Blog Update!
For those of you not following me on Facebook, as of the Summer of 2019 I've moved to Central WA, to a tiny mountain town of less than 1,000 people.

I will be covering my exploits here in the Cascades, as I try to further reduce my impact on the environment. With the same attitude, just at a higher altitude!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Soapy clean

Ever since I saw Fight Club I was fascinated with making soap. Not the way they did in the movie mind you, but with the whole process of turning natural ingredients into soap.

Before that I never really even thought about where soap "came" from nor did I think you could make your own soap (the history of soapmaking in itself is fascinating). So, off I went on my soap making adventures, experimenting with various cold process soaps involving coconut oil, cocoa butter, olive oil, goat milk and the like. I also liked the fact that I could make vegetarian soaps.

The whole process was intriguing... a mix of the wonders of chemistry, the frugality of making it yourself and the idea of controlling all the ingredients. Who cares that if you're not careful you'll singe your lungs and burn your eyes with the fumes created when mixing lye into water. You made some soap for crying out loud! Who cares that it sometimes took way too long to trace (firm up enough to pour) and you stood there for hours watching it, stirring and hoping you didn't just waste your whole evening.

Somewhere along the way I got too busy with the kids, got too lazy and started buying soap again. I still avoided the petroleum/detergent based soaps that most people use in favor of the more "natural" milled soaps. But, recently I found Dr. Bronner's soap in bars. I have used the Dr. Bronner's liquid soaps before and didn't like them. But the bar soap? It's the closest thing I've found to homemade without costing an arm and a leg. Well, maybe just one arm.

I'm also doing an experiment this week with the Dr. Bronner's bar soap - washing my face with it. I normally use a special facial cleanser, but I hate that it comes in a plastic container with dubious recycling qualities. The Dr. Bronner's comes wrapped in recyclable paper so the waste is minimal. I thought it would strip the heck out of my skin, but so far it's been fabulous. And, let me tell you, I have some pretty picky, prone to break out skin.

One of these days I'll get back to making my own soap, but in the meantime it's great to know that there are also some great locally made organic soaps.

What do you all use?


Anonymous said...

I use Dr Bronners liquid soap. But plan on making the switch to the bar when I need more. I keep hearing good things about them! I also use natural soap that I bought from a man at a craft show. I love his soaps!!

Marianna said...

I use a Tee Tree Oil soap from Trader Joe's. Like you I have very picky skin and a child with eczema. This soap works for both of us, and doesn't cost a forutne!

Phelan said...

I use Natures Blend soaps, there is a link on my Monday Post.

Whirled said...

I've made my own soap for years now. The absolute best IMHO is a 100% olive oil soap. It is extremely mild, yet cleanses and can be used anywhere including your face. It's even gentle enough for babies. And you can't get an easier formula than olive oil and lye!

Debby Brown said...

I just switched to a shampoo bar for my hair and am finally loving it. I'm using up old face and body products, but I'm searching for a single bar soap that will work on hair, face, body and shaving.

I've been toying with making soaps, but the whole lye thing has me very nervous.

QT said...

I use Burt's Bees or Kiss My Face for the bod, but I use Dermalogica on the face. I am too scared to switch, it took a long time to find something that worked.

The face soap comes in a bottle with a pump that is recyclable, or reusable.

P~ said...

I have been using "Kirk's original Coco Castile Soap" and love it. I originally purchased it because we want to start making our own laundry detergent and I was planning on using this as an alternative to the Fels Naptha that was on the original recipe. I decided to try it for showering ,since I tend to like the natural soaps as I get very dry skin, and loved it.

Anonymous said...

My absolute facial cleanser of all time is .... water! That's it. I, too, have oily-ish, breakout-prone skin, and I've found by trial-and-error that just plain water is best, sometimes with a washcloth and sometimes without. My skin feels clean and supple. And I feel free. (Free from product dependence, that is.)


oopuy said...

Crunchy and everyone else,
I need help finding an environmentally-friendly sign making company...any ideas? I've posted the question and a few details on my blog.
THANKS! Lrapps.

Anonymous said...

you should totally make soap. i waited for years to make it b/c it just seemed too hard and complicated. once i did, i was amazed at how easy it was. you can't do it with kids around and there is a learning curve, but one or two good batches can last a year if they are big enough, so it's not a daily or weekly commitment.
the best part is you can add or leave out whatever you want :)

Wendy Bredhold said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Wendy Bredhold said...

herbalmama (oops I called you "naturemama") - I am petrified of the lye. Is it really no big deal? Do you wear goggles and gloves?

Right now I'm using a glycerin soap I got at the co-op, but it dries me out. I'm going to try the Kirk's at p~'s suggestion.

P~ said...

I hope it works out for you too. FYI, When I first started to use it, my hands felt...almost... I dunno how to describe it squeeky clean I guess. I thought for sure I would suffer the interminable back itch all night that I get normally when I shower right before bed. I didn't, and haven't yet. Let me know how you liked it.

Hannah said...

I've used gycerin soap for many years, sold at the coop and Whole Foods among other places. Anybody know how bad it is environmentally? And I'm with Judith that my face gets washed with room-temperature water. No need for moisturizer or anything except on the very driest days.

Susan said...

All this talk about soap! Out of curiousity (and this may be a really dumb question), but what does soap do that water and a vigorous scrub with a washcloth can't? I'm all about shampoo and face soap, but it occured to me in the shower this morning that maybe body soap isn't necessary?

P~ said...

Basically, part of the soap reduces the surface tension of the water while the oils in the soap bind to the dirt and then wash it away. but for a better description:


Anonymous said...

wendy, the lye is pretty nasty. that's why i make sure the kids are never around.. just in case. at first i wore googles (actually clear sunglasses :) ) and gloves, now i do when i remember, but i always pour slowly and turn my head. i have splashed it on my hands.. ouch!
despite the's still pretty fun and cool to use soap that you designed and made yourself :)


ballardsoapguy said...

Don't let Fight Club scare y'all, lye is a chemical to be respected but as long as you take precautions (glasses, gloves, bottle of vinegar for lye spills) then soap making is easy and fun. Just make sure to set aside time where the kids and pets will not be in the area at all.

-Ben @ Ballard Organics

Crunchy Chicken said...

Hey, Ben! Thanks for stopping by. I loooooove your soaps. And it's great that you go to the farmer's markets too! Keep up the good work.