Signs of Calving: 5 Things to Watch

when will my cow have her calf?

“Honey, can you hand me my phone so I can take a picture of the cow’s mucous?”

That’s pretty much how the conversations have been sounding around our house lately…

Calving is always an exciting time, but I’m especially excited this year since we bred Oakley (our milk cow) to a super nice Brown Swiss bull. Usually, we just borrow a neighbor’s bull and end up with a half beef/half dairy calf. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but I’ve been wanting a full dairy heifer to keep alongside Oakley, so we found some lovely Brown Swiss semen this past summer and had Oakley artifically inseminated.

And I’ve been waiting. And waiting. And waiting.

What’s the secret to knowing exactly when your cow will calve, you ask?

Well, there isn’t one… When it comes right down to it, you just gotta be patient. The gestation period of a cow will be anywhere from 270-290 days, so it’s all about the waiting and watching game once the time approaches.

However, there are some definite signs of calving you can look for that’ll clue you in to when the time is getting pretty close.

5 Signs of Calving

1. Rapidly growing udder

Now, this can be a bit deceiving, since a cow will start “bagging up” sometimes months before their calving date. However, when the time gets really close, you’ll see the udder get much bigger, much faster. There will no longer be any wrinkles in the bag or teats, and the teats will “strut” or stick out at a slight angle. I felt bad for our Oakley– I thought her bag couldn’t get any bigger, but it just kept growing and growing right up until she calved.

signs of calving

If your cow is a heavy producer, sometimes milk will start dripping out a bit, but I don’t suggest squeezing the teats or trying to express any milk until after the cow calves.

Time Frame = Bagging up will begin months prior, with fastest growth happening in the week before calving

2. Springing in the Back End…

Also know as a puffy, relaxed vulva. Yup– you’ll want to get up close and personal with your cow and see how things are looking on the back end… As calving time approaches, her vulva will get very loose and relaxed. On Oakley’s last few days before she calved, I noticed her vulva would even bounce a bit as she walked.

cow springing before calving

Time Frame= Springing will often begin several weeks before birth, increasing as time passses

3. Disappearing pelvic ligaments

Does your cow’s tailhead seem to be sticking up a little more than usual? That’s a good indication her pelvic ligaments are softening to prepare for birth. However, like the other signs, this can be deceiving because what you *think* are super-loose pelvic ligaments might not actually be near as loose as they will be right before calving.

pin ligaments before calving
Two days before calving. Starting to sink, but not all the way there.

Also, on beef cows or fat cows, it will be much harder to use the ligaments as a determining sign. Our Hereford cow calved the day before Oakley, and her tail area didn’t seem to change at all. Oakley, on the other hand, showed considerable change as time progressed.

pelvic ligaments before calving
Just hours before calving

Time Frame = You may notice softening in the pelvic ligaments up to several weeks before calving, but you’ll notice the biggest changes 12 hours before birth.

4. Mucous & discharge

Noticing a little bit of slimy discharge under your cow’s tail? That’s totally normal, and you can expect to see it one to two weeks before calving, or, you may not see it at all.

I noticed some mucous strings on Oakley’s tail the day before she calved. Not a lot, but just enough to let me know we were getting close.

Time Frame = You may see discharge/mucous from your cow up to two weeks before calving

5. Restlessness and weird behavior

The day Oakley calved, she wasn’t quite acting normal. While her friends were out grazing in the pasture, she stood in the pen by the water tank and kinda “zoned out.” Several hours later, my husband caught her in the barn pressing her head against the wall and stretching her back legs out.

Her abnormal behaviors were the signs of early labor, however she continued to graze and act normal on and off throughout the day, so her labor didn’t become “intense” until the last hour or so.

calving signs
In her restless phase the day of calving

Once the cow is REALLY ready to calve, you’ll see her pacing, pawing, and getting up and down.

Time Frame= I usually notice the most weird behavior 12-24 hours before calving

Oakley’s Special Surprise

Although I do watch our cows carefully during calving season to make sure there aren’t any problems, I try to give them plenty of space, for the most part, to just let them do their thing. However, I was bound and determined to get some good calving pictures this time around, so I pretty much stalked her with my camera during that last week.

My persistence paid off, and Prairie Girl and I were able to witness Oakley calving for the first time ever. We stayed fairly hidden so as not to disturb her, but I was still able to snap some pictures of the process.

how to tell when a cow will calve

You can see the water bag here– it has ruptured and although not visible in this photo, there were two small hooves beginning to peek out.

(Note: We have a barn with stalls, but I prefer to let our cows calve outside, in a small pen where there is fresh air and grass. Oakley happened to choose a spot right by our post pile (argh), but I didn’t want to disturb her by shooing her away from it.)

cow having a calf

Front legs and a head. At this point, I even caught the calf blinking as it took its first look at the outside world.

cow-calving-6

It’s hard to see here, but the back legs are just about done coming out.

cow-birth

Oakley is a fabulous mama and always gets right to licking and cleaning the calf.

At this point, Prairie Girl and I decided to head inside and give Oakley and her calf a little time to bond. I’m not a fan of jumping right in the middle of things if I don’t have to. This is a very important bonding time for calf and mama, and since I know Oakley has a strong maternal instinct and knows how to clean off a calf very thoroughly, I wanted to leave her alone for a bit.

But when we came back out an hour later, we had quite the surprise.

milk cow with twins

Because there wasn’t just one calf on the ground, there was TWO.

TWINS!

And twin heifers, no less! I was absolutely beside myself. :)

At this point, it was starting to rain, so we decided to take everyone into the barn for the night.

Oakley had an instant bond to both calves, which was a relief as sometimes mamas will reject one twin.

new calf

Prairie Girl helped dry them off a bit more as hubby and I made sure everyone was figuring out out how to latch on and nurse. Making sure any newborn baby gets their first drinks of colostrum is absolutely crucial in the first few hours after birth. One of the twins was slightly weaker than the other, but both were able to get up and had strong sucking reflexes.

When it comes to cattle, twins are often not a welcome outcome. There can be issues with rejection of one of the calves, or sometimes the cow doesn’t have enough milk. Also, if the twins are mixed-sex (one boy, one girl), it is very common for the heifer (girl) to be sterile (aka a freemartin heifer).

Thankfully, Oakley is used to multiple calves, as we often graft bum calves on to her due to her copious milk supply. And since they are both heifers, we likely have side-stepped any fertility problems. Whew! Therefore, I’m seriously celebrating my two-heifer year. We have decided to keep both for a while and will halter break them and breed them before selling them.

Here are some more baby pics, because, well, I’m a little obsessed…

milk-cow-twins

We kicked them out of the barn the next day so they could enjoy the sunny skies and fresh air.

oakley-twin-portrait

It looks like Prairie Girl has decided to name them Elsa and Anna. Although I’m still having a hard time telling who is who, since they are pretty darn identical!

Homemade Hot Process Soap Recipe in a Crock Pot

homemade hot process soap recipe

The million dollar question:

Do REAL homesteaders use crock pots and stick blenders?

Well, I’m still not exactly sure what qualifies a “real” homesteader, but I’m gonna answer that question with a resounding YES.

I have a deep appreciation for my stick blender. And my dishwasher. And my washing machine.

And I’m pretty sure Ma Ingalls would have loved them, too, if she could have fit them into her covered wagon.

So, why I am talkin’ ’bout appliances this fine morning? Because appliances have turned soap making, a once long and arduous process, into a snap. Making a batch of gorgeous homemade soap only takes about a 90 minutes, where it once took much, much longer. And I’m showing you the ropes today.

But first, let’s answer a few common questions:

But, do I have to use LYE?!

Yep. You do. Lye is a part of any true soap making process. The basic formula for soap is:

liquid + fat + lye

Lye produces the chemical reaction which turns fat into soap. Otherwise, you’d end up washing yourself with a big blob of animal fat, or coconut oil, or whatever. Lye is our friend.

A lot of people have a fear of lye– I know I did. But the truth is, if you take the proper precautions, there’s nothing to be scared of. (Kind of like our buddy, the pressure canner).

homemade hot process soap recipe

Hot Process Soap vs. Cold Process Soap

Hot process soap making (aka crock pot soap) and cold process soap making are pretty much identical processes. The main difference is that hot process soap allows the chemical reaction to complete immediately, while cold process soap allows the chemical reaction to happen over a curing period of six weeks.

I’ve used both methods, but I prefer hot process soap (crock pot soap) for the following reasons:

  • I can use the soap the following day, no six-week wait. (I like instant gratification)
  • I don’t have to find a place in my tiny house to cure the soap for six weeks, out of the way of kids and animals.
  • It really doesn’t take much more time.

homemade hot process soap recipe

The biggest downfall in regards to crockpot soap is that it produces a slightly less-pretty bar, with a bit more lumpiness on top. However, considering I’m mainly interested making soaps for family and friends, and not becoming an artisan soap-maker, I’m totally cool with that.

What supplies do I need?

Not too many! But there are a few (inexpensive) items that will make your soap-making life a hundred times easier:

homemade hot process soap recipe

(some of these are affiliate links)

  • Crockpot — I found an older crockpot at a yard sale for $5. It’s my official soap-making slow cooker
  • Glass or Pyrex measuring cups and bowls — You’ll want to avoid metal utensils/dishes in your soap making process since lye reacts with some metals.
  • A digital kitchen scale — Seriously. You’re gonna want one of these. I got this one for $12 on Amazon, and it’s a gem
  • A stick blender — Sure, if you’re super committed, you can stand there and stir your soap for a couple hours… I’m not that committed. The stick blender makes it happen in mere minutes. It’s worth every. single. penny.
  • Soap mold — For the longest time, I’ve used a simple cardboard box lined with parchment paper. Really, anything can work as a soap mold, including shoe boxes, loaf pans, misc. kitchen pans, Pringles chip tubes, you name it. As long as you can line it with parchment paper so you can remove the soap, you can use it. I recently splurged on this silicone soap mold from Amazon. It’s nice, but not a necessity.
  • Safety gear — This includes eye protection, gloves, and long sleeves, to guard you from the lye.

Hot Process Soap Ingredients:

  • Lye — Sometimes you can find lye at your local home improvement store (usually in the plumbing section), but I generally have a very tough time sourcing it locally… I ordered my last bottle from Amazon. Just remember, you MUST only use 100% pure lye (sodium hydroxide). Nothing else can be added.
  • Fat/Oil — There are SO many different soap fat options out there, it’ll blow your mind. If you get on some of the fancy soap-making websites, you’ll find detailed recipes calling for many different types of oil or fat in each recipe. Since I’m not an artisan soap maker, I like to keep it simple. My soaps generally contain olive oil, palm oil, coconut oil, or tallow (tallow soap recipe coming soon), in various quantities. Each oil has different properties it’ll lend to the soap. The more soap you make, the more you’ll find out which oils you like to use best.
  • Liquid — I usually use water in my soap recipes, but milk is also a popular option. If you are using water, make sure to only use distilled water. That way, you’ll avoid any potential issues with the minerals your tap water might contain.

Alrighty, enough talk. On to the recipe!

Basic Hot Process Soap Recipe (aka Crock Pot Soap)

(A note about amounts: This recipe produces about 30 oz of soap. I chose this amount because of the size of my mold. However, you can absolutely play around with the oil amounts in any soap recipe, as long as you run the final amounts through a lye calculator to make sure you are using a safe amount of lye. I always, always run my numbers through the lye calculator at www.thesage.com before I make any soap recipe)

  • 10 oz olive oil
  • 20 oz coconut oil
  • 9 oz distilled water
  • 4.78 oz 100% pure lye
  • Essential oils for scent (optional)

Other Equipment:

  • Digital scale
  • Safety gear (safety glasses, long sleeves, gloves)
  • Stick blender
  • Crock pot
  • Non-metal dishes and utensils

To begin, measure out the olive and coconut oil. Place the coconut oil in the slow cooker, and turn it on so it begins to melt. (If you want to speed up the melting process, you can melt it on the stovetop in a saucepan instead.)

hot-process-soap-coconut-oil

As the coconut oil melts, measure out the other ingredients, weighing each and every one on the digital scale first. In soap making, we always measure by weight, not by volume.

I measure my water into a Pyrex measuring cup, and the lye into a small glass bowl. Make sure you have your protective gear (eye protection, gloves, long sleeves) in place before you start handling the lye.

homemade hot process soap recipe

Once the coconut oil has completely melted, add the olive oil to the crockpot and allow it to mingle and warm up.

Now it’s time to mix the lye and the water. Make sure you do this in a place with plenty of ventilation, as the lye will produce a reaction with the water and emit fumes. I prefer to do it outside, or under my stove hood with the fan on.

homemade hot process soap recipe
dissolving the lye into the water

Slowly add the lye to the water, as you continually stir the water. The chemical reaction will happen quickly, and the mixture will heat up, so make sure you don’t grab the water container without gloves or an oven mitt.

**Important** ALWAYS add the lye to the water. NEVER add the water to the lye. Adding water to the lye can result in an unpleasant Mount Vesuvius type of reaction…

Once the lye is completely dissolved into the water (you’ll want to continue to gently stir until this happens), add it to the melted oils in the crockpot. Do this slowly, all while stirring the soap mixture.

Now, grab your stick blender. Stir and mix the mixture with your stick blender. I don’t run it continually, but rather pulse it for short spurts, stirring the mixture as I go. You’ll see it blend together rather quickly and it will thicken.

homemade hot process soap recipe
Stirring and thickening over the course of several minutes

We’re looking for it to come to “trace.” You’ll know this has occurred because your soap mixture will have the consistently of pudding, and will hold its shape when you plop some on top. Like this—>

homemade hot process soap recipe
The lovely pudding-like trace stage

Once trace has occurred, the hard part is over! Simply place the lid on the crockpot, set the timer for 50 minutes, and allow the mixture to cook on LOW.

While you don’t need to necessarily babysit the crock, you will want to be semi-close to make sure it doesn’t bubble over. Mine always tries to rise out of my crockpot at least once during the process, and I have to give it a quick stir to calm it down. It usually only takes once, though. Otherwise, you shouldn’t need to stir it.

homemade hot process soap recipe
The stages of cooking

While you’re waiting, line your soap molds with parchment paper (if you’re using a silicone mold, skip this step) and prepare any additives (see below).

Once the 50 minutes has passed, it’s time to test the soap to make sure the lye has reacted with the oils completely and no longer remains in the mixture.

I like to do this by grabbing a small amount of the soap mixture, allowing to cool for a second, and then touching it to my tongue. If it “zaps” me, I know there is still lye remaining in the mixture and it needs to cook longer. If it just tastes like soap, we’re ready for the next step.

If you are mixing in any additives, turn off the crockpot and allow the mixture to cool briefly before mixing in any essential oils. However, you can’t wait too long, as the mixture will begin to set up, so watch it carefully.

homemade hot process soap recipe
Adding essential oils

Pour the soap mixture into the mold, making sure to press it into all the corners and smooth out the top as much as possible.

homemade hot process soap recipe

Set it aside for 12-24 hours, or until it sets completely. (Usually, overnight is plenty of time).

Remove the soap from the mold, cut it into bars (I got my fancy crinkle cutter here, but you can just use a plain ol’ knife, too), and allow it to dry for another day or so to allow it to harden up a bit.

homemade hot process soap recipe

Now it’s ready to use. You made soap! Can you believe it?! You’re officially a homesteading rockstar. :)

Notes:

  • While I use high-quality olive oil and coconut oil in my cooking, I don’t feel bad about using the lesser, cheaper grades for soap making.
  • I won’t go into all the details of additives in this post, but some folks like to add things like coffee grounds, dried herbs, or ground oatmeal to their homemade soaps. Essential oils are also a fabulous addition if you want your soap to smell purty. You can also purchase colorants and dyes, but I never use them. I’m fine with naturally-colored homestead soap.
  • One of the benefits of hot process soap is that there should not be any lye remaining on the crockpot or soap molds. This makes clean-up easier. However, to clean the lye bowl and stick blender, simply allow them to soak in a mixture of hot, soapy water and vinegar. The vinegar will neutralize the lye, and ensures you don’t burn yourself while washing them later.
  • This recipe is 5% superfat. This means that we added extra oil to make sure the lye would have a complete chemical reaction, so it would no longer remain in the finished product. This is why it is so important to run all your soap measurements through a lye calculator first. Otherwise, you could potentially be making a recipe with an insufficient amount of oil, which can result in unreacted, caustic lye remaining in your bar.
  • I like to scrape the leftovers from my crockpot into a small ball and use it right away while the bars are setting up.
  • The sky’s the limit when it comes to the essential oils you can use in homemade soap! However, my current favorite addition to this recipe is 30 drops of patchouli and 20 drops of wild orange.
  • You don’t have to make a soap recipe with multiple types of oil. You can definitely just use one type of oil if you wish. Pure olive oil soap will be very hard, as will pure tallow soap. Pure coconut oil soap has a lovely lather. Experiment and find out which oils you prefer.

5.0 from 9 reviews
Homemade Hot Process Soap Recipe in a Crock Pot
Author: 
Recipe type: DIY - Soap
 
Ingredients
  • 10 oz olive oil
  • 20 oz coconut oil
  • 9 oz distilled water
  • 4.78 oz 100% pure lye
  • Essential oils for scent (optional)
  • Other Equipment:
  • Digital scale
  • Safety gear (safety glasses, long sleeves, gloves)
  • Stick blender
  • Crock pot
  • Non-metal dishes and utensils
Instructions
  1. Measure out the olive and coconut oil.
  2. Place the coconut oil in the slow cooker, and turn it on so it begins to melt.
  3. Measure out the other ingredients, weighing each and every one on the digital scale first.
  4. Once the coconut oil has completely melted, add the olive oil to the crockpot and allow it to mingle and warm up.
  5. Add the lye to the water, stirring slowly. Do this in a place with ample ventilation, while wearing your safety equipment.
  6. Add the dissolved lye/water mixture to the melted oils in the crockpot. Stir gently.
  7. With the stick blender, continue to mix/stir for several minutes until you reach "trace."
  8. Place the lid on the crockpot, set the timer for 50 minutes, and allow the mixture to cook on LOW.
  9. If the soap tries to bubble out of the crockpot, give it a stir.
  10. Line the soap molds with parchment paper (if required)
  11. Once the 50 minutes has elapsed, perform the "zap test": I like to do this by grabbing a small amount of the soap mixture, allowing to cool for a second, and then touching it to my tongue. If it "zaps" me, I know there is still lye remaining in the mixture and it needs to cook longer. If it just tastes like soap, we're ready for the next step.
  12. Allow the mixture to cool slightly before adding any additives.
  13. Press/pour the soap mixture into the mold, making sure to press it into all the corners and smooth out the top as much as possible.
  14. Set it aside for 12-24 hours, or until it sets completely. (Usually, overnight is plenty of time).
  15. Remove the soap from the mold, cut it into bars.
  16. Allow it to dry for another day or so to allow it to harden up a bit.

 

How to Keep Wild Birds Out of a Chicken Coop

how to keep wild birds out of a chicken coop

As homesteaders, we get pretty used to being the weird ones…

Because let’s face it, I’m betting that *most* of your friends probably aren’t rendering tallow, or figuring out how to skim the cream from their fresh milk, or pulverizing homemade sauerkraut.

But I recently started doing something that is on a whole new level of weird… So much so, that I often warn friends beforehand so they don’t think I’m completely off my rocker. (At least, not any more than they already do)

The Backstory:

Last summer, every time I’d walk into my chicken coop, it felt like I was in Alfred Hitchcock’s movie, The Birds. As soon as I’d open the door, I would be greeted by a frenzied flock of sparrows who would proceed to fly wildly around the coop and get uncomfortably close to my face… And hair. Not that my hair is any sort of masterpiece or anything, but I sure didn’t want one of their tiny bird-legs stuck in my messy bun.

Something had to be done…

how to keep wild birds out of a chicken coop

Why Wild Birds and Chickens Don’t Mix

Some of you might be thinking I’m a bit cold-hearted for wanting to boot the sparrows out of my coop, but I do have two rather legitimate reasons for my vendetta, other than the whole bird-in-my-hair thing:

1. Wild birds can carry disease which may be passed to your chicken flock.

2. Wild birds will mow down your chicken feed. For reals. It felt like I was refilling my chicken feeder non-stop last summer. Adding a flock of 20 sparrows will do a number on your feed supply, and considering how I’m feeding a lovely non-GMO, custom-blended feed (my recipe is available in my Natural Homestead book), I didn’t really feel like sharing.

My Crazy Solution for Keeping Wild Birds Out of a Chicken Coop

When I started looking for a way to solve my sparrow problem, all the advice seemed pretty, well, blah…

Folks suggested just keeping the coop doors closed all the time (my hens would be furious..) or only offering a very small amount of feed, multiple times per day, to avoid thievery from wild birds. (I’m way too lazy to keep up with that sort of program.)

Neither of those options satisfied me, so I dug deeper.

And found my solution in the form of… (are you ready for this? It’s pretty high-tech…)

CDs and baling twine.

how to keep wild birds out of a chicken coop

Oh yeah, baby.

Now do you see why I warn folks before they enter my coop? It’s kinda weird.

Of course, I was entirely skeptical at first that it would even work, but I figured it couldn’t hurt to try.

I dug through my CD (yes, as in compact-disc) collection to find any old, scratched ones that no longer played. I tied a length of baling twine through the hole, and attached the other end to the ceiling of my coop, and voila!

how to keep wild birds out of a chicken coop

High tech sparrow-stoppers.

Eat your heart out, Martha Stewart.

But Do they Work?

Yes, yes, yes! It looks bizarre, but it works! Within 24 hours of me hanging my CD/twine contraptions, the sparrows were gone. And they didn’t come back.

I’m guessing the birds don’t like the shiny, swaying objects hanging haphazardly from the ceiling, which is why it’s a successful deterrent.

I tested the theory by removing the CDs for a while. Sure enough, the sparrows returned, only to disappear again once I rehung them.

So yeah, I look like a homesteader-gal who’s completely lost her marbles when you walk into my coop, but I don’t care. I no longer have to duck and dive when I check my chickens, and my feed supply is lasting way longer.

And that, my friends, is what you call a good old-fashioned, homestead hack. :)

how to keep wild birds out of a chicken coop

Pssst. Like weird little tips like this one? Every week I send out a email with 4-5 of my favorite tips of the week. It usually includes a recipe or two, animal stuff, and crazy findings like this one. I call it the Homestead Toolbox. It’s 100% free, and you can sign up for it HERE. 

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15 Ways to Reuse Essential Oil Bottles

ways to reuse essential oil bottles

You know those cartoons where there’s a little angel and a little devil sitting on the character’s shoulder?

Yeah, I feel like that sometimes.

My ambitious side seems to constantly be at-war with my practical side, and it’s a never-ending battle.

Ambitious Jill: C’mon… Let’s double the size of the garden this year, and get more cows and heritage pigs!

Practical Jill: You’re pregnant, have a jam-packed schedule, and you’re ripping rooms off your house… You really think pigs are a good idea?

……….

Ambitious Jill: DIY ALL THE THINGS!

Practical Jill: No one will die if you buy dish soap at the store instead of making it yourself right now.

……….

Ambitious Jill: EEK! Don’t throw that away… We must repurpose everything!

Practical Jill: Hello clutter…

……….

Practical Jill has been winning a lot lately, mostly because there’s only so much you can do when you’re in the middle of a major home remodel project. However, there’s one thing she never wins on:

Essential oil bottles.

Considering I’ve been using essential oils for a good three years now, I’ve amassed an impressive collection of empty bottles.

ways to reuse essential oil bottles

And it is physically impossible for me to throw them away.

I. JUST. CAN’T.

They are so cute, and they smell good, and I like how they feel in my hands.

OK whatever. I might have a problem… but still. They just aren’t going in the trash. I don’t care what Practical Jill says.

So, to justify my hoarding thriftiness, here’s a list of ways to put them to good use. Because part of being a homesteader is “waste not, want not”, right?

ways to reuse essential oil bottles

How to Reuse Essential Oil Bottles

(this post contains affiliate links)

1. Recycle ’em — of course, this option is better than simply tossing them into the garbage, providing you have glass recycling facilities where you live… However, it’s not my favorite option on the list, so let’s keep going.

2. Share with Friends & Family — Once people know you’re building an essential oil stash, it’s only a matter of time before they sheepishly knock on your door asking for one or two to try. I often use cute lil’ sample bottles like this when I’m sharing. However, if I run out of sample bottles, or need to share a larger quantity, I always reach for one of my empty bottles.

ways to reuse essential oil bottles

3. AccessorizeMany oil supply companies carry sweet ways to accessorize your bottles, including spritzer tops, droppers, and roller balls. I keep a stash of these toppers handy, and like to use my empty bottles to create custom blends, roll-ons, and sprays.

4. Make Portable DIY Hand Sanitizer. Use my homemade hand sanitizer recipe, add a spritzer top, and you’re good to go.

5. Create custom perfumes — It’s been years since I’ve used traditional perfume and honestly, the fragrances I used to like now give me a headache. I much prefer to use my essential oils when I go out on the town (aka– go run errands), and it’s easy to add a spritzer to an empty 15 mL bottle to make it happen. This blog post has detailed instructions for mixing your own perfumes and colognes, plus recipes too.

7. Make Sheet Spritzers — I always feel extra-fancy when I spritz fresh-smelling essential oils on the bedsheets on laundry day. My favorite option is lavender, or sometimes lavender mixed with frankincense. Simply mix water and 8-10 drops of your favorite oil in an empty 15 mL bottle and add a spray cap. These essential oils known for their ability to promote healthy sleep are awesome choices, too.

8. Put Together a Travel Kit — I make it a habit to take my oils with me whenever I travel. If you don’t want to take your entire stash, add smaller quantities of your must-have oils to empty bottles. This is also added insurance that you won’t lose your entire collection if your luggage is lost or stolen.

9. Store Carrier Oils — When I use essential oils, I like to dilute them with a liquid carrier oil of some sort. My favorite options are fractionated coconut oil, sweet almond oil, or apricot oil. I keep an empty 15 mL bottle filled with carrier oil in my travel kits so it’s always within reach.

10. Oily Lights — How cute is this string of essential oil bottle Christmas lights? This is perfect for the die-hard oil fan, or if you are looking for some oily decor ideas. (Just make sure you’re using super-clean bottles if you do this.)

11. Stock your Barn Stash — If I happen to be using oils on an animal (like when I was doctoring my chicken), I always mix up the oils I need and add them to an empty bottle before hauling them outside. It’s a given the bottle will be rattling around in my coat pocket, or sitting on a fence post, and I like to avoid mucking up a full, clean bottle from the house.

12. Make Bath Salts — The most frustrating thing about an “empty” bottle is that it never quite seems completely empty… There’s always a bit of precious residue left inside. To put every last drop to good use, remove the cap and orifice reducer from your bottles, and place several empty bottles in a container with several cups of Epsom salts. Allow it to sit for several days, and you’ll find you have lovely-scented bath salts at the end. (This is also an ideal way to clean the bottles/remove scent and residue if you want to use them for something else)

ways to reuse essential oil bottles

13. Mini Flower Vase — Stick a single delicate flower in an empty bottle and use it to decorate an end table, nightstand, or table setting.

14. After-Sun Spray for your Beach Bag — Need added insurance against crispy, summer skin? This simple after-sun spray is a cinch to mix up, and my favorite remedy if I forget to cover up while working outside on a hot day…

15. Bye-Bye Mosquitos. There are a ton of different ways to use essential oils to combat mosquitos or other creepy crawlies that want to eat you for lunch… Mix up your favorite recipe in a 15 mL empty, add a spritzer, and toss it in your backpack. Grab a ton of DIY bug repellent ideas here.

*BONUS TIP* To easily remove label residue from your bottles, simply rub in a drop or two of lemon essential oil, then wash with warm, soapy water.

Alrighty… I know you guys have even more brilliant ideas– what’s YOUR favorite way to use up empty essential oil bottles?

ways to reuse essential oil bottles

My Favorite Essential Oils

Want to get started with essential oils, but not sure which brand you want to try? This is the brand I’ve used for three years, and they are my favorite.

Free Essential Oil Education for You!

There’s a TON of conflicting essential oil information out there, and it’s hard to know who’s accurate, and who’s not… Because of that, I am SO excited to announce this one-of-a-kind online essential oil education event. You’ll get solid knowledge from EXPERTS in a variety of fields and learn how to use oils medicinally, for emotional support, for animals, DIY projects, and lots more.

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The best part? It’s free to register and listen (and all done online, so you don’t have to actually travel anywhere).

AND– it is strictly a brand-neutral event. That means, no matter what brand of oils you like, you can benefit from the info in this online summit. There will be no brand-names or trademarks mentioned, nor will any speakers be allowed to pitch their company or brand. We were super strict about this because we didn’t want arguments about who’s brand is best to get in the way of just learning about and enjoying oils. :)

<<Click here to see the full line-up of speakers and to register for FREE>>