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    Peppermint and Pine hot Process soap

    Last Christmas I was determined to but my fresh cut pine tree to good use. Pinterest had at some point, put information on how to use my pine tree for herbal remedies in front of my face, and I remembered it.  I am the type of person that likes to find more than one use from the things that I buy. Consequently this helps me feel like I have made a good value to investment with my purchase. Every winter we go get a permit and cut our own tree. Not only do I want to honor that tree and use as much as I can but I hate just throwing it to the curb when the holiday is over. 

    Thus came my grand idea to use the pine needles in a soap recipe. 

    I see that you are thinking, “If you made this soap at Christmas time why is it labeled as a gardeners hand soap?” That is a perfectly logical thought, and there is a perfectly logical explanation. 

    See I didn’t really have the foresight when I decided to play around with the pine needles in my soap to know that I was going to be making gardener’s soap in December. 

    Hence the first lesson to making soap.  Lye CHANGES things. This is an important lesson if you want to put additives in your soap recipe.

    So here I was thinking I was being cute and smart, by making a wonderful custom soap using the hot process soap method I shared with you here in an earlier post. I had done my due diligence and spent a good amount of time reading about how to use pine as an herb. I had read what I could find about ways to use pine needles and I thought I had it all figured out. 

    I went and made some wonderful smelling soap. 

    Then I left my soap for a week to cure.

    After about a week I needed to refill the soap in my shower and I was so excited to go and grab the Peppermint and Pine soap that I had made. If you remember from my fist post on how to make hot process soap, (if you haven’t seen it check it out here) that this method of making soap yields fairly fast results. Hot process soap can be used almost immediately instead of needing a cure time of several months like cold process soap. But even with hot process, the soap is best if left to cure for at least a week. 

    My shower went great! I loved the smell and the soap lathered really well. It seemed to me to be a success! Until about an hour later when I started to notice that my skin felt dry. After some reflection I realized that the pine needles had been hardened by the lye. They were pretty stiff and coarse and they had just exfoliated my skin in the shower. I hadn’t known it was such an exfoliating bar of soap and so I didn’t pay any attention to how vigorously I had scrubbed. 

    Now, if you know much about soap you might be thinking “no you felt like your skin was dry because your recipe was wrong and the lye was not cured out of the soap.” I thought this too. So I tested the soap and I also used the bar a second time just with lighter pressure and it was not an issue with the lye. The second time I showered I didn’t press the bar so hard against my skin and I had no dryness or irritated skin.

    So What was I going to do with all that soap?

    In all honesty the soap works fine as long as I don’t vigorously scrub with it. The hardened needles are like a large pumice. We used the rest of that bar just fine. I did however start to think about how I would prefer a different soap in the shower and started to wonder what to do with the peppermint pine soap.

    I decided that it might just make a good gardener’s hand soap. 

    Fast forward a few months and now it is early spring. I have been working in the greenhouse and digging early season weeds out of my flower beds and garden boxes. My hands have gotten dirt ground down into the cracks of my skin (like they always do since I don’t prefer gloves). 

    I am happy to report that this soap does really make an excellent gardener;s hand soap. I might be biased but it has been working better then anything else I have tried to get that dirt out of all the tiny cracks in my skin. My hands don’t feel dry and they get squeaky clean after a long day playing and working in dirt. 

    So while it was discovered by accident, I will be making it again every Christmas season from my tree. Its sort of like a gift that keeps on giving. 

    How to make Peppermint Pine Gardeners Hand Soap.

    To make this Peppermint and Pine Gardener’s soap follow the steps below. I recommend that you check out my first post on how to make soap using the hot process method if you haven’t made soap before. You need to follow that recipe first before you start adding things to your soap.  

    • Go to my post about how to make hot process soap for the basic recipe (get it here).
    • Make the basic hot process soap
    • At the end where you would add in Essential Oils add in 3 tsp of peppermint oil and 1/2 cup finely chopped pine needles (if you add more the soap will be even more coarse, that is up to you but just don't add more then 3/4 cup).
    • Continue to follow the basic soap recipe after you add in the peppermint and pine until the process is finished and the soap has been removed from the mold
    • let soap cure for 1 week to allow time for the needles to harden so the soap works to remove dirt and grime

    This recipe is really just a matter of what you add to an existing recipe. There are certain guidelines about what you can add and how much in order to keep a balance with the lye and oils in the recipe. If you make any changes on your own make sure you run your recipe through a lye calculator. Expect that any thing you add that is solid, like the pine in this recipe will harden with the lye. Smaller bits will be less abrasive. 

    Note: You can use the needles of any kind of pine.

    For an amazing peppermint essential oil shop for it here.

    Why Pine?

    Pine has potent healing properties it aids in the resistance of redness and swelling making it an amazing aid for joint pain and discomfort.

    It’s is able to help relieve general muscular aches and pains. Pine has amazing cleansing capacities, because of this it can help with a variety of skin conditions such as Psoriasis, acne, eczema, itching and athlete’s foot. Applied topically it can help remedy the scalp of dryness and dandruff. It also speeds up wound healing and fights against free radicals with its antioxidant properties.

     

    Why pepermint?

    Peppermint not only smells good but it can benificial for your skin too. It has menthol in it which is revitalizing when you breathe it in. That is one of the main reasons I love using it in topical applications like soap. It picks up my mood and helps me feel energetic when I smell it. 

    There are other common benefits of using peppermint topically. It is cooling and can relieve minor aches, and it is antiseptic, (which means it kills germs and prevents infections). Pepermint is also analgesic which means it relieves pain.

    As always, I am not a doctor or a master soap maker. Be sure to do your due dilligence and learn as much as you can before just taking my word for things. I can only share my perspective with you, I am not making any promises to you. If you ever get your hands dirty, I hope you make some of this soap to help you get them clean! 

    Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. All opinions remain my own.

    Sometimes you find a remedy or a product that is so good you don’t need anything else. This salve is that product for my family.

    By using it we have reduced much of what we would have otherwise been purchasing for body products and first aid. We use this salve for a basic skin lotion to reduce dry skin and chapping. My husband and kids have taken to calling it the “miracle cream” because they will apply it to minor scrapes and injuries to aid in speedy recovery.  Since it has Comfrey in it DO NOT use it for moderate to deep cuts and wounds. The Comfrey can seal up the wound so fast that you can trap bacteria inside.

    Remember to clean your wounds if you are using it as a healing balm. I am not a medical professional and I am not claiming this salve will heal you, only telling you some of the things we have used it for in our family for relief. If you have a serious medical condition please consult with your doctor.

    This salve is all natural and non toxic. It feels good on your skin and feels good on your conscience.

    Since lengthy intros for recipes are pretty annoying I give it to you without further ado…

    My basic recipe is as follows

                    ¼ cup olive oil

                    ½ cup shea butter

                    1 cup coconut oil

                    1 tablespoon arrow root powder

                    1 cup crushed comfrey

                    ½ cup chopped pine needles (make sure its pine and not Yew).

                    ¼ cup pure beeswax.

                   Essential oils- for this salve I used 100 drops of Copaiba

    The first step is to infuse the oils with Comfrey and pine.

    I use a small crock with a yogurt setting, its like a mini crock pot. You can also use a Mason jar, or put the oils in a double broiler and simmer on the stove for a day.

    To infuse the oils you need to gently warm them with the herbs (Comfrey and pine). You will know when it’s is done because the oils will have changed color. With this recipe they will turn green. I keep mine in the crock on yogurt setting for up to a week. If you put yours in Mason jar you will have to shake several times a day and place it in a warm spot, (by the wood stove, by the furnace vent or in a sunny window) and it can take up to several weeks. The lower the temperature you infuse with the more you will capture the healing benefits of the herbs since high heat breaks down their properties.

    Once the oils have infused you need to strain out the herbs. I put mine in a colander lined with a paper towel. Then I squeeze the oils out with the herbs all wrapped up inside. You don’t want any remnants of herbs or your salve will be chunky or rough, like it has grit in it.

    The next step is to melt beeswax into the oils and add the Arrowroot powder.

    This might need to be done at a slightly higher heat, you can use your double boiler or a saucepan on low heat. I turn up my crock to warm.

    Once the beeswax is melted you add your Arrowroot Powder and stir it all up so its mixed well. Place the mixture on your counter so it can cool slowly. You can also place it in the fridge. Once it’s cool you can add any essential oils you like.

    I like to whip my salve so its fluffy and light.

    Since it’s a salve and not a body butter it will not get super fluffy. I wait until the mixture is cool but not hard and use an immersion blender. If you want a firmer, oilier salve, more like a balm then you don’t whip it.

    After it’s whipped you jar it up into a wide mouthed container so you can have easy access. I keep one by my bed and one in the kitchen.

    I like to make natural products in my kitchen with ingredients I can source easily.

    Therefore if I can’t get it easily outside or pick it up at the local grocery I am not likely to buy it. With the exception of the Copaiba I bought everything on our regular scheduled shopping trip. Shea butter might be harder to find if you are very rural so in that case just sub it out it out with coconut oil. The pine needles came off our Christmas tree.

    Click here for more information about the herbs I used in this recipe.

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