Tuesday Spotlight: Lilac
The unofficial start of summer has come and gone. Certainty is change comes with the passing of time. My tulips and daffodils are spent, the sunny heads of dandelions are few, violets have faded, and my lilacs are a whisper of what they once were. My Tuesday Spotlight this week pays homage to the crowning glory of spring, lilac.
When my journey of soap making began, I was timid and cautious with my ingredients, my recipes, and my scents. I envisioned myself as somewhat of an old apothecary. A quaint workshop filled with oils, infusions, and concoctions made from my local plant life. I envisioned my customers buying my natural, healthful creations for a variety of ailments and complaints. I got more daring and made a dandelion soap which I picked dandelions from my fields, infused the milk, and infused the oils. It was a lovely pale-yellow soap scented with chamomile and I was so proud because it was so natural and filled with anti-inflammatory properties….and I sat on it…for years…literally two + years. I think I still have a bar in my bathroom stash upstairs. I was disappointed to say the least. Fast forward to my first year at Ligonier Country Market, I still remember individuals stopping in and asking if I had a lilac soap, an ocean scent…I didn’t even know what an ocean scent was at the time. I think I gave the poor woman and blank look and handed her my lavender soap to smell. I remember thinking, why would you want to smell like briny fish? For the record, I am now educated on what an ocean scent actually is…it incorporates nothing of brine or fish.
However, the lilac scent idea struck me as plausible. I searched and searched for a natural lilac oil and there just were none to be found. I didn’t give up, every spring I would look again and for a few years I came up with nothing. My search took me to a lot of interesting sites and producers and then I happened upon a lovely little website of a small, family-based business in India. It is a little company that creates attars, specialty essential oils, and essential oil blends. They are wonderful to deal with, very knowledgeable and very creative. I love what they do. It is on my bucket list to visit them some day. My lilac oil was found and it was beautiful.
I have gotten bolder and braver with my soap scents and my soap recipes. Over the winter, I became obsessed with the idea of adding Tussah silk to my soaps. Traditionally, silk fibers are added to the lye water. The lye water gets hot enough that it dissolves the fibers and just adds a silky, moisturizing slip to the soap. With milk soaps, one must soap at a much lower temperature because the lye will burn the natural sugars in the soaps. It definitely does not get hot enough to dissolve the silk fibers. As an alternative, I boil distilled water, add the fibers, and create a silky slush which I then add at the trace stage. Trace in soap making is when your fats, oils, and milks have emulsified and it is like a thin pudding consistency. This is the stage where all additives are mixed and the real fun and magic take place. I decided to add either silk or homemade yogurt to all my seasonal soaps this year. One of these days, I’m going to create a mega lux bar and add both. That dear reader is living on the edge with a soap maker!
As for The Smiling Goat Soap Company, I could not with good conscience use any old silk fibers. If my goats are happy, I think it only fits that the silk worms are happy too. I could choose to use any old silk fiber supplier, it would lower my costs and be more readily available but alas, that will not do. I love animals, I truly do. I see their merit, worth, and value not as just farm animals but as living, breathing, intelligent, emotional beings. I am not an activist per say, but I will go out of my way to not support industries, companies, or individuals who use living, intelligent, feeling beings as a cheap commodity for greedy financial gain. I could choose to go down a variety of paths at this juncture but I will choose to remain focused on my soap. The choice I made was to use cruelty free silk fibers. In some cases, the worms are boiled alive and the silk cocoon is harvested. With cruelty free, the moths emerge naturally and the cocoons are harvested once the moths have emerged. There are arguments against this practice as well but it seems a lot less cruel than boiling said creatures alive.
The lilac bar was created by my Bibbed Wonder this year. He asked upper management for creative license and was given the go ahead. We worked out the recipe together but he was in charge of the artistry of the soap. I must say, I had a hard time turning over the proverbial reins. I have a strong appreciation for the lilac soap and feel it should look as lovely as it smells. Eric did a good job, it is more simplistic than what I would have done but it is like a fresh lilac on a spring morning; pure, simple, and intoxicating. The Bibbed Wonder informs me I had best not share too many of his accolades or it will make my job of fending off jealous women that much more difficult…insert eye roll.
Just like fresh lilacs, our lilac soap is fleeting. We will not be making a new batch until spring of 2021. It is always a little disappointing to see a good thing come to an end but like the seasons, our spring line will return with vigor and renewal. As always, the lilac soap and lotion is half off for the week on the website. Supplies are limited but rest assured, there will be something fresh and exciting introduced as the seasons continue to change.
As always, stay safe, stay smart, and wash your hands often with a soap that makes you happy. Happy Tuesday…that feels like Monday but isn’t.