Thursday, October 22, 2009

A Handcrafted Christmas: Homemade Soap

Not long ago, I watched the Homestead Blessings: Soapmaking DVD through Netflix. I could hardly wait to try making soap! So, I found a friend who was interested in doing it too and headed out to her farm for the day!

We had so much fun making soap and learning as we went along! The best parts were being with her all day and spending the day at her peaceful farm. Soap making was an added benefit!

We split our two batches in half so that we would come out with four kinds of soap. We made lavender oatmeal, coffee spice, orange spice and lemon soaps. I would say that we learned a lot of things, but we ended up with 90 (!!) bars of soap to split between us. Lots of people will be getting a bar of soap this Christmas!

Another thing we learned is that most homemade soaps sell for about $6 a bar at craft fairs and things and we made ours for about 0.55 a bar! Wow!

I've got a bar of orange spice by my kitchen sink that I've been using and it lathers nicely and leaves my hands feeling soft. We learned that we need to add more scent next time as these are barely scented. The ones that we did not use essential oils were the least scented just from natural ingredients. I ordered my supplies here.

But, hopefully these will make a nice gift! Have you ever tried making soap from scratch before? What scents were your favorite?


Ami said...

I think this is fascinating, especially since it looks like really natural, useable soap. But one thing I've been wondering for months...where did you get those cute round tags??? I would really like to get some of those for Christmas gifts!

Monica Wilkinson said...

Hi Ami!

The round tags are from Staples! They actually have a few different neat kinds of tags in office supply stores! I stained mine by soaking them in coffee and letting them dry.

And, yes - the soap is very natural - it has olive and coconut oil in it just to name a couple of ingredients!

Wendi said...

I have never made soap but I am itching to try it. I found some soap making kits on clearance at Target. It is a kid's version so it's for Megan's Christmas. I can hardly wait to try it out!

Jennifer said...

These look beautiful, and they were so inexpensive per bar to make. I have seen them at craft shows, and they're kind of pricey. Maybe I need to try making my own! Thanks for the beautiful pictures to show us your progress and your finished product. That's always so helpful when you're trying to envision what something is going to look like when you make it.

Grace said...

How neat!! And so pretty! I am glad you had a good experience with it.

Sarah said...

This is so neat! I've never considered making homemade bars of soap. I just figured it was too expensive a project. Guess I was misled by those craft show prices too. :)

I did make homemade laundry detergent with my mother recently. It turned out pretty well and does a nice job of cleaning the laundry. We made a dry version, which I hope to try scenting with some essential oils.

My plan is to watch for some nice glass jars at thrift stores this year to fill with the laundry soap and then give it as Christmas gifts next year along with a wool dryer ball. But maybe if I'm feeling ambitious I'll have to add a bar of handmade soap. Yours certainly turned out beautifully. I'm sure you'll have some very appreciative recipients this Christmas.

Mary Ann said...

I haven't tried making soap yet but would love to someday! Looks like you had a really fun time! Andy's grandfather made soaps to sell for a long time and we have a pile of "rejects" that I've been using. He couldn't sell them because they don't look as nice but they work great. I won't need to buy (or make) soap for a very long time. :-)

Michele said...

I would love to do this!! If you do it again, call me! I need a craft buddy.

Dawn said...

So cool! The markup on soap is pretty high. Good to know! :-)

angela said...

Yes, my sister-in-law and I have made soap. It was a few years ago. I can't remember the exact "flavor" combinations but there was a lemon and a lavendar, I believe. I remember how good the room smelled that I kept them in, open to the air so they were nice and hard and lasted longer.

E Living said...

I just got some books on soap making and cannot wait to try it out! Thanks for the netflix idea - didn't think they would have something like that. I just got some stuff from the library. :)
Did you do the hot method or cold method? I know there are two ways, but don't know which one to choose yet. Any tips?

Lynette said...

Very fun. I think the rosemary one sounds wonderful.

Ellie said...

I have made soap before, both from scratch and using a base ( melt and pour). I gave up doing it from scratch, as I had young children underfoot, and found it too risky with little ones rushing about. Lye is very dangerous! I went with the most natural premade base I could find, and started my own business which grew beyond what I could keep up with and still homeschool my kids with some sanity left over! I only make it for friends and family for now, since we moved to Nova Scotia.

I think the trick to getting your fragrances to last and be stronger is to add them as last minute as you possibly can. The heat from the saponification process really can mess things up!


Sharon said...

Your soap looks beautiful Monica! My husband and I were just talking yesterday about making our own soap :) Do you have a recipe to share?

Thanks for always providing such neat ideas and have a blessed day!


Katy said...

How fantastic!!!! I have been wanting to make my own soap for quite some time...just haven't figured it out yet. That is something I truly hope to do sometime soon!!!! :) Glad you guys had such a great time!!! :)

Amy said...

I love to make soap. I do the melt-n-pour and I have tons of different molds. I do a lot of gift baskets and have made extra money. Most of the time I just give them away! One of my favorite scents is "Freshly Mown Grass". Sounds weird but smells heavenly! Yours looks great!

Carrie said...

Nope, never tried making soap before and can't say I would but I love seeing the photo process. It's just so pretty somehow! =)

Personally, I prefer scentless soaps and if I could figure out an easy and non-time consuming way to do it - I would!

Natalie Meester said...

How fun and how intriguing. I love the fact that you are being frugal as well!

I can picture these wrapped in homespun or even a small square of burlap tied with a twine bow and a jingle bell added or a pinecone.

Fall Blessings & Hugs,


Anonymous said...

Yes, I love making soap! I make lye soap from scratch. The first time I made it I was so intimidated, but I couldn't believe how easy it turned out to be. I use a stick blender and it goes really fast. Scented or unscented, it doesn't matter to me (but when I give it as gifts I like to give scented). People love getting homemade soap as gifts. I love to experiment with adding herbs and spices. Fun!
~Flower Petal

The Gaertegang Homestead said...

It sounds like great fun!! Had either one of you made your own soap before?
Is it something you would recommend trying to a newbie?
I am thinking this sound like a super fantastic excuse to get some ladies together and split the cost of making it and then we all take soap home with us for ourselves, gift, ect.
How much was it to buy everyhting to get started..ball park?

Simple Home said...

Sounds like you had a great time, and made wonderful gifts in the process. I have you listed in my blog list, but it doesn't list updates. Is there a way to do this? I'm new at this so it might be a very silly question. I sure enjoy your blog.

Ginger said...

Soap-making sounds like great fun,, and it sounds as though you found a recipe that wasn't too difficult.

Unknown said...

SO NEAT, Monica! Thanks for sharing! I've been wanting to watch that DVD...and the candle making one also!

Julia Eby said...

sorry - me again- did you color your soap

Amy said...

I love handmade soaps and these look absolutely beautiful. I am totally adding that DVD to my Netflix list. Thanks so much for the fun holiday idea!!

Ashleigh said...

It's interesting to me that you can make a bar of soap for 55 cents a bar. I have just been making soap for the past 6 months and I can't seem to get the costs down below 2.89. I make nice soap and the essential oils alone are so expensive. My most expensive bars are at almost $3 a bar. You must be a miracle worker...the cost of sodium hydroxide, essential oils and olive oil are the three most expensive items in my soap. The remaining ingredients are okay unless I superfat with a shea, coco or other expensive oil.

Monica Wilkinson said...

Hi Ashleigh:

Let's see if I can remember what I spent -

Sodium Hydroxide: $5.30/16 oz.
Coconut Oil: $13.21/7 lb. (takes less than half of this to make one batch of soap)
Olive Oil: about $2.50 on a B1G1 sale at the local grocery store
Crisco: about $5 at Wal-Mart
Cinnamon Essential Oil: $9.63/8 oz. (used only a few ounces of this)

Total: around $20 for what went into one batch and we got about 40-45 bars from one batch.

One thought: maybe we aren't cutting our bars in the same thickness or shape which equals a different number of bars?