The Homemade Soap Addiction Continues

I’ve moved from handcrafting MP soaps to also making CP soaps, and now I’ve drifted over into CPHP (crock pot hot process) soaps. All three of these soapmaking methods are enjoyable. With MP, I get to play with awesome designs and really creative designer soaps. With CP (cold process), I have the ultimate say on exactly what goes into my soaps and how much. I get to lovingly tend to the freshly-poured soap, insulating it, keeping it safe, then waiting more-or-less patiently as it sets up. Then I get to cut it, revealing each slice and in the weeks it takes the soaps to cure and harden, our entire downstairs smells wondrously of the curing soaps.

Once I got comfortable with CP, I decided on a whim to experiment with CPHP. Hot process is actually where soap began. Settlers didn’t have weeks to wait for soap to cure. Just imagine a woman standing over a black iron kettle stirring soap with a long wooden spoon over an open flame. That’s the root of HP. HP is like CP, only I use heat to speed through the gel phase, so when the soap is ready to pour into the mould, it’s actually fully saponified soap. Several hours later when it’s completely hardened and ready to unmould, it’s ready to use. In short, HP is ready to use immediately, but it takes a week of curing and hardening before it’s ready to sell.

HP is fun, because I have the ingredient control of CP, but the more instant gratification of MP. HP doesn’t set up pretty, though. It’s very glumpy when it’s still loose, so the top doesn’t look very smooth like with CP. That’s OK to me, though. As a fellow soaper said in an online forum we’re both on, the rough top just makes it look more homemade. My first batch was Aloe and Tea Tree. The batch I’m working on as I type this is going to be Lemon Verbena. I’m experimenting with an infusion of dandilion flowers as my colorant. As far as I know, it’s never been done before. The challenge is finding enough of them to infuse, as well as finding some that haven’t been chemically treated. Roadsides are good for this, though I understand that some city and county police officers aren’t always so understanding of crafters harvesting wildflowers (read: weeds) on the side of the road, though I didn’t have any trouble the day I harvested mine. Once I get this batch done, I’ll take some pictures to post.

Goat’s Milk and Lavender Soap and My New Mould

I’m happy to say that my second batch of cold process soap came out (and I mean really came out) much better than my first. My husband built this soap mould for me. It’s not very big – 107.something cubic inches, which holds about 4 pounds or so of soap. At this point, however, that’s all I want to make in a batch.

Beginning soapmakers are supposed to keep it simple – lye, easily obtained oils, water and maybe scent. We’re not supposed to be jazzing up our combinations of oils, using liquids other than water or trying to achieve fancy patterns and effects. I got a little crazy with this batch. First, I opted for goat’s milk in place of the water. I had it nice and slushy, and it still turned orange. Then I combined my oils, including shea butter and cocoa butter for super hardness and superior moisturizing. I got to trace in no time!

My new ultramarine violet powder colorant was burning a hole in the colorant shelf, so I had to use it somehow, someway. I pulled a little soap out, colored it, then went to work on the swirls. Fast forward a bit until we’re at the next day. The soap has set up completely and is ready to come out of the mould. I cut it into bars, and the swirls impressed me deeply. The majority of the soap is still sort of orangish yellow from the lye/goat’s milk mixture. The soap still will clean well, though.

Doing the seemingly impossible

Most people wouldn’t think this is any big deal at all. Then again, most people haven’t seen me backing out of my parents’ (very straight) driveway and still managing to drop a wheel onto the grass. Generally, I drive very well. I don’t take my time getting from Point A to Point B, but overall, I’m a good driver. I’m well experienced at U-turns and getting lost on occasion has given me some great opportunities to practice 3- and 5-point turns. I’ve gotten better at parallel parking, too. Backing into a parking place, though, especially between two cars, is rather nerve-wracking. I’ve pretty much always been able to do this in my car, but doing it in my husband’s truck when I can’t see over the tailgate very well, plus have this trailer hitch sticking a foot off the back is rather more of a challenge.

I’ve had to get better at it, though, since I use his truck for First Sunday. First Sunday in Pittsboro, NC is a fabulous event, even when the weather’s less than beautimous – the people are wonderful and the other vendors are as nice as they can be. However, parking to unload to set up is always something of a challenge. The roads leading into the Historic District are all two-lane, and the road where we set up has angled parking places, angled, of course, in the direction of traffic. That means, to back the truck into a parking place near where my space is, I have to drive – hopefully – into a vacant parking place across the street from where I want to park. Now, keep in mind, the parking places are angled, so the angles are completely different – one zigs, the other zags. While I’m doing this, I’ve got traffic stopped in both directions, watching and waiting for me to get my big ol’ truck (OK, so it’s really not that big, unless you’re used to driving a compact sporty car) out of the street. Of course, there are never 2 or 3 empty parking places so I can be as messy a parker as I want to be. No, I’m stuck squeezing my truck in between two cars, hoping and praying I don’t hit the cars on either side, and also hoping my trailer hitch doesn’t hit the tree behind me.