Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Susan Linares, soaps for all seasons

Susan Linares at Farmers' Market
in Oyster Bay, NY
Photo by Ewa Rumprecht
Susan Linares of Naturally Handmade by Susan makes a wide variety of soaps at her Franklin Square home.

She started the soap making adventure after spending 25 years at various cosmetics manufacturers, like Sally Hansen and Queen Helene, where she was responsible for safety of both finished products and materials used in their production. In those years Susan accumulated a great store of knowledge and experience. She had also managed, rather admirably, to retain a vivid interest in new scents and combinations of ingredients.

Soap by Susan Linares
Photo by Ewa Rumprecht
The general process of soap making is relatively straightforward - you add lye (sodium hydroxide) to some type of liquid - water, beer, fruit juice, wine. Then you add some type of oil - olive, coconut, grapeseed, almond, etc. Mix it, cure it (cook or cold cure it), mold it. Cut, trim, and wrap. The individuality of soap making comes from the proportions of the ingredients (Susan measures everything by weight), desirability of lather, stability and hardness of the end product. Plenty of things can go wrong in the process, there is a science to making a good bar of soap.

Soap by Susan Linares
Photo by Ewa Rumprecht
Susan, an environmentalist at heart, always liked farmers' markets. She still frequents quite a few, but now stands on the other side of the counter. She likes talking about her soaps and soap making in general, and she likes getting input from visitors who inspire her to try different ingredients and aromas.

Let's run through a list of soaps we have/had in the store at various times:
Apple Cinnamon - fall time favorite
Bamboo Exfoliating
Bee Honey Happy - local honey goes into it
Blueberry Bear - uses Blueberry Ale from Long Island's Bluepoint Brewery
Castile Unscented
Cranberry Orange
Gardener's Cleanup - contains coffee grinds which will take care of the 'after chopping garlic' aroma
Gingerbread - Christmas time favorite, popular except for one customer who commented, I don't know if I want my husband to smell like gingerbread
Goat Milk Honey
Green Tea
Honey Carrot - carrots purchased from a farmer at the next stall
Lavender Eucalyptus
Lavender Patchouli
Lemon Balm
Oatmeal Honey Unscented
Peppermint - great hit at Christmas
Pumpkin Pie - should carry 'not for internal consumption' warning
Purely Patchouli
Rosemary Mint
Sandalwood - popular with men
Succulent Sweet Pear
Sweet Jasmine

Soap by Susan Linares
Photo by Ewa Rumprecht
Susan tries to use as many local, pesticide free ingredients as possible; some, like calendula, she grows herself, some she buys from local producers. She packages her soaps in fabric which can be re-used in craft projects; one of her steady customers made a small quilt out of the fabric wraps. She has recently learned of plantable paper with seeds, she may be using it soon.

We are very happy to carry Susan's beautifully scented soaps, good for body and soul.

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