Friday, October 13, 2006

Making Soap

I haven’t make soap in a really long time, and the longer I put it off, the more I seem to dread making soap. Today was the day. It was so much easier to take the car out of the garage and set up my skirting table. That was the first thing I did differently. The second thing that really made is easier was to use all the ice from the icemaker that we installed in our refrigerator several months ago. I was able to cool the oils and lye down quickly. I wish I had thought of both a long time ago. You can see the two five gallon buckets of coconut and palm soap oils. I buy my supplies from The Soap Saloon in Sacramento. Last year when Amy and I went to Lambtown, I stopped by and picked up two buckets - shipping is pretty expensive. Here the oil is hard or semi-hard and often I have to cut it with a butcher knife to weigh it, so I was surpised to hear the oil sloshing in the back of the car. It has never been liquid here and I realized that in some places, it really is oil. I always mix the lye in the garage - it's just plain nasty.

I pour my oils and lye together at 86 degrees and stir for nine minutes. It’s like pudding at trace. I’ve seen women on the HGTV craft shows use an electric stirring thing and it’s really stiff when they put it in the mold. I like using the French whip and pour when it’s like a very thick white sauce. See – I used to know how to cook and I cooked from scratch, making my own sauces, no canned soups. That was my organic phase. Come to think of it, I'm still in my organic phase, just a different chapter. Why else would I go to all this work to make vegetarian soap? I do scent the soap, but I only use essential oils, no fragrance oils which are synthetic. Essential oils come from real plants and that's they're real expensive.

I use a wooden mold that I had made for me years ago, and I line it with waxed butcher paper. It’s actually an origami box that I fold and then fit inside, securing with masking tape. Right now, the soap is one gigantic bar. I learned the hard way that when I’m making my infant soap all cozy, I need to do it both from the top and bottom. You can that I’ve put quilted place mats underneath. It’s important that the soap doesn’t cool too quickly from below.

And here it is all tucked in, snuggly warm. This is a very special quilt that was had made for us by my sister-in-law’s mother, who has known my husband since he was in high school. We have another beautiful quilt from my sister-in-law, but it’s in the drier, and I’ll add it to the top when it’s dry. Tomorrow, I’ll cut the block into bars and then let it age for two to three weeks. Soap loses moisture as it ages, so I like to allow some time for it to shrink before I put on my Campbell’s Soap band.


Birdsong said...

What a great soap tutorial... I have only made it a few times, what seems like a millenium ago, and I am so impressed.

Purple Fuzzy Mittens said...

Your soap is the only soap I use! My favorite is the Juice Bar and I will be needing some more soon.