It’s been a few weeks of living in the pole barn and thought I’d start tackling some projects I’ve wanted to take on for some time. As a (now) avid gardener, I’ve been inspired to use natural, plant-based ingredients as healthy alternatives to chemical-intensive products in every day living. I’m also someone who’s suffered with allergies and sensitive skin for the majority of my adult life. Surprisingly (or maybe not so surprisingly) the more products I replace with natural, organic, chemical-safe substitutes, the more prone I am to allergic reactions when I’m exposed to toxic chemicals and synthetic ingredients. Given this, there’s two products that I know are uber toxic, yet I can’t live without – soap and candles! This is part one of my journey – soapmaking!
My Journey in Soapmaking
I wanted to find a better alternative to soap. I’ve suffered with allergic reactions from soap my whole life. I started to study soap labels and ingredients on my journey to become more chemically aware – it’s pretty interesting, or rather, scary. Next time you’re in the grocery store, take a look at a couple bars of soap. You might be surprised to see that most are not even labeled as soap, instead they are “moisturizing bars” or “beauty bars,” in fact, they contain so many chemicals that they legally cannot claim to be soap, they are instead detergents. It might sounds surprising, but over time, commercial soapmakers began stripping the good ingredients and replaced them with synthetic lathering agents, artificial colors and harsh chemicals. Not only are these chemicals and synthetic ingredients bad for your skin, they’re also bad for the planet.
Soap is something that everyone uses every day – we rub it against pretty much every part of our bodies and thinking of the exposure I was enduring, I knew I had to find a better alternative. Our skin is porous and absorbent – it absorbs whatever it comes in contact with. It gets in our skin, bodies and ecosystem. Most commercially produced soap contains synthetic lathering agents, artificial colors, and a host of chemicals you can’t even pronounce. I wanted to produce something that was healthy for my skin and the environment.
I’ve been reading a lot about natural remedies that rely on essential oils and plant derivatives. I’ve successfully migrated many fragrances and even laundry detergent to using 100% plant based ingredients, but soap, for some reason, many soap makers either make “vanilla” soap for sensitive skin i.e. basic glycerin, or they add in dyes and fragrances, which always cause me to have an allergic reaction. And sadly “fragrance” is proprietary, so no one really even knows what constitutes “fragrance” constituents. What I’m missing is something that is both healthy for my mind and skin i.e. fragrant without breakouts. Homeopaths and naturopathic soapmakers have perfected all-natural recipes that use plant-based oils and materials for decades. In my journey for chemical independence, my Litmus Test is to always think – hundreds of years ago we did something – what did we do and can I replicate that with modern practices. I combed the internet (love how easy it is to find others with similar journeys!) and found some amazing soap base recipes that used mostly all plant oils and a process of heating, mixing and cooling. These healthy recipes combine a mixture of plant oils to balance cleansing, moisturizing and lathering. After perfecting my base, I started to create recipes with plant leaves, seeds and essential oils for added moisture, skin protection and exfoliation. It’s an amazing end result – healthy skin, healthy mind and eco-friendly greywater for a healthy environment.
I also found a gnome mold online which was icing on the cake for my process. They not only encapsulate the vision for ingredients – garden inspired and created – they also stand for balance and harmony between humans and earth, which is the collective ultimate vision.
I created some gift packs for my family during Christmas and ended up creating my own online store to help spread soap cheer to those who have experienced the same journey. Check it out online at: www.soapgnomehome.com