Valentine’s Soap

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Valentines Day is approaching and whilst it was traditionally a day in which lovers gave each other gifts, times have changed. We don’t need a set day in the calendar to shower someone with thoughtful presents and whisper sweet nothings in their ear… or even limit the sentiment to lovers. There’s nothing sweeter than receiving a loving spontaneous gift from your closest friend…for absolutely no reason at all!

There are so many reasons I love giving handmade soap as gifts. Firstly, it’s made with love – so much thought goes into developing the recipe – from determining the oils and butters to be used, to the best fragrance, to the botanicals required and the appearance of the bar – the soap can be as individual as the person it is made for. Soap is beautiful and functional. It smells divine and is skin-loving. Finally (and there are sooo many other reasons!), it’s an environmentally friendly gift. It is all-natural and doesnt contain nasty chemicals, the packaging is paper and recyclable and less energy is required to make a bar of soap than is required to make liquid soap, meaning a smaller carbon footprint.

Feast your eyes on these yummy skin treats inspired by love… for any day of the year, including Valentine’s Day!

These soaps and more are available through the “Soap Menu”.

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Use handmade soap and your skin, your community and the planet will love you!

Choosing handmade soap over mass-produced commercial soap is not only better for your skin, but is also gentler on the environment and supports small local business.

Handmade soap is created by combining oils (or butters), water and lye. And that’s it! (The lye is converted into glycerin during the mixing process). Anything else thrown into the mix (such as essential oil for fragrance, clay for colour, coffee grinds for exfoliation, or chamomile for it’s skin soothing properties) is just an added benefit.

When soap is mass-produced, the process is completely different. It is made on a big production line in a factory with little love or human contact. The glycerin that is naturally formed during the mixing process is extracted for use in other products such as body creams (increasing profit for the company). This results in a bar of detergent that is harsh and drying on the skin.

Ingredients of concern in commercial soap include:

  • Preservatives – often parabens which can pose a risk to the endocrine system
  • Artificial fragrances containing phthalates or low quality essential oils can cause skin irritation. Phthalates are known to disrupt the endocrine system and can cause birth defects
  • Chemical irritants like Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLS) are used to create lather and can lead to sensitization and an increase in allergies
  • Triclosan and triclocarban are used as antimicrobial agents in antibacterial soap. These are endocrine disruptors and are known to alter levels of thyroid hormone T4. In addition, antibacterial chemicals kill weak germs and allow stronger germs to multiply, contributing to antibiotic resistance. These chemicals can be absorbed into the skin and remain in the body for long periods of time and have links to cancer
  • Other undesirables like petroleum by-products and fillers

Even commercial beauty bars, which claim to be made with moisturiser, contain harsh detergents as their main ingredients, completely negating the effect of any moisturiser in the bar. Also, notice that these beauty bars aren’t labeled as “soap”? That’s because they fall into the “detergent” category.

When you use natural handmade soap as opposed to a commercial soap, you are doing your part in protecting the environment by:

  • Preventing contamination and wildlife toxicity
  • Ensuring that natural resources aren’t threatened
  • Safeguarding our waterways from harsh detergents and phosphates
  • Having the choice to use a product with ingredients that are vegetarian OR non-vegetarian and aren’t tested on animals. (Some handmade soaps are made with tallow – beef fat).

By purchasing handmade soap, you are also supporting small local business and cottage industry. In doing this, you are:

  • Building a sense of community
  • Minimising environmental impact
  • Improving the local economy because when you buy from a local business, more of that money stays within the local community
  • Encouraging sustainability of the local community
  • More valued as a customer, meaning more personalized and better service
  • More likely to find unique, one-off products
  • Know the people making the product

Handmade soap, particularly cold processed soap (a soap making method where the ingredients are combined, poured into a mould and cured for up to 6 weeks), is a completely different product to commercial soap. It’s pure, natural and full of glycerin. The quality of the oils and ingredients are maintained during the entire process. It’s made with love in small batches and it can be custom-made and tailored to your individual skin requirements.

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With so many benefits for you, your community and the planet, why wouldn’t you lather yourself in a delicious bar of handmade soap!

Why handmade soap?

I first had the idea of making soap and  body products on a trip to Yallingup, in the south west corner of Australia. I was visiting with my friend and her brother, exploring the forests, beaches and wineries that the area is known for.

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On the last day, we decided to get coffee from a tiny general store to fuel up before heading home. When I stepped through the front door, a little nook near the coffee machine caught my eye. There was a wooden shelf made from weathered drift wood. On this shelf, amongst other concoctions was a little jar of sunscreen. The jar was beautifully decorated with a wood panel and curly font.  Etched into the wooden panel was a stylish surfer girl. I flipped the jar over, curious to know what was in this pot of magic. The ingredients read like a shopping list for the most delicious gourmet chocolate; actually, it’s quite possible that if one was stuck on a desert island with only this trusty sunscreen, it could be eaten! My friend tapped me on the shoulder and asked what I was looking at. I showed her the jar and she ooh-ed and ahh-ed over it like I had. I said to her, half serious, “We should try and make some ourselves one day.” Her eyes lit up, “Yes!” What followed was a frenzy of ideas for lotions, body butters, masks, yoga mat cleansers, perfume, deodorant, candles and… soap! We picked a weekend to go nuts – to make anything we could dream up, placed our ingredient order and researched recipes. On the day, we took over the kitchen and lay all of our ingredients out on the bench in front of us, deciding what to try first. We started with the easy stuff – lotions – so that we could grasp the basics of body-product making. To our surprise, the lotions worked out like a dream – they actually looked like real body lotion!

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Now came the tricky stuff – the soap. We’d read that there are so many factors that come into play when making soap, and that masks and protective gloves were required, and frankly this scared us. So we cautiously followed the recipe and began combining the ingredients. As we mixed the batter with the handheld blender, something amazing happened – it began to thicken! We looked at each other and laughed in disbelief. It was working! We were making soap! We poured the delicious smelling batter into moulds – take away containers, wrapped them up like babies and began the excruciating task of waiting for them to cure.

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The candles, body butter, deodorant and our other concoctions were ready for use that day, but the soap needed 4-6 weeks to cure properly for a good solid, long-lasting bar. When the wait was over and we were ready to unmould and cut the soap. The knife sliced through the soapy block and we stood in the kitchen staring at the freshly cut bars  – we had made soap! We had mixed together a bunch of ingredients and created something completely new! It wasn’t fancy but we know exactly what was in it,  it was all natural and smelt and felt amazing.

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There is something special about soap making. Making the other stuff  – the lotions, body butters and candles, is enjoyable but there’s a certain magic in soap making. A real alchemy. Altering the state of matter to create something beautiful and functional. A perfect balance of art and chemistry. What can be created is as limitless as the imagination.

Ive made many batches of soap since then, but there was something special about that first batch. Maybe because I made it with my best friend or that it was dreamt up during our time in the south west, but it has become an obsession;  a sweet smelling, colourful, sudsy obsession.