I’m a fan of the AMC series THE WALKING DEAD. I’ve seen all the episodes at least twice. I think that Norman Reedus’s character, Daryl Dixon, has adapted well to being around various types of people. Last season, he was adamant about Beth not drinking peach schnapps, and rightly so! He’s also efficient when it comes to taking care of zombies. He’s bonded well with fellow survivor Carol, and she’s toughened up ever since we met the abused housewife in episode 3, Tell It to the Frogs. Of course, a zombie apocalypse will change a person significantly.
In Georgia and other parts of the country that are zombie-infested, being able to access hot running water is probably difficult, especially as the years go by. But don’t they have hot springs in Georgia? Well, the internet’s not working so they can’t go to http://www.soak.net and find out that there are seven listed hot springs with water temperatures ranging from 68 to 88 degrees Fahrenheit. Which is a shame, because soaking in hot springs is good for more than bathing and most zombies aren’t able to swim, so it’d be a safe place.
Watching Norman Reedus strip off his sweaty shirt and jeans and jump into some bubbling hot water would be great for viewers and increase the already astronomically high ratings.
See Norman on the cover of Entertainment Weekly. Stay calm, people!
Other than watching Norman splashing around in the springs, my next thought was what kind of soap would he use? Something exfoliating and natural. Moisturizing, too. A soap with the ability to clean dirt and zombie residue. And something that smelled clean and fresh…
I used to make and sell a soap I called La Brea Tar Pits Glycerin Soap as it removes tar. It’s named after those great big fenced in pits of tar located in Los Angeles, California. The soap weighs 6.5 ounces and is filled with oatmeal, pure Bulgarian Lavender and Australian Tea Tree essential oils, cornmeal and extra shea butter. It’s gently exfoliating due to the addition of whole rolled oats and cornmeal. This soap is for those rugged outdoor types who stab or shoot arrows at zombies and are in dire need of a really super cleansing soap.
La Brea Tar Pits soap would probably help remove any kind of zombie goo that Daryl gets on him after he yanks those arrows out of zombie skulls or during those close contact encounters. The lavender and tea tree essential oils are antibacterial and while they aren’t strong enough to disinfect a bite, any user of this soap would smell a lot nicer afterwards. They wouldn’t look or smell quite so ripe…
Looking forward to watching more of Norman Reedus as that dirty dawg Daryl Dixon on Sunday night. And I hope you are too!
Meet Amanda Stevens of Homayd Natural Care Products. This very talented lady is from Arkansas and she makes some beautiful soap. Here is what she has to say about the joys of making soap and how she got started. [Click to enlarge images].
What prompted you to start making soap?
It all started when I got pregnant with my daughter. My husband and I were already trying to reduce chemical exposure through foods and cleaning products, which naturally led me to examine the products I used on my own skin. Since our skin is our largest organ and absorbs about 60% of what we put on it, I decided to start making my own soap as a way of reducing my family’s exposure to harmful chemicals.
What other types of soap do you craft? Do you also make bath & body products?
I mainly make cold-process soap, but I also make diaper wipe concentrate for babies, hand sanitizer, and a few fabric items.
When did you decide to sell your soap?
Once our daughter was born, we made the decision that I would not return to my job as a software developer. I started noticing that God was blessing us with lots of people who were wanting to try (and even pay for) my soap, so we turned it into a full-fledged business in January 2014.
Do you also sell your soap at crafts fairs/markets, stores, etc.?
Yes, we sell at an online Farmer’s market and various fairs and organized race events. We also have a few stores and salons that carry Homayd products.
What are the advantages to selling online?
The customer base is much broader. Also, most people prefer to buy items from the convenience of home, so it helps us be available to those who may not come to any local events.
What is your favorite fragrance or essential oil? What are your most popular scents?
I love the traditional lavender and tea tree essential oils, but my recent favorite for soap is spearmint essential oil. It’s so refreshing since it smells like a pack of Wrigley’s in your pocket.
What soap crafting books have you read?
Oh boy, I’m a book nerd. I’ve read about all of the soap books I could find at our local library. To name a few…
Soap Making by Sarah Ade
Soap Crafting by Anne-Marie Faiola
The Natural Soap Chef by Heidi Barto
and of course…The Soapmaker’s Companion by Susan Cavitch
What soap crafting videos have inspired you?
I like the Soaping101 channel on YouTube. When I first started making soap, I watched a lot of her videos for ideas.
Where do you get your soap/packaging ideas?
Most of the soap ideas I just make up, usually by season or holiday. I think of what I love or what captures the season best, and I play around with those ideas. The packaging was born out of necessity of using cheap packing material and has morphed into a handmade look that streamlines my wrapping process.
What advice would you give to new soap crafters?
Definitely start out simple. If you try to get too creative before you’re comfortable with the process in general, you’ll make a few expensive mistakes and may get discouraged. Master the process, the craftiness will follow.
How did you come up with your company’s name?
A few years ago I decided to make my entire family’s Christmas gifts. Being a slightly type A personality, I decided to make up a little product name to go with the gifts. I love putting the letter “y” in the middle of names (both my husband and daughter’s names have a “y” in the middle) so I just threw a “y” in the word “homemade” and shortened it a little. The rest is history.
Do you make and sell your own soap? Do you have your own online shop and want to be interviewed? If so, just send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org Please use “Interview with Soap Crafter” in the subject heading.
Shea butter is a popular additive to soaps, lotions, creams, lip balms, shampoos, conditioners, and lotion bars. Why? The healing qualities of this African nut fat abound, helping those with dry skin, sunburn, minor skin irritations, and in just plain softening and conditioning the skin and hair. You can use either refined or unrefined shea butter in your soaps. You can also purchase a soap base with shea butter already included.
INGREDIENTS: 8 oz. opaque melt & pour soap base 1 teaspoon shea butter 1/2 teaspoon sweet orange essential oil
MOLD: Two 4-oz. rectangle molds
INSTRUCTIONS: 1. Slice up the opaque soap base into cubes. 2. Melt the shea butter and the soap in a double boiler OR crock pot. 3. Pour into molds. 4. Refrigerate or freeze until soap is hardened. 5. Unmold and allow to return to room temperature. 6. Wrap in cling wrap. 7. Label.
Most flowers begin to lose their scent when they are picked. Not with tuberose! Like jasmine, the heady floral scent continues to produce itself. Tuberose (Polianthes tuberosa) is native to Central America. Aztec healers called it omixochitl (bone-flower) due to the waxy, luminous white flowers that actually contain anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic properties. Tuberose may grow wild in Mexico and surrounding countries, but the cultivation of tuberose is usually in Morocco, the Comores Islands, France, Hawaii, South Africa, India, and China.
For the Gardener
The tuberose grows in elongated spikes that produce clusters of aromatic white flowers. They can be grown outdoors in warm climates. Tuberoses flourish in sunny places and bloom in late summer. After the last frost, plant your tuberoses in a sunny spot, beneath a couple of inches of soil and almost a foot apart. Fertilize and water regularly.
If you pot and grow tuberose indoors, keep at a temperature of 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Potted bulbs take about four to five months to bloom.
Tuberose in Hawaii
For millions of tourists who have been to Hawaii, the first scent to greet their nostrils has been that of the offered tuberose leis. The ancient tradition for a Hawaiian wedding is for the bride and groom to wear flowers. The groom wears a maile lei, which is a native Kauai plant, while the bride wears a wreath of tuberose and pikaki flowers around her head called a haku. The custom is still popular as a part of a time-honored Hawaiian wedding ceremony.
If you’re interested in purchasing tuberose bulbs from Hawaii, contact Paradise Flowers at: http://www.ParadiseFlowers.com. You can also order tuberose leis, bouquets, and hakus too!
The Power of Tuberose
The legend of the tuberose in France warns that young girls should not breathe in its fragrance after dark for fear that it would put them in a romantic mood. In India, tuberose is known as rat ki rani, (The Mistress of the Night) for similar reasons. In Ayurvedic medicine, attars are held in high esteem not only for their exquisite fragrance, but their healing properties. Tuberose is known to improve one’s capacity for emotional depth. By opening the crown chakra it improves psychic powers. Tuberose also amplifies artistic inspiration as it stimulates the creative right side of the brain. And it brings serenity to the mind and heart. Maybe these reasons are why tuberose essential oil is so expensive!
More expensive than most rose attars, pure tuberose essential oil is difficult to find. “If you want to be precise, there is no ‘essential oil’ of tuberose. The flowers won’t stand up to the high temperature of water/steam distillation. Therefore a solvent, usually hexane, is used. Solvent extracted oils are absolutes. Some aromatherapists will not use them, as they believe there are traces of the solvent in the oil, even if only on a vibrational level. I disagree with this in general, and use absolutes quite often, however, it is case by case, as I often will choose to use only distilled oils in a blend.” Trygve Harris, Enfleurage, New York City.
“But this is where phytol enters center stage…the product of the amazing Phytonics process, conceived and developed by Peter Wilde in England. Phytonics uses low pressure, involves no heat and uses a solvent which is recyclable; it produces an essential oil that requires no additional processing unlike other concretes and, remarkably, does not emit by-products that damage the endangered ozone layer.” Eva-Marie Lind, Dean of the Aromatherapy Department of the Australasian College of Herbal Studies.
Make Your Own Tuberose Soap
As listed above, you can buy tuberose online at Enfleurage. It’s available as a jojoba-based roll-on perfume and the pure absolute is sold in small sizes. However, if you want to make tuberose soap for only a few dollars, you can do so by using tuberose floral wax. If you’d like the recipe, check out my eBook 12 Easy Melt and Pour Soap Recipes.
The following methods are for those of you who wish to be able to change the fragrance environment of a room, car, office, closet, drawer, etc. There are psychological benefits to entering a room that has the crisp aroma of citrus, or a subtle scent of fresh blooming flowers.
Aroma Lamps – Aroma lamps are either electric or operated by a tea light or votive candle. There is a small cup shaped portion that is usually made of glazed ceramic and holds a few ounces of water. However, other materials may include glass and stone. Warm or even hot water should be used; as that is less work the candle has to do. Only a few drops of essential oil are added to the water, thus making it ideal for costlier essential oils. Care should be taken to see that the water doesn’t boil away.
Atomizers – Requiring no heat, atomizers, sometimes referred to as nebulizers or nebulizing diffusers, disperse the essential oils on a revitalizing current of air as it passes through an intricately engineered blown glass chamber. This course naturally suspends and ionizes the oil into extremely fine molecules, causing them to remain suspended in the air for longer periods.
Many aromatherapist practitioners and others who utilize the finest essential oils choose atomizers. It’s important to be careful with the atomizers. Since there is a continuous mist emitted it should not be used for more than a few minutes at a time. Many of the models do have built-in timers to avoid any problems like overuse. Also, make sure that this is done in a clear area, away from furniture, [varnish can be worn off] wall hangings and other objects.
Candles – Candles create a more romantic ambiance and do double duty in helping disperse your preferred aroma[s] throughout a room. In the spirit of true aromatherapy, it’s advised to use beeswax, palm wax or soy wax candles as paraffin contains carcinogenic chemicals. Wicks should be trimmed, and the essential oils need to be added at the top of the candle, but never on the wick itself. You can add the essential oils after the candle has been lit and there’s a small pool of wax at the top of the candle. Don’t add the oils to the flame itself as oils can catch fire.
Diffusers – You can buy diffusers to plug into your car’s cigarette lighter, as you can also find those that plug into any wall socket. The atomizers suspend a fine mist of essential oils into the air for aromatherapy is the best method of using essential oils for therapeutic treatments. Many aromatherapists believe that this is the most effective method of enjoying the aromas.
Sachets – If you want your linens to smell clean and fresh, the addition of a smell sachet filled with your favorite aroma will create a pleasant smell whenever you open the drawer or closet. You can buy them already made, or make them yourself. Highly recommended would be a small muslin or organza bag filled with dried lavender buds and a few drops of lavender essential oil. Not only is lavender a universally pleasing aroma, it also serves as an all-natural way to keep moths away.
The most common way to dilute a pure essential oil is with a cold-pressed carrier oil. Carrier oils allow the essential oil to slowly permeate the skin, protecting it from irritation. Jojoba, sesame, sweet almond, rose hip, refined rice bran, shea oil, wheatgerm, evening of primrose, grapeseed, kukui nut, sunflower, hazelnut, safflower, avocado or apricot kernel oils are commonly used. Several of the carrier oils can be combined and when essential oils are added, this makes for a very nutrient-rich bath oil.
Determining Quality of Essential Oils:
Read the label. If purchasing rosemary oil, for example, you would expect to see that name on the label. However, here are the four facts that you will find on any bottle of essential oil from a reputable supplier/company.
1. Botanical/Latin name. In this case it would be Rosemarinus officinalis.
2. Part. What part of the plant has the essential oil been extracted from? For rosemary, that is the leaf.
3. Method of extraction. Is it an absolute, enfleurage, carbon dioxide [CO2], or has it been steam distilled? In this case it has been steam distilled.
4. Country of Origin. Rosemary comes from many different countries, such as Corsica, Spain, Morocco, Tunisia, and France. Location may make a sizable difference for many reasons such as climate, type of soil, high/low altitude, etc.
Aromatherapy isn’t government regulated. Products can claim to be “natural” when in fact distilled water is the only untainted ingredient. Any reputable retailer of essential oils will be very knowledgeable about their product and capable of proving its purity. They will and should be happy to answer your questions.
Before 1993, you wouldn’t have been able to find the word ‘aromatherapy’ listed in a dictionary even though this art/science has been effectively used for thousands of years. In fact, the word was invented in the 1920’s by a French chemist by the name of René-Maurice Gattefossé who studied the cosmetic properties of plants. He soon learned that plants contained organic antiseptic elements that worked better than inorganic antiseptics. His interest was further ignited when he there was an explosion in his laboratory; badly burning has hands. Immediately he poured lavender essential oil [one of the few essential oils that can be applied directly on the skin] on them and made the not so astonishing discovery that his hands healed quickly and with no scarring.
However, the usage of aromatic plants has been going on for thousands of years. From the civilizations of ancient Egypt, India, China, Greece, and Rome, floral and herbal oils have been used in many ways from flavoring food and beverages to being poured into baths and massaged into the body.
The Romans weren’t shy about employing scents. They inundated their baths and banquets with floral concoctions from scattering rose petals on floors to anointing their bodies with floral perfumes. After bathing their bodies were massaged with aromatic oils. Their beds and clothing, bodies and hair were scented with perfumes. Even men scented themselves with balsam and cinnamon oils.
The natural healing system of ayurveda, meaning “science of life” was established approximately 4000 years ago in the Himalayan region. Plants and all their properties are a relevant part of ayurvedic medicine that continues to be practiced where it started and has now spread around the world.
Hippocrates is known as the “father of medicine”, and this Greek doctor was a noted advocate for the usage of essential oils, especially in the form of daily baths and massages. Resins of myrrh and oils of cinnamon were often applied to a patient to soothe inner and outer complaints.
Essential Oils vs. Fragrance Oils:
Pure, unadulterated essential oils derived from the leaves, roots, seeds, flowers or bark of a plant or tree are the source extracted directly from nature via a form of steam distillation. When you first begin working with essential oils, take care in handling them. Lavender essential oil is quite safe for the skin, as is tea tree, but some people can have allergic reactions to them. When handling essential oils, it’s wise to do a skin test. Simply apply a tiny amount on your wrist, and if there’s no reaction within 24 hours you are safe. As these oils can be costly, you must take care that they’re always kept in a cobalt or amber colored glass bottle and stored in a cupboard [out of direct sunlight] and kept in a cool, dry place. When you buy an oil, write the date on the vial. Most essential oils can last from one to three years. Citrus oils have a shelf life ranging from six months to less than two years. Essential oils can last for several years, but the freshness disappears. There are some exceptions with the darker colored, “heavier” oils or resins. Patchouli Oil is known to improve with age.
You should know about fragrance oils and what they really are. I visited an e-group for soapmakers and when someone asked for a company where they could purchase essential oils, a person gave the name of a company that sold only fragrance oils! Obviously, to this uninformed person, the terms are interchangeable. They’re not. Fragrance oils are synthesized in a laboratory. They are sometimes referred to as “nature identical.” If you’re looking for an inexpensive scent, then fragrance oils fit the bill. But fragrance oils are not therapeutic grade essential oils and never will be.
From personal experience, I’ve learned that sniffing an essential oil right from the bottle and diluting it with a carrier oil such as sweet almond or jojoba, makes a huge difference. I smelled my favorite, vanilla absolute, a thick balsamic oil derived from the pod of the vanilla plant. I determined that the first whiff brought out the usual vanilla scent I was accustomed to, but a millisecond later there was a stronger, harsher scent. I then added a few drops to a bottle of sesame oil and the change was magnificent! I had the aroma I equated with the spicy-sweet scent of a dried vanilla bean pod. The carrier oil had combined perfectly with the essential oil!
You should always dilute essential oils in carrier oils when applying directly to the skin, or even in the bathtub. This is a necessary safety precaution. Essential oils are very strong and need to be diluted. Also, some essential oils [and fragrance oils] may smell good enough to drink, but are for EXTERNAL USE ONLY!
I’m no stranger to craft fairs and farmer’s markets as a customer. I’ve attended these types of events since I was a kid. They’re fun to go to and I know what to look for when shopping for soap and other bath and body products.
What initially attracts my attention is how the soap is displayed. Nice, neat rows of soap? Stacks of the stuff? Baskets, containers or little tubs brimming with it? Soap that needs to be cut for you like wheels of cheese [think Lush]. Soap loaves? Some shelves flaunting your soapy wares? For lots of brilliant examples, go to Google images and type in “soap displays for craft shows.” You’ll see loads of ideas in just the first few images.
The Scents of the Season
I’ve read and seen that there are certain scents that sell better in the warm weather than around Christmas or in cold weather. In warm weather, the trend is for lighter fragrances like florals, especially lilac, lily of the valley, sweet pea, anything with the word “blossom” in it, and fruity scents. Consider the fruits that ripen during the warmer months: Strawberries, peaches, watermelon, mangoes, papayas, blueberries, plums, etc. Vanilla is a warm aroma that is associated with baking but is good any time of year. You can’t go wrong with a fresh green herbal fragrance or one reminiscent of the garden, like mints, thyme, or rosemary. Then you have the perennial citrus favorites: lemon, lime, orange, and grapefruit. You’ll attract customers with fragrances that smell like the elements: ocean breeze, tropical rain, fragrant meadows, country roads, or forests.
In the fall and winter, the aromas are a little heavier. Say hello to pumpkin–that’s a perennial fall through Christmas favorite. And for Christmas, you’ll have candy cane/peppermint, eggnog, balsam, bayberry, cinnamon, Christmas tree/evergreen, mulberry, and frankincense and myrrh.
To Wrap or Not to Wrap?
Unwrapped soap, [naked soap], shows off the products to the fullest advantage. You can clearly see the size, color, and texture. The customer can get up close, and smell the aroma. The problem with naked soap is that it’ll be handled by anyone. Also, by not having labels people with allergies won’t see if it contains a potential problem ingredient. A label should be included with each soap whether it’s written on a chalkboard, printed on a sign, available on slips of paper or on the backs of business cards.
Which leads to how you bag your bars of soap. No matter what type of bag you use, always include a business card/flyer/brochure/postcard that has your vital stats like your website address, email, business address, phone number, and all-important company name. If you’re a wholesaler make sure that’s mentioned in your promotional literature. That customer might own a hotel, bed and breakfast, or shop that will be very interested in your products.
Who doesn’t love free samples? I do, but I don’t expect them. Unfortunately, some people think you should not only provide freebies, but you should either give your soap away or offer substantial discounts. And they’ll come up with some pretty wacky reasons as to why they’re so privileged. Including little bars or slices of soap [along with your contact information] is a goodwill gesture. It often leads to more sales. It’s also recommended that you clearly label the name of the soap/product freebie along with a brief description. Lavender Soap is usually sufficient for people to figure out what it is, but that perennial kiddie favorite, Monkey Farts, might need a few keywords to explain that it’s a fruity or coconutty soap.
Pricing – Buy 3 get the fourth bar free or any variation that promises a free bar of soap will get me over to your booth in a flash! People enjoy getting bargains.
Soapmaker, Salesperson—or Both?
Standing behind a booth all day selling your wares can be a challenging to the more reserved soapmaker. However, you’re the expert. You know every aspect of your soaps from ingredients to oils to molds to packaging. Sometimes dealing with various personality types can be taxing. You’ll encounter the inevitable free sample trolls and the free recipe trolls. In other words, there will be people who want to do exactly what you do. You can’t control that. I’ve seen and read about this countless times. Just be polite and don’t indulge them.
Some soapers prefer having a salesperson do their work for them. Whether an employee, or a relative or friend, as long as they can effectively answer questions and promote your products. And please be a conscientious soaper that has extensive knowledge of your product along with lots of experience when it comes to making it! Many times, I’ve wandered into a crafting forum and seen newbies in despair over their soaping boo-boos that have come belatedly to their attention during a craft show. That includes soap that started as sapphire blue in the morning but the sunlight faded it to pale blue or even bone white. Soaper, know your products!
Another advantage soapmakers have by selling their wares at a public venue is the opportunity to meet customers and listen to their needs. You’ll see trends in fragrances. After the venue is over, take inventory and see what your hot sellers are and what doesn’t do as well. You might consider offering a special ordering service to those that want unfragranced soaps or palm-free soaps, etc. Perhaps you have many fragrances/essential oils that aren’t used in your current product line—if you have customized scenting you’ll attract new customers.
Whether you sell soap and supplement it with other products, packaging it in a gift basket is another way to attract interested customers – no matter what time of year.
Have lots of fun, sell lots of soap and know that you’re making the world a cleaner place one customer at a time!
Seaweed Soap is fun and easy to make. This recipe was created due to loving anything oceanic! Dried seaweed contains lots of minerals so it’s good for you. It can be found at any Asian market. Nourishing extra virgin olive oil is suitable for all skin types. Lavender and lemon essential oils add a touch of zest and make this soap smell clean and fresh!
32 ounces clear soap base
Dash of green mica
6-8 pieces dried seaweed
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1.5 teaspoons lemon essential oil
1 teaspoon lavender essential oil
3 part Ziploc divided rectangle mold
Place broken up pieces of seaweed into mold. Slice the soap base into small cubes. Just before the soap is fully melted add the colorant, olive oil and essential oils. Stir well. Slowly pour into the molds. Spritz away bubbles with rubbing alcohol, or avoid this step for a more realistic looking soap. Allow soap to harden in fridge, freezer, or remain at room temperature. Remove from molds. Make sure soap is at room temperature before cutting and wrapping. You may want to cut the largest chunk of finished soap into 2 to 4 slices. A wavy edge soap cutter is recommended. Wrap in cling wrap and label.
Although Hobby Lobby has been displaying Christmas items since August, signs of the upcoming holiday selling season are evident online. This is also the season when the newbies emerge. Beginning soapmakers, and other handmade bath and body products makers [lotions, lip balms, body butters, sugar and salt scrubs, etc.] are getting that “I wanna sell my handmade products” fever. People who don’t know the difference between melt and pour glycerin soap base from cold process soap from hand milled soap. Novice soapers who dump fresh fruit and veggies in melt and pour glycerin soap base [hello mold!]. People downloading free eBooks and making their first batch of lotion or a sugar scrub, minus preservatives. Others with little or no experience clamor to join the selling festivities on and offline at various crafty venues. Consumer, beware!
I’ve included a section on premature selling in my latest eBook on marketing. I’ve also written an article about Melt and Pour Soap Basics. It took me six years before I began selling my soap and other products. During that time, I tested and retested recipes. I made many mistakes. I also invested lots of time and money, and gave away lots of soap to my testers before accepting a single dollar.
“No matter what method they use to sell their newfound wares, there are several problems with premature selling. One doesn’t bake a cake and decide to open a bakery. That may be their goal, but first they have to make dozens or hundreds of cakes in order to be a confident and skillful baker.” The Soapmaker’s Guide to Online Marketing
For the Consumer
If you want to buy handmade bath and body products online, make sure you check out the website very carefully. Any soaper worth his or her lye mixture will be able to convey their expertise. They know what type of soap they make, they know all the benefits of each ingredient, they usually mention how long they’ve been creating their handmade products. They may have photos or videos of their work area. There should be lots of testimonials from satisfied customers or peer reviews from other soapers. They might be a member of the Better Business Bureau, the Handcrafted Soap & Cosmetic Guild, or the Indie Business Network.
When purchasing from a soaper offline you can tell by talking with them how much they know about their product[s]. How long have they been in business? Ask them what they use to color their soaps. Don’t ask for recipes or act like you want to make soap, unless they also teach soaping classes. Another way to test the soaper or salesperson is to inquire about the fragrance – is it an aromatherapy pure essential oil/blend of essential oils or a skin safe cosmetic fragrance? Soaps and/or other products with essential oils will generally cost a little more. Soapmakers usually are pleased to discuss their labors of love. Those who employ others to sell for them should also be well versed in what goes into these handcrafted products.
Beware and be aware of what you’re buying and we’ll all have a healthier and safer holiday season!
Ylang ylang, pronounced ee-lung ee-lung, is as exotic sounding as the tropical regions from where these fragrant flowers originate. The name means, “flower of flowers” and the abundantly sweet flowers are pink, mauve or yellow, colors frequently seen during sunrise and sunset. These trees flourish in the tropics; the islands of the South Pacific, and near the coast of southeast Africa: the Comoro Islands and Madagascar.
Please be aware of the fact that this is an aromatic plant that needs to be used sparingly. Too much ylang ylang and you’ll get a headache.
Ylang ylang is reminiscent of another tropical floral star in aromatherapy, namely jasmine. It has been dubbed the “poor man’s jasmine” as the lower grades of ylang ylang are priced in the single or double digits. The botanical name [Cananga Odorata var. genuine] is derived from the Malaysian word, “kenanga” which is the vernacular for the genus. “Odorata” means fragrant.
[In the above photo, the soap contains ylang ylang essential oil.]
Grades of Ylang Ylang:
As with any essential oil, the higher the price the higher the quality. And Ylang ylang, unlike many other essential oils, has several different grades [or fractions] ranging from the costly Ylang Ylang Superior Extra down to the least expensive, Ylang Ylang III.
Ylang Ylang Superior Extra – This is an extraordinary form of ylang ylang which is considered by experts to represent the finest notes of this lovely floral. Found on Mayotte Island off the coast of Madagascar, this grade of oil is from certified organically grown flowers.
Ylang Ylang Complete – This grade is comprised of all fractions of the ylang ylang essential oil from the Extra to Grades I, II, and III.
Ylang Ylang Extra – The most floral smelling of the grades. This grade is recommended for perfumers as it is the most full-bodied and has spicy background notes. It is taken from the initial distillation where the petals are only distilled for one hour.
Ylang Ylang I – A very nice floral and the perfect introduction to this flower essential oil. This is the first distillation, obtained during the second to third hour of distillation.
Ylang Ylang II – This is the second distillation, obtained during the third to fourth hour of distillation.
Ylang Ylang III – Having been distilled for at least a day, the resulting grade of ylang ylang is the heaviest in scent. This grade is best used for aromatherapy beginners on a budget or to scent soap, candles and other bath and body products.
Ylang Ylang CO2 – Distilled by CO2 [carbon dioxide], when a certain amount of pressure is applied the gas changes to liquid; thus, this is one of the safest ways to extract oils. Most ylang ylang extracted in this manner is quite expensive.
Ylang Ylang Absolute – This method of extraction is done by alcohol washing of the concrete obtained from the ylang ylang petals. Done primarily in France from the Comoro Islands flowers, the pale yellow oil has a balsamic undertone. Absolutes are outstanding for perfumery due to their long-lasting aroma.
Benefits of Ylang Ylang:
Ylang Ylang is a calming, soothing essential oil that helps alleviate stress. It also helps high blood pressure and decreases nervous tension. Is an excellent balancing oil for oily or dry skin. Ylang ylang has been reputed to stimulate hair growth and is a natural conditioner. Julia Lawless, author of “The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils,” writes: “In the Victorian age, the oil was used in the hair treatment Macassar oil.”
Blending Ylang Ylang:
As it’s such a strong aroma, it blends beautifully with any type of orange essential oil which includes bergamot, neroli, mandarin or blood orange.
You can also mix it with lavender, rose, sandalwood, patchouli or any sage essential oils.
Uses for Ylang Ylang:
Bath soak ~ All you need is one or two drops in your bathtub of warm to hot water and you should find yourself relaxing.
Candle ~ Add a few drops to a candle, next to the wick, not on it as essential oils are flammable. Ylang ylang will fill the room with its exotic floral aroma and relaxation should follow.
Hair ~ Add one or two drops to your hairbrush and brush your hair. Not only will it smell great, doing this helps to condition it naturally. Also, Ylang ylang is believed to stimulate hair growth.
Slip away on a tropical vacation as you inhale the heady floral bouquet. While not all of us can board a plane and benefit from a tropical vacation, for only a few dollars we can buy a ylang ylang scented product and transport ourselves there via the imagination.