This may surprise some of you but a rare few may know that I make my own soap. The fancy word for one who makes soap is a saponifier. I practice the art of saponification. I honestly don't think it saves me any money, and it is hard work. However, I know what is in it and I know that it is good for my skin. I can control (to some degree) the fragrance in it. This batch is getting a blend of cranberry, english ivy and sandalwood. I hope it comes out with a nice clean scent.
At this point I am letting the batch rest before I go stir it more.
I use a stick blender - also known as an immersion blender - to mix the ingredients. The basic process is elementary science - chemistry to be more exact. You use an alkaline solution that is mixed into an oil solution. The oil is an acid. Did you know that oil is acidic? Well, now you do. This results in a chemical reaction called neutralization. The alkali, which can burn your skin, gets neutralized by the oil and makes soap. It also makes glycerin, but that is left in the soap to make it very moisturizing.
Another little science fact - soap is a type of salt. This is true soap and not what you typically buy in the supermarket. Those brand name soaps are more closely related to detergent.
How about a fun fact using a brand name? Palmolive - can you guess where the name comes from? The name is made of a combination of the two oils used in the early bar soap made under that name - Palm oil, and Olive oil - thus, Palmolive.
Here are a couple of pictures of my mixture in the soap pot. The oils I used in this were lard and palm oil.
Just so you know, it is ready to add color if any (I dont' add color) and fragrance when it reaches a state called trace. Trace is the point where the blender or a spoon leaves a mark, a TRACE, in the soap. It is starting to thicken and must be poured before it gets to far or it won't pour at all. There is a risk with adding fragrance that your soap may seize. That means it gets hard quickly and doesn't pour smoothly but lumps up. It can still be used but it isn't very nice. That is a chance I will be taking with the fragrance I am adding.
Oh! I was so lucky! I went back to check and the soap was at light trace. I was so excited I forgot to get a trace picture for you. Just a little more stirring with the blender and then I added the fragrance. Yaay! It did not seize at all. It poured smoothly.
I used three of my bar mold trays. As you can see (kind of anyway) they each make 8 bars of soap.
I have the extra mold sitting in this picture but decided to do a separate picture for it. You may notice that the tray in the upper right looks less smooth than the other two. That was the last tray I poured. The soap was starting to set up a little. You may be wondering about the towel under the molds. I like to put a thick towel under it to hold some of the heat in so that it cures better. They are sitting in the laundry closet where there is less draft to cure.
I am very happy with my soap making adventure today. I will try to remember to show it to you when I unmold it in a couple of days. I may let it sit over the weekend if I get busy.