Straining the extract from the wild bamboo orchids (Arundina bambusifolia) in my open air studio. The brilliant color does not survive the rigors of saponification, yielding instead another, more subtle color, depending on the rest of the soap formula.
Our soaps are unique because we grow from seed most of the herbs, roots, seeds and flowers that we use as extracts. Few soap makers have access to acres of wild orchids, as we do. We go out just before 10 am when the dew is just drying on the petals, and the buds have unfurled, to gather the sweet, little bamboo orchids. After amassing a large quantity, we make the brilliant, gorgeous magenta extract, which gives off a heady fragrance. Once a year we harvest the achiote seeds, also known as annatto, that we use to give our soaps beautiful and nourishing golden and orange colors.
Twice a year we harvest the golden olena (turmeric) roots which also yield yellows and golds while imparting their unique phytonutrients. Lemongrass and palmarosa grass grow all year with abandon here. Likewise the creeping little gotu kola herb, centella asiatica. We also make an extract from the leaves of our bay rum tree for special soaps. We are the only makers of the exotic lauae fern soap in the world. In addition, we have introduced to the public several other new soap varieties including poha berry, galapagos island tomato, ti leaf, and pandan. We continuously experiment and refine our original formulas, developed over the course of nearly ten years now.
Olena root from the garden. Cleaned and ready to use in soapmaking or cooking.
The inspiration for our soap is to leave behind all the chemicals that we are exposed to in the course of our daily life. Some 80,000 now, by recent estimate. That is why we refuse to use any of the synthetic so-called "fragrance" oils and synthetic colors. Only plant-based ingredients are used in all of our products, making them perfectly suitable for vegan philosophy. In many years of making soap, the plants have been our teachers. They speak to us through their colors and scents, advertising their properties that way.
Vivid colors in fruits and vegetables speak of vibrant health in every color of the rainbow, and promise us well-being if we consume them in balance. As our skin is the largest organ through which we can absorb nutrients, it makes sense to use a naturally nourishing soap, rather than one that comes from a chemistry lab, full of unknown substances.
Ti leaves in many brilliant colors.
We maintain quality control by growing everything that we can for ourselves, and may make soap several times a year, but mainly during the winter holiday season, so that people can give exotic, yet useful and reasonably priced gifts to their friends and families. We make the soap in small batches at a time, and make sure it has matured to mildness. Using only essential oils for scent, we also avoid the use of chemical preservatives, as the oils are naturally preservative in many cases.
We advise using the soap before the most ephemeral of the essential oils (the citruses) have disappeared, three to six months. A recently discovered five-year-old bar of soap turned up, and was still fantastic, but don't wait that long to enjoy your soap! Like anything you put in, or on, your body, fresh is best. Store your soap before use in a cool, dry, dark area, if possible. The formulas mostly include cocoa butter which makes for a hard and long-lasting bar, if kept dry between uses.
We welcome your comments and questions. Thank you for your interest in our soap, which we make for you by hand with hearts full of aloha, in a young rainforest on Hawaii Island. Mahalo nui.
Achiote seed pods.