Saturday, July 20, 2013

Soap Making Is Still Fun

Summer time is a more difficult season to make soap for me since I have to wear a mask over my mouth and nose, plus gloves and eye protection. That can make a person a bit stuffy on a warm day. But despite that, I still enjoy the little science project called cold process goat's milk soap making.

As with many projects, the largest amount of time is spent on the preparation. I pull out my tupperware boxes full of stainless steel pans and utensils, check that I have enough of the ingredients, and prepare the kitchen for the job.

Here are my ingredients: Goat's Milk, Coconut Oil, Olive Oil, and Lye.  In the past I have experimented with adding scented oils and herbs, but in the end decided plain soap is really my favorite to use. The other types are pretty, but pure bars are lovely and soft to use. My husband made the soap molds for me. I love them because they have removable sides so I can get the soap log out easily after it cures for a day or two.

I carefully weigh the oils and add them to one pan. Next I take the frozen milk cubes and put them in the other pan. Time for the gloves and face protection as I REALLY carefully measure out the lye and slowly add it to the milk.

After the lye has all been added and the contents of both pans are at about the same temperature, I pour the milk pan's contents into the oil pan. Here's where the science happens, as the ingredients combine and begin to form soap. I use a hand mixer and a spatula to continually stir the batch until it thickens up. The thick mixture, once it reaches what is called 'trace', gets poured into the soap molds.
The soap mixture begins with a yellow tint, but as it hardens up it turns more of an oatmeal color. At this stage it just needs to sit still and cool down. It hardens up enough after one day to allow me to remove the sides from the molds. After two days, I remove the bottom of the molds and slice the bars into their final form.
Now comes the time for patience. Handmade soap needs to be rotated frequently to allow air to circulate all around the bar. This cures the bars and helps them get harder as they lose some moisture. My bars go through this process for a month. I use shelves to keep the bars where I can see them so I remember to rotate them around every day or two.

It is really fun making handmade soap, and even more fun using it. People tell me the bars are good for regular washing, as well as being used like shaving creme. These bars will be in the shop later in August once they are cured.

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