Drifting on. New book, old soaps.

Well, so much for making goals.  Not even my goal to make a goal worked, so I still have a cloud of things to do rather than an actual plan.

I almost booked the soap into a church fete, as a “testing the water” exercise for sales.  But then I did the maths.  By the time I had paid the stall “rent” for a few hours, and added “Personal Liability Insurance”, I would have had to sell 50 soaps before I pocketed even one cent in profit.  The good thing about that exercise was that it clarified for me – I am making the soap because I like making soap.  Never did have a head for business!

Today was an unexpectedly free day.  Long awaited rain made staying inside easy.  And the Shed is cosy inside when the rain clatters on its tin.

Recently, I received a book I had pre-ordered via the “Nerdy Farm Wife” blog, https://thenerdyfarmwife.com/  whose recipes I used for my first soaps.  It’s been a year (WordPress told me so) since I started making soap, and I have learned a load about soap-making in that year!


Jan’s book is an absolute gem – so easy to use with readily accessible ingredients – and so on a whim, I made 2 of her soaps today.  They are similar to some of the first soaps I made a year ago.

We have a fridge full of cucumbers (thanks to a friend with a market garden)  and what better to do with a cucumber, than soap it!  With some fresh mint from the garden, French green clay, avocado oil and the mint / olive oil that’s been infusing in the shed for a while, everything in that soap is green.  I can’t wait to unwrap it from the mould tomorrow.


My first cucumber soap (last year) was cucumber and nettle, which had no fragrance, but this one has peppermint oil (which nearly knocked my head off when I added it to the hot mix after cooking).

The interesting thing about using someone else’s recipe for me now is that I don’t know the “superfat” component – which is the amount of oil left in the soap to moisturise your skin after all the lye has been used up.  I am usually fairly generous with this, adding extra oil after the cooking process.  In this recipe, I kept aside the avocado oil to add at the end, ensuring that the properties of the avocado oil are preserved in the soap.

My “Hot Process” has evolved to : cook on high for 20 minutes only (and stir).  This brings the temperature of the mix to between 180 and 200 degrees (F).  This soap did not have the right look after 20 minutes (seemed to still have an oily layer), but was over 180 degrees, so I turned off the heat.  When I added the avocado oil and stirred, the soap started to look more like it should, and heated itself up to 204 degrees!  I am confident that the saponification was sufficiently progressed for the last of the process – clearly requiring a bit more oil – occurred, generating the additional heat (being an exothermic process).  Here are the before and after shots (the final soap is much greener – the clay and essential oil was added after the mix cooled a little):


Being on a roll, I finished the morning with some good old Rose soap (another recipe from Jan’s book).  My collection of dried rose petals seems never ending – my little orange fragrant roses just keep coming, and I – like a vulture – rip off their heads as soon as they droop.  Friends and neighbours keep me well supplied – you have no idea how lovely it is to be gifted fragrant rose petals, and to think that those dead roses will keep on giving.


The plants in the garden look so happy with raindrops gracing them like jewels after our long dry summer.

I am not looking forward to winter, but happy to enjoy this in-between-ness. The rain means that dormant seeds germinate everywhere – this year there will be bumper parsley and rocket crops at our house – and always nasturtiums.  I will have to see if nasturtiums are any good for soap – somehow, I never get to add them to the salad like I should!

And our beautiful Rosemary is full of delicate flowers (and bees).  I keep a sprig of rosemary in all the olive oil – hoping it will act as a fixative for the essential oils.  Who knows if it does, but it makes me feel good.


And so – another week, and back to the day job.  Have a good one, and remember to smell the roses.  Literally!  (And if you’re nearby, pull off their heads for me when they droop – I ‘ll swap you for soap).

Sarah : )






3 thoughts on “Drifting on. New book, old soaps.

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