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

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Lavender Cold-Process Soap

My mom loves lavender, so while we were visiting I helped her make a batch of lavender soap. It's not very often I get to teach my talented mother anything. She was an instant pro at the soap-making of course.

It was a lot of fun. I just love making soap, and I purchased a bunch of supplies to make several batches in the next few weeks, so bear with me.

This is the recipe I used:

Olive Oil = 152 grams

Canola Oil = 454 grams

Coconut Oil = 454 grams

Lard = 454 grams

Sodium hydroxide (lye) = 217 grams

Distilled Water = 378 grams

Lavender Essential Oil = 1.33 grams for strong scent

And here are the instructions:

First, set out ALL your ingredients and supplies. You don't want to be scrambling for something while you are supposed to be stirring.

The ingredients we used this time were coconut oil, canola oil, olive oil, lard, distilled water, lye (sodium hydroxide), and lavender essential oil.

Next, make your mold using a box or something similar. We lined it with a garbage bag and set it on a heavy tray for ease of transport.

Now you're ready to measure. We used a scale to measure all the oils right into a stockpot. Everything is measured to the nearest gram. Now slowly heat the oils until they are melted. This takes a little while.

While waiting, measure out the fragrance into a small container and measure the water into a large stainless steel or glass container to prepare for the lye mixture.

Okay, the oils are all melted and are almost up to temperature (about 120 degrees, but I just guess. Exact temperature is not critical.)

Now it's time to get on some protective gear, gloves, long sleeves, eye protection, shoes, and bandana. Yup, there is no vanity in soap making.

We mixed the lye in the garage because of the snow and wind outside. Just carefully and slowly pour the lye into the water, stirring constantly to dissolve the particles. It turns really cloudy, then quite clear. Once it is clear there aren't the harmful fumes. It heats up now, and the goal is to get the oil and the lye mixture to be about the same temperature. The hotter it is, the longer the soap will take to "thicken". I usually wait until the side of the bowl is just barely uncomfortable to the touch, but not burning hot.

Now make sure to pour the lye into the fat and not the other way around. I was distracted by a crying baby and didn't give this instruction to mom, but luckily it worked out just fine. The danger in pouring the fats into the lye is that not all the fat will get transfered and you will have lye-heavy soap. NOT good. Exactness is the key in soap-making.

Okay, now it's time to blend and blend and stir and blend some more with the immersion blender. Have I mentioned how much I love this kitchen gadget? Well I do. Anyway, you stir and stir until the oil stops floating on the top and the mixture begins to "trace" which means thicken. It will resemble the consistency of runny hair conditioner.

Now pour in your fragrance oil and blend and stir some more. Once it starts to look like thicker conditioner it is time to pour the soup out ASAP. Make sure to get every drop out with a rubber spatula.

Place the mold in a cold oven with the light on, for about 24 hours or so.

After the soap has hardened a bit it's time to cut it into bars with a sharp knife. It was getting quite hard, so we cut it the next day. Sometimes I have waited a couple of days.

She cut some large and some smaller bars. Aren't they pretty? They smell really nice too.

Great job Mom!

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