They say you can’t wash away your troubles but making soap did just that for Adrian Botting. He regularly sells his wares at the Rotary Kyogle Bazaar, under a tree from which he often hangs bars of soap for display. Fittingly, he calls his business The Soap Tree, the leaves which Aboriginal people use for cleansing.
Six years ago ill health forced Grafton-based Adrian to give up driving a taxi and horticulture. He found himself destitute. Friend Michelle taught him to make soap – that became his lifeline. During a housesitting period in Kyogle he trawled the main streets selling soap from a granny cart.
Adrian still makes his cold-process body soaps at Michelle’s Nimbin studio. The ingredients are natural and ethical, constantly evolving to be more effective and moisturising. He uses olive, rice bran and coconut oils, beeswax, and essential oils for fragrance. He uses his favourite, with beeswax and honey, as a shampoo bar that he says is kind to his balding scalp. He even makes a soap for dogs’ fussy skin.
The equipment is simple – bucket, whisk, spatula, jugs, and silicon moulds he sources from op shops. It takes just 3 hours to prepare a batch of 20 bars, and 12 hours to set, but 6 weeks to cure, a process called saponification. There are no waste products.
Adrian’s first goal was to buy a vehicle. He’s done that. He can now focus on some wants rather than needs. Soap truly gave him a clean start.