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Check out links to articles I’ve written or been quoted in!
Ever notice how dilution rates are often cited but never disclosed how they are derived? This has always gotten to me so I decided to look into it. Read on for more… Read More
Glass is a valuable tool for anyone making, creating and concocting lotions and potions. It beats the pants out of plastic as it is non-reactive, safe, reusable and doesn’t degrade. The downside of glass? You need to clean it, and when you are using lipids and lipid-loving substances such as essential and fixed oils it can be a real drag as the fatty/lipid substances smear and smoosh and don’t really seem to come off. And you throw up your hands in despair thinking the only way to clean your lovely glassware is to use nasty solvents such as alcohol or harsh detergents. Fear not and read on! Read More
The impetus behind writing this post was my frustration in finding measurement guidelines (the mathematics) to make a balm or salve. Many recipes give specific measurements for a specific recipe and that’s it–no guidelines, no “WHY.” What if I need a small quantity (e.g., 1 ounce) or a large quantity of an odd number (e.g., 23 ounces)? What if I have funky containers and need to know how much salve I need to make to fill those containers? Read on to learn more… Read More
Over the summer I was working with a case-study who I knew needed to get back into the tub.
This person used to take baths galore, but ceased to do so since moving to New York City (read: small bathroom and a not-so-ideal-sized bathtub). I needed to deliver a synergy of essential oils to her via the bath but did not want to bog her down with dilution instructions and cautions that might have kept her from using this beneficial modality (e.g., diluting in a lipophilic substance at x number of drops/dilution rate and why). So where did that leave us? Bath Bombs (a.k.a., Aromatic Bath Fizzies)*!
The thought behind using essential oils via this delivery method is to:
So, I needed to do some research. How do I make these? What are the ingredients and why am I using them? What are the correct ratios? What is the best order of operation for making
these crazy things? I did the research for you–read on for the results and have fun! (By the way, these fizz because of the acid/base reaction when the two are catalyzed by water.)
*There is NOTHING therapeutic about using the word “bomb,” especially when considering the wellness of a sentient being.
(Always remember: solubilize essential oils in a lipophilic solubilizing agent (e.g., honey, milk, a nut/seed oil) before adding them to a bath as some essential oils may be dermal irritants and/or mucus membrane irritants.)
|Baking Soda (Sodium bicarbonate)||4||ounces||Mild alkaline|
|Citric Acid (substitute: cream of tartar)||2||ounces||Mild acid|
|Magnesium sulfate||0.5||ounces||Inert (keeps chemical reaction from happening as water is added in the mixing process)|
|Corn Starch (substitute: Arrowroot powder, Milk powder, Coconut Milk powder)||0.5||ounces||Inert (helps soak up liquid/solidify the ball)/Corn starch helps “float”|
|Nut/Seed Oil (use a light/less dense oil)||20-25||ml||Acts as your dispersing agent; adjust amount accordingly|
|Essential oils||1-2||ml||(20 drops of EO in 1 ml)|
|Hydrosol||5-10||sprays||The water element helps “glue” the dry ingredients together (as does the carrier oil). Though beware, as it is a catalyst for the chemical reaction!|
|Equipment needed: (You might not have all of these-what matters is the ratio–see below in the end-notes)
*Don’t get too fancy—shelf stability matters (e.g., I thought of using liquid coconut milk as a dispersing agent (as opposed to jojoba oil) and determined that would be a bad idea unless I planned on freezing the end product).
**Ratio guidelines: 2 parts Sodium Bicarbonate: 1 part Citric Acid: (Optional: 0.5 part Starch: 0.5 part Salts); Dry ingredients should be 90-98% of the product whereas wet ingredients should be 2-10%; NO MORE THAN 2 ML of EOs should be used in a bath fizzy–more than that is wasteful, disrespectful of the plant and could be harmful depending on the EOs used. The therapy of EOs lies in their subtlety (i.e., less means more).
Note: Many recipes call for only using the base, acid and alcohol-based witch hazel, many recipes also call for spritzing the product with alcohol (as a fixative), adding dyes and other objects like glitter. While always thinking about the therapeutic nature of the product (e.g., organic ingredients, using coconut milk powder and jojoba for skin softening) you are using/making, also consider how some substances should NOT go down the drain (glitter), how others may stain your tub (e.g., dye) and how it might not be a great idea to immerse your body in questionable substances.
Aromatherapy is subtle and therapeutic—this is why I chose to use hydrosols instead of alcohol and/or the witch hazel commonly sold in drug-stores.
Yarrow, an herb in the Asteraceae family, has been used for wound healing/vulnerary purposes since ancient times. According to folklore, Achilles (the Grecian battle hero), carried the herb while on battle campaigns to treat battle wounds.
This tough (it’s so tough that it grows in the incredibly damp, clay soil of my gardens!) herb can be found throughout the temperate climates of the Northern Hemisphere. It is often seen in the “wild,” though it is commonly found cultivated in many gardens. Like many herbs, Yarrow is happiest when its roots are in well draining soil and otherwise “neglected” (e.g., left alone, not fertilized, in lean soil). Yarrow essential oil is steam-distilled from the leaves and flowering tops of the plant.
How may yarrow be used in aromatherapy? (Remember: ALWAYS dilute EOs prior to using on the skin and NEVER take them internally.)
Due to its carminative & stomachic properties, using the herb (not the essential oil) in an infusion (i.e., tea) may help with stomach cramps, expel gas or to aid digestion in general.
A fun fact: Yarrow essential oil is a blue oil! As the herb goes through the steam distillation process it becomes blue! This is due to the presences of azulenes in the plant.
In conjunction with a toothpaste I made to help treat gum inflammation, it seemed wise to concoct a soothing mouth-rinse that could be used to:
For this, it seemed a gentle, cooling effect would be best, which is where hydrosols come into play. Which leads to a quick explanation of what a hydrosol (i.e., hydrolate, hydrolat, floral water) is from the highly regarded Suzanne Catty (in aromatherapy terms):
“Hydrosols are the condensate water coproduced during the steam-or hydro-distillation of plant material for aromatherapeutic purposes.”
Truth-be-told, I have used the Listerine brand for years–mostly out of learned behavior and co-habiting: my father used Listerine and my husband does. [To be clear: I am not knocking the brand nor asking anyone not to use it–the point of this post is to share how incredibly simple alternatives exist using plant medicine and aromatherapy for oral care.]
Following is the formula for the mouth-rinse (for an 8 ounce bottle):
Here is a picture of the beautiful Angelica archangelica (commonly known as garden angelica) that was growing in my garden this summer. I saved the seeds from the umbels and plan on distilling them in a few weeks to keep the water (hydrosol) created from the distillation process.
Both the root and the seed are used from this plant for aromatherapy purposes. The plant is a biennial, meaning that it flowers the second year and dies after.
Root: Should be used with caution as the oil is phototoxic (avoid use when going into the sun). It is noted for a calming (even sedative) effect on the nervous system–making it great when used in an inhaler for those with anxiety.
Seed: It “gets things moving” and is an overall stimulant for the digestive & lymph systems and aids in easing water retention (by promoting movement). Angelica seed would be wonderful addition in a belly rub cream to aid in digestion or on the legs in a cream/body butter/salve to promote circulation for those with edema.
Both the root and seed oils have an affinity for the female reproductive system–excellent for PMS and fertility issues.
I had a routine dental check-up in late July of 2015 and received bad news–bleeding gums on my lower-right gum-line. As you can imagine this was depressing news. Granted I don’t floss as much as I should. Though I do gargle and brush, twice daily, with national brands of mouthwash and toothpaste. Obviously something had to change, like the products I was using.
Over the years the benefits of nut & seed oils (e.g., for oil pulling), baking soda and xylitol have been known but I didn’t pay attention–it was definitely more convenient to go to a store and give a large corporation my money in exchange for oral care I trusted. So I started reading about these ingredients online, in books and in magazines/journals. With all of the knowledge I was gaining I had to question–why not make my own toothpaste? And why not enhance that toothpaste with essential oils that are known for oral care?
After two weeks of using my homemade toothpaste (and mouth rinse) my gums do not bleed when I floss. Following is the formula for the toothpaste: