I made soap. Yep, I actually made my first batch of soap. 😀
Last year I attended a soap making workshop. It was a great morning out and I learned a lot but the structure of the course was a little loose and I felt insufficiently prepared to trial soap making. I was scared for sure. Mucking around with lye is not a wise idea. So, what to do? Dial a friend. 🙂
Gav from Greening of Gavin fame gave me a hand (he also teaches soap making workshops which I highly recommend) and helped set me on the right track. After gathering together my ingredients it was about finding a child free moment (or 30) to set about making soap. Last night I had 3 kids in bed and a husband out so I decided to give it a whirl. Scales, ingredients, jugs, jars, spoons, thermometres and a saucepan on the stove. The wood stove was on so I saved on fossil fuel usage by warming the oils on the wood heat. 🙂 Oils melted and warmed, lye in a stainless steel bowl outside (the fumes are awful) and then time to mix. I had my lovely stick blender too, purchased 2nd hand from eBay a while back. I gave it a go in just the melted oils to find out limitations before splashing occurred. Hot oil is far less damaging than lye and I wanted to make sure I wasn’t sending highly alkali oil and lye over my lounge or bench. A deep breath, one last read of the instructions and in went the lye. Blender in and carefully and warily I mixed it through.
Blending away I reached trace in mere minutes! I was most impressed. 🙂 In the absence of any soap scent to add I slugged in a goodly glurp of gardenia oil. Id seen oils used at the last course I was at and knew I needed to use far more than I thought I would so I doubled the amount I felt was reasonable. A heavenly smell reached through the house instantly. Good choice of oil! 🙂 Blended through and then I was at the nice thick custard into a milk carton stage (called trace in the more professional than me world 😉 ), performed with less ease than I hoped but little spillage too (thankfully). I have a 1L milk carton (the poor mans soap mould) and another carton with enough for a single large bar in the bottom covered in glad wrap and wrapped in a woolen blanket to cool slowly. Most happy.
The clean up was harder than one would expect. The soap covered gear doesn’t froth up yet as the soap needs to do its thing first so LOTS of detergent to lyse (break down) the fats and oils used to make the soap, gloves to protect my hands from the alkaline soap I’d just made and a scrub all around. I’ve never enjoyed washing up so much as I did last night – the scent was heavenly. 😉
I will peel open my soap tonight, cutting it free from its cartons and then slicing in order to let it set in bars. They will need to sit on a wire rack and cure for about 6 weeks by which time my gifted soap will likely be all used up. Perfect timing!
If you want to have a go making soap I highly recommend either buying yourself a soap making kit (I followed the cold-pressed method) or attending a course (Gav’s would be awesome 🙂 ) and learning how to do it properly. In all seriousness, lye is a potent substance and if not treated with the respect it deserves it can cause serious injury.
As an absolute beginner soap maker please do NOT follow my instructions as they are not eve instructions. Take the time, do it carefully and you will safely be able to make your own safe soap. 🙂
And sorry for the lack of photo’s. I was not intending to post about this but I’ve had my hand forced (you know who you are LYNDA! 😉 ). 🙂 If you want to see photos of what it looks like or find instructions then please check out here. 🙂