Soapmaking basics

SOAPMAKING 101: HERBS VS. ESSENTIAL OILS

When making soaps, you’ll need many different types of bath and body supplies. Two different types of supplies are essential oils and herbs. You can use both of these types of supplies in your soaps. Which type you use depends on your soap recipe and what benefits you prefer the soap to have. Different oils and herbs offer many different benefits to your skin.

Why Use Herbs in Soap?

Soap makers choose herbs for their soaps to add scents, texture, color, and for their specific health benefits. Some herbs can make the soaps naturally antibacterial, while others buff the skin and clear the pores. The benefits can range from topical to much more than that. Some herbs are antifungal or even antiviral, which can lead to very specialized soaps for your health.

What Are Essential Oils?

Essential oils are made from the oils contained in plants. They are known for their strong fragrance. Makers extract the oils by expression, distillation, and solvent extraction. These oils are used to add fragrance to many different types of products, including personal care products, candles, detergents, and many other applications. These oils have further uses, with some practitioners using them for health reasons.

What Effect Do They Have?

Many essential oils have similar effects on the body that the whole herbs offer. Some oils offer antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties. Others act as diuretics and antiseptics. For example, adding menthol to soap can help to numb the skin, freeing the user from muscle pain for a short period of time.

Aromatherapy also makes up a large use for essential oils. Aromatherapy is an alternative medicine technique that utilizes a person’s sense of smell and the aromatic oils from plants and herbs to treat different ailments. Most of these plants used for their oils do have medicinal properties and have been used for centuries in folk medicine. In addition, many scents will uplift the mood.

Which Is Better?

Since essential oils are made from herbs and plants, both the specific oil and its plant are relatively effective. However, diluted essential oils will be less effective than using the dried or fresh herbs. Fresh herbs do have a disadvantage, as the soaps will have an expiration date. Soaps with dried herbs and essential oils will last much longer. Therefore, quality essential oils and dried herbs are both very effective for use in soap making. Which type used depends on the recipe and the preferences of the soap maker.

Can You Use Both?

Soap makers can use both essential oils and herbs in soaps. The type they use depends on their preferences and the recipe they are following. Texture is also an important aspect to the soaps. If you prefer smooth and creamy soaps, you would use essential oils only. However, if you need the soap to have texture for exfoliation, you can use a combination of herbs and oils. When using both, it is best to use only one or the other of the same herb. For example, if you plan to use peppermint oil, you would not add dried peppermint.

For more information on bulk soap supplies, contact us at Essentials by Catalina.

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