Designing herbal soaps

It can be the ultimate for those with a Swadeshi bent of mind- making one's own soap, giving it the perfume of one's choice and the medicinal qualities one desires.

At the training camps run by the Centre for Gandhian Studies, University of Kerala, the Gandhi Centre for Rural Development and the Gandhi Darshan Samithy, the art of making soap is demystified, for starters. Participants are told that the methodology for making soap is something that they can master in a few hours.

``Get the proportions and the mixing correct, allow sufficient time for setting, and you have soap on your hands,'' explains Jacob Pulickan, the Director of the Centre for Gandhian studies.

Initially, the participants are taught the basics, then comes a demonstration. After that, the participants themselves are asked to make the soap.

The main attraction of this soap, named `Swadeshi', is that all ingredients, including the perfume, are natural and the base is pure coconut oil.

All necessary ingredients are supplied at the camp itself.

There is great variety too in `Swadeshi' soap.

You have `Tulsi' soaps, those that have `Ramacham', which is good for the skin, soaps that contain `Pulthailam'(lemon grass), which is good for fighting allergies, you have the traditional sandal variety... These soaps cannot be found in retail outlets.

They are only sold by direct marketing.

Thus, whatever money is generated through sales goes directly to the person doing the marketing.

According to Dr. Pulickan, once `Swadeshi' is sold to customers, many of them exercise the option of buying the soap without the packaging, with only the tissue paper covering.

This brings down cost of production and also the price of the soap itself.

By Mahadevan G

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