Tea Seed Powder, Again

I am a guest author this week at Secondguru, one of my favorite local eco-lifestyle website for green and sustainable living ideas.  Pop by and read me wax lyrical about the amazing tea seed powder.

I mentioned that I am always looking for more ways to use tea seed powder, sometimes also known as Camellia seed powder.  The multi-use eco-cleaning product that I originally sourced from Taiwan to replace commercial dish detergent (no more dry hands from daily dishwashing chore!) has since become a must-have item around my house.

This is one of those days when the sun is bright and laundry dry so fast that I start looking around the house for more things to wash, with tea seed powder of course.

And this is how I hang my makeup brushes to dry, clutched along my window grilles with stainless steel laundry pegs.

If you have not discovered this wonderful natural cleaning product, it is worth a try considering its affordability at SGD4.90/kg (UPDATE 27 May 2020: The price has since increased to $6.20 for a 1kg pack),  I have shared more tips on tea seed powder uses and where to buy on Secondsguru!

On Packing (Almost Zero Waste) Toiletries For A Short Trip

On Packing (Almost Zero Waste) Toiletries For A Short Trip // Mono + Co

Packing my toiletries a short trip means shuttling between the bathroom and the kitchen to refill my containers with mostly my DIY-ed products.  Here’s what I brought along for a brief vacation recently.

On Packing (Almost Zero Waste) Toiletries For A Short Trip // Mono + CoOn Packing (Almost Zero Waste) Toiletries For A Short Trip // Mono + Co

++ Body scrub ++

A mixture of Himalayan pink salt + crushed rose petals + dried lemongrass (from teabags) + few drops of avocado oil mixed with few drops lemongrass essential oil.  This doubles up as my room fragrance as I leave the jar open uncovered inside the room throughout my stay.

On Packing (Almost Zero Waste) Toiletries For A Short Trip // Mono + Co

++ Night Repair Facial Oil Capsules ++

Nothing complicated, these capsules are the same Evening Primrose Oil capsules that I take orally once a day, but they work great as well for my skin when applied topically as facial oil.  I am really thankful for my non-sensitive skin.  I have tried avocado oil, sweet almond oil, and walnut oil so far with no clogging or allergic issues.

Bring along a pair of small scissors to cut a small hole on one end of the capsule.  I like to use this oil overnight after a day’s exposure to sun, grime and dirt.  I use up less than half of a capsule for whole face and neck, so the balance goes to soften my hands, cuticles and elbows, basically wherever I like.  It has a distinctive oily smell that some might find unpleasant, I usually mix it with lavender essential oil at home but for traveling sake, I choose to apply it sans additional fragrance so that I can just count and bring the exact number of capsules.  Talk about convenient travel pack!

On Packing (Almost Zero Waste) Toiletries For A Short Trip // Mono + Co

++ Facial Oil for Day ++

What is the difference between this facial oil and the night one?  Fragrance.  I added a few drops of carrot seed , lavender and geranium essential oil to avocado oil and store them in a tiny glass dropper bottle.  Scent is really subtle, do not expect it to last like commerical fragrance but that’s all it takes to perk up my vacation mood in the morning before heading out to explore the city.  I prefer smelling the street food than overpowering perfume anyway.

On Packing (Almost Zero Waste) Toiletries For A Short Trip // Mono + Co

++ Bar Soap ++

I did not make this soap, it’s Chandrika brand from India.  Compared to commercial body shampoo, I prefer soap bars as they use less plastic as packaging.  These bars made with vegetable oils are wrapped individually in paper (feel waxed though) and then packed in a paper box that I usually send for recycling.  Although the ingredient list stated talc and artificial color #CI 12700, #CI 64565 , the rest of the ingredients look naturally derived.

Bar soaps make a terrible mess when they are accidentally left sitting in an undrained soap dish.  I usually keep them in a drawstring bag handsewn out of wash cloth and hang the pouch with the soap bar inside to drip dry after shower.  The pouch also adds extra exfoliation during shower time.  Best part is when the soap has been reduced to a smaller piece, I simply pop a new bar into the bag and the smaller piece will be eventually used up as well, contained inside the bag this way, no more losing loose bits of soap, zero wastage.

On Packing (Almost Zero Waste) Toiletries For A Short Trip // Mono + Co

++ Tea Seed Powder Shampoo ++

I wrote about how I have been using this powder here.  Also used it to wash my reusable cutlery and lunchbox in the hotel room after a day of rejecting disposable ones.  I wasn’t that successful everywhere, and had to wash those that I can’t reject in time with tea seed powder (my defacto dish washing detergent at home) before bringing them back home for reusing/recycling.  But that’s a story for another day.

On Packing (Almost Zero Waste) Toiletries For A Short Trip // Mono + Co

++ Bamboo toothbrush & Baking Soda toothbrushing powder ++

Powder packed in a reused mask sample container.  Make sure to wipe dry the horse hair bristles on the bamboo toothbrush (very important step as natural material is especially susceptible to mold) before covering and wrapping with sheets from tear off calendar as shown below.  I use the same calendar sheet to wrap and pack the toothbrush back home.

On Packing (Almost Zero Waste) Toiletries For A Short Trip // Mono + Co

++ Make-up Kit ++

A fan of light makeup (rather the lack of skills for it,) I brought only the minimal number of cosmetic items along.  If you can recognise, the plastic container is actually a dehumidifier box from Daiso that I “diverted” from my camera cabinet for just a few days.

// make up brushes : I used the same calendar paper for wrapping my bamboo toothbrush to pack my make up brushes as well, one for powder foundation to make skin look more even, and another for applying blusher.

// face power : I buy only the face compact power refill that comes in a clear plastic box packaging.  The plastic box actually closes with a snap, this design allows me to do away with the standard container with mirror, making it even more compact.

On Packing (Almost Zero Waste) Toiletries For A Short Trip // Mono + Co

// blusher : that tiny glass jar from Bonne Maman jam contains my blush powder, previously in compact form but cracked when I accidentally dropped it from a height.  I have since crushed the broken pieces into fine power and store them in the jar.  Applying is slightly tricky, take slightly more time to avoid pick up too much color with my brush.  As a result, I ended up wash my blusher brush more often to get rid of color build up over time, resulting in a more hygenic blusher brush to use.  I won’t tell you how often I wash this brush previously. 🙂

// make up remover : brought along a handy tube of coconut oil.  After the face is free of make up, I wash again with tea seed powder to remove the grease.

On Packing (Almost Zero Waste) Toiletries For A Short Trip // Mono + Co

Toiletry bag : All items fit nicely in a clear bag that used to be a men’s cotton tee-shirt packaging.

Do you have any other good zero-waste toiletry packing tip/ habit to share?

Green Monday : DIY Tea Seed Powder 苦茶籽粉 Detergent

Green Monday : DIY Tea Seed Powder 苦茶籽粉 Detergent // Mono+Co

(Update 27 May 2020:  I have stopped making tea seed cleaning detergent this way.   Instead, I reuse a sugar dispenser , fill it up with tea seed powder and sprinkle it directly on the greasy dishes like this.)

Tea seed powder is what remains after the edible oil, more commonly known as Camellia oil (苦茶油), has been extracted from the tea seeds.  The defatted seeds are then crushed and milled into fine powder which contains natural saponins.  This makes the powder an effective yet natural cleaner and degreaser, perfect replacement for my commercial dish washing detergent, less harsh on my hands too.  You see, I love cleaning, but I don’t want my hands to look the part.

Although packaging instructions says to mix powder with water to form a paste for scrubbing dirty dishes, I kind of miss the “slippery feel” of a lathering detergent.  I also feel that I am using more powder than required for my usual load since I am not sure if the dishes are cleaned properly by just rubbing the powder paste on them.  Therefore, I attempt to boil the tea seed powder plus water mixture into a thickened solution that is easier to dispense and apply.  Although the tea seed detergent does not lather up like the commercial ones, the greasy dishes feel squeaky clean after a quick rinse.  There is no soap residue: the kind that takes forever to wash away.  With the water price hike effective this month, water bill saving is a selling point for me to switch to this homemade detergent.

Green Monday : DIY Tea Seed Powder 苦茶籽粉 Detergent // Mono+Co

I have already used up two-1kg pack bought from a local organic shop, not only as detergent, but also in lots of other body care uses as shown here and here.  One important thing to note is that once the bag is opened, the powder will turn rancid fast and must be used up in three months.

Since the opened bag must be kept in a cool dry place, I choose to store the balance from an opened bag in an airtight container.  Prettier than a pouch clip on a slouching bag.  Lest you think that I diy the label on the plastic container, it is actually a label from another brand that I first bought from Taiwan.  So I have in fact used up a total of 3 kg todate.  Yes, it’s that versatile and effective.

As the tea seed powder solution will turn bad overnight, I have to make a fresh batch everyday for daily use, and discard whatever I can’t finish up.  I have since learned a great tip to make the detergent last longer without spoilage.  Revelation came somewhere between the second and third bag, and after poring over the ingredient labels of a few commercially available tea seed powder detergents : adding sea salt as a natural preservative!

Green Monday : DIY Tea Seed Powder 苦茶籽粉 Detergent // Mono+Co

I  don’t have the exact formula or scientific recipe to the proportion of ingredients, but this is the ratio I use : 100 ml water to 1 tablespoon tea seed powder to 1/2 teaspoon sea salt.  I came up with this as it is easy to remember and it also happens to produce a pretty thick consistency after boiling.  If you find it too thick, add lesser tea seed powder for a more runny detergent.  Mix everything in a pot and stir until the powder has completely dissolved.  Bring mixture to boil over medium heat while stirring.

Here are the steps I use to make the detergent : first, mix everything in a pot and stir until the powder has completely dissolved.  Bring mixture to boil over medium heat while stirring.  I use a pot that I cook with, since I wash my pot with the very detergent that I am making, so there is no reason for me to use a separate pot to boil the mixture.  The powder is inedible though, so keep it away from children.

Green Monday : DIY Tea Seed Powder 苦茶籽粉 Detergent // Mono+Co Green Monday : DIY Tea Seed Powder 苦茶籽粉 Detergent // Mono+Co

As soon as the mixture starts to boil, the solution will slowly thicken.  Turn off heat and allow detergent to cool down completely.

Green Monday : DIY Tea Seed Powder 苦茶籽粉 Detergent // Mono+Co

Tranfer detergent to a squeeze bottle or a pump dispenser, shake each time before use.

Green Monday : DIY Tea Seed Powder 苦茶籽粉 Detergent // Mono+Co

I have been filling up a 600ml (600ml water + 6 tablespoons tea seed powder + 3 teaspoons sea salt) squeeze bottle bought from Daiso with my homemade dishwashing detergent.  A bottle can last me for about 4-5 days of daily dishwashing.

Another chemical household product eliminated, another eco multi-purpose cleaner in my house.  More on its other usage soon, especially as a shampoo for my greasy scalp!