Monday, November 17, 2008

Making Soap

There is something magical about making soap. I have always loved making mixes and potions. Just ask my mom. I think I drove her to whits end sometimes. She would go in to clean the bathroom and there would be some smear of something or another when I was trying to create a powder lotion (Lotion plus baby powder... little did I know I was way ahead of my time. Lots of companies and even cosmetics have a cream to powder line now!) Or when I saw the commercials for products that had the "Shampoo and Conditioner in one" and I decided I should just combine my two.

So back to soap making. I started making soap several years ago after being inspired by Susan Dahlem- The Soap Maven who I met through MaryJane's Farm. There is something amazing in all the many varied chemical reactions that go into making that simple bar of soap.

First you have to know a little about what you are doing. You have to respect the Lye. Lye can be dangerous if treated cavalierly, but overall it isn't as dangerous as some things that are in most houses- like battery acid. I will take lye over battery acid any day.

The first amazing thing about soap making is how the combination of liquid and lye can take a liquid that is at freezing temperatures to well over 130 degrees in a matter of less than a minute. It is very very important to not use warm or room temperature water with lye. This can cause rapid boil which means drops of caustic liquid flung in random directions.

Then by combining warm oils with the lye, you can watch the soap form! In fact, you get soap bubble almost immediately!

I also love how you can make an infinite variety of soaps depending on the oils you use. Some oils make hard soaps, some make moisturizing soaps, some make lather, and others don't. And the best thing is that even if you don't get the exact product you were hoping for, you can usually still use your product!

I made a fun soap today that brings back wonderful memories of biting into a fresh cinnamon roll. The soap is called "Baked Cinnamon". And the best part? All of the ingredients in it are organic and the scent is from an essential oil. I think that is the thing I love the best about homemade soap. I know exactly what is in it, and there aren't long lists of questionable, unpronounceable ingredients and the dubious listing of "Fragrance."

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