Back in April, the staff here at the HSCG decided to have a staff soapmaking day. We had all of our materials, gloves, goggles, aprons, etc. We picked our scents and our colors, and then the soapmaking began!
Under the watchful eye of HSCG Executive Director Leigh, we began mixing, scenting and coloring our mixtures. Once we were happy with that, we very carefully poured it into our molds, swirling the colors and making sure to not make a gigantic mess (we might have made a little one though!).
Once our soap batter was poured, we left our molds in the conference room to cure…for FOUR WEEKS! Now, I’m not a very patient person, especially for four weeks. I’m definitely an “instant gratification” type of girl, so four weeks seemed like an actual eternity.
Every day I’d come into the office, check the soap, and then settle into my office for the day. One day seemed like four weeks. It was torture!
After our soapmaking day, yours truly came down with a bug. Now, there’s no known cure for this bug, and if you catch it, you’re probably stuck with it for the rest of your years. All you can really do is try to ease the symptoms; to do that, you have to make soap. That’s right folks, I caught it…the soaping bug.
After work, I’d go home and sit in my office for hours on end and do my research. I read the articles in our How-To Library, watched videos and even started following accounts on Facebook and Instagram for inspiration.
So, when I thought I was ready, I loaded up on some supplies to make my very first ever, by myself, soap loaf. Now, I love color. The brighter and more obnoxious it is, the more I adore it! So, while I was purchasing my supplies, I loaded up on bright, beautiful colors; now at this point, since I needed to wait for them all to be delivered (such torture), I dedicated my time to watching videos about swirling and layering as well as any other pouring technique I could.
Once the torturous wait was over…I mean, when my supplies arrived…I set all of my stuff up in my kitchen and went to town. My fiancé looked at me like I was insane, and his son wanted to help.
When everything was mixed, scented, combined and poured in the mold, I put it in my office and closed the door. I mean, out of sight, out of mind, right? WRONG! I checked on that mold as often as I could. The next day was Monday, so I couldn’t unmold it right away, but once I got home, I was ready. I did the usual “after work” things, and finally I was able to unmold and cut my creation (this was also when I discovered that I’m not great at cutting in straight lines).
Now, here I am a few months later and boy have I leared some things the hard way.
- Let your lye and your oils cool down. I found my sweet spot is about 80-85 degrees.
- Bing your mixture to a very light trace or just past emulsion. This will help with any swirls or designs you’re looking to create.
- Check the vanilla content! The higher the content, the likelier it will be that your mixture will accelerate, and that’s not always good.
- Be careful which containers you use to measure your fragrance oil. I learned the hard way that not all plastic cups are created equal when it comes to certain oils. I noticed the smell of my FO was getting stronger and then saw the FO running for the hills. Unfortunately, the fragrance I was using ate right through the disposable cup I was using. I’m so glad I caught it in time and was able to clean it before it ran on to the uncovered portion of my priceless desk. My dad made it for me during the pandemic while we were all working from home. I may have also said some not nice words but there isn’t any evidence of that.
My journey into soapmaking has been a fun one and I really don’t see my passion for this going away any time soon. I do have to figure out what exactly to do with all of this soap though – I mean, my family is nice and clean, and so is Sara, the HSCG’s Associate Director (she really digs my Black Cherry Merlot soap). Maybe I’ll stand on the street corner and give it away…doesn’t that seem like a cool way to meet riends?
Thanks for reading, and until next time – Kristine Farmer, the Soap Making Addict @ HSCG Headquarters