A Year of Soap, For A Few Hours Of Effort

In February last year we began making cold process soap for our own use and to give away to friends and family. We started out with easy to make soaps, then as we gained confidence and experience we started making more complicated creations. We actually wound up making enough soap that it lasted us until late this year. Making soap is a great fall and winter activity for us, when the pace of life is a bit slower. And of course there’s nothing like using something when you know exactly what’s in it – and also what’s not.

mixing the soap with immersion blender

When things slowed down here a bit in late August, we started making soap again. On our first soaping day this year we made a banana scented goats milk olive oil soap, plus we made an improved version of our Lavender Goats Milk soap using 100% goats milk (instead of half goats milk and half water) and more lavender essential oil. Deciding how much fragrance to use in soaps is about as much art as science, and we have been adjusting the scent levels to suit our own preferences as we go along. My wife has recipes for most of our soaps at Bloom, Bake & Create and I will put links to them at the end of this post.

Lavender Goats Milk (left) and Clary Sage Lavender (right) soaps

After those two soaps, we made even more about a month later. We took the improved Lavender Goats Milk recipe and made it again using a mix of Clary Sage and Lavender essential oils with ground up sage leaves instead of the lavender buds. That one was just for me. I love the aroma of clary sage, but my wife is less enamored with it. So that soap is all mine! And we remade our Chocolate Goats Milk soap using a Mokalata fragrance (think chocolate and coffee, two of my favorite things). The dark brown color of the Mokalata soap is a result of the fragrance oil, not anything else we might have added.

Mokalata Goats Milk soap

Next we remade our two hand soaps. We loved the original Citrus Coffee hand soap, but it had too many coffee grounds for my taste, and the citrus scent was overpowered by the coffee aroma. So we made this batch with weaker brewed coffee, less coffee grounds, and more orange and tangerine essential oils. I think the new version is a definite improvement over the original, and now the citrus and coffee scents are more in balance. Both coffee and citrus work great in the kitchen to remove strong odors, while the coffee grounds give the soap scrubbing power for dirty hands.

Citrus Coffee hand soaps – new (top) and old (bottom)

For the Spearmint hand soap we used less pumice, more spearmint essential oil, and we added some dried ground spearmint from our garden. The dried mint turned the soap a lovely shade of green. Like the Citrus Coffee hand soap, this one has lanolin in the recipe for its emollient and skin softening properties.

Spearmint hand soap

We also remade our Peppermint Honey Oatmeal soap. Last year we used one tablespoon of honey, added early in the process, and the soap was a light tan color. This time we used two tablespoons, and added the honey at the end of the process (light trace), and the soap turned a caramel brown color! This soap also has additional peppermint essential oil in it, and it should make for an exhilarating soap in the shower.

Peppermint Oatmeal Honey soap – new (top) and old (bottom)

I also found time this fall to get out in the shop and make us a couple of additional wooden soap molds. They have hinged sides which open up to make it easier to remove the soap for cutting. And I was able to make the molds with materials I had on hand, which means they cost nothing to make. Which makes them crafty AND frugal – two of my favorite things!

homemade wooden soap molds

Lately I have become more involved in the planning process of our soap making. Much like it is with gardening, I enjoy the process of making our own soap, as well as the end result. It really reminds me of high school chemistry lab. We mix caustic lye crystals with a liquid (water or milk), then mix that with various oils, and voilà – we get soap! And of course I love to experiment.

Later this week we are making two of my soap concoctions: Patchouli Lime Hemp, and Lemongrass Avocado. The Patchouli Lime Hemp is a little different recipe than we have made before, with olive, coconut, palm, rice bran, castor and hemp oils for the base. It has patchouli, lime and tea tree essential oils, and some ground dried parsley from the garden for color. I am hoping it will dye the soap a nice green color. We will see!

The Lemongrass Avocado soap has olive, coconut, palm, castor and avocado oils for the base, plus kokum butter. And it has lemongrass, orange and rosemary essential oils, with some dried ground lemongrass for color. This one uses frozen goat’s milk instead of water. I am anxious to see how they turn out, and you can bet I’ll report on the results!

LINKS TO SOAP RECIPES:

  1. Peppermint Oatmeal Honey Soap
  2. Citrus Coffee Hand Soap
  3. Lavender Goats Milk Soap
  4. Chocolate Goats Milk Soap
  5. Banana-licious Olive Oil Soap

 

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12 Responses to A Year of Soap, For A Few Hours Of Effort

  1. kathy says:

    I love reading about all of the interesting soaps you two make. The coffee ground one sounds so interesting and who knew the grounds were good for a scrubbing effect?! Keep up the good work and writing. I love to read what you guys are up to at Happy Acres.

  2. Jody says:

    How exotic. Anything homemade with essential oil in it has got to be great!

  3. I can’t wait to try our hand at soap making, and I’m determined to take a crack at it next year. I’m impressed with how beautiful your soaps look! Maybe I can use ‘goat’s milk soap making’ as an excuse to finally add goats to the farm? 😉

  4. mac says:

    I can smell the soaps and love your wooden molds.

  5. Liza says:

    How thoughtful of you to offer. Yes, I would love some lemongrass avocado soap for Christmas. Thank you so very much!

  6. Mike says:

    Great post. I may have to use these recipes in the future. We currently buy our soaps from the local farmers market. Hopefully we will make our own soon. I really like the coffee ground soaps. They seem a little scratchy at first, but I really like them once they become a little less abrasive. Oatmeal soaps are also great for exfoliation too, especially with whole oats.

  7. Norma Chang says:

    Your exotic soaps look good enough to eat. That’s quite a variety. Enjoy your writing.

  8. Kelly says:

    Your soap looks amazing. I LOVE clary sage as well. I hope your last 2 experiments turn out well for you, the patchouli version sounds fantastic!

  9. Christina says:

    What lovely soaps. Soapmaking is such a beautiful hobby. It must feel very rewarding.

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