One of the benefits of making your own soap is having the option of adding the herbs that you grow in your garden or window box to your recipe to add that extra special touch. There is no better feeling than including home grown goodies in your creations.
Infusions can add colour, a subtle scent or beneficial skin properties to your soap bars.
The best way to add herbs to soap is by making an infusion. The definition of an infusion is ‘an extract prepared by soaking tea leaves or herbs in liquid.’
There are two types of infusions that you can make using water and oil:
Water infusions are simply created just like making a cup of tea. Add hot or warm water to your ingredients and leave to infuse overnight.
You will need to strain the liquid to remove the residue and then you can replace some or all of the water in your soap recipe with the infusion.
You can make beautiful water infusions with dried chamomile, rosemary and mint from your garden. You can also use green or black tea from your kitchen cupboard.
Chamomile is soothing for sensitive skin and can help to calm skin conditions.
Rosemary and mint are both healing herbs that are rich in antioxidants.
Green tea creates a subtle caramel colour in soap and black tea creates a slightly darker caramel. Both are renowned for their antibacterial properties.
Oil infusions are used for certain ingredients that will release their properties into oil more easily than water. To make an oil infusion add approximately three tablespoons of the dry ingredient to some of the oil that you will be using in your soap recipe. Leave overnight and strain ready for use in your recipe.
Alkanet root is a good example of a botanical that will infuse more effectively in oil than in water. You can infuse it in a jar of olive oil in a sunny window for a day or two and it will slowly develop into a beautiful rich crimson oil. Once added to your soap it will create a lavender / lilac / grey colour depending on how much alkanet you have infused.
A calendula infusion will give your soap a golden yellow colour and it will also add healing properties.
You can also prepare beneficial oil infusions with comfrey, lavender and thyme.
Go forth and create happy herbal infusions!