Hemp, Hemp Hooray!

I made soap for the first time on my own yesterday (well, I had my garden helpers present for moral support!).  My dear friend Jen, currently in Swaziland, Africa with the Peace Corps, used to make this soap–my favorite, and she taught me how to make it before she left last summer.


It’s actually not a difficult process–it’s made with an all-natural melt-and-pour hemp soap base from Ponte Vedra Soap Shop.  The base comes in two pound blocks, so you have to chop up 3/4 of one of the blocks into bits and melt it over low-ish heat.

After it’s melting nicely, you add some coconut oil or soy wax, olive or grapeseed oil, some reconstituted buttermilk powder, and a little essential oil (rosemary or sandalwood are my faves).  I also added calendula petals that I grew in the gardens last year and dried specifically for this project.

If you’re a soap-maker in this area and want calendula petals, I’m happy to grow them for you, too. Calendula, or pot marigold, is a very soothing plant, and its petals make a pretty addition to soaps.  You can also distill calendula oil from the blossoms–I haven’t done this yet, but that may be a project for this year.

After the base and added ingredients are melted into a liquid and you’ve added the extra ingredients, you simply pour the liquid soap into molds.  I used a few molds Jen left for me, plus a few wide mouth half pint canning jars.  Filled about an inch, the jars make a nice circle-shaped bar.  It’s a little tricky getting the bars out–I found freezing the jars and then loosening the soap with a thin-bladed knife works well.

Once the soap is set up in the molds, you pull them out and dry them on a rack.  This soap takes 4-6 weeks to dry well enough that it doesn’t melt in a soap dish.  That’s why I made it now–I’m down to only 1 bar of the last batch Jen made before she left.

My soap got a little foamy in the pot–I think I had the heat up too high at one point, but once I poured it, the foam settled on the tops (which will be the bottoms).  So, that was my learning process for this first batch–a little more patience.  I should also have added the dried petals a bit earlier so they’d settle better into the bars.

Altogether, the batch made about ten bars of wonderful, mild, rosemary-fragrant soap!


3 responses to this post.

  1. Growing your own food, making your own soap — all this old-fashioned pioneer self-reliance is going to wreck the consumer economy! if you don’t get down to Wal-Mart and buy some Dial and Cheetos soon, we’ll never get out of this recession. 😉

  2. Posted by flyingtomato on March 16, 2009 at 8:29 pm

    Well, I did have our locally-owned grocery store deli make our dinner. I actually bought a loaf of bread too, as I’m too busy putting veggies in the ground to get bread made! I bought cheese, too, but I’m working on finding time and raw milk sources to make it myself!

  3. Posted by Matt on March 20, 2009 at 2:18 pm

    There’s a space marked out for you next to Emerson in the encyclopedia under the heading, “Self-Reliance”.


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