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Oct 24, 2014
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Austin, TX
I have lurked, and lurked in the forum for months, looking in different sub-forums in order to get a basic understanding of cold process soap making; ingredients, tools and vendor sourcing; and to learn about soap making techniques before ever attempting to make a batch of soap.

My interest in soap making was precipitated by too many allergic reactions to so-called soaps safe for sensitive skin and allergies. For years one of my sisters made cold process for me and my family, formulated specifically to avoid allergic reactions. I had gotten tired of trying to guess which soap would likely be ok for me to use, and then getting those assumptions wrong. My sister's soap was extremely moisturizing, and (mostly) did not cause allergic reactions.

Over the years, I became increasingly more interested in educating myself about soap ingredients in order to make informed decisions when purchasing cleaning products. Initially, I hoped this knowledge could help me get a better handle on what triggers allergic reactions, and ways to avoid surprise episodes. After a spell, I felt that I might have the ability to make my own safe soaps. I spent the last couple of years reading, learning, and talking to my sister about her own experiences making soap, because I knew enough to respect soap making as a process that required more than following a recipe/formula. I knew I would need allergy testing to specifically identify and eliminate allergens in potential ingredients, essential and carrier oils before ever attempting to make my own soap. Stupid me kept putting the testing off, even after increasingly worse reactions to some fruits and rubbers.

I was finally forced to seek allergy testing after I had a very bad reaction to avocado this past September, which required an emergency room visit. After two seperate testing protocols were performed, I was told I have the most serious IgE mediated Type 1 allergy to an assortment of fruits and latex. The doctor says there is no safe way for me to eat or come in contact with the comfirmed allergens. I am heartbroken I can never eat Avocadoes, Carrots, Peaches, Grapes, and tree nuts again!

After receiving my diagnosis, the direction of my soap making education necessarily narrowed and became more focused. When I finally felt confident, I made my first batch of 100% OO soap bars early last month. The first batch turned out so well, I tweaked the recipe and made another batch after learning a little more about latex-fruit cross reactions. The third batch was OO bar with no essential oils, that I can safely use to bathe our dogs.

Since my allergy diagnosis, we have learned that our two sons inherited my allergies, so it is even more important that we only stock cleaning products that we can all safely use at home.

My bars will cure for a minimum of six-months before I will let the family try them in the bath. All of the batches have come out beautifully, and I believe it was due to all the up-front learning and preparation recommended in the Soap Making Forum. While we wait for the bars to cure, I plan to make a 100% liquid OO soap in the next week or so, that we will be able use while the soap bars cure. We have used commercial Liquid Castile soap for years, for a variety of cleaning tasks (dishwasher liquid, laundry, bathroom cleaning, etc.), but what I purchased contains an oil that is a known allergen. We cannot risk anaphylaxis, and I feel pretty confident in my ability to make our own castile soap using just olive oil, water, and potassium hydroxide.

There is nothing fancy about my soap, as I made it to be effective and functional. I have been looking up information on making other soaps and lotions to address the range of skin and allergy issues within my family. For my husband, I want to one day soon make a soap to soothe his psoriasis. I have also been looking at some interesting hair tonic recipes to make my naturally very curly hair shine and bounce. If my initial efforts are half-way decent, I will share them with extended family and friends.

I am so very grateful to the forum members for generously sharing their knowledge and experiences. After everything I have learned to this point, I no longer dread waiting to find out if I will have a negative reaction to body care products, because I know how to read labels to avoid known allergens, and have the knowledge to make my own safe cleaning products. Thank you all.
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Welcome :)
I fell in love with soap making when it made my hubbys itchy dermatitis clear up. Plus its tons of fun.
I think you would like a liquid olive oil soap - and you can use it earlier than 6 months.
Do you know what oils you CAN use (besides olive oil)? If you can use coconut oil - that makes such a good household cleaner soap. And some of our great grandmothers used nothing but lard soap.
Thank you for your encouraging note. I would be interested to learn about the soap you made that cleared up your husband's dermatitis. I told my husband when I first kicked around making soap that I wanted to see if I could help his skin issues by finding a good soap recipe for him. I am looking at maybe an activated charcoal soap?

According to a number of medical sources, I need to stay away from Coconut Oil and Castor Bean Oil, but other references note they should be safe to use. I think I can use Palm Oil, I do not plan to use it in my soaps at this stage. The list of essential oils I have to avoid is even longer. AFTER making my first batch, I learned I should have left out the clove bud, and lemongrass essential oils.

My second batch only had bergamot and pink grapefruit oils, but there is still a question as to whether or not I will react to one or both of the oils. I read they were safe, then I read they should be avoided with latex-fruit allergy syndrome. It is for this reason that my third batch had no essential oils. If you can believe it, one of our dogs has contact dermatitis. I figure with the third batch, I can always go back and rebatch with a safe EO after I learn a little more about cross-reactive allergens.

Until I know more, I am going to limit my ingredients to what I know is safe. I have seen a few posts that say salt or sugars may help develop a better quality soap. I have to figure out which to try first, and in what proportion, before I make an attempt.
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Hey and welcome to the forum. You just validated every last time we have told people to take it slow and do their homework. Thank you for that. If you can use lard, I think many of us would steer you toward a OO, lard, sugar recipe that you could use faster than 6 months.
Thank you for your recommendations. I CAN use lard and will look in to that. I held off because I want to go slow, work with what I know, and gradually figure out what works. Honestly, I have only grazed some sources that talk about lard, but I will delve deeper after your suggestion. There is always some in my father's and grandmother's freezers. They are old school cooks, and they taught me to cook the same way, but I have no lard on hand.

My sister spent years making m&p soap before making a jump to cold process about five years ago. I have listened with great interest, and I started reading about what she was doing to better understand what she was talking about. I got lucky with my first batch turning out well because she said she could not believe I made a 5-lb loaf on my first attempt. I didn't know that was a large first attempt, or I might have been a little less ambitious. I found a recipe that seemed to make sense, appreared to be within my range of skills, and used it as a starting off point.

I thoroughly enjoy cooking from scratch, coming up with new recipes, and baking as I can, so I probably should have been a little more intimidated making my first batch than I was. I got lucky, and I know it.

I turn my curing soaps as recommended. I am using unfinished wooden produce crates to cure my bars. So far, no DOS or other strange behaviors I read about. I have written every thing down (date, ingredients, suppliers, lye/oil temperatures at the time they were combined, etc.). I have tried to be more and more precise with the temperature range when I combine the lye/water with the heated OO. I am taking pictures to document the curing process and any issues that may arise. I guess we will get to see how well they turn out in a few months.

Based on what I have read, I am leaning towards letting some bars from each batch cure longer, to see what the curing time sweet spot is for each batch. It is still early days in my journey.
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Hi welcome to the forum. I started to make my own soap and body care products for the reason of severe allergies. It is awful that you have all that allergies; life is not easy with it, but still you can manage. Making your own soap gives also incredible satisfaction.
I also use lard but with the combination of lard/tallow/OO, . It is incredibly mild and does not irritate the skin:)
You are like me, before i made first soap I spend more than 6 months reading about it. This forum will give you information you will not find anywhere else. Beside it is such nice place:)
Thank you for your encouraging note. I would be interested to learn about the soap you made that cleared up your husband's dermatitis. I told my husband when I first kicked around making soap that I wanted to see if I could help his skin issues by finding a good soap recipe for him. I am looking at maybe an activated charcoal soap?

The two soaps that fixed hubbys itchies were 1) my very first bastille - 70% OO, 30% coconut oil 6-8% superfat (later changed to 70% OO, 25% CO and 5% castor) and 2) laundry soap made with grated 100% coconut oil soap (0.5 % superfat) washing soda and borax. Honestly I think it was the fragrances and harsh chemicals in the laundry detergent that he was reacting to, primarily.

But if coconut oil and castor isn't on your list of things to try - I think Susie has a brilliant idea for a lard soap for you. And lard soap is teh awesome.
You are well on your way to being an awesome soapmaker!

You might want to think about this recipe:

Lard 65%
OO 35%

And if you are addicted to bubbles(I am) add 1 tablespoon of sugar PPO. I take twice the amount of water as sugar out of the total water called for on the calculator, and use hot water to dissolve the sugar. I then toss the sugar/water into the oils. So, if you are making 2 lbs, I would use 2 tablespoons sugar to 4 tablespoons(2 oz by weight) water, and don't forget to subtract that from the total water called for. I write this right on the recipe BEFORE I start so I don't forget to do it. Normally we advise against people using things that will cause heating until they are more experienced, but you seem like the "extremely cautious, study lots first" type, so I think you can handle it.

You will want to watch this for over heating after you get it into the mold. I generally check it every half hour for the first 2-3 hours if I have it covered for gel.
I am indeed a research first person. One of my degrees is in healthcare architecture research! It might seem random, but some of the topics covered include materials research that promote or inhibit positive patient health outcomes. Latex was definitely one of the materials being researched.

Based on some of literature I have read, I need to avoid Shea Butter and Mango Butter.

I will definitely give these recipes a try next. I am waiting for some sodium hydroxide and potassium hydroxide I ordered last week.

As an alternative to the various butters I need to avoid, I came across Oliwax. Does anyone have experience with Oliwax?
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Welcome prunallame - as this is the introduction forum , would you like to post any further questions you have in another separate thread.
Thank you.
Hi prunallame,

Welcome to the forum! I'm sorry to hear you and your sons have all these allergies. Relle gave good advice about posting specific questions in other subforums since not everyone reads introductory posts and more people will see your questions.

Now after I've said that I'm going right back into giving info. :oops: You mentioned activated charcoal in soap for your husband. I don't know if you've read about it but some people have recommended goat milk soap for psoriasis and other skin problems. It might be something to look into and see if you'd want to give it a try. Awhile back, I made a goat milk soap and used a little activated charcoal to make a "swirl". I didn't get the effect I wanted but was still happy with it. Plus, I really like the soap.

I've never used Oliwax but you can post a question in the CP section and possibly someone else help you.
I appreciate the positive encouragement, and I will post further questions in the subforums. I am sorry I didn't respond sooner, but I was busy over the holidays with the family and making soap! I made notes in my soap journal about the suggestions from this thread. Maybe soon I will be gutsy enough to post pictures of my results.

I made the olive oil liquid soap and it came out beautifully. The batch is sitting for the next 3-4 weeks, then I plan to replace a slew of our bathing and household cleaning products with my own liquid soap products.

Thanks again.

Based on some of literature I have read, I need to avoid Shea Butter and Mango Butter.

I was just going to mention that. Those familiar with their own allergies generally don't need others telling them what to do! However, just in case, to possibly spare you a trip from the emergency room those butters should not be mixed with latex allergies... but, I'm not giving medical advice. ;)
Girlishcharm2004, I appreciate you mentioning that Shea and Mango Butters are latex-fruit syndrome cross-reactive. So is Cocoa Butter, avocado oil, castor bean oil, soybean oil.,... Sadly the list goes on.

I should have posted a link earlier to an article from the Latex Allergy Foundation, which lists possible cross-reactives, that has helped me better manage my health.

I have confirmed allergies to too many things on the list. I have learned to cope by making ridiculous jokes and laughing inappropriately. :) It is nice you are aware of cross-reactives, and I appreciate your message. I have a hard time getting through to some people that I must strictly avoid many basic and common foods.