The Process is Long but Worthwhile
Making products that help people makes me feel good about what I do and gives me a sense of purpose. Initially, when I began making soap, I envisioned an apothecary-like setting with products that had medicinal properties. I then did my research and discovered one is not permitted to make medical claims about products. So to say one’s products can treat, say eczema or psoriasis is illegal. Also, to claim a product has a medicinal scent is not permitted. I am careful of my wording when I speak and when I write about my soaps. The fact of the matter is, I make a product that cleanses the body. It cannot cure anything. Some people may find relief from using natural products with no harsh or synthetic ingredients, but soap cannot “cure” anything but dirt and odor.
However, I feel that my products help people with certain conditions, and some ingredients help with healing and balance. Essential oils have been used for centuries to aid all kinds of conditions and symptoms. I believe those who came before us knew a thing or two about the use of such oils. Do I believe essential oils will cure anything? No, I don’t, but I think they help and have beneficial properties. I also think the use of plants and herbs has beneficial properties. For example, jewelweed is a plant that grows wild in shady spots along creeks and streams. We have a plentiful supply of jewelweed on our farm. We are fortunate to have so much in areas free of spray and chemicals. Native Americans used the sap or liquid from the jewelweed plant to help the itch and spread of poison ivy. We glean this knowledge from those who came before us and were closer to the land than we could ever imagine. Can it cure poison ivy? Perhaps not, but it makes one feel more comfortable, and it’s better than loading one’s body with steroids.
The jewelweed is finally blooming here on the farm. I will go out early in the morning while the dew is still fresh and harvest this wild plant for use in our jewelweed soap. Once I have gathered the jewelweed, it will be gently washed and patted dry. I will then fill half-gallon mason jars with olive oil and jewelweed. The oil will steep in a cool dark place for 4-6 weeks. I will then puree the remaining jewelweed with pre-weighed fresh goat’s milk and freeze it until the oil is infused. Once the oil is infused, we will use the milk, infused olive oil, and essential oils to create our jewelweed soap. The soap will then sit on the drying rack to cure for 4-6 weeks. Hopefully, we will have enough soap to get us through the spring and summer of the following year. It is a process that does not happen overnight, but as they say, good things are worth the wait.
I enjoy the process and working with nature to create helpful products. Do I believe my soap will “cure” poison ivy? No, I don’t, but I think it aids in healing and fighting the itch. Using jewelweed is just one example of working with nature to create something beneficial. I have a huge harvest of lemon balm this year, and I have big plans for a beautiful and beneficial soap for February when the days are grey and winter skin is at its driest. Planning now while the plants are at their peak is crucial, although it is challenging to think ahead to the depths of winter when we are in the dog days of summer.
As always, dear reader, stay safe, be smart, enjoy the process, and keep washing your hands.