Soap Musings

If at First You Don’t Succeed…

I started my soap making adventures around the beginning of January 2017. I’d read several soap making blogs and watched a ton of YouTube videos. I went out and bought all of my supplies, which ended up adding up really quickly. The cost does get cheaper, but needless to say after buying Oils, Fragrance, Lye, a Scale, a Thermometer, Gloves, a Stick Blender and wood to build a mold, I was at least $75 poorer.

I have future blog posts planned about the supplies needed to start making soap, a simple starter recipe with a how-to guide, and information on how to build a soap mold (or where to buy one if you aren’t feeling very crafty). But for now, lets move onto my first soap making experience.

For my first soap I used oils that were readily available at my local grocery store: Olive Oil, Coconut Oil and Vegetable Shortening. I didn’t have a soap-making area set up in my basement yet, so I was soaping in my 100 year old, way too small kitchen! I mixed my Lye water and immediately realized why so many of the soap making blogs and videos had suggested that it be done outside. Those fumes are not something you want wafting around the kitchen.

When you add lye to water it heats up very quickly. While waiting for the lye water to cool down, I melted and mixed my Olive Oil and my Coconut Oil. Following the soap recipe I was using, I waited until the lye water and oils were within 10 degrees of each other, and then I mixed my lye water into my oils. I blended and reached a medium trace a lot quicker than I thought I would, within a minute or two. I mixed in my fragrance oil and I poured the soap into my mold…and…the mold looked a little empty.

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I forgot to add the Vegetable Shortening. I didn’t add 1/3 if the oils……

Had I not noticed this minor (major) oversight, my soap would have been very itchy, to say the least.

At the time I didn’t know that I could quickly correct my mistake by making hot process soap. So I dumped everything in the trash…

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I sent my husband back out to the store for more fragrance oil. I repeated the whole process over again, this time remembering all the oils. I poured them in the mold and let them sit over night

Being impatient, I was supposed to let the soap sit for 24 hours before unmolding, but I took it out of the mold after about 18 hours. It was a little soft, but I was able to cut it and lay it out to cure.

I was also supposed to let it sit for a few days before I used it for the first time to let it fully saponify, but I “tested” it after about a day. It was definitely soap! There were suds and it smelled nice, but it was still a little harsh.

I was also supposed to let it cure for a few weeks so that it became more mild and fully hardened. It was safe to use after 2-3 days of curing, so naturally I started using it after about a week. All in all, it turned out to be some pretty amazing first time soap. My husband even keeps a bar of it in his gym bag. It makes my skin feel really soft and I love knowing exactly what’s in it. Its not quite the quality of soap I am currently making — but it was definitely a great start!

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