Guest post by Carly Klassen; genius behind The Sage Soap Company, and instructor of Minga’s upcoming DIY Soap Making Workshop on November 11, 2017.
I got started soap making in the fall of 2016. I had just left my desk job and was focusing on taking care of myself. Like many folks who sit as a desk all day long, my body was not happy with me. I had become overweight and my shoulders had a slight hunch forward because I sat at the computer all day long. There are lots of ways to avoid these effects, but I had become unhappy in my work and it was reflected in how I was taking care of myself.
During this “recovery” time, I started taking a lot of baths. Baths for me are the ultimate way to unwind and relax. I like to light candles, turn out the lights, drink herbal tea and just let go.
One thing I loved to use during this time was bath bombs! I had started the previous winter trying to perfect a recipe. I can’t tell you how many times my bath bombs fell apart, or melted or just generally didn’t work out. I obsessed over finding a perfect recipe. So I started delving into the world of Youtube and started to find out the secrets of bath bomb making. One of the Youtubers who I found particularly inspirational/ entertaining to watch was La Fille de la Mer, a soapmaker who lives in the Magdelene Islands in Quebec. She was not only a professional when it came to making bath bombs, but she ran a business making soap – and it looked creative and fun.
I decided that I was going to make soap. I really had no experience making soap and no idea whereto get any of the ingredients. So after a lot of research, I finally pulled together everything that I needed. Although, everything that I read and everyone who I talked to about making soap warned me about the dangers of lye. So I was terrified that I might give myself a chemical burn and set my soapmaking materials aside until I felt that I had adequately prepared myself to use it safely. As it turns out, as long as you’re careful handling sodium hydroxide is a fairly straightforward process – and not scary at all.
My first soap was made with all of the oils that I had in my house: sweet almond oil, olive oil, grapeseed oil and cocoa butter. I scented it with the essential oils I had at home as well: orange peppermint and eucalyptus. It turned out to be a great, hard soap and I still have some of it in my bathroom today. The process of learning how to make something that was both useful and beautiful was extremely satisfying for me… and I kept making more! My second batch was sage soap, made with dried sage leaves from my brother’s garden.
Now the Sage Soap Company is available at 5 retailers locally, online and at the Guelph Farmer’s Market. You can follow us on Instagram for soapmaking inspiration or to check out what other products we’re cooking up!
Carly’s First Cold-Process Soap Recipe
This recipe yields 16 bars of soap. The proportions in this recipe are for a 5lb soap mold with a silicone liner. If you don’t have a mold, you can line rigid cardboard boxes with wax paper as an alternative. This recipe also assumes that the reader has experience handling lye. If you don’t there’s a link at the end of the recipe that you can read to prepare yourself.
- 5oz Cocoa Butter
- 16oz Grapeseed Oil
- 16oz Olive Oil
- 14oz Sweet Almond Oil
- 6.86oz Sodium Hydroxide
- 16.83oz Distilled Water
- 2 tsp Eucalyptus Essential Oil
- 2 tsp Orange Essential Oil
- 2 tsp Peppermint Essential Oil
- 1 Stainless Steel Crockpot
- 1 or 2 thermometers
- Stick Blender
- 5 lb soap mold with silicone liner (or rigid cardboard boxes lined with wax paper)
- Protective Eyewear
- Rubber gloves
- Wearing rubber gloves and protective eyewear, add the Sodium Hydroxide to the water. Stir with a silicone spatula to ensure that the lye does not harden at the bottom of the container. Set aside to cool.
- While it’s cooling measure out the oils into a large stock pot.
- Heat up the oils on a medium heat, stirring occasionally. Do not let the oils come to a boil. Remove from heat when the cocoa butter has combined fully with the rest of the oils.
- When both the lye and the oils are 80-100 degrees F. Add the lye solution to the oils. Use the stick blender to combine.
- When the oils are at trace (the batter will start to look milky, it will be thicker and all of the oils will be combined) add the essential oils.
- Combine the essential oils with the soap batter
- Pour the batter into your mold and let sit for 24-48 hours. Cut the soap into bars and set up a drying station somewhere in your space that is dry and where the soap won’t be disturbed. Cure the soaps for a minimum of 3 weeks before using.
If you’re a first-time soaper, make sure that you read up on lye safety. Here’s a link to get you started: https://www.soapqueen.com/bath-and-body-tutorials/tips-and-tricks/back-to-basics-lye-safety-guide/