By Biz Bledsoe
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday February 27, 2003
If watching the movie "Fight Club" has inspired you to start making your own soap, well, that's scary. But if the creative pleasure of mixing your own scents and ingredients to form a bar of soap inspires you, then take a lesson from an expert, not Tyler Durden.
Charlon Bobo owns her own soap-making company in Thousand Oaks, Calif., called Utopian Garden. She is also a board member of the Handcrafted Soap Makers Guild, which is an international group of soap experts and laymen whose goal is to circulate information about making soap. The group's annual conference will be held in Tucson at the Westward Look Resort from April 3 ÷ 6, with Bobo as a key speaker.
· If you accidentally get lye on your skin, flush the area with ordinary vinegar and wash well with soap and water. (Lye will feel slippery on skin.) Lye in the eye necessitates a visit to the emergency room.
· When mixing lye with water, always add lye to the water, not the other way around. Pour it carefully in a steady stream.
· Never reuse lye containers, stirring spoons or molds for other purposes.
· Do not attempt to heat lye in microwave or on the stove.
In an e-mail interview, Bobo revealed her favorite soap-making ingredients and a relatively easy, inexpensive recipe to get started making your own bar of soapy goodness.
"There is no one best recipe for soap-making," Bobo said. "With the availability of so many luscious ingredients, each person can choose a different combination based on his or her personal preference."
The many natural ingredients used to make soap, from olive oil to honey, provide both an enticing aroma and benefits for the skin. These ingredients come in oils, which are then blended with the other elements of the soap to create a bar or liquid soap.
"Individual oils each lend unique properties to the finished soap. As an example, coconut oil makes a hard and long-lasting bar with a rich and fluffy lather. Olive oil provides a stable lather as well as providing beneficial conditioning qualities for the skin," Bobo said.
The following recipe is one of Bobo's favorites, and the ingredients are relatively inexpensive and easy to find. Oatmeal, cream, powdered milk and honey can be added to the recipe, and each provides beneficial properties as well as a pleasant scent. The soap is excellent for sensitive, baby or mature skin.
The only tricky ingredient to find is lye, or sodium hydroxide, which can be purchased at a chemical supply store. (Just look in the phonebook under "chemicals.") Lye is a common ingredient in soap and is only toxic in its initial, pre-soap stage; when curing the mixture of ingredients, make sure to keep the jar out of reach and clearly label it as "toxic."
· 3 oz. Canola oil
· 8 oz. Olive oil
· 5 oz. Soybean oil
· 2 oz. sodium hydroxide (lye)
· 6 oz. distilled water
Take appropriate precautions by using goggles, gloves and full covering for arms and legs. Refer to the directions for sodium hydroxide for complete details.
Weigh lye and water in separate containers.
While stirring water, slowly pour lye granules into water. Set aside to cool to room temperature (preferably overnight, but label as "toxic" so mixture is not mistaken for water).
Weigh base oils and mix together thoroughly.
Slowly pour lye water into base oils while pulsing hand blender.
Use handblender to stir soap until mix traces (or thickens to the consistency of pudding).
Pour into mold.
Unmold soap after 24 hours. Cut into bar sizes.
Allow soap to cure for a minimum of 10 days.
(Curing means to let it sit out in the open air away from excessive heat and light.) Most soap books suggest a curing time of three to eight weeks because the longer soap cures, the longer it will last and the harder it will be.
Enjoy your soap!