Friday, March 12, 2010


If you subscribe to my mailing list then you've read about my new Ice Cream Parlor/Spring inspired products in the  Featured Product Section of my shop.  I forgot to mention what else spring brings!
Warmer weather + lotsa rainfall = SOAP!

Cold process soap is typically made with commercial sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide (lye) that can be found in any hardware store or Lowes/Home Depot (ingredient in Drain-o). I, on the other hand, do not use these to make my soaps. I don't want them in my house where my kids and pets could possibly get a hold of them or breathe in the fumes, let alone use them on my skin!

We do something a little different... Instead of buying commercial lye, we make our own out of wood ash (potash) and filtered rain water.

We start by burning hard wood (hard wood = hard soap and soft wood = soft soap) until the ashes are white.

Next, we put the ashes into a barrel that's lined with river rocks and straw. Then it's time to wait until enough rain water is collected and the water & ash solution will drip out of the valve on the bottom of the barrel

After the solution is collected, it is then boiled until it's the right strength for soap making.

To test the strength of the lye you need a saturated solution of salt. Dissolve chemical-free salt in a pint of water until no more salt will dissolve. Take a stick and put a small weight on the end of it and float it in a pint of the salty water. The weight will sink to the bottom, while the top of the stick will float. Make a mark on the stick where it reaches the water line. Then float the stick and weight in a pint of lye. The mark on the stick will probably be above the water mark of the lye. If so, stir in some more rainwater until the mark on the stick is in exactly the same place it was in the salt water. You now have the correct distillation of lye for making soap :)

It's actually a lot more complicated than it sounds, but in my opinion, totally worth the effort!

Tonight I got to make some cold process soap!
I've only gotten 2 batches done so far.. I'll probably do 2 more before bed.

The first batch was "Chamomile, Cucumber & Cocoa Butter"
It's infused with Chamomile Tea & Cucumber Hydrosol for an amazing scent and packed full of Cocoa Butter. I used a little Olive Oil in this recipe as well so it's going to be super moisturizing!  Once it hardens a little, I'll get some pictures. It looks and smells amazing!

The next batch I made was "Apple Strudel"
This one's made with Apple Cider, Shea Butter, fresh ground Cinnamon (courtesy of my Magic Bullet) and scented with Honey Almond.  I think this one's going to be a favorite!
I managed to get a picture of the little bit I scraped out of the bowl after filling the mold. I put it in a smaller mold to cut up for samples

It's still wet here and reminds me of pumpkin pudding. I'm interested to see what it'll look like when I un-mold it to cut tomorrow.

I think I want to do a baby soap next and maybe some shampoo bars and laundry pre-treaters next. Or, maybe I'll do some cupcake soaps? So many options, so little time!


gina said...

That is so amazing that you make your own lye! I loved reading about the process.