Saturday, October 12, 2013

What? An all-natural, easy-to-make shower cleaner that actually works?

I've waited a really long time for this!

We've lived in our house for over 17 years.  We also live in an area with super ridiculously hard water.  Our shower (well, the whole bathroom) was newly remodeled, never been used when we moved in . . . and in all those passing years, the lime scale buildup + soap residue got pretty bad. 

I tried everything.  I mean EVERYTHING - from natural cleaners to harsh chemicals to the "leave it on and forget it" types, even tried using cleaners that weren't specific to showers.  Or bathrooms. Some of the bathroom cleaners loosened the soap residue into a thick sticky mess that was virtually impossible to clean off not only the walls but whatever I was using to clean the walls - sponge, scrubbie, scrubbing brush, etc.  Beyond that, all I've really been able to do is etch and discolor the walls with the harsh cleaners.  The shower might have been "surface clean" but it certainly wasn't "down to the original surface" clean.  I even scoured the Internet for ideas, and sadly found that everyone pretty much said lime scale with soap residue just could not be cleaned off effectively or safely. 

I really hated my shower.

Now, when I wash my son's diapers, I use vinegar for the hard water and we also boil vinegar in our electric teapot to remove the lime scale. I know that citrus essential oils break down oil; I use citrus essential oils in my Citrus Scrub Soap.  Not only does the Citrus Scrub Soap easily cut through the oily kitchen grease and grime, it will also take permanent marker off of plastic and remove adhesive.

So there I was thinking, there has to be a way to combine the vinegar with the citrus oils in such a way that it can stay on the walls to soak for an extended period of time. It's pretty difficult to soak vertical surfaces with runny liquids!  Any thickener I added needed to be washed off easily and not interfere with the cleaning process.  Eventually . . . eventually I got the bright idea to thicken the mixture with xanthan gum.  Xanthan gum also acts as an emulsifier, keeping the essential oils dispersed within the vinegar.  Xanthan gum clumps when added to liquid, but over several hours will thicken the mixture into something gooey and sticky, yet it can be washed off with just hot water.  Xanthan gum can be found in grocery stores.  It's expensive, but since such a tiny amount is needed, it will last a very long time!

I was so excited by the idea I made some right away.  As I mentioned above, the xanthan gum clumps and doesn't mix well.  No worries, stir it as best you can and let it sit for a few hours to thicken, stirring occasionally.  How many hours? Overnight is good. I used my first batch within 3 - 4 hours, and 24 hours later, it was a little thicker.  I applied it directly to the worst of the soap residue spots (make sure the shower walls are dry, so water doesn't dilute it), and left it on for at least 12 hours.  And that spot came CLEAN.  I mean, down to the original surface clean!!  I was beyond excited about this . . . this meant that I *might actually* have a really clean shower again!  I applied the rest of the mixture to the rest of the shower walls.  It got thin in some spots since I had made a small batch.  Then let it sit overnight and scrubbed it off in the morning.  The applied mixture does dry on the shower walls, and you'll need warm, if not hot, water to loosen up the dried sticky mixture.  But when you scrub it off, it takes the soap residue with it! 

Some of my heavy lime scale spots were still there, and after repeated applications, were STILL there.  Sigh . . . . okay, what now?  Then I turned to citric acid - it's supposed to be better at breaking down lime scale.  I experimented with the amount to add to my vinegar/essential oils/xanthan gum mix.  I found that if I used a lot of it, it did a great job on the lime scale but it didn't rinse clean and left LOTS of white streaks on my shower walls, which is one of the issues I'd had with commercial cleaners that promised to cut through lime scale. 

I also wanted to be able to cut through the soap residue a little faster, so for the next round I used most of the same essential oils I use in my Citrus Scrub Soap.  Ahhh, not only did that smell fantastic, it really worked!!  Citric acid and essential oils can be purchased online.  I get a lot of my supplies at Wholesale Supplies Plus - if you order over $40, your shipping is free! (They have such a great selection of items it's not hard to spend $40!!)

Now back to the white streak problem . . . baking soda!  A nice, natural, gently-abrasive scrubber.   I had tried making a simple cleaner of just vinegar and baking soda years ago, but it didn't do anything for the soap residue, and couldn't stay on the walls long enough to break down the heavy lime scale.  I tried adding it to the gooey mixture, but of course, baking soda reacts with vinegar - which yes, that is what I want, but not while storing it!  What to do?  Aha! Just dump a good amount in the coated dried tub, dip a wet scrub brush in it, and get to scrubbing.

Then for the real test:  I waited.  I let the shower get really dirty.  Soap residue, lime scale buildup . . .  it wasn't pretty and I really didn't want to take a shower in it!  When I couldn't stand it anymore, I made a fresh batch of shower cleaner, applied it, and let it sit overnight.  In the morning, I dumped a good amount of baking soda in the tub, ran a little hot water to wet down the scrub brush, dipped the scrub brush in the baking soda, and scrubbed away.  It did take some scrubbing effort since I purposely let it get that bad, but when I was done, I had a sparkling clean, down to the original surface, CLEAN shower. 

And it's all natural.  And my shower smells fantastic.  *Blissful sigh*

Container with a tight-fitting lid

1 c distilled white vinegar
1 tsp citric acid
1/4 tsp xanthan gum

No more than 10 ml (1/3 oz) combined essential oils:
sweet orange essential oil
tangerine essential oil
lemon essential oil
grapefruit essential oil

baking soda

Directions:  Mix the citric acid with the xanthan gum.  Add vinegar and essential oils.  Cover tightly - make sure the lid seals tight!  Shake well to mix.  Let sit several hours to thicken. 

Once mixture is thickened, apply to DRY shower walls with a sponge, maybe a paintbrush, or I've even used my hands.  Wait several hours (overnight is easiest).  Then the next time you take a shower, dump some baking soda in the tub and scrub away!

This does rinse away best if you have one of those handheld sprayer shower heads, so you can do a final rinse/scrub to make sure all the baking soda grit is rinsed away.

(Please note you should probably wear gloves to apply the mixture to shower walls if you have any broken skin or are sensitive to citrus essential oils or citric acid.)

UPDATE 11/20/16 - I have been using this recipe to clean my shower since writing the original post, but mostly just use sweet orange essential oil instead of the EO blend because it's simpler when I'm in a hurry. As I recently found out - this recipe is excellent at removing gum from clothing, and works well at cleaning the gum-coated dryer, too.  For the clothes, I sprayed it on, let it soak in a few minutes, used a bristle brush to scrub, rinse, and right back in the wash it all went. The dryer: first I sprayed on the shower cleaner and let it soak awhile. Then a little sweet orange essential oil cleaned the mess right off. Lastly, I finished up with a 50/50 vinegar/water mix to wipe up the essential oil residue and leave the inside of the dryer sparkling clean.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Thoughts on fabric . . .

I've learned the pros and cons of different fabric types in the 3 years I've been making cloth diapers; I'd like to share them with you!


First, whatever I made, I put it through some harsh treatment because I wanted to see how well everything held up.
  • I tried leaving the cotton flannel fitted diapers sopping wet in the wetbag after rinsing.  Bad idea.  It rots the cotton flannel fairly quick.
  • I put everything in the dryer and rarely, if ever hung the diapers out to dry.  This puts much more wear and tear on the fabric - cotton flannel, bamboo fleece, and bamboo velour in particular. 
    • The outer, printed cotton flannel shows wear after about a month of heavy use.
    • The bamboo velour becomes less soft, and more terry-like. 
    • Both the cotton flannel and the bamboo fleece eventually lose their soft fuzzy nap. 
    • It's harder to sun out stains.

Pin closure vs. snaps/Velcro:  Out of all the fabrics I use, only two did not hold up well: bamboo fleece and bamboo French terry with pin closure. 

Now, there's bamboo French terry, which is 70% bamboo and 30% cotton, and then there's bamboo baby loop terry, which is 70% bamboo, 28% cotton, and 2% poly.  The first time I purchased bamboo terry, it was bamboo baby loop terry and it held up really well - in fact, for being 3 years old and always using pins with it, it looks darn near perfect.  The second time I purchased bamboo French terry, and it shredded almost immediately using pin closure; all my son's inserts with that batch has holes everywhere.  The 3rd time I purchased, it was the bamboo baby loop terry, and I have not used pin closure on that yet - just waiting to see how well it holds up in the wash alone (so far, so good!).

Bamboo velour is 70% bamboo, 28% cotton, and 2% poly and that holds up very well with pin closure.  Bamboo fleece is 70% bamboo and 30% cotton and it eventually shreds with pin closure, although it takes quite awhile for that to happen; in my experience, about a year with heavy use I finally saw some holes developing in the pinning area.  For this reason, I recommend purchasing the snap or Velcro option when purchasing a custom bamboo velour/bamboo fleece fitted diaper.

Both cotton and bamboo flannel hold up very well with pin closure, as does cotton twill.  The custom combination cotton twill/bamboo velour fitted diapers hold up very well to pin closure!

Line Drying:  Line drying is the best option for extending the life of natural fabric diapers.  To help avoid the crunchiness that can come with line drying cotton flannel, try shaking the diaper (or giving it a few quick snaps) before hanging.  You may want to do that after they are dry, too.  It's also nice to re-shape the diapers before hanging them, as it will lead to a better fit once the diaper is dry.

Cotton twill, bamboo flannel, and bamboo baby loop terry hang dry the best with very little or no crunchiness!

Other fabric notes:

While bamboo flannel stays soft (even when line dried!) and holds up to pin closure well, it does shrink.  More than I expected it to!  For this reason, I no longer make fitted diapers out of bamboo flannel.  It does however make fantastic diaper inserts!

Hemp - I don't use hemp because my son is sensitive to it.  We started out using hemp fleece, but quickly found out that it could not touch his skin or he'd get a rash.  And it shredded with pin closure.


Polyester fleece - I use both blizzard fleece and anti-pill fleece in my fleece diaper covers.  After testing out both ways, I now make sure the inner white layer is blizzard fleece; this ensures the cover is a wee bit more water resistant.  I did recently test out putting in a small PUL panel in the wetness zone (not throughout the whole cover) and that worked extremely well, I was super impressed!  I'll still offer fleece-only covers, as lots of Mama's with sensitive babies prefer them, but I'll be making some with the PUL panel as well. I may use Etsy's variation option, but that will mean the fleece covers are made to order rather than being in stock.

The great thing about fleece is that you can't really hurt it no matter how you wash/dry it.  It's pretty hard to stain, too.  The only thing I have found, is that to keep fleece looking its best, it needs to be placed inside a mesh laundry bag for washing.  You can certainly wash fleece with the rest of your diapers, but I do not recommend washing them directly in with the rest of the diapers - they need to be placed inside the mesh bag or the fleece will pill up - especially if washed with prefolds!

PUL - I currently don't offer diaper covers made entirely of PUL - the reason being is that I don't care for fold-over-elastic.  In my experience, wetness wicks through the FOE too quickly, even with polyester thread.  I want to try tricot nylon (think Thirsties or Bummis covers), but have heard it is difficult to work with.

I have purchased different kinds of PUL, and found that Fabrite was definitely the best!  Unfortunately, they closed shop a few years ago. I have purchased "end of roll remnants" from other companies and found that to be a bad idea, as the heating process may not have been complete before the roll started, leading to delaminating PUL. 

My new favorite PUL is from Babyville.  It's different from the typical PUL - it has a white inner rather than the clear.  If it delaminates, it does not cause a problem like typical delaminated PUL does!  That white layer, delaminated or not, is pretty bulletproof.  I have a cover that fully delaminated almost immediately (it was defective, and a lot of people were having the same issue when Babyville PUL was first being sold in stores) but we're still using it! 

I think that's all - I try to be pretty thorough when testing out fabric! :)

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The new "fitted" fleece cover!

I gave the one I made a good trial run up at the cabin.  We were there 6 days, and I only wanted to wash diapers twice, which means I had to stretch my stash since we line dry up there.  And it was super humid the first time I washed; the diapers took sooooo long to dry!

I have to say I am absolutely in LOVE with this new fitted fleece cover over any other style of cover I've tried - including my side snapping ones!! To stretch my stash, took the inserts out of my flats, used them by themselves, and padfolded the flats to make more inserts.  I couldn't snap any of them in, since I only added snaps to the new insert I made to try this idea out - and they stayed in place great!  I used our bamboo inserts and padfolded flats in my regular side snapping covers, but they didn't stay in place quite as well, and I think that's because with the fitted cover, I can set the rise wherever I want, so overall it fits better - then with a better fit, the fleece "grabs" the absorbent fabric, helping it stay in place better. With the regular side snapping fleece covers, I ended up pinning the insert in the front to keep it in place better.

The new fitted fleece cover is bulky if used over a fitted, especially a heavily padded fitted (like a nighttime diaper) . . . but it can be done! :)

Front view

Rear view

I must say I love pins with these.  I get such a great fit!!  I will offer them with a snap option though - I just need to figure out the snap pattern placement, since fleece is so stretchy, it will be a little different than the snap pattern on my fitted diapers. 

Here's a link to the photo album on my Facebook page, which shows how it works: The new fitted fleece cover.

Friday, May 17, 2013

The Cookbook and My Son's Story

I wrote a guest post for The Paleo Mama blog, with the short version of my son's story and a recipe included! 
To read, click here. 

Cavemom's Cooking is not only a cookbook, but my son's story: how I stopped my son's benign myoclonic seizures and awoke his sensory processing abilities, our decision to go paleo, and the simple paleo recipes that followed. When we went paleo, I never thought about writing a cookbook. But as time went on and my son made so much progress, I knew his story needed to be told. And what better way than with what helped him the most? Food! Volume 2 is currently in the works!

Paleo eating is grain and gluten free, dairy free, legume free, and nightshade free. Simply fresh, whole foods - fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, nuts, and seeds. Easy to make, tasty to eat! If you're looking to get away from today's processed foods filled with artificial ingredients, preservatives, colors, and flavors, give this a try.


Thursday, March 7, 2013

Natural Laundry Soap DIY Kits are here!

Soap nuts, soapwort root, and papaya leaf
I had been using a liquid soap nuts laundry detergent for our diapers but the company I'd been purchasing from closed shop. From there, it was find a new source, or make my own. Anyone can easily make liquid soap nuts to use as a laundry detergent from instructions online.  It's just boiling actual soap nuts in water; pretty simple.  But, same with cooking, I have this inability to leave a recipe alone . . .

This is something I've been formulating for a little while now. I've always wanted to try soapwort root for washing.  And while researching that, I learned that papaya leaf not only posesses mild cleansing abilities, it is also antibacterial and has been used internally to rid of intestinal worms.  (Saying that, PLEASE do not drink the laundry soap!!!)  I decided to combine the three to see how well it would work on my son's stinky diapers. (If you have a toddler, you know just how stinky those diapers can get!)

1 DIY kit yields 1 pint jar of Natural Laundry Soap
My first batch, I left uncovered and let simmer down too  much, yielding a very small batch.  But the strength was perfect!  My second batch, I covered it to help retain the steam but I didn't watch it carefully and lost a little bit.  At least it yielded a bigger batch!  The strength was still good.  Seeing that, I made a big batch and made sure not to lose any of the steam.  That yielded a  nice big batch, but the strength was diluted and I had to use at least triple the amount I had been using to get near the same strength.

I expected it to clean the diapers at least as well as the previously purchased liquid soap nuts.  Not only did it, but it made them softer - at least in my hard water, I could definitely tell a difference. So then I tried it on my clothes - and they were softer too! However, my mom, who has soft water, didn't feel a difference. Now, I haven't used a fabric softener for years - didn't want to risk buildup on the diapers - so the next test - bath towels.  Since we have ridiculously hard water, some of our cheaper bath towels feel rough, even after being dried in the dryer.  Not only that, but we live in a 112 yr old home, which has no bathroom ventilation besides a window.  Although we use a good fan for air circulation, we still can get that stinky wet towel smell.  Suprisingly, the rough bath towels didn't feel softer like the rest of my clothes, but there was a benefit I didn't think of, which I believe to be due to the papaya leaf.  Normally we use our bath towels for a few days before grabbing clean ones.  As soon as they start to stink, they go in the basket.  I took one of these newly-laundered ones and used it as a test.  It took much, much longer to get that musty wet towel smell!  I also have a waffle weave fabric shower curtain that I wash right with my towels.  It gets lime and rust buildup on it, and while the new laundry soap didn't get it pristine white by any means, it did a heck of a better job than bleach ever did.

The downside: this liquid laundry soap does not take out oil-based stains.  If you wish to use it on your regular laundry, you may still want to use a stain-remover.

Initially I thought I'd sell the Natural Laundry Soap already made into liquid, but I wasn't happy with the bottling choices available.  Then there was the extra cost involved in bottles, lids, seals; not to mention how much extra shipping would cost for the weight.  To save money, I'm offering instead a Do-It-Yourself Natural Laundry Soap Kit (instructions are included): Natural Laundry Soap DIY Kit.  The recipe amounts provided when made fits perfectly in a pint size jar.

Natural Ammonia Remover
I'm also offering 8 oz bags of clinoptilolite zeolite for ammonia stink: Natural Ammonia Remover  Clinoptilolite zeolite is awesome at getting rid of ammonia stink!!  It's a natural zeolite; it looks like small pieces of gravel but actually has tiny holes all through it that attract ammonia via ion exchange. It does not dissolve in water; rather it traps and carries away the ammonia, washing away with the rinse water.  Just use 1 tsp to 2 Tbsp in your initial wash with  no detergent.  It works best with warm or hot water.  It can be used with each pre-wash to prevent ammonia build up.   May also be used in conjunction with white vinegar if desired, depending on water hard/softness. This is one of the same ingredients used for ammonia removal with fish tanks.  Clinoptilolite zeolite is some really cool stuff with a variety of uses!  I'll be putting some in my garden this year to help hold water in our drought-stricken area. 

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Eliminate diaper pail stink!

our diaper pail next to a pine log
Pine.  Yes, pine.  But not just any pine: freshly split pine.  2x4's won't work.  Shaved/sanded down logs (to make them smoother) won't work.  It must be split pine - something about the coarse grain, maybe??  Pictured is red pine; we don't currently have another variety of pine to test out, but I think any split pine would work well.

While the diaper pail spray I make works well on the ammonia that can come with a dirty diaper pail, it wasn't taking care of that toddler-stinky-urine smell.  As our son got older (he's 4 now), the stronger the urine smell became in the dirty diaper pail. I tended to wash every other night just because that was about the time I could smell them.  One of my many diaper pail spray experimental concoctions included sweet orange, lavender, and fir needle essential oils - that one worked fairly well - it needs to be spritzed often - but I thought it was the lavender, never really giving the fir needle essential oil another thought.

Right now my husband is busy cleaning up damaged trees from the tornadoes that ripped through our county in June of 2010.  We plan to install a wood burner before next winter to help save on heating costs.  One day, in the course of our teasing banter, when he was leaving to cut wood, I asked him if he was going to bring me back a bouquet of twigs, and his reply was "no, but I can bring you back a log!"  And he DID!!  He knows I love the smell of freshly cut wood.  Well, the split log ended up in the downstairs bathroom where the diaper pail resides, just a place to temporarily have it out of the way.  And then I noticed . . . the diaper pail smell was missing. 

me, dressed up all scientific-like
So to experiment a little (because I love to experiment!) I took the log out of the bathroom.  The smell returned.  I put the log back in the bathroom and within 15 minutes, I noticed a definite lack of stink.  (yeah, give the picture a good laugh, LOL!  This was for my JM cloth diapering mamas, from my clinoptilolite zeolite experiment back in 2011 - which by the way, works awesome for getting rid of ammonia stink in the wash routine!).  After 2 - 3 weeks, my husband decided to "freshen up" the log, and shaved it down to expose fresh wood.  Right after that, the stink returned.  He shaved it down again, and still the stink was there.  Then we tried a pail full of fresh pine shavings.  No go.  I asked him for a new log, and the stink disappeared again.  This time, I asked him to just leave it be, don't shave it down.  It's been 2 weeks since the fresh log was put in place, and no stink yet.  I don't know how long one log will last, but thankfully we have a good supply.

Another bonus: this has cut WAY down on the amount of clinoptilolite zeolite I need to use in my wash routine.  I'm in process of experimenting how much I can cut back.  Because our water is super ridiculously hard (we are over 10.5 grains per gallon), ammonia can easily build up.  Previous to the pine log, I was using 3 Tbsp per wash - 2 with the initial warm wash, and 1 more with the hot wash with detergent.  But, I also switched to *my* liquid laundry detergent, which is soapnuts, soapwort root, and papaya leaf.  So far I've cut back to 1 tsp total, only in the inital warm wash and that's going well.  Next diaper load I'll skip it altogether and see what happens.

I realize this solution isn't available to everyone - I mean, not everyone has access to free pine logs, LOL!! But if you can get your hands on some, it's well worth it. I mean there is literally NO smell. I'd have to remove the lid, stick my nose in and really inhale deeply to smell them.  Now, I'm washing when I run low on diapers and that can be 3+ days.  I have actually forgotten to wash them, just because I was relying on my sense of smell to tell me when to wash!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Fleece Diaper Covers

I started out using PUL covers for my son, and felt for the longest time they were the way to go for leak protection and easy maintenance. When my Thirsties covers began to hit the end of their lifespan, I wanted to make my own covers.  I learned there were different types of PUL out there.  I tried out a few different sources - I had some hits and some misses. Fabrite was awesome, but no longer in business.  Babyville was great even if it delaminated, but a delaminated diaper will eventually die. I do have some good PUL in stock now but have since come up with my absolute favorite kind of cover - fleece! 

Two layers of fleece not only makes for excellent leak protection, it's more breatheable.  And it doesn't hold onto poop stink like PUL can.  Even if there wasn't any poop on the cover, I still changed the cover with the soiled fitted diaper because of the smell.  My son has been going through some digestive issues (which are now thankfully much better since we recently found some bromelain-free digestive enzymes) and let me tell you, that kid could stink up a room!  We were going through covers pretty quick.

When I first had the idea to make the covers out of 2 layers of fleece, I always intended to make some for my son . . . but they always sold and I never got around to making one just for him.  Most of my PUL covers are dead and/or dying now, and I really wanted him to have a giraffe print diaper cover for the cookbook photoshoot, so I finally made him one . . . and I am so in love with this cover!!!!  I want all of his covers to be made this way!!

Now, mine are more like typical diaper covers than a typical fleece soaker.  Fleece soakers look more like really super cute underwear, have 2 layers in the wetness zone only, and many styles are meant to be pulled on and off like underwear.  My fleece covers, just like a PUL cover, feature elastic at the back and legs, with side-snapping closure.  I have also done velcro closure but my personal preference is side snapping - no chance of wing droop!  They are OS with front rise snaps and 3 snap settings at the waist, and made with a full two layers of fleece, not just in the wetness zone.

I'm contemplating being done with PUL for good and selling off my small stock of it along with some FOE so if you're interested let me know! :)

Thursday, January 10, 2013

My favorite creation - Healing Salve (name updated to "the greenchild salve")

(Please note, the name of this salve was updated to "the greenchild salve" in 2015.)

Let me preface this post with "please always consult your medical practitioner" and "this product is not intended to diagnose, prevent, treat, or cure any disease".  I cannot make any sort of promise that my Healing Salve will heal anybody; yes the essential oils used have known properties, but people still may react differently to them. There are essential oils out there with proven properties that don't do the job for me. All I can tell you is what I personally use my salve for.  There, I think I covered it. :)

Today, as I got out of my Jeep to pick up my son from preschool, I managed to whack my leg pretty hard with the door of the Jeep.  After cussing silently to myself, hopping around a bit, rubbing my leg, and thinking "that's gonna leave a mark!" I realized that just inside the school was my son's backpack . . . and in it was a tub of my Healing Salve.  I limped my way inside and made my way straight to the salve, applied it, and breathed a sigh of relief.  The pain was gone and all I'll have to remind me of the incident is a little bit of scraped up skin.

Things I've used my Healing Salve for: sprained ankles, bruises, minor burns, scrapes, cuts, and inflammation - from joints to laryngitis, and my son's diaper rash.  I use my favorite herb and essential oils - plantain (plantago major), tea tree oil, lavender essential oil, rose geranium essential oil, oregano essential oil, sweet orange essential oil, and raw honey in a natural base of butters and oils.  Plantain has wonderful healing and anti-inflammatory properties; it is also anti-bacterial and helps control bleeding.  Tea tree is known to be anti-septic, anti-viral, anti-fungal, and anti-bacterial.  Lavender has been proven to have calming, soothing, sedating properties.  It is also commonly used as an anti-septic and to treat minor burns.  Rose geranium has astringent, anti-inflammatory, and mildly anti-bacterial properties.  Oregano essential oil is anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-parasitic, and anti-viral.  Sweet orange essential oil is widely used as an anti-depressant for its uplifting scent as well as being anti-inflammatory and anti-septic.  Raw honey is not only delicious (LOL, do NOT eat the Healing Salve, trust me on that, it doesn't taste anywhere near as good as it smells!!) but is also anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal as well as anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant; it is also used on burns.

My Healing Salve recipe originally called for only the first three: plantain, tea tree, and lavender, as I had plenty of experience using those three. Then I learned about (and tried) rose geranium.  While reducing bruising is not listed as one of its main uses, I found when applied within the first few minutes after a deep tissue injury that it gave an almost indescribably wonderfully warm caressing feeling to the injury that not only relieved my pain but significantly reduced the likelihood of resulting swelling and bruising. Successfully using it after several injuries, this became a permanent ingredient.  Oregano essential oil has such good properties that I decided to add it as an extra component; however, I very much dislike its scent and added sweet orange to temper it.  I love the scent of sweet orange essential oil and use it often in many of my skin care creations.  Later on I discovered how much I like raw honey when added to my lotions, so I added it to the salve too.  Honey does not like to emulsify well into butters and oils, so when making it, I continually stir the salve until cooled which helps to prevent separation.  If you ever see a watery separation in the salve, it's just the raw honey - no cause for worry, just stir it back in.

I do need to tell you that the Healing Salve is NOT intended for immediate use after chemical and severe burns.  Please wait at least a minimum of 1 - 2 hours after a chemical or severe burn to apply (please seek medical assistance!), or a stinging sensation may occur due to the essential oils used, as well as the already-irritated skin turning red for several minutes. Since I cook . . . a lot . . . I occasionally have had more-than-minor burns, and have learned this lesson well.  Also, as with any skin care product, please take care to keep out of baby's mouth.

How do I know all this about injuries?  I  . . . ummm . . . LOL . . . happen to have a lot of experience in the bumps, bruises, sprains, strains, cuts, scrapes, abrasions, burns, etc. department . . . I was a pretty accident-prone person until I learned to slow down!  I was always in too much of a hurry and well, accidents happened.  A lot. Often. I've fallen down the stairs more times than I can remember, and sprained my ankles more times than I can count. During all that, I also followed the typical Standard American Diet and had chronic pain while in my twenties. While I have since moved to what's called the paleo way of eating (thanks to my son's needs) and no longer have chronic pain, that chronic pain is what led me to create my Healing Salve in the first place for the anti-inflammatory properties and it has since blossomed into so much more.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Some personal thoughts today . . .

It's the new year already and I've been spending a lot of time reflecting on days past.  I am thankful for the things I've learned and for all those loved ones in my life and especially thankful for the wonderful opportunities headed my way!  It is because of all of that, that I am who I am today.

I saw an article today on ABC News that made me smile, and I wanted to share.

While December 31st 2012 marked the passing of my beloved grandmother, who nutured my love of sewing, it also marked the 5 year anniversary of a terrible time in my life; our first attempt with IVF (In Vitro Fertilization) unfortunately resulting in a ruptured uterus and subsequent removal and of course death of our 7 week baby, the first one that had a heartbeat, seen for the first time mere hours before.  So, as you can imagine, I've been thinking about babies and pregnancy a lot lately.

With the rupture, my son's pregnancy 6 months later was considered high risk – first because of the recent rupture, then because of the suspicion of Down Syndrome, then later for the placenta’s placement (the placenta's placement eventually caused severe hemorrhaging, resulting in his earlier-than-planned premature birth).  And with a high risk pregnancy came ultrasounds – lots of them.  And I mean LOTS! Because of the high risk pregnancy I was advised not to travel on my own so family and friends came with me to all of my OB appointments and got to see my son in all his pre-birth glory, 3- and 4-D ultrasounds included.  It was amazing to be able to share that with my mother and my mother-in-law; they loved seeing him wiggle around on the screen, having never experienced an ultrasound with their own pregnancies many years ago.

The ultrasounds were necessary for us, but I have no opinion on their safety for typical pregnancies because I have no experience with that; I've had 4 pregnancies, none of them typical (actually, since the previous 3 were all heterotopic pregnancies, my son's pregnancy is the closest to normal I ever had!).  Having had so many ultrasounds, and being able to share them with those close to me, I love this idea!  Sonogram Parties!  If we ever have another pregnancy (which would hopefully NOT be high risk, which would then not involve so many ultrasounds), this is something I'd love to do and share with my family and friends.
Please feel free to share your thoughts and experiences! :)