Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Adventures in soap making

My sister, Jen, and I have recently been discussing ways to simplify, scale back, and budget more wisely. She mentioned an interest in making her own soap as a way to save money but also to have fun being creative. Sometimes it's easy to get caught up in the everyday and feel overwhelmed by deadlines, never-ending chores, and the monatany that can come with throwing yourself into your work, whatever that may be. Having some kind of creative outlet is a wonderful way to stay balanced and refocus. I frequently find that after spending some time in my garden, or completing a fun project I'm more motivated to tackle the less glamorous tasks around my house.

So we gathered our ingredients and set about this process as detailed over at Rhonda Jean's blog.
We chose to use Olive, Grapeseed, and Coconut oils and were rewarded greatly when the smells started permeating the kitchen. We cooked the oils together on the stove, just to melt the coconut oil (it was in solid form) and bring all the mixed oils to 140 degrees. We also mixed our water and lye outside and left it to cool to the same temperature; when they're both at 140 degrees, you combine them and start mixing.
We had a little bit of difficulty timing this though and had to use ice packs to cool the oils because the lye mixture had been hovering at 140 for a while. heh.

Fortunately we had an immersion blender so mixing only took about 5 minutes or so. We poured the mixture into our molds (8x8 tupperware containers greased with cooking spray) and left them to dry till the next morning. I had some difficulty removing the soap from the tupperware. I really think silicone is the way to go next time, there's much less chance of damaging it. The soap was firm but still slightly maleable so I cut the blocks into bars and tried out some stamps.

I was able to exert more focused pressure on and get a clearer impression with the smaller stamps, the large ones were faint and generally unimpressive. But the bars look lovely and have a subtle clean scent to them. Jen and I each got 11 bars of soap that we'll be able to use once it's cured, about 6 weeks.


Margaret said...

So very impressed by this project -- they look lovely! -- and I'm jealous of all the fun time- and money-saving crafty ventures you and Jen are trying out. I expect a full report on these endeavors so I can give 'em a try myself sometime!

Jen said...

Yay, our soap! This *was* a lot of fun. Mom didn't want 11 bars of soap on a drying rack lying around the house, so they're up on the desk in my bedroom curing. Every time I walk into the room, it smells faintly of soap. :)

We need to come up with our next fun crafty-type project! The topic of this week, though, is meal-planning for me. We haven't really talked about this much, though, so we may extend our impromptu meal-planning tutorial through next week.

And tomorrow morning, off to the Farmer's Market! The weather is so beautiful here right now -- so sunny and cool. :)

Karen said...

Actually, since we're planning on going to the farmers market to buy fresh produce, now is the perfect time to hash out a weeks plan! I'm going to peruse my pantry and see what kinds of things I"ll be able to whip up. :)