soap photos

soap recipe calculations
calculations are the first step to creating excellent soap
coconut oil soap recipe
Coconut oil one of the solid oils that I use the most.
cocoa butter soap recipe
Cocoa butter is the secret to a luscious bar of soap
olive oil soap recipe
Olive oil is a magical ingredient for the skin.
soap making ingredients
Soap ingredients. Goat’s milk and beeswax from local sources.
soap making
Melting the oils in a stainless steel pot.
lye soap
Lye is available in flake or powder form. I prefer the powder, it dissolves more evenly, giving fewer surprises when making goat’s milk soap.
ice bath for goat's milk
An ice bath is essential for keeping your goat’s milk from curdling when you add the lye
cold goat's milk before adding lye
Goat’s milk before adding the lye. Always use non-reactive materials with lye, such as plastic or stainless steel.
lye reaction in goat's milk
The lye reaction will cause the milk to turn yellow. It’s important to add the lye slowly so you don’t spoil the milk with it. Takes patience. I usually freeze my goat’s milk now so that I can add the lye more quickly. You still have to be careful though.
adding lye solution to oils
Stir constantly when adding the lye solution to the oils
using hand held blender to mix soap
A stick blender is a great mixer for this but I have burned out a few. I’m going to try out a paint stirrer, the kind that attaches to a drill, to see if that works even better.
Gel phase. It’s not really recommended for goat’s milk soaps to let them enter gel phase. This is what it looks like when it does. The soap is still good, most of the time, but sometimes it can overcook your milk and spoil the soap.
Bentonite clay was added to this soap as a drawing agent. It is good for oily skin. It wasn’t a popular experiment so we haven’t made a second batch.
A horrific failure to saponify. I’m not sure what happened, this was my first soap failure. There have been others.
What not to do: don’t overestimate your crock pot’s capacity, and don’t use aluminum foil. It’s reactive and I don’t know what I was thinking.
seven deadly sins soap
wash away your sins, start with the seven deadliest
An older example of our packaging. All very home-made.
what our soap looked like at LAAFF
Coffee soap.
We got some wooden boxes after realizing how plastic everything was at LAAFF. Naturally, the soap is just a teensy bit too wide for the boxes so we have them stacked sideways.

003 011 001 004 009 019 020 234 011 008


More about the miracle of coconut oil

So, as I said I would in my last post about the oil-as-facewash thing, I decided to give my hair a coconut oil treatment recently. I forget which day I did it, but about four days ago, I’d say. I really need to remember to take a minute to photograph stuff I might write about before I do my little experiments.

Basically, I scooped the coconut oil in small handfuls and warmed it up between my hands before rubbing it into my hair. It might be easier to do if you fully liquefy it, but since I’m lazy and the bathroom is on the second floor, I just used my body heat to make it more spreadable. I actually think I would have made a bigger mess if I had melted the oil, because globs are easy to pick up, droplets, not so much. I concentrated on the ends of my hair, which is the part that is actually dry enough to need some kind of conditioning anyway, but I did eventually work some of it up into the scalp area. I hit it a little with the ol’ hair dryer just to make sure it got good and heated through (not sure if “hot oil treatment” is really necessary but just in case) and wrapped a towel around my head to keep the mess down to a minimum. Then I set about finding music to listen to that would take an hour and a half. Turns out that Nothing’s Shocking by Jane’s Addiction only lasts about 45 minutes. For some reason I needed to hear “standing in the shower, thinking”…and then I turned to my random disco/funk/party mix because nothing passes the time like some good old fashioned seventies funk. Well, I have a little ’80s and modern dance music mixed in there, too, and definitely realized that I don’t need “tenderness” by general public anymore. However, The Smith’s “How Soon Is Now” stands up remarkably well.

Next I decided I would not use shampoo because I have only used shampoo a few times in the past oh, seven years or so, and only when out of town…I do the baking soda/vinegar hair wash because, among other things, I have chemical sensitivities to fragrances and shampoos and conditioners are full of harsh chemicals that I don’t want to put right on top of the old brain pan where they can seep into my head. I will add at this point that yes, I know hair color is dreadful, but I only use that every several months, not every day. Besides, my brain is probably purple by now anyway.

After the first washing with baking soda and vinegar, my hair was still fairly oily, but I just left it and wrapped a towel around my head, and slept with it wrapped up, figuring that more exposure to the oil probably wouldn’t hurt, and might even help condition my hair. Next morning I used the hair dryer just because oily hair doesn’t dry very well, and I was going to go out. I just put the hair up in a clip and did whatever it was I was up to that day. I washed my hair again that night, and that time blew it dry-ish instead of sleeping with it wet. Fast forward two more days of the same, and my hair’s ALMOST completely un-oily (how else would you say that? It’s not like the oil really made it dirty, just oily), and I don’t look as much like professor crazy hair as usual because the oil is keeping my hair from sticking out in every direction. I have very fine hair and the lack of conditioner makes it really static-electrical and insane looking. Which I actually like because I’ve had flat, super straight hair for most of my life, until I discovered the baking soda/vinegar wash. Turns out all those conditioners that say “extra body” are big fat liars, because if you have super fine hair like mine, the teeniest bit of extra weight makes it lay down and play dead. But regular shampoo strips everything from your scalp and hair, so even if you use conditioner, your scalp over-produces oil in response (the same thing that happens if you use something with alcohol in it on your face, over-producing oil to protect the skin from over-drying). When I used regular shampoo and conditioner, my hair was always flat and got oily by the end of the day, but with baking soda/vinegar, I only need to wash my hair about once every 4 days. I do usually rinse it with hot water at some point between washings. The bonus is that vinegar also gets rid of dandruff, I used to use dandruff shampoo, for YEARS, because chunks of my scalp would dislodge and look all nasty if I did not. Also it would itch. Not anymore.

I think I may try using just a teensy bit of oil in my hair more often, rather than periodically soaking my hair completely. I will also take pictures when I finally get the excess oil washed out so you can see the magic. Right now it just looks like the ends are wet.

this may not be in my best interest as your friendly neighborhood soapmaker but…

I just decided recently to try washing my face with oil again. I had started a few years ago and while it seemed ok, it just took up too much extra time and I just didn’t have the patience for it. That said, it really doesn’t take that much extra time! Also, that time, I was using olive oil (which I still believe is a magical substance, don’t get me wrong). Anyhoo, I decided to give it another go because as age and decrepitude advance on me, I started getting this horribly troubling (though not noticeable to anyone but myself) scaly bit of skin on my chin. It’s attitude was “exfoliation, schmexfoliation”. So I decided that maybe I needed to kill it with kindness. Enter coconut oil. I wish I had taken a photo before I started this because my skin looks fabulous today, after only 4 days of this.

So, what I did was I filled a jar (well, actually an empty parmesan cheese container, because I am just all upcycley like that) with coconut oil, the refined stuff I use in my soap, but I’m sure the organic, unrefined stuff I eat is probably better, I just have a bigGER bucket of the soap making stuff. I just take a little out with my regular old fingers and rub it in, while I’m doing that I’m running the water to get it hot because we live in a house where the hot water heater is about a mile from the bathroom sink, and I essentially just leave the oil there to dissolve the crud from my face while the water heats up. Oil dissolves oil, coconut oil has a lot of stearic acid which I happen to know makes for extra bubbly soap. (I’m surmising that this is why it does such a good job at face washing but that’s just my intuitive guess here, I have no education in chemistry other than my own quasi-scientific meddling with dangerous chemicals) Then I take my regular cheapo washcloth, get it good and hot (but not scalding, now, don’t burn yourself!) and lay it on my face to sort of steam heat all that oily goodness for, well, until it cools down a bit and I don’t think it’s doing anything else. Then I rub some of the oil off, rewet/heat the washcloth, wring it out and rub some more. I continue that until my skin doesn’t feel oily anymore. I actually took off so much yesterday that I had to put more oil on because my skin felt tight and dry.

So that’s it! My scales are not completely gone yet but I feel a lot smoother, softer and the bonus is that my wrinkles are less prominent. I’m probably going to try coconut oil in my hair, I usually use olive oil, I get dry ends ever since I quit using shampoo and conditioner (I do the baking soda/vinegar hair wash technique), I have heard that some Indian women use coconut oil in their hair and I want to see how that does my hair.


are you a chaosist?

People argue with me all the time about anarchy. A lot of people can’t get over the erroneous dictionary definition equating anarchy with chaos. Anarchy means the absence of government, the absence of state. I ask you…do bad people stop doing bad things because there are laws against them? do good people need laws to behave ethically? I realize that lawmaking is not the sole function of government, but that is the reason most people give when I ask why they don’t think anarchy could work. I guess that a lot of people would rather have organized criminals in charge of everything instead of the Road Warrior future most imagine when thinking of anarchy. Ah well. But I will say this. My main reason for being an anarchist is that people who want authority over others rarely, if ever, have the best interest of those they rule over at heart. OK, to be technical I really believe I am a social libertarian, but we don’t really have that in the US. It’s really a european concept that grew out of the anarchist movement there, but I can still like it.

photos du jour

a black walnut in the yard. It was struck by lightning once upon a time, apparently, and it bears the telltale spiraley design which I have just learned is called a Lichtenberg sign
this is a close up of one of the irregularities in the bark from the lightning strike
I found some forgotten tomatillo husks in the garden