Having always been in the countryside allows me to have everything I need to make unique creations full of history and meaning for me. Every winter, when all the guests have left, the roses are at rest, the bees in glomere and the garden dozes, I find myself studying, planning and learning new things.
This year I had a lot of lavender. What to do with it? I started studying, inquiring and buying books. Here I find myself using a precision scale, equipped with protective glasses, mask and disposable gloves, surrounded by a thousand powders, flasks and basins of all types. I have always been attracted by all that is natural and by the possibility of creating things for everyday use and being able to say “I did it!”.
These creations could also be an excellent idea to create original “cadeaux” to give to a friend, create alternative favors or turn them into soap bars among the gifts for the B&B.
I started with the basic soap par excellence, using only three ingredients: Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Distilled water and Caustic Soda (Sodium Hydroxide NaOH).
When I decided to start making artisanal soaps, I was afraid of the ingredients and the fact that all the recipes led me to use Caustic Soda. Studying and reading a lot, I discovered that the soda that I often used for the toilet or the clogged drains was the same that I would have used to make my soaps but that combined with a fat part (oil) and water, starts the saponification process, completely eliminating its corrosive nature.
The important thing is that, once the mold has been made with soap, it must be left to mature for at least two months to ensure that the saponification ends, and that the soda is completely transformed.
When this “adventure” begins, I took all kinds of silicone molds, and I was already fantasizing about the final product in my hands under the sink water! Already from the first tests I saw that the result would have been satisfactory. Too bad I hate waiting, and those two months before I could try my new handmade soaps never seemed to go by!
I had read several times that in ancient times, to wash clothes, lye was used, a combination of ash and water, with a powerful washing power and which was the basis of soap at that time. In our times, ash has been replaced with caustic soda. Many use waste oil derived from frying or “sanza”, that is, waste derived from the pressing of olives during the annual extraction of olive oil. I only shivered at the thought. I therefore decided to use high quality products, from the Extra Virgin Olive Oil produced in my farm, local aromatic herbs and excellent essential oils. This is because I wanted to get a unique product and make the simple experience of washing your face or hands a real beauty treatment. From the simple base that I always use, the one with Oil, distilled water and soda, I add essential oils, aromatic herbs and different spices, and I always get different fragrances and colors. On the other hand, there are also recipes where the fatty part is composed of several oils (castor oil, coconut oil, argan oil, whole milk etc.) and these must be mixed thoroughly by mathematically calculating the percentage of soda that must be added. A bit of an alchemist’s stuff, but essential for the success of soap in terms of foam production, hardness and washing power. In short, another world has opened up to me, like when I ventured into the world of bees becoming a Beekeeper. New drawers open to you, full of new topics, and all of this electrifies me!
After many experiments, I collected the recipes that I love and that allow me to make a product at the height of our skin, especially that of children, because yes, I use my soaps to wash my children. Everyone asks me if my soaps contain caustic soda, because actually just pronouncing the word is scary!
The answer is “yes”, but note that the soda is only used to start the chemical reaction, because then going forward with the processes, it is completely transformed, and the action of the handmade soap is far from corrosive.