Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Lots of Lavendar

So, I thought I'd try my hand at making lavender essential oil without special equipment.
I have a few very very good reasons for even considering this endeavor: 

1. I'm lazy don't have time for special equipment. 

2. I need a little better smelling change periodically of something natural that I have on hand that is also 
   antiseptic for bathrooms and kitchen counters besides white vinegar. 

3. I have a shit load of french lavender because I cook and bake all the time, but I don't really care for 
    having dried lavender sachets hanging around in my closets.   

4. I figured that I could find a decent set of instructions with minimal equipment but that I could make 
    without needing to pay constant attention to it. 

5. I make limoncello and limonbuddhacello and I needed a way to finish off the everclear without 
    having to dump it.  I can't drink, so much for that idea. 
6. I'm too busy to go to the store to buy expensive cleaners that give me migraines from being in the  
    same room with the fumes even with plenty of ventilation.  Okay, I'm not too busy, but I prefer to 
    focus on buying food stuffs. 

7. I want get my little slaves wonderful children to help me clean while they still think it's fun. 
8. I'm lazy.

  I was hunting around online and read a lot of different instructions but they were just too annoying.  I finally managed to find a couple that used grain alcohol or vodka, fresh lavender, and five items that I have around the kitchen already.  You can't use rubbing alcohol because that has a strong aroma and won't evaporate as well as the grain alcohol does.  And after making limoncello and limonbuddhacello, I can tell you that grain alcohol evaporates super fast.

Easy Lavender Essential Oil: 

Things you'll need:
  • 1 weekend +1 week. 
  • 2 small dark jars, 1with tight fitting lids (like a repurposed yeast jar) so the oil stays protected from sunlight.
  • coffee filters 
  • thin soft cloth 
  • vodka or some other clear high proof grain alcohol
  • mortar and pestle or spoon and bowl
  • lavender buds
  1. You don't have to remove the buds from the stalk because the stalk also provides oil. 
  1. Put the lavender into the bowl/mortar and use the back of a spoon/pestle to crush the buds. Do not over do it or they'll end up mushy and you'll lose the oil that you're after.
    3.  Add the crushed lavender buds to the jar with the tight fitting lid and cover the peels in grain 
         alcohol or vodka. 

    4.  Shake the jar to release the oil several times a day for several days. The longer you let the 
         lavender flowers steep the more lavender oil you will extract. I let mine sit in a sunny spot on my     
         kitchen counter for a weekend. 

    5.  Use a coffee filter to strain the liquid into the second jar. From making infused liquor before, I 
          would strain two times on this step and one more time on the last to make sure you get rid of all  
          the sediment.  Viola! You made lavender infused vodka OR lavender infused ever clear.  
          Yippee!  You could use it to make lavender lemon drops.  Yum! 

    6.  Shake the jar to release the oil several times a day for several days. I will probably just do this 
          when I am making coffee, when I get my nightly tea and again before I hit the sack.  The longer 
          you let the lavender flowers steep the more lavender oil you will extract. You don't have to hide  
          it in pantry or closet.  Just set it in a sunny spot where you'll remember to shake it. 

    7.  Put the cloth you have from gathering up the materials to make all of this business on top of the 
         jar so the alcohol can evaporate all the way.  Strain one more time into the second dark jar.  Label 
         it and don't forget to put an expiration date for 1year from the date when you finished making it. 

You now have your own lavender essential oil to use for cleaning or adding to your bath or foot soak for you home mani/pedi!  Good job y'all.

Peace, Love and Chicken Grease

Monday, January 21, 2013

Mostly Laundry

Good afternoon/morning/evening to whoever you are.  

1) I love slow cookers, cooking and baking.  I bake my own bread; I'm working my way through The Cake Book by Tish Boyle and have actually managed to make my own notes.  Amazing because I never write my notes for any recipe I try out, relying instead on my completely reliable long term memory.  This is fine when I've made the recipe a million times, but not so fine when it's my completely unreliable short term memory. 

2) I do A LOT of laundry and I have a sister who is occasionally more knowledgable about certain things than I am.  Usually, I am but in this case my sister actually found something that I'd never even considered for some reason, especially because this particular thing is right up my alley.  

My ideas on #1 can fill several posts on their own so I won't address that here except to say that I just made slow cooker lasagna.  It was just the same as making oven lasagna down to layering and the order things are layered.  The only difference was how to cook it.  I used the slow cooker because I have shit to do and I don't have time to get it all ready to go and then stand there and have to deal with the oven. I have to make recipes that require more than 40 min total (prep and cook time) bkc (before kid craziness) or akb (after kids bedtime).  I will, if it works out, prep things ahead of time, etc.  But the thing that works for me, that I will remember to do, is to make double for the meal and freeze half for another day.  Everyone knows that lasagna and many sauces taste better a day or two later anyway.  

My thoughts about #2  are that this idea is SUPER AWESOME.  First of all, it's not my idea.  It's floating around on the internet and if you search for "make a year's worth of laundry detergent" you will find two different but essentially the same methods for making your own 1 year worth of laundry detergent.  You will find instructions for to make 1 year of liquid laundry detergent and 1 year of powder detergent.  The one I looked at was the powder because it's better for the drum of your washer to use powder.  You can use either recipe for HE washers.  

 1 Year Worth of Powder Detergent

1 Year Worth of Liquid Detergent that I haven't attempted yet and will be in a separate blog post.  

Notes about the powder instructions: 
  It only says that it's for a family of four and the post is about a year old.  I figured the instructions are for a single load for about 10 loads per week (about average for a family of 4 that have 1 or none small children) using current prices.  Prices might vary depending on where and when you will get the items to make it and how diligent you are at bargain hunting.  I'm pretty lazy but I don't mind a little leg work.  
Using vinegar instead of "normal" fabric softeners is easy for me because I already have a ton of it in the house because I use it for almost everything.  With washers, it's good for cleaning the washer and the hoses.  It's also better because it actually removes the odors from clothing, including odors from smoking.  The other fabric softeners along with regular detergents just cover all that up with their own fragrance.  

Ok, so I spent a little time doing the pricing.  This price list is for the average family of 4 that includes linens and sports laundry.  We are a family of 5, 3 of whom are kids 4 and under so we have many extra loads due to anything you can think of.   These calculations also assume that every load is 1 regular load using the exact amount recommended per the instructions for each item for the current method of laundry that I use.  The instructions for the DIY laundry detergent is what is made ignoring the manufacturer's load recommendations per item.  

These prices are using current  January 2013 pricing from Amazon, Costco, dollar stores, and Safeway: 

This is what I would normally buy for 520 loads.  I try not to think about the fact that I do more than an average of 520 loads per year because the price for 520 loads per year already stresses me out a little.  

My way: 
ALL fragrance/dye free detergent 96 loads  15.50 = 83.9 
Tide Boost fragrance/dye free 20 pack  11$ = 286 
Oxiclean chlorine free/fragrance free 220 loads  27.33= 64.6 
                        576$ per year for 520 loads 

Ok, I don't like that amount in the slightest. If we used the regular old fragranced dyed stuff, it would be less expensive, but not by much.   Just imagine if you add in dry cleaning costs if you regularly take things to the dry cleaner and brand name dryer sheets if you use them... etc.  

Below is the amount using the instructions and items minus the Purex because I don't use fabric softener and when I do I use white vinegar: 

76 oz borax  9loads    6.10$ 
5.5 oz laundry bar 1.5 loads 7.56$ 
55oz washing soda  13 loads 9.97$ 
13.5lb bag baking soda 27 loads 16.79$
22 oz  oxygen cleaner from dollar store 4$ 

$186 (with the vinegar) dollars for 520 loads of laundry vs. about $576 (using vinegar)per year for 520 loads 

A   $390 difference! 

about $49 (with the purex) dollars for 520 loads of laundry vs. about $722 (with purex) to per year for 520 loads 

A GINORMOUS difference! 

So, it's more expensive to use the vinegar vs. the purex to make the powder detergent and then use the vinegar every load. In my experience, purex doesn't work very well.  Like all the other brands of laundry detergents and branded fabric softeners, it just makes your clothes odiferous.  Also most people still use dryer sheets as static removers and fabric softener.  I have found using softeners (including dryer sheets) just seem to break the clothing down more so they wear out faster, and in some cases, adds more lint instead of less.  Obviously, adjust the price per load more or less depending on dryer sheet vs. fabric softener in the wash.  

My sister would like to add:  Wear a dust mask and some gloves.  Microwave the soap (chop it up and zap it for 3 min) and rub it in your hands to turn it to powder.  The dust mask is because the whole process of handling and mixing all that powder creates a lot of dust.  She also says, "I have found, so far, that there is no scent.  I'm sure if you use more of the Pyrex crystals you would get more scent or possibly if you don't microwave the soap.  The comments in the blog talk about it 'smelling so good' but those are people who used a food processor or grater." 

I don't know, I think if you have a sensitive nose or have migraines or both that you would notice because I know I would.  

As to how well the actual DIY powder detergent is going to work? I'll have to get back to you on that one.  

Peace, Love and Chicken Grease.