I’ve been in love with bar soap ever since I purchased my first Clinique facial cleanser as a teenager. Nothing made me happier than lathering up the yellow bar in a pretty green container and washing my face with it. It was heavenly. I think that was also the beginning of my fascination (and borderline crazy obsession) with cosmetics and skincare products.
But after years of wasting money on mass produced skincare products, I got interested in making my own. I really liked the idea of having control over what ingredients go into it, and I loved that I get to do it all in my own kitchen. I’ve been making my own lip balms, body scrubs and facial toners for many months now and I thought now is the perfect time for me to venture into soap making, thanks to the inspiration by books by Kyoko Maeda, who is synonymous with cold process soap making in Japan. My goal is to master, or at least be decent at this, in time for the holidays . 🙂
Making soap is very much like baking. You pick your ingredients (oils), mix them up, add extracts and other flavoring agents (essential oils), pour the mixture into a mold, bake (in this case, letting lye and oils get chummy in a bowl), let it rest, slice, and enjoy! Both require that you have the precise measurements, which can be tricky at times, but as long as you pay extra attention to that as well as when handling lye that can get as hot as a piping oven, the process can be pretty easy and enormously enjoyable! Even the oils-lye mixture looks like a luscious and decadent cake batter (but don’t let the pretty exterior deceive you — these mixtures are still very dangerous to handle and it is certainly not for consumption)!
I’ve seen many ways home chemists make soap, such as cooking the soap batch in a crock pot (this is called hot process), but mine is the traditional cold process method, just like what you see here (Countryrose Soap Company) and here (Birch Bark Handmade Soap tutorial). Soaps made this way take a little longer to cure but they retain more of the lovely glycerin that is wonderful for skin.
What you see here (above and right) is a batch of Premium Bar I made over the weekend using olive, sweet almond, jojoba, palm, and coconut oils. I used cinnamon to make the delicious swirl and the room is now filled with the wonderfully warm aroma, reminding me that autumn is just around the corner. I took the block out of the mold and sliced it today.
In addition, I’ve made a batch of Olive Oil Soap and Signature Marseilles Soap that are almost ready to use.
Olive Oil Soap
Ingredients: Pure olive oil, lye, distilled water, essential oils
Signature Marseilles Soap
Ingredients: Pure olive oil (not extra virgin), palm oil, coconut oil, lye, distilled water, essential oils
The only downside to making handmade soap is that you have to let them sit for four to six weeks, which will certainly test your patience. I have one more week for the Marseilles Soap and two more for Olive Oil Soap until these two batches of soaps become ready to use and I can’t wait.
If you are interested in making your own soap, I recommend checking out Bramble Berry first! Happy soaping! 🙂