Soap Day

Today was soap making day at Happy Acres. Last year we starting making our own bar soaps, using what is called cold process soapmaking. We made so much last year that this will be the first time this year we have needed to make any. But our supply is getting low, so it’s time to get soaping!

Our first creation this time around was a 100% olive oil soap, made with goat’s milk instead of water. Olive oil soap is known for it’s mildness, and is easy on the skin. However, the soap is also a bit tricky to make, since using only olive oil makes for a softer bar. Last year we made some soap using 90% olive oil and 10% castor oil, and though it took longer to set up in the molds, the results were worth it. So this year we decided to try a 100% olive oil soap.

mixing the olive oil soap with immersion blender (click on any image to enlarge)

We had bought some olive oil/goat’s milk soap in 2009 when we visited a soap shop in Tarpon Springs, FL, and loved it. So we were ready to see if we could make our own version and get the same great soap.  We’re going to pour this one into silicone molds, where it can sit as long as necessary to harden up.

Banana-licious Olive Oil soap after pouring in silicone molds

Our second creation today is a soap we’ve made before: Lavender Goat Milk. We’re tweaking the recipe a bit, using 100% goat’s milk instead of 50% goat’s milk/50% water. And we upped the amount of Lavender essential oil a bit. Scenting soaps is an artform, to say the least. Different scents require different amounts of oil to produce a pleasant final result. This soap also has some of our very own lavender flower buds in it, ground up and added to the essential oil.

pre-measuring the oils and butters

I think much of the real work of soapmaking is in the preparation. We’ve been planning and researching this year’s planned soaps for months, as well as trying all our own soaps and others we have bought. And since the Lavender Goat Milk Soap has a long list of ingredients, we measured out the various oils and butters before we actually started making the soaps. The olive oil soap was much simpler to measure, since it only has four ingredients: olive oil, goat’s milk, lye, and fragrance oil. We never add artificial colors to any of our soaps. The yellow color of the Banana-licious soap comes from the color of the olive oil, and will probably fade to a lighter color as it ages. Or not. Time will tell, which is part of the fun for us in making soap.

recipe sheet for soap

My wife is in charge of developing all the recipes. She runs the ingredients through an online soap calculator to determine the correct amount of lye to use in the recipe. I cannot overemphasize the importance of careful measurement of all the ingredients used in making soap! We use a digital scale, and measure everything in grams. She also keeps a notebook with all our recipes, including detailed notes about what we did for each batch. Making soap is no time to be flying by the seat of your pants. Many of our recipes are online on her blog at Bloombakecreate.com.

Lavender Goats Milk soap in wooden mold

I also can’t overemphasize the need for taking safety precautions when making soap. All of our equipment is dedicated to soap making, and never used around food. We wear rubber gloves and goggles during the entire process. Pets and children need to be safely out of harms way (both of our cats slept through the entire procedure).

Today we made two batches of soap in a little over two hours, counting the prep time. We’ve tried making three in one day, but that was a bit too much. We don’t want this to seem too much like work. Now comes the hardest part of the soap making process: waiting! We will cut the Lavender Goats Milk soap into bars tomorrow, then let them cure for 3-4 weeks before using. The Banana-licious Olive Oil soap will probably need to sit in the molds for at least a week.

We’ve got more soaps in the planning stages for this year. You can bet I’ll be back with more soap news as it develops!

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11 Responses to Soap Day

  1. Lisa says:

    Nice! We haven’t made soap for a couple of years.

    (Where are you buying lye? The danged crystal-meth cookers apparently use it, so buying it has become more difficult.)

    • Villager says:

      We are able to get lye at our local hardware store, though we have to ask for it since they don’t keep it on the shelf. In the small quantities we need that works for us.

  2. Pingback: Our Happy Acres » Soap Day | Soap

  3. Mike says:

    Looks like a wonderful soap, I like the color. This is one thing we have yet to try and between seeing your and Lynn’s wonderful soap creations we are becoming inspired to get going on this ourselves.

    • Villager says:

      The soaps can be as simple or as complex as you want to make them. The olive oil soap was really easy to put together. We used an extra virgin oil that is good enough to cook with, but you can use lower grades of oils as well. I hope the soap keeps it’s color because it’s pretty and all-natural. A little turmeric would work for a yellow color too.

  4. Happy Acres is going to be squeaky clean with all your homemade soap! This is still something I haven’t tried, but hope to in the near future. It’s one of the things I’d like to do with the goat’s milk, when we finally take the leap into getting goats.

    I like the use of the silicon molds, it will probably be easier to remove the bars than from some of the rigid plastic molds I’ve seen. I wish there were scratch-and-sniff blogs though…I’m sure the lavender soap will smell heavenly. Now you have bees, do you think you might incorporate beeswax into some of your future soap recipes?

    • Villager says:

      The silicone molds work well for soaps. We spray them with canola or olive oil cooking spray before pouring, which helps get the hardened bars out more easily.

      We have used honey in soaps already, though not from our bees (yet). And we’ve used beeswax in lip balms and lotions, but not yet in soap. It will be interesting to experiment with our own bee products, hopefully next year. I think that given our dry summer, it is unlikely the bees will be making excess honey for us this fall.

  5. Robin says:

    I have never made soap. I really think that we would like the olive oil soap. This may be a great X-Mas gift idea!

    I’ve been meaning to ask you if you have gotten around to making any mustards yet? I really need to do a little more mustard research and come up with a better yellow mustard this year.

    • Villager says:

      No I have not made any yet! Every time I think about it, there’s something more pressing that needs doing. I am thinking it will be a fall project, when things calm down a bit. I will look forward to your research though! 😉

  6. Jewell says:

    Years back I found a wonderful! cranberry mustard…. of course, no longer on the market… should you manage something along these lines, please have your lovely bride post it on Bloom, Bake & Create.
    Thank you so much.
    God bless,
    Jewells

  7. Pingback: More Soaping: Lavender Goat Milk Soap Update - Bloom, Bake & CreateBloom, Bake & Create

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