I make soap.
I don’t make it every day, I am now more of a binge soaper. I make soap every few weeks and when i do make soap it’s usually 9-17+ batches.
The other day I grabbed my new to me Nikon camera so I could take some pictures of what I do.
But of course, the batteries were dead so I turned to my handy dandy droid phone. (which may be a good thing as the phone itself got all greasy and oily!)
How is soap made? Well, it is a chemical process where fats and a liquid are combined w/ an alkali to make soap.
I use food grade oils and nut butters as my fats (some folks use animal fats, but I don’t). I use water or goat milk depending on the recipe (or coming soon … BEER!) as my liquid and for my alkali I use sodium hydroxide which makes a solid bar soap (potassium hydroxide is used to make liquid soap).
To these 3 basic ingredients (fat, liquid, alkali) I then add essential oils for scenting, clays or mineral pigment for color, additives like oats or herbs for exfoliant and etc…
and thus soap is made …
In order to make soap you need those three basic ingredients and you need to have them in correct proportions of fat/alkali/water so that you don’t make a soap that will “take your hide off” also known as lye heavy. Nowadays you can calculate the correct amount with quite a few good online soap calculators. For example: Majestic Mountain Sage and my personal favorite Soap Cal … that’s the chemical part … I am not a chemist, though. I think of myself more as a kitchen witch.
So here is a little peak at what I do on those soap days.
How I make soap for Faerie Made is the process called room temperature cold process. I have been making soap for over a decade, so I am familiar with the soap making process. Prior to making soap this way I highly recommend you practice with melted oils and cooler lye water.
How I do it is I take room temperature oils, and blend them with my stick blender into a slurry.
I let sit for a few minutes for the lye water to not look cloudy and then then take hot lye water and add to the room temperature oils.
The hot lye water helps the oils to melt. I mix intermittently with the stick blender to break down the last bits of cold oils and butter and to begin to emulsify the soap. I usually add my colorant (mineral pigments such as ultramarines or clays) at this point (unless I am going to make a swirl)
After a few minutes, the soap begins to come to what is called “trace” which is where when the soap begins to thicken up. Right before then when all the oils are completely melted and is combined fully I will pull out the portion to swirl into separate containers and mix with the swirl colorant.
At this point you can add your essential oils, additives such as herbs, ground oats etc …
For the soaps with a swirl such as my spring limited edition “Demeter’s Reunion” here, I take soap I’ve separated from the main batch, poured on top of the main portion of soap and I will mix it in with a chopstick.
Then cover the soap and go away … until the next day!
The next day you have to unmold and cut the soap into bars. (the following pictures are from the soap making session I did the day before)
after they are cut into bars, we cure on our bakers racks until time to box and label!