Last week after Thanksgiving my wife and I stayed inside to avoid all of the Black Friday shopping frenzy and made soap instead. We’ve been making cold-process soaps for almost six years now. Our interest in soaps came about after visiting craft fairs and talking to soap makers there. My wife did a great writeup back in 2010 called It’s Soap that tells the story so well I won’t repeat it here!
We used wooden molds to make our soaps for the first few years, but lately we have transitioned to using all PVC pipe molds. It’s just a matter of preference, since I don’t think it makes a difference in the quality of the soap. We do like the round shape better though, and the PVC molds are easy to make and relatively inexpensive. We line the molds with freezer paper so the soap doesn’t stick to the pipe.
I have found it is easy to make the liners by wrapping the paper around a log of soap and then taping it together. Once I have the liners made, I go ahead and put them in the molds so they are ready to go the next time we want to make soap.
For this soap making session we made two soaps. One is a 100% coconut oil soap that we scented with a Mokalata fragrance. This is one of my wife’s favorites, and I think the scent is reminiscent of chocolate covered cherries. For the base soap we used David Fisher’s recipe that calls for 20% superfatting. This makes for a hard bar of soap that lathers wonderfully! The FO colors the soap a two-tone brown color that sort of looks like a Twinkie when you first cut it, though it will turn all brown though as it ages.
The other soap we made is a variation on our French Green Clay Soap recipe. It calls for 10% Shea Butter along with our usual base of olive, palm, coconut and castor oils. For this batch we used bentonite clay instead of the French green clay, and added poppy seeds for a mild exfoliant. We scented it with a blend of lemongrass and palmarosa essential oils. Palmarosa is a tall grass (Cymbopogon martinii) that is a close relative of lemongrass, and is widely used in cosmetics for its floral scent. The lemongrass and palmarosa EOs work well together, and I can’t wait to try this soap after it finishes curing.
We let our soaps cure for three to four weeks before using. Curing allows the pH to stabilize, and for much of the water to evaporate. That makes for a longer lasting and better lathering soap. We will be scheduling a couple more soap making days in the near future as we try new ideas plus make some of our old favorites. I hope you have enjoyed reading about our latest soap making project, and I will be back soon with more adventures. Until then, Happy Growing from Happy Acres!