In The Best Natural Homemade Soaps (Robert Rose, 2014), Mar Gómez offers 40 recipes for simple, luxurious soaps based on three essential ingredients: water, olive oil and caustic soda. Gómez adds a number of natural ingredients like beeswax, cocoa butter, essential oils and herbal infusions to help you customize a soap that’s perfect for you, and each soap recipe is introduced with the history and therapeutic uses of the distinctive ingredient. The following recipe is for aloe vera soap.
Aloe vera is a succulent plant of the Xanthorrhoeaceae family, which grows in the deserts of southern Africa.
Aloin is extracted by squeezing the plant’s spiked cactus-type leaves. This greenish-yellow liquid is used to induce vomiting and should not be consumed. However, it has extraordinary virtues if used topically on the skin. For this soap, you will only need 1 to 2 tbsp.
Aloe can be used as an energy food, but in that case the dermis and epidermis of the leaves must be discarded (they contain the bulk of the aloin and other irritating substances) and the pulp must be washed carefully. For aloe vera soap, the opposite is true. If we want the aloe to yield its therapeutic properties, its juices must contain aloin. Simply squeeze the leaves to extract the juice.
Aloe vera has so many healthy properties that it is almost impossible to list them all: it is anti-infective, anti-inflammatory and soothing on cuts and burns; it promotes healing; it regenerates the skin; and it soothes and heals wounds, bruises, muscle or joint pain, acne, skin blemishes, and so on.
The word aloe comes from Arabic and means “shining bitter substance,” while the word vera is Latin for “true.” The Egyptians and Sumerians used it in their day, and now there are many varieties grown in places far and wide.
• 7.5 oz mineral water
• 3 oz lye (caustic soda)
• 1.5 lbs extra virgin olive oil
• 0.4 oz beeswax
• 1.8 oz aloe vera juice
• 0.18 oz mint essential oil
1. Wearing gloves and goggles, pour mineral water into a large saucepan. Add lye slowly, stirring gently until it is dissolved. Do not splash the lye onto your body, as it can cause severe burns.
2. Using a thermometer, monitor the temperature of the lye mixture until it is between 120 degrees F and 140 degrees F.
3. Meanwhile, in a separate saucepan, heat olive oil to between 120 degrees F and 140 degrees F, stirring in beeswax slowly.
4. Remove olive oil mixture from heat. Add lye mixture to olive oil mixture, stirring slowly and trying not to splash.
5. Stir occasionally, every 15 minutes or so, until the mixture thickens and congeals. (It will have a texture similar to that of light mayonnaise.)
6. Stir in aloe vera juice and essential oil. Stir for 1 minute with a spoon (or with a whisk, taking care not to create any foam).
7. Pour into a greased or paper-lined soap mold. Gently tap mold to remove any air bubbles.
8. Cover with a blanket or towel and let stand for 2 days. Uncover and let stand for an additional day if the mold is very large.
9. Turn soap out of the mold. Wait another day, then cut into bars as desired.
10. Dry bars for 1 month, turning occasionally to ensure they are drying uniformly.
• An aloe plant is easy to take care of, and all you need to do is snip one leaf in order to obtain the medicinal juice.
• Aloe vera has been used for 5,000 years by African healers. Each leaf has 75 nutritious elements, 20 minerals and 12 vitamins, in addition to another 200 components.
• Aloe vera soap is very effective at treating burns, wounds and acne. It is soothing and moisturizing.
• Be aware that some people are allergic to aloe vera, and it causes them irritation. Test the soap on a small area of skin first.
• This soap is not recommended for children under six years of age.
Courtesy of The Best Homemade Natural Soaps: 40 Recipes for Moisturizing Olive Oil-Based Soaps by Mar Gómez, 2014 © Robert Rose. Reprinted with publisher permission. Available where books are sold.
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