Sunday, September 19, 2010

To You New Soapers:

Halloween Swirl
Originally uploaded by Surrender Dorothy
As I decided to move my little hobby into business mode, I thought it might be a good idea to find out more in the big world of soaping. I joined a couple of Yahoo Groups, and a group on Ravelry. Thinking I might learn something. What I did learn, is that I'd much rather hang out with knitters. They're very nice people, the crocheters as well. Anything you want to learn, they'll teach you. Nicely too, not like you're an ignorant peon who should have already known.
Not so much with the soapers. I've met a few IRL and online who are super nice, but that's the minority. I've actually been told that hot process soap is unpleasant, that the oils are ruined, that the texture is gross. That whatever method I wanted to try EXCEPT cold process was wrong. If I was a newby, I probably would just go along. If I didn't have a degree in Physics and a bit of experience as a chemist, I might believe their naysaying. Naysayers.
So here's my two cents for the newbies. Lye + oil = soap and glycerin. When you mix them, that's what happens. It happens at nearly any temperature. You can speed it up by adding heat. Just like baking a cake, you need to have good measurements or it won't be perfect. If it's not perfect, you can nearly always still save it. Just like cake. You need to be careful with lye, it can burn you. But also remember, that lye you buy at the hardware store is normally used by guys who can't seem to get their pants pulled up over their butt crack to clean drains. You should be careful, but you don't need to be fearful. Dry hands are as good a protection as gloves. Seriously. Wear goggles. If you get a speck in your eye, flush with tons of water. Tons. You'd have to pour some into your eye to cause serious damage, but even a speck will hurt like the devil.
And I don't know it all. Nobody knows it all, but everybody hates a knowitall.
If you've got a question, and I have the answer, I will happily share, without any attitude. Because I'm really a knitter, not a soaper.
And now, my soaps let me show you them:

14 oz. olive oil
10 oz coconut oil
6 oz soy oil
3 oz palm oil
1 oz each cocoa butter, shea butter, and castor oil
5.1 oz lye (actually 5.07, but if you carefully measure until your scale just hits 5.1, that's actually 5.05, and that's as close as you can get with an inexpensive scale.)
13.7 oz distilled water

3/4 tsp. activated charcoal in 2 tsp. canola oil
3/4 tsp orange oxide in 2 tsp canola oil
1.5 tsp spicy fragrance - pumpkin pie, or use 1/4 tsp clove oil and 1/4 tsp cinnamon oil

Preheat oven to 150 to 175 degrees farenheit. Carefully add your lye to water, and mix well. It heats. Set that aside (your sink is a good place). Melt your solid oils, low heat, stainless pot. When they are mostly melted, remove from heat and stir until they're totally melted. I do this in a crock pot. Add the liquid oils. Get your big plastic spoon and stick blender ready. Slowly pour in the lye water while stirring. Stir a bit. Blend on low a bit. Stir a bit. Blend. You'll do this until it looks creamy and is well mixed, but still liquid, not pudding. Have your colors ready, I use cheap plastic tumblers from the discount store. Add your fragrance, blend until it's incorporated. Add one cup of scented raw soap to each cup. Blend your white some more until it's runny pudding. Blend the orange until the color is all mixed in. Then mix the Black until it's smooth. Pour your uncolored soap into a wooden mold, parchment lined pyrex baking dish, or silicone baking pan. Pour the orange in lines over that. Repeat with black. Use a chop stick or knife to make swirls in the soap. Put your soap in the oven, one hour. Turn off the oven, but do not open or remove the soap. Leave it off for an hour. Then turn it back on to 175 for an hour. Then turn it off, and leave it overnight. In the morning, you have soap, cut into bars. It improves with a bit of age, but it is fine to use immediately.


  1. How gorgeous and well said. From a born again soaper learning new stuff and a knitter off and on from way back. Loretta in Australia.

  2. I'm a newbie (and a knitter) so I really enjoyed this post. I'm kinda finding the same thing - I don't know what the deal is. Maybe because it's a business too and some feel the need to protect their soapy secrets. I found a great You Tube channel where the guy that owns Kreamy Soaps shares all kinds of tips. I've learned so much from him and he challenges the status quo when it comes to soaping. It's called Soap Academy. Oh, and your soaps are gorgeous!