Over the last couple years, what with dwindling finances and such, I’ve been looking for ways to make things myself cheaper than buying them already made up. Last year I really got busy looking for recipes for things ranging from dog ear cleaner to skin moisturizer to scouring powder. I found some great sites that have lots of recipes like Crunchy Betty and Wellness Mama. These two came up over and over when I put things like “homemade skin cream” or homemade deodorant” in google.
I’d say the biggest money saver has been homemade scouring powder, followed by dog ear wash. I don’t think I found a specific site for the ear wash. I found the same info repeated many places such as homesteading forums and brief articles from breeders, groomers, and vets. This article is fairly representative. The great thing about these recipes is the ingredients are dirt cheap. The scouring powder is made of baking soda, salt, and borax. The downside of using this instead of Comet is you have to scrub harder, but you are not left with a chemically smell either. For my dog’s itchy ears I went with equal parts witch hazel and vinegar. Just plain, white vinegar not the more expensive apple cider vinegar. I don’t think her ears will know the difference. I’m just trying to lower the pH in there. The first thing I tried was half alcohol and half vinegar but she must have had a scratch in there as she yelped and went crazy. I decided to stay away from the alcohol in the ears from now on.
Just recently I made some homemade neem oil shampoo for my pup. She’s been itchy and I don’t think it’s fleas as I treated her recently. I got the recipe from Soap Deli News Blog. I did skip the Dr. Bronner’s liquid soap called for in the recipe. I don’t know when that stuff got so pricey. Fourteen or fifteen dollars is a bit much for a 32 ounce bottle of liquid soap. I used unscented bar castile soap melted into water using this recipe. So my recipe was this:
1 ounce melt and pour unscented castile soap (bought by the pound from a soap making supply place) chopped into small bits
2 tablespoons neem oil
1 1/2 tablespoons shea butter
10 drops eucalyptus essential oil
10 drops rosemary essential oil
8 ounces boiling water
I mixed together the first 4 ingredients then added the boiling water. I mixed thoroughly then left it a while to finish melting. When it was fairly homogeneous I poured it in a small dish detergent bottle. This made enough for maybe two baths for my rather large dog. I may tinker to give the recipe a more “soapy” feel. The neem oil reeks, so I can see why it is reputed to scare away fleas. The essential oils helped some. I may use more next time to see what that does. So far I can’t say whether it has been helpful for itching, but it was an interesting experiment.
One of my other projects is trying to make a less expensive replacement for Icy Hot which I use quite often. I tried mixing wintergreen essential oil and shea butter last year, but to get the 30% methyl salicylate into it meant the shea butter was totally liquified and stayed that way. I kind of left it in a little bowl and waited until I could get around to buying some beeswax to thicken it up. I finally got some and finished it up. What I came up with is harder than Icy Hot, more like the consistency of Tiger Balm, but melts more on your skin. I don’t know the exact amounts of what I put together since it has been several months since I made the original brew. What I had left was a little less than 4 ounces wintergreen and shea butter mixture (at about a 1:2 part ratio). I added around 2 teaspoons beeswax pastilles, 5 drops peppermint essential oil, and 5 drops eucalyptus essential oil. I have seen recipes which call for menthol crystals and that would probably make it more icy and burny, but at $30 a pound it will be a while before I get to buying some. My stuff smells nice and feels smooth on the skin and feels slightly cooling. I will still get the benefit of the methyl salicylate (similar to aspirin) even if it doesn’t really act as much of a counterirritant (the burning on your skin distracts from the deeper pain).
I’ve also been knitting. I am working on my first ever sweater. I’ve been a crocheter for over 20 years and a knitter for 7 years, but have never been able to work up the nerve to knit a sweater. I just hate the idea of doing all that work and then finding I don’t like what I made or that it doesn’t fit right. Plus the cost of the yarn is not insignificant. A home knitted wool sweater costs far more than its made in China store equivalent. This project has been coming along slowly since the end of August. The knitting itself isn’t so slow, it’s more that I haven’t been too in the mood for a while. Mostly I work on this project at the laundromat while waiting for the wash. The pattern is Iced, by Carol Feller.
Soon I want to make some more skin creams. It is that dry time of year. Last year I made a cream with shea butter, coconut oil, and essential oils. I liked what it did for my skin, but it needs to be thicker in my climate. The cream spent most of the summer as a liquid and I just don’t have enough room in the fridge to keep beauty products in there. I’ll be adding beeswax this time and trying out some different essential oil combos. The one from last year is lemongrass and sandalwood which has a pleasant lemony scent. I like peppermint foot creams so I’ll probably be making some of that. I want to perfect my recipes so I can give them as Christmas gifts. A mystery shipment of 4 ounce Ball jars that arrived at my sister’s house a couple months ago will provide the perfect size containers. (Amazon did not know why they sent them to her address and told her to just keep them. Gotta love when things like that happen!)