Suds Up Your Harvest

Refresh your body and your senses with the cleansing power of herbal soap.

| August/September 2004

  • Add the refreshing scents of your favorite herbs for a luxurious herbal skin treatment.

The ancient Romans knew the value of a good bath. Inveterate soakers, they are credited with the invention of soap and understood not only the importance of a cleansing soap, but likely, the refreshing scents accompanying it as well. You too can live in the lap of luxury and experience a refreshing, herbal treatment for your skin made with your favorite scents every time you wash. By making your own herbal soaps, you can ensure you’re washing with the right oils to gently moisturize your skin.


Plastic drop cloths (enough to cover floors and countertops)
Rubber gloves
Protective goggles
Semi-hard plastic container (9-by-9-inch or loaf-shaped), for a mold
2 small blankets or large towels
Ice chest
Large stainless steel or enamel stock pot
Large wooden spoon
2-cup glass measuring cup
4-cup glass measuring cup
Large wire whisk
Stainless-steel laboratory thermometer, available at most kitchen equipment stores
Cardboard (cut slightly larger than the top of your plastic container)
Hair dryer

Note: Ideally, you should have a set of measuring and mixing supplies (pot, measuring cups, whisk, spoon, etc.) reserved exclusively for soap making so no soap residue is transferred to your cooking.


6 ounces lye
16 ounces cold spring or rain water (never use tap water as the minerals will curdle the soap)
12 ounces coconut oil
19 ounces vegetable shortening
10 ounces olive oil
1 ounce jojoba oil
1 ounce avocado oil
1/2 cup fresh herbs (loose, not packed), such as those suggested on Page 34
1 ounce essential oil (see suggested combinations at right)

Please read instructions completely before beginning so you will better understand what’s required for each step of the soap-making process. Some of the materials involved require special handling or may need to be ordered ahead of time (see Soap-makers Resources on Page 38).


Begin by covering all the counters and floors with plastic. Lye is caustic and can damage countertops and burn your skin. Never handle lye without protective glasses and rubber gloves. I also wear an old long-sleeved shirt to protect my arms.

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