I have a sincere interest in the home arts. I take seriously the care of my family and my home, and with that has come a relatively new-found interest in how I keep my home and family clean. Awhile back, I purchased some books on how to make my own cleansers, beauty products, and such. I felt that I needed to reduce the number of potentially harsh chemicals I had in my home, and made a conscious decision to slowly, over time, replace some of my commercial cleansers with cleansers of my own. As it stands, I make my own leather couch cleaners, cleansing oil, hair rinse, deoderant, moisturizer, lip balm, and all purpose cleaner. In some ways, I feel like I want to make everything from scratch. Perhaps this is why one of my cousins refers to me as a pioneer.
With this burning desire to make everything from scratch, it only made sense that I would investigate trying my hand at crafting my own soap. But, it is the one thing that I was most nervous about trying to make. You see, when the recipe calls for the use of safety goggles and gloves, and refers to one of the ingredients as a caustic substance, that's enough for me to stop dead in my tracks. In my mind, I have no business trying to make soap, let alone trying to make soap with 3 kids running around.
This weekend, I dragged my oh-so-patient husband to a soap making class. It was an afternoon class that had us making goat milk soap. Goat milk, apparently, is very gentle on the skin, and since this class was held on a farm with a herd of goats, it made perfect sense. I only have to wait 2-3 weeks until my soap is cured and ready for use. It is a crisp, lemongrass scent, which seems perfect for spring.
Turns out, the process is not so intimidating. Now, I was not volunteering to work with the lye, mind you, but I was able to see that with a well-ventilated space, an apron, some gloves and some goggles, it shouldn't be that scary.
The funniest part of the afternoon was the difference with which my husband and I approached the soap making. He is a very scientific sort, so he spent a fair amount of time studying the chemical write up of what happens during saponification. Me? I was listening intently to what color I should be looking for the lye/milk mixture to turn to know that it was ready (the terribly scientific "banana pudding yellow"). I am not terribly well versed in chemistry, nor any science for that matter. But I did humor him as he explained to me exactly what was happening with the hydrocarbon chains during the soap making process. And, I'd have to say, I did learn a great deal.
I may not run out and start making my own soap tomorrow, but I do aspire to do that someday. What I appreciated most, was learning again what a great team my husband and I make. How our differences, while at times striking, are also tremendously complementary. And while I surely will not remember exactly what happens to the oxygen molecules when you add lye to a fat, I will remember how nice it was to take the class with him (And with that said, I foresee another chemistry lesson in my near future).
Perhaps next time it will be a class on how to build a clay oven in our backyard.... hint, hint.