We have listened to many students with varying interests ask about combining our classes into one series. We have heard you and now we are in motion! We will be offering new weekend workshops starting in March. During the weekend lab we’ll teach all the fundamentals of soap making, kitchen tips and tricks, with two action packed days of exploring coloring soaps, effects and texturing, healing salves and infusions, troubleshooting and so much more.
The weekend workshop is great for beginners who have never experienced working through the process and those who have and want to perfect their skills. We are excited to offer this lab for the first time at a great value! The lab is limited to 6 soapers so if all this sounds like something that screams out to you, sign up or get on the waiting list since it’s going to be awesome! Click on the “Class Schedule” tab at the top of the screen for more information and to sign up!
Cold Spoon Method: Simple and Effective When making a new salve or cream for the first time and not sure how thick it will be try this method. Place a spoon in the freezer then begin blending and melting down the beeswax and oils in your recipe. Once the spoon is cold enough dip it into the melted down oils and remove it. The mixture will be solid and you can now test to see if it is the consistency you desire. Incredibly simple technique and works brilliantly!
Coloring Soap Naturally There are tons of spices, herbs, botanicals, and oils to use for coloring your cold process soap naturally. When incorporating a powdered substance like a ground spice or oxide, be sure to mix with a small amount of oil, vegetable glycerin, or water first. This ensures you will be able to evenly distribute the color throughout the soap and prevents clumping. Be sure to take the small amount of oil or glycerin from your overall recipe or deduct the water from the lye/water mixture. This way, you can be sure to have the proper amount of sodium hydroxide to cure the bar properly.
Ashy Soaps? What’s that white stuff on top of my soap? That’s what we call ash-a result of the sodium hydroxide reaction in the soap. It doesn’t hurt to leave it on there, but if you prefer the way your soap looks without it, you can always “clean” your soap. Some people rub a little bit of oil on top to remove the ash while others use a cheese cutter or knife to cut or scrape off the white areas. All of these methods work great, but if you’d like to cut down on ash altogether, try laying a piece of plastic wrap over your soaps after pouring them into the molds. The areas where the plastic is touching will likely not produce ash.
How to keep your oils fresh longer: Purchase your oils in quantities you can use, cheaper by the dozen isn’t worth it if your oils go rancid before you can use them. They have a short shelf life and keeping them cool and in closed amber bottles will increase their life span. Decanting your oils into smaller bottles when there is more head space than oil remaining in the bottle helps, too. Never use rancid oils in products, soaps or on your skin, these contain free radicals that are unhealthy to you. We are purchasers and more often hoarders of products; my advice is to use it or lose it, no reason to keep it on the shelf like gamma’s china.
Hand-mixing or Stick blender? The smaller your batch of soap, the hotter the oils, and the faster you mix them, the quicker the consistency will change from liquid oils to thickly traced soap. When making small batches at home, it is best to alternate between stirring by hand with a spoon or spatula, and using a stick blender or immersion blender. If you stir by hand alone you might find yourself mixing all day before you see a trace. On the other hand, blending the whole thing too quickly with a stick blender will prevent you from being able to add all your ingredients and get the soap out of the pot and into the mold. Gentle pulses of the stick blender after you add each ingredient, combined with hand stirring throughout, will usually give you the time you need to control the process and get all your ingredients thoroughly combined.
No Lye, No Soap: We are occasionally asked by curious consumers if our soaps contain lye. It is sometimes confusing for users of bar soaps because often sodium hydroxide or “lye” isn’t included on the label. So here’s what’s up. All bar soaps, including ours, are made with lye. A lye and water solution is required to create a chemical reaction in order to “saponify” (which means turn into soap) the oils and turn our vegetable/plant oils into soap. But as our bars cure (or harden) the water and lye evaporate and neutralize the pH of the bar. There is no longer lye in the finished bar, making it safe to use, and is often the reason why you won’t find sodium hydroxide listed on many bar soap labels. Even a melt and pour soap base is made using lye. Sodium Hydroxide is in many things, cured foods as well. To make liquid soap, potassium hydroxide is used instead of sodium. As we often say: No Lye, No Soap. Soap made with lye is not harmful and has been made in this traditional way for centuries.