Thursday, June 16, 2016

Soapmaking Diaries Part 2: Stuff I've Learned

(Posted on FB, )
After semi-successful experiments making soap with rendered animal fat, I decided to branch into making soaps...that my family would dare to use.

I wanted to use common, affordable vegetable oils, basic ingredients that can be found in the supermarket).

"Sillicone" molds from the baking supply store
The following pictures show
1) Styrofoam tray, rubber mold and coconut/rice bran oil soap

2) 100% coconut oil cleansing bar, great for hands and body.

3) Pretty soaps, all from the base coconut/sunflower base, but "flavoured" with oat bran, cinnamon and coffee bar! They are creamy, luxurious and moisturizing.

4) I call this bar "CoCoCleanse". It's hard, white, and made of four simple ingredients. I use it as a strong cleanser for household purposes ie. homemade laundry soap, dish detergent, etc.
5) Coconut oil soap again... SO BUBBLY. This picture was taken with one hand, so it's even more bubbly than the picture.

I tried 100% coconut oil and found that the most affordable coconut oil is cosmetic-grade oil from the soap supply store (RM12 for a liter as compared to the hefty prices for organic, food-grade coconut oil) Some other useful oils include palm oil, rice bran oil, sunflower oil, etc. - there are the cheapest purchased at the supermarket.

One awesome thing about coconut soap (besides how simple it is to make, how bubbly and effective it is as a cleanser) is that you don't need an immersion blender to make it. It literally just reacts so quickly, and with a few minutes of stirring it's ready to be poured into the pan. It hardens and is ready to use really quickly as well. This recipe is a keeper, definitely!

My aim was to create simple soap. I used recycled materials at first (cost effective milk carton molds, takeaway styrofoam trays for drying soaps, recycled plastic spoons and old kitchen stuff that's gonna be thrown out. Two major pieces of equipment that had to be purchased were rubber gloves and (optional) rubber molds. The cheapest and prettiest molds I found after surveying various shops were from Bake with Yen, a baking supply shop. Daiso rubber molds were smaller, and I didn't need rubber cupcake molds since I already have IKEA silicone ones. I also reused a thermometer and heat-resistant pyrex beaker from my homeschool science kit. All my equipment fits into a plastic crate for now, which is awesome.

The most important thing to learn was how to use a soap calculator to formulate recipes. I also learned how to follow tutorials, look up recipes and adapt recipes. One project I followed involved using fresh Aloe Vera from my garden, which turned the soap pink.

I'm still experimenting with making body soaps (moisturising and cleansing bars) and all-purpose household soaps (more on those next time). For now, my philosophy is as such: soap is something I use everyday. I want to make simple, no fuss, minimalist soaps that do their jobs and keep me clean. Soap making doesn't have to be fancy or cost a lot, and most recipes cost less that RM5 (and that's several bars!)

While essential oils are lovely, I also find that I can use extract oils (ie eucalyptus and tea tree oils from the pharmacy), make my own herbal oil infusions or use kitchen ingredients like coffee grounds, tea leaves and ground cinnamon. Water can be replaced with coconut milk, yogurt, tea, and a great many natural but fun ingredients too.

Soaps take 1 hour or so to make. I can make multiple bars and give them to friends to try. They make great gifts too, though I will keep pestering people for feedback.

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