My fascination for soap is really an offshoot of my passion for cooking and gardening. The colours, fragrances and history of fresh herbs and spices have always intrigued me; leading me to compile and write a recipe book called The Promise of Plenty. Naturally, like most kitchen gardens, mine too has turmeric, ginger, lemongrass, lemon, neem, pegaga, aloe vera, rosemary and thulasi which have become indispensable in my apothecary. The benefits of whole fresh fruit and natural clays prompted me to find ways of incorporating these ingredients into the soap as well. Please remember that natural ingredients too can cause allergic reactions.
Initially, I dabbled in cold process soap but later I switched to hot process as it enabled me to reduce the curing time. I found it difficult to create a soap which didn’t dry out the skin while retaining its shape. Experiments with different oils lead to a mix of oils that moisturized while remaining relatively firm without the use of hardeners. It’s important to let the soap dry between uses.
The interest in soap began many years ago with a bar of Nablusi soap from Palestine, a souvenir brought back by a globe-trotting friend. The fact that soap has been made the same way in Nablus for millennia piqued my curiosity. The organic, earthy feel and aroma of the soap appealed to me. I already knew the basic method, thanks to high school chemistry. My own travels around the world, particularly to Marseilles, drew me further into the world of soap making and Old Sage was born.
Getting the right fragrance lead me to study essential oils and how to blend them. Each soap has an identity and is built around a theme. The fragrance is an important part of this theme. That’s why you’ll see that some soaps have an abstract idea that describes the fragrance. But essential oils don’t always suit the theme. And so began a still-continuing search to source good, skin-safe fragrance oils.
Coconut oil is the backbone of Old Sage soaps. Olive oil is also important. Shea butter, almond oil, sesame seed oil are also used. Calendula (pot marigold) petals, leaves and oil are used along with neem leaves, flowers and oil. Incorporating fresh herbs into the soap without damaging their properties lead to a study of the way herbal oils are made in Ayurveda.
Do invest in a good soap dish. The Bath Accessories section has a good collection of hand-painted soap dishes sourced from India. Also in this section are wax melts and tea light diffusers to elevate your mundane daily shower to a spa experience! We make the wax melts ourselves but the diffusers are sourced from Thailand.
Old Sage natural stone bracelets are a result of a deep fascination with stones. Natural stones such as lapis lazuli have been prized for thousands of years. Many people believe in the healing properties of some of these stones. I hope you enjoy this collection of hand-strung bracelets using stunning stones quarried from distant parts of the earth. Due to the fact that they are not “precious”, human greed has not been that destructive and exploitative as in the case of say, rubies or emeralds.
It’s been a long and interesting journey so far and it would not have been possible without the encouragement of my customers, some of whom are from outside Kuala Lumpur and some others, outside the country. Thank you for your continued interest in Old Sage.