Herbal soap-mania

During September, I suffered from intensive soap-mania. After a summer break I felt hungry to create a couple of recipes. According to my last resolution I only worked with herbs and pure natural oils, no additional fragrance or coloring. At the first sight, the soaps might be considered boring and similar each to other. They are not models for a beautiful photo, but they still can please in the bath, especially if you are a natural type.

Working on my original recipes, I do only a small batch of each, so the recent mania didn’t overload my stock.

The shampoo bars became the first creation. I cannot imagine washing hair with the commercial products anymore, even though I did it for the most of my lifetime before. I love the natural character of my shampoo bars, as well as the flood of herbal effects that I put there myself.

Actually, I made three different recipes of shampoo bars. The first one, based on herbal powder from birch leaves and linden petals with a lot of hemp and olive oils, was enriched in the water phase by the root of burdock, other birch leaves and also aromatic myrtle leaves. Unfortunately, the lye required for saponification is a killer of gentle natural scents and you must have extremely developed senses to feel it in the finished soap. But the shampoo bars number 1 are almost ready to use.

The shampoo number two is based on herbal powder from wild thyme with pinch of Moroccan clay, traditionally used for hair care even without soap. Among range of natural oils I would like to mention adding of the neem oil which is extremely kind to hair and especially to skin of the skull. Back to herbs, I made distilled herbal water again, this time from decoction of wild thyme, horsetail, burdock and hops. This recipe could treat weak hair and problematic skin.

The third recipe of shampoo is based on chamomile and yarrow with pinch of handmade powder from oatmeal. The water phase is enriched by the same herbs plus hops. Among oils, I used a lot of almond oil and shea butter, so this shampoo is going to be calming and nourishing.

I also succeeded to make an excellent lavender soap. I went for almond and shea butter, coconut, castor and olive oils, honey and beeswax. This time I got the soap of velvet consistency, I almost wanted to eat it. I believe that honey and beeswax made an excellent job inside, cannot wait to test it.

Having a really nice honey, I repeated the trick with another recipe. I tried to use honey solo, without beeswax support. I wanted to combine it with cocoa butter but actually I was out of it. No way to wait for supply! So I took an old comfrey ointment made from castor oil and cocoa butter only (comfrey infused inside). And because I am crazy about writing the exact amount of ingredients every time, it was easy to calculate the soap even from the ointment. Also, I couldn’t think about herbs because comfrey was already there. I decided for chamomile in water phase perhaps because it fits with honey well. Again, I got a velvet soap, still waiting on the shelf.

Last, but definitely not the least was a Master of wilderness. This recipe isn’t boring! I used oak bark powder and crushed juniper berries for coconut oil infusion, and thyme, bay leaf and allspice for distilled decoction. The power of wilderness slightly won over the strength of lye, so the scent remained present. The truth is that I used also a few drops of my own juniper tincture just before finishing the soap.

You see? So much original recipes and herbal combinations, and the rules of soap-making process force me to wait about 6 weeks. Of course, I could fulfill this period of time by making other soaps, but it would be near to perpetual motion 😊 Nothing to say about tons of waiting soaps in my tiny space. So I have to spend my days differently. Fortunately, there is a beautiful Indian summer outside and walking is one of my favorite disciplines.

With love, Ivana

P.S. All my recipes are palm oil free, I work with coconut oil instead.

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Oak tree: Repose and Relax

Speaking of the birch as a mental and spiritual support, I should mention the physical support of the oak tree.

Even if you have a big sized body, the oak tree’s body is much burlier. It takes all your heaviness if you want to share it.  Our ancestors knew the characteristics of the oak well and so they relied on the oak beds for daily rest and the oak coffins for the final rest.

With rapid development of technologies and general speed of life we have forgotten to respect basic energy of materials according to final products and their use. So remember, the first step for good sleep is an old reliable bed from the oak wood.

The oak tree doesn’t keep your heaviness for ever. It has a great ability to take your worries on its shoulders and later pass them deep into the Mother Earth. This ability remains unchanged for the oak wood although it’s no longer physically rooted to the ground.

Healing effects of the oak bark is based on the same capability. It brings you stability and support as well as it removes wide range of toxins and delusions. The oak bark is rough, but always reliable and trustful. Maybe it’s a little bit slow in results but finally they are longterm stable.

I love to use the oak bark in natural soaps, they look like dark chocolates and invite you to taste. Additionally they are great for problematic skin treatment because the oak bark is reputable fighter against eczema, acne and some skin fungus. And if you have no problems with your skin, a little detox can’t hurt you.

Being in touch with any kind of the oak tree energy, it means to be in touch with the physical dimension of life. It’s a true mirror of our Existence in traces of matter and time.

Betula (Birch): Take it Easy

I love this beautiful tree with white bark and long branches where even slight breeze starts rustling of small heart shaped leaves. All troubles seem to be smaller as if the specific rustling sound splits them into molecules to be more acceptable.

I remember a big help of a birch tree five years ago when my mom went away for ever and I needed some kind of moral help. I spent a long time sitting under birch tree, listening to characteristic rustling as if whispering “take it easy, take it easy”. I felt every day a little bit better and a load of grief became more bearable.

Who else better than Betula knows the importance of the lightness of being? Birch is the tree, which can grow from almost nothing in incredible locations. I really admire its ability to survive and I fully believe that a great part of this ability comes from the advice “take it easy”.

My hair likes birch and no wonder. Look at the birch tree with its bushy branches. It looks like head with long hairs. If you add the lightness, the ability to survive and easily grow, you get excellent product for your hair. And something more! As you wash your hair using natural birch products, the lightness can penetrate beneath, into your mind. I always feel less heavy, with new portion of inspiration.

Birch has great healing effects for internal use, especially as a diuretic. I know but I don’t care. They are other plants as well.

For me, the birch is respectable tree, supporter in difficult times. It’s supporter for mind, soul and hair.

Nettle: Excellent Blood Purificator

Nettle is a plant growing in ordinary places, especially in less respected ones. It is so common that we underestimate its importance and quality. Additionally nettle punish anyone who approaches. It has appropriate arsenal of weapons always ready to use. Amount of small nettle hairs bites our unprotected skin and leave it with itchy spots. And even gardener beginner knows how persistent knapweed nettle can be.

Nettle is very concentrated. Sharp and spicy, better to use it carefully. Wise says that sharpness disappears after cooking or freezing. I must say “it depends how sensitive you are”. I remember terrifying experience with my rose-nettle soap when I used it accidentally in intimate areas. Believe me, I did it only once. I felt as if the biting nettles were fresh regardless of the saponification process in lye.

From the same reason I cannot use nettle in shampoo or hair conditioner, even many people love to do it.

Nettle is like red chilli in a green robe, it can inflame you white-hot. And this is why nettle is so useful for blood purification. It bites all lazy components to increase their functionality. Liver and kidneys work faster and waste products leave body more quickly. Then it can happen that high blood pressure is effectively adjusted.

Nettle likes and supports well vascularized organs such as heart, liver, kidneys, spleen and ovaries. Due to high mineral content nettle helps to maintain healthy blood inside of them.

According to my experience nettle can be a successful ingredient of the anti-herpes salve. Perhaps because of the vigor which expels harmful substances from the blood away.

Which kind of experience with nettle do you have?

Intensive Beauty of Violet

Even if you really love winter and white snow, the first spring sunshine and the first tentative flowers must cheer your heart.

Among the spring flower pioneers Violet has unique position. It has a power immediately hit your nose by penetrating sweet aroma. Later you will see a beautiful green carpet with tiny violet flowers.

You can be so intoxicated by the scent of violets that you start to eat them. You will find that violets are delicious! I love to add them into spring fresh salads.

Violets intensive aroma has also healing effects. For those who are little bit depressive after long winter nights, violets bring light and sweetness into their minds.

But there is one important skill of violets which can be successfully used in whole year. As much as the scent of violets is pungent, the healing energy can penetrate through the skin and treat various problems like acne, eczema or hemorrhoids.

In that case Violet likes to cooperate with deep earthy ingredients like oak bark or chocolate.

I do love my lip balm “Violets in chocolate” so much!

What is your favorite use of violets?

Plantain: Master of Surgery

I love rich juicy clusters of Plantain which are seen after a late spring rain almost everywhere. They attract to immediate eating or healing.

Looking to the shape of the Plantain leaf is easy to imagine the scalpel of a surgeon. And it works in a similar way – sharp, accurate and effective. You can use it for open wounds and rely on precise work and good result. The scalpel of Plantain removes pus including its originator and destroys many kinds of bacteria. After surgical procedure the scalpel converts to a soft plaster in order to complete healing of wounds. Its ambition is grow and let to grow.

Delicately sweet taste of the Plantain determines its performance in healing syrup. It is excellent remedy for coughs and colds. In this case our Master of surgery uses its scalpel against mucus inside of lungs. Because of the sweetness is widely popular not only among children.

Optimistic taste of Celery leaves

Specific odor of celery leaves divides people into supporters and opponents. It is instinctive division according to the nature and attitude to life. Celery leaves easily meet earthy people of an optimistic nature and open attitude. For those who are not firmly rooted in their lives, the celery leaves flavor is usually too invasive.

Celery leaves look like a green fan which drives off your discords and gloom. They make your life more delicious but don’t be afraid to let your problems go. Celery leaves stimulate your appetite as well as your desire to live.

In case you insist on troubles and have skeptical nature, celery leaves cannot help. They only work if there is at least a glimmer of interest.

I like to use celery leaves as well to my herbal soaps, creams and lip balms. Their optimism has anti-aging effect. Scientifically speaking it is due to large amount of vitamins and antioxidants.