Soothing Calendula Body Wash Recipe

Making liquid soap, in this case a body wash, is a simple way to keep your shower well-stocked. With a relatively small amount of ingredients, you can create a beautiful and effective cleanser! I created this recipe for my fiancé who is sensitive to bar soap, and even added a custom fragrance that we both enjoy! It uses calendula infused olive oil to reduce irritation and inflammation on the surface of the skin, and a blend of conditioning oils to prevent dryness.

If you make your own soap or other skincare products, you probably have most of these ingredients on hand! However, while bar soap is made using NaOH (sodium hydroxide) lye, liquid soaps require KOH lye (potassium hydroxide) to stay diluted in water. This recipe uses a dual lye base to create a thick paste that dilutes well (without losing too much of that lovely gel feeling). I used SaponiCalc to create it, and went with 70% KOH lye and 30% NaOH lye.

As a side note, I added a very small amount of a preservative to keep it fresh in the warm bathroom environment, opting for Germaben II E at a ratio of 1 quart diluted soap to 1/2 tsp preservative. While many people don’t use preservatives in their liquid soaps, I would rather avoid potential mold contamination in the steamy environment it will live in.

Showing you how it lathers!

On to the recipe!

Ingredients:

  • 5.6 oz distilled water
  • Sodium hydroxide lye 0.59 oz
  • Potassium hydroxide lye 2.16 oz
  • Castor oil – 2.4 oz
  • Coconut oil (76°F) – 4 oz
  • Olive oil infused with Calendula – 5.6 oz
  • Shea butter – 2.4 oz
  • Sunflower seed oil – 1.6 oz
  • Sweet almond oil carrying helichrysum essential oil, rosemary essential oil, and peppermint essential oil (for fragrance; these essential oils can be omitted or replaced based on other safe fragrance options) – 2 oz

Total weight before dilution and added oils: 24.86 oz

Begin by turning on your crock pot to a medium-high setting (mine only has a high and low, so I started on high and adjusted throughout to avoid burning the soap). Add the coconut oil and shea butter to the crock pot. While that melts, add in your castor oil, calendula-infused olive oil, and sunflower seed oil.

Mix together your lye and water slowly, stirring well to disintegrate all of the flakes. Slowly add this to your oil mixture and emulsify with a stick blender. This step can take anywhere from 5-20 minutes depending on your emulsifier. You will know when it is okay to stop when it reaches a thick mashed potato consistency. If your blender starts to overheat switch to another or leave the mixture on a low heat setting and come back to it once your blender has cooled. Make sure to wear protective clothing, including chemical resistant gloves, goggles, and long sleeves to avoid being splashed by the mixture; not only is it hot enough to burn you, it also contains unsaponified lye, which can cause chemical burns on its own. Use a small crockpot to avoid splashback or emulsify the mixture in a separate container before moving to your crockpot.

Stir every 30-40 minutes until you are left with a paste that is transparent before you disturb it by stirring. Keep on medium-high heat while you wait. Once it reaches the transparent paste stage, remove from heat, carefully transfer to a jar, and allow to cool. Once cool, you can add your distilled water and sweet almond oil. Depending on how thick you want your soap, you can add different amounts of water. Start with small amounts and stir or use a stick blender to dilute the paste into a liquid. In the end you should end up with a golden-brown soap that is translucent! If you use a stick blender to dilute the soap, don’t be surprised to see that it is opaque for the first week or so. It will settle over time into that beautiful golden-brown colour! At this point, you can also add a preservative of your choice and any colourants or additives you like. I prefer to keep it simple and don’t use any mica or other suspensions, but you can customize your finished soap as much as you like! To thicken it to your preference, you can also add a gum such as xanthan gum, or leave it as is. I prefer a thicker soap, but it lathers well and works as is, too!

Diluted soap in the process of settling after being blended a few days ago. The bottom is the end results’ final colour!

Cozy Soups to Create this Fall

It’s officially October, and even here in South Florida, I have begun craving the many foods of the season: sweet potato casserole, apple pie, warm apple cider, and of course, hot soup. I’ve already made chicken noodle soup and pasta fagioli, and currently have some French onion soup cooking in a crockpot right now! Even without the crisp air and changing leaves I used to see when I lived in the midwest, I still feel a pull towards warm, soothing suppers as the year slowly inches to an end.

Soups are not only delicious antidotes for chilly hands, though; they also go a long way in terms of meal prep and cost. I make a large pot of soup and save the leftovers for about a week, typically spending between $30-40 on all of the ingredients (if I don’t have them on hand). However, I find the more I make soups, the more ready my pantry is to create them on a whim. Many ingredients can be bought in bulk and used in several different batches or kinds of soup, too, such as garlic, celery, onions, and carrots. Not to mention how simple it is to make your own vegetable broth if you find your veggies are about to go bad!

On that note–here is a great link to making your own delicious broth from scratch with scraps and spare veggies from Well and Good. You can also opt for storage-friendly bouillon cubes and powders by following this recipe from Alpha Foodie. Reduce your waste, food cost, and learn a new skill! I plan on trying out the cubes and saving them for sick days or for when I need some delicious broth in a pinch.

Soups also keep well in the fridge for about a week, often tasting even better after letting them sit for a day or two. There are also hundreds of canning recipes to test out and store, making them a perfect choice for anyone looking to reduce time spent in the kitchen.

Hearty, filling, delicious, and (usually) healthy, soup is a soul-soothing way to treat yourself to a little bit of warmth this fall and winter season. I’ve compiled a list of soup recipes to try this year, from chicken noodle to miso ramen. Oh, and whatever fills your bowl, be sure to enjoy it with a delicious piece of French bread! I tried out this recipe from Living on a Dime this morning, and I really love how it came out!

Canned and Dehydrated Recipes

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Instant Pot Recipes

Photo by Nataliya Vaitkevich on Pexels.com

Crockpot Recipes

Photo by Polina Kovaleva on Pexels.com

Stovetop Recipes

  1. Minestrone Soup – Salt and Lavender
  2. Vegetarian Miso Ramen Soup – Love and Good Stuff
  3. Pasta Fagioli – Natasha’s Kitchen *Important Tip: do not add the tomatoes or tomato-based ingredients in till the veggies are cooked. If you do, the veggies will not finish cooking and will stay hard due to the acidic environment. I speak from experience*
  4. Summer Corn Chowder (copycat Panera) – The Make Your Own Zone
  5. Loaded Baked Potato Soup (copycat O’Charley’s) – The Chunky Chef
  6. Mexican Pinto Bean Soup – Ela Vegan
  7. Hibachi Japanese Clear Soup – The Happier Homemaker
  8. Buffalo Chicken Soup – Organize Yourself Skinny
  9. Italian Wedding Soup -Spoonful of Flavor
  10. Thai Chicken Ramen Zoodle Soup – Wholesomelicious
  11. Wild Rice Soup – Give Me Some Oven
  12. Tuscan Turkey Tortellini Soup – Garlic and Zest
  13. Eggplant Potato Soup – Glue and Glitter
  14. Chicken Corn Eggdrop Soup – The Woks of Life
  15. Beef Stew for Two – Chocolate Moosey

What are your favourite fall recipes? Let me know if you try and enjoy any of the recipes on this list, I know I will certainly keep you updated as cool(ish) weather slowly rolls in! Bye!

Muscle and Joint Pain Salve

This is a recipe I made and tested, and have found great results with! I had other people give it a go as well, and I feel comfortable sharing it as an option for you all to try! I chose herbs that have been used to treat inflammation and pain in muscles and joints, and used sweet almond oil as a carrier oil due to its light feel and ability to sink into the skin. Let me know if you try it out, too, and tell me how it goes! If you make any changes I’d love to hear about them!

I will note that I do not use fresh herbs for this recipe, but if that’s what you have on hand, it is possible to use them. Just make sure you watch your infusion for any signs of mold or bacterial growth!

What you’ll need:

  • 0.5 oz Nettle
  • 0.5 oz Marjoram
  • 0.5 oz Cinnamon or Sweet Cinnamon Chips
  • 0.5 oz Comfrey
  • 0.5 oz Arnica
  • 1 oz whole cloves
  • 24 oz sweet almond oil (or another light carrier oil such as argan, jojoba, or sunflower oil)
  • 20 drops Eucalyptus Essential Oil
  • 20 drops Rosemary Essential Oil
  • 6 oz Calendula-infused Coconut Oil
  • 5 oz Shea Butter
  • 2 oz Beeswax (shaved, pellets, etc)

Infuse these herbs together in almond oil, or another light carrier oil like jojoba, argan, or sunflower oil:

  • .5 oz Nettle 
  • .5 oz Marjoram 
  • .5 oz cinnamon or cinnamon sweet chips 
  • 1 oz clove 
  • .5 oz comfrey 
  • .5 oz Arnica*
  • 3 oz. Arrowroot Powder

*omit if using daily or more than once a week regularly. It can be sensitizing on skin when used frequently over time 

Cover with 24 oz. of your chosen carrier oil and allow to infuse for 3-4 weeks. It is approximately 7 oz. of oil per one ounce of herbs. This is more potent than the usual method I use of 1 ounce herbs to 10 oz. of oil because it will be further diluted with coconut oil and shea butter base. I do not recommend using the oil straight on your skin to avoid sensitization.

You may need to store this in multiple jars! This is totally fine. Just keep in mind that the less air in the jar, the better. You can add vitamin e oil to act as an extra antioxidant to prevent some spoilage if desired. 

After your infusion is ready to go, mix in 20 drops of eucalyptus oil and 20 drops of rosemary essential oil. Alternatively, you can add these two elements as .5 oz of each and 7 ounces of your carrier oil to the infusion at the start of your process. I didn’t have either on hand, so I used my essential oils instead, and it turned out lovely! Just be sure to adjust the hard oils to ensure a good texture in the end.

In a separate glass bowl, add 6 oz. of calendula infused coconut oil, 5 oz. of shea butter, and 2 oz. of beeswax. Use a double boiler to begin melting, and add in your infusion after it is mostly melted, with only the beeswax left to melt down. 

A user in an herbalist group I’m a part of recommended magnesium-rich arrowroot powder to cut down on greasiness and also add in another muscle-soothing element. I thought this was an awesome idea and I do think it makes a difference! I ended up melting down half my batch and adding some in, and I do like it better. After your solution is melted completely, begin slowly pouring it in and mix as you do so. 

Divide into small jars and allow to cool. Apply as needed to sore muscles and joints! It should stay good for 6 months to a year without preservatives added, but I do recommend checking it every once in a while for any undesirable mold growth. Store in a cool, dark, dry area when not in use. Apply like icy-hot in areas where muscles and joints are causing discomfort. Due to the nature of herbs and their potential to be irritants on some skin, make sure you patch test your salve before using it. Try not to use it too often, as arnica, one of the herbs in this salve, can be irritating after repeated frequent use.

Be smart, stay safe, and as always, feel free to let me know what you think in the comments. Bye!

Tooth Powder Recipe

I’ve seen a few tooth powder recipes out there, and I’m out of tooth paste, so I figured now was a good time to give it a go! I won’t go into all the whys or how making it can be better for remineralizing your teeth because so many other bloggers have done just that (see my list at the bottom of this page). I took a look at their posts and recipes for inspiration, and I ended up with my own little version! I will link those blogs below, as well as why each ingredient is good for a toothpowder. I will say that I prefer to get my powder pretty wet before using it to avoid full granules of salt and baking soda, but otherwise, it’s awesome! I am going to add some peppermint extract later to give it less of a vaguely salty taste, but cinnamon powder seems to be another popular option.

Recipe

Recommended Reading

How to Upcycle Jeans into a Purse

Around 2012, you could find me in a stuffy 6th grade classroom on weekdays, and in my own room on the weekends. I was always crafting and scrounging around my mom and dad’s closet for fabric to use in my sewing projects. I did everything by hand, and I never bought anything new to sew with, except for thread, of course. I was 12. I literally couldn’t, lol. I remember looking at a pair of lightwash jeans from my mom and thinking the top looked like it would make a good bag. So I turned it into one, and made a strap from a fabric belt or a scarf of some kind before sewing on seashells and an octopus pendant.

I have no idea where that’s gone to over the years, I might still have it hiding between photo albums and forgotten boxes. I think I would cry if I ever found it, honestly. It was such a “me” thing to make, and it was one of if not the first things I mqde and actually used outside of my house. My best friend, who I met in 6th grade, told his mom about it and when I came over for the first time, she saw it and knew who I was lol.

It’s a special DIY for me, even though it’s super simple and easy to make. I created another one a few weeks ago and shared the process on TikTok. The videos can be found below or by checking out my profile @Maiden_of_Moths on TikTok, which also has captions.

Part 1
Part 2

Do you have any DIYs close to your heart? Feel free to share them with me! I am off to get ready for work, so I will catch you guys later. Bye!

4 DIYs to Reduce Waste in the Kitchen

The majority of my family’s waste comes from the kitchen. I compiled this list of DIYs to help reduce waste in my own kitchen, and hopefully inspire someone else to do the same! Let me know what your favourite ways to reduce waste are, and how they have worked for you in the comments!

1. Unpaper towels. I love the idea of using old towels or scraps from rags that have seen better days to piece together a new towel that you can use on the daily. This tutorial by An Apple and a Tree explains how to do just that. If you’re looking for more cut and dry measurements than freehanding, I suggest taking a look at this tutorial by The Happiest Camper. If you have to source terrycloth or whichever fabric you need new, try asking your local buy nothing group for spare towels or a yard or two of terrycloth! If you go with flannel for your unpaper towels, I suggest washing it and throwing in a cup of white vinegar to soften the fibers and get them to absorb spills better.

2. Crocks for used coffee and clean eggshells. (Not quite a DIY but still). Okay so am I the only one that can’t compost where I live? Mom says no, and in this house, that means no sneaky patches of compost, no matter how I plan to hide the smell. However, I do like to save certain things for my plants, including unflavoured coffee grounds and ground eggshells. I tend to salvage these as they come, either by sprinkling them on top of the soil or sticking them nearby into a plant in our landscaping, but it would be so awesome to have a dedicated spot for them in my kitchen. All you need are two crocks or containers and your clean, dry coffee and/or eggshells. I dry out coffee by putting it in a shallow dish and letting it air out for a day or two. For eggshells, I rinse, remove the membrane, and allow to dry before crushing them up with my mortar and pestle. (If you choose not to put a lid on your crock, you may not have to dry out the coffee as thoroughly as I do). How useful would that be? As a gardener, I love it. You can find crocks or other stoneware/glass containers at thrift shops and antique malls! The examples below strikes my fancy, but honestly you can always just use what you’ve got! A tupperware container or well loved bowl will do just as well. Also, can we just collectively fawn over all the cool stuff at Laurel Leaf Farm? Seriously, just take my money already lol.

3. Reusable fabric snack bags. I hate ziploc bags. They are incredibly wasteful and flimsy as all get out, making them hard to reuse in lunches, especially for kids. I’ve thought about using beeswax wraps but I’m just not so sure I’m going to like them, and I don’t want to waste the beeswax or the fabric used to make them. This DIY by Mindful Momma uses velcro to secure the bags closed, making them perfect for on the go. If you don’t have velcro or you’re looking to avoid it, this tutorial by No Trace on YouTube is excellent. I think this will be a project for me once I get my sewing machine sorted.

4. A produce bag. Creating a hassle-free produce bag doesn’t need to be difficult! I’ve found several options for all kinds of crafting styles. This one on Blades and Bush Lore is made from string, and netted to form a perfect bag for apples, oranges, and all kinds of produce. Between the Lines created one using a stained tee shirt. My Poppet used their crochet skills to make these cute netted bags. You can use your old plastic bags to create a new one with brand new life by following My Recycled Bags’ tutorial here. Heck, you can use the pplastic mesh some produce comes in to create a reusable version if you follow Unstuff’s guide. Or, you can glam up your grocery trips by transforming old lace curtains into elegant, weightless bags for your bananas and mangoes! Head over to Patricia Fentie’s tutorial to find out how to do that. Really, no matter how basic your skills are, you can make produce bags to bring along to the grocery store! I know this is technically a shopping DIY, but this post is supposed to be light, so we won’t tell anybody.

I hope you enjoy reading through some of these tutorials and have a blast creating something from here! Let me know if you do, and if you have any other DIYs you’d like to share. I’ll see you all in the next one! Bye!

10 Useful Sewing Projects

I have a very strained relationship with my sewing machine. It’s confusing for me, and I always seem to mess up the simplest of projects. To help inspire my will to keep trying to use it, here are 15 useful sewing projects! Some of these could be done by hand, of course, but for the sake of forcing myself to do better on a machine, we’re just going to pretend they’re not. 😉

1. A simple quilt. While elaborate quilts can be tempting to take on, starting out with a simple design can get you used to how they’re made and offer a great way to use up cotton scraps. Whether you choose to make a block quilt or a simple pattern, finding a tutorial that suits your needs is the first step to success. YouTube is a great place to check for video tutorials like this series by Melanie Ham. If you prefer photos and text, try Pinterest, where you can find pictorials like this one by Diary of a Quilter. How lovely would it be to wrap yourself up in a quilt you made yourself? I can imagine misty mornings made better by such a nice blanket made by hand.

2. Makeup removing cotton rounds. I’ve made a few of these by hand, and while they’re awesome, I feel like it would make more sense to just bust out a few dozen on a sewing machine. Here’s a tutorial by Sustainably Savvy with multiple layers of cotton, which is what I prefer when I make them. I will note that some people make their DIY cotton rounds with old towels, but these can be exfoliators; if you already use an exfoliator, whether that be chemical or physical, be careful with adding in another. I would use 100% cotton for your rounds! I’ve also seen bamboo used as well, but I’m not sure how they fare as exfoliators!

3. Reusable cotton balls. I stumbled on this DIY by Southern Mom Loves and I think it’s a really useful idea! She uses polyfil as a stuffing, but I’d think yarn ends, clean wool, and even scrap cotton fabric could all work similarly if you have it lying around! Be mindful of washing these well before re-using, of course! They look awesome, and just like the disposables, should be kept in a sealed container… like a cute apothecary jar!

4. Drawstring bags. I use these to sort my odds and ends. You can also use them for gifts, bulk grocery shopping, and just to carry around small things! I love how simple they are to make. Check out this tutorial by Free Tutorial. They include labels in their tutorial and how to make fabric ribbons!

5. A potholder or hot pad. Okay but I swear we had a ton of these at one point, and now we have one. Being able to whip them up real quick would be such a useful skill! Here’s a tutorial by Melanie Ham, the same creator who made a video series on quilts!

6. Reusable sandwich wraps. Using a bulky Tupperware container for a small sandwich just ain’t it. Opt to house your sandwich in a wrap instead! I found this tutorial by A Rose Tinted World that looks fairly easy to replicate!

7. Elastic fabric bowl covers. These bowl covers are awesome for picnics, outdoor gatherings, and even indoor ones where the kiddos won’t stop opening the backdoor. This tutorial by Hearth and Vine does a great job in showing us how to make our own! I’m actually curious as to how I could create a drawstring cover instead of using elastic. Maybe I’ll give that a go in the near future!

8. An apron. One of the things we made in my senior FACS class as an apron. This tutorial by A Box of Twine is for a crossback apron which I think I prefer over the typical kind because I’m simply a mess. I really need to make myself one of these with wide pockets for carrying plants and gardening tools!

9. Sweatshirt gardening gloves. You can upcycle an old sweatshirt into custom gardening gloves. I love the idea of taking a favourite sweatshirt that’s torn and old and giving it new life in your gardening routine. This tutorial by Lately Reconstructed does a wonderful job illustrating just that.

10. A reusable Swiffer duster cloth. I do love making reusable things, but I have to say it… we don’t dust our house until it gets really bad. With 8 kids, my parents, and two puppers, it is always neglected. Maybe by making a few fun duster cloths I could get my siblings to want to help out? This tutorial by Sew Much Ado is a great one, and I think I’ll give it a try!

Rock Hunting: Hagstones and Geodes

I love rocks. I just never grew out of that “smooth rock goes in pocket” mindset. It started with smooth, milky pebbles and those flat river stones you can find near water. I still appreciate those rocks, but I’ve collected a fair few others over the years. Crystals of all kinds have overtaken my collection, but recently I’ve been running into two different kinds of stones: hagstones and geodes.

My hagstone collection

Hagstones have many names, including holey stones, adder stones, and witch’s stones. No matter what you call them, they’re made the same way: a slow and persistent stream of water and silt that eventually forms a hole through a stone, or by way of a special mollusk boring through them. They are most frequently found near moving water, but can also be collected from landscaping rocks outside of most buildings. They are riddled with folklore and are thought to hold special powers by many. Some say you can see faeries by looking through the holes, while others believe they hold a rare harmony of earth and water energy within them. Whatever you believe about hagstones, they certainly offer a novel appearance, and are quite fun to collect and share! I like to think my hagstones represent the power of persistence and patience, and can often work as little worry stones.

My first hagstone came from Ireland via a shop on etsy by Lila Strand (last one in the gallery). I had been looking for a hagstone but hadn’t found one yet, and I wanted one so badly. I love it! I wore it on a cord for a bit before adding it to my stash of shiny objects. I used a bit of hair oil on it to make it slightly shiny. Actually I touched it after using hair oil, but it looks cool so let’s pretend it was intentional. Over the past few months, I’ve found half a dozen of my own hagstones, and I treasure them. I gave one to a friend, lost another somehow, and have hoarded the rest. They’re not extremely rare or difficult to find, but there’s something special about finding them when they’ve gone unappreciated for so long.

Similarly underappreciated, geodes are typically found in similar spots as hagstones, turning up in front of banks and schools all over the world. Although they come to us as bumpy, misshapen stones with indentations all over, they can be broken open to reveal a hollow space full of beautiful crystal formations. I love to spot little ones no bigger than an inch. They’re so small and frankly adorable. I’ve had trouble finding them unbroken, so most of the ones I have are damaged or have less luster than others. I love to give these little geodes to my siblings because they’re sparkly and sometimes have a touch of colour. My favourite is on the purple side, somewhere between a smokey quartz grey and amethyst purple. These are easy to find where I live, in Missouri, but are harder to locate outside of prime geode hunting locations. They’re a lot of fun to look for, and when already broken, are pretty easy to spot!

These are two of the things I collect from nature without having a real reason. They make me happy, and I love looking at them and thinking about how they were made. Nature is beautiful, and I find joy in it!

What types of things do you collect from nature? Have you found any hagstones or geodes where you live? Let me know in the comments, and don’t forget to like, share, and follow if you enjoyed this post! I’ll see you guys later. Bye!

Daylily Cordage & Listening to Your Plants

There are certain DIYs and techniques spread all across the internet that, despite being part of the “use what’s around you” ideology, have become inherently attached to specific plants. It isn’t intentional, it’s just what works and is widely used, and there’s nothing wrong with sticking to these kinds of staples. However, without digging a bit deeper into why a certain plant appears with a certain DIY so often, we tend to make a mental note and move on. Maybe I’m projecting my own bad habits onto everyone else in the nature-loving communities I’m a part of, because this was something I recently noticed myself doing.

When I first started looking into cordage and how its made, I noticed that yucca, brambles, willow, and cedar based cordage was super popular and many tutorials seemed to be focused on these plants individually. And those are all awesome plants to make your cordage from due to their fibrous natures. I didn’t have access to any of those things, at least not in my yard or neighborhood, so I temporarily set the idea of making my own cordage aside. But, as with all of my crafty impulses, it came back. And this time, I called to mind the way I tried to weave different grasses when it was all I had to work with. While my attempts were unsuccessful and very poorly researched, I did find that grasses, especially greener (read: wet) blades were easy enough to work into plaits and simple woven blobs.

Bearing this in mind, I took a look at what I did have in my immediate vicinity. Right outside my back door, I had several lush, some may say overgrown, daylilies sprawled over their little mulched homes and onto my patio. I also have an ornamental grass bush thing that offers massive strands in midsummer and early fall, when I remember to pick them before they get chopped down to tiny tufts. Those are still quite small, so I opted to focus on the daylilies for now, and keep the grass in mind for late summer and fall.

Armed with the idea that daylilies had long, thin leaves that looked fair enough like cordage material to me, I took to the interwebs! I was going to try to make them into cordage either way, but I was seeking some validation and reassurance that this was a good idea, haha.

Well, find validation I did! Turns out that there are many people sharing their experiences with daylily cordage online, including a couple youtubers, like Leighanne Saltsman, for example. Seeing them share their experiences with daylily cordage made me feel a lot better about going “astray” from what I viewed as the traditional cordage plant fibers. However, the more I look into cordage, the more I’ve come to realize traditional cordage doesn’t have a set plant list. Traditional cordage is made with whatever you have in your area. Sure, plants like Yucca and willow offer awesome opportunity for cordage that’s strong and resilient, and they’re great options to use if you have access to them. But part of interacting with nature to fuel your life is listening to the plants and elements around you. I intuitively knew daylilies and the weird grass bush out back are fibrous and good for cordage and fiber arts. I wish I would have listened to that intuition sooner and just gotten started on my first cordage project, but I’m happy to get there in my own time anyways.

This idea of listening to your environment when choosing raw materials applies outside of cordage, too. It comes with the caveat that you need to know what you’re picking, and that it’s safe to handle and process. But if you have some fibrous leaves and you want to give cordage ago, don’t worry about finding it on some masterlist of the perfect plants for cordage. Give it a go. Document your personal experiences. Test it out in a variety of ways and let everyone else know how it worked out for you! That’s my plan, anyways, and I’m happy to be doing similar things with my plants that so many people of the past have done with theirs.

Here’s my cordage, which I’ve been creating after drying out the leaves (slowly, since I left them in a wicker basket in my cool basement) for several days, but letting them stay green so they’re pliable enough to twist. There are many tutorials for how to make cordage, but I used the one with daylilies by Saltsman. Here’s how it’s going!

It’s obviously imperfect, and several leaves are a tad greener than I think I need them to be, but I’m pleased overall with my very first bit of cordage. Have you ever made your own cordage, or used plant fibers in another way? Let me know in the comments, and tell me what you used!

Don’t forget to like, follow, and share if you enjoyed this post. I’ll see you all later! Bye!

Rooting Plants With IBA: Myths, Facts, and the Why it Works

I was looking around the internet, searching for how rooting hormones work in willow cutting solutions, and I stumbled onto a video by Fraser Valley Rose Farms on YouTube. In the video, Jason explains why things like Aloe Vera, Cinnamon, and yes, even willow solutions, don’t work nearly as well as commercial rooting powders. I watched all this with a few willow strips sitting in a jar in my kitchen, and I felt that oh so uncomfortable cognitive dissonance kick in. I wanted him to be wrong. But his reasoning was scientific, and so I went on my own journey in exploring rooting solutions determined to find a way to make my own–even if that means I need to find a recipe that is essentially the same as a commercial powder. Because I can.

Before we dive into hormone powders, I want to talk about safety. Jason touches on the safety of IBA (Indole-3-Butyric Acid), remarking that he has done personal research with it and feels comfortable using it. He even made a video explaining why he feels that it is safe, which was a great starting point for me. He explains that while it could be acutely toxic, this toxicity is dependent on consuming pounds worth of IBA, which would have to be intentional. He remarks that the real danger of rooting hormone powders lies with an inactive ingredient in it: talc. Talc is known to cause issues with breathing, eye irritation, and is often contaminated with asbestos, a known carcinogen. So, if there’s anything to fear in commercial rooting hormones, it’s not the hormone. Our bodies quickly break IBA down into harmless constituents, and its found in many natural foods. That said, I’m not super comfortable with talc due to its link to cancer, and if at all possible, I’d like to avoid it. I made a note here to come back to what other inactive ingredients could be used in talc’s place, and why talc was preferred.

White willow trees, aka Salix Alba, produce an abundance of Indolebutyric Acid, a natural IBA, which makes them incredibly easy to propagate in either soil or water. It makes sense why so many people swear by and use willow water to speed up propagation. However, cutting up willow whips and sticking them in water isn’t going to produce a good rooting solution. In fact, Garden Myths explains that “IBA is not very soluble in water, with a solubility of 250 ppm (at 20 °C). This is the highest concentration that you can get, assuming perfect extraction” (Pavlis). For reference, Jason says this comes out to be about a quarter of the strength of the very weakest rooting formulations sold commercially. Many plants will root without any rooting hormone at all, and this low of strength rooting solution could be seen as useful for speeding up the rooting process of such plants. However, for more difficult to root cuttings, it’s not nearly enough to stimulate root production in any meaningful way. Jason says that on a hard to root plant, willow water is “about 40 times too weak to do anything”. It’s also unlikely that you’ll even get a solution with that small strength of IBA, and you can’t really measure how much you’ve extracted either.

Additionally, alternatives like honey, aloe, and cinnamon do not contain rooting hormones. Instead, they have been used as a means to prevent rot or mildew growth while a cutting is propagated. Unfortunately, this isn’t an issue you can prevent by coating the outside of your plant with an antifungal material. Rot is caused by an imbalance in heat, light, humidity, and soil, according to Jason. If these things are well-controlled, there will be no need for cinnamon, aloe, or honey. Finding the right growing conditions for your cutting will greatly reduce your chance of rot. Unfortunately, these tricks for rooting plants just don’t cut it, and may even hinder your plant’s success. For example, some people have tried to root plants in bananas, leading to dead cuttings and moldy fruit.

So, how are IBA based rooting hormones made? I took a look at this site for scientific pursuits, Sigma Aldrich, and found out these important things:

  • Indole-3-butyric Acid is best dissolved in ethanol or sodium hydroxide solution 1N *, then diluted with water
  • *1N refers to the fact that 1 gram of solute to one liter of solution is being used
  • IBA was recommended to be stored at 32 degrees Fahrenheit, or -0 degrees Celsius in liquid form
  • IBA was recommended to be store at 35.6-46.4 degrees Fahrenheit or 2-8 degrees Celsius in powder form
  • I still had no idea what I could replace talc with if I wanted a powder
  • I still didn’t know why talc was used in the first place; is it only used to evenly distribute the IBA in its powder form? Did it have any preservative effects? Is it acidic/basic/does the pH matter here?

It was at this point that I decided I was thoroughly confuzzled.

I did what every desperate DIYer does; I hopped onto YouTube. I found a few videos, one of which used cornstarch in place of talc, but I wasn’t sold yet. They didn’t really explain how they chose it, only that they had. I later read that Hortus, a brand that sells several forms of IBA, does mention that you can create a gel with cornstarch and water along with their water soluble IBA. IBA is a very stable chemical in powder form, and although heavily debated, has been said to last for ten years or more (Hodgson). It seems like the easiest way to prepare this would be to buy powdered IBA and heavily dilute to no more than 1% IBA to 99% cornstarch. Then you could tap some powder out and dip the ends of your slightly moistened cutting into it. I had a very hard time finding how IBA was synthesized, and without proper information and safety guidelines, I don’t feel comfortable extracting or synthesizing IBA in my kitchen, at least not at this point. So that automatically puts a damper on my plans to just extract a natural IBA and make this powder from scratch.

If I bought IBA in a powdered form, I could dissolve it in ethanol and dilute that solution further in water to use as a rooting hormone for my cuttings. If I chose a water soluble option, I might not even need the ethanol. According to Garden Fundamentals, once you prepare a diluted liquid concentrate, you’ll need to use it immediately. You can’t save dilutions in the fridge or pantry like you can powder. Without any preservatives besides the ethanol, I’m unsure that the IBA, after mixed into its first solution of ethanol, would retain its function over time. It seems that most premade liquid concentrates last anywhere from 1-4 years when stored in a dark, cool area, but I couldn’t really determine why or how. I’m guessing that the stability of IBA paired with a dark, cool location keeps it effective for years, but I’m not a chemist.

So, other than buying IBA and diluting it yourself, there’s not really a way to DIY an auxin powder. I can safely say I did my due diligence in seeking out a way to create one all by myself, but I think I’m invested at this point. I wonder if anyone has placed a ton of willow cuttings in alcohol or ethanol? I couldn’t find anything on it specifically, but several of the solutions contain alcohol which is diluted or the cuttings are quickly dipped into it (alcohol isn’t good for plants, but 5 seconds seems to be okay for the IBA solutions). This topic is definitely something I’m interested in, and while I’m sad my willow water won’t do much good, I’m glad to be learning more.

Before I sign off, I want to mention that IBA is not the only auxin that promotes root growth. I saw NAA mentioned quite a few times, so maybe I’ll have better luck researching that one! And if not, well, I’ll learn some more! I’ve already got some new ideas for better stabilizing the environment of my cuttings, and that’s invaluable knowledge!

How do you ensure your cuttings thrive? Do you have any tips or experience with hard to root plants? Have you successfully cultivated any without the use of a rooting hormone? Let me know in the comments! Don’t forget to share and like this post so more people can see it! I’ll see you in the one. Bye!

Places to Buy IBA and Rooting Hormone

References

Croutch, J. (2020, September 26). Rooting Hormone vs. Homemade DIY Alternatives. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R9aPvJIHsYk&ab_channel=FraserValleyRoseFarmFraserValleyRoseFarmVerified.

Croutch, J. (2020). Is Rooting Hormone Safe? YouTube. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rFFYKanfudw.

Pavlis, R. (2019, November 24). Willow Water Rooting Hormone – Does It Work? Garden Myths. https://www.gardenmyths.com/willow-water-rooting-hormone/.

Schmidt, L. (1993, May). ROOT SETTING HORMONES. VEGETATIVE PROPAGATION. http://www.fao.org/3/ad224e/AD224E10.htm.

Hodgson, L. (2019, January 10). How Long do Rooting Hormones Last? Laidback Gardener. https://laidbackgardener.blog/2018/12/21/how-long-do-rooting-hormones-last/.

Hortus USA. (n.d.). Hortus USA: IBA methods. http://www.rooting-hormones.com/IBAmethd.htm.

Sigma Aldrich. (n.d.). Growth Regulators – Plant Tissue Culture Protocol. https://www.sigmaaldrich.com/US/en/technical-documents/technical-article/cell-culture-and-cell-culture-analysis/plant-tissue-culture/growth-regulators.