Sunday, March 17, 2013

Handcrafted Recipe #4 - Melt & Pour Remedy Soap

 I'm pretty happy to be sharing this recipe because even though we make a stupendous cold-processed soap that includes these botanicals, the day may come when those who do NOT have a warehouse full of soap at their disposal need this right now - today.  Watching a rash spread while waiting for a package to arrive is no fun.  We made this for a few years in the 90's before perfecting our use of these herbs in cold-process soap. Since this recipe/instruction was purloined ("To steal, often in a violation of trust.") and published elsewhere, that gives me the perfect opportunity to give it to you here and even tell you a little story about this stuff.
Jewelweed prior to blooming.

From The Essential Herbal Magazine
Jewelweed and Plantain are wonderful to use in the summer for rashes and insect bites. Making these
into a melt and pour soap preserves them so that they are always at the ready.
Gather and puree on cup of a combination of the two plants. Half and half is a good proportion of them. Use all aerial part of the plants.
Melt four cups of glycerin soap base. Add the pureed herbs.
You might also add 20 drops each of lavender and tea tree oils.
Stir gently until the soap begins to set.
Break out this soap at the first sign of poison ivy or oak, nettle stings, or insect bites.

Plantain with a seed stalk waving in the air.  I like to gather before it sends up stalks.


The recipe stands, but I would like to add some information.

When it comes to harvesting jewelweed, it's possible that we do it a little differently than some.  As children, we were taught to split the juicy stems and gently rub the inside of the stem on whatever rash or sting required it.  As the season progresses and the jewelweed prepares to flower that stem hardens and at that point leaves and flowers are crushed for the same purpose, but there is none of that juiciness.  Because of that, we harvest a lot of the early plants and process it to use in our soaps all year long.  For a home crafter using Melt and Pour soap base, I would recommend making a 4 to 6 bar batch (the above recipe) in the beginning of summer.  That should be plenty.
Some herbalists prefer the leaves and flowers gathered in August or September, so that is an option too.

Over a decade ago, I went on a misguided adventure that landed me briefly on a 250 acre organic farm.  One of the brightest spots in the melange of memories would have to be one of the field hands Sig and his girlfriend Jessica.
He was a fascinating guy.  Sometime before arriving on the farm he'd decided that he wanted to learn to surf.  To him, that meant heading to Hawaii and living on the beaches for a year.  He was so much fun and each school day, he's drive the tractor out the long driveway and gather up Molly from the bus.  Together they'd sing at the top of their lungs, hoop and holler, or just pretend she was standing at the bow of the Titanic instead of a tractor.
One day Jessica had a day off work and decided to come over and work out in the field with Sig.  Far from a bathroom, she wound up making use of the wide hedgerow beside the field.  She did not know what poison ivy looked like.
A weekend passed, and Sig arrives on the farm obviously in pain when walking...  I'm sure with a wee bit of imagination you can figure out what happened there.  The hot weather, sweating, and having to walk and walk and walk while planting seed made the day look like an impossibility to him.
I took one look at the poor boy and rushed down to the creek, where the jewelweed was thick and lush.  After cutting some thick stems I returned to the house gathering plantain along the way.

Into the blender went all of the rinsed plant matter, and I blended until there were a couple cups of emerald green mush.  I made the recipe above within about 15 minutes using one cup of the jewelweed/plantain and put the other cup of mush in the freezer (along with the soap, to set it up quickly).  Sig was sent to the shower as soon as the soap was ready, and felt a lot of immediate relief, but he still suffered.  He then worked most of the day. 
Before he left, I gave him a couple of bar of the soap AND the frozen mush.  He shared them both with Jessica.  By the next day (having used both extensively) the once weeping, oozing rash was dry and starting to scab over.  Jewelweed and plantain made his agony last one day rather than a week.

Calamine lotion can be added directly to the soap.
We once followed a recipe that recommended adding slippery elm powder and balsam of Peru.  Mixing those two together, I realized that they were the main ingredients in an amazing salve called Dr. Burnett's Butt Balm that a formulating pharmacy made up via prescription when my daughter had a stubborn diaper rash years ago.

That's the cool thing about melt and pour soap bases.  Some people create pure works of art with it, but to us it is an amazing, nearly immediate remedy carrier.  Once you start playing around, packing it full of skin-loving herbs, it's hard to stop.

You may want to check and for another recipe or 10.


Carol said...

We have a lot of jewelweed here on our tiny acreage and I am constantly reminding my Hubs that some weeds DO NOT need eliminated. After a nasty experience with the poison ivy we have in abundance he has finally learned to importance of leaving some wilds to grow freely. Thanks for sharing the melt and pour recipe... it will be a fun project to do with the granddaughters this spring. So sorry your valuable recipes have been stolen....some people have no class at all.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing! What a great recipe and I love plantain. Going to take notes so I can create some beautiful products.

Nancy Kelly said...

We do not have jewel weed growing nearby. Would it be ok to use dried if I can find it somewhere? I love your magazine by the way!

Tina Sams said...

Thanks Nancy. I meant to address that! I don't feel like the dried stuff is as good. Some people use burdock leaves the same way - and there are others too. Another thing that works is garden Impatiens - the bedding plant that you see in all kinds of pinks, oranges, reds, etc - it is a close cousin and can be grown just about everywhere.

Viktorie Mitchell said...

Wow, this is a great recipe! My kids are always getting in poison ivy in the summer, so this will come in handy. Sorry to hear that it was stolen from you :(

Hami said...

Thanks for this recipe. Sounds good and according to what orchidhead said above, very practical too :)