Archive for ‘Craft: Toiletries and Cosmetics’

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

It’s all in the presentation



Handmade soap, all ready for gifting :)


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Adventures in Soapmaking

I made my second batch of homemade, ‘cold processed’ soap the other day. Although it has to cure for about a month before you use it, it looks great, a lot better than the first batch.

So, how do you make soap?

I used Rhonda’s tutorial at Down to Earth, with one modification – I did some research online and found out that instead of using a thermometer and heating the two sets of liquids to the same temp, you can leave them to cool down until the bowls feel the same warmth against your hand – so that’s what I did.


First you mix your oils together – I used the proportions in Rhonda’s directions. I had no problem finding these – Olive Oil and Rice Bran oil are available at bigger supermarkets, and coconut oil is sold in asian grocery stores, of which we have several even in a small town like Scunthorpe (Asian stores are a goldmine, I use mine for nuts, pulses, herbs, noodles, tofu etc all much cheaper than elsewhere).

In another jug mix up the caustic soda (lye) with water. Be very careful with this stuff, it can give you bad burns if you spill it on bare skin. Also, make sure to mix it with cold water – i used warmish water because I was impatient waiting for it to cool down (from being boiled to get some of the chemicals out of the tap water), and had a minor heart attack thinking it was going to explode, volcano style, all over my kitchen! Luckily it didn’t :)

Oh, and you should only use bowls etc for soapmaking and nothing else – I used cheap plastic stuff from tesco so this needn’t cost more than about a pound!

Once you have your two lots of liquid at the same temp, you carefully mix them together – after a few mins they will get a lot thicker, looking somewhat like cake batter. This is called ‘reaching trace’ – a trickle of the mixture poured onto the rest should stay on top for a while. This is the point where you add essential oils, colours etc if required. For my first batch I chose to keep half ‘natural’ and add essential oils (rosemary and peppermint) and colour to the other half. The colour, despite being made for use in bathbombs, soap etc turned from greenish to pink, whoops! Nevermind, nothing wrong with pink peppermint soap ;)

Then pour it carefully into greased molds – the more flexible, the easier it is to get the soap out once it’s hard.

After leaving it for 24 hours you unmould it and cut it into pieces – at this point it’s still caustic, so don’t be silly like me and get it on your skin!

Once it’s cut, you leave it to dry for several weeks on a rack. As you can see, my first effort wasn’t perfect – I mixed too much before pouring into molds, with the result that it was very thick and I got air bubbles – so it came out a bit crumbly. It’s still perfectly good soap though :)

And here’s my second effort, which as you can tell is a LOT better. There are a few plain bars, a big batch with added oatmeal and honey (i just eyeballed how much to add of those so will have to wait and see if it’s any good), and some really cute little individual sized heart soaps, some with lavender oil added and some of the oatmeal&honey. The colour variation comes from them being in various stages of drying – eventually they will all be a lot paler.

Next experiment… face wash and lip balm!