Sunday, March 28, 2010
What Is Your Favorite Scent?
We have the oils or fats and our strong alkaline solution (sodium hydroxide or lye) ready to mix. Now the comes the question "Do you want a scented or unscented soap"? I have made several unscented soaps. The first was a beautiful hunter green swirled soap. It was unscented because I forgot to put the Green Apple scent in and it was so pretty I did not want to mess it up to scent it. There are several ways to scent a batch of soap.
Infuse Herbs or Flowers
I like to use several herbs and flowers for use in soap. I am not a patient person so I like to use the crockpot for infusing. Most people use their crockpot for slow cooking, not me. I take 1 cup of clean dried plant material and put it in the bottom of the crock pot. I cover it with olive oil and gently stir. I let it cook on low, stirring once in awhile for 2 hours, let it cool and strain. I then repeat the method several times using the same oil with fresh herbs or flowers. This gives me some of the benefits of the herb or flower and any color that the material can give.
Herbs I use in soap are
Calendula Ca-len-du-la, also called pot marigold (in the Asteraceae daisy family, not the Tagetes family), means first day of the month. They bloom in under 2 months during the summer and into fall in bright oranges, yellows and reds. Plant studies have suggested Calendula has some of the anti properties (viral, toxic, and inflammatory) and are often used to soothe acne and inflammed skin. The fresh petals have a spicy aroma, not sweet. I like using them for any benefit they may give to the soap and the pretty bright yellow color.
Chamomile Cham-o-mile is the common name for a daisy like plant meaning "earth apple" for its apple like scent and is often said to be soothing. The U.S. National Library of Medicine, working with National Institutes of Health, lists over 100 ailments and conditions which Chamomile has traditionally been used for. But....they list only 15 as having undergone scientific study on animals and/or humans. "Topical chamomile preparations have traditionally been used to soothe skin inflammation. The existing human evidence shows that chamomile may be of little, if any, benefit while animal studies support its anti-inflammatory action. Additional human research is needed in this area." So it works on animals and more human research is needed so I guess I will continue to do research on my human self. I'll let them know what I find.
Lavender Lavandula angustifolia or English Lavenderis the most common grown and yields an essential oil with sweet overtones. It is one of many of the 39 species in the mint Family, Lamiaceae. It means "to wash". Lavender has many traditional uses. Lavender is said to repel insects, soothe and heal insect bites, soothe headaches if applied to temples, aid sleep, help heal acne, and treats skin burns and inflammed skin. Scientific evidence supports the effectiveness of some of these remedies, especially anti-inflammatory effects, but they should be used with caution since lavender oil can also be a powerful allergen. Care must be used as Lavender is cytotoxic (the quality of being toxic to cells) and increases photosensitivity (sensitivity of the skin to the sun).
Patchouli or Pogostemon cablin (Blanco) Benth, is a bushy herb of the mint family. it has been used for centuries in perfumes due to the heavy and strong scent. Chinese medicine uses the herb to treat headaches, colds, nausea, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and is used to induce relaxation. It has an earthy, sensual fragrance and is used as a balancing oil. I did not like the scent the first time I smelled it and dreaded making soap, of which I sell a lot. I participated in a co-op to buy Patchouli to get a better price right before it went up to $109 a pound. I bought 4 pounds and as the essential oil has aged it has almost taken on a sweet smell and I can see where people fall in love with it. I like to use it in essential oil blends as it is a base note, one that anchors the blend.
There are a few other plants I use for soap but mainly just for color. I use many more for balms and salves.
Next soap post I will discuss Essential Oil and Fragrance Oils.
Pictures are from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia on the web.