Making My Own Dried Botanicals

I had high hopes for the beautiful avocado green colour that moringa-infused oil lends to soaps, but alas, it lasts for about 7-8 weeks only before it starts to fade. Nonetheless, I am still excited about moringa especially for my healing balm. I have given it to many people and they all find it effective in alleviating itch from insect bites and various allergies and skin conditions such as eczema and dermatitis.  One even did a side by side test on her infant’s skin irritation. She claims that the healing balm worked faster and better than the cream prescribed by her paediatrician.

Moringa Oil

Virgin coconut oil infused with moringa powder for at least one month. Previously I used olive oil.

I bought a bag of powdered moringa from a fair last January.  I couldn’t find the contact details of the supplier so I decided to make my own. The first time I tried to dry moringa leaves, I placed it in a net and hung it to dry. I forgot about it and the next time I looked at it, weeks later, all the leaves had turned yellow and brown, leaving me no choice but to throw them away.  I did some research and learned that it should be air dried for 3 days only and toasted very briefly on a hot pan.

Left: commercial moringa powder; right: homemade

Left: purchased moringa powder; right: homemade

I had a lot of moringa last week and determined to get it right this time. I was not able to take photos of the leaves being hung to dry because less than 24 hours later, the small leaves started coming off.  I finished drying the leaves – removed from the stems – on a tray. After 3 days, the leaves felt dry but it was only after toasting them briefly that they became “crunchy” and crumbled easily. I ground up the leaves using my small Krups coffee/spice grinder and sifted the powder twice. It’s still not as soft and fine as the one I bought from the fair.  There is a also a marked difference in the colour. The photo above was taken one week after I made the moringa powder. It was a deep green then, but now it has darkened to a fatigue green.

Eucalyptus Leaves

Air-dried eucalyptus leaves.

In this post in which I had an avocado moringa soap scented with eucalyptus, Monica asked me if I was planning to use the actual leaves in some of my future soaps. That got me curious.  All I had to do was grab some leaves from the trees across my house. I don’t know what type of eucalyptus trees they are, but for sure they are not eucalyptus deglupta, also known as rainbow eucalyptus for their attractive multi-coloured trunk and believed to be native to the Philippines. The ones across my house have a white trunk.

I air-dried the eucalyptus leaves for 5 days before cutting them up into small pieces and briefly toasting them in a wok like I did the moringa leaves. I love the way the house smelled of eucalyptus when I was grinding up the leaves, and I also love the vibrant green colour that reminds me of green apple.

The net yield is very low. Most of it are too tough and fibrous  to be made into a powder with a coffee grinder.

The net yield is very low. Most of it are too tough and fibrous to be made into a powder with a coffee grinder.

I thought I had a lot, but all those leaves in the above photo yielded only 17 grams after sifting 3 times.  Unlike moringa leaves that are soft, eucalyptus leaves are hard and fibrous. Most of it were too coarse and had to be discarded.  I still have to plan how I’m going to use it in soap.  I am sure the colour will fade away, like most plant-based colorants, so I will be using it as an exfoliant. For simple pleasure’s sake, I hope the colour will stay even just for a few short months.




18 thoughts on “Making My Own Dried Botanicals

  1. Monica Glaboff (@SoapSudsations)

    The purchased moringa powder looks like wasabi to me, but yours has a more natural looking colour to it.

    I’m glad you’re trying out your eucalyptus leaves, you come up with such interesting ingredients to use in your soaps. It’s definitely a beautiful colour and hopefully it’ll just fade to a lighter green rather than fading away completely?

    1. soapjam Post author

      If a color fades, it will eventually become white or colorless in due time. I no longer have any left of the moringa Marseille soap, but the last time I saw it 2 weeks ago, it had become a very light green. If annatto seed soap can totally lose its strong yellow color in soap, what more a lighter color. Hopefully everyone will use their soaps before the color totally disappears. 🙂

  2. Gordana

    I really enjoyed reading this post Silvia. I also like to take care about herbs myself. I’ve recently picked St. John’s Worth and it is infusing now in olive oil. I also like to make nettle puree , from boiled herbs, and I keep it fridge. No doubt that all herbs you prepared will be grate soap additives!

  3. mijnzeep1

    Good idea, Silvia! I would have done the same regarding the moringa leaves, just for curiosity´s sake! I hope you really get a nice colour, which lasts more than expected. Can’t wait to see your next moringa soaps.

    1. soapjam Post author

      Thank you, Natalia! I may make more moringa soap in the future, but for now I am using the moringa mainly for the healing balm. It lends a nice green color to the balm that stays longer. How long I still have to observe. 🙂

  4. A

    I’m very interested in the difference of color between your home-dried moringa and the purchased stuff. I’ve dried my own herbs and ground them as well as bought them pre-ground. Is there any chance that your purchased moringa had some other powdered herb that enhanced the green color? I know of several packaged and powdered herbs (henna comes to mind immediately) whose color is enhanced or even altered by other herbs.

    1. soapjam Post author

      Hi A! Thanks for dropping by and I’m glad to discover your blog. 🙂
      I am pretty sure the purchased moringa powder is pure. Besides, there’s no reason to cut it with something else since moringa is abundant in the Philippines. I am guessing that it was darker when I purchased it 6 months ago and had gradually become lighter without me noticing it. But still, the color I got is way darker. Maybe it’s the drying method and they’re able to prevent it from getting very dark? I will try to experiment some more…

      1. A

        Oh, okay! And I’m very glad you visited! 🙂 I really want to experiment with moringa, but I haven’t found a supplier where I am.

  5. Jenny

    How cool! I’d love to grow my own herbs. I can’t wait to see what all you do with them, and I hope that they work well in your soap!

  6. Maja

    After you had written about moringa earlier, I went searching more information on the miraculous tree. I have found much and even found a few web shops that sell moringa powder. I don’t know what’s the case there, but here it’s quite pricey. I still believe I could get a plant, so I can dry leaves on my own.
    Eucalyptus would be a great addition for your summer minty soap, as an exfoliator ,a scent supporter and label appeal.
    I like so much these little bowls!

    1. soapjam Post author

      The fresh leaves that we eat as a vegetable is cheap, and in fact, many people have it in their own backyard. The tree is also easy to grow.
      Are you into bowls too? I have a bit of an addiction for little bowls and jars. 😀

  7. ecovioletsoap

    I was interesting to read about making your own dried herbs. And so cool that you have eucalyptus tree in your yard to experiment with! Hopefully your next attempts come out successful. 🙂

    1. soapjam Post author

      Shhh, pls don’t tell….the eucalytus trees are in front of my house, sitting on a vacant property, but owned by someone else! 😉 the neighbors plant random vegetables there for their own consumption. For how long the lot will not be used by the owner, we don’t know, but right now everybody is enjoying it. 😀

  8. Infusions

    Thank you for posting this, Silvia. The soap I made with moringa kept the color for about 2.5 months but I kept the bars in a dark dry place so the color would not fade. I am currently using one of them in my bathroom and though the surface had turned very very pale gray before I bagan using it, the inside is a nice (though still pale) yellow-green color. I hope you get more successful with keeping the color longer and cannot wait to read about your using eucalyptus leaves!

  9. Amy@10th Ave.

    How funny–I dry my own botanicals, too, but not the ones you do! I wouldn’t even know a moringa leaf if it hit me in the face. It seems to me that different regions have different herbs and botanicals that accomplish the same purpose–you have moringa and eucalyptus handy, whereas I have nettle and plantain in abundance. Regardless, using your “own” ingredients in your creations is so much more satisfying, at least in my opinion.

  10. Pingback: Hanger Swirl with Natural Colorants | SoapJam

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