Zen Spa Soap Rocks

Hello friends,

Today I share the newest addition to my product line of glycerin soaps: 


  A walk in the woods along a babbling creek discovering nature's secrets that abound near my woodland home in the glorious Allegheny Mountains inspires this set of four soap rocks.  Like the pebbles and stones finely honed by eons of gentle water erosion, these rocks features a softly rounded form that is pleasure to the senses.

    The natural colors of gray, black, copper and bronze soaps are sold as a set of four. Delightful soap to charm your guests. Hand crafted with fine quality glycerin soap, these bars are scented with my own custom blended fresh spa fragrance oil which carries notes of ozone, rain, orange and a light touch of floral.  As in nature, each soap rock will carry its own color, hue and speckling.

You will be thrilled with the fantastic lather that bubble forth from these soaps that are hand cast in molds that have an organic stone shape. The colors vary in earth tone hues with touches of sparkle to mimic the forest treasures found in nature. Every one is uniquely handmade resulting in attractive variations creating a  one of a kind embellishment for your bath.

These elegant soaps make the perfect hostess gift and would be wonderful favors for bridal or baby showers. Anyone would be thrilled to be presented with such a gorgeous and useful token. A wonderful treat for your family and friends.  

Available for purchase on line AlleghenyHearth.com, Soapsmith on Etsy & Artfire.

Thanks for visiting,


Black Drawing Salve - Amish Style

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                                                   Click here to purchase the salve

Hello friends,

Black drawing salve is a traditional old time country product. I have formulated this item based recipes found in centuries old historical documents combined with Pennsylvania Dutch herbs.  This salve is not a medicine and does not have healing properties, it is simply to soothe discomforts.

The main ingredients are locally harvested Amish bee's wax, olive and jojoba oils infused with traditional herbs along with a little pine tar, activated charcoal, Vit E. and kaolin clay. A classic use is to apply the salve to splinters, the moisture aids the skin and impacts the splinter to aid in easier removal.

Comfrey Root is a useful and valuable herb. Traditional herbalists apply the powdered root of comfrey to soothe minor wounds, insect bites and bruises. It can be used in baths as an astringent and to soften the skin. The roots, leaves, and extracts of comfrey can used in salves and ointments.

The herb plantain is often considered a weed. It has a gentle astringent action. The University of Maryland Medical Center notes that plantain has a reputation as an herbal application for the stings or bites of insects. Simply mash a leaf to release its juices and apply to the bite or sting. Plantain also helps with poison ivy, simply rubbing a leaf on affected skin helps ease itching. Herbal effects are simply soothing, not healing or treatment for medical issues.

Chickweeds are edible herbs that are are very nutritious, high in vitamins and minerals. Chickweed contains Ascorbic-acid, Beta-carotene, Calcium, Magnesium, Niacin, Oleic-acid, Potassium, Riboflavin, Selenium, Thiamine, and Zinc. The entire plant is used by herbalists to calm minor skin conditions.

Common burdock, lavender, chamomile and rosemary complete the herbal additions to the cold oil infusion.

My garden and wild harvested herbs are air dried then crushed with some activated charcoal. The charcoal acts as an abrasive to aid in pulverization and release the beneficial essential oils. The slurry is left to macerate in olive oil for 5 days then strained three times through layers of cotton cheesecloth.
The infused oil is used in the making of the salve.

The final preparation consists of blending pine tar, kaolin clay, a small amount of lanolin and Vit E into the herbal infusion. The addition of melted pure bee's wax creates the soft ointment consistency that is poured into recyclable tins
ready for use.

Black Drawing Salve is a strongly scented product. It is all natural. This balm is not intended to replace medical advice. It is simply a soothing application, not a treatment or cure. It is not for extended use, if irritation develops, discontinue use.

A great way to spend a Saturday is to drive through the thriving Amish communities in Sinking Valley and the Cove area of our county. Miles of well tended picturesque farms offer a wide variety of products. Brown eggs, fresh goat milk and honey for my soap, fragrant pure bee's wax, farm fresh vegetable stands and greenhouses with herbs are readily available.

There are several Amish bulk food grocers. They offer great products at fantastic prices. You park you car right next to the horse drawn buggies.

This is my inspiration for Black Salve.

Thanks for visiting,


You can find my product line for purchase on my web site:

Reader's Comments

By Soapsmith on 10/09/2014 @ 02:31amYou can purchase my salve in my on line shop. Just click the picture of the salve or click the link to go to my shop to see all 250 products I offer for sale. Thanks! www.alleghenyhearth.com

By Guest on 10/09/2014 @ 02:12amIs your salve for sale? I've been trying to find pine tar black salve for years. It is no longer available in stores.

By Guest on 10/13/2013 @ 01:13pmWhere can I buy some of your black salve? Gingersnaps301@icloud.com.

By Guest on 01/03/2013 @ 01:20amHappy 2013 Ms. Bonnie. Just came on your article & I must say that this is the old fashioned black salve I definitely grew up with. I, however live in Ohio. Would you please email me at your earliest convenience? I would be interested in purchasing your product. It looks absolutely delightful and I would love to give it a try. Thank you so much. You can reach me at jimizgrrl1@aol.com

08/09/2012 @ 02:38am  Very interesting post!

Dead Sea Mud and Clays

Hello friends,

The primordial Dead Sea churning with ancient mineral deposits inspire this mud pack treatment.

 Soapsmith's Dead Sea Mud Pack

Pure natural dead sea mineral mud pack treatment for your body is also suitable for facial use. Treat your skin with Dead Sea Spa mineral mud.

Highly concentrated with 29 essential minerals including magnesium, calcium, sulfur, bromide, iodine, sodium, zinc and potassium; this mud is extracted from the Dead Sea. My mud is the finest quality as it is harvested from Southern areas of the Dead Sea, where the mineral content of the waters is at its highest. I carefully choose importers who employ high standards of operation. The mud is shipped fresh and I process it by hand to improve the texture by removing some of the excess water and filter out any large pebbles.

Soapsmith's dead sea mud is a wonderful skin treatment to stimulate, revitalize, cleanse, purify and soothe the skin. To be used all over the body, prior to showering or as a facial mask. Gently spread a thin layer over the areas you would like to treat, avoiding eyes and mucous membranes, allow the mud to dry and shower off, leaving your skin feeling refreshed.

I also offer a full line of pure natural dead sea and pink Himalayan bath salts and herbal soaks.

My dead Sea clay mud drawing facial mask is formulated utilizing pure all natural ingredients. This mask is perfect for oily to normal skin.

Wonderful earthy blend of natural clays and essential oils. The sea clay is harvested from the Dead Sea. Filled with 20 beneficial minerals essential for good skin care. The sea clay is combined for white kaolin clay which is a mild clay to compliment the drawing properties of the sea clay.

Pure essential oils of Tea Tree and Lavender complete the ingredient list for this 100% pure natural treatment.

For normal to oily skin mix with water, aloe or witch hazel.
Normal to dry skin mix with yogurt, honey, milk or cream.
For a great treat combine the clay with mashed fruits such as banana, avocado, papaya, cucumbers, strawberries etc.

For a gentler clay mask, I recommend
 my rose clay mask.

Thanks for visiting, enjoy!


Distilling Herbs

Hello friends,

I have a small copper alembic still that I use for steam distillation of hydrosols and it even yields a little essential oils from my garden herbs. The still is truly a beautiful little work of craftsmanship with a long history of centuries of use.

 The still consists of three parts: The cucurbit or pot which holds the liquid and plant material to be distilled, the anbik cap or onion which fits over the cucurbit and receives the steam vapors- it has an attached tube to carry the steam downward into the coil condenser which is cooled with ice water. Copper is the preferred material for distilling hydrosols as copper is an excellent conductor of heat, improves the fragrance and reduces contamination from bacteria.

Legend holds that in the 10th century, Avicenna discovered how to extract rose and herbal oils and waters by distillation. The practice of the distillation process spread to all parts of the ancient world. Steam distillation of herbs and blossoms resulted in "sweet waters or herbal waters".  This water is the hydrosol, a by-product of extracting essential oils.

Hydrosols are similar to essential oils in that they contain the essence of the entire plant but in such a low concentration they can safely be used straight where essential oils are too strong for use "neat" on the skin. The chemicals of hydrosols are water loving acids. Bacteria do not thrive in acids so properly prepared hydrosols have a long shelf life without preservatives. Hydrosols are astringent which makes them great as skin toners and fresheners.

 While the floral water can be a by product of the process to extract the essential oil, the very best hydrosols come when the distiller works the plant material with the intention of creating a hydrosol. This is because the finest quality hydroflorates form in the early part of the steam distillation process. To get the most essential oil yield, the process continues longer to be sure you are extracting as much of the precious oil as possible but that can result in a lower quality of hydrosol. The early floral/herb distillates are brighter, pleasingly fragrant and more desirable than the later portion.  Since the essential oil gathered in small home distillers is negligible anyway, I process my plant materials and end the process early enough to achieve the highest quality hydrosol.

Steam distillation a simple method of extracting the plant's oils.  You can use fresh or dried botanical materials. Herbs are wonderful because of their essential oil content.  Blossoms are desirable as well. When I use fresh plant material I gather the plants, leaves and stems early in the morning while the plant is at its peak.  I find it useful to apply a rough chop and allow the foliage to wilt a little so you can easily fit more plant material into the still.

 If I use dried components, I soak them for a few hours before loading the pot so the steam process is more efficient. If I use a fine ingredient like dried citrus peel or spices, I often place those in a heat sealed tea bag to keep it from settling at the bottom of the still and burning. You want the botanical materials suspended in the water and the grate that fits in my still has holes that would allow tiny particles to burn.

Herbal distilling floral water
You fill the pot about 3/4 of the way with spring water and place the copper steamer disc on the bottom to keep the herbs, spices, citrus and blossom petals suspended above the bottom of the pot to prevent burning. Add the botanical material, spices, citrus peels etc. so that they float freely in the pot. You don't want to pack it tight.

The onion cap is fitted onto the filled pot and secured with either a rye flour paste or silicone tape.  The onion cap is attached to the condenser coil. Cooling water fills the condenser unit and heat is applied to bring the pot to boil.  

   As the water is heated it creates steam, which rises through the plant material, bursting the sacks containing the essence of the botanical materials. That allows the aromatic molecules to be carried along with the steam through the tubing into the condenser coil.  

 The coil is submersed in cold water which converts the steam back into liquid form resulting in a hydrosol and essential oil.  The water surrounding the condenser coil need to be kept cool. You can add ice to the coil cup but I find it easier to use a simple aquarium or fountain pump to keep pumping cool water into the unit.  You insert the tubing that the draws the cold water into the bottom of the cup and the output tubing is at the top of the cup.

Once the vapor comes into contact with the cold surface of the copper coil it condenses to a liquid state and drips down into the final collection container. You won't want a fast, heavy flow. The most desirable is a slow drip rate so if it is flowing too fast, regulate the heat to reduce the boil.  You can see a good rate on the video at the end of my blog post-it shows spurts of small amounts of the condensed liquid flowing into the collection container.

Allowing the final collection to rest will allow separation of the essential oil and hydrosol. I use a separator funnel to facilitate the process of collection the essential oil simpler.  You only get a few drops of actual essential oil from each batch, the majority of the collection is the hydrosol.   Most essential oils are lighter than water so the oil floats on the surface of the hydrosol.  The hydrosol often has a milky appearance.  The French refer to hydrosols as hydrolats  -' hydro’ water and ‘lat’ milk. Properly stored, I like to use dark violet or amber bottles, these preparations have a good shelf life

You can make a simple single note hydrosol as we often see in Rose 
Water or Witch Hazel but I also like to combine herbs, spices, citrus and florals. Be sure to use organically grown or wild gathered materials without chemical contamination.

Lemon Balm Hydrosol

Many species are suitable for creating the perfect hydrosol whether you are searching for invigorating, freshening, cooling, soothing, toning or relaxing; you can create your perfect distillate.


Rose Petal or Rose Hip
Orange Blossom
Geranium/Rose Geranimum

Mints of all varieties
Lemon Balm or Verbena
Laurel Bay
Clary Sage

Witch Hazel
Ginger root

Orange - sweet orange, blood orange, tangerine
(to increase essential oil, use just the zest of the fruit peel without the pith)

Cucumber is nice in combination with mints. Placing the hydrosol in a fine mister makes a delightful freshening addition to your facial care routine.

You can add a few whole spices like clove or star anise along with your plant materials, but don't over do it as spice oils can be irritating to the skin.

Rosemary Bay Herbal Water

Hydrosols have many uses:

Facial toner
Facial steams
As the liquid in face clay  masks
Bath additives
Linen or iron water sprays

I do not recommend using hydrosols for internal use. While my small still doesn't provide enough product to sell the hydrosols, I do use them in my products - soaps, creams, lotions and balms.

I hope you enjoyed my journey in the art of steam distillation of herbs from my garden.  Thanks for visiting!


Mythical Beasts Soap

Hello Friends,

Introducing two new additions to my glycerin soap collection - dramatic mythical beasts soaps - Magical Unicorn and Dragon Eye.

The Unicorn Soap is fashioned to capture the majesty of this fascinating creature of folklore. Mythical unicorn soap set of two bars brings a magical aura to your bath.  These colorful beauties are each created one at a time so every one is unique in its color placement.  The classic style unicorn is featured in white and pink with copper horn and the background is a blend of deep sapphire blues, deep purple and greens. This unicorn is in a style that is elevated above the child like unicorns commonly offered, its appeal is universal and fitting the legendary tales.  

Mythical dragon eye soap set of two bars brings a dramatic flair to your bath.  The piercing eye of the dragon is highlighted with copper accents and the background is a blend of deep sapphire blues, and emerald greens. This soap is in a vivid style that is elevated above the child like story book dragons and is fashioned to capture the majesty of this fascinating creature of mythology

 Hand crafted with fine quality glycerin soap, these bars are scented with my own blend of fresh ozone fragrances layered with orange and a touch of floral and are sold as a set of two. Delightful soap to charm your guests and would make wonderful favors for your event.

You will be thrilled with the fantastic lather that bubble forth from these soaps that are hand cast by me personally in my soap studio in the Allegheny Mountains of Pennsylvania creating a  one of a kind embellishment for your bath.

Thanks for visiting, Enjoy!


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