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.
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.
I made my first batch of cold process soaps on Friday. For those who aren’t so familiar with soap jargon, cold process soaps are the old-fashioned lye soaps. The idea of working with the lye was intimidating at first, but I just used all the safety precautions and had no problems whatsoever. This first batch is completely all natural – colored a pretty pumpkin orange with paprika and scented with a ginger bergamot essential oil blend. I’ll probably scent some batches in the future with fragrance oils just to get rid of them to make room for more essential oils. (My storage space is getting a bit crowded.) Today I ordered a couple of ultramarine pigments, beautiful, rich, natural colorants. Tomorrow I’ll likely buy some spices to use for other natural colorants.
The soaps came out of the mould today – rather ungracefully. That’s the last time I use a plastic mould for CP! I was able to hand-mould them into something approximating rectangles and can trim them when they’re cured in a few weeks. I’m excited about this new adventure in soapmaking and look forward to expanding this product line as part of my business. Start looking for these on my site around late May and early June.
One of the joys of my business is how I keep coming up with new and great (well, I think they’re great, anyway) products that will bring only good things to my customers. I believe that every person – man, woman, young and old – deserves high quality bath and body products. No one should have to settle for inferior products that are produced overseas in sweatshops and that are bad for your skin. Sensuality is also important and often terribly overlooked. When people hear the word “sensuality,” they think it’s dirty somehow, referring to carnal pleasures only. While carnal pleasures can indeed be very sensual, I’d like to encourage you to open your mind to envision what else falls under this umbrella of “sensual pleasures.”
Sensual pleasures are all those things we enjoy perceiving through our senses. What do you delight in seeing? Your spouse? A sunset? Your child at play? The mountains in fall as they’re burnished with brightly colored leaves? What do you like to hear? The sound of rain on the roof. The ocean lapping gently at the shore. A well-played piece of classical music. What tastes good to you? The way a bite of cheesecake melts on your tongue. The spices in a perfect piece of fried chicken. A juicy, red, ripe strawberry, just picked off the plant and still warm from the sun. None of these are bad things, and enjoying them isn’t bad, either.
While my products do engage you visually, their highest appeal comes in their scent and texture. Or maybe they take you to a new level of sensuality, more of a psychic sensuality – that satisfaction and contentment that comes only in knowing you’re doing something special for yourself. What smells good to you? What feels good? Can you imagine using a naturally scented product that captures you, wrapping you in aromatherapy benefits? Envision how soft and silky your skin would feel after using a shea butter and sugar scrub. Sink into a warm bath, fragranced with a deluxe herb blend and nourished with goat’s milk. These, too, are good experiences.
I offer experiences like this. When was the last time you actually enjoyed the soap you bathe with? When did you last like the way it treated your skin and made you feel? How long has it been since lotion was more of a luxury than a need to treat dry, damaged skin? Do you even remember the last time you allowed yourself the time to take a tub bath? I invite you to enjoy bath and shower time again. Treat yourself to mini spa treatments as you use my Revitalizing Body Polish, a luxurious shea butter and sugar scrub. Enjoy a 30-… Oh, go ahead, put the kids to bed, tell your spouse to give you some privacy and make it an hour-long vacation as you soak in an aromatherapy bath with a bath tea bag, allowing all your stresses and troubles to drown themselves in warm water, only to be swept down the drain with the bath water when you’re done. Bathe with soap that wakes up your senses, giving you a little boost for the day ahead. You really do deserve it.