I was running out of the lye soap I’d kept for myself after a pre-Christmas gift-making session with a friend, so this week I made another batch. It’s a girly, summery, floral scent, and I have some coconut fragrance on order, so I may make another batch and alternate scents. It’s always nice to have homemade soap on hand anyway because it makes such a nice gift, straight from the linen closet. (Somehow Dove just doesn’t do the same thing…”Here, I brought you a bar of soap.” “Oh wow, you went all the way to Walgreens for it, thanks.”)
I’ve made soap now a number of times, but I don’t think I’d ever done it on a warm day without the a/c on. It’s not advisable. It took forever for the soap to reach trace, and I kept using my rubber-gloved hands to push my sweaty protective eyewear from dropping off the end of my nose as I was stirring over the hot pot. Problem is, the whole point of the gloves and eyewear is that I was dealing with caustic chemicals–and very stupidly rubbed them on my face by using my gloves to push back my goggles! D’oh! So I have a small chemical burn on my forehead and one on my nose. Worse than it sounds–it stung a bit, then I realized my stupidity and rinsed, and now it’s just kind of like getting over a mild sunburn. But still, dumb. That was my first (and I hope last) soap-related injury.
Other than the concern of the chemicals, soap-making is actually a very fun project. Using a stick blender instead of hand-stirring makes the job pretty fast and easy, even in a hot kitchen, and the resulting bars are so creamy and nice. I’ve used several recipes that I’ve found on the internet, and one that is about half lard is my favorite, although I do feel a bit self-conscious buying a 3-lb tub of lard at the grocery store. (Hey, it’s not to eat! I know I still need to lose a little baby weight, but this lard is for WASHING!) And finding the lye is a bit of a problem, too, but it can still be ordered on the internet if you sign your life away and promise not to make meth with it instead. Somehow I doubt there is much soap making/meth making population overlap, but you never know.
Now the soap has to cure for six weeks, and in the meantime my kitchen smells very pleasant, because it’s all laid out in the space over the cabinets.