April 21, 2016

Gardener’s Hand Soap

This Gardener’s Hand Soap began its life in a different iteration that was a colossal fail. Let me explain: when I first started making my own beauty products I was obsessed with getting Mr. Mudonherboots to stop using all his cancer-filled, toxic-laden, overly-fragranced, make-me-gag toiletries (you get the point). He actually was a pretty good sport about the whole thing and allowed me to experiment on him with homemade deodorants, shampoos, solid perfumes, beard oils and a million different soaps. I’d quiz him after one use, after one week of use, and after a month of use. I had a journal and logged what scent combinations he liked, and how he felt the product could’ve been better. Seriously, my organization level was intense. Imagine if I could harness that and use it for good…

One day I decided to get a little crazy and use coffee grounds in a batch of soap I was making for him because I thought: if he liked that scratchy beer and oat one I made (I’ll share that recipe one of these days, if someone in the house would stop drinking all the dern beer!), imagine how good coffee grounds would feel on his skin! I’d for sure be the shower saviour of the year! (is there an award for that? If there isn’t, there should be!) So, it was made, and cured in my office, and smelled uh-mazing. And then the Mr. used it — boy, was he annoyed when he got out of the shower covered in tiny granules of coffee, and was I annoyed at the little puddle of finely brewed soap coffee he left in the bottom of the tub. #fail

Gardener's Hand Soap for those hard-working hands! Get the recipe here: www.mudonherboots.com

So, with my head hung in soap-failure shame, I removed the soap from the tub and banished it to the back of the linen closet, where I put those things I just can’t part with but literally never use (I’m talking to you 5 hot water bottles…seriously, who needs 5??? Me, apparently).  And life went on, and I made other soaps. Soaps that didn’t get coffee grounds tangled up in chest hairs (blech!) and didn’t leave dark brown footprints in the tub.

Until: until the day I cleaned out the linen closet and found those coffee soaps. What to do…what to do. I did what any self-respecting entrepreneur would: I rebranded them. Yup, that coffee soap fail was now a gardener’s hand soap designed specifically to scrub away dirt and grime and grass stains, while leaving your hands soft and moisturized. I gave some to my father-in-law who kept it by his laundry tub in the basement and used it to clean his hands of greasy, oily gross-type basement work. And you know what? He loved it! Fast forward to a few months later and my husband finds said bar of soap on his father’s laundry tub where he uses it to wash his dirty, work-stained hands. And as he’s washing and I don’t know, lost in meditation or something, he has this epiphany: he loves this soap and wants me to make some just like it! ARGH!!!! Rebranding really is a science!

So here is Gardener’s Hand Soap 2.0. It’s meant for getting dirt out from creases and out from under nails, although the Mr. swears it will end up back in the shower, coffee littered chest hairs be damned!

Gardener's Hand Soap for those hard-working hands! Get the recipe here: www.mudonherboots.com


Gardener’s Hand Soap 2.0


  • 25% Coconut oil
  • 25% Tallow
  • 25% Olive Oil
  • 15% Shea Butter
  • 5% Avocado Oil
  • 5% Castor Oil
  • Goat's Milk, frozen in cubes
  • Lye
  • 1 Tablespoon Kaolin Clay
  • 1 Tablespoon coarsely ground coffee beans
  • Essential Oils--Lavender


  • For this recipe, I used a 6% superfat so it was still pretty moisturizing.
  • I use SoapCalc.net for all my weights. My recipe is just a guideline. Make sure you input your own data in a soap/lye calculator for the exact weights.
  • Melt tallow, coconut oil and shea in a double boiler, or glass measuring cup in a pot of water. Once melted, remove from heat and add olive, avocado, and castor oils. Set aside.
  • Using frozen goat's milk cubes is the best way I've found to incorporate the lye without scalding the milk. Slowly sprinkle lye over the cubes, maybe 1/4 of the amount of lye at a time. Keep stirring. You'll see the milk begin to melt. Doing it this way, prevents the milk from overheating. Add the lye, 1/4 at a time, until it's fully incorporated, and the ice is melted.
  • Allow both the oil and the lye mixture to come to room temperature.
  • Add the oil and lye and blend with a stick blender until a medium trace is reached. This should happen fairly quickly, within 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the kaolin clay, coffee grounds, and essential oils. Continue to blend until trace is reached again.
  • Pour into a parchment lined mold, making sure soap is evenly spread out. Give the mold a good whack on the counter a few times to settle the soap and avoid large bubbles.
  • Sprinkle more coffee grounds on top, if desired.
  • Do not cover the soap to keep it warm. Goat's milk soap is notorious for overheating, mushrooming, exploding, etc. It doesn't need to be insulated to saponify.
  • After 24 hours, remove from mold, slice into bars, and allow to cure for 4-6 weeks, turning the soap every couple of days to allow for even curing.

Gardener's Hand Soap for those hard-working hands! Get the recipe here: www.mudonherboots.com

If you’d like to see some more soapy goodness, check out my recipe for a super gentle bath bar!

Happy Soaping!

1 Comment

  1. […] are the scratchiest of scratch cooking, and I talk a lot about natural non-toxic homemade products. Like making your own soap. Sometimes you might even catch me chatting on chicken keeping (which you really should try someday […]

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