Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.
I need to start this post with a spoiler alert for my grandmothers: they should stop reading now. What follows is the story of how I’ve tried four times to make their Christmas gifts, and how it hasn’t worked yet.
The saga began when I decided to make them a body scrub. My grandmothers like their skin to be soft, and I thought making them a homemade skincare product designed to exfoliate and moisturize would be an excellent present.
I started by looking for recipes, and found a simple scrub comprised of lemon juice, salt, and yogurt. I chose to try sugar instead of salt because I thought it would be less abrasive, and made a half batch to test it on myself before giving it to them.
Unfortunately, it didn’t work very well. It turned out to be a mistake to use sugar, which dissolved too easily. While I measured the yogurt, the lemon juice melted the sugar into mush.
I think I also got the proportions in the half batch wrong by adding too much juice. Instead of moistening the sugar, I created sweetened lemon juice.
When you take the mistakes together, it wasn’t so much a scrub as a thin liquid. I tried it anyway to see whether or not it worked. I’d been looking for a product that exfoliated and moisturized. Instead it gave me acid burns. After rubbing it on, my arms turned red and blotchy; I immediately washed off. In light of the results, I decided I should probably just eat the rest of the sample. I mixed in the remaining yogurt and added a dash of honey. Not very productive as a gift, but delicious.
After my first experiment, I opted to abandon lemon juice altogether, and tried making a salt scrub instead. I improvised a recipe, basing it on one from the book 1001 Natural Remedies (DK Publishing, 2003), by Laurel Vukovic. I mixed a teaspoon of table salt with a pinch of Himalayan salt and a half teaspoon of sweet almond oil. Then, standing by the sink, I rubbed it on my hands and arms.
The salt crystals were large and sharp and abrasive, which is what scrubs are supposed to feel like. Not having planned on using the test scrub in the shower, I’d added a great deal of oil, more than I’d have needed if I’d had shower water to help moisten the salt. My arms felt greasy and smelled strongly of almonds, so I had to turn around and wash it all back off.
A few days later I made the scrub again, using slightly less oil, and asked my mother to test it in the shower. Though it was drier than the last version I’d made, she found it too oily as well.
Recently I made it a third time, using a teaspoon of table salt, three pinches Himalayan salt and an eighth of a teaspoon of sweet almond oil (pictures shown are from this experiment), and I think this time I got it right. I mixed some of the scrub with a little water and rubbed it on. It was still abrasive, but I didn’t have to painstakingly wash it off, and my hands felt very smooth afterward. Still, while I may make it again for myself, I’m not going to give out scrubs for Christmas. I think I may have a better idea; I’ll let you know how it goes next time.
Stay tuned - unless you’re my grandmother.
You can read more of Claire E.'s homesteading adventures on The Happy Homesteader blog pages.
Photo by Wendy, Claire's mom.