Wednesday, May 29, 2013

A Different Endeavor - Making Soap

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.
 See those air bubbles....you are supposed to avoid that -oops.
You do need to stir it for quite a while, but you can take rest breaks like I am doing now.

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 three of them filled and sitting to cure.

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.

15 comments:

~Laurie~ said...

It's cool that you make your own soap - it's good to have many talents.

Jennifer Gail said...

I love homemade lye soap it will help about poison ivy.

Beth said...

I have made other things, like face scrub, and lotion, but not soap. It looks like the timing is a bit tricky.

Debbie said...

Very neat to see your process. Thanks for sharing!

Barbara said...

My daughter makes soap, and the most recent one I got to try was her beer soap! I am going to send her to your blog. Very detailed process, thanks.

Beth said...

This batch looks great! I got air bubbles to start, too :p

limpingalong said...

I have friends that make their own soap -- I just never felt the urge to be that busy -- would I have made a good pioneer -- probably not.

limpingalong said...

I have friends that make their own soap -- I just never felt the urge to be that busy -- would I have made a good pioneer -- probably not.

Barb said...

You are a man of many talents!!! I did not do tooo good in physics....

Linda J said...

Very interesting, Gene! Seize would be cooking term as well though now that I say it I am not sure in what. Chocolate melting or mayonnaise??

Vicki W said...

I also make my own soap. I started doing it primarily because of my allergies. I don't use any fragrances. I don't think there's any soap better than homemade soap. I can usually make 3 2-lb batches in about 3 hours. It keeps all of my friends clean! I have a tutorial on my blog (free projects page) if anyone wants to see what the whole process is all about. I calculated that my homemade soap costs about .30/bar. That's a bargain!

Barbara said...

Thank you for the great instructions. I have always wanted to try making soap... Maybe I will get to do it this summer.

Jackie said...

Gene, that is totally cool. I am so impressed!

Sue said...

It's so interesting to learn about your soap making.....I made some paper once, that needed lots of stirring too.

Tangos Treasures said...

How cool!! I'd like to try it someday!