The theme of this month’s soap challenge is using an alternative liquid in making soap. The guidelines: make a soap by replacing 100% of the liquid with something other than water and any colorants must be natural – no dyes, pigments, oxides or micas. Additionally we were required to research the benefits of the replacement – does it have any or is it just label appeal? Shortly after signing up for the challenge I happened to walk through the juice section of Fresh Market (my small town’s version of Whole Foods) and saw cactus juice. Without hesitating I decided that was the one.
Finding information of the benefits proved to be more of a challenge. A search of cactus juice benefits turned up quite a few claims ranging from curing or preventing cancer, diabetes, inflammation, and hangovers. Not surprising that most of these sites were fronts for companies selling the juice but there were a few reputable sites that reported the health benefits as well: Mayo Clinic, LiveStrong.com, WebMD to name a few. All of these of course resulted from drinking the juice or eating the prickly pear fruit. Most of the references to the benefits of cactus juice for the skin are found along with references to aloe vera.
The most extensive and scientific report (Cactus: a medical food) contained the following statement: “Prickly pear is widely used as folk medicine for burned wound, oedema and indigestion and it is found that the effect of fruit extract is better than those of stem extract (Choi et al. 2002). Cactus pear fruit contains vitamin C and the radical scavenging properties. ” (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3550841) The paper goes on to say: “Its other uses include preparations of mock-gherkins, jams and syrups, soap from its leaves, alcoholic drinks, seeds for honey and cheese production. Unfortunately it does not give any more details.”
Something specific about skin care benefits was finally found in Allure magazine February 2015: “But prickly pear—which contains amino acids, vitamin B, calcium, beta-carotene, magnesium, and iron—is just as good slathered on your skin as it is ingested. That’s probably why it’s been making an appearance in so many skin-care products.” In conclusion, I believe adding cactus juice to soap equivalent to using aloe vera.
Before making my soap, I had to try a little of the juice. It is not to my taste – especially with its price ($5 for 1 liter). I will not be buying it again for consumption.
My vision was to make a green soap with a rounded top and a sprinkling of hibiscus and rose pedals. I researched what I could use as a natural green color and decided on comfrey powder because it was an ingredient that I had on hand. Although the sugar content was not very high, I decided to start by freezing the juice. I was so excited when I started mixing the lye the pink started to turn green.
Nothing to be done now except wait. Well we didn’t get a miracle – the soap is still brown. But I am starting to like it. It smells great – scented with a blend of citrus essential oils.
Thanks Amy for another fun challenge.