City dweller, country skills: making homemade soap

I believe we should all know the skills needed to meet our daily needs if retail shopping disappeared – how to grow food, make our clothes, etc. – so I’ve been going about learning those skills.  Not that retail stores are going away., just a “what if…”  In a previous post, I wrote about learning to make soap.  You can find that post here.

Today, I’m blogging more about the actual process I walk through each time I make soap.

For starters, I keep my soap making supplies in a kitchen cupboard.  As I use up supplies, I restock them.  Then, I put the supplies on my kitchen counter when I am ready to make another batch.   Here’s a photo of my supplies:

soap supplies

When I was learning to make soap, one of the how-to books from the library compared soap-making to cooking food.  That is a rather apt analogy.  The soap making process is rather like cooking – it can be done in the kitchen, ingredients are stirred together in a mixing bowl, and several of the ingredients I use can also be used in cooking (olive oil, water, food coloring when I want colored soap, etc.).  It takes me about an hour to make a batch of soap.  

Here’s a recent batch of my soap when it was in the ingredient-stirring phase (I made this batch pink):

soap stirring

When I finish stirring up a batch, I pour it into molds to set, as shown below.  The soap needs several days to harden in the molds (three to four days, with a light cover over the batch of molds).  After the soap hardens, I remove it from the molds to continue “setting” (hardening) for about six weeks before the soap is ready to use.  I’ve read that some soap makers find their soap ready to use in a month; mine is better to use in six weeks.  Somehow, it even “gets better with age.”

pink soap

Finally, soap is ready to use.  Here’s some of my ready-to-use soap from a batch I made without food coloring:

Soap6a

Also, here’s more soap from my recent pink batch:

pink three

 

In future blog posts, I’ll continue sharing my experience about “city dweller learning and sharing country skills” topics such as working with fabric and sending a homemade comforter to the woman in Ireland who now owns the home my family owned until a century ago. If you appreciate my post about learning to make my own clothes, please read previous posts on other “city dweller, country skills” posts and check back for future posts about learning “country skills” in the city.  Also, you can check out homemade items you might like to purchase – patchwork comforters, homemade soap, etc. – on my website here.