My move to a greener complexion got a boost recently by fellow blogger, Susie Grossman from Warsaw’s Secret Fitness. She so kindly sent me a couple bars from a batch of her homemade soap. While I find this whole DIY movement intriguing, I’ve never been great with my hands which has kept me at arms distance from making my own stuff.
Susie, on the other hand, is like a pro! So I decided to pick her brain for tips on soap making.
EL: Why did you start making your own soap?
SG: I guess I started making my own soap about 7 years ago after reading an article in Countryside about how easy it is to make.
EL: What’s the difference you’ve noticed in your skin since using your own handmade soap?
SG: I have fairly sensitive skin being a redhead and my skin is also dry. Since using my own homemade soap, I have not noticed the itchiness or dry skin nearly as much. I also have had fairly few break outs.
EL: How has soap making impacted your life? Has it led to making other products at home?
SG: I actually started making my own lotion first because I was concerned about the chemicals in commercial lotions. Our skin is our biggest organ and absorbs so much from the environment that I didn’t want to put more chemicals on my body with my lotion. After I realized how easy it was to make lotion, soap became the next logical step for me. When I make a batch of soap, the bars last a long time, nearly a year. Soap keeps well and can be milled (shredded and melted) with other ingredients for different purposes and scents.
EL: What’s your advice to someone who wants to get started making their own soap?
SG: I would say that you should watch You Tube videos first or take a class if you have one in your area. Although soap is fairly easy to make, you are working with lye and need to make sure you are taking the necessary safety precautions to keep yourself and those around you safe. Research the process first and then purchase the right equipment. Only move forward with actual soap making when you feel confident with the process. Also, invest in an accurate digital scale as all soap recipes are fairly precise.
EL: Oil is having a major moment in skincare these days. Do you have any special oils you like to add to your soaps?
SG: Yes. I love olive oil, coconut oil and especially shea butter. Any of those oils can be used in your soap making at home. Olive oil soap makes a very nice soap.
EL: Can you please share your favorite simple soap recipe?
SG: This is my most used recipe and makes a nice basic recipe that can be milled later. I use beef tallow because I always have it on hand since we raise our own beef. I like the idea of not wasting anything and also knowing what is going into the products that I use on my body.
Basic Lye Soap
5 lbs beef tallow (rendered)
.677 lbs Lye
1.9 lbs water
Follow instructions for making basic soap.
One thing that most people can do if they don’t want to make their own soap is to buy homemade, or Castile soap and then “French Mill” it. Basically, all you do is grate and melt down bars of soap in a double boiler, and then add additional ingredients such as essential oils, oatmeal, honey, etc. French milling soap is a great way to introduce yourself to homemade soaps without making a very big investment.
One of my favorites is Milk and Honey Soap
Grate 12 ounces of basic soap and melt together with 9 ounces of distilled water (melt on low heat which can take a few hours)
Add 1/4 C instant milk and 1/4 C honey. Stir well and pour into molds (loaf muffin pan). Make sure you stir the soap after pouring into the mold until it becomes fairly thick so the honey doesn’t settle on the bottom.
That’s it! Soap making is certainly a fun and creative world once you understand the basics.
Thank you, Susie!
Checkout Susie’s blog at here.
(Image from: holisticsquid.com)