This title has been rattling round in my head for a month or so. But the post I write to go with the title sounds way too preachy, so I am just going to leave the relevant content to your imagination.
Meanwhile, in the Shed, I have been cooking up a batch of soap to help my daughter and family welcome a new little member of our family! Baby S leapt (literally) into the world just after the Chinese New Year. This is the Moon that looked over her entrance…
I quarantined a quiet moment in the shed to test out my base soap recipe, concocted using the Soap Calc to give what looks like OK soap – the numbers all fit well enough for good soapy properties. Olive oil (40%); Coconut oil (25%); Shea Butter (15%); Apricot kernel oil (10%); Castor oil (5%), plus Avocado oil (5%) – used for “super-fatting” after cooking.
The Shea Butter takes quite a while to melt, but once it’s liquid, all is good. I used some jasmine flower tea to mix the NaOH. After ten minutes or so, I add the lye solution to the liquid oils, with sodium lactate (to harden the soap in the absence of palm oil, and is also supposed to act as a humectant), then stick blend to trace – this is simply to create an emulsion such that the fatty acids and sodium hydroxide have maximum contact with each other and don’t separate out – ensuring efficient saponification.
I am getting the cooking thing sorted now. Using the crockpot on the high setting, I set the timer for about 20 minutes. At this stage, the soap is quite gelled and bubbling on the outer edge of the crockpot, but the centre is still smooth and looking like cold process soap. I stir it, which more evenly distributes the temperature, and speeds up the gelling of the whole batch. I could leave it to cook from the outside in (and not stir), but this seems like a waste of energy to me, given that it’s a simple chemical reaction and just needs the heat! Once the temperature of the whole mix is more than 180 degrees F, I am confidant that it doesn’t need to cook any more.
At this stage, I remove the ceramic bit from the outer crockpot. The ceramic pot holds the heat, and so the saponification continues a while longer. Interestingly, the sodium lactate seems to make the mix keep rising up, like a soufflé – in this case rising about 3 times, each time having to be stirred down. I added yoghurt to smooth the mix, and the avocado oil went in at this stage (saponification mostly complete, and so the oil is left in the soap for moisturising the skin).
The temperature must drop before adding the essential oils. If I wasn’t impatient, I would wait until the temperature of the mix gets down to about 120 degrees F, but I am impatient and prepared to risk the loss of scent, and the mix takes AGES to cool!! At about 130 degrees, the essential oils go in. The soap becomes more viscous as it cools, so it’s a juggle between losing the oomph of the scent, and keeping the texture of the finished soap. I used a mix from my old “Fragrant Pharmacy” book, which is supposed to improve the immune system after childbirth: Frankincense, Nutmeg, Rosewood, Rose and Lemongrass, along with some pink clay.
The soap was a lovely smelling, pink soap – perfect for it’s task. I can’t make claim to any magical properties of essential oils, but the name for this soap seemed to cover all bases. Oh – and the new soap wrapping is courtesy of our amazing toilet rolls from “Who Gives a Crap” http://au.whogivesacrap.org 4 wrappers from each roll (all our loo rolls are naked now)!
And finally – the following diagram was going round on Facebook the other day (I am not sure who to attribute it to), and somehow it seems to relate to the title of this post – just in case you had forgotten to think about it! Aim for Ikigai… and satisfaction, I think!! And be your own Hero!