Category: Soap


Beer Soap and Hercules

We went to see Hercules today at the cinema. It was a really entertaining film, full of battles and heart and people doing heroic things, as you may expect. I’d see it again. Maybe not tomorrow but sometime in the future…

The truth is, that having been busy at work all week, all I really wanted to do this weekend was hug my  family and make soap. Or research soap, or look at soap making forums. Or read the history of soapmaking. Obsessed? Yes, a little but it’s incredibly relaxing.

I read about the conditioning effects of beer on hair and skin and immediately wanted to have a go at it. I mean, come on….beer soap! How could I not? People make all sorts of beer soap, ranging from the palest ales to the darkest stouts. Some people add beer fragrances or citrus oils, or honey. Since I’m not using anything lab made, apart from the lye necessary to the soapmaking process, there’d be no beer fragrances but after looking endlessly at recipes, I thought I knew what I wanted to put in it. The basic recipe is a combination of three recipes, tweaked for conditioning properties, hardness of bar, lather etc and put through a lye calculator to make sure it would work well. (and be safe!)

When that was done, I gathered my ingredients, pulled

on my trusty latex gloves, set out oils, my beer/lye solution and got to work.

Into my oils, I poured the beer/lye mixture, then added my warmed honey, activated charcoal, grated orange zest. Then in went my essential oils (Orange and patchouli). I was humming along happily, mixing, smelling the strong stout and the essential oils, when I suddenly realised I’d forgotten to melt the beeswax! I rushed around like a loon, slicing wax off my big block and melting it in the microwave, adding, mixing, trying to get it done before the soap set…..and then sighed with relief when I managed to get it into the mould before it thickened too much.

All this before the movie, such excitement! 🙂

Then I made a second loaf because, well, there was beer left…

Beer Soap. The orange zest makes it look like it has bubbles, which is an unexpected bonus.

Beer Soap. The orange zest makes it look like it has bubbles, which is an unexpected bonus.

Stamped with the only stamp I have so far. I might have to make one that says 'Beer Soap' :-)

Stamped with the only stamp I have so far. I might have to make one that says ‘Beer Soap’ 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Eating Sleeping Breathing Soap

This is what happened when I learned to cook. I remember it. I was 19 years old and sharing a flat with my childhood friend. One day, on my day off, a chef I worked with came over and I cooked him baked beans on toast for lunch. On a day soon after that, he taught me how to make mushroom sauce for steak. I liked it but I decided that for my own taste, I wanted to tweak the recipe and so, the next time I cooked, that’s what I did. So began a lifetime of making food according to what I think tastes good, rather that following someone else’s recipes.

There were some disasters along the way but overall, the enthusiasm and feelings of creativity have meant that there have been more successes than failures. And I love it. It’s relaxing, therapeutic, colourful and calming. It’s also exciting and thrilling to take beautiful, fresh foods and assemble them into a cohesive, tastebud-tingling meal.

Speaking of food. At my dreaded weigh in last week, I had indeed put on rather than lost but it was less than I’d been afraid of. 1.5kg over a period of three weeks. There’s more to say about that but I’m not sure what it is yet, so I’ll come back to it.

The same sort of ‘awakening’ as happened with cooking has happened with soap making. It’s such a simply fulfilling, nurturing, creative thing to do. It speaks to nourishment of a different kind and at the end of it, there’s no danger of me eating the result 🙂

I’ve been experimenting with natural colours and scents, shapes, sizes, recipes. I’ve included local honey and beeswax in some. Avocado oil or Macadamia oil in others. I’ve learned how to use a lye calculator and which oils will create which properties in my soaps. I’m just at the beginning of learning but I have three new recipes so far and each batch of those has different additions. Sometimes tea leaves, or cocoa, or indigo or salts, sometimes infused oils or clays. I have new box of beautiful essential oils and lots of silicone molds. I write a journal, detailing each soap; the recipe, what I added, how it turned out…and when it’s cured, I’ll go back to each and document the way they feel on my skin and on the skins of my family and the few friends I’ve given some to.

The corner of my kitchen, furthest from the space where I make food, is filled with ingredients for soap. Jars of oils being infused with calendula, rosemary, turmeric, thyme and other things, sit on my window sill, warmed during the day, by the gentle sunlight refracting from the glass. pots of clay, paper bags filled with dried flowers. In my study there are drying racks filled with beautiful bars of mildly scented soap and the haul from the second hand shops I visited today. It all feels so grounding.

I’m barely using moisturiser any more, despite it being winter. My skin is loving these moisture-rich soaps.

I hadn’t realised that commercial soap makers take the glycerin from their soap and sell it to cosmetics manufacturers. Essentially, this means that we wash our skin with detergent and then add the moisturisers later. That’s crazy! There’s something so….earthy and authentic and just….good about using something that only contains ingredients that I recognise.

As when I was learning to cook, there have been a few mishaps. Like the most recent salt soap, coloured a soft green with a teaspoon of indigo powder and swirled with clay. It should have been gorgeous and it is…but I left it too long before I cut it and it crumbled into pieces when I tried. The next few days will be ultra busy at work but as soon as I have the chance, I’m going to try that recipe again and make it work this time. 🙂

 

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Morticia and the Nikon Charger

So, a short one today because I’m running out the door to use what’s left of the day before the kids finish school for two weeks.

First, I’m sending up a cheer because I found my camera battery charger! Hooray for that! I’ve been racking my brain, trying to figure out where on earth I could have put it, and using my phone to take photos instead. Which is fine but unsatisfying. I like the clarity of my camera.

The other thing is that having decided to henna my hair, I realised that I wasn’t going to have time and used a chemist-bought hair dye instead. Bittersweet Chocolate it said! It isn’t. It’s black. Shiny, healthy looking black but so dark against my skin that I look decidedly Morticia-like. I put makeup on yesterday, then went out in the car and when I saw myself in the rear-view mirror, all I could think was; “Oh my god…..an older, plumper, more harried Snow White…what have I done?!” It may have been the pinkish lipstick…..

Sunlight on white stools

Sunlight on white stools

Lemon soap, made with lemon tea and lemon zest.

Lemon soap, made with lemon tea and lemon zest.

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I didn’t write yesterday. It was soaping at my sister’s day and afterwards she and I went out for dinner, so by the time I got home, it was all I could do to shelve my soap before I got ready for bed. It was a great day. We each made a batch of soap and much measuring and pouring and mixing and talking and laughing was done. Also some eating of cake and drinking of tea.

I took lots of photos of course.

Welcome!

Welcome!

Mum and my sister in the prep stage.

Mum and my sister in the prep stage. 

oils and equipment everywhere.

oils and equipment everywhere.

miscellaneous things

miscellaneous things

Mum's friend in her funky soap-making smock.

Mum’s friend in her funky soap-making smock.

Mum's groovy (and very protective) boots

Mum’s groovy (and very protective) boots

Careful measuring

Careful measuring

mixing the oatmeal into the oils

mixing the oatmeal into the oils

soap in moulds

soap in moulds

Fresh soap

Fresh soap

My pure oatmeal soap, setting.

My pure oatmeal soap, setting.

It was very good fun, and then today, I unmoulded my soap and cut it into chunks. The container I used made for thick chunks and I couldn’t decide whether to have short, fat blocks of soap, or longer, slimmer soaps, so I called for help from Andy and the kids. It was a tied vote, so I did half of one and half of the other. We’ll know which is best in practice when we use them I guess.

I love how creamy these look.

I’m imagining how soothing these will be on our skin.

All the soap, curing in the cupboard. Just so satisfying :-)

All the soap, curing in the cupboard. Just so satisfying 🙂

 

Today was a fairly relaxed day. Late in the afternoon, we harvested some more of the endless supply of cherry tomatoes growing in our garden.

They're rampant and show no sign of slowing down. This is just a portion of what is a tomato jungle. Some are propped up with stakes, others have just taken over whatever they've been able to scramble up.

They’re rampant and show no sign of slowing down. This is just a portion of what is a tomato jungle. Some are propped up with stakes, others have just taken over whatever they’ve been able to scramble up.

But the tomatoes taste fantastic.

But the tomatoes taste fantastic.

 

 

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