With the addition of Ashley LeDoux to our group, in Seattle, we are able to put out more quality work and information than we had in the previous years. Ashley has excellent skill sets, but is new to the "make your own" paradigm. We feel that she fits in perfectly because she adds a different perspective. A new "Mabelette." In this issue Ashley writes about her first experience at our product development center with Deborah and Leane. Speaking of Leane, she finally showed me the type of bath bombs her new machine creates and I found them to be very intriguing. The photo at the top is what we now call "bath seltzers." Leane is working hard on developing a truly Aroma- therapeutic line of these bath seltzers for the Soytanicals line. She sent me a great box of goodies for my up-coming birthday. Such endless surprises! She had no clue I was going to shoot photos of them before I was going to use them. They were so cool, what did she expect me to do? When I did use them, therapeutic does not even begin to describe the splendor and results. When I used one of her salts scrubs, my skin could not have been more soft and supple, and my body had a warm glow and tingle for about an hour. What an unexpected pleasure!
Kari Pastor, a very progressive customer of Mabel's, also sent me some of her finished products for my birthday. She wraps her soaps with parchment paper and that is stunning. The fragrance of the Essential Oils still permeates through the paper, which is very neat. They are so well wrapped, it will be hard for me to open them and ruin the beauty. To see them click the thumbnail photo. Lynda's dessert dip mixes I received in a birthday card--what a cool way to send a gift--well, I am always sneaking into the fridge in the middle of the night for those. The cheesecake dip mix is so addictive that no one may see a new photo of me in year 2005.
With the addition of Ashley to our group, Leane, our Essential Oils expert, finally has time to write a series of e-books you should collect, if you are into Aromatherapy. We will build these in a logical sequence so we can begin an Aromatherapy School we have been asked to start for quite some time. No one should have to pay a thousand dollars or more to enjoy the education. Leane knows so much in that area, it would take me years to learn it. She has also improved my health by light years ahead of my own Doctors. Her first book regarding Hydrosols is discussed below and I truly encourage anyone who follows her work to support her in her effort to bring this program to the site. The information and recipes in her books are much more exact and complete than our brief articles.
Since Mabel is growing, and recently set forth a mission statement to try to keep us close to our purpose, we also needed a slogan. Hey, Emeril has his "BAM" and we have our "Coolness Levels." But we needed something more clear and precise. So, I came up with "QANEEC" pronounced "Kawneek" meaning: Quick, Affordable, Natural, Easy, Effective, and Cool. This term was created by the Mabel White Company to help us qualify each theory we would like to pursue for our customers. Does it meet the QANEEC rule? The theme of this issue is one I love the most. Home Economics. Being an educated buyer and making what you have go farther.
Wishing You the Most Qaneec!
"I dwell in possibility."
A Beginners Perspective by Ashley LeDoux (Our Newest Staff Member, Seattle)
For years I’d been supplying myself and friends with custom-blended lipsticks poured into lip balm pots or old lipstick tubes. Hating to see anything go to waste, I’d take products that, for whatever reason, didn’t work on their own and give them new life by melting them down and mixing them with my favorite glosses, lipstick colors and lip balms. My friends loved them!
But lately, I’d found myself wanting to branch out into other areas. My inability to walk by The Body Shop or Bath and Body Works without leaving with an armful of body butters convinced me and my new husband that I, too, could create a rich, thick butter of my own or, perhaps more accurately, that I SHOULD, lest I need to begin looking for a second job to support my habit. Candles, my other weakness, aren’t something I light only on special occasions–—these puppies are burning all day, everyday. Mandarin orange, baked bread, gardenia, fresh cut grass with McIntosh Apple - doesn’t matter. I love them all. But my habits were becoming expensive. Like gorgeous shoes and in-style clothes, body products aren't cheap so I had to do something!
That’s how I discovered Mabel White. I knew that I could make the same things I loved in a way that was fun, less expensive and better for my body than all of the chemically-laden products found in retail stores. So when, by an unusual turn of events, I had the opportunity to help out Deborah and Leane AND see how it all came together, I jumped at the chance! When I saw the production facilities, all the different products had their own stations; fragrance and Essential Oils, butters and containers. Seeing everything up-close definitely got my creative juices flowing! Their work areas are so clean and organized. I loved being able to really dig into it and discover all the different products. I must have smelled everything from Downey April Fresh (still one of my favorites) to Rice Flower and Shea (which became the scent for my first whipped body crème and soy candles.) Deborah and Leane were even kind enough to let me help out with the shipping and in no time flat we were able to quickly fill a bunch of new orders for the holidays.
I’ve always loved getting hands-on experience because it gives you such a great understanding and appreciation for how a business operates behind the scenes and how new ideas are conceived and then brought to fruition. Seeing how things were run at Mabel and meeting the people that make it all happen was a great experience I will not ever forget. I left full of energy and enthusiasm for what I knew I wanted to do. I’m so excited to be a part of such a great team and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for me and for Mabel White as we hit the ground running this year!
Keep away from small people who try to belittle your
ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you
feel that you, too, can become great.
The Soap Rebatcher by D.R. Dolen
I like it, I love it, I want some more of it! Our new 2 pound castile soap loaves are awesome by themselves, as a "slice your own" technique used in country stores as well as for rebatching, and our price is the best in town. This is an all-vegetable based soap. We also offer goat's milk soap made the same old fashioned way. The goat's milk soap is more of a tan color. Each 2 pound loaf will slice at least 8 four ounce bars. If you're a merchant, you simply sell by the ounce. We recommend $1 an ounce suggested retail. Consumers like to participate in their purchases. "Scoop your own and slice your own" have always gone over well. Now that we have our methods and molds down pat, we can customize for your clientele. For example we can do Bulgarian Lavender, carrot seed, or most anything you prefer. If you're into selling your own soap by the bar--the soap is still soft enough when it arrives that you can slice and even stamp them with your own design--allowing a few days to harden. Please contact us for special requests. We do have a 12 loaf minimum for special requests. Our soaps are all-vegetable-based and do not contain animal fat. This is not melt and pour soap. I like melt and pour for some things, but overall, you can't beat the clean, sexy smell of soap made the old fashioned way. Click here to see our soap loaves.
Part of using our loaves "as is" without any heat is as simple as shredding it in a food processor, adding a few drops of Essential Oil, citrus peels, what have you, and making soap balls. Just form the balls and allow them to set a week, turning and compacting the soap balls as they dry. You can also mix your scraps with our soap all under the same theory. This is also a great project for kids, under supervision. To make fun soap balls, you would simply shred the bars in a designated food processor (it may turn your plastic cloudy) and then press the balls together as hard as you can. Allow to sit out in circulating air for a few days. The longer soap is exposed to air the harder it becomes and the lower PH becomes. Like a fine wine, the older the better. I get eager and use mine in two days, but the longer the better is the general rule with curing real soap.
If you really want to know all of the ways to re-batch and make liquid soap, as well as plenty of recipes, see my new book "The Soap Rebatcher." I am so into this I am having a ball. Click here for our new soap loaves. The Soap Rebatcher includes four different easy ways to rebatch soap, how to use your shreds to make laundry and liquid soaps, as well a great bar recipes that include: Chamomile and Lavender Healing Bar, Cornmeal and Echinacea Facial Scrub Bar, Lemon Sage Kitchen Deodorizing Soap Bar, Pine Tar Skin Healing Bar, Rosemary and Peppermint Thinning Hair Shampoo, Rosemary and Peppermint Thinning Hair Shampoo Bar, Pet's Soap, Sutra Karma Love Bar and even includes Mabel White's Famous Oil Soap Recipe for Natural Cleaning. Click here to buy The Soap Rebatcher e-Book.
Making Liquid Soaps
Did you know that most foaming liquids such as shampoo, laundry detergent, dishwashing soap, body wash, car wash, floor cleaners etc., are basically the same stuff? For the most part, oil. With our environmentally friendly soap loaves you can make gallons of various soaps for the shower, in the laundry, by your kitchen sink, and with the right recipe, even to clean wood and flooring. The only draw back is you need to shake before each use because we use no artificial suspension systems. You do not have to worry about color if you invest in a few brightly colored jugs or bottles that are clearly marked for intended use. All natural liquid cleaners run up to $36 a gallon for an all purpose soap, but you can make it for a few dollars. I understand most people recommend Potassium Hydroxide as opposed to Sodium Hydroxide for liquid soaps, but I find that to be a paste that involves many other needless steps. Buying our loaves prevents you from messing with the lye anyway--and is cheaper over all in many ways.
"When I stand before God
at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit
of talent left, and could say, "I used everything you gave me."
We recently remodeled our e-bookstore, made our products more accessible by creating immediate, automated delivery upon purchase, as well as more affordable to the consumer--(by-passing the $25 cart minimum.) Some people simply wanted one e-Book and the shopping cart was not designed with that in mind. Not only did we make that happen, we deleted older material and installed fresh and more unique material to the e-Bookstore. Visit our new e-Bookstore as our fifth anniversary arrives!
"What lies behind us and
what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us."
Plasti-Dip by D.R. Dolen
I recall ten years ago seeing my late husband dipping the handles of his tools in a liquid that dried into a soft plastic. I asked him why he did that and he said so it would reduce "convenient" confusion over his tools versus his subcontractor's. He removed asbestos for a living, before they knew to wear gear. I guess the tool coloration was a territorial "guy" thing. I watched him take hammers, pliers, screw drivers, and anything else with a handle and slowly dip it into this jar, and slowly pull it back out. He would then position them somewhere that wouldn't touch the new coat of plastic as it dried. He would wait an hour and dip one more time. How cool they came out! I was thinking you could even take a bunch of old tools and make them all look new in a flash! They would also look like they were bought as a set.
Plasti-Dip comes in the three primary colors; Red, yellow and blue. This project qualifies as Qaneec, as it is Quick, Affordable, Natural, Easy, Effective, and Cool. You can get Plasti-Dip at most Home Depot stores for around $5 per bottle, depending on location. What I found cooler, is that you can mix the colors to get orange, purple and green. You can even do a marble swirl if you're feeling artistic. I like purple, and what guy would want them in a divorce? I also like orange. So, I set forth last weekend to mix, test, and landed a project that worked. I had so many tools lying around it was a good exercise just in tool location and collection. You can even do a guy's favorite football colors! (I suggest you get his permission first!)
For orange, I mixed 2/3 yellow with 1/3 red. For purple, I used 1/2 red to 1/2 blue. For green, I mixed 2/3 yellow with 1/3 blue. With that I got a mint green. Then I started thinking about dipping my bottle caps in them. I get MANY samples from companies and I like to recycle glass when possible for Mabel. It is not professional to have the logo of another company on a cap. So, the bottle you see in the photo above was dipped twice in red, and now the vendor's logo gone and the glass saved to reuse!. I tried to also paint small designs on lip balms tubes and pots, but it jus does not work on those small mediums. Plasti-Dip also offers white and black, but you may have to special order it. You may aim for pink by just mixing very well a little red with their white. The bottle will last a long time if you do not just depend on the lid. I use electrical tape to make sure it is air tight when I am done. Too see more about Plasti-Dip click here for their home page. Caution with kids, there are some fumes and you do not want the children directly exposed. I also wore gloves and I am glad I did. If it lands on your clothes, I would consider them toast. I would not want to try to dry clothes with Plasti-Dip in my dryer.
"Never exaggerate your faults. Your friends will attend to that."
Vanilla Essential Oil? by Leane Ketcherside
Oh, how I wish there was a Vanilla Essential Oil, but there isn't! I found this on one well-known website:
Notice that the extraction method is steam distilled from the vanilla bean. This should set off alarm bells, since steam distillation of Vanilla beans is not a possibility. There are Vanilla extracts (beans soaked in alcohol), Oleoresin (a semi-solid concentrate obtained by solvent-extraction of the vanilla extract), Vanilla Absolute (solvent-extracted from the beans) and now, Co2 extracted Vanilla, an extraction method which involves forcing Co2 through the plant material. All the above types of Vanilla, excepting the extract, are very precious and expensive, (the phony EO above is over $40 an ounce, and it isn't even real!)
A Google search for "Vanilla Essential Oil" netted me some 850 pages of results. Some sites were, indeed, selling the snake-oil version of Vanilla EO, but many sites were claiming to have "Pure Vanilla Essential Oil" in their finished products. I was appalled to find one extremely popular, exclusive company making the same claims for several of their "Aromatherapy" products and selling the oil, but the new twist was that the so-called Essential Oil was "steam distilled from the leaves, flowers and twigs of the Vanilla plant". Sorry, but no. What that conglomeration smells like, I don't want to know!
There are only two conclusions I can draw from my little investigation: Either these companies are completely ignorant about what they're selling and so should not, in my opinion, be selling Essential Oils or EO products at all, or they're willingly misleading their customers. Either way, the consumer gets snookered.
Because Essential Oils are Nature's super-concentrated powerhouses used to heal, mend, prevent and delight both physically and emotionally, they must be used with respect and care. To treat them lightly by making false claims, selling false products or dispensing uneducated advice, whether through ignorance or outright immoral and possibly dangerous. One well-known "expert" and author of several Essential Oil & Aromatherapy books instructs her readers to combine two wonderful EOs with honey and add this to hot tea to break up congestion. The problem is, one of the Essential Oils she's instructing us to drink is toxic when ingested unless the oil is rectified, which she fails to point out!
Once again, it all boils down to knowing your suppliers and making sure that they know their suppliers. If a so-called "expert" claims to know everything there is to know about Essential Oils, it's time to move on. The study of Essential Oils is a life-long journey of investigation, experience and trial and error. If anyone tells you that they're "certified" in Aromatherapy and a "Qualified Practitioner" because they took a course or two, beware. I have used Essential Oils every day of my life for more than 16 years and I continuously study, research, blend, make mistakes and start over. I know a lot about some EOs, and a little about others. Although I am considered Mabel White's "Essential Oils Expert", in the world of EOs—which is staggeringly huge and under-explored—my knowledge, compared to all there is to know and what is yet to be discovered, would fit on the head of a pin. Click here to buy Leane's Hydrosol e-Book.
Essential Oils 101 Vol. IX: by Leane Ketcherside
AROMATHERAPY—What it is & What it Isn't!
The definition of aromatherapy reads: "The use of volatile plant oils, (Essential Oils,) for psychological and physical well being."
The wording may vary from one dictionary to another, but this is the gist of it. Without Essential Oils, there is no Aromatherapy. Nowhere in any educated language is Aromatherapy described simply as "Stuff that smells good". Sadly, the latter seems to be the definition of choice for many, including several well-known candle & cosmetic companies, spas, soap makers and supply companies, including those who sell Essential Oils. (See Vanilla Essential Oil? above.)
The practice of Aromatherapy has been around for centuries—well before today's hype-driven shysters hopped on the bandwagon with $$ in their eyes. Healers throughout time have combined the use of plant essences (Essential Oils, absolutes, resins and concretes), and natural carriers (water baths, Hydrosols, steam baths, shea butter, coconut oil, Aloe gel, etc.,) to influence the physical, emotional and spiritual health of others. Back then they called it medicine, and it worked! It still works today, when used correctly, and its effects can be powerful, even when using small amounts of the most subtly-scented Essential Oils. (The photo on the right are Leane's new therapeutic bath seltzers.)
Aromatherapy works on body systems and emotions via inhaling the hundreds, even thousands, of chemical constituents that make up any single oil. By inhalation, these chemicals work synergistically and enter the bloodstream by absorption through the mucous membranes and nasal passages. Although most agree that Essential Oils may be absorbed through the skin, there is disagreement about whether or not they continue past the first dermal layers to be carried into the bloodstream. The scientists who have conducted tests up until now didn't cover the mouths and noses of their test subjects to prevent inhalation, so there's just no way to know for sure. It is widely agreed that, when EOs are applied to the skin in a warm carrier and then occluded (covered,) they can be absorbed into the blood. Ingesting Essential Oils will certainly get them into the bloodstream, but I recommend against it and I don't swallow them myself. It just isn't necessary, and because so many precious EOs are cut with synthetic extenders, I shudder to think of anyone ingesting something like that. The fact that each year more Tea Tree oil is sold as being from Australia than the country actually produces should be a warning to all of us to know your supplier.
Since we've established what Aromatherapy is, and that pure Essential Oils are necessary ingredients, let's look at what Aromatherapy isn't.
Aromatherapy is not:
With the new Co2 extraction method, we are beginning to see new Essential Oils which were impossible to extract by steam distillation. The method is so new and the equipment is very expensive, so wide availability and affordable Co2 extracted EOs are a ways off. I have some concerns about the safety of the oils produced by this method and have begun testing a few. The problem lies in that these Co2 extracted oils may be more pure and therefore more potent than EOs distilled by steam. I doubt that these new oils will be any safer or less safe than any other, but there will most likely be a learning curve involved, and I suspect that we will need to learn to use even less of these oils, due to their purity. Until we've thoroughly tested these new Co2 extracts, we won't offer them on our site. There's also something to be said for the fact that just because an EO exists doesn't mean that we should use it. In Aromatherapy, the EOs of Onion & Garlic are generally not used, even though they have very strong antibacterial properties, because they just aren't safe, especially on the skin. There are other Essential Oils that offer the same properties, but which are safe to use.
Maybe some day we'll have a beautiful Pear or Peach Essential Oil. I can only dream! Until then, the next time you reach for a $35 Lemongrass & Melon "Aromatherapy" candle, remind yourself that it isn't Aromatherapy and therefore definitely isn't worth the high price tag. Save your money, go home and pour your own SoyWax™ candle with true Essential Oils such as our Bulgarian Lavender with Mandarin and Ylang Ylang. Now that's Aromatherapy! Click here to buy Leane's Hydrosol e-Book.
Quality vs Costs by D.R. Dolen
I started Mabel as a hobby five years ago because, like Ashley and Leane, I wanted to afford my habit. I loved the $20 Yankee Candles too much. I knew I could not afford them as well as the Caswell-Massey Soaps and Aveeda Products I used to adore. Plus, having three daughters created a situation of four women with high standards, or better phrased, high maintenance. It did not take long before I found out many other people are in the same frame of mind, but too busy working a day job to figure out how to make better quality products for far less than they pay in the stores. Many people started buying my books from all over the world and began learning how to make their own products, too. Not to mention that they were having fun and saving money! I love talking to people from all over, and I learn a lot from our customer base. It took me years to learn all of the following...
Unless you are buying direct from a manufacturer, you cannot always be sure what you are really buying. Many companies "appear" to be a huge manufacturer, when they are simply just a middleman. I recall one day when I was talking to a "fragrance manufacturer" who told me he owned the company and I was lucky to have him on the phone. He said that if I called back, chances were remote that I would get him. "We have 200 calls coming in per hour.." he touted. He also explained that his fragrance oils were the "highest quality" and could be cut a few times with DPG and still be fragrant. He then explained how cheap DPG was and tried to sell me on using that, also. It was like twenty cents for 16 ounces or something. Well, I was sold, but avoided the DPG offer. I ordered a bunch of fragrances and when I got them, they were OK. (I did not understand what great was until I was with a true chemist a few years later.) But back to this character, the next time I called back wanting to talk to the owner, his wife simply yelled "Earl, phone is for you." I was floored. I guess he was busy looking at his Elvis poster. The down side of going with a manufacturer is that they have very high minimums and for each and every item.
I wandered around the fragrance market for a long time, never getting consistent quality or pricing. I did find out later that your nose can only smell so much, and then not all, but many companies cut every single thing they sell to save a dime! Even melt and pour soap! Everything. They like to call it "craft grade." So, in this instance, Earl cut the fragrance oil with cheap DPG oil just enough to where my nose would be happy. To test the quality, just put some on a piece of paper. If it smells like gasoline in a few days--well, you got taken. It should always smell like it did from day one--until the esters have gone, since everything fades in time, obviously. If your candles smoke--same thing, cheap old DPG. Fragrances should not smoke. We have our own Chemist now who used to work for Estee Lauder and we are thrilled. They are both bath and body friendly and not cut.
Melt and Pour Soap
Oh, yeah, this one was a shocker. I lucked out and was with a real manufacturer since day one. When I went to buy some at a local craft store in a pinch--it bled and was kind of gross. A friend told me they cut it with cheap waxes to save on the expense of true vegetable glycerin. I could not believe someone would sit around thinking of ways to make soap cheaper. I heard it is very common. Well, as soon as we can--we will start putting purity charts up on our site. That will take a while since we have a lot of quality products and never thought it was an issue.
Different Versions of Melt and Pour Soap?
Not hardly. When I was buying supplies I felt I had to also buy the "olive oil, goats milk, oatmeal" and other silly melt and pour soap bases only to find there is no such thing. The list went on and on, only for me to discover there are just two types: Vegetable Glycerin and Coconut. When vendors say "Olive Oil" they are simply taking a teaspoon per pound of oil and mixing it in. Period. I do get frustrated when people ask me why we do not sell olive oil or goat milk melt and pour soap. I do not like to reduce their enthusiasm, but it just a gimmick. You can have a lot of fun with melt and pour--but use quality glycerin if you want good results..
This really gets our goat. Many natural health food stores and a few sites do sell the same Essential Oils for a few dollars less than we do. We buy the best there is, period. We do not cut them, and we try to keep a fair mark up to stay in business. So, say one ounce of our Bulgarian Lavender is $9.45, uncut. A local store is selling one ounce of Bulgarian Lavender for $4.95. Well, it would have to be cut or they could not stay in business at that price. And if they are into cutting--you can figure they really cut. So, chances are they have 25% the quality we do. It would take 4 times their product to get you where you want to go and that would end up really costing $19.80 you are paying them. Cheaper can be much more expensive in the long run. Worse, I see oils locally that are 1/4 of an ounce for $4.95, and it is almost always cut unless specified, so you are really paying about $79 per ounce to achieve the same effect of one ounce of our $9.45 Lavender Essential Oil. Also, if an Essential Oil is cut, it is no longer therapeutic, and the scent is just...off!
Oils and Butters
I did not know what real cocoa butter was like until 2 years into the industry. What I was buying was OK, but I sure would not want to eat it. When that vendor left the industry I was forced to located another vendor of butters and oils. When I saw their shea and cocoa butter and so on, I went nuts! The cocoa butter is so silky and good I just eat it. I asked about the difference and I was told whoever was selling it to me was probably cutting with cheap waxes and making up for the scent by adding fragrance. Ick. The part that makes me the maddest is that I was paying more for the cut up stuff. If nothing else, I would refer to Mabel as a high quality standard in the industry, even when shopping prices. You cannot even compare high quality unless you have seen it.