The first time I saw and smelled a real lavender plant, was in the year 1986. The plant was growing against the outside wall of the gîte rural, where I stayed for some weeks together with my family. It was the only plant there. The gîte was located in the surroundings of the (then) small village with the name La Roche-de-Glun in the department Drôme in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region of southeastern France.
The small shrub, where I found the name of later, was bathing the entire day in the heat of the sun, and despite that it never looked as if it was in a need for water. Used to the wealthy-leaved shrubs in Dutch gardens I was touched by the heat-resistant leaves of this one, and their colour: greyish green. The unique, fresh, strong, uplifting, relaxing, wonderful, charming smell has since then become my most favourite one. The colour of the lavender flowers is light purple, violet.
Since I am working with herbs from Crete, I searched for Cretan lavender, and found on the website “Wild Herbs of Crete”, a blogpost about it. According to this blogpost there are two different kinds of lavender: the Lavandula Stoechas, which seems to smell more sweet, and the Lavandula Vera. I assume that Lavandula Vera [“vera”, which is Italian for “true”] is the same as Lavandula Angustifolia, also known as Lavandula Officinalis. For my Cretan-Garden.shop I use Greek lavender, the Greek Lavandula Angustifolia.
The colour of natural lavender soap
When one googles on images with “lavender soap”, one is overwhelmed with the colour violet, or purple, not only because of the purple wrappers or boxes, but also because the soaps are purple, violet. When I started to make lavender soap, with infusing 12 litres organic olive oil with 720 gram dried lavender flowers, I was curious how the colour of the olive oil would become after three months infusing, pulverizing the filtered infused lavender and adding the result back into the infused oil. The colour is black. Not purple. The liquid soap is as all herbal soaps this colour, and dried it has a beige / khaki colour. Not purple.
When the infused oil becomes soap during the saponification process the almost black colour turns into orange/brown, sometimes, that depends on the herb, it is red/brown. The colour of the lavender soap becomes even lighter than the colour of the other herbal soaps. The smell however is not lesser strong. On the contrary. Important to know is that the skin-nourishing ingredients of extra virgin olive oil, organic herbs, and essential oils are not affected in the saponification process.
Whenever you would like to have a violet coloured bar of lavender soap, and you find one, be aware that the colour is not natural, but synthetic. Often even perfumes, which contain synthetic fragrances, or pure synthetic fragrances have been added to mislead you even more.
Handcrafted lavender soap smells the same as the lavender plant. How does lavender smell? The scent of the lavender plant is strong, charismatic, and intensely botanical. Underlying its floral sweetness are green and spicy notes, and a woody accent. When a herbal soap comes in a contact with water the smells of the ingredients become more active. After washing, showering or bathing the smell slowly disappears: natural smells evaporate quickly when they are exposed to the air. Only when you would use your own body-oil, in this case your own lavender body-oil —see Cretan Garden info, §7— the smell of the lavender essential oil will accompany you for a longer time, in a modest way, and will not -like perfumes and fragrances- take over the personal airspace of others. Be aware of what kind of smell you “wear” when you are going to spend time in nature. Perfumes and fragrances do not fit there.
The toxic truth about perfumes and fragrances
“The toxic truth about perfumes and fragrances” is the title of a blog post, written by Karen Kingston. Since I agree with every word and sentence, I would like to recommend this blog post. You can click here to read the post.
- Lavender – Britannica dictionary
- Gîte rural – Wikipedia
- La Roche-de-Glun – Wikipedia
- Drôme – Wikipedia
- Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes – Wikipedia
- Violet (colour) – Wikipedia
- Wild Herbs of Crete – Website
- Greek Lavender – Website Wild Herbs of Crete
- Lavandula Angustifolia – Wikipedia
- Lavender – Cretan Garden, Page Lavender
- Body oil – Page Cretan Garden, §7