Migraines and maybe VOCs – Noooooooo……

I had great plans of just a quick soap update – and then the flashing zigzags crept across my vision for the second time in a week. Normally I might get a migraine once a year or not for a few years, so twice in a week is odd.

I know the triggers – for me mostly amines in foods (in excess), or those vile smells in supermarket cleaning aisles (another reason I avoid the supermarket), many perfumes, deodorisers, etc – and certain essential oils when concentrated.

Usually pretty easily avoided.

Sadly, I am suspecting the Lavender soap. It has quite a strong scent, and the newly ready soap has been under my nose a bit recently.


So – I consulted Dr Google – and found “VOC’s” – volatile organic compounds – which are the “smell” bits of the essential oils responsible for their aromatherapy properties – small enough to cross the blood brain barrier and act on the ancient (limbic) part of our brain and nervous system, usually to good effect. Certain of these VOCs may cause various symptoms including headaches in some people. I suspect lavender, peppermint, tea tree and sandalwood all contain the type of VOC’s that tip my brain out of whack.  Somewhere, I found an article to that effect but it has disappeared into the night’s brain cloud.

Another cause of environmental “VOCs” is smog or tree smoke – and there are burn-offs happening somewhere – probably miles away – out in the bush. The air in our city has been thick with smoke for 2 days now. Just waiting for the wind to change and take it away.

I will investigate this more when I have time – I suspect the soaps will have less of these oils in, in the future.

I unloaded and sliced the weekend’s lemon / lime / ginger soap – it is really soft and smells gentle.


And yesterday’s experimental soap – the one for my friend who wanted “bits” in the soap so it doesn’t slip out of her hands – all we had on hand was some rolled oats, which we ground down a bit, and some cardamom seeds, which we attempted to grind, but I don’t think they changed much. My friend wanted a spicy / citrus soap, so I added cinnamon, orange and sandalwood for fragrance. I had read that adding oats causes a big “gel phase” reaction, so I put the soap into a silicon muffin tray and unwrapped it when it got really hot (which it did quickly) – it really darkened at this stage:


After only 24 hours, it popped easily out of the tray, and was quite hard and shiny:


It smells (and looks) good enough to eat. I have sliced these guys in half and left them now to cure – it will be interesting to see whether this experiment is a success!


In the meantime, I will be staying away from lavender, sandalwood, peppermint and hopefully smoke and smog for a while, and hoping this headache is gone in the morning, when I plan to “wake up and smell the roses”.




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