Are You a Mad Scientist or Tried and True?
Oil. I never thought in my life that I would care so much about oil. Animal or vegetable, organic or refined, it captures my interest. And for what reason? Making soap, of course! Now, I consider myself somewhat of a connoisseur of oils and enjoy using many of them and experimenting with them in soap and other products. Do you?
Oil choices and percentages play a major part in making good soap and a soapmaker who wants to be knowledgeable simply cannot remain ignorant of each oil they use and its properties. Certainly, it’s possible to make soap out of 100% coconut oil or 100% olive oil, and it is common. In fact, some of the world’s most famous soaps are 100% olive oil. Yet, to my way of thinking, a truly wonderful bar comes from a mix of oils, each with properties that contribute to a bar that is moisturizing, cleans well without stripping the skin, lathers up well, and is hard enough to last in the tub or shower.
How do we find out which oils do what for soap? Research and experimentation is the answer. Begin with an established formula and tweak the oils until you reach what for you, is the perfect soap. It’s part of the process for becoming a confident soapmaker. Hint: recipes that you run across calling for a can of this and a cup of that are best ignored. Can sizes may change over time, so if it doesn’t state what that can size is by weight, move on. Cup and other types of non-weighed measurements are also potential problems. Why? Because even cup measurements from cup to cup can vary, so a cup of shortening might not weigh eight ounces, and lye calculations are based on the weight of each oil. You could potentially end up with either a very soft batch or a lye-heavy one. Soap isn’t as forgiving as cooking and the ingredients were meant to be weighed out.
But what about you? Perhaps you have a formula that you have used for years and you’re very happy with it, so you see no need to waste time or money on changing it. You admit that you know just so much about each oil that goes into your soap, but you do know how to produce a consistent product from batch to batch.
Where product production is concerned, I understand the need for a consistent formula, but couldn’t exist without my r&d (research and development) time, but that may not be true for all.
Weigh in (no pun intended). Are you an experimenter (mad scientist) type or a tried-and-true soap/bath and body maker?
Until next time, may your days be filled with bubbles and wax.