Saltie Crafts - With dook
Next up in our #SaltieCraft series is Helen, founder of dook. Just a year old, but already making a big splash, dook are based on the outskirts of Edinburgh, by the sea. They make salt soaps using a ‘cold-process’ artisanal technique that combines organic coconut oil, organic raw shea butter, essential oils and Himalayan salt. Here we soak up dook’s journey and share their blissfully simple At Home Bath Salts tutorial.
Tell us a little bit about dook and your sustainable approach.
Environmental sustainability is at the heart of dook: we’re on a mission to rid bathrooms of plastic. Salt soaps are perfect replacements for pump soaps and shower gels. They also last a lot longer – they don’t go mushy, the salt keeps them firm right down to the last lather. Our solid shampoo, packaged in a recyclable card box, is equivalent to two regular plastic bottles of liquid shampoo. The soaps are hand-poured in small batches of 30, they are then air cured before being wrapped and labelled in recycled paper and card.
Your soaps are like art. Do you design the patterns before you make them or is it a more experimental and organic approach?
I like to work with natural earth and plant-based colours, in particular those which have benefits for the skin. The dark grey/black in the soaps is from activated charcoal – a wonderful cleansing ingredient. The pink colour comes from the iron-rich Himalayan salt. And the green is from French Green Clay, which absorbs impurities and is great for the skin.
When coming up with the designs it was a (very enjoyable) trial and error approach. Working with salt soap throws up a number of limitations – it’s too brittle to make into loaves and slice (like most handmade soaps) so I pour each soap into individual moulds. I have to work quickly as the soap thickens fast and there is only a small window of time to work with. These limitations mean that you need a design that both looks great and can be accomplished before the soap sets.
You use organic raw shea butter in your products. What are some of its gorgeous properties?
I source my raw shea butter from a women’s co-operative in northern Ghana and it’s a truly wonderful ingredient. In its raw form, it contains vitamins A, E, and F which are great for boosting skin health. It also contains minerals which are known for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory qualities. I use a very high percentage of this superfood for the skin in dook soaps - so however much your wash you hands, your skin never feels dry.
Your soaps and product smell gorgeous! How do you concoct your scents?
I love experimenting with botanical extracts and essential oils. It’s important to me that the scents in the soaps aren’t from artificial sources and are natural ingredients - bringing with them aromatherapy benefits as well as fragrance. When I originally designed my first range of soaps I wanted to create four soaps, each with a distinct scent: herbal, citrus, woody and floral. So, I started experimenting and went with the ones which appealed to me the most.
What products are your most popular? And do you have a personal favourite?
Rosemary and Frankincense is my best seller. It’s also the first salt soap I made. I love the others, but I really love this one. It has a distinctive scent that is herbal, clean and fresh, but with a sweet woody undertone from the frankincense. The design of this soap is particularly fun to create; I pour the two colours in tandem creating a unique pattern each time.
What are your bath-time essentials?
If I’m honest, I love a shower! It’s extra luxurious with a dook soap – you get a fantastic lather that you can wash with plus the wonderful smell of essential oils rising in the steam. It’s really a treat.
However, on a cold evening, when a storm is blowing in from the sea, I do enjoy taking a hot bath. It’s great to leave my phone outside, lock the door (I have two small children!) light a few candles and put lots of salt in the water. A good book is also essential. At the moment I’m reading ‘The Summer Book’ by Tove Jansson – perfect escapism.
What’s been your highlight so far?
Dook is just over one year old and I have been honoured and delighted that the wonderful craft and artists community here in Scotland have enthusiastically accepted me into their fold. Everyone has been so open, friendly and welcoming. I’ve been able to collaborate with all sorts of different people and new opportunities keep opening up.
What’s next for Dook?
My youngest daughter starts school in the Autumn, which means that I’ll have more time to focus on dook. I’ve got all sorts of ideas. I will be bringing a new soap out later this year to add to the salt soap range. I’m experimenting at the moment – so do get in touch if you have a scent or design that you’d like to see in a soapy form!
Thanks, Helen! Now on to the At Home Tutorial for Bath Salts…
Bath Salts Tutorial
Bathing is one of humanity’s oldest self-care rituals. Submerging your body in warm water is immediately relaxing; calming both body and mind. Transform your bathroom into a spa by turning your phone off and trying out one of these bath salt recipes.
This recipe creates a jar full of a mixture of pink Himalayan Salt and sparkly Epsom salts. Epsom salts are not actually the same chemistry as regular salt. Sea salt or rock salt is Sodium Chloride, whereas Epsom salts are actually a hydrated form of magnesium sulphate. This great ingredient is known for its muscle soothing and skin hydrating properties. You'll notice that with Epsom salts in your bath you fingers don't go wrinkly!
- A mixing bowl
- A range of clean, dry jars – small kilner jars are ideal
- Protective gloves – e.g. rubber kitchen gloves.
Ingredients (enough for 200g or 4 baths):
- 140g Epsom Salt
- 60g Himalayan salt - a mixture of course and fine if you'd like to add texture.
- A mixture of essential oils - 40 drops in total.
- Relaxing and soothing: Lavender is readily available and popular for its calming scent. Try combining with cedarwood, vertiver, bergamot, camomile, rose or jasmine.
- If you feel like your hormones need balancing try: Rose geranium, clary sage, orange or ylang ylang.
- For an invigorating post-exercise muscle soak: Juniper, ginger, cypress, and rosemary.
- For an energising and stimulating blend: Frankincense, black pepper, lemon, tangerine and petitgrain.
For salts try:
For essential oils try:
Weigh out, then mix together the salts in a clean bowl.
Add in your choice of essential oils. Here I add petitgrain and tangerine – note how the colours will have an effect on the final look of your salts.
Wearing protective gloves massage the oils thoroughly into the salts.
Once the oils are mixed well, distribute into the jars and seal. Use within 3 months.
How to use:
Scoop a generous handful (about 50g) into a warm bath. Circulate the water until the salt has dissolved. Relax and enjoy!
- Vary the types of salt you use - there is a wide range available.
- You can add fresh or dried flowers such as lavender, cornflowers, rosemary or calendula petals.
- Or you can add fresh herbs or spices. A few slices of fresh ginger and sprigs of rosemary in your post-exercise soak; a cinnamon stick or orange peel in a relaxing bath.
- You can also create a salt scrub from your bath salts. Mix a little oil (light olive oil is fine or you could try rice bran or a nourishing avocado oil) into the salt mixture and rub gently onto your skin.
- Adding oats to the water can help hydrate dry skin. Wrap a handful of oats in a muslin cloth and tie up into a knotted ball. Hang the muslin under the tap as you run the bath. A soft sweet-smelling milk is released from the oats to create a luxurious hydrating bath.