Sunday, January 26, 2014

Another Obsession

When I find something that interests me, I tend to jump in with both feet.  I want to learn everything I can about it, experiment with it, and DO it.  It's been that way with quilting, with fabric dyeing- and with soaping.  Soaping????
I've been aware of hand crafted soap for some time, I've even bought some at local farmer's markets from time to time.  But I did not know anything about the process, and always assumed it was complicated.  Until I started reading Lynda Heines' blog . . . .

She wrote about making her own soap.  It was interesting, and it looked like fun- not a huge, messy project like I had been imagining.  So, last Monday (which was a holiday from work) Marly and I made our first batch of soap.

I really didn't have to buy a lot of equipment- I already had a lot in the dye studio.  Stick blender?  No problem, I don't use it for dyeing anymore anyway since I learned from Carol Soderlund how to mix dyes.  Containers?  You've got to be kidding, I have loads of recycled plastic containers. Safety goggles?  Hey, Shannon just finished a microbiology class, and I went through her equipment.  Safety goggles, check!  Gloves?  Digital scale? I use them all the time in the dye studio.

 I got a stainless steel pot cheap at Walmart, and was even able to find some oils there.  I also got a five pound container of coconut oil at Costco, and we were ready to roll.  Lye was a bit more of a problem- it is no longer easily accessible due to illegal drug manufacturing.  We were lucky, though, and found some at Cal Ranch.  

After measuring out the oils, dissolving the lye (I do that in the garage), we were ready to mix.

After looking at a number of videos on  You Tube and reading several books, it seemed fairly easy to tell when we reached trace.  The whole mixing process took less time than the prep work and clean up!

Marly scraped out the very last of the soap into our molds. . 

and we had our first soap!!

We used coconut, red palm, and olive oils in this soap.  The only place I knew to find palm oil was at the health food store, and they only had red palm, which gave the soap its color.  We scented it with lemon eucalyptus essential oil, which is bright and citrusy.  So now we waited.

Twenty four hours later, we took the soap out of the mold,

and then we sliced it into bars.  We got seventeen bars total from the two molds!

It smells great, and my ph test came out fine.  So now we just need to wait four weeks before we can use it.

Well, I was hooked.  I did some more online research, and found that there are two resources for soapmaking supplies in Utah.  One is up in Logan, which is a three and a half hour drive north- but the other is right in Provo!!  So, I got more oils, and this weekend I made . . . 

 Lavender soap!


 Peppermint Oatmeal soap!


Seaside Showers Shampoo Bar!!
(This one is made with coconut milk- another adventure in learning!)

Let's see- seventeen bars of lemon eucalyptus, eighteen bars of lavender, I'll probably get seventeen bars of the peppermint oatmeal (plus we got ten "mini-muffins), and about nine bars of the shampoo bar- that makes seventy-one bars of soap I've made in the past week!!

This weekend, we figured out that it is easier to make soap in the dye studio, using a big plastic bucket to melt the oils in the microwave.  I can store the lye and oils on a high shelf in the laundry room.

So now we wait about a month before we can use any of these creations.  I have a couple more recipes I want to try- I now have avocado oil (cheapest at Costco) and cocoa butter in my oil stash.  I also figured out that I can get two gallons of pure (not EVOO) olive oil at Costco at a very good price.

I did splurge and buy a few pieces of equipment at Pine Meadows, the supplier I have in Provo.

I got two plastic soap molds, so now I can do four loaves at a time.  I got two soap cutters- one straight, and one wavy.  I am now well set up to continue making soap!

It is rather hysterically funny and ironic that I would end up doing two hobbies that involve lots of chemistry.  I enrolled in chemistry in high school and ended up dropping out after the first quarter, so the 'D' I was earning wouldn't show up on my college transcripts.  I hated the class, it made no sense to me!

And now here I am, dyeing and soaping up a storm, fascinated by the chemistry and wanting to learn everything I can about it.  Pity the chemistry I took in high school wasn't doing stuff like this!

I'll let you know in a month how the soaps are.  In the meantime, I'm hoping to get my mind back on fiber and get started quilting Michelle's pink quilt!


What Comes Next? said...

I did a soap making kick a few years back - everyone got soap for presents. You are much more adventurous than me though - looks like you've got some fabulous batches there! The waiting is the hard part, oh so worth it!

Debra Spincic said...

Vicki Welsh (Field Trips in Fiber) makes soap all the time and she has some recipes on her blog.

Vicki Miller said...

Soap, hmmm, well your fabric will be the best smelling fat quarters in history. By 'lye' do you mean sodium hydroxide or caustic soda? We can still get that at the supermarket here. And on the chemistry stuff, Remember I am a biochemist, I could probably draw you a diaram or two, lol

Libby Fife said...

You are going to be very, very clean! LOL:) It's nice to have an extra hobby!

upstateLisa said...

uh oh.... another hobby huh? lol. As for chemistry... here, at least, you don't need to know the chemical compounds, nomenclature and formulas (in chemistry terms). looks fun!

Gina said...

Congratulations on your new adventure, your soaps sound and look wonderful! I've wanted to make soap for years, bought a couple books, read lots, even researched buying the supplies but finally convinced myself that I can't add anything new to my list. But now you post this .... oh it looks like fun and I can just smell those 'flavors'!

Sally Bramald said...

How exciting. It made me want to try it and play with smells and formulas. Then I REMEMBERED! I banned soap from this house years ago (we only use liquid soaps) because I got fed up with cleaning soap scum and residue off things. The only use I have for soap these days is to have a bar under the car seat as an air freshener and as drawer fresheners.... but you still have stirred up another enthusiasm which I will try very hard to resist...
Enjoy and I will watch from afar.