Eco Christmas Gifts To Make

Looking for ideas of eco Christmas gifts to make this coming festive season?

In a previous article, we shared some of the eco-friendly homemade Christmas gift ideas we have. As such, in this article, we will focus on the actual steps for making two of these eco-friendly gifts – the homemade soap as well as the homemade tire swing (for the kids!).

The homemade soap may be considered eco-friendly, because it makes use of natural ingredients such as animal or vegetable fat and organic essential oils, etc.

In turn, the homemade tire swing actually makes use of an unwanted tire – i.e. you get to reuse an unwanted tire for a new purpose.

And yet these two homemade gifts can bring much joy to your gift recipients, at only a fraction of the cost, had you gone shopping for mass-produced gifts at the shopping mall. So why not give them a try today, and present your loved ones with these most memorable Christmas gifts this Christmas.


Steps for making homemade soap

One of the Christmas gifts to make is the homemade soap.

The advantage of this homemade gift is that it allows you to customize the gift to the preference of your gift recipient.

You can also choose to use organic and natural ingredients that is better for the health of your gift recipient, as well as the environment, and at a fraction of the cost. Some homemade natural soap recipes have even been known to alleviate skin allergy conditions.

And as you perfect the skill of soap-making at home, you could even sell your homemade soap to earn some extra money.

There are two ways for making your own soap as Christmas gifts to make.

The simpler way involves “melting and pouring”. You simply melt a pre-made soap from a soap supplier, add the colorants and fragrances, etc, that you like, before pouring the mixture into a mould for cooling and solidification. Once the mixture has solidified, the “newly created” soap is ready for use. However, as you can see, you do not make the soap from scratch.

The harder way, is of course to make the soap from scratch. This way allows you full control of the ingredients that you use in making the soap as Christmas gifts to make.

But before you decide to go ahead and start making soap from scratch at home, you might want to know that soap making is an art that needs practice. You probably have to try it out several times before you get it right.

Soap making also involves the use of lye (i.e. sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide, depending on the source), which is highly caustic, i.e. corrosive, and hence need to be handled with much care. Children and pets should be kept away when you are handling lye. Lye can be hard to obtain these days, given the caution needed when handling it. Nonetheless, it is still available, such as from online soap making suppliers, or you can even make your own lye using hard wood ash.

So if you are prepared to be cautious when handling the lye, below are the steps to making your own soap as Christmas gifts to make.

Soap is basically a “salt” derived from the chemical reaction between a base (i.e. lye) and a fatty acid (fat or oil).

As such, you will need the following ingredients for this Christmas gifts to make:

  • 10 oz of ice-cold mineral-free water (you can try using distilled water)
  • 4.4 oz of pure lye (do not substitute pure lye with the drain cleaner)
  • 1 oz castor oil, 6 oz coconut oil and 26 oz olive oil
  • essential oil of your choice
  • grapefruit seed extract (to serve as a preservative for the soap, optional)

You can find some of these ingredients at affordable prices at online store, Iherb.

If you wish to vary the type of oil or fat used, you could make use of the Soap-Calc soap-formulator to calculate the correct proportion of the various ingredients for your Christmas gifts to make. Calc

You will need the following tools for this Christmas gifts to make:

  • weighing scale that can measure down to a tenth of an ounce
  • measuring cups
  • stainless steel or enamelled pot (no aluminium pots please, as they will react chemically with the lye)
  • 2 plastic jars, one of which has a lid
  • stove or hot plate
  • plastic or wooden spoon
  • rubber gloves, apron, eye protection (e.g. goggles)
  • thermometer that can read temperatures between 90F (32.2 degree C) and above 200F (i.e. above 93.33 degree C)
  • stick blender (that should not be used for food preparation after the soap making exercise) (optional)
  • soap mould (that totals at least 576 cubic inches; could be as simple as a shoe box)
  • plastic sheet (could be a cut-out from a plastic bag or a trash can liner)

Here are some important pointers to bear in mind when you go about making soap as Christmas gifts to make:

  • Lye, especially, needs to be handled with caution. Remember to keep the children and pets away during the soap making process. Other adults at home should also be informed of the potential danger of lye and stay away from your work station if possible. Do not touch the lye with your bare hands; always use the gloves. Remember to wear your protective gear (e.g. goggles, apron) during the soap making process. If somehow you get lye on your skin, rinse it off immediately with running water or vinegar. Never ever ingest lye; it can kill.

  • If lye is spilt on your work surface, wash it off immediately using vinegar. Remember not to leave the lye solution unattended. Only inert materials like wood, glass, plastic or stainless steel should be used to handle lye.

  • Carry out your soap making exercise outdoors if possible. Otherwise, you will need a well ventilated room so that you do not end up inhaling all the fumes produced in the process.

  • At any point in time, fumes may be given off from the soap making mixture. Do not breathe in the fumes.

And finally, here are the actual steps for this Christmas gifts to make:

  • First, pour the lye slowly into the cold mineral-free water using one of the plastic containers. Be careful NOT to do the opposite (i.e. never pour water into lye), and NEVER use hot water. This is because you may create a dangerous explosive reaction.

  • The addition of lye to water will lead to a chemical reaction that releases heat and fumes. Stir the mixture carefully until all the lye is dissolved. Then cover that container and allow the mixture to cool to about 110F (or 45 degree C). This lye solution should be kept somewhere safe.

  • When the lye solution is approaching the desired temperature, you can start heating up your oil mixture using the stainless steel or enamelled pot. Stir the oil mixture regularly. Monitor the temperature of the oil mixture closely. Turn off the heat once your oil mixture reaches 110F (or 45 degree C).

  • Now, very carefully, pour the lye solution slowly into the pot containing your heated oil mixture, which is at about the same temperature as your lye solution. Make sure that you have your protective gears on. Be careful of splashes.

  • Stir the mixture thoroughly. You may use the stick blender if you have one. Be careful of splattering.

  • The mixture of lye, water and oil will begin on the chemical process of saponification and some heat will be generated. As you stir the mixture, it will become thicker and cloudier – this is known as tracing. This is the time to add in your essential oils and preservative, before pouring the thick mixture into the soap mould (pre-lined with the plastic sheet). The saponification continues even as the mixture is poured into the mould.

  • Note that the alcohol in perfume, synthetic fragrances, and extracts may interfere with the soap making reaction, so you might want to stay away from these ingredients, unless you are really sure they would not affect the process.

  • Cover the mould with an insulating cloth and store the mixture in a warm place for at least 24 hours. The insulation is so that the soap mixture does not cool too much during the saponification stage and affect this “neutralizing” process (where the soap becomes no longer caustic).

  • Once the soap mixture has solidify, allow the soap to age for at least another 48 hours, because freshly made soap can irritate the skin. After which, you could remove the solidified soap from the mould and cut it up according to your required shapes and sizes as Christmas gifts to make.


Steps for making a homemade tire swing

If you have a little porch where a sturdy tree grows, a homemade tire swing is one of the good Christmas gifts to make to keep your kids happy this Christmas season. You can keep them occupied for hours with this very simple gift. And in fact, I believe not only the kids will love this gift. Adults too may enjoy the occasion swing and relive some childhood moments (though you have to make sure that the swing support can withstand the weight of adults). For this Christmas gifts to make, you will need the following:

  • An unwanted tire in a relatively good shape (preferably one without steel belts)
  • A drill and drill bits (to drill holes in the tire)
  • Sufficient length (at least 3 metres in addition to the distance from swing support to height of the tire) of heavy and thick, large diameter rope (to attach the tire to the swing support)
  • Sturdy tree limb or wooden frame (swing support to bear the weight of the swing and the kid on the swing)
  • A ladder

First of all, before you embark on this Christmas gifts to make, you will need to assess if you have a suitable tree limb or wooden frame from which you can hang your homemade tire swing. This swing support must be strong enough to bear the weight of at least an average-sized adult (so that you can be assured it can safely take the weight of a child, regardless of his or her weight). If this essential component is not present, then you might have to forgo this homemade Christmas gift ideas, and instead consider other Christmas gifts to make.

If you do have a sturdy swing support, then let’s get started!

You will need to give the unwanted tire a good clean. After all, I’m sure you do not want your kids to be covered with vehicle oil or road dirt every time they play on the swing. You could give the tire a good wash at a high-pressure car wash facility. After that, you might still need to give the tire a good hand scrub using a heavy duty brush and cleaning agent.

If there are metal bits or nails embedded within the tire, be sure to remove them. You do not want them scratching or injuring anyone playing on the swing.

Drill a few holes at the part of the tire that will form the bottom of the swing. This is so that water will not collect in the tire when it rains, and breed pests such as mosquitoes.

Tie the thick rope to the tire using two reef knots or square knots. Similarly, secure the other end of the rope to the swing support (i.e. tree limb or wooden frame) using two reef knots or square knots. Test out your swing tire first to ensure that it is strong enough before you allow your kids to play with it. Remember, the swing should at least be able to support the weight of an average-sized adult.

And there you have it – your homemade swing tire as a Christmas gifts to make!

Read about the other ideas for homemade gifts this Christmas.


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