Hi, I am Yvonne, and I am a soap-a-holic...
When you look around my kitchen, you might believe it. Over the past month, I have been on a soap-making binge- experimenting with colors, essential oils & fragrance, botanicals and other toppings, new ingredients to my mainstay recipe, alongside new swirling and layering techniques.
I thought I might share some of these experiements here, along with some explanation to common soaping terminology. (Awhile ago I wrote a soap making tutorial, you can read it here.) I have not utilized goat milk for soaps recently, primarily because I am impatient and it has to be frozen prior to mixing with lye. Water is much faster- so when I want to make soap, I can make it NOW!
A question I often hear is if I use lye in my soap. The answer is yes. No lye, no soap- it's as simple as that. Lye is Sodium Hydroxide, NaOH. NaOH has a very high pH, making it a very strong base, hence quite caustic on its own. Mixed with the fats from oils and butters that I use in our soaps, a powerful chemical reaction happens, called saponification. This is a powerful chemical reaction that puts off a significant amount of heat. It's quite fascinating, if you like chemistry... The full saponification process takes about 4 weeks. During this time, the soap hardens as the water dries out, and the lye completely binds with the oils. While we use lye in our soap, there is no lye left in the final product. No lye!
Here are some toppings I used to decorate the soap loafs: oats, calendula flowers, lavender, coffee, rose petals, pixie dust...
In addition to pretty toppings, natural micas can add color to soap batter, turning soap into a wonderful canvas. Let me warn you- it is NOT as easy as it looks! In fact, I have made quite a mess of my kitchen on several occasions! Here are some examples of the inspiration vs reality (can we say Pinterest FAIL???)
But it can actually get worse than that! So, most recently, I added too much essential oil to part of my soap batter and it seized. Seizing is when the soap batter hardens too quickly. Generally, you want your soap mixture to be anywhere from a thin trace (that can be swirled easily) to a pudding-like consistency that can be layered. To make matters worse, I had chosen a mustard yellow mica for this particular batter, making the seized soap look more like seedy new-born baby poop, very nicely smelling poop, but poop nonetheless. Need a visual? Here ya go!
Luckily, most soap mistakes can be fixed. When soap doesn't turn out like you'd hoped, you can grind it down, melt it over a double boiler and re-batch it. It changes the consistency a little, but there is beauty in the ashes. This is how my re-batched baby poop soap looks now:
So yes, I am a soap-a-holic. It has become my new canvas, my creative outlet, my therapy. I have big visions for what I want to create... stay tuned! #soapismycanvas