Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Venture into Soap Making - Hot Process Method

Last year, one of the biggest things I wanted to scratch off my bucket list was learning how to make soap so I could make my own instead of purchasing. Real soap. Safe soap. Natural soap. Truly! I'm talking natural ingredients. Naturally scented. Naturally colored. If I was going to do it, I was going do it the right way.    

Back in September, I did just that! 

After a hands on lesson from my friend Amanda, lots of reading and research (I even joined a FB group for soap makers and asked lots and lots of questions and took notes!), and purchasing my soap making equipment and ingredients, I finally felt ready to dive in with both feet. 

Now, I am by no means a pro at soap making. I do not know everything there is to know. I am most definitely a novice, learning as I go along by way of research and trial and error. My soaps might not be the best smelling, prettiest, or fanciest. But at the end of the day I can say that I made soap that is free of fake ingredients, scents, and colors. That's all that matters to me!

I've dabbled with different kid safe essential oils (pine, spearmint, and grapefruit, oh my!)  and natural colorants (moroccan red clay, spirulina powder, activated charcoal, etc.), but my favorite soap so far has just been a plain, unscented, and uncolored soap. I've dubbed it "The Plain Jane!" 

I am totally enjoying this soap making adventure and have currently made about 12 batches now! 

There are two basic methods of soap making (I am not  including melt and pour) - hot process and cold process. I've done both, and enjoy both methods. The difference between these two methods include external heat, the time it takes to sopanify, curing time, and the finish of the soap. 

With hot process soap, an external heat source is used to accelerate saponification. This can be a crock pot, double boiler, or the oven. I use a small crop pot (this crock is only used for soap making now!) as that's the method I learned and feel comfortable with. Saponification will be complete in approximately 2 hours. With cold process soap, you initially melt your solid oils down to a liquid form so that you can mix your lye solution (which holds some of it's own heat within it) into those melted oils, but no additional heat is used to actually help along with the saponification process. Saponification takes about 18-24 hours to complete. 

Cure wise, 1-2 weeks of cure time is sufficient for hot process soap, while 6-8 weeks is a normal curing period for cold process soap. If you're impatient, hot process is the way to go, haha! In general, the longer the cure time, the "harder" the soap....this means the longer it will last in the shower if the soap is stored the correct way (able to drain and dry out between uses). 

Look wise, hot process soaps have a more rough and rustic look to them, while cold process soaps have a smoother finish. The difference comes from when the additives are added in, as well as each method producing a different consistency of soap when it is molded. In hot process soaps, the additives are added at the end of the "cook" time when the soap is a Vaseline like consistency, making it a wee bit harder to mix things in while expecting it to look smooth and uniform. Also because of this Vaseline like consistency, it is harder to make it look smooth and "pretty" when molding. It goes in pretty gloppy. With cold process
soaps, the additives are added while the soap is still fluid, giving the finished soap a smoother, uniform finish in color. The soap is still pretty fluid when going into the mold as well, obviously making molding a breeze. 

Phew! Still with me? 

Here's the hot process method! 

1) Create your soap recipe. This takes a bit of work and research. I decided on what ingredients I wanted and how much of each ingredient I wanted, then plugged them into Soap Calc. Soap Calc does all the math and recipe calculating for you, which is awesome, but it can be a bit confusing. I spent a few days watching soap calc tutorials on youtube. Once I got the hang of it and knew what to do and how to input, it became easy. 

The Plain Jane

2) Gather your tools. All of my soap making tools I use strictly for soap making now. 

crock pot 
metal bowls 
rubber spatulas
metal spoons
metal pot
tall container for mixing lye solution (I use large glass jar)
soap mold(s)
soap cutters
safety gear: rubber gloves, safety glasses, face mask

3) Gather your ingredients. These are the oils/fats I chose. 

coconut oil
pomace oil
castor oil 
beef tallow - we rendered our own from beef fat we got from a friend - FUN! 
lye (must be 100% - you can find this in any hardware store, usually in the drain cleaner section)
distilled water (must be distilled - not tap)
essential oils (if using) - check out this site for EO usage rates: EO usage rates
add ins, like clay or powders for colorants (if using) - basic rule of thumb is 1-2 tsp per pound of oils

4) Plug in your crock pot, set it on low. Measure out all your oils in different bowls. I found it made the process easier when I had everything all measured out and ready to go! Remember to place your bowl on the scale and hit the tare button (to zero the scale back out) before measuring your oils into the bowl so you get the weight of just the oils - not the oils with the bowl.  Measuring in ounces is best. Grams allows you to be even more accurate, but I use ounces. 

coconut oil 
 beef tallow

5) Mix lye solution: put on your safety gear and head outside for this one. Better to be safe than sorry. Lye gives off caustic fumes, and it burns when you get it on your skin. Please don't do this inside....especially with children and animals around. Always be sure to add THE LYE TO THE WATER, and not the other way around. Stir well until dissolved. Set aside. 

6) Heat your hard oils (in my case this was the coconut oil and tallow) on the stove just to melting, then add to crock pot. 

7) Add liquid oils (in my case this was the pomace oil and castor oil) to crock pot. 

8) Add lye mixture to crock pot. With your immersion blender, stir to a light trace. This is where if you run a spoon or your blender through the mixture, you will see "tracks" that remain for a few seconds before disappearing. 

9) Place lid on crock pot and cook! Stir occasionally - it does not hurt your soap to stir it (metal spoon or immersion). You will see your soap start to come up the sides. This is ok, it's cooking, give it a stir. Please keep your eye on your soap.....meaning do not leave the room! You do not want your soap to cook up and out of your crock pot! Be patient, your oils are now working on becoming soap! Time will vary depending on crock pot, type of ingredients you use, and amount of water used in your recipe. Mine goes through all the stages in about 30 minutes, but yours could take longer. Here are the stages.....don't blink, or you could miss one! 

trace - mixture begins to thicken and will support a dollop of soap if dripped off of the spoon.
custard pudding - extremely thick, top of soap will have a nice, smooth texture to it. 
separation - pudding looking soap starts to break up and the oils float to the top. 
champagne bubbles - gentle boil that looks like small champagne bubbles. Sometimes you wont notice this stage, and rather it will go straight to applesauce.
applesauce - mixture well heated, when stirred it takes on a grainy look and then turns into fine applesauce looking mixture.
mashed potato - mixture is almost all soap, but still quite fluid. Take lid off and stir frequently.
dry mashed potato - excess water has boiled off and soap is ready, looks like Vaseline. 

Once you get to dry mashed potato, you can add in your essential oils and other add ins. This stage is hard to miss, so don't worry. Even if you feel as if you missed seeing one or more of the other stages.....when you stir your soap and it looks like Vaseline, you know you're done cooking and ready to go!

10) Turn off crock, remove center, and get your soap into your molds! Quickly! For hot process, this will not be a pour, it is more of a spoon and glop! Spoon your soap into your mold, then pound on table to help settle. You can also use some type of lid, or even back of a spoon, to press on the soap in the mold to help squeeze out excess air pockets and smooth the top out. Work quickly, or the soap will set up in the mold before you get it all in there. Don't worry if it's not "pretty." That adds to the rustic look of it. I've had soap I've been able to smooth out quite nicely, and soap that looks super lumpy. I love both.....who cares!? It's all fun! 

11) Allow your soap to harden. Set the molds someplace they wont be disturbed while the soap is cooling. For hot process, I usually allow the soap to sit for 24 hours before unmolding. 

12) Unmold and cut/trim your soap. For some molds, like the individual ones, the soap will just pop out. For others, like the longer loaf type ones, you might have to turn the mold upside down and kind of peel the sides down to help free the soap. If you used a loaf mold, cut soap into desired bars. I have a straight cutter and a crinkle cutter. The crinkle cutter is my favorite! You can cut and trim off any lumpy-bumpy imperfections in the soap if you desire. 

13) Set your bars of soap someplace safe and allow to sit for 1-2 weeks to further dry out and harden before use. 

While I love the hot process method, my favorite is the cold process method. I'll save that for a different post though. Also saved for another post - rendering the beef tallow! 

With love,
Mama Hauck

Monday, January 8, 2018

The Bucket List

Ah, the New Year. The time to make all those resolutions and then not keep them. 

No, that won't do. 

How about a bucket list instead? 

I've been steadily marking things off my bucket list. This bucket list was my "wants put into list form" last September. It was a list of things I wanted to do once I finally had all three kiddos in school and uninterrupted time during the day to myself. It was a list of things I knew I needed to work on. 

See, the great thing about bucket lists is that there is no "must do by this date" requirement. There is totally no pressure. Just an "I'd like to eventually do this because....." attitude. You can add to it and subtract from it. You can work on something from the list, then take a break from it, only to pick it back up again. You can permanently leave something on the list. There is no "if this is on the list, it means it has to be done or you fail" rule. There is no official start up or end time. You can keep chugging along at it year after year. 

Yes, in my opinion, bucket lists are so much better than resolutions. 

Marked off my bucket list is..... 

Realize it is necessary and ok to say NO to others (haha)
Pick up the violin
Start seeing a Naturepath to figure out all my ailments (more on this later!) 
Learn how to make soap
Look into and start learning/using Homeopathic remedies (more on this later!) 
Continue to learn and use essential oils safely and effectively
Start ditching the old makeup in favor or healthy/safe options

Still on, or added to my bucket list is.....

Do more things on whim
Get my adrenal and thyroid in order to feel less tired (more on this later!) 
Train this damn puppy
Have more game nights with the family
Learn how to use my bread machine
Stress management. Goosfraba. (haha)  
Dig my toes in the sand
Grow more confident in homeopathy
Seriously pick up the violin.....like for real  
Yell less
Make some money
Continue making progress with my Naturepath
Volunteer in Timothy's class 
Adequately manage my headaches and migraines 
Spend more time with friends
Pick up running....or yoga....or cardio videos.....or boflex.....again
Get some ink
Grow another kick-ass garden and truly utilize all its goodness
Become a better, more confident cook and cook more

And more! 

Go make your bucket list. 

With love,
Mama Hauck

Friday, December 29, 2017

Christmas Fun

Our new tradition for Christmas Eve has us going to Grandma Cathy's house! Grandma always has lots of yummy snacks and appetizers out for us, we watch some Christmas movies, open presents, and play a really fun dice game! In the dice game, if you roll a double, you get to go pick a gift from the stack. Once all the gifts are gone, there is a 1 minute round where if you roll a double, you get to go steal someone else's gift.  At the very end, you open your gifts! Timothy and I sure did rack up the gifts! But then in the stealing round, I had 4 of mine stolen, haha.

Thanks for the presents, Grandma Cathy!

After saying goodbye to Grandma and making our way back home, Molly and Timothy dumped their reindeer food out in the yard. Each of the kiddos wrote Santa a short note, picked him out a cookie, and merrily headed off to bed. 

The cats totally dug Santa's milk! Haha! 

This year, Anthony learned there was no Santa. He wasn't too upset, as I'm sure he had a feeling for a while. He is 10, after all. He approached me the first week of December and we discussed how Christmas is really all about the birth of Jesus and spreading love and joy and being thankful for those in our lives, not about the number of presents under the tree. We talked about how, now that he knows, he can be a "Santa" just like Mama and Papa. It was a great chat and we are continuously proud of him and his maturity.  And, of course, he stills gets Santa gifts!  

Merry Christmas! I love our home at Christmas time! 

The kitties, I mean, Santa, sure did enjoy the milk and cookies! And he left fun gifts for the kiddos! Anthony received a dog blanket, p.j. pants, and some super cool titanic legos....he's really into the Titanic and it's history. Timothy received one of his new favorite games, Connect 4, as well as some p.j.'s and a fart sound machine, hahaha. That's been FUN! Molly received a calendar white board with white board markers, and some p.j.'s as well! Thanks, Santa!

Sam and I woke up bright and early, as we always do, so that we could get things moving before the kiddos stirred. Grandma Cathy also showed up early, before the kiddos woke up. It's always fun capturing their faces as they wake up and walk out into the living room! 

After doing Santa's gifts, we enjoyed our traditional breakfast of quiche, homemade blueberry muffins, and cheesy smokies! 

This year the kiddos decided to mix things up a bit and do their stockings first, then open presents. We did something else new this year too....a secret Santa! Back in October, we each drew names from a hat, then the kiddos had to do chores (above and beyond their usual ones), to earn money for a gift for their person. We had a $15 limit. Molly had Timothy, and got him an awesome wooden car from our local Christmas Bazaar. Timothy had Molly, and got her a very pretty bracelet, also from our local Christmas Bazaar. Anthony had me, and got me a canvas and some paint brushes. Sam had Anthony, and got him a Star Wars lego set. And finally, I had Sam, and got him a Santa pillow. Doing the Secret Santa was super fun and a great way for the kids to practice earning money, as well as the fun of purchasing a gift for someone else! Next year we'll have to add Grandma to the mix! 

We are very thankful to those that sent the kiddos gifts! We truly appreciate it! 

Anthony received his puppy - Daisy, p.j.'s, legos, puppy toys, blankets, treats, and training books, spending cash, and lots of fun books! Timothy received p.j.'s, legos, felt play food, the 2017 Hess Truck, arts and crafts goodies, lots of books, spending cash, and his long awaited DS with carrying case and a few DS games! Molly received p.j.'s, a few outfits, lots of books, safe nail polish, blush, and make up brushes, fun hair accessories,  a few pairs of boots, a DIY quilt, and a ukulele! 

The rest of the day we spent watching Christmas movies, playing with our new toys, eating snacks and goodies, and I of course did a bit of cleaning and got all the kids' new gifts put away! 

Usually we have home made clam chowder or chicken noodle on Christmas, but this year we decided on turkey, stuffing and cheddar mashed potatoes. Desert was chocolate pie! 

We had the most wonderful, relaxing Christmas! I can't believe it's already come and gone! The years just keep flying by faster and faster. I was talking with Sam and we both agreed that Christmas came too fast this year, and before we know it, it's going to be next Christmas! 

Why does time seem to speed up as you get older? Is it because we become so busy and our lives are so filled up? I think we need to get better at slowing down and de-cluttering our lives. As we approach the New Year, maybe that should be something we work on as a family. 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! 

With love,
Mama Hauck