This weekend I finally tried my hand at cold-process soap making! It was both exciting and nerve wracking. I thought my heart was going to beat out of my chest as I poured the lye into the goats milk…it was the point of no return! Working with lye was really the most stressful part of the process. I had to be super careful not to spill it while wearing bulky clothing, super attractive scientist goggles and while gloved. Theoretically, the lye should be neutralized in the process, but during clean up I was so paranoid that I might burn myself or miss a spot and later burn myself (or worse, my family!). I definitely went over everything with vinegar to neutralize the lye.
I will confess, it was a challenge making the soap. During my first attempt, I had to keep referring to my book, which is now greatly oil stained–it would have been great to have had someone telling me what to do step by step rather than reading while working. In fact, I’m pretty sure I missed a very important step because I was jumping back and forth throughout the book, and it’s very likely that I’ll have to toss this first batch. However! That’s okay! I prepared myself to accept a mess-up during my first tries. I definitely won’t make the same mistake again!
I’ve unmolded the first batch. The soap is still soft but should hopefully harden over time. Currently, the pH readings have been inconclusive. I’ll give it another day or so before deciding if it’s too caustic to keep (I’m leaning towards “absolutely throw it away!”). I just finished my second batch and I’m feeling a lot more confident that I’ll have a good outcome.
The second process was 100% different. The milk turned bright orange and the mixture thickened noticeably (it clearly reached “trace”) as the oils underwent saponification. During my first attempt there was no color change, but I don’t think that matters. However, the mixture never got very thick and, when poured, was too much for my one mold. I had to improvise quickly to find extra containers to act as molds to accompany the leftover soap. With my second batch, the soap fit perfectly into my one mold, which I had expected in the first place. I’m feeling pretty stoked!
The soap has to cure for 4-6 weeks before I can try it. It will get milder and harder over time. If the second batch is successful, I’m going to try adding essential oils to my next attempt! Good smelling soap is definitely in my top ten favorites list!
A special thanks to my darling husband for watching our Bug and being my gopher during my very first attempt. I appreciate the positive support he provided and for coming running with poo covered hands (finishing a diaper change!) to re-glove me when I poked a hole in my glove (I was just a little bit panicked).
Thank you to my sweet mother for taking a couple of hours out of her busy weekend to babysit while I attempted batch #2. I needed to get another batch under my belt to boost my confidence, so I truly appreciate the help!
This weekend marks a start of something big, folks. I couldn’t be more excited to start on this adventure!