For years, we’ve made our soap with neem extract rather than the water needed for the saponification process. It’s an extra step but a leaf extract contains compounds not always found in neem oil, so it makes our soap more effective, particularly on skin that’s prone to itching, redness or non-cystic acne.
Recently, it’s become nearly impossible to import essential oils into Mexico, where our partners make our artisan soap by hand. That just proves the old adage: necessity is the mother of invention, except they took it a step beyond the original plan.
Hydrosols – sometimes called essential waters – are produced when herbs are steam-distilled to make essential oils and contain much higher levels of plant compounds than water-based extracts or even cold-pressed aloe gel. They’re slightly astringent and lightly fragrant so that even soaps made with strong-scented plants like oregano and Vicks plant (a succulent that smells just like Vick’s Vapo-Rub) incorporate the traditional benefits of those herbs without an overwhelming scent.
And not only are they more effective, they last longer! We’re not sure how the science works but apparently the hydrosols bind more closely with the other ingredients and the bar doesn’t get soft as quickly. They’re just as sudsy – maybe even sudsier — because even Vicki’s normally oblivious husband noticed the difference when we got samples earlier this year.
As always, they’re all-natural soaps made on our partner’s carbon-negative farm which is now owned by Mayan farmers rather than the friend from Tampa who originally started it. We’re nearly completely sustainable with all added ingredients grown on the farm created specifically for sustainable economic development.