Hellllllo guys and gals!
Thank you for broadening your horizons and trying out this new hobby with us. Soon your title will go from hobbyist to soaper- Please take pride in this and brag accordingly.
Before getting starting I would like to note some VERY important aspects of this month’s New Hobby Box:
- KEEP YOUR BOX INTACT. (It serves as the soap mold)
- YOU WILL BE WORKING WITH TOXIC MATERIALS. (Not pet or child friendly)
- PLEASE READ TUTORIAL IN IT’S ENTIRETY BEFORE BEGINNING!
As mentioned above, we will be working with potentially DANGEROUS substances so please follow my instructions carefully to prevent possible mishaps. To ease your mind, this was the first time I have ever been exposed to these materials and I came out of this experience in the same condition of which I entered.
LYE. If you google search this substance you will find some pretty scary stuff, so I don’t recommend doing that. So why the heck is it okay to make soap with it and then rub it all over your body?!
This is the million dollar question and I wish I had the proper knowledge of chemicals and compounds to answer this for you. (If you know why, please do share.) What I do know is that the Ebers papyrus which was written sometime around 1500 B.C. indicates that the ancient Egyptians were regularly bathing using a combination of alkaline salts with plant and animal oils. The alkaline salts they were using are comparable to what we call “Lye”. Like I said earlier, Lye can be very dangerous. It can burn the skin and even cause an 💥explosion if mixed improperly. USPS bans the shipment of lye without a special license so we were unable to include it in your soap making kit. However, it’s very inexpensive and it will give you a reason to go visit your local hardware store. (Hopefully they’ll have popcorn.)
Shockingly 100% lye is often times not sold at big box stores like Walmart or Lowes so if you plan on heading to one of these stores, consider calling ahead. Smaller hardware stores are your best bet- and hey, shopping local is the way to go anyways! I found mine at Pacific Supply Co. in the Cap Hill neighborhood in Seattle (You’re welcome my fellow Seattleites).
For this project, you’ll only need about 2.6 oz so the smallest bottle you can find will suffice. Pacific Supply only carried a 16 oz bottle but it doubles as a drain cleaner- maybe I can break it out again for a household chore in the future. It was situated on a bottom shelf between a root killer and a plunger so it may be helpful to ask where it’s located in your hardware store.
*While you’re there, consider grabbing a pinched nose mask (like in the photo above) to use when working with the lye- safety first! Mine was 55 cents but a bandana or t-shirt would work just as well to block out the fumes.
Wooooohooooooo now let’s talk about your New Hobby Box!
In it you will find:
-A bag of mango butter and palm kernel flakes (mixed)
-Bottle of coconut oil
-Bottle of olive oil and vitamin e (mixed)
-Bottle of sweet orange essential oil
-Mesh drawstring bag
-Mold (the box itself)
These ingredients are organic, hypo-allergenic and contain natural glycerine.
STEP ONE: Prepare Mold.
-Cut flap off of box and lay liner flat on top leaving it doubled.
-Work the liner into the bottom of the box.
-Tape liner to outside of box to hold it in place.
STEP TWO: Measurements.
-6.1 oz of water (room temp)
-2.6 oz of lye (be safe!)
STEP THREE: Combine Water and Lye.
***These directions are important***
WEAR LONG SLEEVES, GLASSES & GLOVES!
P.S… if you accidentally spill lye on anything splash VINEGAR on it. (acts as a neutralizer)
-Slowly pour lye into water while mixing.
DO NOT pour water into lye- this is how an explosion can occur.
For this I used a thick tupperware dish and a chopstick. The lye started to melt the chopstick but the lye dissolved quick enough before the chopstick was completely obliterated. During this, you’ll notice that the water will start to steam and it is extremely frightening. A STAINLESS STEEL spoon would have worked as well but stay away from aluminum because I read online that it’s a no-no.
STEP FOUR: Melt the goods.
-Combine entire bag of palm kernels, coconut oil and olive oil in a pan over low heat.
-If it looks like the image below, keep melting!
-Once melted completely, turn off heat and set aside.
STEP FIVE: Wait.
-During this time, it’s alright to transfer melted oil into another container but not necessary. My pan was old and scratched so I didn’t mind using it as the final mixing vessel. The next step will be to add the water/lye mixture to the oil mixture so if you want to keep your pan I would transfer the melted oil to a vessel you won’t mind parting with.
-Wait at least 2 hours before making the transfer. Each mixture is suppose to be lower than 105 degrees. If you don’t own a thermometer- no worries. I didn’t use one. Two hours in a nicely ventilated room will be fine.
STEP SIX: Finding a trace.
-Now it’s time to mix the oil and lye/water mixture.
-Just like earlier, you will add the lye to the oil. DO NOT pour the oil onto the lye.
-Stir occasionally and it’ll start to thicken.
-ADD SWEET ORANGE ESSENTIAL OIL
-The goal is a pudding like consistency. (This is called trace)
-You’ll know you are at the ideal viscosity when you are able to take some of the liquid and drip it on top without out it blending back into the mixture.
STEP SEVEN: Pour.
-One of the most satisfying steps in this entire process. Just pour.
-Be sure to use a spoon or something to evenly distribute and smooth out the top.
STEP EIGHT: Night night time.
-Let the mold sit at least 24 hrs with a towel or blanket on top.
STEP NINE: Last step
-After 24 hrs, remove the soap and cut into bars of desired thickness.
-Stand the bars up, leaving a minimum of 1” in between them.
-Allow to dry for 4 weeks.
What is this weird mesh bag thing?!
The mesh bag included in your kit is really amazing and used in Japanese culture- similar to a loofa!
When your soap is ready for use, place it into the mesh bag and use it just as you would use a bar of soap. The soap lasts longer and there isn’t a sticky mess in your shower or on your sink. Enjoy 🙂
UPDATE: 06/27 (ten days later)
In the original blog I mention waiting 4 weeks or more before using soap. Well….. I only waited about a week and a half!
I must say, I absolutely love this soap. I have a bar hanging on my sink in the bag shown above and I’ve noticed that it doesn’t deteriorate as quickly as most hand soaps. It’s also leaves a nice texture on your hands as if you just applied lotion.
I’m about to go on a road trip and thought these soaps would make great gifts for my AirBnb hosts!
First, I cleaned up the edges a bit by lightly running my knife along the ‘rough’ sides. (You should do this- it’s VERY satisfying)
Next- I plopped two or three bars into a gusseted bag, added a sticker and voila:
(This is the same bag that held the sweet orange essential oil in your kit.)
When it was all said and done, with the kit I was able to make four gifts^^ and keep a few bars for myself.
If I get crazy, maybe I’ll re-melt the shavings left over from cleaning up the edges and make another bar! If anyone ends up doing this, please let me know how it goes! It’s called the “Re-melt & Pour Method.” 🙂
Any and all questions, concerns and comments are welcome!
Until next time,