One of my more recent creative outlets is soap making. My friend T.J. commented on my last post that she wanted to make her own soap. Honestly, if someone is really interested in making soap, I say go for it. There are people out there that will tell you it is too dangerous and that you need to have an experienced soaper around the first time you make soap. I spent a lot of time watching youtube videos and researching soap making, but was a little petrified sue to one soapers comments about the dangers of lye. Thanks to the support of my husband, I had the confidence to make a small batch of crockpot soap. Since I have little kids around, I have only tried crockpot soap making. That is because after only a couple of hours, the soap is dine and the lye is completely soponified and if done correctly will no longer burn you.
There are a few things you need to make soap. Since I am just a beginner, please do your own research to ensure that what you are doing is correct. I often have my iPad set up with a couple of youtube videos to help remind me the correct way of doing things. Youtube has a ton of helpful videos and there are a bunch of great blogs that talk about soap making. you also need to have access to a lye calculator. The two that I have used are http://www.thesage.com/calcs/lyecalc2.php and http://www.SoapCalc.net/calc/SoapCalcWP.asp with the second being my preferred calculator. For me, the tools that I have are a digital scale, a crockpot, plastic tubs for measuring the lye, the water and the oils, a stick blender, rubber gloves, and a mold lined with freezer paper. Once you use tools for making soap, you must never use them again for food!
My favorite oils to use right now are olive oil, crisco (yes crisco), and coconut oil. I wasn't sure about crisco, but it is in the lye calculator and after some research, I did find one site that said Crisco was initially made for soap making purposes. I'm not sure how true that is, but it is a possibility. I chose these oils since they are readily available and according to the lye calculator, it made a good soap. So far I am happy with how the soap has come out.
It can be difficult to get lye, but I found mine at my local Lowes. You have to be careful that you are using 100% lye, I believe that Roebic is the brand that Loews sells. You may be able to get it cheeper, but again, I wanted to have it readily available. The lye is what makes soap making dangerous. Lye is very caustic, but as long as safety precautions are taken, there is really little to worry about. Again, as a reminder, please ensure that you look into safety precautions on your own before attempting to make soap.
When working with lye, I recommend that you wear long sleeves, eye protection, rubber gloves, and have vinegar near by for spills. I also do my soap making after the kids are in bed to make sure that they don't get hurt and that my attention is on making soap. I also have started with crock pot soap so that the soap is finished before the kids wake up and they don't get into trouble.
There are a ton of blogs on making soap. I love reading and learning about different techniques that can be used. I really want to try cold process soap making but with the kids, I am a little uneasy that they may get into it. I may try something called cold process/oven process soap making. I need to research more, but I believe that it gives you the ability to do all the different things that you can do with cold process soap making such as swirling, but you basically cook it in the oven and then after that it is finished. It's always better to let it cure for a couple of weeks, but it is usable after the cooking process.
So, T.J., if you can't tell, I say go for it. Make soap, but be careful is can be very addicting! There are so many things you can do, and I would say that I have only skimmed the surface!
As much as I love making soap and other creative processes, I want to focus on sewing this month (since it is national sewing month). I'm hoping to post more projects and maybe more sewing info as the month goes on. Now that I am officially the Massachusetts representative for Enchanted Makeovers Sewing Projects, I am hoping that National Sewing Month with give me a kick start to get some projects going and start talking to some shelters in the area.
Happy sewing and creating!