Chaparral Soap, also called Creosote or Greasewood
The smell of Arizona rain in the dessert is one of the most beloved smells of many of us who have had the pleasure of spending time in the New Mexico, Arizona or California desert. Surprisingly, even though the Creosote Bush is so strong smelling and laden with resin (hence the other name greasewood) no one I know makes a steam distilled essential oil from it. The people who have tried warn against doing it because it changes the fragrance too greatly so I haven’t tried (yet). Instead, I infuse fractionated coconut oil with creosote bush to capture the fragrance of the bush. (check out my Chaparral Roll-on) I also grind the leaves and put it directly into the soap so when it gets wet, it will smell like desert rain.
I understand that the creosote bush is a sacred plant in native culture, a “medicine bush” with many beneficial properties. The Tohono O’odham Nation teach that when Earth Maker took earth from his chest and scattered it in the world, the first plant that grew was the medicinal creosote bush. In fact, there is much truth and reason to this story. There is a ring of bushes in the mojave desert called the “King Clone” creosote ring. It is believed to be 11,000 years old making it the oldest living plant system known.
I ended calling it Chaparral Soap instead of Creosote soap because the word creosote has a second meaning in English of “a dark brown oil distilled from coal tar and used as a wood preservative.” There is no coal tar in my soap.
Creosote Bush is a prolific grower in places where not much else can grow. It thrives in very dry areas and, in fact, prefers drought conditions. Health benefits can probably be attributed to the number of compounds is contains including phenols. To learn a lot more about the creosote bush check out this excellent article about the creosote bush which includes information like:
Possibly the most important chemical creosote produces is a compound known as NDGA. NDGA is a potent antioxidant. It is believed to suppress the formation of free radicals in bodily cells and thereby promote longevity. It was widely used as a food preservative until the 1950s. NDGA has been shown in the lab to suppress HIV replication in infected human cells and to disturb the metabolism of some cancers.
Other Ingredients in Chaparral Creosote Soap
In soap, it offers incredible skin conditioning qualities.
balances the conditioning of the Olive Oil with the best cleansing ability of all oils and great, big bubbles. It also helps soap last longer in the shower by creating a harder bar.
Organic and Sustainable Palm Oil
I purchase organic and sustainable palm oil and palm kernel oils only. I have chosen to continue to use organic and sustainable palm oil because I believe it is the most environmentally ethical ingredient choice available to me right now. The reason palm oil is so often found in soap is that it is a perfect oil – balancing all the qualities most people want in a soap with the added bonus that it is an oil that is easily and cost effectively produced. However, we are all aware of the damage the palm oil industry is wreaking on the environment and native animal populations including the orangutan, elephants and Sumatran Rhino. Urgent action is needed. However, I think boycotting palm oil entirely could lead to even greater ecological disasters. Transferring demand to other (less efficient) oils means we create an array of less understood new environmental disasters in other parts of the world. Avoiding palm oil is like treating a disease effectively with something else that will probably kill you more quickly. Instead I think we must support the organization called Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).
The World Wildlife Fund supports decision. They ask us to support Palm Oil certified by the RSPO. They do not believe that substituting Organic and Sustainable Palm with other oils is good solution as Palm supplies more oil on less land while producing more benefit for the environment than other oils. Check out Why Boycotting or Replacing Palm oil is not a Solution
I recognize that this organization is not perfect but their mission is to make most palm oil production sustainable. Buying more expensive palm oil certified by the RSPO empowers the organization. This in turn gives it more strength to influence the industry. By strengthening the RSPO we create a central focal point for activists to demand ever improved environmental caretaking.
I purchase my Palm products from this a company who is a listed member of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil:
and a certified supplier of organic oils
The World Wildlife Fund supports this and asks us to support Palm Oil certified by the RSPO. They do not believe that substituting Organic and Sustainable Palm with other oils is good solution as Palm supplies more oil on less land while producing more benefit for the environment than other oils.
Bubbles are Best with Castor
I use Castor Oil because it is the only oil that provides so much creamy, conditioning, bubbly goodness in such a little amount. When it comes to soap, it is truly a miracle worker.
Beeswax makes a good soap great. It hardens it and adds conditioning creaminess to a bar. I struggled to find a vegan option here, wanting to provide soap to those of us who do not use beeswax but the other solutions didn’t work or were too chemical for my tastes. I try to source my beeswax from small, local beekeepers whenever possible. Beekeeping is a necessary industry to growing vegetables and beekeepers must be able to support their efforts through the sale of their harvest. Most beekeepers I have met love their bees and tend to them carefully and humanely. I would like to support these type of beekeepers.
I always add precious oils to my specialty soaps after the saponification process so the best oils are still available to benefit your skin in their original form.
I prefer naturally derived smells and at least half of my soaps use only natural essential oils.