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Sometimes you get lucky!

As mentioned in a previous post, the natural deodorant pursuit has been a long, educational one. Just when I think I’ve gotten it figured out, a client brings up a new challenge or in this case, a shortage of paperboard tubes in the size I have been using forced me to readdress my packaging.  Fortunately, I was able to find another version in the same quality which fits my existing labels (although I have to handcut a perforated line in them) and secures the tops more easily.  This solves a BUNCH of issues I’d been ignoring: 1) shoppers sometimes open the sealed deodorant tubes, tearing the custom washi tape, and the larger perforated label is much stronger 2) the pricepoint is reduced to $10, making it more accessible to folks who want to start using a natural deodorant, and reduce their impact on the environment at the same time 3) I can make more product in the batch sizes I’d recently reformulated, although that is balanced out with increased labor and packaging.  So, ultimately the profit is the same per unit, the labor is more, but I expect more quantity of sales.  If I can keep using these and purchase an even larger quantity of packaging, I can afford the increase in labor.  Yes, I know.  I’m a one-woman show – but I got bills to pay like everyone else and once I can secure my own living wage, I’m inching closer to creating meaningful work for someone else.  I am crossing my fingers that this is a step towards more growth and my luck continues!

NEW FORMULATION! Deodorant goes from 8 to 12 hour efficiency

Picking out the best deodorant available can be confusing, but it shouldn’t be.  The number one question I get from customers, is “But does it actually work?” Which is totally a loaded question.  As far as deodorizing, yes, most certainly it works.  If used correctly – AND the clothing and skin is clean from the start.

gentle unscented vegan deodorant paperboard tube Everyday spruce grapefruit natural deodorant


But, everybody’s body chemistry varies, even from day to day.  Indeed, the type of sweat you produce for different activities may call for a different approach.  AND, a lot of folks have gotten accustomed to the “antiperspirant” qualities in many commercial deodorant brands which classify the product as a drug.  Antiperspirants claim to changes the body’s natural systems – and I don’t want to do that nor make such claims.  Further, some antiperspirants create more problems than they solve, and I seek to create something that is safe for the environment and people. If you’re running a marathon and sweating profusely, chances are high that the sweat mostly consists of water, situated for cooling and is classified as an eccrine type of sweat.  If you’re speaking in front of a large audience, asking for a raise or just stressed out about something at the moment, it is likely that your body is producing a different chemical caused by an oily substance containing a greater amount of apocrine sweat.  Because of these differences in secretions, and how oil repels water, I have come up with essential oil blends that can withstand the demands of either type of sweat, or a little of both.  If a blend is matched with the correct type of sweat, it achieves the deodorizing effect sought.  The longer lasting formulas are marked with an asterisk*, below:

three styles natural deodorant paperboard tubes

Green Circle/Gentle Care – Wise Lemongrass and the Naked Hippie* (Unscented) is formulated for copious, water-based eccrine sweat.

Blue Circle/Everyday Care – Trail Blazer and Awaken Adventure* are formulated for some eccrine and some apocrine sweat.

Black Diamond/Advanced Care – Righteous Rebel is formulated for the funky, stressed out and oily apocrine sweat.


These also provide some benefit of adding absorption along with the deodorizing properties.  After extensive testing, I have come up with a formula based on the success of my original formula and essential oil blends for varying types of sweat, but adds the longer-lasting deodorizing control of non-nano particle zinc.  What is that nano business, you ask?  It simply means that the particles in the powder are not so small that they clog your pores to prevent you from sweating or building up bacteria right next to your lymph nodes.  Without making any drug claims, I’ll let you search the world wide web to determine why those lymph nodes need to be clear of toxins and blockage.  It can also be determined that zinc operates similarly to silver in deodorizing and sun protection products, so one could feasibly use their deodorant for some sun protection thereby reducing the number of products to carry when traveling or venturing into the backcountry.

As with many of my products, I offer at least 3 aroma blends to suit the type of activity/sweat.


Still not sure what is causing your super funk?  Take off that shirt and compare the smell of it to your armpits directly.   There’s a good chance that some of your clothes may have already built up a level of bacteria in them.  Hello, bike jerseys, gym bags and yellow armpit stains! Addressing this issue first and foremost will increase your odds at establishing a bacteria balance.  To that end, I have created an unscented Stain Stick that optimizes the lifting power of coconut oil and combines it with super lathery soap nut extract and extra deodorizing baking soda to give you a fresh start with your favorite athletic gear, undershirts and general stains.  There is also a lavender, lemon and sandalwood essential oil scented Stain Stick which I find particularly nice for bike gloves, socks, undershirts and clothes from trail days.  All you have to do is dampen the section of affected fabric, rub the stick on it until it lathers and let it sit for at least 10 minutes before washing with your regular laundry.  You can also safely add this to an overnight soak with hydrogen peroxide for an oxygen “bleach”, for restoring bright white sheets and towels.  Because it is so effective at lifting, the Stain Sticks are not recommended to use on silk or wool products.  Lastly, since they are mostly comprised of coconut oil, they would pull too much oil from your skin – use only on clothing!

Hidden Puzzle?

If you’ve recently purchased a bar of my soap, you might be wondering what that red code is on the bottom right of the front panel on the label. Previously, it included only the style number which I figured might be useful one day. I opted not to include the date stamp on previous batches, because not a lot of people are familiar with the curing process and the benefit that time has on a bar of soap. I wanted to leave that to the soapers and retailers who stock their shelves with my soap.

BUT one day when I was making homebrew beer, I happened upon the methodology for batch coding Guinness beer and thought it was brilliant. So, I made a formula to reconcile specific batches with formulations, without giving away the date too easily. BUT, if you’ve come this far, you’ll already know that the date is not always an indicator of “Best By” or that freshest is best. Often, several months of curing can lend itself to making a bar of soap harder and quicker to lather, ultimately helping the bather to use less and soap last longer. HOWEVER, much of the herbal benefits and essential oils will fade over time, so one can’t wait too long. I think the sweet spot for most of my formulations is 1-6 months. Of course, you don’t need to know this for any specific reason unless years from now you find a bar of soap stashed in your sock drawer and knowing the date might help you know who gave it to you and you can have warm, fuzzy feels.

Here’s how to decode that label:

Logic: All letters and numbers are swapped for their counterpart. First letter of month, last two of the year. Since there are more numbers to any given month than the alphabet, the exceptions include A=1 to 5, and Z=30 to 31.
Order: Day Month Year
Date: 16-May-17
Code: L17M
THEN: Add the exact product number to it.
Thus, a Super Simple Soap (#001) bar made on May 16th, 2017 will have a batch code of L17M001

Have fun learning more about the journey of your bar of soap!

NEWS: Design Mania WINNER

The bar of soap submitted by Apothecary Muse owner, Eryn Hughes, WON the 2017 Design Mania soap challenge by Making Soap Magazine!! From Eryn, “I am seriously humbled by this announcement, as I expect number the votes for all the designs were close. The skill and creativity from the designers and contestants truly made this a unique experience. I’m told this is an honor bestowed on behalf of the industry, perhaps because of the magazine’s reach? Of the designs presented for us to embark on, I chose this one for its natural ingredients (including colorants and essential oil), outdoor scenery and slab/tray mold layout. The citrus oil, activated charcoal and Shea butter make this an excellent deodorizing and polishing bar of soap for after a serious adventure in hot climate. “

#designmania #makingsoapmag#soapmaking #coldprocess #handmade #adventureskincare

If you aren’t already, feel free to follow me on social media Apothecary Muse

DIY – Herbal Vegan Lip Balm Recipe

These are so quick and easy to make, but require patience and some planning.  This simple recipe can be modified with different herbs, oils, butters and wax if these aren’t available to you locally. But, I prefer solar-infusing* wildharvested herbs into organic oils and butters, based on the season and their supporting properties.

In addition to having the right herbs and containers on hand, adequate measuring tools are essential. I use a small postage-style scale to weigh ingredients and fill compostable or reusable containers whenever possible to prevent further waste.

Here’s a rather unglorious picture of my kitchen with some various projects happening at the same time (window, stove, counters, etc.):

Gentle and Unscented Lip Balm­ makes 5.2 oz product (to fill lip balm tubes or tins)

1 oz candellila wax or double beeswax

1.5 oz shea butter, organic

1.5 oz coconut oil infused with calendula flowers (solar process), organic

0.3 fl. oz olive oil infused with st. johns wort flowers (hot process), organic

0.3 fl oz Jojoba Oil infused with yarrow, organic

0.2 fl. oz Vitamin E, organic


Tips: Melt waxes and butters in a double boiler, adding oils at the end.  Temper the waxes at 140* F for at least 20 minutes and check consistency by dipping a frozen spoon in your balm quickly and seeing it set after one or two drops.  Pour by hand allowing layers to cool to prevent a dry hole in the middle, keeping a couple extra containers on hand for overstock.

DIY – Vegan Skin Salve Recipe – NO Beeswax!

Here’s a moisturizing recipe that I’ve come up with as the base for a number of salves to meet everyday needs.  One can modify the moisturizing or breathability quality with a slight adjustment in the ratio of waxes.  A lot of skin salves and balms use beeswax because it has a very long shelf life, antiviral and antibacterial properties; however, it also can add a stickiness to a product where it may not be desired over time, where breathability and slip are key.  Having 100% plant-based products is important to me, so I’ve done a lot of formulation testing to come up a similar properties using Candelilla Wax instead of beeswax that I can use in deodorants, lip balms and massaging salves alike.

For added benefits, the solid or liquid oils can be infused with herbs, with advance preparation (2 hours to 6 weeks in advance – there’s a whole ‘nother DIY article on this topic).  With coconut oil, since it is solid at room temperature, I use the heat method of infusing, bringing the coconut oil just barely to the melting point with the herbs for up to 4 hours on the lowest heat possible.  If managing heat over a stove is difficult, you can melt the oil and pour over the herbs and place in a sunny warm place or hold in a 200degree over, wrapped in foil.  If time permits and I’m using a liquid oil, the solar infusion is always preferred, as it produces a higher quality, more potent extract.  For skin salves, I find myself drawn to calendula, jewelweed, lavender, lemon balm, st. john’s wort, arnica and sassafras.  Since I have included infused oils in my soapmaking from scratch, I have noticed that combining oils in the infusing stage, produces inconsistent results – I recommend infusing oils with herbs in separate containers, and only combining your infusions after they have processed, if you must (Example: one herb per jar).  If you can’t harvest and dry your own herbs, you can buy some high quality ones here.

double boiler glass measuring cup stove cooking pot boil water

I recommend to weigh out and start melting your candelilla wax and shea butter in a double boiler (jar or glass measuring cup in pot of water 1.5″ full), since it takes about 45 minutes for 2 oz to melt completely, and might need some stirring to finish the job.  While this is happening, you can weigh out each of your remaining ingredients into separate dishes and cover your work surface with a couple of paper towels or newsprint.  Place containers about an inch apart on this surface in a row or two.  Unlid each one and set lids aside.  Also , put a few stainless steel spoons in the freezer.

Next, you’ll add the coconut oil.  I’ve found the raw stuff smells a bit nutty/fruity and varies in consistency, so I prefer the organic, refined – but don’t let my preferences stop you if you have some of the other kind on hand.


 As the coconut oil finishes melting, you can remove from heat and gradually stir in your liquid wax or oil to the melted wax/butter combination.  Sesame, Sweet Almond Oil, Jojoba Wax, Olive Oil, are all good options with high absorption that also add slip.

I recommend tempering your base after it is completely melted, measuring 140* F for 20 minutes.  You can use one of the frozen spoons to check the consistency with a quick dip-test.  If you have 1 drop fall off the spoon after pulling it out before it rehardens, it may be too firm to spread over skin without a built-in applicator (like a lip balm tube) – so you’ll want to add more liquid oil.  If you get more than 4 drips, it may melt in its container on a warm day – so you’ll want to add more wax or butter.  These micro adjustments can make all the difference in if your product can be used on the lips or skin and how it is applied.


materials tins salve herbs essential oils infusionOnce you have the consistency you like, you can stir in your essential oils, immediately pour into your containers and gently top with their lids.  Allow your containers to cool completely before moving them.  Label each with the ingredients and store in a cool, dark place using completely within a couple of years.

I often recommend lavender since it has so many calming and cleansing properties, but you might also use Helichrysum, Carrot Seed Oil, Roman Chamomile, Geranium and/or Clary Sage for this particular type of moisturizing and skin calming salve.  Sometimes, I also save a little room for a few drops of Rosemary, for its antioxidant properties.  Thoroughly review the properties and safety of any essential oil(s) you plan to use.*



VEGAN SKIN SALVE RECIPE – makes approx 12 ouncechamois lube tattoo aftercare diaper rash creme skin salves.

  • 2 oz Candelilla Wax
  • 6.5 oz Shea or Mango Butter, Refined
  • 2 oz Coconut Oil, Refined
  • 2 oz Oil or liquid wax
  • 0.1 oz Vitamin E
  • Up to 100 drops of essential oils*
  • 12 x 1 oz tin or glass containers





*This is the total, combined limit for a 12.6 oz batch, and there are approximately 600 drops in an ounce of liquid, so < 2% Essential Oil Safe Dilution Rate for most essential oils is about 10 drops per ounce of finished product. Research those marked as potentially phototoxic (many citrus) or sensitizing (peppermint, cassia, etc.) in which the amounts should be reduced further.  Exercise caution and research each essential oil as skin contact can cause dermatitis and irritation, or respiratory problems in children and pets.  To learn more about the safety of use with essential oils, check out Tisserand’s book or take a course in aromatherapy.



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