Holy Moly- That’s a Lot of Soap

November 2, 2011

I’ve been in a holding pattern with soap making for a while. We’ve had some competing family commitments that have made me hold off with the business for a bit. But, my heart is still in it. Poverty and human trafficking are still giving me a gnawing gut ache. I have to do something to be able to stay in my own skin. I still want to make soap. We’re just waiting to have a bit of space open up in our lives so that we can give the business the time and focus that it will take to get it going.

That being said, I went ahead and ordered a bigger mold so that I could make bigger batches. Meet my new ten-pound mold. You can see the two-pound mold I’ve been using up until now right in front of it.

Making soap with the ten-pound mold was intimidating. I was a lot more nervous this time working with the larger quantity of lye. In 18 months of soap making, I haven’t lost my healthy fear of lye. I’ve read horror stories about people being burned, so I’m extremely careful. Long sleeves. Long pants. Thick rubber gloves and goggles. The equipment for soap-making is fairly simple. Stainless steel bowls. Rubber scrapers. A few measuring spoons. A good scale. Safety gear and a stick blender. I mixed the ten pound batch in my dutch oven.

The basic recipe is pretty simple. Melt solid oils (coconut oil and shea butter). Add to olive oil. Add lye solution to oil mixture. Use stick blender to mix it until it traces (comes to a pudding-like texture). Add essential oils. Today, I made lime leaf and lavender soap.

Melting coconut oil and shea butter

Olive Oil

Essential oils mixed with orris root (to help the essential oils stick around) and french green clay

The soap is beginning to trace.

Floating lavender on top of the soap

Next I put a recycled plastic bag on top, then put a towel on top to aid in saponification. Saponification is the process of adding a strong base (lye) to oils in order to transform them into soap.   The soap batter heats up, and the towel helps to hold in the heat.

We’ll see how everything goes tomorrow when I cut the soap.


5 Responses to “Holy Moly- That’s a Lot of Soap”

  1. Jennifer Says:

    Wow! Love this adventure you’re on! (And so privlieged to be able to witness it all!) Much love to you! ~Jennifer

  2. Dolly Says:

    Hi Robin,

    This is amazing…thanks for sharing! Happy (belated) Thanksgiving to you and your family!

  3. Naveed Latif Says:

    I like this blog post. I enjoyed reading through your posting

  4. Thanks for taking pictures of everything! I fear lye so much, I wish it was like working with salt, no harm at all. How do you clean your work area due to the lye? Do you add newspaper on the counter?

    • Robin Johnson Simpson Says:

      I don’t use newspaper. I wipe everything down with vinegar and water. So far, I haven’t had any mis-haps. But, I’m very, very careful.

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