Additives For Soap Making: Herbs & Flowers

IMG_4782Who knew these would take so much work and effort!

Olive leaves with random bits of twigs that need separating
Olive leaves with random bits of twigs that need separating

I spent my whole weekend just sitting and cleaning my newly bought herbs and flowers.

Beautiful hibiscus flowers! These give a gorgeous colour to your tea - but apparently not to your soap :-(
Beautiful hibiscus flowers! These give a gorgeous colour to your tea – but apparently not to your soap 😦

I decided to experiment with additives in order to determine which ones were the easiest to work with, didn’t go brown, be too abrasive etc.

IMG_4757
Frankincense resin separated from bits of bark

I knew from a while ago that I wanted to start selling soap, therefore had to start experimenting with ingredients in order to create the recipes which I would get assessed (you have to have each recipe undergo a safety assessment in the UK before you can sell them to the public).

Big bowl of calendula petals separated from their heads
Big bowl of calendula petals separated from their heads

After purchasing a lot of herbs and flowers there was going to be quite a lot of work to do.  I basically had to go through big bags of calendula flowers, picking the petals from the heads (will make sure to order calendula petals next time not calendula flowers!), as well as bags of olive leaves, rosehip, frankincense and hibiscus.

Twigs from the olive leaf bag
Twigs from the olive leaf bag

So many of these wonderful natural ingredients have bits of stones and twigs in them that you really don’t want in you finished soap bar.  It’s great if you can grow your own and I’m quite excited about my calendula flowers which I planted early spring but these haven’t produced any flowers as of yet so will need to be patient.

Rosemary sprigs from my garden infusing in olive oil
Rosemary sprigs from my garden infusing in olive oil

I use the herbs to infuse into olive oil for the soap as well as the tinctures and balms I make.

Ground and whole hibiscus flowers
Ground and whole hibiscus flowers

I also powder the herbs before infusing them into oils (this can help in imparting more colour to the oil) or add them in their powdered form, direct to the soap.

Infusing camomile for balm making using olive oil and beeswax
Infusing camomile for balm making using olive oil and beeswax

Not all additives work well when added direct to soap.  Most unfortunately go brown and don’t look pretty at all.  Except calendula!  This retains its colour in soap and when powdered and added to soap will make it a gorgeous happy yellow colour.

Calendula and Camomile Soap.The top half is coloured with powdered calendula. My first attempt at a cocoa line too :-)
Calendula and Camomile Soap.The top half is coloured with powdered calendula while the bottom has whole petals added. My first attempt at a cocoa line too 🙂

I have some comfrey, yarrow, lavender, mint and nettle infusing in olive oil which I have yet to try in soap.  I know some of these go brown but I do feel the skin benefits they provide are worth them experimenting with.

A nice cup of olive leaf tea will do wonder for your health
A nice cup of olive leaf tea will do wonders for your health

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