Sunday, October 4, 2015

Local Ingredients...

Years back, I was asked by the local glossy magazine, Palm Beach Illustrated (PBI), to create a soap that would represent this area (Palm Beach county). Their 60th anniversary issue was being put together and they wanted a local soap maker to design something just for them.

Hrrrm.  What would feel good to me if I visited a local beach area for the first time?  Because my county snuggles the ocean, I decided that I'd collect ocean water to make my lye mixture with.  I would go to the beach with my empty water gallon jug, fighting the waves (no sand) until I past the swirling water.  Collecting ocean water from the edge of the breaking waves proves to be a sandy water collection.  Ask me how I know. I would hold the empty jug under the surface in order for it to fill: glub, glub, glub, glub. An empty water jug is harder to hold down than one would think.  Then I'd return to the beach with my gallon of ocean and fully drenched from toe to chest.

PBI ended up loving the way it came out and featured it in their magazine.  It DID look tropical and the ingredients I used were luscious. It included coconut milk, ocean water, shea butter and sea salt and it looked like an abstract ocean beach scene. 

People love the idea of handcrafted items made with local ingredients.  And the more "LOCAL AND COMMON" the ingredient, the more interesting it is that the soap almost becomes a celebrity on its own!

Now, I have never heard of potato soap, but if I lived in Idaho, I would love to buy a local soap made from Fingerlings, or Russets.  Wisconsin....cheese (maybe goat??), Florida?  Palm sugar, perhaps??... and so on.  Some of us have spent many hours looking for common ingredients that can make our soap unique and compelling, and it doesn't always have to be food!

I have used actual sand on my soap.  I dipped my freshly cut soap into a pan of white sand and sold it like a pumice soap, but the sand gets washed away after the first few washes.  People loved it!  Especially Northerners who miss the beach sand when they are cold and slushing through snow, sleet and the bitter cold in the middle of winter.



My friend, Charlene Simon, of Bathhouse Soapery, gave a presentation at the 2013 (?) Soap Guild Conference regarding additives.  She brought 20-30 cut up soaps made with different ingredients she had tried, including volcanic rock, which of course, made me want to go roll in that rock just thinking about it!  She emphasized the importance of incorporating local/regional "ingredients" that can uplift your soap from plain ol' soap into a classic art form.  It adds depth to an otherwise basic item.  (I'm not calling soap basic, but when people stand in front of a soap made with ground oatmeal, they may want to see that it's made from the local OAT farm in Wasau County.) 

Perhaps finding a local farmer, local winery or other business owner may be good for business.  Perhaps include them in your plans to make a local soap, tourists.  And you and the biz owner could benefit from it.  Equally!and discuss a possibly partnership of sorts.  I know there are soap makers that use their local winery to make wine soaps and the winery sells the soap at the winery!  Or a microbrewery, a sugar farm, even a diamond jewelry maker could grind up unsavory diamonds and you could use the diamond dust in your soap....one never knows if there could be a common thread that can be an uplifting hit to the local area, to you and to your business choice.

So for this challenge, I want you to take some time to think about your area and what may bring tourists there or what might be a surprising tidbit about your area that interests you and work that into your soap plans.  Then perhaps after you make soap with that ingredient and share with our group, you may even be able to approach your local business with your soap in hand and talk it out.  Expound on the idea and make it exciting.

Post your photos here on Facebook.  Use hashtag #localyocal so I can quickly find it.  Challenge ends on October 20th.  Then we shall talk a bit about Halloween!  Bwahahaha!

xoxo Joanna


5 comments:

Jo-Ann Jewett said...

I so hope I can do this challenge! My youngest son is getting married Oct. 24th and I am cooking for the rehearsal dinner and the wedding. I have the perfect local ingredient to use in a soap recipe.

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Angie Pritchard said...

Great idea! My soap company uses bentonite clay, from the local desert, and raw honey from beekeepers in the mountains a couple hours away. I've also got a lead on sourcing somewhat local goat's milk. I'm now thinking we need to make something cactus based.