Oatmeal, milk & honey revisited

I veganized this soap last night. I used canned coconut milk and agave instead of cow’s milk and honey. It formed a beautiful beige color and I do believe I achieved a fully non-gelled soap! This one was soaped at room temp. I’ve been giving that a go lately and really enjoy it. I’m going to give the base recipe a few months to look for DOS and if it works out, I may just master batch a bit of it. I enjoy not temping, waiting for things to cool. Simply pouring everything and going at it was relaxing.

Hopefully I will have pictures of this soap tomorrow. It’s currently taunting me on the kitchen island. I swear when I walk by I can hear it saying “Cut me!”, but my plan is to wait at least a full 48 hours.

I’m also dealing with some wordpress issues. I love the little template that I found, but I also love the comments that people leave. For some reason I can read them and approve, but with this template I don’t think that they show up on the blog for other readers. So it looks like I’ll be finding something else to use. I’ll miss that little apple in the corner. 😉

Charcoal swirl

Recently I bought a soap kit from an online retailer of soap making supplies. It turned out great, but it was much softer than I anticipated since I didn’t gel. I like the look of non-gelled soaps, but again…that patience thing. Take a little longer to unmold and cut. It was my first swirl. It turned out nice on top. The bottom isn’t so pretty, but I don’t have a slab mold and had to improvise. I used peppermint and tea tree essential oils. It came with anise, but I can’t stand the smell and since I cure in my bedroom I didn’t want to go to sleep and wake up to a scent that I hate. That can’t be a good start or end to a day. 

 

So here it is! I’ve GOT to start getting better pictures. I only have this one. 

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Tomorrow I will try to post about the homemade laundry soap recipe that I’m trying out! So far, so good on that one. 

Oatmeal, milk & honey

This goes back to February. Back before living in Florida. Back before I decided to make vegan soaps. Funny that seems like ages ago. I guess that’s what a 13 hour household move with 3 kids, new schools, a new house, and new friends will do for you! This is the very first CP soap that I ever made. The one that started the addiction. I used a recipe from the book Making Soap From Scratch (a great read and wonderful to learn from!). Little did I know I was starting out with not one, but two products that tend to really heat up! For a first, it turned out ok. I found it fascinating to watch it go through the different stages. I had no clue that I should have insulated nor did I know that you could stop gel completely! 

It was also the first batch in the mold that my sweet husband made for me. It’s not perfect, but I love it. It hinges on the side (as in the entire side opens up) making it easy to get soaps out when they’re ready. Plus, you can’t beat something made by someone that you love! Image

I watched in amazement as the soap gelled. Like it was the coolest thing ever. My own little science experiment right there in my kitchen. 

Image(As you can see, the towel is there. I just didn’t use it to insulate like I should have And let’s just pretend that you don’t see that glass thermometer back there.)

I cut it a little too soon. Stupid patience! Soap making isn’t quite an instant gratification sort of hobby. It still turned out great for a first soap. Of course, it partially gelled. Not a pretty soap, but oh so smooth on the skin. I’ve used most of it, given some away. The recipe called for vegetable shortening (aka: Crisco) and between that and the horrible storage conditions that I used it now has DOS. So I’m working on using it all up quickly. Not hard to do as this ended up being a very soft soap (again, I blame that on my storage). Soon I want to give it a go again, but veganize it. I’m thinking agave in place of the honey and either coconut or hemp milk. 

Image(Cut with my grandmother’s (aka: Nanny) old hickory butcher knife. Still use that thing. I love it.)

 

A new adventure!

Because my life isn’t busy enough already. Back in January, I made my first batch of hot process soap. Then, in February I made my first batch of cold process. I was instantly hooked! I’ve made a ton since then and with each batch, I’ve learned something new. From ash to partial gels to differences in oils to DOS (dreaded orange spots), I’ve run into problems and learned how to correct them. I’m sure I have many more problems to encounter too.

I originally started making all “natural” soaps. I use the quotes because, while still a better bar than what you buy at the store, lye is not really a natural product anymore. Not unless you make it yourself in which case, I want to meet you and watch! Seriously, I’ve looked at tutorials and there’s no way I could do it. Most soapmakers buy lye, either from the hardware store or in bulk. I’ve just recently received my first bulk order! Lye is also a very caustic material. I’ve slowly become not quite terrified, but still very cautious around it. With that said (and with me going OT like I tend to do..sorry about that!) I will soon be learning more about fragrance oils and colorants. I love using essential oils and natural colorants are great too. I just want to try more.

Eventually I hope to sell my soaps, but I have a long way to go before then. It takes time to figure out what works and what doesn’t. I feel like I have a responsibility to learn which oils make a nice, clean rinsing, hard bar that lasts a while. I need to learn what mistakes look like….mistakes that could hurt a future customer if I don’t know what I’m doing. While soapmaking is something that I find comes fairly easily, it isn’t something to take lightly. On top of learning so much more about making handmade soaps, there are taxes and ordinances and licenses and insurance. All of the not so fun stuff. Having a soap business, like many other businesses, definitely isn’t something that one should jump into without first having the knowledge that they need to be both safe and successful. So until then, I will keep testing soaps myself and using friends and family as my personal guinea pigs. I feel like I can’t stress enough that I really want to learn everything that I can before making a business out of the beauty of handmade soap, but the inkling is there for me to do so.

The purpose of this blog is to share batches, pictures, tips (as I slowly learn them myself), mistakes and learning experiences. I admire the blogs of many soapers. If you’ve never looked around at them I highly recommend it. I found many by simply searching on wordpress. Some of these women and men take the most beautiful photos and share so much about the process. Maybe someday I will be able to do the same.