I'll Never Get My Sandalwood Soap (and I'm ok with that)

I would absolutely love it if we had a sandalwood soap. Sandalwood is one of my favorite scents and, years ago, I not only used sandalwood soap, but I also wore a sandalwood perfume.

Yes, I was all about the sandalwood but, alas, we will never carry our own sandalwood soap.

The reason for this is that we only use essential oils in our soaps and some of these oils, such as sandalwood, are incredibly expensive. If we used these more expensive oils, we would have to charge what we feel would be an unreasonable amount per bar of soap and that's not something we're willing to do.

So what's the difference between essential oils and fragrance oils? Essential oils are oils that are directly extracted from plants through distillation, whereas fragrance oils are chemical mock-ups. For example, if you purchase a product that uses lavender essential oil, you know that the scent is actually lavender. If you get the fragrance oil version of lavender, you have no idea what combination of chemicals you are actually putting on your body to achieve that scent. Also, many fragrance oils contain phthalates- known endocrine disrupters (for more on phthalates, read: http://safecosmetics.org/article.php?id=290).

It can seem quite overwhelming at first when you start the switch to truly natural products, but once you do, you'll definitely notice a difference in quality and in the way your body responds to them.

Three Years Ago Today...


Three years ago today, a little after midnight, my mother died of pancreatic cancer.

2011 was not a good year. In May, my father succumbed to lung cancer. Toward the end of his life, just when I thought that things couldn't get any worse, my mother informed me and my brother that she had a tumor in her pancreas. Six months after she started her treatment, she was gone.

A lot of the time, when someone gets cancer, people try to make sense of it by pointing to one specific thing in that person's life as being the cause. We love to simplify it so we feel that we have more control over our own lives- if we don't do “x”, then we won't get “y”. Unfortunately, it's usually a bit more complicated than that.

The American Cancer Society estimates that, in this year alone, almost 1,600 people will die of cancer EVERY DAY, bringing it to a grand total of 585,720 people in just 2014 (1). As of 2012, the United States had the sixth highest cancer rate in the world (2). This is completely unacceptable.

In one single blog post, I can't even scratch the surface on what I feel the correct answer to all of this might be, but I can say that the path we're on is most definitely the wrong one. We focus so much on “awareness” and raising money for “the cure”, but we barely talk about prevention in realistic terms. We don't talk about all the toxins that are being put into our food, our water, our air, our cosmetics, our homes, and even our clothing. We pretend that, just because the government allows these items to be sold in stores that they're “safe”, so we don't need to understand how they might affect our bodies. This attitude couldn't be more incorrect and is honestly downright dangerous.

There's so much around us that we just can't control, but what we can control is how we, as individuals, respond. Please, start looking into where your food comes from (and what your food was fed), read the labels on the products you use and look out for ingredients that might not be so healthy, and learn how your body works, how to care for it, and what it needs. Again, we can't control everything we're exposed to (or have ever been exposed to), but we can at least try to get on the right path.


PS- I highly recommend this book to those of you who need it. It helped me greatly.





1 http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/content/@research/documents/webcontent/acspc-042151.pdf ; page 4


A Bit About Tallow and Lye

     One of the questions that Darlene and I frequently get asked at farmers' markets is, “what is tallow?” For those of you who don't know, tallow is rendered beef suet, and suet is the fat that lines the kidneys of a cow. If you use commercial soaps, you've probably already used tallow without even realizing it. Unfortunately, that tallow most likely comes from industrial feed lots where the cows aren't treated the way cows, or any animal, should be treated. On top of that, the commercial soaps have so many other added chemicals, that the benefits of tallow (even poor quality feed-lot tallow) in their products are completely destroyed.

     We use grass-fed tallow because of how wonderfully it binds with our skin, the higher vitamin content (A,D, E, and Omega-3's), and the higher levels of CLA. We also use only locally sourced suet which means that we get to go directly to the farms and see how happy and healthy the cows are- something that is extremely important to us.

     Another question we get asked quite often is, “Do you use lye?” and the answer to that is always “yes” because that is exactly what makes soap, well...soap. Without lye, there would be no chemical reaction and therefore the lye and the fats/oils wouldn't combine and we wouldn't end up with a wonderful bar of soap. We might be able to create something that is soap-esque by adding a bunch of chemicals together, but it wouldn't be soap (and it might not be all that great for you). Don't worry, though, all lye that is used in soap-making is gone by the end of the process and there is absolutely no lye contained in the final product!

     We feel it is extremely important for people to know what, exactly, it is that they're buying. As always, feel free to comment here, send us an email, or find us at one of our markets if you have any questions about our products!

So we have a blog...

Welcome to the official blogtastic Healthy Porcupine blog!

We're hoping that this can be a way, not just to talk about our soap, but to also share ideas with you on how we can all live a healthier, more self-sufficient lifestyle through sustainable and, sometimes, “back to basics” practices.

One of the things Darlene and I love about our soap is that we're giving people a truly natural alternative to chemical-laden, industrial products. We're constantly bombarded by so many terrible chemicals in pretty much every aspect of our lives, that it is really no wonder that there's a cancer epidemic. What we're hoping to accomplish is to minimize this exposure as much as possible.

Another thing that we really enjoy is the fact that we're working with local farmers who are pasture-raising their animals. We want to know where our suet is coming from, what the cows were fed, and that they were well-treated. By buying from local farmers, we can go directly to the source and see for ourselves. Also, by buying local, we're helping to build a stronger economy right here in New Hampshire.

We hope that this blog brings you enjoyment, but we also look forward to sharing with you what we've learned and continue to learn. By doing this, we hope that we can help to build a way of life that is more connected to our neighbors, our planet, and ourselves.