Soap and skin creams from reindeer fat – really!?

Yes - really! Reindeer fat truly comply to skin pampering creams and tender soaps

Soft skin creams form out of reindeer fat, vegetable oil, beeswax, water, Borax (Sodium Borate – a mineral salt of boric acid) and a few drops of lavender and rosemary (which works as a natural conservation). The cream remains fresh for three months when kept in a lidded jar and protected from direct light exposure.

The Norwegian Environment Agency, Sámi Educational Institute and Metsähallitus arranged a two day workshop under the theme of Sustainable development and use of local herbs and natural materials in the production of convenient local small scale commercial products. Over twenty five participants from Norway, Russia and Finland, from the Pasvik-Inari-Pechenga regions took part in the workshop. Five languages were spoken on the workshop – English, Norwegian, Sámi, Finnish and Russian.  

The work shop was led by Bjørn Arne Næss from the Norwegian Environment Agency. He has experience from comparable actions in other parts of the European Green Belt – namely from the Balkan Green Belt in Macedonia and Bulgaria. Sustainable local development and small scale businesses are as important to promote in the Pasvik-Inari- Pechenga area, on all sides of the three national borders.

Participants had already wide knowledge of local herbs and their usage – so the vital part of the workshop was to facilitate discussions and cross-border networking and to inspire to new and innovative ways of using local herbs in small scale local production. In addition to the skin creams and soaps, also shampoo, fine chocolate pralines and spiced chocolate plates, caramels and energy bars were produced.

The joy and excitement was easy to read on the faces of the workshop participants as they with eagerness and excitement steered in the different mixtures - awaiting the right temperature or transformation of the consistence. The most delicate and appetizing to make was of course the fine chocolates – and the pralines with many interesting fondants was surprisingly easy to make too!  Pralines with honey crisp nut fondant – sounds very tasty, doesn’t it? Energy bars with dried reindeer meet combined with either lingonberries or cloudberries – is a very nutritious part of a packed forest lunch.

It was also rewarding to experience that the making of all these nice local products is not rocket science! All though you have to have some basic knowledge and of course use protective gloves and glasses when dealing with the strongly alkaline soap mixtures. With the easy instructions and recipes, local herbs and other natural materials from the kitchen garden, nearby forest or local shops and pharmacy you are in good progress of manufacturing nice products in your own kitchen.

Already under the workshop the discussion was buzzing – what one can reach to produce for Christmas gifts and what herbs and material one should gather next summer…

A follow-up workshop is also already requested – so let’s see if the Sámi Educational Institute reaches to implement this before Christmas! And maybe a series of workshops will be arranged in the future in both Norway and Russia too… 


The workshop was funded by: