Friday, November 8, 2013

Want to make soap, but feel uneasy?

February, 2001 I picked up my first soap making book. I was instantly captivated with the thought of making my own soap!

It was not until 9 months later (having all I needed sitting in my cupboard) that I actually forced myself to budge out of my apprehensions of using lye!

Although my guest speaker did not have the same trepidation's that I did, she still had concerns about using lye.

I have known Tracy for over thirty years. There is a resourceful side of her that I feel genuinely akin to. Though we live many miles apart, and rarely correspond, when we do connect I find we have the same interests in making our own home and beauty products! 

I have taught others how to make soap, but was overjoyed to be able to teach someone via Skype! I have asked Tracy to be a quest on my blog, which she so willing accepted.

Thank you Tracy!

Here is her account on soap-making......

Hot and Cold

A lot of people start their journey of homemade products with bar soap. It is a fun place to start, with so many options for pretty colors and molds. There are many variations, and you can make truly beautiful and unique soaps.

This is not where my journey started.

By the time I got to making bar soap, I had made a host of other home and beauty products ranging from cleaning supplies and laundry detergent to lotion and deodorant. I had even dabbled in makeup.

I had been wanting to tackle bar soap for a while; it seemed silly that I’d never done it. I even did some research on soap and bought lye and it sat in my cupboard for nearly a year. I had been warned about the dangers of lye, and there never seemed to be a time when there were not small children and pets underfoot.

My mom and I decided to make it a project while she was visiting. That way, she could run interference with the little ones if necessary. When Valerie suggested Skyping with us during the soap making process, I was excited to have her expertise. Finally, the motivation I needed!

First, I had to decide which method I wanted to use, since soap can be made using either the hot method or the cold method. The hot method allows you to use the soap right away, because the saponification process happens quickly. The cold process allows a lot more flexibility for doing decorative things but must sit for about 6 weeks to complete the saponification process.

I chose to make my first batch using the hot method, because I did not have the patience to wait six weeks to try it out! We measured the ingredients out ahead, and I realized I was out of one ingredient. Valerie suggested a substitution, and we were on our way. It was a simple recipe with a handful of ingredients, so it did not take long to mix up. The longest part was waiting for the soap to saponify once it was in the crock pot and mixed. That part can take a little while, depending on the conditions. 

It was really neat watching the soap as it bubbled up around the edges and changed color and texture. When it looked done, I tested it to make sure it had successfully saponified by touching it to my tongue. There was no shock, which would indicate that the process was incomplete, so we mixed in the scent oil and poured it into the molds.
We put the soap in the fridge for a few hours to cool and set up, and it was ready to use! It was still on the soft side, but definitely a solid bar of soap. It turned out a semi-translucent yellowish color because I used extra olive oil in place of the shea butter I did not have, creating a castile soap. It was very nice to use: it lathered beautifully, smelled lovely and left my skin feeling soft and clean. Over the course of the next several weeks, it hardened into a firmer bar that makes lots of suds upon use. This soap gets used up a little more quickly than harder soaps, but is wonderful if you like lots of lather.

Later, my mom and I tried out the cold method to see the difference. This time, I made sure I had shea butter. This method was very similar to the hot method, except we didn’t have to put it in the crock pot to saponify. Once mixed up, it went straight into the molds.

The cold process soap turned out a lovely creamy color 

because of the shea butter. I put it up in the storage room above our garage where no one (me) would be tempted to mess with it, and when I checked it after about 5 weeks, it was ready. I am very pleased with this soap. It is exactly what I picture a bar of soap being like in texture and use, sudsing up nicely but not as much as the castile soap. The only thing I would have done differently is pop it out of the mold and cut it sooner to avoid crumbling.

The next time I make soap, I will try the second recipe with the shea butter but use the hot method. I loved the hot method because I could actually watch the mixture become soap and I got to try out the end result the same day. This process works very well for my current purposes of making a simple, functional soap. It will be interesting to see how similar the end product is to that of the same recipe with the cold method.

With a few simple precautions in place, making soap was easy and fun. And very addictive. I am hooked now, because all those pretty pictures of soaps are calling me to try out the molds, the colors, the endless possibilities....

Thank you again Tracy!

Have a Great weekend everyone!

1 comment:

  1. Good job Tracy! Beautiful bars! And what a great idea, learn to soap via Skyp!