Author - Amy Kinnard

Food Preservation: Canning for Beginners

"Food Preservation: Canning for Beginners" is part of a series of skill-building community classes offered in partnership with 'Community Thrive 365' in North Little Rock, Arkansas. The series is intended to teach attendees practical do-it-yourself skills that promote health, financial savings, and general self-reliance. The class is divided into thee parts.

In part one, Amy shares about her personal experience learning to preserve food. She discusses the value of knowing such a useful skill and the common methods of doing it. She also shares a brief history of the canning method in particular.

In part two, she talks about the tools, equipment, and science of canning.

In part three, she demonstrates how to can two simple and staple items in a family's food pantry, namely beans and chicken.

Healing Burns and Wounds with Guest Joy Durand

Amy:   Thank you all for joining me today as I get to introduce to you my favorite herbalist, mother of 8, small business owner, piano teacher, university flute instructor, and older sister, Joy Durand. I've been bubbling over with barely contained excitement at the opportunity to have her on our podcast so she can share with you herself the amazing journey she's been on when it comes to treating her family's health needs using all-natural treatments.  She's my go-to, what I like to call, “walking encyclopedia” when it comes to herbal remedies.

Welcome to the show, Joy!

Joy:  Thanks for having me.

Amy: There are so many different nuggets of wisdom and insight I know you could give us about tinctures and different herbal remedies, but in this episode, I want to focus on the events and the journey that led you to having the miracle Healing Salve in your store and why it's one of the main items you keep inside your family's medical kit.

Joy:    Well, that's a really long story, but I'll try to give you the short version.

So, I guess it all started with Mom getting cancer and then she started researching a lot of natural remedies and such.  And we just kind of jumped on board and kind of went down that road with her as we started having kids.  The more that I read, the more interested I became in a lot of herbal remedies, so I started experimenting and making tinctures and syrups and just trying to see what would help our family the best…what would work what didn't work… was a lot of experimentation and not in a bad way. You know, if they were really sick, we would go to the doctor. But this was, you know, minor things like colds or little bruises.  You know, just the normal things that kind of come with the Healing Salve though we came across that when I was reading some new books that I had gotten a long time ago—Be your Own Doctor by Rachel Weaver.  I've collected all four of her books now, and they have been so invaluable to me and our family.  I'm just so thankful for the blessing that they've been. Just the information that she's provided, and she's been very generous to share. And in her books, she talks about having a first aid kit, or, you know, just being ready being prepared having a medicine cabinet and such. And in 2014 we moved into a camper as a family just because we wanted to travel around the U.S. and see different places.  You know give the kids a first-hand education of history and just the land that we live in—national parks and such.   And before we moved into the camper, I knew that I wasn't going to have my big full kitchen like I do in the house with all my resources, and so I wanted to be prepared for how we were going to be living. So, I made all my tincture syrups and such and got them all prepared and ready for my first aid kit to be in the camper. And as part of that kit, I had some Burn and Wound Salve that Rachel Weaver recommended for burns and wounds. It was then that that we started using it little by little… just minor things like sunburns, you know after hiking at the national parks or such, you know things like that. But I had never really used it on anything serious until about the middle of 2015. At that point we had an accident, a very severe burn on my 5-year-old daughter and that was when we got to see how the Burn and Wound Ointment worked, and it was truly amazing and just a blessing from the Lord.

Amy: Can you tell us what happened when your daughter was burned?  Paint the picture for us what did what did that look like. What happened?  What were the thoughts that went through your head?

Joy:    Well, what happened when the accident happened; basically, she was burned by some boiling water, scalding water. I had just poured two tall thermal, you know stainless steel thermal mugs, with some boiling water because we were going to have tea, and the countertops in a camper are very small, so they were sitting there on the countertops. And at the time we had 7 kids.

The youngest baby was about maybe 5 months old or so, and my 5-year-old daughter was holding him and just, you know, playing around with him bouncing him on her hip there in the little living room.  He reached out to grab one of those mugs, and she spun around trying to protect him from it but in in doing that they got knocked off the counter and they spilled on her.  And this literally all just happened like in one minute, because I had just poured it just in that short amount of time. That's when the accident happened, and it burned the majority of her upper right arm and the majority of her upper right leg pretty much all over.

You know she was screaming quite hard; it was very scary to hear, and it was just horrible.  That's how, I can just tell you it was horrible.  It's not like when your kids just fall and bump their self or fall off their bike or whatever, you know, when they cry like that.  It was worse than that, and so we put her in the bathtub and tried to cool off the burn as much as possible to get that heat out of the burn. We took her pajamas off, and when we did that, the skin just was coming off in layers, just falling right off her arm like a big sheet and off her leg. And there was one spot on her arm that was like a pit. Almost, I think, more like a third degree burn really, because it had gone through several layers of the skin.  I knew that we were looking at something very serious.  I did remember during all that time, you know all that time, it was a very short amount of time—just a few minutes, but I remembered enough to know that I needed to cool the burn.

So that was the first step. And in that amount of time, then I was able to sort of think a little bit about what do we do. Do we go to the hospital? Do we you know try to do something here?  I didn't know at that point because you're just trying to sort things out.  So, I went ahead and grabbed my book off the shelf because I did have my book with me the Be Your Own Doctor book, and I looked really quickly through the burn section.  And you know, there's instructions in there, very good detailed instructions in there, you know here's kind of some guidelines about how to decide whether to seek medical help depending on the percentage of the body burned and just different guidelines that you can look at to kind of assess the situation and that really helped me be able to know what to do.  So, I kind of assessed that maybe like almost 20 of her body had been burned, you know maybe less than that, but it was severe but not so severe that we needed to rush her to the hospital right then and there. I did have a small container, an 8 ounce container of the Burn and Wound Ointment, so we went ahead and got her out of the bathtub—probably about 15 minutes she was in there, and she just got so cold—so we went ahead and got her out, gently patted her dry, and slathered that Burn and Wound Salve on her.  And at that point, she did stop crying, because the salve really it helps the pain go away within 30 seconds.  I mean it really decreases it to the point where you have comfort and you're soothed even though I'm sure there's still pain there. I can't imagine.  I've never been burned that badly, but it was soothing enough that she stopped crying.

During that time my husband had gone and run to the store for bandages and got some non-stick bandages, and we wrapped her up, and she went to bed for the night.  Of course, I didn't go to sleep very well because I was worried about her and wanted to keep checking on her and making sure she was okay. I also, you know during that time, we wanted to be careful and make sure that she didn't get an infection or get dehydrated or have any of the signs of shock or anything like that, because those, especially infection, is a number one complication of burns.  So, we were ready and alert to just go to the hospital whenever we needed to, but we wanted to try this gentle way of healing.  And I can tell you, it was a huge blessing both for us and for our daughter, because she was able to heal in a much more painless way, I believe, than if we had had to do the hospital procedures.

Amy: Can you tell us how did you actually go about treating the burns after you saw and you were able to ascertain the severity of it how much of it had been, you know, covering her arm and leg?  What did you end up using in order to keep the infection at bay?

Joy:    We went ahead and called a store in the Amish community in Pennsylvania, and we ordered a half gallon of salve and burdock leaves—some dried burdock leaves, and talked with them about this treatment protocol that we had learned about in the Be Your Own Doctor books. They had been through it several times through just different accidents that had happened in their community, so they already had more of an awareness of what to look for and how things should be progressing as she healed. They were a huge help!  We got those supplies from them—we got them overnighted, and we started using them.  We would change the dressing twice a day every 12 hours.  When we would do that, we would lay gauze pads— clean sterile gauze pads—on the wound or the burn, and then we would gently pat them and then gently lift them up.  And this was to clean away any dead skin.  Sort of similar to what they do in the hospital with the scrubbing with the antimicrobial soap.  Instead, we were just doing it gently and not scrubbing.  We wanted to get that decay off of there without having to be rough on the skin, on the wound, and so we would do that.  And then we'd spray it with Colloidal Silver to cleanse it. We wanted to do that instead of the peroxide, because peroxide stings so badly, and we just wanted to do something that would cleanse it without being damaging at the same time.  And so, we're just very careful with this gentle situation on her skin.

And then after that, we would again lay some gauze on there, another clean sterile piece of gauze, gently pat it, lift it off, make sure that it's getting any residue left behind just to get anything off of there; and then we would reapply more salve— a very thick layer about an eighth inch, maybe even a quarter inch because I like to be very liberal with it. But we would slather that all on, and then we would wrap that with some re-hydrated burdock leaves which also help in covering the wound instead of covering it with gauze that would, you know, pull maybe be a little bit more harsh on the wound.  These leaves are very gentle, and they hold the salve there to the skin.  And then when you take them off at the next dressing, then it brings that dead skin away off of the burn.  And so we would lay that on there and then we'd use some chuck pads cut up and wrap that around it to have some kind of an encasement, and then, you know, wrap that with gauze to tie it all up into a neat little package.  So, we would do that twice a day.  And when we would go through that process, I washed my hands probably five times between each step, because I wanted to make sure anything that I touched was clean and sterile, and that I wasn't transferring any type of bacteria between the tools, the scissors, the stirring knife, or, you know, anything that I was touching.  I didn't want to take any chances on any kind of infection getting into her body.

Amy: How long would you say it took for the burn to heal and was there a lot of scarring when you were using the Healing Salve, Burn and Wound Salve?  How effective was it?

Joy:   Well, she healed very rapidly in less than two weeks. It was very quick, and the scarring really, you know, you can't tell that she had a burn.  You know initially when she was burned, the skin looked brown.  I guess, you know, it wasn't black like what a fire would do, you know, charring the skin; but it was brown, a dark brown. And then as she healed, those new layers of skin just grew on top and became smooth as if it had never happened. They became smooth—for a while you could kind of see a border line of just color kind of variants between where the edge of the burns were—but they were still pretty much the same color as her skin. And now I can hardly even tell!  And the only place that I can tell there was a burn is the place where she had about that quarter size third degree burn that was a deep hole.  And now it's not a hole, it's not a pit at all.  It filled in from the bottom up with new skin growth, new tissue, and it grew all the way up to the top layer of her skin.  And so that area is completely smooth.  The only thing that you can tell is it's white; it doesn't have the color pigment of the rest of her skin so it just looks like pure white skin.

Amy: So, it pretty much proved how effective it is as a burn salve.  But as the years went by, how would you describe your experience using it then for other purposes?

Joy:    Well, I think we might be prone to accidents in our family. I don't know…I'm not sure, but a few years ago our son, who is probably about 9 at the time, we had just gone swimming, and we were racing back to the house down the road.  We had been in a neighbor's house.  And so we were racing back down the road, and, you know, our road we live on a hill so it kind of goes downhill.  He was going as fast as he could, and he fell.  And when he fell, he hit the asphalt with his knee right above the kneecap.  His whole body just hit in that one place. All that force in that one place, and it made a huge wound—I would say about maybe two inches wide open and then two inches across maybe three quarter to an inch deep maybe, because it was so deep, I felt like I was looking down in it like not being able to tell what I was looking at down there, because it did not look like the top layers of skin.  So it was yucky. It was very ugly.  You know, we first immediate reaction was, “Oh, we have to go get stitches!” because I thought, I don't know what we can do about this.  We've got to go stitch it up and close it up.

So he was sitting on the edge of the bathtub cleaning it out.  You know, I've taught the kids, you know, you need to clean your wounds, and, you know, make sure there's no rocks or anything in there because they've fallen off their bikes and stuff a bunch of times.  And so, we were just looking at it trying to make sure there was no foreign objects in there.  And really the bleeding was surprisingly minimal from what I remember.  So anyway, we were doing that, and I had immediately gone and said to my husband, “We have to go get stitches,” and then I started trying to think what do I have here that could work in the time being.  You know, what could we use?  And then I remembered the Burn and Wound Ointment. I don't think it immediately came to my mind, because I was so used to the burn experience and that idea of just using it for burns, but it is useful for so many things.  Since then I've used it on diaper rashes with great success, and I know people use it on chapped lips and sunburns and all— it's just a great first aid ointment—bruises, just all kinds of things.  So anyway, we got the Burn and Wound Ointment out, and we packed his wound with that.  This time we did not use burdock leaves, we just used non-stick gauze pads and then wrapped gauze around, but we did change his wound twice a day.  We did the dressing twice a day, every 12 hours, and we just followed the same method.  We just made sure everything was very clean, my hands were clean, all the time between touching anything, you know, sterile, and you know the tools, just everything was kept very clean.  And then we used the same Colloidal Silver to clean the wound out.  We would use a clean piece of gauze to gently pat on there and lift it off. So, it was really the same type of principle. And what happened with him is it took a longer amount of time to heal. I believe because the wound was so deep and possibly maybe, because we didn't use leaves. I don't really know for sure if that had anything to do with it because the burdock leaves really do help heal along with those properties that the leaves have as well.

It took about a month and a half to heal, but it was so much fun seeing how the wound would get smaller and smaller every few days.  It was like, it was just amazing! It would close itself up little by little.  I wish I had a time-lapse video; it would be so neat to watch something like that.  It just little by little closed itself up as if he had stitches, and it brought itself together into this incision.  It looks like he just had this incision, so he has a scar, he has a line of a scar, but he does not have those scars that you get from stitches —you know all those little holes that you get on both sides of an incision because of where the stitches were—he doesn't have any of that.  It's just a nice clean scar.  He's done well with it.  It's been really good!   And since then, we've used it on bad finger cuts and bruises just anything that we need it for first aid.

Amy: So, we've mentioned burns, we've mentioned severe wounds, we've mentioned sunburns. Also, I think even from our own personal experience that dreaded hill the same one that your son tripped on my son, my youngest, had an experience with that.  And boy, he had a goose egg on his forehead. And I'll never forget bringing him in and sitting him on your counter, and here comes Aunt Joy with her medicine kit.  And you whip out that, you know your Healing Salve, and some big ol’ bandage, and well you lathered it up and covered it with a bandage.  And less than 24 hours later you couldn't even tell that there was anything there.  There was hardly a bump; the bruising, the dark color that had started forming when he had first fallen, it was a faint greenish yellow as if it the bruise itself was over a week old.  It truly is what people call it like the, you know, “liquid gold” or “the miracle salve” is what I've heard some customers of yours calling it. And they're absolutely right!

But speaking of all the different names that we call this, just to clarify, I know at the beginning we call it Healing Salve and then you've been telling the story and calling it Burn and Wound Ointment.  How did this all come about?  Are we talking about different things, or is it all one in the same?

Joy:    Well, they are the same stuff, and I'll tell you, I want to tell you too a little bit about this salve. The salve the foundation of it is honey, and it's an important ingredient in it because honey is antibacterial, and it's very nutritive.  It speeds up healing so one of the things that it does is that because it absorbs water, it takes water out of the surrounding bacteria and that bacteria dries up.  So, the bacteria can't live, can't grow, it can't multiply so easily in that kind of environment.  And then the glucose in honey converts to hydrogen peroxide, which is just amazing to me.  So, we have this cleansing quality in the honey that's, you know, we first have the wound kept from infection, and then we have the wound being cleaned by the honey, and then the honey also has tons of vitamins and minerals and things that help the new skin to be growing.  So, we have all that going on.  And then in addition to that, we have all these other herbs that are in the in the Healing Salve that help with so many different things.  You know the comfy root it helps that cell regeneration it just it puts it on high speed and promotes it to happen very rapidly.  So, we have that and then there's other herbs in there that help to shrink the inflamed tissue and to strengthen the new cell growth. Then, like for example, the lobelia in there. Lobelia is great for pain relief and for just relieving sore muscles and different things like that. The addition of lanolin into the Healing Salve is what keeps the salve from just melting and running off your skin.  So, that's really important too. And then we have the other oils like the wheat germ oil, olive oil, all these other things are to help prevent the scarring which the honey also does too.  And so, it's so neat how a wound can or even a burn, a third degree burn even, can start this new tissue growth from the bottom of the wound inside and build itself up all the way to the top again.  And because of this, that's how we have found that this has been such a great salve to use, and we've used it for so long now, I guess maybe 8 I don't know 8 years maybe almost now.

But what we did is last year since we've loved it so much and just seen such amazing results, we wanted to make this available to those around us to our people locally, friends, businesses and get them to where they could have access to it and use it and have good results with it as well.  And so, I contacted the manufacturer, and this is made by the Amish community, and they've been so kind. They have allowed us to resell their product, and they are re-labeling it for us with our business name and just the name Healing Salve so they are one in the same product.  I would be happy if anybody got it from either place because it's just so wonderful, and everybody should have it in their medicine cabinet.

It's just, it's truly a blessing to be able to have something that works, and you know, it saves you money in the long run really, because, you know… To give you an example, that whole two-week treatment that we used for the burn, the severe burn on our daughter, it only cost us $500.  That included all the bandages, and at that point, my husband was going to stores that sold surplus bandages or you know bandages in bulk medical supply stores where he could get it cheaper. And so all of that put together was only about $500. You know, it's it makes a difference when you can treat something on your own, and of course, we're always ready to seek help when needed.  And that's the blessing too, that we can do that when needed.  But I just want that to be available to people, and that's how we came across it and where it comes from.

Amy: Joy, thank you so much for taking time today to share with us such great information. I seriously cannot wait to have you back with us again!

For all our readers out there, I hope this episode was a help to you in some way.  If you'd like more information about Joy Durand and the Healing Salve visit her website at www.dogwoodmeadowsherbs.com or www.thekinnardhomestead.com.  Until then, God bless you.

How to Make Soap: A Beginner’s Guide

No two soaps are created equal.  That’s because each ingredient added to an all-natural soap does a specific job.  But how do you find the exact soap you or your family needs without breaking the bank!?!  Unless you have the ear of a soap maker who owes you a favor or two, your best bet is to learn how to make soap yourself.

Yes, working with lye can be dangerous and learning all the rules and purchasing all the different supplies…yeah, it can be intimidating, but when it all boils down to it – it’s WORTH the effort.  Working with lye is no more dangerous than mowing your lawn in the south during snake season.  I know for all you Southerners out there, you know what I’m talking about.

You’re not going to be out there in flipflops when you’ve got Copper Heads nearby and Moccisons.  Oh no, you’re going to wear the proper shoes.  And in this case when dealing with lye, you wear safety glasses, long sleeves, and rubber gloves.

To overcome your phobia, you first need to better understand what it is you actually fear. Now the reason lye is dangerous is because it can cause severe burns if it comes into contact with your skin. No, it’s not an acid.  It quite simply is a chemical reaction. You see, lye absorbs fats/oils upon contact.  So when a drop of lye touches your skin cells, it immediately sucks up all the natural hydration in the skin leaving a “burn.” This process in soapmaking is called saponification.  It’s the chemical reaction of the lye absorbing the fats/oils to create a substance that cleans by altering the pH.  Hense where you get the word “soap.”  It’s simply because the lye and fats have gone through that chemical reaction – saponification. Not enough lye leaves a soap that dissolves rapidly and is mushy from excess fats/oils not being saponified. And let’s not even get into the kind of “soap scum rings” that’s go leave in your bathtub. Eww! GROSS! Too much lye will leave your skin so clean it feels dry or cracked.  So there’s a balance there.

The same way you would treat a boiling pot of water is how you should really treat a container of lye. You don’t want to be around pets or small children who can knock into you while working. You moms out there with toddlers or little ones, you know what I’m talking about….How you’re going to take a step back and your child, like a phantom, likes to sneak up right behind you so when you go to take a step back, you’re like “Ah!” and you either drop it or it spills.  That’s what I mean, common sense.  Leave the kids and pets in another room just to make sure you don’t have an accident in that regard.  But that’s it in a nutshell. That explains the danger of it all. … As and my children like to quote G.I. Joe from the 1980s cartoons, “Now you know, and knowing is half the battle…G.I. JOE!!"

Now that you’ve made up your mind to brave through your fears, how much is it going to cost you up-front to start making soap?

To make one of the simplest types of cold-processed soap you will need:

Ingredients:

  • Distilled water - $0.89 (1-gallon @ grocery store)
  • 100% Lye – $3.49 (16oz @ local hardware store)
  • Coconut oil - $20 (1-gallon @ com)
  • Essential oils – optional and prices vary

Tools:

  • Silicone spatula - $1 (Dollar Tree)
  • 2-Cup plastic measuring pitcher - $1 (Dollar Tree)
  • 1-gallon mixing bowl - FREE (recycle an ice cream bucket)
  • Small bowl – FREE (recycle a sour cream or whip cream container)
  • Rubber dishwashing gloves - $1 (Dollar Tree)
  • Digital Scale - $15 (price varies, but a decent one can be found around this Needs to be able to show 0.00 oz.)
  • Stick Blender - $15 (price varies, but you could snag one around holiday sales for $5-10)
  • Thermometer - $20 (price varies, but I would recommend splurging on a digital infrared thermometer)
  • Soap Mold – FREE (use an old USPS medium flat rate box or any shape container you want that can be lined with parchment People like to use Pringles cans or PVC pipes to make round soaps.)

*Very important to remember that whatever you use for making soap CANNOT be used for any other purpose.

Probably just looking through the list of needed supplies, you can cross off a bunch of things because you already have them inside your pantry or kitchen cabinets.  The amounts and prices I’ve listed are enough to make 2.5 batches of soap.  Using the following recipe we’re going to formulate, these ingredients are enough to make a total of 35 5-oz bars of soap. A bar of all-natural soap costs around $5-7 at the store or craft market.

So if you bought that same amount of soap at the store, you would spend $175-245 just for bars of soap. Altogether, your ingredients and tools cost you less than $100.

Now to put all the pieces together and start building your soap formula…

Step 1.

Do the math calculations to determine the volume and oils needed for your batch of soap.

Square or rectangular = Width x Length x Height x 0.4 Cylinder = 3.14 (π) x Radius x Radius x Height x 0.4

*Using an old USPS Medium Flat Rate Box as a mold with dimensions of 11 x 8.5 x 5.5 x 0.4, I’m going to change the 5.5” height down to 2” because I don’t want my soap to be that tall.  So the final equation is 11 x 8.5 x 2 x 0.4 = 74.8.

Step 2.

Take this number and plug it into an online calculator to get the correct amount of each

oil.  I typically use www.brambleberry.com’s lye calculator, but have also tried out others out there that have a better list of usable ingredients.  For instance, Brambleberry doesn’t have lard listed as one of the fats/oils.  It’s kind of a bummer since I like to make old-fashioned lard soap since we have our own pigs. You know, you use everything you can. However, the Brambleberry site is one of the simplest to use, so for this example I’m going to use the Brambleberry site. Once you are on the site, you’re going to look for the “lye calculator.”

Scroll toward the bottom of the page and answer the questions:

Type: solid…It’s going to be a solid soap not liquid.

Please Select Ounces or Grams…: percentage

Weight of Oils: 74.8 oz (We know this is the volume of the mold, but we have yet to figure out what is the actual amount of the coconut oil.  The 74.8 gives us a starting point.)

Superfatting Level: none (It doesn’t matter at this point; I’ll show you how to calculate your own later and I’ll explain what in the world superfatting is. Haha!)

After clicking “next” you get to decide on the percentage value for each of the oils you would be using.  Because we are doing the most basic recipe, it’s not going to have a breakdown of all the different kinds of oils to use.   Instead, just enter 100 coconut oil then click “next” at the bottom of the page.

SIDE NOTE: Typically, you would want to break a recipe down into percentages like 33% olive oil, 33% coconut oil, 15% shea butter, 15% sunflower oil, 4% castor oil.  All of that to add up to 100 percent.  A typical bar of soap is going to contain certain elements that do certain things. You can do more research on your own about the benefits of each different type of fats/oils and the best percentage used for in soaps to get the results you want. That’s something that you need to do on your own if you are serious about getting into making your own soaps.  I just want to be able to show you how to know or give you the resources or tools so you can take that next step to make your own soaps yourself.

You will see that it gives you a “Total Batch Yield” of 117.11oz which, good grief, is almost double the volume of your mold.  Click at the bottom “resize batch” and guestimate what you think the oil amount will be.  Keep resizing the batch until you get the total batch yield down to 74.8. In this case, the final oil weight would be 48oz which gives you a total batch yield of 75.65oz.

Now, scroll up to the section that says what your oil amounts are and write down those numbers next to each ingredient.

Coconut oil – 48 oz

Now look at the amount of liquid and lye and write those numbers down as well.

Lye – 8.54 oz

Liquid – 19.11 oz

Step 3.

There is where the math comes in…Double check the lye amount using a Saponification

Chart and multiplying the amount of oil ounces by its amount of lye needed. Now I’ve attached a pdf of my favorite NaOH chart that I’ve had the most success using down below so you can see all the values needed to calculate the lye for a bar of soap. (FYI: in case you search the internet for a chart, keep in mind KOH charts are used to make liquid soaps and have different values.)

Now the reason doing your own calculations is so important is because…For example the first time I made a recipe of soap that I had found, I plugged in all the information on the Brambleberry website.  I followed it to a “t.” The problem was my soap didn’t turn out, and I was so aggravated. I was like, “Good grief!  I just wasted all that time and money..aaahhh..Why didn’t this work?!?!”  It drove me bananas! Well, through my research I stumbled across a book and in it she had the full list of saponification chart and was explaining how everything works, blah, blah, blah…But as I was looking at that chart, I matched it up to what the recipe was that Brambleberry had told me, and I did the multiplications on there.  I multiplied the saponification chart from the book that was listed with my oils, and it was different.  Now I did that for the entire recipe. I went through and redid the calculations, and when I made the recipe again, it worked.   I didn’t have a failure.  It turned out perfect. That lesson taught me that online lye calculators are not always right, and there are so many different variations for saponification chart floating around out there on the internet that it’s insane.  So that’s why I’ve listed my favorite one that I’ve had the most success with. I have not had any failed attempts when I’ve done my calculations, my soaps turn out correctly.  Again, some people are like, “Oh well, it doesn’t matter.  It’s only off by a tenth or a hundredth,” but that all adds up in my mind.  So I want to stick with the one that I’ve had success with and that’s what this is that I’ve posted below.  But on this chart, she uses 0.190 for coconut oil. That means that for every ounce of coconut oil, you’re going to use 0.190 oz lye. So you multiply that out.

0.190 Coconut oil

0.190 x 48 = 9.12 – That’s telling us we’re using 9.12oz lye.  You can already you can see that it differs from the online calculator gave a different total

Step 4.

Superfatting…This is the term used when you allow a certain percentage of fats/oils to not be absorbed by the lye during saponification.  They are going to remain in fat molecule form. This is another big way in which making your own soap can be customized.  You can control the moisturizing affect of the final product simply by adjusting the superfatting level.  This will also affect the amount of bubbles/suds your soap will produce. Too much and the soap becomes slimy and the bubbles are inhibited.  Not enough, and the soap leaves the skin feeling dry because it cleans off the natural oils in the skin and doesn’t replace them with any. So superfatting is crucial

Take the final amount of lye needed (9.12) and multiply it by the percentage you choose. (Majority of recipes are superfatted at 5%. You would want to increase it to 15% for this high coconut oil soap.

9.12 x 0.15 = 1.368

Now subtract that amount from the total lye. (9.12-1.368 = 7.752) Round to the nearest hundredth and you end up with 7.75 oz.  THIS is the needed amount of lye for your batch of soap.

With the accurate lye amount, adjust your liquid measurement to match.  The liquid/lye ratio is 2:1.  So for this recipe you will need 15.5 oz.

FINAL RECIPE:

7.75 oz – lye

15.5 oz – distilled water 48 oz – coconut oil Total Weight = 71.25 oz

*Because of the change in lye and water amounts, the total weight went below the 74.94oz we were working toward earlier.  You can either leave it at this weight, or you can go back and readjust your oil amounts. Just remember to re-do the math on each step if you change just one oil amount since it will change the amount of lye and water needed.

Yay! You just formulated your first batch of soap!!!!

Step 5. – Mixing the lye solution

Now to actually make your soap. Ha! Maybe take a short break to let your brain cool off after all the calculating…

Set out your supplies in a well-ventilated area.

Put on your safety gear and cover your work area with a trash bag or newspapers to protect the surface you are working on.

Using a digital scale, place your 2-cup measuring pitcher on the scale, set to measure in ounces, and press “tare” to zero out the weight of the pitcher.

Measure out the needed amount of COLD distilled water and set aside.

Place your empty small bowl on the scale and press “tare.” Measure out the needed amount of lye being very careful not to spill the granules.

If you are in a well-ventilated area, slowly pour a little lye at a time into the water, mixing with your spatula.

NEVER POUR WATER INTO THE LYE – MUST BE LYE INTO WATER UNLESS YOU WANT A VOLCANIC ERRUPTION INSIDE YOUR KITCHEN!!!

(Go outside if you need better ventilation as this part is the worst part when it comes to chemical smells.)  You will know the lye is completely dissolved when it turns clear and there are no more little white pieces floating around.  At this point, leave the spatula inside the pitcher and place inside the refrigerator while you begin prepping your oils.

Step 6. – Measuring the Oils

Place your empty gallon ice cream container on the scale and measure out your coconut oil.  Place inside microwave and heat in slow bursts (15-20 seconds) stirring between each round until the oil is transparent.

Place the container back on the scale and press “tare” to zero out weight. Slowly measure out the olive oil.  Do the same for measuring the castor oil.  Gently stir the oils to get a consistent heat.

Step 7. – Combining Oils and Lye

Use your digital thermometer to get a temperature reading for the oils and then the lye mixture inside the refrigerator. Combine the lye into the oils when both are between the temp of 120-140F with a difference of 10 degrees allowed between each.

Using your stick blender, “burp” the blender first to remove any air pockets before turning on. Slowly blend the mixture in 15-second bursts letting the blender rest.  If the temperature is correct, the soap will reach a light trace in a few minutes. (Trace is when you can dribble some of the mixture on the top of the batter, and it holds its shape.)

If you are adding any essential oils, now would be the time you add those.

Step 8. – Pouring into Mold

Once you’ve reached the medium trace, you need to act quickly to get the soap poured into your mold.  It will begin to firm up quickly as it cools.  Scrape the sides of the container clean then shake/tap the mold to smooth the batter into the corners and evenly across the top.

Cover with a layer of plastic wrap to protect the tops of the soap while it hardens.

A little tip here…If using a silicone mold that doesn’t have a wooden form, place it on a cookie tray so that you can lift the tray to tap down the batter.  If you try lifting the silicone mold on its own, it will just be a huge mess.

Step 9. – Gel Phase

Non-milk soaps need to go through a gel phase to create a consistent color and texture throughout the soap.  This can be achieved by placing your mold on a heating pad set to low and covered with thick towels for an hour.  Or you can wrap several thick towels/blankets around and set aside.  Check on your soap after it’s been sitting for an hour to ensure it doesn’t overheat.

Soap that gets too hot can bubble up like a volcano.  Better to have it be a little too cool than to be too hot.

Step 10. – Unmolding and Curing

Your soap will be ready to unmold after 24-48 hours.  At this time, you would cut into the desired bar sizes after unmolding.  Bars should be kept on a shelf to cure for 4-6 weeks to allow the excess liquid to evaporate and harden. Soaps are safe to use after unmolding since the entire saponification process has finished. Contrary to a lot of soapers out there who say that it’s not safe to use the soap until after the 4-6 weeks cure because the pH is still too high, there is no scientific proof to back up this claim. The curing process is there to harden the bars which will in turn make them last longer during use.  You can use the freshly unmolded soap in your shower, but it will dissolve faster.

In closing, just want to remind you that this recipe was one of the simplest and least expensive ones you can make by using only one 3 ingredients. This type of soap is not favored for washing with because it lacks the other oils that are more hydrating. However, it is still a great plain soap that does amazing at cleaning skin.  If you lower the superfatting level down to 0%, you then have an amazing plant-based laundry soap that can be shaved and added to other ingredients for a dry laundry powder or melted down to make a liquid detergent that is all-natural and very effective at removing dirt and stains.

Now that you know how to formulate a soap recipe and do the calculations, look through your kitchen cabinets or pantry and see what oils you have on hand in addition to coconut oil.

Some of the best are olive oil, sunflower oil, avocado oil, lard, tallow, sesame oil, hemp seed oil, and castor oil. But whatever recipe you find online or in a book, ALWAYS remember to do the calculations yourself and not just follow what someone else has written down.

I hope this episode is a help to any of you out there looking for ways to help save money for yourself and your family by becoming more self-sufficient in the area of soap making.

Artistry vs. Functionality: Why We Make it the Way We Do

Artistry vs. Functionality: Why We Make It The Way We Do

If you are looking for a bar of soap that is pleasing to the eye in an artistic way or a soap that acts like aroma therapy in the shower...don't shop in my store.  Haha!

The fact that our skin is the largest organ of the body makes you really have to stop and consider what we're putting on it.  I mean, come on, how many of us won't eat or drink certain things because we know the damage it will do to our hearts, gut, etc.? If we are so conscious about what we take in to protect our bodies, why wouldn't we do everything in our power to protect the organ on the outside?  This is the thought process that lead me to the decision that I wanted only the BEST to be on my skin without any additional additives including fragrances.

I LOVE making soap especially when I get to create something totally from scratch starting from the ground up that I have 100% confidence is going to be safe and healthy for my skin.

For my family's own personal use as well as our shop, I've been working on formulating each soap recipe to meet an exact need without all the fancy bells and whistles.

Please don't get me wrong, I think artisan soaps are AMAZING!  The skill used to create all those designs is truly praise worthy.   I mean, they are GORGEOUS - so intricate and creative – beautiful! However, I personally don't buy soaps to hang on my wall.  They need to serve a purpose other than fancy artwork. If I wanted all the pretty colors, I would have to add mica powders, and there's still a lot of debate on the safety of those minerals...so I don't even want to take a chance on it.   I just stay clear.

Of course, there are ways to use colors that come directly from plants and foods to mix into soap batter to give subtle color changes, but I typically stay away from those too because I don't want to increase allergy chances with customers or have to increase the cost of a soap for an unnecessary ingredient.

Look at it this way, if you're out working in a field, would you rather have a "work horse" or a "prancing princess" to help you do the job?  I’d personally want the work horse because it needs to help do the job.

In order to get the soap fragrance to hold up over time, I'd have to add chemical "fragrance/perfumes" which, already, not going to do it.  I’m staying completely away from anything chemical.  The other would be to add a boat load of expensive essential oils.  Two things I want to avoid with the essential oils, one would be the exorbitant amount of money to pay for the good oils which would then increase the cost to our customers.  The second thing is that a lot of the oils are not safe for skin usage in high doses.  This means in order to get the stronger scent… you know you pick up the bar and smell it…you walk a really thin line of it becoming harmful.

Like the old adage goes, "Too much of a good thing is bad."  These essential oils that are normally very beneficial to use on your skin and help with all different manner of issues that you could be having, when you have too much of it, it goes from being good to being bad.

So that’s all the stuff I don’t want to add to my soaps. But the things that I do want to add are hand-picked.  The ingredients are all customized to do a specific job.

And a good example of that would be the shampoo bars we sell in our store right now.

There are 3 different bars - Thinning Hair Shampoo, Coconut Milk Shampoo, and Goat Milk & Honey Shampoo.  Each shampoo variety is tailored for the different hair types with no additional colorants or fragrances.  Every ingredient is in there for a purpose whether it be the dried nettle to help control oil production in the scalp or the goat milk, honey and beeswax which adds luxurious hydration.

I may not offer all the pretty soaps to tickle your senses, but I can offer soaps that make your skin/hair feel and look amazing with total confidence in the quality and effectiveness of every single ingredient.

Product Information

Handcrafted Soap

Chocolate Peppermint Bar

Handcrafted Soap

$6.00

In stock

$6.00

Description

Our 100% all-natural, cold processed homemade soaps are specifically designed to be gentle and ultra-moisturizing.  Customers can choose between our four soap base varieties: Bastille, Coconut Milk/Oils, Goat Milk, and Sheep Milk.

BASTILLE SOAPS

  • Apple Cider
  • Roesmary-Peppermint

COCONUT MILK/OIL SOAPS

  • Charcoal & Clay Face Soap
  • Chocolate Peppermint Coconut Cream

GOAT MILK SOAPS

  • Lavender Vanilla
  • Oatmeal (recommended for those who suffer from eczema or dry, sensitive skin)

SHEEP MILK SOAP

  • Peppermint
  • Unscented (recommended for those who suffer from eczema or dry, sensitive skin)

SPECIAL BLEND

    • Honey + Beeswax
    • Custom Blend   – * See “Custom Blend” tab below

To see our selection of specially formulated shampoo bars, click here.

There’s a lot to admire about artisans who can make beautiful-looking soap. The colors, textures, and shapes that some of them produce are truly pieces of art, worthy of being showcased in a professional gallery. These soaps make excellent gifts and decorative additions to any home.

However, when shopping for a bar of soap that you plan to use, you don’t need a “prancing princess” to look pretty, but a “work horse” to get a specific job done.  Rather than worrying about bright colors and fancy fragrances, which even the popular Buff City Soap company uses in their plant-based products (and which may still be harmful to your skin), we want quality ingredients that are both healthy and functional.

Listen to Amy’s podcast where she answers the question, “Why we make it the way we do:”

Subscribe to our YouTube channel:

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.  See our Terms and Conditions.

Handcrafted Goat Milk Soap is a winner!

Rated 5 out of 5
September 30, 2021

Very good quality soap that works wonderfully. Highly recommend. Bar size is generous and consistent, not too hard or soft. Lasts quite a while and a pleasure to use.

Britt

Awesome Soap

Rated 5 out of 5
April 29, 2021

I LOVE the charcoal/clay face soap. It takes all of my makeup off with ease, and my face feels super clean after using it. I just bought some for my mom, mother-in-law, sister, and sister-in laws for Mother’s Day. Highly recommend and shipping was super fast.

Kirsten

Amy's Soaps and Creams

Rated 5 out of 5
December 21, 2020

I ordered soaps and creams from Kinnard Homestead for Christmas gifts. It arrived in only 3 days despite the Christmas rush! The individual packaging is very professional and will make great gifts, plus some for me!

Jane

Great Results with the Thinning Hair Shampoo Bar

Rated 5 out of 5
April 22, 2020

I started using the thinning hair shampoo bar a few months ago, and love it! Leaves my hair soft and shiny, yet still not slippery and has “grip” without having to use hairspray. It also doesn’t seem to get as greasy between washings. I’ve noticed that my hair is growing faster and seems stronger. My hairdresser mentioned that I have a lot of new hair growth as well and that was only after about 1 1/2 months of use. It works!! Be sure to use the ACV rinse after shampooing. Makes it much easier to brush.

Joy

Custom Soap Blend:
Choose either a coconut oil or bastille (olive oil) *base and add your preferred fats (oils/milks) and scents. All custom blend soaps will take 4-6 weeks to cure before ready for shipping or pickup. Amy will contact you within 24 hours to discuss your order details to ensure a perfect blend.

  • Milks: buttermilk, coconut milk, goat milk
  • Oils: avocado oil, beeswax, castor oil, cocoa butter, coconut oil, hemp oil, honey, jojoba oil, lard, olive oil, palm oil, shea butter, sunflower oil, sweet almond oil
  • Essential Oils: cedarwood, cinnamon cassia, clove, lavender, lemon, lemongrass, peppermint, rosemary, sweet orange, tea tree, ylang-ylang
  • Exfoliants: activated charcoal, bentonite clay, lemon zest, oatmeal, orange zest, poppyseeds, sea salt

*A soap base requires either a higher amount of olive oil or coconut oil to create a stable soap and castor oil for lather.  Other oils, milks, essential oils, and exfoliates are then added to acquire the desired lather, moisturizing level, and minerals.

Additional information

Weight 3 oz
Dimensions 3 × 2 × 1 in
Scent

Apple-Cider, Charcoal-&-Clay-Face-Soap, Chocolate-Peppermint, Lavender-Vanilla-Goat-Milk, Oatmeal-Goat-Milk, Peppermint-Sheep-Milk, Rosemary-Peppermint, Sheep-Milk-Unscented, Honey-Beeswax, Custom-Blend

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Saving a Living: 3 Keys to Saving on Groceries

In an earlier post, I touched on the topic of helping with the family’s income as a stay-at-home-mom.  The first aspect that I mentioned was the concept of “Saving a Living.”

Well, how do you do that?

In this post, I’d like to share with you three key principles on how to help save money in the grocery budget, and how we apply that in our own family.

  • Plan in advance
  • Set aside a few dollars from each week's grocery budget for future bulk purchases
  • Stick to the plan

Planning in advance.... What does it even mean? I mean, how do you plan in advance for grocery shopping? Is it just you sit down and you write out a menu or a grocery list?  How does this even start; where's the beginning point?

So, here's what I have found that works for us.  I simply take a sheet of notebook paper, and I write down all the days and next to it I write down the day of the week.  For our family, we have a very structured set - for instance every Tuesday night it's our Family Worship Night and because of that we want as much time as possible to be able to stay at the dinner table to be able to sing together, pray, and have our Bible story.  Now, I don't know about your family, but in ours, I have some picky eaters.  If we have a meal that they turn their noses up at, we can sit there for an hour and a half trying to get them to eat, and that is a big waste of time.  So, to get around that, Tim asked me that for every Tuesday night I fix a breakfast meal. That meal could be scrambled eggs, biscuits and gravy, a breakfast casserole; the list goes on and on. Regardless just a breakfast meal.  Why?  Because our kids love breakfast food, and we don't have to fight with them to eat.  They inhale it!  It's easy to make, easy to clean up, and really easy to get them to eat it.

When that happens we then have all of that extra time to spare for Family Worship, so every Tuesday on my list is going to have a breakfast meal and I'll rotate them out.

Then there might be other days of the week you have specific events planned.  In our family we do Fridays as Family Pizza-n-Movie Night, so I make homemade pizza every Friday night. Other days of the week that I know are going to have a lot of different functions going on like Care Group with our church, Trail Life, different things, I know how much time I'm going to have in the kitchen or how busy I'm going to be, and based on that, I then plug it into my calendar so I know what type of meal I can fix.

That gives you an idea how to take your life - take your schedule - put it on the calendar and then based on what your schedule is, create a menu. If you only have enough meals to fill in one week, that’s great.  If they are seven proven meals you know your family will eat, they're not going to be picky, and you're not going to waste food, plug it in and just keep rotating that week's meals until you find where you can start increasing more. Then you build up to two week’s worth of meals, and you take those two weeks and rotate them twice so you just fix the same meal twice a month instead of four times a month.

I think you get the idea of how that works. Every family is different.

That's the first thing that I do—I plan.  After I figured out what my menu is going to be for that week or that month, I go ahead and start to write out my grocery list. The first thing I want to do is I take that menu and I sit down with a piece of paper and start to plan out what do I need for ingredients.

After I know what ingredients I need, I go to my freezer and my pantry and mark off every single ingredient I already have in stock because if I don’t need to buy it at the grocery store that saves money because I already have it.  Once I've done that, the next step would be to fill in gaps - plug the holes so to speak.  I would do that by sitting down with the sale papers – they send out the paper every Tuesday with the Kroger ads and coupons, and the new sales cycle starts on Wednesday.  I usually do my shopping on Thursdays so that gives me a little bit of time to kind of look through what's on sale.  Some stores just advertise online.  Regardless, I do my research. And the key to that is try to plan on shopping at least three different stores.  Why is this important?  Because if you only shop at one store, more than likely you're not going to save money.  Take advantage of price wars! That's the benefit of capitalism – stores have competition and want your business; so they're going to give you every incentive possible to come shop with them which means that you save money.

You need to learn how the system works.

The best way I have found to do this was to keep a notebook inside my bag and write out everything that I regularly buy. For instance, you buy milk every week or every month.  I'm sure you buy butter or bread… Whatever it is that you buy regularly, start writing down the prices.  You write the name of the store and the price.

The reason this is important is because you're actually creating a record system that you will be able to utilize to see where the sale cycles are.  Stores cycle through prices every six to eight weeks. Think about it… When do you see all the Kroger sales for chips and salsa, chicken wings, dip, stuff for cold and flu medicine, healthy foods, you know diet foods?  January!  Why? Because you've got the Super Bowl game coming up, and you've got people who are wanting to reorganize their homes and are starting New Year's resolutions with losing weight.  Well, the stores reflect that so they're going to sell certain items at certain times of the year.  A really good website that I’ve found helpful is www.inspiringsavings.com.  She has a great list of things put together for you.   The more knowledge you have in this area, the more power you have and the more you're able to save in your own budget for your family which is extremely important.

What do you do with all that information? Why is it so important?  Well, when you're putting together  game plan, you now have your menu, grocery list, and record of all the prices listed, you take those prices and plug them into your grocery list. That means before you even go to the store, you have a rough estimate of what you are going to spend.  This is great because, say for instance, I have on my menu a pot roast, but I don't have one in my freezer, so I have to buy one. Well, that's about $9-12 for a decent-sized English pot roast which would put me over my budget.  Instead of buying that piece of meat, I can take it off my grocery list, save the money, and instead put something else in place like a squash spaghetti bake or a meatless chili fiesta served over rice with taco toppings on it.  There's all different kinds of ways that you can incorporate changes into the menu after you see, “Oh hey, I can't really afford to buy that cut of meat this week,” or you know, “Do we really need to have those side items? Maybe we can fudge and do something else instead?” That's how you can stay within your budget so you don't end up overspending when you go to the store.

The second thing I would say on this would be to always try to set aside a few dollars from each week’s grocery budget to have a surplus available

I literally have to force myself to take money out of that budget and set it aside. It's that thought of “out of sight, out of mind.” If I don't see it, I don't spend it.  I have my budget, and I just take a little bit off the top. It's still there, but by me not planning on spending it, I won't spend it. Therefore, I'm always saving money. There's that old saying that says, “Failure to plan is planning to fail,” and that is oh so true for me.  If I don't plan in advance to save money, it won't get saved.  I always have that tendency of thinking, “Oh, well, I'll just save whatever I had leftover from the grocery budget this week.”  Very rarely is there anything left over from the grocery budget. That route just isn’t going to work.

The reason you need the savings is because when you go to the store, and you end up finding those special deals, if you don't have extra money saved up, you're going to end up going over your grocery budget for that week. You don't want to do that!  The goal is you always stay under your budget, so if you have that surplus, you then have money set aside to go ahead and buy the things you need at the lowest price possible.  The professionals always say, “Don't stock up on items unless they are 60% or more off the original price.  So, you aren’t going to spend full price for anything!  You want it to be rock-bottom, and that's when you stock up; that's when you restock your pantry and your freezer, and you're not going to pay top dollar for it.

That goes back to when you are putting together your menu, you shop in your pantry and in your freezer first.  You can do that because you have been stockpiling all these staple items.  That's how over time that snowball effect begins to kick in.  You start to save more and more and more because you're not having to go to the store.  Say for instance, you run out of flour, or you know you needed to buy flour…Well if you had stocked up on flour when it was 60% or 70% off when it was on sale, you then don't have to go to the store because you ran out and pay 100% for it.  You don't have to pay top dollar because you got it for 60% less.  You see how that it saves, but it takes time to start seeing that effect.  So again, that second principle of always setting aside a few dollars from your budget is very important.

The third principle to this, and I think it is probably the hardest but most beneficial, is STICK TO THE PLAN no matter what.  If you need to save money (and it is tight) and you're struggling, do NOT deviate off your list for any reason especially if you don’t have that surplus saved to buy those on-sale items. Stick to your plan! That’s how you can save money, and that's how it works.  And it does work!  Trust me, I’m feeding a family of seven every week, and we can stick to our grocery budget for $100 a week, but it takes strategy.  If you are serious about saving money, you CAN do it.

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