Tuesday, September 16, 2014

"Fresh and clean as a whistle" ... or is it?

This morning, I discovered a bar of Irish Spring tucked away in the dusty recesses of an unused bathroom cupboard drawer.  I dragged it out with the intent of tossing it into the trashcan.

But, as a soap maker, curiosity got the better of me ... and so, I turned it over to read the ingredients label:

There are a number of ingredients with which I was not familiar ... even though the internal shudder that coursed through my body certainly has become a familiar feeling whenever I read the ingredients labeling of so many commercially made products being sold on today's grocery store shelves.

So ... I fired up the computer and headed for the interwebs.

BTW - the internet is a beautiful thing, really.  Twenty years ago, research such as I was about to undertake would have required a library card, a sack lunch, and a degree in chemistry.  But not any more ... with a little typing and a good browser, you can find whatever you seek, whenever you wish.  It's like it's MAGIC!

But, I digress ...

So let's take a closer look at those pesky ingredients:
Soap (sodium tallowate, sodium cocoate, and/or sodium palm kernalate), water, hydrogenated tallow acid (skin conditioner), coconut acid, glycerin (skin conditioner), fragrance, sodium chloride, pentasodium pentetate, pentalerythrityl, tetra-di-t-butyl hydroxyhydrocinnamate (can I buy a vowel, please), titanium dioxide, D&C green #8, FD&C green #3.

Ugh.  I make soap ... and I've never, ever heard of any of this stuff.

Well then ... let's break it down, shall we?

Sodium tallowate:  Sodium tallowate is a true soap made by combining the fatty tissue (or tallow) of animals, such as cattle and sheep, with lye, typically sodium hydroxide.

Okay ... I get that one.  

Sodium cocoate:  Sodium cocoate is the sodium salt of fatty acids from coconut oil; lauric acid is the primary component of this oil.  Function:  Surfactant - Cleansing Agent; Surfactant - Emulsifying Agent

This is NOT coconut oil (Cocos Nucifera) ... this is a byproduct that they are classifying to be the same as coconut oil.

Sodium palm kernalate:  Sodium Palm Kernelate is a sodium salt of the acids derived from palm kernel oil.  Function:  Surfactant - Cleansing Agent; Surfactant - Emulsifying Agent; Viscosity Increasing Agent -Aqueous; viscosity controlling.

Not to be confused with palm kernal oil, which we don't currently use due to the sustainability and the orangutan issues surrounding the sourcing of this inexpensive oil.

Hydrogenated tallow acid - a mixture of saturated fatty acids which are produced from animal fat by hydrolysis and then treated by hydrogen at high temperature and pressure in a presence of special catalysts.

We use stuff like cocoa butter and/or shea butter, coconut and olive oils ... and we leave the glycerin IN the soaps that we make, keeping the natural conditioning ingredients where there are supposed to be, which is IN the soap.

Coconut acid - Coconut acid is obtained from the meat of the coconut and used in soaps because the extra fat it contains helps ensure the lye is fully reacted, and it gives the soap a good feel and more lather.

This is the closest ingredient to the real thing that I've seen so far ...

Glycerin (now, this is a fun one) - produced by synthetizing sugar or different propylene based substances OR is a byproduct in the biodiesel making process.

In conventional soap making, glycerin is a naturally-occurring substance that is created during the soapmaking process and is absorbed back in to the soap as it cures.  It is what makes your skin soft and is what helps your skin absorb moisture from the air.  Glycerin is hydroscopic ... meaning that it pulls moisture from the air and brings it to your skin.  

It is during the commercial soapmaking process that salt is added to the soap mixture, causing the soap to separate from the glycerin; allowing for ease in the extraction of the glycerin to be used in other things like skin care products, medicines, and other alimentary products.  Without glycerin, soap can be very drying to your skin ... so companies add it back ... only it's not the same glycerin that they removed in the first place ... it's a chemically-derived substance.

Makes sense ... 'cuz Glycerin (aka Glycerol or Glycerine) is also used in the tobacco industry as a humectant; in the food industry as an additive; in the pharmaceutical industry as an excipient and formulation aid; in chemical substances as an intermediate; in the cosmetic industry as a skin moisturizer and humectant; as an anti-freezing substance in cell and sperm preservation; and as a lubricant in hydraulic fluid.  There's lots of money to be made off of this stuff ... no wonder the stuff is so precious that they need to siphon it off to use elsewhere.

Sodium chloride - regular ol' table salt

Pentasodium pentetate - used in soaps as a water softener, and to protect dyes and perfumes from combining with metals in a solution. It is considered a chelating agent.  It's full name is Diethylenetriaminepentaacetic acid.

(Pentaerythrityl) tetra-di-t-butyl hydroxyhydrocinnamate - an antioxidant [used in the manufacture of soap] that inhibits reactions promoted by oxygen that could cause unsaturated fats to become rancid.

IMO - if manufacturers stayed away from animal tallow (fat) in the first place, this ingredient would be unnecessary.  Yes, I am aware that the use of animal fat in the making of soap has been around since the beginning of Time ... but this isn't Babylon ... we've come a long way in our knowledge of making stuff from other stuff that is healthier to place in and on our bodies.

And then ... there's all the rest of the stuff ... titanium dioxide, a whitener added to get this chemical mess white so that the colorants can be added, along with a vague reference to a fragrance that is not of natural origins, but will leave you "Feeling Fresh and Clean as a Whistle".

BTW - after I researched all this information, I stumbled across a webpage wherein the author already did the homework:  http://www.scientificpsychic.com/blogentries/ingredients-in-soap.html.  I suppose I could have stopped ... but today, it seems, was a day for learning.

And so ... on that note ... the soap's being chucked in the trash.
I'll do it on my way to the shower ... where I plan on using my own stuff.


Oh My Meadowfoam!

One of the main ingredients in our lotions and perfume oils is meadowfoam seed oil ... a relatively new oil on today's market that boasts a long chain fatty acid structure which delivers good barrier formation and helps to lock fragrance onto the skin, while also helping to prevent the rapid absorption of natural creams and lotions that may sometimes be perceived as "drying".

Our nourishing hand and body lotion is perfect for keeping your skin soft & smooth. Loads of meadowfoam seed oil and vitamin e will pamper your skin without leaving a heavy, greasy feeling behind.

bio-friendly ingredients: meadowfoam seed oil, distilled water, beeswax, vitamin e, essential and/or fragrance oils.

You can find this amazing stuff ... and so much more ... in our online store!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Bio-friendly Deodorant

With the rise in breast cancer (not to mention the hyperactive advertising being done to raise awareness) reaching an incredible level of 1 in 4 (when I was a teen, it was 1 in 8), we've taken a completely different approach to creating a deodorant that works as good as your regular brand, without all of the dangerous and questionable chemicals.

Kokum butter helps to regenerate skin cells and is the hardest of all the butters currently on today's market.  Coconut oil and raw beeswax are naturally anti-bacterial and anti-microbial.  Arrowroot and baking soda to absorb wetness.  In our No Sweat! products, we use a proprietary blend of essential oils that are designed by nature to regulate your body's production of sweat.


You can find all of these great products ... and more ... in our online store.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Challenge Accepted

These were the words uttered by the teenaged boy when asked if he could please rinse off his plate and utensils after using them.
A plate, knife and fork.
I don't care how great your imagination is ... that's not a "challenge".

Doing dishes for a family of 5 every single day ... sometimes twice in the same day ... that's a challenge. For the record, we once let them go for an entire weekend to see if the kids got the hint that we could use some help with washing them ... I never knew that a can opener and an ice cream scoop could be used in lieu of a knife and fork when the clean ones are gone ... and that (in a pinch) cake pans make for really good cereal bowls.

Mowing the 8 foot tall weeds out in the chicken yard ... so we can actually see the chickens ... that's a challenge.

Washing, drying, and folding 47 loads of laundry on a weekly basis ... that's a challenge.

Taking the compost bucket out to the garden and dumping it ... without puking in the gooseberry bushes ... that's a challenge.

But washing your own plate, knife and fork?
And then, putting it away?
A Challenge?

Mind you ... this same boy asked why I didn't get out my Sharpie and start labeling the dishes and silverware with his and his siblings' names.
He wanted to make sure that no other person in the house used his dishes.
His because he washed them after using them.

I'm waiting for the day when he actually asks to be challenged around here ...
there are about a half dozen hens out in the chicken yard that can't see the henhouse for the weeds.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Elegance - January 4, 2014

An interesting draw for today - Elegance. 

See the beauty that is in yourself, others, and your surroundings even when things are not perfect. Find your rhythm and glide upon the waves of Life.

I have to admit, this card left me a bit befuddled this morning when I drew it.
You see ... last night, Jocelyn made the decision to move out ... away from home and in to the home of her dearest friend.

How does a parent ... a person ... respond or react to that?

Don't get me wrong ... there is a long history of unhappiness when it comes to her and the blending of two families over the course of the last three years.  The stories are many ... and they are not all mine to tell.

We are not a "perfect" family ... we are a family filled with love and joy, challenges and tears ... we are a messy family.  Quite possibly the very best kind.

But Jocelyn hasn't been happy being part of a messy family.  
Her preference is a nice house in the 'burbs ... money to spend without question on whatever strikes her fancy that particular day ... not having to vie with four other siblings for the attention of either one or the other parent.

There's more to this whole story ... so many undercurrents and sidetracks, it could easily turn in to a miniseries.  But the bottom line is that Jocelyn made a choice nearly two years ago to be unhappy while living in this house.  Unhappiness with Jocelyn can easily lead toward friction within the family ... usually between her and I.  Friction allows her to justify her continued feelings of unhappiness ... it also supports stories that she has created about how the stepmother does not love her and wants her gone from the home.  It has been a difficult living situation.

Jocelyn is happiest when she stays with her best friend.  She is then the middle of three daughters.  Her wants and needs are completely satisfied ... without question.  She has always expressed the desire to live with this family ... in both times of jest and times of stress.

Last night, she made the "I'll just move out" statement ... to which her Dad pretty much said "if that's what you want to do, I'm okay with that" ... to which I responded with "running away from your problems does not solve them, sometimes they need to be faced".

We were up late last night, discussing the evening's events ... loudly ... angrily ... so very many words shared, filled with hurt and remorse.  So much history brought to the surface ... to be loved and cleared.

We thought a night's sleep would allow her a change in choices made during the heat of anger.
Nope.  She finished packing boxes this morning.  She was picked up before noon.  We spoke with the parents of the best friend ... we are playing this all by ear right now.

We didn't yell at Jocelyn for the choice that she made ... we honored it.  We didn't ground her to her room for the next month ... which may have been what she wanted for us to do, because that would prove to her that she was "wanted" ... that she was loved.

We told her that we loved her ... because isn't that really what we're supposed to do as parents to our children ... to guide them toward being able to make their own decisions, their own choices ... to simply love them, despite how messy it all becomes?  As parents, we cannot make our children happy ... we cannot make our children love themselves as much as we love them ... we cannot even make them like any single part of the whole ... we can only love them enough to allow them the freedom to make their own decisions, regardless of the potential outcomes we as parents have already experienced.

And whether they are six days shy of being 15 or they are over 40, our children deserve all of the love that we have to give ... without question ... loving the choices they are choosing to make ... and hoping that we've taught them enough that they are able to eventually discover just how much we really do love them, even when we didn't agree with the choices they made.

Elegance is the troubled youth that believes the grass is greener on the other side of the fence ... it is found in the muck just below the surface of a lily pond ... it is allowing yourself to gloriously feel every emotion as it washes through you ... it is your smile as she moves the last box into the trunk of a waiting car when you'd rather just curl up in a corner and cry ... it is learning how to recognize that the choices other people make are not your responsibility ... it is in choosing not to be a victim of your circumstances.

There is peace in our home.
And I hope that Jocelyn, who single-handedly managed to manifest her version of a Perfect Life, is finally happy.


Friday, January 3, 2014

Rebirth - January 3, 2014

For Christmas, my darling husband gifted to me a set of Magical Times Empowerment Cards.

A deck of cards, similar to Tarot Cards ... each card carries a beautiful image and a positive message.

Today's card ...

And the accompanying message:  Today I will be grateful for my trials and recognize them for the many gifts that they bring.  I know that I grow stronger in the broken places.  I know that the world will turn in my favor.  I know that I have ended things well and am ready for this new beginning.  I will shine, because the whole universe is mine.

The irony of this card cannot be ignored.  Today was a day filled with endings and beginnings.

The job to which I'd applied in the Corporate World last year, was rescinded in the new year.
Honesty is not always the best of policies when it comes to completing applications within which the only way to actually get the job is if you falsify the information on the application and/or background check.

I completed and filed paperwork to change orders in old court paperwork from my divorce and child custody hearings in Phoenix, AZ.  It's time for the old ways of doing things to be done differently.

The image shown on this card is of a Phoenix rising from the flames of rebirth.

Coincidence?  Not likely.

2014 is a time of rebirth ... awakening to the positive manifestation of All Good Things.


Thursday, November 14, 2013

Product Reviews

It's that time of year again ...
a little slower than usual this year ... when compared to last year.

That gives me more time ...
for creativity ...
for introspection ...
for walking every day ...
and especially for incorporating new things into my life.

So ...
I signed up to do a few product reviews.
I LOVE new stuff!
and I love supporting new companies who are bringing new products into our world.

And if I can do anything to help get the word out about something they are doing
I am here to help in any way I can.

So ... stay tuned ... I'll be posting pics and writing about some really cool things arriving in my mailbox.

There might even be a giveaway or two  =)