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Indigenous Soap Can Change Your Life
Soap. We grab a slippery bar in the shower and rub it over our body. We lather a quarter-size glob into our hair. We brush a line of it over our teeth. We squirt a few drops of the liquid variety into our hands in the bathroom before dinner. We squeeze a dollop into a sink full of dirty dishes after dinner. We scoop out a capful and sprinkle it into our washing machine.
Soap. We use it a lot. It is as regular a part of our American daily life as Starbucks coffee and email.
Love Chance was a sophomore at the University of Hawaii when she got into soap. Really got into it. She says she was going through her hippie phase at the time, studying lomilomi massage and Hawaiian medicinal plants. She wasn’t looking to start up a business. Soap would be fun to make, she thought, and mixed up her first batch with a friend on top of a washing machine in her home. They named their soap Aina. That was almost 10 years ago.
Soap isn’t all that difficult to make. At its basic, soap is a simple science experiment—a chemical reaction between fats (or oils) and lye. The key, of course, is in the choice of the ingredients. These days, Love doesn’t just whip up a batch. Her newest soap, inspired by the birth of her daughter and, in particular, her baby soft skin took two-and-a-half years to get just right. Love searched for an essential oil that would glide on sensitive skin. She wanted a scent that would calm. After much research and testing, she settled on the main ingredients of tangerine oil, ylang and white ginger. She named the new soap Love Child.
All of Love’s soaps start with a different base. It’s the base, she says, that determines the amount of lather or “fluffiness” of a soap. Then, she adds additional oils—the flavors, or scents—and herbs. Soap may be pretty easy to make, but there’s nothing simple about Love’s Indigenous Soap, the name she decided on for the business.
Take Tree Tree Patchouli. It starts with coconut oil. To which, Love adds purified Hawaiian water, olive oil, palm oil, grape seed oil, glycerin, tea tree essential oil, patchouli essential oil, aloe leaf, poppy seeds, wheat germ, vitamin E and rosemary extract.
Soap making has given Love the nose of a sommelier. She can detect grades and notes of the essential oils she selects for her soaps. “Over the years, my nose has gotten really crazy,” she said one morning in her workshop—about the size of a generous walk-in closet but roomier than the top of the washing machine—as she cut planks of soap into bars using a low-tech wood-and-wire device. “I’ve become this nutcase over scents. I can smell a new essential oil and intuit its medicinal properties.”
A sign over the door of her workshop reads, “Be Present.”
Love’s operation is small. Like any owner-operator, she has her hands on every aspect of the business, from materials management, manufacturing, packaging, distribution, and accounting to marketing. Some evenings, Love can be found on the beach giving sample-size chunks of her soap to surfers showering off after a surf session.
And, speaking of packaging, Love’s hippie touch is found there, too. The phrase, “Love is love’s reward” adorns the outside of one bar of soap. On the inside, you’ll find a “Soap of Fortune,” like, “Oysters create pearls alone. Do you?” And instructions on how to use the soap:
1. Check born on date. For best performance use your soap within 6 to 8 months of this date. The longer you let the soap cure, the milder it gets. Fine soaps are like fruits, they must be picked when they are ripe.
2. Prolong the life of your soap. Do not leave soap in soggy soap dish, or in an area where water is constantly flowing on the bar while you shower. The more the bar can dry in between uses the longer it lasts.
3. Be conscious of the health benefits and the awesome natural ingredients included in your bar. Being aware of this knowledge in your cleansing-healing ritual engages a powerful tool in healing…your mind. Enjoy your life!
Love is working on a new soap, but it’s still trapped in her brain. She’s thinking an Indian theme. Neem oil. Maybe cardamom seed. Something medicinal.
“Soap is something small, something natural, that you can do to change your life,” Love says.
Love’s Indigenous Soaps are found at numerous retail outlets around Hawaii.