I order my oils in bulk from Columbus Foods. They carry a great assortment of oils at a really reasonable cost. I get the palm and coconut oils in 5 gallon pails. I found that in winter if you put the pails next to the wood stove, but not too close, they will soften and spoon out very easily.
I weigh everything with a scale for exact measurements. I am compulsive with this step. A ratio exists between the fats and lye to produce the saphonation process. Otherwise soap is not soap.
Using lye can be safe. You must wear goggles for eye protection, gloves and a long sleeve shirt to prevent splashes onto skin. Always and I mean always keep an open bottle of plain white vinegar to neutralize any splashes immediately. I mix my lye into my frozen goat milk outside, even in winter, in a well ventilated area. I respect chemicals of any kind.
Oils and lye must cool down to 110 degrees before combining. I use a wand mixer to make the stirring process much faster. I can reach light trace in about 3 minutes. Otherwise it takes about 30 minutes of hand stirring. I don't mind using modern conveniences at all. Some things are just worth their weight in gold.
This is the new mold filled with soap scented with Black Tea and calendula flower petals. I like to use different ingredients. Calendula is known for it's healing properties. In lavender soap I like to add lavender flowers. I want to try Peppermint scented soap with coffee grounds. The grounds act as a pumice which is great for gardeners hands. I love to come up with different recipes.
I cover the molds with a thin luan cover and wrap them in old quilts for 24 hours. This gives the soap time to heat and then cool. It is just the right hardness that cutting is an easy job. Wait too long and it will become hard to cut. The harder the soap, the longer it lasts.
I have a new toy. It is a soap stamp of a Nubian Dairy Goat. What a way to let out frustrations. Soap hammering!
How about that face. Here you can see the bits of calendula flowers in the soap.
The dark brown fudge looking soap is a wonderful mixture of Dark Chocolate and Peppermint scent. For color I used Alkanet Root Powder. I didn't know how it was going to turn out. At first it looked like someone had chewed up Andes Mints and spit them out. I started sweating at this point and said "this may be my first failed batch". However, the next day it was really brown like fudge and smelled like it too. I have a small bedroom upstairs that was once a library and probably a nursery. We have turned it into a soap room for drying. It makes the whole house smell great. The door has to remain closed or the smell is too strong. I can keep the air circulating with a fan and the soap remains there for at least 4 weeks to cure.
All soap containing lye must cure for at least 4 weeks to be safe. If you purchase any soap and the seller tells you to "let it sit for a couple of weeks before you use it" put it back. That person is not a reputable soap maker. One of my goals this year it to attend and sell soap at The Common Ground Fair in Unity Maine. I'm working on that. I love to learn about different soap making processes. So many variations exist. It is an individual art. No two people have the same recipe or process. How cool is that? Much love and prayers from Mainely Ewes Farm.