Posted by : Sherri Cornelius Wednesday, January 11, 2012


So this is my newest batch of soap. I hadn’t made any in a couple of years, and I was extremely nervous to try again, for some reason. I guess because there’s a lot of finesse involved, and finesse comes with practice. I had to relearn everything as I went along.

This soap is made from lard, coconut oil, and olive oil. I don’t use any kind of fragrances—obviously, because of my MCS—so any recipe I use will have to include oils that don’t stink to high heaven. Lard does (omg, does it ever) but the coconut mostly covers it up. Since it’s fresh it smells strongly of the ingredients, but after it cures for a month, the scent will be very mild, if present at all. So that’s good.

I think all my soaps will include coconut oil. It smells heavenly.

Oh, and I forgot to mention the oatmeal. That’s why it’s all speckled. The pictures aren’t quite capturing the color, but your browser will change it anyway.


I think I might stick with the all-vegetable soaps from now on. Vegetable oil doesn’t have that dead-cow smell that always makes me gag. Crisco is a good solid vegetable oil that’s relatively cheap and readily available. Pretty silly, huh? Crisco? Who’da thunk it.

And I guess that’s why I keep returning to this soap-making deal. It’s fascinating to me the ways I can combine common household items (drain opener, grease) to make another, superbly useful household item. It’s probably why I never got into art for art’s sake, because I can’t use it. If I decide I need art to hang somewhere, I’ll make that, but not because I have a burning desire to paint. I have a burning desire to craft useful things, like knitting needles, hats and soaps. Having MCS has been a curse in a lot of ways, but in this way it has been a blessing, because I’d never have looked for alternatives if I hadn’t been forced to, thereby opening up this whole new crafty world. I mean, I always liked to work with my hands, but it was mainly focused on woodworking, fixing things around the house, occasional sketching. I’m happy about this new chapter opening up before me.

And now I need to go plan my next batch of soap.

{ 7 comments... read them below or Comment }

  1. Oh, so that's why it's speckled! What does the oatmeal do? I mean, aside from the strictly abrasive nature of having grain in one's soap.

    If you need a moisturizing soap, does this do it? Lots of oils, after all. I'd think a long-oil product like this would be pretty moisture-filled, but I don't know diddly-squat about moisturizing. And doesn't all the different animal and vegetable fat leave a film after bathing with it? Or is this not that kind of soap?

    Can you make candles from tallow too? That sounds awesome, but does it smell like you're barbecuing a calf when you light them?

    Hm. Questions for a time traveler I suppose. Or someone living post-apocalyptically, like you. :)

    They look great!

  2. The oatmeal soothes skin while gently exfoliating. (I sound like a commercial.) As for moisturizing, different oils have different properties in the finished soap. Once it's completely saponified, there's no oil left (unless you superfat it for moisturizing purposes), and a lot of people think it dries out your skin or leaves a residue because Dove says so in its commercials. It's really more gentle on your skin when done right than the detergent bars, which is what Dove is made of. And you know I find unnecessary chemicals to be idiotic, so I like being able to control the ingredients.

    I can't see myself making tallow candles anytime soon. The smell, gods, the smell.

  3. They look great! Good job!

    This is much like what my friend was doing - I was going to send you some of her soap but she stopping making it.

    She told me she was sensitive to fragrances too, and that's why she used things like the coconut oil and lavender oil etc. She said the essential oils, because there were natural and not man made chemicals, didn't cause the same reactions that man made scents do. I can't speak to that personally because I don't suffer from it, but surely the natural oils are just better all the way around. It's too bad more companies don't offer products like this - but then again, if they did, you wouldn't be making your own cool personalized stuff. :)

  4. I agree that essential oils would be better in everything. Natural has to be better. Unfortunately, it wouldn't make a difference for me, because those bother me, too. MCS manifests differently in different people. Other strong smells, like new plastic and cigarette smoke, bother me too, but they may not have bothered your friend. That's why I asked you not to send me any of her soap, because you told me she used EO. It's the thought that counts, anyway. Thanks :)

  5. I disagree about natural being better. You've never seen me naked, and you should thank the Good Lord above for that.

  6. So if you're anti-chemical, what are you using as the saponification catalyst? I'm not a chemist, but saponification requires a chemical reaction, doesn't it?

    I'm not being a jerk (on purpose, anyway), but I've never made soap so I don't know how it's done.

    Guess I could Google that

  7. I have another question now. (I did some research on soap making, and, after a full five minutes on one website, feel completely capable of discussing this with you on a peer level.)

    Is your soap -- the pictured soap -- cold process or melt and pour? Those seem to be the two major camps of soap making. Melt and pour is easy and child friendly, but based on what you said about the addition of oils and such, it sounds like the cold process to me. Which takes WEEKS and requires lye, doesn't it?

    You should do a tutorial! I'd love to see it!

    Hm...a new hobby?

    Oh, does the soap have detergent of any kind? I.e., will it get you clean? Can it be used as a bath soap, or is it strictly for facial use?



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