This new venture I have taken on has been exciting, scary, uplifting, humbling and at times I’ve said to myself, what was I thinking?!! I am a pretty head-strong creature and once I commit myself to something, I will dive head first & go full speed until I have accomplished my goal.
So let me take you back to my very first batch of making soap. I have to say, I was terrified but at the same time intrigued by the how and the what, as in, what will happen. At the time, I didn’t know much about how to make soap. Also, I had no idea how hot lye water became when the magic of H2O & NaOH (sodium hydroxide, aka, lye) were combined in a swirl of chemistry happening right in my kitchen. Having been a baker for many, many years, I do understand the chemical reactions needed to happen for breads and cakes to rise & to make cookies just right. If you leave out an ingredient or change your fats or leavening your recipe will fail. Having that understanding has helped me propel quickly into the world of soap with an easier mind set to know, you need so much liquid, so much oils/butters, so much lye to make a loaf. But I never had my eggs or milk heat up to an extreme temperature so quickly when I added them to baking powder.
So here I am in my kitchen, kinda terrified, with a long sleeved shirt, elbow length chemical gloves, goggles, an apron, and work boots, yes, work boots. I was so scared I would get a tiny drop of that noxious lye water on me that if I had, had a hazmat suit, believe me, I would of had it on. My husband comes around the corner with a face of disbelief he questions, what are you doing? Well honey, I am learning how to make soap. It’s funny now but at the time he didn’t seem to pleased in my new business venture. So as long as my arms could reach safely away from my body, because I didn’t want to be near this pot of chemicals & fumes, I slowly poured my lye water into my warmed oils and the most amazing thing happened, I actually saw the start of what would be my very first soap creation. The clear water that was being poured into the oils started to blend. I could see the saponification process beginning, there were swirls of milky white starting to dance with the oils & blend together. I quickly picked up my blender & starting to incorporate those magical chemicals together. Wow! Wow! I was doing it! I was making soap. As I blended, I knew I had to reach trace. At this point I really had no idea what “trace” was supposed to look like or how the mixture should react. So I blended & blended, it seemed like forever but it came together & stayed together, much like mixing a cake. When it reached this magical trace, it very much reminded me of pastry cream. It felt like home.
Now it wasn’t a complete success the first time, like most first times, I had no idea how to calculate for a mold, so I had underestimated my batch size & ended up with a bunch of mini soaps but that’s ok, I made them. The entire evening I keep peeking at this wonder bar I had created & almost couldn’t sleep waiting for the next day to cut it into bars. Finally, I cut them & let them cure. The joy I had felt using my first bar of soap was exhilarating. They had lather, they had a wonderful scent, they were firm & hard, they were just like a bar of soap I could buy, but better! They had no chemicals, they were natural, they didn’t irritate my skin like store bought soap, they were perfect!
And so the journey began…