Today’s post is a continuation of yesterday’s where back in October of 2012 I was busy taking photographs of the soap making process as practices by Nikos of Hotel Des Roses in Platania, on the Pelion peninsular in Greece.
Nikos uses olive oil as the base of his soaps and infuses organically grown herbs and flowers to perfume them.
Following on from the last photographs in yesterday’s post we find Nikos pouring the fresh, liquid soap into the prepared trays which will later be cut into bars of soap.
Once all of the (in this case lavender) infused mixture has been poured into the tray, Nikos runs around the edges of the tray to release any bubbles that might be trapped down the sides.
He then sprinkles dry lavender flowers over the top. The smell during the entire process is wonderful.
It takes roughly twenty-four hours for the soup to turn solid, the process takes a little longer in the hotter Greek summer months and just a day in winter.
I’m lucky to be able to see the process with a tray of Rose infused soap that had been made the day before, Nikos takes a long guillotine blade that has a handle at each end and slots it into grooves in the tray so that when he makes the cuts, each bar of soap is of a uniform size.
He wears gloves to protect his hands at this stage of the process because until the soap “cures” fully the mixture would burn your skin.
The curing process involves the bars being carefully spaced apart and being air-dried for a month, after that the soap can be used and will not burn in any way at all. In fact it will be so soft and neutral that this sort of soap is ideal for people with eczema and sensitive skin.
I can vouch for this because Nikos insisted on gifting me some soap for my photography efforts. I have asthma and sensitive skin and soaps with perfume or colour are guaranteed to leave me with a patchy sunburn-like rash. Since we visited Greece in 2012 I have now had the opportunity to have tried all of Nikos’s soaps, without the slightest problem of skin irritation and thanks to a constant supply via my in-laws it is the only soap I have used since our visit.
I also gave some of these as a “Thank-you” gift to a colleague because she looked after the plants in my office whilst I was on holiday.
She has serious problems with eczema, but also has no problems with any of these soaps.
Nikos also makes soaps using donkey and goat’s milk and both are wonderful on your skin, which feels smooth and moisturised afterwards.
She has in turn converted several of her friends to the quality of Nikos’s soap and I enjoy helping a little family business by ordering soap regularly from Nicos via my in-laws to pass on to them.
I love knowing all about the “process” of how things are made, I especially love that everything in these is organic and natural, there are no weird chemicals, preservatives or colourants, and I love to support a small family business who care about the environment and how their product is made instead of a large multi-national who are generally only concerned with the fee being paid to their shareholders or the amount of profit they can make. After taking these photographs Nikos has another photographic project for me, but first some tea is provided with a smile, using their own organic camomile flowers, refreshing and delicious!