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earlene

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Choosing a title for an introductory thread is daunting. I thought of choosing, "I want to make soap!", but couldn't quite figure out how to instill the inflection and tone of voice that both my granddaughter and my grandson used when they each said it (seperately, but within a week of each other) when I told them last year that this was my new hobby.

Yes, we were on a family vacation at a remote lake in California last July and they both wanted to make soap. Grandson's moms asked if I had brought any supplies with me when I told them they both wanted to make soap. Of course not, I was in a convertible and had driven about 2700 miles by the time we got there. But we decided we'd do a soap making project using the re-batch method with some store-bought soap and headed out on a search to find the necessary supplies. The only soap we could find was Dove, so that's what we bought. (I learned that I really do not like the smell of Dove soap.) Grandson wanted nutmeg as the additive to his soap, so I bought the most expensive jar of nutmeg I have ever purchased in my life. Granddaughter wanted me to add her facial cleanser powder that I make for her into the soap so she wouldn't have to mix it herself with water each time she uses it. No added fragrance for either soaps. But I did have some of my homemade bug spray made with grapeseed oil, citronella & some other essential oils and decided to add some of that to my soap if we had enough left over to fill a third mold. The goal was one or two bars each in yogurt molds.

The next day, while grandson's moms went on a hike by themselves for some alone time, the 3 of us proceeded to 'make soap.' I had them grate the Dove. We were in a fully stocked cabin, so all I needed to supply was the molds. Easy because I had a couple of small containers of plain Greek yogurt that I like, so I ate them. There was another container of sweetened yogurt with fruit in it and granddaughter ate it. There, we had 3 molds to put our finished soap into! I heated the soap in a pan on the stove, but they each wanted to stir for awhile, which was nice. They never did lose interest and want to leave before we were done, so that was cool. They were both 13 at the time and I wasn't sure if they would lose interest or not. Then we separated out enough so they could each add their own additives. I would not have chosen nutmeg, but his mom's were okay with it and I figured if it turned out he didn't like it he wouldn't really have to use it. There was enough for a bar for me, to which I added my citronella bug spray. I love the fragrance of my bug spray and I was hoping the added grapeseed oil would improve the feel of the soap.

They were very happy with the whole process, helped clean up and anxious to unmold their soaps. We had to go find something else to do for awhile to keep them from trying to unmold too soon. :)

So that's how I introduced 2 of my grand children to soapmaking.

Moved from Intro section - The intro section is to let us know a little about yourself.
 

Rusti

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I made a couple small melt and pour bars with a grape fragrance from WSP with my 5 year old nephew a couple weekends ago. It's fun to have someone so new be completely enthralled by the simple act of picking his smell and melting soap.
 

IrishLass

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So that's how I introduced 2 of my grand children to soapmaking.
They should feel happy to have a grandma like you. :) Have you shown them how to make the real deal yet?

How did you yourself become interested in soapmaking?

My teenaged nephew just asked me over the weekend if he could make soap with me (again). I've made soap with him once before about a year and a half ago for a high school chemistry class project, but he told me that he wants to do it purely 'for fun' this time. lol He's one of my biggest soap fans- says my soap doesn't dry him out or give him a rash like the kind he uses from the store. :mrgreen:


IrishLass :)
 

earlene

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I made a couple small melt and pour bars with a grape fragrance from WSP with my 5 year old nephew a couple weekends ago. It's fun to have someone so new be completely enthralled by the simple act of picking his smell and melting soap.
I know they are so fun to do these kinds of things with. Totally engaged!

My teenaged nephew just asked me over the weekend if he could make soap with me (again). I've made soap with him once before about a year and a half ago for a high school chemistry class project, but he told me that he wants to do it purely 'for fun' this time. lol He's one of my biggest soap fans- says my soap doesn't dry him out or give him a rash like the kind he uses from the store. :mrgreen:
IrishLass :)
Cool! That should be fun.

They should feel happy to have a grandma like you. :smile: Have you shown them how to make the real deal yet?
Yes, at least with granddaughter. This past winter we made HP coffee soap so she could give it to her Dad for Christmas. Of course I didn't let her handle the lye, but she was involved during the rest of the process. They live in Texas and I visit there at least 3 times a year, so we have lots of opportunity to do projects together compared to grandson. He lives in California and I don't get out there as often.
 

earlene

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How did you yourself become interested in soapmaking?
IrishLass :smile:
Well that doesn't tell you much about me, now does it?

Obviously I am grandmother. But actually I am a great-grandmother.

I didn't start making CP & HP soap until a year ago. I began planning in May, reading, researching, etc. & started in June.

I had been making my own powdered laundry detergent for about a decade, so it's a wonder it never occurred to me to make homemade soap. But that particular idea came to me when I was trying to figure out what to give my husband for his birthday. I came up with what I thought was a unique idea, one I had never heard of before. Ha! Coffee Soap! So I used some grated bath soap & made my first re-batch coffee soap. I let it dry out for a few weeks, wrapped it up & gave it to him for his birthday. He Loved it. He has raved about my coffee soap ever since.

Of course since then I have made CP and HP coffee soap. I don't think I'll be going back to making soap with grated store-bought soap again. But that's how I got started. At the same time, I surfed the net a bit & found out that I was NOT the first person ever to think of making coffee soap. Apparently it's been a 'thing' for a very long time. Who knew? Not me. Guess I live a sheltered life.

Anyway, once I started the research I wanted to make all kinds of soap recipes I found on the internet. I went to my local library and took out all 3 soaping books they had on the shelve, read them all, took notes. I saved lots of links to favorites in my browser. I started running recipes through 3 of the lye calculators to see what I could substitute for lard, tallow and palm. I watched what seems like millions of YouTube tutorials and soapmaking videos. I started a 'Soapmaking Adventures' Journal and I did comparison shopping for oils at my local stores.

I live in a small rural township in western Illinois and the extent of oils I can purchase in town are lard (I am a vegetarian, so I don't purchase lard), Crisco or the equivalent, soybean oil (in it's many disguises), olive oil (hurray, my favorite cooking oil) corn oil, canola oil, sometimes safflower oil (not always) and coconut oil. I think that about covers it. But I figured I could work with that and I had some other oils that I use for cooking purchased elsewhere: almond oil and toasted sesame oil. Castor oil was available in the pharmaceutical section of some stores in town, so I bought a couple of 2-ounce bottles. For good measure, I bought a big jug of Aloe Vera juice to give that a try. I also discovered I could purchase 2-ounce sticks of cocoa butter at Dollar General in the cosmetic aisle and used those in my early soaps. And lanolin. I have been a big fan of lanolin since I was a new nurse in the 1980's when this wonderful man would visit his wife in the hospital everyday and rub lanolin into her skin because that was her beauty routine her whole life. So I already had some lanolin. I figured it into some of my recipes, too.

I was thrilled when the new grocery store opened its doors and they had large jars of coconut oil. Sadly they stopped carrying coconut since then. And nowhere in town, nor in any of the actual city grocery stores can I find reasonably priced sweet almond oil. I have bought it before in an Indian market in the cities, but now I just can't find it anyway nearby.

However in my search for sweet almond oil, I have discovered grocery stores are now carrying other exotic oils I would not expect to find when they aren't even carrying almond oil. So I now have a tendency to pick up an exotic oil here and there just to see what it's like in soap.

My search for lye was another thing that slowed me down. None of the stores in my town sell lye. Not the hardware store/lumber yard. Not Farm & Fleet. Not even Home Depot in the city. Not Lowes. Not Walmart. There seems to be a moratorium on Lye. But one day I was in TSC (Tractor Supply Company) and lo and behold, they carry lye. So I bought 2 jars and I was off and running. Now whenever I see a TSC in my travels (I do lots of roadtrips) I stop in and buy a bottle of lye or 2, particularly if I know I am running low or want to make soap while traveling.

Of course I started ordering from some of the many suppliers out there. I knew I loved cocoa butter, so finding a more affordable price was good. And I wanted to try rice bran oil and found I really liked it, too. And I need castor oil in larger than 2-ounce bottles.

For molds, I started out using buttermilk cartons, margarine tubs, cardboard mushroom boxes, and tea boxes. I had an assortment of recyclables from which to choose almost every day. I picked out a set of small plastic containers at Dollar General to use for tiny soap molds when I did my single oil soap experiment. 14 different soaps, each 100% single oil soaps of each oil I had in the house. That was fun.

I made plain soap; I made lavender soap; I made CP; I made HP. The first couple of soaps I made the mistake of insufficient documentation thinking I would absolutely remember every tiny little detail, including which recipe was which soap. NOT. It turns out it took me 'forever' to find the recipe turned that out to be my favorite of any I have developed. I do believe I have it now, or at least it's pretty close to what that soap looks and feels like when I use it. To continue.. I made lemon soap; I made castile soap (it is still curing & getting really, really hard); I made kombucha soap (inspired by my SIL who drinks it like water); I made chamomile soap; I made lavender soap; I made egg yolk soap (love it for washing my hands); I made egg white soap (my husband thinks it is the prettiest soap); I made milk soaps; I made beer soap, the list goes on. I tried a limited amount of colorants, having only bought what JoAnn's or Michael's has. I infused oils with rose petals and various other botanicals to use in some of the soaps I've made. I added spices to get different colors and effects. I made liquid soap (I don't even like liquid soap, so not sure why I made it in the first place.)

I wanted to take a soap making class, but couldn't find one nearby, nor one that would fit into my schedule any sooner than January of this year. I was willing to travel pretty much anywhere to take a class, but it seemed that there just weren't that many soap making classes out there, at least when I was looking. I found some on the Soapmakers Guild, but some of those linked aren't actually offering classes or weren't going to until after winter, or whatnot. So I didn't enroll in my first soapmaking class until after I'd been soaping for 6 months. There I used palm oil for the first time, and am considering changing my view on palm oil. Not enough to take the leap to purchase it yet, though. There is plenty of time to give it more thought. I was able to use micas and Neons and Labcolors and get vibrant colors in soap for the first time. I was able to choose from literally dozens of fragrances for the soap I made at this 2-day Soap Making Boot Camp. I was in soaping heaven. And I really didn't have to go very far for this fabulous experience. I drove across 2 states and stayed in a town about the size of my own town and took the class in what seemed like an even smaller town. Very Rural, Very Mid West, Very Homey. And met some fun people in the process. Then a few months later I went to my very first Soapers Gathering (Conference-like) and my very first Soap Swap and my first Soap Challenge and my first time meeting multiple vendors in one location. Again Soaper's Heaven. But this time my husband was with me because it was my birthday trip & he always take time off to take me on a trip for my birthday. So I had to limit my purchases to fit into a convertible and still have room for both ourselves and our luggage. The call smelled pretty nice, though with all the fragrances and soaps from the soap swap.

And now I have shea butter to add to my repertoire of soaping oils. I had not purchased it before either, so fun fun fun.

I looked at everything as a potential soap mold, but pretty soon I wanted something better than cardboard mushroom boxes and ice cream containers. I started looking for potential soap molds at the Goodwill and lo & behold silicone baking molds are easy to come by at my local Goodwill. Yes, to please me, they decided to open a store in my town. Wasn't that nice of them, then they seem to send all kinds of silicone molds to the one in my town. I visit Goodwill and other thrift stores in my travels and I have never seen so many anywhere else. Still I really wanted a wooden loaf mold, but I really didn't want to pay an arm and a leg for it, so I kept putting off buying one. Then another soaper was de-stashing & let me buy a 2-and-a-half pound wooden soap mold with a silicone liner for $25 at the Soapers Gathering. Right after I broke down and ordered one of the silicone molds with the wire rack it fits into from Essential Depot, which I have used yet.

Somewhere in between wanting more soap molds and buying more soap molds, I ran across videos and tutorials about making your own. I fell upon a method of making molds using 100% silicone caulking and cornstarch, as well as some other recipes with some other ingredients. So I ran out and purchased the necessary materials and a few rubber duckies at Dollar General. Since then I have made a few individual soap molds and have a few others planned. This was another fun project to do alone as well as doing it with my granddaughter when I visited her in Texas. Her mom is always happy when I come with some new project to keep her engaged in something other than playing games on her tablet. And of course we have a very special bond so we always have fun, no matter what we end up doing.
 

Arimara

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My child is 7 and too eager to help. I only let her help me bake, sometimes cook.
 

reflection

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love hearing these stories of soaping with kids. when i was 9 years old i was deciding between making candles or soap for a school project and i chose soap making. of course my mom did most of it, but i stirred the batter and then added the blue food coloring to make it look swirly like irish spring soap. i've always fondly remembered doing that project, and now i am gearing up to start soap making as an adult many moons later.
 
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