Imbolc Witch Crafts: Hand-Milled Imbolc Purification Soap
I am hooked on hand-milled home-made herbal soaps. I started making them many years ago as holiday gifts for friends, and I still can’t get enough of them. Once or twice a year I like to have a soap-making day to make enough to last the year. They have such a luxurious lather, a rustic appearance, and when you start adding your favorite herbs, oils and ingredients you can get very creative.
You don’t even need to mess with lye or make soap from scratch if you don’t want to—you can simply grate some natural, unscented Castile soap, mix in your favorite ingredients and mold it. So this craft is well suited for complete novices to soap making!
Imbolc is the Feast of Waxing Light, when the Wheel of the Year transitions to springtime and we get ready to come out of hibernation and hiding. This time of year is associated with purifications and cleansing— so what better craft is there than a purification soap? This enchanted soap is a wonderful way to wash off your winter doldrums and any pent-up negativity, and prepare for the season of renewal.
Read more about Imbolc here.
A Great Base Soap for Hand-Milling
I prefer this brand myself.
What You Need for This Craft
Ingredients for Soap Making:
- 2 cups packed grated castile (olive oil) soap or any natural cold-pressed vegetable soap
- ½ cup water
- 2 tsp. powdered ground sage
- 20 drops lavender essential oil
Note: Cleanse, charge and consecrate your ingredients before using them. If you don’t know how to do that, you can learn here.
Hardware you’ll need:
- Measuring cups and spoons
- Large to Medium-sized pot with about 2 inches of water
- Another pot or bowl (glass or stainless steel) for mixing that fits inside the larger pot with water like a double-boiler
- Mixing spoon (I like a wooden one)
- Eye dropper (for the oil)
- Molds (small tupperwear; muffin tins; candy molds; aluminum foil loaf pan; etc)
- Plastic wrap
- Rubber spatula
- Drying rack (any kitchen wire rack for baking or roast is fine)
- Dish towels (to put the hot pot on, or to wipe up messes quickly)
- Large butcher knife (if you're making a large loaf of soap)
- Optional: Stamp (rubber or any kind if you want to make an imprint-- totally optional!)
- You can make the actual soap mixture within an hour (unless you are doubling or tripling the recipe, then expect it to take longer accordingly)
- The soap takes a few hours to set up in the mold
- It takes 3 weeks to fully cure so you can use it-- even if not fully cured you can still enchant it at your Imbolc ritual. Just don't actually wash with it until its fully cured.
This Is What It Should Look Like When It's Ready
The Hand-Milling Process
- Grate the soap and add it in the bowl you will use as a double boiler. Pour in ½ cup of water.
- Pre-measure your herbs and oil. Set them aside.
- Lay out molds and put an oversized piece of plastic wrap in each, so the wrap conforms to the inside of the mold but still has enough to overlap the edge of it.
- Put the soap bowl into the bigger pot with 2 inches of water. Put them on the stove and put the heat up to high.
- When the water comes to a boil, reduce it to strong simmer/low boil. Mix sporadically, breaking up the lumps. Mix gently so you don't create foam and bubbles.
- After a while—it could be as little as 15 or as much as 30+ minutes (so much depends), you’ll reach what’s known as the ‘string stage’. This is when all the water and soap have been fully incorporated, the soap is smooth the mixture looks like thick mashed potatoes. When you stir it there’s some stringiness. You really need to reach this stage for the soap to set up, so don’t rush or end prematurely.
- Take the bowl with the soap off the heat. Gently but quickly mix in the sage and oil—it will begin to set very quickly so there is no time to stop here.
- Scoop the mixture into the plastic wrap-lined molds. Spread it making sure to get into the corners
- Pick up the molds and bang them on the counter a few times so the air bubbles will come up. Smooth out the top of the mold.
- Let the soap sit in the individual molds for about 2 hours, and in a loaf pan for 5 hours, until it sets. If it still seems soft or you have trouble taking them out, stick it in the freezer for 30 minutes.
- Unmold them and remove the plastic wrap. If you used a loaf mold, slice the loaf into 1-inch thick slices.
- Put the pieces of soap on the rack and cover it with the towel. The soap should be hard within a couple of days as long as you let it reach the string stage. If it isn't, you can always re-melt it and put it back in the mold.
- Let it cure on that rack at room temperature in a dry room for about 3 weeks. Turn it every day to prevent warping.
I bought a couple of these at a festival around 10 years ago, and I love them. They're solid lead-free pewter and great for decorating Esbat cookie-cakes, holiday cookies, soaps, wax seals, clay solstice ornaments, etc. I am glad I bought 2 because I use one for food and one for non-food purposes.
Take your soap into your ritual with you. It’s okay if it’s not fully cured yet—just make sure it’s cured before you use it! Put it on your pentacle or in the center of your altar. Hold your hands over it and pray, asking your Gods to bless it.
If you like, consecrate it by Air (run it through the incense smoke), Earth (sprinkle some salt on it), Fire (pass it over the candle flame-- quickly! Keep it moving!), and Water (just a very light sprinkle). Alloow it to sit on the altar during your celebration just to let it soak up the energies.
If you're not having a formal ritual, put it in a window for a while to catch Imbolc sun and moon rays. If the sun is strong, though, don't let it sit in the sun long-- you don't want it to melt! A few minutes is fine.
Once you start using the soap, just know that it's cleansing you with the purifying energies of Imbolc. Use it whenever you want to rid yourself of negativity, or soothe and relax yourself after a stressful day. If you have extra, give it to friends as a gift!