Friday, September 23, 2011

Lavender Soap

My first career, fresh out of college, was owning a retail store. Intermezzo* was a hip little joint ~ with a sales strategy of everything you've never needed. 

* The intermezzo, in the 18th century, was an interlude performed between scenes of an opera, providing comic relief.
Lavender Fields ~ Mona, Utah
During my first year in business, I spent my days putzing around the bath department, concocting soaps and lotions with essential plant oils, and waiting for a customer to walk in.

Then something terrible happened. 
We were voted Twin Cities Best Gift Shop and became a roaring success.

Suddenly, I had employees to deal with and department managers to scold. When my banker said I should sell franchises, I decided to sell the damn place instead.

I learned two valuable life lessons:
  1. Success is hardly ever what it's cracked up to be.
  2. How to make soap.

You don't really need to grow Lavender in order to make soap. However! There are over 300 varieties of Lavender in the world and every one of them would look breathtaking in your garden.

TIP: The fragrance of English Lavender (Lavendula Angustifolia) is sweeter than their hybrid cousins, the Lavandins. This essential oil is wonderful for aromatherapy and perfume.

Lavender ~ Ever so easy to grow:
Choose a garden spot with good drainage and lotsa sun. Once established, she's a hardy, drought tolerant perennial - perfect for rock gardens.  

But, she doesn't start out that way.  Water her every 2 days and she'll jump for joy. Try a liquid, organic fertilizer when you water transplants. It helps her adjust to new surroundings.

In my area, our heavy clay soil causes problems. Work the soil well. It should be so loose you can dig it with your hands. Two inches of sand mulch will moderate soil temperature, reflecting heat and light up toward the plant.

Hot temperatures create more fragrant blooms. Severe pruning in early spring (to 2/3 of its size, leaving 2 inches of green above woody stems) stimulates beautiful growth. Remove ALL of the blossoms in fall. Because dried lavender will make every BFF you have a tiny bit happier.

(Finally! A post that holds some value...) 
 Let's just file this one under: Itsabout time.

Lavender Oatmeal Soap
* Oatmeal is a natural humectant, wonderful for dry skin. Lavender has a delightful, relaxing fragrance. This soap makes a rich, creamy lather and lasts forever. Makes about 45 bars.

Create a lavender infusion by pouring hot water over 1 cup lavender flowers for about 10 minutes. Set aside. Drain excess water before adding to soap.

Soap Ingredients
  • 128 fl oz palm oil
  • 25 fl oz coconut oil
  • 25.5 fl oz lye
  • 17.25 fl oz water
  • 100ml lavender essential oil
  • Organic rolled oats – oats will provide texture to your soap. (Begin with one cup, use your own judgement.)
~ I'm getting all scientific on you because, contrary to dress sizes, when it comes to soaps, measurements really do matter.

How to:
  1. Melt palm and coconut oils to 113 degrees
  2. Add lye and water
  3. Stir until trace*
  4. Add essential oil, lavender flowers and oats at trace
  5. Pour into mold
  6. Allow to set for about 3 days after pouring
  7. Pop from molds and slice into bars
* No changes to ingredients, or process, when making soap at high altitude. (Soap might take a little longer to cure.)
** 'To trace' means well-mixed with no streaks of remaining oil.


Gail said...

Great post Kate, beautiful pictures, too. I love lavender. Looks like a good soap recipe will have to give it a try, have been thinking about making somemore.

sasha said...

Hi Kit,

Great pics, the new camera is working well. That was a fun day, but boy am I beat today. Good luck turning your sage brush field into a lavender field, that will be so pretty. I think you'll like the English lavender.


Anonymous said...

Thank you,Kate for your post! It's very informative. I'd like to add your lavender soap recipe to my collection of soap recipes here. By the way, do you have an online catalog or price list for your product? I would love to have it please, if it's possible.

joey said...

Shared memories are grand, dear Kate. Thank you fun friend. Happy Autumn :)

Kate/High Altitude Gardening said...

Hey, hey!

I bought a water noodle. Can't hardly wait to be hubbard lake happy!

Just goofin'. You live in a very pretty place. :))

joey said...

Kate + water noodle + Hubbard Lake + joey = Happy :)

Yael said...

The lavender fields are so lovely, fragrant too, I am sure.

I love your soap recipe. I have never soaked my flowers first. Will try that. Must be heavenly with the lavender and oatmeal. Would also be wonderful with Shea butter. I think of "trace" as being like the look and consistency of making fudge. I think I feel a soap making session coming on.


Flower Garden Ideas said...

Wow! That lavender field is a breathtaking view. Love that purple hues and I imagined the beautiful sweet lavender fragrant in the air.

Wally said...

Beautiful photos, interesting post.

Marquee said...

so beautiful pictures! I love lavender and your posts. thanks for your sharing.

wood stove said...

breathtaking view! those lavender filed, I just saw it on the TV or books. they are amazing

Dann white said...

Wow! it's great to see those pics. I like lavender soap too much.
Dr. Bronner's Lavender Soap