Making our own personal hygiene products

In our attempt to cut down our dependence upon plastic-packaged products, and to be kinder to our bodies and our environment, our Mustard Seeds group decided to try making our own personal hygiene and household cleaning products from scratch. We met twice - once to make the hygiene products, and again to make the household cleaners- and each family came to each session with one recipe and the ingredients to make that one product, as well as a selection of glass jars to take home what we had made.

If you look on the Internet, you will find many recipes for making these kind of products, and it is fun to experiment and see whether we can easily replace the products advertising and supermarkets convince us we can't live without. We did have a few issues sourcing some of the ingredients, but together we managed to find what we required fairly easily and cheaply. It seems to me that with a supply cupboard stocked with a few basic ingredients, these products can be easily made up as and when needed, and with a supply of empty containers to fill with these natural alternatives, it is possible to do away with many of the expensive chemical-laden, plastic packaged products with which most of us are surrounded. So, here are the recipes for personal hygiene products we tried (in case you would like to make them yourselves) ....

We tried making our own toothpaste:
Mix a little salt into 100g of baking soda (bicarbonate of soda).
Then, for every quarter cupful, add 15g glycerine. (Glycerine acts as a sweetener).
Then slowly, a drop at a time, add water to the mix, until you have a smooth, paste-like consistency.
Stir in a drop or so of peppermint oil to add a fresh and rejuvenating flavour. (If you don't like peppermint, alternative flavourings include almond, ginger, cinnamon or fennel.)
Store in a container.

Initially, we all found this mixture a little salty, but you do get used to it, and it leaves your mouth fresh and your teeth feeling really clean. After using it consistently for over a week, though, I found my gums got a bit sore and I wonder whether the baking soda is too abrasive. I have stopped using it for the time being for this reason. There are other recipes on the Internet which I intend to try, particularly those including benzonite clay, which are supposed to be very effective. Please comment if you have tried any other good toothpaste recipes.

The next recipe we made was for deodorant. My husband and I had long been looking for an alternative to regular deodorant; him because of sensitive skin which reacts to deodorant, and me because I had heard of the risks of aluminium in deodorant and links to breast cancer and Alzheimers. We had experimented with a few recipes. I have to say the deodorant bar from Lush works pretty well for me, but the recipe we made in our Mustard Seeds session has been the best one yet - and I haven't looked back. It's the Coconut Oil Home Made Deodorant from Wellness Mama.

The ingredients are:
6 tablespoons coconut oil,
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) baking soda (bicarbonate of soda),
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) of arrowroot,
and essential oils.
Mix the baking soda and arrowroot together in a medium sized bowl. Mash in the coconut oil with a fork until well mixed. Add essential oils if desired. Store in a small glass jar and rub on to underarms as required.

You can read more about natural deodorant over on Wellness Mama's blog, but in my experience of using this recipe, I can agree with her that I seem to sweat less having made the switch-over to this natural recipe, and it is certainly working well for me. My husband says the baking soda made him itch, so he is less keen. But I recommend it.

Finally, we made a lovely, rich, natural body butter:
1 cup organic raw shea butter (solid),
1/2 cup coconut oil (solid),
1/2 cup olive oil or almond oil (liquid)
Melt shea butter and coconut oil on top of a double boiler, remove from heat and add olive oil. Allow to cool for at least 30 minutes in a freezer or until oil starts to solidify and then whip up in a free standing mixer. Add essential oil if required and store in a jar at room temperature.

Looks good enough to eat!