Soap seems like it shouldn’t be a complicated product, but commercially-produced soap often contains a long list of unnecessary synthetic ingredients. Some of these commonly used ingredients, such as triclosan, are actually toxic. (See Reference 1) In addition, synthetic fragrances may also cause dermatitis, hormone disruption or respiratory problems; organic herbal soap is a much healthier choice. Making your own soap is not that difficult if you start with with an organic soap base. You may even wish to make an extra large batch and give some homemade organic soaps as gifts.
The benefits of making your own organic herbal soap are many. You can control exactly what ingredients go into your soap; start by searching out reputable suppliers that sell high-quality ingredients. Although there are many different recipes for organic herbal soap, the easiest ones involve using soap base and dried herbs or essential oils. (See References 2 and 3) If you choose to add herbal notes in the form of essential oils, make sure you purchase 100 percent essential oil and not perfume oil. (See Reference 3)
Soap making involves a few basic tools you probably already have around your kitchen. In “The Herb Companion,” writer Sandy Maine suggests rounding up a double boiler, measuring cups and spoons, some stirring spoons and sticks, and containers to act as molds. (See Reference 2) Frugal-minded soap makers may choose to line a cardboard box, such as a pizza box, with freezer paper or plastic wrap to create a mold. Line the box with the freezer paper facing shiny side up if you choose this method. (See Reference 3)
Soap base is available in large blocks that need to be melted down. Soap bases vary in their composition; some are made from coconut and palm oils, others from glycerin. Consult your recipe and purchase organic soap base to ensure the purest product. Chop up the block of soap base so that it will melt more consistently. Boil water in the bottom pot of the double boiler and add the chunks of soap base to the top pot; stir the chunks to help them melt. After the chunks have melted, add the dried herbs or essential oils. (See Reference 3)
When adding the botanical elements, more is not necessarily better, especially if the final product will be used by babies or toddlers with sensitive skin. Generally, about 1/4 ounce of oil should be added for each pound of base. (See Reference 3) Natural, dried herbs are a great addition as well. Chamomile and lavender are prized for soaps and body products. In fact, The University of Maryland Medical Center reports that lavender and chamomile may help relieve insomnia and anxiety. (See Reference 4). Even if you just like an herb’s particular scent, you can easily customize your bars by adding your favorite herbs to the melted soap base. Try adding two or more types of herbs to create your own unique combinations. (See Reference 2)
Pour the melted soap base into the mold once you’ve added your herbs. Allow the soap to dry at least 24 hours before removing it from the mold. Cut the soap into smaller pieces, and wrap each piece carefully for future use. (See Reference 3)