Thursday, March 13, 2008

HERBS every bath and body entrepreneur needs to know

Herbs, wether you pronounce it "erb" or "her-b" they are easy to grow in your own garden, and a must have for every Bath and body entrepreneur.
You can dry them out and use them in sachets, you can use them in soapmaking, oil infusions, water infusions, tub teas, bath salts and in your personal kitchen.

CALENDULA. This flower from the Marigold family is a wonderful herb in bath and body. Use this for herbal tub tea, oil infusions and water infusions. A vigorous plant with great antiseptic and healing properties. Great for cuts, burns, stings, chafed skin and cracked lips.
Make an oil infusion with calendula and use the oil in lip balm, foot balm, belly balm or soapmaking. Or make a water infusion and use that as your water in your soap.

LAVENDER: The most versatile herb in all the land. These fragrant flowers make great dried herb sachets, the oil infusion and water infusions make wonderful soaps and balm. Lavender is a stress reducer and helps calm nerves. They make a great herbal bath tea and wonderful bath salts. Try them in a relaxing eye pillow. Lavender needs rich, well drained soil. Add sand and calcium rich nutrients to your soil and you will have lavender plants that will reward you. They are pretty cold tolerant.

CHAMOMILE- mild, fragrant, soothing. Chamomile is a wonderful addition to any Bath and Body entrepreneurs garden. A hardy plant that requires full sun. They also like lots of compost.
Chamomile makes wonderful bath teas, herbal drinking teas, sachets, infusions and more.
The oil and water infusions will give you the herbal benefit, while drying up and grounding will give you added texture and scrub to soaps.

LEMON BALM- This is one of my personal favorite herbs. Easy to grow. Normal soil, minimal water and can tolerate full sun or shade. A wonderful lemony scent. Herbal and oil infusions work well. BUT in soapmaking the lye overpowers the delicate scent, leaving very little lemony scent in the finished product. Dry it out and use it as herbal sachets, tub teas, and add texture to your soap or balms.

ROSEMARY. Comes in every way imaginable. Fresh, dried, ground, powdered, chopped etc. Infuse oil or water with rosemary for wonderful soaps and balms. Infuse in grapeseed or jojoba oil for a wonderful massage oil. Herbal tea, herbal tub tea, bath salts, personal kitchen, anything can benefit from rosemary. Good for the heart and digestion. It is refreshing and invigorating, a very stimulating herb for skin care. Grind it up for extra soap and balm texture. If you are pregnant or nursing ask your health care professional before using rosemary.

PEPPERMINT and SPEARMINT: Use these herbs sparingly in your herbal bath teas and bath salts. Too much mint in a bath tea will give your body the sweats and chills, possibly fever.

Peppermint makes a great invigorating foot balm. Dry and grind up and a sharp cooling effect in your balms and herbal blends. They make wonderful herbal drinking teas. These plants are easy to grow but are very invasive and will take over your garden if you are not careful. Trim them frequently to encourage bushy growth.

SAGE: Another one of my favorite herbs to grow and use. Easy to grow, great for herbal and water infusions. Try as a mouthwash or gargle. A great antiseptic, gargle for sore throat. This is a must have in the kitchen as well. Beautiful silvery green stalks and the flowers are a beautiful purple stalk. Sage can be used in herbal teas for headaches and ulcers. A great treatment for bleeding gums as well. Use it in your herbal tub tea, bath salts and grind it up in your balms.


Bundle them- If you have a shady window, bundle the herbs in small bunches with yarn, twine or embroidery thread. Be careful not to bundle too tightly. Suspend herb bundles from the curtain rod, or from pins hammered into the wall or woodwork.

Lay them flat: If you dont have a window you can lay the herbs in a single layer on a baking sheet on top of your stove. If your range is electric, heat the stove to 200 degrees, then shut off. Heat on the stove once a day until dried.

Microwave it: You CAN microwave them, it is just not the preferred method by most herbalists. Place herbs in a single layer on a paper towel. Cover herbs with two more paper towels.
place in microwave and set for 1 minute. Check the herbs. Repeat until herbs are dry, making sure not to burn the herbs.


water Infusion
: Place fresh herbs in heated water and steep them, like they were tea. Use this water in place of normal water in your soapmaking recipe. If you want the herbal bits in your soaps, then you dont need to strain the water. If you just want the infusion without all the bits and plant matter, strain the water. The water that is left will have the scent and herbal properties, without the herbs. I dont have an exact science. Usually 2 cups of not quite boiling water(tea kettle) poured onto 4 or 5 TBSP fresh herbs does the trick. More or less depending on your taste. Certain herbs can use more. Other herbs(such as rosemary and mint) dont need quite as much.
You can also use dried herbs in your infusions. Dried herbs are much more potent than fresh herbs, so use less.

oil infusion
: the same as water. Usually Olive oil is used for oil infusions. Heat the olive oil to very hot(not boiling) and add your herbs of choice. Steep and strain if needed.
You can also use vegetable oil for your oil infusions, but if you are making soap from your oil infusions, you may want to stick with olive oil.

try setting aside a bit of earth for your herbs. You will be greatly rewarded in the seasons to come with fresh herbs for all your soapmaking and bath and body care needs.
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