Wednesday, March 5, 2014

In Which Yours Truly Relates Her Soap-making Adventures

        Sorry I haven't been posting as much lately. As well as being extremely busy, my computer has some sort of a virus which makes it open advertisements (some of them quite unsavory) in new tabs all of the time, and I am not going to use it until my dad can fix the problem. My mom doesn't really like me using her computer too much, so that is the reason for the lack of posts. 
        So I mad soap the other day, and let me tell you, it was quite an experience. I used this recipe, which I had made before and loved - the only difference was that instead of using a stick blender to bring the soap to trace, I stirred it by hand and then... Well, you'll see. This are the ingredients I used; slightly different than the ones in the other recipe.

  • 975 grams olive oil (65%)
  • 450 grams coconut oil (30%)
  • 75 grams avocado oil (5%)
  • 212 grams lye/sodium hydroxide
  • 500 milliliters distilled water
  • 1/4 cup ground sage leaves
  • 15 milliliters pure lemongrass essential oil

 I got all of my ingredients together first, measured out the oils, and stuck them in the dehydrator to melt and mix.

       Then, I got the scale and the water ready, took them out to the front porch where I had put my lye earlier, and mixed it up. I admit it, as soon as I pour it in, I take the gloves and safety goggles off, and I'm not saying I recommend this, so I can have my real hands to hold the spoon with. I feel like I'm more likely to tip the whole business over when I have the gloves on.

        After it was mixed in, I took it back inside, where I added it to the oil mixture. That was when I realized I should have used a bigger bowl.

        I ground up my sage leaves and got my essential oil ready; stirring the oil/lye mixture frequently. 

        Now, in the past, I had used my mom's stick blender to bring the soap to trace - apparently it makes the process go more quickly. She didn't want me to use it this time, so I was planning on stirring by hand. So I stirred. And stirred. And stirred. For about an hour. By that time, I was getting kind of worried that it wasn't going to trace at all, and I knew my mom would be pretty frustrated if I wasted all of those oils, especially the avocado. I kind of freaked out when I realized something was going wrong, but my brother was using the computer so I couldn't look up if I had completely ruined it or not. We have a small hand mixer, so I poured the soap into a larger bowl and tried that. At the stage it was at it is still supposed to be rather caustic, but I got quite a bit on me and didn't feel any burning, which is nice. :)

        I mixed it for about a half hour more, and as it didn't seem to be tracing, I was just about to give up. When do you stop, you know? I kept saying to myself, just ten more minutes, and then ten minutes after saying the same thing again. It did trace, though. As soon as I saw the slightest thickening and change of color, I poured in the essential oil and the sage. I wasn't about to wait another hour just standing there, although you are supposed to wait a bit longer.

        Then, I poured the soap into the molds, hoping and praying that it would set up properly. I haven't bought any real soap molds, so I used a wine bottle box (not sure where we got that), and two mineral containers with the tops cut off. All were lined with wax paper.

        I checked it anxiously close to every hour to see if it was behaving. Thankfully, it did set after about two and a half hours, and I breathed a sigh of relief. This whole escapade happened in the morning, and by night it was firm enough for me to cut it. I could have let it go longer, but I decided to just go for it and get it over with. Cutting soap is messy work, but I got it all done and into boxes. Now, it gets to sit in the attic for six weeks to cure, and then as long after that as it takes us to use it. Over that time, it will harden up and become almost transparent - really beautiful soap. Oh, and did I mention it smells heavenly?



  1. I am glad everything came out is easy to give up but thankfully you kept going :) have you tried goat milk soap it leaves the skin so silky smooth.

    1. Yes, goat milk soap was actually my first experience with soap making. I love how it feels; yes, it is so good for your skin! We made orange thyme goat milk soap once and it was dee-light-ful!

  2. I LOVE making soap!!! When I get home, I'll have so much to do and try!!! :D Thanks for sharing this recipe!!