Today I made soap. I’ve made it before, but I needed a new batch and Mike had made a request for some Cinnamon Spice soap. The recipe I use is from the Soapmaker’s Companion, by Susan Miller Cavitch. It’s called the Soap Essentials bar made from olive oil, coconut oil and palm oil. Very simple, and so luxurious. Rebecca’s Soap Deli News is also an excellent source for instructions and ingredients to make cold process soap. Another resource I use is the Soap Queen for tutorials and supplies.
I am in awe of the soap making process. First, that someone figured out that if you mix oil and lye (sodium hydroxide) you’ll get soap. The discovery process can be mysterious. I love making soap, but I have to say that I always feel like I am forever a beginner, mainly because of the chemical process. I’m nervous of messing up some step that will cause me waste a batch. So far I’ve not had to throw anything out, so maybe my nervousness is a good thing. I will put a caution here: LYE (sodium hydroxide) is not to be messed around with. It’s an incredibly corrosive alkaline and both wet lye and dry lye solutions are highly caustic and may cause chemical burns, permanent injury or scarring, and blindness. Lye may be harmful or fatal if swallowed. Don’t take this lightly and by all means make sure you have eye protection, latex gloves and keep your limbs covered.
This recipe says that it will yield 40 bars, but my soap mold yields 48 for me (my bars are a little smaller). Mike and I go through about 2 bars every two weeks so a batch will last us 48 weeks. It will take 5-6 weeks to cure and will be ready sometime around the 2nd week of December. Patience is required for this soap, but it is so worth it.
Here are my steps (abbreviated version):
1. Mix lye with distilled water (let sit until the temperature drops to 80 degrees)
2. Mix oils together and heat to 80 degrees
3. When both lye and oils reach 80 degrees slowly drizzle lye into the oil stirring constantly.
4. When you’re able to see a trace of oil on the surface, mix in the fragrance and pour into the mold.
I don’t have any pictures of my soap in the mold because at that point you have to move really fast to get it covered. I will take a picture tomorrow to show you how it looks in the mold.
“This is me (Ellie) when I was about 3. Thankfully I grew into my ears, but you can imagine that it takes ALOT of soap to clean these babies!”