I only make unscented soap for my family. And I only make unscented soap in my house. Remember my Little Love #5 with all the latex and food allergy issues? She also has asthma. Except it's not actually diagnosed as asthma, because she's too young for that diagnosis. The pediatrician once told me, "Well, let's try daily pulmicort for her asthma. Not that I'm officially calling it asthma." Later he said, "Well, I don't want to call her a sickly child, but she is sick a lot with a lot of issues." So I have an asthmatic, non-sickly child who has asthma and is sickly. =) We're praying she outgrows it. This summer has been GREAT--I haven't given her a breathing treatment for the last 2+ months! Last fall, winter, and spring, she was on breathing treatments every day and was hospitalized twice with bronchiolitis. I must say, she looks pretty cute with her Bubbles the Fish mask on.
Anyway, back to soap. Last time I made scented soap in my house, I sent my daughter into an asthma attack. So no more scented soap here. It's actually not a bad thing, though. You see, I have a friend and neighbor, Amanda, who also makes soap. And we LOVE hanging out together. So today I got to go to her house during naptime (my hubby was home with the kids) and make soap! It simply doesn't get much better than that, hanging out with a friend for a couple of hours while doing something fun!
I make soap using hot process. That means I actually cook the soap (I use my crock pot), forcing it to saponify (change into soap) in about an hour, rather than waiting weeks for it to slowly make the change. It's great because I can wait until we're down to the last, tiny sliver of soap in our house--which is often accidentally washed down the drain by one of the kids--before I ever get around to making more, and still have soap ready by that same night. Not that I'd ever wait until the last minute like that or anything...
When I first started, I checked out this book from the library. It since went out of print and is crazy-expensive new on Amazon, so if you can find it cheaper somewhere, it's way worth it! Or just check it out from your library.
This is by far the best book you could ever use to get started making hot process soap. And the author even has a Yahoo group on hot soap making, and she's soooo nice and helpful with any questions you may have.
Things you need are distilled water, the oils you need for your recipe, lye, and whatever essential oils/fragrance oils you plan to use to scent it. You can also add flower petals, clays, various spices, etc. The possibilities are virtually endless.
All ingredients must be weighed. Kitchen measuring tools are not precise enough. So if you want to make your own soap, get a good, digital scale that weighs to the tenth of an ounce.
As a side note here the above picture is a picture of me weighing out the lye. Websites and books that talk about using lye in soapmaking always crack me up. They show people basically wearing hazmat suits.
If you are a soapmaker and wear all the protective gear while making soap, I mean no offense. I was a chemistry minor in college, and lye is just not a big deal to me, I guess. Just don't get it on you if it's wet or you're wet. And if you do get it on you, spray some soapy vinegar water on it and rinse it off. If you're as clumsy as I am maybe you're wise to wear all the stuff, and I'm just crazy. But I won't ask anyone who knows me to comment on that.
Anyway, here it is cooking.
While it was cooking, Amanda and I had a blast! We're both pregnant, so we ate some marinated mozarella cheese balls. Can you say YUM?!?!?
Why is it if you're eating plain, healthy string cheese (or, as my kids say, stick cheese) you get so full after one? But if you marinate the cheese in some oil and add a few spices like above, you can easily eat the equivalent of at least a couple of sticks of string cheese? Or, if you coat it in breading and deep fry it and dip it in marinara sauce (I LOVE Applebee's mozarella sticks), to where it no longer even slightly resembles its healthy origins but is now a delicious stick of fatty naughtiness, all of a sudden you can eat like 10 of them without batting an eye? It's just wrong!
Anyway, after about an hour, the soap gets transparent-looking, and you know it's done. Then you mix in your fragrance and scoop it into your mold.
I never bother to smooth it out much. I like the rustic, old-fashioned look. Once it's all cool and solidified, it's ready to cut and use. (Ok, this batch below wasn't quite finished. See how it's not totally opaque yet?)
Once cut, here's your finished product.
Luxurious, moisturizing, and smells great!! If you have a friend to make it with, even better! If you're kids are napping, and your friend's kids are napping, and you have some marinated cheese balls, it's a great afternoon!