This is the second time my BFF, Terri, has talked me into taking a class in something other than our usual paper/mixed media “comfort zone” (the first was knitting, which I adored!), and what a great time we had. The class was at Green Lotus Studios in Jacksonville, where you can also learn to make cheese, candles and cosmetics.
We learned the “cold process” method of making soap, and I now have oodles of respect for all those soap makers on Etsy who make such artistic bars of beauty! It’s quite an interesting process, which involves lots of ingredients and lots of math. (The math wasn’t so scary once the instructor showed us a website that does all the calculations for you.)
I was a bit overwhelmed at all the choices of scents, colors, herbal additions and how differently each kind of soap would come out, depending on the ratio of ingredients. One of the most interesting things I learned is that soap does NOT have to lather up in order to work! The instructor explained that manufacturers create soap that bubbles up extensively when it’s marketed to men, because men tend to like soap that lathers up with lots of bubbles and leaves them “squeaky clean,” whereas women prefer soap that is more creamy and doesn’t destroy the acid mantle of their skin, leaving it soft and smooth. She took us to the sink and used four different soaps to show the various levels of “bubbles vs. moisturizing,” and explained how the ratio of ingredients determines this outcome.
As we all gathered around the “scent and color” station, I was excited to find one of my favorites, cherry blossom. Just for fun, I added a pinch of lemon.
Terri chose honeysuckle and decided to do the “layer” type of soap, which has two colors layered on one another. I chose to do the “swirl” type, which is a white base with color swirled through. We were each allowed to add one herb; Terri chose oatmeal and I went with this pretty oat grass. I chose aqua for my color as I think it goes well with the green of the grass.
We poured our soap into plastic food containers to use as molds, wrapped them in towels and a plastic bag so they wouldn’t cool off too quickly, and took them home. 24 hours later, we unwrapped and sliced the loaf into bars.
But they are far from ready! Over the next six weeks, the soap will harden and the lye used in its production will become inert, making it safe to use. In the meantime, these bars are hidden away from three curious kitties and it will be so much fun to finally use them – on December 2!