Friday, October 8, 2010

Soapwort Shampoo

I was pleasantly surprised when my mother told me that my dear Irish grandmother would use soapwort (saponaria officinalis) -- a perennial herb -- as a means to make a natural laundry detergent. Using the boiled concoction of soapwort roots and leaves makes a natural soap; a hygienic practice used since ancient Rome.

I recently made my first batch of shampoo using the boiled concoction of Soapwort with several drops of Rosemary essential oil added, and then bottled. It's as backwoods as you can get as it's not as soapy as I had hoped, but I also didn't boil so much of the roots (as I should have), and the roots are especially soapy.

A shampoo can also be made with dried Soapwort and egg yolk:

1 cup hot water
1 tablespoon dried soapwort
1 egg yolk
lemon juice (optional)

Pour the hot water over the Soapwort, whisk or stir well, and and allow to cool. In a seperate dish, whisk the egg yolk and lemon juice, and then add to the soapwort infusion. Store in the fridge. Be sure to rinse your hair well when using this recipe.

Soapwort. Photo (c) S. Waters.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Rose and Vanilla Perfume

First blog post!

My interest in herbalism has prompted me to explore natural and herbal perfumery.

Since retailing perfumes contain toxic indredients, a truly natural and homemade perfume is worth exploring.

Using herbs and essential oils to make perfumes is an art and science. I'm currently fermenting an organic rose and vanilla perfume which consists of key ingredients. While perfume making is a total blast, it is also a time-consuming process. My developing concoction has sat in a jar for two weeks now, and this particular perfume won't be ready for several more weeks, as the combined scents take considerable time to blend and mature.

How to make your own perfume? Start by pouring some vodka in a small glass bottle, one that you can cork. To the vodka, add an organic vanilla bean. Slightly crush it and allow it to sit for a week, then strain and re-bottle. Add a tablespoon of rosewater and about ten drops of rose essential oil, and about ten drops of oil of vanilla. (If you seek a great oil of vanilla, check out Ananda Apothecary's vanilla oil choices.) Also add about five drops of ylang ylang essential oil. Allow the perfume to blend for a month; strain the mixture again before using.

Apothecary Rose from my garden.