Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Learning to Master My Craft...and Waiting

One of my favorite shows to binge watch is Orange is the New Black on Netflix.  In one of the first few shows you see the main character and her BFF making soap in her kitchen.  I'm slightly embarrassed to admit that the thought that you could actually make soap in the twenty-first century had never really occurred to me.  Intrigued by the thought of making my kitchen smell like a Bath & Body Works, I traipsed down to my local Michael's craft store (okay, I didn't traipse, I actually drove).  What I ended up with was a "melt and pour" kit that yielded some fun results.

My first attempt at soap making (of the melt and pour variety).
After the soaps hardened I couldn't wait to try them out!  I washed my hands with one of the bars and wasn't impressed with the fragrance, and really didn't care for the feeling of the soap.  Of course, that's when it dawned on me that all I had really done was purchase a giant bar of soap, melted it in my microwave, and made it into smaller bars of soap (albeit with pretty colors and swirls).  This wasn't rocket science!

Seeking more control over the look and feel of my soaps, I started to research the cold process method.  I have now formulated several of my own cold process recipes, and have found a couple of really good recipes online.  I'm absolutely hooked!  

An early disaster.  I added (not enough) lavender fragrance oil, 
which immediately seized on me.  I think I'll rebatch this one.
I started this blog to document the process of mastering the art and craft of soap making.  I make a new batch about every other day, and as lame as it sounds, soap making feels positively exhilarating.  I feel like a chemist, chef, and artist all at the same time.  The possibilities for colors, scents, shapes, and sizes feel so endless that sometimes I'm not sure which direction to go in next.

This is Cranberry Fig, a really pleasant scent from Bramble Berry
that smalls like neither cranberries nor figs.
The most difficult part of this passion (aside from enduring patient eye rolling from my poor husband as I wax poetic about my daily soaping misadventures, and spending a bunch of money on obscure liquid fats) is the waiting.  Cold process soap typically takes at least 4 weeks (sometimes longer) to properly cure.  Having to wait to test each of my soaps is agony, but I take the edge off by either "visiting" my curing soap (I have to smell them daily, you know, for science) or making another batch every time the urge hits.