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Handmade Soap by Angi Hockett

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Article by Angi Hockett

Photography by Janie Jones

Originally published in Johnson County Lifestyle

The art of soap making has come a long way since our grandmothers’ day. All the nourishing oils, beautiful colors, scents and exfoliants would have been a dream to her. Today, it is easy to custom make soap for any skin type. Adding oils such as avocado, olive, jojoba, and argon are just a few ingredients to make a rich smooth bar.

My interest in soap making began when I was gifted a bar of olive oil/goat’s milk soap. It both smelled and felt so amazing. I am a DIYer at heart and am always on the hunt for a new project, so I decided to challenge myself and began doing the research. I must admit it was a bit intimidating to read about the chemistry involved, but the benefits far outweighed the fear.

There are a few different ways to make soap, but the one I use is called Cold Process (CP). Simply put, CP soap is made by mixing nourishing oils with sodium hydroxide (lye). Lye can be a scary word for people to think about as an ingredient in the soap they use every day. And yes, lye by itself is a caustic substance that can cause burns if it is inhaled or touches skin. You need to research and understand a few basic principles about safety if you decide to start making CP soap. Once soap is made by mixing exact amounts of oils with lye water, at the correct temperatures, this triggers a complete chemical change called saponification. When this process happens there is no lye in the soap.

Making a batch of soap usually produces three to five pounds and takes one to two hours. It then needs to cure for four to six weeks. The cure time allows for the water to completely evaporate and results in a harder, longer-lasting bar of soap. 

Not only do handmade soaps get super-fatted oils to add moisture, they can also include some amazing exfoliants, additives and scents. A few of my favorites are honey, aloe juice, goat’s milk, activated charcoal and clays.

Scents include essential oils and fragrances. Essential oils are the natural oils extracted from botanicals such as patchouli, lavender, orange, lemon, basil and many others. Fragrances are man-made. Some are fully synthetic while others are still natural but blended together with other naturals to create a new scent.

I enjoy CP soaping because it allows for the most creativity in design with options for adding exotic ingredients that hold powerful benefits. If you want to get started making soap and want a simpler process, try the pour and mold recipe below. 

LAVENDER HONEY LEMON SOAP

  • 2 lb. goat’s milk melt-and-pour soap
  • 1 lemon rind, zested
  • 3 tablespoons of dried lavender buds
  • 2 tablespoons of honey
  • 15 drops of lavender essential oil
  • 6 drops of lemon essential oil
  • Jar or bowl for melting soap base
  • Silicone mold

Chop soap into smaller pieces. It will melt faster this way. Place in bowl and microwave (or double boil). Be careful to watch soap and not let it burn.  If you are using microwave, heat in 30 second increments, stirring frequently. Once soap is melted add your essential oils first. Once essential oils have been added and mixed thoroughly, add the lavender buds, lemon zest and honey. Have your mold ready to go, on a flat, even surface. You’ll want to move quickly before the soap cools too much. Mix everything thoroughly again, and pour mixture into mold. Let the soap cool for 2-3 hours until bars are completely solid. Wrap or package however you like.

Recipe from Sisoo.com.

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