The Prepper’s Guide to Soap Crafting and Soap Storage ~ Excerpt

prepper's guide to soap crafting and soap storage lisa maligaBy Lisa Maliga

Copyright 2013-2016

Be the cleanest prepper around! Create your own lye-free soap or find the best type of soap to store in the coming years. Informative book shows the best ways to craft your own soap. You’ll receive original recipes and valuable storage tips to get the most out of your soap. Learn about natural melt and pour, hand-milled, African black soap and liquid soaps. Includes recommended reading and several supplier resources. The Prepper’s Guide to Soap Crafting and Soap Storage is written and photographed by the author of How to Make Handmade Shampoo Bars and The Joy of Melt and Pour Soap Crafting.



Here are ways to get the most out of your soap base. First, some general use tips.

Your soap should be kept in a draining type of soap dish. Leaving any type of soap in a puddle of water in the shower, bathtub or next to the sink will drastically shorten its shelf life. The humidity will cause it to soften much faster. If you have a very small/humid enclosed type of bathroom, consider storing your soap in a separate room.

 Melt and Pour Soap Base

Here are some things you should know about melt and pour soap base, sometimes known as glycerin melt and pour soap base. It contains approximately 20% plant-derived glycerin, which makes it softer than other types of soap. This also means that it’s a moisture magnet. It should always be wrapped and stored in a cool, dry location. You can wrap in the original packaging, usually plastic wrap/shrink wrap, or a clamshell container. Additionally, it can be stored in a heavy-duty opaque plastic storage container. When I was crafting this type of soap I bought it in 40-pound blocks, which I cut into large chunks and kept in an airtight opaque plastic container. This was kept in the back of a closet so it was away from any harsh lighting conditions.

The Prepper’s Guide to Soap Crafting and Soap Storage is available online at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Smashwords.

It’s Crafting Season ~ Consumer Beware!

By Lisa Maliga

Copyright 2013-2016

tapioca shampoo bar melt and pour soap handmade shampoo bar ebookAlthough 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!

How I Began Making My Own Soap

By Lisa Maliga

Copyright 2008-2016

rooibos red tea soapIt started around the time I was learning to read, I guess. In the grocery store with my mom, I noticed all the cans and boxes had words on them. I didn’t know what ‘ingredients’ meant so mom pulled the loaf of bread off the shelf and told me it contained flour, salt, sugar, etc. I pointed to a can and she looked at the label and read the list of ingredients. I was impressed that the secrets were being revealed and asked, “So we can make them ourselves?” She explained it was the law. It only listed what was inside the can, not how much or how to make it. The food manufacturers weren’t giving recipes to the consumer, but I didn’t listen. At the age of six, I knew one thing – I could make whatever I wanted.

After using some expensive soap back in early 1997, I decided to make my own. I surfed the internet and discovered that the soap base was called melt and pour glycerin. Being a soap lover but a total dummy, I searched for ways in which to buy and make it. I found a well-illustrated site. Gorgeous color close-ups of uniquely shaped soap sculptures were on display. Imagine a bright red apple, or a deep violet flower – soap in disguise! Inspired, I ordered a soapmaking kit that contained translucent glycerin and opaque [white] melt & pour soap in blocks. There were also color nuggets and a few different scents. A single page containing instructions was my only guide.

Not having a microwave oven, I used a double boiler consisting of two cooking vats and watched the translucent chunks melt into a pool of liquid soap. I added a bit of the orange color nugget, the required amount of scent, some dried calendula [marigold] flowers I had, and poured it into a square plastic food storage container. I was so anxious I stood there and watched it dry! I used a toothpick to pop the excess bubbles and to prevent the petals from floating to the surface. For a long time I waited, not putting it in the freezer, just allowing it to harden at room temperature. When it finally did, I eagerly removed it from the mold and looked at the suspended petals ‘frozen’ like a still life in the canvas of clear glycerin soap. I was hooked on the art and craft of soap making!

Top Soap Photo — Roobios Red Bush Tea Soap

cabernet wine soap

If you’d like to learn how to make your own soap, please check out this eBook, The Joy of Melt and Pour Soap Crafting

Soap shown to the right is Cabernet Wine Soap –– yes, it’s made with real Cabernet wine.


Interview with Mountain Rose Herb’s Aromatherapist Christine Guerts

By Lisa Maliga

Copyright 2013

photo of essential oils by lisa maligaMeet Mountain Rose Herb’s Certified Aromatherapist, Christine Guerts. This interview was originally conducted in 2010. Why is it just appearing now? Recently, I was sorting my Word files when I discovered it in a folder for an aromatherapy eBook in progress. I probably won’t have time to publish the book this year, so I’m going to share this valuable aromatherapy information that Ms. Guerts has so kindly provided. 

1. How and when did you get involved in aromatherapy?

My interest in aromatherapy started while working at Mountain Rose Herbs. The essential oils always fascinated me. Why did we sell so many and what were they used for? Why did some people love one oil and others dislike it? When I became a part of the QC team, I started working with the oils on a more intimate level which brought up even more questions. Why does the quality vary so much? What qualities should different oils have? I had the privilege of taking some classes and now hold a Certificate in Aromatherapy from The American College of Healthcare Sciences. Throughout my studies I was able to focus on the quality of essential oils, which I now apply every day at Mountain Rose Herbs.

2. How has aromatherapy helped you?

I find that aromatherapy has given me a new appreciation for all of the odors you come across throughout the day. It has given me a professional focus within the herbal / alternative medicine world. It has also enriched my personal life. I am constantly experimenting with new blends to use around the house and in personal care products.

3. Is aromatherapy being properly represented commercially in department stores, drug stores, health food stores, and bath & body shops?

I obtain most of my aromatherapy and essential oil supplies through Mountain Rose Herbs. I prefer to make most of the products I use myself, so I haven’t had much experience with mass manufactured items.

4. What essential oil[s] do you prefer?

There are many oils that I use for different reasons. Some of my all time favorites are Clary Sage (Salvia sclarea), Helichrysum (Helichrysum italicum), Neroli (Citrus aurantium), and Lime Peel (Citrus aurantifolia).

5. What essential oil[s] do you sell the most?

Some of the most popular essential oils at Mountain Rose Herbs are Lavender (Lavendula angustifolia), Peppermint (Mentha piperita), and Sweet Orange (Citrus sinensis).

6. What is your preferred carrier oil[s]?

I enjoy working with Jojoba (Simmondsia chinensis) and Grapeseed (Vitis vinifera).

7. What method[s] of [non-body] application such as diffuser, candle, lamp, jewelry, etc. do you recommend most?

I find the use of diffusers and aroma sprays to be very helpful and easy. There are many types of diffusers on the market to choose from, so I find that they appeal to most people. A quick spray can brighten up your day!

8. What method[s] of [body] application such as massage oils, lotions/creams, baths, powders, etc. do you recommend most?

Topically, I prefer oils or lotions and baths. An essential oil blend added to a carrier oil can be applied directly to the skin as a massage oil or added to a bath. This way you can take the time to relax in the bath or apply the blend directly to the desired area.

9. Have you noticed any trends in aromatherapy?

The interest in organic therapeutic quality essential oils is on the rise in the aromatherapy community. I have been receiving a lot of questions about organic products, and the use of the term therapeutic quality. At Mountain Rose Herbs, we strive to supply organic materials whenever possible. Over the last year or so, I have also noticed a growing interest in aromatherapy jewelry.

10. What do you feel is the future of aromatherapy?

As people are becoming more aware of their environment and what goes into the everyday products that they use, I believe that the interest in aromatherapy and essential oils is going to grow. There are many preventative applications in aromatherapy, and essential oils can be used around the house in many ways from refreshing a room, to cleaning, and disinfecting.

11. How can a consumer tell fake aromatherapy from real aromatherapy?

When purchasing essential oils, you should look for “first distillation” oils that have not been diluted or rectified. Other important things to look at are the Latin name and plant part used for the oil. Most importantly, you should work with a company that you trust.

12. Do you feel that aromatherapy has been given fair press?

There are many publications devoted to aromatherapy that provide readers with up to date information. Some aspects of aromatherapy are very opinion based, and information on the subject has become quite prolific. I feel that it is important to read and research as much as possible to form an educated opinion.

13. Any advice for someone interested in making aromatherapy a career choice?

The field of aromatherapy is growing. It seems that there are new courses popping up all over the place. If you have the privilege of taking classes in person, that is ideal. If not, there are a number of on-line courses you can take. Also, look into your community for practicing aromatherapists. Ask them about their training and any insight they might be able to offer. Taking an introductory class is also helpful in giving a general overview of the field.

14. Are there any aromatherapy books you would recommend?

Advanced Aromatherapy-The Science of Essential Oil Therapy by Kurt Schnaubelt

Aromatherapy: A Complete Guide to the Healing Art (Second Edition) by Kathi Keville and Mindy Green

Essential Oil Safety: A Guide for Health Care Professionals by Robert Tisserand and Tony Balacs

The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils by Julia Lawless

Visit Mountain Rose Herbs to learn more about their fine  aromatherapy [and herbal] products!

Confessions of a Fragrance Fanatic

By Lisa Maliga

© 2008 – 2013

I attended a flower festival at the age of four and my mom couldn’t keep me from trying to sniff all the fresh and fragrant blooms. When it came to food, I didn’t taste first; I used my impressionable sense of smell. The beef stew always got an unhappy sniff, while anything dessert like was allowed to linger, appreciated by my fussy sense of smell.

My quest for the simplest yet most compelling scent of all, vanilla, led me from the avenue of pure aromatherapy grade essential oils into the streets of synthetic fragrances. I had found a marvelous vanilla absolute from Madagascar but when my supplier vanished, I was left minus the sensuous aroma that I adored.

I ordered my first vanilla fragrance oil [commonly referred to as an f.o.]. When it arrived, I opened the bottle and took a hesitant whiff. Surprised, I took another, longer sniff of the vanilla f.o. It smelled like vanilla, no question about that! The cost was kinder on my credit card, and the amount was larger, too. But what happened when it was poured into a batch of soap? Would it hold up in my new concoction of oils that were blended into whipped shea butter or melt and pour soap? I’d read of scents smelling great out of the bottle [OOB] but turning into something quite different when added to bath & body products.

The world of aromatherapy is comprised of scents that originate directly from plants and their various parts: flowers, roots, fruit, bark, or leaves. If you buy a bottle of lavender essential oil [abbreviated as e.o.’s] from a reputable source you will find it has four attributes listed on the label: country of origin, Latin [botanical] name, part of plant used, and method of distillation. [Cold pressed, steam distilled, etc.]. Highly principled suppliers will even provide a fifth element, the principal constituents in classifying their essential oils. I was accustomed to this type of information readily provided for me. When I saw that plain brown glass container with just the words “Vanilla fragrance” and the supplier’s name and address, I knew I had taken my first shaky steps down Fragrance Street.

Tuberose absolute, $200 per oz., was another costly floral that I wanted to add to my list of favorites. This white flower’s petals were so delicate that their sweet aromas were removed in a process that involved solvents, classifying it as an absolute, rather than a pure essential oil. Still, an absolute was superior to a mere fragrance. I decided to try a tuberose fragrance for a few dollars an ounce and when it arrived, along with some buddies doing impersonations of rose, jasmine and sandalwood, I was in a state of nasal bliss. The tuberose resembled those fragrant white buds, and the other florals sung a sincere imitation of their live counterparts. Sandalwood from India or even Australia was beyond my means [back then] but the sandalwood f.o. was reputed to contain Indonesian sandalwood e.o. and so it was somewhat natural.

bridal bouquet glycerin soap honeysuckle tuberose jasmine white florals lisa maliga everythingshea
Bridal Bouquet Glycerin Soap ~ Tantalizing aromas of sensuous white florals such as tuberose, honeysuckle, gardenia and jasmine.

Blending became another passion that was easily indulged with less costly fragrances. I made my first sandalwood-rose combination and came up with more blending ideas, including a few citrus essential oils that I had bought. I searched the library and the ‘net to find ideas and soon had pages of notes of what fragrances were able to be combined to create layers of scents. From fleeting top notes such as neroli [orange blossom] and lemon to middle notes that would involve longer lasting scents like lilac and sweet pea to the deeper and sultriest notes such as vanilla and patchouli. Perfumery was based on music and a perfumer was considered the conductor.

While I wasn’t a perfumer, I bought fragrance duplications, a/k/a dupes. I soon amassed a supply of impressive dupes to store in my kitchen cupboard: Chanel, Thierry Mugler, Guerlain, Bvlgari, Burberry, Viktor & Rolf, and Vera Wang. Also filling my shadowy [essential oils and fragrances needed to be stored in a cool, dark place] storeroom were imitations of Bath & Body Works and Victoria’s Secret scents. My fixation on various fruits like mango, coconut, pineapple, banana, and several berry scents were being stocked in an expanding collection of alphabetically ordered scents. The fruity phase morphed into desserts and now I had calorie-free chocolate, variations of vanilla, brown sugar, pumpkin pie, and cinnamon bun scents.

It’s confirmed, I’m a fragrance fanatic!

You can read more about fragrance and essential oils in The Joy of Melt and Pour Soap Crafting.