First off, let me tell you what NOT to do when the sun goes away and the air is fridgid…DON”T go outside IF you have a toothache! The cold freezing air only makes it worse!
But, once you drive 2 hours to the big city teaching hospital to get it fixed by an endodontist student, who accidentally removes a section of gum line that didn’t need to be removed…after having forcefully propped your mouth open for an hour and a half in a chair with teeth that gnawed the back of your head for the whole 4 hour visit….well, after that….once the headache has subsided, my suggestion is to WATCH YOUR POT BOIL!
Not just any pot, mind you. I’m talking about the pot of liquid soap I’m going to suggest you put on your woodstove to cook for the three days and three nights when it’s just so cold you can’t bear to go outside.
So, here are the ingredients: your choice of oils, both solid and liquid, at least part of which should be coconut for lather. potassium hydroxide (it’s lye, but not the same lye as used for hard bars of soap), milk or water (I use goats milk)…and that’s about it.
Once your batch is mixed up, it needs to cook for several days at a low temperature in a double boiler to get rid of all the free fatty acids. It will turn brown. It will smell bad, just like a hair perm. Don’t worry, just keep stirring a few times a day.
And it won’t be pretty, I can promise you that.
By the third day, you will be quite tired of stirring your blob on the stove, especially once you’ve put too much water in the bottom of whatever you are using for a double boiler and it boils over a few times onto your beautiful soap-stone stove that also has a fan sitting on it, into which the water goes to hide from the heat.
After the third day, when the sun then comes back out, you are not done with your pot of soap. Nope. No where near it. You must now neutralize your soap so that when someone uses it, it won’t eat the skin off of their hands…or keep on saponifying into non-existence.
Borax also thickens liquid soap, which is good because thin liquid soap will squirt out of the pumps wildly and create a brown mess all over your nice clean sink.
So, after neutralizing your soap and adding extra water to thin it down to whatever consistancy is to your liking, it’s time to cure the soap. The cure on liquid soap, to make it mild and gentle is a minimum of 6 months. I’ve got a batch now that I just started selling and it’s 10 months old and absolutely GREAT! A little thinner than I’d wished I had made it, but my plan was to put it in foamer bottles, which I have not done yet. They are on the order list.
I would advise putting your soap in dark-colored bottles because the brown soap in a white or light-colored bottle will look like a bottle of mud sitting next to your sink… But in a dark-colored or brown bottle, the soap looks delightfully “earthy”.
Liquid soap made with goats milk has a distinct odor that fades somewhat over it’s long cure time. It does not, however, disappear altogether. I have since decided I like the parculiar smell especially mixed with essential oils and fragrances. It becomes a unique product unlike any other, and your clean hands will smell wonderful instead of like the chemical smell you get from commercially-created synthetic soaps.
I’m sure you are going to love this new hobby of yours, especially when you can’t go outside because it’s just too darned cold. But, on the off chance that you find you don’t enjoy it, or would rather avoid the mess altogether, you can buy some from me. I don’t have a lot on hand due to only making one batch last winter, but I’ve got 5 or 6 bottles ready, and a bucket of cured liquid soap that is just waiting on the arrival of new bottles or foamers.
This winter I’m making more liquid soap so that hopefully it will last through the months when the wood stove is not fired up. I could use a crock pot, sure, but it just wouldn’t be the same.