Homemade soap – a winter hobby. As many guests know I make jams, preserves, chutneys, salsas and the occasional pasta sauces during our summer months. With the bounty produced throughout the warmer months by a host of wonderful local farms I am able to keep busy during our not-as-busy times during the Spring, Summer, and Fall. Guests of The Croff House enjoy purchasing these to take home for themselves or as gifts for others.
Then came “old man Winter” and I had to come up with a hobby to keep my busy during our much slower period. Lo and behold – homemade soap.
Now making homemade soap is not as difficult as it may sound 9i say this even though I am still working on my own technique). All you need is water, lye (dangerous stuff), oils, scents and colors and you have the ingredients for making soap on your own. There are a lot of “cookbooks” out there that take you from the easy (melt and pour) methods to the elaborate (lye and water mixed into various fats such as olive oil, palm oil, coconut oil and even beef tallow). To these you can add natural exfoliators such as oats, poppy seed and even sand. The combinations are seemingly endless.
The melt-and-pour method is great for kids, and a wide variety of melting soaps can be found at Amazon for a very reasonable price. Essential oils are readily available at many heath food stores. Lone Star Candle Supply also sells fragrance oil blends and color blocks that can be used in the production of soap as well. Homemade soap created using the melt-and-pour method takes only as much time as it takes for the block of soap to be cut up, melted, colored and fragranced and re=poured. It’s a great rainy day activity for kids and a fun “take home” gift for a slumber party. Make the soaps at night and the next day they are ready to take home!
The more complicated method is the process of dissolving lye in water, melting fats, combining them at the right temperature, stirring them until the appropriate consistency and pouring the soap into the molds. While more time consuming (and a touch dangerous) making soap using this method is much more satisfying as it give you the sense you are actually making soap yourself, not just melting someone else’s. The “recipes” also use natural additives like goat’s milk, shea butter, cocoa butter, aloe vera and more to really exercise your creativity. Once the soap has “cured” usually within a few weeks, it is ready to be used.
A gift basket that includes your own homemade soap is so much more appreciated because it allows you to add a personal touch to make the gift even more special.
Unlike the jams and such, we won’t be selling our homemade soap at The Croff House, which is okay. You’ll be making your own at home in no time! Have fun!