About Redgum Soaps
Australia's first solar powered soapmaking
Vicki Younger founded Redgum Soaps in 1997 after she began making soap to solve her own sensitive skin problems. She discovered that the key factors to making skin friendly soaps are using high quality ingredients and traditional methods that result in a very mild, long lasting and luxurious soap.
Redgum Soaps specialises in making cold process castile soaps from extra virgin olive oil.
After noticing the difference between mass produced soaps and her own mild castile soap, Vicki and partner Roger Bunyan, realised they had the basis for a successful business. This led Vicki to question other skincare products with sensitive skin in mind, resulting in a range of skincare products containing no synthetic additives.
“Redgum” is Australia’s first solar powered soapmaking facility. Vicki and Roger are passionate about living a sustainable lifestyle and their business with its low energy needs fitted the bill perfectly to fit in with their ethics and beliefs.
The property is situated on 2.2 hectares (5.5 acres) at Brogo, in the Bega Valley in the south east of Australia.
The house is an adobe (mud brick) construction with more than 6,000 handmade bricks weighing over 120 tonnes and took Roger four years to construct. Roger made the bricks on site using the clay soil cleared from the building site and the timber for the roofing frame was locally harvested and milled.
The entire construction was built using electricity supplied from a solar power system, demonstrating that it is possible to construct buildings with almost zero embodied energy.
Electricity for home and business use is supplied from a photovoltaic solar panel array and battery storage system. Hot water is supplied by a gas boosted solar hot water system. Solar power was chosen over the closely available grid connection to demonstrate that renewable energy systems are capable of supplying not just the household needs but also the business needs.
The Redgum household and soap factory water requirements are met by stored rainwater that is collected from the house and workshop roof tops. Garden and toilet flushing needs are supplied from a dam on the property. Water is pumped using solar power, to storage tanks which gravity feed to the house and workshop.
A permaculture design has been implemented to integrate orchards, vegetable gardens, chickens and trees into everyday life on the property. The permaculture design was chosen over many conventional methods of food producing gardens because it is rich in diversity and it will provide a feast of organically grown food with minimum effort.