Make your own body lotion

A body lotion is basically a mixture of equal parts of water and oil. The chemistry of how these can form a stable lotion is described in a previous post.

The following tutorial is for a body lotion that doesn’t have a colour or fragrance but you could add about 10 drops of rose or lavender oil or any fragrance you fancy, just make sure you stir the volatile oil(s) in very gently after the vigorous mixing of oil and water.

Materials

Oil: 20g beeswax, 40g cocoa butter, 60g coconut oil (make up to a total volume of 1 cup with sweet almond oil)

Water: 1 cup mineral water

Sterilised glass jars

Pans for sterilising and melting oils

Jug for mixing oils

Measuring cups

Bowl and whisk/stick blender for mixing lotion

Tutorial

1.Sterilise glass jars by submerging glass jars and lids in water. Bring to the boil for 15-30 minutes. Stand jars upside down to dry.

2. Put beeswax, cocoa butter and coconut oil into a jug or other suitable heatproof container and place inside/on top of a pan of water on a low heat (double boiler/bain marie) and stir occasionally until everything has melted.

3. Add the melted oils to a 1 cup measuring cup and add sweet almond oil up to 1 cup in total (it looks quite yellow at this point but once you add the water and start to mix it turns white easily).

4. Now add the 1 cup oil to a bowl and slowly add the water mixing vigorously with a whisk (or a stick blender if you have one) until all the water has been incorporated.

5. It’s a lot easier using a stick blender and whisking by hand takes a lot of work but keep mixing until the consistency of the lotion becomes thicker, more cream like, and stands in peaks in the bowl.

6. Once mixed you can add it directly into clean, sterilised and dry containers or you can add 10 drops of fragrance oil mixing very gently and then transfer to jars. Label the jars and include the date. This recipe makes about 6 x 60ml jars.

7. Store the lotion in the fridge for an extended shelf life of about 4 weeks.

Hope you enjoy making this body cream, it leaves your body feeling really smooth and moisturised.

Check back next week for a delicious smelling lavender soap with home-grown lavender!

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Himalayan salt body scrub

I don’t know about you but I love a good scrub once or twice a week. This salt scrub uses Himalayan salt that is mined from the Salt Range mountains south of the Himalayas. Although there have been no proven scientific effects from the presence of additional minerals, e.g. calcium, potassium and magnesium, compared with normal table salt, the colour of this salt is fantastic and adds such a vibrancy to this scrub and negates the need for any additional colourant.

Scrubs are perfect to exfoliate your skin making it feel super smooth. The application of this scrub onto your skin is aided by its creamy texture formed by the combination of coconut and almond oil in this massively moisturising scrub.

This scrub incorporates tea tree oil, which is extracted from the leaves of the tea tree and is commonly used to treat acne and topically as an antiseptic. It’s scent is similar to eucalyptus and gives the scrub a freshness.

Materials

1 cup Himalayan salt

1/4 cup sweet almond oil

1/4 cup coconut oil

1/2 tsp tea tree oil

Heat-proof jug, spoon, measuring cups and clean jar(s) to store the scrub in

Tutorial

1.Add coconut oil to a heat proof jug, or other suitable container,  and stand in a pan of boiling water for 5-10 minutes until it has all melted.

2. Add the sweet almond oil and mix. Add the salt and mix thoroughly.

3. Add tea tree oil to the scrub mix and mix gently as essential oils are volatile.

4. Decant into containers, add a label  and use!

Once you’ve made and used this simple, effective and inexpensive scrub you’ll never want/need to buy one again! It also makes a perfect gift!

Bath bomb making – Mini colourful ‘planet’ bath bombs

These bath bombs have a cool planet-esque look about them. They are so easy to make and make a fun addition to any bath time. My son loves them!!

These bath bombs are made with alternating blue, green and orange colours and are made without the addition of any fragrance but feel free to add your own to your own preferences.

There is an introduction to making your own bath products post where I talk about the use of skin-safe colourants and fragrance/essential oils in the making of your own bath products.

Materials

3 bowls for mixing the 3 coloured bath bomb mixes

Small and medium bath bomb molds (I’ve never used plastic molds but with the pressure I used to press the two mold halves together I’m glad I have the metal ones)

1/2 cup citric acid (x3) – 1/2 cup for each bowl/colour

1/2 cup baking powder (x3) – 1/2 cup for each bowl/colour

1/2 tbsp sweet almond oil (x3) – 1/2 tbsp for each bowl/colour

15 drops of turquoise colourant, 15 drops of seafoam colourant and 15 drops of orange colourant

Optional: gloves to protect your hands/nails

Tutorial

1.In one bowl mix the citric acid and baking powder together thoroughly

2. Add the almond oil and mix (I just used my hands. You can use gloves to protect your hands/nails if required)

3. Add 15 drops of colourant in a dropwise manner mixing by hand after each droplet. Mix quickly because the baking powder reacts rapidly with the liquid.

4. Repeat steps 1-3 twice in the other two bowls until you have three bowls containing a powdery mixture in 3 colours

5. Check that the consistency of the mixture is correct. If you squeeze together a handful of the mixture and it sticks together and holds it’s shape as in the image below then it’s at the right consistency. If it doesn’t stick and is too powdery add a tiny bit of water, in a dropwise manner, until the correct consistency is obtained. It should fall back into powder when rubbed in your hand.

6. Pack the different colours of mixture into 2 molds, pressing firmly, until they are slightly over-filled.

7. Now press the 2 molds together, don’t twist, just press. I like to press my hand on them using the table as a counter press.

8. Carefully remove one mold

9. Carefully remove the second mold leaving you with a fully formed bath bomb.

10. This bath bomb needs some time to harden so leave it on some tissue paper or, in my case, a scrunched up carrier bag for 24 hours and your bath bomb will be ready to use.

11. Repeat steps 6-10 to create approximately 7 small and 5 medium sized bath bombs.

Top tips

  • Try and remove the bath bomb from the mold on the same day. If you leave it overnight I find that the mixture hardens so much inside the mold it is impossible to remove. If you’re having difficulty removing a bomb from the mold leave it a few hours then try removing the molds making sure you don’t twist the 2 molds together
  • Don’t leave the bath bombs in a humid atmosphere, e.g. kitchen or bathroom for extended periods of time. This will reduce the shelf life of your bath bombs.
  • Use your bath bombs within a few weeks-they lose their fizz if kept in storage for too long.
  • Don’t add too much liquid. If you add too much liquid and try and pack it into the molds it just keeps expanding!!! Remember: use liquid sparingly!

Til next time crafters!!

Soap making – Sweet orange melt & pour soap

To make soap from scratch it takes a mix of fat and alkali heated together in a process called saponification. As this is the first time I’ve made soap I went for the ready made melt-and-pour method. A short tutorial follows for producing your very own sweet smelling citrus soap.

Materials

500g clear melt & pour soap base

Microwave proof bowl for melting the soap

Sweet orange oil

Orange dye

Mould

Knife for cutting the soap

Tissue paper and sticky label for wrapping

Tutorial

1.Melt 500g clear melt & pour soap base in the microwave using 30-60 second bursts on full power

2. Leave the soap to cool for a short 2-3 minutes (until warm to touch)

3. Add 20 drops of orange dye and 50 drops of sweet orange oil

4. Stir gently and pour the soap into the mould

5. If bubbles have formed on the surface, skim these off with a teaspoon (the top sets quite quickly so this is easy)

6. Leave the soap to set for 24-48 hours, remove from the mould and cut to the required size

7. Wrap in 2 layers of tissue paper and finish with a sticky label

Sure, you can make the packaging a little prettier but this suited me fine! You don’t have to have all the gadgets to make some fun soap, any mould you can find will work just fine. Even a Tupperware box or silicone muffin trays or ice cube trays. And any knife will cut through soap, it was just that I received this soap cutter for my birthday and definitely needed to try it out! The 500g soap base used here made approximately 6 small bars of soap. It would make about double if you wanted miniature soaps!

Using this melt & pour soap base was extremely easy so if you’re wanting to try your hand at making your own soap, and want a quick and easy way to try, you can easily pick up soap base, colourants and essential oils from online stores, just make sure that the colourants and oils are skin safe before using. To read more about this check out my introduction to making your own bath products.

Chemistry behind making your own bath products

The new craft that I’m currently focussing on is making your own bath products such as body lotions, soaps and bath bombs. Here is a little science/chemistry behind the formulation and/or use of these products.

Body lotion – How does an emulsifier work?

Body lotions are basically a mixture of oil and water. Water is hydrophilic, meaning that it loves water, and oil is hydrophobic which means that it hates water. Therefore, there is a problem when it comes to mixing these two substances. To help these two mix, an emulsifier is often added. An emulsifier contains two components, a hydrophilic head which dissolves in water and a hydrophobic tail that dissolves in oil. Using these properties, an emulsifier surrounds each of the oil droplets helping them to stay suspended in the water for  longer length of time.


Emulsion – hydrophilic heads dissolve in water and hydrophobic tails dissolve in oil to keep oil droplets suspended in water

Soap – What is saponification?

Soap in its simplest form is composed of salts of fatty acids, which are formed from the reaction between an acid and a base in a process known as saponification. So to produce a soap, an acid and base are required. In the diagram below, the acid takes the form of fatty acids that are attached to glycerol to form a triglyceride (tri meaning 3!). These triglycerides are found in oil or fat such as coconut oil, olive or and animal fats. The base comes from sodium hydroxide (or potassium hydroxide) that is added to the fat. Under heat, the metal ions (sodium (Na) or potassium (K)) break away from the hydroxide and attach to the end of the long fatty acid chains. This forms the ‘salt’ of the fatty acids, which is soap! Glycerin is formed as a side product and can be removed or left behind to act as a softening agent.

What makes bath bombs fizz?

Bath bombs are another acid-base reaction involving citric acid (acid) and sodium bicarbonate/baking powder (base). When the bath bomb enters the bath water, a reaction between sodium bicarbonate and citric acid is initiated and this produces carbon dioxide. It is this carbon dioxide gas that is responsible for the fizz!

Introduction to making your own bath products

Introduction

Looking for natural bath products with few ingredients that are easy to prepare, soften your skin, smell delicious and are fun to make? Then you’re in the right place! Over the next few weeks I’ll be sharing recipes for exfoliating scrubs, soaps, body lotion and fun bath bombs. This week, I’ll begin with a very short history and info that may be of interest, and next week will look into more of the chemistry of the processes involved. Please… humour my science geek… :p and then in the following weeks I’ll share the recipes/methods.

History

Soap: Evidence for the production of soap using water alkali and oil has been around since approx. 2500BC. After the industrial revolution soapmaking in Europe went from strength to strength and by the 1800s large scale production was in force.

Lotion: Crude oils and fats, from avocado, palm, sesame, almond, olive and even fats directly from slaughtered animals, have been used for more than 10,000 years to make the skin supple and moisturised. Around 200BC saw the creation of a typical modern day cream/lotion by adding water to a mixture of melted beeswax and rose oil.

Scrubs: Throughout history there has been the common practice of removing dead skin cells using mechanical means such as using crushed sea shells, sand from the bottom of rivers and pumice stones. This practice is still common today with many products commercially available.

Bath bombs: Bath bombs, which effervesce when wet, were invented in 1989 by one of the LUSH co-founders. To this day, LUSH continues to sell these and while they provide the ultimate bath time luxury I’ll show you a really cheap way to make your own custom ones that are a fraction of the price.

Uses

We all need to wash to remove the impurities, food and grease, etc that build up during the day. Soap works by solubilising fat/grease/oil molecules on the skin allowing the water soluble molecules to be washed away by the water.

As frequent washing, such as hand washing required for health care workers, is quite drying to the skin, creams/lotions/balms are commonly used to smooth, moisturise and soften the skin, preventing additional drying.

Scrubs and exfoliators slough off the top layer of dead skin cells leaving skin feeling supple, soft and smooth.

Bath bombs are fun additions to any bath! Anything can be added to bath bombs to make them more fun and relaxing – glitter, petals, herbs, to name a few.

The main addition to each of these bath products is a fragrance and sometimes a colour. These additions enhance the bathing/cleansing experience, aiding relaxation, calming and enjoyment.

Fragrances used in preparing bath products

Fragrance oils are mixtures of chemicals, some natural and some synthetic. They are specially blended by perfumers and fragrance oil blenders and may or may not include essential oils. Essential oils are extracted, distilled or pressed from leaves, flowers, bark, berries, roots, seeds or peel for example. Along with fragrance oils,  these are potent organic chemicals that are highly concentrated. As such, wherever an oil will be used on the skin, it should be classified as “skin safe” to prevent a reaction to these highly concentrated compounds.

Colourants used in preparing bath products

The depth/vibrancy/mix of colourants used in homemade bath products depends on the amounts added and the other ingredients that make up the product. If making a product for the first time this can be a little trial and error experiment to get your required colour (making sure you keep a close note of the volumes added so that it can be easily repeated if required). There are two main types of colourant, synthetic and natural. Dyes commonly commercially available are typically synthetic and can be water soluble or non-soluble depending on your intended use. Natural dyes are similar to synthetic dyes in that they have a small particle size but natural colours like cinnamon, cocoa, paprika, seaweed and turmeric tend to fade quickly although contribute significantly to the aroma of the finished product.

You can play around with a variety of fragrances and colourants to find the right mix for your intended product.

Crafty New Year!!

Happy New Year!

For those that haven’t yet been introduced to my blog I thought that I’d give a little introduction and forward look to my plans for next year.

I’m Abi and I live in Sheffield with my husband and 2 year old boy. I’ve loved crafting since I was a girl and now spend my evenings crafting after busy days filled with working, cleaning, cooking, washing and trying to persuade a child to do anything quickly! I enjoy trying new crafts and working on cross stitch projects, which was where my love of crafting originated.

I began this blog to document my makes and to offer tutorials for crafting beginners. I currently introduce a new craft every 6-7 weeks, starting with an introduction, giving background and basic stitches/techniques, and in the following weeks introduce photo tutorials for 3 or 4 original projects that any novice can work through.

The crafts I’ve introduced so far include:

Cross stitch

Introduction

Basic stitches

Cross stitch alphabet animals

Cross stitch Hungry Caterpillar

Cross stitch mini keyring

Crochet

Introduction

Crocheting in rows

Crocheting in rounds

Chevron baby blanket

Autumnal mesh scarf (with blocking)

Miniature bonfire

Hungry Caterpillar finger puppet

Quilling

Introduction

Snowflake tree decoration

Cat and fireplace Christmas card

Holly present topper

Hungry Caterpillar gift tag

To the future…

Thanks to my wonderful family, I have received the most amazing birthday and Christmas presents that are going to help me in my crafting year ahead.

As always, I’ll try and suggest ways in which each craft can be done with the most basic of tools for those beginners out there. If you have any comments about any crafts you’d like to see in the near future please send them! Here is a forward look to the next few months:

January 2019

7th – Introduction to making your own bath products

14th – Techniques/chemistry in making your own bath products

21st – Sweet orange soap

28th – Mini colourful bath bombs

February 2019

4th – Himalayan salt scrub

11th – Body lotion

18th – Lavender soap

25th – Rose petal bath bombs

March 2019

4th – Introduction to scrapbooking

11th – Scrapbooking techniques

18th – ‘Things to do’ Scrapbook part 1

25th – ‘Things to do’ Scrapbook part 2

April 2019 and onwards

Embroidery, quilting, paper cutting, knitting

Here’s to a crafty 2019!