It’s that time again…

Believe it or not, I’m not really into prairie living, but because I have so many allergies and intolerances, I have to do a lot of cooking at home.  Another thing I make at home is laundry soap as well as body and hand soap.  Usually when I make either of these, I like to make enough to last for several months so that I only have to do it a couple of times a year.  This weekend, I made the first batch of body and hand soap.

Step One: Gather your oils and ingredients.

If you’re not familiar with the soap-making process, basically, you mix various oils with lye and heat it.  It’s actually a bit more complicated than that, and everything has to be measured precisely by weight on a digital scale.  There has to be a certain percentage of each type of oil to get the desired results, such as how hard you want the soap to be, how sudsy it will get, how moisturizing it will be, etc.  I like to add cocoa butter and shea butter as well as goat’s milk because these all add extra moisture.  Castor oil and coconut oil add for extra cleansing, and olive oil and almond oil add extra creaminess.

Step Two: Mix the lye water with the heated oils.

After the oil-lye mixture has cooked for the appropriate amount of time (around four hours), I add essential oil to make it smell pretty then pour it in a mold.  Because I use hot process (meaning I cook it), I can unmold it the next day and use it soon thereafter.  If I used the cold process method, it would be more “liquidy” and I could pour it in pretty shaped molds.  But then it would take weeks to “saponify” meaning for the lye to have a chemical reaction with the oil and not be caustic any longer.

Step Three: Cook it for a really long time.

This time, I made gardenia soap.  Later this week, I’ll be making a batch of lavender to which I’ll add some dried lavender buds to make it pretty, as well as some honey-oat-almond, which will smell like almond, and have honey as well as ground oats in it for extra exfoliation.  I actually prefer to use this oat soap in the kitchen because it smells so much like food!

Step Four: Pour it into a mold and let it harden overnight, then slice.

You can buy homemade soaps all over the place these days, as they are increasingly popular.  I did that for a few years, but they used fragrance oil rather than essential oil to keep their costs down, and I became allergic to the perfume in the fragrance.

Step Five: Enjoy!

If you’ve never used homemade soap before, let me tell you that once you do, you’ll never want to use store bought soap again.  The first time you use homemade, it feels like you just washed ten years of yuck off your skin! You’ll also realize after that, store bought soap actually feels slimy in comparison.  Your skin will be softer, your shave will be closer, and you’ll feel the cleanest you’ve ever felt.

Time to talk:  Have you ever used homemade soap?  Do you have any allergies?  Would you use soap with ground oats or lavender buds inside?

25 thoughts on “It’s that time again…

  1. Big surprise, Rachel. No, I’ve never made my own soaps, lotions or body potions. I bow to your industriousness and healthy allergy aversion.

    Prairie living. What a phrase to plant in my brain! Now I’m going to working with the image of you as the new recurring character on “Little House.” Apron. Pig tails. Lotta freckles. Dusty winds. Aw, shucks. You’re cute. 😉

  2. Wow…I’ve made laundry detergent, but never soap. Do you ever mistake it for dinner in the crockpot? I am gluten sensitive which triggers a lot of other allergens.

  3. I worked at a place that made pressure washers for big trucks. They made the soap there and used tons of salt for filler. I asked the owner about that and he told me that all commercially made soap was the same stuff basically, and they all used tons of salt for filler.

  4. That is awesome! I love these throwback craft projects. I’ve considered it, but never made it. I always use Ivory, because it’s 99 44/100% pure. (Nothing else to react to.) I thought for sure you’d have some cute little seashell and bunny molds at the end.

    I really believe in teaching these lost skills to our kids, and preserving the knowledge. Good for you.

  5. That is so cool, Rachel! I’ve bought handmade soap as gifts, but I use the commercial stuff. 🙂 I bet yours is amazing and smells wonderful!
    In colonial times, soap making was a nasty job. The lye was made from boiling animal fat and mixing it with wood ashes. Benjamin Franklin’s family had a secret soap recipe. If I remember correctly, he asked his sister Jane to send him some when he was in France.

  6. Pingback: Rub-A-Dub | Rachel Carrera, Novelist

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