Why I make handmade soap.

I was chatting with a friend the other day and she asked me how I got started making handmade soap, and it got me thinking about how one little class that I took at a Girl Scout seminar has made such a difference in my life. After I told her the story of signing up for a handmade soap class that was only ninety minutes long and taking home a small bar of soap that I watched get made, and have it sit for 3 weeks before I could use it. And after taking it out of the yogurt container that I had brought for my mold it was the most amazing thing I had ever used.

Then it occurred to me that my love of things handmade went back to my history teacher in middle school who ran the History Club and taught us to do things the old-fashioned way. We colored eggs and wool with dyes made from vegetable and plant sources, made candles, salves, and even pine-needle baskets. She taught us some of the chemistry behind why it worked and also why it didn’t, in some cases. It amazed me that people figured out how to make so many things without understanding how it all worked.

Making things with my hands has always fascinated me, and gives me such a sense of accomplishment. Soap making is really 1 part science and 1 part art. Sure you have to make sure that you measure all of your base ingredients carefully, but which technique to use which additives, molds, scents, and natural ingredients you choose to use – that is where the art comes in. There is also a trial and error factor involved. As any good scientist can tell you what looks good on paper doesn’t always work in the lab. I love wondering how each batch of soap will look when it is unmolded, and how the bars will change during their curing process.

It gives you great respect to the discovery of soap, which was no doubt by accident, and to the generations of women who made soap without the benefits of digital scales, thermometers and oils that have been made to be shelf stable before being used. I think of all of the harsh soaps that used to be made by these women and how far we have come in this art of soap making. We have taken a something from the ashes of the fires from which it was first created and made it into something that can be admired for how much it has evolved over the years. From something that was functional into something luxurious.

Every time I make a batch of soap I think of all the women before me who have made soap and thank them for their knowledge and hope that I can do them justice.

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One Response to “Why I make handmade soap.”

  1. Laurel’s Soap Making Blog » Blog Archive » Why I make handmade soap. Says:

    […] Original post by bodybym […]

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