Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Clean as a Widow-woman's Washboard

We made the soap Sunday for the Christmas gifties. I ordered supplies through and used a tutorial written by Hannah of Miss Hannah's Soaps. Naturally, the soap came out great.

Julia and Burgundy both helped with the experiment, and we have lots of Dr. Horrible-style, goggles-on-the-forehead photos to prove it. I think I'll get all three of us the XKCD t-shirt that says, "Science, it works, bitches" and has data from the COBE Mission on the back for Christmas. I'll get those photos added tonight or tomorrow.

Julia slowly spooned the lye into the distilled water while Burgundy measured out the oils by weight. I melted the beeswax into the a little oil, and when the large mixture went over 120F, I added the melted beeswax/oil combination. Then I melted the shea butter and combined it with the peppermint oil and vanilla fragrance. When the temperatures were right, Mark poured the lye-water into the oil mixture. I used the stick mixer to bring it to trace, then added the shea butter and fragrance.

Together, Mark and I poured it into the form and let it sit for 24 hours. When I poured it into the mold (also provided by Hannah), the reaction continued, and it got hot enough to completely liquify the soap. It became almost gelatinous. I panicked and called Hannah, who was trying with little success to REST because she was sick. She assured me that my soap is Ohh Kaaaaay. Don't panic.

Last night, I took it out of the mold and began slicing it. I spent a lot of time with a knife and a ruler trying to cut uniform bars of soap. I'm pretty pleased with the result.

See those goggles? I made Julia wear them the whole time. She had a raccoon mask when she finished with the lye. I'm not sure why there was cereal on the table though. I assure you that noone was eating it. Ew!

The kitchen smells so delicious now; we used a combination of peppermint essential oil and vanilla fragrance, and the combination is stunning. I keep sniffing my hands. It's nice though, because for the first time in ages, when you open the door to my house, it doesn't smell like wet dog. I'm loving the change.

Eventually, I got it all sliced. We used a four-foot mold, and I was able to get 47 more-or-less 1" bars of soap from it. Y'all, that is a lot of soap.

I eventually arranged it carefully on two cooling racks and put it on the china hutch. I just couldn't have half my table consumed by soap for the next five weeks. And there it sits, quietly curing.

Which is kind of a relief, I guess, as loudly curing soap would unnerve us all.


  1. The cereal was from when we were out of soy milk.

  2. So when we're out of soymilk, we place a bowl of cereal on the table? Is this to lure the soymilk fairy back to our home? If so, shouldn't we have left an empty bottle next to the bowl of cereal?