How to Make Rebatched Soap

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The following post is by Herban Lifestyle Outreach and Operations Coordinator, Lisa Seyfried. 

Here in the Herban Lifestyle Workroom, we have lots of bags of soap ends and pieces sitting around, waiting for us to do some wonderful with them.  I did some research on how to rebatch our soap – ‘rebatch’ means to basically melt down the soap and re-mold it as something new – and found a ton of information.  Site after site told me different ways to rebatch, each site claiming their method was the best.

In the end, I picked two recipes that were fairly close, combined them into my own method, and got to work experimenting.

First Batch of Rebatch Soap - Herban LifestyleMy first batch turned out great! It melted down really well, it molded really well, and it looks really pretty.

Second Batch of Rebatch Soap - Herban LifestyleMy second batch didn’t turn out quite so well.  It’s a little lumpier, a little cracked, and just not as pretty looking. I am chalking this up to attempting to double the recipe and the soap not liking that.

I do think that this recipe will  turn out well again if I keep it in small quantities.  The first batch was enough for three heart soaps, and the second batch made enough for five heart soaps.

To make rebatched soap:

You will need a glass measuring cup, or other microwave safe bowl, grater, your soap, 1/4 cup of water. Ingredients for Rebatched Soap - Herban Lifestyle

1. Grate 4 cups of soap in a glass or microwave safe container.  The smaller pieces the soap is in, the better it will melt.  Grated Soap - Herban Lifestyle

2. Add ¼ cup of water to the grated soap.  Don’t stir it in yet.

3. Microwave for 2 min and stir.  Repeat this process until the soap becomes slightly translucent and takes on the consistency of mashed potatoes.Melted Rebatch Soap - Herban Lifestyle

4. Glob into mold with a spoon.  Fill to the top, then bang the mold on the counter to get all the air bubbles out.  Then squish the soap down with your fingers (you might want to wear gloves for this) to make sure the soap gets into all corners of the mold.Molded Rebatched Soap - Herban Lifestyle

5. Cover the mold with a towel or cloth and let sit for 24 hours.

6. Unmold after 24 hours, let sit out for one week to cure.  One week is probably more time than the soap needs to cure, but just to be safe, I’d go with one week.

This is the rebatch method that worked best for me.  I have a feeling that everyone has their own method that works for them, with whatever kind of soap they are rebatching.  I’d really like to try adding some essential oils or some pigments in my next batch! Have you rebatched any soap? What method did you use?

Artist of the Month: Anne Ferrari of Vita Pulita

055_0The following post was written by Anne Ferrari, Owner and Founder of Vita Pulita, the first Herban Lifestyle Store Artist of the Month. During the month of December, Anne’s soaps will be featured at our new brick and mortar store in Fairfax, VA.

I was always fascinated by soap. As a child growing up in the Bronx, NY, I didn’t have many soap options, but I was still fascinated with making soap pretty. My holiday gift to my first grade teacher was an ordinary bar of soap on which I pinned a homemade pompom. The obsession with soap remains. It wasn’t until my good friend Mary Kearns shared with me that she had started making soap herself that I was finally inspired to give it a try. And once I did, there was no turning back.

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As a professor with a PhD in psychology, I am accustomed to using research in my work experience. This serves me well as soap ingredients need a great deal of research too. One customer of mine confessed that she didn’t worry too much about what she put on her skin as she believed that it was not absorbed by her body. Unfortunately, research on breast cancer and the use of parabens in beauty products shows us otherwise. Vita Pulita products never contain parabens, as they never contain artificial fragrances or colors. They are products that I feel confident using and sharing with my family. In fact, Vita Pulita was born of necessity, when my pregnant daughter could not find a safe yet still luxurious body butter. I whipped up a combination of unrefined shea butter, unrefined cocoa butter, rice bran oil, and essential oil. I still sell that body butter, and it is a customer favorite.

Although I am not an artist, one of my favorite things about making soap is making it beautiful. Many of us assume that” beauty” and “natural” do not go together and quite frankly, there are some colors that simply cannot be made naturally in soap, such as a vibrant blue. However, natural soap can be just as lovely, especially when one dives into her creative side. Check out my White Wedding Soap, Carrot Orange Soap with Cocoa, Black Charcoal Facial Detox Soap, Cupcake Soap or Pink Sea Salt Bar and see what you think. All of the colors and scents in Vita Pulita Soaps are from natural and healthy sources, such as plant essential oils and ground up spices. If a color or scent cannot be made using this method, then it will not be made.

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It wasn’t until recently that my father shared with me that his mother made soap in Italy from olive pomace left over from the farm. I was shocked, but not surprised. I was named for her after all (over the protests of my mother who did not care for the sound of “Anna Maria”), as I was born on the anniversary of her death. And I chose to name my company Vita Pulita, which means “clean life” in Italian, although I don’t speak Italian myself. Perhaps the founder of analytical psychology, Carl Jung, would say that my need to “soap” is part of my family collective unconscious, inherent in me. It certainly feels that way at times.

You can find Anne’s products online at the Vita Pulita website, on Etsy and seasonally at markets in Westchester County.

Simple Advice for Healthy Skin

Skin Detox unscented soap made with organic oils and cosmetic clay

Skin Detox unscented soap made with organic oils and cosmetic clay

Hi Mary,

Nice to make your virtual acquaintance! I was talking with our friend, Sarah, recently about natural skin care solutions – I don’t really know a lot about the subject, but I’ve found myself buying more and more expensive products while wondering if there’s a better way to take care of my skin. I asked Sarah if she had ever tried any homemade skin solutions, and she referred me to you :)

My biggest trouble is moisturizing – my skin seems to dry out a lot, and I also get small, single hives on my face pretty regularly, which exacerbates the redness and irritation. Do you know of anything that might calm that down?

Katie

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Hi Katie,

I don’t claim to be an expert on skin care, but I can point you in the right direction. I have had a long-time routine of washing my face with just soap (real soap made with oils, not commercial “soap” which is actually petroleum-based detergent), then using a light moisturizer. The simpler, the better. I also stay away from foundation, which tends to clog my pores and dry out my skin.

Many facial products contain chemicals that can dry out and irritate your skin. I recommend that you check out the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database, which lists various personal care products that don’t contain harsh chemicals. You can also look up the ingredients in your current products to see if they are associated with irritation, etc.

Also, it seems that our skin is like the canary in the coal mine, letting us know that something we are putting on our skin or in our bodies is hurting our systems in a bigger way. Here are links to a couple of articles on the most commonly found harmful ingredients in personal care products, one from Care2 and the other from Mother Earth Living magazine.

It also helps to keep an eye on your diet. You might want to keep a food diary for a month to see if there are any correlations between what you are eating and any hives you develop. I, for example, have found that if I eat certain foods, I am more prone to breakouts or hives the same or following day.

Hope this helps, and please feel free to ask me to clarify any of this.

Thanks!
Mary

Our New Brick and Mortar Friend: Nonny’s

image copyright Nonny's

I am very happy to announce that my line of products is now available at the newly opened Nonny’s in Fountain Hills, AZ. Nonny’s is a retail store filled with handcrafted items, refurbished vintage home goods and a floral section. It is the creation of Jerrod Alcaida, who was a wedding and event planner in LA for several years. He decided to come back to his home state and set up a retail space where he and his partner, Chad Harr, could combine several of their interests, all focusing on beauty, creativity and celebrating life’s mileposts, big and small.

image copyright Nonny's

Besides their retail selection, Nonny’s continues to provide wedding and event planning services. In addition, they offer custom floral arrangements by mother-daughter team Diane Gonzalez and Katherine Gonzalez, who are past and current Arizona State Floral Designers of the year. There are some great photos of their floral creations on Nonny’s Facebook fan page.

image copyright Nonny's

Nonny’s is also offering a variety of classes that include holiday decorating, centerpiece arrangements, and gift wrapping. The full schedule is available on their website. All of this (as Dori Wittrig said in her recent blog post on Nonny’s) is part of their mission to provide “an alternative and unique vision for your home, garden and everyday celebrations of life, inspiring harmony between interior & exterior spaces and enhancing those special everyday moments.”

image copyright Nonny's

If you are in the area, please stop by Nonny’s at 16858 Avenue of the Fountains, Suite 102, Fountain Hills, AZ 85268 and tell them I said, “Hi!”

Have an Eco-friendly Valentine’s Day!

Herban Lifestyle Bath Bonbons made with Fair Trade Cocoa Butter

This post was written by Katie Peige, Herban Lifestyle’s Sustainability Associate

This Valentine’s Day, you can show your love for the people in your life and your planet with eco-friendly gifts and experiences. Herban Lifestyle offers a range of bath and body products that are made with natural, organic, and fair trade ingredients, which you already know from reading this blog. But what about some other Valentine’s Day treats and traditions? Here are some ideas for gifts that are kind to you, your loved ones, and the planet:

• For cards, go paperless with e-cards or get crafty and re-make some cards out of old cards or magazines. Another fun option is to send a grow-a-note card that has seeds embedded in the paper so you can send a card and flowers all in one! Greenfield Paper Company offers a huge selection, as do several Etsy sellers, including girl*in*gear studio, who has some gorgeous plantable Valentine cards. Petco also carries them as does Capitol Hemp, and My Organic Market.

image copyright girl*in*gear studio

• Flowers travel long distances to get to us, often from South America requiring a lot of fuel. Together with the pesticides needed to grow them, cut flowers can have a very large carbon footprint. This Valentine’s Day opt for a potted plant or an organic, local bouquet of flowers. Check out the very sustainable Green Space for bouquets and plants.

image copyright Divine Chocolate

• Show your love for the world and your gift recipients by going with organic and fair trade chocolate this Valentine’s Day. There are many brands with exquisite products, like Divine Chocolate. Mmmm, it’s orgasmic! Remember to look for organic and local wines while you are at it!

Herban Lifestyle Fuzzy Valentine Soap

• Save water, bathe together! And bring some of our earth-friendly bath products to add some sassy fun to the experience.

• For date ideas, check out the Eat Well Guide to find local and sustainable restaurants in your area or head to the local museums and parks via the Metro system.

• Plan a staycation in the DC area, its all the fun of a vacation only locally and definitely screams green both for the environment and your wallet! Plus, there are many wonderful Smithsonian museums with free admission, all of which are Metro accessible.

image copyright Smithsonian Museum of American Art

• If you do decide to travel, check into a green hotel that seeks to reduce their water use and have a low impact on the environment. You can search for green hotels using the “Green” Hotels Association webpage.

• Give cco lingerie: feel sassy and sexy in organic cotton, organic hemp, organic silk, recycled fibers, or Lenpur, a material made from white pine tree clippings. It’s the gift that satisfies you and your partner and is available for men and women. Check out Treehugger’s guide to sustainable lingerie here.

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• Sleep on organic cotton or bamboo sheets. You’ll sleep soundly knowing that your soft as silk sheets have a lower impact on the Planet.

• If this turns out to be one of the most important Valentine’s Day ever, spare yourself from conflict by purchasing responsibly sourced diamonds and fair trade metals. Or go vintage: A family heirloom or beautiful antique ring makes a very romantic statement.

And, of course, check out the Herban Lifestyle website for our fun Valentine gift sets that will really get you in the mood!

Discovering the Beauty of Natural Products

This post was written by Katie Peige, Herban Lifestyle’s sustainability intern

I recently started an internship with Herban Lifestyle. I got the position in part because of the knowledge about natural beauty I had gained from my experience at ecocentricity!, an eco-friendly gift shop in Phoenix, AZ that sells, among other things, bath and beauty products from locally-owned businesses. Last month, I returned to Phoenix to pay a visit to my Alma Mater for an Alumni reception and to visit my friends and “Phoenix Family” that I had left behind six months ago. I had only started interning a few weeks prior and was not only learning about the natural, organic, and fair trade ingredients found in Herban Lifestyle products, but found myself obsessively checking out labels on any bath products I came in contact with.

On my second day back in Arizona, I woke at 6:30 am to help my organic, natural, locavore and thoroughly earthy-crunchy former roommate sell locally-made tamales at the farmer’s market (something she does every morning). I had a wonderful time walking around the market sampling salsas, peanut brittle, chocolate, cupcakes, desserts, and of course tamales. I was also excited to see the natural beauty products there, since I am now an expert! I read many labels and was tickled to spot ingredients that I had just entered into the Skin Deep Database for Herban Lifestyle. There was a smorgasbord of soaps, lotion, lip balms, deodorants, shampoos, massage oils, and facial scrubs. Some were really creative, with exfoliants such as natural and plastic loofah embedded into the soap. This reminded me of the exfoliating properties of our Fuzzy Soaps, which have a built-in wool “washcloth” on the outside. I discovered lotion in solid form, that came in a tube like deodorant. I later found you can get solid perfumes in a tube, too. There were even cosmetics made out of goat’s milk, which was a new concept for me.

I collected these vendors’ cards and headed over to ecocentricity to tell my former boss about all the fun, local, bath and beauty products products that she could potentially carry. At the store, I saw a lot of new natural soap that comes in loaves so customers can purchase as much as they want and pay by the ounce. I also saw my old favorite lip butter, which comes in an array of natural flavors, and my mascara made from tea and blackberries.

In the store, there was a display calling attention to the Skin Deep Database, explaining that some products that are ranked highly toxic even though they claim they are “natural.”  I smiled when I recalled the time I had spent entering products from Herban Lifestyle’s new Naked Line into the database, all of which scored a 0 or 1 (on a scale of 0 to 10) for toxicity.

Entering products into the Skin Deep Database made me more aware of the importance of knowing what ingredients are in my personal care products. I have not used a lot of cosmetics in my life. so I feel good knowing I haven’t been smothering my face in toxins. But now I am working on replacing my soaps and shampoos that I had no idea were bad for me and the planet (I am really digging the Herban Lifestyle Deeply Herbal Shampoo Bar). That’s one more earthy-crunchy step I’m taking to reduce my ecological footprint, and reduce my exposure to environmental toxins.

Introducing the new Herban Lifestyle Naked Line

the new Herban Lifestyle Naked Line

Herban Lifestyle recently launched a new beauty and skin care line that is stripped down to the bare essentials. Herban Lifestyle’s Naked™ line uses only the highest quality natural, organic, and fair trade ingredients that have been minimally processed and void of any harsh chemicals.

Naked Body Butters

The line includes body butter, belly balm, mineral soak, bath tea, healing salve, lip balm, body soap, facial soap, facial masque, and facial toner. Prices range from $5 for the lip balm to $35 for the bath tea.

Naked Cold-Processed Unscented Soap

“My new line celebrates the gifts of the earth and the naked beauty in each one of us. We encourage everyone to get Naked and relish nature at its best,” says Kearns. “Each product is designed to provide luxurious body care while using rich natural ingredients and making a minimum impact on the earth.”

Naked Chocolate Vanilla Lip Balm

In keeping with Herban Lifestyle’s commitment to the earth, all Naked products come in glass or aluminum containers with 100% recycled labels. As with all Herban Lifestyle products, 10% of gross sales from the Naked line are donated to nonprofits promoting the health and wellbeing of people and planet.

Join Us at Squidfire’s 2009 Winter Art Mart

Join us and 60 other amazing artists and crafters at Squidfire’s Winter Art Mart in downtown Baltimore on December 12. This year’s festivities will be held at the Du Burns Arena in Canton. As always, the art mart will feature some of the best diy/indie crafters from all over the East Coast. Whether you’re looking for handmade soap, freshly baked dog treats, unique paper goods, or even locally roasted coffee beans, they will have it there.

So I hope you can join us on December 12, from 11am-6pm, at the:

Du Burns Arena
1301 S Ellwood Ave
Baltimore, MD 21224

Introducing Herban Lifestyle™ Man

Herban Lifestyle™ Man Shaving SetSince I introduced the Herban Lifestyle™ line of products in August 2008, my customers have primarily been women. Even though the products can be used by anyone, I have been told that my packaging is “girly,” so it doesn’t always appeal to men. They don’t see it as something that is made for them. Over the past year, I have had numerous requests from customers, both men and women, for the addition of men’s products to my offerings.

So, in response to customer demand, I am happy to announce the launch of my new line of products made just for men. Just like all of my products, they are truly natural — made only from natural and organic ingredients, with no artificial fragrances, synthetic preservatives or petroleum-based ingredients. However, the Herban Lifestyle Man products come in distinctly manly packaging!

The line, which is currently available in my online store, on Etsy and at World of Good, includes shaving oil, facial soap, after shave and facial lotion.

I Love Ewe

woolI recently bought my first order of hand-carded wool from a family farm in Wisconsin. I have been using the wool to make my felted soaps. Their wool is hand dyed with vegetable dyes. I bought a sampler of five colors, my favorite of which is pictured in this photo. This wonderful green color is made from a combination of Indigo and Marigold. Yummy!