Monday, November 28, 2011

Handmade Soap

I can't quite recall for how long I have been wanting to make soap.  I've made all kinds of other goodies from scratch but never soap.  At long last I decided I Must Make Soap and it could not wait a moment longer.  A dear friend came over so that we could make it together (surely this must be the best way to make soap - or anything, for that matter - for the first time). 
Now, this friend and I both seem to be instructionally-challenged, by that I mean that we both find it difficult to follow (or stick with) directions of any sort, we both have a tendency to want to try something different.  We started off following one recipe and then, as we looked at our carefully measured ingredients and considered the amount of soap we though it would make, decided we need more.  Happily, I had a recipe from another friend on file and we were able to slightly change our proportions and continue on.
I had some spices another dear friend had passed on to me after her sachet making (when she was clearing out in preparation for her big move) and I ground some up to add to our soap.  We both were wanting our soap to look something like these beautiful bars.  We added a few bottles of our favourite scents - orange, clove, cinnamon and tangerine.
It was incredibly simple to make, the longest part was waiting for the lye/water solution to cool to the appropriate temperature.  So quick and easy!
What amazed me most is that one can take such simple, few ingredients and end up with something so beautiful and useful.  It's magical to me.  And actually, it is, to me, very much like gardening - take very little and with a touch of magic (and perhaps a bit of luck) you have such goodness.  I love it.
In fact, I loved it so much that the very next day, after slicing up these bars and phoning my friend to rave about them, I started another batch with my boys.  And now I can hardly believe I waited all these years to try it.  Hmmm, it seems I've many years of soap-making to catch up on...I could make calendula, comfrey, chamomile...even nettle!


erin said...

fantatic heather! these will be appreciated gifts. i'm concentrating on more hand made this year. soap making is on my list, too, and i'm not going to settle for the kits from the make-your-own-kinds of shops. i think i want the real soap making like this, with lye and everything. making it with a friend is a good way to learn for me too, also directionally-challenged (or opposing, depending on how you look at it!)

we have been gifted soap from time to time and bought some at farmer's markets that was lacking in you think it is a matter of just using high quality eo's? the thing i really love about these soaps is the fragrance right to the last of the bar, instead of fizzling out after a couple of uses...the essential oils would be a thing to splurge on i think.

would you do this with young'uns around?

AMOffenwanger said...

Caution to new soapers: with all your might, resist the temptation to take a bite. The creamy looks and delicious scent might try to lure you, but don't fall for it. The lye would burn your tongue. :)

Way to go, you; these look fabulous.

Laeli said...

Soap is on my to do list too:)
I'm so glad you got around to making some and am gladder still you blogged about it! Your results are awesome!

Unknown said...

I love making soap too. Yours looks beautiful xx

LindaSue said...

Looks good enough to eat. Great job.

Farmgirl Cyn said...

Two years ago i began my own soapmaking journey with a friend, and now have a very small online business, making small batches of soap here in my kitchen! just posted today about my soap sale....I tried new fragrances and herbs as I became more comfortable. My latest oddball batches include Polenta Mint, Cuppa Joe (with coffee grounds and cold coffee taking the place of the water0, Chamomile & Honey (using cold chamomile tea), etc. So many soaps to try! My best seller tho, is my organic lavender...

daisy g said...

Wow, these look SO cool! This is still on my wannatry list. Maybe next year...Enjoy!

Heather said...

Hi Erin!

I really don't know much about the essential oils - just used what I had. But, Angelika was saying that "top note" oils are more volatile and disappear more quickly and that "bottom note" ones last longer. We used some citrus (which are apparently top note) in our soap as well as cinnamon (which is apparently bottom) so perhaps our citrusy cinnamon soap may end up being only cinnamon. :-( Something to learn more about, I suppose.

I suppose it would depend on the young ones whether I would have them around or not. I'm glad we did it on our own the first time so I knew what to expect. I think I would have done it with some precautions when mine were younger (eyewear, gloves, etc.). Now that they're older they just wore rubber gloves and were careful.

Carolyn said...

Those look beautiful! I want to try! What recipe did you follow -how about a step by step post...I can only hope that my first soap turns out half that nice!

Heather said...

Hi Carolyn,

We found loads of info. online. We read through some parts of this blog for help (somewhere on this blog there is a video of her making soap too).

We used Angelika's quantities from the comments in her soap post.

And then we followed the directions on this blog.

Hope that helps.