Jewelweed and plantain are common weeds, both easily located, identified, and prized for their soothing, healing properties. They are a perfectly intuitive combination for calming homemade bath products. Today, I am so excited to share a jewelweed plantain soap recipe from Jan Berry of The Nerdy Farm Wife!
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If you’ve been following along with me on Facebook, you’ll know that I haven’t yet attempted soapmaking. However, after receiving a copy of Jan’s new book, Simple & Natural Soapmaking, my fears about working with lye were (mostly!) alleviated, and I decided to buy myself supplies for the task.
If you’re a soapmaking newbie like me, you’ll find Jan’s book to contain understandable and complete explanations, accompanied by beautiful, clear photos to help guide you through the process. The book starts with the simplest basics for beginners.
However, I was also thrilled by more advanced recipes that focused on natural ingredients sourced from the yard, the garden, the forest, or even the sea. Some of the glorious soaps you will learn to make in Jan’s book include:
- Purple Basil & Mint Layers Soap
- Simply Carrot Soap
- Heirloom Tomato Soap
- Vanilla Bean & Egg Yolk Soap
- Sea Salt & Seaweed Soap
- Lumberjack Soap
- Mocha Coffee Bean Scrub Bars
The list goes on and on, but they’re all pretty fabulous recipes. If you’re a seasoned soapmaker, I’m sure you’ll also be delighted by the variety of Jan’s creative and inspiring recipes.
What’s more, Jan includes extensive information on safety principles, natural colorants, decorative techniques, and troubleshooting. Simple & Natural Soapmaking is truly a book for everyone, no matter their soapmaking experience level. You should definitely check it out!
Now, on to the recipe that Jan so graciously decided to share with us all today: jewelweed plantain soap!
Note: Before you begin, PLEASE make sure you have know how to safely work with lye, as the stuff can give you serious burns before it undergoes the change into soap. Full details are in Jan’s book.
Jewelweed & Plantain Soap
Plantain is a common leafy green weed found throughout much of the world that soothes, cools and moisturizes. Jewelweed, also called touch-me-not, is a weed with pretty orange flowers that grows around moist areas. It’s especially prized for its ability to soothe the pain and irritation of poison ivy and other such maladies. If plantain and jewelweed aren’t available where you live, you can substitute with viola leaves, chickweed and/or comfrey leaves.
Yield: 7 to 8 bars of soap (2.5 lbs)
- 1 cup (35 g) chopped fresh jewelweed flowers & leaves
- 1 cup (35 g) chopped fresh plantain leaves
- 8.75 oz (248 g) distilled water
- 3.95 oz (112 g) sodium hydroxide (lye)
- 1 tsp (4 g) chlorella powder
- 8 oz (227 g) coconut oil
- 12 oz (340 g) olive oil
- 4 oz (113 g) rice bran oil
- 4 oz (113 g) sunflower or sweet almond oil
- 1.06 oz (30 g) lavender essential oil (optional)
For the Jewelweed & Plantain Juice
Thoroughly blend fresh plantain and jewelweed together with 2 ounces (57 g) of water in a blender or food processor until fully pureed. Add the rest of the distilled water and stir well. Place the mixture in a refrigerator to infuse for several hours or overnight. Remove and strain the resulting greenish-brown juice. Weigh out 8.5 ounces (241 g) for use in the soap recipe, adding more plain distilled water if needed.
For the Jewelweed & Plantain Soap
Wearing protective gloves and eyewear, carefully stir the lye into the chilled plantain and jewelweed juice. Stir in the chlorella powder. The lye solution may develop an unpleasant, almost skunk-like smell. That’s a completely normal, but temporary, condition when working with jewelweed.
Set the lye solution aside in a safe place to cool for about 30 to 40 minutes or until the temperature drops to around 100 to 110°F (38 to 43°C). Weigh out and warm the oils to 100 to 110°F (38 to 43°C), then combine with the cooled lye solution. Using a combination of hand stirring and an immersion blender, stir the soap until it reaches trace.
At trace, stir in the lavender essential oil, if using, then pour into a prepared mold or individual molds. Cover lightly with a sheet of freezer or wax paper, then a towel or light blanket. Peek at the soap every so often; if it starts developing a crack, move it to a cooler location. Keep the soap in the mold for 1 to 2 days, then remove and slice it into bars when it’s firm enough not to stick to your cutting tool. Cure on coated wire cooling racks or sheets of wax paper about 4 weeks before using.
Tips & Substitutions
If fresh herbs aren’t available, you can use dried herbs to make an herbal tea infusion instead. Chill and measure out 8.75 ounces (248 g) of cold herbal tea to use in the recipe.
The rice bran oil can be replaced with more olive oil, without the need to adjust the lye amount. If you’re allergic to coconut oil, use an equal amount of babassu oil instead. The lye amount will change slightly, to 3.85 ounces (109 g).
For full details on the soapmaking process and answers to common FAQs, please grab a copy of Jan’s new book, Simple & Natural Soapmaking. You’ll be so glad you did!
Also, a BIG thank you to Jan for sharing this recipe with us. Be sure to check out her blog, The Nerdy Farm Wife!