Farmgirl School

"It is no bad thing to celebrate a simple life." -Tolkien

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Nancy and I have always wanted to learn to make soap.  I have looked at soap making ingredients and have talked with soap makers and after hearing every warning under the sun about blindness, explosions, and eating through skin, I thought in my innate clumsiness that perhaps working with lye was not for me!  Yet, the customers keep asking for soap.  The homesteader in me wants desperately to know how to do everything myself.  Soap making is just one more thing we needed to conquer on our quest as farmgirls.

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My friend, Kathi, innocently put up a picture on Facebook of the soap she had made before Christmas.  I don’t think she expected the barrage of “teach me!”s that came her way.  Among those was me, and Nancy and I signed up for a class.  We were as giggly and excited driving down to Colorado Springs for our class as we would be the first day of school.  Instead of spiffy new shoes and clothes and a book bag, we wore old clothes, stained aprons, and a bag of accoutrements like a scale, and milk cartons.  We also opted to take our own essential oils rather than use fragrances.  I was ready to make cedar, pine, and balsam soap to mimic a soap I pay entirely too much for.  Nancy chose lavender and rose.

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We measured and scooped, not much different from how I make lotion but with many more exact measurements.  The goat’s milk was frozen to slow the cooling of the lye.  We added the goat’s milk and a little water into the pitcher.  We carefully measured the lye. It did not jump out of the cup and raise havoc as I expected.  My skin was still intact and my goggles were a stunning fashion statement for these photos.  Nancy looks pretty hot too.  Outside we went to put the lye in the pitcher with the goat’s milk so not to have the ammonia-like fumes filling Kathi’s house.  It was a gorgeous, clear day and Pike’s Peak in the distance was lovely and grand as we stirred our explosive mixture.  We left it outdoors to cool.

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Back indoors, we measured out our coconut oil, palm oil, olive oil, and castor oil.  We melted the collaboration.  Using a handy dandy laser temperature checker we were able to check when the oil and the lye solution each reached 105 degrees.  Then it was show time.  We poured each together and using an immersion blender, whisked the hot combination together.  I promptly lifted my blender too high and sent lye all over Kathi’s counter.  (I told you there was good reason I shouldn’t play with lye!)  Ever calm, Kathi simply wiped it up with a paper towel.  As soon as lines started dancing in a circle around the top we added our essential oils.  We whisked those together and poured them into the mold to set.  The molds were ready to transport home wrapped in a fluffy towel.  We went to grab lunch and a beer.  We were celebrating our new skill!

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Back home the next day, I impatiently waited for the clock to strike fourteen hours after our endeavor.  I carefully unwrapped the cardboard.  Then got more tough and pulled the rest off.  The knife sliced through the soap beautifully as it was still quite soft.  The aroma is of Christmas trees and vacations in a cabin by a lake and I was instantly transported.  Nancy’s is a flower garden, sweet and soft.  We have to wait four entire weeks now before we can try out our luxurious, didn’t blow the house up, soap.  I’ll have some in my shop soon and Nancy and are planning on making much more!

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8 thoughts on “Soapy Girls and Their Lyes

  1. I’ve always wanted to learn how to do this too but was always bad in chemistry class. I’ll have to look up some soap making classes nearby and quit being such a scaredy cat!

    1. Katie says:

      Hey, if I didn’t blow anything up, you won’t either!

  2. Must Have Boxes says:

    I love handmade beauty products. This soap looks wonderful!

    – KW

    1. Katie says:

      Thanks! I make everything else for my store but never soap! I can’t wait to try it!

  3. Erin O'Neill says:

    Awesome. I’m proud of you. It is a skill that is faced with some fear by most, myself included.

    1. Katie says:

      now to do it at home….!

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