Ah, homemade soap


There are many things I should be doing right now.  Trying for a nap, AGAIN, like the other tries were so helpful today.  Take care of laundry.  Oh wait, that was just the washer that just chimed.  Not the dryer.  Taking a bath since I work tonight, a whole FOUR hours.  Sometimes I just don’t understand the scheduling.  Taking care of the myriad of messes rampaging through the apartment.  Yeah, I have a lot to do.

First, I have to apologize to Stick for taking so long to get this batch of soap made.  She asked me last Summer to make her some.  One thing led to another distraction, which led to another distraction, which led to a broken scale, which led to schlepping out to replace the broken scale, which led to moving, which led to packing and unpacking, which led to a new job, which led to the holidays, and voilà.   Here we are.


Getting a trace


I started making soap around 2003.  I did a lot of research in order to come up with my own recipe.  In the end, I decided to stick with a tried and true recipe.  To make the countless batches to perfect my own recipe would have taken too much time, too much money, and too much hazardous waste to put the effort in.  I remember fondly, my first attempt at making soap.  I stirred and stirred and stirred to get that “trace” (a little trail that is left behind when stirred) which signifies the soap is ready to pour into the mold.  I stirred for over an hour while watching my Highlander DVDs.  I switched arms back and forth and back and forth until I had enough.  I finally got out my immersion blender and sacrificed it all in the name of homemade soap.  Because you see, everything you use for making soap has to be dedicated to soap making only.  Once I used the immersion blender, it was just a matter of minutes before I had a trace.  I kicked myself for not using it in the first place.  By the way, the picture on the right…I learned just how difficult it is to operate an immersion blender and camera at the same time.  Definitely harder than chewing gum and walking at the same time.


Super fatting the soap - adding more oil in after getting a trace, lavender essential oil


For the most part, soap making is pretty easy.  It gets time consuming in the waiting for your lye/water and oil blends to each get to the right temperature before you can mix them.   That, and making sure your kitchen is clean in preparation for all this havoc you’ll wreak.

Our new kitchen doesn’t have nearly the long counters I used to have.  As you can see below, the soap mold I have is pretty long.  I had to set it over the sink to pour the soap in, and then put it on the dining room table to let it set.  I think the whole making soap for the first time in my still new to me kitchen was a new experience.  I had issues all through the process.  My lye was sticking together when I was trying to measure it out.  The new scale shut off on me while I was measuring stuff out.  I splashed my oil mix everywhere and on me (note to self: USE YOUR APRONS YOU FOOL!).  I had a more difficult time getting a trace.  The soap took longer to set – several days rather than 6-8 hours.  When it was finally “set” it was still a bit tacky and difficult to cut.  The first picture, you can see the indentation on the right from my thumb.  That shouldn’t have happened.  That was the following morning after pouring it in the mold.  I let the soap set longer so I didn’t deform every single piece.


Getting it out of the mold to cut


While it might seem tedious, making your own soap is well worth it.  You can shave it down and melt it with some water to make liquid soap, bubble bath, etc.  You can scent it on your own without making it perfume-y like some soaps on the market.  You know exactly what is going in your soap and you don’t have to worry about excess chemicals and toxins.  I have only bought bar soap once since 2003, and that was when I thought a batch wouldn’t be cured before I ran out of soap.  Yeah, I have a tendency to cut it close.  That bar of soap is still sitting unused.  I just love that the soap I use is soap I crafted myself.  I make my own soap unscented.  Any soap I make scented is at the request of friends.  Stick wanted lavender soap to help calm her son, who has Autism.  I have another friend who asks for patchouli.

If you were ever wondering about making soap, here’s your push to do it.  The batch you see in mold is a doubled recipe and it lasts me months.  Not quite so long when my husband uses it.

So, what are you waiting for?