About 3 or 4 years ago I took a soap making workshop at Little City Farm in Kitchener. LCF is a brilliant collection of businesses run by Karin and her partner Greg – look them up online.
They purchased an older home in the downtown core and are farming the entire property – a city lot. They offer courses and workshops and run a bed and breakfast and raise their family. She’s a knowledgeable herbalist and he is a skilled builder. They are into permaculture They build community.
If you find yourself in Kitchener you should check it out.
Since then I’ve tried a few different recipes but I always gravitate back to the simple recipe she shared that day. I started by mixing lye and water. It creates an exothermic reaction and heats up really quickly. I set it outside to let it cool while I heated the fat.
In this case I used olive oil and vegetable shortening. The goal is to get the 2 liquids – the fat and the lye, to the same temperature before blending them together. About 100F.
Once ready I poured the lye solution into the fat mixture and mixed with an immersion blender. After a minute or 2 it thickened up to a stage they refer to as ‘trace ‘ – about the consistency of thick pudding. At that point I added in my extras – totally unnecessary but they make a nice product. I added rhassoul clay – a mineral rich clay that softens skin an promotes regeneration of skin cells, a wee bit of patchouli oil so that I fit in with my hippie friends and some poppy seeds to give an interesting texture.
I poured it into the mold, wrapped it in a towel, and left it to sit for 24 hours.
It worked! The soap hardened and the wooden box came off easily. I cut the block into 36 bars and set them on a rack to cure.
At this early stage the soap is way too strong to use. It needs to mellow for 4 to 6
weeks while the lye loses its harshness. The end product is worth the wait. So much nicer than commercial product and totally customizable to your preference.
I use this soap every day. In the shower, to shave with, and beside every sink in my house. Karin recently posted her schedule for upcoming classes on a variety of topics. You should check them out.