"Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things."

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Handmade Cold-Process Soap

I have been waiting and waiting for my soap class, and today was the day. It was a rather involved process. I felt like a chemist. (And I was!) It's a little scary to learn all the things that can go wrong, but my teacher really knows what she is doing and everything went perfectly.

Today I made "Apple Jack", which is a really yummy apple cinnamon smell. The soap ingredients are avocado oil, canola oil, coconut oil, lard, distilled water, and fragrance. It is IMPERATIVE that you follow the recipe precisely, without alteration. We measured everything exactly in grams.

First you precisely measure out all the oils into a large stock pot. Place the pot on a warm stove and let it sit until melted and thoroughly warm with a smooth consistency.

While the oils are heating, measure out your distilled water into a glass bowl.

Now it's time to use the lye. Nasty stuff. Use goggles, apron, closed-toe shoes, gloves, and a mask if you happen to be pregnant. We also did this part outside for an extra precaution. Lye looks like tiny tapioca or something. She had it already measured out, so I just had to slowly sprinkle into the distilled water and stir. It heats up and dissolves quickly.

Now you have to wait until the lye and the oils are both about the same temperature. Hot, but not too hot to touch. The hotter the lye is the faster the soap will "trace", which sort of means thickens. When they reach the appropriate temperature you pour the lye through a strainer into the oils very carefully, and stir with a stick blender for about five minutes or until it begins to thicken.

When the soap starts to "trace" it sort of looks like the consistency of hair conditioner. I don't know how else to describe it. Let it set for a minute until it reaches the proper consistency and then pour in the measured amount of fragrance. I guess this finishing part is where most people mess up. When it's the perfect consistency you pour the contents into your box/form/mold and place it in a cold oven with the light on. It starts to heat up again and begins to go through the process called "saponification". This means that the chemical process is actually turning the lye and lard into soap. The soap cures in the box like this for 24 hours, then you can cut it in about 2 days. The final curing process takes about three weeks. Then your fabulous soap is ready to use. I'm so excited!!

Somebody really needs to invent a scratch-and-sniff widget for blogs. It seriously smells so delicious. (I hope no one tries to eat it, but in all reality it's probably not for the kids.)

It was actually a little easier than I expected, but I don't dare try it on my own quite yet. The next batch I want to do is with Hungarian Moor Mud and anise. It's a bit more advanced.

This homemade soap is fantastic for dry skin, lathers wonderfully, smells great, lasts longer than regular soap, and has no added chemicals or detergents, and has the added bonus of the extra glycerin and good stuff from the oils. I love the idea of it. It is a little bit costly to get started, but I made this entire batch for $12.00. It will make roughly 18-21 bars (depending on how small I cut them). I really enjoyed the process. I just may have found a new obsession...


Melissa said...
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Melissa said...

How fascinating! I wish they offered a class around here! Question - how long did the whole process take?

Bryce and Sharee said...

That is cool. I like the idea too of using homemade soaps that are so much better for your skin. Your skin will be so soft! Sounds fun.

BrittanyLane said...

It was actually much faster than I anticipated. I was home in less than two hours, and that included a lot of talking, teaching, and explaining. I would guess that it would take just over an hour to make a batch by myself. Faster than a loaf of bread!

Brittany said...

Ummm...I got lost in all of that. But it does sound fun and would be fun to make.

Anna said...

I am dying to smell (and try) this wonderful soap! You are seriously the next Martha Stewart.