Sunday, May 26, 2013

Unadorned Chamomile


The long Memorial Day weekend started with a huge disappointment. On the heels of a 3-4 day summer- like warm stretch, a cold front came through and cooled off the weather into the 50's. Although cloudy and blustery, there was no rain when we could certainly use it. The hubby took me out for Indian food and then we stopped by my friend Melissa's place to support her while she goes through too many changes. On the way home, I gave no thought to the weather since weather reports called for frost warnings on Saturday night and not Friday.

In the morning, my husband told me that the late news indicated the whole area could go through a freeze warning, so sweet thing, at 11:30 pm, slogged out in his slippers and covered the warm crops with sheets. Alarmed, I whipped off the sheets and stood speechless while I contemplated limp blackened leaves drooping off stalks.  These were the plants I started indoors under lights, babied and fussed over for 6 weeks and now this. The sheets didn't was just too cold getting well below freezing on Memorial Day weekend. In 17 years of gardening, this has never happened, but gardeners soldier on.

To add insult to injury, I found out my electronic scale was weighing me 12 pounds under what I actually am. Now, that sucks, so here I sit hungry, cold, and miserable with nothing but soap to placate.


I infused my olive oil with dried chamomile from the herb border using the double boiler method. I slowly warmed it up going no higher than 120 degrees until I could smell the chamomile, then, removed it from the heat, cooled it off, then heated it back up to the same point. While the herbs were still warm, I poured it through several layers of cheese cloth squeezing out the sunny goodness. I used a very light olive oil to start but the final infusion was golden greenish. I made a tiny batch of salve which I LOVE.

I was grossly undecided on what to do with this batch. The recipe was easy--mostly infused olive oil, coconut, palm kernel flakes, mango butter, castor, and avocado oil. I wasn't  sure exactly what color this would produce, but I was guessing a very pale yellow.
 I researched hundred of pictures of chamomile handmade soap, and frankly, some of it was darned ugly. I've done a tea soap before and I know they turn dark, so I decided to not augment with chamomile tea and no way was I going to waste chamomile essential oil in cold-process soap. Actually, I don't own any chamomile essential oil since it's so pricey. The infusion was pretty strong smelling, but I didn't know if it would withstand the rigors of the cold process. I added no other scent per hubby's request, along with his request for no swirls, glitter, mica, or fancy tops. It's so hard to refrain, but after my carrot batch, I'm appreciating monochromatic simplicity.

It took forever to trace due to the high olive oil; the final traced soap looked like pale yellow banana pudding. It also took forever to gel in my warm oven using the CPOP method. I was hoping I could still smell the chamomile in the final sliced soap and I could! Yeah! I had to add just a wee-bit of adornment--a simple stamp dipped in a trace of bronze. He shouldn't flip about that....

If anybody reads this, I apologize for the boring and minimal picture content. I have no idea how those super soaper blog people can soap and take pictures of every step! For now, my blog helps me assimilate knowledge I gain with each new batch, but bout this? I can finally hold my stick blender with just one hand! Whoo-hoo!

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