Cetraria islandica - Iceland moss
I am always careful not to pick endangered species. My parents were both biologists and both specialized in plants so I have been brought up with a healthy respect for nature. We don't have such variety of wild plants as more southerly countries, but we have some really nice ones. Alpines are of course right at home here, but I don't pick those since the habitat is really delicate and it is better to pick some of the plants that grow in lower altitudes, some of them weeds. Nettle grows here in abundance. Angelica too. And we have a wonderfully fragrant variety of thyme that I would love to try and capture in oil.
All plants are not equal, though. Some plants here are foreigners that have gotten quite out of control. They are strong and robust plants that run over the more delicate local flora. Good examples of these thugs are the Alaska lupin and Cow Parsley. Pretty plants, but quite a nuisance in our nature. These two I am picking in great quantities for my daughter's (fast approaching) wedding. Two flies in one... Flowers for free and preventing them setting more seed.
But this post was supposed to be about something local: The Iceland moss. This curious plant is really a lichen. It was traditionally been used here to feed starving people (that was the general condition back in the old days) and it is supposed to do really good things for you when eaten. It was used in cooking for soups and stuff, but also very commonly boiled in milk and drunk that way. It is considered antibiotic and was used for coughs and tuberculosis among other things. Topically it was used to treat boils! But use it in soap and you have this really nice, abrasive scrub.
The recipe I used is very simple. For something so natural and lovely I thought Olive oil is perfect and with a bit of Coconut. So the recipe turned out to be:
73% Dark Olive oil
27% Coconut oil.
The liquid (standard Soapcalc 38%) is Iceland moss tea and crumbled Iceland moss in the soap. SF 5%.
The stuff on top is dried Iceland moss, but that isn't such a good idea because it is very brittle. But it looked nice!