The journey to becoming a ‘Master of Soap’ was an adventure that I was excited to embark upon. I have been told that I am creative, I love to make things, and I don’t mind the odd mistake on the way. Having previously been a teacher I value the art of learning, and particularly learning through doing.
The history of soap and its many varieties makes for interesting reading, and watching too, if you’ve ever seen Fight Club you will know what I mean, obviously, though, we aren’t allowed to talk about Fight Club!
I was fascinated to research the history of some of the key ingredients I would be using, and in particular I wanted to understand how I could make my own lye or as it’s commonly known sodium hydroxide.
Sodium Hydroxide basically comes from wood ash, or sometimes seaweed ash. Many coastal towns in Scotland and the Highlands & Islands used to be the main UK manufacturers of lye, used predominantly in glass making and obviously soap. FYI lye is the compound that creates a chemical reaction with the fats used in the recipe to make what we know of as soap. Saponification is the technical term. And each type of fat or oil has a different property that it will add to the final soap bar. Some add foam, some hardness, some will moisturise and all will add a cleaning property. Our recipe has just two oils/fats, coconut oil and jojoba oil (which is actually a wax). Super simple and endlessly effective! I found out that to make your own lye is time consuming, dangerous, smelly and the quantities of wood or seaweed needed to make just 1 litre of lye is phenomenal.