Which door security bar did we buy for our daughter's dorm? This one....

My last post discussed 3 options for door security.  I thought I'd do a quick fly-by update to say we did indeed pick one and it was this one:

Master Lock 265DCCSEN Dual-Function Security Bar

  • Dual function door security bar for hinged and sliding doors
  • Adjusts from 27-1/2in (70cm) - 42in (1.1m) to fit most standard doors and sliding patio doors
  • Top piece removes for sliding door application
  • Rugged 20 gauge steel construction, Padded foot provides sure grip without scratching
  • Pivoting ball joint assures full contact with floor

This is the one she really wanted as one of her friends owns this particular style and loved it - it was easy to use and worked great.  Our daughter was familiar with it and knew it worked.  We were able to get ours at our local Lowe's - which they had 6 at the time.  Two days later they were OUT as it seems to be a popular college dorm item for people to buy.  Check your local Lowe's first but if you can't find one - the link above goes to Amazon and you can order it for about the same price.


Security Door Stops for College Dorms - 2 I'm considering and why I'm not considering one other style

This particular article is not about theft and security for individual items like laptops, dorm lockers, locked jewelry cases, etc. This particular post is only in regards to door stops and security measures to keep the door from being opened from the outside.

July is winding down and our daughter goes off to college in just a few weeks.  She's our third child to go off to college and it's her Junior year, so we've had some experience already in what they need, don't need, want and don't want.  One of the things we haven't had to worry about too much with our first two kids were dorm door security measures.  Due to the style of dorm they have, the layout, whether it's a shared dorm or single and a few other factors, this is something you may or may not need.  (Probably not).  Dorm doors are pretty secure and the problem of most dorm doors is the students leaving them unlocked or propped open! Just remind your child to make it a dorm rule to never leave the door unlocked or propped open; even if they are just running down the hall to another room or the bathroom, etc.

So why are we looking at door security measures this year?

Our kids have all gone to different Universities in different cities and different states.  We've seen and had many different styles of dorms through the years.  Our daughter has a wonderful set up at her university; one she really loves - The dorms are set up so you and your roommate share a single bathroom, with a door on each side - leading to your own single, private dorm quarters.  You have your own entryway, your own closets, desk, bed, microwave and refrigerator and even your own air conditioning and heat controls.  But it is a shared Jack and Jill bathroom.

Sometimes you don't get along with your roommate, other times you get along with them but don't really trust them.  Or sometimes you trust and like your roommate just fine, but they have a whole group of friends you don't know that they have over to their side of the dorm all the time, or even have friends over that you do not trust, like or get along with. Being out of your dorm for classes, a part time job or out with friends means there is a lot of time your dorm and your things are left without you there to be sure they are safe.

When your student is out of their room or goes home for the weekend, you would like to think your things are completely safe in your dorm but you just never know.  Let's just say we've had a couple instances over the past two years that gave us 'pause' on this topic and this year, as we gear up for a return to campus, we are getting a dorm door security stop.  This will be used as a security measure to keep the common door between their rooms secure on her side so no one can enter her room through the shared bathroom.

Here are three options that I personally looked at when looking online for ideas.  Two of them I considered, one I didn't.

I love this one as it's sturdy and strong.  Very highly rated, the Door Jammer Portable is small enough to be 'out of the way' when not needed. 

DoorJammer Portable Door Security, Model DJ001
  • Jimmy-proof security for sliding patio doors
  • Used to prevent door from sliding
  • 48in. length can be cut to fit narrower doors
  • Folds up against back of door when not in use
  • Made of extruded aluminum

This is the one we are not using.  I believe this one is better for traveling and for hotel rooms.  Our daughter and I both agree it's probably not a good idea for dorm rooms because it's an alarm.  If you set this and go for the weekend and someone does try to push your door open, the alarm is going to sound.  And it's going to continue to sound until the batteries run out or someone breaks down your door to make it stop!  Good for hotel rooms when you are in them but not so good for school.

GE Personal Security Door Stop Alarm
  • Plastic
  • Imported
  • 120 dB alarm sounds when activated
  • Pressure on doorstop activates alarm
  • On/off switch to toggle activation
  • Low-battery indicator light
  • Battery powered--no wiring or complicated installation

THIS is the one my daughter is requesting.  Her friend had it last year and it worked great.  It wedges between the door handle and the floor.  Has great reviews, no alarm to sound, and can be used with a swinging door or a sliding door.  Her friend bought hers at Lowe's and we'll probably look their for one this weekend as well but just in case you can't find them locally, I did find them available through Amazon online.

Master Lock 265DCCSEN Dual-Function Security Bar
  • Dual function door security bar for hinged and sliding doors
  • Adjusts from 27-1/2in (70cm) - 42in (1.1m) to fit most standard doors and sliding patio doors
  • Top piece removes for sliding door application
  • Rugged 20 gauge steel construction, Padded foot provides sure grip without scratching
  • Pivoting ball joint assures full contact with floor


Making Homemade Charcoal Soap

Edited:  Updated a couple weeks later to add the photo above of the charcoal soap in the drying stage. 

Today was the day!  Finally!
I've been waiting and wanting to get the homemade charcoal soap made but for various reasons, it wasn't done yet.  Not only was life busy with a lot of other things, but I also needed to make a batch of regular homemade soap first - get that into it's 6 week 'wait' period for it to harden and for the lye to neutralize so we could start using them, and then I could move on to my charcoal soap.  But today was the day... and I'm loving it so far.

I actually forgot to take pictures for the blog while I was making it, so instead, I used 3 that I snapped and sent to my husband/family on my snapchat story on my phone.  So at least I have those to share!

Charcoal Soap

1 1/2 cups (12 oz.) water
8.5 oz. lye
3 lbs fats;  (1 lb. Crisco shortening,1 lb. coconut oil, 1 lb. Canola oil) (part olive, palm, grapeseed)
1 c lemon juice
1 oz. stearic acid
1.33 oz. (1/6 cup) powdered activated charcoal
1/2 oz. sweet almond oil
1 oz. tea tree oil
1 oz. vitamin E oil
Fragrance, optional - oil based, not alcohol based

In a large non-reactive pot, outside and away from small children and pets, place the water.
Add the dry lye slowly, stirring, and keeping your face away from the release of gas it will briefly produce.
It will start to get hot immediately.
Add the coconut oil in small chunks.  The heat of the lye solution will melt your fats so you don't have to melt them beforehand.  Stirring slowly, continue with the Crisco.  Stir or whisk gently until melted smooth.  If it turns a bit pink, that is ok, that will go away.  Add the Canola oil slowly and stir with your wooden spoon or non-reactive spoon.
Add the lemon juice slowly - do not shock it.
Whisk in the stearic acid and powdered charcoal.
When smooth, add the tea tree oil and vitamin E oil as well as any fragrance you might want to add.  Stir a little but not too  much.  Let it set, come back and stir more.  It will start to saponify and turn to soap.  It will start to get thick.  Stir a little more and watch it.  When it gets to really thick honey stage, or a thick pudding, that is called 'trace' and it's ready to be poured into your mold.

Pour into your prepared mold.  Let it set about 3 hours and score the tops into bars or the shapes you want.  Place in an out of the way spot to let set for 24 hours.  After 24 hours, unmold the soap and cut into bars.  Now, place on newspapers, crates, paper bags or anything where it can have air circulate and 'dry'.  They will now set and cure for 4-6 weeks.  I put mine on the floor of my closet and forget about them.  You can't use them earlier than 3-4 weeks because the lye is still too strong. (I test mine at 3-4 weeks just the way our Grandmothers did - with my tongue.  If there is a slight tingle there, then it's not ready and I test again in a week.) Not telling you to test this way of course - but I'm telling you how I do it.

Related products available through Amazon;

Food Grade Sodium Hydroxide Lye Micro Beads, 2 Lbs.
Stearic Acid 1lb cosmetic Grade
Activated Charcoal Powder (1.2 oz glass jar)
  Stearic Acid 1lb cosmetic Grade


Homemade Charcoal Soap Recipes in My Files

In our home we use Charco-caps for gas and bloating and upset stomachs. Hospitals use it for alcohol poisoning and drug overdoses.  The Charco-caps are activated charcoal in a capsule form that readily absorb toxins and gas.  It's used to filter water from drinking water to fish tanks. It has many uses, and over the past few years has become a common ingredient in many beauty products and soap as well.

And that's what this post is about!  Charcoal Soap.

The theory behind including activated charcoal in soap is it will act like a magnet to attract and absorb dirt and oil. No one in our family has problems with acne but since I already make all our bath soap by hand, I thought it would be fun to include a charcoal soap as well.  I have activated charcoal I have made from hard wood, but I've also bought activated charcoal online and at our local natural foods store. I'll include some links to items at the bottom of this post.

Here is the deal - I haven't made charcoal soap yet but I wanted to post a couple recipes I found and filed away for my own use - but I'm leaving it public in case it helps someone else too.  I will post an update and recipe once I've made my soap; which I've been putting off for about 2 weeks now because I have a whole batch of new soap drying and we don't actually NEED more soap yet!

This first recipe I had saved in my document files; it uses the slow cooker or crock pot.  It also uses clay powder.

Charcoal Soap Recipe #1

172.36 grams (6.08 ounces) of filtered water
66 grams (2.33 ounces) Lye
181.44 grams (6.4 ounces) Coconut Oil
181.44 grams (6.4 ounces) Olive Oil
90.72 grams (3.2 ounces) Castor Oil
1 tablespoon activated charcoal powder
1 tablespoon bentonite clay powder
1 ounce of essential oil of choice

Measure the oils in liquid form (by weight) and pour into the slow cooker. Turn on high just until oils heat up and then reduce to low heat. At this time, Add the clay and charcoal and use a stick blender to incorporate fully.

While oils are heating, carefully measure the lye and water separately. In a well ventilated area pour the water into a quart size or larger glass jar. With gloves and eye protection, slowly add the lye to the water. Stir carefully with a metal spoon, making sure not to let the liquid come in contact with your body directly.

As you stir, this will create a cloudy white mixture that gets really hot. Let this mixture set for about 10 minutes to cool. It should become clear and not cloudy when it has cooled.

When the oils in the crockpot have heated (to about 120-130 degrees F), slowly pour in the water and lye mixture and stir.
Quickly rinse the container used for the water and lye mixture out in the sink. I rinse well and then re-rinse with white vinegar to make sure all Lye has been neutralized.

Use the metal or wooden spoon to stir the lye/water mixture into the oil mixture in the crockpot. Once it is evenly mixed, use the stick blender to blend for about 4-5 minutes or until it is opaque and starting to thicken.

Cover and keep on low heat to thicken. Check it every 15 minutes until it is ready. It will start to boil and bubble on the sides first. After about 35-55 minutes (depending on crock pot) it will thicken enough that the entire surface is bubbly and the sides have collapsed in.

At this point, turn the heat off and remove the crock. If you are going to use essential oils for scent, add them now.

Quickly and carefully spoon into molds. Cover the molds with parchment paper and set in a cool, dry place.

After 24 hours, pop the soap out of the molds. It can be used right away, but I prefer to let it set for a few more days so that it lasts longer.


Here is a second recipe I found a long time ago and saved to my files - but I need to post here so I remember to look at it!

Charcoal Soap Recipe #2

Olive Oil = 21.5 Ounces 
Coconut Oil (76 Degree) = 10.5 Ounces
Palm Oil (Sustainable Source) = 10.5 Ounces 
Avocado Oil = 8 Ounces 
Castor Oil = 2.65 ounces
Activated Charcoal Powder = 2 tablespoons
Anise Essential Oil = 50 grams
Peppermint Essential Oil = 25 grams
Distilled Water = 20 ounces
lye = 7.32 ounces (207 grams)

*This recipe has a 5% super-fat.
*All measurements are weight measurements, not liquid measurements.

Measure out 207 grams of dry lye (sodium hydroxide) into your heat and chemical safe container.
Measure out 20 ounces of distilled water. These are weight ounces, not liquid ounces here!
Now that your two components are accurately measured out, combine them.
Pour the dry lye into the water; not the water into the lye. This is very important as pouring the water into the lye can potentially create a volcano affect and cause your lye solution to overflow your container and dangerously spill everywhere! Do this in a well ventilated area as there will be some fumes present. Gently stir.
Let the solution to cool down to around 100 degrees.
While the lye solution is cooling, measure out and melt down the oils. Weigh out each oil in a stainless steel soap pot. 21.5 ounces of olive oil, 10.5 ounces of coconut oil, 10.5 ounces of palm oil, 8 ounces of avocado oil and 2.65 ounces of castor oil. Place your measured out oils on your cook top and melt them on a low heat.

Measure out 2 tablespoons activated charcoal powder into a container. Weigh out your essential oils. Lower the temperature of the oils to around 100 degrees. Speed up this process by placing hot oils in a sink filled with ice water. At this point, if your lye solution is still too warm, you can place it in the ice water as well.

Pour your lye solution into the soap making oils. Stir manually at first for a few minutes until your batch is an even color and texture. It is very important for this charcoal soap recipe that you do not let the soap get too thick too quickly. Ingredients like charcoal will thicken up your soap very quickly, so keep the soap somewhat thin before including this additive.

Once your soap is an even color and texture, add your anise and peppermint essential oil blend and mix it in manually until you have an even color and texture.  At this point, you can use a stick blender. Blend until you reach a thin trace. You want your soap to be somewhat thin... like the consistency of a thin pudding, make sure that you have reached a true trace.  Your soap must be at a full trace before you swirl your soap.

Separate half of the charcoal soap recipe batch into a separate container.  Whatever container you decide to transfer your soap into, make sure that it can withstand the caustic properties of your newly created soap.  Add the activated charcoal powder to just one of the soap portions.

Now, mix the charcoal thoroughly into your soap. Make sure you mix it in completely, but don't let it get too thick by stirring for too long!  Mix manually at first, but don't be afraid to give the soap a few blasts with your stick blender if you are having a hard time mixing the charcoal in thoroughly.

At this stage, your soap may look more gray than black. After your soap cures, trust me, it will be black.

Now that the charcoal is thoroughly combined with the single portion of soap, it is time to combine the white portion with the black portion and create the swirl.
Take one portion of soap and pour a thin layer into your mold. Make sure that this is just a thin layer, using only enough to lightly cover the bottom of your mold. You can start with either the white or black soap.

You can now see why it is so important to make sure that your soap is not too viscous. When the soap is somewhat thin, it will more easily spread to all corners.

Now, pour another layer of soap of the opposite color on top of the first layer. Again, don't pour too much. The swirl comes out beautifully when you keep each layer relatively thin.

Keep repeating this process, alternating soap colors until all of your charcoal soap recipe soap is in the mold.

Next, we are going to combine the layers and create our swirl. Take chopsticks, a wooden skewer or any type of thin stick-like utensil and place it into your soap in one corner of the mold. Be sure to use a utensil that can withstand the harsh properties of your newly created soap.

Next, in a diagonal pattern, combine all layers of soap with your swirling tool going from the mold corner you started in to the opposite corner of the mold. With this technique, you are literally dragging all layers together using your utensil. If you wish, you can also pull the soap up a bit using your swirling tool to combine the layers vertically as well as horizontally. Be sure that your utensil is lightly touching the bottom of your mold so that you know you are penetrating all layers. Repeat this process, but now go the opposite way, against your initial swirl from the other corner of the mold to the final untouched corner.

Don't try to swirl your soap too much as eventually all the layers will combine and you will be left with a single colored soap. After 12 to 24 hours, your soap will be solid enough to remove from the mold. Set each bar produced with this charcoal soap recipe on a rack to cure. After a few weeks, your soap will be very hard and ready for use.

Charcocaps Anti-gas Dietary Supplement Formula 36 Capsules
Flexible Rectangular Soap Silicone Mold Wood Box for Homemade Soap
20 Ounces Activated Charcoal Powder only from USA Hardwood Trees. All Natural. Whitens Teeth, Rejuvenates Skin and Hair, Detoxifies, Helps with Digestion, Treats Poisoning. Free Scoop Included.
Majestic Pure Therapeutic Grade Peppermint Essential Oil, 4 Oz. With Dropper

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