So, what types of things am I stuck on? Well…the little things, of course. For example, knobs. I want to replace the knobs on my cupboards and I have put so much thought and effort into something as small as knobs I think my family is ready to label me as one…a knob.
Besides knobs, and other equally small detailed type items, soap is another thing on my mind. In my “fancy guest bathroom where you don’t ever dare to use the hand towels ever – because they are for guests” bathroom I am looking to revolutionize my soap position. Up to this point I have been a liquid soap girl. It’s so easy and I never have to deal with a lovely soap that turns all slimy and white. However, as of late, my liquid soap has started to feel, well, sort of industrial and faceless. Not really sure why but nevertheless, soap has become a big thing in my life apparently.
Chocolate Raspberry soap bars (set of 3) from Naiad
As per usual, whenever I get a one of these thoughts, I start to think, “how can I relate this to my Etsy-obsession?”. And it was very easily answered because Etsy provides a wide array of soap options for all your soap needs. But as I began to explore and discover the soap category more questions began to pop up. Yes, in the long run, all I’m looking for is a beautiful piece of soap to show off to all my guests but what is this cold pressed soap versus hot pressed soap and what in the name of the universe is saponification???
This gave me a great idea for a blog post. Every now and then I’d like to take a glimpse into an entire genre of Etsy category and take a look into the wonderful type of artistry available. And, believe it or not, soap is a fascinating genre to start with!
French Milled Chocolate Oatmeal soap from Ultimate Organic Soap
I was surprised to see that soap and the art of making soap dates back centuries, all the way back to 2800BC. Who knew they used soap back then?! The first recorded recipe for soap also dates back to this time, which falls into the ancient Babylonian category, in 2200BC.
As time progressed so did the art of making soap. In medieval times soap making evolved into a higher level of artistry where those involved in this craft were typically members of a special guild. Most people viewed soap makers as kin to carpenters, blacksmiths, and bakers.
A short time later chemistry (and those who practiced it) started to take note and the art of soap making changed once again. Now soap was seeing an injection of vegetable oils, aromatic oils and lye for the first time. As time ticked by and hygiene became more and more important so did the use of soap (this really took off during the industrial revolution!). In 1885 Unilever, the world’s biggest producer of soap, was born.
Wishing soap, inspired by the book Half Magic by Edward Eager from Latherati Soap
As I mentioned before, there are several ways to actually produce soap. Whichever way you make it, I get the impression that handmade is better (when is it not???) because handmade soap contains an excess of fat. This is naturally more moisturizing and isn’t pure detergent, like many of the store bought varieties.
One of the most popular ways to make soap is through a process called the Cold Process Method. As far as I can tell, this method is more methodical and time consuming than it’s sister…the Hot Press Method. Cold Press requires specific calculations on ingredient quantities. Lye is dissolved in water and added to oils, which have been heated and then cooled. This makes a pudding like consistency and opens up the stage for botanicals, herbs, or what have you, to be added. The mix is then poured into molds and is left to saponify (which basically means, to turn into soap) for up to 48 hours. When hardened, the soap is then removed from the mold and cut, however, some may continue to cure the soap for an additional 2 to 6 weeks thereafter.
Allspice Coconut Milk soap, XL Vegan Bar, from the Soap Store
Now, the Hot Press Method is similar in some regards. In this process, a soap maker will boil together the lye and a fat until saponification occurs. A hot, soft soap is formed and is immediately spooned into a mold. From here the same steps are followed as above with hardening, cutting, and curing.
I would like to mention that I am in no way an expert on the art of soap making. All of the details I have provided are simply what I can deduct from my research into this art and I welcome anyone who sees some…shall we say, misinformation, do let me know in the comments section of this post!
cinnamon spice BIG bar, cold press soap from Besem Natural Scents
So, yes, soap is actually very interesting and can really beautify a bathroom! I can almost see it as a little piece of art laying there in a dish saying, “let me clean you!” Now when I go into a friend’s washroom and see their soap I will have so much more appreciation for all the thought that may have gone into this one small detail!