Who really wants to talk about soap? Can you imagine reading and chatting about soap for hours on end? No – me either. But I was introduced to making cold processed soap twice in my life.
The first time as a kid when my mom decided to make soap that seriously old fashioned way with lye and lard. All I can say from that experience is that I have a weak stomach for anything with a slimy texture. All my soap nightmares were realized during that period of time.
Fast forward 20 years, here I am sitting on my couch with a good dose of Facebook friends with one of them introducing me to a soap page (thousands of people are making soaps – beautiful luscious soaps). OHHH, the beautiful fancy soap made with essential oils for scents, and luxury fats to do amazing things for the skin. And the designs – who knew. So down the rabbit hole I jumped head first. These weren’t the slimy goo of my mom’s kitchen. My husband was out of town on business and with no one to complain about the state of the kitchen, I undertook making cold processed soap – Lye, Liquid, Fats, Digit Scale, Immersion Blender. The reality is that is all you need and a lye calculator. I liquid discount my soaps (use the same weight of liquid as lye). This gives me a hard bar of soap that I can use within 2 days of making the soap.
My soaps aren’t the fancy spirals of colors, shapes, and textures that other people create. Mine are more utilitarian. I want a soap that holds up to two-shower days for a few weeks. I don’t want scent that will compete with my perfume, or even be noticeable when at work, or leave traces of colorant as it goes down the drain. What I do want is clean skin without taking my skin off or leaving a film. This means for me – no essential oils, no scents, no colors, no clays…a nice superfat soap. My favorite fats are coconut, Crisco, sunflower, and avocado. This combination gives me lots of lather and bubbles – my favorite character of soap – and a super hard bar that lasts more than a week.
My favorite soap molds are silicone. I use candy, muffin, and cake pans all made of silicone. They are the easiest to get the soap out of it once it hardens and sets up. I tried the cute plastic molds but had a terrible time removing the soap and getting it to retain the design of the mold. Another good mold is paper cups. Perfect round bars easy to cut through.
I could go on and on about all the different aspects of making your own soap. This is a hot topic with much debate on what is best: recipes, fats, brand of lyes, organic … the list goes on. I say try making a batch, then tweak the heck out of it to see what you like best.