There is no need to spend a lot of money on foaming soaps, and there is certainly no reason to use soaps that contain numerous questionable ingredients. While the FDA banned triclosan and a few other potentially nasty antibacterial agents used in soaps in 2017, the industry has been quick to find others to replace them. Not only can some of these ingredients have potentially adverse effects directly on our health, they also may be increasing antibacterial resistance, making current antibiotics less effective when they are needed.
The base for most homemade foaming soaps, is Castile soap. Centuries ago, Mediterranean people were using olive oil to make soap. Particularly popular were the soaps from the Castile region of Italy, hence the name. Today, Castile soaps are still made from olive oil but also from coconut, almond, hemp and other vegetable oils. I was introduced to Castile soap as a teenager when I started using Dr. Bronner’s Castile soap. A timeless classic, you can use it plain or with a scent as the base for your foaming soap.
Another Castile soap I use is from Mountain Rose and is made from certified organic coconut, sunflower and castor oil. I love the texture of this soap and find it very moisturizing. Play with different Castile soaps, and find the one that you like best. The shelf life for Castile soap is generally 1-2 years.
In addition to the Castile soap, I use a hydrosol, or floral water, in my foaming soap. Hydrosols are the water portion left after steam distilling an herb to produce an essential oil. They can be used to replace the water portion of many skin care recipes. My grandmother was a fan of rose water (rose hydrosol) facial toner which kept her skin looking beautiful until she was in her 90s! I blend rose water with a little vegetable glycerin (20%) and apply it with a cotton ball to my skin after washing. Delightful! There are books on hydrosols in the marketplace, and aromatherapy websites often include guidance and tips for how to use them.
Three of My Favorite Hydrosols for Foaming Soap:
Chamomile (Matricaria recutita): great for sensitive and irritated skin
Lavender (Lavandula spp): soothing aroma, name from Latin meaning “to wash,” good for irritated skin
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis): uplifting aroma, antiseptic properties
A word on essential oils: Feel free to add your favorite essential oil to your foaming soap. Lavender is calming, peppermint invigorating, and citrus smells fresh in the kitchen. Essential oils are not soluble in water, but they will blend with the oil base of your soap. Add the essential oil to your Castile soap and shake, then add water. I generally add 6-12 drops of essential oil into 4 ounces of Castile soap and then add 4 ounces of distilled water. Shake well before use.
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