New York Times Article

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Zing

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Are Susan and Sarah members of this forum? It's pretty well written and good to get that history. A soap-making editor would have caught the unfortunate directions to mix lye liquid in a glass jar and to cure for 2 weeks. I did like the tip on combining lavender and rosemary essential oils. I like coconut oil but 41% is high even for me.
 

ImpKit

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Are Susan and Sarah members of this forum? It's pretty well written and good to get that history. A soap-making editor would have caught the unfortunate directions to mix lye liquid in a glass jar and to cure for 2 weeks. I did like the tip on combining lavender and rosemary essential oils. I like coconut oil but 41% is high even for me.
From an editing perspective they also call out 2 tsp of oat flour in the ingredients list but in step 5 they talk about adding almond flour. Is confuse.

I'm, personally, not very thrilled the article doesn't call out wearing eye protection. They talk about mask and gloves but not safety goggles.

It was an interesting read though.
 

ResolvableOwl

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The 7% lye discount (modulo weighing error in mind!) might help a bit to calm down the 40.8% coconut; I think they aimed for it to ensure quick trace and satisfactory hardness at a meagre ”longevity“ P+S=16. Probably a subtle way to circumvent the disproportionately emotional debates around animal fats (lard etc.) and palm oil, without digging too deep in the bag of advanced soap recipe tricks (soy wax, sodium lactate, CPOP, accelerating FOs, salt bars etc.).

In any case, it's a quick recipe (shows its strengths after a very short cure), and definitely a good starting point to “hook” novices into making their own soap, and convince their friends/family that soapmaking is neither rocket science nor witchery (well, at least most of the time).

Stupid question from an extra-galactic guest who is only used to metric units: Is it obvious to weigh the oz, or could someone come up with the brilliant idea to measure oils and/or water by volumetric ounces?

the article doesn't call out wearing eye protection. They talk about mask and gloves but not safety goggles.
Good point. Lye burns on skin are painful but they heal. In contrast, you can go blind only once.
 

ImpKit

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Stupid question from an extra-galactic guest who is only used to metric units: Is it obvious to weigh the oz, or could someone come up with the brilliant idea to measure oils and/or water by volumetric ounces?
I wouldn't call this a stupid question! Having watched a ton of soap videos before I tried it, I knew to weigh everything on a scale and I only ONLY work in grams for accuracy... but if I were starting with this article, I would assume to weigh the solid stuff (so the shea butter, the lye, and maybe the coconut oil) but the liquid stuff (olive, castor, [maybe] coconut, water, and essential oils) I would do by pulling out a measuring cup and filling based on the ounces marking! It almost certainly wouldn't occur to me that there could be a difference.

It also doesn't touch on taking care to not use fractionated coconut oil; most people wouldn't know the difference or would assume it can be substituted.

ETA: I misspoke. I actually DO use ounces for my fragrances. But those are weighed on the same scale as everything else. Not "Oh this shot glass hold 1.5 oz, so I can just measure it twice for 3 oz!" And some additives, like mica and clays, are eyeballed and measured in teaspoons and tablespoons.
 
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Zing

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I'm gritting my teeth to contain my rant on our measuring system. I can't speak for everyone but people who follow recipes for cooking food I think would jump to fluid ounces for fluids.

And, shh, :secret:@ResolvableOwl , don't let the cat out of the bag! People think I'm a bada-- for making homemade soap. If they want to think it's rocket science, then who am I to stop them? :rolleyes:
 

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I found this article very interesting & enlightening. I liked how their soap is wrapped' If I can find some pretty paper thats waxy on the inside I'd totally wrap my soap like theirs' at least give it a go to see if I like it, defiantly has its pros & cons. I'd like to try this recipe but of course add my twist on it.
Carly B interesting post 💫🙌🏼😉
Up-Date Their Soap Was Semi-Jelled 😜 :secret:
 
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ResolvableOwl

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I wouldn't call this a stupid question!
I probably wasn't disparaging enough. Our moms teach us “We don't talk to them. They use the same unit with different meanings depending on what they measure.” 🤣

Joke aside. If a unit system didn't work, people would have died from hunger. Unit systems are about consistency, and each has their strengths and weaknesses (except the pre-1971 £sd system, that had only weaknesses). The only really stupid thing to do is being inconsistent.

I asked because I have no idea how the ambiguity of “ounce” is handled in practice of US households. We have measuring cups too, and they have multiple graduations for grams of flour, sugar, salt, oil etc. (i. e. implicit assumptions on density), but that's about it with “mixing up weight and volume measurement”.

Up-Date Their Soap Was Semi-Jelled 😜 :secret:
Sharp eye!
 

amd

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I'm gritting my teeth to contain my rant on our measuring system.
Me too! Just had this discussion with one of my "old guy" engineers who refuses to use metric - even though all of our suppliers, manufacturing, and prints are in metric. Nope, he converts it to inches and then comes ask me questions fully knowing that all the tools I use for production print measurements are in metric. Get.on.board. already.

My only comment other than what is noted above, is that I found humourous that the recipe shared is rosemary and lavender but the photo showing the essential oils added has a citrus blend label.... those are the things that cause OCD flareups.
 

ImpKit

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I asked because I have no idea how the ambiguity of “ounce” is handled in practice of US households. We have measuring cups too, and they have multiple graduations for grams of flour, sugar, salt, oil etc. (i. e. implicit assumptions on density), but that's about it with “mixing up weight and volume measurement”.
My observation / experience and practice is that if it specifies ounces then I weigh the solid stuff and I measure the liquid stuff by volume. Unless there are bright glowing instructions to not do it that way. However most recipes in the US don't assume the household has a scale though so you get volumetric measurements by the "cup" most commonly, or by teaspoons and tablespoons for smaller measurements. These are the same for liquids and solids.
 

Relle

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DIscuss
It's a pity they also say you can use the soap in a week or two or even sooner, after making it. They obviously don't cure any further than 2 weeks.:eek:
 

earlene

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Too bad the NYT doesn't have an experienced conscientious safe soap maker on staff to review such articles prior to publication. A letter to the editor addressing the dangers espousded in this article is in order. I would do it myself, but my dominant hand is still in process of recovery & rehab. Too much use causes pain, so I am trying to keep the use directed toward activities that rehab short of pain rather than activities that generate a lot of pain, and trying to type lengthy discourse is the latter.
 

lucycat

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Its hard to know how many items the magazine edited from the instructions. Susan Ryhanen had a business, I think Creekside soaps, for many years. Her husband made molds and soap dishes. I purchased my wooden log molds from him about 2006 and still use his soap dishes for my displays. To me, she was a regular soap maker and had markets/fairs and a small online business. When her daughter decided to join they changed the business model completely with a new name, elegant packaging and substantially increased prices. I can't imagine selling a bar of soap for $18 so wonder if her soap is just part of the PR for her farm. I would have pushed for a more flattering photo.
 

KimW

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Its hard to know how many items the magazine edited from the instructions.
This is a good point, and one that I didn't consider. I know from experience that one does not often get final approval of a publication's final edit or article.

I asked because I have no idea how the ambiguity of “ounce” is handled in practice of US households. We have measuring cups too, and they have multiple graduations for grams of flour, sugar, salt, oil etc. (i. e. implicit assumptions on density), but that's about it with “mixing up weight and volume measurement”.
But that is so bizarre! For small things it might not be too bad, but for something like broccoli florets, volume measurements could vary so much based on the size of the florets and how they lay in the container/how much empty space there is.
RO: I'd say we handle our ounces and measuring containers much the same way as you handle yours. However, you are right in that most US households do not have or use a kitchen scale. My Mimi and Grandma both had scales, but I've never seen such in any other US home. Hence the so many recipes that say "1 head of broccoli" (@The Efficacious Gentleman) or "1 pound of beef", with the thought being that most heads of broccoli are similar in weight and that meat is sold by the pound. Of course, I usually have to push through my own angst of "Well, what size was the head of broccoli that they used?!", etc. It's funny though that in the US I'd say we do depend on manufacturers doing the weighing for us, but use volume measurements in our cooking.
 

earlene

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This is a good point, and one that I didn't consider. I know from experience that one does not often get final approval of a publication's final edit or article.




RO: I'd say we handle our ounces and measuring containers much the same way as you handle yours. However, you are right in that most US households do not have or use a kitchen scale. My Mimi and Grandma both had scales, but I've never seen such in any other US home. Hence the so many recipes that say "1 head of broccoli" (@The Efficacious Gentleman) or "1 pound of beef", with the thought being that most heads of broccoli are similar in weight and that meat is sold by the pound. Of course, I usually have to push through my own angst of "Well, what size was the head of broccoli that they used?!", etc. It's funny though that in the US I'd say we do depend on manufacturers doing the weighing for us, but use volume measurements in our cooking.
My family used kitchen scales. Perhaps it's a generational thing? Not just my immediate family, but aunts, grans, cousins, etc. In fact, it was quite common that the same kitchen scale was used to weigh babies. So in my recollection, they used to be pretty common. But maybe it was just where I came from and the people I knew and the era in which I grew up.

As for using volume and not weight in our cooking, I don't find that to be at all accurate. In some cases it is a mixture of both, but not mutually exclusive, at least IME. Many cooking shows (and they happen to be a favorite viewing option for me) do indicate weights of ingredients. However another form of measure I often use in cooking is the palm of my hand (to measure portion sizes) and the 'dab', 'pinch', or 'taste' measurements, all of which are strictly arbitrary (for my purposes).
 

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In some cases it is a mixture of both, but not mutually exclusive, at least IME.
Yes, good point @earlene ! That our cooking is a mixture of both is what I was trying so miserably to convey with my "recipe" statement. Ugh!
With the exception of bread recipes, I don't think there are many US recipes that are all weight or all volume. But, even bread recipes based on weight will specify a bread pan which is based on volume, because that's how pans are understandably labeled. And - Yes, I learned the easy way that any cooking recipe is a simple matter of ratio, so it doesn't matter how big your palm is compared to my palm, though I confess understanding of "to taste", "pinch" and "dab" eludes me to this day.

Yes, I do agree that many cooking shows (also my favorite viewing option along with history types) indicate weight as well as volume. Julia Child (my fav) comes to mind. Just about every recipe she tells/shows volume and weight.
 

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I have several issues with the article, regardless that it is well-written:

1) Using Glass to Mix Lye Solution - The very first time I made soap (community class via local community college), I mixed my lye solution in a Mason jar. Understand, I knew absolutely nothing about soap making at this time relying completely on the instructor and supply list so I had no clue about the exothermic reaction of Distilled Water + Sodium Hydroxide. But I did grow up canning and knew how dangerous it was to put hot stuff in a cold jar or cold stuff in a hot jar (which is why we pre-chilled or pre-heat our jars). So when I realized just hot frickin' hot my lye solution was, I took a HUGE step back. When I expressed my concerns to the instructor I was told that it was okay to use canning jar or Pyrex.

2) First Time Recipe - One thing the class got right was to use ingredients that could be easily found in any grocery store and were fairly inexpensive. I would have gone with a palm shortening or lard, coconut oil, olive oil.

3) There is a big difference between "measure" and "weigh", especially in the US. When you tell me to "measure" an ingredient, I would get out my Measuring Cups and then wonder why a scale was on the Supply List since the directions don't tell me to "weigh" anything.

And whether you use Metric or Imperial, it really doesn't matter so long as you are consistent and have an accurate scale. And I don't have an issue with using Teaspoons and Tablespoons for 'additives'...again, just be consistent.

4) Trace - I have taught a few people to make soap and I NEVER tell them to mix their batter to 'pudding'...only to a thin 'pancake batter' or maybe a 'waffle batter'. "Pudding" leaves too many changes to have a religious soap...lots of 'holes' from air.

5) Eye Protection - As long as you're not sticking your face over the Lye Solution as you are first mixing it or working with dry ingredients with really fine particles, you do not need a mask...but you DO need eye protection. And don't think that your eye glasses are good enough because they don't cover that large of a surface area around your eyes (or cover the sides) and you can damage the coating. They don't have to be expensive...you can get a decent pair for about $3.00 at Home Depot. Eye Protection should be your number one priority followed by gloves.

6) Cure Time - Yeah, the soap class instructor also told us two weeks...which is about how long the bar of soap lasted. Good thing I made 8 bars. And it would have been better had the soap saponified for 48 hours instead of 24 as it was a PITA to get of the milk carton.

I enjoy making soap and love to teach others how to make it too, but I am also responsible about it.
 

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