Thursday, September 2, 2010
Our first batch of soap has cured for six weeks and we've started using it on a regular basis. In the bath we use it both for hand soap, and in the bath or shower. We also use it on our hair instead of shampoo. In the kitchen we use it as hand soap. Rhonda at Down To Earth, where I found this soap formula, also uses homemade soap for dishwashing, but we have the rest of a very large bottle of commercial dish liquid to use before we try our soap on dishes.
Our first batch wasn't without imperfections. After a little research, I think I know what caused them, and may be able to correct them next time. For starters, the bars have a very thin layer of white powdery film on the side that was not touching the molds. This is apparently a reaction to air and is a thin layer of sodium carbonate (washing soda). It won't hurt a thing other than making the bars less attractive.
The other problem was DOS, or "dreaded orange spots", which are probably spots of oil going rancid. The bars don't smell rancid at this point, so we're considering the spots nothing more than a cosmetic flaw for now. We'll be watchful, though, of the remaining bars and will not use them if they begin to smell rancid. The spots could be caused by a few different things, but I suspect it's because we cured our soap in the garage, which has been both very warm and somewhat humid. Our next batch we'll cure somewhere else, maybe in the basement.
On first use, my thoughts on the soap were that it lathers very well. While it doesn't smell unpleasant, I would prefer for it to either have more fragrance or none at all. The white film and the orange spots both seem to melt away with the first use. When I first got out of the bath, I felt that the soap may be too rich...it kind of made my skin fell a little sticky. However, after about 15 minutes, that feeling went away and my skin felt very soft and smooth, but not oily at all. That feeling lasted through to the next day. I like using it in my hair better than the previous hand-crafted (and storebought) soap we had tried. I have fewer tangles and softer hair with our homemade soap. Rinsing the soap did feel a little oily or slimy, so it could be slightly heavy on lye or oil, but then again, we have a water softener and most soaps we use feel that way.
Shane's opinions were similar. He's not having any trouble with break outs, although he has oily skin. I was concerned about that, because if I thought the soap felt oily, I was sure he would have trouble with it. He is using our soap on his hair, but he didn't use the storebought soaps as shampoo, so he has no real basis for comparison. I think he'd rather have unscented bars than any fragrance at all, so we'll probably do split batches in the future.
After researching homemade soap and learning about all the things that could have gone wrong, I think our soap came out quite well. It may have been the formula, as I trusted Rhonda to have a good one, or it may have been beginner's luck. Either way, we have a couple dozen good bars of soap (and a lot of scrap pieces) to enjoy for the next few months. We'll probably make our next batch soon, once we decide what, if anything, we want to change.
Posted by Annie Jones at 6:50 AM