When Tim Tyndall retired from being a university science professor, he needed a hobby. So “Dr. T,” as he is known around the Appalachian mountains of North Carolina, put his botany, biology and chemistry expertise to use by making soap in a shed in his backyard. That pastime, which began in 1997, now churns out more than 130 different kinds of soap – one of the largest varieties of the handmade product in the United States.
Now trading under the banner of The Blue Ridge Soap Shed, the master soapmaker always starts from scratch and insists on using raw ingredients in his original recipes. It may seem like an unusual hobby for a mountain man, but it’s a functional craft to Dr. T – following the Appalachian heritage of making traditional Grandma’s Ole Lye Soap, which was at one time the primary means of hygiene in the area.
Based on the sheer number of variations made by the former scientist, you can imagine they offer some unusual soaps. There are practical versions to keep away bugs, soothe poison ivy rashes, combat hard-to-treat skin conditions and even remove strong food odors for cooks. And while they have plenty of pleasant regional scents with names like Fresh Mountain Air and Carolina Kudzu, they specialize in understanding that men don’t want to smell like roses or lavender.
Being his own test market, Dr. T created an entire selection of handmade soaps just for men. He offers a first-aid soap with Tea Tree Oil, the Hardworking Hands bar made with cornmeal grits to get out the grime, Gentleman Caller with goat milk that lathers up for shaving, and Cabin Fever with a light woods scent with herbs and resins.
Whatever you need from a good bar of soap, odds are Dr. T is pouring it into one of his chunky blocks. Available for about $5 each from his website: The Blue Ridge Soap Shed.