Well, we are in the heart of cold and flu season here in Colorado. Our family has been passing around some upper respiratory infections with lots of coughing and sore throats. I am always amazed at the body's capacity to heal. When possible, I like to try natural remedies to ease unpleasant symptoms and support the body's immune system to fight colds. It is in that spirit that I thought I would pass along some of my go-to natural remedies!
Of course, the first thing the doctor always says; "Rest and fluids". That little mantra rolls through my head whenever someone comes down with something. Rest can be pretty hard to come by at times but there are some great ways to take care of yourself! I decided to make some shower steamers. These are a lot like bath fizzies except you use them in the shower. Depending on the essential oil you choose they can be used to soothe upper respiratory cold symptoms or simply used as aromatherapy to calm and relax (think lavender) or to perk up in the morning (like citrus). A shower is something you are already doing so why not turn your ordinary shower into a spa retreat and give yourself a little TLC?
I have seen recipes for these all over the internet. I really loved this recipe from The Soap Queen. It is so simple, requires very minimal ingredients, and can be made in a snap! Spend some time taking a look at her site if you are interested in home made beauty products! It is loaded with tips, tutorials, recipes and great ideas! I also loved this blog post from The Hippy Homemaker. She has a great forward about the history of shower steamers and I like her tip about adding the oil after the product is dry. I originally mixed my oil in at the beginning and my husband said it was very mild (even though it smelled really strong when making them.)
These could be given as get-well gifts for a sick friend or aromatherapy as a mood pick-me-up. They also would be a unique and fun thing to give for Valentines! They are so easy to make! Inspired by The Soap Queen's recipe, I customized the oils and here is what I came up with. Let's start with the recipe:
O.K, Let's make some!
Start by gathering up your ingredients. These are pretty easy to find, generally speaking. The Baking Soda you can get in any grocery store in the baking section. Witch Hazel can be found in any pharmacy and can often be found in the pharmacy area at your local grocery, as well. The Citric Acid may sometimes be found in the canning section of your grocery store or can be ordered online. I like to order mine in bulk because I use it for so many things and it is much more cost effective that way. I got this one on Amazon. We have lots of places locally that sell essential oils. I got a special mix from a pharmacy here in town called Pharmaca that is called 'breathe clear' (it has a mix of Sage, Hyssop, Eucalyptus, Thyme and Myrtle.). I made another batch with a Lavender and Sandalwood combination. Lastly, I made a final batch for the kids with orange and vanilla and it smells exactly like an orange creamsicle (My kids are in love with the Jamba Juice Orange Dream Machine Smoothie so now they can shower in it!). I bet this scent would also be fabulous as a lip balm and bath fizzies, too. (Optional: Kitchen gloves for mixing with your hands and an empty spray bottle for spraying the Witch Hazel.)
Add one cup Baking Soda to a glass bowl ( It is best to use a bowl that will not absorb the smells of the oils, as plastic tends to do.)
Now add 1/2 cup of your Citric Acid.
Now you can add the essential oil. You can add a lot more than you would for a bath fizzie since you will be inhaling the vapors rather than bathing in the oil but how much you put is really a matter of preference. The scent seemed very strong when I was making it but my husband said it was pretty mild in the shower. I wonder if some of it evaporated (I waited a day to seal mine). Also, you may want to consider adding some drops after it is all dry to strengthen the smell as suggested from the blog post I mentioned above, if it is too weak. *If you decide to add extra oil after the product is dry just be aware that some of my oils had a slight tint so the drops I added looked a little yellow. I'd say start with 20 drops as a base and go from there. I suggest getting some kitchen gloves and mixing in the oils with your hands until you feel it is well combined. Now get your Witch Hazel and pour it into an empty spray bottle, if you have one. Spritz the mixture a couple of times and mix with your hands as you spray. Only spray/mist until the mixture just barely clumps together like damp sand. When it clumps together in your hand, pack it into a mold. Resist the urge to overspray so it will not get too damp. (If you do not have a spray bottle just add a few drops at a time being careful to not get the fizzing chemical reaction going and incorporate until mixture clumps together.)
I used this mini-muffin tray to make a tablet-looking mold. Pack them down well. It makes about 10 of this size (They weighed about 1 ounce each). The muffin tray worked just fine but if you use silicone or a soap mold, which is flexible, they pop out really easily. I let mine dry for an hour and popped them out. To test it they were done, I just touched them and they felt pretty hard. If they still feel damp to the touch let them dry more. Once they are popped out of the mold, let dry overnight. I like to seal mine in a bag with a string tied around it but you can use saran wrap, colored foil, whatever will seal in the oil and protect it from crumbling.
Here is what they look like all dried out. To use them, place them out of the direct stream of the hot water and inhale the steam in your own home spa! If it is not bubbling quickly enough for you, move it a little closer to the water. This one ounce size lasts about 15 minutes unless you place it closer to the water. You can make a bigger size to last longer if you prefer.
Try out different shaped molds. Here are some orange creamsicle animals to convince my little guy to take a shower!
How about rose or lavender for your Valentine?
Hope you are all staying well and that if you are feeling 'under the weather' you can steal a few moments for a little TLC!!!