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Our custom of the proverbial Saturday night bath dates far back in history with the Ancient Romans. Various nobles of this time had bath houses for themselves, while the rest of the populace used a public bath facility. As with most things in Rome, the baths became rather spectacular among those with money and often included hot and cold running servants with food and wine!

The Romans weren’t alone in their passion for bathing. Jewish traditions have very strong guidelines for what’s acceptable in the temple in terms of personal cleanliness. Islamic regions adopted the Roman bathing customs into what we now call a Turkish Bath, and bathing was very important to their religious rituals as well. Going even further East, the baths of China and Japan were more ancient still, cleanliness being considered lucky.

In all of these settings it wasn’t uncommon to read about various types of aromatic herbs and flowers being added to the hot water. Some were added just for the scent, while others were added because of their purported healthful qualities. One recipe I found called for a woman with “female problems” to soak in tansy, feverfew and Mullin to ease tensions. Other popular herbs included lavender, rose, rosemary, and pine.

Making your own body soak is not only easy, but it’s a rather decadent pleasure. I suggest using a well-washed stocking or cheesecloth in which to house your chosen aromatics. What type you use depend on your goal. One that I use for smooth skin is a blend of oatmeal, coconut extract (added to the oatmeal – 1 tsp to one cup), orange pekoe tea (bags are fine), and powdered milk. Both the milk and the tea should also equal about one cupful. Mix the ingredients together and make up to three good-sized bundles tied into the stocking or cheesecloth for use whenever you wish. Note, however, that the aroma of the coconut will fade over time and may need refreshing.

If that blend isn’t your cup of tea (pun intended), then consider what you most need. If you’re feeling stressed out, lavender, rose and a little citrus rind make a wonderful aromatherapy bath. For this soak, I recommend some soothing music (safely put in an area away from the water) and even candlelight (which is much easier on the eyes). While you’re at it, grab a couple of cucumber slices and put them over your eyes to give them a rest too! Or, if you enjoy pantry aromatics, bundle up some vanilla bean, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. I swear this blend smells like fresh baked cookies.

Really there’s no “wrong” way to make a soak other than avoiding anything to which you (or someone to whom you’re gifting) is allergic. Don’t be shy-give it a try.


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