Making Cold Process Soap
I shared with you a while back that I was given the opportunity to review
a book on soap making entitled, “The Natural Soap Chef”
by Heidi Corley Barto. I have been very pleased with the format of this book. It is easy to read, easy to follow and quite detailed in the process of making soap. As Heidi wrote in her book, “if you can read this, you can make soap.”
So, I jumped at the opportunity, I have long wished to make my own soap. I had been taught a while back by my neighbor using his mother’s lye/lard soap recipe. His recipe really makes a good, fragrance-free, old-fashioned soap. I knew there was a number of other oils and butters available as well as fragrances to produce luxurious, fragrant soaps.
I ordered the ingredients for the soaps I selected from Bramble Berry INC
. – soap making supplies. This is the company that Heidi uses and recommends – they provide a wide array of products that can be used in soap making, as well as lotions, lip balms, and make-up. In a short while, the supplies arrived. I was so excited! I opened the fragrance oil bottles – I chose Lilac and Lavender. Lilac for purely sentimental reasons and Lavender, because I am greatly fond of the fragrance. The oils and butters looked fascinating.
I purchased the Lye at our local Tractor Supply Store. You may be able to find it at your local hardware store as well. The container may read, ‘drain cleaner’ or ‘drain opener’. The label must read 100% Lye. Some similar products are a combination of ingredients – so make sure you get 100% Lye. I was amused that the same thing that produced soap cleaned out pipes!
I gathered the equipment recommended by Heidi (she provides a handy list) – there are several things that she noted should be DTS – Dedicated To Soap – bowls, mixers, spatulas and molds. These items can only be used for your soap making.
The Saponification Process Has Begun!
|Les Duerr Lilac Soap
The first soap I made was Heidi’s ‘Les Duerr Lilac Soap‘. I tell you I was skiddish about this. I measured and remeasured the oils and butters on the scale to make sure I had the exact amount. I put them in the container over simmering water and placed the thermometer in as instructed.
Then, I geared myself up for dealing with the lye. Caution is required by using safety goggles and gloves. The lye is to be mixed with distilled water which will instantly begin to heat up. I have a thermometer in the lye and a thermometer in the oils. As they melt the temperature rises. Each recipe has an equal set point that each must reach – Heidi describes it as a dance to get the temperatures the same. She was right. Once the correct temperature was reached, poured the lye into the oils. I used the stick blender pulsing slowly blend the ingredients. There are three stages in this step called ‘light, medium and heavy trace’. You want to add your fragrances at light trace and proceed to medium trace then pour into your mold. In this case I allowed the soap to get to ‘heavy trace’ whereby I had to spoon the soap into the molds. I ended up with some air bubbles – despite that, the soap looks and smells wonderful. The color of the soap is achieved by infusing the olive oil with powdered alkanet.
|Goat’s Milk Honey Oatmeal Soap
The next day, I attempted a very different soap. I chose to make Goat’s Milk, Honey and Oatmeal. I was careful once again measuring and following her instructions. Once I reached medium trace, I poured the soap and I ended up with a lovely swirly top to each of my soaps. For each of the soaps made, I used silicone muffin molds. I have been collecting soap molds for quite a while – I have little cups, flowers, the muffin and loaf molds. I have been preparing myself for this!
Each soap is required to sit in the mold for 24 hours then turned out into a shelf or cardboard box in a dark, warm area for four weeks to harden. Then the soap is ready for use.
|My Olive Oil Goat Milk Lavender Rosemary Soap
For the last batch of soap, I became adventuresome! I created my own version of one of her olive oil soap recipe. She has a Rosemary Olive Oil soap recipe. I used portions of this recipe and substituted Goat’s Milk for the water and added Lavender Essential Oil at medium trace. I love the fragrance combination of the Rosemary and the Lavender! To me the combination of olive oil, rosemary and lavender is a Mediterranean inspiration.
I have ordered more oils and butters as well as more fragrances to try out some of the other recipes. Heidi was right, if you could read the book, you can make soap! Her recipes are very easy to follow and the variety are marvelous! I’d highly recommend this book for veterans and soap newbies alike. I will let you know in four weeks my opinion on the soaps and may offer to have some of you ‘try them out’. Meanwhile, I am going to study more so I can learn now to concoct more of my own soap recipes!
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