Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Adventures in Soapmaking

I am so excited about my latest homemaking adventure!! As I've led my family's journey toward leading healthier lives and more self-sufficient living (by that I mean, not relying on commercially processed and mass produced items), I have become increasingly intrigued by the art of soap making. I say "intrigued" because it looks interesting and fun, but it has also been quite intimidating to me since it involves so much chemistry and math if you want to go above and beyond just a basic recipe.

Although I have been a bit intimidated by this craft, I decided that it would definitely be worth it for me to master this skill. So, I ordered my lye (you have to buy in bulk online since it is no longer available in stores. Thank you meth labs!) and bought the necessary oils. And this weekend, I finally ventured out into that great unknown world of soap making. I have to admit, I was quite nervous the whole time. I didn't pay enough attention in chem lab in college! :) The first batch actually didn't turn out well at all, but I was able to figure out how to rescue it. After "fixing" the problem, it turned out very well! It has dried enough to be cut into bars, and now they are sitting out to dry enough for hand milling. Here's the picture:

I am by no means any expert on soap making, but despite by anxiety concerning the math and science behind soap making, I really enjoyed the process! There's just something so special about getting to see and use the fruit of your hands. I have had several of you readers tell me that you are interested in starting soap making for your family as well. Here are the resources that I have found very useful:

  • This video series has been most helpful for me as I have begun my soapy journey. I basically just followed her step by step.
  • This website has some good recipes as well as ideas about colorings, scents, etc. should you want to venture past plain lye soap.
  • This is the website that I used for my recipe. I used the "Cocanolive II" recipe, since I already had those oils on hand.
  • Note: the kind of soap I made is called "Cold Process" soap. So you can search the web for a good cold process recipe. There are lots of great websites with recipes out there! And there are even some recipes that help you make your own recipe and calculate the right ratio of lye to fats.
So, I'd love to hear...Have any of you made your own soaps before? Do you have any good resources to share with this slightly intimidated newbie?! :)


Wanda said...

That looks like fun. Thanks for sharing!