The following is an excerpt from Soapmaking the Natural Way: 45 Melt-and-Pour Recipes Using Herbs, Flowers and Essential Oils by Rebecca Ittner (Lark Crafts, 2010). This excerpt is from the Introduction.
Crafters have many interpretations of the term “natural soap crafting.” On one end of the spectrum, it can mean using only organic, chemicalfree ingredients including soap bases, additives, colorants, and fragrances. On the other end, “natural” can mean simply avoiding animal- or petroleum-based products. For purposes of this book, “natural” means avoiding all animal- and petroleum-based products, synthetic colorants, and fragrances.
To keep the process accessible, I have included melt-and-pour soap bases that contain some additives, because they’re widely available in craft stores. The majority of ingredients used in this book—from herbs, dried flowers, and sea salt to milk powders, spices, and essential oils—can be found at craft, grocery, or health food stores. The exceptions to this include clays and colored mica powders. These are inexpensive and can easily be found on the Internet. Mica powders fall in a gray area in the definition of natural. They start out as natural minerals that are mined and ground into powder; synthetic colorants are then added to the powders. I’ve included mica powders in a few of the projects to show the range of colors they can provide.
Regardless of the interpretation, natural does not mean boring. Beautiful, wonderfully scented soaps can be created with natural ingredients. Mother Nature has gifted us with a wealth of natural colorants and exfoliators. Essential oils, made from plants and botanicals, provide unlimited possibilities for scent combinations.
Melt-and-pour soapmaking is fun and easy. You may even have all the tools you need just sitting in your kitchen. A trip to a local store or two to gather the ingredients and a couple of hours of free time and you’re ready to get started.
Handmade soaps make people feel special. Use them throughout your home, wrap them in beautiful boxes, and give them as birthday gifts. You can even create unique soaps for party and wedding favors. Once you try the recipes in this book, get creative with the ingredients and make your own soap recipes. Most of all, have fun!
Natural Soap Recipes
Milk and Honey Soap
Soothing and gently exfoliating, this creamy bar has the comforting scent of vanilla. Buttermilk and oatmeal have long been touted as being great for soothing and moisturizing sensitive skin. If you prefer a smooth appearance to your soaps, stir in all of the oatmeal before pouring the soap into the pan.
Simply Lavender Soap
Perhaps the easiest recipe in this book, the Simply Lavender soap is perfect for the first-time soap maker. Dried lavender flowers look like little pods when added to soap. If you prefer a more textured look, crush the flowers using a mortar and pestle. Gently crushing the flowers also releases fragrance and will make the soaps more heavily scented.