I haven’t talked much about making soap lately. That’s mostly because we hadn’t made any in about a year. We typically make enough soap in winter to last us for a while, then we don’t make it again until our supplies are running low. But winter will soon turn into spring, so it’s time to start making some soap here.
Why winter time, you might ask? Well, for one thing we usually have more free time then, when gardening activities have slowed down. And since we make soap in our kitchen, in winter there is less going on there as well. Also, it’s cooler in winter, when I don’t mind wearing a long sleeve shirt to protect me from the caustic solutions involved.
We’ve had two soap making sessions in the last couple of weeks. The first was a demo, when we invited a few friends over to see how we make cold process soap. It was actually a hands-on demo since they got involved in the process themselves. Making cold process soap is not really difficult, but it can be a little daunting if you’ve never done it before. It was great to share the fun with others, and hopefully they benefited by the event. My wife chronicled the events with her Saturday Soapmaking post. Teresa had actually made soap before, and Carla is promising to make some as soon as she gets her new beehives assembled and painted.
We made two soaps that Saturday, our Peppermint Honey Oatmeal and a new one I created called Tea Tree Lemongrass Avocado. The first soap we have been making for some time now, but I tweaked the recipe a bit this time. It features a base of olive, coconut, palm and castor oils plus shea butter, with finely ground oatmeal added for gentle scrubbing. It is scented with pure peppermint essential oil, and makes for a great eye opening soap in the morning shower! It also has a little honey added, which turns the lye water a deep reddish brown before mellowing to a light tan color in the finished soap. We poured the soaps into wooden molds that I made in my shop.
The second one uses goat’s milk instead of water, and is enriched with avocado oil and avocado butter. I love the scent of both tea tree and lemongrass essential oils, so I decided to put them together and see what happened! This soap also has a little dried ground lemongrass in it. You can find the recipe for it here.
Both these soaps have been cut and are now curing in the basement. We cure our soaps for 4-6 weeks before using them. Curing (or aging) allows the pH in the soap to stabilize, and for the excess water to evaporate, which makes the soap last longer. It also makes the basement smell great, with a potpourri of scents.
This week we made another batch of the Honey Oatmeal soap, scenting this one with a mix of peppermint and eucalyptus EO’s. This one should also be an eye opener. It’s sort of like Vick’s salve crossed with a peppermint stick, in a good way of course! The other soap we made was my wife’s creation, and is an attempt to make a soap without palm oil. She’s calling it Chocolate Almond, and it has cocoa and mango butters in it along with olive, coconut, castor and almond oils. You can find the recipe for it here.
We will be making more soaps in the next few weeks, as we try and get them made before things get crazy here with gardening activities. And in the ‘test lab’, I’m still working on a hand salve recipe that isn’t too oily for me to use during the day. I’m almost there with the formulation, which uses some of our own beeswax. My wife came up with a great one recently for overnight use that has coffee butter in it. It’s a wonderful way to drift off to sleep with the scent of coffee, but without the caffeine!
Please refer to the cold process instructions here if you are new to making soap. Always take the proper safety precautions (we wear rubber gloves and goggles when mixing and making the soap). And for more recipes and information, check out my wife’s Soap Recipe page. I’ll be back Saturday with another Saturday Spotlight on one of my favorite snap bean varieties. Until then, Happy Growing (and soaping) from Happy Acres!