Christmas 2016

Christmas 2016
God Bless Our Troops

Click on the cabin below to see our family website.

Click on the cabin below to see our family website.
We love what we do!

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

I got a late start on soap making this week.  My usual Monday night routine was disrupted by my birthday.  I never got around to it last night either.  So, today I made another one for the guys - Cabin in the Woods.   I love this scent. When I was a kid, the high point of every summer was our annual trip over the Mackinac Bridge to the upper peninsula of Michigan.  We always stayed in a cabin in the woods.  As a city kid, I fell in love with the woodsy smells combined with the fragrant pine of the cabin.  Goat milk soap made with this scent never fails to take me back to those carefree days.  Cabin in the Woods is an outdoorsy blend of cinnamon, bayberry, hints of cranberry and orange.  Both men and women love this scent.   This is how it looked just after I cut it.  I haven't made it in a while, but I suspect the color will change a bit when it is cured - March 14. 

Yesterday I wrapped the Apple Jack 'n Peel soap that I made a month ago.  It will head for the shop next week.  This is my absolute favorite scent for autumn, but I have a lot of customers that love it year round.

It's been a busy week.   We are getting ready for the Maple Syrup Festival, but next week Kelli and I are doing a show at the Masonic Home.  It's been a long time since we've done a show in a new venue.  It's exciting and a little daunting all at the same time.   

I worked on some mixes this week.  I may have mentioned that I am changing up the packaging a bit.  On Saturday Claire and I did pancake mix.  When our kids were young, I found a recipe in an old magazine for these pancakes.  Every Sunday after Mass we would come home and have a big pancake breakfast.  Somehow our neighbor on the next farm over always knew when the pancake griddle was on because he always joined us. He has been gone for many years, but every time I make pancakes, I think of Bernard.

These pancakes are the size of a dinner plate.  Now that we have grandkids, most of whom live nearby, this is their favorite breakfast when they spend the night.

We also packaged up the bean soup, and the Chai Tea mix.  The corn bread is running low so that is next on the list.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018 - Making Cold Process Soap

What is Cold Process soap?  It is soap that is made without any additional heat.  Our soap is made with room temperature oils and lye solution.  I used to make our soap with a heat process in the early days.  This meant that the soap mold was put in the oven at 170 degrees overnight.  The theory was that this eliminated the need for curing.  I found myself curing it anyway so I switched to Cold Process.  Now that we don't oven process I have gone to silicone molds which makes for easier and faster cutting and more accuracy in the size of the bars.

Before we begin, it is very important to clear the work area of all twins and other random people.  Focus is important when making soap.  I usually do it after 9 pm when I know I won't be distracted by cuteness. 

It's time to make soap!  The very first thing we do is collect all ingredients and utensils.  Gloves and goggles are a must since we use lye to make our soap.  Lye is a very caustic substance and must be treated with care to avoid injury.  

The next step is to blend the oils.  A stick blender is ideal for this purpose, but make sure you don't use that blender for anything else. 
 Each month I mix up a batch of oils and divide it into 4 buckets.  The batch is formulated with a soap calculator to make sure the the proper amount of lye is added to the mixture.  Too much lye and the soap will be very drying.  Too little lye and the soap will be too soft.  The mixing of lye with oils results in saponification - the making of soap.  The soap calculator also figures the percentages of the oils used in our recipe.  Each oil contributes a different benefit to the soap.  (I will cover this in a future blog post.)

Next we add the lye solution.  Lye must be mixed with a liquid, usually water.  We mix our lye with goat milk because goat milk is very good for the skin.  

Next we add the fragrance oil.  The proper amount of fragrance to add is figured into our soap calculation.  Some fragrance oils cause the soap batter to set up quickly so it is very important to know how the fragrance oil will affect the soap making process.  Floral scents tend to set up very quickly so that must be taken into account.

We pour our soap batter into silicone loaf molds.  We have tried many types of molds over the years including wooden molds, but silicone is by far the easiest to use when it is time to unmold the soap.  Our batch fills two soap molds with some overpour.  We pour the extra batter into smaller decorative molds which we use in our gift baskets.  ( I often keep a bar of the overpour for us - shhhh)

I love to make soap with colored swirls in it.  A wooden skewer works great for swirling the soap batter.

All soap utensils must be dedicated for soap making only.  Afterwards, they must be carefully cleaned - and you should still have your gloves on.  Raw soap batter is not good for the skin.  I do a quick clean-up and then leave everything in soapy water until morning. 

 I take the tray of soap molds downstairs to the refrigerator.  I put my soap in the fridge to keep it from gelling.  Gelling is when the batter overheats and sometimes it can leave dark patches in the finished soap.  This doesn't hurt the soap, but I don't like the way it looks. Putting the soap in the refrigerator will usually keep gelling at bay.  Occasionally the soap will gel anyway, but - oh well, that's life. 

In the morning I go down and unmold the soap.  I then put the soap loaf on a soap cutter.  The soap cutter has wires that slice the soap into fairly even bars.  Our soaps are a minimum of 4 oz each.  

 The soap tray with the cut soap is then taken to a curing rack where it cures for at least four weeks.  This allows the bar to harden and to become gentle on the skin.

 After the soap has cured for at least 4 weeks it is wrapped in a breathable paper and labeled for sale.  It is weighed to make sure it is at least 4 ounces.  If it is underweight it is put aside for gifts or donation baskets.

I hope you enjoyed my little tutorial.