Daila Herbal: Soap To Heal
When Ma. Aleli V. Pansacola owner of Daila Herbal pioneer manufacturer of natural herbal soap in the Philippines joined Maximo Kalaw Jr.’s Philippine Institute for Alternative Future, he made her the head of Botika sa Baryo, a program which taught people how to plant herbs such as lagundi, banaba, bungang tsina and sambong in barangays.
The locals were also hearing lectures on values formation. However, they seemed more concerned about how to make their herbal gardens a source of income.
Pansacola started looking into essential oils. Based on her research, the Philippines’ largest export of essential oil is citronella, which is used for aroma essences and organic insecticides. The Philippines also produces essential oils from ylang-ylang and patchouli as a base for perfume. Ylang-ylang oil costs some P10,000 per liter.
The PIAF experimented with growing citronella in Kalaw’s farm in Caliraya, Laguna, Pansacola developed a method to extract oil. She approached a multinational firm that tested the citronella oil, Although the oil had passed the company’s international standards, it was not willing to buy their natural herbal products.
From her research, Pansacola learned that essential oils were used in soap. According to a study, the Philippines imports 85 percent of the ingredients used for cleaning such as shampoo and soaps.
The best essential oil used for cleaning is coconut oil because of its ability to lather, remove dirt and saponify or convert fat into a natural herbal soap to treat it with an alkali.
Considering that coconut oil is in abundance here, Pansacola thought that it was feasible to produce our own laundry soaps using local organic products.
She took up a course in soap production and developed her own using Philippine essential oils from patchouli, yerba buena, dayap, and ylang- ylang.
She worked with her livelihood program, Daila Herbal Community Services, which helped source her raw materials for her discovery of natural herbal soap, which could be used for washing and bathing.
This was not a detergent since it did not contain alkyl benzene, a toxic emulsifier; sodium silicate, a hardener; and phosphate and zeolite which cause the eutrophication of water. These minerals incite the build-up of nutrients that support a dense growth of algae and organisms that decay easily. This results in polluted lakes and rivers.
"Alkyl benzene is banned in several countries,” says Pansacola. “That's why lakes, at the bottom, have these gray and slimy Substances. People can no longer take a bath in some waters in Lucban and Banahaw."
Pansacola's natural herbal soap contains coconut oil and patchouli and citronella essences.
Alkali was another important ingredient. It was sourced from organic lihiya or the ashes of coconut leaves. This helped in saponification.
***Published in a local newspaper "Philippine Daily Inquirer" and written by Marge Enriquez