Here is a lovely guest post from the Liz over at Me and My Shadow! As you know Liz has guest posted with me before with some lovely organza flowers. And now she is back with these great dandelion soaps – what a great way to “convert” what is a weed into something useful and practical. You will find many a practical, upcycled, foraged or charity shop found idea of at Me and My Shadow, so her site really is a worth a good explore!
Over to Liz!
I’ve made some recent tentative steps into the world of foraging and I’m loving it! But rather than just eat our pickings, I’ve been thinking up new ways to use the natural goodness that’s all around us.
Reading up on the health benefits of dandelions as I was making cookies, I discovered they are said to be good for skin complaints and eczema which lead me nicely onto trying it in soap. I’m not claiming it’s a miracle cure, and for the real benefits you should drink the infused leaves; flowers or roots, but washing your skin with it too can’t hurt can it?
|Small ice cube or chocolate moulds make great guest soaps|
Melt and Pour soap is brilliant to use – it does exactly what it was on the tin! We had great fun collecting the raw ingredients and the end product is beautiful, great to use yourself at home, or give it some pretty wrapping to turn into a handmade gift.
You will need:
- melt and pour soap (from specialist craft shops or try online at Amazon or eBay)
- as many dandelion heads as your little helpers can pick
- some moulds (try silicone ice or confectionery moulds, or experiment with household items)
- essential oil – optional for fragrance (your choice, but I think lemon or tea tree goes well)
Dandelions are probably one of the most easily recognisable wild flowers in the country. Try to pick them in full sun when they are fully open, and avoid areas where they may have been weed on by dogs, sprayed with pesticides or be polluted by car fumes. Good places to look are garden lawns (not total stranger’s lawns!); parks; playing fields; grass verges and footpaths.
1. You will need to dry some of the flowers so you can add dried petals to your soap. The amount will depend on how many soaps you want to make – I tend to use 2 flower heads in each large bar. Lay the flowers on a try and place in the oven on the lowest possible setting for 3-4 hours (or overnight with the oven door ajar) until they are completely dry. It is important to make sure you have got all the moisture out or they’ll go mouldy and spoil your soap!
Once they are totally dry, you can either pull the petals off or snip with scissors – until I did this I never knew that the fluffy ‘clock’ part was already in the flower. I assumed the yellow petals turned into the fluffy bits!
2. Place the remainder of your flowers (remove most of the stalk) in a saucepan with just enough water to cover them. The more flowers you use, the more intense your colouring will be. Ruby insisted on adding a few leaves, and this didn’t seem to do any harm. Bring to a rolling boil and continue boiling for about 5 minutes. TIP- use an old saucepan or at least make sure you wash it clean straight away so it doesn’t stain.
3. Take off the heat and strain through a muslin or clean tea towel. Put aside to cool down. TIP-if you have liquid leftover after you’ve finished colouring your soap, don’t chuck it away. Add a little cider vinegar and it makes a great cleansing hair rinse.
4. Melt your soap as per the instructions on the pack – generally this is just a case of giving it a zap for a minute or so in a microwavable jug. You can now buy all sorts of soap including organic; SLS-free and palm oil-free. Whatever you choose, for this particular soap, it’s best to chose a clear one rather than opaque/white so you can see the petals.
5. Add your dandelion infused colouring, a spoonful at a time. This is a bit trial and error – add until you have the colour you want, but don’t add too much that it will change the consistency of the soap and stop it setting. At this point you can add a few drops of essential oil for fragrance if you wish. Add in your dried petals and stir well – I also sprinkle some petals inside the empty moulds to make sure you get to see them on the top.
6. Pour quickly but carefully into your moulds. Experiment with different receptacles - I’ve used silicone moulds (nice shapes and easy for kids to pop out when they’re cool); a mini loaf tin for soap slices; plastic Easter egg packaging and even the underneath of a glass paperweight!
7. Leave to cool for a few hours before turning out. If you’re having trouble getting the soaps out, gently run a sharp knife around the outside edge. If you’re worried by any bubbles on the bottom surface, you can carefully trim and slice off with a sharp knife also.
Finally, enjoy your soaps!