This is my staple soap recipe. I started making this soap more than 10 years ago when I was diagnosed with Rosacea (Thanks to my fair-skinned Irish and Polish ancestry). It's quite a process to make this soap recipe--one for the SLOW Movement. It takes a couple of months to make a batch. My family loves this soap, too. My copy of this recipe is getting tired and tattered, so before I can't find it for the next go-round, I thought I'd post it here, to my virtual memory.
Green Tea (Good-for-My-Skin) Soap
17 oz Water
3 oz Chickweed and Plantain-infused oil (See below)
40 oz Basic Soap recipe, grated (See below)
1 tsp Green Tea scent (or other essential oil)
(Please do not suggest Tea Tree Oil--TTO has been a major irritant to my sensitive skin, though it may work for other people.)
1) Prepare the molds. (This amounts to lining a wooden tray or shallow cardboard box with plastic.)
2) In the top of a double boiler [Wondering if I can do this part in a slow cooker, too?), heat the water and infused oil to boiling. (The original recipe says to 180 degrees F, but I found this was not warm enough to melt the soap.)
Add the grated soap in handfuls. (No--This is not mozzarella cheese. One taste, and you'll know the difference!)
Stir until the soap melts, then add another handful of the grated soap. Don't add it all at once, or it won't melt. You'll just have a big gloppy lump of soap.
3)With a minimum of stirring, melt the soap.
4) When the soap and liquids have blended, and the mixture is clear and runny, add the essential oil. Spoon into prepared mold. [This is as "clear and as runny" as I've ever seen it--and why I wanted to post pictures. ]
5) Leave the soap to cool at room temperature, or until it forms a thick skin and are cool to the touch. It has enough body to hold itself in the box mold without extra supports.
6) Once cool, release it from the mold and cut into bars. Allow it to cure for 2-4 weeks.
3 oz dried Chickweed (I have to get this dried as I don't see this weed much in my parts)
3 oz dried Plantain (9 oz. chopped, if using fresh -- It's all over my back yard, lush and green like salad! I like to harvest the first crop in late May when it looks so lush and clean. It gets tired-looking later in the season. )
2 pints (or 4 cups) extra virgin Olive Oil
Note : Plantain and Chickweed are very common weeds. Collect them in your backyard (if you go organic), or contact an organic farmer in your area. You can also order them from dried herb suppliers. Fresh (and even fresh dried) herbs lend a rich dark green chlorophyl color to the olive oil. You can tell it's full of goodness and healing properties! 1 batch lasts me about 5 years.
[June 2015 edit] I've since discovered a slow-cooker method that I like best for making this infused oil. This can be done in 1 day, vs. 2 or 6 weeks of previous methods.
Fresh Plantain from my back yard, chopped ...
and ready to be weighed and thrown into the crock pot.
Fresh chopped Plantain and dried Chickweed in the slow cooker with extra virgin olive oil.
Looks like a salad!
* I had so much "volume" with the fresh herbs, that I put everything into the usual slow cooker pot, and did not use the towel, water, or mason jar. I did use a thermometer to keep a tab on the temps, since should stay between 100 - 120 degrees F for the duration of the infusion process.
* For my particular slow cooker, it worked well to set the temp to low until it got up to the desires 120 degrees F. I checked on it every hour. When it got up to about 120 degrees, I turned off the heat, and covered the pot with towels to insulate it and keep the temps where they needed to be.
Note : If I insulated while the crock pot was on, the temps got too warm.
* Stir every hour or so during the infusion process. This is also a good time to check on the temps. If the temps get near 100 degrees, turn the heat back on (without the towels and insulation, or it will get too warm.)
Here it is after it's cooked down for 10 hours in the slow-cooking process.
* Once infused, allow the warm oil and herb infusion to cool completely. I let it sit overnight to cool. Strain the herby oil through a fine mesh filter and/or cheesecloth. Discard the spent herbs. Store the newly infused oil in a glass jar. Once the oil is strained, it's ready for use. It will keep indefinitely in the jar, if tightly sealed.
Strained once through a sieve.
Strained a second time to catch the finer bits and particulates.
See what the first straining missed?
On the left, is the Olive Oil I started with. On the right is the rich dark green infused oil. It's so dark, you can't even see through it.
Here it is in sunlight, still darker than the original.
Basic Soap Recipe No. 2
14 oz tepid Water
5.9 oz lye
12 oz. Coconut Oil
6 oz Palm Oil
10 oz Castor Oil
8 oz Olive Oil
4 oz Wheat Germ Oil
1) Prepare a box mold.
2) Blend the H20 and lye using ALL SAFETY PRECAUTIONS!
3) Melt the coconut and palm oils. Blend in the castor, olive, and wheat germ oils, and either heat or cool to 100 degrees F.
4) Once the temperatures match, blend the lye solution into the oils.
5) Stir the mixture until the soap traces. At trace, pour into the prepared box mold.
6) Leave the soap to set for 8-14 hours, or until the soap is solid and firm to the touch. Release from the mold, cut into bars and let cure for 2-4 weeks.
I first found this recipe in a book called Country Living's Handmade Soap. They called it "Green Herbs Baby Soap," meaning it's gentle enough to use on a baby's tender skin. The book is now out-of-print--another reason to not let this recipe die.