Monday, October 20, 2014

Loofa, Loofah, Loufah, Luffa... that scrubby thing!

Each year I plant a garden I try to pick a plant I wouldn't normally grow.  Last year it was watermelon.  Because it requires so much water and we live on the edge of the desert, it's not easy to grow for a lazy gardener like myself.  Needless to say I didn't have much luck and only had two that were edible, the rest just went into the compost.
This year I tried another vine but this time I wasn't looking for food, but a scrubber.  I trained the plant to go up a tree that shades part of my garden.  Early on the plant did well, I saw lots of flowers, much like you'd see from cucumbers, and then small gourds started to grow.  But early on the base of the vine was stepped on by some 'helpful' 5-year olds.  <sigh>  After that I didn't expect much from the plants and just left them alone.
A few days ago the kids came in asking about the gourds in the trees and I decided maybe I should at least see what became of them.  So Sunday the husband and I pulled out the ladder and started to cut them down one by one.  I had a total of 10 decent sized ones and a few I just added to the growing compost pile.
I went on YouTube to see how and when to open them.  Seems that some of mine had already dried on the vine, so those I opened with pretty good results.  Others I'll let sit outside for a few more days, possibly weeks till they dry out.  

*By the way, this is an edible plant.  If you harvest them early they are used in Chinese and Vietnamese dishes.  

I have this ugly, scraggly tree in the garden that the husband won't let me cut down, so I made it a trellis.

No, they aren't pretty.

This one was a bit green, but you could feel the sides were separated from the fiber so I opened it.  It peeled very easy, but the fibers are still sticky and the seeds weren't dry enough to pour out.  This one will remain outside till it dries more.

The brown gourd was harder to peel, but the fibers were much dryer and the seeds poured right out.  *These are all cell phone photos so my fingers sometimes get in the way.  ;)

To give you a better idea of how it looks as you peel it. 

This is a 3rd, smaller gourd and much dryer than both.  The skin came off in about 20 pieces.  But it was ready to go.  You can see the seeds and that these are just store bought plants.  *I'll be saving the new seeds for next year.

The two on the left will need to dry more and I'll wait to open the others.

The 3rd, smaller gourd I cut into pieces to make soap with.  A bread knife works great.

Once I washed the fiber they fluffed up.

I made several different soaps, these are the scents I like for my gardening soap.

Mercy wanted Lavender in purple.

Justice wanted a sweet smell in pink.
The guys decided they wanted green and a manly smell, of course. 

I used to go all out and make lye and olive oil soap, but the mess and time it took to get it just right wasn't worth it to me.  I don't sell the stuff, I just want to use it, so melt and pour is perfect for me.  This batch is made from olive oil glycerine soap that you can find at Micheal's.  It runs about $10.00 for 2lbs, but if you have their app you can usually get it for $6 to $5.  That makes 7 to 8 good size bars.  *I still have 4 cubes left I'll make a kitchen soap with, lemon and eucalyptus.  Maybe even with yellow dye for fun.

Soon after pouring, the girls wanted glitter added to the hexagon, a paintbrush still wasn't gentle enough so the soap was wampy.  But they don't care.  Also, my molds are 8-years old.  I'd recommend better ones if you're making to sell or gift.  Since these are staying in the family... not an issue. 

I had some purple left so I added a layer to the natural bar.  It now has a nice lavender kick. 

In the sun you can see the shredded loofah pieces.
The pink and green bars have slices of loofah, they look cool up close.

Aren't they purty?!

It's harder to see through the purple and green, but I'm pleased. 

So as I started to type this blog it bothered me that I hadn't finished the block of soap, so I went ahead and made the last kitchen soap.  From start to finish it took all of 10-minutes.  That included melting the soap and clean up.  Which of course is easy since your cleaning up soap.  ;)

Simple kitchen soap.

A container, a touch of Vaseline to coat the sides so it releases easier, cut up loofah (hard to see but inside the glass lid), melt and pour with essential oil and color (I heat the soap before I add the scent and color), the alcohol is to spray on the soap after it's poured so the bubbles will pop and the surface is smooth.

Four squares make a small bar of soap, perfect for my sink.  It will take about 40-minutes to harden.  Faster if you set in the fridge. 

The husband said this one is his favorite.  SCORE!

So there you go.  Loofa added to melt and pour soap; super easy and useful.  My kind of craft. 


  1. Super cool. Never tried my hand at soap. Who taught you to do that? ;)

    1. When I did the lye and olive oil soap I read a few books.
      The melt and pour is cut and dry. You can focus more on the color and scent. My kind of work. ;)


Thanks for takin' the time to read my stuff. :)