Saturday, February 8, 2014

Adventures in Soap Making

At Thanksgiving, my sister introduced me to the blog Offbeat and Inspired and gave me a bar of walnut honey soap for Christmas. She had made the soap herself and showed me this tutorial on the cold press method of soapmaking. As a former chemistry teach now teaching math, the introduction of a "lab" element into my life besides cooking intrigued me. I do love cooking, but it also involves eating and then the need to workout. Vicious cycle.

I have found that in order for me to have a successful craft it has to be done in short time. Scarves, yes. Blankets, no. Cold press soap involves an hour or so of work and then a 4-6 week waiting time. Perfect for me. I also like crafts that are consumable and usable. When the soap is done, it's gone. Sweet. When ordering Christmas gifts, I looked for soap making equipment like an immersion blender, a digital thermometer, a silicone loaf pan, and a digital kitchen scale. Soap making involves more of an investment than knitting but less than woodworking. After investing in equipment there is also the ingredients; lye, oils and essential oils. Essential oils are the most expensive ingredient. Since lye is involved I wore goggles, lab apron, face mask and gloves. The children were kept away. I shudder to think if they came in contact with the concentrated lye mixture.

Here's my soap box
I followed the recipe for Orange Olive Soap. Here's how it went...

I put out all my ingredients.
I mixed my lye solution. It gets very hot (165 F) but cooled off quickly in my 44 F garage.
As the lye cooled, I measured my oils and heated them in the microwave.
The oils and the lye have to be between 100- 125 F to mix.
Ready to mix the lye with the oils
Blend with immersion blender until "trace" occurs. Trace is when it starts to set.
Adding orange essential oil at "trace"
Pour the soap into mold and wait 24-48 hours for it to set

After 24- 48 hours the soap is set enough to cut.
Out of the mold and ready to cut
11 bars and ready to cure

My first batch is almost ready. I've made second batch of the same recipe since then as well as this peppermint mocha soap.

Peppermint Mocha

For the first week of curing the essential oils in the soap are so strong. Certain areas of my house smell fantastic. Next time I will be trying my own recipe. My husband has asked for a more masculine soap so I'll be making a lemon eucalptus coconut soap. I will probably have some available for sale too. It's fun to make, and I can't wait to try the first bars just after Valentine's Day.

1 comment:

  1. Ooo! This looks so fun! And I can't wait to hear how the lemony one turns out!