16 November 2020

DIY English Lavender Soap Bars

Easy make your own soap with English lavender

Once the first UK lockdown restrictions lifted completely (ironically 4th of July for an American chuckle), I had just a few weeks left on my visit visa before my flight back to Virginia, so when my friend Lisa said she had recently moved to Jane Austen Country, you couldn't get me there fast enough. Jane Austen's hometown deserve its own story, so we won't dawdle. This post is all about another Hampshire delight nestled right in New Alresford located just outside of Winchester and how to easily make soap from souvenir spoils.

Friends already know of my love for lavender, and when arriving into a country with its own equal love for lavender, it became a mission to visit every British lavender farm open to the public I could. Herein enters Long Barn, the perfect low-key activity that happened to be within walking distance of my friend's home.

Long Barn Lavender Farm Winchester England

Long Barn Lavender Farm Winchester England

When we arrived, I was enchanted by its fresh, but classic branding and their on-point social distance system. Everything was charming as you would expect from a historic sheep fair site. However, I was a bit disappointed that Long Barn wasn't the actual lavender field location; its visitor address is strictly a retail center. The hard work of farming bit is done further off-site about seven miles from their public location.

At the retail center, there are several rows of lavender for customer ambiance, but I soon learned Long Barn's local popularity rested with their cafĂ© dining and boutique shopping, not for sightseeing. (Despite the limited COVID-affected menu, their gluten-free options were delicious, particularly the banana & passion fruit cake I devoured.) Inside of the shop, there are goodies galore from gardening to fashion to gifts which I found leaned more to the pricier end of things, but thankfully for me, I was searching specifically for Long Barn's lavender essential oil and dried lavender buds for my own soap-making at home. 

These sought-after products were very fairly priced at £7.95 for a large dried lavender sack (which had at least 4 cups of buds in it) and £6.95 for a 10ml Lavandula angustifolia essential oil bottle (which is my personal favorite for its pure, classic floral lavender scent or what I associate with "lavender right off the stem" smell). 

For the non-crafty people or soap collectors like I am, I did also purchase some already-made Long Barn Lavender soap (£5.95), so if you don't want to make your own, their soap was quite lovely and soft on the skin. Same pure, classic floral lavender scent, but with a purple hue!

Long Barn Lavender Farm Winchester England

Long Barn Lavender Farm Winchester England

With locally-sourced lavender buds from a Hampshire lavender farm and easy step-by-steps, you can bring a little English love into your home or give as small handmade gifts of relaxation to your British loved ones. (Due to its seed-like nature and agricultural restrictions, I unfortunately don't think you can ship your lavender-budded soaps to your American family and friends, but APHIS would be your resource should you want confirmation. If you're flying to the States, then you'll have no problem as I've flown many times with handmade soap gifts. Just declare to U.S. Customs for them to investigate as needed.)

How to Make English Lavender Soap Bars

[Makes about 6 small soap bars depending on mold used]


PROJECT MATERIALS
• 1 pound "melt and pour" white shea butter soap base
• 2 tablespoons dried lavender buds
• 2 teaspoons (or 15-20 drops) of cosmetic grade lavender essential oil
Silicone mold
Large cooking pot
• Heat-safe metal or glass bowl
Chef knife


Easy make your own soap with English lavender from Long Barn UK


INSTRUCTIONS
1. Set out all of your materials for each step. Once you start melting your soap, it'll be a quick process with heat and setting. Decide whether or not you want to melt your soap with the microwave or by double boiler-like on the stove setup. (I used double boiling (also known as bain-marie or heated bath) for more control/gentle melting. This involves a large glass or metal bowl in a cooking pot filled with water.) Each method would need a high-heat friendly bowl.

2. With your scraper or knife, cut your 1 pound block of soap base into 1"-2" cubes for easy melting.


Easy make your own soap with English lavender from Long Barn UK

Easy make your own soap with English lavender from Long Barn UK


3. Melt the soap chunks on the stove or in the microwave. For the microwave, melt in 20 second intervals, stirring between each interval to break up large chunks and distribute the heat.

4. Once your soap is completely melted into liquid, stir in the lavender essential oil and dried lavender buds. Leave a scoop of lavender buds to the side if you want to sprinkle them on top of your soaps.


Easy make your own soap recipe with English lavender from Long Barn UK


5. Gently pour the liquified soap into your soap molds, leveling as needed. Sprinkle some dried lavender buds on top and allow to cool and fully harden. This may take at least 4 hours or overnight depending on your mold and room temperature.


Easy make your own soap recipe with English lavender from Long Barn UK


Easy make your own soap with English lavender from Long Barn UK


6. Once hardened, remove your soap from your mold. Using your scraper or knife again, cut the soap into your desired thickness (if applicable). For storing, cover in plastic wrap to help preserve and protect it until you are ready to use or gift.


Easy make your own soap with English lavender


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