SAVON DE MARSEILLE

Savon de Marseille is produced Marseille, France and goes back to about 600 years.  Authentic savon de Marseille is made with 72% olive oil and it  became law that only soaps produced in Marseille could be named so, much like champagne in Champagne, France. It is lauded for it's gentle yet effective washing abilities and it's addition of french green clay draws out impurities from your skin.  French green clay is often used in facial masks and slightly exfoliates too.  I love using it because it leaves my skin smooth and silky and it makes the soap look gorgeous because of it's natural green hue.  

This recipe is a total bastardization of the whole ancient practice of soap making in France but it beats shelling out $12 for an authentic hunk of the stuff.  Feel free to customize with any scents you like, almond, honey and lavender are traditional in the region.

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  • 2 lbs of olive oil soap base (I've used other bases such as goat's milk and shea butter and they work just as well), you can purchase them at Michael's or here.
  • A microwavable container.  I used a pyrex measuring cup with a spout which made pouring much easier. Alternatively, you can use a double boiler.
  • 1 teaspoon of lavender buds or crushed flowers. I omitted them in this particular batch but I've used them with much success.
  • 2 teaspoons of french green clay, found here.
  • 2 teaspoons of fine sea salt, plus a tablespoon more for later
  • Disposable stirrer of sorts (chopsticks, popsicle sticks, skewers)
  • Essential oils
  • Milk carton, soap mold, or large cube silicone ice tray (not pictured).  I used soap molds from Michael's and an XL silicone ice cube tray

Step 1:  Melt soap base.  If microwaving, break it up into two batches.  Microwave at 30 second intervals, stirring in between until fully melted.

Step 2: Add 2 teaspoons of salt, 1/2 teaspoon to 1 tsp of essential oils, green clay, and buds (if using).  Stir slowly in order to create less bubbles.

Step 3: Pour into molds.  Let harden for at least two hours.  

Step 4:  Slowly release from molds.  The easiest method is to pull the sides away and press them out.

Step 5: Combine a tablespoon of sea salt into a 1 cup of warm water in a bowl.  Rinse each piece of soap in this solution and let dry. After drying completely, rinse in plain water. Place on hand towel to dry again.

Step 6: After completely dry, you can tie a piece of twine or raffia around or wrap it in parchment or craft paper for presentation. I often keep my soap in a large air tight decorative jar in the bathroom.

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LAVENDER OATMEAL GOAT'S MILK SOAP

So when my sister was young, she slept with a pillow filled with the scent of lavender.  Lavender oil is often used to calm the senses and induce sleep.  It also just smells great!  It isn't too sweet or overly feminine and I find that men often love it, themselves.  

So when I asked my dear sis if could make a handcrafted gift for her, she asked me to make a pillow with lavender in it.  So I did what any online shopping addict would do, I went on to Amazon with my Prime account.  Two days later, a huge bag of extra organic french lavender buds came in.  I had enough for a pillow and enough to sprinkle a path everywhere I walked.  I then started researching uses for lavender and my first idea was soap!  I looooove fancy soap. I could live in Lush Cosmetics.  I've often had to unclog drains due to seeds and oats in my soap, and it was worth it!  So this is my first foray into soap making, and I think it's going to be a problem.  It was so easy and the results were gorgeous!

It's very similar to cooking, adding a bit here and there, sprinkling things I found in my pantry.  

For soap:

  • goat's milk soap base (found mine easily at Michaels)
  • lavender essential oil
  • lavender buds
  • soap colorant (optional)
  • oats (you can grind them for a finer, less exfoliating soap)
  • soap mold

I really did purchase everything in one aisle of Michaels besides the lavender and oats.  You can really use your creativity and make any kind of combo you want.  I eyeballed everything and it still turned out great!

  1. Cut your soap base cubes into blocks using a large chef's knife.  Don't worry about the soap getting everywhere, it's soap!  It washes out of everything.
  2. I filled a Pyrex measuring cup with the cubes.  You can use anything that's microwave safe but the spout will save you!  I did about a third of the block  at a time because I only had three molds.
  3. Blast in the microwave for 35 seconds, stir and repeat at 15 second intervals until thoroughly melted.  
  4. Add in essential oils, lavender buds, and oats.  Put it in a little at a time so you don't over do it.  I totally winged it but used about 10 drops of lavender oil, 10 drops of lilac colorant, a tablespoon of lavender buds and a tablespoon of oats.
  5. Pour into mold. If any bubbles show up you can pop them with a skewer or give it a quick spray with alcohol.
  6. Let harden completely.  I'm terribly impatient so I popped mine in the freezer - it worked!
  7. Pull the mold away from the sides of the soap and slowly release them.  
  8. Wrap 'em up real nice!

Aren't they gorgeous?!  I put colorant in this batch but it hardly made a difference so I think I'll keep it dye-free next time.  

I wrapped mine up in parchment paper, then a strip of a wallpaper sample I had, a piece of ribbon and a little tag to let people know what they were getting into.  I went soap crazy that afternoon and made 18 bars of soap.  It was really satisfying and made gifts for the whole book club!

There are also some real wacky molds out there.  Just check out Etsy for a good laugh.  These make great gifts, use creativity and your wallet will thank you for not spending $10 on a bar of fancy soap.