Soapmaking 101 Part 2

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Start your Soapmaking Journey here.

Check out Part 1 of Soapmaking 101 here.

I am so excited to bring you the second part of our Soapmaking lesson in video form! I’m not going to tell you how long it took me to edit, hah. I haven’t edited videos since I was fresh out of college so be kind! Lol.

You will only be able to find the video through this blog post as I prefer to keep my Youtube channel private at this point. I have a few essential oil videos that you can watch publicly but that’s it. =) You can bookmark this page, though, and come back and refer to it when you are ready to make your soap.

If you have questions, feel free to comment below or message me privately.

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Soapmaking 101

Let’s get soaping!

This post is probably going to be quite long so I can get all the info into one post. So beware and come back if you need to to reference the steps as you work. I’ll add photos to this post when I next make soap so you can see what you need.

Hot Process versus Cold Process

There are two ways to make soap. Hot process is the process of cooking your soap to speed up saponification. It is a really easy way to make soap as it does not require you to be as precise with temperatures, etc. This creates a rough-looking, rustic bar and can be ready to use in about a week, although the longer it sits the better it will be.

Cold process soap requires precision in temperature. It allows you to colour the soap much more easily, and produces a smooth-looking bar. It takes 6-8 weeks to cure properly and harden.

For our purposes, I am going to explain the hot process method.

Supplies:

  1. Glass Jar
  2. Spoon/Stick blender (you can get an Oster stick blender for about $25 on Amazon)
  3. Crockpot (check your local buy and sell groups for cheap ones)
  4. Measuring cups or bowls
  5. Box or silicone container for a soap mold
  6. Kitchen scale (there are some as low as $10 on walmart.ca)
  7. Gloves/Safety Glasses

Ingredients:

  1. Lye
  2. Lard
  3. Coconut Oil
  4. Olive or Canola oil
  5. Water
  6. Essential oils

I use lyecalculator.com to figure out exactly how much lye to use. Oils are not strictly changeable so usually you can’t just switch out one oil and expect the lye amount to stay the same. I have calculated this recipe with both olive oil and canola and it is the same, so for this recipe you’re fine to choose which you’d rather use. Canola is much cheaper than Olive oil.

Often I add castor oil which gives lather to your bar. If you put your recipe into soapcalc.net it will tell you how hard your bar is going to be, how bubbly, etc. There are so many different oils and butters that you can use, the sky is the limit really. Your only issue is going to be sourcing. I’ve tried 1 oz of beeswax to make a super hard bar. I’ve done 100% olive oil (which will produce a hard bar but takes almost a year to cure). I’ve done salt bars, which are a lot of fun (maybe I’ll share that technique at another time). I’ve added shea butter (but tend to not use that now since I have a friend’s daughter who is allergic to shea). You can also switch out the water for milk (like goat’s milk) but again, your technique will change as the milk needs to be frozen before adding the lye or it will burn

You can use a lot of different things for your soap mold. Silicone containers are definitely the easiest as your soap will literally pop right out, but any container lined with parchment or waxed paper will work. When I was first starting out I used every kind of box you could think of (cereal boxes, etc,) lined with wax paper. You can keep the cost down as much as possible this way. I used silicone muffin cups for a long time as well before I purchased silicone soap molds on Amazon. The dollar store sells them cheap. I have gotten ice cube molds, heart cupcake molds, etc. FYI: the hard chocolate molds are not that great. We found it difficult to get our soap out of them. I do know people who used them, though.

Before you start, fill your sink with water and add a 1/2 cup of vinegar to wash all your soaping utensils in. Alternatively, you can add everything to your dishwasher. Use gloves when washing up your dishes.

So, let’s check out our recipe on the lyecalculator:

I’ve included the recipe for a 1lb loaf (which is good amount for a first try) or a 2lb loaf (will give you about 10 nice-sized bars (around 4oz each). Again, you can play around with the percentages but keep in mind if you do use coconut oil, it should never be more 33% of your recipe. If you want to use more than that you’ll want to check out other blog posts on superfatting. Coconut oil can be drying if there is too much in a recipe. At this level it is moisturizing and amazing for skin. I’ve used this recipe for the past two years or so (with the addition of castor oil for bubbles which I didn’t feel like purchasing at this time) and everyone who uses my soap says it has been amazing for their skin, so I know this works!

When you go onto the lyecalculator site it will start with you choosing your oils, you put the amount of each oil that you’re going to use in the little blank next to the oil and then at the bottom of the screen you click “Calculate Lye” and the above is what you will see.

The first box tells you how much liquid to use (water or milk). It gives you an approximate, the more water you use the softer your bar of soap, the less water the harder it will be. For 2lbs of soap I typically use 9oz of water. But you can definitely use more than that. I use mason jars that are labeled for soap to measure my water and lye. That way, I can pour the lye right into the water and it won’t hurt anything. Once the lye is added to the water it will get very hot, so be careful when handling.

On the far right is the box telling you how much lye to add. Red is a no no. Green is the safe range and blue is probably not going to be enough to create a good bar of soap. Typically for 2lbs I do 4.5 oz of lye but 4.4 would be okay, too.

Safety: wear gloves and long sleeves when handling lye. Safety glasses are also a good option.

ALWAYS ADD THE LYE TO THE WATER!

Never add the water to the lye. You will create a reaction that will not be good if you do! When I add the lye crystals to the water I usually have my jar of water in the kitchen sink. I stand back a bit as I pour it in. Same with the crockpot: when I add the lye water to my oils, I stand back a bit so if it does happen to splash it won’t get on my face.

Step 1:

Measure out your liquid (water) and lye in separate containers on your kitchen scale. Place your water in a safe, ventilated space and carefully pour your lye into your water. Stir until the lye has dissolved and the water is clear. Let sit to cool.

Step 2:

Measure out your oils and melt them. I usually melt the hard oils/lard in the microwave and then add to the crockpot.

Step 3:

Carefully add your lye/water to the oils in the crockpot. Pour slowly and close to the oils so that there will be less chance of splashing.

Step 4:

Use a stick blender to mix the lye water and oils together. We want to bring the oils to what we call trace. This is the point where if you lift your stick blender out you will see a slight imprint of the stick left behind (in other words: you’re oils will start to thicken). You want to blend in spurts, and stir in between pushing the blender button.

If you just keep the blender on you can create a false trace which will mean that there will be pockets where the lye did not mix in properly. You can still use that soap for laundry but you won’t be able to use it on your skin.

If you don’t have a stick blender you can still achieve trace by stirring with a spoon, however, it will take a reeeaalllyyy long time, hah. Ask me how I know, lol. I think it took about 20-30 minutes to come to trace when I stirred by hand. Just think: that’s how our great-grandmothers would have done it!

Step 5:

Once you have reached trace, you can put the lid on your crock pot and turn it on low. Check it after 15 minutes and give it a stir. Let it go another 15 minutes or more. I have left mine as long as an hour. The more water that cooks off, the harder your bar will be but it also gives a messier-looking bar.

Step 6:

Add your fragrance. A lot of soapers use fragrance oils. I prefer not to and stick to essential oils. l often use cheap essential oils for soaping but have begun using more of my pure oils that I prefer. There is a great chart showing how to measure different essential oils for soap on modernsoapmaking.com. Again, if you have a good kitchen scale you should be able to measure in these small amounts. If you don’t want it scented you do not have to add anything to it.

Step 7:

Pour or ladle your soap into your mold. You can tap the mold on the counter to get any bubble pockets out and make it somewhat smooth on top. You can also use a spatula.

Place your soap out of the way overnight or at least for 12-24 hours. Unmold and cut (I usually make my bars just under an inch wide but you can cut it however you want), then place the soap where it can “cure” for at least a week or more. This just means that you want to place your soap where air will flow around each bar and dry it out. The harder your bar of soap the longer it will last when being used. A really soft bar of soap will be used up much faster.

There are many discussions about when the soap is safe to use, but, if you have followed these guidelines the soap could be safely used after you take it out of the crock pot (although, obviously, we want to wait until it has hardened to use). If you’re unsure you can buy PH test strips at stores like Micheals or Scholars Choice and check the PH of your soap. SoapQueen has a great soap ph scale that you can google. Your soap should be in the 9-10 ph range, though, which shows green on the test strip. I used to check every batch but haven’t in years and have had no issues. It’s a great science project for your kids, though. Lye will test much higher so if you’ve used too much lye in your recipe it will show that – and you’ll know to use that soap for laundry, lol.

Once I’ve completed my next batch of soap I will post a video showing the steps and add pictures to this post. I wanted to give you all the basic steps, though, and the list of supplies and ingredients you will want to collect. Most of these can be purchased on line to negate going out right now. Let me know if you have any questions!

Soapmaking: Starting out

So, I decided to start a short series on finding fun things to do while we’re all home. This first one is perhaps one of my favourite things to do, but if you want some of the ingredients you’ll want to go now and stock up because hardware stores are closed.

Soap is an incredibly rewarding hobby to get into because the finished product lasts a little longer than say cooking/baking. Also, if you’re really into art you can play around with colours and scents. I’ve had a lot of fun in the past, creating loaves of soap that had fancy patterns, etc. I’d still love to get into the peacock swirl (google it, soooo cool), but I don’t soap as much as I used to due to active kids always being around.

Use Soap-Specific Utensils

The one thing about making soap is that you need to be careful that you’re taking the necessary precautions when doing it. One, you want to make sure that you only use utensils for soap-making. Once used to stir the lye before it saponifies, you will not want to use that spoon, pot, etc. for food. I know some people who said they have, but it’s really not safe.

These should be glass, if possible. Be careful with aluminum as lye can react with that. I usually use a wooden spoon to mix my lye and water, glass jars and bowls to mix the lye/water and melt oils, a silicone spatula to scrape out my crockpot after it’s done, and plastic spoons and containers if I want to add colour.

I am going to just talk about hot-process soap in this series as it is the simplest method for making soap, but it does require a crockpot. If you only have one crockpot you can line it with parchment paper to protect it.

Be Careful Around Children

Lye is caustic, which means it will burn you if it comes in contact with your skin (dropped a whole pot of freshly-made soap on my foot once, not cool). Once the lye has set with the oils you use, it saponifies and becomes safe for our skin. All soap is made like this. Lye is the product our grandmothers would have gotten from ashes. One cool thing is that we have lye calculators now that tell us exactly how much to use so that our soap turns out, where years ago soap often did burn their skin if their calculations were off.

When we mix our lye and water at the beginning of the process, you want to make sure that jar stays away from where it could be spilled. I have done it out on my deck (it will give off fumes) but most often I mix it in my kitchen sink with the window cracked and just stand back a bit as I stir so I’m not breathing it in. I like doing it in the sink because then my kids can’t pull the jar over onto themselves, etc. If it does fall over, it’s just going down my drain.

One safety precaution for lye is to keep vinegar handy to deactivate it. If you do get some on you, running it under water right away is one of the best ways to get it off your skin. When I dropped the soap on my foot, I grabbed my jug of vinegar and ran to my shower. I poured the vinegar over my foot and then turned the shower on. It didn’t end up blistering or hurting past that night so it worked. Whenever handling the lye, try to wear gloves, just to be safe if it splashes or anything.

When we wash the dishes after soaping, I add vinegar to the water and wash with gloves on because the lye does irritate my skin. A dishwasher is great for washing everything up if you have one (I don’t, lol).

Although lye can sound pretty scary, outside of dropping the soap on my foot, I’ve not had an issue in almost 6 years of making soap. It’s just a matter of making sure you’re following safety precautions when around it.

Where to Find Lye

This is going to be the biggest issue for many people as it’s not an easy product to go pick up. First of all, you need to make sure that it’s 100% lye crystals. You can purchase it at Home Hardware (in Canada) stores usually, but in this time many of you might not be able to get to those specific stores. Some of the forums online said they ordered online from the Home Hardware website. Amazon had it but be aware you’re paying for dangerous goods handling for it to be shipped, so it’s going to cost a lot more than what I pay from Home Hardware. This is what I typically buy from HH. The larger one is 3 kgs and the smaller is 500g. For a 1lb recipe the smaller one will probably last for 3 or 4 recipes. If you are looking online it can also be called Sodium Hydroxide or Caustic Soda.

In the next post, I’ll share the recipe I’m going to use using ingredients you can get at any grocery store.

How to Beat the Gloom: Bible Verses for Peace during Turmoil.

Our world has been thrown into upheaval in recent weeks. I’ve shied away from posting about it or sharing memes. It’s not in my best interest mentally to allow myself to be sucked into every article and graphic that is being posted.

Recently, though, I have been thinking about how I could encourage others during this time. I had a few ideas pass through my mind, yet, it seemed like those ideas were already being utilized by other bloggers. I wanted to share something different: something that reflected the purpose of my blog.

Then I remembered this verse that I had read in my devotions.

While I completely recognize the context of this chapter (I’ve been reading through the book of Jeremiah), I’m also struck by the fact that as Christians this world is not our home. We have to live here and interact with people on a daily basis, though. Our goal, as Christians, should be to seek the peace of the country we are in. As the verse states, “pray unto the Lord for it:” How powerful!

Every country could use peace.

Every country could use prayer!

Seeking peace for our country starts with us seeking the Lord first! Isaiah 26:3 reminds us that we can have perfect peace when we keep our mind on Christ. Although I struggle with having perfect peace some days (anxiety is a by-product of some of my health issues), in my heart I know that God is in control. I’m so thankful for the verses He has given me that I can quote to remind myself of His faithfulness.

Scripture memory is an important part of the Christian life. It is doubly important if you want to experience that “perfect peace”. Psalm 119 tells us that we need to hide God’s word in our hearts. Anxiety and worry are just as much sin as those things we can outwardly see.

In wanting to help others, I came up with a set of memory verse cards. I kept them simple to make it easy to print them. I’ve included some of my favourite verses (including the one above from Jeremiah) on peace, not being afraid, and on trusting the Lord.

You can print them to display around your house or keep them together and work on memorizing one a day with your kids. You could also take them with you and place them as you are out and about. That way you can encourage others as you “seek the peace of the city.”

I have tried to keep them to shorter verses to make it easier to memorize, especially for young children. I think even my 3 year old would be able to learn most of these easily in one day. The Jeremiah verse shared above would be one of the only longer ones I have included.

I’m offering these verse cards for free, add your email to the subscribe bar on the right hand side of the page or click the link below. Once you’ve entered your email you’ll be redirected to the page where you can download them immediately.

Subscribe to Quiet Workings

I hope these verse cards are a blessing to you. I’m hoping to do more sets in the future and have them available here in the Shoppe.

“And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7

Adventures In Science: Helping Children to Love Learning

Curriculum can be such a subjective thing. Personally, I love looking at books. I wish we had a curriculum store close to us here in Halifax where I could go and browse. As it is, I plan to take full advantage of homeschool stores if I get to Ontario this summer.

Today, though I wanted to talk about Science. Who wouldn’t want to have adventures in Science?

Growing up, I did not have a great relationship with Science. I remember my sister getting to make a piece of bread go moldy…but I don’t think I even got to experiment with that when I reached that grade.

In high school, I had the privilege of watching videos of people doing experiments. Yes, that sounds about as exciting as it actually was! All I remember of it was making fun of the person on the video, especially when they were counting drops of something and over counted. That was the highlight of my Science experience.

I wanted more for my kids. I wanted Science to be exciting! Something they all looked forward to, because Science is all about learning more about our world. And that SHOULD excite us! Our old, boxed curriculum just did not cut it for me. The Science was dry, boring (even for me), and completely uninteresting. Definitely NOT an adventure!

I was nervous to try out Masterbook’s Science, because I hate spending money on something that you just don’t know about. Friends had been using other curriculums that sound similar to what we’re using now, but since we were using Masterbooks for everything else I decided to try it.

Adventures In Science: A Curriculum Review

Adventures in Creation

Adventures In Creation actually only came out last summer. A brand new, Bible-based Science curriculum that truly gives the kids adventures in Science! Since Masterbooks is Charlotte Mason-inspired, I had a feeling it would be more than just a dry textbook with questions and answers.

Wow, I am blown away with it! If you follow me on Instagram you’ve probably seen the many pictures I’ve posted of our Science journey this year. It’s one subject we all look forward to now! Although we don’t get to do every experiment (due to a lack of necessary items), we do quite a few of them because we love having adventures in Science!

Adventures In Science: Studying the Moon
Understanding craters on the moon

So far most of the experiments have required items that are really inexpensive to purchase. Things like hair spray, shaving cream, food colouring, etc. Some of them we’ve used items around the house to substitute for what the project actually called for (ie: instead of pom poms to represent pollen on our bee’s legs, we used ground mustard).

Science should Inspire!

It should make our children want to know more about the world our God created. It should always point them back to the Creator. I love that this Science curriculum does that. I love the Scripture that they constantly bring into it, and the verses the kids are copying out. Things I never even thought about in relation to God creating the world, are fascinating and wonderful. And THAT is what Science should do!

I love my kids picking up books about our world and being fascinated by what they are learning. They often will point out things when we’re driving somewhere about birds or plants that they learned about. I love seeing the love of learning being cultivated in them!

Does your Science curriculum do that? Is it more than just a subject to check off in your homeschool day?