Thursday, May 1, 2014

Nature's Magic & Foaming Hand Soap Recipe

Nature's MagicPhotos by Elizabeth Reyes.

Danielle Young chuckles as she relates her biggest business catastrophe. While pouring essential oil from a gallon container into a measuring cup, a small amount spilled, leaving an entire office building smelling like peppermint for several days. She adds, “At least it was near the holidays.” Danielle makes Nature’s Magic, non-toxic sustainable cleaning products. She has gone from mixing sixteen ounce bottles of the “magic” in her kitchen to five gallon buckets in her office— requiring considerably more heft. “You’ve got this,” her husband encouraged when she decided to expand. But it has taken more than mixing and gallon jugs to develop her line.

In 2008, Danielle, a professional social worker by training, decided to open a cleaning business to align her work hours with the demands of family life.

Given her concern for the safety of both her clients and herself, she began searching for cleaning products that were both effective and non-toxic. Her research into what was commercially available revealed products with long lists of chemicals -- including petroleum-based surfactants which are used to keep oils mixed into the liquids.  Even brands touting environmental tags contained toxins! Danielle, realizing the lack cleaners she felt safe using, decided to make her own.

Over a period of several years, using 100% pure essential oils, locally sourced vinegar, and organic castile soap for her products and friends and clients as guinea pigs, Danielle developed her plant based recipes for Nature’s Magic. She made the decision not to use surfactants and chose an easier, environmentally friendly solution. A tiny shake from users’ hands mixes the essential oils back into the liquids with ingredients that are easy to pronounce and understand.

The feedback from clients, friends, and family was, “not only is my house clean, but it smells good,” and “it’s safe for my kids and feels peaceful. Where can I get more?” The combination of feedback, several years of experience making and using her own products, and her awareness that the market lacked sustainable options pushed her out of her comfort zone and into the marketplace.

Having outgrown her space at home, she turned to an Athens, Ohio, business incubator ACEnet (Appalachian Center for Economic Networks) for help. With a larger storage area, dedicated work space, shared equipment, and access to technical resources, the process of bottling Nature’s Magic for sale began. The blue bottles with their hand applied labels protect the powerful cleaning capabilities of the pure essential oils. It was now time to see her products on the shelves of the local markets.

“One day I decided to go for it. I got my samples ready. I walked into the Athens Kroger. I walked back out. I stood outside and told myself to go in there and talk to the manager,”— which she did. Five months later, the next steps were completed, and Nature’s Magic is now on the shelf, but on a low shelf. “You have to start somewhere,” she told me.

Pitching her products is still difficult for Danielle, but she is gaining confidence. Danielle is a one-woman show. While comfortable with the creative side, she has had to learn the business aspects of accounting, public relations, and marketing. “Day to day is so incredibly different,” she says. Her husband’s words remind her of all the steps that have brought her this far.

Nature’s Magic, including multipurpose spray, deep clean spray, glass cleaner, and concentrates for refills, is made in Ohio from carefully selected ingredients, and is available in the Athens, Columbus, and Toledo markets. Nature’s Magic leaves behind a clean home that smells crisp and feels as peaceful as the hills surrounding Danielle’s office.

Danielle offered this simple recipe for foaming hand soap plus you will know what you’re putting on your skin. You can also customize the scent as you like or use her suggestions. Filtered water is recommended as it removes undesirable material from your water, but tap water works too.


You will need
  • Foaming Soap Dispenser
  • Water, 2/3 cup 
  • Liquid Castille Soap (such as Dr. Bronner’s Baby Mild), 1/3 cup
  • 100% Pure Essential Oils, total of 1/8 tsp
    • Bathroom Scent: Lavender & Tea tree OR Peppermint & Rosemary, equal parts
    • Kitchen Scent: Lemongrass & Peppermint, equal parts
  • Label
  1. Pour water into container.
  2. Add liquid castile soap to the water (to avoid making bubbles).
  3. Add the essential oils.
  4. Screw on the hand pump and gently swish to mix.
  5. Dry container and apply label.
  6. Wash away!

I interviewed Danielle Young in hopes of getting an article published, but alas it did not find an outlet. After I interviewed her, she gave me a bottle of the Multipurpose Cleaner which I have happily been shaking and then spraying all over my house. I've also made the foaming soap to refill an empty foaming soap pump using the proportions in the recipe, but with Sweet Orange and Bergamot essential oils-- feel free to improvise. Photos by Elizabeth Reyes. Thank you Danielle and Elizabeth!

Nature's MagicPhotos by Elizabeth Reyes.

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