Trying Something New

For my birthday in September, my dad made me a wooden soap mold and my husband bought me some lye (sodium hydroxide).  I had put out a request because I had been dreaming of trying my hand at cold-process soap making.  In making lip balm, you often find recipes for other bath and body products because the ingredients work for all sorts of fun things.  I had some supplies left over from last fall's mad rush of Osmosis orders and decided making soap would be a good way to use them up.

I've made liquid soap in the past and could have done that again, but I still have a little bit of soap paste left in the fridge, so I thought I'd give bar soap a try.  Knowing a smidge about the oils I had to use, I decided to add a 25% base of coconut oil.  The rest of the recipe was made up of shea butter, jojoba oil, and cocoa butter.  I ran it through the lye calculator and ta dah, I had my recipe.  I decided not to use colorant or do anything fancy since I'd never tried this before.  After watching videos on lye safety, I gave it a whirl... using my handy dandy stick blender (a bday gift from Mom a few years back).  I poured it in the mold and wrapped it up in a towel and left my house for the weekend.

Now I have to say it's a good thing I left my house for a few days because my minimal patience would not keep me from peeking at my soap every couple hours.  As it was, it was the first thing I did when I came home!  I promptly unmolded it and sliced it up.  And yet, I had to be patient once more.  Unlike my liquid soap which is ready to use as soon as you are done making it, bar soaps need curing time... 4-6 weeks of curing time.  So. Hard. To. Wait.

Here we are 5 weeks later and I am so happy to say that I've given one of the bars a home in my shower.  There was a little learning curve with using the bar soap... It's been soooo long since I've used a bar of soap in the shower that I about forgot how to do it.  I just stood there holding the wonderful thing in my hand for a while.  Happy to report that I figured it out and the soap did its job and cleaned my skin without leaving it feeling all stretched and dry.  My definition of successful soap!

I have a plan for most of that batch of soap and it's going to be shipped off somewhere special soon.  Since I won't be keeping it all and it takes soooooo long before I can use it, I thought I'd better get started on a new batch.  This time I thought I'd get creative.  I used 50% olive oil as the base and added some coconut oil and cocoa butter (the last of last year's supply).  I decided to split the batch and do a layer of color.  I used a bit of iron oxide from my lip balm supplies (the base color for Winter).  This batch went to trace much faster than I expected and became thick too quick!  I managed to get it into the mold and then promptly left my house for two days.  Good planning on my part!

Away from my soap, I visited Dad and convinced him to throw together a soap cutter for me... since my first attempt at slicing soap wasn't so straight.  My Dad rocks at throwing together stuff made from wood.  He had me set up in no time and my new cutter was the first thing I unpacked when I got home.  I quickly unwrapped the soap and pulled it out of the mold.  (Hubby helped the cause by photo documenting my big reveal.)

The results are okay.  There are definitely signs that it was too thick when I poured the colored part into the mold.  I had also sprinkled some jojoba beads on top of the soap thinking they would be pretty sprinkles, but alas, they seemed to have melted.  I also see that I have a smidge of soda ash on the outer edges... oh well.  Next time I'll try mixing at a cooler temp and see if that goes better for me.  It smells yummy though... cherry blossom.... one of my few favorite florals.  This soap is for me.   It'll be a loooonnnnngggg time before I can try it though.  I'll let you know how it goes.

Other than the links listed above from Bramble Berry and Soap Queen TV, I have also been reading about soap making in these books:

All three are available at the library!


  1. YOu are so adventerous! I love that about you! I was wearing your gloss this week! :) The soap looks amazing! I like the natural way yo0u are taking...when it comes to soap no dyes sounds pretty good to me! Let me know whe you put those babies up for sale :) I will buy a few for sure!

  2. I am just so happy you were able to make cold process soap! It's so much fun, isn't it? I think your first attempt went great and those bars are gorgeous. :)