Happy Throwback Thursday, friends. I can’t believe it’s been nearly five years since I last shared my homemade soap-making adventures with you. At the time, I’d been making my own soap in three different fragrances – gardenia, lavender, and almond with oats & honey for a few years. I made one batch of each fragrance about twice a year, so about six batches a year in all. Sister Michelle and I made them mostly for ourselves due to allergies, and we’d occasionally give a couple of bars away to friends who expressed interest. We used homemade wooden molds, we used a knife to cut them, just eyeballing the size, and they weren’t necessarily pretty. In fact, they were pretty ugly. Looking back, I realize they didn’t even smell very strong because we cooked the oils so long to burn off the lye that it got so hot, it burned off the fragrance. But it was moisturizing and had a nice lather. We called it “hippie soap.”
About a year and a half ago, I was in the middle of a “too much in pain to really do anything productive” mood when I sporadically looked up any updated soap-making techniques. There’s actually a lot out there now as opposed to when we started. (Back then, everyone was so secretive with their success secrets. I guess once the cat was out of the bag, there was no reason not to spill the beans, and the secret-keepers then decided to capitalize on getting the most hits for their how-to videos.)
I learned a LOT of amazing new techniques, and I also played around with ingredients until I developed a much better recipe. The results: We now make really beautiful bars of soap that smell amazing and are still very sudsy and ultra-moisturizing. So, Sister Michelle and I took our soap show on the (metaphorical) road and opened a soap shop. Or maybe it’s a shoppe. We haven’t decided yet.
We started off just selling to friends and family, but we’re starting to get referrals from them now, so we had to set up a Facebook Page (which is still short of about half the photos I need to add because we had less than four bars in stock of each of those, and I like to include four in each promo photo). However, I don’t really want a full-time career in soap-making, so I have no plans to take it to Etsy or any of the other on-line sales sites (especially because postage rates are so high now), or even to the local Saturday markets that sell such goodies (because I have no desire to come into contact with all the germs). It’s just for a little extra income and because we have fun making it.
We’ve developed about twenty fragrances so far plus other seasonal scents. Sister Michelle loves “Autumn Pumpkin” the best, so even though we were done selling that fragrance in November, she still uses it. My favorite is “Gift of the Magi” which was a Christmas scent of frankincense and myrrh with stripes of gold mica and gold-covered frankincense nuggets on top. I have one customer who comes a couple of times a month to buy the Dark Chocolate Birthday Cake soap and a sea sponge for her many girlfriends’, daughters’, and granddaughters’ birthdays. (And I think also because she loves chocolate!) But Coffee Shop seems to be just about everybody’s collective favorite.
A lot of people tell us they smell good enough to eat, though I wouldn’t recommend it. They may look and smell delicious, but I can almost guarantee that they still taste like soap. Our regular fragrances include Goat Milk Oats & Honey, Coffee Shop, Casanova, Berry Blue, Spearmint, Lavender, Country Apple, Goat Milk Dreamsicle, Lemon, Naked, Gardenia Garden, Raspberry Beret, Lavender Lemongrass, Peppermint Orange, Peppermint Lavender, Hawaiian Luau, Pink Diamonds, Garden of Eden, Dirty Hippie, Spruce Forest, Dark Chocolate Birthday Cake, and Hazelnut Toffee Birthday Cake.
At any rate, I wasn’t really writing about this today to promote anything, but just to show you the (HUGE!) difference between my former “hippie soap” and what I’m making now. (Though if you wanted to Like my Facebook page, I wouldn’t mind in the least.) I went from six batches a year to a minimum of that each month. It’s a lot more artsy-looking now, don’t you think?
Let’s chat: Have you ever made homemade soap? Have you ever used homemade soap? Do you have allergies that prevent you from using any particular store-bought item and force you to make it at home instead? Would you ever use soap that smells like food?