Making your own soap is incredibly gratifying. It is lovely knowing that each time you have a shower or bath the lathery bar is filled with herbs and flowers of your choosing.
It can be a little daunting making soap from scratch as it usually requires a chemical called lye, but this recipe does away with the need for lye, so it's a great one to start with. This recipe uses instead a natural product known as 'melt and pour soap' as your base. This, along with all of the equipment, is easily available online.
You will need …
500g melt and pour soap base
natural soap colouring
your favourite herbs (dried or fresh)
your favourite flowers (dried or fresh)
a few drops of your favourite essential oils
moulds (flat tins, small jars or silicone chocolate moulds are all suitable)
double boiler (or use a heatproof bowl and saucepan)
1. Start by chopping up your soap base into small chunks, or grate it, to make it melt faster. Prepare your moulds by spritzing them with a little oil for easy removal afterwards. Organise the colours you want to use and decide on the combinations of herbs, flowers, and aromas prior to melting.
2. Melt the soap base in a double boiler to the temperature recommended by the manufacturer. Once melted, stir in your colour (start with a few drops or pinches until you get the colour you desire). Remove from the heat. Once the mixture has cooled slightly, add 6-10 drops of your favourite essential oil. If you are using more than one oil, blend them together first to ensure you get the scent you desire. Mix through.
3. Pour your soap into moulds. You can either add flowers/herbs to the bottom and top of the moulds, just sprinkle them over the top, or stir them all the way through. Allow to set for 24 hours in a cool place, but not in the fridge or freezer.
4. Remove from the moulds when set. If you have trouble removing the soap, put the mould in a bowl of boiling water momentarily until the soap loosens. You can also use a sharp knife to help ease it out.
These make the perfect gift when presented in a jar with a ribbon.
Photography © Nassima Rothacker
Rebecca Sullivan is the author of The Art of the Natural Home (Kyle Books, $39.99), from which this recipe is reproduced with kind permission.