Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Good, Clean Fun

Soapmaking 101!

The easiest soap for beginners to make is glycerin soap. You'll need to make a trip to your local craft store to get glycerin soap base, color drops, and fragrance drops. If you don't have any flexible molds at home--plastic & silicone are both fabulous, and even ice trays work--then you may want to check out molds while you're there. Once home, microwave the glycerin blocks in a glass container to melt--DO NOT BOIL THEM! Then stir with a wooden spoon, add color & fragrance drops a little bit at a time until you get your desired color & scent strength, and pour into the molds. Refrigerate to set. Once set, pop them out and wrap in plastic wrap to store or gift. You can also line a bread pan with plastic wrap and pour your soap in, then once set you cut slices of soap to make the bars. Same technique would work with a brownie pan. For kids, try putting a little plastic toy in the soap before it sets so they have to remember to wash up in order to eventually get the toy.

Soapmaking 201!

To make creamy lye soap in a blender, you need:

lye (RedDevil brand is excellent)
distilled water
liquid cooking oil (olive, canola, palm, coconut)
essential oils (for fragrance)
any additives you'd like (try oatmeal with vanilla-scented essential oil)
1/2-gallon bowl (Rubber-maid type)
sturdy plastic stirring spoon
Pam cooking spray
kitchen food scale
plastic wrap (if desired to line molds)
For safety, you need rubber gloves, goggles, and long sleeves.

Grease your molds with Pam. Measure your water and lye. POUR THE LYE SLOWLY INTO THE WATER, NOT THE WATER INTO THE LYE. Stir until dissolved and let cool until clear (you started with cool water, but the chemical reaction will make it very hot very quickly). Measure oil and pour into blender. Slowly pour the lye solution into the oil. Lock blender into place and secure cover. Place towel over top for extra safety. Blend at lowest possible speed. Stop blender often to watch soap for when it just begins to thicken. For safety, each time you stop the blender, wait a few seconds before removing the cover to avoid "burps" as air rises to the surface. Once the soap has begun to thicken, check for "tracing" by stirring soap and taking a spoonful of soap to drizzle water across--if the water leaves a trace you're ready for the next step. Once the soap begins to thicken, add your essential oils and any other additives. Blend these in for a few seconds. Pour into the molds and cover with the blanket (or a towel) to avoid cooling too quickly. Let soap harden 1-2 days, then pop it out of the molds and let it age for 3 weeks before using it.

Try this recipe for Oatmeal Cinnamon Soap:
8 oz. palm oil
6 oz. coconut oil
2 oz. olive oil
1/3 cup regular oatmeal (well blended)
2.4 oz. lye
6.4 oz. water
1 tsp. cinnamon essential oil
(Mix lye into water--let cool. Mix oils in blender. Add lye mixture. Blend and check until begins to thicken. Add oatmeal and cinnamon essential oil. Blend a few seconds until thoroughly mixed. Pour into molds. Cover with blanket. Let set 2 days. Remove and let age 3 weeks.)

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