Soap, naturally

I’m a simple woman and I like simple things.   I don’t like a lot of complication in my life.  Several years ago I started simplifying my life, partly out of economic reasons, but mostly out of ethical and philosophical reasons.  I’ve tried to reduce my consumption and  reduce my waste.  I look for simple, natural ingredient lists, and I’ve migrated to more natural products.  I’ve reduced my reliance on western medicine and increased my reliance on natural healing.  My journey has taken me in directions I never imagined. I’m studying to be a healing touch practitioner and certified clinical aromatherapist, and will be opening my own practice in the near future.  I started making my own homemade soap, and personal care products and hand crafted jewelry using raw and natural materials.   I make my own laundry detergent, home crafted kombucha,  I crochet blankets, I cook, I sew, I bake bread.   I absolutely adore crafting things with my own hands, and trying to get as close to natural as possible.     I love knowing the ingredients in the things I put on and in my body.

I’ve spent years researching and developing my own recipes and line of products.  During all of my research and development, things got far more complicated than I thought they would.  So all along the way, the mantra that returned time and time again was “keep it simple and uncomplicated”.

Life shouldn’t be complicated so I go for straightforward, natural, high quality,  fine ingredients and products that are as hassle-free as possible.

I’ve come up with my simple little line of products.  Nothing fancy.  Nothing extravagant, just pure, clean, simple, effective, fine products and beautiful jewelry that serve a purpose.

My recipes are short and simple, and my inventory is small.    The base of all soap is coconut oil.  I love coconut oil!    use it in cooking, baking, on my skin, it’s my make-up remover.  I feed it to my dog.  It’s  simply amazing. This medium chain of fatty acids makes for the perfect oil. It is in virtually all of my products: soaps, lotions, lip balms.  Coconut oil is highly cleansing, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, soothing,  and healing.

My other favorite oils are Argan oil (organic only) and jojoba oil.   Argan is a rich, non-greasy cold-pressed oil that is anti-aging and conditioning.  Jojoba oil is actually a wax that is very similar to our own natural skin sebum.

I use therapeutic grade pure essential oils that I source from a local Minneapolis distributor.

I don’t clutter my products with a lot of weird or useless ingredients.  Everything serves a purpose.

My sea salt spa bars are dreamy.  Salt is a natural detoxifier, it creates a lotion-like creamy lather, it imparts healing magnesium, potassium, calcium and zinc minerals to your skin, which help reduce inflammation. It is mildly exfoliating, balance the natural oils in your skin, and actually acts as a humectant (adds moisture) to your skin.  It also seems to make your bar of soap last longer.

This is what I’ve been working on.  If you are interested in purchasing any of my products, please hop over to my Etsy shop or click on a picture below.   You can find me at the Mound Farmer’s Market, starting May 20th.

Lavender Bar:  this is a beautiful hard white bar of soap.  Has incredible cleansing properties without being drying.  At first use, you may think that your skin is dry after use, but actually, it is simple very clean.  It does not strip your skin of the natural oils, and is not drying because is it super-fatted with coconut oil, But, it does not impart extra conditioning oils like some other soaps.  I always use lotion after showering anyway, so I would recommend using lotion as a general rule after cleansing with 100% coconut oil soaps.  Give it a try, I think you’ll love it.  The lather is sublime.  Ingredients: unrefined coconut oil, distilled water, sodium hydroxide, lavender essential oil.   Net wt: Approximately 4.5 oz.


Black and White Charcoal Salt Bar:  This is a lovely dexotifying salt bar.  I use charcoal and bentonite for the detox properties.  Sea salt helps with exfoliation.  Olive oil and shea add conditioning benefits.  This is a lovely face and body bar.  Ingredients:  Saponified coconut oil, olive oil, shea butter, sea salt, activated charcoal, bentonite clay, coconut milk, patchouli and lavender essential oils.  Approx weight: 4.5 oz.   Patchouli is anti-inflammatory, anti-septic and tonic.  Lavender is good for everything!

Frankincense and Myrrh Argan Facial Bar:  Argan oil is a wonderful moisturizing, healing, anti-aging oil. Frankincense and myrrh  are lovely oils that help heal your skin.  They help with scars, wrinkles, inflammation, soothing, infection.  In addition they lift your mood both emotionally and spiritually.  Ingredients:  Saponified coconut oil, argan oil, distilled water, frankincense, myrrh.  Approximate weight:  4.5 oz.


Gentle Enough for Baby Soap:   This is a castille-type soap.  Traditional castille soap is 100% olive oil, and usually takes 6 months to cure and harden.  My soap is a modified version of the tradition.  I use coconut oil for cleansing and lather, joboba oil, because it is similar in composition to our own skin oils, and olive oil, for the wonderful, gentle conditioning it offers.  This is a very gentle soap, but is not “no more tears”, and care should be taken when using on baby.  This soap is good for everyone, all over face and body.  Ingredients: Olive oil, unrefined coconut oil, jojoba oil, distilled water, sodium hydroxide, lavender essential oil.


Into the Woods Soap:  This soap is the same as my lavender 100% coconut oil soap, but with a woodsy blend of essential oils.  This soap is a nice, hard white bar of soap with glorious bubbles.  Super cleansing.  Ingredients: Unrefined coconut oil, distilled water, sodium hydroxide, rosemary, cedarwood, lavender and black pepper essential oils.  Approximate weight: 4.5 oz.


Dark Ale Juniper:  What could be more fun than beer?  I make it with coconut oil, shea butter and olive oil in a dark ale base.  The essential oils are juniper and cedarwood for a rustic, forest aroma.  Cedarwood is antiseptic, anti-infectious, calming, purifying, helps with anxiety, and is purifying.  Juniper is a great cleanser, calms the skin, good for dermatitis and acnes, and is emotionally balancing.  Ingredients:  coconut oil, sea butter, olive oil, sodium hydroxide, distilled water, dark ale beer, cedarwood and juniper essential oils.  Weight: approximately 4.5 oz.


Honeybee Lemon:  A friend asked me to make a lemon honey soap, so here is my version:  It’s a lovely bar of coconut oil, beeswax, olive oil, raw local honey, and lemon essential oil.It’s sweet and delicious.  Honey and beeswax both work as moisturizers, as well as being antibacterial.  This just reminds me of summer.  Ingredients:  Unrefined coconut oil, Olive oil, avocado oil, castor oil, beeswax, honey, distilled water, sodium hydroxide, essential oil.

CocoCoffee Salt Spa Bar:  This is a wonderfully aromatic coffee, chocolate and orange salt bar.  It’s exfoliating and invigorating.  Ingredients are coconut oil, distilled water, sodium hydroxide, sea salt, coffee grounds, cocoa powder, essential oils of tangerine, orange, grapefruit, black pepper, juniper.


Eucalyptamint Salt Spa Bar:  Take a deep breath and clear those sinuses!  Mmmmm!   So aromatic, and so mind clearing.  Eucalyptus, Peppermint and Rosemary essential oils all work well on the respiratory system. This bar contains coconut oil, sea salt, distilled water, sodium hydroxide and essential oils.


Banana Shampoo Bar:  Oh my goodness.  This is THE shampoo bar.  I’ve never been a fan of shampoo bars, because I find them to be a bit drying. But I hit the jackpot with this recipe.  It’s loaded with conditioning ingredients, and smells amazing and the lather is luscious.  It contains coconut oil, olive oil, castor oil, shea butter, cocoa butter, coconut milk, sodium hydroxide, egg yolks, banana, citric acid, vetiver essential oil, rose geranium essential oil.


A WORD about sodium hydroxide.  Sodium hydroxide is lye.  Is lye natural?  I’m not going to argue whether it is or isn’t natural.  I could make my own lye out of wood ash, but like I said before, I’m a simple woman, and that just seems far more complicated than I care to tackle.  To put it simply, NO LYE, NO SOAP.  Sodium hydroxide and fat react chemically, called saponification.  Once full saponification takes place, the lye is chemically changed and is no longer lye.  Some would argue that it needn’t even be listed in the ingredients, but I disagree with that.  I will always list it in my ingredients.  Also, if you ever see “saponified olive oil” or any other oil—-that’s a slightly deceptive way of saying olive oil and sodium hydroxide.

Remember:  what goes on your body will go in your body.  Your skin is your largest organ and it is very porous.  Next time you put something ON your skin, remember that it will end up IN  your body.  So, keep things simple, look for natural, and be sure there is  healing purpose in all you do.

PennySue Mueller

Penny Mueller
Email: Penny Mueller




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