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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Ugly soap with beauty inside

I have recently asked whether herbal soap without fragrance is acceptable because I found only two major groups of homemade natural soaps. There is either a large group of beautiful soaps with artistic look of many kinds, or a bit smaller group where the combination of interesting fragrances is emphasized. Briefly, the homemade soaps attack directly your eyes or nose.

I love to admire creativity of both groups as well as I admit that I don’t have enough capability to do anything comparable. Still I feel the necessity to wash my body with my own soap and fill it with herbs of my choice.

The last “soaping” post described my history from feeding wishes of the others to the understanding I need to follow my inner voice although the result looks so poor.

And here it is, unattractive with no additional fragrance. You hardly find anything less common to look at, although there are hidden treasures inside.

Among herbs, there is lot of violets inside. Some of them were infused together with plantain and strawberry leaves into Babassu and Coconut oil, some of them were distilled in water environment to get my own “floral water”, in which I then dissolved sodium hydroxide.

The rest of violets were dried and powdered, so they gently peel your skin while enjoying the bubbles. For the same reason I powdered a pinch of oatmeal, which also plays a nourishing role as well as range of high quality vegetable oils like hemp, almond, olive and castor oil, plus my lovely shea butter infused with plantain.

I count days until the soap is ready, looking forward to enjoy my ugly Cinderella in shower!

With love, Ivana

Handicapped nettle

Have you ever wondered where the name of dead-nettle came from? What is dead on it? And why is it called a nettle? Dead-nettle is not a nettle at all!

Although we can find visual similarities in plant construction, botanically they don’t belong to the same family. Looking at the inflorescence, even the beginner will recognize why. Here are no similarities at all. Nothing to say about that the sting nettle (Urtica dioica) grows in two polarities – male and female. Modest dead-nettle (Lamium album) does it with one as most of other plants.

Stop. Now I have joined the same game, comparing what is incomparable. The game has been playing for years, spreading the myth of handicapped nettle. I must say that in my language dead-nettle isn’t dead, only deaf. But the meaning is the same – we are talking about nettle which lacks the key feature.

Dead-nettle has its own features and they are many. Dead-nettle is an important plant and a flag-ship of the whole family Lamiaceae, which contains famous and effective plants like mint, sage, thyme, etc. Would you say about these culinary and medicinal herbs that they are dead or deaf?

I like to gather and drink dead-nettle tea even though I don’t have enough patience to pick individual flowers. Usually I harvest the upper fresh part with the first row of inflorescence.

The white classic is sweet like innocent child and given to tea it gently helps to release mucus from respiratory system. Women could appreciate the release of excessive white mucus from the intimate area. In my herbal soap experience, white dead-nettle is one of choices for the female intimate soaps.

As mentioned earlier Nettle: Excellent Blood Purificator, my body isn’t a big fan of sting nettle. But I love the white handicapped nettle which is not nettle. How about you?

With love, Ivana

Mallow: How can I help you?

Mallow is a quiet plant with beautiful violet or purple flowers. There are more species of it and all of them have the same basic energy of a humble servant. Its competence covers healthy comfort of mucous membranes including the most intimate ones. From this point I fully understand the humble energy. Otherwise nobody opens his door for Mallow’s help.

Being humble doesn’t mean to be weak or coward. Mallow knows its responsibility and works tenaciously regardless of possible obstacles. For example it doesn’t like to work from the aquatic environment such as teas or infusions, but still provides good results. Once it enters to the system, Mallow tries to pass through fences in order to reach all the mucous membranes and heal them.

The most effective application is directly to the mucosa. But there are not many of them which are easily reachable. I can think of only few. If you mix the Mallow powder with touch of almond oil, you get a great healing basis for direct application to your lips or nasal mucosa. For application in the intimate area is better to prepare (vaginal) suppositories from the basis and pure cocoa butter. Keep in mind, that Mallow heals the mucosa, but not always can treat the cause of disease.

Luckily Mallow is a willing and hardworking herb and likes to cooperate with others. They are good friends with Yarrow, which provides the male power and disinfection skill. Yarrow heals what is on surface while Mallow goes deeply beneath. In fact, it is the same as in any good marriage.