The soap herb

The ancient Egyptians were the first to make soap, using soapwort. This herb is distinguished by Its unusual ability to foam in water. Soapwort is still used as the basis of some of the more expensive vegetable soaps.

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5'/; oz. (150 g) vegetable glycerine soap 1 tablespoon fine-ground oats 1 teaspoon white cosmetic clay 1 tablespoon almond oil 1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest 10 drops pink grapefruit essential oil 10 drops orange essential oil

1 Lightly grease soap molds, as for Rosehip soap balls (see opposite). Chop or grate soap and place in the top of a double boiler over simmering water. Stir until melted.

2 Remove the liquefied soap from the heat and add oats, clay (available in pharmacies, or online), almond oil, zest and essential oils. Stir the mixture to thoroughly combine.

3 Pour soap mixture into greased molds and leave in a cool, dark place to harden for 1 week.

4 To remove soaps from molds, run the tip of a sharp knife around the edge. Wrap soaps in tissue paper.

■ Castile soap is thought to have originated in the Castile region of Spain. Originally made from olive oil. it is now made with olive, hemp, coconut and palm oils.

■ L nlike conventional soap, which is made from tallow (from beef fat) or glycerine (a by-product of soap production) and a small amount of coconut or palm kernel oil. Castile is less likely to strip the skin of its natural oils.

■ To meet government standards, organic Castile soap must support sustainable farming methods, farm worker health and ecological processing methods.

■ Castile is the only soap thai camping authorities approve for use in the wilderness, because it has no impact on the environment.

Tea-tree antiseptic soap

This invigorating body wash for oily skin is also an effective antibacterial hand soap.

'fe cup (125 ml) unscented liquid Castile soap

1 teaspoon jojoba oil

10 drops tea-tree essential oil 10 drops lavender essential oil 10 drops sage essential oil

1 Place all ingredients in a bowl and stir well to combine.

2 Pour into a plastic or glass pump dispenser. To use, apply about 1 to

2 teaspoons and work into a gentle lather. Rinse off.

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Continue reading here: Rosehip soap balls

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