Soap Making

The boxes took a while to roll in. First was the castor oil, with the Coconut oil and Lavender oil. Also in this box was the lye. As with the arrival of any package there were the curious hangers on determined to see what treasures this mystery package would contain. The removal of the Lye was greeted with an immediate “What’s that!?” from our resident Tiny Taurus. When told it was Lye they pressed me with more questions. Which opened up a conversation that went something like “Lye is a caustic chemical that will cause severe chemical burns if you get it on your skin and leave it there.” “How?” “The Lye will start to convert the fats in your body to soap, this reaction will release heat, it will be hot, and hurt as it strips the fats from your body and makes them into soap. Do not play with it. It’s also poisonous.” “…Oh.” “Yep” “So why do we have that if it’s so dangerous?” “We need it to make soap.”

It would take a couple more weeks for the Olive oil to show up and us to be ready to make soap. I asked for hard commitments from people interested in making the soap and set a hard boundary of if they were late and missed the safety video in the beginning of the offering then they wouldn’t be allowed to make soap. After establishing the seriousness of working with hazardous chemicals we were ready to commence making our soap.

An hour before the offering was to start I premixed the Lye with water to form our Lye working solution and mitigate the risk for the kids of working with straight powdered lye. Once the offering began I took down the names of those in attendance and started the safety video. After the video we did a Q&A about soap making, working with hazardous chemicals and a walk through of our soap making procedure. We then moved to the makerspace and began measuring out and mixing our oils. We decided on making a Lavender soap for one batch and a Pine tar soap for our other batch. Measuring and mixing our oils was fairly straight forward, and a good opportunity to stress the importance of exact measurements in chemistry. Once our oils were measure and mixed I carefully poured our Lye solutions into our batches while the kids stirred them. Once the soap began to set, a stage called trace, where the liquid is just visible on the surface before settling back in when dripped on the surface, we poured our soaps into the molds to set.

Today I removed the pine tar soap from the mold and cut into bars and on Monday will do the same for the Lavender soap. After the curing process, of 4-6 weeks our soap should be ready just in time for Christmas.


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Hailing from the gently rolling hills of South Eastern PA, my favorite hobby is collecting obscure skill sets. This desire has lead me on all sorts of adventures from art school to Ship rigging and sailing, with brief stops along the way making and selling candy and working in a print shop. I'm constantly devouring books and knowledge to embark on new projects and adventures, I hope you'll join me on the journey.

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