The Down and Dirty on Gardener’s Soap
October 20, 2009
Gardener’s soap has been popular with gardeners and folks who use their hands in their work for many years. There are many and various ingredients used in Gardener’s Soaps and here’s a glossary to help you choose the right one for you.
Exfoliants are used to make soap into a Gardener’s or Mechanic’s soap. The size and shape of the exfoliant grains determine the abrasiveness.
- Nut hulls are characterized by relatively sharp edges and can be very abrasive. The grinding process may render small size particles, but the edges of the particles remain sharp and can create small microscopic tears in the skin.
- Seeds, such as raspberry, strawberry or cranberry have round edges and will exfoliate some, but typically rely on the cleansing power of the soap they are suspended in to remove any dirt. They are best combined with another exfoliant to get dirty hands really clean.
- Pumice is available in fine to coarse grades. Fine pumice will boost the cleaning power of the soap it is in and help remove greasy dirt along with cleansing oils which are added to make the soap more effective. Coarse pumice is too abrasive for hands.
- Coffee grounds are used in soap as exfoliators. Depending on the size of the ground bean particles the soap can be effective as an exfoliator or not.
- Grain meals are also used in Gardener’s soaps to add cleaning power. Oatmeal may be harsh if it is not cooked before adding it to the soap. The whole oat grain itself is relatively large as an exfoliating agent and may just stick out of the bar and not really do much to remove deep dirt. Cooked, ground oatmeal is a nice soft exfoliant and can be used on the face, if care is taken to gently wash the face. Cornmeal is used in Gardener’s soap as it exfoliates, is biodegradable and is compatible with Essential Oils used to increase cleaning power in soap.
Essential Oils are also important to the efficacy of Gardener’s soap. The most often used oils are Lemon, Orange, Tea Tree, Lavender and Peppermint. All work to remove smells and scents from plant material and help to cut the oil component of grime. Care should be taken to keep Peppermint oil based soaps from sensitive areas of skin.
How to choose the right gardener’s soap for you:
- Lavender Tea Tree Soap with cornmeal will clean your hands of dirt that you would typically pick up during potting or planting.
- Heavier dirt will need a Pumice component. The Lemon Pumice Soap will also cut through heavy odors as well due to the Lemon Essential Oil.
- If you’ve been puttering around the yard and want to clean your hands but don’t need to exfoliate, then the Peppermint Cream Soap will leave your hands clean and soft. It has added oils to leave your skin soft. A small amount (about ½ teaspoon) will clean your hands effectively.
Sanibel Skincare Gardener’s Soaps and other soaps are available at the Edison and Ford Winter Estates Museum Store and Ford Cottage Shoppe.