Day 13: Oh No! (or) Late Night Soap Making

As much as I am ready to be in my very own Home, and out of someone else’s very own home, I’m not ready for the fun of my DIY Crafting Vacation to be over. Yesterday I got a panic attack that I only had two more days and all I’d done was make, well, okay, five scarves on my new loom. That’s well and good, but what about my wax cloth kitchen bags and my soap making venture?

The soap making process is sort of simple, but intimidating enough that I wanted a stretch of at least two hours of completely kid-free, kitchen monopoly to embark. I kept waiting for that perfect moment, and it never came. It was always easier to just pick up my loom* which is how I made 5 scarves and zero soaps.

But! Last night, in a fit of procrastination inspiration, I stayed up late, after the kiddos were asleep and the kitchen cleared out, and I made my first two (small) batches of soap! They have currently had well more than the prescribed 15 hours to sit (more like 20 hours) and they’re not set up yet enough to take out of the forms. They are still seeming to make a slow progress…. Oh, please, please. I have to pack them tonight!

I made one batch following a recipe with all olive oil and one experiment with all canola. My frustration in researching soap online is that all the recipes are for hand/body soap. I wanted a basic, cheap, deep cleaning soap that I can use for dish soap and laundry detergent. I nixed the coconut oil in so many recipes, because I thought it was there to give soap a luxurious feel and make your skin nice.

Oooops. As I sat down to do my last bout of research before begining (at 9pm remember) I found out that the opposite is true. Coconut and palm oils both are added for their cleansing effect. (In fact, I read that if you use too much of either, your soap will dry out your skin.) Both olive and canola are listed as having just fair cleansing properties, but lots of conditioning.

Well, too late for that. I proceeded with my olive and canola batches. I had found very little info about canola oil in soap making. It looked to have a similar profile to olive oil, but I found hardly any recipes using it, and none with 100% canola. Is this because it’s somehow inferior, or just because it doesn’t sound as glamorous? The one piece of info I did find is that it takes longer to trace. I was a little worried that would mean I would be up all night mixing and waiting. But, not at all. It did take a little longer than the olive batch, but not by much. And, in fact, now it is the more set up of the two…?

Making soap certainly did infect me with The Bug. Mostly I am thoroughly intrigued. I mean, what the–? How the hell does that work? How does oil turn into something that takes oil off? You wanna know something weird? You have to use soap to wash up the soap making dishes. I mean, wouldn’t you think that the stuff clinging to the pan would, well, be soap? But no, somehow, the soap magically forms as it sits. And why do you need to mix it? What would happen if you just let it sit? How do you make liquid soap?

Hopefully you will find answers to these and more pressing late night soap making questions in future posts. For now, I’m off to pack for home! Yippee!

One thought on “Day 13: Oh No! (or) Late Night Soap Making

  1. this is the soap recipe I use. it makes a huge batch (2 years worth of soap) but i find i handy because it uses a whole 500gr tub of caustic soda. i make a very hard soap by using the solid animal/vegetable shortening plus coconut oil. (canola / sunflower makes a very soft soap – it may be why it hasn’t set) i think the rule of thumb is the more animal fat the harder the soap.

    3kg fat
    500 gr caustic soda
    2 litres rainwater
    eucalyputus or lavender oil (or whatever)

    i use 2L plastic milk containers as molds – so it isnt exactly pretty.

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