Monday, June 28, 2010

Made a Batch of Soap Today

It's been a while since I made a batch of handmade soap. Now that all our regular homeschool and extra-curricular activities are over the first thing I'm doing is catching up on some things I have wanted to do but didn't have time for.

Today to reaquaint myself with soapmaking I made the simple recipe from Sandy Maine's book Clean, Naturally: Oatmeal Complexion Soap (and it is also in her smaller book The Soap Book). Yes, I own both.  I just modified it to "superfat" it (this is the first time I'm trying that). I added three ounces of melted shea butter after the saponification process. This extra fat will act as a skin emollient and will leave a layer of enriching oil on the skin to make it soft and keep it from getting dry.

Here are some photos of the soap in process today. It has to sit for a few days before being cut into bars then allowed to cure for about a month.

Truth be told the reason I make this from scratch is to get a superior product for a very low price. My cost to make this soap is less than the cheapest crappy soap sold in a store but a similar handcrafted product would cost $5-6 at full retail. I love the part about thinking about  making the soap and reading recipes and thinking about what I'd like to try next. The soapmaking is fun but the part where you have to get two separate pots of liquid to within 95-98 degrees at the same moment in time tries my patience and honestly is annoying. I can't wait to try more complex recipes, especially some with flower blossoms or strong scents.

All in all I find this fun. It's a lot of work though, this first step in the process takes abou two hours so it's time consuming.

The main ingredients: olive oil, coconut oil, vegetable shortening and blenderized oatmeal. Not shown: distilled water and lye, and the shea butter.

Melted oils:

After adding the lye and water solution:

The tracing stage, after the two solutions have saponified (turned into soap). Note the change in consistency and color, it looks more creamy. I had just started to add some oatmeal at this point so you may see some flecks. I was stirring it here, the tracing stage doesn't leave huge grooves like that!

The finished soap with all the oatmeal added then the shea butter added last, about to be poured into the mold (a 94 cent Sterlite plastic container the size of a shoe box).