Thursday, January 6, 2011

The joy of soap

One of the fun things we got to try over Christmas was hot process soap making.  After careful evaluation of the hot vs cold process methods, the hot won hands down for one simple but important reason . . . instant gratification, that's right, lol :)  I liked the fact that I didn't have to wait weeks for the soap to be ready to use.  Sure there were more steps but by then end of the process I only had to wait 24 hrs vs several weeks.  As I said, it was the clear winner :)

I am very sensitive to scents, so I prefer unscented when possible.  I didn't need fancy, just functional.  The old fashioned lard/lye soap seemed to fit the bill.  There were not very many ingredients to mess around with and I already had the lard (thanks Missy).  Finding lye was a bit of a challenge but I finally found it at Tractor supply.  The only other pieces of the puzzle was a good scale and stick blender.

I used Soapcalc to determine how much lard, lye and water was needed and after watching several videos (Youtube ROCKS) and reading several how to's ( is pretty cool), I felt ready to give it a shot.  I opted to use an oven method, as I was not to keen on using my crockpot, not to mention the oven cooks it faster.  Now, many people seem to dislike the hot process as the soaps are not as smooth or as easy to remove from the mold but I found that once you pack it into the mold and tap it to get any air pockets out that you can get it fairly smooth.  As for the removing it from the mold, stick it in the freezer for a bit and then it comes out very easily :)

Looking back I'm not so sure why soap making seemed so scary, I think has to do with the lye.  Once I got the first batch done, it was very addicting, I really enjoyed it and there are so many possibilities for variations.  For color I added cinnamon and vanilla to one batch, for another I used coffee.  Neither of these are scented just colored varieties of the basic white lard/lye soap.  Next on the menu, milk soap, but that has a few challenging aspect to it that I have to work out.

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