It’s Soapin’ Time

As many of you know, I love to make things!  All kinds of things!  Always letting the creativity flow….!  This past week, much time and effort was spent on soapin’!!!

A little bit of background on me and soap.  After I had my first baby, back in 2001, and became a stay-at-home mom, I started looking around for creative outlets.  Soap was my first ever crafty endeavor.  I bought blocks of glycerine base at the craft store, purchased some additives (like lavender and calendula petals), and bought a few fragrance oils to get started.  It was easy to melt soap cubes in a double boiler on the stovetop, add fragrance oils, pour into decorative molds, and sprinkle in additives at the last minute.  The soaps were homemade, beautiful, and functional.

Since that time, I have fallen over the crafty ledge and have been spiraling out of control ever since.  I thoroughly enjoy making soap, candles, jewelry, sewing, re-finishing, etc., etc.  I just can’t get enough…  and the employees at Hobby Lobby know me by name….  😉

I think it was about a year ago that I wanted to challenge myself in the soaping arena.  I did a lot of research, read and watched a lot of tutorials, until I felt ready to make soap completely from scratch.  I gear up (every time) with long rubber gloves, boots, long sleeve shirt and pants, hair tied back, goggles, and face mask…  I look rather frightening….!

Why all the fuss?

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Some of my materials are as harmless as olive oil and water, but when the water is mixed with lye (sodium hydroxide) a vicious chemical reaction takes place that releases harmful gases and can burn right through flesh.  Lye may seem like a crazy substance to use, but it must be used!  The reaction that takes place between lye and water, and then again, between the lye mixture and the base is absolutely necessary in order to give soap it’s cleansing properties.   I firmly believe in the soaping principle:  No lye?  No soap!

Disclaimer:  this is NOT a soaping tutorial!!!  It is simply a story telling (with pictures) of one of many soaping sessions in my kitchen.  If you are interested in soaping, please research before attempting!   Questions?  Send me a message!

IMG_3232This is what happens when a water-lye mixture is mixed with olive oil (above).  Immediately, the golden olive oil turns into a thicker ivory gel.  Once this reaction takes place I am whisking and immersion blending the gel constantly until it becomes so thick that I can see trailings left behind my whisk, which is called trace.

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As you can probably tell, I’m soapin’ in my crock pot!  I like the hot process method of soap making because the “cooking” process cooks out all of the caustic properties of the lye, which makes the soap useable immediately instead of needing to let it cure for weeks to months.  The picture above is what the soap looks like after it’s been cooking for about 30 minutes.  This is the mashed potatoes phase.

IMG_3236Maybe 20 – 30 additional minutes of cooking brings my mixture to the vaseline stage.  At this time, I turn off the crock pot and prepare my molds.  I add the fragrance to the soap, mix it in, and then pour into the molds.

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When I make soap using the hot process, it really isn’t possible to use cute little molds….  This soap mixture is extremely hot and doesn’t form well to anything other than a basic shape (won’t get any fine details on the soap’s surface).  I use loaf pans, candle tart molds, small baking tart molds from the antique mall, etc.

Are you wondering, why go through all of this trouble?

I will tell you:  first, it is a challenge, which I love!  Second, I control the ingredients that go into my soaps, which are extremely basic and good for your skin (like olive oil and coconut oil).  Plus, I don’t add any dyes to these soaps, in keeping with the wholesome, good-for-your-skin approach.  I can use whatever soap-safe fragrances I’d like, which includes my very favorite Love Spell (can’t buy that pre-made, scented soap at the store, yo) or you could go with the more daringly named fragrances like Lick You All Over…. 

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These soaps turn out looking more rustic, less polished, but I love them anyway!  I feel good about using them in my household.  We haven’t used store bought soaps for a little over a year.  I also feel good about gifting them away!

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I finally got all of my soapin’ done:   1 batch peppermint and 1 batch rosemary mint.  Made a batch of bath fizzies of the Love Spell variety!  And, used some of the fun, fabric from Material Girls to sew up a couple of drawstring bags.

IMG_3548These are smelling awesome – and they’re ready to be mailed out as “thank you” gifts to a family member and a friend.  I think that the finished product is entirely worth the extra effort!  I hope that this post doesn’t scare you away from trying hot process soap – hoping that it inspires you to research it and give it a try?!?

Happy Soapin’!!!

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About cjbolinger

I am a stay-at-home mother of three children (Ben, Alex, and Christian), a wife who is head-over-heels in love with her husband of 13 years (Gregg), a hobbyist photographer, and a lover of everything crafty! Follow my attempts at domesticity as I cook, clean, and craft for my family...
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