One of the questions I am asked the most by customers at the farmers market is how long does it take to make soap. The truth is it does take a while! I have implemented a few tricks over the last year that has cut my soap making process in half, non the less it takes about 5 hours to make a batch, and that is spread over three days.
Here are the stages of soap making;
Milk the goat (OK I know, too much details, right? but the truth is that every bar of soap begins with the care and feeding of our goats, that constant twice a day attention and in milking season the process of milking too). I know I could just buy goats milk, but this is what sets us apart from most goat's milk soap makers, we actually milk the goats ourselves. This is very important to me to know where our milk has come from, that the animals are taken care of, they are healthy and have good living conditions. A lot of us are starting to think that way about the food we eat and this is just as important.
So back to soap making;
Weigh and melt the oils and allow to cool
Weigh lye and goats milk, add lye to the goats milk (lye is toxic and very dangerous to work with, please seek specific instructions before attempting to make soap)
Allow to get to appropriate temparature
Pour lye mixture into oils and blend for 5-8 mins until it reaches "trace", this means the mixture starts to look like pudding and not oil soup.
Add all the extra goodies, fragrance, color, botanticals and mix well
Pour into molds, I use silicone line wooded boxes. This produces a large loaf of soap which yields 9 bars of soap.
Cover and allow to set for minimum of 24 hours.
Remove from molds and slice, I alternate between a straight blade and a corrugated blade for that fun wavy look.
Dry soaps for a minimum of 1 week up to 8 weeks. The longer they dry the harder and longer lasting the bars are.
Wrap, label and store
Here is a picture of various stages of soap making, top of the picture is sliced soap drying. middle is the soap still in the molds and bottom is unmolded loafs ready for slicing.
This is far from a tutorial on how to make soap, but just a little insight to the work that goes into making soap. At the moment I try to make 24 loaves of soap a week and I am currently working on a plan to increase that dramatically at the same time as keeping the authenticity of the handmade batches.
I really enjoy making soap, discovering new fragrances and most of all hearing how much people enjoy using them. If you haven't tried it yet it might be time to give it a go!