Monday, March 11, 2013

Adventures in Soapmaking

Using Herbs

I absolutely love herbs.  I use to wild craft and find my own healing herbs in the woods.  Can you just see me with my guidebook tramping through the woods, with one of my best friends my mother-in-law Mary-lee, looking at all the different plants identifying them.  Researching what we found to make sure that our guidebook was accurate as well as discovering what healing jewels we had in the back yard or right around the corner.  It was awesome!  There is a plethora of healing herbs all around us at any given time.  I'm not the end all be all when it comes to herbs but it is one of my passions.  If I have an ailment I would prefer to use flowers and berries to help ease my symptoms rather than pop pills.  That being said using herbs too often can be troublesome.  Like ingesting St John's wort to much can make you light sensitive.  That type of thing.  So always do your research before you ingest herbs or put them on your skin.  Weather it's something your making for yourself or even something that you buy. 

So I of course have to find a way to use herbs and other natural ingredients in my soaps for healing.  Although I can't make any claims on my soap as you all know.  I can however tell you about the herbs that I use in my soaps and what I have discovered from my research.  If you've been watching my videos for some time you probably know what two herbs I'm going to discuss first.  Calendula and Chamomile are my all time favorite herbs.  

Calendula is a beautiful wild marigold flower.  I am someday going to have fields of this flower that I shall dance in.  :) ) It promotes skin regeneration.  It has astringent properties which most herbs do. It also has anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal properties.  All these make it an effective remedy for healing a variety of wounds, burns and abrasions.  It is the most recommended herb for skin ailments such as eczema.  Calendula is also so gentle that it's used in diaper creams and for people with sensitive skin.  It can be taken internally as well for ulcers and ear infections. Always consult a professional before taking an herb internally. If your pregnant avoid. Picture taken from this site    

Chamomile is a tiny daisy like flower  that comes in a variety of species.  There is Roman, German and a wild variety that is also called pineapple weed that's flowerless.  I like the German variety for topical applications.  Mostly because it is a powerful anti-inflammatory. So it's good for reducing redness. It has been used for generations for a variety of ailments.  Most common of which are skin conditions like diaper rash, eczema, psoriasis, chicken pox, abscesses and internally for insomnia, anxiety, gastrointestinal upset, and menstrual problems.  I drink Chamomile tea everyday.  (And my chamomile field will be right beside the Calendula one so I can joyful dance from one to the other lol.  )
Image take from this website

Using Herbal Oil Infusions

My most recent video is of me making a Calendula and Chamomile Soap.  I infused the Calendula and Chamomile separately in Olive oil for three weeks.  Although I prefer to do a double infusion I only did one this time.  I filled up two jars one with Calendula and one with Chamomile left about an inch of space in the jar.  I then filled the jars with olive oil.  I used the same type of Olive Oil I use for soaping to make it easier to predict what the final soap will do when I make it.  If I had used Extra Virgin it would have affected my soap recipe differently and I didn't want that.  This is a cold infusion so I put them in a dark location (because sun and heat does damage the delicate herbs as well as make the oils go rancid faster)  I shook it everyday for three weeks.  Two weeks is sufficient I just didn't have time to strain it till it had been in there for three weeks.  Then I made my Triple Butter Soap Recipe except I replaced the regular olive oil with half Calendula infused Olive oil and half Chamomile infused olive oil. I also added my Oat milk concoction to my lye water.  Oatmeal is good for reducing itching.  (Also a warm bath in the Oat milk is excellent for really crazy itching just an FYI)

So in the end you have a bar of soap that is chalk full of anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-viral, anti-septic ingredients.  As well as some that may help calm itching.  I use this bar when I have a really bad outbreak of eczema. But I'm not making any claims here.  lol   And yes I do bath in Oat milk when I get really itchy although my outbreaks are few and far between since I discovered making my own soap.  :)

Making Calendula and Chamomile Soap

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