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Handmade Soap

In my attempt to limit the amount of caustic chemicals I put on, in, or near my body I have eradicated store-bought shampoo, conditioner, and toothpaste from my hygienic regime. The areas I am still working on are body/hand soap, dish soap, and laundry soap. I finally got the supplies I needed to make bar soap and gave it the old college try.

I used a recipe I found on The Mommypotamus and altered it slightly, mainly due to my lye being in bead form rather than powder. The recipe calls for 4 simple ingredients: coconut oil, lye, essential oils, and water. Below is the altered recipe:

  • 12.54 oz. water
  • 32 oz. coconut oil
  • 5.6 oz. lye
  • 0.5 oz. peppermint, tea tree, and lavender essential oils
  • mint leaves

soap 1

Since this batch was my test/prototype, I didn’t take pictures or record what I did very well (typical me), but I’ll give you the quick and dirty description of what went down. When I make another batch, I will definitely be more detailed.

  1. First, I put the coconut oil in my designated soap-making pot and melted it. It is helpful later on if you let the oil reach a temperature between 120°F and 130°F. I didn’t do this and it caused the process to be a whole lot longer.
  2. Next, I dissolved the lye in the water while wearing protective gear, such as gloves and goggles (have you seen Fight Club? I don’t want that to happen to me! And I’m not talking about Dissociative Identity Disorder). The order is very important – you must always pour the lye into the water and not vice versa, otherwise it may splash all over the place. I poured in a little at a time while stirring.
  3. After the lye-water cooled for 10 minutes, I poured it into the pot with the coconut oil, which was still heating.
  4. I used my hand mixer to blend the ingredients together until I got to trace. This is the point at which the substance turns from liquid to a vaseline-type texture. If my coconut oil was hot enough, this would have taken a few minutes, but mine was taking so long that I took breaks and it ended up being an hour or so.
  5. Then, I covered the pot and let it sit on low-medium heat for 1 hour.
  6. When the hour was up I let the mixture cool then mixed in the essential oils.
  7. I poured/scooped the mixture into a small bread pan lined with parchment paper. I also pushed some mint leaves into the middle.
  8. Once the mixture hardened, I cut the the soap into slices.

soap 3

soap 2

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A handmade life?

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I originally designed this website/blog as a showcase for my crocheted and crafted goods. However, even from the beginning, I knew that wasn’t exactly what I wanted. I want to create a space where I can share with others my journey from buying into the consumerism-hype, not caring about the loss of quality in our society, not caring about the damaging products I put on my body and into our world, simply doing what I do because that’s what I was told to do, to where I am at present – which is perhaps just as complicated. The mindset I had 10 years ago is vastly different than how I think now; and by different I mean I actually think now.

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I think about my words and actions and how they affect others’ words and actions. I think about how connected we actually all are. I think about my desire to treat others with kindness and compassion, which then leads to my thoughts of how horribly I have treated people in the past. I have remorse. I realize that my past is nothing to regret, but something to learn from as I move forward in my life. I think about the injustices we must suffer. How can I change this? How can I motivate people to care about suffering, the loss of human rights, poverty, fraud, greed… does it even matter? Should I even try?

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I desire simplicity. All I want is to be with the people I love, to eat food the land produces naturally, to respect all life, to work with my hands. I think that’s a pretty simple list. Yet, it isn’t as easy as that, as most of us know. I have responsibilities – namely, school loans and the desire to support my parents when they reach an age where they cannot support themselves. And these things require money. Money that I do not want. My desires and my perceived responsibilities are constantly at odds with each other. How do I find a balance? How do I live in a society that places importance on things I do not care about?

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I don’t have answers, but I have things that help me through these inconsistencies. I find people who think similarly – it helps to be around those with the same sentiments. I daydream… a lot. I crochet. I craft. I make things. I hike. I pick wild veggies. I find the joy and amusement in irritating things (maybe not right at the moment of irritation, but I usually do later). I laugh. I play with my cat.

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I also try to do things that reduce my dependence on living the way we are accustomed to live, such as not purchasing items for health, beauty, and hygiene; not using hot water all the time; not going to the grocery store; not driving everywhere; etc. Some of the steps I have taken to achieve independence is harder than just not going to the grocery store. A lot of it has been questioning why I do these things. It has been consciously and actively redefining what is important to me. This takes much thought and honesty, which I believe the majority of my countrymen are not particularly apt at doing.

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So, this means… what? I don’t know. I’m not sure how this will translate on this website. I will still write about crocheting and crafting (and try to get you to buy my items!), but I think the blog will encompass all the things I do to maintain my handmade life.

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