Monday, October 29, 2012

Making Soap

I crossed item #52 off my bucket list on Saturday. I made lye soap!
Lavender oatmeal soap, to be exact.
I am addicted to handmade soap. Not only does it smells good, it is gentle on the skin and it lasts a long time. I rarely come home from a craft show without a bar or two. Sweet, floral or spicy, I love it all. 

I have long toyed with the idea of making soap myself but I was never able to muster the courage to attempt it in my own kitchen. Lye is highly caustic; handled improperly, it can be downright dangerous. Then I met Emilie Sennebogen. She was selling her line of handmade body products at a local festival. I admired her wares and purchased a couple of bars of her all-natural soap. When I learned that she had just opened a small shop in Decatur, Georgia and planned to offer soap making classes at some point, I eagerly signed up for her email list. And when she announced her class schedule, I was one of the first to register.
Rebecca and Liz of Mama
My sister-in-law SeDonna went with me on Saturday. Just walking into the shop is a sensory delight. It is sunny and bright, well-organized and filled with delightful smells. There were six of us in the class; our instructor, Rebecca, began with the history of soap making, discussed safety procedures, and guided us through the recipe we would follow. Then we set to work in teams of three to make lavender oatmeal soap.

We lined our cardboard molds. We measured our ingredients. We melted our fats and mixed up our lye solution. Then we added the lye to the oil (never the other way around) and mixed it up with an immersion hand blender.
My team mates SeDonna and Mike.
 Last, we incorporated the oatmeal and lavender essential oil and poured the mixture into our molds, covering them with thick towels. We each came home with a pound of soap; after waiting the required 24 hours, I cut mine into bars and set them on a brown paper bag to cure. Although the soap is ready to use now, we were advised to wait a couple of weeks for it to harden so it will last longer.

I am hooked! I came home with enough supplies to make three more pounds of soap, spent hours online yesterday, researching soap making and other sources for ingredients. Eventually, I plan to make all of our  household soap and shampoo, lotions and scrubs. In the meantime, I am looking forward to sharing my handmade soap with friends and family members over the holidays.

Whether you want to learn to make soap yourself or simply buy some wonderful handmade body products, I hope you will visit Mama in Decatur, Georgia. The address is 743D East College Avenue. They accept mail orders too; click HERE for the details. Tell them I sent you!


Debbie Maxwell Allen said...

I love handmade soap, too. I made it myself only once, but I'd love to do it again! There's nothing like it!


Pam Asberry said...

I couldn't agree more, Debbie! Now that I have made it myself, I am more addicted than ever - to the soap itself AND to making it! :-)

Dan said...

I could say that I make hand made soap as well but that would be a stretch seeing I use the glycerin method. Just melt, add scent, poor into mold and use it. It's something I started doing with my last daughter as a side project to do a father daughter thing together. Oh well. You've topped my efforts. Great job.

S.M. Carrière said...

I was looking into making soap a few weeks (a month?) back, and decided against it. Knowing me, I'd have spilt lye all over the house and caused some sort of explosion...

Pam Asberry said...

I have made glycerin soap before, Dan. Those soaps are very pretty! But I have sensitive skin, and the fragrance oils and artificial colors in a lot of the glycerin soaps can cause me problems. I am going to stick with essential oils and natural coloring agents in my lye soap. I am very excited about this! Thank you for stopping by and commenting.

Pam Asberry said...

Follow the instructions to the letter, S.M., and wear gloves, a face mask and goggles when you work with the lye. Also, when we combined our lye with our melted fats, we did it outdoors, to minimize the fumes. Just exercise precaution and you will have a blast; I sure did!