September 25, 2013

Four Thieves

Photo taken on top of our bathtub of goldfish in the Oasis Community Garden

I stumbled on the legend of the four thieves in a book about growing herbs and decided to create a soap based on their recipe.

The Four Thieves lived in Europe during the Bubonic Plague. Everybody was dying. Bodies were everywhere.  But the Four Thieves—who were daring enough to even rob graves—didn't become ill. When they were finally caught, they escaped punishment by reveling the secret to how they avoided the Black Death.

It was a simple herbal vinegar. Being a legend, the recipe varies from one source to another, but the list of ingredients almost always includes mint, rosemary, sage and thyme. Lavender, clove and wormwood come up a lot as well.

All of those herbs do have antibacterial properties, so it makes sense. Of course, they had never heard of bacteria in the 1300's, otherwise everyone would've been walking around with one of those little dangly things of anti-bacterial lotion.

My soap version of the Four Thieves recipe includes olive oil infused with thyme, rosemary, lavender and mint—and also activated charcoal and alkanet. The pencil line is powdered mint. And there's some cocoa butter, shea butter and oatmeal involved as well.

The fragrance is a blend of lavender, thyme, rosemary, sage and mint essential oils. It smelled a little too herbal to me so I added neroli to lighten it up.

I don't know if using this soap will prevent the Black Death (which is still around), but I'm sure it will help ward off the flu and colds. And I love showering with it after working in the garden.

I'm not by the way, the only person who's saponified the Four Thieves legend, there're dozens of bars out there. And Cathy from Soaping 101 (which I'm totally addicted to watching) has even created a video on how to make it.

If you like this blog, check out my new one: The Haley Maxwell Soap Making Mysteries