~ My Website ~

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Arts & Science of Soapmaking

Have you ever wondered what goes into making a bar of soap?

We start out gently heating the oils and butters to 95 degrees F.

We use over 50% olive oil in our formulas, which makes it excellent for sensitive skin. Other oils/butters we use include: Shea Butter, Cocoa Butter, Castor Bean Oil, Jojoba, Coconut Oil, and Sunflower Oil.
Next, the wooden molds are lined with a natural biodegradable liner.

A lye solution (water and sodium hydroxide) is prepared just after the oils begin melting, so they arrive at the same temperatures about the same time.
After the desired temperatures are met, the lye solution is slowly poured into the oils/fats mixture, while stirring.

You can see how it the oil and water combination quickly starts to thicken. It's not thick enough yet though. Stirring must continue for up to an hour to get the mixture to "trace."

Getting there, but not yet ready.
You can see the soap leaves a "trace" left on the surface. This is how I know the soap is thick enough to pour. If you pour it too soon without it tracing, the soap will separate. Soapmaking is both an art and a science!

Once the soap has traced I quickly add in my herbs, veggie/fruit powders, or clays. This batch happens to use Poppyseeds.
After the dry ingredients are added (Poppyseeds) I now will add the essential oils. But there's only a little window of time so I have to act quickly.
This batch, I'm making a soap bundt cake. These special cakes are available on special order and make beautiful bridal/baby shower favors, displayed on a cake pedestal. Or, they are also lovely sent to a special someone in one of our fabulous kraft cake boxes. (If interested, you can inquire with us for more details.)
The rest of this batch is poured into the wooden molds. 
Ta da! Sweet Mandarine Poppyseed. Essential oils used include: Mandarine, Sweet Orange, and a touch of Dark Patchouli.  Sprinkled gently with organic Poppyseeds. This batch will be available for sale on August 20th, 2011.

The soap loaves will now be covered with wooden boards and a heavy blanket where they will sit overnight to solidify. Once the soap has solidified, it will be removed from the molds (about 24 hours later) and placed on our soap racks so the air can circulate and help cure them within a 5 week period. Then, they will be ready to cut and sell.
I hope you enjoyed a little peek into my soapmaking workshop. More workshop sneak peeks to come!


  1. This is gorgeous, Colleen! The photos are splendid, and that trace is a think of beauty! Thank you for sharing your soapmaking process with us! Can't wait until these little Sweet Mandarine Poppyseed babies are ready in a few weeks!

  2. Thank you DM! I will happily send you a finished bar to test out! :-) Thanks for reading my blog!

  3. Really enjoyed seeing your soapmaking process. You're right that it's both an art and science! Since I love ALL the soaps you create, I'm sure I'll love this one too! Thanks for sharing!!