Saturday, 14 February 2015

Home made toothpaste- an adventure in reducing waste

Having recently discovered a great website called 'Trash is for tossers', I decided to have a go at making and using one of their recipes; a toothpaste alternative (even less rubbish for the dump bag). The 'Trash is for tossers' website has some great cleaning alternatives and tips for reducing waste. Of course some of the suggestions and tips seem very self evident too, but that is to be expected as the writer lives an entirely different lifestyle to me; she lives in New York, in an apartment, and I live in the Australian bush, in a humpy.

Toothpaste recipe
3 tablespoons coconut oil
1 1/2 tablespoons bicarbonate of soda
25-30 drops peppermint oil (food grade)

Instead of peppermint I used orange oil (That's what I had).

original toothpaste recipe

My ingredients

The ingredients in the container, still quite hard

I added hot water to the saucepan, but didn't have the hotplate on as the container is plastic.

We have toothpaste.

I used about a teaspoon for my first brush.

As the instructions stated, this toothpaste is much saltier than commercial paste and it doesn't foam, but my teeth are clean and my mouth feels refreshed and strangely cleaner than usual. I think I will persevere with this new paste and see if it helps clean my chronically coffee stained teeth. Maybe I could add a few drops of peroxide to the mix.
What do you think of this simple recipe? Will you try it?
If you do, I would love to hear your experiences and improvements.

Friday, 6 February 2015

Dyeing yarn with indigo

Indigo dye vats have fascinated me for a while now; the magic that happens when you add fibre to a yellow green dye pot to get a blue result puzzles and excites me. Recently I found the time (and courage) to have a go at it; thank you Sandy for the push.
First I did a fair bit of research about how indigo is made from the plant. Indigo is made from the leaves of indigo plants which are fermented, soaked in a caustic solution and then dried to produce the blue 'rocks' or powder that comes in the mail for me to play with.
Once I had my little pots of powders and chemicals, I downloaded the instructions for use and got to work...

I decided to dye some hand spun cotton as I had an order for cotton gloves.

I gathered up pots, scales, utensils, indigo, caustic soda
sodium hydrosulphite, yarn and a sense of adventure as per instructions 

I added the caustic and hydrosulphite to the 15 litres of water

I added the indigo to the dye pot

It made a big pot of blue at first, so I put the lid on and waited.

Until the pot was yellow/green with a copper scum on top.
This photo doesn't show the copper scum to full effect, but it is there.

I decided to experiment with cotton, merino and suffolk yarns (because I had those lying around).

Better late than never, I found a pair of rubber gloves.

I made a tiny skein to test dye first, this one is cotton.

Well, it came out blue.

So I tied the skeins to a bit of wood and lowered them into the pot.

They went a lovely shade of dog vomit green/yellow at first.
 The copper scum shows up much better in this photo.

I lifted the yarn out and waited for it to turn blue

Which it did

Then faded to a much lighter blue as it dried.

That was the batch that worked......the story of the vat that didn't is much the same until the 'lifting the yarn out' stage then I found that my four skeins of cotton yarn (which take forever to prepare and spin) had turned into a big blue jelly fish in the bottom of the vat. I eventually figured out that the 150g of caustic recommended in the instructions was just too much for the yarn and it melted. The second lot I cut the caustic down to 15g (about a tablespoon) and it worked well; must have been a misprint.

In ancient times indigo dye vats were made using stale urine (because they didn't waste anything). The processed indigo was stuffed into a cloth bag and lowered into a big tub of stale urine and left to ferment for a week. Cloth and fibre was then soaked in the vat for various lengths of time then rinsed (really well, I would think) and left to dry in a breezy place. This kind of dyeing vat is called a sig vat. I will try this method at some point, when I can afford more indigo dye.
Maybe I should try growing some indigo plants, what do you think?
Have you tried indigo dyeing? What was your experience?

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Happy Lammas to all

Lammas is the sabbat of first harvest; the time of year when we pick the last of the summer fruits from the garden and preserving for the winter is in full swing. At this time of year the animals are usually fat and healthy, the young ones have grown into that awkward teenage phase and the harvesting of staples like wheat, corn and potatoes begins.

Lammas is also known as 'loaf-mass' as this is the time when the first bread is made from the newly harvested grain. The Corn Lord gives up his life for the ripening of the grain at this sabbat and to celebrate this we eat newly baked bread and honey.

This year we had a quiet, gentle ritual with a few examples of our harvests on the altar and feasted in the evening by the light of an almost full moon.

A very fruitful Lammas to you all. May all your harvests be huge.