Natural soap is so good for your skin! Natural soap contains natural glycerin that is the best beauty treatment. Commercial soap products start out containing natural glycerin after it is made however, the natural glycerin is extracted and used to make expensive cosmetics. Lab created chemicals are used to replace it, those are the long, complicated ingredient names that you cannot pronounce on the label. If you use natural soap you do not need to use all of those expensive cosmetic products because your skin is healthier and not stripped of its natural oils

Our company, Balsam Rose Soap Company, makes high quality products that uses the power of plants to nourish your skin every day. We color and scent our soap with only plants and natural clays. We use the hot process method of soapmaking. This means that the batch of soap is cooked until the soap is completely finished undergoing the saponification process. We like to use the hot process of making soap because we can make sure that all the oils and lye in the formula have been changed into soap. After the soap has cooled, we can also add the more delicate natural plant ingredients, such as essential oils and herbs, and they will not be denatured or burned in the process.



We use a crockpot to gently heat and melt quality oils and butters. We choose organic and unrefined oils and butters that are good for your skin. We use unrefined ingredients because we believe that any type of processing makes ingredients less natural as they occur in nature. We make our lye solution with goat’s milk, water, tea, beer, or other liquid ingredients. The soap batch is transferred to a six-pound wooden mold for the final cooling period. The next day the soap is cut into bars. We create individual labels for every single batch, our labels are always very accurate and include every ingredient we use.


We use many herbs for their nourishing medicinal qualities for your skin. Here in Central New York there are many healing herbs, many of them grow right in your own backyard. Healing herbs, such as chamomile, calendula, hops, plantain, self-heal, St. John’s Wort, and dandelion, are soothing and anti-inflammatory. The healing properties of the herbs are released into oils when they are gently heated and steeped for days.




We gather local and organic herbs, carefully dry them, and infuse them in extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, or jojoba oil. After straining, we use the oils to make our natural skin balm, soap, and repellent. We also use herbs for color, exfoliation, and appearance. We only use aromatherapy essential oils in our products. We are concerned about the health of our planet and only use ingredients that are sustainably harvested. We research every ingredient we use, and we are always learning new information and thinking about what natural skin product we can create next.


This New York “Pause” has given us all a different perspective on the way we live. As an artisan, the “stay at home” directive has caused me to do a lot of reflective thinking. I am thankful that I was inspired to make natural soap and skin care products. My decision to make handcrafted soap developed as a direct of trying to eat less processed food and less food additives. When I learned that our skin absorbs 60% of what we use on it, I began to think the same way about skin care products as I did about healthy eating. For our products, we use only high quality, less processed ingredients, and pure essential oils. We take advantage of the many medicinal herbs that grow around us to create products that are even more healing, anti-inflammatory, and nourishing to our skin and hence to our whole body.



With the spread of Covid-19, everyone began to think more about health and what we can do to strengthen our immune system. Fresh foods that most closely resemble how they grow in nature are the foods that should be the bulk of our diets. The same goes for skin care products. Another way to make sure that you limit the spread of this virus, it to wash your hands correctly and often. Soap, bar or liquid, and running water is more effective in removing dirt, grease, viruses, and bacteria. Hand sanitizers are good in a pinch, but they do not clean as well as soap and there is evidence that some germs are resistant to the sanitizers. Sanitizer should not be a replacement for washing your hands. Lots of handwashing, especially with commercial soap, can dry out your hands. We make moisturizing skin balm and infused organic jojoba oil that can help reduce away the dryness. I am pleased to offer products that customers really need during this unprecedented time.

With all the extra time that I have had during the last few months, I have been able to plan more thoughtfully. This was an opportunity to do more research and order organic seeds. I was able to start them inside and I will have a lot more herbs to use in my products! Calendula, chamomile, lavender, and St. John’s wort are just a few. They provide healing and soothing characteristics. I also use herbs to color my handcrafted soap bars. The flowers, leaves, and roots produce lovely muted shades of purple, red, gold, and green. There has been more time for frequent Facebook, Zoom, and phone discussions with friends and customers I cannot see in person. I now have several new ideas that I am beginning to research to develop new formulas. I look forward to trying them out!



by Nancy Lee

Native plants and native wildlife need to be together. They are co-dependent and need to be available for each other to thrive. When we choose plants that are native to our area, we help to increase biodiversity and decrease the monoculture of the “green desert” lawns that dominate our communities. Native plants provide shelter and food to native insects, birds, and mammals. This includes the area’s pollinators, which are essential to life on earth. Overall, native plants use less pesticides and fertilizers, and this, in turn, promotes healthy soil, cleaner air, and water conservation.


A case study, comparing two plants, specifically forsythia and spicebush, helps to highlight how native plants and native wildlife, together in the same area, are better for each environment. Both forsythia and spicebush are early spring bloomers with bright yellow flowers. There are at least fourteen different species of forsythia (Forsythia suspensa, Forsythia viridissima) that were brought to North America from Asia. These plants were planted in home gardens and they have spread far and wide in the wild. Our native bees do not pollinate forsythia, its leaf and flower shape are prohibitive. The forsythia provides little habitat value for our insects, birds, and mammals. The growth of each forsythia plant takes up space where native and more useful plants could flourish.

The spicebush (Lindera benzoin), on the other hand, is also an early bloomer with bright yellow flowers. Like forsythia, the spicebush is easy to grow, and it is not attractive to deer. However, the spicebush is native to the northeast United States. Since it is a native plant, it provides food and shelter to native butterflies, moths, birds, insects, and mammals. It is an important early spring forage source for native bees. All parts of the spicebush are edible, and it has historically been an important medicinal and culinary herb for Native Americans and early colonists. Dried red spicebush berries are known as Appalachian allspice. This rich and aromatic culinary spice was used as allspice during the Civil War.


The vibrant red spicebush berries appear in the fall and native birds find them quite delicious. The spicebush attracts a beautiful butterfly known as the spicebush swallowtail. This wonderful insect is a trickster in both its early larval stage and as an adult. The spicebush leaves serve as an important food source for the butterfly’s larvae. The larvae closely resembles a small snake, complete with eyes, to ward off predators. Its beautiful black, white, and orange wings as a butterfly is similar in looks with the pipevine swallowtail that is very distasteful to birds, another way that the spicebush swallowtail fools its predators again.

As you can see when you take a closer look at your choice of plants, the native plants always are the best choice. They provide food and shelter for our native wildlife. With the increase of non-native plants our native wildlife populations decrease and weaken our ecosystems. As we remove non-native plants in our landscapes, especially those plants that are invasive, we help to improve the vital habitats for many insects, birds, and animals that help to keep our environment vibrant, strong, and healthy.

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