Monday, December 19, 2011

Twelve Days of Christmas Crafts, Day 8: Cold Process Soap

I'm going get this post in just under the wire tonight, since we just got home from dinner at our friend Valentina's place. Val is an amazing cook and a generous hostess, so I always try to bring a little something to her whenever we go over. (As opposed to those friends who are lousy cooks and mean hosts, to whom I bring nothing.) As we were getting ready to leave the house tonight, and I wondered what to bring, I remembered the batch of soap that I made in October, and decided it was ready for holiday gifting. Cold process soap needs to cure for four to six weeks before its ready for use, so now is an ideal time for me to give it away. This batch had been hiding in a plastic bowl on top of the refrigerator. It was poured into plastic cups to cure, so it popped out looking like this:

So I sliced off a few pieces:

And am giving these three to Val. I can't seem to remember exactly which is which, but two of these are shea butter soaps. One has lavender and citrus, one is plain with a little oatmeal as an exfoliant. The additives in the third completely escape my ever more porous memory, but I've asked Val to report back to me.

I made this soap at a class at Make Workshop here in New York City. The teachers were a couple called Tara and Jeff, and their company is called Meow Meow Tweet. They make all kinds of soap products, and are also advocates of sustainable, local and handmade living. You can read their blog here. I could not believe how easy the process of making real soap was (meaning soap that uses lye, rather than melt and pour glycerin soap), and on my Christmas wish list I asked Henry for a bunch of stuff from Brambleberry, which sells supplies for the soap making hobbyist. They also offers extensive information on how to make soap. Because of the caustic nature of lye, and because of the precision required at certain steps in the soap making process, I'd definitely recommend learning how to do this in person if at all possible.

For the new year, I'm making a renewed commitment to greening certain areas of our lives, and getting rid of chemicals wherever possible is high up on the list. Handmade soap doesn't feel like it'll be a sacrifice of any kind. Getting rid of my favorite blue laundry detergent is going to be harder, I think. But I'm going to give it a try.

Here is the soap all wrapped up in muslin and a green ribbon, ready for giving. Adorable child not included.

1 comment:

  1. I love handmade soap. I've never done cold process, but I've made hot process soap using a slow cooker. I haven't made soap in several years because my current kitchen set up isn't really conducive - but it is wonderful to see you enjoying soapmaking! Brambleberry was one of my favorite spots to order supplies from, by the way!