I am having a true love-hate relationship with cold process soapmaking. While the end product has, without fail, been wonderfully usable and satisfying (how amazing it is to use nourishing soaps that I made myself), I have to admit that the aesthetics of said cold process soaps has so far eluded me. Seriously.
Every soap that I’ve made has been very nice, in terms of its scent, its curing, etc. They’re just not what I wanted them to LOOK like, darn it! It’s driving me crazy, because I’m a bit of a perfectionist.
Perfect example of my ridiculously perfectionist nature: I went to the DMV to take the knowledge test to get my motorcycles learner’s permit. I studied for it. I went in, they directed me to the computer, and I saw that it was 20 questions. Ok. No problem. I’m working away, getting every single question correct, when it stops me after 16 questions (all correct), because apparently I had earned an 80% on the test, which made the last 4 questions moot. Even if I got them all wrong (which I wouldn’t have), I still would have passed. So they marked my quiz at an 80% without giving me the last 4 questions so that I could have earned a 100%! I was SO MAD AND FUMING! Silly, right? But I wanted the perfect score! And I would have earned it too, but I guess they figured that if there was a line for tests, then it’s obvious I’m going to pass so why bother testing me further. But I wasn’t happy with an 80%. I whined (lightheartedly).
Anyway, I digress. I want perfect soaps. Even though the beauty of handmade, homemade soap is that it’s NOT perfect. It’s handmade. That’s the allure of handmade. But still, I wanted things to be prettier, somehow.
Friday is my soapmaking day, and this past Friday was no exception. I decided to do 2 kinds of soap, and a quick salt scrub (hello sandal season!) First, the salt scrub. This was a recipe from Soap Queen. It’s very easy, and it looks quite pretty, though it takes forever to finally firm up into a scrub.
I did a double batch so I could fill 3 bail jars.
Then I mixed up all the ingredients (these measurements are for a double batch, like I did): 12 oz of 76 degree coconut oil, 2 oz fractionated coconut oil, 12 oz Pink Himalayan fine sea salt, 4ml of lime fragrance oil, and 4ml of coconut fragrance oil. That’s it. Mix mix mix until it starts to set up.
And place in pretty bail jars.
I can’t wait to use this stuff. It’s absolutely divine in scent and texture, and to be honest, it inspired me to make a coconut/lime moisturizing cold process soap next week. It’s THAT GOOD.
Then I moved on to the cold process soaps. First up, a Pink Himalayan salt bar, again from Soap Queen.
I didn’t have a bar mold (this is on my wish list), so I opted for the loaf mold option (in my 5 lb silicone mold). I followed all the directions just as indicated, and substituted cranberry/pomegranate oil and pink grapefruit oil for the two essential oils.
Needless to say, salt bars are tricky. I normally let my cold process sit for at least 24 hours, and normally 48 hours, before I cut them. I knew that these would firm up QUICKLY, so I kept testing them and ended up cutting at about 5 hours. Already, they were a bit crumbly but able to be cut.
Also needless to say, they do NOT look like Soap Queens. Grr. They smell lovely. And I’m sure that they’ll FEEL lovely, but they don’t LOOK lovely. I’m so aggravated. But they’re curing now. Will be done in 4-6 weeks. *sigh* Next time, I’ll try less of the colorant, and I’ll do them in a bar mold instead of a loaf.
And finally, I made a nourishing cold process (loaded with olive oil, coconut oil, palm oil, shea butter, sweet almond oil, avocado butter, hempseed oil, vitamin E oil, and wheat germ oil) with some crisp Anjou pear oil. It smells quite lovely. And I was going for the white of a pear, with the deep red, green, and yellow of a ripening pear. *sigh* Again, not quite what I was going for. It was my first real attempt at the drop swirl technique.
Again, it’s curing and should be done in about 4-6 weeks.
Last Friday, I made a 5lb batch of moisturizing soap, cherry almond fragrance that is really strong. The fragrance oil made the soap trace almost immediately, so I couldn’t really do much with it, and it has a few bubbles in it. But it’s curing now, and it smells wonderful.
Update on earlier soaps that I made and have been cured/tested:
Husband’s shaving soap: He was REALLY hoping that I’d come home to find him covered in shaving cuts, but he actually liked the shaving soap I made for him. He HATES my new soapmaking hobby. REALLY REALLY HATES IT. So he was hoping for shaving soap failure, but I’m so glad that he likes it. He said it’s similar in texture to the old Tom’s of Maine. So score one for me, I guess!
Buttermilk Baby Bastille Soap: I’m going to continue to let this cure for a few more weeks before gifting it, but it’s been 5 weeks, so I thought I’d go ahead and try it. I tested the pH and it was between a 7 and an 8, so it’s gentle enough for the munchkins. I used it for their baths last night (with bated breath, because I’m so nervous testing something on my kids), but it was fine on my hands, so they have to try it sometime, right? My kids ALWAYS get rashes after their baths, even with the most gentle of soaps, so this was my attempt to get something that is gentler for their skin. After their baths, I used coconut oil instead of lotion, and with the newer more gentle homemade soap, not a rash to be found on either one of them! AWESOME!
I’ve also been testing my papaya passion fruit soap, now cured and ready to be gifted. It’s divine. Delicious. Luxurious.
And my layered charcoal/rose soap. Also amazing. Decadent. I reserve it for my face because it’s just that special.
And finally, I tried my shampoo bars. I will try other recipes in the future, but this one turned out to be a good one. My hair feels really clean afterwards, and I just use a tiny bit of coconut oil on body and hair (in lieu of lotion and conditioner), and it seems to work well without all the nasty harsh chemicals.
So yeah, my love-hate relationship with soap. It’s delightful to make soap at home, by hand, knowing exactly what’s in it. I wish I could find some success in making them look prettier, but I’m hoping that those skills will come soon, with practice.
Up next are some cold process moisturizing soaps: a peach soap (by request from a good friend), a coconut-lime soap, and an Oatmeal Stout soap. The first two will be lessons in colorant/aesthetics, and the second one will entail learning a new technique (making soap with alcohol).