Before I discovered the world of fun fragrant soaps, I was preoccupied with searching for oils and additives with therapeutic values. Along the way, I read about neem which sounded like some kind of wonder oil, except for its smell that many find off putting. I was really curious about it so i placed an order last July, which finally arrived at my Philippine doorstep two weeks ago.
Neem oil is said to be good for the hair and skin, and may alleviate conditions such as dandruff, acne, psoriasis, eczema, and fungal infections. It is also used as a pesticide to deter ticks and fleas, and to repel insects and pests. (Click here and here to read more about neem’s benefits) We’ve been getting a lot of black ants from the plants and trees outside, so we smeared some neem oil around our windows and doors ways. So far it seems to be working.
I was a little bit apprehensive though about soaping with neem because seriously, it stinks like fermenting onions! But after reading Moj Sapun‘s neem soap which Gordana fondly calls “Happy Pampkin“, I got the push I needed.
I used 10% neem oil along with coconut, olive, avocado, pili and castor oils for their supporting skin benefits. I also used activated charcoal for its detoxifying properties, and essential oils of tea tree, peppermint and lavender for their healing qualities and to mask the strong odor. For a harder bar of soap, I added 3% salt and 3% sodium lactate.
When I removed the cover of my log mold, I was horrified to see crystal droplets on the soap surface. My immediate thought was “lye heavy!” I wanted to take pictures but I was too anxious to check the inside for lye pockets and other telltale signs of too much lye. I touched the crystals and I felt no sting. I brushed it away with a pastry brush and it turned into dust. When I cut into the soap, to my pleasant surprise, the texture was perfectly smooth and creamy! The edges were a bit brittle/crumbly, but it may have been the salt and sodium lactate combination or too much of either one? My guess is that it was salt condensation that I saw on the surface, but does anyone have a similar experience or know exactly what it was? I tried the zap test for the first time ever this morning, and I all I got was a soapy anise-like taste!
As for the smell, the tea tree was plenty strong but there was also a distinct putrid egg smell when I unmolded it. However, after a day, the odor had mellowed down, leaving the tea tree and peppermint to shine (I could not pick up the lavender scent). I would say it smells medicinal but nothing offensive.