Sunday, 12 January 2014

Some answers to questions I get asked a lot

What You Will Find In Your Old Pit Potions

Pure essential oils,
Organically grown herbs, flowers and Oatmeal,
Fair Trade Demerara Sugar,
Fair Trade Cocoa & Shea Butters,
Pure Beeswax,
Extra Virgin Olive Oil,
Coconut oil,
Sweet Almond Oil,...

Sea Salt,
Local Honey
Floral Waters
...and a lot of love and attention.

What You Will Not Find In your Old Pit Potions

Synthetic fragrance oils,
Sodium Laureth Sulphate (SLS)
Palm Oil,
Unethically sourced essential oils.

All Old Pit Potions are suitable for vegetarians, many are suitable for vegans, and all are tested on Humans

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Sunshine in a jar

In what is turning out to be a dark, wet January it's nice to be reminded of brighter times.
Lacking the funds to travel to warmer places I have looked back to the sunnier parts of last summer and I can't think of anything that captures those days better than a batch of salves I made from the sunniest of all the weeds. Dandelion Flowers.

This method works for pretty much any infused oil but this one looks so pretty I wanted to share it.

I made a dandelion infused oil by steeping the heads in a mixture of olive and sweet almond oils

As you can see I use a combination of a jam funnel and a coffee
 filter to strain out the oil from the plant material

   I heated the oil gently over some just on the boil water.

When the oil was warm enough, I added beeswax and a few drops of essential oils

  I poured the resulting liquid salve into some glass jars

The salve labeled and ready to go.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Making his debut - the story of a new soap

More about me later but for now read on...

Once upon a time I made a soap called Venus
She looks like this this


She quickly became one of the most popular of Old Pit soaps being made with sweet almond and extra virgin olive oil, organic oatmeal, fragranced with nutmeg and Orange with a touch of Ylang Ylang.

Shortly after she made her debut she was joined by her sister Vegan Venus
Venus and Vegan Venus
A soap made with coconut oil, green tea infusion, green clay and ground almonds scented with patchouli and Ylang Ylang and as the name suggests suitable for vegans. She quickly became as popular as her sister and started appearing in many bathrooms.
Then I got a message from a friend, Could I possibly make Vegan Venus in a more, shall we say - bar shaped -bar? Her friend who is a vegan man really liked the soap could I oblige?

No sooner said than done and I set to work making the recipe into oval bars and put them away to cure. Four weeks hence there's a new bar in town and here he is next to his sister

Vegan Venus and her brother

Making his debut

Gentlemen I give you
Venus As A Boy
For your bathing pleasure

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Amazing - The Sweet Smell Of Old Pit Potions

Time to put together the list of seasonal goodies old and new for Old Pit Potions.
Most of the lotions and potions are ready now. There are some soaps that I have made and are still curing which will be wrapped, labelled and ready by the end of November but all are available to order right now.
I will save the details for my next post but I will leave contact details if you'd like to receive a list.
As you have probably guessed I love to make and talk about all my potions but it is always interesting to discover what is most popular with my customers from all my products.
The funny thing is, that although I have "old favourite" soaps that I always make and keep in stock where possible, each year a different product seems to catch the interest of friends and customers alike and  I can't make enough of it. One year it may be lip balms, another it will be creams but it is always hard to predict what it will be
This year has been a very good year for perfume spritzers. I make a variety of these, some are old favourites, some are seasonally available and now and again I will make a bespoke blend  that will eventually make it into the O.P.P catalogue. One in particular has really done well and although I am proud of all my creations this one has really made me smile because it is my very favourite.
It is not the first one I blended, that honour belongs to the Sylvan Spritzer made to match my husband's favourite soap of all. He asked me if I could make a cologne or aftershave to match and guess what?
Much to my surprise I could. I was intrigued, there had to be a wealth of other blends just waiting to be put together.
I created my "Amazing" blend as a request for a friend, Suzanne who was searching for a particular fragrance and gave me an idea of what she would like in it. I set to work with  high proof alcohol and my stash of essential oils. In went Patchouli, Sweet Orange, rosewater and one or two more intriguing ingredients, shook the mixing bottle and Ohhhh! It was so amazing it named itself.

I made enough for my friend and another for myself and I have worn it ever since. I have lost count of the bottles I have made for people who have come up to me and said "You smell amazing!" I have also gone on to make bottles for their friends and acquaintances who have done exactly the same. I have a friend called Rachel who had worn Amazing for almost as long as I have and she has brought me lots of customers who want to "Smell as good as Rachel does"  It's not only for women. My friend Lynne's husband Mick wears it to work and has become an unofficial spokesman for Old Pit Potions. They and many others have my undying gratitude for bringing me publicity and custom I would not have imagined.  I also make a soap called Amazing Face which uses some of the same essential oils and contains green clay. I have recently added an body scrub to the collection so now it is possible to layer your fragrance and be Amazing all over!
So that's the  story of O.P.P's signature scent. Like the very best potions it came into being with a request. Actually that would be a good subject for another post so watch this space...
In the meantime if you want a seasonal list you can email me on  or drop me a line on facebook and I'll do my  best to make your festive season smell even better.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Hits and Misses

I'm still foraging and preserving as befits the time of year. It sometimes seems that there is not enough time in the day to do the things I want to get done but for now,  it's time to unwrap some of the soap I made a month ago.

Here we have an old favourite - Cinnamon Cake

 Deliciously fragrant and spicy and very popular from this time of year onwards Actually, what started as a festive yuletide seasonal bar became such a winner I make it all the time now. I have lost count of the number of times people have said
 "That looks and smells good enough to eat!"
Well, I know I use all natural ingredients including  ground almonds for exfoliation, Cinnamon essential oil and bark, nutmeg and honey but I wouldn't recommend  you take a bite.
It is a great soap for showering and hand washing alike though and often takes pride of place in downstairs bath and cloakrooms where the scent provides a warm welcoming note.

Speaking of ingredients, one of the very first soaps I  made was a simple bar, scented with Bergamot essential oil that I named Earl Grey after the strong pot of fragrant tea I used as the liquid part of the recipe.
I recently found some of my old style labels for this soap during a clear out and I thought it was high time for a revival.
A quick canvas of friends and customers alike indicated a lot of enthusiasm for this oldie and so I set to work.
I did have a slight niggle about the quality of the essential oil I was using. Not from my usual supplier I hasten to add but I was keen to make a start and so into the pot it went.
Four weeks down the line I open the box  and unwrap a bar to  do the usual tests. 
While it is a good creamy bar of soap the scent is way too far in the background for a newly made batch. It could be bergamot but it's too faint to really tell. Not what I wanted from this bar at all.
So back to the drawing board which is annoying for a few reasons, not least my impatience to get it done. An unsatisfactory batch of soap for whatever reason can be an expensive and time consuming mistake. Not to mention having to dissapoint the people who wanted to try a bar.
So in summary - I have a large batch of faintly scented bars of soap that I don't want to sell.
I have Bergamot oil on order from  and a determination to get it right so when the postman delivers the next parcel of fab smelling bottles I'll  brew some more tea and get out the soap pot to start again and to anyone who wanted a bar I ask for patience but it will be worth the wait.

On an unrelated note I leave you with a picture of a gift my Mother gave me recently. It currently hangs above my desk and if you know me you will know it to be very appropriate.


Wednesday, 29 September 2010

A Happy Harvest

A long overdue forage all of 400yards from my house has made me feel very blessed indeed.
I went with my partner with the intention of finding a few elderberries with which to make delicious cold -busting syrup (more of which anon) - maybe a few stray blackberries if we were lucky and this is what we gathered, leaving plenty for the birds and other wildlife who make the place home.

Some Rose hips - I'll show you what they became and how later

An abundance of Elderberries

Hawthorn Berries

 Beautiful Blackberries

and right at the end of our walk we found the most wonderful secret stash of lovely sloes ready for picking

They went straight into the freezer - all the better to yield their juices when payday comes and I can buy the necessary bottle of gin.
A generous harvest I'm sure you'll agree. So what did I do with all this stuff?

The Blackberries were easy - I filled a jar with the squashier ones, topped it up with cider vinegar, covered with a vinegar proof lid and labelled. In six weeks time I will have the most beautiful tasting vinegar which will be fabulous in a salad dressing or equally good  spooned into a cupful of hot water and drunk to fend off colds. The rest were instantly combined with some windfall apples given by my neighbour and made into a delicious crumble which is always a joy.

The Elderberries were painstakingly de- stalked  - I use a fork to do this.
There was enough to make a good few bottles of syrup - invaluable for sore throats and colds too. Either taken by the delicious spoonful or combined with just boiled water and sipped as a drink that beats those powdered over sweet cold & flu sachets by a mile.
John Gallagher from and Mountain Rose Herbs showed me how
The kitchen smelled divine by now.
As for the Hawthorns I tinctured some of them in high proof Vodka to make a wonderful heart tonic and a quick search for Hugh Fearnely -Whittingstall's Haw-Sin sauce recipe which, when my sister said, when she popped in to say hello, "Makes the kitchen smell like posh ketchup!"  The quantity in the recipe didn't yield much but what I did get bottled was very tasty indeed.

The rose hips became rose hip syrup with the aid of another useful and entertaining video

Good old rose hip syrup. Packed with Vitamin C and, as certain generations of British school children will tell you, the only thing that made school Rice and  Semolina puddings edible. Incidentally the darker bottles seen in this picture are filled with Elderberry syrup. If you've never made it I would say give it a go. it works as well with dried berries if you can't find fresh.


Sunday, 19 September 2010

I think I fixed it!

After an enthusiastic start to blogging my best laid plans were derailed by a series of trying events and an error on my page that I just couldn't fix. So I stopped blogging and was about to give the whole thing up as not being for me.
Today after way too long I am able to post again.
This certainly is cause for celebration and maybe even a relaunch.
So here's a few pictures of things I have made since I last wrote.

Here are my Bliss Bath Fizzers

They are made with Rose, Jasmine & Ylang Ylang essential oils and real flower petals, each has a whole rosebud inside.

And here are my Blossom Fizzers

See those beautiful orange Calendula flowers? I grew them and dried them myself and combined them with Neroli, Orange flower water, Ylang Ylang and Frankincense, which I always think of as "Dragonsense" ever since a colleague of mine told me that this was what he little boy insisted he was giving as a gift when he played a Wise Man in the school nativity. I bet that was a cool gift.

These are my Mmmassage Melts

I've been making these a while. I mould them in a silicon cupcake tray and the idea is that instead of a bottle of massage oil you use these little darlings, packed with shea & cocoa butters which respond to the warmth of the room & your body and melt on contact with your skin. Great for sharing.
However, happy customers have told me that they also work as an all over body moisturizer applied to damp skin straight after a bath or shower and recently I was thanked by a lady who has discovered that they work very well on the dry skin on her feet. I'm delighted to have this feedback and also to pass it on.

Likewise with the vegan friendly lip balm in Lime & Grapefruit or Mandarin flavour.

I now know - because you tell me, that as well as being a good all round lip balm it is good on those sore patches you get on your nose when you have a cold and... and...  believe it or not, it works as a cuticle cream too!
Now, I'm not going to ask what it is that compels Old Pit fans to be so innovative and clever as to make these discoveries but I'm delighted that you do - so keep them coming. Enquiring minds want to know...
There is more but it's late and besides, I'm excited to find out if this post is going to work so I'll leave it for another time, hopefully it won't be quite so long...