Something Different: DIY Herbal Soap

It’s not miniatures or gaming related, but I’ve started a new project: homemade soap.

Last year I decided to do a handmade Christmas. The plan was to give DIY chocolate and candy plates, scented candles, and herbal body soaps. The project quickly exploded into something much larger than I intended, however, the gifts proved very popular, especially the soaps. So popular, in fact, that I decided to continue working on recipes.

I decided on using pure herbal essential oils mixed to cleanse and soothe skin. I’ve been working with herbs and oils for several years, growing many common medicinal herbs in the garden each summer. I’ve made tinctures, poultices, and such but never soap. Armed only with the internet, I hit up the local craft store and picked up melt and pour shea butter soap base. This seemed like the best way to get started as MnP is easy to work with– just a few seconds in the microwave.

 

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Ingredients ready to begin. The first batch was a lavender soak and scrub for relaxing in a bath before bedtime. 

I bought liquid dyes specifically made for soap along with the base, and hit up a local tea shop for essential oils. The first batches would contain oils from sage, rosemary, lavender, dandelion, rue, and a few more. As I would later learn, not all oils carry the familiar fragrance one expects from the base materials so you may want to purchase fragrance oils as well.

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The second batch was based around dandelion oil for a warm orange skin-smoothing bar.

I bought other ingredients for exfoliants at a local grocery store. Among these scrubbing agents were rolled oats, sea salt rocks, Himalayan pink salt rocks, dandelion root, and lavender flowers. The last two came from opening organic herbal teas. The key for exfoliants is something soft that won’t be hard on the skin, yet small enough to easily wash down the drain. Lavender flowers are wonderful for soaks as they often scrub out and open up in hot bathwater. One note of caution– take care with salt crystals. The pink salt in one of my batches seemed very sharp and scratched my skin.

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Cutting raw soap base. I didn’t have any molds,to begin with so I used small plastic containers to shape my soaps. 
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Mixing in dye and oils. Melt soap base at 30-second bursts until it’s all liquid. Take care not to overheat the soap or you can ruin it. 

 

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Chamomile and lavender flowers added to the bedtime soak mix. 

 

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The mix is poured and now needs to set. It only takes about 20 minutes to harden. 

 

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Since it was December when I made these, I set the molds outside to cool down for an hour. The final product turned out quite nicely, however, I learned to be careful about adding materials to your base because the lavender flowers bled into the mix (on the left), giving it a green hue. 

 

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