Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Handmade soap-fest!

Ye gods, my flat smells heavenly. This week I decided to get some serious soaping out of my system before my pregnancy renders me unable to pursue chemical shenanigans and whimsy. So here are four new batches that I have whipped up...

All of these were made with base oils of olive, coconut, palm and palm kernel. They also all contain either goats milk or coconut milk and were made using the 'cool technique' described by Anne L Watson in her truly excellent book, Milk Soapmaking. (Seriously, I've become such an Anne Watson convert that I'm on the verge of throwing away all of my other soap books. Although some of them are great for aesthetic inspiration, none of them come close to the simplicity, clarity and common sense of Anne's methods).

All of these soaps need a few weeks to cure on the rack before they will be ready for use. But for now I've given a bit more on each soap below...

Lavender Soap

This is a goats milk soap that I made using all of the leftover vegetable oils I had at the end of a day's soaping, so it ended up having a higher proportion of coconut oil than the others.

I decided to keep this one simple and scented it with nothing but pure lavender essential oil, which I love. The lavender buds on the top are purely decorative and will come off after a couple of washes. (Lavender unfortunately does not keep its colour if you embed it within the body of the soap itself)

Orange Oatmeal Soap

This is another goats milk soap, made with a crowd-pleasing scent blend of sweet orange, ylang ylang and cinnamon leaf essential oils. I actually discovered this scent blend as part of my essential oil experiments and it was so utterly delightful that I used it for both soap and candles (which I will blog separately).

The oatmeal is finely ground and has two purposes - firstly it adds a gentle scrubbiness to the soap; secondly, along with the cinnamon, it will help to anchor the sweet orange scent which is notoriously fugitive and prone to fading over time. (Suffice to say I also used a LOT of essential oil in this batch, to help counteract the risk of fading, which created rather a nice pale orange hue).

Earthy Blend soap

This is a repeat of my all-time favourite soap, made with lavender, ylang ylang and patchouli. I made this batch mainly to counteract the number of bars that I have given away from the last batch! This scent is beautifully earthy and, to my mind, greater than the sum of its parts.

The addition of calendula flowers adds a bit of rich colour to the bars, which are made with coconut milk rather than goats milk.

Minty fresh soap

The scent of this soap is so fresh and zingy it practically jumps up and down to be used. This batch is made with goats milk and scented with peppermint and spearmint essential oils. The speckles are the contents of a peppermint tea bag, which tend to turn rust-coloured when you add it to soap.

The subtle greenish hue is due to the addition of a couple of teaspoons of French green clay, which adds extra cleansing properties and will also make the lather somewhat creamy. This is a particularly nice soap for men - or anyone who appreciates help waking up in the morning.

Finally - I thought I might show off a pair of glass jars that I use for displaying handmade soaps in my bathroom... (I bagged these bargainous items about 6 years ago at a bric-a-brac stall in a village fete).


  1. Wow - they look amazing and your description of the smells is making my nose twitch in a good way. I also now want a cup of peppermint tea :-)

  2. Thanks Siobhan, once they're ready I can send you a couple of bars if you fancy. (It's about time I paid you back for all of those vintage knitting patterns you send me!)

  3. Oo! How lovely! I wish I had smelly internets!