Saturday, November 4, 2017

Soap day

I have made soap twice before, but never had help until now.  I recently fell and hurt my hand and wrist getting my plants in before the hard freeze we had last weekend, so it was not a good time to try to lift the heavy glass and pots needed to make lye soap.

The first thing I did was lay news print on the table.

It took forever, but I arranged everything on the table.  The tools and equipment we would need are in front, while the oils and fat solids are on the right.  Lye and distilled water are on the left, along with vinegar in case we spill the lye on ourselves.  Behind that are extras.

It's easier to see here the "extras" and the additives, such as oats, my herb grinder, instant coffee, cinnamon sticks, and essential oils from this angle.   You can also see what I'll be placing the melted soap in.  Yes, those 1/2 and 1/2 containers are surely good for something.

Some of the essential oils had leaked in the bags, so I had a major clean up to perform before my friends arrived.

I forgot to show the stick blender we will use to shorten the time to trace.  I realize some will disagree with me, but I never use items meant for crafts in food preparation again.

My friend Sally gave me this 2 burner hot plate, and I won't apologize for not cleaning it up.  It's in the same condition in which she gave it to me several years ago.  Since I only use it for soap and paper making, I see no reason to spend hours cleaning it.

Finally, I got help.  My friend Scott laughed when I gave him the dust mask.  He said it wouldn't help, but he used it anyway.

Now he's adding the lye to the distilled water.  NEVER add water to lye.  He stirred slowly until the mixture was clear.

Next, he placed the faux Crisco in the pot to heat.   The plan was to use my other stainless steel pot for the mixture and this pot for heating the oil. 

We started with a very simple recipe that included only Crisco, Olive Oil, and Lye.  I thought it would be the easiest and would be fun to see the science behind it, too.

As the final dregs of "Crisco" were placed in the pot, it had already started to melt.  The hard part was getting the lye and the melted Crisco within 5 degrees of each other.  We opted for 100 degrees F., which was finally achieved.

Here Scott has added the heated oils to the lye water and is ready to mix the two in the pot designated for this.  To the left, you can see the 1/2 & 1/2 containers have been cut open and are ready for the soap to be poured into.  On the right directly behind my coffee mug are some essential oils that will be added to the mixture at trace.  The plastic container sitting on top of the "Crisco" next to the lye is what we will pour each batch into so we can get several different scents and blends from each batch.

So what is trace, you ask.   According to a site dedicated to all things British, but also about soap and candle making called The Spruce, this is what they have to say:

Most soap making instructions will say to blend the lye-water and your heated oils until the soap reaches "trace."
In days of hand stirring (which took hours!), trace was a sign that the soap was finally ready to pour into the mold. Some people describe the "trace" as a little line, ridge or mound of soap that after you've stirred the soap and drizzled it back into the pot, takes a second or two to disappear back into the mix.

Also according to The Spruce:

But with today's soap making world of stick blenders, trace is less of a consideration. It happens in a matter of 30-60 seconds.

Some like to pour their soap into molds in liquid form just after a "light trace" has occurred.  We started with a light trace because we knew we would have at least three different types of soap from this single batch.

After we poured the first batch into the molds, I forgot to take any more photos, but I left my camera on the table and was surprised when I was taking these pictures off the card.

It seems one bee got too close to some essential oil and inhaled too much.  It later regained consciousness and flew away.

After the soaps had been placed in molds, they were covered with both cardboard and towels to keep them warm.

This is an entire batch of peppermint swirl and the final batch we created.  I checked on it late today and the entire guest bedroom smelled incredibly wonderful.

This was a large container and we made several different soaps based on the various essential oils we used.  The soap can be cut in two days.

Today is Day 4 of AEDM and I took you through my soap making experience.  Now all I need is a bit of patience.  And of course, I totally enjoyed your visit, too.  Have you ever made lye soap?

25 thoughtful remarks:

Valerie-Jael said...

That sounds like a fun way to make soap! Nice to turn it into a social occasion, including a bee sniffing oils! Hope you will have fun using it! (The soap, not the bee!) Have a nice Saturday, hugs, Valerie

kathyinozarks said...

so sorry your fell and hurt yourself-no fun-my husband has been doing that allot this year-due to his arthritis
I loved the tutorial-I had picked up several books and was going to make soap this way-but hubs said no way since I am an accident waiting to happen-always worried I would do the lye the wrong way.
many people I know make this in their kitchens-and I would never do that-loved your set up and glad you got help
so is the sop in those half half containers? thats a nifty idea
Happy saturday

Meggymay said...

Sorry to read you had a fall, I hope you aren't in to much pain.
It sounds like you had a good time soap making, even better when you had time to take the photos as your friend was working with the materials.
I think your soup will smell lovely. Is there a time before you can use it, or is it just waiting time for it to set.
Yvonne xx
p.s., I'm pleased the bee recovered from the overdose of aromas.

CJ Kennedy said...

So sorry you hurt your hand. Glad Scott could help you make the soap. That was so interesting to watch the process. I've only ever made melt and pour soap.

sheila 77 said...

I read this with increasing fascination and wonderment. Never was there such a detailed tutorial for making soap Love that you got your arsenal lined up to start. Wondered what would happen if you added water to lye (a weird smell? an explosion?). Was so glad the bee recovered. Really great clear photos and precise instructions. If I ever want to make soap this will be my first port of call.

Nancy said...

Hope your healing is speedy. You did indeed need help with lifting those heavy pots and pouring. Peppermint swirl- I can almost smell it now. I have made lye soap when I lived in the north and took a class on it. We used lots of different ingredients, including goat's milk and palm oil. I think the lavender batch (with oatmeal) and the peppermint batch were my favorites. We were told to "cure" our soaps for a couple of weeks as I recall. We did it like you- covered and kept under a bed to keep it out of light. I really enjoyed the process, though I was nervous about handling the lye (rightfully so!) The bee got a knock-out punch from the oil. Glad he recovered himself.

froebelsternchen Susi said...

Sorry to hear you fell and hurt yourself Elizabeth! Hope is was/is not too bad !
Wow - what a fantastic soap - making day!
Great that you showed and shared this with us! I never have made any soap - no experiences. But I bought soap for my hubby today - he is the only human being here in the house who uses bars of soap-
my daughter and I only use liquid soaps and shower gels. My daughter made some bath bombs a few years ago as it got popular, but I didn't watch her doing it.
Nice to hear the bee recoverd - she seems to got soap high!!!

Thank you for sharing your SOAP DAY and all the tipps with us!
Happy weekend dear Elizabeth!

My name is Erika. said...

Cool! You and Scott look like you had fun. I've never made soap before so I didn't realize it needed so many items and was such a complex process. Now you have lots of gifts. :) I'm also sorry to hear you hurt your hand Elizabeth. :( Hope it is healing well and quickly for you! Hugs-Erika

Helen said...

hope you're recovering from your fall. I never made soap or even thought about doing so- like Erika says, I didn't realise it was quite so complex Bet the smells are amazing though.

Sandra Cox said...

Fascinating. These would make wonderful gifts with so much love and time put into them.
Question: Why add lye to the distilled water.  NEVER add water to lye.
Hope your weekend is as special as you are.

Nelly and Norah said...

Oh wooow, soap making at home is on our list but we never had the courage to start the whole process. So we're very impressed by your work and your post! Awesome!!

Thanks for dropping by every day, I really appreciate your thoughtful remarks! I have dropped by your site every day to although I didn't always have time to comment. Today we moved our webhome to Wordpress, because the blog service of Wix had a lot of limitations. Hope to see you there soon! We live at now!

pearshapedcrafting said...

I remember my Mum making soap but never really took an interest in the process, or how often she made it, or whether it was just the once! This looks like an interesting process and I am glad Scott helped you out! I hope the hand is getting better! As happens often when I read your posts, I am impressed with your energy for making things, but also appreciate more the things my Mum used to do -and teach me! Years ago I was asked when I started crafting and I said lamely -"Well I did a bit with the children in my class" It was only on reflecting back that I realised I had been making stuff for years, knitting, basket making, collage, glass painting, sewing, rag rugging, embroidery, flower making and lots more…all thanks to my Mum! Thank you for showing this process and for also bringing back a memory! I hope your weekend is going well! Hugs, Chrisx

Incipient Wings said...

Sorry you hurt yourself!!
I hope you're much better really soon.
I think it's awesome that you made soap..I bet it does smell good!
That little bee! very relieved to hear it revived. it's so cute.
nice of your friend to help you out.
I agree with you about not using the craft items with food never know if something was contaminated.
Love all the fun stuff you do,
thanks for sharing:)

RO said...

I've been to specialty soap shops, and was always curious how this process works. It looks really fun, and having exclusive scented soaps around the house, or to use as gifts sounds really unique. You're full of all these neat talents! Hugs...and Happy Saturday! RO

Kate said...

What a fun project! But I am sure it was exhausting with set-up, clean-up and such. I love that you shared the process. I hope you will be sharing pictures of all the cooled batches of soap. That peppermint soap looks so lovely with all the swirls.
I have always wanted to make soap but from what I have read it sounds like you need a lot of ingredients. You table confirms it...but I will still endeavor to try it some time. Thank you for sharing the process!

Rita said...

Have never made any kind of soap. Looks challenging. I hope you show us when it is done and sliced! :)

NatureFootstep said...

this was new to me. Of course I have read about soap making somewhere but never seen the process like this before. Interesting :)

Sami said...

Hi Elizabeth, hope you recovered from your injury soon. I've made soap a couple of times using this method an I also use accessories that I don't use for cooking. I always leave my soap plain, so I'm curious to see your soaps. And this reminds me I should make some pretty soaps for Christmas presents...

jinxxxygirl said...

Just wondering Elizabeth, probably because i know nothing about soap making but why use lye? Sounds like something so harsh to put on your skin or will you use this soap for something else??? Wonderful instructions though and if i ever thought to do this i know who to come to.. :) Hugs! deb

Divers and Sundry said...

I remember making soaps as presents for Christmas for a couple of years, but I never used lye. I loved the process, and I enjoyed using the different kinds of soaps. Isn't it fun to vary our creative projects! :)

Linda Kunsman said...

Ouch! Sorry to hear about your hand injury.
Kudos to you for your soap making with lye!!! I have only done a simpler version with glycerin not lye. Nice job Scott! I never use craft tools for food-ever. I dedicate special ones as you do.
So what are you going to do with all your soaps-gifts, for yourself, selling them? I bet they all smell fabulous! Thanks for sharing.

Corrine at said...

Sorry you hurt yourself. Scott, dear friend always, to the rescue!! I have never tried it because frankly the though of using the lye scares me....wimp that I am. Can't wait to see all the finished project. Poor bee, glad it recovered. xox

Jeanie said...

Wow -- when you make soap, you make soap! Very complex -- I had no idea. Three cheers to you and what a great feel of satisfaction. Lye? Wow. Impressed.

I sure do hope your hand has healed Glad to know there is a Scott to help. And yes, same here with cooking versus crafting tools. Maybe, possibly for something that I'm sure would be OK but in general, why take a chance. Neither are overly expensive if you shop right!

Sean Parker said...

Hope your hand is fine now, always take precautions but really appreciate your work.
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Millie Summer said...

The plan was to use these other stainless steel pot for the mixture and this pot for heating the oil.
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