Vicki: “Pure castile soap is our flagship for a sustainable life”

Vicki Younger, the founder and owner of Redgum Soaps, lives at Brogo, in a rural area of the Far South Coast of New South Wales, Australia. She is specialized in making traditional cold process castile soap from extra virgin olive oil. “Soapmaking fits nicely into my desire to live sustainably and engage in traditional crafts and most recently I’ve mastered sourdough bread” says Vicki who describes herself like being a “perfectionist, purist and passionate” soapmaker.
When did you discover natural soap? What did appeal to you most? Could you describe your very first batch of soap?
“I made my first handmade soap in 1997 after reading an article about soapmaking in a renewable energy magazine. I have always had sensitive skin so the idea that I could perhaps find something at last that didn’t irritate was very appealing. My first batch of soap was… nothing like the soap I make today. I bought suet from the local butcher and rendered it to make tallow soap. The smell of the house was unforgettable and prompted my decision to only make vegetable soaps from that point. The first perfect batch was the first castile soap (100% olive oil) soap I made. I’d read so much about castile soap but there seemed to be a lot of negative comments about it ie that it was too expensive, that it took too long to trace, that it took too long to cure. I decided to make just one batch to see if I could tell the difference. Once I tried it I understood what all the fuss was about. Even my partner commented “I’m a man and even I can tell the difference. I think you’re really on to something””.
Any “monster batch”?
“In a moment of madness I decided to make a rose petal soap which became my monster batch. I made a gorgeous soap using dried, red rose petals… which of course turned to brown after contact with the lye. The resulting soap looked like leopard skin soap – yes, really!”
When and why have you turn your passion for castile soap into a business?
“We live in a mud brick house in the country that is powered completely by solar power. After moving from the city for a tree change in 1997, I liked the idea of working from home but I was mindful that energy use would be a major consideration. Soapmaking was a natural fit for me on so many levels”.
Do you produce and sell only or do you organize soap classes also, maybe do you write about soap as well?
“I’ve run soapmaking workshops on occasion at open days or special events but our business is mainly focused on production and selling online.
Which is your favourite soap and why? What soapmaking method do you use most and why?
“Without a doubt, castile soap made from 100% extra virgin olive oil. It’s the only soap I make. I use the traditional cold process method without heat, which I believe preserves the integrity of the olive oil. My main ingredient is extra virgin olive oil which I buy from an olive grower in the Hunter Valley region of New South Wales”.
What do you like most about your job and what do you like less?
“I love the fact that I can make something really beautiful that has helped many people. We live in the bush in a tiny area yet we can send this all over the world. I also love that it has minimal impact on the earth and the only by-product we have at the end of the process is soap and water. The aspect I like least is completing paperwork and accounting tasks for external timelines.
Are there any people that have given you inspiration along these years?
“Marina Tadiello, Susan Cavitch Miller, Diane Buckley, Anita Roddick”
Is there a soap recipe that you would like to share with blog readers?
“Our unscented ‘Just Soap’ is our flagship product and our biggest seller because I think many people find it difficult to find unscented products. Our recipe can be found on this page, along with some other soap and skincare recipes:
What is the Number One suggestion you would give to a new soaper?
“Learn all you can about the process and soapmaking ingredients rather than blindly following recipes you find on the internet”.
Everything you need to know on Vicki’s traditional cold process castile soap, made from extra virgin olive oil and perfect for sensitive skin, is explained at her website Redgumsoaps.

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