road maps that has all the smallest roads. You know the kind, lots and lots of squiggly lines. Yup that's what my arms are beginning to look like. And I want to stop it now.

I've been applying commercial lotions but they always leave my skin feeling greasy and don't really seem to do much so I went searching for something that might help. Lotion bars came up in my search and they sounded like just the thing except"Whoa Nelly...they are expensive!" Pricesvary but they average about $10.00 for a 2oz bar. That doesn't fall into my definition of frugality. Hmmmph and I so wanted to try them. So I searched, and much to my frugal little self's happiness lotion bars can be made at home for far less than the cost to purchase them and even better all the ingredients are natural!

For my first try at making homemade lotion bars I found what sounds like a very simple recipe:

Simple Lotion Bars

1 part oil (sunflower, olive, almond etc)
1 part beeswax
1 part butter (cocoa, shea, mango etc)
fragrance oil or essential oil (about 10 drops per oz of oil)
optional: vitamin E oil capsule

Melt oil, beeswax and butter together and add scent if desired. You can always remelt it add more ingredients if it is too hard or too soft. To make it harder add more beeswax; to make it softer, add more oil.

So I set out to buy the ingredients. I found cocoa butter in 1oz tubes at Walgreens for $1.39 so I bought two of those. I had olive oil at home but opted to purchase some almond oil at Target ($6.99 for 80z)-it just sounds nicer than olive oil. Then I hit a roadblock I couldn't find beeswax anywhere, and had to order it online. I found some at Amazon for only $1.99 for 5oz but $4.49 shipping brought it to $6.48 total).

So now with ingredients in hand I set out to make the lotion bars.

First I melted the butters and oil together. For lack of a double boiler I just boiled water in a pot and used a glass measuring cup as the top pot. It sat nicely on top of the pot. I realized after I started that I should have melted the butters together, and then added the oil as the oil was over the heat much longer than necessary while I waited for the beeswax to melt.

This is the beeswax melting in my "double boiler"

Here you can see the beeswax is taking longest to melt

For scent I asked my daughter what she liked. She chose peppermint and lavender -I'm not so sure with the cocoa butter that those were the best choice but we opted for them. I think next time I'll use vanilla or cinnamon with the cocoa butter. You add the oils just before you pour the wax so that they don't get cooked off.

I let the concoction cool a little and then transferred it into the molds. I used a turkey baster to measure out the lotion but will not do that again. It's impossible to clean the wax out of the baster so it ended up being tossed in the garbage. My measuring cup that I used to melt the wax in has a pouring spout and with care that's good enough.

I don't have any fancy molds so I rummaged through my cupboard and found a muffin tin. I tried lining with cupcake papers and without. It's definitely easier to get the bars out the pan with the cupcake papers and it gives the bars pretty little edges to. I also used a teabag holder that I have that is heart shaped. It's cute but it wasn't so easy to get out of this mold and I damaged the edges a little getting them out. I also poured some of the lotion back into the stick containers the cocoa butter came in.

My various improvised "molds". The one with the little pieces in it is just leftover material I later put into a lip balm container and used up first.

Here is the finished product (you can see the damaged edges on the bars that I poured without papers liners.)

I store the finished bars in the freezer as there are no preservatives in them. I think these bars are the perfect texture. They are solid but melt easily when rubbed on the screen without being messy.

The final tally is 6oz of lotion bars for a grand total of $7.12 (I didn't factor in the essential oil cost as I already had that on hand, and used so little). These were very simple to make and I think a great success. I"m using the bars after every shower and on my feet before bed. I think I can the roadmap on my arms is fading and the sandpaper on my feet has disappeared!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

There is a predator amongst us...

The other day at 7:00 am when the sun was just breaking the night sky, my dogs who had just gone out for their morning business created quite the ruckus. This was no bark at the horse type "arf arf" but a true cacophony. They were sounding the alarm. I figured probably a stray dog had found its way to our yard. I looked out of the window but couldn't see anything. I looked out the side window and could see something definitely was amiss -the horses were standing heads raised nostrils flared. I went to the next window and there I saw it. Standing right beside my chicken coop not 20 feet from my window was a large coyote. I could practically see the drool on his lips as he sized up my ducks and chickens.

This was no scrawny half-pint coyote. At first I thought it was a german shepherd but when I went outside and it sidled away I could see by the tail and its actions -definitely coyote. If a coyote could be called beautiful this one would be that, but it is varmit to me and no varmit can be called beautiful. This one was so brazen and I'm sure I could here it's "ha ha, I'll be back" as it slipped away into the morning's dusky light.

And back it was. Today in full daylight. We didn't let the chickens out of the coop until about 10:00 am. At 11:00 I heard my young cockerel makes it's first roostery sounds as it sidled past my window with the two ducks hot on its heels. I thought "odd, where's the hen?" I went outside and she was gone. No signs of a wrestling match, no pile of feathers, just a missing hen. Gone without a trace. I think I know who to blame for this. What nerve in bright sunlight to come plunder my yard! And to think it may be this same sod who stole my precious cat.

"You left your tracks in the sand and I know who you are. Oh Mr. Coyote you have such good taste, first my favorite cat, and now my favorite chicken? A rooster who has no use here wouldn't do for you would it? Nah, you want the pretty hen who is just ready to start laying. Oh Mr. Coyote your days are numbered if you come around here again!"

Meanwhile the chickens are cooped up as I'm sure in the cover of the night, Mr. Coyote will be back. I've moved their tractor to an area out in the open away from the trees and in full view of my front yard, in full sight of the dogs, and not totally out of sight of the guardian dog. How I wish I could set him loose to secure the whole farm, but I fear that though he'd do a good job, he too would disappear as how's a dog to know which fence is yours and which is that of thy neighbor? And then who would I have to watch over my sheep? Tis time to set up the electronet around the coop. I hope the remaining fowl have enough sense to stay within it's boundary of safety.