The Savvy Consumer  







Defensive Gardening

Letter from the Editor

Shea, Shea, Shea

Maid Holistic

Engelhardt for Men

Unrefined Shea is Here!

M&P Soap Basics

Essential Oils 101 Vol. VII

In The Garden

Letter from the Editor:                        

Our main goal at Mabel is to keep it fun and stay innovative.  Quality of product is typically the main topic between staff, at the same time when many companies are shifting to, or have been all along promoting "craft grade" products.  Just one example is the popular cutting of fragrance oil.  Your nose can only smell so much, so it can be cut down to just the smell threshold.   We never cut our oils to save a buck. One way you can tell if an oil has been cut--is to put some on a piece of paper and see if it still smells like that same scent in the following days.  If it is good, it will still smell like what it should be even a week later, and not like gasoline, AKA DPG.      

High quality products are more pricey to us, and more challenging to make affordable to the end user, but this is our main mission and commitment.  A few of the oils she demands are $100 an ounce, wholesale, and I am like "do we HAVE to use THAT one,"  and is "there no other alternative?" as my job is to make good things affordable to the end user.  Our Essential Oils staff  knows their oils, what they do, how they work together, and I never win in the expense debates.  We recently embraced a new way to package our flavor, fragrance as well as Essential Oils to present them in a more stable medium they deserve.  The new containers are UN approved and have a plug inside the bottle.  We are also offering the bottles and plugs at retail on our site under "Containers."   

Sometimes, we do not know what high quality is, until someone tells us.  Leane recently asked me if her Shea Butter article was too controversial.  Well, I found it to be honest, and that is what is important.  So, the article stays, untouched.  As it is our Chef Greg is very much against the use of aluminum in cooking, as we also agree, and that is a VERY tough position in the world of Chefs and restaurants who desire to save money and use aluminum as opposed to expensive copper or stainless steel. He said a restaurant can spend $50,000 easy on cookware, so it is tempting to save in that area.  I, myself, am always taking a heated position on the quality of Soy Wax.  I am for cheap!  But I find that cheaper is just not better when you want to make high quality products that really do something.  Leane is great at teaching ways to extend the life of high quality products, and she does practice what she preaches.  

In summary, the price difference between craft grade and quality is not as great as spending a lot of money making products that are compromised to start with. Some craft grade items are priced at high quality prices, so it can be hard to tell.  Our bottom line?  We are committed to excellence. When the cause is good, Mabel will stir up controversy, force the competition to try harder overall, (when they get done screaming) and expect to find us in the garden.   Feedback on Leane has been awesome and includes the following note:

We know the Fourth of July is upon us, so we refer to great issues we did in previous years for ideas.  Click here to see Fourth of July 2003.  Otherwise the Food Channel has us beat. They are making "hamburger hot dogs" and using the old fashioned red cotton scarf's (bandanas) as napkins, just to name a few angles.  One of the most important features of this newsletter is "Maid Holistic" for those who clean for a living and want to up the rate they command per hour, or those who simply want to clean naturally.  

Deborah R. Dolen

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Engelhardt for Men

We are always in search of "the" women's scent, but we ended up with "the" men's scent first, by accident, one day.  It is better than Cool Waters, Polo, Givenchy, and the other top names.  It is so awesome, it will stop ladies right in their tracks to notice a guy.  It is so great, we thought we should name it DAMN!  Since we agreed that name was not very marketable, we turned to our Chef Greg Engelhardt, whom we find to be synonymous with DAMN!  What resulted was a perfect scent for a perfect guy.  Introducing Engelhardt for Men!

It can be purchased in a 1/3 ounce atomizer, used as a fragrance oil in warmers, candles, soaps, you name it!  We love it in the use of Cold Process soap at trace and it is DYNOMITE.  To order click here.  We expect to introduce Engelhardt for women before fall. 

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In the Garden:  by D.R. Dolen

I did not know places like Starbucks gave away used coffee grinds for soil enrichment.  Not only is that a trump of a marketing tool, it is an honest one.  From what I understand, Tim Horton's Coffee Shops (Starbucks to the Canadians,) does also.   First let's address the coffee grinds!  I could not remember what purpose they serve in the garden.  I thought it was the fact slugs do not like to venture over them.  Some quick research on The Garden Web revealed USED grinds fertilizes anything green, including grass,  by supplying organic matter high in nitrogen and is quick to decompose since it's already in tiny pieces (and usually wet.)   Acid-loving plants, such as Gardenias, really like coffee grinds.  Worms are very needed in a garden and they go nuts over coffee grinds.  

GardenWeb Garden Web groupies also report loving the smell!  I like the Garden Web, and I even got a free nice high quality t-shirt for donating.  I ordered X-Large so I can sleep in it also.  Back to coffee grinds, how much do you spread out?  Well, as one Garden Web member said "just don't cover the grass, otherwise, anything goes." Well, then what about tea remnants?  I have been drinking a lot of that, AKA Chai.  But I start with real Darjeeling Tea from the Himalayas.  Well, this gets technical because compost aficionados call certain combinations "teas" or "soil amendments."  I will skip that part, sounds too legalistic.  But it was interesting that even old cat and dog food is great for your yard!  And I just pitched a 50 pound bag in the garbage because it was too old.  Duh. But it maybe best I did, as I assume old food it would invite rodents.  I will pass on fish emulsion, thanks, and everyone knows cow manure is the best, and free source of nitrogen--if you know a cow.  Speaking of cows, some new commercial features a cow named Mabel, and I really do not appreciate that.  I will be a heifer as it stands when we add chocolate in the fall.  And finally, if you are in a hurry, human urine is an excellent source of organic nitrogen.

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Defensive Gardening—Midwest Perspective

by Leane Ketcherside

Webworms! Those horribly destructive, tree-desiccating, hideous-looking killers were in my special tree! It’s a Weeping Mulberry tree, and I had searched everywhere for just the right one, the perfect one, the ONLY one suitable to plant as a memorial to my brother. It’s one of those things in life that have so much meaning it’s impossible to put a value on, and those damned worms were killing it!

The only ways I've ever seen to kill Webworms is to either burn them out by lighting fire to the branches they occupied, or find a “Tree Doctor” with the right poison and get him there fast. For me, neither was an option. No way would I ever burn my tree, and I refuse to use chemicals anywhere in my yard where my dogs play. I just stood there, staring at that horrible worm-filled web with tears running down my face and feeling helpless—until I remembered…NEEM!  Click here to buy Neem oil.  

I ran in the house, grabbed my bottle of Neem, an empty spray bottle and some dish soap. I was in a panic, so I have to admit that I didn’t measure anything (don’t try this at home!J) I glopped in three hunky globs of Neem, squirted in a shot of dish soap to make it stick, and filled the rest of the bottle with water, shaking it up as I ran back outside to my tree.

Armed with 30 ounces of mixture, I took aim and started shooting—well, all right—spraying. I doused that web, doused it again and even sprayed down the rest of the tree, healthy leaves and all, and I watched those worms die in their web! Almost immediately, they stopped wriggling and worming around in their nasty little network and, I admit it, I laughed out loud.

That was a week ago, and no sign of any new webs. My tree still has that Neem stench, which, from now on, will smell as good as roses to me.  

Defensive Gardening—Southern Perspective

by Deborah R. Dolen

I swear I will never kill another slug with salt.  I am not sure where I read it was "the" thing to do, but it is a very slow and painful death for a slug.  Once was enough for me, and I noticed it was not a fair fight either.  The best way to handle slugs is to just deter them.  They do not like to climb around sand, sand paper, or anything very gritty, so that works for me around my pet plants.  To keep birds from eating your berries, simply criss-cross string above your garden.  It can be clear if you like--such as fishing line.  Birds are not interested in getting all hung up in string and this technique works very well to protect fruits.  Another important note about landscaping is to arrange the flowers in anything but rows.  Pests find rows easy to navigate.  Nature never grows in rows if you think about it.  Another important tip is that even when using commercial pesticides, the threats can become desensitized and adapt around them.  


GardenWeb Most pests do not like Nasturtiums or Marigolds, so I do many borders with them.  Now, mites, the bugs you really cannot see with the eye, are just so persistent in the South. I have to lower myself to the use of SEVEN, once a month.  That also solves the Japanese Caterpillar problem.  When I find that a simple oil soap combination will work just fine, I will eliminate the SEVEN. Anyone wit ha sure technique, please let me know!  Here is a good link to the Garden Web full of ideas on natural pesticides. Note line 12 and 13 support Leane's theory and line 17 mine.   

Click here for the Garden Web.  

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Essential Oils 101 Vol: VII  Cold Process Soap "No No's" and the Beauty of Bulgarian Lavender

by Leane Ketcherside


IMPORTANT NOTE* Please do not use Essential oils undiluted on the skin! I took a horrible risk by doing so, and should have been better prepared!

A couple of weeks ago, while making more Bug Off!™ shampoo soap bars, I had a mishap that, by rights, should have sent me to the ER and then on to the closest burn unit. While I don’t like to tell on myself when I do stupid things, let alone publish it on the internet, this is one story I have to tell.  The photo to the left is Leane and grand daughter.  

As I lifted the Stainless Steel pot to pour my 12# batch of soap, a ruptured disc in my neck shouted in protest, reminding me that I should NEVER lift heavy things any higher than my belly button. As usual, this reminder comes in the form of sharp, indescribable pain, followed by a temporary but complete loss of control of my right arm and hand.

As the pan fell onto the counter, my right arm fell into the batch of raw, caustic soap. Because I hadn’t planned ahead (stupid!), my usual bottle of white vinegar wasn’t handy to neutralize the alkalinity of the raw, burning soap. All I could do was to pull my arm out of the mess with my left hand and run to the sink and wash off the burning goop that literally covered my arm from my hand to my elbow.

 After all the raw soap was cleaned off, I could not believe what my eyes were seeing. It was like a horror movie where you see an Alien crawling around inside someone’s body, working its way up the arm before it bursts through the neck and starts eating people. It was unreal!

My arm felt like it was on fire, but what I saw kept me so spellbound that I barely noticed the pain. In a matter of seconds I watched the tender flesh on the inside of my arm turn red, swell and blister from the inside of my elbow to my wrist. I don’t mean the whole thing at once; I mean that the burn traveled—uniformly and perfectly, as if it had a plan. It was both horrifying and fascinating at the same time. I have never seen anything so bizarre.

 The fascination abruptly ended when my pain receptors kicked in (and did they ever kick in!). It was then that I realized I was in serious trouble, and that half of my left arm was now covered in third degree burns. I knew I needed to call an ambulance, but first things first, and PAIN demanded immediate action.

I ran to my EO cabinet and grabbed the bottle of our new Bulgarian Lavender. I dumped at least 8 ounces into a pan long enough to hold my arm and laid my entire arm in the pan. What happened next was miraculous.

The burning stopped immediately! I figured I’d soak for a couple of minutes and then drive myself to the hospital. I lifted my arm out of the pan and was astounded to see that the blistering was almost gone! In the span of five minutes, I had gone from serious, third degree burns to the sore redness and swelling of second degree burns. I soaked another five minutes and found no blistering left at all, as well as greatly reduced swelling. I rinsed my arm in cold water, added the Bulgarian Lavender to straight, unrefined Shea butter and applied it all over my arm. Then I covered it with a single layer of sterile gauze. By the next morning, the skin on my arm was clear, except for two slightly swollen, red areas. I repeated the Lavender/Shea/gauze routine and by that evening, all that remained was an area of tiny, pin-point red bumps that looked like an almost-cured Poison Ivy rash. The next morning, the tender skin on the inside of my arm that, two days before, had looked like raw meat was now clear, smooth and completely unmarked! No swelling, no redness, no soreness—no scar!

I have used Bulgarian Lavender for years, and always apply it to burns the minute they happen. I know it works—no surprise there. What astounded me was this: I always scar, always. I’m a very fair-skinned redhead and even just a touch on the hot oven leaves a scar. The Lavender I had been using for years helped, but still left scarring.

I knew our new Bulgarian Lavender was the best I’ve ever used—which says quite a lot considering the many years I’ve been testing and using various Lavenders—but this one absolutely blows me away. Even if you never buy another EO in your life, you have got to get a bottle of this one for your medicine chest. It is absolutely remarkable!

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Maid Holistic by Deborah R. Dolen

Maid Holistic is the title of our newest, copyrighted work that will be available for sale before Labor Day.  It was inspired by a growing demand for more natural cleaning methods by consumers to their cleaning ladies.  Having been a maid at the Hyatt Hotel in my early 20's, (a great experience I wish all kids could have at least one week of!) I think I am qualified.  I can make a bed!  In addition, I recently facilitated a cleaning lady when I came home from the hospital.   I got to know her pretty well in five days.  She was explaining how she gets $15 an hour and that a few of her upscale clients were starting to ask her to use all natural products.  She did not quite know what they meant.  I told her fine, but up your prices to $25 an hour and give them all natural.  She asked me to write a book about how that would work, and I agreed.  Here is a summary of what I recommended to her:

When you take on the cleaning of a home, you have to start with the cleaning products.  This would be the cleaning caddy first, then vacuum, mop and air vent filters to the home.  That is the start to TRUE cleaning.  Keep your used fabric softener sheets in a cute box, for many reasons!  We now keep a small laundry bag near the dryer to collect them.  Once the vacuum is really clean, a few drops of true Essential Oils can be dropped into the filter or on the bag, or best in a used fabric softener sheet in the bag. We do all angles.  The sheets  should be refreshed every cleaning thereafter.  Essential Oils will keep the vacuum fresh and the home smelling nice as it is used.  The air vent filters, an area we all wish would disappear, and we never see--happen to be one of the most important factors in our environment, the very air we breathe.  Beyond cleaning them from microbial build up, a few drops of Essential Oils can also be dropped on a used fabric softener sheet and placed up in the filter.  Air duct filters  should be changed once a month, and the nice smell will last about a week in the air vents, only because occupants become desensitized.  Still, guests will notice for weeks later and make comment.   As customers or family members move from room to room, they should have a different experience, and will LOVE the changes in aroma they can sense. 

So, a cleaning caddy is where you should store be your bag of tricks.  We like the Casabella Clear Caddy sold at Amazon. It sells for under $5. A cute box for used fabric softener sheets, essential oils such as Lemon (for wood not finished with a high gloss)   and diluted with a carrier oil such as fractionated coconut oil, as well as Orange Oil straight up to easily remove wax and gum (not the junk the stores sell that claim powered by orange oil) but REAL orange essential oil, as well as a little wax scraper.  You can find  at any candle making section of a craft store.  These citrus EO's are very economical compared to paying for true commercial junk, and a little EO goes a long way.  Our new EO bottles come in the beautiful aluminum bottles, with plugs, so they will stay stable in your caddy.  Peppermint, Rosemary, Tea Tree and Lavender should also be in your caddy to offer a variety of SprayBottle.gif (7744 bytes) scents (and germ-busting ability!) as people move from room to room.  Another accessory that should be in your bag of tricks include a few disposable plastic spray bottles and pipettes to transfer your precious oils.    They can be mixed with water as long as you shake well before each use.  *Note essential oils cannot be in plastic sprayers for more than a day, as straight essential oils will warp plastic in a hurry.  We sell them cheap enough to dispose of after a one day use.   For the holiday season you may want to dap a little Cinnamon oil, Clove and Orange, or Siberian Fir Needle essential oils in the air vents to get that traditional "holiday feel" and omit the cinnamon broom.  

Essential oils can also be used on non-cleaning areas to heighten the experience.  The Ritz, for example, sprays their guest towels with a tad of Peppermint Essential Oil, and that is truly refreshing and different.  Linens can be sprayed but that should be done carefully with mostly water and shaken very well.  You do not have to use much to offer the ambiance.  Bon Ami is another great natural cleaner that is mainly ground pumice.  Bon Ami should be in all cleaning caddies, as well as White Vinegar and Baking soda. Hydrogen peroxide is just the best to get rid of blood type stains.  Our newest book, Maid Holistic,  contains many more variations, recipes and ideas.  Click cover to buy.  

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Shea, Shea, Sheaby Leane Ketcherside

There is so much confusion regarding this wonderful, healing product, I decided to de-bunk the rumors and present the facts. I’m sad to report that there are suppliers selling Shea butter and Shea products who are either misinformed, or downright dishonest about what they are actually selling. I passionately believe that an informed, educated consumer is the best consumer. Spending our hard-earned dollars to enhance our lives and the lives of those we love is truly a worthwhile, loving service. We can’t do this without knowledge and the highest quality products we can afford to use. To add even the purest, most healing Essential Oils to an adulterated Shea butter is, in my opinion, equivalent to adding Rose petals to gasoline—there is no point. You may as well use petroleum jelly, and most of you know how I feel about that! (Sorry about the rant, I can’t help myself J.)

What is it and where does it come from?

Shea butter comes from different parts of Africa from a variety of species of the Shea Tree. Because of its unique healing properties, it’s also called the “Karite Tree”, which translates to “Tree of Life”.

 Myth # 1: Shea butter is extracted from the Shea Nut.

The Shea Tree produces a fleshy fruit; it does not produce a nut. The butter is extracted from the pit of the fruit. African women and children collect the fruit as food. The pits are then dried, roasted, ground and boiled. From here, the butter is cleaned (usually by hand) and then filtered with water. This produces the raw, unrefined butter.

Myth # 2: Shea butter is naturally white, green, grey, bright yellow or dark brown, and is stiff and smooth.

Nope. Natural, unrefined Shea butter is creamy beige to off-white in color with a soft, buttery and often grainy texture. Although some African women will wrap the butter in Plantain leaves, (there aren’t a lot of zip-lock baggies lying around in the Bush), the green color imparted from the leaves would not account for the heavy green color of some of the Shea sold as unrefined Shea butter. If you get a butter other than described above, it has been adulterated and/or altered from its natural state.

Myth # 3: Unrefined Shea butter should be heated to 185° for 20 to 45 minutes to make it smooth.

Please don’t do this! The graininess is just part of the nature of unrefined, quality Shea butter. It in no way detracts from its qualities, and is not unpleasant at all. The graininess melts instantly away at body temperature and disappears. Heating the butter for prolonged periods may destroy some of the most beneficial properties of the butter, which defeats the purpose of using it. Besides, the graininess will come back anyway! It’s just the nature of the butter.

Myth #4: Shea Butter naturally smells like Vanilla.

Whoa, is this one ever wrong! In fact, the raw Shea butter from the West African and Sudan regions STINKS to high heaven! Most of us find the scent of raw, unrefined West African Shea butter repulsive. (My girlfriend actually gagged when I opened a jar to give her a whiff!) Hence, the market for highly refined Shea butter, which is what most people are accustomed to buying. Even Ultra Refined Shea can retain a slight odor, so suppliers will often add Vanilla to mask it. I see nothing wrong with this practice, as long as it’s disclosed to the consumer.

 Myth #5: Refined or Unrefined, it’s all the same.

Sorry, wrong again. Unrefined Shea butter is absolutely full of Vitamins A & E, as well as Stigmasterol, known as the “anti-stiffness factor” for sore muscles and joints. Like most seed and nut oils, Shea butter contains two very important fractions: The saponifiable fraction, which has the moisturizing properties, and the unsaponifiable fraction, which contains all the good stuff: the vitamins, Stigmasterol, nutrients and phytonutrients that give unrefined Shea butter the remarkable healing properties associated with it. One of the most notable things about unrefined Shea is the comparison to other seed & nut oils. Shea has been found to contain from 5% to up to 17% of the healing properties in the unsaponifiable fraction. Most other oils contain 1% or less. When Shea butter is refined, much of the good stuff is stripped out, leaving only the saponifiable fraction. What this means to you is that you are left with only the moisturizing properties. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, if that’s the property you’re looking for. Even Ultra Refined Shea butter has wonderful moisturizing properties.

 Myth #6: If I want the properties of Unrefined Shea, I have to put up with the horrible smell.

I am happy to say that is no longer true!  There is a variety of unrefined Shea butter from the Vitellaria nilotica Shea tree in East Africa that has very little odor and we have it!  It is rare and often hard to get out of the country due to Civil wars and skirmishes, but we will carry it as long as we can get it. To find out about this amazing variety of Unrefined, East African Shea butter, please read the companion article below.

Myth #7: I have heard about the East African, Unrefined Shea, but it’s too expensive.

Not true, at least here at Mabel. We have just switched our manufacturers to the superior.  While some suppliers are selling this variety of Shea butter for more than $26 an ounce, we call that highway robbery. We will never take advantage of you, our most valued customers, “just because we can.” Although this amazing Shea butter is more expensive than some other butters, it is well worth the difference in cost, and our prices are very reasonable. Our goal is to promote the use of this remarkable product, not to exploit it.

 Myth #8: All Shea butters are natural, Organic and made the same way.

Oh, how I wish this was true! Many Commercial manufacturers are now jumping on the Shea butter Bandwagon. Unfortunately, to cut costs many of them have gone to a method of extraction using solvents, usually Hexane (GAS!), because it’s cheaper. While this produces bigger quantities at a faster pace, it also produces a multitude of evils. Because of my years of working with Essential Oils and other natural products, I can usually smell Hexane from a mile away. Most people can’t, and companies are not required to disclose the method of extraction or the fact that this synthetic, toxic chemical remains in various amounts in the finished product. The heavy (usually synthetic) fragrances added to the finished product masks any remaining solvent odor. This method of extraction causes other problems. Aside from the obvious ecological damage resulting from toxic chemicals leaching into the soil and water, economic damage to small, local economies can be devastating. The rising demand for Shea butter provides income to impoverished, starving villages by putting its people to work and providing income. These people are usually women who, without this industry, would likely go back to starvation. Right now, Shea trees are abundant in most parts of Africa. Unless we, as educated consumers, insist on high quality, naturally extracted Shea butter, large-scale, solvent extraction methods could take over completely, leaving us with poor quality Shea butter and eventually, scarcity or even unavailability due to extinction. Know your supplier! Ask questions and demand straight answers. If you don’t get them, run!

 Myth #9: I see Shea butter creams all over the place, so I may as well just buy it at W**M***!

Aside from myth # 6, there are other things to consider before you purchase any commercial product touting Shea butter on the label. Most manufacturers add very small amounts of Shea Butter to their products. Even products proclaiming “20% Shea!” need to be examined. Is that 20% Shea butter refined or unrefined? Is it added to a list of chemical, synthetic ingredients you either can’t pronounce or identify? Is (Heaven forbid!) Mineral Oil listed in the ingredients?  Sadly, even some of the companies which began with the intention of providing the most natural products possible have failed to stay true to their beginnings. Ask questions. Read the ingredients list. It is ultimately up to each of us to decide what is and is not important regarding the products we buy and use.

Myth #10: All Shea butter sold is 100% Shea butter.

Not! To cut costs, some suppliers will add fillers such as Beeswax, Coco Butter, various oils and even cheaper butters to their Shea butter to extend it—doubling, or even tripling the quantity of the so-called “Shea butter” they have to sell. Some will do the same thing to Mango butter, as well. If they don’t disclose this, (and they usually don’t), it’s fraud. Once again, know your supplier!

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East African Unrefined Shea Is Here! by Leane Ketcherside

 If you’ve read the above article, Shea! Shea! Shea!, you already know about the differences in the many types of Shea butter. You also know, then, that the unrefined Shea from East Africa has very little odor, which is easily covered with Essential Oils. It is a soft, beige to off-white butter with a slightly grainy texture and it’s heaven on the skin.

 We have searched all over to find the best quality, East African unrefined Shea butter at a reasonable price. It took us a while, but we finally have it. This butter is more rare than West African varieties, and made more so because it is often difficult to get out of the Eastern part of Africa due to Civil wars and nearly constant skirmishes in the region. We absolutely love this butter, and will carry it for as long as we can get it, and as long as the price is reasonable.

 It’s perfect for CP soap making, crèmes and lotions, lip balms, salt scrubs—you name it! I add this butter to everything I make that requires oil, and especially for any healing blends. I also use it as a stand-alone product for dry, cracked heels and elbows, with only EOs added. Many women of color have great success using this in their hair, and I even used it on my girlfriend’s split ends, like a hot oil treatment. It worked wonders, but you have to wash it out really well.

 You do not have to pay $26 an ounce for top-quality, unrefined East African Shea butter. We sell ours for less than $4 an ounce! Ours is Organic, with official certification pending, and the best Shea I’ve ever used.

 Because it is unrefined, all the healing properties remain in the butter. It’s highly prized in CP soap-making because it’s so high in unsaponifiables that the healing properties are still “live” and active after the soap has cured. In other words, it stands the test of Lye.

 Highly moisturizing, used for centuries for skin conditions like Eczema, Psoriasis and Shingles, this butter has protected the skin of many in the harsh, blazing environment that is Africa.

 Try it in everything and anything that calls for oil, and see for yourselves just how great this butter is! Add it to your existing recipes and create new ones. We will be providing recipes using this wonderful product throughout up-coming newsletters. To get you started, here’s the recipe for the burn butter I mentioned in the EO 101 article above.  Click here to buy our new unrefined Shea Butter.

 Burn Butter

 4 ounces Unrefined East African Shea butter

½ Teaspoon plus 7 Drops of our Bulgarian Lavender

3 drops ROE

 Heat the butter until just melted. Drop in the ROE and add the Bulgarian Lavender. Pour into a sterilized jar or other container and cover with a paper towel. Stir every so often until it sets up to the consistency of soft, spreadable butter. Cap the container after it’s all set up and cooled to avoid trapping moisture. Have it ready to slather onto burns as soon as possible. Works great for cuts, boo boos and owwies, too!

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M&P Soap Basics by Deborah R. Dolen

We are selling a lot of our 100% natural vegetable glycerin melt and pour soap base.  Subsequently, I am being asked some very basic questions.  One of my best books Melt and Pour Soap Recipes really covers this ground, and is one of my best books.   However,  I will summarize basic M&P qualities and techniques here.

First of all, there are two main kinds of soap;  The Melt and Pour vegetable glycerin, that is the best and easiest to start with, encourage competency, and then there is the Cold Process method known as "CP."  We love cold process method because it is REAL soap that cleans the skin and smells sexy.  Melt and Pour glycerin bases (and make SURE to ask that is 100% vegetable glycerin) has its own place as a great moisturizer and humectant.   It is great for the face and sensitive skin that most CP soaps cannot match. Be careful of those companies claiming they have "goats milk," "oatmeal," "olive" and so on.  I found the truth is they use just a few tablespoons per pound of whatever--to call it whatever they are calling it and charge an outrageous price.  I could not be that much a lair, so I do not claim to carry anything other than the 100% vegetable glycerin soap base, made by the Clearly Natural Company that has no cheap fillers.  So rules for working with Melt and Pour:

  • Cut into chunks and melt in the microwave until JUST melted.  Do not scorch the soap. This only takes a few minutes.

  • Add fragrance oils and essential oils after the soap has cooled down a bit.  You do not want them to evaporate or to warp your mold.  You do not need to add allot of this.  A few drops should work fine.

  • Do not put food material in the soap, such as dried lavender buds.  They will end up turning brown and look yucky.  Unused coffee grinds and beans may be an exception as we use that in our kitchen deodorizing soap.  You may also entertain the idea of no color as shown above to the right.

  • M&P soap is not water soluble, so water based food color is just not going to mix.  Obtain your colors from natural sources such as old clay face mask you may have around, cold crème's and some oils such as carrot oil will provide a nice color.  One of our favorites is to use pink calamine lotion.  Just make sure it is not water based.  You do not need much of these items, maybe a few tablespoons per cup of soap.  

  • Once your additives are well incorporated, your soap will cool quickly.  Pop in the freezer for just ten minutes if you are having any challenge getting them out.  

  • Because glycerin is a great water attractor (humectant) you will find condensation on your pretty soap  the following day, if you live in a humid area.  So, when the soap is totally cool and dry, protect it with shrink wrap or plastic bags with a pretty tepee look.   

  • As a last note, I have been using 3" in diameter PVC pipe for my CP molds and have them cut one foot high.  I always leave some space for pushing the finished soap with my heel if need be.  Leane, our Essential Oils expert, has always used PVC pipe for her Melt and Pour soap.  That never dawned on me.  She says M&P slides right out just as CP soap does, is easy to cut uniform slices down the side of the PVC while pushing out the finished soap.  She says she is able to make a variety of interesting colored chunk soaps using soap scraps with the pipe.    

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