Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Soap Recipes

My Favorite Soap Recipes from - http://millersoap.com/soapallveg.html
"Pound" Soap (Kathy Miller)
16 oz. canola oil
16 oz. coconut oil
16 oz. palm oil
16 oz. palm kernel oil
20 oz. soybean or olive oil
24-28 oz. cold water (lower for essential oils, higher for troublesome fragrance oils)
12 oz. lye crystals

Temperature around 110 degrees.
Sudsy All-Vegetable Soap with Palm Kernel (Kathy Miller)
20 oz. coconut oil
16 oz. palm oil
16 oz. canola oil
8 oz. palm kernel oil
24 oz. olive oil
24-28 oz. cold water (lower for essential oils, higher for troublesome fragrance oils)
12 oz. lye crystals

Temperature around 110 degrees.

"Almond Joy" / Chocolate Almond Swirl (Kathy Miller)
16 oz. palm oil
14 oz. coconut oil
52 oz. olive oil
6 ounces cocoa butter
32 oz. cold water (4 cups)
12 oz. lye crystals

Add at trace:
1 ounce Bitter Almond fragrance oil
2-3 T. cocoa powder blended into about 1/4 of the soap at trace (after pouring 3/4 of it into mold)
Temperature: 95-100 degrees

The Almond Joy is really yummy smelling soap. I tried to sell this soap but it wasn’t too popular so I used it all at home and it is fantastic! I just don't understand why it wasn't popular. If you look on Kathy’s site, listed at the top, you will see how great this looks swirled. And if you try it, you won't be disappointed!
I always superfat my soap 5% - 10% so I always check with a Lye Calculator to gauge how much lye I will need. I like to mix my lye solution and set it to cool in a safe place (away from the snooping noses of our cats). Then I heat the oils. Just as Kathy suggests I measure and melt the oils -minus the olive oil, then I add the olive oil and pull the pan off the stove. This helps to cool it down to 110 degrees quicker. If you melt them all together, it takes much longer for the oil mix to cool to 110 degrees. I’ve been adding approximately 3 ounces of fragrance oil or 4 ounces of essential oils to the first two recipes as well as a natural colorant such as paprika, when I reach trace. That seems to work for me. Both of these recipes make about 7 pounds of soap. With my block molds, I get 22,  approximately four  ounce bars.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Becoming More Self Sufficient

                Much like a squirrel getting ready for winter, we are doing necessary things to prepare for a possible reduced income this winter. You know, It really sucks to think that we may very soon have only one income and, it really sucks to discover that the job market really is ‘’that bad’’.  I suppose when life throws curve balls, you can either knocked down or catch the ball and play the game. Well, game on! So now, instead of just waiting for the “ax to fall” we are being proactive and trimming the fat from our monthly expenses. Whew, I could not believe just how much fat we needed to trim. To begin, we cancelled the XM radio in my car, cancelled our landline telephone, continued with using our 10 cents per minute Trac Phones and buying only nutritious foods at the grocery store. We are also keeping the thermostat turned down to about 69 degrees, burning as much wood as we can for heat and not using lights unless necessary. Ya know, that last one is the toughest thing to remember, LOL! I looked into using those nice Aladdin kerosene lamps for light, you know the ones like the Amish use, but oh my gosh, they are 2-3 hundred bucks apiece so that idea was a flop. Thankfully, we’ve been using florescent bulbs in the house for years so our wattage has already been reduced in that area.
                I got to thinking about our meals and figured we could also save by preparing weekly or biweekly dinner menus instead of keeping a well-stocked pantry to prepare meals for whatever suites us on any given day. So now, we have been working very hard to stick to a grocery list related to those recipes. At the store, this also includes staying away from brand name items and grabbing the sale fliers on the way in. That is proving valuable in helping us to eliminate a lot of wasteful spending. In addition, I plan to begin baking bread and snack items at home, which will alleviate some of our food cost as well. Changing some of the things we use every day will also assist us in keeping our expenses down. Like I mentioned earlier we have already been using fluorescent bulbs but we also had energy star rated windows installed 2 years ago, only purchase Energy Star rated appliances and I at least, am driving a gas efficient car. Who knew that always thinking “green” could benefit us down the road as it is now!
                I have not forgotten about our furred and feathered charges. We keep the cats warm in the garage at night during these Missouri winters by using an Infrared heater and we use infrared bulbs in the chicken coop and duck/goose house as well. Other things that really add up include making our own soap, my facial cleanser, facial moisturizer, toothpaste, saline nasal spray and lip balm. These things are very easy to make and cost pennies compared to buying them at the store. I believe the more self-sufficient we become the easier it will be to survive on one income if or when that need arises. I even boil water for tea on the wood stove!  
                I was recently advised “hope for the best and plan for the worst”.  This has proven to be an immense day-to-day challenge. Since this post has developed into what we’ve been doing to prepare for the worst, I’ll share some of my recipes in a post in the next couple of weeks, for the things I make myself. In case anyone else might want to become more self-sufficient as well. Of course, if You have any recommendations, PLEASE leave a comment below. I’m pretty sure I haven’t thought of everything, LOL!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

My Zen of Soapmaking

There are so many reasons that I enjoy making my own soap. First of which is that I can control the ingredients that go in my soap. Chemicals that are common in store bought soap include heavy perfumes, BHT (a preservative) and Pentasodium pentetate (a chelating agent). These are ingredients that I find unnecessary and are not in the soap I produce. Heavy perfumes can be very irritating to skin so I use either essential oils or high quality perfume oils and in small amounts as to NOT cause irritation to my sensitive skin. I have used vitamin E as a preservative and additional emollient however; I often forget to add it. In an unintentional experiment, having forgotten the bars were in the cabinet, I stored several bars of my soap in my garage for 3 years, exposing them to heat in the summer and cold in the winter. I was so pleased to find that none of the bars turned rancid. The scent was faded but the quality was excellent. I also do not need to add a chelating agent as I use distilled water when I mix my lye solution. Chelating agents bind with metal ions in hard water and supposedly make soap foam better.
The soap formula I use makes a hard bar that is rich, moisturizing and offers a luxurious lather. It is also superfatted, which means the formula has excess fatty acids that do not match up with the sodium hydroxide (lye) molecules after saponification occurs. The excess fat remains in the soap and becomes a soothing moisturizer for the skin. Adding natural colors such as beetroot powder, paprika or spirulina and adding exfoliants such as oatmeal, cornmeal and poppy seeds are fun and add a Spa treatment feel to a bath or shower.  I often do not use colorants as I have found that the essential oils or perfume oils tint soap a soft yellow or soft earthy tan and those tints look good on soap.  
When people ask me about my soap, one of the first things they seem to stumble over is the fact that I use Lye. Once they understand the process, they are no longer apprehensive. The soap making method in chemical terms is quite complex however, simply put, the Lye molecules react with fat and oil molecules in a process called saponification to produce soap and a byproduct; glycerin. We all know that glycerin is good for skin. Soap making has become very popular and with technology, it is now easier to understand and learn.   
I use either a Hot Process or a Cold Process for my soap making, but I tend to prefer the Cold Process because I feel more in control of the “process”. Hot Process progresses fast whereas Cold Process allows me to get into the Zen of the process and enjoy it. For me the Zen part is the stirring. I use a stick blender with a whisk attachment to slow the process and allow for a more complete mixing of the fats oils and the lye. While stirring I infuse Reiki healing symbols into the mix and this is where the Zen occurs. For me, making soap is quite a relaxing experience. 
 Notice the soft buttery yellow of this soap tinted with only the perfume oil added for a light scent.