The Journey Begins
Or, How to Take an Idea That Doesn't Go Away and Turn it into an Obsession
Have you ever looked back at how you started up with something in your life? It could be knitting, or making the perfect little side table, or perhaps you're that person that's known for having a beautiful flower garden.
Now, let's say there's something like that you do. Why did you start doing that thing? And how much time do you like to spend doing it? My guess is most folks don't get to spend as much time as they like. Unless they're lucky enough to have made it into a career. Then perhaps you don't have enough time in your day to get it all done!
How did this interest start for you? Did you have a dad who had a woodworking hobby set up in the garage? Was your grandmother the Grand Matron of the Rose Society?
For me, it was a mild interest in All Things Old. You know, like, how did my ancestors make bread every day? Starting with milling the flour? How did folks actually knit their stockings? Those stitches were so tiny! And what about cleaning in the age before Lysol wipes?
So, somehow, all this lead to an interest in soap making. Now, don't get me wrong, this idea started years before I actually decided I was going to do it. A friend who had dairy goats started making goat milk soap with the excess milk. It was lovely! But listening to her explain the steps made me think, "this is too hard for me." Still, the idea persisted.....
Then a couple of Christmases ago, I got my 10-year-old daughter a melt and pour soap making kit. Yes, it was going to be something I could play with too! ;-) Still, it was a start. The soap came out good, but since I had chosen a kit that would appeal to that tween-age sense of "cute", it wasn't what I would have chosen for myself and not exactly inspiring. Plus, that kit didn't come cheap! Fine for a Christmas present, but still....there had to be a way to do it for less and still have a good-looking product. At least now I had some of the basics: a mold, plus a little leftover soap base and colorants.
So, a little time goes by....like, two years. And one day it seems, I just woke up and said "I want to make soap." As in, from scratch. But first, I thought maybe I could try a little more complicated melt and pour recipe. So I ordered up another kit and made this:
Not perfect, but it gave me the opportunity to make a more "grown-up" bar of soap, plus I used activated charcoal powder and rose clay as additives. Friends and family loved it!
Still, now I had two melt and pour soaps to my name, and I wanted to try my hand at cold process (CP) soap. This is a totally different kettle of fish we're talking about. In CP soap making, you're taking the oils, butters, and lye, and mixing them in the right proportions to create a totally new item with a different chemical makeup: soap. The process even has it's own name: saponification. When done right, what you start with is fats and a caustic substance, lye, and you end up with a beautiful bar of soap that is unlike any of the detergent-based soaps most commercial manufacturers make.
This is my first bar:
I had that pink rose clay leftover from the melt and pour bar, so of course I thought I'd use it again. Olive, lard, and coconut oils are the base of my recipe. Not the prettiest bar of soap, but it's a nice one in the shower! I also used the 12-bar mold I had from the black and pink melt and pour bar.
That was fun! So, I made another:
I used an old plastic dog treat box lined with freezer paper for my mold. I had to trim quite a bit off to get this decent looking bar! Finely ground oatmeal, lard, and coconut oil was my recipe. I used lemongrass essential oil, which is now one of my favorite straight scents to use.
And then another! Yes! Three batches on the first day!
I thought I'd try to swirl together the activated charcoal and rose clay this time. Not quite the right proportions, but not bad either. This time I had an inexpensive mold I'd bought on Amazon.
The next day after unmolding, I was hooked. Two more bars on that day, and this time I'd received my first big order of supplies from Brambleberry:
Ground coffee beans and cocoa powder made this bar unique. Plus, I now had shea butter and cocoa butter to use. Unfortunately, I had forgotten to add the scent! Well, lesson learned....this time.
One more for my first two days of CP soap making:
This lilac-scented bar ensured I was hooked! In two days I had made 5 batches of soap! In the weeks to follow, I made 19 different batches of soap before a two week trip forced me to stop for awhile. That was okay, though, since cold process soap needs at least 4 weeks to cure before you can use it. By the time I returned, I could start trying out some of my first soaps! Also, I was able to do more research into the chemistry behind soap making and when I got back into my soap kitchen (otherwise known as the Family Kitchen), I started to work with what is currently my soap recipe that I plan to use for most of my work.
Overall, in less than two months time (and that's including the forced 2-week break!) I've made 27 batches of cold process soap and 17 batches of melt and pour soap. Currently, melt and pour is making me work to get it just right! Those swirls.....but let me save that for another day and a new post.
Thanks for stopping by to hear my story! Subscribe if you want to be notified when I publish new posts. In future posts I will show some of my successes and some of my failures, and try and suss out what went right or wrong! If you have an interest in soap making, but haven't started yet for whatever reason, follow me on my journey and hopefully learn something along the way!
Grace and peace be with you,