We have posted before about how at Kaingu Lodge we make as many personal touches as possible. These ‘touches’ range from recycled furniture through ‘Monkey Finger’ jam and welcome drinks and on to almost every aspect of the guest experience. But we are now doing something that we believe is pretty unique. Something that when you stop and think about it is about as personal as you can get.
Soap. Invented 2800 B.C. by the babylonians. Life without it would be pretty horrific. How much do you actually think about it and take it for granted. Well, when you actually make it you think about it a lot. To say that making it is quite complex is a bit of an understatement.
We use what is known as ‘cold process’ soap making. I am not going to go into details, its way too long and complicated. But a short summation goes like this:
Water and lye is mixed together in extremely precise quantities. A vegetable oil base is then heated up. The temperatures of the two base ingredients (lye mixture and oils) must be very carefully monitored. At precise temperatures the two ingredients are combined by mixing until it renders into ‘trace’ which is the extremely precise and important consistency that must be achieved if the batch is to succeed.
Once it is fully blended then any aromatics or extra colours or ingredients are added. Our soap is as ecologically sensitive as we can make it. There are no colourants or perfumes added at all.
The only extra ingredients that we add are:
- Mafura butter (from the Mafura tree) which has renowned skin nourishing effects and has been used in southern Africa for centuries for hair and body care. Many conventional mass produced soaps use palm oil to get this effect. Mafura butter is better in every way.
- Nyamasokwe is a local plant which yields leaves that are used in the same way menthol or other decongestants are used to open the sinuses and airways when you have the flu.
- Mukuloungu is another local plant which is used as a relish – think spinach!
Once the extra ingredients are added the soap mixture is then poured into custom made molds and left to cure for 24 hours. During this curing phase the soap actually becomes ‘soap’ as we know it – the chemical reaction neutralises the lye and in theory it could therefore be safely used at this point. However it would simply fall apart. At this point however the soap can be gently removed from the mold, cut into the final small blocks and placed on racks.
The racks are then left in a fairly cool, dark and well ventilated place (i.e. our wardrobe!) for six weeks to fully cure and become the small hard bars of soap we all know.
It is then wrapped and labelled and used by our guests. Quite a unique product: