My friend Maggie and I got together today to make a batch of soap. Some of you wanted to see the process, so here we go....
This is a very basic soap recipe which includes tallow (animal fat), cocoa butter, olive oil and lye. Yes, lye, the stuff that also opens clogged drains. The process is basically a chemical reaction, and this is how it happens:
You'll need 2 stainless steel pots (MUST be stainless steel. The Lye will do some very nasty things to you and your home if you do not use stainless steel), one small (2 or 3 qt), and one large (8 qt or larger). In the small pot, combine 4.5 cups of cold water and 1 cup and 3 teaspoons of lye. (REMEMBER: RUBBER GLOVES for protection from the lye!!!) The water will become very hot, sometimes up to 200 degrees (Do this step OUTDOORS!!!):
Let this cool.
And then you stir. And stir, and stir, and stir. Use a wooden or plastic spoon, preferable one with holes or slats, so the mixture can aerate (I used a plastic spatula). Stir by hand in intervals of ten minutes, then you may use a stick blender for one minute to speed up the process:
Keep stirring, alternating by hand and by stick blender. After lots of stirring, the mixture will become whiter, and will begin to "trace", or leave little lines when you lift the spoon out and make little trails in the mixture. Kinda like when a good bartender will make a little shamrock in the head of your Guiness at a good Irish pub.
Once you have obtained a good trace, it's time to add stuff. I added French Green Clay (a natural anitoxidant), Lemongrass (another antioxidant), and uncooked, whole Oatmeal (which exfolliates and moisturizes the skin). Fold these into the mixture, and when you have achieved trace again, add your essential oils. I added tangering/evergreen oil, which smells YUMMY!
The soap needs to sit for about 48 hours, then you turn the soap out of the molds, and cut into bars. Once they are cut, they need to sit and cure for about two weeks. I'll share pics of the bars of soap in a couple of days.
That's it in a nutshell. The whole process today took about 3 hours. Maggie and I took beginner and advanced soap making classes together about a year ago, and we had homemade soap for almost a year (I think I had about 60 bars of soap before I started to give it away as gifts). This was our first time doing it by ourselves, and I think it worked very well. It's the only soap I used in the past year, and it's really awesome for your skin. When the soap gets too small to use, don't throw it out! You can put it in a blender with a little water and some liquid vitamin E and make hand lotion, which is really good as well.
Now it's time to put my feet up, have a beer, and do a little knitting on Mom's scarf. Have a great night!