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"granola" personal care products
so the other thread got me to wondering what sort of everyday products you have been able/willing to replace with natural (or moreso) items and been pleased with. (excluding food)

my favorite...

I love to mix  virgin coconut oil with a bit of tea tree oil to use as a body/oil moisturizer. i keep a small container in the bathroom. I also like safflower oil for this purpose but the coconut oil smells sooooo good.
Tea tree oil has helped my skin problems SO much!  Apparently the years of hardcore acne creams have toughened my face, cause I can just put straight tea tree oil on a zit and it's gone in one or two days.  Some people with more sensitive skin can't do that.  An oz of the organic stuff is like $14, but it lasts for almost a year with how I use it. 

I mentioned my face scrub in the "tips and tricks" but....here it is again cause it's so good:

Any kind of fine salt (I grind mine with a mortar and pestle before hand), plus enough aloe vera gel to make a paste.  Can add oil suited to your skin type or seasonal condition (couple drops of tea tree for my summer skin, almond oil for my winter skin).  I think exfoliating a few times a week also really helped my skin realize we aren't a teenager anymore.... 
(1)  I mix coconut oil and a few drops of peppermint essential oil to make my families own 'Vicks Vapor Rub' mix - no Vick's for us!  I recycle those tiny sample jars mustard and jam comes in for holiday gift-boxes and put our rub in one - perfect.  Great for under the nose too when you can't breath.

(2)  For poison oak and other skin reactions I mix a lot of salt with a little water (2 to 1) and dip a cotton pad in to apply to the irritated skin.  Go easy on raw skin as salt can sting, go rough on poison oak and the salt scratch offers some relief.  At first, while applying it will itch more - this is the body releasing it's final bit of histamine, keep applying until it stops and it won't itch again for as long as 8 hours.  Continue to apply it every few hours during the day and watch it disappear in a couple of days instead of spreading.  You must be diligent, but this stuff works!

(3)  Add a drop of diluted peppermint oil to your toothbrush for a mouthwash effect as you brush your teeth.  Also helps with germs and tooth decay.

(4)  Use diluted apply cider vinegar as an astringent or after shave tonic.  Your skin will feel amazing.  The smell dissipates quickly - no worries.

(5)  Natural DE (Diatomaceous Earth) works well for chafing skin - use where ever skin is raw due to rubbing, to much moisture, etc.

(6)  I may be straying off topic with this one, but ....Natural DE (Diatomaceous Earth) works well for treatment of pin worms - simply apply to your child's clean bottom every night for 15 days or until the child stops complaining which ever is longer.  Note the dates, next month apply during the next 15 days in the order.  Poof no pin worms.  Add extra hand washing for everyone in the family at this time.

(7)  Coconut oil every night on your lashes makes them stronger, thicker and longer.  Always remove mascara asap as this is harsh on lashes.

(  In the summer I use coconut oil/olive oil and AC vinegar as suntan lotion - I smell like a yummy salad, the vinegar helps prevent burning while the oil is moisturizing.   Of course I can take more sun than the average fair skinned person so be careful if your fair skinned.

(9) Mashed raw potato is good for under the eye - circles, puffiness, etc.  store in the fridge and use a cotton pad to apply every night as night eye treatment.

(10)  Boil 2-cups of water with lemon or orange peel from one whole fruit in it.  Cool and then place in a spray bottle in the fridge.  When you need some hair spray or mouse go get your bottle and spray away.

(11)  Boil some flax seed for a minute, remove from heat and strain right away to remove the seeds before this sets up.  Store in fridge and use as hair gel.

I tend towards really dry skin. In the winter my face will peel and my knuckles get cracked and sometimes bloody that was until I started using straight vit E oil. it is not the sort of thing I can put on my face right before I go out because it takes a while to absorb adn looks a little funny. but it is the only think I've ever found that will heal and protect my knuckles and keep my face from drying out in the winter. every few days after I get out of the shower I break open a capsule and put most of it on my face and part of it on the back of my hands. dh makes fun of me because I am "shiney" for a while, but it is sooo worth it to avoid the parched facial skin and ouchy knuckles. 

fyi for anyone- when looking for vit E oil you really have to check the ingredients. alot of the bottles are mostly just soy bean oil.

I love tea tree oil for just about everything.
you've all mentioned different oils.  reading about food plants, I often encounter information about oils extracted from them that are useful for food or cosmetic uses, but rarely (if ever) do I see any information about how to do the extracting.  anybody have any experience with that?  I've made coconut milk, which I think is mostly coconut oil and water, but that's as much as I've done down this path.  I've seen essential oil presses for sale at upwards of $600, but they seem to work by soaking raw material in a carrier oil first.

anyhow, we use jojoba oil or aloe vera gel for dry skin.  just the straight stuff, not a 'product'.  the aloe in particular works real well for my gal, Kanna's, eczema.  jojoba is supposed to be very similar to human sebum and works real well for me if I've got dry skin (I'm prone to cracked and bloody knuckles sometimes, too).  I used to use corn huskers lotion, which did the trick, but there's some pretty nasty stuff in there.

I really like the smell of tea tree oil, so I use it a fair amount.  on my armpits, it makes my odor tolerable to my own nose, though not always the nose of the other person I spend most of my time with.  fortunately, she's inexplicably fond of my stench unless it's been a particularly sweaty day.  we use tea tree liquid castile soap in the shower and around the apartment.  I think I'll try my hand at making some myself when we run out.

when I've got a beard, I'll sometimes rub some peppermint oil into it just to smell nice.  I make mustache wax out of beeswax and olive oil with a little cinnamon oil for a pleasant smell.  the ratio of beeswax to olive oil is entirely flexible, and other oils would likely work well.

Kanna uses baking soda and vinegar as shampoo and conditioner, respectively.  she talks more about that here, along with some other personal care habits she's got.  I tend to just use some of the castile soap in my hair when the time comes.  I heard from my roommate that our heads will adjust to not being washed after a couple of weeks, so I tried it out.  I went for several months without using soap on my hair.  after an initial funky period, my hair ended up feeling real nice and not at all oily (well, maybe a little oily).  I was getting complaints from Kanna regarding the... um... scent, though, so I resumed washing.

I really, really like badger bristle toothbrushes.  might sound a little creepy, but they're really great.  like a massage for your gums with every brush.  paired with some good tooth powder (I use eco-dent, though I've been meaning to try some recipes I've seen), they're hard to beat.  I haven't been able to convince any local merchants to carry them, so I order toothbrushes from smallflowers.

I don't shave much, but when I do, I use an old badger bristle shaving brush with a mug and soap.  so very much nicer than any shaving cream or lotion I've encountered, though I honestly haven't tried any of those since junior high.  then I either use Kanna's Merkur safety razor or my great grandpa's straight razor.  since I don't shave much, I'm not very fast with the straight razor, but it does the trick pretty well in the end.  I don't know if that qualifies as "granola", but it turns an obnoxious task into a pleasant ritual.
My exboyfriend worked at a farm in Costa Rica where they made a few essential oils by steam distillation...I don't know anything about the specifics.  He told me it's very important to buy organic essential oils because of the enormous amount of plant material used to make these very concentrated oils. 

Found this website with this contraption:

marina phillips wrote:
My exboyfriend worked at a farm in Costa Rica where they made a few essential oils by steam distillation...I don't know anything about the specifics.  He told me it's very important to buy organic essential oils because of the enormous amount of plant material used to make these very concentrated oils. 

Found this website with this contraption:

looks fun.  not exactly cheap, but I suppose it could extract a lot of oil over its lifetime.  I guess I was thinking more along the lines of seed and nut oils as opposed to essential oils, though.  there's a giant camellia bush in my grandma's yard and I recently read that camellia seeds yield a useful oil.  all sorts of other unexpected seeds contain useful oils and waxes, it seems.
There are lots of body oils on the market that are extracted with nasty solvents - a big reason I try to buy organic whenever it's available - I just feel the organic certification speaks of more integrity on the part of the oil makers.  I imagine if you wanted to do it yourself there would have to be a big press involved.  And lots and lots and lots of seeds.  But I don't know for sure, there might be further preparation for the seeds before pressing.  We were given a giant apple press, I bet it could work for seeds as well with a different material holding arrangement.

And yeah, I'd bet little of the equipment for refining stuff down into something as pure as an oil is cheap. 

We were given a giant apple press

nice.  what sort of press is it?  we press a lot of apples at work in a stainless press with a 12-ton bottle jack and 2-horse hammer mill.  I think the pressure might be enough, but like you suggested, the racks and cloths for cider probably wouldn't work for oil extraction.
My partner's uncle made the thing years ago.  He was a mechanic of all trades, and made perhaps the beefiest home made press you'll ever see.  Back in the wild west days of northern cali -  the 1970s, that is - he used to make and sell raw apple juice for school fund raisers.  We want to make hard cider, mostly. 

It weighs a couple hundred pounds and is about 8 feet tall, fabricated out of quarter inch steel, thick ugly solid welding.  A ten ton bottle jack provides the juicing pressure, big springs pull the pressing plate back up.  It's intense.  We need to make/fabricate/find the right cage to hold the apples under the pressing plate.  Do you have a picture of the one you use at work?  Would the typical cages I've seen made of wooden slates and metal bands do the job? 

Do you have a picture of the one you use at work?  Would the typical cages I've seen made of wooden slates and metal bands do the job?

I do have pictures.  and no, from how you've described your press, I don't think the cages are what you want.


Ian (not Edward) at the helm.
Collin and I dunno who.  slightly better view of the racks.
Collin again.  better view of the cloths and racks during press.
couldn't find a good picture of filling up the cloths.

I'll try to explain the rack and cloth procedure:
we start with a polyethylene base on the bottom: 1/2" thick slab of polyethylene with an eye bolt in it to use a hook to drag the finished stack under the press.  on top of that is the first rack.  it's a flat square of polyethylene with some channels molded into it.  on top of that goes a square metal frame about two inches tall.  on top of that goes the first cloth, which drapes over the metal frame and forms a depression to fill up with pomace (milled apples).  it's bigger than the rack, so the corners extend out beyond.  once that's full of apple, we fold the corners over the top, remove the frame, add the next rack, replace the frame on the new rack, drape a cloth over it, fill it up, repeat five times.  finish with a rack on top and slide the whole mess down under the press.

this extracts a lot more juice from the apples compared to the wood/metal hoops setup.  by separating the pomace into several cloths, the proportion of juice next to an immediate exit route is increased so less juice gets trapped in the apple pomace.  the molded channels in the racks also give the juice a way out from the middle of the stack.

the racks look like this:

we've got the smallest size there.  I'm guessing it's about 18" square.  I believe we got our cloths and racks from Oesco.  I'll go ahead and warn you that they aren't cheap.  they do last a long time, though.  if your press doesn't look at all like ours, I may be giving you bad information.
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