Posted by : Sherri Cornelius Monday, February 13, 2012

So buttery!

So I looked at the oils I had on hand, and made the (foolhardy, for a beginner) decision to formulate my own soap recipe. I actually remembered to take pictures to document the process, and this is how it all went down.

I’ve been using Miller’s Homemade Soap Pages for all my information up to this point. It’s an old HTML website, but I think the owner still periodically updates it. Lots of good resources there, including a lye chart. Different oils take different amounts of lye for saponification, so you have to do a little math (See, daughter? Told you you’d need it. Do your homework.) to come up with the correct amount of lye according to your recipe.

I did the math, then found an automatic lye calculator on the soap guild site, which confirmed my numbers. (Okay, daughter, maybe you don’t need it. On the Internet, somebody else has always done it already.) Now that I found the calculator, I won’t be calculating the lye myself anymore.

One thing I have to work to overcome is the fear of wasting ingredients. I put off making this soap for several days because I was afraid to use the last of my shea butter in case I messed up the batch. I’m learning how to waste usefully, as in research and development, but it still gives me the willies.

On the previous batch, the oatmeal soap, I used a wooden spoon and stirred the old fashioned way. I hadn’t paid good attention to the temperatures and I ended up stirring for 40 minutes trying to get to trace (the indicator it’s ready to pour, about the consistency of thick cake batter) before I finally threw it in the molds and hoped for the best. This time I used my stick blender, and it got to trace so fast it was gloppy by the time I got it all scraped out of the pot into the mold. So the oatmeal was too thin and the shae butter was too thick. I’ll be able to tell where the middle is on the next batch.

I had to wait a month for the soaps to cure before I could use them. The week before they were ready, I sent a bar of each to the DarcKnyt and Falcon (So whaddya think, guys?) I found the oatmeal recipe to be sort of icky in its slipperiness, and it doesn’t lather well. It also smells verrrrry faintly of lard. The shae recipe of my own devising turned out much nicer, smelling quite neutral and lathering nicely. Gives me a little more confidence in my soap-making ability.

The irony? Soap and detergent bars like Dove just dry out my skin too much, so I’ve started using another technique to clean my face with a homemade coconut oil concoction.

I’ve been told I should write a tutorial on how to make a batch of soap. Not sure how much interest there is in my circle, but I might do that sometime in the future, when I’m a bit more experienced.

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

  1. I'm ashamed to admit, I haven't used the soap yet. I figured I needed to give it more time to cure, and I got that impression from when I spoke to you on the phone...somehow. But I'll be sure to try it. I just have to dig up that Word document you sent telling me about the 1, 2 and 3 labels, what they mean and what to do, etc.

    I'll report back after trying it.


  2. OH, and coconut oil straight out of the jar on your face is fantastic. It's also a brilliant anti-fungal and an EXCELLENT source of critical MCT saturated fats for your health.

    CO is a doggone miracle, IMO.

  3. Now that they've cured completely you can use them in any order you want, they were mostly just labeled so you wouldn't use them too soon, and so you'll know what they're made of. My favorite is the shea butter, obviously, but the pure glycerin is supposed to be better for your skin. I find it more drying than the others.

  4. They're ready to use?! Oh I'm so on it! I thought they had like a couple months or so before they'd be ready! Darc told me they had to cure so I haven't tried them yet. That will change tomorrow!

    I have come to adore coconut oil. :) I've been using it on my face - the Spectrum brand organic refined - like a salve or butter. Not just my face, all over. My skin is soooo soft! And on the ends of my hair too. Instead of wiping my hands dry on a towel, I use my hair and it's so soft now too. I am totally loving this stuff. :)

  5. Yeah, use the soaps! I even used the oatmeal soap to clean the stove. Excellent grease cutter. And that means, of course, that it might cut the natural oils of your skin too much, but it's good for getting things clean when they're dirty. ;) The curing time...yes, they can cure longer, but the ratio of benefit to cure time drops sharply after a month to six weeks, so you're good to go.

    The coconut concoction I'm using includes that body butter I don't know what to do with (shea and cocoa butters), astaxanthin, tea tree oil, and coconut oil.


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