Wednesday, February 04, 2009

soap making

Recently a friend of mine who makes soap invited us to come and watch and join in the process. I always wonder about where things come from. I just like to know the journey, the process, the origin of things I use and consume everyday. I think I've always been like this. I can remember with absurd clarity the parts of Sesame Street and Mr Rogers that showed the factories and the process of making crayons or the process of making trombones and saxophones. I was fascinated by how things were created.
Laura, who has a flare for chemistry and precision (and who shares my shower fetish), walked us through the process. Soap initially was something people made themselves using animal fats but now coconut, palm,avocado,olive and other plant-derived oils are used which are better for our skin. It is not very complicated except that measurements and temperatures need to be exact. It is basically a process of combining fats or oils with Lye(Sodium Hydroxide) that causes a reaction called saponification which produces soap.
I must admit, I mostly watched and snapped pretty sights,and helped in the long stirring process. After all the stirring, the hot butter-colored soap is poured into the mold where it hardens and is cut. It was a nice way to spend the morning, chatting away to the scent of essential oils,which was so relaxing probably because of the sub-conscious reminder of a heavenly massage I was given after giving birth.
Despite all of our modern conveniences there is something fulfilling about sharing time with people while creating and producing something, even little things we take for granted. It's also nice to know exactly what you are lathering into your skin.

Voila! Lavender, peppermint soap all ready to harden. The smell is just scrumptious.