Taking care of our skin is very important. The skin, intact, is our first defense against any invasion of foreign matter that can be harmful to our system. The skin is considered a thirdkidney because we excrete toxins through the pores just as we do through the kidneys. We also ingest many chemicals and toxins through the skin, so it is important that we pay attention to what we use to clean, soothe, or heal our skin. The skin also plays an important part in regulating our body temperature.
Most injuries to our skin are simple and taking care of them is easy. Cleaning any wound or puncture immediately following an injury should be the first step. Seek medical help if necessary. Keeping the area clean during healing prevents many problems from developing later on.
Some of the skin problems are indicative of internal problems, such as an improper diet. Diet plays an important part in caring for our skin. If we stick to a simple, natural diet and use only natural products to clean or protect us, we will have a much healthier immune system, one that is better able to deal with the viruses or bacteria that we come into contact with daily. Keeping the immune system healthy should be the major goal in seeking a healthy lifestyle.
One of the first ways you can begin to live a healthy lifestyle is to make your own soap. Many people would like to, but think that it is a difficult thing to do. The whole procedure takes about 1-1/2 hours from start to finish. I make it as I need it and only have to do so a couple of times yearly.
There are no artificial chemicals in this homemade soap and that really is the first step in being chemical-free. The ingredients are simple and there are only a few tools involved. You will need a wooden spoon; a wide-mouth, glass 1/2 gallon jar; several flat containers that you can line with plastic wrap (you could use several shoe boxes if desired); an enamel or iron pot in which to “cook" the soap, and a photography or dairy thermometer. The temperature is important when making soap, so get a good thermometer that registers as low as 95-98 degrees.
There are several rules to follow when making your soap:
Get your containers ready by either greasing them or lining them with plastic wrap. Do this first so that they are ready when needed.
Never use aluminum to prepare your soap. Always use enamel, stainless steel, or iron containers. You use the wide-mouth glass container to mix your lye solution in, but you will need a container of enamel or iron to “cook" your soap.
Never allow your curing soap to sit in a drafty area as this will make your finished product hard and flinty. I cover mine with several thicknesses of newspaper and then cover with a folded blanket for several days.
Make sure your molds are at least 1-1/2 to 2 inches thick. If the mold is too thin, it will cause the soap to curl. If it is too thick, it will make the soap too big and it will be difficult to hold. To add scent to your soap, add the scented oil right before you pour the soap into your molds. Any of the scented oils will do. I like to use the vanilla scent for my own personal use, but any that you prefer will do great. Try using a fruity or flower scent. Sometimes kids like the smell of peppermint and this works great too.
You will need to add about 2 tablespoons of the scented oil to each batch. Add more if stronger scent is desired. The scented oils that you add can be of help in treating skin disorders. Lavender oil is an excellent astringent. Adding olive or almond oil is great for dry skin. Thyme oil acts as a deodorant aid. If you prefer, you don't need to add any oils. The plain soap alone is great for your skin because it has no artificial additives in it.
5 When adding the lye to the cold water, please do so slowly and carefully. I never would make it when the kids were around because I was afraid that they would get into the solution when my back was turned. I have since learned that kittens are very curious and you need to watch your pets if you make it outdoors. I had a very close call with one of my kittens, so please take certain precautions. Wear rubber gloves and do not breathe in the fumes. The mixture will heat up when you are pouring the lye in the water so be sure to use very cold water. Stir very slowly to avoid splattering and burning yourself. The splatters will also cause damage to counter tops so you may want to do this procedure outdoors. Making the soap outdoors will also cut down on the fumes.
6. If you happen to splash any of the solution on your skin, rinse off immediately and rinse the area with vinegar. Vinegar will neutralize the lye somewhat. Continue stirring until the lye crystals are completely dissolved. You will need to place the jar in a pan (or sink) filled with cold water to bring the temperature of the lye solution back down to 90-95 degrees. After that temperature is reached, slowly add the lye solution to the oil.
BASIC SOAP: This recipe is for the basic soap. To make your lye solution, add 13 ounces of lye to 5 cups of cold water in your wide- mouth jar, stirring until your lye crystals are completely dissolved. Place jar in cold water to start bringing the temperature down to about 90-95 degrees. In an enamel pan, slowly melt 6 pounds of lard. Place that enamel container in cold water and bring that temperature down to about 120-130 degrees. When temperatures for both solutions are right, slowly add the lye solution to the melted lard, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Keep stirring continuously for about 30 minutes. Add the scented oil and pour into greased molds. Cool overnight.
If you use just one container for a mold instead of individual molds, you need to cut the soap into bars the next morning. Remove the soap from the mold after several days. Age the soap for about two weeks before using. Remember that aging only improves your soap.
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