Ozarque sent me a copy of Mother Earth News with a recipe in it for shampoo. I had all the ingredients on hand, so I whipped up a batch, and it is a very good shampoo. It leaves the hair soft and clean.

Here’s the recipe:

10 ounces water
1-2 ounces liquid soap (I get mine from Brambleberry — you can also get it at the health food store)
1 teaspoon glycerin or almond oil (I used almond oil)
20-35 drops essential oil

First boil up some herbs in the water (I used peppermint from my garden) and make a nice strong infusion — that is to say, tea. Mix everything up. I used honey fragrance oil (from Sweetcakes) and went around all day smelling like mint and honey, but you could go with aromatherapy blends or use lavender for its antibacterial properties.

Why would you want to make your own shampoo? Shampoo is cheap. It seems hardly worth your time.

Well, for one thing, cheap shampoo is cheap because it is made from water and small amounts of cheap petroleum byproducts. It is then packaged in bottles made from petroleum and shipped — using lots of fuel to transport that water and packaging — to your store.

For another, it is cheaper yet to make your own. This is sort of like baking. If you never bake, and have to go out and buy butter, flour, sugars, oats, vanilla, cinnamon, nuts, raisins, and eggs before you can make any cookies, then you would find it cheaper to buy cookies from the girl scouts. If you have the stuff on hand, it is cheaper to bake your own. For me, grabbing the herbs from my garden and the tiny quantities of active ingredients from my crafts cupboard makes this excellent shampoo a bargain.

But just as having the basic ingredients for baking on hand makes it possible to bake lots of things, having some personal care ingredients on hand means you can make your own lip balm, hand or body lotion, foot scrub, bubble bath, and so forth any old time you need some. And the prices on those things can be staggering.

Making your own also means that you can give it the scent you want, or none at all. You can use herbs that have some healthful properties, if you are knowledgeable about that. If you are going to use collections of exotic herbs, you might want to get some ph paper to make sure that your shampoo ends up slightly acidic, since that is best for the resilience of your hair. I wouldn’t worry about any herb traditionally used for hair care — mint, lavender, rosemary, chamomile, sage.

Just in case you are now filled with a burning desire to make this shampoo, I must warn you not to make more than this at one time. Even though you boil the water and herbs, there are always chances of bacteria growth if you leave plant matter sitting around a long time. So make it and use it.

This has made me think about how my mother was telling me the other day that my brother doesn’t trust anything homemade. Fresh eggs, homebrewed ale, stuff like that makes him nervous. He prefers to have things that have been made in a factory.

He wasn’t there at the time, so we can only speculate on his reasoning. Perhaps he thinks that the government regulates commercial goods so that they are guaranteed to be safe. Or maybe he figures there are chemists checking everything out and making sure that the setting in which the stuff is made is clean and wholesome.

A very little research will disabuse a person of that notion.