Halloween is over, which means it's time to start planning for ... Christmas. One of my favourite gifts to give is handmade soap. I've been waiting for just the right time to share my soap-making adventures on this blog, and this year is the one to do it.
It's November, which is when I get geared up to make a batch of homemade cold-process soap so that it has time to cure before the holidays. I have done this for the last two years and I'm really impressed with the results.
Last year, I made extra to give away as part of my homemade Christmas gifts. This year, I can't think of a better gift to give than soap: thanks to COVID-19 we are all (hopefully) washing our hands more thoroughly and more often. I'm not sure about your household, but ours has definitely gone through more soap than in the past.
There are a few things I like about making my own soap.
1) I get to control the ingredients - no fake colours of scents for me. I like minimal, natural additions. The colours and smells are muted compared to commercial soaps, but I enjoy them more. Last year, I tried out Spirulina (a powdered bright green algae) as a colouring. It slowly turned from green to brown as time went on and the bars cured, but I didn't mind the look actually. This year, I am going to try adding coffee, tea and oatmeal.
2) I can use local and minimally packaged ingredients. Cold-process soap is made from very simple ingredients: lye, water and fats. I even got some Leif lard from a local producer and rendered it myself. While I don't know if I'd go to those lengths again...it was an interesting process and I still have lots left in my freezer for future soap projects.
3) It doesn't require fancy packaging or storage. Once it is fully cured (4-6weeks) I just keep it in a plastic bag so it doesn't dry out. To give it as a gift, I use brown packing paper and hand decorate it. All very recyclable and low waste.
If you're interested in making it yourself, have a look at the soapqueen.com website for tutorials.
You do have to handle caustic lye, so it's not for the faint-of-heart home chemist. I have a set of goggle and gloves I keep for the process, and a separate set of soap making tools (mostly purchased at thrift shops), just to make sure there's no cross-contamination with my kitchen stuff.
Even if you don't want to make it yourself, locally made, minimally packaged soap is still a great gift. Three local soap makers I love are:
What about you? Are you going through more soap at home? Would you try out making your own? Comment below: