Waiting for Soap

I’m a soaper. I make soap. (No, not out of people. I get asked that a LOT.) I think it’s fun playing with toxic chemicals and wearing my lab coat and goggles and long rubber gloves. It’s quite a sight.

I made my first batch of soap a million years ago, back in that crazy time period in the late 90’s called “High School”. There was a class at the community arts center. Someone decided I needed a hobby, and that this could be something to try. I did have a lot of fun, despite being the (by far) youngest one in the class. We made awesome lavender soap, and I used it up pretty fast. I didn’t end up picking soaping up as a hobby then, mostly because of the expense of shipping materials to the middle of nowhere. And having no money for it.

A few years ago I decided to pick it up again. I was no longer in the middle of nowhere, I had a little cash, and a kitchen I could muck up at will without having to worry about someone wanting to come through and getting poisoned.

So, at this point it’s been years since that one class at the community arts center. And everything went smoothly. When I tried to make soap on my own, I discovered that it’s not always so smooth. There are things like ricing and volcanoes and gelling and separation that you have to worry about. And I wasn’t as sure what point the trace actually happened. Things needed to be documented. Or I would end up with a riced volcano with separated oil lava. Wuf.

I do intend in the nearish future to put together some actual pictures of just the mistakes, and then put them online for new soapers so that they can see exactly what it means when someone says their soap isn’t behaving. I would have found it incredibly useful. That’s got to go on the List of Things I Will Eventually Get Around To.

Last June I made myself a batch of salt castille soap, and set it aside to wait. Castille soap is just soap made out of lye and water and olive oil, unlike a lot of other soaps that blend oil types or use some other liquid besides water to dissolve the lye in. The salt, the normal granular sea salt you can buy in the store, makes the soap nice and lathery, and depending on the size of your grains, can be nice and exfoliating. Smaller is better though, since nobody wants to bathe by scouring themselves with rocks.

Castille soap is nice and gentle, but it takes for friggin ever to cure. I’m going to try to wait about a year before using it, if I can help myself. I did take a peek at it, and it’s looking… like soap. The yellow spots are, depending on who you talk to and whether or not you can figure it out, either a Very Bad Thing that means your soap has gone all rancid, or a normal thing that just happens to castille soap that you have to accept as marring the delicate soft white gorgeousness of it.

For now, I choose to go with the latter. We’ll see what it actually is later.


~ by jesstracey on September 22, 2011.

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